- ReadOne-Anothering Well: Kindly AffectionedSome News You Can Use from Antioch
What do you naturally cherish or favor? You know. It is the thing you desire to be first in line to attain. Your affection for it is effortless. It is what causes pain when denied and pleasure when delivered.
Ask a mother what comes naturally, and her affections will be kind, generous, and tender toward her child. Fathers and siblings also have this kind of natural or kindly affection.
Blood is thicker than water ancient wisdom suggests. It implies familial bonds are stronger than all other friendships or love. In Christ, our heart should produce this kind of natural familial affection for all other believers (1 Th. 2:7-12). Does this describe you?
Church members are called to a familial bond where blood (the blood of Jesus Christ) produces a bond that is stronger than any other friendship or love. After all, we’re members of the same body and family. We’re blood kin in Christ (Mk. 3:31-35).
Christ’s blood is thicker than water, so we seek to never belittle or be-grudge and to always bless and build each other up: A ministry to all members (From Romans 12:4-10, 16).
To be kindly affectioned is to naturally show favor that is disposed to tenderness and familial love. In two places the Bible speaks of those “without natural affection”. They are hard-hearted, unkind, reprobate and selfish. But the believer is not so because they are rooted and grounded in the love and life of Jesus Christ.
To honor and prefer others is to promote what advances another in status, rank or fortune: “Go ahead of me, please”. It will not rob one’s dignity or worth: “I go first”.
This quality of relationship creates compelling community characterized by genuine humility that creates an atmosphere that promotes healthy relationships where tender affection and appreciation for each other replaces indifference or cool acceptance.
We one-another well when we harmoniously minister to every member, not a select or preferred few. This must be our normal. Without exception we only think well, speak well, and act well, one to another.
Kindly affectioned means we cannot think poorly, speak poorly, look down upon or mistreat any other. When this is true church-wide, we’ll have a compelling community that powerfully reveals the gospel. A few thoughts to help be closer kin:
1. Avoid Relational Herniation (Rom. 12:16, Pro. 30:32).
· God did not design relationships to lift up oneself. We’re too heavy: it causes pain. You risk serious injury to our body if you seek to elevate yourself. Work at making others look, sound, and be good.
· When we seek to elevate others, to look for and affirm the good in them, to enjoy and respect them, and let them know it, we’ll have the inexhaustible power of God to help us lift them above ourself.
2. Practice Putting Others First until It’s Painful, Then Keep Practicing (Acts 24:16).
· Relational health can be a painful process. The pain of proper practice (and some failure) will give way to pleasure as you transform the fat of lazy relational habits to new and healthier ones.
· Make a move toward and greet others in a way that avoids unhealthy offenses. Prioritize greetings by the hardest to easiest and in such a way that lets them know you can be trusted and a source of help.
3. Relational Security Is Grown by Deposits Not Withdrawals (Rom. 12:10, 16).
· Build another’s worth by not worshipping your opinions / abilities (Jer. 9:23-24). Bank accounts require deposits to grow secure. Being kindly affectioned is the currency of healthy relationships and makes room for an occasional good faith “withdrawal” when we become selfish or sin against others.
· Being generous givers of grace and charity, ministers of what is needed not deserved, builds relational reserves. Avoid thinking, saying, and doing things that dimmish the worth of others emotionally, spiritually and relationally (withdrawals). Invest in making the riches of Christ’s grace accessible.
When our hearts are humble, we’ll seek God concerning changes we need to make to view every other member as one deserving of fondness, tenderness and generosity. We’ll seek to advance their status, rank, and fortune.
This reveals what living in unity, fervent in charity and growing in maturity is. Will you commit to a ministry to all members in good faith - to one-anothering well and building a compelling community?
- ReadOne-Anothering Well: Members One of AnotherSome News You Can Use from Antioch
When one becomes a member of a social, political, religious or civic organization they do so to identify with the values and mission of that organization. Their membership has meaning and purpose as they work together for a common cause.
Families are made of members who share a common ancestry, identity and responsibility to secure each other’s well-being and future generations, bring honor to the family name, and become productive positive influences in society.
