Tag: Evangelism

Victory In Jesus

1 Peter 3:18-22 

Inspirational poem from century ago goes this way:

We can’t all play a winning game –  /  Someone is sure to lose,  /  Yet we can play so that our name  /  No one may dare accuse;  /  That when the Master Referee  /  Scores against our name,  /  It won’t be whether we’ve won or lost  /  But how we’ve played the game!

Perhaps in some situations winning doesn’t matter; how you play does matter all the time, including before God. Yet apostle Paul says we should play to win:

1 Cor. 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

Peter agrees, when it comes to living life so as to please God, we should play so as to win the prize. If Lord Jesus is our Lord, Savior, Example, true follower of Christ will strive to follow his example and achieve the goal he has set: victory over all our enemies – sin, Satan, Satan’s agents. If we are Christ’s, even in culture like ours we can and should live victoriously. Going our way confidently, head held high, eyes and heart focused on the finish line where Savior stands ready to welcome us home.

Troubled by what is going on around? Yes. Grieved by all that is done to hurt our Lord? Absolutely. Discouraged and overwhelmed by opposition and persecution and apathy? No way! People Peter wrote to lived in culture further down road of moral decay than ours. He encouraged them to think rightly, to act rightly, gave best possible example and encouragement for doing so – the Lord Jesus. Take heart: since Christ has had the victory… and will have final complete victory over all his enemies, so shall we who are one with him by faith.

A. Christ did the hard, necessary work

he suffered

what we don’t like to hear – since Jesus suffered, we should expect the same – if we suffer for sake of the Gospel, rejoice!!

we do like: just as significant, Jesus suffered for a purpose – to bring us to the Father, and he did it in our place

unless his suffering was pointless, it will achieve his purpose – if he suffered for you, you believe that, you will experience the eternal life he bought for you

he died

don’t like to hear about death, most people don’t want to deal with death – yet Jesus’ death was necessary payment for our life, a payment he made willingly

if Jesus has experienced death for us, we should be willing… even if not required… to experience same in his cause, for his sake

he went to heaven

we like this part, that heaven is our future – notice where Jesus is: at the right hand of God, notice who is subject to him: angels and authorities and powers

nothing can stand in the way of Jesus bringing us to the Father – he has both the position and the power to make it happen

B. Not everyone gets saved

they heard the “gospel”

people of all kinds had opportunity to hear the warnings, see deliverance taking shape in front of them – took Noah 120 years

from God’s perspective, even though free to roam the earth and to appearances do as they pleased, were effectively in prison

they kept on their merry way

God was patient, longsuffering, putting up with their daily disobedience and mistreatment of the one who found grace in his sight

kudos to Noah’s family, too – don’t forget they suffered along with Noah, could have chosen different way to go but stayed faithful

they drowned

difficult but necessary truth: the wilfully disobedient and unrighteous met a just end, the righteous continued to receive grace and mercy from kind and loving God

those who remained true to God… publicly (nothing hidden or secret about the Ark) received the reward due them from God

NOTE: the ark delivered Noah from judgment, the water delivered Noah from his enemies – same water that floated the ark destroyed the unrighteous

same Gospel message that brings some to saving faith hardens the hearts of others – difference is working of Holy Spirit

C. True believers will be delivered

pictured in baptism

Paul makes one kind of connection with symbolism of baptism, Peter another – Paul pictures death to sin, burial with Christ, raised to newness of life through faith in him

Peter focuses more on what baptism shows as result of conversion – a conscience cleaned from things that would displease God

and… is unspoken reference to deliverance from enemies – persecution and persecutors and evildoers are only temporary – will someday be delivered from them just as Noah and family were

one more thing – the ark in which Noah and family entrusted their lives no less effective than ark of Jesus Christ to deliver his people from judgment

a good conscience

basis is Jesus’ perfection, not ours – we are completely powerless to change ourselves, our conscience, our eternal destiny

we cannot present ourselves in acceptable condition before God, only Jesus can… and has… on his own behalf and ours

again, Paul Eph. 5:25-26 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 

same water brought judgment on the wicked, mercy for the righteous – some folks have big problem with God flooding entire world, drowning all those people

everyone without exception deserved it, and keep in mind God did save eight people with massive task of starting over – even in judgment, God showed great mercy

guaranteed by Christ

if Jesus is everything we claim him to be, if death/burial/resurrection/ascension accomplished all we believe it did, have no cause for discouragement or fear

should be no shadow of doubt in mind… if total confidence in Jesus and his righteousness and not our own… heaven is our destiny

complete and final victory over all our enemies, those within and those without, will be ours as we share in Christ’s victory

Meanwhile, we still live in the here and now, not the by and by. If we believe all this, if we have desire to be faithful Christ-follower, requires particular lifestyle. As we said last week, must be living hopefully in a world filled with hopeless people. Here’s something else: if we need to be ready with a defense, an answer, for the hope we have… means we need to be consistently acting in a way that encourages people to ask questions. Our public witness must be one that invites people into a relationship… with Jesus. And keep in mind, we’re looking toward that goal when we enjoy victory in Jesus. 

