Standing In Grace

Scripture: I Peter 5:10-14

10 The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while. 11 To him be dominion forever. Amen.

12 Through Silvanus, a faithful brother (as I consider him), I have written to you briefly in order to encourage you and to testify that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it! 13 She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, as does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. — 1 Peter 5:10-14 (CSB)

NLT

10 In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.11 All power to him forever! Amen.

12 I have written and sent this short letter to you with the help of Silas, whom I commend to you as a faithful brother. My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace.

13 Your sister church here in Babylon sends you greetings, and so does my son Mark. 14 Greet each other with a kiss of love. Peace be with all of you who are in Christ.

INTRODUCTION

When we write someone a letter, we put the greeting first but in N.T. times, they put the greeting last. Silas was an educated man and an able scribe and editor. It is believed that he wrote this letter for Peter but here at the end, he gives the pen to Peter, the uneducated Galilean fisherman. I’m no Greek scholar but they tell me the Greek syntax changes dramatically at this point which would indicate a different writer. Peter’s purpose in writing this letter is stated in verse 12…I have written and sent this short letter to you with the help of Silas, whom I commend to you as a faithful brother. My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace. If I were to give the letter a theme, I would take that from verse 12…STAND FIRM IN THIS GRACE.

In life, we have to face difficult and unpleasant things like temptation, stress, physical suffering, rejection, persecution, hard times, grief, disappointment-to mention a few and if we are to STAND through all these difficulties, we have to STAND in His GRACE. Peter is a great example: He is standing in God’s grace.

What do you think of when you hear the name Peter? A big mouth–a man who only stopped talking to change feet…an impetuous person…a cocky bird who is over-confident… a man who denied Christ three times…a prideful person who is determined to serve God his way…a man with big ideas and a small faith…a rugged temperamental Galilean fisherman… a man more prone to fail than to succeed. If any of these things popped into your mind, you would be correct because Peter was all these things and more.

It is very important that you understand the PETER of I Peter is now in his 60’s and due to the grace of God, he is a totally different person. He doesn’t have a big mouth, he is not cocky, but rather humble. He is not prideful and he does not try to please God in his own strength. He is about to die because he will not deny the LORD Jesus. God in His marvelous GRACE has made Peter into a new man. He is a shadow of his former self.

With this understood, lets look at verse 10

The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while.

Peter uses four verbs here: in the AV, they are translated perfect, stablish, strengthen and settle. In the NASB: perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish. The NLT reads more like a commentary…he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.

The first time I read over the list, I thought to myself, there has to be a sermon here but I do not understand what it is. I suppose Dr. Wiersbe’s commentary helped me the most.

I. PERFECT/RESTORE

The first word Peter uses coincides with his personal testimony. The AV translates it ‘perfect’ and that is OK as long as you understand Peter is talking about a process, not an instantaneous perfection. The NASB reads “Restore.” The Greek word means to make one fit, to mend what is broken, to repair, to complete, to rig or equip, put in order, arrange, adjust, prepare for use. This is exactly what God, via His grace, did for Peter. He took Peter’s brokenness and He mended it. He repaired Peter and equipped him for ministry. He prepared him for special use.

Peter’s message is simple: God did this for me and in me and He will do the same in you. Take a moment and reflect on your own life. Do you see God’s hand of grace working in your life. Reshaping your attitudes, creating in you new desires, making you into something totally different from when you were young?

I can tell you for a fact, I stand in God’s grace, there is no other place for me to stand. I would not be standing at all if not for His grace. God has radically changed the way I think, the way I act and the way I live. Folks, I have no doubt that it is his grace at work in me. Paul said in Philippians 1:6…I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. I also like Philippians 2:13…For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose. I definitely want to please the LORD. I pray daily for His kingdom to come and his will to be done. As I told you Sunday, I pray Mary’s prayer all the time, “Be it unto me according to Your word.” Where did all this come from? It did not come from Jack. I tried in my strength to please God and it didn’t work. I tried to do things by the power of the flesh–pleasing God on the exterior but craving glory on the inside. I know what all this produces: anger, frustration, disappointment and unhappiness. I’m telling you folks, it is God’s grace that changes us, not our will power.

