Peter ends his first letter in 1 Peter 5:10-11 with a remarkable statement of security. Why not give up on God when life is hard? Peter answers these thing with a list, followed by a statement that in the end, we win. That which ruins life will not defeat the one who gives live. But before that, Peter gives us a serious fo things that God does for us. Why stick with God, well, here are a few bottom line reasons from Peter:
Called into his eternal glory- God doesn't just give us a $20 or some other token help. God didn't just give us fire insurance. God called us to be fully known by him. Given that he's infinite, it's a good thing we get to see his eternal glory, not just a small glimpse others in the Bible received.
Restore- This is huge. Christ will on day return and make all things new. Once you began your relationship with Christ you became new. God will not leave us broken. He will restore us.
Confirm- We need not fear insecurity because God is our security. God will leave no doubt that we are his. In the tightrope of life we can run, God has us. We don't need to fear what man thinks.
Strengthen- God will give us the ability to handle what comes our way. This won't likely cover hypothetical situations, but it will cover today. For some in the Bible who were martyred it gave them the ability to stand for God as they paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Establish- God is the one who will bring our ultimate success and prominence in life. Earlier in the paragraph it talks about God exalting us as we humbly submit to him. We not only need to drop the fear of man, we do not need to worry about another destroying us. God in the end establishes and keeps us.
In reading 1 Peter 5:6-7 we see our role and God's role in conquering life. In humility we submit to God, and we give him our concerns and worries. God exults us at the proper time and cares for us. In the challenges of life we are very tempted to control things. Instead, God says release all that and trust him. The crux of this is whether or not we will submit to his will or do our own.
God is a caring God that wants to delight in his children. His disposition is to bless his own. We can over-react to the prosperity gospel and forget that God truly does want to bless. Blessings come from pursing what he wants in his way and his timing. That is not some cold economic transaction. This is a father who knows best, bring out our best, and delighting in his children. Today's challenges may seem hard, but tomorrow we'll see God was always there. We may even say "that was cool dad."
As we read Haggai 2:19 we see a wonderful theme that is in the Bible: But from this day on I will bless you. We often heard preached on how God's patience has a end date. What also has an end date is God's discipline. As God allows challenges into our lives, there is a end date. In Haggai God moved from punishment to blessing. The purpose of the challenge was accomplished, so a new day is at hand.
Too often we forget that God's heart and desire is to bless people. We can overreact to the health and wealth gospel. We can even over emphasize God's holiness and our brokenness. As a loving father, God wants to bless and delight in his children. That's you. He will do what is required to bring out the best in you. At the same time God's heart throb is to bless you.
I said this once and the person asked how I was so sure? Two words: The Gospel. God gave his best and showed his best so we could have a relationship. God gave his best that he sent his beloved son, Jesus, do die for us. God showed his best in that he rose Jesus from the dead on the third day conquering sin and death. (Two other things that have an end date too!!)
As we read Haggai 1:7-8 we see the prophet telling God's people to consider their ways, and then get to work. Good works is not about getting to heaven or earning favor with God. That is accomplished on the cross and empty tomb. Loving and healthy relationships get to work. It's delight. Relationships begin to die when you put off the other and only serve yourself. The same is true for God. If we continually put him on hold, things will not go well in that relationship. So, rather than have a guilt trip, consider your ways and get to work!
What is your choice in pursuing God today? How are you planning on building his church? Too often we rely on what we did in the past. I'm sure those are good things. But today, how are you following Jesus? Haggai is the book where God's people were in the wrong, heard from God, but instead acted in repentance rather than ignore. Every day we wake up is a new day to consider our ways and put Jesus first. Let's get to it!
Zephaniah 2:10 is a dark verse. Here Zeph shares with us how God returns the pride against his people. We truly have a choice on which side of history we want to be on: Those with or those against God. While God is patient, he will balance the scales of justice. What this means for the surrounding nations that God will let conquer Judah is winning may not be winning.
Throughout the Bible it seems being a part of God's family is a lost cause or not worth it. For the church in severely persecuted countries this is a significant temptation. Even though God may seem absent and his cause not winning, God is very present and very aware of the outcome. Victory, like salvation, comes completely from him. In other words, God gets the last word.
We can take comfort in that whatever life throws at us, God is not ambivalent or uncaring. He is very aware and he taking not. We know that in the end we win, and in the meantime he is present and there with us through the hardships of life. So, don't fret. God has a plan and it will be worked out.