A Season of Uncertainty 2

As I write this, many states have issued a “stay at home” order. This is our government’s attempt to deal with the pandemic spreading across our country. I have observed many reactions from people of faith. There are those who defy the government with a kind of self-appointed prophetic declaration of freedom. Many churches are closed in order to protect their most vulnerable loved ones from contracting a virus that hides itself undetected for several days before coming out into the open. No one really knows if they are infected or not. Tests are on the way, but I think it’ll be a long time. Some are blaming God, some are blaming sin, some are blaming communists, some are blaming the American government or the Chinese or immigrants or anyone they can latch it onto.

You might be really clear in your view of all of this, but I’m a jumbled mixed bag of uncertainty. Who really knows anything at this point? So if you’re a person of faith shouldn’t you experience greater clarity? I wish it were true. Realistically, people who see everything in black and white and have all the answers scare me the most. Faith in the shadow of a pandemic is a mixed bag. 

It reminds me of the man to whom God spoke and made significant promises. Abram becomes one of the central figures of the Bible because of his faith, the father of the faithful. Abram (later Abraham) has an amazing faith story and no one can deny that. We also cannot deny that our father of faith was a mixed bag of obedience and disobedience. He was a man who professed assurance but still had questions. He struggled with leaving everything in God’s hands. When that didn’t seem to be getting the job done, he took over with his own efforts. His journey is up and down, strong and weak, wise and foolish. That’s the kind of faith I can identify with.

But I’m not proud of it. It’s just true.

Under this pandemic umbrella in which we find ourselves, I think we are re-walking Abraham’s journey of faith. And not just the ‘good’ parts.

We pray in faith and ask God’s protection and help. The Christians I know really do believe in prayer. The Bible is clear that God hears us. He is moved by our prayers. He answers all of our prayers. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” And we wait.

We watch and wonder when the answer to that prayer is coming. It’s not that we’re giving up on faith – where would we turn if we couldn’t turn to the Lord? But I’m afraid we are a mixed bag of strong faith and weak faith, trusting faith and wondering faith.

Wrestling with prayer is nothing new, but in the pandemic environment it takes on literal life and death meaningfulness. 

I want to encourage you to keep faith near in your thinking, in your actions, in your responses to others. Faith that God is at work Faith that He has already seen the end of this pandemic. Faith that so much of this is  out of your hands. Faith that when you are not as strong as you wish you were, you are still safe. 

What the story of Abraham reminds me of is that faith is not a straight line. We won’t walk a straight line under the shadow of this virus as it grows exponentially. 

Romans 4:3 quotes Genesis 15. Paul reminds the church at Rome that “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” We have never earned our righteousness anyway. If your faith is a mixed bag of questions, doubt, anxiety, mistakes and uncertainty – don’t panic. God credits righteousness to us if we will believe Him. Abraham believed. He also lied, manipulated others, and fathered a child with a handmaiden in an attempt to fulfill God’s will when God was moving too slow for him. But he never stopped believing. I’m going to guess you haven’t either. 

However you are facing these days of uncertainty, hang on to your faith. If you have been strong, decisive, and determined – those are admirable qualities. For those of us who have been emotionally troubled, embarrassingly wavering, and decisively uncertain, hang on to your faith. All is not lost. Out here hope remains.

A Season of Uncertainty

As America faces an outbreak of COVID-19, a virus that has brought about thousands of deaths around the world, we are walking through a season of uncertainty. Uncertainty in the economic ramifications, uncertainty in healthcare availability, uncertainty in food and lifestyle supplies, and even uncertainty in spiritual matters. The truth is that uncertainty in all other areas of life affects our faith in some way or another.

I know there are some who think that any uncertainty is a lack of faith. I get where you’re coming from, but I do not live there. 

Perhaps the person who had the purest relationship with God was Adam. The thrilling account of creation reaches its highest point when God creates man in his image. We are captivated by the beauty of the pristine Garden of Eden, the perfect companion that God created for Adam, and the timeless picture painted of a time when everything was “good”. There was nothing to come between God and his created beings. The humans walked in the garden with purpose, unashamed and unencumbered with cares and regrets. Bible readers may find it hard to turn the page from Genesis 2 to Genesis 3 with its chilling beginning, “Now the serpent was more crafty…”.  The fall comes predictably to us, we know the story too well. But for Adam and Eve, this was a shift in their very existence. 

