Tag: Obedience

Right Standing

1 Peter 5:6-14 

Standing is important… for a lot of people… in a lot of situations. Which teams will be in the playoffs? Which candidate on the ballot? Where in the bidding process for a new contract? And then matters of personal standing – where do we stand in line for promotion? vacation time? retirement? Also question has been used frequently in personal witnessing: if you died tonight, where would you go / spend eternity? Common answer, heaven. Then follow-up: when you meet God at entrance to heaven, he asks why you should gain entrance, what would you say? Is a question of standing, what is your standing before a holy God.

Standing of Peter’s readers in that ultimate eternal sense was this: 1 Pet. 1:2 they were “​elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ”. But what about standing in day to day life, while being tested and marginalized and persecuted and simply trying to live quietly and faithfully for Christ? If they were standing in right place the right way, could count on God’s approval and assistance.

Same is true for us. If we are to come through our fiery trials in way that brings glory to God, need to be sure we are standing right now. First place to be is standing under God’s hand.

A. stand under God’s hand  v.6-7

humbled

often a hard one for us independent Yankees – idea of voluntarily coming under authority of someone else not real popular

no safer place can be found anywhere than resting under God’s mighty hand of provision and protection – our task to humbly accept whatever comes through his hand to us… as his best for us

hard stuff as well as blessings have place in God’s perfect plan for his children – can trust God completely in all things

exalted

don’t need to worry about missing out on anything that is rightly ours – humble submission does not require giving up anything of real value – in fact, is the only way to gain what has true worth

in God’s time, in God’s way, will be assured of God’s approval – God will exalt his people because they are one with Christ – no need to worry about man’s approval, his giving us credit/glory

calm

think about things that make you anxious, that weigh you down – you can’t fix them, you can’t bear them all… but God can… and he will… if you give those cares to him

can do so confidently because… get this… you and your cares matter to God! – he cares about you and your problems

Jesus did – Luke 2:49 – didn’t tell his parents he had to be doing his own thing, had to be doing his Father’s business, including being subject to his mother and step-father

B. stand up to the devil  v.8-9

watchful

people often quick to blame the devil for bad behavior – the devil made me do it; accurate or not, doesn’t have to be that way

we have minds being renewed by Holy Spirit, have ability to recognize devil’s tricks even when he uses agents to do dirty work

must be thinking / watching – minds engaged, filled w/God’s truth, concerned w/God’s agenda, attentive to hazards around us

resistant

devil certainly a dangerous and powerful enemy – his greatest power not some kind of force, is power of deception, seduction

Bible assures us we have power and ability to resist his efforts to destroy our trust in God, Christian witness, usefulness to God and brothers and sisters around the world

steadfast

here is the key: not strong in intellect, not great willpower, not long record of faithfulness – strong / firm / steadfast in faith

is unshakable confidence in God and his truth found in the Bible that empowers / enables us to resist devil’s deceptions

and… don’t forget… brothers and sisters enduring same kinds of things while resisting devil and are encouraged by our effective resistance just like we are encouraged by them

Jesus did – Luke 4:13 – Satan mis-used the Bible, twisting to his purpose; Jesus responded with proper use just like we can… “sword of the Spirit which is the word of God”

C. stand in God’s provision  v.10-11

called

God in his grace and wisdom has called us to glory through suffering – what we experience now is necessary but temporary

is his perfect provision for us to prepare us for what he has called us to, eternal life in heaven and… it will accomplish his purpose for us

completed

if suffering left out of our experience, we would not be complete – either in our preparation or in our likeness to Christ

“predestined to be conformed to his image” – since Christ Jesus suffered for us, is suffering with us, we must suffer too

unlike us, God not working by trial and error – not a let’s see if this works – his purpose will succeed, we will someday be complete… what we ought to be, fully restored

established

God himself will carve out the place he has in mind for us – a place where we can thrive, love, serve without hindrance

