Study #6 – 1 Peter – Futility

Study #6 – 1 Peter 1:14-21

Futility

“14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on Him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”

There is so much richness in this passage. There is so much theology and doctrine. It touches the subjects of salvation, Jesus’ perfection, His foreknowledge, His perfect timing, God as judge, God as holy, the state of humankind without God, the resurrection and more. My encouragement is for you to read this passage four or five times slowly, taking it all in.

With so much goodness in this passage, I asked God how I could apply this passage to our lives as the sick and suffering children of God. What jumped out to me was the concept of adoption and transformation, and how those things affect our outlook. In other words, we were adopted by God, changed by God, and therefore how we handle the trials and pain we experience should be different than the world too.

God says through Peter in verse 18 that we humans inherited futile ways from our forefathers. In other words, we are born into the line of Adam and we are all sinners. We have futile thoughts. He also says our ways before God were ignorant. Then we received the salvation of Jesus Christ through His death and resurrection and we were adopted into the family of God. We were delivered from the futility and the worldly thinking. We were saved from the lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eyes and the pride of life…not that we never fall back into them but that we are not ruled by them. We repent and are forgiven and free. This adoption takes us from being sons and daughters of the world and transfers us to official sons and daughters of God Almighty! And you can say hallelujah to that!

So we no longer belong to the world. As children of God, He begins and works in and through us, transforming us into who we will be in His kingdom. We put off the old desires and thinking. We take on God’s ways and thinking by studying the Bible and praying….walking closely with Him. This means everything is different. God says, be holy for He is holy. Holy can mean pure, but it also means apart. He is apart from evil in every way. He is love, hope, goodness, truth…basically every pure and holy thing. So, as He is apart from evil and darkness, we also should be apart from the futility of this world’s way of thinking.

What that means for me, friends, is that we need not look at the struggle of our lives with the same despair and hopelessness that those without Christ exist in. No matter how hard our lives get, or how sick we are, or how much pain and suffering we endure, we have an assured hope because we know how this story ends. It ends with us in paradise with God. It ends with an eternity of joy and peace and bliss. God says that the sufferings of this present time aren’t worthy to be compared to the glory that’s coming. He says He works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. He says He will deliver us and that we will be healed when we leave this world (if not sooner).

Beloved, we belong to God. We are His kids. So let us think like His kids and not like children of the world. We know where we are going. We know God loves us, even if we don’t always feel it in our suffering. I pray that our pain be taken away, but even more importantly I pray that we are holy like He is holy, and that people would see us handle the pain and suffering with such steadfast strength (God’s strength), joy (God’s joy) and peace (His peace that surpasses understanding), that they too will be compelled to seek out this Jesus that changes lives. That’s my prayer.

God bless you!!!!

Study #5 of 1 Peter – Set Your Hope

“13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

 Set your hope fully on the grace that is coming at the revelation of Christ. These are good words indeed. Let’s face it, what else can we set our hope on these days?
Can we put our hope in doctors? I know I, for one, have been really let down by many of the medical professionals from which I have sought help. I can’t set my hope in them. They are still learning too. They don’t know everything. They are oftentimes just as lost as we are. If I put my hope in doctors, I’d have given up a long time ago. I’m grateful for the doctors that do help me, but I don’t put my hope in them.
Can we place our hope in our health and strength? God forbid! I can’t depend on myself. Some days I can barely pull myself out of bed. I’m weak. I’m hurting. If I hope in my health, I’ve already lost the battle. I also want to declare here that we are not promised perfect health in the Bible. Jesus does not heal everyone at that moment or even on earth. If we were promised perfect health, Christians would never die. Ah, but sin entered in and with sin came sickness and decay and death. So we can’t “claim” health or “command” health. We can ask God humbly for healing and wait on Him. We can’t put our hope in health, but rather on the God who knows the very intricate workings of our body.
Can we set our hope on our relationships? Well that’s a tough one. I think many of us, who have experienced pain and suffering, have also experienced relationship struggles. Whether it’s in marriage or friendships or family relationships, sickness puts a strain on people and how they relate. We have to remember that people are sinners…WE ALL ARE. So our loved ones are sinners too. Our spouses are sinners. Our mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and children and “besties” and our pastors are all sinners too. (Catch that last one?) We can’t set our hope on people because people are imperfect sinners and we will all let each other down. We have to have grace on one another, forgive and work on mending relationships, but we can’t set our hope on them.
So what can we set our hope on? JESUS CHRIST and the glory and grace that is coming with Him at His revelation. Notice in verse 13 that it says the grace that “will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”? That’s talking about the great revelation. When Jesus comes back, everyone’s going to know about it. Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Amen? That’s what’s coming.
So set your hope on what’s coming. Set your hope on Jesus Christ. No matter what happens to you, your circumstances, your illness, your pain, your suffering, financial struggles, divorce, abandonment… if you set your hope on Jesus you’ll never fail. He will never fail us, my friends.
Romans 12:12, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Psalm 39:7, ““And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.”
Psalm 71:14, “But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.”
Titus 3:7, “So that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Praying your hope abounds today!!!