In each of these examples the members are joined one with another striving to maintain common values and objectives. Now, the human body also has many members (hands, feet, eyes, ears, etc.) joined together but in such a way that they are not just joined one with another, they are members one of another. Whatever happens to one member affects the whole body - all other members. Stub a toe and the who body knows!
God likens those born again to a spiritual body, a living organism (not religious organization) with members one of another, organically joined. Those born again are placed into the family of God as members who share common ancestry: Not Adam, but God; and a common identity: Not self or sinner, or guilt or shame or past or personality. They share the life of Christ, His ancestry, His past, present and future. His identity!
Members of God’s family also bear the responsibility to secure each other’s well-being, future generations, and bring honor to the family name by becoming productive positive influences in society for the cause of the gospel.
Moreover, they become members in particular of the organic, spiritual body of Christ: Members one of another, not just members one with another. God calls this body the church.
Everything one member thinks, says or does, affects all others. What you and I think, say and do affects the entire body of Christ - let that sink in! When one of us stubs our spiritual toe or stumbles through sin, self-centeredness, or circumstances of life, suffers or succeeds, it affects us all (1 Cor. 12:25-27).
The mission of effectively exalting Jesus, edifying each other, and evangelizing the lost is every-member dependent.
The body of Christ, the church, does not work as effectively or remain as healthy when body parts (members) are missing, spiritually unhealthy, have unattended needs, or for other reasons remain unavailable or disconnected.
Every local church is every-member dependent because every member has a unique function within the body, placed there by the Creator, our Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s consider One-Anothering Well: Members One of Another (From Rom. 12:1-8).
To be a member in particular of the body of Christ one must be born again - that’s all. To be a member in particular of the local church one is to have a credible evidence of the new birth, has followed the Lord in scriptural baptism (immersion), and has been given and accepted the right hand of fellowship.
With membership and a conscience void of offense between God and man the believer is then welcome to participate joyfully and peacefully in the Lord’s Supper (communion), the table of God’s family!
They are also expected to be active and committed contributors to the welfare of all members and the work of our mission. Membership must be meaningful. It’s too serious to be casual or half-hearted.
Every member of the local church must be committed to caring well for each other, cooperating in the co-mission Christ has given us, and securing the continuance of the church ‘til Christ comes.
Here’s three things that will help us grow healthier as members one of another serving together in one accord:
1. Abide, Don’t Just Attend. Our fellowship begins in spiritual union with Jesus Christ and therefore unites us to other believers in compelling community that is invigorating and inviting (John 15:5, 1 John 1:3-7).
We are to work toward being “inseparable” from this fellowship except under the most extreme circumstances: Like an arm or leg (Rom. 12:4-5, Eph. 4:25), or in some respects a marriage (Eph. 5:29-32).
2. Awareness of Your Oneness Is Built on Deeds Not Sentiments (Col. 4:7-9, 12, 1 John 2:19). An amputated limb is affectionately remembered, missed, and at times even “felt”, but is also no longer useful.
Avoid living, loving and serving each other off past deeds, accomplishments, selfish gain or sentiments. Make yourself a meaningful member whose ministry to others would be sorely missed today (Rom. 14:7).
3. Be Active but Not Aggravating (Eph 4:12-16, Gal. 5:13-15). Develop healthy actions, attitudes and affections that foster good will and stable, secure relational health among all others at our church (2 Th. 1:3).
Every child of God is gifted. Know your role, be faithful, and stay in your lane (1 Cor. 12:17-20, Eph. 5:25-27). The health of our church is dependent upon every member identifying, developing and serving their spiritual gifts and resources in a manner that nourishes and cherishes each other.
Friend, perhaps your membership here is defined as “with others in our church”: You attend regularly, serve, give, love but do so out of convenience or culture, not deep conviction and commitment to all others and our mission.
Maybe you’re not a member yet. You come but seem to be an outsider or a spectator, not a participant, or member in particular with a purpose. In either case would you pray about becoming a member one of another? Connected, committed, in community.
We can all be all-in and committed to making Antioch a gospel-revealing, not just gospel-preaching, community. A church that as one author said, “displays the power of the Word we hear through the community we see.”
