The True Market Value of Faith

 Scripture 1 Peter 1:7-12

7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 
8 You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy
The reward for trusting Him will be the salvation of your souls.
10 This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 
11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and His great glory afterward. 
12 They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen. 

INTRODUCTION

How much to you value your faith? What kind of price tag would you put on your faith? I bet most of you can tell me the value of your 401-K but what is the true market value of your faith? Peter tells us that our faith is more valuable than gold [v.7]. Job had a ton of money but money did not get him through the horrible crisis that he experienced. I hope you never lose one child, Job lost ten and on the same day. How did this man survive such a tragic ordeal? He had a strong faith. It was his faith that enabled him to endure the suffering which was later transformed to joy. His wealth failed him in the most critical hour of his life but his faith kept him going.


Many of us do not know how valuable our faith is because our faith has never been put to the test. We do not know if our faith is genuine until it is tested.  Warren Wiersbe says, “A faith that cannot endure being tested, cannot be trusted.” There are people here today who know the value of their faith because their faith has been put to the test.  You know because your faith has been put to the test and you are still here: singing, praising and worshiping God. Had your faith not been real, your sorrow would have turned you bitter and you would not be here.

TRANSITION

Faith is a precious gift and it is invaluable. Celebrate your faith.

TONIGHT, I WANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT YOUR FAITH

I. THE REWARDS OF FAITH v.9

  1. A New Birth…v.3, It is by His great mercy that we have been born again[Ephesians 2:8-9]  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
  2. A Great Expectation…v. 3…Now we live with great expectation {NASB, Living Hope}
  3. A Priceless Inheritance…v.4
    1. It is in heaven
    2. Beyond decay or change…will not grow old or lose its value.
    3. Protected: this word ‘kept’ means under guard.

II. THE FRUITS OF FAITH

  1. Inexpressible joy…v.8….You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The Greek word for joy here is exuberant joy. It is joy that cannot be repressed. A joy that cannot be contained.
  2. Optimistic outlook….v.6...So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 
  3. Brings praise and glory on the day of Jesus return...v.7… So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world

III. THE MYSTERY OF FAITH

Peter said, This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and His great glory afterward. They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen. 

Hebrews 11:6…And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.


Paul said in 1 Timothy 2:5…For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.


There is only one currency that heaven will except and that is FAITH and we are not saved by FAITH in and of itself, we are saved by putting FAITH in Jesus.


We have a world filled with Cains and they, like the Jews, are trying to establish there own righteousness and it is not going to work. Many of these Cains are in our churches. They are benevolent souls who stay busy doing good works but it is not going to work. Jude talked about the WAY OF CAIN: what exactly is it?

  1. Cain refused to acknowledge his sin and depravity.
  2. He attempted to serve God his way. He is the father of self-will.
  3. He presented the fruits of his own labor and he wanted credit.

An Old Fashioned Foot Washing

SCRIPTURE: John 13:1-17, NLT

1 Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved His disciples during his ministry on earth, and now He loved them to the very end
2 It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 
3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that He had come from God and would return to God. 
4 So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, 
5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. 
6 When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 
7 Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” 
8 “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” 
9 Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” 
10 Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” 
11 For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.” 
12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 
13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 
14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 
15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 
16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 
17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them. 

INTRODUCTION

I am your guest today. I am filling in for Bro. Chris your Pastor. I don’t really know you that well and you don’t know me. There have been occasion where my reputation proceeded me but I hope that is not the case today.

TRANSITION

Today, I want to ask you a simple question: Would you like to be blessed? Would you like to go home with your cup filled? I am serious: how many want to be blessed today. I am not talking about me blessing you; I am talking about God blessing you but I do guarantee you that you can be blessed if you so desire.


I’m going to let the cat out of the bag by telling you how you can be blessed this morning. Look with me at verse 17…Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them


You don’t need to write this don’t, just listen carefully to these three words and never forget them…GOD LOVES OBEDIENCE. I hear those words fall from the lips of a preacher over 40 years ago and I have never forgotten them…I can almost hear his voice right now…GOD LOVES OBEDIENCE. Here is a little secret: God blesses what He loves. In just a moment, I am going to suggest four things that you can do to be blessed but it will take some courage and conviction to do them.


NOW: Jesus has not commanded us here to raise the dead, has He? He has not commanded us to heal the sick? His command is for us to love and serve each other.


I want you to look at your bible and make sure I am not misleading you. What did Jesus do on this occasion? Look in verse 5-6…

He got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him

WHAT WILL IT REQUIRE FOR YOU AND I TO FOLLOW HIS EXAMPLE?

I. WE NEED TO KNOW WHO WE ARE IN CHRIST

How many times do you see these two words in the text…Jesus knew? Some translation may read…Jesus knowing… do you count three…verse 1,3,11…this is important…

  • Jesus knew that his hour had come…
  • Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that He had come from the Father and would return to the Father… 
  • Jesus knew who would betray Him…

All three are indications of His deity…Jesus was God and He knew it. He knew where He was from, what He was here to do and where He was going when He finished the task. JESUS HAS NO INSECURITIES–NONE. Unfortunately, you and I do and one of those fears is rejection. We are afraid of what others think.

