Over the last weeks we’ve worked through 1 Peter to better understand suffering, trials and difficulties. To climb up to Bible ground concerning those circumstances which leave us asking God “why?” There can be no doubt that our sufferings can often lead us down undesirable pathways in search of relief or distraction. But Suffering can also bring us to a place of calm and even contentment. We’ve three lessons which preceded this one. So far our instruction in Peter has offered three insights…
Peter’s first instruction is that sufferings can lead to joy (Follow this link to that Sermon). We learned that we needed to stop long enough to consider the things God Has done for us. Peter provided a long and impressive list of things to meditate on – things which if taken to heart will lead the Pilgrim to joy.
In our second instruction from Peter, we learned going through the tough stuff can actually purify us – can work to make us holy. (Follow this link to the Sermon) Now “Holy” does not mean perfect. We cannot lead a life of perfection – we will fall down. Holy means consecrated, dedicated – and that is something we can do! Suffering in the right view can consecrate us – separating us from our former ways.
Our third instruction from Peter taught us about how to suffering in the manner that Christ did – the way He did. (Follow this link to the Sermon) We learned this meant doing for others in the midst of our trials. Its taking the word love from a noun to a verb. It is doing for others
From Poison Make Medicine. In this current message – the last in our series on suffering – we begin with you and I. We have the background of the former three clear instructions from Peter. We seek to apply those truths. And here we sit with our burdens. We have that infernal monkey on our back. We suffer the terrible consequences of our actions. We suffer the terrible consequences of another’s actions. We suffer the terrible consequences which are really no one’s doing… In the face of that I would like to offer 3 points of instruction to summarize and close out out our study of sufferings:
- Amend and Be Restored
- Embrace and Be Cured
- Divide and Be Completed
Amend and Be Restored
We must first start with a look at ourselves. What is your spiritual condition?. Are the things happening to me, a result of God trying to get my attention? Are there things I need to amend in my living in order to be restored? There is a basic principle that we must not ignore. If I have unconfessed and uncontrolled sin going on in my life – it changes my relationship to God.
- If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear – Psalm 66:18
Check out this quote from Jeremiah, he speaks clearly that we cannot live like hell and expect to get cleansed by an hour at church each week. He relays six things that people do – and then expect to continue to do because they have been cleansed by their weekly religious routine.
- Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal and walk after other gods that you have not known, then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’ – that you may do all these abominations? – Jeremiah 7:9-10
I can live like hell all week because I went to church on Sunday. My conscience is clear – God forgave me – I’m free to go back to my compromised living. Our Friend Ezekiel takes up the discourse…
- Thus says the Lord God, “Repent and turn away from your idols and turn your faces away from all your abominations. For anyone of the house of Israel or of the immigrants who stay in Israel who separates himself from Me, sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet to inquire of Me for himself, I the Lord will be brought to answer him in My own person. – Ezekiel 14:6-7
We learn here in plain language that we cannot live the double life. Whoever lives independent of God – who bottles me up in certain parts of their life – anyone who separates himself from God… Who sets up his idols in his heart. Who gives their affections to other things – to their money, their power, their pride, their belongings, their pleasures and indulgences… Who puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity. Who sits in front of that computer look at pictures of peoples junk,
Who sits in front of the keno machine and pour in the income God gifted you with for His purposes…
And then what? Who does what? Who comes to the prophet to inquire of Me for himself. Who comes to church to do some weak and anemic form of religious practice and then thinks they can be cleansed inside with some external, phoney, trifling mopping. What’s going to happen to this person (and maybe its you and me) What will happen to this faker? “I the Lord will be brought to answer him in My own person.” God will visit you! He won’t have you waste your giftedness on yourself. And if you read this now – and if then you persist and persist?
- I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from among My people. So you will know that I am the Lord – Ezekiel 14:8
He is the Lord – not you. You have your view of things – but we are not the boss over ourselves!
