November 9, 2022

November 9, 2022

Author: Pastor Gordon Cook
November 09, 2022

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober- minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you."

I Peter 5:6-10

Turn your bibles to first Peter chapter 5 pick up the reading at verse 6. When you read this section you’ll notice that he picks up that suffering word twice here in first Peter 5. If you read first Peter or second Peter both epistles have a strong motif of suffering. He’s writing to a suffering people. I don’t think he’s writing to any particular church, but he’s writing to people who have been scattered abroad because of persecution and suffering. So that’s good to remember when we read first Peter and second Peter. I think we all would have to admit or concur with the fact that as Christians we suffer, sometimes we suffer even more than the world suffers. But every day we face a struggle of some kind or another, some challenge, obstacle, hurt or pain. One of Job’s friends got it right when he said, “Sparks fly upward, man is born to trouble.” If you have ever stood in front of a large bonfire or campfire it’s easy to see where those sparks go, they go upward- hundreds of them can go upward in a matter of seconds. Well that that’s the picture of the life of a Christian, all of us- sparks fly upward.

Every day we experience some kind of spark, but the Bible also talks about trials using a different analogy- sparks that sort of little trials you could say, everyday trials but there is also the picture of a storm, a fire. Even Peter uses that language a fiery trial, a furnace-that’s another image and then trials are also put under another picture or another image. Paul uses the image of a thorn, which would really refer to a long term trial-month after month, year after year. Sort of like an unwanted intruder comes into your home or homeless person moves into your living room and he unpacks his bags and he stays there, he won’t leave. There are those thorny trials and it’s possible Paul’s thorny trial whatever it was, he took it to his grave. But when trials or afflictions intrude into our lives that’s when a battle takes place.

Dr. Paul Tripp puts it this way “Suffering tends to kidnap our thoughts and in so doing has a powerful effect upon our emotions and responses. The dynamic is clear, the more you meditate on a problem the bigger, scarier and more unsolvable it appears.” It could be a financial problem, a relational problem, a physical problem or a sin problem. And brethren, suffering times are also opportune times for the devil, and that’s what Peter wants to tell us here. Remember the devil came after Jesus at the back end, not the front end, but at the back end of that 40 day wilderness fast, when he was suffering hunger pains. Peter is again writing to suffering Christians. And Peter knows the devil is on the prowl in times of suffering, he likens him to a lion stalking his prey. Peter gives us-notice what he does- he gives us wartime strategy. Verse 8-Be sober minded, be watchful and he follows that with more council and commands in terms of strategy, to fight, resist. Verse nine-Resist him, be firm in your faith. In times of suffering we must be firm or strong in our faith. Remember Christ’s disciples in the boat? Fear got in the driver’s seat and after Jesus silenced the storm that was raging, quieted the wind and the waves, He rebuked them for their little faith. “Oh you of little faith.” Little faith allows fear and doubt to get into the drivers seat, that’s what little faith does. When things go south, when storms come fear and doubt can get the best of us. The devil loves to sow seeds of fear and doubt. Someone has said this, I think it’s accurate-“Fear and doubt are some of the enemies most powerful tools.”

Lots of things can make us afraid, the prospect of death, the results of an election, sky rocketing inflation, sudden diagnosis of cancer, a floundering marriage, increased violence in our streets, threat of persecution, etcetera, etcetera. How do you stay calm? When doubts like waves and fears like wind begin to beat upon our hearts and our minds like those disciples in that boat. The best place, the safest place to run is the high tower, the God who is our refuge. I do think the disciples did it right in the boat they ran to Jesus, they did have a sense of running to the right place. But faith makes good use of theology, you could say faith makes good use of our God.

There are three central truths that we must cling to by faith when trials come. I’ve called it the three legged stool of theology. 1. God is completely sovereign. Nothing happens outside of his will. That’s the first leg of the stool. If you’re gonna stay balanced, calm in the midst of trials -God is completely sovereign, 100% sovereign. The second leg of the three legged stool-2. God is infinite in wisdom. He knows what he’s doing. He makes no mistakes, never gets it wrong, perfect in wisdom. He always knows what’s best for you and for anybody else- he always knows what’s best. The third leg of the three legged stool in terms of staying calm and balanced in the midst of the storms of life-3. God is perfect in love. He never stops loving us even in the worst of trials. He will use those trials for our good because he loves us. Someone has said this “These three truths relate to us in this way- God in his love always wills what is best for us. In his wisdom he always knows what is best and in his sovereignty has the power to bring it about.” That’s a wonderful comfort, that’s what we have to take hold of brethren, those divine truths. We have to sit on that three legged stool and exercise faith. And a Christian can remain calm by faith, remember the apostle Paul sitting in a jail cell, not a very nice place, he remained calm. He could say I have learned to be content in whatever state that I am in and he talks about the peace of God that passes all understanding. So we too can remain calm In the midst of our trials and our difficulties. That’s something we should pray for, I don’t know if we pray enough for those graces to grow and mature. Greater faith, stronger faith. Life might get a lot more unpredictable, more dangerous, more scary. So what do you do? You go to God- he’s always gonna be there brethren we have to trust him.