How should a believer respond to persecution or people in authority who are harsh and abusive? Is there a pattern in the Bible?
Would you like to learn how to pray the Scriptures? Isaiah 55.11 says, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” And Jesus said in John 15.7, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” When we pray God’s Word, rightly understood, we’re praying the will of God, can be sure that He hears us, and will answer our prayers.
Ezekiel 43 & 44
1 Peter 2.1-25
Cravings, Persecution & Praying Scripture
1 Peter 2.1-25:
As Newborn Babes …
Anyone who has been around a newborn baby knows they crave milk and will let you know when they want more! John MacArthur (MacArthur Daily Bible) says, “Spiritual growth is always marked by a craving for and a delight in God’s Word.”
A baby who had no appetite for milk and refused to eat would soon be malnourished, even sick. We can’t grow spiritually without a steady intake of God’s Word. Neither will we grow in the quality of our relationship with God without getting to know Him, His attributes, His promises, and learning to recognize His voice.
Do you “delight” in God’s Word? Do you crave it like a baby craves milk? If not, pray and ask God to give you a hunger for His Word.
Praying through the Bible:
[A]s newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby (v. 2).
Lord, please give me a hunger and thirst for Your Word. Let me crave it like a newborn baby craves milk. In Jesus name, Amen.
Responding to Persecution in an Ungodly Society
Peter was writing to believers who were suffering intense persecution in a very ungodly society! He was teaching them how to respond to persecution, mistreatment and the ungodliness of others.
He didn’t say, “Get mad, gossip, or rebel.” Neither did he say, “Act like everyone else” or “When in Rome do as the Romans do.” Instead, he said in chapter 2:
11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man …
We’re to submit … even to those who are harsh (v. 18):
18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
22 “Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;
23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously,
More about this tomorrow.
Praying through the Bible:
Lord, help me to abstain from fleshly lusts, whether personal struggles or the desire to get even with those who mistreat me. Help me to conduct myself honorably, especially around unbelievers and those who speak evil against me. Let them see my good works and glorify You. Help me to submit to those You have placed in authority over me, not just to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are harsh. Help me to endure sufferings patiently, even when I’m wronged because this is commendable before you. Lord Jesus, help me to follow your example. When You were reviled, You didn’t revile in return. Instead, you entrusted Yourself to Your Father who will judge all things rightly. Help me to leave that judgment in Your hands, Father. I ask this in Jesus name. Amen.
Today’s Other Readings:
Ezekiel 43 & 44:
Our Sin & His Mercy
Chapter 4.1-5, Afterward he brought me to the gate, the gate that faces toward the east. 2 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory. 3 It was like the appearance of the vision which I saw—like the vision which I saw when I came to destroy the city. The visions were like the vision which I saw by the River Chebar; and I fell on my face. 4 And the glory of the LORD came into the temple by way of the gate which faces toward the east. 5 The Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple.
Matthew Henry had this to say about this chapter, “After Ezekiel had surveyed the temple of God, he had a vision of the glory of God and it caused him to fall on his face. When Christ was crucified, and the things freely given to us by God, through Him, are shown to us by the Holy Ghost, they make us ashamed for our sins. This frame of mind prepares us for fuller discoveries of the mysteries of redeeming love …”
Genuine conversion causes us to see our sin for what it really is—an offense against a Holy God. Only then can we fully understand the love and grace and mercy of God. When we see ourselves in comparison to Him and His holiness and seek to please Him through His empowering grace, He will take us yet deeper into His truths.
Bless the Lord
What does it mean to “bless the Lord”? We bless God when we are thankful for His mercy and grace in our lives. What a wonderful time of year to “bless Him” by being thankful that though we deserved to die for our sins, He sent His Son to die in our place.
The Cause of the Poor
“The righteous considers the cause of the poor, but the wicked does not understand such knowledge.”
Again, what a timely thought. Most of us sat down on Thanksgiving Day to tables heaping with food, probably ate too much, and had plenty leftover. Let’s not forget those who are less fortunate, not just with our words, but with our deeds, as well.
What do you crave? Do you crave the Word of God? Do you hunger to know Jesus better? Or do you spend more time hungering for the things of this world? As we approach the Christmas gift-giving season, do you think about the Greatest Gift, Jesus Christ? As we exchange gifts with one another, do you think more about what you want or how to be a genuine blessing to someone else?
And how do you respond when persecution comes your way? How do you treat those who are harsh or unkind? How can you better follow the example of Jesus by entrusting yourself to God? How do you balance the pain of living in a fallen world with the glories of the world to come?
In the next few days, we’ll talk about how to respond to an unreasonable spouse and when we’re struggling to trust God. We’ll also discuss the question, “Is the Bible enough in a complex world?”
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Getting ready for 2018
The holidays are just around the corner and the new year will be on us before we know it. What will you do to make Bible reading and prayer an ongoing habit in the coming year? I’d like to encourage you to set a goal to read through the Bible. And this year I’ll be adding Scripture-based prayers from each day’s reading, much like the ones I included today.
I hope you’ll sign up for my daily email. It can serve as a gentle reminder to stay on track. I try to make comments that are relevant to the daily struggles and questions that I hear in my counseling and discipleship ministries.
Start today so you can begin the habit and it will be a regular part of your day come January.
You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Google+. Just click on the social media icons. But nothing replaces having the daily devotion pop up in your inbox each day. It, usually (once in a while life gets in the way), goes out at 3 a.m. MST, so it’s there for early risers no matter what time zone you’re in.
So will you join me and, possibly, encourage someone else to do the same. (Why not email or call them right now?) Let’s get ready and grow in our relationship with Him together.
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