1 Peter 4:12-19
At some point, you’ve probably been asked why a loving God would allow suffering in the world. Though He is able to stop it, He often doesn’t. And while we can acknowledge seeing Him at work during certain difficult situations, at other times it looks as if nothing is happening despite our many prayers.
We live in a sinful world, so the potential for anguish is great. Sometimes we’re troubled when people are driven by the evil within. Other times the cause is our own weakness or God’s discipline in our life. Still another reason might be persecution or simply the consequence of ignoring good principles. But whatever the origin of our distress, we can be sure that if God allows it, He has a purpose. He may want …
To get our attention. The psalmist realized affliction brought him back within God’s will (Psalm 119:67; Psalm 119:71). In times of distress, we often turn to Him for help.
To develop personal righteousness in us. God wants us to mature, so He will reveal areas of our life that we need to address.
To prune us. John 15:1-2 paints an excellent word picture of how God eliminates attitudes and actions that are not godly or fruit-bearing.
To teach us obedience. Jesus, who always did the Father’s will, is our perfect example (John 4:34; Heb. 5:7-9). As we are conformed to His image, we will increasingly learn to obey God (Rom. 8:29).
Over the next two days, we’ll look at other reasons God may allow painful seasons in our life. Until then, ask Him to show you how He may be using suffering for your good.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.” (Matthew 23:14)
Among the eight “woes” in Matthew 23 is this awful condemnation on religious leaders for misusing their office and misleading their followers. What they did was pretty serious, but the emphasis in the passage is on the “greater” result of their impact on many lives. James certainly had this incident in mind when he said, “My brethren, be not many masters [teachers], knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (James 3:1).
Paul’s second letter to Timothy listed a series of wicked attitudes that would characterize religious leaders in the last days, warning us about the prevalent conditions. They would have a “form of godliness” but would deny “the power thereof.” Those of us who love the Lord are told to “turn away” from them, “for of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:5-7).
The overriding principle is this: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48). The Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ day knew the Scriptures. Therefore, their hypocritical and destructive behavior received His harsh judgment.
Just so, all those who use their platform of leadership to distort truth and seek the praise of men (John 12:43)—whether in religious environs, in positions of political authority (as were the Pharisees and Sadducees), or merely the “masters” of academia—will reap “the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5).
May the Lord give us the discernment to avoid “them which cause divisions and offences” (Romans 16:17). HMM III
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
—2 Corinthians 6:17
The church’s mightiest influence is felt when she is different from the world in which she lives. Her power lies in her being different, rises with the degree in which she differs and sinks as the difference diminishes.
This is so fully and clearly taught in the Scriptures and so well illustrated in Church history that it is hard to see how we can miss it. But miss it we do, for we hear constantly that the Church must try to be as much like the world as possible, excepting, of course, where the world is too, too sinful….
Let us plant ourselves on the hill of Zion and invite the world to come over to us, but never under any circumstances will we go over to them. The cross is the symbol of Christianity, and the cross speaks of death and separation, never of compromise. No one ever compromised with a cross. The cross separated between the dead and the living. The timid and the fearful will cry “Extreme!” and they will be right. The cross is the essence of all that is extreme and final. The message of Christ is a call across a gulf from death to life, from sin to righteousness and from Satan to God. SOS035-036
Lord, help me to be willing to be different. Forgive me for the sin of blending in. I pray that our neighbors would see something different in our church and our people and be drawn to the Savior. Amen.
I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.—Isaiah 42:16.
When over dizzy heights we go,
One soft hand blinds our eyes,
The other leads us, safe and slow,
O Love of God most wise!
The simple thought of a life which is to be the unfolding of a Divine plan is too beautiful, too captivating, to suffer one indifferent or heedless moment. Living in this manner, every turn of your experience will be a discovery to you of God, every change a token of His fatherly counsel. Whatever obscurity, darkness, trial, suffering, falls upon you; your defeats, losses, injuries; your outward state, employment, relations; what seems hard, unaccountable, severe, or, as nature might say, vexatious—all these you will see are parts or constitutive elements in God’s beautiful and good plan for you, and, as such, are to be accepted with a smile. Take your burdens, and troubles, and losses, and wrongs, if come they must and will, as your opportunities, knowing that God has girded you for greater things than these.
“And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” Heb. 10:17
According to this gracious covenant the Lord treats His people as if they had never sinned. Practically, He forgets all their trespasses. Sins of all kinds He treats as if they had never been; as if they were quite erased from His memory. O miracle of grace! God here doth that which in certain aspects is impossible to Him. His mercy worketh miracles which far transcend all other miracles.
Our God ignores our sin now that the sacrifice of Jesus has ratified the covenant. We may rejoice in Him without fear that He will be provoked to anger against us because of our iniquities. See! He puts us among the children; He accepts us as righteous; He takes delight in us as if we were perfectly holy. He even puts us into places of trust; makes us guardians of His honor, trustees of the crown jewels, stewards of the gospel. He counts us worthy, and gives us a ministry; this is the highest and most special proof that He does not remember our sins. Even when we forgive an enemy, we are very slow to trust him; we judge it to be imprudent so to do. But the Lord forgets our sins, and treats us as if we had never erred. O my soul, what a promise is this! Believe it and be happy.