As it nears my son’s sixteenth birthday, there is great expectation. This is a big day for any teenager. When I consider the months and weeks prior to his birth, there was great expectation. He was my first child. I didn’t know what to expect, but I spent a lot of time considering who he would be and couldn’t wait to meet him.
In 1 Peter 1, we read about our great hope. In verse 3, Peter talks about how “we live with great expectation.” We live with this great expectation because “we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead.” We know that because of this, “we have a priceless inheritance” (v. 4). The Bible also tells us that God is protecting us “by His power” until the day comes when we receive the revelation of our salvation.
Some of us have lost the joy of this great expectation. We are so focused on this world that we cannot be “truly glad” that “there is wonderful joy ahead” (v. 6). Perhaps our trials have hardened our hearts. God reminds us that this is on “for a little while.” The trials “show that your faith is genuine” (v. 7). Today, be reminded of our great hope, our great expectation. Remember, “You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy” (v. 8).
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation.” – 1 Peter 1:3 [NLT]
Giving Max a bath can be quite the ordeal. Since he’s a larger dog, it’s not so easy to get him into the bath tub. Plus he is not fond of getting a bath and I am not fond of cleaning all of the hair out of the tub when he finally decides to comply with his mom’s request. Every so often I take him to the dog wash, which is a dog bath at the local car wash.
Max never wants to go up the ramp to the bathing area. Although it is the good path to take, he does not want what will follow. He loves to be clean. He loves to have his hair blown dry. But he detests the bath itself. When the bath is over, I have to stand beside him when he gets put back on his leash for he wants to hop out of the bathing area rather than taking the ramp down to the ground. Today I got soaked because he rammed into me as I blocked the dangerous attempt
Many times God will try to lead us down a particular path in life. Sometimes it does not appear so great and sometimes the path brings about trials and obstacles we do not desire. However, God has a perfect plan and His direction will help us to get to where we are meant to be in life. There are moments when He opens doors for us to enter but we hesitate because we fear, we doubt, or we think we know better. There are also moments when we try to go another way, a way that might lead toward something not in our best interest. At times He will block it to keep us safe and at times He will allow us to take the other way to help us to grow closer to Him. It is as if He says, “You want it. Okay, I’ll give it to you.” Oh the lessons He has taught me by giving me what I wanted. I soon realized I no longer wanted what I wanted—I wanted instead what He wanted. Today, if God is leading you down a particular path, if God has opened a door for you to enter, I pray you have the trust to follow. Following His direction is always the best way.
“Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;
she will look for them but not find them.
Then she will say,
‘I will go back to my husband as at first,
for then I was better off than now.’
She has not acknowledged that I was the one
who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil,
who lavished on her the silver and gold—
which they used for Baal.” – Hosea 2:6-8 [NIV]
“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” – Psalm 16:11 [NLT]
There is something that I hear and read too often – My life sucks. Sometimes it really can be frustrating to hear these words, especially from the mouths of Christians. Usually it is not something that is said once, but it is a way of life for some people. Perhaps the person believes he or she is the only one who has problems, trials, and hardships. Perhaps the person is not happy because he or she is not getting what’s desired. Either way, it is like nails on a chalkboard to hear those words.
Since sin entered the equation many, many years ago, everyone has hardships and struggles and pain. It is not how God intended the world, but we made a choice. Jesus has defeated death and through Him we overcome; however, trials and suffering still occur here on earth. I could list many of my personal struggles, and people who know me well can see them just by watching me walk, but it is not about that at all. When people see me and know of my struggles, they don’t hear that my life sucks—they hear that Jesus is taking care of me, helping me through each and every day. They see my testimony without me opening my mouth.
Does your life suck? Are things not going the way you intended? Do you have limited funds? Do you hate your job? Do you have relationship problems? Are you struggling through life? I am sure you have a lot on your plate. We all do. But remember, each day is a blessing—each day is a gift from God. You can walk through life complaining about each day, being ungrateful for the gift or you can ask God to use you, to strengthen you, to be a part of your life and things will be very different. I might have pain this morning as I write this, but I have a joy and peace that only Jesus can give. My life does not suck. No matter how bad it gets, no matter what challenges and hardships come my way, each day is another opportunity, another gift. Each morning I thank Him for giving me another chance. What will you do with your opportunity today?
“The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.” – Psalm 29:11 [NIV]
“This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24 [NLT]
When things are going well, it is very easy for us to rejoice. Everyone loves when things are going well. When we have free time to spend with family and friends, we are happy. When we have enough money to pay all of the bills, we are joyous. When we are healthy and feel energetic, we wear a smile. When we love our jobs, we love going to them. When we can get off for a dream vacation, we are ecstatic.