- Know that the Lord Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture – Psalm 100:3
If you are in the midst of suffering and trial – have you looked to see if its not God’s way to bring you back to Himself? The first thing of critical importance to Amend your ways! You must first start within yourself. Look for evidence of what needs mending. There can be no restoration without mending. (Check out Proverbs 6:16-19 for a checklist of things you ought not to be doing)
Once we deal with the crud in our lives; once we’ve amended our ways, we can be restored!
- If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land – 2 Chronicles 7:14
- Thus says the Lord, If you return, then I will restore you – before Me you will stand; and if you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become My spokesman. They for their part may turn to you, but as for you, you must not turn to them – Jeremiah 15:9
- If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness – 1 John 1:9
Embrace and Be Cured
We need to embrace the reality of our situation. We are going through stuff. We must accept that sufferings are part of our living. And once we do, we will be different – we will be changed – we will be cured! You are not alone – everyone has troubles. But what is most important to our healing, to our cure is to KNOW God Himself controls the level of heat you are under!
- But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold – Job 23:10 KJV
He knows the way you have taken – He knows the path you have been on. He knows the path He wants you on. He also knows how to get you there and He will direct your steps. And oftentimes that means He will strike you to get you back. He wants your perfection, your completion, that you may lack nothing.
- The Lord will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to the Lord, and He will respond to them and will heal them – Isaiah 19:22
- Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing – James 1:2-4
Divide and Be Completed
We must divide what we have and what we are in order to become whole and complete. You and I tend to turtle in when living with our difficulties. There’s a couple reasons for this. In the one case if we are living as we ought not to live then we separate ourselves to hide in our sin. But even we live like a choir boy we tend to turtle in because it’s hard to ask for help. But we must leave all that nonsense behind. We must learn to divide, share, serve and give away – in order that we may become complete. Now the verse below is famously quoted.
- Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days – Ecclesiastes 11:1 KJV
Notice its your bread you are to give away – that which sustains you. And what are you to do with that which sustains you? Cast it aside – divide it up and let it go. This means your money, your time, your talents – giving up your bread is going to change YOU. Note too – when you give you may not see results right away “You shall find it after many days” After many days of learning to serve, of giving away your bread – it will return to you
But let me point out a crucial learning at this point. This is something people argue about and that is about giving – about where you are to cast your bread to. Whether it’s to the church or to others. Do we tithe our10% – or do we stick behind that old “as God prospers” justification? But if you look to see how this verse above continues… Solomon tells us how much of our bread we are to cast away.
- Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth – Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 KJV
You and I think to be complete we need to possess, to have, that our security is in our money. But that is not God’s Math. Our math is hold onto our money. God says divide out to seven portions – or even to eight. This is far more liberal than a simple 10% formula. And what does He say when we choose to hold onto our money, our time, our talents? What does He say to those who give nothing?
- But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared? – Luke 12:20
God instructs that we need to give, not one portion – not one occasional gift. But to divide and give away seven portions also to eight. Because you do not know what is to come… except that there is always need:
- For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land – Deuteronomy 15:11
When in the midst of trial – to make medicine out of poison – we must divide out. We must not horde, but divide out – our money, our time, and our talents. God’s math is to give – to divide to seven or eight portions without any strings. Give. Divide and be completed…
- Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you – Luke 6:38 NIV
Now there are folks who go to churches where giving is in the way of secular investment; that giving will increase material wealth. But where I grew up we’d say: “That don’t cut no ice”. Bible Ground is give not expecting anything in return.
- But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men – Luke 6:35
From poison make medicine means to engage and defeat our sufferings through the active and intentional processes. These are the pointers toward joy, holiness, Christlikeness and harmony. Thank you for taking time to read these notes. The video will go a long way in tying things a bit tighter together. May the Lord Bless You as You Go.
- Amend and Be Restored
- Embrace and Be Cured
- Divide and Be Complete