When You Suffer Unjustly

May 27, 2023

Have you ever suffered unjustly? Have you ever had someone slander you? Have people ever looked down on you or ostracized you for your faith? How should a Christian react to unjust suffering? The apostle Peter deals with this question very thoroughly as he writes to Christians who are facing this very thing. Let’s look at his inspired words and see how the Lord wants us to react in these situations.

“Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts…” (1 Peter 3:13–15a NAS95)

“But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” (1 Peter 4:13–14 NAS95)

“For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps… and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;” (1 Peter 2:20–23 NAS95)

Some very important principles emerge from these verses. What does the Lord want us to understand when we suffer unjustly? First, we must understand that we are blessed! As we share in the sufferings of Christ, we should rejoice because the Spirit of God is resting upon us. Second, we need to lay aside fear. This can be very hard to do, but we need to set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts. Jesus needs to reign supreme in our hearts, not fear. Third, we need to keep entrusting our­ selves to God who judges righteously. We often want to take matters into our own hands, as if we are alone in our struggle. We may be tempted to get even and fire back at those who are hurting us, but his was not the way of the Master. He en­ trusted everything to the Father, and so should we. Finally, we need to realize that as followers of Christ, we have been called for the very purpose of suffering for what is right, following in the footsteps of Jesus. He laid down His life even for those who persecuted and abused Him. What a powerful lesson for us. Let us fol­low His example!

—Scott Colvin

Prayer and What Might Have Been

May 19, 2023

We could probably all say that our prayer life is not as rich as we would like it to be. The Lord tells us to be devoted to prayer, yet we struggle to pray like we should. Even the most devoted Christians feel this struggle with prayer at times. What is it that hinders our prayer life? Is it busyness? Is it a lack of faith? Is it doubt that prayer really works?

I think one of the most powerful hinderances to our prayer life is our inability to see what might have been. As human beings, bound by time, we are not able to see and know for sure what our lives would have been like if we had made different choices. What would your life be like if you had gone to a different college? What would your life be like if you had never met your spouse? If you had moved to a different city? The fact is that we do not and cannot know for sure. We have an inability to see what might have been.

In a similar way, what would your life be like if you had not been a person of prayer? Perhaps we don’t have a devotion to prayer because we don’t ever see what our lives would have been like without it. Perhaps we assume that the good things in life “just happened,” and that prayer had little to no effect. But in reality, our lives could have been vastly different, in a bad way, had we not been people of prayer. Here’s a question: what has the Lord kept you from because of your prayers and the prayers of others on your behalf? What disasters have been averted? What heartaches have been avoided? What temptations never came our way? What might your life have become without prayer? Another way to ask the question is this: what would your life have become without the direct intervention of God in it? I shudder to think of the answer.

We’ll never know for sure what might have been, but if we could know, we might be astonished, and it might cause us to put much more emphasis on prayer. Though we are unable to see these things, realize this: God does see and know not only what would have been, but also what is, and what will be. And with His perfect knowledge God is telling us, “Be devoted to prayer!” God knows that prayer matters! Prayer impacts our lives in profound ways, whether we can fully see and understand it or not. Prayer changes things because it invites the Almighty to shape and direct our lives for our good. Let us thank the Lord for keeping us from what might have been, and let us renew our dedication to being people of prayer.

—Scott Colvin

The Need for Biblical Preaching

May 12, 2023

“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:1-2 NASB95)

Listen to the seriousness of this charge the apostle Paul gives to the young preacher, Timothy. Paul charges Timothy in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is the Judge of the living and the dead. He charges Timothy by the appearing of Christ and by His kingdom. As Paul writes, he is quickly nearing the end of his life. What is this solemn charge that he wants to make certain Timothy understands and appreciates the gravity of? The charge is this: preach the word!

We have a great need in the church for biblical preaching and teaching. Why is it so important? It is the word of God that breathes life into us. It is the word of God that will renew our minds and transform us with the Spirit’s help. There is nothing else in the world that can do that. When we faithfully preach the word of God, the saints of God are hearing the voice of God through the word. What an amazing thought that we have the words of God Himself handed down to us. And what a tragedy it is when the word of God is not proclaimed! When the church is not fed with the word, spiritual malnourishment and atrophy quickly begin to set in.

I ask myself often, what is biblical preaching and teaching? What is it not? I have observed over the years that there is a type of preaching that seems biblical at first glance but is actually not very biblical at all. This type of preaching (and teaching) gives a nod to the word of God, and then goes its own way. It is a type of preaching that only uses the Bible to prove what we think we already know. There is very little actual listening to God. There is very little dealing with the text and wrestling with its meaning. The listeners can come away with a good feeling that “God agrees with us,” but we never carefully listened to what God said. We didn’t sit at His feet to listen in humility. Instead, we passed over the scripture like a stone skipping over the water.

To those who preach and teach among us: let us heed the solemn charge of God. Preach the word! To all of us who assemble to hear the word of God proclaimed (myself included): cherish the word of God and take it into your heart. May God bless us all in this endeavor.

—Scott Colvin

To What are You Being Conformed?

May 5, 2023

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance…” (1 Peter 1:14 NAS95)

We all struggle with our former lusts—those evil desires that we lived in before we came to Jesus. It is true that we will always face temptation in this life. But temptation is not sin. The problem comes when we indulge in those lusts, when we entertain them, toy with them, and let them reign over us again.

The great danger with fleshly lusts is that we can be conformed to them. The word conformed means to be molded or shaped by something. Think of molten metal being shaped by the mold it is poured into. The metal is formed, shaped, and constrained by the steel dies. In a similar way, we must understand that sinful lusts will mold, shape, and constrain our souls. We may not even realize it is happening, but over time, these lusts will shape our thinking, our attitudes, our outlook, and our interactions with others. Just like steel dies constrain molten metal, evil desires will prevent us from taking the beautiful form that God intends for us to take. Engaging in sinful desires will prevent us from realizing all the wonderful blessings that come from being shaped by the Master.

So, instead of being conformed to our former lusts, what should we do? The next verse says, “… but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior…” (1 Peter 1:15 NAS95) Let us put aside our lusts, our old way of thinking, our old life, and allow ourselves to be poured into God’s mold. We can do just that by pursuing and practicing holiness in all our behavior. Yes, we will fall short at times, we will get tripped up at times by those sinful lusts, but we must press on toward holiness of life. As we do so, God will form us into something wonderful! He will shape us into the image of Himself and of His beloved Son. And as we are conformed to His holiness, He will bring the richest blessings into our lives.

What are you being molded by? What shape is your life taking? May we decide today to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.

—Scott Colvin