Rise to the Challenge

January 22, 2013

1 Peter 4:12-19

In his first sermon of the year on January 6th, Pastor Dudley declared that this year should be about establishing a firm trust in God. After this past Sunday’s sermon, it took me some time and much prayer to see the theme, “A Matter of Trust” written between the lines of the word delivered. But when you really think about it and ask God to show you what he needs you to see, it is easy to see why trust is imperative to rising to the challenge of living for God in every way—even when it comes to bearing the trials that come along with the Christian life. Think about it; your boss would have to establish a certain measure of trust in you before asking you to take on a big project at work, right? When you were a teenager it took some time and trust before your parents allowed you the privilege of driving. And I imagine the trust was mutual right? You wouldn’t comfortably accept the added responsibility from your boss if you didn’t think they had your best interest at heart, or take the keys from your parents unsure if you could trust that the car ran safely and the insurance was paid. God showed me that it is the same thing here; in order to confidently rise to the challenge, we must know that he trusts us and believes in our ability to bring glory to his name. We must also have a strong foundation of trust in him, knowing that he won’t put more on us than we can bear, and also knowing that there is a plan—a method behind what we sometime feel is the madness of our lives. We have to trust that he has it under control, rise to the challenge, and walk through with confidence in him.

As we walk through it, we should be sure to pay attention to the pain. In the verse 12 of the selected reading, Peter says, “…do not be surprised by the fiery ordeal that has come on to test you…” The pain that we experience through the challenge is a part of God’s plan for us in that moment—he’s allowing it to happen, and so if we have established a firm trust in him, then we should be able to appreciate the painful moments in life with a sense of peace. It is a part of the enemy’s plan, that we misunderstand the pain and run from it, damaging the trust we have in God. Pay attention…realizing the pain you’re going through for what it truly is, will in turn show you how God has blessed you even in the midst of the pain.

Now, we know that if it’s good, it’s God, so in that case, we must know that there is good within our challenge right? So why not, claim your hidden benefits as you face the challenge? Verse 13 says that we should rejoice when we’re in pain because it is a chance to share in the suffering of Christ Jesus, which helps us to find joy in drawing nearer to him. To rejoice is to claim joy, and that joy can sometimes be hidden; we have to trust that God is in control of ALL things that happen to us once we surrender our lives to Him. Even in the worst situations, He will provide joy; we just have to look for it!  Sometimes it seems that you can dig and search and there just isn’t a silver lining in sight; when this happens, go back to verse 13 and remind yourself that you are drawing nearer to Christ by that very pain you’re experiencing! And this is the greatest joy we could ever discover.

In dealing with any challenge, it is always easy to focus on what is happening on the outside, but it is important that we take the time to operate from the inside out. “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (1 Peter 4:14). Allow this verse to serve as a reminder that the Lord dwells within us. Remembering this will help you stay focused on the idea that what you are up against in for the glory of God and when we suffer for God we should not be ashamed. When we give in to the outside, it makes it easy for us to get caught up in other people’s business. Notice that in verse 15 Peter calls out murderers, thieves, evil doers…and meddlers all in one statement. I have recently started to deal with the fact that I often take on the worries and concerns of those I care about as a way to deny my own problems. In the moment, I call it concern, not meddling, but the reality is all any of us can truly do for our brothers and sisters in Christ is pray that God’s will be done in their life and that they experience the peace of God imparted to us all by Jesus. Hearing this on Sunday showed reminded me of these things and that outside of those, we are powerless, so why stress and worry and concern myself with what someone else is going through when God is telling me what I need to do in order to get beyond my own challenge?

Challenges are a part of our walk with God. This is a fact that I am still trying to swallow as I grow and develop my relationship with God each day. The foundation of a solid relationship is trust. As we learn to trust God more and make ourselves worthy of his trust, the challenges may not seem so hard after a while (that’s what I keep telling myself anyway J). Don’t run from challenges or ignore them, hoping that they will disappear. Rise to the challenge; remembering to pay attention to your pain not taking the experience for granted, claim your hidden benefits seeking joy in all situations, and work from the inside out knowing that Christ dwells in you and when you suffer for Christ, you need not be ashamed.

© Kevin Dudley

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