Hopeful Living in a Hopeless World

1 Peter 3:13-17 

Is easier each day to become frustrated and angry with decisions made, policies implemented by those in positions of leadership. Time after time, they try to give appearance of knowing what they are doing, yet too often solutions are worse than problems are attempting to fix. Even more significant, plans put forth offer little genuine hope. And that’s really sad – either doing simply for sake of doing something, or worse, deceived into thinking plan is a good choice.

Not just people in leadership who lack genuine hope for a bright future. Those in all walks of life desperately trying to make it through the day, survive until next paycheck, wanting next word from doctor to be encouraging but afraid it won’t be. Fewer people thinking about next generation, even fewer thinking about next life. Depending on tangible things of this life to help them make it through the day… or night.

Yet those who are honest recognize emptiness of living according to world’s standards and principles. And… they recognize those who live differently. How others respond will vary – sometimes positive, other times not so much. Yet goal of believer to be different… in a good way. Don’t need purple hair or piercings to stand out in a crowd. Do need to have confidence based on solid foundation traceable to God’s word the Bible.

A. What do you have to lose?  v.13-14

who will bother you

general principle: do the right thing, mind your own business, won’t get hassled… usually – is the way God intends it to work

may not like what you believe, often like what you do and glad to benefit from it, is good incentive for doing what is right

still… not most important thing: Christians should be motivated by principle, not pragmatism… what is right, not simply what works

fact that are fewer hassles to doing good is nice side benefit, thank God for it, do what is right because you love Him

what if they do

are some in every crowd, determined to hassle the Christians because they are Christians… make unbelievers look bad, feel uncomfortable, motivated by Satan or hatred of God

when that does happen, take heart – is a blessing in it for you… you now have that in common with Jesus, his sufferings

remember what He said: Matt. 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

what can they take

think for moment about things you consider yours: how tightly do you hang on to them, what do you feel when you lose them

now count up how many of those things will go with you to next life, how many will be left behind here when you leave

enemies can make all kinds of threats, even take many things away – no earthly force can ever take away anything of eternal significance to you

Jesus said, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven”, not great is your treasure on earth

B. What do you have to give? v.15

a soft heart

a heart devoted to God, where Christ is ruling master – needs to be clear to you… and everyone else who you serve

credible witness requires consistent life, one where motivations and actions confirm what words say – think of it like packaging

if what people find on the inside doesn’t match labeling on the outside, they won’t be interested in what you have to offer

besides, heart where Christ truly is Lord is others-minded not self-centered – more and more connected by text, need to be connected by heart… real relationships

a sweet answer

if you are carrying on real conversations with people, in their space, communicating with more than just words, will have opportunities for serious Q & A

remember: goal is for person without hope to have genuine hope; means they must come to Christ, not your logic or powers of persuasion

gently and respectfully answer their questions – tell them your story, tell them about Jesus… who he is, why he is important

keep in mind who Jesus hung out with – religious leaders criticized him for being around those kinds… “if you only knew about…”

if we are to share hope we have with others, must be spending time with hopeless people, showing them there is sound reason to have hope

a sturdy hope

can’t be an “I hope so” kind of emotion, must be solid confidence based on character and promises of God found in Bible, experienced in your life

the Bible says God is like this, let me tell you how I have experienced that – things of daily life, not only conversion

if hope / confidence is in next life, what should that mean about things limited to this life? don’t be like environmentalist trying to preserve things at any cost, use it up in service for Christ

best use for what God has blessed you with in this life is to spend it on things that matter in the next life – using time, treasure, talent to advance Christ’s kingdom

C. How will it turn out?  v.16-17

a good conscience

if Christ has rightful place in your heart and life, no problem with conscience – right motivation, right action, right outcome… according to God’s perfect design

how your words and actions are received not your responsibility – burden of that is on other person, if done with gentleness/respect

a good confession

notice theme here: “follower of what is good”, “good conduct in Christ”, “suffer for doing good” – actions that confirm witness

best kind of confession to have – declaring before everyone by both word and deed that Christ is indeed Lord of your life

not defensive speech or action but consistent godly conduct that proves accusations of evildoing have no basis in fact

a good compensation

when it is God’s purpose that you suffer for good, be confident he will reward accordingly – reward based not on how much you achieve for God but how much you suffer for his sake

Since God has gone to trouble of giving us heads-up, we should take heed and be ready – for opposition and suffering when it comes, also for opportunities when they come. Always be ready, be prepared to give an answer. Hold on to things of this world loosely, ready to give them up to God’s use at moment’s notice. Don’t try to win arguments, rather win people to Christ. Be ambassadors of hope, found in Christ, that lasts forever and no one can take away.