Will you help us be a church where everyone commits to living in unity, growing in maturity and being fervent in charity? Will you seek the next step to being a member who makes a difference? This series of messages will help you identify steps to take. You can also ask a mature believer to disciple you in meaningful membership.
- ReadOne-Anothering Well: A Commitment to The New CommandmentSome News You Can Use from Antioch
If you did a man-on-the-street poll and asked “how would you define a Christian” what do you suppose they would say? If you asked the average person who attends the average church “how would you define your fellow church-goers or church? What would they say?
What if we asked people who have visited our church or those who attend? If they were honest, what would they say? The answer to these questions should interest all of us; and we should do all that we can to see that we answer as Christ would answer.
The answer is not “holier than thou” or “hypocrite” or “judgmental” as some on the street or average church might say. Nor is it “doctrinal skirmishes” or “denim skirts”. The answer is defined clearly by Jesus Christ whom every Christian is obligated by loving devotion to follow.
The Christian is to be (not behave like) one who in everything and to everyone operates with a motive, manner, message, and mission characterized by Christlike (not culturally defined) love.
The enemy of true love is whatever threatens righteousness. The enemy of unbiblical love is whatever threatens one’s love for self or an idolatrous self-concept.
Christians are people committed to the new commandment of Christ. Whatever we think, say, and do, we do for the highest, purest good of another, and to demonstrate what God’s love is and does.
Friend, does that define you? Is every interaction with every human being you encounter, everything you think, say, and do, motivated by Christ? Does your love seek to adjust or bend others to what pleases you or to what is best for them? A new command I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you (From John 13:34-35).
Today I’m calling us all to a new level of commitment to the new commandment to love.
While we cannot control what others think, say, and do, we can and must make sure that everyone at Antioch loves and is loved well. Love is not merely sentiment. It seeks to be and do good, not just look, or feel good.
Emotions of love must be the result of true and faithful love. I may have to love in a way that does not make someone look or feel good. But it is for their good and I’ll do so in a considerate way.
The local church is a place where people learn and practice loving each other (even the not so lovable) well. It’s what Christ defined as His “brand” (1 John 3:14).
We’re learning. We’re practicing. We’re also engaging in whatever it takes to become a compelling community of believers who are noticeably living in unity, growing in maturity, and fervent in charity. Diverse people demonstrably in love with each other.
In Jesus’ discourse to His disciples, on the night of His going to give His life, in love, for their (our) good, He commands them (and us) four times to love each other (John 13:34-35, 15:12, 17).
Why the emphasis? In part, they were fighting among themselves about who was greatest! Comparing ourselves among ourselves and injuring others for our own benefit is not only unwise, but also disturbingly unloving.
Jesus calls the kind of love we are to have one to another a “new commandment”. What’s new? The original commandment, called the great commandment, was to love our neighbors as ourselves. We know how to do that because we know how to manipulate circumstances, possessions, and other people to our benefit.
But Christ’s command is new: Love others like He loves us. He then indwells us with His holy Spirit to empower the kind of love He expects.
To have love one to another is to possess the capacity, ability and control of sincere appreciation and high regard for each other in such a way that it aims at their greatest good and puts the character of Christ and His selfless love where others can behold and experience it (Rom. 5:5, 6-8).
Let’s look at seven ways we can practically love one another well daily, starting today:
1) Love is commitment before emotion (Pro. 16:3). Love grows out of faithfulness to Scripture not by following sentiments (1 John 2:3-6).
A branch united to a healthy vine grows fruit. Our love grows out of and evidences our union with Jesus and commitment to continual practice of biblical love (John 15:5-17).
2) Love seeks to be good, not look good. It gives from roots grounded in principle, not pragmatism, politics, or personal preferences. Love’s goal is the highest good of others after consideration (Heb. 10:24).
Love studies to discern, then do what is best, not convenient. It discerns when to be tender or tough, silent or speak, to confront or cover sin, to disciple or discipline. It’s never self-serving or self-righteous.
3) Love goes all in to give, not get. It gives generously. Like grace, love gives what is needed, not deserved. (1 John 3:14-18).
Someone said, “You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.” Love finds opportunities to serve and bless others without remuneration (Gal. 5:13-14, Rom. 13:8-10).