The purity of their walk with God in the glades of Eden has now experienced a disappointing turn. The heartbreaking picture of their ruined relationship with God is spelled out in Genesis 3:8. “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the Garden.” I doubt anyone who can read these words needs an explanation for why these two hid from the Lord. Into the strong, pure, beautiful, pristine relationship the first couple had with God came the tinge of shame. Suddenly, instead of finding consolation in the sound of those footsteps in the garden, there is uncertainty. What has transpired leaves Adam and Eve feeling that the Lord wouldn’t want to see them – and they didn’t want to see Him.

Our own sin brings a sense of uncertainty into our relationship with God. When asked, Adam said that he hid because he was afraid and naked (Genesis 3:10). Everything we are is naked before God our Father, and that includes the things that bring us the most shame. Those are the things we think about late at night while we try to fall asleep. We do not have to live in shame, but so often it holds a power over our minds and hearts. Along with Adam, we wonder if the inward things we know about ourselves are exposed to God, why would he want anything to do with us? We can hide behind our excuses, our explanations, and our extenuating circumstances, but in quiet moments our eyes turn downward and we hope God isn’t as near as we know he is.

Pain and suffering can result in a sense of uncertainty. Adam and Eve both experienced pain and suffering they had not known before when they trusted the Serpent more than they trusted the Creator. We do not have any record of their thoughts or feelings about the consequences of the Fall, including being banished from Eden. Even later, when one of their sons kills the other, I wish we had some insights into their thoughts during that time of crisis and hurt. I can’t comprehend the contrast between their time in the garden and their time in the new world where the impact of sin was felt all around.

I know how we feel when pain and heartache come our way. I know how I feel when the unexpected happens and there are tears and troubles. I begin to wonder if God is near. I think about how powerful God is, how many prayers I’ve prayed, and how the pain continues anyway. Sometimes I contemplate how troubles in life can cause us to wonder if it’s worth it. “…For you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). In the Psalms we find the same wondering. Where are you God? 

Accepting God’s grace and mercy is the answer to our uncertainty. In spite of all of our feelings to the contrary, we can believe that God truly loves and accepts us. “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). Is anyone besides me surprised at this move of mercy? How many of us would have told this rebellious pair that they had made their own bed and now they have to lie in it! They were fine in the garden, naked and unashamed. Now they were hiding and turning red-faced at their exposure. And God cared about that. We have no further record of their life outside the garden, aside from bringing children into the world. Genesis 5:5 tells us that Adam lived 930 years. We think 100 years is a long time to live. I can’t imagine that Adam and Eve didn’t have any more failures, uncertainties, regrets over the next near century. We are not told what they saw, as the primitive world developed around them over hundreds of years. 

In my imagination, I believe that in his 929th year Adam may have told generations of grandchildren about the time he really messed up, ended up naked in the bushes hiding from God, but being covered by His love and mercy. Could anything have meant more to him in his life? Can anything mean more to us? In our uncertainty, shame and nakedness we hide. We cover our tracks, lie, and pretend … but when God comes near he sees the truth of who we really are. And he moves to cover. He forgives. He accepts. He loves. 

In a season of uncertainty, find your composure and peace in the presence of God who knows you thoroughly … and loves you anyway. In a time of isolation, try to remember now more than ever that out here hope remains.

The Greatest Love


Introduction

This is our second Sunday not being able to meet together in person. Many of us have made significant changes in how we interact in our community. Maybe social distancing has made us aware of how important relationships are. Perhaps all of these changes have reminded us of how much the assembly of Christians together means to us. As we make our way through this time of uncertainty, there are some things that are certain and one of those is the character of the love that God has for us. 

THE LIMITLESS LOVE OF GOD FOR US (Romans 5,8)

It is Causeless. Romans 5:6 says, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.” God does not love us because of anything we have done or not done. Nothing about you caused God to love you. Helpless, sinful, needy, and dependent – we didn’t inspire God’s love, He simply chose to love us in spite of us.