All Together, Now

1 Peter 3:8-12 

May live in the United States of America but each day are becoming more Untied. People calling each other names, groups in conflict with other groups. Sad truth is Christians get mixed up in conflict, in the Christian community too, with serious consequences all the way around.

I read about a man one time that went out on a boat deep-sea fishing who couldn’t swim. He caught an enormous fish and in his excitement to pull it into the boat he fell overboard. He cried out, “Save me, I cannot swim!” Well, the captain of the boat very calmly reached out, grabbed him by the arm, gave a big pull, but he didn’t know it was an artificial arm, and the arm came off!

Well, the man continued to kick and splash around crying for help. The captain reached out again and this time he grabbed his leg and gave a tremendous pull, but the leg came off because it was an artificial leg. The man went under the water again and he came up yelling for help.

The captain — still calm — grabbed the man by the hair of his head and gave a gigantic pull, but the man was wearing a toupee and it came off. At that point the captain looked at the man in the water and said, “Mister, if you won’t stick together, I can’t help you.”  James Merritt

Lack of unity, not sticking together, may not yet have become problem in area Peter was writing to but… potential was there. Must have been so given how many times subject comes up: Jesus prayed for it, was recurring theme in Paul’s ministry, now here in Peter. Not a problem that disappeared after first generation or two made it through the church. One that persists, need to be alert and on guard against disunity… especially among Christian brothers and sisters. Best way to guard against disunity is to be continually working to maintain unity.

A. be of one mind  v.8-9

“universal” exhortation – Jesus, Paul, Peter

was on Jesus mind, eating last Passover – he knew, rest of Disciples would soon know they were not of one mind… Judas

Jesus knew consequences of Judas’ actions could fracture group even more – then, Jesus’ quote from OT, “strike the shepherd and sheep will scatter” – unity, oneness major theme in prayer in Garden

Paul concerned with same principle, and added to instruction – “let this mind be in you…”; “whatever is true, noble, just, pure, lovely… think about that” (Phil. 2:5; 4:8)

Peter does similar, adding in actions – at least one version renders v.8 “be of one mind” as “be harmonious” – good choice since is broader concept than simply thinking same things

“acting together to a common end; agreeing in action or feeling” Webster – is combination of thinking / prioritizing / acting to produce a result pleasing to God

toward one another

Peter made it plain how believers are to act toward those in authority, how are to act in positions of authority – now gets to home / family where you can relax and be yourself

no relaxing of the standard here: are to treat family / church family just as well as anyone else: sympathy, affection, tenderness, humility – iow, practice for heaven!

world has turned this on its head: “I want you to feel for me” – Christian feels for other person w/o being asked, comes alongside and takes up slack… helping to bear burdens that would overwhelm

being a true friend to others – sensitive to their needs, attentive and involved out of love rather than duty, treating w/tenderness

God’s people get beat up enough, live in a fallen world with all frustrations of the curse – don’t need to get beat up by family

another counter-cultural trait: treating others with humble courtesy – amazing lack of civility in world, should not be in the church

toward “outsiders”

this way of thinking / acting should be our default… regardless of who other person is, whether in the family or not

for those presently “outside” the family, need to resist temptation to respond in kind – should expect to be ill-treated… how the world defaults toward Christians

basically reminder of what Jesus said, Sermon on the Mount: “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,”  Matt. 5:44 

the path to blessing

here’s a principle we never would figure out: the way to receive blessing is to be a blessing… when it is hard, even impossible

remember who set the standard, who is the standard, Jesus – he put the bar right up there, out of reach for even best of us

must depend on Christ to also equip and enable us to do what he asks – cannot ever do on our own… nor do we want to

B. it’s a quality of life issue  v.10-11

love life

used to see people who really loved life – obvious from their expression, how they approached challenges, attitude they voiced

Peter goes to OT for backup: David’s definition from Psalm 34 – certainly had range of experience from which to write

if you want to love life, start with who you are, not where you are – circumstances far less important than thought/word/deed

good life

reminisce about “good old days”, talk about living the “good life”, Peter lays foundation for Bible’s kind of good life: be committed to what is kind and true and good

don’t encourage evil by talking about it (media types should take note!); overcome deception by speaking truth; put evil in its place by doing good

makes perfect sense when you think about it: those who love life are those who think and do for others, less concerned with acquiring the good things for themselves

“July 10.—I fear I am growing more earthly in some things. To-day I felt a difficulty in bringing in spiritual conversation immediately after preaching, when my bosom should be burning. Excused myself from dining out from other than the grand reason; though checked and corrected myself. Evening—Insensibly slid into worldly conversation. Let these things be corrected in me, O Lord, by the heart being more filled with love to Jesus.”