Treatment Update 7/26/17

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I’m into my second month of the new treatment protocol. I am giving myself daily injections of an antibiotic called Rocephin. The injections are pretty painful…the soreness and knots they cause in my thigh muscles particularly. However, it’ll be worth it to make some real headway on beating this disease. So far I’ve noticed a small increase in energy. My pain levels remain the same and I’m fighting a herxheimer reaction to all of the toxins building up in my body because of the dying off of the borrelia burgdorfi (lyme) bacteria.

Unfortunately my stomach hasn’t been handling it all very well, so I’m doing a lot of work in order to build up gut health. I drink colostrum twice a day, take probiotics and other supplements that are good for the gut. I’m incorporating bone broth as well and am looking to try kombucha and a few other aids.

I’m also constantly working on detoxifying my organs and systems. I have been doing castor oil packs for the liver, drinking dandelion root tea, taking L-Glutathione via spray, taking renelix for the kidneys, drinking loads of lemon water and taking epsom salt baths. I also have to take magnesium and eat bananas for potassium. This is all in addition to the meds. It’s a crazy schedule. I feel like it’s a full-time job!

I am going to start back on Mepron and Zithromax today orally for Babesia. I’m praying my stomach tolerates it. I think it was really helping before I had to quit. Appreciate continued prayers as I battle this uphill journey.

Study #4 of 1 Peter – Though We Don’t Yet See

Study #4 of 1 Peter – Though We Don’t Yet See

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.”

 

We talked in the last study about the idea of going through various trials and how it is a testing of our faith. It’s not that God is trying to measure our faith for His own knowledge. He already has perfect knowledge. He knows all about us and our faith, or lack of faith sometimes. The testing is for our benefit. God says it purifies our faith and our lives. It reveals to us areas of weakness and how much we need Him.

In dealing with chronic pain and illness, it can feel like an endless trial. I think most of us can say that there’s been a point where we’ve questioned God as to why He is allowing us to suffer, how long He will allow it, if He will bring us healing on earth and what His purpose is in all of it. I know I’ve asked it…sometimes inquisitively and sometimes with a tone of anger. Praise God that He has so much grace! He knows our hearts. He knows our pain and, as a loving Father, He does not reject us when we fail. I’m so grateful for that. I’ve failed so often during this painful season.

God says that as we get through these horrible trials in His strength, that He gets the glory and the honor. That means that our life is a testimony to His goodness and His glory; even our broken lives. As God carries us, weak and tired, through the desert places of sickness, others are watching. They are seeing that we suffer, just like them, and that just like us they too can have a Savior who will carry them through their deserts. It’s something that we need to remember. Our lives are a testimony to His goodness. So, just like Job, I want to declare my commitment to the Lord, “even if He slays me.”

