Advance in Adversity

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I want to say, if you are just joining us for the series that we’ve been in together, we’ve been focusing on the book of 1 Peter and 1 Peter as a church family has been a great place for us to, I think, explore, especially during the time of season that we’re in as a church, the season of life that we’ve been in with 2020 has been a hectic season and an unpredictable season. It’s like you look around and wonder what in the world can happen next, just because of the different things we’ve had going on. And walking with Jesus during seasons that are uncertain, aren’t always easy, but in 1 Peter, when Peter writes this letter, he’s writing to a persecuted church, and I think he really believes that it’s during seasons of persecution or seasons of hardship, that it is possible for God’s people, not just simply to get through it, but to come out on the other end stronger because of it.

And he’s writing to a church that he wants to see honor God in their circumstances and want them to understand, look, you don’t have to raise the white flag of surrender just because of your circumstance, in fact, there’s a way to honor God. And I would even say for us, it is in adversity that God’s people shine the brightest, if we can walk with the Lord in certain ways, and we’ve seen this together, and looking at 1 Peter, we’ve talked about people groups during Peter’s day, that we would describe as more oppressed people groups and Peter talks to them and says, “Look, just because you might feel like you don’t have a platform, don’t buy into that lie. There’s always a way that you can influence society around you through the way that you honor God in your life.”

And so Peter talks about those specific people groups and from there, examples we can learn from any point of view that we have in life or any place that we have in life, that all of us can honor God in the way that we live and that is an important place. In fact, this week we’re in 1 Peter chapter four, so if you’ve got a Bible and you want to turn to 1 Peter chapter four, I’m going to pick up this week where we ended last week, someone said last week when we had the rain, we had five points to last week and I only got to four and a half-ish or three and a half-ish, I guess. And then the rain happened and I told you the last point real quick, as we left and someone said, that’s the fastest point they’ve ever heard a pastor make. And I said, “Jokes on you, because I’m going to start.”

So I’m not going to just end with just making a statement and us running from the rain, I want us to start where we ended off last week because it very much relates to the idea of where people Peter wants to go today in verse 12. So we’re going to pick up just ending last week and we’re going to look at verse 12 to verse 19 for the rest of today. But if you remember where we are in chapter four, Peter’s described difficult circumstances, talked about oppressed people. He said, “Look, the gospel changes lives. When you want to see a difference made in this world around you, you don’t lay down the gospel and then go work on this issue that needs justice in this world and then come back to the gospel.”

The reason that we work on justice in this world is because of the gospel. The gospel is what gives everyone worth, value, meaning, identity in him. And so, because of that, we can tackle any injustice in this world because the value Jesus gives us in him. It makes everything important in light of who Christ is and what he makes in our lives, or at least in the issues of justice or injustices. And so he says in 1 Peter chapter four, where he’s going in this story is he’s sharing with us four or five things to do, right? That’s where we looked at last week. We looked at okay, if I believe this, if I believe that Jesus really makes that difference, if he’s transformational not only in my life, but in the lives of people around us and that it matters for all of eternity, if this is where I stake my claim, and this is what I’m laying my life down, and this is where I find my identity and everything that Jesus says about me, what can I do in this world?

We want to put legs to the action of the gospel. So how do we respond, 1 Peter chapter four is that answer, starting at verse seven, we saw this last week and Peter said to us, point number one was in verse seven, be stable, be stable, be reasonable in your actions. And he was contrasting this with verse three, because he said for the Gentiles, they follow this core sensuality, basically it’s this emotional drive to the Bowman. And for God’s people, if what we believe is true, it’s not just true because an emotion makes it true or the moment it makes it true, it’s always true for God’s people, especially as it relates to injustice in this world. And so we don’t just simply make it an emotional appeal to something, if we just make it an emotional appeal and write off the emotion, it’s only as good as long as that emotion lasts.

