Tuesday, May 5, 2009, "Hope Through Persecution"

Triumphant Victorious Reminders
Inspired by the Holy Spirit
By: Teresa Criswell

"...Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the Mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you..."
~ I Peter 5 (Amplified Version) ~

Reading the letter from Peter to the churches in Asia Minor, it is captivating to understand that he was encouraging those beautiful people throughout the northern part of that particular region where there was great suffering and persecution. Peter encouraged them by the Spirit of God to look to God for their hope as they were going through persecutions and sufferings.

Trying to wrap my mind around something such as persecution is daunting and horrifying. Yet these people did so for the cause of Christ. They suffered in ways that I can not imagine.

As I ponder these men and women that loved Christ no matter what the cost, they had an encourager reminding them to focus on their Hope in Christ Jesus. They had to have a hope that was placed directly on God. In I Peter 5, he exhorts the leaders to be a certain way towards their 'flock' and tells them what not to be as well. He also exhorts the ones who are younger and of 'lesser rank' to be subject to the elders with respect, clothing themselves with humility, being FREE of pride.

He then leads them to the three step process as discussed in the bible study led by Pastor Kim as shared yesterday morning in our devotional. He charges them to humble themselves. It didn't say to ask God to keep them humble, it's something that we are called to do ourselves. Being mindful moment by moment of Who God Is, and through that 'reminding' we realize no matter how adequate or inadequate we feel, that focus comes off of us and onto Him. It demagnifies who we think we are and magnifies how awesome HE is and who HE is!

As Peter encouraged the people throughout that region where there was great persecution he knew and experienced God's protection. However, I'm sure Peter also knew that when they removed themselves from that 'covering of protection' due to pride how essential it was to be in humbleness. When we are in pride we are in the territory of the enemy. The thing to be concerned for, is most of the time pride isn't what we assume it is many times, which results in unknowingly living in it.

I'm finding in my life that how I keep myself in check if I'm in pride or humbleness is to find out where my eyes are. Are they focused on me and even wondering "what will they think of me"? Or are my eyes focused on Him?

When we 'think' and even 'know' that we aren't good enough or even qualified to do what God has called us to do; believe it or not this is pride. I need to remember that God will not use me because of me, me, me, me, me. He does not want 'me' to rely on me. I want and must be in constant remembrance that God does not ever call me to ever serve Him out of my own strength and might. The great reminder to this is the following scripture; "For He knows our frame, He [earnestly] remembers and imprints [on His heart] that we are dust..." ~Psalm 103:14-16 (Amplified Version).

He is calling us to TRULY and ONLY rely on HIM as a 'people' to do what He has called us to! The greatest gift of obedience to God is to remain humble and watch what happens in the process of transformation through humbleness... He will be glorified. Our lives will be honored and privileged to declare His glory, not our own.


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