4) Love seeks cooperation and communion, not competition or comparison. Love invests its energy in the edification of others; in esteeming others above self instead of exalting self above others (Phil. 2:1-5).
5) Love walks at least twice as far as is reasonable (Mt. 5:38-42). Some people require more time, distance, effort, and grace to get to a godly destination or disposition. Go the extra mile, Christ did (Phil. 2:6-8).
6) Love talks half as much as it listens (Jam. 1:19-20, Eccl. 5:1-2). It asks good questions with the goal of hearing and understanding another’s story or perspective and waits considerately before speaking.
7) Love rescues and recovers what sin has ruined (Gal. 1:3-4). It’s Christ’s mission through us (Lk. 5:31-32, 19:10, 2 Cor. 5:18-20).
Love finds no pleasure in other people’s pain. It stoops to pull those who sin up and will not stand for putting those who’ve sinned down (To learn more click here).
Friend, if you haven’t been habitually loving others like Christ loves you and them, you haven’t been behaving like a Christian. It’s time to be one. Talk to God about it and lay hold of His wonderful and glorious new commandment.
Don’t let go until He blesses you in such a way that going forward your love to all others, especially those right here at Antioch, will be the kind of love that defines you as a Christ-follower who is living in unity, growing in maturity, and fervent in charity because Christ’s holy Spirit rules your heart and mind. Today, right now, you can make a commitment to the new commandment. Will you?
- ReadOne-Anothering Well: Cultivating PeaceSome News You Can Use from Antioch
Our study of One-Anothering, the practice of living in unity, growing in maturity, fervent in charity, takes us not only into some deep waters, but also into some of the shallows. There are fundamentals of living a shared life together that must be cultivated and maintained. Today we wade in some refreshing shallows.
When people live close together, like a family or church, problems occur. We’re not perfect but we can live together in peace. Peace is the quality of quietness not contention, of being at one, whole, reconciled, and having nothing between one another that causes hurt or hinderance to healthy and holy relationships.
Differences don’t divide us, what we do with differences divides us. We are to live together as neither offended nor offenders. In Christ, we have an abundant supply of peace within so that we can offer it freely and abundantly to others with whom we interact.
Peace is the currency of healthy relationships that is freely given and freely received. It signifies our commitment to loving one another well in compelling community.
While warning His disciples about thinking highly of themselves, disputing, criticizing and offending others, Jesus gives an exhortation that is graphic and hyperbolic. He then makes a statement about a commodity that is needful to all people, something regularly traded, and used at times to secure a peace covenant between two parties: Salt. (From Mark 9:33-50)
It was also to be placed on sacrifices offered to God (Lev. 2:13). Christians are to be the salt of the earth (Mt. 5:13), peacemakers, not peace-takers (Mt. 5:9).
When we sow discord, slander, falsely accuse, argue, compete with, compare ourselves to others, complain about, entertain disputes with, criticize one another, or rob each other’s peace some other way, we lose effectiveness in our calling, forget the judgment to come, and call into question what kingdom we represent (Rom. 14:16-19, 1 Cor. 6:5-11)!
Sometimes we need to revisit Christian fundamentals. Where’s the peace?! Peace characterizes the realm of the kingdom of God and those submitted to Him (Col. 3:15). Our identity in Christ makes us peacemakers, not peace-takers.
If we take the words “one with” out of the statement “we are to be at one with each other,” we end up “at each other” and mischaracterize the gospel. What can we do to be true to our calling to cultivate peace?
Here’s a few practical things to get us started:
1) Cultivate Courtesy (1 Pet. 3:8-9). If you desire to plant peace in relationships, you cannot sow discord or play devil’s advocate (Pro. 12:18). Don’t drag those you differ with thru the mud (Col. 4:5-6).
2) Watch Out for Roots and Ruts (Heb. 12:14-15). Attitudes, thoughts, words, and actions that defile are impediments to healthy relationships. You can choose not to cause others to stumble by being disagree-able, disrespectful, or defiling. Ask God and trusted others to help you pull the roots and fill in the ruts.
3) Cast Words Cautiously (Pro. 18:21). We should never get our exercise by working out our opinions or feelings verbally (Pro. 10:18, 29:11, 15:28). When you must confront or disagree start with Mt. 7:3-5.
