Friday, July 26, 2013

Sober Discipline



Scripture:

1Pet. 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.
1Pet. 5:8 Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.
1Pet. 5:9 Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.
1Pet. 5:10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.
1Pet. 5:11 To him be the power forever and ever. Amen. (NRSV)

1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (NIV)

Observation:

Peter knew the consequences of falling asleep.  The very night that he was to be in the garden praying with Jesus, he fell asleep and that evening concluded with his denial of Christ.  Both of the translations above agree on the use the word "alert."  However, there are two different translations here of the original Greek work -- one as "sober" and the other as "discipline."  The original word has to do with drinking wine and being sober.  But I don't think the message here is necessarily about drinking alcohol.  Previously Peter had said that they were not to be anxious.  The JFB talks about anxiety that "will intoxicate the soul."  Therefore we are to practice spiritual discipline and be sober about what life sends our way. 

Can you imagine the use of the analogy of the roaring lion to those who may be facing this type of death in the Roman Colosseum?   The adversary is the one who is against you and your life, the devil -- prowling around actively looking for ways to drag you away from your faith.  That is why it's important to be alert, sober and disciplined.  We have to be vigilant in standing firm because the temptations are universal.  All followers of Christ around the world must stand firm.  The enemy does not want to just nip at our heels, but wants to devour us -- totally and completely.  Peter knows of this devastation in his own life -- the utter and complete denial of Jesus Christ! His anxiety and confrontation with the adversary led to defeat.

But the good news was for Peter and for all of us, the hope for every follower of Christ is restoration in him.  There is no promise of a life without suffering.  We will suffer but our God -- the one who reaches out to us in his grace will reestablish us.  He is the one with all the power -- more powerful than anything that can threaten us in this world! 

Application:

There are times in life when the future seems terribly uncertain.  Probably, for most of us the idea of facing flesh-devouring lions because of our faith is not one of those things we worry about on a regular basis.  However, we may face anxiety over things such as  an impending move; a medical diagnosis; the death of a loved one; a job change; a marriage; or any of the other curve-balls that life can throw our way.  In the midst of it all we are told to "Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you."  Why?  Because anxiety over the things of life can "intoxicate" us to the point where we our defenses have been lowered and the lion is able to attack!

How are we to fight that anxiety?  We are to cast our cares on God and then live a life of sober discipline.  We are to be disciplined in the ways in which we deal with the issues of life.  Spiritual discipline includes bringing these things before the Lord.  In the midst of difficulties we have to make sure we are spending enough time in the very presence of God.  This is the place where we learn moment by moment and day by day that we can cast all of our cares on him.  It is a very purposeful effort and does not always come naturally.  There may be moments in the darkness of life where we simply have to keep calling out to God and continually cast those cares on him.  Just as a fisherman has patience for hours in the day to continue casting out their line until there is a tug -- so we must continue to share with him the burdens of our lives; the suffering that we may have to endure.

In the midst of the suffering we discover a God of grace who, through his power and strength, is able to renew us and raise us up, either in this life, or in the life to come! 

Prayer:


Lord, please help me to live and move forward in you daily.  Amen.

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