Tag Archives: hardship

Outsiders on the Inside

16 Aug

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Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 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. 1 Peter 1:1-2

 

The Christians Peter wrote to were outsiders, scattered all over the Roman Empire, not clustered together in Jerusalem. Outsiders, especially in the First Century lived at the bottom of society. If they had a job it was most likely feeding pigs or washing feet. Some were probably beaten, others had their possessions confiscated, and most likely anyone trying to climb socially avoided them altogether.

These undesirables focused not outwardly, but on their relationship with God. While they saw the haves and the standard of living they enjoyed from the outside, they saw life from the inside of the Kingdom! These believers knew the sanctifying work of the Spirit and the regenerating power of Jesus’ blood.

And they possessed grace and peace – possessions of which those around them knew very little.

The mathematical word multiplied means an abundant increase in something that exists already. Elementary math students know that zero cannot be a multiplier. In other words, zero can’t be reproduced into two or three (or any other number of) piles. It literally doesn’t compute. In order for grace and peace to be multiplied to the Christians Peter addressed, by definition they must already possess them to some degree. In this introduction of his first letter, Peter prays that God will multiply, bestow a many-fold increase in, the amount they already have.

Peter knew what it was to be harassed– and he knew how much greater the grace and peace of God were compared to the life’s difficulties. He reminds his readers that the grace and peace of Jesus do not simply negate the hard stuff of life, they exponentially surpass it.

Abundance is a God-sized concept. He lavishes blessings like grace and peace on us until they fill and overflow our finite containers, spilling over onto those around us.

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READY FOR SUNDAY

Put all the hard stuff of you life in one place in your head. Or make an actual list. Include the unfair, as well as things you deserve, that hurt and make life difficult.

Now, in your heart gather up what you have in Christ, all of which you (and I) don’t deserve: grace, peace, forgiveness, redemption, joy, eternal life, inheritance with Christ, a new heart…

Now compare lists.

The troubles we have in this world don’t come close to what we have in Christ. I’m ready to worship God now; I don’t have to wait for Sunday!

Glory from the Mud

4 Aug

Psalm 40:1-3

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

I waited patiently for the Lord;
.    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
.   out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
.   and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
  a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
.   and put their trust in him.

This is one of my favorite passages of Scripture.  I come back to it again and again for many reasons.  When there are difficult things in my life, especially.

I don’t think the Lord took David’s difficulty away.  Before David was king, he was a nationally hunted fugitive.  King Saul sought to wipe his perceived competition from the King of Israel contest.  Samuel had been to see David, and anointed him king, but from David’s perspective, nothing about his life was royal.

Except his love for and commitment to God.

This psalm was David’s heart cry during some of his darkest days.  That’s why I don’t think God removed his troubles.  So what changed from the slimy pit to firm rock?  I believe it was David’s attitude and renewed strength in the Lord.

Verse 3 takes on a very different meaning in light of this.  What did people see that made them put their trust in God?  A godly man who, because of the bedrock foundation he had in his God, was able to rise above the desperate circumstances he found himself.  This is the new song David sang to God.

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Ready for Sunday

When stuff is tough, my default response is to run away, not worship God.  But when I think about it, people expect my to praise God when everything is going well.  No one really takes notice then.  When life is hard and I praise Him, however, that gets people’s attention – and God gets the glory. 

There’s also that bit in the Word about God’s power being made perfect in our weaknesses.  Again, one of the best ways for people to see God’s glory is when my life is a mess, and I continue to praise Him.

Our church has been through a hard time.  Through it all, we have continued to praise Him, turn to Him, and trust Him.  Where else could we go?  He is the firm rock.  We stand on Him alone.

To Him be ALL the glory.

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