The Other SIde

The Other Side of the Fire

By: Karen Polich

Sometimes life can feel like you’ve been thrown into the fire. A setback turns into more than simply a tough situation. The flames just keep growing hotter no matter what I do. Encountering stumbling block after stumbling block, difficult days pile up on hard times. Sound familiar?

Walking through tough times is never easy. Some may take the approach of “it happens, no big deal”, while others may decide that God must have abandoned them. Pastor Michael Cook reminded us that neither approach should be our focus.

When God seems like He is not making sense, know that He is making sense like never before.

Our perspective is not His. While circumstances might not make sense to us, we can choose to trust Him, despite the fire. Continuing his teachings from 1 Peter, Pastor Cook gives us three things to look for when we are in the midst of the fire.

Instruction in the Fire
Peter makes it clear that we should not be surprised by difficulty. A Christian understands that tough times are going to come. As a follower of Christ, we can choose to trust God, even when we are discouraged and don’t understand. God’s Word tells us to rejoice in the suffering! Have you ever looked at suffering in your life as something that belongs to Christ, you are simply the vessel?

Evaluation of the “Why” of Suffering
Sometimes we may suffer because we choose to serve the Lord Jesus. Other times we may suffer because we have made a stupid decision. Sin takes you to a place of suffering.

Explanation of Difficulties
Part of what we go through is separation. God wants to know our hearts. There are those living Godly lives and those who are not. This is everywhere, even among Christian families and in churches.

Like a great coach who prepares his team for anything that may happen, Peter wanted Christ followers to be ready for anything that might come into their lives. He did not avoid suffering, but kept his focus on someone higher and on the understanding that God will do and allow things for our good.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God: And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
1 Peter 4:12-19

To hear Pastor Michael Cook’s complete sermon, listen here. How do you see the other side of the fire?

The “End Things” Approach to the Other Side

By: Karen Polich

Time moves quickly. Every day we grow closer to the last days. In the rush, we fill our days with responsibilities and deadlines. We look around and find that our time is spent on getting things done so we can move to the next thing.

Busyness consumes. It can lessen our focus on God.

We are called to more. God has called us to Him and His purpose. Pastor Michael Cook’s teaching from God’s Word looks at how we should approach this time.

1 Peter 4:7-11

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Having an “end things” approach takes intentional effort. Pastor Michael Cook shared what a Christ follower needs for this approach. Listen here.

We should be purpose centered people. Sin impairs our thinking. It is hurtful and comes with a cost.  God’s Word calls us to be alert and sober minded. We need sound judgment and an unwavering spirit that seeks God through prayer. Prayer moves God. When our fervent prayers touch God and He chooses to move, Satan can do nothing about it.

We should be others centered people. Deeply conveyed love doesn’t hide sin, it is there despite the sin. We are called to love deeply as Christ loves us. True hospitality comes when we open our lives, our homes and our giving to others completely, without grumbling. We are called to serve others through the gifts God has bestowed upon us.

When you look at the other side of the brokenness of the world, you see Christian love.

A Christ follower looks different because of God’s transformation. As He transforms us, He provides the resources needed to serve. The gifts He has given are not ours, but His. He trusts us to use these for His purpose and His plan. Choosing to serve brings praise to Him. Choosing to love honors Him. Seeking Him in prayer moves Him.

How is God leading you? What is He teaching you? Where is God calling you?