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 life.
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 various forms.
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)
I am 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 his fate.
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 ordeal.
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)