How Suffering Perfects Us
We are called to eternal glory and through suffering and trials God is at work to perfect us. To perfect us means to mend, equip, rearrange.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again radio friends. How in the world are you? I’m glad to be back with you. This is your good friend Bob Cook. And you and I are together, looking at the Word of God in 1 Peter 5:10. We’ve been called by God’s grace. Called to His kingdom, with the King on the throne. Called to holiness, a life that’s clean. Called to obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus. Called with a Holy calling, the drive. What drives your life should be the holiness of God, and His glory. And then we’ve been called to eternal glory.
Oh, that’s quite a package, isn’t it? And all of it is yours and mine, by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Called to His eternal glory, by Jesus Christ. “All things by prayer,” says Paul. That’s a great leverage word, that little word ‘by’. And so the Lord Jesus Christ brings into your life and into mine, the very glory of God. My daily prayers are that my life would shine with His glory. So much that tawdry and tinsel about human nature, isn’t it?
That’s why you get disillusioned with people, anywhere and all the time, if, if they’re depending simply upon their human attainments. You get disillusioned with people. Why? Because they fail. Business people, and, and congressional leaders, and yes mayors and what not, you know; as well as religious leaders, all of us have our faults. And you get disillusioned, and if you don’t watch out, you get bitter and cynical. And the only answer to it is to realize that Jesus Christ is the answer to a life that is consistent, and that, that reflects His beauty and His glory.
Keep close to the Savior. That’s why the writer to the Hebrew says, “Looking unto Jesus.” Run the race looking onto Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith. Keep your eyes on Him. Keep in touch with Him everyday in your devotional life. Early in the morning before you, before you greet the family or go on out to work or school or whatever, you, you spend some time with your Lord so that He can beautify your life and fortify you against the temptations and tests that you’ll be meeting later on. Yes, that’s part of our calling, isn’t it?
Well now, we come to the second half of this verse. And, and it’s a little disturbing, “He’s called us to His eternal glory.” My goodness, you can start shouting ‘Hallelujah’ on that, couldn’t you.? Called us to His eternal glory. Oh that will be glory for me. We could, why you could get blessed, just about as the old-timer holiness people used to say, “Just about have a spell. (Laughs) And then what? He said, “After you’ve suffered, after you’ve suffered.” I don’t like that, and neither do you. I don’t like the trials, and I don’t like the testings, and I don’t like the temptation, and I don’t like the, the feeling of having failed that comes so often because I’m a human being.
He says, “After you’ve suffered a while…” He’s, what is He, what is He doing? He said He’s going to make you perfect, going to make you perfect. It’s an interesting word. It’s a Greek verb katartizo. And it, what does it mean? It means ‘to mend’, ‘to equip’, ‘to put in order’, ‘to rearrange’. Interesting verb, isn’t it? To perfect, make you perfect, make you perfect, what’s He going to do? Mend. Every-, all of us have torn places in the fabric of our life. Don’t you wish you could go back and relive some things? Don’t you wish we could go back and re-say some things? Oh yeah, join the group.
We’re all human and we’ve all had that experience. But do you, when you spend some time with your Lord, and let Him lead you through the experiences of life, He does a mending work. Where stuff was torn, where things were torn, where your feelings were torn, where your emotions were torn, where your plans were torn, where your relationships with other people were torn – God does a mending work, if you’ll walk with Him. Because He’s called you to His eternal glory. He’s doing the job, He’s process right now.
I inquired one time when I was working at Scripture Press, about a certain job that was very, very important. And, and, and I wanted to be sure that nothing would go awry. And so I asked the person responsible, I said, “Tell me about this particular assignment.” He said, “It’s in process.” I said, “What does that mean?” He said, “It’s going to be done on time.” (Laughs) God’s work is going to be done on time in your life, beloved. And it’s in process. He’s doing the mending even now, let Him do it. How does He do it? Through testings, and trials, and experiences that maybe you don’t like.
That, Peter wraps up in the verb, ‘to suffer’ –after you’ve suffered a while. ‘To mend’. It also means, ‘to equip’. You see, you and I bring to this life nothing but the capacity to fail. That’s all that we have, as we come to the business of living, so far as a, an eternal evaluation is concerned. Yes you may be very smart, you may have a high IQ, you may be particularly apt in some area of life because of your natural human endowments. But over the long pull and with eternity in mind, all you can do humanly is to fail and come short. Why? Romans 3:23 says it: “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
You’re not going to make it on your own, beloved. You need Jesus. And so He says He’s going to equip you. And where you come short, He’s going to reconstruct your abilities. And where you tend to fail, He’s going to make you a success instead. Paul says, “Thanks be unto God which always causes us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest by us the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” God makes you His perfume when He lets the pressure be applied to your life.
