You Shall Not Fear

I am currently reading the books of Kings, about how those in power quickly and repeatedly fell away from the Lord.  Shortly after I read Psalm 9 yesterday, I turned to the second book of Kings, and it seemed to reinforce and build upon what I had heard in the psalm.  The second book of Kings explained why Israel had fallen on hard times, yet again:

They do not fear the Lord, and they do not follow the statutes or the ordinances or the law or the commandment which the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel.  The Lord made a covenant with them and commanded them, “You shall not fear other gods or bow yourselves to them or serve them or sacrifice to them; but you shall fear the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm; you shall bow yourselves to him, and to him you shall sacrifice.  And the statutes and the ordinances and the law and the commandment which he wrote for you, you shall always be careful to do.  You shall not fear other gods, and you shall not forget the covenant that I have made with you.  You shall not fear other gods, but you shall fear the Lord your God, and he will deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.”  However, they would not listen, but they did according to their former manner.

2 Kings 17: 34-40

In another translation of the Bible, the word fear is replaced with venerate.  At the time this was written, their were Egyptian gods and other gods that the people fell to worshiping, venerating or fearing.   They made statutes of them, including the well-known golden calf.  I have long thought my faith superior to these early Israelites because I know there is only one God and I don’t worship any other…  or do I?

I certainly don’t go to a church for another god.  I certainly don’t proclaim that there is another god.  But as I look around the world and self-reflect, I must confess: I bend to the will of lots of people, that are not my God.  I serve and spend my time on lots of things, that are not for my God.  I fear lots of things, that are not my God. Three times in just six verses, we are told, you shall not fear other gods.  Many times throughout the bible we are told do not be afraid.  There really is only one thing to be afraid of — not having a relationship with God.  If we are with God, what is there to be afraid of?  No virus, no social media post, no politician, no group that does not share our beliefs, has any power over us if we are with God.  No struggle here on earth, no pain or suffering has any meaning or hold on us and is not worthy of our fear, if we are with God.

Our country is currently spending a lot of time fighting.  Fighting about the control of the virus, fighting about which political party is better, fighting about whether historical statutes should be toppled, fighting about when to kneel and when to wear masks, fighting about the names of sports teams and which people are good enough to have their names on buildings.  We are fighting over false gods.  We fear the backlash of society if we were to gather in groups and just pray rather than march in the latest politically sanctioned protest.  We fear false gods.  We look for the approval of society, the likes on Facebook, when we blast whatever group is against us.  We venerate false gods.

We have become a society riddled with fear, which leads to anxiety, depression and hate.  But the fear is man made, due to the man-made gods that we revere, venerate and serve.  We care more about what others think than what God does.  We care more about what happens in this temporary world than the everlasting life that God promises.  We care more about being on the right political team, rooting for the right sports team and raising our kids in the right social groups than we do about being on God’s team.  Trying to find approval on earth is hard — because everyone has their own interests at heart.  Finding approval with God is actually fairly easy.  He just calls us to love.  He asks us to love him with our whole heart, soul and mind and to love our neighbor as ourself.

God offers us an outstretched arm to deliver us from all that is wrong with the world, if only we would take hold of it.  The Israelites failed to do so thousands of years ago and so spent years in exile and hardship.  Their temple was destroyed.  It is easy to believe that the same may be happening here as we allow fear to overtake us — fear not of God, but of other things.   Rather than turning toward God, we turn away.  We allow our churches to be closed.  We allow ourselves to be swept up in division rather than love.  We look to blame rather than to seek.  We fail to seek the true answer to our problems, we fail to seek God.  We fear false gods, we serve false gods, we venerate false gods, and we don’t even pay attention enough to know we are doing it.