…His visits to friends were times when he sought to do good to their souls; and never was he satisfied unless he could guide the conversation to bear upon the things of eternity. When he could not do so, he generally remained silent.”  McCheyne

peaceful life

absence of peace a way of life in vast areas of world – for that to change requires work: seek peace, pursue peace, cuz it probably won’t come looking for you

often means putting personal preferences/desires aside, accommodating as much as possible needs of others, avoiding topics and behaviors that we know are triggers for conflict

NOT peace at any cost – must not compromise biblical principles, things that would hinder the Gospel simply to keep peace

C. God has an opinion  v.12

eyes on the righteous

God is attentive to needs / circumstances of his people for the purpose of protecting and providing for them

includes responding to their prayers, rewarding their efforts at obedience, faithful living – intends to bless his people

face against the unrighteous

God himself actively opposes evildoers – overrules their intentions, restrains their desires and results of their actions

God uses actions of evildoers to bring about good for his people… individually… collectively… iow, for the good of the church

The good intended for the church is the one most in Jesus’ mind as he approached the cross – “that they may be one”. Single-minded devotion to God, working together to do good in a world that needs it more every day. Let’s not be like the fellow who went overboard – various parts of the body going off in different directions. Instead, pray the Lord would bring us closer to one another as he brings us closer to himself; that he would enable us to speak truth, do good, pursue peace as we depend on him.

Understanding and Honoring Your Wife

1 Peter 3:7 

An area of culture where so much turned on its head, mixed up and confused – how should people relate to one another and themselves? Has prompted development of whole new collection of words as people struggle to express themselves. Rapidly getting to place where anything goes and no one has the right to challenge how another thinks or acts. Are a number of factors involved in promoting these sorts of developments, one of most fundamental comes from mankind’s fallenness:

When Miley Cyrus sat down with Out magazine, she explained: “I don’t relate to what people would say defines a girl or a boy, and I think that’s what I had to understand: Being a girl isn’t what I hate, it’s the box that I get put into.”

The God who made all things including man and woman did not leave it up to mankind to figure these things out on their own. Gave clear instruction preserved in his word the Bible about how many genders he made, what his expectations are for each gender. Included how he intends men and women to relate to one another. Satan grasps significance of this far better than most people, why he is working so diligently to deceive and confuse. Satan’s progress has profound effect throughout all of society including the church.

Last specific category Peter addresses here is husbands, how husbands are to regard their wives and relate to them. If you really want to be noticed, take Peter’s instruction to heart and put into practice. And don’t put too much stock in negative push-back you might get – at its heart is rebellion against God and his design for mankind. Represents a way of life, system of choices destined for destruction, also by God’s design.

Individuals and corporations and governments are spending countless hours and dollars to save the planet from greenhouse gases and climate change and single-use plastics and population growth. Yet God’s word the Bible tells us Jesus came to seek and save the lost, not the planet. Is carrying out his plan, extending his kingdom here on earth through the church. “Christ loved the church and gave himself for her”. Has given his people a way to display / picture / model that love for all the world to see. Peter outlines three principles to guide husbands as they relate to their wives – understanding, honoring and inheriting.

A. understanding

her

ladies, might wonder how husbands get away with only one verse instruction to your six – see what you think after we unpack this one verse

husbands, God calls you to immense task and responsibility, one that may seem impossible – it really is, apart from God’s help

understand your wife: her physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual strengths and weaknesses – her strengths are for your benefit, your strengths for her support and protection

to know your wife this way takes time, attention, conversation and communication, observation, devotion, lots of it

you

understand your own physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual strengths and weaknesses – rely on wife’s strengths, that’s why God gave her to you, to be a fitting complement to you

use your own strengths to encourage wife’s growth and development, work on improving own areas of weakness where possible

understand your own tendencies to take undue advantage of wife and her abilities, guard against doing so

God

need to understand God, his ways, his word well enough to be spiritual leader your wife needs, helping her apply Bible to life

there are all the ways the world says to indulge and affirm your wife, then there is God’s way – husband needs to know the difference, live accordingly, help your wife to be content in that

B. honoring

cherish

“Cherish is the word I use to describe / All the feeling that I have hiding here for you inside” (1966) – sort of describe it, don’t really define or give synonym for this really good word

