Salt sweat and blood iron mix in her mouth. Her left eye puffy and shoulders heavy, she’s barely keeping her guard up. She manages to block a volley of jabs. Then ‘ding!’ Sweet relief. She staggers to her corner and slumps on her stool. She swigs water while the trainer sets to work patching up a cut. ‘You can do this. You can do this! Remember what we’ve worked on: keep your guard up, keep moving. This is your round.’ The bell rings again. She leaps from her stool, bumps her gloves, and begins bouncing from one foot to the other. ‘I can do this.’
The boxing ring can be a lonely place – it’s just you and someone who wants to knock you out cold. Time in the corner between rounds is essential. You breathe, get patched up, receive encouragement, reflect on the round just gone, and look forward to the round ahead. That’s exactly how church can (and should) function. In 4:1-6, Peter talks about wrestling with temptation, and in 4:12-19 about suffering for being a Christian. In the middle of these, he deliberately talks about Christian community.
When God’s people gather, we share a love that is deep and practical, gracious, and forgiving (4:8). We joyfully spend ourselves on others. We use our gifts, skills, and resources to build up our brothers and sisters, recognizing all that we have comes from God and is ultimately for his glory (4:10-11). We look back at the week just gone, hearing God’s ‘well done’ for the good work we’ve done, his forgiveness for where we’ve strayed. We remember he was with us in the ring the whole time, and we thank him for that. Then we get set for the round ahead – how we want to approach it, who we’re going to live for when the bell rings.
Belonging to a church family matters. As you live for God on your frontline, week in, week out, you will see him working through you. But you might forget the game plan, and you’ll certainly take some hits on the chin. You need your Christian brothers and sisters. And they need you.
Reflect: Is there someone from your church or a Christian friend God might be calling you to encourage today, through a card, message, or phone call?
Our Daily Bread
Can We Relax?
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid…….John 14:27
Darnell entered the physical therapist’s office knowing he would experience a lot of pain. The therapist stretched and bent his arm and held it in positions it hadn’t been in for months since his injury. After holding each uncomfortable position for a few seconds, she gently told him: “Okay, you can relax.” He said later, “I think I heard that at least fifty times in each therapy session: ‘Okay, you can relax.’ ”
Thinking of those words, Darnell realized they could apply to the rest of his life as well. He could relax in God’s goodness and faithfulness instead of worrying.
As Jesus neared His death, He knew His disciples would need to learn this. They’d soon face a time of upheaval and persecution. To encourage them, Jesus said He would send the Holy Spirit to live with them and remind them of what He had taught (John 14:26). And so He could say, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. . . . Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (v. 27).
There’s plenty we could be uptight about in our everyday lives. But we can grow in our trust in God by reminding ourselves that His Spirit lives in us—and He offers us His peace. As we draw on His strength, we can hear Him in the therapist’s words: “Okay, you can relax.” By Anne Cetas
REFLECT & PRAY:
Teach me, Jesus, to trust Your faithfulness, to know Your presence, to experience Your peace—to relax.
At Awesome Marriage, we talk a lot about the essential roles that God gave a husband and a wife, but what about the other things that we do as a husband and wife in our marriages?
Nancy and I never sat down and said, “You do this and I will do that.” We just kind of let the whole process evolve. I mowed the lawn and we both planted flowers. She liked to clean the house but hated to vacuum, so I could do that. We never defined our daily
roles as man and woman, but by who was best at it, and who wanted to do it or did not want to do it!
This year with deadlines for a new book and the growth of Awesome Marriage, I have not run the vacuum in a while. It’s not like Nancy has been complaining because she hasn’t, but today I’m going to run the vacuum. What is something you could do today for your spouse that would lighten their load? Now that you have it, why not do it?
Today’s One Thing:
What is something you could do for your spouse today that would lighten their load?
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Content for the weekly inspirational bulletin is provided by Lyle Dietrich.