Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Love, Pray, and Stay Alert

- The end of all things is at hand/ near/close by. "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." (James 4:14) The persecution probably would be increasingly intensified before it all ends. Hang in there! Peter tries to prepare Christians for persecution by helping them perceive it through God's perspective, ponder the divine purpose for suffering, and understand the importance of prayer & love. Don't wait until disaster or persecution comes to us; we can and we should prepare ourselves mentally and spiritually in advance. Our mind needs to be alert/on guard, sober/sensible/stable, molded by God's Word, and resolute regarding how to live the Christian life. "You are all children of the Light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober...Since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet." (1 Thessalonians 5:5-6, 8) If we do not operate on the principles of God's Word, we will fail and stumble under the pressure of trials. Remember what God says about suffering. We need the stability in the mind before the storm comes. It will give us greater capacity to deal with whatever we may face and to pray according to God's will & God's Word. Do not panic. Cultivate spiritual calmness. Don't be gripped by fears and anxieties. Be temperate and prudent. 

Christ's second coming is imminent (imminency is not the same as immediacy) and we believers should daily live our lives and look at the world's affairs in the light of eternity. We don't know the hour or the day when we shall meet Him face to face. Be ready always...all the time. If we truly believe that Christ is returning and could return at any moment, it will radically affect our lifestyle and our interaction with the unsaved. It should challenge us to be watchful, prayerful, full of love, active in sharing the Gospel, and morally upright.
- Effective prayer takes alertness and self-discipline. "Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping, 'Couldn't you men keep watch with Me for one hour?' He asked Peter. 'Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.'" (Matthew 26:40-41) Our mind tends to wander. We must be self-controlled, clear-minded, and able to stay focused so that we may really pray. Guard your mind; don't allow your thoughts to be intoxicated with evil desires, worldliness, worries of this world, or anything that corrodes and corrupts moral character. "Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people." (Ephesians 6:18) A prayerful life is a powerful life!

- Above all (indicating utmost importance), we are to maintain constant, fervent, earnest love for one another. Love is our first and highest priority above all other virtues. "In 1 Peter 4, the apostle uses an interesting word to describe the love we are to have for one another. He says we are to have a "fervent" love. In the Greek, this word means "stretched out" and carries with it a picture of a runner straining for the finish line. It's a vivid image of a love that never quits. This love is a marathon type of love, not a sprint. What does this "stretched out" love look like? Peter answers this question with the next quote, "Love will cover a multitude of sins." In other words, a fervent, stretched-out love is a love that forgives no matter the cost. Like a marathon runner continues despite the burning in his lungs and the cramps in his muscles because he desires to achieve the goal, so we should endure the pain of rejection and the harsh words of those around us with a love in our hearts and a forgiving spirit. How can we love like this? We can love this way because Christ first loved us. He loved us even when we were sinners. He loved us, even when we rebelled against Him. He loved us with stretched out arms on the cross. Let's love each other in the same way." (~David McGee) Do you love others only when it's convenient or do you go out of your way to show your love to others? Peter wants to make sure that Christians earnestly love one another and be real brothers and sisters to one another in time of suffering.

- Love one another intensely without limit since love covers over a multitude of sins. "Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs." (Proverbs 10:12) This refers not to our own sins, but others' sins. And it does not mean that we condone their sins or that they should not confront their sins. "Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy." (Proverbs 28:13) We are not to cover our own sins; we must confess them (1 John 1:9). 

"Love" in verse 8 is agape (unconditional, selfless, and sacrificial love). This love is full of grace and mercy, kindness and compassion. Love keeps no record of wrongs (love always forgives, holds no grudges, and doesn't take revenge). Love is not easily angered (even when others sin against you); love overlooks offenses. Love doesn't dishonor others (by gossiping or exposing their sins and/or failures). When you love, you don't broadcast or publish the sins of others for the world to see, you don't gloat over others' sins, and you don't shame them. Noah once became too drunk and lay naked in his tent (Genesis 9:21-23). Ham (one of his sons) dishonored his dad by telling his two brothers about his dad's condition. But Shem and Japheth (Noah's other two sons) showed their dad honor/respect by walking in backwards (so that they wouldn't see him naked) and covering his naked body with a garment. That's love in action. "Remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins." (James 5:20) That's also love....speaking the truth in love!


Kim Eldredge - New Frontier Books said...

Such a lovely message -- and thank you for your thoughts on it as well. I love it when an author takes the exact words but interjects some thoughts, emotions, and opinion into it.

I appreciate your post!

Carlease Burke said...

Very interesting blog site. You've got a lot going on here! I especially like the music component. Thank you.

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