It is Measureless. Romans 5:8 says, “But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” How can we measure the love of God? We can see the price He paid to love us. He gave his only son. That is an immeasurable depth to love. We can never know how great that love is – we can only accept it or reject it.

It is Ceaseless. Romans 5:10 says, “For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.” We are saved by the resurrected Jesus Christ – and that fact does not change. If we could be saved as sinners, then we will remain saved as believers.

Ultimately, nothing can separate us from His Love, as affirmed so clearly in Romans 8:35-39:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We are secure in the Lord’s unconditional love; since we belong to to Christ, nothing we do can cause God to love us more, and nothing we do can cause God to love us less.

LOVING THE GOD WHO HAS SUCH GREAT LOVE FOR US

How do we respond to such love? Jesus expressed the familiar greatest commands in Mark 12:28-34:

One of the scribes approached. When he heard them debating and saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked him, “Which command is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is, Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.”

Love God With Everything You Have!  Loving God completely involves our whole personality – our intellect, emotion, and will.  We do express our love for God when we assemble and praise together. The love that God desires is not weekly, but a part of our every day life. We are called to love God day after day. Two essentials to loving God:

Time – Spend time getting to know God, learning more and more from his word. Time might be more available now – put it to good use! As we grow in our love for God, it changes us!

1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.

“When we discover that the personal Author of time, space, matter, and energy has, for some incomprehensible reason, chosen to love us to the point of infinite sacrifice, we begin to embrace the unconditional security we longed for all our lives.” (Boa)

Obedience – When we respond to His love we become the people he has called us to be. When he asks us to avoid something, it is because he knows that it is not in our best interest. When he asks us to do something, it is always because it will lead to a greater good. 

John 14:15 If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  

John 15:10  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 

“Our great task in the spiritual life is to will to do his will, to love the things he loves, and to choose the things he sets before us for our good.” (Boa) When we realize the limitless love of God, and how that love calls us to love Him, we also realize that God’s love calls us to love others. 

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR AS GOD HAS TAUGHT US. 

There is no act that begins with the love of God that does not end with the love of neighbor.

“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34-35

Now this is his command: that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another as he commanded us.

1 John 3:23 

The sphere of this new commandment is universal. It extends first to our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ and beyond this to our neighbors in this world who do not know Jesus. 

Loving our Neighbor in a Pandemic Context

The more we love God, the more we will express his love through deeds of kindness and goodness. We may be limited at this time in what we can do if we are quarantined and if we are not to infect others, but we should be doing what we can do.

Whatever you find to do in order to love others, realize that you are following in the footsteps of Jesus – our ultimate example. 

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Mark 10:45

The more we take pleasure in loving and serving God, the greater our capacity to take pleasure in loving and serving our neighbors.

Conclusion
God loves us with a limitless love. To know God is to love him, because the more we grasp – not merely in our minds but also in our experience – who he is and what he has done for us, the more our hearts will respond in love and gratitude. There is no act that begins with the love of God that does not end with the love of neighbor.

“Thanks be to thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which thou hast given us; for all the pains and insults which thou hast borne for us. O most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother, may we know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly; for thine own sake.” – St. Richard of Chichester (1197-1253)

LifeGroup Questions

1. If you were having a debate today in church about what the greatest command was – and you couldn’t use the answer of Jesus – what do you think people consider the greatest command today?

2. When Jesus offers Deuteronomy 6:4-5 as the greatest command, how do you think that resonated with the scribes? How does it resonate with you – how would you re-write it in your own words? What’s the most challenging aspect of the greatest command?

3. The second greatest command is to love your neighbor as yourself. Who do you consider your ‘neighbor’? Some view this as a command to love ourselves so that we have a baseline to love others. What do you think about that? What would change about my life if I loved my neighbor as myself?

4. The scribe responded that to follow these two commands was “far more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.” What are the most important things to you in your religious life? How do they fit under the umbrella of the two greatest commands? How does this statement affect the way we judge the religious acts of others?

5. What do you think Jesus meant when he said to the scribe, “You are not far from the kingdom of God”? What stood between him and the Kingdom of God? What are some ways this scribe seems of a different spirit than the other scribes we read about in the NT? What does this teach us about being watchful for seekers?