God,

You are my one true God.  I want to place you above all things.  But I sometimes fail.  I fear not having a relationship with you.  I fear not sharing in your eternal exchange of love.  But I sometimes am distracted by the every day fears on earth.  I lose my focus and, when I do, I sometime lose my faith and trust in you.  If I focus, I know that there is nothing else to fear.  I trust in you.  Please help our country focus on you.  Please help us stop fighting over false gods.  Please help us turn back to you.  Help us see that you alone are what we need and what we long for.   Help us to heal rather than divide, to praise you rather than to blame others.  Help us to seek and grab your outstretched arm, which you never stop extending.

Wait for it

Is anyone else tired of it?  Tired of the constant fighting?  The discord across the country?  The blaming and name calling?  The media highlighting the bad instead of the good?  I want to scream when I watch the news and often find myself walking out of the room.  Where is God in any of it?  Where is God in our lives?

Tonight the Bible opened to the Book of Habakkuk, with the prophet complaining to God, echoing some of my own sentiment:

How long, O LORD, must I cry for help and you do not listen?

Or cry out to you, “Violence!” and you do not intervene?

Why do you let me see iniquity? why do you simply gaze at evil?

Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife and discord.

This is why the law is numb and justice never comes,

For the wicked surround the just; this is why justice comes forth perverted.

Habakkuk 1: 2-4

Habakkuk is a short book, so I read it all.  I must confess, I did not understand all of it, but the part that jumped out to me was God’s response:

Then the LORD answered me and said:

Write down the vision; Make it plain upon tablets, so that the one who reads it may run.

For the vision is a witness for the appointed time, a testimony to the end; it will not disappoint.

If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.

See, the rash have no integrity; but the just one who is righteous because of faith shall live.

Habbakkuk 2:2-4

Wait for it.  It will surely come, it will not be late.  Wait for it.  The rash have no integrity. Wait for it.  For the just one who is righteous because of faith shall live.  Wait for it.

Patience is not my strength.  I read these lines over and over hoping they would lead me to some further insight.  But it still came back to these three words: wait for it.  Why can’t I know everything now?

I know the answer.  I don’t always like the answer, but I know the answer.  Because it is not my plan, not my timetable, not my vision.  I know God has a plan and I know that this year of 2020, will result in better vision for all of us.  We need faith.  We need patience.  We need to not let ourselves become victim to the ideas of the world around us.  The vision is coming.  Wait for it.  Wait for it with patience and integrity and faith.  It will  come at the appointed time.  We may think it is delayed, but it will not be late.  And when that vision comes, and it will, we need to write it down.  We need to share it.  It will not disappoint.

God,

You are mightier than anything 2020 can throw at us.  I know you have a plan and a timetable that I do not understand.  I have faith, even when the world seems to be crumbling around me, that your plan and your vision is greater than all of this.  Sometimes I just need reminding.  I just need to slow down and not be rash.  Help me to be a witness to your vision.  Help me to see the good when the world focuses on the bad.  Help me to “wait for it” with faith and integrity.

Go

Do you ever think about all the things wrong with the world?  Ever wonder why someone doesn’t do something about it?  Ever wonder why God doesn’t do something about it?  Today I read the Book of Judges:

and the messenger of the LORD appeared to him and said: The LORD is with you, you mighty warrior!  “My lord,” Gideon said to him, “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are his wondrous deeds about which our ancestors told us when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ For now the LORD has abandoned us and has delivered us into the power of Midian.”

The LORD turned to him and said: Go with the strength you have, and save Israel from the power of Midian. Is it not I who send you?  But he answered him, “Please, my Lord, how can I save Israel? My family is the poorest in Manasseh, and I am the most insignificant in my father’s house.”  The LORD said to him: I will be with you, and you will cut down Midian to the last man.

Judges 6:12-16

This is not a new message, but I was surprised to find it buried in the old testament.  I was surprised to feel like Gideon, whose story I had not read before.  Who am I to do something?  Who am I to change the outcome?  Who am I to carry out God’s will?  I am not strong.  I am not rich.  I am not powerful.  I do not come from a connected family.  I am not the most religious.  I have not read all of the Bible.  I have not studied all of God’s word.  Who am I?  How can I do anything.  Surely, it should be left to someone else.

