But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy because I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:15-16

Early-day Christians suffered by following Jesus. Peter had first-hand experience with brutality and suffering for over 30 years yet remained true to his faith. He wrote this first letter to offer encouragement and hope to fellow Christians, suggesting that they continue their faith journey and not waver from it. Peter thanked God for salvation and talked about the trials and tests that refine our faith.

As Christians we are always supposed to have joy, yet how can we have joy during the tough times in our lives? During difficult times we are meant to grieve. God doesn’t expect us to deny the real-world experience. Pain, financial trouble, or the sickness of a close friend or colleague will affect how we feel. God allows the difficult times to mature us as believers. We may not know why things happen, but God does; after all, who is really in charge? God’s plan is for us to focus on hope and keep our eyes fixed on Him, not our problems. Going through difficulties refines our faith. In God’s family, everyone loves everyone and we are all equals. With Christ as the center of the family, we accept the challenge of living differently from the society around us. We alone are responsible for how we live each day.

Before we were born again, we pretty much lived for ourselves; life was all about glorifying US. Now we focus on our eternal life as a way of living here on earth. In John Ortberg’s book, Eternity is Now in Session (one of our 2019 Summer Reading Challenge books), he stresses this fact: since we are set apart by God to live in eternity with Him, we need to live our lives for Him! To be holy is living our lives for God, regularly praying for God’s will to be done. It’s about reading the Bible, His Word, and determining if we are conforming to His image. When we mess up, we need to seek forgiveness and accept the fact that by faith we are forgiven!

What do I do when bad ideas come into my head? I re-read Romans 12:2 where Paul says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I simply give those thoughts to God as opposed to acting on them.

Recently a good friend of mine, who had undergone life-threatening treatments to turn around a grave prognosis, said to me, “I was going to give it my best, but if I failed, I knew I was going to a better place!”

Hope, faith, and trust in our Lord is what we need. It is what I have chosen, and I will live out my days celebrating the good news!

by John Cardwell