But if we found ourselves on truth, we define ourselves in truth, then we can stand on that truth regardless of the circumstance, it makes it true. And so it’s more than just an emotional appeal, if all we live on is an emotional appeal as people, what we end up doing is we just complain for change rather than live the change in Jesus. And God calls us to more than that, then to just cheapen the expressions of things happening around us in life, but rather to live for an ultimate purpose that matters beyond just today. And so he says, “Start this way, be stable, be rational. Don’t just all of a sudden start with this fiery emotional appeal about a circumstance, but rather take a step back and ask yourself, what is God’s perspective here and what truth can I stand on and how can I live in light of that in a way that sustains?”

And then he goes into this, he says in verse seven, again, he says, “And be prayerful, be a prayerful people.” And prayer is so important because when we approach prayer, our typical mindset is to just go to God and tell him what we need, right? And I don’t think that that’s necessarily a bad thing to do in prayer, I think God cares about what your needs are. We’re going to look at that in 1 Peter five when we get there, right? But here’s the important part of prayer, I think the primary purpose of prayer, isn’t for you to tell God what you need, it’s for us to discover what God desires. And so it’s not for us to tell God our will, but discover his will in this world. And that’s why Jesus said in Matthew six, verses nine and 10, praying this way, our father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done.

When Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, he focuses that prayer primarily on God’s will. We’re seeking God’s face, we want to align our hearts with who he is and the truth of him. And then it tells us in our lives to be, I believe three was, fervent in love, to be fervent in love, right? And this is what it’s saying to us. Look, if you want to make a difference for Jesus, here’s what you need to know. It’s not going to come easy. A fervent carries this idea of an athlete that’s moving towards a goal and you think if you ever competed in sports as a young person, you start off with all sorts of practice. I remember playing football as a kid, the first two weeks, no one wanted to show up for the first two weeks and then it was several weeks of showing up before you got to play your first game.

All of it’s leading to the end of the season, that finish line, to become a champion, right? We’re all striving towards that goal. And that’s what he’s talking about in fervent love, is that athlete that he’s trained and trained and trained or she’s trained and they see the finish line, they’re straining for that goal. When you think about love, love takes effort, love isn’t something that always just comes naturally for us. Love is about sacrifice. Sacrifice is about laying yourself down for the benefit of others. So be fervent in love, if you really want to see a change, there should be something demonstrated in our lives that wants to live for that change. And the fourth was to be hospitable. And this is where the rain came. Be hospitable.

And I don’t want to spend a whole lot of time on this, but I do want to say this for us as a church. It says in this passage to be hospitable without complaint, that’s in verse nine, to be hospitable without complaint. Now why in the world would we throw in the word complaint? Be hospitable, why can’t he just say be hospitable? And he’s got to go and say without complaint. Well, when you study the word hospitality in scripture, hospitality is almost always directly linked to evangelism. What it means is God cares about how you treat not only people in the church, but outside of the church. And if you’re going to a community outside of your community, if you’re going to a people outside of your people where you might feel comfortable, the tendency is because someone doesn’t agree with you, that you want to complain about it.

Remember, this is about being the change in a difficult circumstance, this is about becoming the change, living that change in light of this world, seeing a difference made. Fervent love, become hospitable to the point that you extend yourself to reach someone for the Lord. Now, we like to say a few things about this as a church, but one of the things that we like to say is, as a people group, you can’t reach everyone, but you can reach someone and do for one what you wish you could do for everyone. Maybe it’s the place to stop and ask, who is your one? It’s like Jesus shares the parable in Luke 15 of the hundred sheep, he leaves the 99 and he goes for the one. And he thinks in terms of hospitality, who is your one? Sometimes it gets overwhelming to think of all the needs in this world, but you can make a difference somewhere.

Who is your one? You think in terms of hospitality and scripture, Jesus was the master of always having people together. If you’re reading the gospels, what you see is Jesus, most of his ministry always happens around the dinner table. Not complaining, but being hospitable, caring for that soul. That’s when someone sees you care for their soul, that really they give you a place to speak into their lives because they know you’re for them. Even if you don’t agree with them, the mindset of you is that you’re for them. You may not be for what they do, but you genuinely care about them and that’s hospitality. And the last that we didn’t get to last week, is to be a giver, be a giver. And the key word, I just want to highlight there, was to bless others. Verse 10 said it like this, as each one of you received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

So what God’s saying is each one of us has received a special gift and the expectation is that you employ it. What the Lord is saying is God’s given you a gift and the purpose of that gift is to give that gift away. God wants you to be a blessing in this world and he tells you in verse 11, at the very end, the reason for that, in all things, God may be glorified through Jesus Christ to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. And what he’s saying is this, look, in our world today, people have gifts and talents, but here’s the tendency with our gifts and talents. We like to use it for our own fame. Like when we want to live for a cause, or we want to display our gifts and talents, we want to do it because we want people to think great things about us.