“treat with tenderness and affection; hold as dear; treat in a manner to encourage growth” – Webster, 1828

hold your wife in high regard in thought, speech and action – if you don’t think highly of her, you will treat her accordingly, both speech and action will communicate that to others

protect

NOTICE: Peter says to honor your wife as a weaker vessel, not because she is weaker – at times she may be far stronger than husband, in some ways may always be weaker, that is not the point

are to relate to your wife with consideration and deference that should be shown to one who deserves to be cherished and protected

is husband’s duty to see that wife is not harmed by mistreatment either from himself or others – husband is protector, defender

goes for the home, too – husband sets model for honoring the wife, has duty to require proper honor from children

requires continual awareness, sensitivity to (especially) emotional/spiritual demands on wife, awareness of vulnerability

provide

is expected the husband will provide for needs of wife and family – man leaves father/mother, assumes responsibility for his own family beginning with wife

Peter may not have known about 21st century economics but Holy Spirit did – model here is of primary dependence being of wife on husband, not other way round

C. inheriting

companionship

fellow-heirs – walking together along same path toward shared goal of spiritual inheritance, being sure not to risk other’s inheritance

means everything else that makes up relationship – priorities, values, choices – should be consistent with joint spiritual goal

gets back to what makes for thorough understanding: time, attention, conversation and communication… not hiding out in “man cave” and leaving wife to fend for herself – wife should be best friend

anticipation

difficulties in companionship easily interfere with that spiritual goal and progress toward it – spiritual piece of relationship often first casualty when there is conflict

husband-wife relationship should have future always in view – how does what is happening relationally now impact heaven

D. modeling

for your family

from before they can understand principles, boys should see demonstrated how a man honors his wife, grow up to be men who do similarly for own family

girls should see first-hand how a godly husband treats his wife, look for same in their own husband, not settle for any less

should go without saying – ought to be the way of it outside the home as well; reinforcing example of other godly men in the church; demonstrating healthy family for neighbors to see

for the world

Christian husbands and wives need to get it right now more than ever – because of how culture has changed, never been easier to be noticed

remember what Paul said: in so many words, relationship between husband and wife pictures to the world the love Christ has for his church – getting it wrong distorts that picture, dishonors Christ and his church

Yes, we have example of Christ, how he lived and died. But studying an example does not make one an expert. Yet, these are not suggestions. Are exhortations to act in certain way, only possible in full dependence on God – indwelling Holy Spirit to change, instruct, direct. Lord Jesus and his example to inspire us. Since we are heirs of salvation, already have down payment of Holy Spirit to equip and enable us to live pleasing to God.

 

…the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved. Adam lost a rib, and without any diminution to his strength or comeliness (for, doubtless, the flesh was closed without a scar); but in lieu thereof he had a help meet for him, which abundantly made up his loss: what God takes away from his people he will, one way or other, restore with advantage. In this (as in many other things) Adam was a figure of him that was to come; for out of the side of Christ, the second Adam, his spouse the church was formed, when he slept the sleep, the deep sleep, of death upon the cross, in order to which his side was opened, and there came out blood and water, blood to purchase his church and water to purify it to himself. Matthew Henry

 

Biblical Beauty

1 Peter 3:1-6 

If a fellow wants to live dangerously, good way to do it is address… publicly… what Peter declares in our text – things like woman’s attitude toward husband, what defines beauty, appropriate fashion choices. Certainly topics that can easily raise the temperature in mixed company. People have strong opinions, not only about topics themselves, but also opinions on who has a right to express an opinion about them. If Peter’s theme is “Pilgrims Living Counter-Culturally”, he nails the counter-cultural part right here.

Many would say Peter is old-fashioned, hundreds of years past sell-by date, waste of time to give any consideration. So, for starters, look at condition of family in our land, divorce rate, number of children who do not live with one or both parents… and tell me how it’s working. If the world’s measure of beauty and attractiveness is accurate, why are those who spend the most on being beautiful the most miserable people who have few if any enduring relationships? Just for practical reasons, ought to give Peter a listen. Most important, this is God’s word, given to all generations – needs no defense, needs no apology, simply needs to be heard and heeded.

Another very important point needs to be made – this text along with verse 7 shamefully mistreated… by professed Christians! Don’t need to get into all the sordid details, fall into 2 general categories – trying to make text say what it does not, not allowing it to say what it means. Yes, Peter wrote to group of people living in 1st century Greco-Roman culture. Knowing that helps us understand some issues they were facing. At same time, Peter wrote to the church, believers living in the world as pilgrims. Is true of our text – verses 1 thru 6 addressed to Christian married women, verse 7 to Christian married men. Focus of Peter’s instruction on how married Christian men and women should behave so as to please God.

We will see as we go along, kind of beauty Peter describes not one that is put on in front of the mirror, taken off later. Is rather a beauty, an attractiveness rooted in the character of the person and reflected in their appearance. Attractiveness first expressed in the home, carries over into rest of life.