But like Gideon, God calls each of us.  We are strong and powerful and rich and wise because God sends us.  We can make a difference because God sends us.  We can do wondrous deeds because God sends us.  We can save the world and each other because God sends us.  We can stand up to the mightiest foe because God sends us.  And He will be with us.

Lord,

I know I am not worthy.  And without you, I am weak.  But with you, I am strong.  Lead me where you want me to go.  Send me, Lord.  Give me the strength to follow your call, to do your will, to fight the wrong in the world and to make you visible to the world.

 

Strong Faith, Big Heart, Can’t Lose

The snow fell today — like the dewfall — silently coating the world in a white soft blanket.  Like a baptismal gown or a white funeral pall covering the casket, the snow seemed to wipe away the gray and darkness of the winter skies.  Beautiful, silent, purifying and slowing down the world.

The perfect backdrop for a funeral.  God wiped the world clean with snow as he welcomed home his son today.  And while there were tears for the human loss, there was glory in the hope and love of God.  And we were reminded of our call to love.  The priest’s words still resonate in my ears and in my heart.  As he praised the love and big heart of the man we lost, he encouraged the rest of us to “pray to have a big heart.”  The priest went on to state that those who have a strong faith, can’t help but love.  You cannot have one without the other.  Something I had never thought about before, but as I thought about the people in my life who have a strong faith, their lives do brim with love.  Love for God, love for their families and love for strangers.  They have big hearts and they show it.  It is not enough to simply claim faith, to simply claim to love God.  When I opened the Bible this evening, it opened to Galatians:

For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.  For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Galatians 5:13-14

We are all called to love.  Faith requires love.   It is easy to love God.  He is all powerful, He has given us everything, He is our salvation.  It is harder to love our fellow man — what have they done for us?  But true faith requires true love.  God’s love.  Love even when someone might not deserve it.  Love even when someone hurts us. Love even when someone doesn’t show it back. Love in the good times and the bad.  True love.  Not just words.  But actions.  Indeed, the priest today reiterated that we must pray for that big heart — and then act upon it.  It is not enough to simply say it.  It is not enough to simply have a big heart.  It is not enough to just have faith.  We must act upon it.   We are called to make Christ visible.  To share His love.

As I read further in Galatians, it again echoed the message from today’s funeral:

Make no mistake: God is not mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows, because the one who sows for his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows for the spirit will reap eternal life from the spirit.  Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up.  So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.

Galatains 6:7-10

We reap what we sow.  Let us sow love.  Let us act upon that love.  While we have the opportunity (and today’s funeral is a reminder that we never know how long that opportunity will be), “let us do good to all,” especially those in our faith family.

Our friend is ready to reap his harvest.  God’s white blanket of snow, purifying the earth before his body entered it,  tells me that his harvest is good.  I hope to one day be ready to reap mine.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for all of the people that you have blessed me with.  I see your heart in so many of them.  Through them I see how powerful and pure your love is.  I am inspired and contrite.  Lord, I pray for a big heart.  Help me to love like you do.  Help me to share your love with others.  Help me to get out of my self and my own wants and needs, fears and desires, and live for others.  Help me to act in love and faith with everyone I encounter.  Help me to make your son visible to others.  Thank you for renewing my spirit today, and wiping the world pure in snow.

O Lord, Create in me a pure heart and renew within me a steadfast spirit.

Faith of Abraham

So this past week, I took my only son to college, and dropped him off for a new adventure.  And as proud as I am of him, the separation is heart-wrenching.

This morning the Bible opened to the story of Abraham and Isaac:

Then God said: Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There offer him up as a burnt offering on one of the heights that I will point out to you. Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey, took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac, and after cutting the wood for the burnt offering, set out for the place of which God had told him.

