The Tests Will Never Stop
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials. (1 Peter 1:6)
My students don't like for me to give them tests. I tell them tests are for their good as well as for my good. A test is to measure what a person has learned as well as to determine what else needs to be learned. Also, as a teacher, it helps me to determine what course of action to take with further instructions. I often pray openly for the class before I give a test: "O God, Let the students know it is not what they put on a piece of paper, but it is what's in their heart that matters." It should, but it doesn't take the fear out of the test takers.
God emphatically said that everyone who dwells on the earth will be tested (Revelation 3:10). James tells us to count it all joy when we go through various tests and trials (James 1:2). Peter tells us to greatly rejoice because trials come so that our faith may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:7). God tests our faith not to learn something He doesn't already know, but God tests our faith so we can discover our own weaknesses and God's strength.
To summarize: The tests will never stop because tests strengthen our character (James 1:2-3). The tests will never stop because they prove our faith is genuine (1 Peter 1:7). The tests will never stop because they give us the opportunity to come forth as gold (Job 23:10).
Let's thank God for the tests He gives us!
No High-Fives in Holiness
But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it
is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." (I Peter 1:15-16)
So many things go under the heading
of holiness, but are they really holy? Everything that is said in the
church does not glorify the holiness of God. Everything done in the
name of Christ is not Christian.
See if you can determine which of the following activities are holy. Is
it holy for a preacher to knock on the pulpit and says, "Knock on wood
. . ."? Is it holy for a preacher to tell the congregation to touch two
people and say..."? Or three people or four people? Is it holy
for a preacher to say such words or phrases from the pulpit as "I
bet..." or "I wish you luck"? When the choir sings a song, is it
holy for the members to stand in the house of God and give each other
high-fives? Not one of these activities is holy. To verify this, study
the life and teachings of Jesus. He did or said none of these.
So what's wrong with the "touching three people syndrome" that many
modern preachers favor? EVERYTHING! Once you attach a number or
quantity or limitation to a command, it becomes manipulation which is a
form of witchcraft. Did Jesus do it? No, indeed! Therefore, we
shouldn't do it either. Touching people to help a preacher preach a
sermon is not holiness in any form, and it shouldn't be part of a
worship service. How would you feel if Jesus came and found you running
around touching and counting the people you touch? Do nothing you would
not like to be doing when Jesus comes. Let Him find you being holy
because God is holy.
True worship is giving God the glory He deserves. So be holy in all you
do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." (I Peter 1:16)
Got Spiritual Milk?
Like newborn babies, crave pure
spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now
that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:2)
Babies need milk for nourishment. They crave it to satisfy their
hunger. Peter tells us in the above scripture that we, as Christians,
should be like newborn babies having an insatiable craving for the pure
spiritual milk of the word. Even those who have been saved for many
years still need to nourished and nurtured by God's word. Just as
infant cry for milk, we should thirst and cry out for God's word. A
believer grows spiritually by reading, studying, and applying God's
word to his or her life.
Just as milk overflows in a mother's breast when her baby cries, God's
blessings overflow and pour out for us when we cry and desire the
sincere pure milk of the word.
From Stumbling to Walking Upright
They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. (1 Peter 2:8)
Babies do not walk the first time they try, and no one expects them to.
They must go through the growing process of crawling, pulling up and
stumbling. Yes, stumbling! It is a natural growth process. No matter
how much we try to coach a baby to stand alone, it will not stand
without much stumbling. However, as the baby's legs grow stronger and
the baby becomes comfortable with the new skill, the baby will stand
alone without our help.
Newly converted Christians are newborn babies and will stumble before
they are able to walk upright. However, being obedient to God's word
will shorten the stumbling time. Some people stumble over Jesus Christ
because they reject Him or refuse to believe that He is God. Isn't it
sad that some people stumble over the very person who enabled them to
walk upright? Yes, babies stumble, but as adults our stumbling should
be less frequent. Unsaved people stumble over Jesus Christ, but as
Christians, we are to walk in the path Jesus paved for us with His own
Self-Serving or Servanthood?
. . . live as servants of God.(1 Peter 2:16)
When you think about it, you will discover that there are really only
two basic approaches to life: either for self or for others.
Jesus rejected the self-serving approach to life. That's the type of
life where the question is asked, "What's in it for me?" Jesus
embraced the servanthood approach to life. That's the type of life
where the question is asked, "What can I do to help others?"
Jesus minimizes the self-serving approach and maximizes the servanthood
approach. He embodies everything that points toward helping others even
to the point of debasing one's own self. It takes faith, courage, and
lots of discipline to use the servanthood approach. However, the
rewards are definitely worth the extra effort that it takes. So,
instead of wanting to know what's in it for you, focus on what's in it
for others. Live as servants of God.