A. words vs. life  v.1-2

voluntary submission

willingly following leadership of husband – remember who the example is, “likewise”, Peter has just drawn attention to Lord Jesus as model for us to follow

submission can’t be a bad thing if Jesus practiced it – “I must be about my Father’s business”; “not my will but yours be done”

then there is Paul’s concise summary of much OT teaching, “husbands, love your wives…” and marriage as picture of Christ/church

Peter looks at relationship in other direction, relationship between church and Christ – attitude and  behavior of wife toward husband intended to picture how church should think and act toward Christ

especially needful when husband not saved – wife who has proper relationship with husband because she loves Christ has much more credible / persuasive witness

powerful silence

secondary point – things that apply to “mixed” marriage, saved wife and unsaved husband – addressed remarks to wives, makes application to some

by no means endorsing marriage of believer/unbeliever, situation came about after marriage… and seems to be minority position in the church – “even if some”

whether husband is saved or not, nagging is not the way to get him to shape up, especially when wife has areas needing improvement

also not endorsement of silence as weapon – needs to be healthy communication, expressions of belief, backed up by consistent behavior

purity of life

are countless ways wife can communicate volumes without ever saying a word – am sure ladies know what I’m referring to – way things are done… or left; what is attended to first… and last; facial expressions, the look, eye roll

when general character of day by day life is that of pure and reverent conduct, that is something God can use to change husband

notice kind of change in view: may be won over to obedience to the word – is just as applicable to saved husbands as unsaved

ladies, don’t get in a huff – husband’s turn comes next week, DV – for now, if husband is not all you’d like, first check character of own life and kind of relationship you have

B. appearance vs. substance  v.3-4

maybe more choices, greater expenditure by Westerners on things related to appearance, by no means only ones who pay attention to such things

spend billions of dollars decorating the outside, next to nothing developing the inside of the person – not biblical order of priority

modest accessories

should be accessories, not center of attention – this is not criticism of attention to appearance: should look like we appreciate who God has made us to be and take reasonable care of it

at same time, things that are put on should complement beauty God has already given – should not draw attention to things of secondary importance

here’s the important thing – God doesn’t expect/approve use of accessories to try to appear as someone other than who you really are

God wants his people to be truthful in more than just their words, sincere and honest in all they communicate

the real you

what is of greatest value to God is the person that you are, not the body in which you live – is your person that gives life and beauty to your appearance, transforms average into attractive and beautiful

which brings up another important point: what are you investing time and treasure in… things you put on or take off… or… the inner person of the heart

lasting beauty

thanks to a couple’s choices in the Garden, maintaining unchanging external appearance is losing battle, no matter how hard someone tries to make it otherwise

not the same with the real you, the inner person, that endures throughout this life and into next life – can in fact improve with age

especially so when diligent effort is made to cultivate a “gentle and quiet spirit” – God’s word and Spirit essential to making that happen, permeating person from inside out

C. courageous goodness  v.5-6

holy heroines

Sarah just one of many who demonstrate truth of what Peter says – could include people from own personal experience

are also those who were used by God in conversion of husbands – not guarantee, but God does work that way on occasion

winning combination

trust in God – developing and demonstrating kind of beauty God treasures is impossible apart from trust in him… continually

is especially needful in difficult situations, when it is hard to remain faithful in face of hardship or opposition

do good – must trust in God to supply wisdom and strength and (often) the courage to do good, to be kind of wife God can use to bring about his purpose in home and church

What will serve best to develop and enhance kind of beauty Peter writes about is closeness to Christ – committing to knowing Christ, following Christ, serving Christ by serving others. Others will see and respond to that kind of beauty, will be encouraged by it, will be drawn to the one who supplies it.

 

The Meaning of the Cross

1 Peter 2:21-25

Couple weeks ago, Supreme Court issued decision re: Peace Cross, Bladensburg, MD, 10 miles from White House.

“The cross was chosen because it was reminiscent of the fields of crosses marking the graves of fallen soldiers buried overseas. On the pedestal supporting the cross is a bronze plaque with the names of the 49 soldiers from Prince George’s County who gave their lives in World War I.”

87-page decision in American Legion v. American Humanist Association – not only in 1st century, the cross and its message is still foolishness in 21st century.

Apostle Paul made abundantly clear in first letter to church at Corinth:

1 Cor. 1:18 Read it

Didn’t discourage Paul or cause change of mind, also makes plain preaching the cross of Christ not something he did by accident:

1 Cor. 2:1-5 Read it – I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

1 Cor. 15:3  I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 

Cross was central in Peter’s theology also. Has given instruction how we as followers of Christ should behave in public, our civic responsibilities, and in workplace. Has set high standard, the example of Lord Jesus, maybe one you think is impossible to meet. Wait until we get to part about husbands and wives!! Now before you get discouraged and hang it up, Peter has more to say… about the cross. If we are to live as pilgrims in the world, going against tide of culture, can only do it in power of the cross.