That’s why companies today get behind injustice causes. It’s like their interest really isn’t in the injustice, their interest, well, I shouldn’t say that about every company, but their interest a lot of times is just PR, right? Because they want you to think something about them, that’s their motivation. But for a Christian, it’s not about what you think about us, we serve based on what people think about him. There was a musician, this is a weird thing I do sometimes, but I really love Rich Mullins. He died in the 90s, he was a Christian musician and Rich Mullins, he struggled in his life to follow the Lord. He had a lot of, let’s say battles to just be faithful to Jesus, but he was honest about them. And one of the cool things about Rich Mullins, he was a Christian music artist, made a ton of money.

I think he started off and when he got famous, he was writing for, I think Amy Grant. He first wrote songs for her in the 90s. That meant something in the 90s. But he wrote songs for Amy Grant and then he went on as his own artist. But one of the cool things about Rich Mullins is he went to remote parts of America and just served and Rich Mullins had no idea ever how much money he made. He just said, whatever money came, just send a salary for me to the church that he was a part of, because he said, even as a Christian music artist that could have traveled everywhere, he said, “It’s impossible to be a Christian without a local church.” Which I agree with. You have to have somewhere to give your gift away.

You need a community to bless for the cause of Christ, to do this together. And he just had a little bit of a salary sent to the church and the rest he gave away, the man had no idea how much money he made and here’s why. He saw his gift, not as something for his own fame. He saw his gift as a tool God gave him to honor his King. And his interest wasn’t in what people thought about him, his interest was what people thought about Jesus. And I think that’s a breath of fresh air in the way people think about your gifts and talents today, I think the spirit of God gives us special gifts as believers in the Lord, but when you serve Jesus, what is our interests, right?

I mean, we talk about 1 Peter 4. Remember what Peter is talking about here. He’s saying, “Look, in the midst of darkness, God’s people can shine greatly and you can come out stronger for it.” And here’s one of the way it happens, to fervently love to the point of hospitality and the way you become a giver, the way you bless, the way you help one another, the way we work as a family. And let me just say this, when I say give, because I’m not talking about formal ministry, I know that we can have that. We can come to church on Sunday and be like, “Okay, where specifically in the church can you give me a job?” But I’m talking about more than that. Let me tell you one of the things that’s difficult right now in the season that we’re in, is as a pastor, there’s no way I can keep up with everybody in our church.

I cannot call, there’s too many people. On Sunday, it’s great to see people because I get to interact, but we have people right now, we’re just scattered all over the place, right? Which is good for the gospel because we can make a difference. But man, we can really care for each other right now. And you think of people you haven’t seen in the last few months, please don’t make me call them all. I love them, I hope I can, but there’s a place to be a community, encourage each other and to give of ourselves and the blessed and just say, you don’t have to just offer anything, just, “I’ve been thinking about you because I miss you in all that’s been going on.” And just take some time to pray for them. There’s a way to just encourage one another as a community to lay our lives down, it’s not about us, it’s about him. If we want to make a difference in this world, we got to make it about him.

And so that’s what Peter’s arguing in all of this, those five things. And so at the bottom of this section, you’ll see, there’s a picture there, there’s a jar in the notes. If you didn’t grab the notes, I’m sorry, but you have to grab one in a minute. But at the bottom of this section, you’ll see just a little blue and white jar drawn on there and it’s a beautiful illustration. I just want to talk to you about that for just a minute. That jar was carried by a little girl named Mary. Mary was blind and every day her mom would fill up that jar full of food and Mary blind, would walk that jar to jail where her father was in jail for being a Christian. And as a blind little girl, she’d make that journey to her father’s jail every day in Bedford England and she would drop that off to her father and her father would eat the meal for the day. That’s how he sustained life in prison or in jail.