On the third day Abraham caught sight of the place from a distance.  Abraham said to his servants: “Stay here with the donkey, while the boy and I go on over there. We will worship and then come back to you.” So Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two walked on together, Isaac spoke to his father Abraham. “Father!” he said. “Here I am,” he replied. Isaac continued, “Here are the fire and the wood, but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”  “My son,” Abraham answered, “God will provide the sheep for the burnt offering.” Then the two walked on together.

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. Next he bound his son Isaac, and put him on top of the wood on the altar. Then Abraham reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham!” “Here I am,” he answered. “Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the angel. “Do not do the least thing to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you did not withhold from me your son, your only one.”

Genesis 22:2-12

This story challenges me, even more so this week.  This is faith.  This is putting God before all else.  Do I have the will and desire to put God before all else?  I like to think I do but my actions rarely carry this out.  Could I have done what Abraham did?  I feel pretty strongly that as much as I would like to say yes, the answer is no.  It was hard enough just to drop my son off at college.  Thankfully, God has not tested me in this way.  Probably because I don’t pass the much smaller tests.  All too frequently I fail to put God before work, before social media, before my favorite TV show, before sleep, before whatever it is I want to do.  I blame the lack of time, the busy world, the need to be there for others.  After all, the world is exhausting.  These seem like good excuses, don’t they?  Of course, they are not.  Especially since God promises us the rest that we need:

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Matthew 11: 28-30

Why then do I let the world get in the way of what I need.  Why do I let it stop me from coming to God, putting Him first.  The only answer is a lack of faith, a lack of patience and a lack of a willingness to sacrifice.  I know God is the answer.  I know He will provide.  I know that it is only through Him that I will find rest and peace.  But my senses are bombarded with the worldly promises of happiness, which never quite come true.  I don’t want to give up what I want.  I don’t like to sacrifice.  I am stuck in the world and mindset of “I want it now” and if I can’t get what I want now, I will settle for what seems like the next best thing.  This is what keeps me from having the faith of Abraham.  And as I say it out loud, I know how stupid it sounds, how childish it sounds, and I pray, as my son heads off on his own, that he has not learned this from me.

God,

I know that you are everything, everything that I want, everything that I need.  I want the faith of Abraham.  I want to put you first above all else, but I am struggling.  Help me, Lord.  I am burdened and weary.  Fill me with your love and your peace.  Fill me with your strength so I can resist the temptations of what seems easy.  Give me the patience and faith when I cannot see you or feel you to not settle for something else.  I love my son and I miss him dearly, but I love and miss you more.  Pull me back into your arms, so that I may do your will and stop worrying about my own.  (And please provide the same for my son as he begins to embark on his own in this world of distraction).

Why Worry?

I worry.  A lot.  I worry about being a good parent.  Being a good spouse.  Being a good business partner.  I worry about making enough money, maintaining job security, obtaining financial security.  I worry about my health, and my family’s health.  I worry about my son’s future and whether I have done enough to help place him on the right path.  I worry about my faith, my future and my relationship with God.

Tonight, I read Matthew chapter 6:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?   Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?  Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin.  But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them.   If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?  So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’  All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.  Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.

Matthew 6:25-34

Do not worry about tomorrow.  That is a wonderful idea, isn’t it?  The Bible is filled with this idea.  But is it possible?  I struggle with this.   I want to be able to do this, but how?

This passage seems to provide an answer: Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.

We worry about things on earth — things the pagans seek.  Things that won’t matter in our eternal life.  God.  That is all we really need.  That is all we need to seek.  If we just focus on Him, what is there to worry about?  Oh, I want to seek you Lord!  I want to cast my worries aside and focus on you.

Our Father,

You are all powerful in heaven and on earth.  Hallowed be your name!  Let your Kingdom come.  I pray that your will be done on earth and that I let go and let you take control.   Give us this day our daily bread — and the acceptance to know that is all we need.  Help me not to worry about tomorrow’s bread and instead to just seek you.  Forgive me for the times I fail and the times I turn away from you.  And help me to forgive others who fail me.  Lead me away from temptation and when I stray, deliver me from evil, so that I may always return to you.