God may give sample to us in this life – no matter how much God blesses / prospers us now, is only faint shadow of future

strengthened

might wonder some days, will strength be sufficient – remember God’s purpose, does not intend suffering to overcome/destroy

will provide all necessary strength to make proper use of experiences (incl. suffering), resources he gives, opportunities

and… will continue to do so… for all eternity – providing all we need to please him perfectly in all ways forever

settled

especially comforting to pilgrims – will not be wanderers forever, really are pilgrims headed for final settled destination

have a sure home, place being prepared that will be ours forever – place in glory, with glory, where we will live for his glory

Jesus did – John 4:32 during his ministry, had source of nourishment unknown to followers, at end of life trusted Father’s provision to carry him through sacrifice and death

D. stand with the saints  v.12-14

in God’s grace

God doesn’t expect us to endure alone – he is always there and he gives us others with skin on for strength and encouragement

“source and provider of unlimited supplies of His gracious and powerful working on behalf of all who are His own” Peter Pett

in love

is good to show affection and appreciation for fellow believers at every opportunity – strengthens bonds between, lifts spirits, equips us for next challenge

in Christ

those who are in Christ are one, are family, are sharers with Christ in his suffering and his eternal inheritance

Jesus does – John 14:18 he may have returned to heaven but he didn’t leave us orphans – we think of Holy Spirit indwelling us, and he does

remember Jesus’ prayer, John 17:23-24 “the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”

One of best ways to please Heavenly Father is to show evidence of his unlimited grace when we experience suffering and trials. Lord Jesus is with us, brothers and sisters walk beside us, great cloud of witnesses surrounds us and cheers us on (Heb. 12:1) Let’s stand for him, in his strength, looking for that crown of glory he will give to us on that day.

 

Tending Sheep In Tough Times

1 Peter 5:1-5  

This portion of 1 Peter viewed by many as sort of stand-alone section, rabbit trail only loosely joined to rest of letter. Pick up on that from choice of topics related to text: “Profile of a Pastor”; “How to Be a Good Shepherd”; “Prescription for a Healthy Church”. To some degree, all are valid descriptions of Peter’s theme here. But… Peter had something more in mind as he wrote – his instruction / encouragement intended for spiritual leaders of particular sort of Christians… those living as persecuted pilgrims, experiencing daily hardship and little support.

Peter exhorting, not demanding – says “I exhort” – not standing up front and lecturing like drill sergeant, instead as one who comes alongside with idea of helping. He speaks “from the trenches”, a “fellow elder”, and as a first-hand witness of Christ’s suffering; has strong conviction of suffering that awaits him (John 21:18-19), that he would die as a martyr. Peter encourages fellow elders in the way they should tend sheep who are suffering.

Peter not making this up new for first readers – is taking what he already received for instruction, making application to their setting.

Read John 21:15-17 

Jesus not simply restoring Peter to fellowship, also commissioning him for particular kind of ministry – fisherman is to become a shepherd, eventually mentoring other shepherds. “Feed my lambs”, “Tend my sheep”, “Feed my sheep”. Just from living where he did, Peter had some idea of shepherd’s skills and duties. Now has served in ministry for thirty years, can rightly speak as one with much first-hand experience. Knows now what needs of two-legged sheep are, how to feed lambs and sheep, what is necessary to be effective shepherd.

Peter encourages leaders to lead, followers to follow, and all to serve one another in spirit of submissive humility.

A. lead  v.1-4

where you are leading

the goal he has in view (1b) – glory seen through the lens of suffering… that of Christ… and his own, both past and anticipated

must be confident of goal in spite of current circumstances – is leader’s confidence that encourages followers to follow

the goal they should have in view (4b) – the crown of glory – crown finishes the picture, has something worthy on which to rest

remember: leaders lead… they show the way (path and manner)… from out in front – no remote-control drone flying, giving orders from place of safety

make sure followers stay on the path, rescue/recover any strays, show by example how to make progress toward goal

who you are leading

God’s flock – not CEO of privately held company, flock belongs entirely to God… Psa. 100:3 “…We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”

leaders are overseers, not masters – they lead and guide, not drive and control – follow me, follow my example

