Enduring within

Let me introduce you to Peter - a brash, outspoken leader who sometimes didn't get it all right, made impetuous decisions, too afraid to admit his association with someone others didn't exactly like, and who acted rashly on more than one occasion. Even though he wasn't all that 'perfect' in many of those day-to-day decisions, he was one of the founding fathers of the New Testament Church. Nero was the ruler of his day, and his reign didn't exactly leave those who followed Christ in a comfortable position. In fact, he'd as soon persecute them than support them. He often used them as scapegoats, blaming them for some vile action he had taken himself. Toward the end of Peter's life, he pens the letters to the Church at Rome and the 'aliens scattered abroad'. Being scattered leaves one feeling a bit disconnected from others - from the 'roots' one had formed and the protections one had enjoyed.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. (I Peter 1:3-5)

As Peter opens his letter to the church, we find him emphasizing the extreme goodness of God's grace. What better place to begin than at the cross? We sometimes need to be reminded of our great inheritance in Christ Jesus. We see the commotion of the day, listen to the reports of one bad event right after another, taking in images of all manner of destruction, and we get a little despondent, don't we? Peter's reminder should ring out - we have been given much in Christ Jesus - an inheritance that is pure and undefiled by all this world can do to us or bring into our lives. So, stand strong in the midst of persecution; hold fast in times of great trial; and look ever upward when doubts assail. 

When our focus is on what is happening around us, on the worldly affairs that threaten our peace, we lose perspective. We will feel disappointment and dismay. When our focus is on whose we are, what we have been given within this relationship, and the protection that we enjoy because of this deep connection, we rise above the frightful things of the day. Christ did the impossible - he endured the cross, the agony of death, and the cold grave. He rose on the third day, ascended into heaven, returned to his disciples and sent his Holy Spirit to indwell them. He promised to come again, in the fullness of time and with the strength of all of heaven behind him. When our focus is on him, we have a different perspective of the problems at hand, don't we?

If today's issues seem like they are too big, tragic, or beyond your control, they probably are! BUT...they aren't beyond his! We might not see beyond the tragedy of the moment, but God sees the glory he has prepared for all those who endure it 'within' his presence. Just sayin!

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