 

Are We in a Time of Persecution?

I remember, as a child, learning about the early Christians who were persecuted for their faith and nevertheless stood steadfast and strong in God.  I remember feeling jealous because the early Christians had the opportunity to show their faith in the face of persecution.  Growing up Catholic in a Catholic community, at a time when stores and businesses were still closed on Sundays, when religion appeared to be a part of everyone’s life and the country still appeared to trust in God, I thought the days of Christians being persecuted were long gone.  How wrong I was.  I am no longer jealous of the early Christians  because they had the opportunity to show their faith in the face of persecution (unfortunately, I think that opportunity is now more widely available), now I am jealous because the early Christians had the strength to remain strong in the face of persecution.

Tonight the Bible opened to Maccabees.  At the time, the Jews were being persecuted.  But one man, Mattathias stood strong:

The officers of the king in charge of enforcing the apostasy came to the city of Modein to make them sacrifice.  Many of Israel joined them, but Mattathias and his sons drew together.  Then the officers of the king addressed Mattathias: “You are a leader, an honorable and great man in this city, supported by sons and kindred.  Come now, be the first to obey the king’s command, as all the Gentiles and Judeans and those who are left in Jerusalem have done. Then you and your sons shall be numbered among the King’s Friends, and you and your sons shall be honored with silver and gold and many gifts.”

But Mattathias answered in a loud voice: “Although all the Gentiles in the king’s realm obey him, so that they forsake the religion of their ancestors and consent to the king’s orders, yet I and my sons and my kindred will keep to the covenant of our ancestors.  Heaven forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments. We will not obey the words of the king by departing from our religion in the slightest degree.”

1 Maccabees 2:15-22

Throughout the ages, humans have been persecuted for following God.  Upon his death, Mattathias told his sons:

And so, consider this from generation to generation, that none who hope in Heaven shall fail in strength.

Do not fear the words of sinners, for their glory ends in corruption and worms.  Today exalted, tomorrow not to be found, they have returned to dust, their schemes have perished.

Children! be courageous and strong in keeping the law, for by it you shall be honored.

1 Maccabees 2:61-64

These words struck me: “Do not fear the words of sinners, for their glory ends in corruption and worms.  Today exalted, tomorrow not to be found, they have returned to dust, their schemes have perished.”   A little bit more powerful than the old sticks and stones saying.

If we believe in God…  If we hope in God and the promise of eternal life…  Why do we allow the words of sinners, or the pressure of their earthly glory to get to us?  When we do, we show our weakness, we show our doubt, we show our fear.  Do we doubt God’s promises?  Do we doubt God’s existence?  NO!  We can be strong knowing that no matter the persecution here on earth, no matter the hurtful words of sinners or earthly promises they may make, their glory is fleeting, and ends in corruption and worms.  Our glory is eternal (and worm-free).  Our glory is with God.

None who hope in heaven shall fail in strength.

God,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to show my faith in the face of persecution.  Help me to be strong in my faith.  Help me to be courageous and steadfast, whether I am surrounded by sinners or your faithful followers. Help me to cast my weakness, doubt and fear away, so that true knowledge can fill their place.  True knowledge of your love and your promise of everlasting life.

 

What is your Cornerstone?

Although it may not seem like it now, our country was built on a cornerstone of faith. Our declaration of independence references God 5 times.  George Washington said:

“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”

 Thomas Jefferson said:

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath?”

Where is our cornerstone now?  It is sometimes hard to see it among the mass shootings, abortions, sexual promiscuity and anti-Christian rhetoric that floods our country and our media.

God has laid the cornerstone for each of us.  It is up to us whether we allow ourselves to be built upon it:

Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, insincerity, envy, and all slander; like newborn infants, long for pure spiritual milk so that through it you may grow into salvation, for you have tasted that the Lord is good.  Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  For it says in scripture:

“Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion, a cornerstone, chosen and precious, and whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame.”

