I was just saying to my wife the other day, “Boy, I would sure love one big snow storm before the end of winter.” Well we got it! I hope you are all well, and you fared well in the storm. I was able to meet a new neighbor a little farther down the street because of the storm. I’ve been praying for an opportunity to meet our new neighbor this winter, and the opportunity came through working together to get a car out of the ditch in front of his house.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
1 Peter 4.12
In some ways, I am an idealist. I think life should work. So, to be forthright, I often fail at the command to not be surprised when trials come into my life. I am too often surprised, shocked and caught off guard. This is one of the reasons I am so grateful for the Scriptures, because the Scriptures keep me in reality. The world is broken—everyone I encounter sins, and I sin. We are not home, yet. And this place, though at times it feels homey, is not our home. We even have an adversary who seeks to steal, kill and destroy.
But once I get out of the surprise factor, and start to settle in, there are two rich truths in this passage, which accompany this command to not be surprised by trials. The first is that the trials are not because God doesn’t love us. Notice how Peter begins. “Beloved...”
This is so rich, and most often what my heart needs to hear in the trial. This trial does not tell me that I am forsaken by God; instead, I am loved by God in the midst of the trial. Trials come and go. God’s love for me is steadfast. I am beloved of God. It’s love that compels God to tell us that we should not be surprised by trials. God is lovingly letting us know fiery trials will come. What kind grace!
The other truth is that the fiery trial is to test me. That is, God cares more about the purity of my faith (1 Peter 1.6-9) than my comfortable circumstances. God knows something that I often forget. he purity of my faith in Jesus is more precious than gold. I’d rather have gold at times, but gold cannot get me forgiveness, cannot get me resurrection, cannot get me a relationship with the Living God—but faith can. So, trials test my faith, show me what I am living for and trusting in.
The gospel reminds us that trials will come, and they may be fiery at times. The gospel also reminds me, that in the trial, I am loved by the Living God. And the trial always has a purpose. Just like gold purified in fire, faith in God through Jesus and empowered by the Spirit is purified through fiery trials.
It has been said that everyone is a theologian, that is, we all think about God. The question is whether or not we are accurate and good theologians. The same can be said about counseling. Everyone is a counselor. We are regularly giving advice, wisdom, recommendations, instructions and commands to one another. Even the statement, “You need a counselor,” is giving counsel to someone. So the question isn’t, am I a counselor? It is, am I a good counselor? This Sunday, we will talk about how the gospel equips us to be good counselors to one another. This is the backbone behind discipleship, and it is one of the best gifts we can give our neighbors, because just like me, our neighbors will be in need of good counsel. The gospel equips us to give it. We will be looking at Romans 15.14-16 with a sermon called, “Counsel.”
Along with the Just Like Me series, we are asking that everyone read “The Art of Neighboring” during the first quarter of the year. We have copies for purchase in our café area, or you can order your own following the link above.
DINNER + MEETING: 5:30 TO 8:00 P.M. // REGISTER BY TOMORROW (THURS., JAN. 25)!
This summer we will have 32 high school students and eight adults from FCC traveling to Kansas City to participate in the Challenge Conference. The conference is a catalytic environment challenging students to live on mission with Jesus every day, everywhere and with everyone. This Sunday the team will be selling fresh cinnamon rolls & homemade baked goods in the Commons after the services to help in fundraising for this discipleship experience.
For many years, Faith Community has partnered with Options for Women-River Falls, a prolife non-profit organization supporting women and families facing an unplanned pregnancy. We’re offering the baby bottle fundraiser again this year as another way to support Options for Women. If you picked up one of the baby bottles last Sunday, please place your change into the baby bottle this week and bring it back to FCC on Sunday. If you’d like to include a check, please write the check to Options for Women.
Volunteers for help in the office or with clients are always welcome at Options for Women. Currently, there is also a need for a volunteer nurse. Learn more about Options for Women at ofrwf.com or at Facebook.com/Options-For-Women-River-Falls, or call 715.425.8539. Thank you!
JOIN WITH OTHER ADULTS ACROSS THE SPECTRUM OF LIFE AT FCC TO:
Gather for a great meal, great fellowship and receive some of our best training!
Want to help serve with meal prep or cleanup for Alpha Community Night? Please contact Gary Nourse at 651.260.7236 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
January is a great time of year to review your FaithBase account and update it with any new information. Did you move this year? Change your name? Add to your family? Get a new phone number or email address? If any of those apply, could you please take a few moments to go online and update your contact info in FCC’s FaithBase. Just visit fcchudson.com, and look for “FaithBase” at the bottom of the screen. Click on “FaithBase” to login to your account. If you don’t have an account, yet, you can start one. Thank you!
Through January 28, we are praying as a church for our neighbors as part of a call to prayer by one of our partners, Converge, called 21 Days of Prayer. We ask that you pray one time a day for your neighbors and for your missional community to love and serve your neighborhood. If you don't have a missional community established yet, pray that God would work to do that. Pray that you would be empowered by God to serve and love your neighbors. Pray that God would prepare your family to serve this spring, summer, and fall, as the weather warms up. Pray for conversions and God to work through and in us to renew our neighborhoods and the St Croix Valley. If you are able, we also ask that you would fast from a meal or for a whole day a couple times during this 21 days. You can learn more about fasting in the article linked here by Donald Whitney, "The Gospel and the Discipline of Fasting."
About Converge: Converge Great Lakes is a district office of Converge Worldwide, which is a network of nearly 1300 churches throughout the US. Converge seeks to help start and strengthen churches nationally and globally.