entrusted to a shepherd – responsibility in two directions… to the flock and to Chief Shepherd – must properly lead / nourish / protect / encourage flock… according to Chief Shepherd’s standard

with oversight responsibility (not ownership) – owner can do with flock as he pleases, under-shepherd must do as Christ pleases

how you are leading

willingly – not “I need volunteers, you, you and you” – the one truly called by God is given interest/desire/willingness/courage to lead under tough circumstances

if leader wavers, is uncertain, will transmit quickly to followers who will scatter / lose their way / get injured

eagerly – eager leader not content to stay in one place – rallies / encourages the flock to keep pressing on toward the goal

exemplarily – leader must be doing right in tough times or flock will not follow well or reach right destination – at worst will end up being tragically harmed

why you are leading

called by the Chief Shepherd – Christ is one who has given gifts to the flock, among them shepherds he calls to serve particular flock

crowned by the Chief Shepherd – Christ is the one who crowns his own work in / through his under-shepherds with an eternal glory

is good reminder that suffering experienced by both shepherds and sheep is temporary while glory at end is eternal

love for the Chief Shepherd (remember Jesus’ questions) and his sheep – ones truly commissioned by Christ genuinely love him

those who love Christ love his people, put interests of Christ’s people ahead of their own – see 1 John

B. follow  v.5a

in the same way

headed for glory – shepherd and flock have same destination, glorious inheritance already reserved in heaven for those who are Christ’s – major motivation in midst of suffering, what shepherd holds up alongside his example

as a member of God’s flock – should confidently stick together, pursue the goal together, confident God will make it happen

being led by a shepherd – flock needs shepherd, sheep cannot defend themselves, cannot find food for themselves

there’s that word… submit

willingly – lack of willingness makes life difficult for the shepherd, hinders individual’s and flock’s progress toward godliness

eagerly – having strong desire to experience the “glory that will be revealed” together – following closely, not dragging feet

from love for God – if motivator for shepherd is love for God and his people, same should be true of his people

C. serve  v.5b

submissive to one another

common goal – intention is that entire flock will reach destination, not just select individuals – how can we help each other along since all going same way

btw, true of believers regardless of which part of Christ’s fold happens to be their favorite part – he has one flock

common enemy – don’t forget, enemy is the devil and not particular agents he uses (more next week) – favorite tactic: division

common need – need one another, support / encouragement each gives; need direction / protection supplied by faithful shepherd

humble toward one another

proper estimation of self – not thinking of self more highly than we ought (Rom. 12:3), product of renewed mind, opposite of pride

beware of false pride/humility – making too little of self, thinking God cannot use you to minister to needs of others

proper estimation of others – equally ready to receive service from others as to give to them, recognizing others as equally worthy of service

supporting role – not only toward fellow sheep, also have role in supporting the shepherd – times when of necessity shepherd is out of sight, sheep follow sheep who are following shepherd

especially helpful when are number of lambs / sheep that need focused assistance – sharing the load is vital

recipients of God’s grace

given to sheep (dependents), not goats – God’s favor is absolutely essential if we are to persevere through trials/suffering

enables perseverance – by giving additional strength/support, by reducing effect of persecutors and demands on sheep

prompts growth in godliness – given for express purpose of encouraging / enabling to become more like Christ

In times of persecution and suffering, flock of God needs leadership of good and faithful shepherd. Sheep need help and support and encouragement of others in the flock. Most of all, sheep and shepherd need God’s grace in abundant measure in order to live well and finish well.

 

Encouragement for Hard Times

1 Peter 4:12-19 

First responders have hard jobs. Routinely put in situations where lives are at risk – their own, those of fellow responders, the ones they are trying to help. Requires countless hours of training, preparation, practicing skills so as to carry out duties well under pressure. Same is true for Christians and Christian life: to respond well to hardship/suffering, must be prepared for it. Certain fundamental principles need to have well in hand before hard times come – one of reasons God put 1 & 2 Peter in the Bible.