4) Don’t Drown Your Garden (Pro. 17:14). Healthy relationships cannot flourish under floods of accusations and indictments. When wronged, you don’t have to go to war (James 4:1-3, 1 Cor. 6:5-9a).
5) You Reap What You Sow, so Sow Peace (Gal. 5:15, 26, 6:8-10). When you cause mischief or malign others you misrepresent the gospel, lose respect/favor, and bring trouble upon yourself (Pro. 11:27).
6) Get Your Exercise by Building Others Up Not Burning Them Down (1 Cor. 1:4-6). In cultivating healthy relationships, we seek to enrich others, not rob them of peace. Be a blessing not a blowtorch.
7) Erect Fences Wisely (Psa. 119:165). Don’t allow offenses to become fences (Eph. 2:13-18). Choose not to be offend-ed. When (of)fence is getting between you and another, seek godly intervention.
8) Be Careful What You Hack. Healthy relationships require responsible hoeing. There is wheat among the tares, so be careful what you pull. Our obligation and opportunity are to clear our relationships of whatever hides the gospel of peace and crowds out the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:17-6:4a).
Without peace no man shall see the Lord. If peace is not ruling your heart God is not ruling your life. If you’re not at peace with another take time right now to get honest before the Lord and ask Him to reveal/remove whatever is in the way of one-anothering well and then repent, reconcile, and be refreshed.
Friend, click here to find out how you can know the peace of God.
- ReadOne-Anothering Well: Talking Together with TransparencySome News You Can Use from Antioch
“I have a question, please don’t think I’m stupid”. Have you ever withheld a question or comment about the things of God in the presence of other Christians because you were afraid of how they might respond or think about you?
What changes when we have a safe place to be honest without risk, fear, or intimidation?
The Christian life is a shared life. And part of what we share is incomplete understanding and the joy of discovery – together with complete transparency because we trust each other and are trustworthy.
When trust flourishes, friendships around God’s word flourish, because we do not hide or hinder honest inquiry.
Our study of One-Anothering, the practice of living in unity, growing in maturity, fervent in charity, begins with the disciples of Christ talking with transparency about things they did not understand and were not afraid to discuss among themselves.
Let’s face it, there are lots of things about the Bible we don’t understand (Rom. 11:33-34). Each of us can take steps to talk about life together with transparency.
1. Talk Transparently Together about What Manner of Man Jesus Is and His Doctrine (Mk 4:33-41).
- People have ideas about who Jesus is (good man, teacher, myth, God?). People also have questions about His parables, hard sayings, doctrine… and it’s okay to talk honestly about doubts/disagreement.
- Talk about the miracles, their meaning and what truths they reveal. Do they reveal that He is God the Creator by demonstrating His power over nature, devils, sickness, sin, death, the grave? What else?
2. Talk Transparently Together about The Meaning of Jesus Life, Death, Resurrection (Mk 9:9-10)
- Why did the Lord want to keep His transfiguration quiet until after the resurrection? Why were those close to Him so ignorant? Why are we? What might we be hiding that our new life should reveal?
- (Lk 24:13-18). What about Jesus causes us to question life as we thought it would or should be? When loss in your life causes you to question what you have believed, talk to others about it.
- When we talk openly together, at a Bible study, during fellowship at church, our homes, or work, Jesus Himself might get in on the conversation! In fact, He’ll open our understanding (Lk. 24:27-35).
Here are some practical things you can do for richer biblical discovery one with another:
- Go to a Bible study and refuse to sit silently. Share your insights, ask questions, talk about life. We talk about what interests us. So, get interested in Jesus, each other, and the things of God, and talk!
- Meet with another(s) for an hour or two weekly and go thru our discipleship lessons or sermon email. Meet at home, at a restaurant, for coffee, or church with the kids. Let ‘em play while you talk together.
- Discuss your questions and struggles about life or God’s word. Discover and pray together without imposing your view or criticizing theirs. Make it safe to “not know something” (Pro. 14:12).
- Allow people to be wrong or misguided without having to point out their errors. Instead, ask some thoughtful and disarming questions like, “that’s interesting, tell me more about how you came to that understanding.” Or “can you show me the scriptures you’ve found to arrive at your understanding?”
