Putting God's Word into Practice…

1 Peter 4:12-19 Fiery Trials

on November 4, 2013

As Christians we will suffer persecution and insults just like our Lord Jesus.  In America, those who stand firm in their faith on God’s promises and truths may be insulted, but there is little real persecution.  In other countries, however, followers of Jesus Christ are being killed every day for their unashamed faith.   In fact, I got a prayer email last week about an elder of a church in India who was praying for healing for a man.  The man quietly left the room and came back with a machete-like weapon and slit the church leaders throat while he prayed.  Along with the prayer request for this martyr’s family was a request to pray for his killer to know the forgiveness and grace of Jesus.  Wow!

Although this passage says to not be surprised by the fiery trials WHEN they come, surprisingly we are told to rejoice in those trials.  In Hebrews 12:2 we are told that Jesus, “for the joy set before Him endured the cross.”  We can embrace suffering for Jesus with joy, when we know that someday we will see Him face-to-face, and He will reach out His nail-scarred hands and welcome us home to eternal rest in His presence.  Suffering here on earth is momentary in light of eternal joy in the presence of the Lord.

There are different kinds of suffering.  Suffering for the name of Jesus and suffering because of sin.  Most of the suffering in my life is a result of sin not because of my Savior.   There are no promises of God’s power resting on sinful suffering, no promises of joy and rejoicing, no promises of experiencing the faithfulness of God.  There are four specific sins listed in verse 15: murder, stealing, evil-doing and meddling.  The first three seem obvious, but the fourth one doesn’t even seem like a sin, does it?  Meddling–getting in other people’s business–is something many of us do on a daily basis!  And a lot of the conflict in our lives is because we have meddled in someone else’s!  This kind of suffering does not lead to joy, but is meant to lead us to brokenness so that we can repent and experience joy.

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4:19

God is faithful.  He allows suffering for a time for His purposes and ways.  He promises that when we suffer for His name that His glory and power rests on us and that we will receive blessing (vs. 14).  Psalm 139:16 tells us that God saw our unformed body while it was still in our mother’s womb, and that he had written every day of our lives in a book before one of them came to be.  God knows us, He sees us, He loves us, He has a plan for us, and He is not surprised by our suffering.  We can trust Him with our circumstances.  We can rejoice in our suffering because He is the Redeemer and Restorer of suffering.  We can continue to do good for His glory in the midst of suffering–it doesn’t have to paralyze us and steal our purpose.

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