And what’s interesting about this story, this little girl, Mary, who would make her way there to feed her father was that her father was John Bunyan. And in jail, John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress. And Mary didn’t know that this was going to happen, I don’t think John knew this was going to happen, but John used that opportunity to write the book Pilgrim’s Progress. And people say today that the Pilgrim’s Progress is the second most printed book in all of history, the only book that’s behind it or ahead of it, is the Bible. Some say that it’s been printed more times than the Quran. And that book, if you’ve ever read it, if you’ve not read it, you should read it, but if you’ve ever read it, it’s the story of a man named Christian on his faith journey in the Lord. Put his faith in Jesus and it just tells his story through beautiful illustrations. And that book has been published in over 200 languages. That book has gone on to influence the world for centuries.

Mary, did she know that that would happen when she did that? When she kept her father alive by taking that food? No, but based on her gifts and abilities, she had a place to serve. And what did she do? She was just faithful. She was just faithful and the result of that is incredible. And what this means for us guys is that we don’t always know what God’s going to do with our gifts and talents, if we just surrender them to him, but if we’re willing to surrender them to him, the possibilities are endless in the God who is all powerful, right? But if we begrudgingly hold onto it for ourselves or try to make it all about our glory, well the answer is nothing. But as long as we have that attitude of willingness to serve our King, to see what he’s gifted us with and to use those resources for him and his glory, you can make a difference.

The church comes out of it stronger, definitely bigger than the circumstances that it goes because it’s influenced the lives of people around them. So then the question becomes for us, well how do we, when we think about these five things that Peter talks about us doing as a body of believers, what happens when it’s challenged, right? And that’s where he starts in verse 12 and in verse 12, we pick up and I’ll go through this quickly, but verse 12 is where he picks up and he begins to explain to us how to advanced when you have these five things, but you meet adversity. Look at this, beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing as though some strange things were happening to you.

So here’s what he starts off with is look, when you decide in your life, I believe that Jesus makes the difference in the lives of people, I’m going to stand for that. I want it to shape me. I want it to shape life around me. I want to be an influencer. I want to love the way that Jesus loves. This matters, this is the pinnacle of why we’re designed. We’re created as worship beings and we’re designed to worship God. We’re created to know him and delight in him in all of eternity. And God gives us worth, value and meaning, better than anything in this world can, when you make that your stake and you go to live these five things, what he’s saying is, “Look, it’s not going to be easy. You’re light in darkness and there’s going to be a challenge.” And so he says like this, if I just gave us a modern day interpretation here, I’d be like, there’s no crying in baseball, right?

There’s no crying in baseball. Did I say it like Tom Hanks? So first of all he’s saying, don’t don’t come back and be like, oh, he doesn’t like me. When you live for Jesus, of course people don’t like you because they don’t like what that stands for. Now we’ll talk about verse 14 and 15 in a minute, that doesn’t mean you have a license to be annoying. But what he’s saying is expect a fiery ordeal. Now, when you think about the first century, when Peter is saying this, that is a very sobering phrase. I think sometimes in America where we have our freedom of speech, we like to use expressive words that maybe over illustrate the example, like fiery ordeal. We’re going through 2020 and it’s just a fiery ordeal.

This is not a fiery ordeal, it’s got some adversity to it, but it’s not a fiery ordeal. Well, Peter is saying in the first century, is this word fiery ordeal and this is a very sobering statement. This is the kind of statement when you’re reading this in the first century, that’s going to stop and make you very reflective and probably a little prayerful towards what Peter’s expressing here. Because in the first century, this is when Nero’s ruling and this is when Nero takes Christians into his garden, lights them on fire on the top of his poles, to illuminate his garden for his parties. Peter’s not too far from his life becoming a martyr. And so when Peter is giving this statement, the Christians know exactly what he’s saying. Don’t be surprised by the fiery ordeal. Now, when you think about that as you read this verse, that just gets you to pause and think about your stand in Jesus, doesn’t it? It’s like, okay, I love Jesus, I want to live for Jesus, but how serious are you about living for Jesus?