So we have these questions. I felt as I studied verses 8-12 I really felt something of an answer there for us. See this section is about believing without seeing. “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him…” Peter is saying that these believers haven’t see Jesus Christ in person, but they believe and rejoice. It’s the same for us today. We haven’t seen Him face to face, but we believe in Him and love Him. But I think there’s a beautiful way to apply that to our situations today as well. We may not be able to see yet what God is doing, but we can trust Him and rejoice knowing that He has it under control. Though we don’t yet see, we believe. Amen?

We don’t know why God is allowing it. We know that He has given mankind free will and that sin entered the world and sin brought death and disease and decay. So we all suffer from the consequences of that original sin (not to mention the many since). I don’t believe God has thrusted illness upon us but we do know He is sovereign. Could He heal us? YES! Absolutely. Should we ask for healing? I ask for it for myself and you everyday. Can we demand it? We ought not. We are not sovereign. God is. We are not all-knowing. God is. He knows what’s best. Whether He heals me now or later or when I get to be with Him in Paradise, I will trust Him. The point is, only God knows the whole picture. We don’t yet see, but we are called to believe.

Interesting that we see another example in verses 10-12. “10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.”

The prophets of old were given the Word of God and the promise of the Messiah. They knew about the salvation that was coming and the mended relationship with God that mankind would be offered. They did see what was coming but they also realized they would not see it in their lifetime but rather they were serving a generation to come. Wow!

We too know that there are some wonderful promises coming, my friends. Yes, these are hard days. There is so much suffering. There is pain and depression and frightening symptoms and long, sleepless nights. I know it’s horrible, but we have to keep our heads up and know that God says it’ll all be worth it. We don’t yet see what’s coming but we can trust Him that He will bring about what He has promised. Here are a few promises to cling to.,..

Christ is coming back…Hebrews 9:28, “So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”

Glory is coming…Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

New bodies are coming…Philippians 3:21, “Who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”

Our inheritance is coming…1 Corinthians 2:9, “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”

Paradise is coming…Luke 23:43, “And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Friends, there are is so much more. There are loads of promises that God has for us. These are just a few. God has so much in store for those of us who love Him and believe in Him. Though we do not yet see, we believe. Though we can’t yet understand why He allows all He does, we can trust that the plan is good. There is glory coming. There is healing coming. Christ is coming back for us. We do suffer now, but we can get through this with the help of God.

I’m praying tonight that God makes His promises really come alive to us . I pray that the pain is relieved today by the knowledge of what’s coming. I pray that you are encouraged and feeling like rejoicing, despite all you’re going through, because God is with us and He loves us.

 

 

Study #3 of 1 Peter – The Raw Faith of a Sufferer

Study #3 1 Peter – The Raw Faith of a Sufferer

 

6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

 

“In this you rejoice…” In what? The “this” Peter is talking about is found in the previous scriptures. We rejoice in the living hope we have because of the salvation of Jesus Christ and also in the fact that He guards us until we receive our undefiled, unfading, imperishable inheritance God has stored up for us. This is why we rejoice, but there’s more.

“…though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials…” I like the distinction between why we are rejoicing and what we are going through. We rejoice because of our living hope despite the trials. We don’t rejoice because of the trials. Why is that an important distinction? Well I think many of us who are suffering with chronic illness, health issues, withdrawal symptoms and complications with medications have been made to feel like “bad Christians” for not leaping with joy at our continued pain and suffering. We struggle with the pain and sickness, and then are also made to feel guilty when we cry.

I want to make it clear that being sad about our suffering is not sin. It does not make us bad Christians. In fact, quite the contrary. It’s easy to remain faithful to the Lord when everything’s going well. If you and I can cling to Jesus and to our faith through these horrific health issues, loneliness, marriage and relationship problems, etc., that shows a profoundly deep faith as we rely on the Lord to get us through every minute of pain and suffering.

As verse 7 says, “the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” This is a truly genuine faith, friends. Faith through suffering. I will say confidently that I believe we who suffering chronically and severely have a different kind of relationship with God.

