cccIn the later years of his
ministry, Peter was inspired to write to the believers 'scattered
throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.' His
letters were the means of reviving the courage and strengthening
the faith of those who were enduring trial and affliction, and of
renewing to good works those who through manifold temptations
were in danger of losing their hold upon God. These letters bear
the impress of having been written by one in whom the sufferings
of Christ and also His consolation had been made to abound; one
whose entire being had been transformed by grace, and whose hope
of eternal life was sure and steadfast.
cccAt the very beginning of his first letter the aged servant of God ascribed to his Lord a tribute of praise and thanksgiving. 'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,' he exclaimed, 'which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.'
cccIn this hope of a sure inheritance in the earth made new, the early Christians rejoiced, even in times of severe trial and affliction. 'Ye greatly rejoice,' Peter wrote, 'though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, . . . ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.'
cccThe apostle's words were written for the instruction of believers in every age, and they have a special significance for those who live at the time when 'the end of all things is at hand.' His exhortations and warnings, and his words of faith and courage, are needed by every soul who would maintain his faith 'steadfast unto the end.' Hebrews 3:14.
cccThe apostle sought to teach the believers how important it is to keep the mind from wandering to forbidden themes or from spending its energies on trifling subjects. Those who would not fall a prey to Satan's devices, must guard well the avenues of the soul; they must avoid reading, seeing, or hearing that which will suggest impure thoughts. The mind must not be left to dwell at random upon every subject that the enemy of souls may suggest. The heart must be faithfully sentineled, or evils without will awaken evils within, and the soul will wander in darkness. AA 517-519.
cccOf all the gifts that heaven
can bestow upon men, fellowship with Christ in His sufferings is
the most weighty trust and the highest honor. Not Enoch, who was
translated to heaven, not Elijah, who ascended in a chariot of
fire, was greater or more honored than John the Baptist, who
perished alone in the dungeon. 'Unto you it is given in the
behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer
for His sake.' Philippians 1:29.
cccMany are unable to make definite plans for the future. Their life is unsettled. They cannot discern the outcome of affairs, and this often fills them with anxiety and unrest. Let us remember that the life of God's children in this world is a pilgrim life. We have not wisdom to plan our own lives. It is not for us to shape our future. 'By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.' Hebrews 11:8.
cccChrist in His life on earth made no plans for Himself. He accepted God's plans for Him, and day by day the Father unfolded His plans. So should we depend upon God, that our lives may be the simple outworking of His will. As we commit our ways to Him, He will direct our steps.
cccToo many, in planning for a brilliant future, make an utter failure. Let God plan for you. As a little child, trust to the guidance of Him who will 'keep the feet of His saints.' 1 Samuel 2:9. God never leads His children otherwise than they would choose to be led, if they could see the end from the beginning and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling as co-workers with Him.
cccWhen Christ called His disciples to follow Him, He offered them no flattering prospects in this life. He gave them no promise of gain or worldly honor, nor did they make any stipulation as to what they should receive. To Matthew as he sat at the receipt of custom, the Saviour said, 'Follow Me. And he left all, rose up, and followed Him.' Luke 5:27, 28. Matthew did not, before rendering service, wait to demand a certain salary equal to the amount received in his former occupation. Without question or hesitation he followed Jesus. It was enough for him that he was to be with the Saviour, that he might hear His words and unite with Him in His work.
cccSo it was with the disciples previously called. When Jesus bade Peter and his companions follow Him, immediately they left their boats and nets. Some of these disciples had friends dependent on them for support; but when they received the Saviour's invitation they did not hesitate and inquire, 'How shall I live and sustain my family?' They were obedient to the call; and when afterward Jesus asked them, 'When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything?' they could answer, 'Nothing.' Luke 22:35.
cccToday the Saviour calls us, as He called Matthew and John and Peter, to His work. If our hearts are touched by His love, the question of compensation will not be uppermost in our minds. We shall rejoice to be co-workers with Christ, and we shall not fear to trust His care. If we make God our strength we shall have clear perceptions of duty, unselfish aspirations; our life will be actuated by a noble purpose which will raise us above sordid motives.
cccMany who profess to be Christ's followers have an anxious, troubled heart because they are afraid to trust themselves with God. They do not make a complete surrender to Him, for they shrink from the consequences that such a surrender may involve. Unless they do make this surrender they cannot find peace.
cccThere are many whose hearts are aching under a load of care because they seek to reach the world's standard. They have chosen its service, accepted its perplexities, adopted its customs. Thus their character is marred and their life made a weariness. The continual worry is wearing out the life forces. Our Lord desires them to lay aside this yoke of bondage. He invites them to accept His yoke; He says, 'My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.' Worry is blind and cannot discern the future; but Jesus sees the end from the beginning. In every difficulty He has His way prepared to bring relief. 'No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.' Matthew 11:30; Psalm 84:11.
cccOur heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us of which we know nothing. Those who accept the one principle of making the service of God supreme, will find perplexities vanish and a plain path before their feet.
cccThe faithful discharge of today's duties is the best preparation for tomorrow's trials. Do not gather together all tomorrow's liabilities and cares and add them to the burden of today. 'Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.' Matthew 6:34.
cccLet us be hopeful and courageous. Despondency in God's service is sinful and unreasonable. He knows our every necessity. To the omnipotence of the King of kings our covenant-keeping God unites the gentleness and care of the tender shepherd. His power is absolute, and it is the pledge of the sure fulfillment of His promises to all who trust in Him. He has means for the removal of every difficulty, that those who serve Him and respect the means He employs may be sustained. His love is as far above all other love as the heavens are above the earth. He watches over His children with a love that is measureless and everlasting.
cccIn the darkest days, when appearances seem most forbidding, have faith in God. He is working out His will, doing all things well in behalf of His people. The strength of those who love and serve Him will be renewed day by day.
cccHe is able and willing to bestow upon His servants all the help they need. He will give them the wisdom which their varied necessities demand.
cccSaid the tried apostle Paul: 'He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.' 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10. MH 478-482.
Your brother in Christ,
Pastor Michael O. Hodges
FORERUNNER, self-supporting ministries
Home church (since 1983)
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