Encouragement in the Journey #5

03/22/2020 - By Paul Halliwell

We are now heading into our second Sunday without the ability to gather as the church body together. Many of us have had little, if any contact, with each other because of the fear of coming in contact or even possibly unknowingly caring the virus to each other. All of us wish this would all go away and we could resume what was our lives prior to this pandemic. Life was going along pretty well and the sun was seeming to endlessly shine on our country! The economy was booming, spring is right around the corner and the future seems bright! What could possibly go wrong? Hmm...Isolated! Exiled! You decide what to call this but this just might be what the Lord has in mind for all believers and specifically you and me! Have you ever been asked by someone who loves you, to spend more quality time with them? They need something more from you because of the kind of relationship that you both share. Maybe they want your undivided attention in order to share some important/ intimate things between each other. Could it be that God has brought this pause to our lives because He wants more from us! Maybe we think it’s been good between us but He wants more!

I've been considering 1 Peter 1 for about 2 days now since God has gotten my attention.

"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. To those who are elect (exiles) of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and the sprinkling with His blood."

Do you feel "dispersed", "exiled", alone? It is difficult to go through even a little bit of life when you feel isolated from friends or family! This is why Peter is writing to these believers. Maybe we can gain some help from considering what Peter is sharing for our situation today. First, Peter tells them ( and us) that this is foreseen by God and even His purpose. WOW, that gets my attention! Why are they elect to be exiles? Am I an exile? From where? Why is this being pointed out? My guess is that it is the focal point of who they(and we) are. They and we are exiles of a land, but where? Peter begins to reveal it as he describes what is being kept for all of us who have been born again to a living hope! You see there is an inheritance of the greatest value for all who are now exiles for a time because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Verse.4 says that this inheritance is being "kept in heaven for you." We are citizens of heaven who are exiled for a time "for a salvation to be revealed in the last time." (verse 5)

Verses 6-7 say "in this you rejoice though now for a while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith β€”β€” more precious than gold that perishes though tested by fire β€”- may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

The Author of Hebrews writes this about being tried. Chapter 10 starting with verse 32. "But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partnered with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plunder of your property since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised."

Maybe God wants us to really focus for a time on what He has accomplished for us. Just maybe He wants a deeper heart to seek after Him. Maybe He has cleared the deck so that we only have Him. I think for all that has been accomplished on our behalf, He is more than worthy of our devoted attention.

With much love, your brother,