For me, the pain and sickness has totally stripped away any false front I might have once held up. I no longer care about pretense or unnecessary tradition. I’ve realized how little I need the extras, the fake smiles, the illusion of perfection, or even the need to beat myself up for my failures. I came to the point where I just couldn’t do it anymore. I tried to keep it up but I succumbed to a different type of dynamic in my relationship with Jesus and now I’m glad that I did.

I no longer need to pretend to be ok when I’m not. I don’t have to have fancy words when I pray, but rather I cry out to the Lord in complete abandonment and honesty, and He meets me where I am. In fact, I think He would rather us come to Him like that – raw and open and real and sometimes broken. Psalm 55:22a says, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you…” When you cast a fishing rod you fling it without hesitation. You just cast it out there. God wants us to cast our burdens upon Him with abandonment.

Psalm 22:24 says, “For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.” God doesn’t look down on us or get angry with us when we cry out in our pain and affliction. He doesn’t judge us or expect us to hide our tears from Him. He wants to be the One wiping the tears from our cheeks and comforting our hearts when we fall at His feet in brokenness.

If God doesn’t despise us for our honest suffering, why does His church? Well, I think they just don’t understand. They have been taught that Christians are supposed to be happy, bubbly, prosperous, healthy and beaming with confidence if we are right with God. Scripture just doesn’t support that. God never promised us worldly riches or health on earth. He didn’t heal everyone at the moment they asked for it (and definitely not when they commanded it…which we never see people do in scripture). There are a lot of bad doctrines out there teaching that Christians should name and claim the health, money and success they want. I reject that as being completely unBiblical and actually against the teachings of Christ that tell us we will suffer in this world. Praise be to God that He has overcome the world and that our salvation is at hand.

Notice in this passage in 1 Peter, it often talks about salvation as coming. It’s still coming. Are we marked for salvation as believers in Christ? Yes, amen! However, we are still here on earth suffering with broken bodies, sin and temptation abounding, enemies at our doors and “various trials”. We are marked by the Holy Spirit for salvation. We are under the guarding protection of God and there is nothing the enemy can do to destroy us. Still, while we are here, if necessary, we will suffer. We will hurt. There will be pain and heartache. Jesus went through it and so must we. In the process, we become purified and more like Him than we ever could have achieved on earth without the trials. Amen?

As for our brothers and sisters in Christ…instead of them making us feel like failures in the faith for admitting our weakness and being real about our pain, they should be suffering with us, according to God’s Word. They should be weeping with us and bearing our burden. 1 Corinthians 12:26 says, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”

So this pain, these various trials, I believe brings us to a very raw place with God. I know for me, I have struggled with bitterness, doubt, emotional pain, depression, lack of control of my tongue and more. I feel like I’ve become a different person altogether. I don’t use the Christian cliches or flippant phrases anymore like, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” hahah of course He does! Why else would we need Him? “Everything happens for a reason.” Really? Where is that in the Bible? If a woman gets raped, is there a reason for it? If a child has cancer, is there a reason? To say there’s a reason is to say that God made it happen for that reason. I’m sorry but that’s not in the Bible and it’s not the God I know. The truth is that God allowed mankind to have free will. Sin entered in, and with it came death, disease, decay, depravity and lots of other bad things. A rapist hurts a woman by using his free will. Cancer is no respecter of persons and it attacks whomever. There isn’t always a reason, but what we can be sure of, and what IS Biblical, is that God uses horrible things in life to make good. “God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” He takes the sin and hurt and suffering and makes good. I’ve no more need for these cliche statements. Let’s just be real, with God and each other.

We are suffering through various trials friend. God says we rejoice despite the pain because of the living hope we have in Christ. Sickness and pain burns like fire and it melts away all of the impurities, but also all of the pretenses. It makes us pure and raw. In that raw place, we can commune with God in a very personal way, laying in our beds, moaning in the Spirit. He meets us there. It may not look like it looked before and it won’t look like it looks for the healthy and happy at church. But it’s real. It’s a real faith and you can be sure that God is right there with you in the deepest, darkest places. He’s not judging you for your weakness, your doubt, your frustrations. Just be real with Him. Cast it upon Him and let Him commune with you there.

