Life Is Hard! Now What?

Jesus told Peter, and now Peter tells us—Christians are going to be insulted and persecuted for believing in Jesus. So the fact that life is hard shouldn’t come as a surprise. Peter then goes on to elaborate on how Christians should live in spite of the mistreatment. 

“The more Christians are unlike the world, the more it hates us; the more we are like our Lord, the more the world will persecute us.” —Horatius Bonar

How should Christians respond to insults and persecution? Peter outlines the Christian’s response in 1 Peter 4:12-19

dear friends, do not be surprised (v. 12). I like this verse in the Amplified Bible: Do not be amazed and bewildered at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test your quality, as though something strange (unusual and alien to you and your position) were befalling you. After all, Jesus told us this was coming (see John 15:18-20). 

but rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ (v. 13a). Notice that this should be the sufferings OF Christ, not of our own making. 

—let suffering lead to Spirit-led reflection (notice the if’s in vv. 14-18, and the if’s in what Jesus said in John 15:18-20). We need to make sure our suffering is because we’re standing for Jesus, not because we’re being jerks! David asked God to check if his actions were the cause of his persecution (Psalm 7:3-4) and we should too. If we discover that we’re the one to blame, quickly apologize, ask for forgiveness, and make things right.  

keep your focus on when His glory is revealed (v. 13b). Time is short, and the rewards are sure so don’t remain focused on the immediate pain, but look up to the longterm gain.  

do not be ashamed to suffer for Jesus (v. 16). Jesus told us not to be ashamed of Him because He is not ashamed of us (Luke 9:26; Hebrews 2:11). 

stay committed to your faithful Creator (v. 19a). Staying committed means getting even closer to God in the hard times.

continue to do good (v. 19b). What does continue to do good look like? Peter lists things like being self-controlled, helping others that are being persecuted, showing proper respect, having a good work ethic, not trading insult for insult, and many other commands. Bottom line: doing good means living like Jesus lived while He was on Earth (see Acts 10:38). 

So, Christian, I’ve got two questions for you—

How are you handling insults and persecution? Are you continuing to do good despite the mistreatment? 

Remember Jesus is coming soon, and His rewards are with Him for how we have lived. “Behold, I am coming soon, and I shall bring My wages and rewards with Me, to repay and render to each one just what his own actions and his own work merit.” —Jesus (Revelation 22:12) 

Join me this Sunday as we continue to learn how Christians are to live as aliens and strangers while we visit Earth. You can join us either in person or via Facebook Live. 

Don’t Throw Out The Message

An important reminder—Don’t throw out the message because of the messenger.

“Beware of seeking out inconsistencies in God’s children in order to evade obeying God’s message yourself. If there comes to you a message on personal holiness, beware of the tendency that puts you on the watch to see if that person is consistent; the reason you watch is that you want to evade obeying God’s message. There is an antipathy to the message of holiness which prides itself on being amazingly shrewd, and whenever a man of God is known to fall, there is a sigh of relief—‘Well, that saves me, I have always been suspicious about this holy life,’ and under the affectation of profound sadness there is a glow of relief on the inside. The trick is as old as the Garden of Eden.” —Oswald Chambers

Let’s Put That In Perspective!

How long is your life? If you’re a man living in the United States on average your life is 689,412 hours. But how long is that really? 

Here’s some perspective—if you drew a timeline 50 feet long that represented all of Earth’s recorded history, your life would cover about the breadth of your hand. But that’s only recorded history—what about the eternity that existed before history started and the eternity that will continue after history ends? 

Twice in Psalm 39, David described our brief life like this: each man’s life is but a breath. 

So what do we do with our breath-long life? Fortunately for us, David gives us godly perspective in five areas. 

  1. Perspective on the weight of my words and my silence (vv. 1-3) 

David had a good start: I will keep my tongue from sin, but what happens when sinful words slip out? I would suggest we count those as a gift. Really?! Yes, because those “slips” make us aware of what’s really in our heart (see Matthew 15:19) so that we can confess them. 

David also suggests putting a muzzle on our mouths when we’re around certain people. In other words, don’t get into petty fights with people who aren’t going to receive the wisdom we may have to share with them. 

  1. Perspective on the use of my time (vv. 4-5)

Why do we procrastinate doing good things? Some of our simple cliches reflect this, like TGIF. Why wait until Friday to get happy? Why not say TGIT—thank God it’s today! Do something memorable today… do something life-altering today… do something for God today.

  1. Perspective on my possessions (v. 6) 

David reminds us that we work so hard to accumulate stuff “not knowing who will get it.” Jesus had another word for someone who only wanted to get stuff to make his life easier: fool (see Luke 12:16-21). Use stuff to serve others. 

  1. Perspective on forgiveness (vv. 7-11)

Why oh why, would we spend one minute longer than we have to with unconfessed, unforgiven sin? I blogged last week about the freedom that immediately comes when we receive forgiveness from our confessed sin. Let’s do this quickly! 

  1. Perspective on the purpose of my life (vv. 12-13)

If I only have a breath-long life, I want to make every moment count. I love what C.T. Studd wrote: “Only one life will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last. … Let us not glide through this world and then slip quietly into heaven without having blown the trumpet loud and long for our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Let us see to it that the devil will hold a thanksgiving service in Hell when he gets the news of our departure from the field of battle.”

