I AM the God who can change you from within 1 Peter 3:8-22

Anyone can be a Christian when life is easy

Do people see Christ in you?

Do people see Christ in you?

Nobody likes to suffer; especially when it is unjust.  When we are wronged by others we naturally want to be vindicated.  This internal characteristic of justice is from God because he is just.  God sees our hearts and if we wait by faith, He will vindicate us in the next life if not in this one.  It says in this passage that we are blessed when we suffer for doing right.  In other words, we must go through trials to prove that our faith is genuine.  Anyone can be a Christian when life is easy.  But it is when life is full of conflict that is when God and the whole world see what we really hold dear in our beliefs.  Do we complain or bless?  Trials strip the façade of religion.  Persecution reveals the truth of what we stake our lives upon.  It forces us to identify with the truth of God’s Word before the world, like those who walked up the gang plank of the ark before the eyes of all their friends and neighbors who were to perish.  Towards the end of this post there is a story about a tribal man which typifies this lesson.

Suffering for Doing Good

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For,

“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. 11He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. 12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, 19 through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison 20 who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

Who are you Lord?

I AM the God who can make you a new creation.  Only I can change you within to make you like myself.  Religion cannot make you new inside.  Religion cannot cleanse your soul or conscience.  Only I can do that for you.  I personally took the Father’s righteous judgment for mankind’s sin on myself when I died on the cross so that men could have a chance to repent and turn to me.  I died but then I resurrected myself from the grave and now I sit at the right hand of the Father and am above all authority, angels and powers.  I took your sin and can give you my righteousness if you would have it.  All things were created by me and for me.  And I AM the God who will hold the world in account for their sins one day if they don’t repent and turn to me in time. 

I AM the God who sees your heart and rewards those who have been given my righteousness.  I AM the God who pays attention to those who are attentive to me in their prayers.  When men look at you, they will only to see me as my righteousness shines out from you.  Then they will be ashamed of their treatment of you.  In the mean time, be glad when you are mistreated because one day you will be rewarded for suffering for my name’s sake.  Like I said, I AM the God who will judge each man for their sin.  You be faithful to trust me in this and patiently wait for me while you live for others needs.

Stories from the Tribes

“From centuries past most tribes here in PNG believe that most untimely death is caused

Our light and momentary trials

Our light and momentary trials produce glory

by sorcery/ witchcraft, and even though most of the people in our village are believers now, it is often hard for them to leave their old thinking and cling only to the truth found in God’s Word.  Sadly, when anyone dies it’s still common to see the blame game flare up (PNG news papers are full of stories of burning of witches).  My translation helper’s baby just died recently.  He knew that his son actually died because of a very bad sickness going through the village, but many people blamed him and his wife for being negligent in some way causing his child to die.  There was no basis to these claims.  However, many people treated him and his family with disdain, and even damaged some of the family’s gardens neither did they attend his son’s funeral.

One of these men, an unbeliever who blamed him for his son’s death, lost his own child to the same sickness a couple weeks later.  My translator helper although culturally could have treated this man in the same way, chose to go and mourn with and comfort this mourning family.  This was a huge testimony to the unbelieving man who later testified, ‘I’m amazed at this show of grace. I was one of the people who was mad at this man and blamed him for the death of his child. I did not visit him when his child died, nor did I go to the funeral. And in spite of that, now he sits here with me and carries my burden. This is amazing to me.’”  (See vs 16 above)

Religion kills

Unfortunately around the globe, people who are deceived by the institutions of Religions which are often times those who inflict persecution on true believers in Christ.  Because religions deceive people into thinking that people can do good deeds to make God happy with them and over look their bad deeds.  But since God sees the intentions of the heart (Mt 23:25-26), and his work is by the Holy Spirit in the heart, religions cannot dream to change people internally where it matters.  Only God can make that kind of change in a person’s heart which can make a real difference in a person’s lifestyle and produce eternal reward.  Thus as 1 Cor 1:4 says, …we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

More to come,

Steve

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About strostrud

Missionary with New Tribes Mission since 1989
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