1 Peter 2:1-6

God has laid a cornerstone.  And he has chosen each of us to lay our stones upon His foundation, to be built into a spiritual house.  He asks us to rid ourselves of all malice and all deceit, insincerity, envy, and all slander.  Why would we want to hold on to any of this?  Believe in Him and come to Him.  That is all He asks.  Believe in Him and Come to Him.  Make Him the cornerstone of your life.  Don’t we all need that?  Don’t we all need to re-center on what is important.  For even when we are rejected in this life, God calls us to Him.  He chooses us.

Lord,

You are my cornerstone.  Thank you for choosing me.  Thank you for providing me with the opportunity of another day to create something beautiful upon your foundation.  Guide me in your path.  Forgive me for the times that I have allowed malice, deceit, insincerity , envy or slander to enter my heart.  Fill my heart with your love.

 

 

 

Discipline and Love

We discipline our children hoping that it will lead them in the right direction, but knowing that one day they will have to make choices on their own.  I don’t enjoy the disciplinarian role of being a parent.

I have often wondered about the Old Testament.  God often feels like a disciplinarian in it.  We hear about Him destroying cities, smiting and raining fire and brimstone.  He feels much different than the loving God revealed by Jesus.  Today the Bible opened to Galatians:

Before faith came, we were held in custody under law, confined for the faith that was to be revealed.  Consequently, the law was our disciplinarian for Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a disciplinarian.  For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.  For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:23-29

When we are immature, we need discipline, rules, order to try to keep us on the proper path.  The Old Testament is filled with stories of human immaturity.  We were not ready for faith alone.  As we individually grow, we also go through phases where we need discipline, rules, and order.   Sometimes we are not ready for faith alone.  We need to be confined by rules so that we are in place for faith to be revealed.  But ultimately, like a child, we must grow up and make our own choices.  Ultimately we must choose faith.  We must choose God.   Jesus opened us to faith.  He came into the world so that we might have faith.  So that we could see and believe.  He came into the world to show us love.  The love of our Father.  Despite all of the times that we deserve discipline, God loves us.

Lord,

Help me to be a good parent.  Help me to set rules and order but also to show love.  Help me to have the faith that you have made available.  Help me to grow from my immaturity.  Thank you Father!

Pure Love Through Any Storm

What a beautiful  morning!  Storms are expected to be moving in, but…

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.  In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of [your] faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:3-9

Blessed is God!  He is preserving our inheritance in heaven  — our salvation.  It is imperishable, undefiled and unfading.  Bring on the storm — because what is waiting for us will not fade.  It will not fail.  We may suffer through various trials and be tested by fire, but we will rejoice!  Our faith allows us to rejoice.  All that we experience, all that we endure allows us to give all praise, all glory and all honor to Jesus Christ.  He suffered and died for us so that we would know.  So that we would believe.  So that we would have faith.  So that we would know God.  So that our faith — the genuineness  of our faith — would lead us back to God.

Peter goes on to say:

Now if you invoke as Father him who judges impartially according to each one’s works, conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning, realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb.  He was known before the foundation of the world but revealed in the final time for you, who through him believe in God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

1 Peter 1:17-21

Jesus, through his precious blood, ransomed us from our futile conduct — from our sin.  He suffered and died, just so we would know.  Just so we would have faith and hope in Him.  God’s love is so immense, so pure — it is greater than any love we can experience.  I want to love like Him.

Peter instructs us:

Since you have purified yourselves by obedience to the truth for sincere mutual love, love one another intensely from a [pure] heart.  You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God, for:

“All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the field; the grass withers, and the flower wilts; but the word of the Lord remains forever.”

1 Peter 1:22-25

Father,

Although I have not seen you, I believe.  I rejoice in you.  I have joy because of you.  I love you.   Help me to love like you.