And keep this in mind: all of this, good times / hard times all part of God’s sovereign purpose for lives of his people. Because God is a good Heavenly Father who in all things does what is best for his children, whatever comes our way has a good purpose. Evil people may seek to do us harm yet God will by his power use their evil to bring about good in our lives… for God’s glory.

The injunctions contained in this inspired directory seem all reducible to the four following: Be not astonished at your sufferings; Be not depressed by your sufferings; Be not ashamed of your sufferings; and, persevering in well-doing, commit the keeping of your souls to God, under your sufferings. John Brown, Edinburgh, 1848

 As it is to be in all of life, primary aim when hard times come should be far more than simple endurance. Bible doesn’t encourage us just to make it through the day, hang on by a thread ’til Jesus comes. God in his word makes plain he wants us to experience joy even in suffering, to trust him and give him glory in all things.

A. don’t be surprised  v.12

expect suffering

danger of prosperity gospel and its various flavors/brands – not just Africa where casualties are piling up, comes in many forms

from “God loves you, has a wonderful plan…” to full-blown “God wants you healthy, wealthy and wise” – when it gets tough, then what?? – those attracted to goodies turn back on Christianity

those unprepared: question their level of faith, sin in their life, goodness of God – fail to profit personally, glorify God adequately

will be real suffering… with a purpose

not talking about inconvenience, momentary cost – is real thing, often painful – trial by fire never comfortable, but it does purify

will be sufficiently challenging to give faith fair test – opportunity to learn how strong faith is and how faithful God is to his children

btw, remember history

if story of Bible mostly concerned with redemption of fallen sinners and giving hope and future, then path to glory lies through suffering… not because God is mean, but his wise perfect plan requires it

is also story of how time after time God brings his people through suffering, step by step conforming them to Christ’s likeness

to this point in time God, unlike everyone else, has 100% success rate – no one who is truly Christ’s fails to reach goal, cross finish line, receive the prize from hand of God

B. don’t be discouraged  v.13-14

rejoice in suffering

if we are to be Pilgrims Living Counter-Culturally, here’s another thing to add – world’s response to suffering usually to complain

Christian, understanding God’s purpose has good reason to have positive attitude – not Pollyanna, spin, calling evil good

closer fellowship

shared suffering brings people closer together – gives you things to reminisce about :-), more things in common… this time growing/strengthening fellowship with Jesus

don’t have to fully grasp all in’s and out’s, from God’s perspective suffering because you are a Christian means you share in Christ’s sufferings

Col. 1:24 “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church”

greater joy

benefit, good that comes from suffering experienced both in present and future – sharing in Christ’s sufferings now increases our joy when he returns, receives full glory due him

not only have privilege of sharing in suffering now (you might question that), will also have privilege of sharing in his glory then

Spirit in fuller measure

here’s the real key – not in this suffering thing alone, not expected to have right attitude/response by ourselves w/o help

suffering believer is blessed by Holy Spirit present and active… encouraging, equipping, strengthening, protecting, sanctifying

C. don’t be ashamed  v.15-16

glorify God in suffering

again, not just slogging through, trying to make it under the circumstances – need to be actively looking for God’s fingerprints, giving him glory for what he is doing

and… don’t think you lack faith, must be some sin in life somewhere if you are suffering – God has lots more in mind than that

make sure it’s not simple consequences

obviously can’t do that if suffering result of bad behavior – make sure you’re doing it right!!… I’d never do that stuff, uh-huh

murderer, thief, criminal, of course – but how about meddling, busybody, making trouble – expect push-back then

praise Him for sufficient evidence

if suffering for being a Christian, praise God there is enough evidence of your faith to attract opposition from Satan, agents

those who claim Christianity, live like the world no hindrance at all to Satan, rather a help – no persecution from him for that!

thank Him you are deemed worthy

remember that bit about sharing in Christ’s suffering! not just anyone who gets to do that, only those who so identify with Christ that God approves of their witness… in and out of suffering

D. do trust in God  v.17-19

don’t give up and fall away

strong warning here: if righteous only barely survive… through all this… imagine what is like for the lost!! – don’t be like them!!

