Pastoral Devotion July 24, 2020

6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11 To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:6-11

Dear Beloved,

How has your faith been these past months? Would you say you are growing stronger or are you struggling? Would you describe yourself as Elijah in 1 Kings 18 where he confronts the King and 450 false prophets in a mighty demonstration of faith? Or would you describe yourself as Elijah in 1 Kings 19 whereupon hearing a threat from a woman, runs for his life? You like Elijah are flesh, you are made of the same stuff. You are capable of having tremendous times of growth and faith that seems extraordinary, and you are also capable of failure, disappointment, being overwhelmed by circumstances.

I would like to encourage you to meditate on 1 Peter 5:6-11. Peter is writing to persecuted Christians. He is encouraging their faith and exhorting them not to become discouraged and give up. Towards the end of his letter, he gives several wonderful truths to help his listeners endure and grow in their faith.

Verse 6 begins, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God…”, the preceding verse says to “clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble”. The key for them and for us is humility. You may ask yourself, “Do persecuted Christians need to be humble?” or maybe in your circumstance, you don’t see pride in your life and possibly feel like you are humble at this point. Brothers and sisters, I want to aim your sights away from your circumstances and onto a bigger problem, your flesh. We are dependent people. Stop for a moment and list all the things we need in a day or a week and that list grows long. As believers, we live by faith but our flesh fights being dependent. We have an innate desire to be self-reliant. There are times we do everything we can in our flesh and it’s only when that fails that we turn to God in prayer.

This is the thrust of “humbling ourselves before God.” Beloved let this be how we begin our day – humbling ourselves before God. He alone is God, He alone has all power and authority, He is causing all things to work together for good to those who love Him. Prayer at its root is to humble ourselves; bowing our will to knowing He has power and we do not. As we desire comfort in our trials, let us begin and continue in prayer that “He may exalt you at the proper time.”

Verse 7 says that we can bring all of our anxiety to Him. We have an invitation from the Father to come to Him and “cast all your anxiety on Him.” With all of our heartaches, worry, anxiety, and fear, we can come to the One True God who “cares for you.” That is an amazing fact. God is not impressed when we don’t rely on Him or come to Him; He knows that apart from Him we can do nothing. Rather, God is interested in His children coming to Him with their needs, emotions, and real personhood and clinging to Him. His love for you is beyond what we can know. He truly cares for you.

Verse 8 reminds us we have enemies in this life, Satan and his demonic arm and the world system that is opposed to God. We need to remember there will be spiritual attacks, temptations, and disappointments that can potentially throw us out of the realm of faith and knock us into a realm of wrong-thinking, self-sufficiency, and sin. The way to combat this is to stay in that realm of humble faith, dependent upon God. (9) “Firm in your faith” would mean we stay in the gospel faith; knowing we belong to Him and were purchased by His Son through His death, burial and resurrection. That is a gift received by faith alone. That truth is what we stand in, resolute and not wavering.

Verses 10-11 reveals it is the God of all grace who will call you to Him one day eternally, but until then will allow you to suffer “for a little while” for His purposes. Remember you are not alone in this suffering. God has a purpose in your hardships, whatever they may be. Verse 10 says, He “will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” God Himself is with you, working in you to cause you to grow and be strengthened.

Brothers and Sisters, take comfort knowing God is working in you for His purpose and glory. He is making you better; He is making you more like His Son. Let us humble ourselves and submit to His authority. I exhort you to pray, stand firm in the gospel, and walk in His word. He is with you and He cares for you. May His will be done as we praise His name.