Here’s my prayer for all of us—Lord, help me to know how few days I have so I can live every one for Your glory. 

Saturday In The Proverbs—The Blessings Of Integrity (Proverbs 19)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…integrity… (Proverbs 19:1).

Integrity is wholeness—it brings its own blessings because a person of integrity…

  • …is wise (vv. 1, 8, 20, 27)
  • …doesn’t fall into the haste-makes-waste trap (v. 2)
  • …is at peace with God (v. 3)
  • …knows true friendship (vv. 4, 6, 7, 19)
  • …is never punished for lying (vv. 5, 9, 28, 29)
  • …gets promoted to leadership (v. 10)
  • …preserves relationships (vv. 11, 12, 13, 14, 25, 26)
  • …is satisfied with his work (vv. 15, 23, 24)
  • …guards his soul (v. 16)
  • …serves others without an agenda (v. 17)
  • …disciplines only in love (vv. 18, 25)
  • …walks in God’s ways (vv. 21, 23)
  • …is kind to others (v. 22)

“With integrity you can experience freedom. Not only are you less likely to be enslaved by the stress that comes from bad choices, debt, deceptiveness, and other negative character issues, but you are free to influence others and add value to them in an incredible way.” —John Maxwell

How true: Integrity = Freedom to live a satisfying life!

Abundant Bravery

“I am grabbing all you fears by the jugular because I know you are my everyday enemy. You fears are too often my cancer, my addiction, my hidden habit. You’re my jailer, my poison, my daily blade of self-harm. You’ve been my anesthetic, the thing I’ve let come freeze me every day, lock me up, and suck away my life. You’ve snuffed out my soul while you kept on breathing for years. You’re the most common brain tumor, always beginning in our minds.

“You fears may think you can divide us and conquer us and imprison us in small places, in small lives, with high fences that keep out hope and possibility and each other and the lives we really want. But you don’t know how we’re seeing things.

“You may think you can make us cynical about dreams and apathetic about hope and dubious about possibility and people and prospects. But we’re all over you: you aren’t meant to drive our lives; you’re meant to teach us something about life. You’re a chameleon that wears a thousand different masks, and there are ways to see the realest, truest, surest things.

“You can sound loud or you can strut about and rant like pride. You can grow deathly quiet and look like numbness or apathy or indifference or a dream running in the wrong direction.

“But the thing is: When I find my fears, I find my idols. When I find where you lurk, I will look you in the eye until I know your realest name. And I will say your name out loud. …

“So I will go on crushing all of your life-absorbing fears to a fine powder because this is the deal: I want to be better at letting go of you than letting go of joy. I don’t have to worry about what’s up ahead because Christ is the head of everything. And I don’t have to fear what’s around the next corner because Christ is already there too. 

“We don’t have to abide in our fears because we can abide in our Father.

“There’s believing it and then there’s abundantly living it: Fear is a liar, and love hands out keys. Love is infinite and love can’t ever end, and if love doesn’t run out, what is there ever to fear? There will still be love when the worst happens and when the hope doesn’t happen. There will still be love when everything is crumbling, and there will be enough love to rebuild. There will still be enough love to keep breathing, to keep believing, to keep being and being brave.

“For this I know: Fear can be what we feel, but brave is what we do.” —Ann Voskamp, The Way Of Abundance

Check out some other quotes from Ann’s amazing book here, here, and here.

Yea Or Nay

“One of the greatest curses of the modern evangelical movement, in my opinion, is that we are somehow becoming ‘popular.’ Just as soon as you become popular, something goes out of your life, or more accurately, something has gone out of your life before you get popular.

“Historically, the Christian had to be emphatic. He had two words: yea or nay. When God was talking to him, he said yes, and when the devil was talking to him he said no. When God said, ‘Do this,’ he said, ‘Yes, Lord.’ When sinners tempted him to stray, he said an emphatic no.

“The trouble with us now is that we are double-minded. That is why we are weak. Scripture speaks of the double-minded man. He is ‘unstable in all his ways’ (James 1:8). Elijah illustrated this when he said, ‘How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him’ (1 Kings 18:21). We need to be on one side or the other. Wholly committed to our high calling in Christ Jesus.” —A.W. Tozer, in The Wisdom Of God

Love Is Never A Risk

“Jesus risked Himself on me. How can I not risk my life on you? You may not love me back. You may humble me, humiliate me, reject me, shatter my heart, and drive the shards into my soul—but this is not the part that matters. What matters is that in the act of loving we become more like the givenness of Love Himself. What matters most is not if our love makes other people change, but that in loving, we change. What matters is that in the sacrificing to love someone, we become more like Someone. Regardless of anything or anyone else changing, the success of loving is in how we change because we kept on loving.

“Love is always worth the risk because the reward of loving is in the joy of loving itself. Love is a risk that’s never a risk. Loving itself is the greatest outcome because loving makes one more beautiful, more like brokenhearted Beauty Himself. 

“No matter what the outcome looks like, if your love has poured out, your life will be success-full.” —Ann Voskamp, in The Way Of Abundance

Please read my review of The Way Of Abudnance by clicking here, and check out some other quotes from this life-changing book here.

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