- (Pro 18:13) Read a book on a difficult or controversial subject and discuss it (without arguing or contention). Guidance and discussion to gain understanding is better than rebuke, ridicule or dismiss-al. You don’t have to defeat their view. Leave the door open for further or future discussion.
- (Pro 1:5-6, 29:11) Vulnerability and humility win trust and credibility, not “always having an answer” or “winning the argument”. The wise listen long before they speak. Ask sincere questions that avoid shaming, trick, or gotcha moments. Build trust and you’ll grow influence and gain a friend.
- Take a class or course together and do the homework or assignments together. Or pick a topic or subject you’re both interested in, get some good study materials, and meet together to share insights.
When we develop the kind of trust that allows us to talk together with transparency we build relationships around the truth that is in Jesus instead of mere common interests such as work, hobbies or politics.
We also take a giant step toward building a compelling community of believers who are living in unity, growing in maturity and fervent in charity, one with another.
Will you initiate some transparency and invite someone in our church to talk with you about things that really matter? Will you respond when invited? Commit right now to taking that first important step to one-anothering well.
Game Night and FellowshipSaturday Aug. 7th Pizza @ 5:30 Games to Follow with Outdoor Activities (weather permitting)
- ReadLest We Make God a LiarSome News You Can Use from Antioch
There are three core values that every local church must be deeply committed to in practice, not just awareness or intellectual assent. A value is a principle or quality that is of utmost importance and desirable to us. These values will be vital in preparing us for whatever the future holds for our church. They must become systemic and multi-generational.
I believe these three core values are so important, so indispensable, and so clear from Scripture, that if we diminish their importance, or fail to put forth our best effort to attain, maintain, and allow this fruit of God’s Spirit within our local church to flourish, we’ll make God a liar and hide the true nature of the gospel to them that are lost.
So what are they? What does the gospel look and live like?Remember, we must never be found off mission: Exalt, Edify, Evangelize with Humility, Hospitality and Hunger. And we must ever be seeking greater understanding of and commitment to these three indisputable and indispensable values: Living in Unity, Growing in Maturity, Fervent in Charity. (From Eph. 4:1-16):
1. Living in Unity (Eph. 4:1-6, 1 Cor. 1:9-10)
- Living in unity is more than fellowship around common interests. God is one. Our unity must be in who God is, and who we are in Him as members of His body (John 17:1-3, 11, 15-23, Rom. 12:5).
- To value unity is to build our life together around the true nature of the gospel (oneness, together, harmony). This we do by removing / refusing all division or favoritism. What does this look like?
- Acts 6:1-7. Unity, not winning an argument was the goal. Most if not all of these deacons were from the minority/offended party.
- People of very different backgrounds, interests, talents, socio-economic status, occupation, gender, race, color, marital or family status, and age treating each other as equal in worth and dignity though differing in roles and responsibilities.
2. Growing in Maturity (Eph. 4:11-15, Col. 1:28)
- God has predetermined what every true believer will become and are all in the process of becoming: “even Christ” (15), “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13, Rom. 8:29).
- Every believer must equally and enthusiastically embrace our personal responsibility to “grow up into him in all things” and the “increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” As we seek one another’s benefit and well-being, instead of our own, we grow up.
3. Fervent in Charity (Eph. 4:16, 1 Pet. 4:8-9).
- Local churches have diverse people and personalities. God uses these different backgrounds, life experiences, abilities, temperaments, values, strengths, weaknesses, faults, failures, etc., to teach us to love and peacefully live together. God expects us to love each other well (including those not like you).
- Christ makes us selfless contributors not selfish consumers. Therefore, we give a love that only Christ is capable of manifesting that shows no favoritism (John 13:34-35, Rom. 15:1-7). Fervent charity puts God’s power to change lives on display and make very different people truly one (Col. 3:12-15).
What God values for His church we must value, and therefore make Living in Unity, Growing in Maturity, Fervent in Charity our “normal.”
When we embrace these as our core values, in principle, not through programs, we will become a gospel revealing community that never hurts another soul, hinders their walk, or hardens their heart to the gospel. When this philosophy of life together is church-wide and evident, we'll never make a liar out of God and His gospel by the way we treat each other and share life together.
