Rejoice?

1 Peter 4:12-13Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

It is quite a paradigm shift for those who newly come to Christ. Much of what we knew to be true is not necessarily so as a Christian.

Work is work. But forsaking church to work is not something one ought to do.

Hebrews 10:25Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

Relationships change. As a spouse, our roles are more clearly defined in the Word of God. The world today has all but blurred the lines to allow anything and everything. Open marriages are adultery, and living together without a covenant is fornication. Same-sex unions, or even marrying your pet; in light of God’s Word, is an abomination.

Leviticus 18:22Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”

Romans 1:27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

But as we are mentored and discipled to know and understand God’s Word and God’s way, we begin to see that our Father does know what is best for us. Solomon told us:

Ecclesiastes 7:8Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”

Honestly, we are all good starters.

It is carrying out that which we’ve learned throughout the rest of our life that becomes the challenge. We set in place the principles within our heart and begin to do that which we’ve been commanded.

Forgive one another – even as God, for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.

Yet, when we are wounded (and sometimes profoundly) by another brother or sister in Christ, our first response is to execute vengeance, or justice; when God tells us to apply mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

Other times, it is our own foolishness that brings the criticism, and even condemnation upon us. But when we suffer at the hands of another for being a Christian, Peter tells us that we ought to rejoice and be glad.

It is hard to fathom that we are partakers in the same sufferings as our Lord and Savior suffered. Yet, there are brothers and sisters around the world who meet in secret for fear of persecution and martyrdom.

Our passage relates to us that when persecution comes (not if), we are to accept it and rejoice that we are chosen to be partakers with our Savior. I believe that all of the events in my life happen with the approval of God. Those things that come by way of my own choices and foolishness may be just the cause and effect of sowing and reaping.

But when some situations and circumstances come unplanned and unexpected, I can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God knew before it happened and allowed it to come into my life.

Our Heavenly Father is sovereign – nothing escapes His notice or happens without His approval. Because He works all things out for good, He can even take my horrible mistakes and make them into something beautiful. He can take misery and turn it into a ministry.

When I am persecuted for my faith, I must train myself to look beyond the hate and the hurtful words and look at their soul. Do they know the love and forgiveness I have found in Christ? What has come into their life to spew out such bitterness and hatred? What could they do if they became a Christian? And most importantly; how would I want someone to respond if that was me?

I think we can rejoice that we are put in place of Christ and are allowed to suffer as He did.

Acts 5:41And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.”

I also believe we are given an excellent opportunity to show mercy, grace, and love and reveal to that one the love of God in a way they may never have experienced before. Those apostles who were beaten and shamefully treated then went from that place and saw much fruit because of it.

Acts 5:42And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”

Should persecution come to our doorstep, may we receive it as Jesus would. And whatever happens, May we truly rejoice as we are admonished to do today.

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