What else does that mean? It means to put in order or rearrange. Many a person – and I have to include myself among the group – feels the need now and again, of rearranging priorities, and rearranging relationships. Have you ever be-, have you been through that? (Laughs) Good many years ago – now it would be more then 40 – I spent a whole week analyzing my own life, and what I was doing. I, I came to the conclusion that there were a lot of things that I was doing that was taking up my time and energy, that I really shouldn’t be bothering with them.
And so I began doing an inventory of all the things I was doing, that really were important, and those that didn’t have quite so much importance. We call that rearranging your priorities, nowadays. I didn’t even have the knowledge of that term in those days. But that’s what I was doing. And then of course I went a little farther, and I looked at the church program. And I found a number of things that I thought really didn’t matter, and didn’t have to be done.
Well now young pastors, I want to warn you. Don’t, that is don’t do it the way I did it. Here’s what I did? Sunday morning, I told the people that I had been rearranging things in my own life and, and putting things in their proper priority. And then I went on to say, “And I think there’s a lot of things in our church life that could be rearranged as well.” Well I’ll tell you, we had a, an impromptu deacon’s meeting right after the benediction. And the deacons warned the young pastor not to tinker with the church program; it’s been around for a good many years.
I remember one of the deacons saying, “You know pastor, we were here before you came, and we’ll be here after you’re gone.” (Laughs) That put me in my place. So don’t do it that way, young pastor. But I’ll tell you something, your life will be tremendously enriched if you will let God rearrange your priorities. How are you spending your time? How are you investing your emotional, horsepower, so to speak? You know, what is taking up your energy? On what are you lavishing your strength, and energy, and thought power, and your emotions? What is using up your life?
You can, you can think of your life as a, as a container that has fuel. Think of your life as a great container that has some important fuel in it. Like some great rocket that is about to be launched in the interstellar spaces. Now you use up that fuel, that in turn, that’s, that means emotional power, and thought power, and, and physical power, and time value, and all the rest. You use up that fuel, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.
One of the sad things is to meet people who are still alive but have no energy, and no ambition, and no ability to do anything, except breathe. That’s sad. Ask yourself, “What am I using my life for?” Now that’s not very good grammar, but you understand me. “What is using up my energy, what is using up my emotional reserve, what is using up my time?” Let God rearrange your priorities. And then don’t be like I, I was. Don’t, don’t talk about it, just do it, just do it, just do it.
When God gives you a gentle nudge in the direction of rearranging your priorities, just obey Him. You’ll be delighted with what He does to make you what Peter called ‘perfect’. He’s going to mend your relationships. He’s going to equip you where you fall short. He’s going to rearrange your priorities. Isn’t that good stuff? (Laughs) One Greek word, ‘all there’, and that’s what God does by His grace.
Well, what else? It says make you perfect, establish, establish. Now that’s an interesting, again an interesting little word. And we’ll talk about it. I don’t think we’ll get through before the broadcast ends, but we’ll start. There’s a Greek verb, sterizo and it means, ‘to place firmly’, ‘to make stable’, ‘to strengthen or make firm’. ‘To place firmly’. Now, how does that apply to where you and I are in our spiritual life? Your destiny depends upon the things for which you stand, that are non-negotiable. There’s a great deal in life that can be negotiated. I’ve learned that there’s very little in life that’s worth dying for. But the things that are worth dying for are of extreme importance.
Now, would you give some thought to what really is the sticking point of your life? What is it that determines your decisions, and ultimately then, your destiny? What is it that determines how you will react, under given pressures? ‘To place firmly’ this word means, and ‘to make stable’. ‘To place firmly’. What is the point in your life where you are, firmly placed, spiritually, emotionally, socially with other people, in a family sense, in a relationship with family? What are the places where you are firmly placed by God? Well, how do you get to that? Here again – and it sounds like a worn out record, but I have to bring you back to the thought, that all of your insights comes from the Word of God. All of your insights come from the Word of God.
And so you are going to turn to the Word of God. And you’re going to ask God to guide you. Going to ask God to give you His, His insight, and His ideas. And you’re going to ask God to make you firm at the places where you should stand through, and make you flexible, reasonable. “Let your sweet reasonableness be known to all men,” Paul says in Philippians 4, “make your flexible and reasonable at points where you need to interact with compassion and love.” It’s good stuff there, isn’t it? Oh say, someone scolded me in the mail the other day by saying, for saying “good stuff”. That’s a ‘Cookism’ and it’s hard for me to get away from. If it offends you, I’m sorry. That is good material, isn’t it my friend? (Laughs) Praise the Lord anyway.
Dear Heavenly Father, wilt Thou today make us firm in the matters that affect eternity. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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