II. ESTABLISH US

I really like this Greek verb, it literally means to make stable, make firm, set fast, fix. In laymen’s terms, it means to nail down. There are many things that we need to get nailed down so we will be firmly established. Paul said to Timothy, But I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day. Paul said in Ephesian 4…Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. God does not want us to be fickle and unpredictable. He does not want us to vacillate from one opinion to another, to be wishy-washy. Some folks don’t know what they believe. I know what I believe and I believe it strongly. Seminary was important for me because it gave me some time to nail some things down and I’ve been nailing things down since. I am alienated from family because of my views on abortion. Hey, I don’t see that changing. Yes, I want everyone to love me but not at the expense of my integrity. I believe the world is black and white with no gray. There is a right and a wrong but no in between. Jesus said there is a broad gate and a narrow gate: He never mentions a third gate. There is heaven and hell: a blessing and a curse but there is no gray area in the bible. People who believe in the gray are not established.

III. STRENGTHEN US

Again, this is a word that I relate to. Being a jackleg carpenter, I am familiar with nailing things down and bracing things off and this Greek word is another word for ‘brace.’ When you brace something, you make it stronger. Several years ago, our neighbor contracted a group to build him a barn. They came out and framed it in one day but they left without putting up braces. During the night, the wind got up and the barn folded up. When they got there the next day, it was on the ground.

I’m currently building my grandson a barn and as soon as we got it framed, I started putting braces on every corner and on the trusses. My grandson asked me what I was doing: I explained how important it is to brace a building.

When a strong wind is coming: you need to get braced. When turbulent times come: you need to be braced. We are braced by grace.

IV. SETTLE OR SUPPORT US 

The Greek word means to lay the foundation, to found, to make stable, or establish. No one can stand through the storms of adversity unless they are standing on a firm foundation and that foundation for those of us who believe is GRACE. A song comes to  mind….

Through my disappointments, Strife and discontentment
I cast my every care upon the Lord, No matter what obsession
Pain or deep depression, I’m standing on the solid rock

Even though He’s gone now, I don’t feel alone now
With comfort came the Spirit of the Lord, Now with His word to guide me
From temptations hide me, I’m standing on the solid rock

Chorus:
I’m standing on the solid rock of ages (standing on the rock, on the rock of ages)
Safe from all the storm that rages (safe from every storm, all the storm that rages)
Rich but not from Satan’s wages (rich in love, I’m rich, not from Satan’s wages)
I’m standing on the solid rock.

Weirsbe: Whatever begins with God’s grace will always lead to God’s glory. So stand firm in His grace.

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A Lion On The Prowl

Scripture:  1 Peter 5:7-9 (CSB)

8 Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9 Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world. 

INTRODUCTION

Tonight, we are going to talk about the devil {diabolos}, the one who slanders us night and day. C.S. Lewis wrote a great little book about the whiles of the devil, it is called THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS and I highly recommend you read it more than once. Lewis said we make two mistakes in dealing with the devil: the first being, we deny his existence and the second being we take him too lightly. {make jokes about the devil}

The devil slash Satan {adversary} is no joke: he is a fallen angel who rebelled and is in active rebellion against God. We cannot see him but he is very real. He is not a rival to God but he does have a power and knowledge that is superior to we humans. The more we know about him the ways in which he works, the better our chances to overcome him.

To help us with our message: we will use a little outline which will give us biblical ways to deal with Satan.

I. WE MUST RECOGNIZE HIM

Peter said, Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion. 

Imagine walking through a jungle in deepest africa, especially at night. To survive such an experience, you would have to know that YOU are the hunted. They are beast of prey lurking in the shadows. We need to be alert and sober, the devil is lurking in the shadows and we are the prey. I’m not trying to scare you, I’m trying to educate you. We do have weapons at our disposal that can protect us. We are not helpless victims but the first thing we must do is to RECOGNIZE that devil poses a threat to our holiness and happiness. We are not to cower in fear but we are not to underestimate his power.