Responding to Opposition
But and if you suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are you . . . (I Peter 3:14)
We all go through periods of suffering or opposition. How we handle
those periods depend a lot upon our attitude and our response. We bear
witness to others in the way we cope with our own opposition.
When you allow Christ to be the center of your being, people can see
that you are strong and joyful in spite of your circumstances. Depend
on God and His power and give Him the glory because "we know everything
works together for those who love the Lord and are called according to
his purpose" (Romans 8:28).
When unbelievers see that you are living a joyful Christian life in
spite of opposition, they will want to be able to do the same. Dealing
with opposition in a Christian way is one way that you can present your
testimony and be a witness to others.
The Purpose of Your Gift
Each one should use whatever gift he
has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in
its various forms. (I Peter 4:10)
God has given to every believer at least one gift. God has given good
gifts to believers for a specific purpose. What is that purpose? God
has given us gifts TO SERVE OTHERS. Our gifts are like lights not to be
hidden under a bushel but on a hill so all can see how to find their
way in a dark world.
God has given us gifts not for ourselves for selfish motives but TO
SERVE OTHERS. Refusing to be a good manager of the gift(s) God has
given us goes against God's word. Therefore, it is sin.
The above scripture tells us several things: (1) Everyone has been
given a gift of some kind. (2) That gift is not for selfish purposes.
That gift is TO SERVE OTHERS. (3) Through our gifts, we should
faithfully administer God's grace. That means we should use our gifts
joyfully and faithfully without complaining. (4) Use the gift God has
given you in various forms and God's grace will show up in various
forms. For example, the gift of teaching can be used whenever a
teachable moment presents itself. Teaching should not confined to the
classroom. Use your gifts whenever and wherever TO SERVE OTHERS.
Just as one tree has many branches, use the gift God has given you TO
SERVE OTHERS in related areas. There should be similar gifts branching
out from your main gift. Each one should use whatever gift he has
received TO SERVE OTHERS, faithfully administering God's grace in its
Just in case you missed the purpose of your gift, it is TO SERVE OTHERS!
Ordeal or No Ordeal
Beloved, do not be surprised at
the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something
strange were happening to you. (1 Peter 4:12 NRS)
amazed at how some words have become part of our everyday conversations. I am
equally amazed at how many of us use words without knowing the background behind
the words. If we did, some words would be eliminated from our vocabulary or at
least used sparingly.
How many of us have ever used the word "ordeal"?
How many have said, "I am going through an ordeal right now?" The word "ordeal"
comes from an Old English word meaning "to deal out." Each person was dealt his
fair share of punishment based on the crime. An ordeal was a primitive means used to
determine guilt or innocence by submitting the accused to dangerous or painful
tests. If the person was innocent, the torture would be stopped by God
performing a supernatural miracle. If the person was guilty, judgment would be
We do have problems. However every problem is NOT an ordeal.
Let's keep our problems in perspective until the ordeals do eventually come.
Then, if we are innocence, God Himself will give us a way of escape out of the
When Down is Up
Humble yourself, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Peter 5:6)
It is a paradox to say, "The way up is down." In our finite minds it
might be hard to comprehend how going down will cause us to go up. When
you get in an elevator on the first floor and press the number 12, you
expect to go up; not down. When you leave the 12th floor and press 1
for the first floor, you expect the elevator to take you down; not up.
Well, that's elevator logic. The principle according to God is to
humble yourself. That is to be down to earth. That is to keep your feet
on level ground. That is not to think more highly of yourself than you
really are. To be humble is to let others compliment you instead of you
asking to be exalted. To be humble is to rest in your calling without
having to boast about it. To be humble is to put yourself in the
position for God's grace. "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the
humble" (James 4:6).
Do you want to go up? Do you want to be exalted? Instead of pressing
the button that says: "EXALT" you must press the button that says:
"HUMBLE." In that case, DOWN is UP!
What To Do With Your Burdens
Cast all your care upon him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
Do you let your anxieties and burdens accumulate before you do
something with them? Do you carry your burdens on your back because you
have become so accustomed to them you don't want to let them go? What
exactly do you do with your burdens? According to First Peter 5:7, this
is what you should do with them: "Cast your burden upon him." Why
should you do that? "Because he cares for you."
Carrying your worries, stresses, and daily struggles by yourself shows
that you think you can handle them better than God. You fail to realize
that God can be fully trusted to take care of every area of your life.
Forget about pride. It takes humility to recognize that God wants you
to you to let go of any burden that might be keeping you bent over
because of the weight. Give your sack of burdens to God. He can handle
them. He is stronger than you are.
Click on my article "My Most Memorable New Year's Eve" at the bottom of
this message to see what an entire congregation did with its burdens
during a New Year's Service.