fires of persecution accomplish several things: separate genuine from pretend, purify genuine from sinful corruption, purify Christ’s church of casual cultural christians

remember their destiny

those who fall away from truth and stay that way have ultimate destiny that should make us recoil in horror, and pursue faithfulness to the truth

those fiery trials that are but for short period of time in life of believer will be continual never-ending torment for unbeliever

trust the right One for your future

instead of turning / running away from the only source of genuine hope, commit your soul to him, cling to him, follow him

in God’s acts of creation, bringing things into existence that depend entirely on God for that existence, God was committing himself to doing all necessary to sustain them

Remember: hard times / persecution comes our way to test our faith, not destroy it. Testing proves the genuineness, the strength, the reliability of something. In this case, the object of our faith… God himself. Keep your eyes on the goal, listen to the Holy Spirit, press forward in the strength God gives. Be assured the One who has already ascended to heaven will bring all those who are his safely home.

Get Serious

1 Peter 4:7-11 

Perspective counts for a lot. From the International Space Station, the Grand Canyon looks like a little ditch. From the North or South Rim, you get picture is big ditch. And from raft on Colorado River, looking up at the rim more than mile up, is even more awe-inspiring. Similar kind of thing is true about time – at times a few minutes seems like forever, other times event of few decades ago seems like yesterday.

Also makes big difference with regard to time which things are identified on timeline. Peter begins our text with declaration that “the end is near”. He was talking about the big one, the end of all things. And he said it almost 2000 years ago. Hmm, did he get it wrong? or did something change? No, addresses those questions 3rd chapter of 2nd epistle. Peter not alone in using that kind of language, others throughout NT did same.

Regardless of exactly when Jesus comes back, are two important things to keep in mind: First, Jesus’ return is the next event identified on God’s timeline for us. No other really big things in God’s plan of redemption to check off before the end. Second, need to think and act like it will happen tomorrow… living with purpose and intensity. Whether all the shocking reports are true or not, self-driving cars do not have very good reputation right now. We could expect similar disasters if we tried to live a self-driving Christian life. Peter makes plain to his readers there is a better / preferred way. We need to be thinking right, doing right, all the right way according to God’s standard. iow, living in the light of Jesus’ return.

A. right thinking

serious / self-controlled

not to say can’t/shouldn’t enjoy life – joy is to be part of Christian experience; but… need to use wits, discern time to relax and have fun, when to be serious

should be putting renewed minds to good use – recognize what is important, what is most important, what priorities ought to be… since we are on the clock

means our actions / responses should be appropriate according to model Jesus set – ought not be like tail-gater, can’t wait to go 20 over the limit

is real easy for Christian to stand out from crowd in this respect – fewer people each day even know how to be self-controlled, even fewer require same from their children

is one of distinguishing marks of believer indwelt by Holy Spirit: Gal. 5:22-23  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” – all of that in contrast with how world operates

watchful / sober-minded

word here used outside NT as “be sober, not drunk” – Peter had in mind significant differences between way person thinks when drunk vs sober

sober person has accurate assessment of their circumstances, what would be wise course of action, what they are capable of doing, when to call for help

all know professional who can look at / listen to something, tell exactly what it needs – can be that way for ourselves and others

especially in view here: effectual prayer – if are to pray right way for right things, need to be thinking clearly, acting appropriately

intense

remember where Peter started: “the end is near” – if were truly convinced Jesus was coming back… tomorrow… what would we be doing differently? especially toward others?

people get really intense about lot of things – exercise, bucket list, pursuing corporate goals, more; Christians ought to be same

should be living with intensity, pursuing holiness… godly living… reaching lost people with Gospel… building up body of Christ… fueled by fervent prayer… as working against a deadline

B. right doing

love one another

not surprising Peter would put love first: something Jesus referred to at least 20x (John 13-17) plus one statement in particular

John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

world has no problem loving self above all other things; Christian should stand out in crowd because love for God shows in love for others… as what is most noticeable about them

to be kind of love for others that seeks to build up rather than find fault and tear down – instead of “you’re doing it wrong”, use “this way has been really effective/helpful for me”

bless one another

risks come with hospitality: Jesus criticized for who he associated with, we may be also; in other places, other kinds of dangers

