Monday, January 26, 2009

Blessings from the Furance

Please read I Peter 4:12-19. Every Christian who lives a godly life experiences a certain amount of persecution. It may happen on the job, in school, in the neighborhood, perhaps in the family. Peter dealt with this kind of "Normal persecution" earlier in his letter. In the above passage he explains a special kind of persecution, a "Fiery trail" that was about to overtake the entire church. Peter gave the believers four instructions to follow in the light of the coming "Fiery trail." First, we can expect suffering. A believers life produces a different lifestyle. Much of what goes on in the world depends on lies, pride, pleasure, and the desire to get more. God declared war on Satan after the fall of man, and Satan has been attacking God through His people ever since. Jesus explained to his disciples that they should expect opposition and persecution from the world. A fiery trial comes because we are faithful to God and stand up for that which is right. The word "Happened" is important, it means "To go together." The trials are part of God's plan, and He is in control. Second, we are to rejoice in suffering. He said were are to "Be constantly rejoicing." Peter named several privileges that we share that encourage us to rejoice in the midst of the fiery trail. Our suffering means fellowship with Christ. Jesus is with us in the furnace of persecution. Our suffering means glory in the future. "Suffering" and "Glory" are twin truths that are woven into the fabric of Peter's letter. God is not going to replace suffering with glory, rather He will transform suffering into glory (see John 16:20-22). Our suffering brings to us the ministry of the Holy Spirit. "For the presence of the glory, even the Spirit, rests on you." The reference is to the Shekinah glory of God that dwelt in the tabernacle and in the temple. Our suffering enables us to glorify His name. Third, we are to examine our lives. In the furnace of persecution and suffering, we often have more light by which we can examine our lives and ministries. During this time we must ask several questions. Why am I suffering. Let's be sure we are suffering because we are Christians and not because we are criminals. We must ask, am I ashamed, or am I glorifying God. Not being ashamed is negative, and glorifying God is positive. It takes both for a balanced witness. During this time am I seeking to win the lost? Our present "Fiery trial" is nothing compared with the "Flaming fire" that shall punish the lost when Jesus returns in judgment. Forth, we must commit ourselves to God. We can commit ourselves into the care of God. The word is a banking term, it means "To deposit for safe keeping." This picture reminds us that we are valuable to God. This commitment is not a single action but a constant attitude. "Be constantly committing." Peter referred to God as "A faithful Creator" because God the Creator meets the needs of His people. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

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