Study #2 of 1 Peter – Living or Lifeless Hope?

Study #2 of 1 Peter 1:3-5

“Living or Lifeless Hope?”

 

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

 

Just to quickly review from the last study… Peter is the author of this letter. He was a man who both failed and succeeded. He was real and, just like us, prone to mess up from time to time. He suffered. He was not always strong or steadfast. Still, God chose him and loved him and used Him greatly…in fact He continues to use him as we study this tremendously encouraging epistle. Peter was writing to the Christian exiles scattered around the land. He was writing to us too. We are exiles in a place that is not really our home. Like us, these Christians had and were experiencing tremendous suffering and persecution. So we can truly own these words that the Spirit wrote through Peter as being written to us.

In verses 3-5, Peter is praising the Lord for His grace and work, but also encouraging us to remember what Jesus has done for us. Jesus “has caused us to be born again to a living hope.” I recall when Jesus used these words in describing to Nicodemus one night how one could be saved. Born again.

 

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus[fn] by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again[fn] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” John 3:1-6

 

Jesus said to be saved we must be born again. There is a birth of water (our natural birth from the womb) and a birth of the Spirit when we accept Christ’s gift of salvation. One thought that came to mind as I read this was that before we were covered by the blood of the Lamb, we were spiritually dead. So it makes perfect sense that we would need to be born again. Now here in 1 Peter, we are told we were born to a living hope.

The Greek word for “living” there is “zao” and it has many descriptive definitions. It means: living full life, enjoying life, alive, active, fresh, strong, efficient, blessed, endless and powerful. When I read those definitions of what our hope should look like, I felt both excited and challenged. The “hope” we are talking about is the confident assurance of Christ’s salvation. It’s not “hope” like, “I HOPE I get to have Starbucks today,” or “I sure HOPE I can sleep tonight.” It’s not a wish. This hope is assured. It’s expectation. It’s faith that was God has promised will come to pass.

So…let’s put that all together using those really great descriptive words for “living”.

 

We are born again to a living (alive, active, fresh, strong, efficient, blessed, endless, powerful) hope (assurance of Christ’s salvation). That’s amazing. That’s what we are born into. Now, I’ll be honest, I don’t usually live in that “living hope” way. I don’t feel that most of the time. I feel sick. I feel discouraged. I feel lonely. I feel like I’m just trying to survive day by day…sometimes minute by minute. I feel betrayed by doctors. I feel abandoned by loved ones. I feel down and often depressed.

 

Do I know that I have salvation through Jesus? Yes.

Do I believe confidently that He is who the Bible says He is? Yes.

Have I accepted His gift of salvation and been born again? Yes.

 

So why don’t I have the kind of “living hope” that is described beautifully here? Why does my hope often feel so lifeless and dead? I have hope but my hope isn’t flourishing. Maybe you feel like that too? Maybe you are praying but your prayers feel empty? Maybe you believe but you allow the enemy to whisper lies that your hope is foolish instead of assured and strong? I’ve been there and continue to fall into that from time to time. It’s easy to do when we are hurting, isn’t it? So easy. What can we do about it? Let’s read on.

 

4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

 

Peter goes on to talk about our inheritance in Christ. I found this part so encouraging. He says our inheritance is: 1. Imperishable; 2. Undefiled; and 3. Unfading. I decided to look these Greek words up also to get a good understanding of what they mean.

 