Could be a fiery ordeal. Peter’s saying, expect a battle, expect a battle. And in verse 13 and 16, I love what he does here because in verse 13 and 16, he does something that’s really counterintuitive to our adversity, I think, as a culture. What I mean by that is sometimes I like to check myself because in our culture, I wonder, even for myself, if I might mistake following Jesus with just being comfortable. Does that make sense? When I look at people that follow Christ around the world, there are plenty of countries that go through some difficult times and they’re some of the most faithful, godly people. But in America you give us a hard time and the first thing that we question is whether or not Jesus is real. Here’s a hard thing, oh God, are you even here?

We just abandon our faith in the obstacles of life. Just because it’s challenging, all of a sudden it gets us to question whether or not God is who he says he is. This is what Peter’s saying, the most important thing that you could start with is the foundation of truth. Just because things are hard, doesn’t make things untrue. I mean, Jesus went through some of the most difficult things and he tells us to take up our cross and follow him. And Jesus is very plain, in fact, when Jesus would say those things, disciples were like, “Yeah, I’m not going to do that.” And they would walk away.

The truth of who he is, becomes the very foundation for why you would even want to do this. Do you really believe it? So there’s this fiery ordeal and then he gives this counterintuitive statement in verse 13 and verse 16, look at this. But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing. Now he’s supposed to say, but to the degree that you’re suffering Christ, complain a lot. But he says, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the rejoicing of his glory, you may rejoice with exaltation. And then in verse 16, he tells us, but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in his name. So what he says to us in these moments is look, become a people of rejoicing. And here’s one of the reasons why, one, because what Jesus says is true.

And ultimately we know we’re going to see him face to face one day, verse 13 and rejoice in him. We don’t want to shrink away because when you see Jesus face to face, having shrunk away, you’re going to feel shame at the face of Christ and all of that he’s done for us, where we could have lived for him, as he stood for us in the midst of darkness, that we have an opportunity to stand for him. In verse 12 he said this, that the fiery ordeal is a testing of your faith. It’s not a temptation to get you to fail, but it’s a testing. And here’s what it tests us in, it shows us the genuineness of our faith, where’s the limitation of our faith. Where are we putting our faith? How do we restore faith? Is it just in circumstance, we follow God as long as the circumstance are okay, but is it really the sustaining truth of Christ for all of eternity? And if that’s where it’s at, keep rejoicing in the midst of adversity, because this is your hope.

Look, if you don’t rejoice about that, who will? Who’s going to do it for us? If this truth makes the difference, that it supersedes anything that’s in this world. I know this is a difficult statement. I know this comes with challenge. I know experience that we’re always learning how to do this better, but rejoice, rejoice. As God’s people, it’s important for us really to become professional rejoinders, to see one another in the way that we’re serving God and just encouraging each other to keep going, keep striving for him. We say it like this as a church, that what you celebrate, you replicate. And if this matters more than anything, we should be a people of celebration because of what Jesus has done. We should get excited about the thing that Christ is doing in our lives and when we see a brother and sister in Christ, doing things for his glory, that we continue to get behind them and spur them on and encourage them, we take the time.

I mean, if someone just left here today and said, “That’s going to be my gift. I mean, that’s what I’m doing. I’m just going to be that person.” I mean, how important is it, especially in adversity, to become that individual, to rejoice in him. And then he says this, remember you’re not alone, right? That’s the idea of the of point number two, remember you’re not alone. Verse 14, he says, “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed because the spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” Maybe we say it like this, even if you are reviled, you’re still blessed and here’s why. You have the abiding presence of God and it cannot be overthrown. He’s saying, God’s never abandoning you. He’s always with you in those circumstance. His presence rest on you.

I love reading about church history and this reminds me of William Tyndale. If you don’t know William Tyndale’s story, William Tyndale was a big part of why we have the Bible in English, during his day it was illegal. And he was alive in the early part of the 16th century and he fought to get the Bible in English for us. And William Tyndale ended up becoming a martyr, he was executed by the government. I mean, becoming a martyr for trying to get Bibles in our language. But there’s something beautiful about in the midst of adversity, when God’s people just raise their hand and rejoicing over the glory of their King, right? You go through difficult circumstances but even in that adversity, you just want to praise the name of God because you’ve tasted his goodness in your life and that is what you live for. That to me was William Tyndale.

