Thankful to God
Thankful to God
The country we live in affords us with so many special freedoms and blessings we often forget. Many in other places do not have these and have a much harder life to live as a result. Do we thank Him for giving us these in addition to so many other individual blessings?
We see at this time many seem to be getting further away from God in our nation. From what I hear the percentage of those believing in God has diminished about half in the last few years. The ones who attend "church" services also are much less that just a few years ago. Our society, culture, and country as a whole is getting further away from God and His Word than ever before. The things we see around us probably causes most of us to nod our heads in disbelief for the most part. Even our government is disappointing in the way they act on many occasions. Discouragement is easy to fall into. So, what are we to do as Christians? Are we to become so discouraged we fail to conduct ourselves as God would have us to do? Do we quit telling others about Christ and the Gospel? Do we just back off from trying to teach others and shut down our spiritual lives to the point of dismay and discontent? I do not believe that is what the Lord expects of His people, do you.
The Apostles, if any one ever did, had reason to become discouraged and let that cause them to fail on many occasions. But, we find, as persecution came in many ways and at many times, it just caused them to become more determined and committed. We find their lives were filled with situations, both civil and political, which could have caused a great problem for them. But they "stayed the course" and went ahead with the work God prescribed for them. Paul is a great example of keeping on, and not letting influences, great persecutions, and people around him hinder the work he had to do. Peter and John are others that provide great examples of encouragement and spiritual strength for our help, and admonition. Let's take a look at one.
When we refer to Peter's first letter we find early on him telling those Christians (who were under considerable persecution at the time) two things that surely was great encouragement for them -- notice his words in verses 3,4:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a LIVING HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, RESERVED IN HEAVEN FOR YOU....."
Peter reminded them of two of our greatest blessings we (and they) can depend on -- our HOPE AND GOD'S PROMISE OF ETERNAL LIFE. Later on in that same chapter he again reminds them of their FAITH AND HOPE THAT IS IN GOD. ( verse 21)
Later in that chapter Peter reminds them how they need to overcome their present distress and conduct themselves, by putting their spiritual blessings first.
The price Jesus paid for man's salvation is so much greater than anything we have on earth, should cause them (and us) to put those things first:
"..but the Holy One who called you, be holy ourselves also in all your behavior, because is is written " YOU SHALL BE HOLY FOR I AM HOLY" , And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man's work, CONDUCT YOURSELVES IN FEAR during the time of your stay upon earth". (1 Peter 15-17)
Peter continues throughout this letter to provide great encouragement to them to help make it through a very difficult time. He further tells them how important they are to God, and how great the price was to provide salvation by the Father and Son. They are admonished to use God's Word (2:2) in order to grow toward the promise of salvation and to stay faithful. They are reminded of Jesus being their perfect example (2:21), and how His great love made possible the faithful lives they are living. (2:21) In chapter 3, they are encouraged to endure their suffering for the "sake of righteousness", by always sanctifying Christ as Lord in their hearts (3:14,15)
In chapter 4, Peter again uses our Lord as an example of suffering in the flesh, as means of encouragement for them to live for the will of God rather than the life in the flesh (4:1-2). He is aware of the suffering they are to go through, yet helps them find encouragement in doing so as CHRISTIANS ..."but if anyone suffers as A CHRISTIAN, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name LET HIM GLORITY GOD. " (1 Peter 4:16) Notice verse 19.
In the final chapter of his first letter Peter confirms and instructs the elders among them to continue their work, so when Jesus comes again they will also receive "the unfading crown of glory" (verse 4) . His final exhortations include both encouragement and warnings to help them "overcome the adversary", and finish the race they are running: "And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 5:8-10)
When we read this wonderful letter of admonishment and encouragement to these Christians long ago, we see how much God understands the need for His people to be encouraged. As humans, we often become discouraged by situations, and influences that affect us every day. Obviously, these we read about in First Peter needed this very much. His reminders and instructions for them can be a great means of encouragement and help for us today. History bears out some of the sufferings and experiences they endured were different, and many times more severe than most we endure today. Physical lives were at stake and terrible physical suffering to individuals as well as families took place. Many lost their lives. They lived at a time when the Roman government as well as other dangers placed undue suffering on many.
We ought to be able to use this letter as well as others in His New Testament to encourage and admonish us today. What wonderful characters we find like the Apostles, as well as Jesus Himself to help us overcome any drawbacks that might come along. Thanks for your time, and for listening today. Enjoy the day He has made!!