Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Life of Trouble

{6} In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you have to suffer various kinds of trials, {7} so that the genuineness of your faith, which is more valuable than gold that perishes when it is tested by fire, may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

{8} Though you have not seen him, you love him. And even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, {9} because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

{10} Even the prophets, who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours, carefully researched and investigated this salvation. {11} They tried to find out what era or specific time the Spirit of Christ in them kept referring to when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. {12} It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you in regard to the things that have now been announced to you by those who brought you the good news through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. These are things that even the angels desire to look into.
~ 1 Peter1:6-12; ISV

Life is difficult. We all have experienced pain and trouble in our lives. Not one of us has been able to avoid seeing dreams shatter and experiencing a crisis of belief. God has given no promises to Christians that our life experience will be any different. God has promised that our reward will be different if we persevere through the terrible times in our lives. That is part of the hope Peter wants to give to Christians in the first chapter of 1 Peter.

1. A Test of Faith: (verses 6 and 7)

Part of the reason we suffer in this world is to help our faith grow. Remember it is not the only reason we suffer, but suffering does show us the condition of our faith. Suffering also forces us to either trust God more fully or abandon Him completely. Many of the atheists I have come across can point to an event in their life, a time when it appeared God did not come through, and use that as the foundation for why they don't believe in a god, let alone have faith in Him.

God allows trials in our lives so that we will learn to trust Him. Being a disciple of Jesus means we are learning to trust Him more than we trust ourselves. That is a hard lesson to learn if our life is going well, because we tend to think it is about us and what we have done. These trials come into our live so that in the midst of our hardship we turn to God.

2. An Expression of Love: (verses 8 and 9)

As we learn to trust God in the midst of our hardships we show the world that we love God. Even though we have never seen Him or even can point to evidence that erases all doubt about His existence, we trust God with our lives. Faith and love are not two totally different things, but they are strategically linked.

If we do not trust God we will not love Him. If we do not have an affection for God we will not trust Him. It is through this relationship we have with God which provides us with the hope that we need to get through the trials of our lives. Hope is the result of the love and faith we have in God.

3. Salvation is Mysterious: (verses 10 and 11)

The salvation that we have, the victory Jesus achieved through His death and resurrection, are something that the prophets of old did not fully understand. The Holy Spirit gave them the words, but they longed to know more about what God was doing. To them it was a mystery that Jesus would die. It was something that they wanted to know more about.

Even today we discover people don' understand this salvation that Jesus offers. In 1 Corinthians Paul says that our salvation, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness (1 Cor. 1:23; NASB). Today we get that same reaction from people. Logically it does not make sense what Jesus did for us.

4. We have been Blessed: (verse 12)

We have the great privilege of being on this side of Jesus' life and sacrifice. Because of that we are able to see what God is doing through history, and here of His great love for us through the preaching of His Word. We also have the Holy Spirit which guides people into a deeper relationship with God. It is this wonderful time of mission that even the angels in heaven are eagerly watching. Even with all the bad things happening in the world, right now is a wonderful time to live.

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