Monday, November 05, 2012

Fiery Trials

This week the passage for the Hello Mornings Challenge Kept Bible study is 1 Peter 4:12-19. I loved Katie and Lara's intro to this week's passage: 
Most people don't feel like suffering. At least I don't feel like suffering. And I think it was pretty clear that Jesus didn't feel like suffering since He anguished in that garden before swallowing God's cup of wrath. But suffering rids us of self. When we reach the point of desperate dependence upon God, we step onto very holy ground. Precious ground. This week Peter again highlight's Jesus example to us regarding suffering - a humbling read.
Monday is "Initial Read" day and here are some of my thoughts...

It starts in v12 with "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you." Why am I always surprised?? I know my God. Jesus promises trials: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. It is not something strange happening. He is the one who gives us peace in our trials. He allows trials to test us, to prove us, to make us more like Him, to help us realize that we can not do it on our own. We need Him.

Verse 13 goes on to say, "but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation." I, though I know it was not Peter was referring to, immediately thought of Luke 9:58 "Jesus replied, 'Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.'" In some small way I get to share in the sufferings of Christ this month on our trip and in the spring, just like we have in other "homeless" phases of our lives. Jesus didn't even have a mini-van to call home like we have in the past and, Lord willing, will. I can have joy because my eyes are on Him, not on my circumstances. As as result - God gets the glory which gives me even more reason to rejoice.

There's a lot of great stuff in v14-18. Verses 17-18 really stood out to me in light of the upcoming election:  "For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?" I have heard a lot of pointing of fingers from people of the church lately but not much personal repentance. We need to repent, remembering that we will be judged, and remember in our every interaction with others, especially those who do not yet "obey the gospel of God" that they will be judged as well and live in a fear of what becomes of unbelievers that prompts action.

Verse 19 says that if we suffer because we are doing what God wants us to do we are to trust God, our faithful Creator, and continue to do right. I can trust God because I know Him and I know that His plan in my trials is to purify me, make me more like Him and make me rely on Him. I want to continue to do right. When things go "wrong" it is so easy to act in a sinful way - yell at the kids, hide, be grouchy, grumble and complain. I want to "continue to do right." I loved Piper's thoughts on this: 
When you have a good theology, a great trust in God and overflowing joy even in suffering, the obstacles to loving others and the incentives for abusing others are gone. People who kill and steal and trouble and annoy others are people who have not known God in his greatness, trusted him like a child and found in him joyful fulfillment. So they try to satisfy the frustrations of their life by doing wrong. But those who know and trust and delight in God are free from the slavery of sin and their joy in God overflows in patience and love. They do what is right from the heart.

 Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. 
Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. 
This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.  
So if you find life difficult because you’re doing what God said, take it in stride. 
Trust him. He knows what he’s doing, and he’ll keep on doing it. 
I Peter 4:12-13,19 The Message 

And, of course, as in every trial, God brings back to mind that quote...

In time of trouble, say, "First, he brought me here. It is by his will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest." Next, "He will keep me here in his love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as his child." Then say, "He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons he intends me to learn, and working in me the grace he means to bestow." And last, say, "In his good time he can bring me out again. How and when, he knows." Therefore, say, "I am here (1) by God's appointment, (2) in his keeping, (3) under his training, (4) for his time." ~Andrew Murray.

 I'm sure God is going to show me more great truths through this passage this week and I am looking forward to it.

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