Even the point when William Tyndale was martyred right at his death, his final prayer wasn’t a hate you guys, it wasn’t, oh, look at me and my suffering. It was, Lord open the eyes of the King of England. And then he was executed. And history tells us just three years later, the King of England passed a law to allow God’s word in English, in every house of worship. There’s something beautiful about God’s people in the midst of circumstances, just still when you feel like you have nothing else left, just praise the Lord, praise the Lord. And so he says, “Remember, you’re not alone, God’s presence is with you.” And then because of that verse 15, make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer. That’s ever a temptation. Don’t suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or a troublesome meddler. That to me, that’s just a weird list, you read that, don’t suffer as a murder or as a thief or a troublesome meddler. I tried to look that up in the Greek, like I’m thinking murderer, thief, troublesome meddler, what does this mean? The troublesome meddler, right?

When I read that, I hear that in my British voice, right? It’s probably not a very good voice, but little [inaudible 00:27:39], it’s like, little booger. It just doesn’t fit. You’ve got a murder and a troublesome meddler sitting side by side. I was like, that’s my two year old at church in the park and then there’s murderer. How do you have those two? And so what he’s saying is like, look, when people come against you, what’s going to rage within you is the desire to want to fight back. They want to kill you, so kill them, right? But he says, look, to the point that I don’t even want you to be irritating to people, that’s what Peter’s saying. Regardless of the circumstance, God always calls you to be one that blesses. Don’t even be a trouble troublesome meddler, right? When people think of you, don’t even let them become irritated by the thought of who you are, even if they’re going to persecute you, make them do so reluctantly because of how much they know that you care about them.

And so he’s saying, “Look, you have God’s presence always with you and you’re also always influencing people around you.” So when you think about what God desires for your life, remember you’re not alone, you always have God’s presence and you’re making this difference in the lives of people. Now, when you read verses 14 and 15, I know the objection here, if you’re reviled for the name of Christ, you’re blessed because the spirit of glory and of God rests on you. This verse is one that we, I think, need to know intellectually, but it’s also one that I think that we need to grow in experientially, that God’s spirit is always with you. Because when we go through hard things in life, here’s what we want to say, prove it, right? I’ve been down difficult roads, prove that. Prove that I know that God’s spirit’s really going to be with me. Because there are times I’ve walked roads where maybe I didn’t feel that way, but you want God’s presence with you.

Let me just remind us, I think as Christians, this is important to really not just know, I think sometimes we know God’s with us, but when we say that, we say, God’s with us over there, right? Sometimes that statement, we know intellectually, but there’s this distance to the idea of that, that God, yeah, I know that truth about him over there. But when you get in that hard thing, you really want to know that truth right here, right? And when you look through scripture, what you see is God is faithful to that. When you think about the difficult things people have gone through, you think about in the book of Daniel with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they go in the fiery furnace and who’s there? The Lord, right? I see four people. Or Daniel goes in the lion’s den and who’s there? God, he shuts the mouth of the lion. Or maybe even in the new Testament, Stephen in Acts chapter six and seven, when he’s stoned, what does it tell us? That Stephen looks up into the heavens and he sees the glory of God, that in his trial, God’s presence meets him there.

And for us, God’s presence meets us there. I mean, Psalm 23, even though I’ll walk through the valley of the shadow of death, your rod and your staff, they comfort me. I was listening to a story about 23 missionaries, I think they were from the Philippines, that went to Afghanistan to minister to the Taliban. And they were captured. And one by one, they started to martyr them. And the story goes, that as these individuals were facing martyrdom, they were facing some gruesome martyrdom, that they were actually arguing over which one of them would go first when the Taliban pulled them out because they wanted to glorify God even to the end of their lives. And I imagine if they’re going to a place like that, they realize it could come down to the ultimate sacrifice.