I love the HOLMAN COMMENTARY. In the chapter on resisting Satan, David Walls tells the story of Thomas Sullivan, Jr. who’s teacher assigned them a project in comparative religions. His assignment was to research Hinduism but in his research, he got side tracked and got to studying Satanism. In a matter of weeks, he became enthralled in the occult. He was checking out library books on the occult, listening to heavy metal rock. Both teachers and parents notice a sudden spirit of defiance in Thomas. Then suddenly without warning, Thomas stabbed his mother 12 times in the stomach. He then tried to kill his father and brother but failed. After his failure to kill his entire family, he slit his own throat. They found out later that he had told a friend about a vision from Satan in which Satan told him to kill his family and preach Satanism. The occult is so prevalent and so connected to crime that some of the major cities have detectives assigned to cult related crimes. The Chicago based Cult Awareness Network estimates that there are as many as 60,000 deaths [ritual murders] each year related to the occult.

There are things to look for when dealing with the occult: [Holman Commentary page 93]

  • Bizarre or violent behavior
  • Irrational or wicked behavior [cruel crimes]
  • Opposition to Christianity [persecution]
  • Malicious slander
  • False Doctrine [false teachers]
  • Addictions [drugs]
  • Extreme Emotions: Hate, Rage, Depression, Terror
  • Self-destructive habits

It is a mistake to deny the existence of the devil or evil and of course–the left deny them both. If you asks a liberal if they believe in evil, they will point to those of us on the right and say, “That is the only evil I see, the intolerance of the those right-wing religious bigots.” They do not believe in Satan nor his ability to orchestrate evil. Satan is the mastermind behind all evil. Islam is a prime example: Mohammed did not form the religion of Islam, his followers did after his death. Mohammed did set the example of hating races that were not Arabic. The Arabs were always their own worse enemy: in the old days, they were not a threat because they killed each other but Islam forged then together by giving them a common purpose–the destruction of Jews and Christians. Islam is a religion that legitimizes hate. A black muslim is a black man who hates whites but it’s OK, it is sanctified by the world because it is his religious conviction. I spent a week with a converted Black Muslim and he confessed: their goal was the destruction of the white race and if anarchy hastened the day, so be it.

Islam is not a good thing: you can’t compare it to being Methodist, Catholic or Baptist. You can compare it to Mormanism or Christian Science. The goal of Islam is to destroy and kill the infidel. Guess who the infidels are? Satans footprints are all over Islam and yet the world and the media would call me a narrow minded bigot for saying such things. It is clear to me but they don’t see it.

WE HAVE TO RECOGNIZE SATAN’S PRESENCE IN THIS WORLD

II. WE MUST RESPECT HIM

The devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.

Would you treat a LION like a house cat? I hope not. We have a wild cat that lives under our house and he keeps us free of mice. He is wild as a buck and never tries to enter the house. I not afraid of him at all because he weighs less than ten pounds. If he threatens me, I will give him a good kick. The average male lion weighs over 400 pounds and has 1,000 pounds of pressure per inch {PSI} in its jaws. They could crush a human bone as easily as you and I can crush a potato chip. Needless to say, I respect Lions because they have the ability to devour.

I’m not afraid of electricity but I do respect it. Electricity will not hurt you if you abide by the laws that govern electric current. If you let you guard down and get careless, electricity can kill you dead on the spot.

Satan is a fallen Angel, it does not have divine powers. I am afraid of lions but as long as I have the U.S. Marines between me and the lions, I’m not going to worry about lions. As long as we have Jesus between us an Satan, we are protected. We just have to make sure, we stay behind Jesus. We are not to fear men or the devil. Jesus taught us to fear God, not Satan. A part of our worship is the fear of God and trust me, Satan doesn’t deserve our worship.

We always have to beaware of extremes: [1] It is a mistake to treat Satan like a joke, he is no joke. The opposite extreme is to [2] treat him like God, he is not God. I love my pentecostal friends but sometimes they talk more about the devil than they do Jesus and that bothers me. Respect the devil but don’t give him too much credit.