Folks, I know who I am. I am a death and hell deserving sinner that has been saved by the marvelous Grace of Our Loving LORD. I found my identity in Christ. At one time in my life I was a people-pleaser and miserable at it. You may reject me today but my courage comes from Jesus who will never reject me. Psalm 34:22…The LORD redeems the soul of His servants, And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned. Paul said in Romans 8:1, Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

If you don’t know who you are in Christ…you are going to have trouble with the command to wash feet.

II. YOU MUST HUMBLE YOURSELF

Once again, I want you to notice what Jesus did…So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around His waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.

  • He got up from the table…the initiation of action
  • He took off His robe and wrapped a towel around His waist and poured water in a basin…prepared for ministry
  • He began washing the disciples’ feet. Can you wash feet standing up? No, He got on his hands and knees.

I’ve shared this message many times in many places and I am going to tell you up front: you can’t do it if you are filled with pride. Perhaps, the most moving service I’ve ever been a part of was a “Foot Washing” Service.

III. YOU MUST PUT LOVE INTO PRACTICE

Love was more than a word to Jesus, it was an action. Jesus got up and girded Himself for action. John 13:1…Jesus loved His disciples…He loved them to the very end…even Judas. Not only did Jesus know that Judas would betray Him, He knew that Peter would deny Him and that the other ten would flee the scene like scared rabbits.


He did not love them because they were lovely…or because they were great men…He loved them because He chose to love. It was his sovereign choice.

CONCLUSION

Do You want to be blessed? Here is how you do it…whatever the Holy Spirit prompts you to do in the next few minutes, obey…If you obey, you will be blessed. BECAUSE…GOD LOVES OBEDIENCE.

We are going to wash some feet…

I am going to give you four suggestions but the Holy Spirit may go a different direction: You obey HIM, not me.

  • There are people here today who are going through a crisis and you know who they are…I don’t…in just a few moments…I’m going to ask you to go to that person and affirm your love for them.
  • There is someone here today who has been a blessing to you…possibly a mentor. It could be a parent or a teacher or your boss at work….go to them and thank them.
  • [getting a little harder] Perhaps you need to rededicate your life to Christ…I want you to come and let me pray with you.
  • Perhaps, there is someone here that you have held a grudge against…I want you to go to them and make it right.

This not for show…no one other than the person whose feet you wash is going to know what you are doing. You don’t need to shout but feel free to talk above a whisper. Don’t worry about what others think…that is pride…just obey the LORD right now.

The Under-Shepherd

Scripture: 1 Peter 5:1-4 NLT

1 And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: 
2 Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. 
3 Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.
4 And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor. 

NASB

1 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed. 
2 Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not sordid gain, but with eagerness; 
3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.  
4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 
 

INTRODUCTION

The word ‘Elder’ speaks of the same office as that of ‘Bishop.’ The word Elder [presbyteros] can refer to age, a senior adult or someone advanced in years but it also refers to rank or office among the Jews. The Sanhedrin was a council of elders. In the Old Testament the rulers of the people, judges, etc., were selected from elderly men who managed public affairs and administered justice. Then in N.T. times among Christians, Elders were those who presided over the assemblies (or churches) The NT uses the term bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably. The word pastor literally means Shepherd. The word Bishop means ‘overseer’. Many NT churches had multiple Elders so the Bishop would be the Senior Pastor.


However, we are not concerned about rank or position today. Forty years ago, I had a friend who served a small village church. It was a wide spot in the road. He had the name changed to FIRST BAPTIST PODUNK HOLLOW. I attended a State Convention with him and he would introduce himself as the SENIOR PASTOR OF FIRST BAPTIST PODUNK HOLLOW. After hearing him do this several times, I said, “Robert, aren’t you the only pastor?” He said, “Yes, but they don’t know that.” It doesn’t matter what size congregation you serve, we are called to be SHEPHERDS to God’s flock.

TRANSITION

Today, I want to share three things with you that can help us be better Pastors.

I. WE NEED TO KNOW THE CHIEF SHEPHERD INTIMATELY

Peter says: Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed. 

  • 1 Peter is an Epistle of Hope…Warren Wiersbe entitled his commentary on 1 Peter “Be Hopeful.” Peter was writing to a group of believers on the southern coast of the Black Sea [Turkey] who had suffered persecution for their faith but who were about to suffer even more. Nero took the throne in 58 A.D. and Peter was writing from Rome where he had witnessed first hand the atrocities of Nero. Peter understood that things were going to get worse.
  • In this brief section of the letter, he exhorts Pastors. But he reminds them, that he too is a pastor. He said, “I am a fellow elder.”
  • But then he says “and a witness to the sufferings of Christ.” [There is a great deal in I Peter about suffering]
  • Suffering is God’s smelting furnace. God uses suffering to sanctify us.
  • It takes 1950 degrees F to melt gold and separate it from the contaminable alloys. 
  • Peter had been through the refiner’s fire…He had been put to the test. [Luke 22] 
    “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat.  But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”  Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.”  But Jesus said, “Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” 
  • This happened 30 years prior to the writing of this Epistle but Peter had not forgotten his time in the furnace.
  • The furnace of affliction does at least two things: [1] It separates the gold from the alloy [2] It bonds the gold, brings it together. The people in your congregation who love you most are the ones you have suffered with.
  • Paul said in Philippians 3… I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with Him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! 
  • Sometimes we want to experience the “Mighty Power” but we don’t want to suffer to get it.
  • Men, before we can stand erect before others, we have to bow before HIM. We must get to KNOW CHRIST.
  • You say, “I know Him.” Yes and I know Him too but do we KNOW HIM the way Paul and Peter knew Him?
  • We cannot be good shepherds until we get to know intimately the Chief Shepherd. A daily Q.T. is a must for every pastor. [Personal confession]

