Thanks to all who have sent e-mails and other social media messages that have encouraged me that this is helping. As always, I think that what John Wesley wrote in one of his journals more than a hundred years ago about how that spiritual growth and reading the Bible and devotional material were very closely linked. Frequently I give great consideration to the blessing that we have for being able to read especially when the statistics note that the majority of the world’s population cannot read and are illiterate. There is some benefit to writing down lists in your journal of the simple things in life that you can be thankful for. Such as being able to read, clean water, antibiotics, a functioning city sewage system, a yard that needs mowing, glasses, peanut butter, and a bag of jalapeno flavored kettle chips. Thank God that you are able to sit up and read a book late at night in a quiet den or living room on a sofa or easy chair. Gratitude flows when you start writing down your blessings! Paul encouraged us that in everything we are to give thanks (1 Thess. 5:18).
Picking up with Week 3, Day 2 in Lord, Is It Warfare? by Kay Arthur, I again simply post up the notes I wrote in my journal:
-Just because you have been brought up in a church/spiritual/religious setting does not make you a Christian. There is the necessity of being born again and being converted in your lifestyle and thinking. It is a personal matter and has nothing to do with your religious pedigree.
-In fact, Paul equated his own spiritual pedigree as SKUBALON (Php. 3:8). We must take great caution not to get caught in the trap of wanting to inform people of our spiritual accomplishments and positions. Render it all SKUBALON as the great apostle did. Any pride we might take in what God has done with our lives moves us toward a dangerous place.
-The born-again experience places us as citizens in a new kingdom. It is imperative that we remember that we have been placed by citizenship in a new world.
-The book then gives 1 Peter 5:6-11 and has a series of questions.
1 Peter 5:6-11 KJV Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:  Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:  Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.  But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.  To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
-Who is the enemy according to this passage?
· My adversary
· The devil
· A roaring lion
-What do these names say about him?
· He is an adversary that I am not to make alliances or a truce with.
· He prowls—Works from the cover of darkness, using distracting temptations, and fearful roars.
· He is loud, roaring, obnoxious, and does all he can to stop the peace and calmness the Lord has placed in the heart of his citizens.
-What were the people that Peter addressed in this passage going through?
They were in great suffering. Don’t let suffering get you to doubt what is going on in the Kingdom of God. We can sometimes think that if we are suffering we are out of the will of God. . . nothing could be further from the truth. We often have a very romantic view about the book of Acts. It can be read through in about 45 minutes or so and we have a tendency to air-brush it and think that there were only revivals, crusades, advancements, and victories mixed in with miracles, signs, and wonders. NOTHING could be further from the truth! There were huge bouts of suffering, pain, and duress that took place among God’s specially chosen men. Some were martyred, beaten, imprisoned, and so forth. God can use pain and suffering in such an effort to get us weaned off of this world.
I have just received an e-mail from Mike Patterson, my brother-in-law, who is a UPCI missionary in Romania. He noted that more people in Romania are desiring to get to our US Embassy there so they can get into America. When quizzed, Romanians would rather go to America than to Heaven. Sometimes that is the battle that American pastors are faced with. We have so many creature comforts here that it is hard to get a trip up of folk wanting to go to Heaven. Perhaps suffering and affliction could be a key element in pulling us away from the world.
Let God use the setbacks, disappointments, defeats, challenges, and pain to work in our behalf knowing that we are seeking a better country. The one direction it is working toward is for our own good. Suffering has the unique ability to conform us even more into the image of Jesus Christ.
-What are our instructions that Peter gives to us?
· Humble yourself
· Cast your care on the Lord
· Be sober
· Be vigilant
· Be alert
· Resist the devil
· Stand firm in your faith
· Understand that the source of suffering is being endured by saints all over the globe
· Endure the suffering
· The Lord is using it perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish me. (NOTE: This tells me that everything the devil will throw us is useful to do the will of God in my life. Remember what C. S. Lewis said, “The devil is God’s devil!”)
-I leave you with a link to a sermon I preached several years ago about the roaring lion called The Soul-eater.
Thanks for reading. . .
More tomorrow. . . .