Would you commit to making these core values yours, and therefore, collectively ours as a local church together and in one accord, learning to "one-another" well? You could right now. Ask the Spirit of God to instruct us, and to illuminate those areas where change, conformity or commitment is needed, then empower His will among each and every one of us.
- ReadThe Path To Peace in PainSome News You Can Use from Antioch
Have you ever found yourself in a difficult place but couldn’t tell if you were making real progress thru it? Have you suffered because of circumstances beyond your control, lost sleep because of the pending “something” that overwhelmed your anxious soul?
When God, thru His written word, speaks of true grace, He speaks of giving us what we need, at the time of need, but never what is merely fair or deserved. Mercy and grace to help in time of need is a very real promise from God as we go thru a process of suffering for His name and the gospel’s sake. He didn’t promise immediate deliverance, but He did promise peace.
When we suffer for doing right, we can also be assured that regardless of length or intensity of the pain persecution causes, God is with us, conforming us to the One who learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
God uses pain as a pathway to true peace and provides true grace to help in time of need. We can rest in God’s promised grace when we resolve to bring God glory no matter what (From 1 Pet. 5:10-14):
1. The God of All Grace Gives His Children What is Needed, Not What is Fair or Deserved (10-12)
- The God of all grace is the source of abundant and sufficient grace. We learn this by “painful” experience (Rom. 5:1-5).
- Not only is there a Savior always with us, God’s Spirit is also in us (Rom. 8:18-29). But we need never wonder or worry if God will help (Psa. 46:1, 10, Mt. 10:16-20).
- We bring powerful glory to God when we use the true grace He gives us in our moments of pain and persecution to give our persecutors what they too need; NOT what is fair (Lk. 23:34, 22:59-62).
- Sin weakens us, Satan seeks to frighten us, and the world and flesh call us to defect from the cause of Christ. But by grace we stand in the skirmishes and suffer for the souls of men and glory of God.
2. The Path to Securing True & Lasting Peace, A Lively Hope, Leads Thru, Not from, Suffering (10-14)
- In suffering we seek peace. But like those looking for paradise in all the wrong places (substances, sensuality, sensations) true peace can never be found apart from suffering the crucified life.
- When counselling the grief stricken who’ve lost hope in ever being “normal” again, I use a chart that plots the normal steps of grief that lead to wellness. When they see themselves somewhere on that chart, hope is restored, and progress can be seen. God too gives some “normal” steps to peace:
1) (Realistic) Make you Perfect: Complete. Mature. Pain causes us to sober up, to grow up, and see life more realistically. Persecution is “normal”; we can rejoice that Jesus is being glorified (2 Tim. 3:12).
2) (Resolve) Stablish You: Pain causes us to clarify whose will we’re submitted to: God’s or ours. Resolving to glorify God is a turning point that sets us on a course to continue steadfastly in the crucified life. A Savior always with us, His Spirit always in us!
3) (Reinvigoration) Strengthen You: This exercise of self-denial increases our mental and bodily vigor and capacity to suffer. Accepting God’s will strengthens us in our calling to glorify God (2 Cor. 12:7-10).
4) (Rest) Settle You: A sound basis for true peace, hope born of experience in Christ, is firmly established (Phil. 4:6-8, 13). We become resolved to glorify God because we’ve walked that road many times and know that the peace that He promised is no longer theoretical, but indeed practical and precious.
Peter knows: HIs painful experiences perfected, stablished, and strengthened him so that on the night of his pending execution he was settled and slept without anxiety – in Christ! Peace is a process of perfecting. Before a crown, a cross, before real peace, real pain. His Savior with Him and the Spirit in Him!
What does suffering real pain and persecution, together, produce beyond peace with God? Peace with each other. It purifies our love so that in genuine, compelling, committed community we can move from a handshake to a hug in complete holiness and familial love with all who are in Christ Jesus (v. 14).
For the church to be glorious it must suffer so that it can display what true grace looks and --- lives like.
God uses suffering to manifest through us the lively hope that points to a new paradigm of life, together in Christ, that causes us to live in unity, grow in maturity and become fervent in charity. These three must be true of us.
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