12: "My friends, do not be surprised at the terrible trouble which now comes to test you. Do not think that something strange is happening to you." - Many times as Christians, we think our problems are over, that as a Christian life will have smoother sailing ahead. Peter reminds us that there may be some rough seas on the horizon and to be prepared.
14: "When people insult you because you follow Christ, you are blessed, because the glorious Spirit, the Spirit of God, is with you." - In spite of any situation that comes our way, we are blessed by the Spirit of God in our lives.
5:6-7: "Be humble under God's powerful hand so He will lift you up when the right time comes. 7Give all your worries to Him, because He cares about you." - These comments are written to the elders of the early Church. Christian leadership carries great responsibilities; both for our selves and for others.
8: "Control yourselves and be careful! The devil, your enemy, goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to eat." - Set pride aside. Guard against self-righteousness. Satan attacks when you are weak.
9: "Refuse to give in to him (the devil), by standing strong in your faith. You know that your Christian family all over the world is having the same kinds of suffering." - We can be strengthened by the knowledge that we are not alone in our struggles.
10: "And after you suffer for a short time, God, who gives all grace, will make everything right. He will make you strong and support you and keep you from falling. He called you to share in His glory in Christ, a glory that will continue forever." - It may feel that our suffering will never end, but in comparison to the eternity that God has planned, it is but a blip on the radar screen. Perseverance has its own rewards.
Points to Contemplate:
Are you surprised by your struggles?
Do you feel that you have been a 'good' Christian, faithful to your prayer and study life? Have you done everything God has asked of you? Are you busy in ministry, reliable in fellowship, and regular in attendance? Have you consistently responded to God with your prayers, presence, gifts, and service? Why then, is life so difficult? Shouldn't it be easier than this? Shouldn't your temptations diminish and your failures lessen? Do you feel you are being singled out and that your struggles are excessive? Does Peter's letter provide you with hope and assurance? Can you see that nothing "strange is happening to you?"
Is pride a problem for you? In your role of Christian leadership, do you often feel that you have the upper hand? That in some way you have a better view of God's providence and if only others could see what you see God's kingdom would be better served? Do you talk about other's lack of faith or immature relationship with Christ? Is Peter asking you, today, to control these feelings? Should you learn to humble yourself at the feet of God? Do you accept that pride and self-righteousness are the devil's feeding ground? Do you recognize that you are strengthened through humility and humble servanthood?
Are you giving in to the devil? As you live your life, are you worried and fearful? Do you see the sun darkly shining and the glass half empty? Is your face filled with frown wrinkles and your voice with whine? Are you hopeless instead of hopeful; joyless instead of joyful; anxious instead of peaceful; critical instead of loving? Do you give in to temptation? Are you quick to temper? Do you point fingers and sling accusations? Does your busy schedule regularly push aside your prayer and devotional time? Are you calculating when you should be spiritual; stressed instead of worshipful? Promises of the Gospel:
God has "called (us) to share in His glory in Christ, a glory that will continue forever." Is this not enough reason alone to be hope-filled? Shouldn't our daily living reflect the wonders of this truth? Each moment of our lives we have choices to make - choices to live holy, Christ-like lives. We can choose to give into the struggles of life, letting them define and control our lives. Or we can choose to remember the glory that God has willingly provided us and live forever with hope in our heart, peace in our soul, joy on our face, and love for the world.
Amen! Very, very well said, Brother! Now, I'm just going to say this with the biggest smile (ear to ear even). Don't go knocking those frown wrinkles!! I call them "mercy lines." I glory in those frown wrinkles. They're trophies, just like this white hair. :::wink::: And they're proof that I've been through fire and the floods, but I was never abandoned or left there alone. II Corinthians 4:8-10