- 1 Peter 4
The last few weeks (actually most of November I guess, I have only written 4 times this month) I have allowed myself to become stressed. I say allowed, because I’m learning that it’s not the external things, and the circumstances that actually cause stress, it’s how I deal with it internally.
I was reminded on Sunday through the sermon on Mark 7:14-23 that it’s not what is on the outside the “defiles” or “corrupts” someone. It’s what is on the inside. “From within, out of the the heart of a man come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, coveting… etc. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:21-23) Taking this concept and applying it to stress, I think we can add anxiety, worry and stress to that list. it’s not the external circumstances that cause the stress, it’s what comes out of the inside. Anxiety is something that comes out of my heart. Although their may be cause for feeling overwhelmed externally, feeling overwhelmed, is still an issue of my heart. When I feel overwhelmed, it’s because I am choosing to face life without God in that moment.
As I read 1 Peter 4:1-2 this morning, God showed me that suffering actually causes us to take a new view of life. He says, suffering causes us to; “no longer live for human passions but for the will of God.” As I face trials, hardship, times of high pressure, when I learn to take my eyes off the circumstances, and put them on God who is above, and in control of those circumstances, I will no longer be living for my own human passions of ease, comfort, my own plans, my own schedule, etc. But, instead, I will be living for the will of God!
Peter goes on in 1 Peter 4:12-13 to say, “Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you…” This has been a testing time for me. And to be honest, I have not handled it very well. My faith has been proven to be more in myself than in God. In chapter 1 of 1 Peter (1 Pet 1:7) Peter described the purpose of testing, the purpose of trials, as a refining process. Just like gold thrown into the fire, melted down, the impurities burned out, and then reformed into pure gold. That’s what God is doing with us. But Peter is quick to remind us, our faith is much more precious to God than refined gold. Gold will parish and fade away, but what God is accomplishing through the refining of my faith, and of your faith is, something that is going to cause us to, “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory as we obtain the outcome of our faith, which is the salvation of our souls.”
This is why we endure! This is the greater reward that we are living for. Peter ends this chapter in 1 Peter 4:19 by saying, “When we endure suffering, we are entrusting ourselves to our faithful Creator.”
- Stress is a warning sign, a red flag indicating that something / someone / other than God is controlling my heart.
- When I refocus on the Lord, it will give me a new view of life… my own desires and human passions will no longer be driving me… living for the will of God and resting in His plan will be the driving force in my life.
- This is God’s refining process. burning off the dross, the distractions, the things of this world that have no eternal value… and causing me to see and live for the things that really matter.. joy inexpressible filled with glory… the salvation of our soul!
- When I step back, give up control, stop worrying and trying to do it all… when I endure, I am entrusting myself to my faithful Creator, who never fails and will complete the work he has begun. It’s a guarantee. (Phil 1:6)