Peter talks about hospitality toward one another, word (φιλόξενος, philoxenos) “lover of strangers”, one who welcomes guests

there is another kind of danger… that comes with welcoming people into your home, being transparent and vulnerable – is one of best settings for others to experience real Christian love

serve one another

we are expected to be not just recipients of God’s grace – are to be conduits of God’s grace… using God’s gracious gifts to us for benefit of others

here is a way we put love into practice – being good stewards of whatever gift or gifts God has given us to serve one another

must be using the gift, exercising it, that requires time spent regularly with fellow believers… more than an hour on occasional Sunday morning

encourage one another

Christian life is hard, even more so when objects of persecution – if we are to persevere, stay faithful, need lots of encouragement

is why Christ has put us together in church families, members of a body, remind us are not alone, others have our back

C. right way

no grumbling

hospitality provides lots of opportunity for grumbling – time it takes, don’t wipe their feet, sit in wrong chair, stay way too late – now you know how God feels!

grumbling gets in way of blessing and serving others – turns focus toward self, away from those who need our encouragement

using God’s words

start with those who have gift of speaking – preaching and teaching – must not be making it up… are reporting not making news

also applies in less formal settings, interactions with other believers as well as friends/family – God’s truth should make up significant portion of what we say

and God’s equipping

cannot be effective and rely on own strength / ability – when God supplies the gift, he commits to providing all we need to exercise it the way he expects

for God’s glory

like everything else, goal is that God will receive the glory through our love and service to others in the face of persecution / hardship

knowing what we do about return of Christ, is essential we live every moment in light of that so he will receive the glory due him when he does return

How much time do we have left? May be hours, may be decades or centuries. Need to be living like it’s only hours. How much time do you have left? No guarantees of tomorrow… or even this afternoon. All know people whose life has been changed in an instant, all of their plans out the window with no warning. Must live so when that moment comes, God will be glorified.

 

Arm Yourselves

1 Peter 4:1-6 

 No matter which side of debate you are on, must admit is a lot of mixed up thinking about weapons these days. Includes people who have them, those who don’t and have a strong opinion about the issue. Some have gone as far as to say all the talk about military and weapons and violence are what encourages people to do things like Columbine and Sandy Hook and El Paso and Dayton. Their solution… in part, is to not talk about things like battles against poverty and cancer and the fight against crime.

Maybe sounds appealing, but is problem for Christian to try that strategy – is a lot of the kind of language in the Bible some folks want to avoid. Present text no exception to that – Peter tells readers to “take up weapons”, “arm yourselves” in particular way. Word he uses (ὁπλίζω) another form of one used to describe Greek infantry soldier equipped with helmet, body armor, shield, spear and sword. Now, kind of weapons Peter had in mind not those specifically, but… doesn’t mean conflict Christians face any less significant.

Does mean to live Christian life in way that pleases God, can’t simply rely on autopilot, go merry way without preparing and thinking. In fact, primary weapon is renewed, sanctified mind actively engaged to implement principles learned from God’s word the Bible. Especially important since mind is one of Satan’s favorite targets – if Satan can get us to think his way instead of God’s way, rest of his task is easy.

Then factor this in:

It’s happened again. For the second time in three weeks, a prominent (at least in Evangelical circles) Christian has renounced his faith. In July, it was Josh Harris, a pastor and author of the mega-best-selling purity-culture book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. This month, it’s Hillsong United songwriter and worship leader Marty Sampson.

…As our culture changes, secularizes, and grows less tolerant of Christian orthodoxy, I’m noticing a pattern in many of the people who fall away (again, only Sampson knows his heart): They’re retreating from faith not because they’re ignorant of its key tenets and lack the necessary intellectual, theological depth but rather because the adversity of adherence to increasingly countercultural doctrine grows too great.