  1. Imperishable. “Aphthartos” – It means, “uncorrupted, not liable to corruption or decay.” Basically this means our inheritance doesn’t fall apart. It won’t decay or change or get ruined over time. That’s pretty exciting. Most things decay. Our bodies sure do. Sometimes our friendships do. Material things definitely decay and fall apart over time, but our inheritance doesn’t. It never grows old. It’s steadfast, concrete and dependable.
  2. Undefiled. “Amiantos” – This word means, “not defiled, unsoiled, free from that by which the nature of a thing is deformed and debased, or its force and vigour impaired.” Our inheritance has not been defiled by sin or corruption. It’s not been soiled or stained….not even by us!!! That’s huge. So my failure, lack of faith at times, mess ups, depressions, bad thoughts…none of it has defiled or stained my inheritance? NO! When you are in Christ Jesus, NOTHING you have done has defiled your inheritance. It is pure and spotless because of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. His blood has purchased us an inheritance that is free from spot or blemish and no one can defile it, not even us. Pretty cool.
  3. Unfading. “Amarantos” – This word means, “not fading away, perennial, steady, perpetual.” Our inheritance isn’t going anywhere. It’s not like our dwindling bank accounts, our strength on our bad days or the beautiful roses bought by a loved one that we wish would never die. Our inheritance doesn’t fade. We can count on it being there always, no matter what.

 

Now Peter writes that this inheritance is kept safe for us in heaven and that we are being guarded by the power of God Himself for the salvation ready to be revealed in the last times. I think the Spirit points that out to us for good cause. It doesn’t make much sense to be super excited about the inheritance that’s waiting for us in heaven if we weren’t sure that God was going to protect us and get us there to enjoy it, right?

I mean, if you’re like me it’s hard to keep my eyes looking forward and upward when I’m dealing with daily pain and suffering and loss and loneliness. When my earthly world feels like it’s crashing down around me (which is often, haha), I only see the current pain and chaos. I forget that I have an inheritance that’s awaiting me or I feel like it’s so far away from me that I can’t glean any encouragement from the knowledge of it. But God reminds us that He’s guarding us for that salvation. He’s keeping us safe until we get that inheritance.

It may not seem like God’s keeping you safe. It may seem more like He’s allowing every bad thing to happen to you. I totally get it and I feel the same way. I really do. Even today I struggled greatly with the feeling of abandonment and that God couldn’t love me and let me go through such misery. What we have to remember is that God may allow the fire to test us (as we will read next time), and He has allowed free will for mankind so that we are affected by our sin and the sin of others, and He does allow His beloved to suffer at times for reasons we cannot possibly understand…

 

….but HE IS GUARDING US AND WILL BRING US TO HIS GLORY AND OUR GLORIOUS INHERITANCE WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT!

 

Christ suffered. The disciples suffered. Job suffered. Joseph and Jonah and Paul and David suffered. Suffering is part of the deal and there’s no doubt that some of us suffer more than others. And it may not seem fair or right. It may not feel loving, but Jesus gave His life on the cross and rose again to give us an imperishable, undefiled and unfading inheritance. We just have to trust Him, cling to Him and allow the power of God to guard us until the time is right for us to receive it.

May we pray and ask God to give us a truly “living hope” this week. Not a dead, lifeless hope, but a LIVING HOPE. Praying that you are comforted, that you receive healing and relief, that you are supported and encouraged by friends and family, and that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God loves you and that He will never leave or forsake you. God bless!

 

 

Study #1 of 1 Peter – Who is Peter? Who Am I?

Study #1 of 1 Peter – Who is Peter? Who Am I?

1 Peter 1:1-2

 

Greeting

1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

 

Simon Peter (Petros in Greek, meaning stone, Cephas in aramaic) was a real man. He was fisherman who became a fisher of men through Christ. He was a man who failed and who struggled. He chose to get out of his boat and walk on water with the Lord, but then he doubted and began to sink. He boldly proclaimed he would never betray Jesus or stumble, but then he denied Him publicly three times. Peter was restored to the Lord when Jesus appeared to him after the resurrection and he went on to be a major tool for God in bringing others to the saving knowledge of Jesus, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t continue to struggle. Paul even had to openly rebuke him for some bad teaching once. He was a real man. He seemed to be solid and strong at times, and other times he was a mess. Sound familiar? He’s so me! One minute I feel strong and the next I’m a mess. It’s a roller coaster.

