Sunday, 24 May 2015

Peter's final warnings

Coming to the end of a journey through Peter's letters,  into chapter 3. There is a great sense of urgency, a desire that we keep focused, not letting others sway us but living mindful of the moment and times we live in.: "First off, you need to know that in the last days, mockers are going to have a heyday. Reducing everything to the level of their puny feelings, they’ll mock, “So what’s happened to the promise of his Coming? Our ancestors are dead and buried, and everything’s going on just as it has from the first day of creation. Nothing’s changed.”

I want that sense of urgency. I want to live a BIG life, not a little one: and who knows how much time we have, anyway? "... what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God..."And yet..."for the Lord one day is the same as a thousand years, and a thousand years is the same as one day."

And yet. I struggle, daily, with living out grace. I find myself reacting badly to and in situations at work, at home...and there are the 'ought to's above...

Other people seem to have it together. Gretchen Saffles quotes Christine Caine: “Her success is not your failure.”

I have linked to Gretchen's article, but it is so full of wisdom I am quoting it here:

"The success of other women (the amount of followers, the number of sales, the opportunities of others, the influence of others) is never to be compared with the task that God has set before you. Never. The dangers of this comparison game is that it sneaks its way into the church! Women in Bible studies and in areas of leadership compare their influence and styles with each other. It can happen even without us noticing it. After all, Satan’s ways are crafty, deceptive and cunning. He knows exactly where to shoot a dart at a us to make us crippled in what God has called us to do.
In 1 Peter 3:8-12, Peter was well aware of the disruptive nature of comparison and commanded the church to “have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart and a humble mind.” It all begins with each woman seeking to follow Christ. We must on a foundation of making Jesus famous throughout the whole earth. Whatever means that happens should be a joy to us. Whether it is through another’s ministry or through the daily tasks God sets before us in working hard and caring for our family. We are all living this life for one purpose: the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 
It is easy to have the head knowledge of our purpose, but we need for this truth to sink deep into our hearts and take root. We are all in this life together! One way we see the fruit of this truth in our lives is when we can rejoice with the success of others and bless them instead of bring them down or point out their faults. Even more-so, when we can encourage them and help them along in their pursuit to make Christ known. Anyone else feel a little sting in their hearts reading that?The biggest way to defeat and crush comparison and discouragement in our hearts is to rejoice with others. Also, the easiest way to know what is rooted in your heart is to take note of what comes out of your mouth in these moments.
Have you ever said something that shocked you? I have been surprised by things that have come out of my mouth (especially in marriage). The Lord uses what we say to reveal to us what is in our heart. Matthew 15:18-20 tells us that what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart. When you see someone succeed, does a blessing come first, or a discouraging remark? As women who seek after God’s heart together, we are to be grace speakers into the lives of others, giving them praise and blessings because we have been blessed by the hand of God ourselves. 
1 Peter 3:10-12 gives us a list of descriptions that should fit our talk: “let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit”, “turn away from evil and do good”, and pray righteous prayers before God our Father. Just as Isaiah’s mouth was cleansed by the seraphim touching a coal to it (Isaiah 6:4-6), so have we been cleansed by the blood of Jesus washing over us. Our mouths were created to be tools to bless, not to curse. The speech that comes out of our mouth should come from a heart that is a recipient of grace and a giver of grace as well. No one is perfect. I am not perfect. You are not perfect. Only God is perfect, and He dwells in us as believers. Through Him, we can live in the grace of God and extend it to those in need.
Today, choose to bless someone with the fruit of your mouth. If this is a struggle for you, spend some time in prayer, asking the Lord to uproot the envy in your heart and plant a seed of blessing, faith and unity instead. We were created to bless and be blessed.
  • What is flowing from your mouth today? Who do you need to encourage?
  • Have you been harboring bitterness or envy in your heart towards a sister in Christ? Confess it to the Lord and ask Him to give you a new heart. Dwell on Ephesians 4:31-32."
I don't struggle overly with bitterness or envy towards other Christian women (at the moment, that is: I have in the past) but, underneath, is an insidious belief that I do need to be 'as good as' in my relationships with my colleagues.

Perhaps a little more humility, a lot more gentleness, a huge heap of compassion and a ton of encouragement towards my co-workers AND my bosses would turn a difficult work situation around? And do so, for the glory of God? I say I want to live a 'big' life - do I dare take 'big' risks?

My prayer is that I have the courage to do this when I am back at work. Serve and honour God by the way I live. ...Make certain that the Lord finds me pure, spotless, and living at peace....Let the wonderful kindness and the understanding that come from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ help me to keep on growing. Praise Jesus now and forever!

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