Put another way, the failure of the church isn’t so much of catechesis but of fortification — of building the pure moral courage and resolve to live your faith in the face of cultural headwinds.”  
https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/08/another-pop-culture-christian-loses-his-faith/

A. Think this way about sin  v.1a

Christ has delivered from slavery

his sacrificial death not without purpose, not even for himself – was for benefit of those he came to save… from their sin

through faith in Christ, what he accomplished, we are to be free from condemnation and slavery to sin – if Christ is our Master, sin no longer has mastery over us… unless we permit it to

think the way Jesus did – horror, revulsion

occasionally will see news item warning: caution, graphic content / disturbing images – similar warning at entrance to Gethsemane night Jesus’ betrayal

most graphic images ones presented to Jesus’ mind about what he was facing – tend to focus on suffering associated with crucifixion, perhaps what Jesus would experience at hands of Father

should include horror and revulsion of him who knew no sin becoming sin sin for us that we might be made righteousness of God in him (2 Cor. 5:21)

see its deception, not its attraction

Jesus could easily see that all promises made by sin and Satan are hollow, distorted, claiming what it can never deliver

like so much world offers, its beauty only skin deep, sometimes not even that – with renewed minds, sanctified sight, we can see as Jesus does

when we really think the way Jesus does, and actually think before acting, will do everything in our power and his strength to recognize and avoid sin

B. Think this way about the future  v.1b-3

leave sin in the past

if living so as to endure hardship / suffering for Christian witness, is because have said “sin cannot lure me in, or have mastery”

are done with sin as a master, although not perfect and rid completely of sin… should be approaching more closely day-by-day

Clouseau, “every day” – as Word of God and Spirit of God do their work in us, molding us into image of Lord Jesus

do the will of God

time we have left is limited, must make the most of it by pursuing right goal – and must be single goal pursued single-mindedly

can either put satisfying own desires first or make satisfying God’s desires for us first priority – both cannot be first

given what Christ himself endured and accomplished for us, right choice is obvious – is one we never can make in own strength, one we must keep making repeatedly in his strength

don’t waste any more time

You’ve already put in your time in that God-ignorant way of life, partying night after night, a drunken and profligate life. Now it’s time to be done with it for good.” MSG

can change labels on activities a little – pursuing idols of pleasure, power, possessions – and we recognize forms that takes now

DON’T FORGET – only reason you see emptiness / futility of those things is because God converted you, gave you new sight

C. Think this way about unbelievers  v.4-6

don’t worry that they think you’re weird

polite ones won’t say much to your face, some may give it away by their expression, others more bold put it right out there, challenging your choices and priorities

btw, if they ask you to join them in activity displeasing to God, tell them the truth – don’t hide behind excuse… two left feet, don’t like the taste, scheduling conflict – be nice… and honest

keep it straight whose opinion really counts – not friends, not neighbors, not family, even church family… is the One who bought your life at cost of his own

remember their destiny

unbelievers may appear to have tiger by the tail, have it made with all the benefits… but that’s only for this life – what about the next one?

will be called on to defend their choices, explain their investments – ignored things of eternal value, squandered resources on this life w/little thought for what comes next

don’t be jealous, frustrated, angry – first, you’re no brighter than they are… apart from God’s grace; second, this life as good as it gets for them… motivation for compassion

depend on the Holy Spirit

so, what has made the difference? – purposeful, intentional proclamation of the Gospel accompanied by regenerating power of Holy Spirit

when conversion takes place, lost people will judge the convert foolish while God enables them to live now and forever through work of Holy Spirit

The world says “seeing is believing”. Boy, is that a lie… on so many levels! We can be easily deceived by what we see, most of what is truly important cannot be seen. Christian is called to believe without seeing, to walk by faith not sight. Can’t see him but count on it, Holy Spirit is present in every believer – 1 John 4:4 “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

When with Spirit’s help we have mind of Christ, think the way he does, will be prepared to battle against all the forces that would get off course from pleasing God. Developing and maintaining that kind of mind along with enabling of Holy Spirit equips us to fight against temptation to go along with culture, to live counter-culturally with clear and living witness for Christ.

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.