The End of Faith

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, - 1 Peter 1:3-4 NKJV

When I used to read fiction - and I loved suspense novels - I was one of those people who would look to the back of the book to make sure my favorite character made it to the end when things got intense with him or her.  Sometimes I was pleasantly surprised & sometimes I had to dig to find out what happened to them only to find that they met an untimely demise somewhere on the pages in between where I was and the end of the book.

I don't have to wonder about the end of our "story".  God has it plainly laid out for us in the pages of His word.  As Christians we are told of a hope of certainty, an incorruptible inheritance in heaven, God's dwelling place, that has been reserved specifically for us for all of eternity future.  That is the end of our story and the end of our faith - the salvation of our souls.  (1 Pe 1:9).  When we finally arrive in heaven our faith will become sight.  We won't need to have faith any more because we will finally have everything our hearts truly desire.  In the meantime, though, let's hang on to our faith so that we can live our lives to the fullest until we finally reach our destination.   How can knowing what awaits you in heaven affect how you live your life today?

Watch and Pray

Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.  (1 Peter 5:8-9)

My 3 year old has the whole vigilante thing down.  He runs around in the back yard making sure that not even a bird lands in our back yard.  What a little protector he is.  Even as he runs on his way back inside the house his little head and eyes are looking about patrolling the airspace around our house.  Oh, did I not mention that my 3 year old is a Shihtzu?  The fur flies on that little dog.

Isn't it funny how a dog can be so diligent in keeping watch for predators when we as humans have so difficult a time looking out for our own well being?  Even Jesus couldn't get His disciples to stay up with Him for an hour and pray.  (Matthew 26:40-41)  My friends, spiritual warfare is real.  If we are doing what God wants us to do, Satan will go to any lengths to bring us down.  He will work on our insecurities, our families and our life circumstances to try to take our eyes off of our purpose.  None of us, no matter how strong we think we are, are exempt.  For example, here are the "accusations" I hear in my mind from the wicked one that I frequently have to cast down related to my leadership of women's ministry at our church:

1) You can't adequately minister to the ladies at your church because you are not a mother.

2) How can you be effective when your husband isn't very involved in the church?

3) Why do you think you can teach the bible, you surely don't know as much as "so and so".

Lies, all of them.  Lies from the Accuser to try and stop what God is intending to do.    Thankfully, I know that I have access to the power of the Holy Spirit who is greater than Satan to cast down these imaginations and press on.   I choose to listen to the voice of truth inside of me and shake my fist at Satan's feeble attempts to derail God's plans. 

So what lie is Satan trying to get you to believe?  Remember that our best defense against him is to pray.  Let's go to God now:

Father, I thank You right now that You are the creator of heaven and earth and have the power over Satan.  I thank You that the wicked one is to You like an insect is to us - that He is no match for Your glory and power.  Please help us to keep watch over our hearts and minds by maintaining the disciplines of daily prayer, bible reading and alone time with You.  You are our only hope, peace, joy and strength in this crazy world.  Please reveal to us today where we've failed you with our thoughts and actions and let Your light shine through us mightily.  Let us know for sure that we are not alone in our trials and help us to remain stedfast in our laboring for You.  In Your precious Son's name I pray. Amen,

A Meek and Gentle Lion?

I finally finished the book "Captivating", by John & Stasi Eldredge, last week. It was a good feeling to finish one of the books I've started! I'm sure that some of you out there can relate to the I-like-to-read-five-books-at-one-time syndrome.  Does a person really like to read everything at once or does it say something else about us who do?  Once again, another subject for another day.

I came across a section in the book regarding 1 Peter 3:3-4 a few weeks ago that I just can't wait any longer to comment on.  First, let's look at the bible passage:

1 Peter 3:3-4 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

Paul is speaking here of how wives should behave around their husbands, specifically those who are unbelieving.  In short, wives of unbelieving spouses can win over their husbands to Christ by their actions, not their words or outward appearance.  I'm not going to dive deeply into the depths of this doctrine today though because I want to look at the "meek and quiet spirit" part. 

Honestly, this passage has always been one that I have been extra critical of myself for.  If there is one verse that I use where I compare myself to others, which I know I shouldn't do because we're all different, etc. etc., it is this one.  You see, of the four personality types (otter, beaver, golden retriever, lion), I am a lion.  Okay, I have equal beaver characteristics, but the lion is definitely there.  I struggle with wishing I were more like some other ladies I know because I think they are more "meek and quiet" than I.  After all, I want to be of great price!  Listen here to what Stasi Eldredge has to say about the passage.  When I read this, it was like reading words out of my own mouth!

First, Peter is not saying that we shouldn't enjoy wearing pretty things.  What he's trying to say is that true beauty comes from the inner part of us.  Our hearts.  A heart at rest.  When I first read the part about a gentle and quiet spirit, I gave up having much hope of ever making the grade.  I am loud. I make jokes when I am nervous or uncomfortable, and when I am comfortable and at ease.  I am not prone to long silences.  If no one is talking in a group, I take that as an invitation to share my thoughts.  A gentle and quiet spirit?  Oh dear.

I began to include in my prayers for sanctification a complete personality transplant.  Yes, put an angel at the edge of my tongue to guard my every word.  And while you're at it, make me someone else, please.  Someone more like Melanie in Gone With the Wind.  Or Mother Teresa.  Someone really good.  I believed this was not to much to ask.  He is the God of miracles, after all.  (p. 134)

Have you ever had these thoughts? I bet some of you have, even those of you who are quiet on the outside.  You see, after reading what Stasi Eldredge had to say in this chapter of her book, it was like the light finally came on for me.  Even introverted people struggle with 1 Peter 3:3-4 because they are not necessarily quiet on the inside.  Remember this passage in Luke?

Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.  Friends, no matter what type of outward personality we have, we need to look at our heart condition first.  We are all different.  I will always be an extrovert and others will always be introverts.  However, when we let God have our heart, soul and mind, he will make us to be more of who He made us to be!!  I just love being unique, don't you?  Here's more from Stasi:

Peter doesn't mean that beautiful women rarely speak above a whisper, if they speak at all.  No.  To have a gentle and quiet spirit is to have a heart of faith, a heart that trusts in God, a spirit that has been quieted by his love and filled with his peace.  Not a heart that is striving and restless. (p. 134)

That makes sense to me and I hope it makes sense to you too.  Freeing sense.  A freedom to be who you are and who God intended you to be without comparing yourself to someone else. I'll leave you with one more thought from Stasi Eldredge.  I pray that today you find rest in who you are in Christ.

A woman of true beauty is a woman who in the depths of her soul is at rest, trusting God because she has come to know him to be worthy of her trust.  She exudes a sense of calm, a sense of rest, and invites those around her to rest as well.  She speaks comfort; she knows that we live in a world at war, that we have a vicious enemy, and our journey is through a broken world.  But she also knows that because of God all is well, that all will be well.  A woman of true beauty offers other the grace to be and the room to become.  In her presence, we can release the tension and the pressure that so often grip our hearts.  We can also breathe in the truth that God loves us and he is good. (p. 135)