A. perfect example  v.21-23

how to live

Jesus lived purposely – intentionally living out his life as first Adam should have – walked carefully, leaving clear footprints for us

Jesus did not set bar of example impossibly high so we could never achieve it – simply lived and acted pleasing to God, showing us how to do it and made sure Gospels had the record preserved for us

how to die

here’s something that really goes contrary to culture today, including here in Maine – governor signed Maine Death with Dignity Act into law on June 12, 2019

wonder what advocates of bill would think about crucifixion, whether meets definition of dignity – Jesus didn’t protest against it, try to find way to avoid it

Jesus’ intent was to satisfy / please Father in death as in life – expects his people to follow in those footsteps just like the rest

don’t buy the (New Age) lie

w/o question, Jesus said he is the way… to the Father, not to godhood  like New-Agers claim – he showed us the way to live pleasing to the Father but not apart from Jesus

common practice with apprenticeships – show/instruct how to do it, watch apprentice do it, then “you’re on your own” – Jesus never said that to his followers

another thing Jesus never said… that we could ever satisfy God’s demands apart from him – in fact he said just the opposite, John 15:5 

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

B. problematic implementation  v.24

power of sin

as soon as we try to follow Jesus’ example, immediately find out there’s a problem – if are walking in his footsteps, should only be one set of prints behind us – go ahead, look, what do you see?

there you see power of sin over our best intentions – pushing, pulling, persuading to wander away from path Jesus’ walked

if were up to us to set standard, would figure out way to accommodate weakness, failure – drop the bar a few notches

power of the cross

instead of taking standard down, he took our sins up with him, paid full penalty

“This, the pow’r of the cross: Christ became sin for us; Took the blame, bore the wrath—We stand forgiven at the cross.”

what Jesus accomplished by his willing sacrifice intended to change how we live and die… as well as what comes after death

is only the power of the cross that breaks power of sin – to condemn us, to enslave us – can be enticed by it, need not be slave to sin

our only hope is in coming to the cross, embracing the Jesus who died there as Savior and Lord, fully depending on him and his righteousness

purpose of the cross

far more than simple insurance policy – embracing Christ does relieve of punishments of hell, does not leave us in our sin

is why God graciously prevented Adam & Eve from tree of life – is committed to fully redeeming us from corruption / condemnation from sin… beginning at moment of conversion

die to sin – dead person does not respond to anything, no matter how tempting – one who is dying to sin does not respond

since we stand forgiven at the cross, are new creatures in Christ, have power as well as desire to resist sin’s enticements

as Holy Spirit applies truth from God’s word to us, we follow Spirit’s leading, side effects of sin gradually being flushed away

live for righteousness – here’s purpose of the cross declared… not simply that we should live forever but live for righteousness – iow, “that [we] should follow his steps”

purpose not to empower us to earn God’s favor – clear reminder given: “by [his] stripes you were healed” – is Jesus’ merit, Jesus’ righteousness applied to us that gives us right standing with God

is Jesus’ power that comes to us through ministry of the Holy Spirit that equips us to live for righteousness

C. provided facilitator  v.25

shows the way – Shepherd

a shepherd leads his flock, doesn’t drive them – sheep literally follow shepherd’s steps – our shepherd has followed path all the way: life, death, heaven

Jesus doesn’t give followers GPS, expect to figure out how to get there – dozens trying to avoid traffic jam in Denver ended up stuck in mud on farm road

one driver: “There is no way that Google could have known that that was the situation out there.”

keeps his people on the way – Overseer

notice what Shepherd Overseer cares about – souls… not bodies – Jesus the only one who has resources necessary to guard our souls

because of who he is and what he has done, everyone who follows Jesus can have absolute confidence – he knows what he is doing, where he is going, will not take wrong turn or lose any along the way

The cross means God’s standard is not impossible… not because of man’s effort but because of God’s grace. For sake of his son the Lord Jesus, he accepts us as righteous and pleasing to him… when we do our part, depending / trusting him to help us. We do not need to see road ahead, only need to see one step at a time, make sure is Jesus’ footprints we are following.

People we all know, ones we will meet who are enslaved by all sorts of things, are powerless to overcome. Remember what Paul said: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Is a message of hope and encouragement for all who will listen… including us.

 

Called to Suffer

1 Peter 2:18-23 

Need to guard against imposing 21st century stereotypes on terms Peter uses – servant and master. 1st century Roman culture structured differently from ours today, weren’t all the same categories. In Peter’s day, for most part were either servant/slave or master… either had slaves or were a slave. Either had someone to do your work for you or you did it for yourself.