But what was most interesting to me about the story, is individual that was telling the story was talking about having dinner with him a year later. And he said that when they were having dinner together, that a few of them started to talk about how they missed being there, that they actually wanted to go back to Afghanistan and be held in that same prison. And the individual was blown away that they were even having this dialogue, but when he found out why he said, “Why would you?” And they said this, “In that prison, I was closer to God than I have ever been in my life. And since that moment, I haven’t been able to get back there.” And though the circumstances were hard, that spirit sustained them.

So when you read verse 14, it’s good to know that verse intellectually, but also to hold onto it experientially, the God that I would find this to be true in my life. And the last I’ll say this, is to stick to the plan, verses 17, 18, and 19. Stick to the plan. When you read this passage, he ends chapter with just the sobering thought of the significance of the salvation that you have in the Lord. He says this, “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God. And if it begins with us first, what would be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it’s with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what would become of the godless man, of the sinner?” “Therefore,” he says, “Those also who suffer according to the will of God, shall entrust their souls to a faithful creator in doing what is right.”

What Peter is saying here is, look, you need to keep entrusting, right? Keep entrusting. It’s what he says in verse 19, entrusting your life to what God is saying here, to follow this plan based on the truth of who God is. It’s like to say, look, you’re a part of a team, God’s called his community on a mission, we’re a part of a team together. But there are some Christians that aren’t even on the field, they’re just sitting in the sidelines, eating popcorn. And Satan has lulled you asleep. He’s not threatened by you because there’s nothing to be threatened about.

What Peter is saying here is, “Look, keep entrusting. You’re in a place to make a difference. You can’t do it everywhere, but you can do it somewhere. Keep entrusting to what God has called you to in this world. You don’t know what God can do, but if you’re not faithful, it will be nothing through you.” But if we follow, maybe like Mary, feeding her father, she could be a part of having a book written that influenced history for centuries. Keep entrusting. When I think about this verse, one of the things I think that the Lord really used for me, I should say, just this week as I was reflecting on this, is Psalm 46. Because when I think about serving God and I think about serving God in hard things, sometimes my immediate response is to look within me and ask the question, do I have it? Is it in me to make it up this mountain? How in the world am I going to do this?

When you read the Psalms, you see a lot of times the Psalmist reflecting that way, right? They’ll talk about where they’re at and this trouble they’re going through. But what makes Psalm 46 really interesting is that even though the psalmist might be going through hard things, rather than get lost in himself and the obstacles he sees within himself, what he chooses to do is get lost in the magnitude of God. Look, whether or not you accomplish anything for the Lord in this world, isn’t up to you. It’s up to him. And it’s only by the grace of God that you are where you are anyway, because you could have done nothing to save yourselves. We’re all dependent on the Lord. If you have been doing the kids stuff this week, the summer kids club, they memorize the Colossians 1:16 and 17, for by him, all things are created in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions, principalities, and powers, all things were created through him and for him and he is before all things and in him, all things hold together.

He’s the one that sustains it. We’re just honoring him the way that we glorify him by giving our lives back to him, because he’s the one that’s given us this life anyway. It’s not up to me, it’s up to him. And when you read Psalm 46, listen to the beauty of these words, you see a Psalmist going through hard things, but rather than say, “God, I don’t know if I got it. God, I don’t know if I can do this. God, I don’t know.” He just stops his own heart and reflects on the Lord, just listen to these words, getting lost in the power of God. He says this, “God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble, therefore we will not fear. Though the earth should change and there the mountain slip into the heart of the sea. Though its waters, roar and foam. Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride, there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the Holy dwelling place of the most high.”

And at the very end of the Psalm, this is what he says, “Be still and know that I am God.” What a beautiful place to rest, right? You think about making a difference in this world, that you can pause within your soul and say, and it’s possible not because of me, because of the glory of this King who made it all and holds all things in his hands, that I may praise his name and live for that glory. So believers, when you think about this world and all that Jesus has done for you by sacrificing his life, that you can find freedom in him, don’t be surprised at the fiery ordeal. If they crucified Jesus, it’s not going to be a walk in the park for his people. You’re going to stand for him and it could be hard, but look, we’re not going to do it in a way that’s irritating. You’re not some British troublesome meddler right? You want to bless. And so we want to stand on that truth and live for his glory all because of what he’s done.