II. WE NEED TO LOVE WHAT WE DO

5:2…Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. 

  • First of all: understand that it is God’s flock. We are not hirelings but neither are we owners. The sheep belong to the Shepherd and that is Jesus, not us.
  • We are to “Watch over them” willingly. We shouldn’t feel like we have to do this and we certainly do not need to do it for money or to simply make a living.
  • I want to share a bit of personal testimony at this point. There are three ways to learn and three kinds of people
    • The WISE learn by instruction
    • The AVERAGE learn by experience
    • The FOOL never learns
  • I am confessing to be AVERAGE. When I surrendered to preach at age 19, I had no idea what I was getting into. My college pastorate went smooth as silk so I thought at age 21, that I had it all together. My pastor encouraged me to go to Seminary. This was an humbling experience but only the beginning of my education. I served two churches while in Seminary: both conflicted. When I graduated and was called to what I thought was a full time church, it too was also conflicted. I was 25 years old. Long story short, God made me face my inadequacies. I became angry and was turning bitter. I resigned the church without a place to go. I didn’t want to be anyone’s pastor. God patiently guided me through some tough years and finally, near the age of 40, I realized that God had been good to me and I began taking delight in serving people. 
  • I went to DBC at the age of 29 with a chip on my shoulder and by a miracle of grace, I’m still there…38 years as Pastor and now their Senior Adult Pastor. I love what I do and they know it. I love them and they know it but I didn’t love them at first and they knew that also.
  • Our attitude toward our people is just as important as the sharpness of our sermons. Matter of fact, a loving devoted pastor can survive without being a great preacher. But we are not going to get a “Well Done” from the Chief Shepherd if we don’t love His flock.

III. WE NEED LEAD BY EXAMPLE

Verse 3…Nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.  

  • I don’t know if you have ever given it much thought but Jesus never held an office. He never served on any board. He never became a synagogue leader or a member of the Sanhedrin. To my knowledge, He was never elected to any position, nor did He serve on any committee. BUT not one of us would question HIS LEADERSHIP.
  • Dr. William Souther was fond of saying, “Authority is like soap and money, the more you use, the less you have.”
  • Sheep can be lead but they cannot be driven like cattle. They are very insecure creatures. But they will follow a shepherd that they trust. Our first job is to win that trust and that is not always easy.
  • As I stated above, I am a slow learner. My view of Pastoral authority has changed. Yes, I do believe that God’s call, plus that of the local congregation constitutes pastoral authority but we have to be very careful how we exercise this authority: it is not the same as being an Admiral on a ship.
  • We lead by following. We follow the Chief Shepherd and then they follow us. Make no mistake, God leads a church through the pastor but we must humbly stay in step with Jesus. Once they see our allegiance to HIM many will follow. [Not all] Seldom will all follow because their are some goats among the sheep and they can neither be lead or driven.
  • We also have some wolves dressed in Sheep’s clothing.
  • If you want your folks to give, set the example, be a giver.
  • If you want them to work, set the example, be a worker.
  • If you want them to witness, set the example: Most will follow a Christlike example.

CONCLUSION

Being a Pastor is not easy but by Grace it is possible. Just remember, keep your personal relationship with Jesus vibrant, love what you do and love your people and do not Lord over them but lead them by example.

I close with two thoughts that I hope to plant in your mind. Johann Sabastian Bach was a composer who wrote 256 Cantatas. One that you can hear on YouTube is “Jesus, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” At the top of every thing he wrote was scribbled these two four letter words “Jesu, juva,” [yeh-su, u-vah]Latin for Jesus, Help Me! And at the bottom of each piece, he wrote SDG which stood for Soli Deo Gloria, [so-lee day gloria] to the glory of God alone. Men, we need the very same attitude.

Peter said, And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 

 In chapter one, verse 13, Peter said,  So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 


It is the same principle Paul shares is Colossians 3:3-4, For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.  And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. 


I Corinthians 2:9…“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” [quote from Isaiah 64:4]


I John 3:2…we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. 


Grace is like breath, God only gives us what we need for now but when Jesus returns we are going to experience the fullness of His grace. [We are in the cocoon stage right now, suffering in these old clay bodies but the butterfly will be revealed when Christ comes back] I don’t think the world sees in glory in me, not sure my friends and family do but it is there and Christ will reveal it.]