Suffering

Today’s Passage – 1 Peter 1 – 5 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 111 – 115; Proverbs 23)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Matthew 6:33

Read the “1223 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” (1 Peter 1:6 & 7)

As I was reading this entire first letter from Peter, I could not help but notice all of the references to suffering. It seems that the Christians in the first-century Roman Empire were indeed put to the test often due to their allegiance to Jesus Christ. Look back in the text and notice the following verses:

“But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;” (1 Peter 3:14)

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:” (1 Peter 4:12)

“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” (1 Peter 5:10)

In fact, the word “suffer” appears 11 times in 1 Peter. These folks certainly knew what it was like to bear the cross of the Lord Jesus. There are people today in other parts of the world who also are well acquainted with suffering for the Lord. They know what it is like to be persecuted, and in some cases prosecuted, simply for living their Christian faith.

In America, however, there is very little suffering being experienced by believers. We live in a land of freedom. We can still worship the Lord without fear of reprisal. We know little of “counting the cost” in our relationship with God. We are well fed, we are warm in the winter and cool in the summer, we sit on cushioned seats; we have it made. Yet, if you were to carefully examine the hearts and attitudes of many believers today, you would find that they really do not fully appreciate the freedom and luxury that they have. They don’t recognize the wonderful place of liberty that God has given us here in the good ole U.S. of A. This is not to say that they haven’t experienced other forms of suffering, such as illnesses, etc.; but I am merely trying to point out that they are not suffering at the hands of their neighbors, or the government for worshipping Christ. Maybe, its because we are very carnal here in America. Paul says in 2 Timothy 3 that all that live godly shall suffer persecution. Maybe we are not as godly as those first century Christians.

There is something that Peter wrote in this epistle that I think we can all identify with, however:

“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;” (1 Peter 2:11)

Though I do not know any Christians here in our land that are being tortured for their faith, I do know of many that are in torment because of the battle going on in their flesh. I know that my flesh is my number one enemy. I can certainly identify with the Apostle Paul when he said that the things that he does not want to do, he does, and vice versa. Maybe that is why Satan isn’t attacking us with the frontal assault of persecution. He doesn’t have to because we are still losing the battle in our flesh and our lusts are keeping us from having the effectiveness and impact in the world that we could be having.  See the list of the “works of the flesh” in Galatians 5:19 – 21 if you don’t know what I am referring to. But maybe, if we really started walking in the Spirit, and putting to death the lusts that are reeking havoc in our lives, then we just might get the wicked one’s attention. Don’t misunderstand, I am not inviting, nor looking forward to suffering at the hands of the devil or the world; but I am looking forward to living a “Spirit-filled life” that is worthy of their attention.


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