Christian devotions in the Daily-Message

Christian devotions in the Daily-Message

Test of Faith

“Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: Who shall give account to Him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer, And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”

1 Peter 4:1-8
 

Who gives us this advice? It is the fisher, the disciple of Jesus, Peter! Impulsive, forward, unstoppable, always first, most probably the pack-leader of the disciples. He often had to suffer bitter defeats, some painful and burdensome, that he had brought upon himself. Willing to resort to violence, short-tempered, unrestrained. But, still he was also sincere. Yes, God really transformed this man. Just like a raw diamond, God shaped and sharpened this man during his life in companionship with Jesus Christ. In Peter's example, we see how Jesus Christ's prayer is fulfilled. It concerns the test of faith through God's strength. Jesus prayed for Peter's faith and told him why: Luke 22:31-34 “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.” Peter discovered and acknowledged very soon that it was God's power that brought him to faith and will keep him in faith to the bitter end. Through all his failures, it was very clear to him, that he 'must not' rely solely on his own strength to pull through, and in fact 'may not' rely on his own strength. I am sure that he was very aware of his own weakness and unreliability. There are many examples in the Bible that shows that it was precisely this that Jesus explicitly revealed to him. And so, the good advice we have here doesn't come from a theoretician, but from someone who had to learn first-hand in a procrastinated, painful manner and finally was allowed to do so. The 'must not' eventually became 'may not'. Maybe I am, we are, still far away from this 'may not' stage, far enough to recognize that precisely this humiliation which God permits us to go through is in fact the hand of God, and is necessary in order to grind us into a rare diamond.

We must not only study the Bible as a textbook, but as, in nearly all circumstances, from above! Many reports therein are not just there for historical purposes, but are there to teach US something! In the Gospel of John it is reported that Jesus, at the end of His time on earth, prepared Peter and told him how he would glorify God through his own death John 21:18-19 “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, when thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedt whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake He, signifying by what death He should glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He saith unto him, Follow Me.” In this manner, we have, in Peter a follower of Jesus, who did not speak to us from theory, but told us precisely that which he himself witnessed and experienced! This is a very encouraging example, as, when the men of God in the Bible are NOT Hollywood Heroes, but totally “normal” weak people, such as ourselves, we are able to learn that God does not fill His Kingdom with heroes, but with His chosen people, who are equipped through His Holy Spirit, driven by the strength of God to do the will of Jesus Christ, thus the will and love of God. At this point, we have come back to the election of God, which is entirely in the Father's hands, in which man has no part whatsoever and as such cannot claim any of the glory therefore. We have the guarantee that God will in any event bring us to the end goal, because it is God's will and His power that enables us.

(Translated by Linda Gates)

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This devotion is also available in Afrikaans: Proefing van Geloof
Zur deutschen Originalversion: Bewährung im Glauben


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