6. Verses 88-44 contrast two types of religious people. The Scribes were outwardly religious (attire, honor, long prayers, making a show of their offerings) but behind the scenes they are cruel to widows and will receive harsh judgment. The Widow was outwardly impoverished and could only give very little. Jesus said the widow has put more into the treasury than all the others because she gave what she had to live on.
– In what way is Jesus speaking out against outward religious acts?
– Discuss how this section addresses the way we view honor – a desire to be recognized.
– How does this section address our giving to the church?
– How does this section address the two greatest commands?

Resources

Boa, Kenneth. Conformed to His Image: Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation. Zondervan, 2001.

The Last Thing On Your Mind

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8

It is easy to imagine that there are many things that have our attention, and the last thing on your mind is probably your contribution to the church. While I’m sure there are some who might wonder what the church needs with a contribution during a season of time when we are not meeting, I think most understand.

Our consistent giving is extremely important to our missions, ministries, benevolence, and ongoing operations. In fact, this current distress is one that has given me reason for gratitude.

*I am grateful that we are debt free as a church. If we were carrying a crushing mortgage, or had an enormous debt, this would be much more alarming.

*I am grateful that our elders and ministers are fully committed to the church and have all given this week. I do not share that to brag, but to let you know that your leaders are demonstrating an example of generosity to the church.

*I am grateful for the contributions that arrived this week via online giving, checks that arrived in the mail, and those who stopped by the building to drop off your offering. Every gift is important and makes a difference. Every person who gives is making a valuable and important effort in this time of uncertainty.

*I am grateful for those who demonstrate the importance of the church by giving to the church first, and parachurch works and other ministries after first taking care of home church obligations. As 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 indicates, our enthusiasm and blessing to be found in belonging to the church is connected to our giving.

*I am grateful that there is a future and that the mission of Christ is not finished here in our parish. What we are living with now is simply a season, it wont last forever.

We should continue the good habits of giving we have had in the past. If anything we should be MORE attentive to giving during a crisis such as the one which we are now enduring. In this case, the last thing on your mind shouldn’t stay in last place! However personal the subject of giving is, it is crucial that Christians support their church. If they don’t, then who would? Here is a prayer as you contemplate your offering:

Dear Father, As I offer these gifts to You, help me remember that You have given me everything. I am so blessed, even in a time of distress, to have a comfortable life. I realize I have more than I will ever need. Accept my gift to the church as a reflection of the love I have for Your church. May it be used only for good things. Thank you, God, for teaching us in the Bible how to be generous. Thank you for the examples of generous giving among us. And thank you for teaching us about generosity as you gave the greatest gift ever, the sacrifice of your son Jesus on Calvary. In His name we pray, Amen.

To The Church in Exile

Video of this lesson can be accessed on Facebook HERE. The lesson begins about 10 minutes into the video.

1 Peter 1:1-12 TO THE CHURCH IN EXILE

  • This letter is written to exiled Christians who were displaced due to persecution.
  • Tell us about the setting of this letter and how we can view it with a contemporary perspective.
  • Written to: The elect exiles, throughout Asia Christians forced from their home due to persecution, also citizens of heaven living in this world, aliens in a foreign land.

Imagine life as a first century Christian. We always tend to think of our life and our times as the most corrupt, difficult, evil, and hopeless. We have our homes, our freedom to worship, and our friends and family enjoy those same blessings- because we are citizens of heaven, Jesus as King and Savior, with a home prepared for us, meanwhile we are passing through this life as the body of Christ.

Perhaps an Ecclesiastical perspective is very wise when it comes to approaching a study of Peter:

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after.

Ecclesiastes 1:1-11

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

1 Peter 1:1,2 ESV

What do you see in these verses that tells us how God sees the exiles?

God saves. Elect exiles – though they have lost their homes and familiar surroundings, they remain ‘elect’, saved by God. Their situation is not a reflection of being lost or of being rejected by God.

