Nearly every sermon I preach God convicts or corrects me. And this week’s sermon was no different. In 1 Peter 4:12-19, Peter connected suffering to glory. Specifically, Peter noted that when we share in Christ’s sufferings we share in his glory.
In preparing this sermon, I referenced a statement in Jerry Bridges’ book The Joy of Fearing God.
Lord, I am willingJerry Bridges, The Joy of Fearing God, p. 246.
To receive what You give;
To lack what You withhold;
To relinquish what You take;
To suffer what You inflict;
To be what You require;
And to do what You send me to do.
As I read that statement in each sermon this week, I thought about it. After the sermon, I reflected on it. And after reflection, God is using this statement to question me about my spiritual life.
Am I willing to receive whatever God gives, good or bad? Job suffered and received from the Lord good and bad. Job questioned, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:9)
Am I willing to lack what God doesn’t give? Paul was content with little or with much, in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11).
Am I willing to let go of what God takes, even if that means provision or certainty? God took Joseph away from his family and allowed him to become a slave and prisoner in Egypt for redemptive purposes (Genesis 50:20).
Am I willing experience suffering and difficulty at the hand of the Lord? Christ suffered for our salvation and understood it to be the declaration of God’s glory (John 17:5).
Am I willing to be transformed and made obedient to Christ? The aim of God’s work in our lives is to make us obedient and transform us into the very image of Christ (Romans 8:29).
Am I willing to go where God sends me on mission? God’s mission for his people is that we would make disciples of our neighbors and the nations (Matthew 18:18-20).
God has used this statement and these questions to reaffirm my purpose for living. I am not to live for myself, for my comfort, or for my sake. I do not exist for me. As a follower of Jesus, I should accept God’s good gifts as well as his difficult ones. As a follower of Jesus, I should be content with little or much. As a follower of Jesus, I should relinquish what God may take from me. As a follower of Jesus, I should embrace suffering and difficulty as a means of sharing in the wonders of God’s glory. As a follower of Jesus, I should seek transformation into the image of Christ. As a follower of Jesus, I should go to my neighbors and the nations seeking to lead them to become followers of Jesus.
I exist for God and for his glory.
The simple fact is, you are not the point of your life. You are not the star of your show. If you live for yourself, your own comfort, your own glory, your own fame, you will miss out on your very purpose. God created you to bring glory to him.Tim Challies, Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity, p. 11.
The application of my own sermon this week for me is this:
- I am going to live in submission to God. He’s in charge, not me. So I’m going to bow my will, seek him first, obey his commands, and trust his sovereignty in my life.
- I am going to live on his mission for his glory seeking to lead others to follow Jesus. So I’m going to be intentional in my prayers, conversations, plans, and trips to lead others to follow Jesus.