I find it incredibly comforting to know that Peter, someone so close to Jesus and so greatly used by God, also had tremendous struggles. I love how in 1 Peter 1:1, Peter identifies himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ. I mess up all the time. I feel like a failure most of the time. I think being sick and in pain and all of these crazy symptoms weaken my resolve to be “perfect” in Christ. Couple that with the marriage problems, financial stresses, working myself to death and feeling like my life’s falling apart….yeah I often feel angry, depressed, bitter, worthless, unloveable and abandoned. Though I know God loves me and is with me, I struggle with the LIE that He doesn’t care about me and that He has left me. I mean, how could He love me and my family and let us go through this? Well, only He knows the full answer there. We just have to trust Him through to the end.

With so many struggles, I have a hard time owning my position in Jesus. I’m His. I’m a Christian. I’m His beloved. I’m beautiful to Him. I’m wonderfully made. I’m an ambassador for Christ. I’m part of the elect. I’m His workmanship. I’m His daughter and part of the body of Christ. These words are actually hard for me to say and to believe. Hard to own them. Yet Peter, who had so many faults and struggles of his own, stands on his calling and who he is in Jesus. “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.”

I think that’s super encouraging for us hurting and struggling people. Right? I think that’s something we need to meditate on and pray about….asking God to help us know who we are in Him. Our failures don’t mean we are cast out. Our sickness does not mean God is finished with us or angry at us or that He has disowned us. The disciples all struggled. Most died horrific deaths and suffered a lot along the way. We were never promised easy or pain-free lives on earth. So we need to know who we are in Him and cling to that when we feel like the pain and exhaustion and heartache is too much.

I love the song by Jason Gray, “Remind Me Who I am”. Here’s the link. Please give it a listening to. It’s so good. On a sub-note, I saw Jason Gray perform once and he told us that he has a pretty bad stutter when he talks (and he stuttered whenever he was talking on stage), but it goes away when he sings. I think that’s cool, especially as a voice teacher.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19Fa5eFcIIA

 

So Peter is writing this letter to the elect (chosen according to the incredible and complete foreknowledge of God) who have been exiled and scattered as strangers (or aliens) across the land. This letter is for Christians who have been displaced, who have been forced from their homes, who are mostly likely going through the persecution that all Christians were at that time… these brothers and sisters had every reason to be downcast. There was probably a lot of suffering going and the case for that is also found throughout this letter, where Peter is encouraging them (from one sufferer to others) not to lose hope during trials and tribulations.

He is writing them to encourage them not to give up. We need that too! We so need that encouragement. I need it everyday. These people are tired, homeless drifters who are hunted down for their faith, mocked, belittled and hated for following Jesus. They are young in the faith (everyone would be at that time). Peter says this is all part of the sanctifying (purifying, consecrating) work of the Spirit. Our trials and pain are also part of this work… not that God causes it but that He works good through the bad that we experience.

Part of that work is that we are taught to obey Christ. Does that mean we never fail to obey? No. In 1 John 1 we learn that we all sin and that anyone who says he is perfect is lying. I’m a sinner. I fail every day. I struggle with anger, bitterness, my mouth, inappropriate feelings and much more. But God’s grace is sufficient. It is deep and wide. Yes, the Spirit is convicting us to follow Jesus and be more and more like Him. We should strive to do right, but we are not cast out when we mess up any more than Peter was.

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you.” Those are two things I need above all else, and so did these early Christians. I need grace. I need peace. Peter prayed this for them and for us too, because we are the Christians out in the desert places, scattered and suffering. So let us continue to pray for each other for grace and peace to be multiplied and for us to truly know and believe who we are in Jesus. I need the prayer because I don’t have this down. I really don’t. I’m a struggling Christian, but I know that studying His Word will be fruitful and will help you and I get through these horrific days.

Hope it blesses you friend.

Chronic Illness Changes Your Relationship with God

I believe 100% that being sick, whether it be lyme disease or any other health condition, changes a Christian’s relationship with God. It’s not that it diminishes it or destroys it. On the contrary, this severe testing and pain often brings people closer to God in a more real and raw way. Check out our Bible studies for a look at God’s Word from the perspective of someone who is suffering pain and illness. We are currently going through the epistle of 1 Peter.

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