Happy Thursday! This is the day the Lord has made. Today’s devotion is a little long, but I promise it will be worth the read. Join me as we finish our review of 1 Peter 3:13-17. Have a wonderful day.
During the month of May I traveled to ten states in eight days, took 2 flights and spent a lot of time driving, but none of those trips were to my dream destination. Don’t get me wrong, I had a wonderful time (grateful to be fully vaccinated), but I often dream about taking trips to tranquil islands. You know the kind that you see in the movies with islands surrounded by clear water against a Caribbean blue or emerald green ocean floor. Where the sand is white or pink, and there are lush green plants and tropical scents in the air. I would love to visit an island country in South Asia. An area located in the Indian ocean to the southwest of Bay of Bengal and the southeast of the Arabian sea. Where 5-star hotels (pre-COVID-19) averaged $127/night.
If you were given a week’s paid vacation from work with all expenses paid would you be ready to go today?
Well let me tell you a little more about the island people. They’re male and female, family oriented with children of various ages. They speak English and two other languages. Based on data from 2019, people are Christians, Muslims and Buddhist. Buddhism is considered the state religion. Christians make up 7.4% (6.1% Roman Catholic and 1.3% other Christians) of the population. It is the third most religious country, according to a Census conducted by the Gallup Poll with 70.2% Theravada Buddhist, 12.6% Hindus, and 9.7% Muslims (mainly Sunni).
Can you imagine living in an area where you are 1.3% of the population that is Christian? To put it into perspective, 1.3% of a dollar is one penny (out of 100 pennies there would be only one). How often do we disregard one penny because of the low value?
However, this truly reminds me of the Parable of the Lost Sheep, where the shepherd leaves the 99, “so it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.” Yet, the number of Christians on that island represents one penny of a dollar.
Have you ever been in a situation where you are the only one who believes in God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit as the Trinity? Maybe you were the only person in your clique that went to church or youth group. Maybe you were the only friend that was considered the good girl or boy, or saint because you chose to go another way. Maybe you are the only Christian in your immediate work group. Maybe you are the only Christian in your home that plans to go back into the church in-person or at all post COVID-19.
I will ask again,can you relate to what it must be like for that 1.3% on that island?
This week we have been walking through 1 Peter 3:13-17. Yesterday, we discussed that even in our suffering we need to remain in hope, our hope that is in Christ Jesus. We further discussed the need to share the hope that is in us with others.Today, we will finish verses 16-17.
BIBLE VERSE – 1 Peter 3:13-17
“13 Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. 15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 17 Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!”
Sisters and brothers, again I want you to understand that you can have hope today. Even when you are surrounded by hopeless, lost and wicked people in this world, and you suffer.
When you suffer for doing good, remember who suffered for you. When you suffer for doing good, remember the good news of Jesus Christ. He came for us, that one lost sheep or penny – the one in the city, the one in our family/home, the one on our job. When you suffer remember Christ Jesus in your heart, the One who will never leave you or forsake you.
Keep your conscience clear, don’t worry about what other people say about you, don’t walk in fear or create an environment that is abrasive because of your faith. Be gentle in your response for your belief. Keep your mind on Christ, the One who sees and knows all things – he is the great reward. Live your life in Christ to the fullest.
The apostle Paul said it best in Philippians 3:7-9: “7I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.” NLT
Sisters and brothers, earlier I talked about an island of people, and on that island there were approximately 1.3% Christians and 6.1% Roman-Catholic. These believers were excited and ready to celebrate the ressurection of the risen Lord. You can probably imagine the festivities, the praise and worship, and the hope that they felt in their hearts. According to The Guardian, “On Sunday, April 21, 2019 a series of coordinated bombings took place in Sri Lanka. The explosions targeted Christians at Easter Sunday church services in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa, and tourists staying in luxury hotels in the capital. With the death toll at 290 and more than 500 injured, the Sru Lankan officials have said religious extremists are to blame.” At 8:45a.m., 160 people were killed at the congregation of St. Anthony’s Shrine and at least 50 people were killed at St. Sebastian’s church (in a seaside town) and at 9:05 a.m. Zion evangelical church was bombed (no numbers were released).
While this is tragic and I would never wish this upon any believer or non-believer, I want you to understand that if we believe that God is creator of all things, is the controller of all things, then we must also understand that, that same God is above any harm that may come to us.
Let me explain this a little more from Paul’s example in Romans 14:8-9 (NRSV): ” 8 If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 Christ died and rose again for this very purpose—to be Lord both of the living and of the dead.”
Sisters and brothers, we do not know what may happen while we are reading this today, or what will happen three years from now – we certainly did not expect COVID-19, but let us not walk around as if we are in mourning. Fear not who will harm you when you are eager to do good, our God who is greater than our loss(es) or our suffering, He is the One who can turn everything around. Be encouraged, continue to do good, live for Christ unashamed, because our great rewarder is our only hope.
Today, if you are ready to live a life of hope, I want to invite you to receive Jesus Christ into your heart as your Lord and Savior, and your eternal hope.
The Bible says, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NLT
If you believe this, pray with me:
“Father God, thank you for your testimony. Thank you for sending your son Jesus Christ to save us. Lord, we confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts that Jesus Christ is your son, and that he died on the cross so that we will be forgiven and have eternal life. Father God, we believe Jesus rose from the dead and we ask you to come into our lives to be our Lord and Savior. Father God, we repent of our sins and because your word is true we confess that we are born again believers and cleansed by the blood of Jesus.” Amen.
If this is the first time you prayed this prayer, I want to welcome you to the family of God. I encourage you to get involved in your local Bible believing and teaching church to surround yourself with a healthy body of Christian believers. Also, send me an email so that a member of my team or I can connect with you.
Father God, thank you for giving your son Jesus all authority in heaven and on earth. Thank you for the commission and boldness to share the gospel truth to all nations. Lord, thank you for never giving up on us. Lord, as we learn more about your word, help us to apply it to our lives so that we may be living examples of Christ in us. Lord, continue to work in our lives and strengthen our minds to remain focused on the big picture. Lord, while we are in this world we have a tendency to worry about many things, but Lord help us to release those things to you. Lord, let your Holy Spirit power over shadow and uproot the worry in our hearts and minds. Speak life into us and free us from fear. In Jesus name, amen.
SAVE THE DATE
Next Virtual Women’s Retreat – Saturday, November 13, 2021 from 9am-12pm. Our theme for the event is: Choose Joy. We have our first volunteer meeting for this event on Saturday, July 31, 2021 @ 9:00 a.m. Please email us if you are interested in volunteering for this virtual retreat.
LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS
Sisters, we are looking for volunteers for our upcoming events, we have openings for volunteer positions (e.g., coordinators, event planners, etc.) and also to fill a Board position that will be available soon. If you would like more information, please send an email to: email@example.com
Do you have a prayer request? We would love to pray for you. Send your prayer request to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bible Reference: http://biblegateway.com
News article reference: The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/22/sri-lanka-bombing-a-timeline-and-visual-guide
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