“it must be remembered that 1st-century slaves were generally well-treated and were not only unskilled laborers but often managers, overseers, and trained members of the various professions (doctors, nurses, teachers, musicians, skilled artisans). There was extensive Roman legislation regulating the treatment of slaves. They were normally paid for their services and could expect eventually to purchase their freedom.” [Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, 1 Peter; Grudem, 124]

Now, in the church, many of those distinctions removed… in some cases reversing the cultural order of things. Slave with gifts and calling to be teacher or pastor in local church could easily have opportunity to instruct his master! Most often slaves, household servants [οἰκέτης (household servant), not δοῦλος (bondslave) or θεράπων (servant)] had pagan masters, some of whom were good and gently, others were not.

Peter’s exhortation to readers: have a servant heart even when that means you are called to suffer as Jesus did. Keep in mind also, suffering Peter is talking about does not always involve physical discomfort. Are other kinds of suffering often harder to bear than physical pain. Primarily in view here slave / master relationship, closest parallel today the employee / employer one. Not limited only to that, applies to every situation where we are charged with meeting expectations of another.

A. servants are to submit  v.18-20

proper attitude

there’s that word again… submit – is kind of attitude that positions well so as to perform well – hard to do good job when attitude toward supervisor/manager stinks

right attitude doesn’t depend on circumstances – Jesus’ example and expectations are enough reason to have / maintain right spirit

not stated but surely is implied, attitude should not be on roller coaster – will be exceptions, but even during those times attitude toward master should be one that pleases God

proper work habits

something fewer and fewer in our present cultural setting understand – how to work, how to learn skill and use it well, show up on time/work all shift, performing to limit of ability

“doing good” is what God expects – can take that two ways, doing task well, doing what is for good of another person

first thing is to carry out task to best of ability, doing it well, gaining rep for good workmanship and producing high quality results

rest of it: doing task in such a way that it produces good for others incl. master – make widgets efficiently and well so co. profits

proper response

will be times you do best possible, meet or exceed expectations, still get criticized / penalized in some way – take it patiently

less obvious, exceed all performance goals for six months, should receive nice pay increase, get nothing – need to maintain performance, not work down to what you think wage is worth

what about assigned task that violates conscience – preparing for or participating in worship of idol, doing what is unethical or illegal – do what is right in God’s eyes

similar scenario – do what is right in God’s eyes but not master’s: singing hymns, carrying Bible, witnessing – are treated unjustly… is commendable, finds favor with God

proper motivation

told twice: if you suffer unjustly (wrongfully) is commendable; do good and suffer, take it patiently, commendable before God

all this master / servant stuff playing out on world stage before audience… that includes God… and is his “well done” you want

what you do does not define who you are, nor does place you work – any number of occupations incl. retired, places incl. home, important thing is working for God and his approval

B. servants are called to suffer  v.21

don’t be surprised

suffering comes with the calling… to follow Christ – “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matt. 16:24 

the cross is in Jesus’ statement for a reason – Christianity not for sissies, not for those afraid of hardship, will include suffering

best help for enduring well is to be prepared – know who to trust (God), what resources (Bible and believers), the goal (heaven)

Christ suffered

since the Forerunner, the one we are following suffered, should expect we will probably suffer also… plus he said so

we think of Jesus’ suffering occurring Thursday night thru Sunday morning – forget his entire earthly existence one of suffering

Isa. 53:3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

we are to follow him

purposely left example for us: ὑπογραμμὸν – under-writing; penmanship examples, dotted patterns; Family Circus, trail kid followed

has left enough of his footprints in Gospels to know where path goes – is not really optional, Jesus expects us to follow

is by following Jesus’ footprints that we can be certain of reaching our destination – when we get off track, look to him, he picks us up and puts us on path again

C. the Servant’s example of suffering  v.22-23

all his suffering was unjust

some suffering is justified, Peter hinted at that in v.20 – “what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults”

Pilate was more right than he probably knew – “I find no fault in this Man” (Luk. 23:4) – there was none to be found

did not respond to evil with more evil

certainly had plenty of opportunity to give people dose of own medicine – and had the power to make it happen if he chose

didn’t do so himself, told his followers to not go down that road, fixed damage they caused when they did (Malchus’ ear)

did not exercise his rights

think about who Jesus really was – “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” 

had a right as Creator, as God the Son to whatever he wanted – instead “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

example he left us is one of humble service, suffering whatever indignities, disrespect, hardship sinful men sent his way

even when another might have told those who crucified him and bartered for his belongings “I’ll get you back for this”, he prayed for their forgiveness

did trust God

his last words before death, “Father, it’s all in your hands”…and he left it there – knew he could trust his Father with his present and his future

same God can be counted on for our present and future – if God really is in charge of it, can be certain none of the suffering that comes our way is excessive, unnecessary, outside God’s perfect plan

When suffering comes our way, need to do as Peter did – not get all wrapped up in how much we are suffering, how much we have to endure, how unjust it all is. Instead look for Jesus and the footprints he left behind for us to follow in.