God Knows. Nothing that happened to them (or us) is a surprise to God. “According to the foreknowledge of God”

God sanctifies. “in the sanctification of the Spirit” – God is at work helping the scattered church to maintain their holy lifestyles. Through Their obedience to Jesus; Empowered by the blood of Jesus

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

1 Peter 1:3

Why is hope such a powerful need for the recipients of this letter – and for us?
– Hope is built on God’s mercy
-This is not the end. (Living hope)
-This does not destroy what God has created. (through the resurrection)

to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. To an Inheritance: imperishable, undefiled, unfading, kept in heaven

1 Peter 2:4,5

How can an inheritance in heaven encourage me now?

We are born again to a living hope that is:
Imperishable= eternal (not) temporary
Undefiled= complete (not) partial, corrupted or broken
Unfading= Clear (not) confusing or disturbing

Nothing that happens to us here can affect the inheritance we have from God.
-Amplified: Beyond the reach of change and decay
-Guarded by God’s power

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been
grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more
precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to
result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:6,7

Rejoicing in trials – that is counterintuitive. How can I see this in light of my faith? It does test our faith. We should take the time to notice the small things in life and take joy in those as we face trials. Life is predominantly difficult, how are we going to react to these trials that we face?

Right now we are faced with a decision on how we perceive this situation where we are in self-quarantine (or exile, if you will) and we can look at this a number of ways –

We can rejoice in the time we get to spend with those we love – or we can fearfully watch the news and social media and stay in a mode of panic

We can take time to be still and spend time with Jesus in prayer and in the word – or we can complain about the inconveniences that we find ourselves facing.

We can share our abundance with neighbors, care for those in need – or – we can hoard materials and indulgences.

We can reconnect with old friends and family members separated by time and distance -or- we can lose sleep at night due to worry and fear.

*‘Grieved’ by various trials – we do not have to pretend that we are ok – it is hard.

*Faith is precious, i.e. valuable, it is worth everything to us. More valuable than gold.

*Faith keeps us going until the last day – when Jesus is revealed – and we bring Him glory

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:8,9

A poetic reminder about faith and the outcome. Why does it help to focus on the future promised salvation? We have not seen Jesus, but we love him. We Believe in Jesus. We rejoice with inexpressible joy as we consider the outcome of our faith,
salvation.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

1 Peter 1:10-12

Why would the interest / knowledge of the prophets and the angels matter to us when we are suffering? They were willing to suffer physical torture and even death for their faith. They remained faithful to God in adverse circumstances. Even the angels, before Christ came, did not know how God was going to work it all out. We can’t know how everything is going to turn out in this coronavirus pandemic, God is fully aware and we can put our faith in Him.

Verse 10 is a reference to the prophets, NT writers tend to do this in any discussion about faith because it displays the faithfulness of God, the promises that He has kept, the foretelling of His salvation that has been satisfied… and if God has been faithful, what in heaven or on earth could stop Him from continuing to deliver?

We see that believers proclaim their faith with inexpressible joy- not for any glorification of themselves, but for the hearers and readers of their words. Any follower of Jesus who faces trials- and this, again, is not for selfish reasons, but completely selfless- therefore we are called to action (which is discussed in the following verses). We often express what we think, how we feel, but because of the preciousness of our faith, it has created a joy that is inexpressible with words, to put it another way, our joy can only be expressed through how we live, how we treat others, what we do- this is the expression of a faith that produces inexpressible joy, beyond words.

How fitting is this text after experiencing a new way of life over the past week or so?

“Normalcy” is being redefined moment by moment in real time. How will we, as the church respond?

We have a choice, to respond with joy, hope, and love through a faith that is strengthened as we experience a new form of exile, or will our response be fear, panic, complaining, and selfishness.

What does it look like to put our faith in God in a time of pandemic anxiety?
-Remembering the promises and truths of God in the Bible

-Taking time to purposefully relax, be quiet – take a break from the news

-Just think about doing the right thing today – tomorrow can be too much

-Consider how you can serve others in the name of Jesus (calls, texts, emails)

-Take regular prayer breaks – even set an alarm on your phone to remind you

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:12

-Read over this section of 1 Peter and remember
*God sees you.

*Hope. We have built our lives on the living hope of the resurrection

*Growth – this season of trials is a season of growth for us.

*Joy – not based on feeling good in our circumstances, but based on the faithfulness of God in all circumstances.