But then there’s the “other side” of things—when things don’t go well. We face trials. We face struggles. We face situations that are difficult and bring us pain, torment, tears, sadness. We don’t feel like rejoicing. We aren’t very happy. Paul says, “Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord.” Whatever happens.
There are moments in my life where I found it very difficult and nearly impossible to rejoice. My eyes were tired from crying. My head hurt from lack of sleep. My knees hurt. But I am reminded of God’s goodness, of His promises, of His blessings. Whether it’s a good day or a better day or a day we would like to forget, we rejoice. We rejoice knowing that He gives us everything. We rejoice knowing that this is not our final destination, but a small portion of something so much bigger. We rejoice for He is our Lord, our Savior, our God. We rejoice. Whatever happens. No matter what. We rejoice.
“Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.” – Philippians 3:1 [NLT]
Too many people still believe that if Christ is accepted, it means that from that time onward life is smooth sailing. If you are a Christian, everything is rainbows and butterflies. I think part of the blame for this ideology goes to those people in the past who were not transparent. So many people showed the world only what they wanted it to see, and they did not show that they were sinners, they suffered, they struggled—that things were not peachy.
We are all going through something right now. Everyone is suffering in some way. The world is not as God intended. It is broken and only when Christ returns will everything be restored and made new. There are people who are very open about their suffering, and there are other people who suffer in the dark.
Paul, Timothy, James, and Peter spoke of suffering. They understood that we share in the suffering of Christ. They understood that suffering could be used for God’s glory. Suffering produces endurance. Suffering is bad but God uses it for His good purpose. These great men understood that along with suffering, we also have a promise. As you and I continue to suffer today, remember this: “NOTHING (compares) to the glory he will reveal to us later.” Nothing!
“And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.” – Romans 8:17-18 [NLT]
Life is not always easy. In fact life is usually not easy. Difficulty seems to find me. There’s always a challenge. There’s always a trial. There’s always something going on in a person’s life. That’s why there’s a quote that tells us to treat everyone nice because we don’t know what they are going through.
I’ve heard many times the question, “Where is YOUR God?” Where is God now? Why are things not easy for you since you accepted Christ? Why are you having these troubles—doesn’t your God care?
We are promised that the narrow road is difficult. It’s a difficult road and it does not make everything instantly smooth. Things don’t suddenly come easy. Mark 10 even tells us that yes, we will receive a hundred times as much as what we leave behind, but that comes “along with persecutions” (v. 30 NIV). The road is difficult but we are not alone. Christ is with us each step of the way. Keep moving forward on this difficult road. He is faithful.
“But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” – Matthew 7:14 [NLT]
Recently I read a posting from a friend who was sharing something she heard earlier on television. To summarize the discussion, she held that comfort and courage cannot coexist in life. I felt compelled to speak up because personally speaking I have both comfort and courage from Christ. I am not sure I would have the courage without the comfort.
I will always believe that both are possible. Yes sometimes we face difficult trials in life. I’ve had and still have many. I have the courage to step forward through the storms of life and the comfort to know I am not alone. It is all because of Jesus. It is summed up as confidence in God’s grace and His care.
Comfort and courage are actually used synonymously in multiple areas of the Bible. Psalm 23:4, “Your rod and your staff give me courage” [GW] and “your rod and your staff, they comfort me” [NIV]. How about 2 Corinthians 13:11, when Paul writes to “take courage” [WEY], whereas the YLT says, “be comforted”? I only have courage because I have the comfort of Christ. It is courage. It is comfort. It is confidence. Jesus is my hope. I pray you too can have the same comfort and courage in your life.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:4 [NIV]
During the hot summer months, chocolate, gum, and lip balm do no fair too well. The heat does a good job to melt the items. Being a Hershey girl, I love chocolate. When you purchase chocolate at a store, by the time you carry it from the store to your car, the chocolate is already melting from the high temperatures. I always advise my kids to not open it, but instead to put it in the refrigerator so it can harden again. When the chocolate is eventually opened, it is interesting to see the new form of the chocolate.
Heat is often affiliated with changing the shapes of items so it’s no surprise to read about heat in the Bible. We read and the refiner’s fire and the furnace of affliction. We also read about taking a new form. When we accept Christ, we start to become a new creation.
There are times when we can feel the heat of the furnace of affliction. We are being pruned and built up. We are being challenged. We are being tested like gold. We find ourselves in these situations because we are called to be a holy people and little by little God gets us to where He created us to be as His child with a purpose. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4 NIV)
“I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.'” – Zechariah 13:9 [NLT]