You have to remember, HE IS A LION ON A LEASH. He can only do so much harm. He is limited. He is not omni anything.

III. WE MUST RESIST HIM

Resist him, firm in the faith.

Our faith is our belief system and our beliefs come from the word of God. Faith comes by hearing, reading and meditating on the word of God. The key to overcoming Satan is to be saturated witht he word of God. How did Jesus deal with Satan? He quoted him scripture. Jesus did this for our example. Jesus was God, he could have back slapped the devil. Jesus was and is infinitely superior to Satan: you and I are not. We need the word of God if we are to stand against him and that is literally what we have to do. We cannot stand against until we stand for. Satan is a playground bully: he pushes and shoves, he hits below the waiste. I’ve often heard folks say, “I don’t have any problem with Satan.” Hey, you stand up for what’s right and you will have a problem with him. Satan don’t mess with dead folks. He is the last one in the world who wants to wake up a carnal Christian. As long as you are idle, he is happy. Get on your knees and see what happens, take a stand for the unborn and see what happens, start talking to people about Jesus and see what happens. Satan is no stupid, he does not waste energy.

If we are going to resist him, we have to do it in the faith. Paul said in Ephesians 6:10, “Be strong in the LORD and the power of His might.” We will never be able to resist the devil in our own strength. Peter knew from experience that this never works. Jesus warned Peter and told him to pray but Peter resisted Jesus and became a servant of the devil, all because he tried in his own strength.

 

Our Growing Need For Grace

Scripture Text: 1 Peter 5:5-7

5 In the same way, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you. — 1 Peter 5:5-7 (CSB)

INTRODUCTION

Peter is moving toward the conclusion of his letter which he wrote to encourage them in their suffering and to assure them that their suffering was a part of God’s grace. (1 Peter 5:12) A lot of the epistle deals with suffering and how we handle it as believers. The one thing that a believer must have if he or she is to suffer redemptively is GRACE. It takes grace to maintain a good attitude in suffering. I have seen people suffer without the first complaint: how is this possible?GRACE, amazing grace. Since these believers need GRACE, Peter has to talk to them about PRIDE the antagonist of grace. Pride is a serious matter, it turned an angel into a devil, it destroyed Adam and Eve’s home. Pride has been the downfall of men and nations. Never underestimate the danger of pride. It threatens us all.

TRANSITION

So what can we do about this threat to our happiness?

I. PRACTICE SUBMISSION

  • Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the emperor as the supreme authority or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. — 1 Peter 2:13-14 (CSB)
  • Household slaves, submit to your masters with all reverence not only to the good and gentle ones but also to the cruel. — 1 Peter 2:18 (CSB)
  • In the same way, wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by the way their wives live — 1 Peter 3:1 (CSB)
  • Now Peter says–You who are younger, be subject to the elders. {Pastors}

Submission to authority is a big deal because ‘submission’ is an exercise of humility. Pride and arrogant people do not submit unless it is cohersed by fear or force. An Elder [Pastor] does not have the authority of an Admiral, we can’t throw people overboard. We can even dock a persons pay because those who help us are volunteers. I was raised on a farm. I know how hard it can be to drive cattle, especially young heifers. Once you see that head come up, you know you are in trouble. They are going to rebel by going in the opposite direction. Once the leader breaks, you may as well forget it, there are going to be followers.

Pastoring a church is like herding cattle in a way: the moment I give instructions, I see some heads come up. These are they who have no intention of doing what I have asked them to do. If I say sit, they stand. If I say stand, they sit. They make it very clear, “You are not telling me what to do.”

I am not suggesting that we follow our leaders blindly; we don’t want another Jim Jones and Jonestown, Guyana but neither do we need to cultivate the prideful attitude that says, “No one tells me what to do.”

The reason for this is quite simple: there is a principle taught throughout the bible and Peter quotes it here. This quote comes from Proverbs 3:34 from the Septugint…GOD RESISTS THE PROUD BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.

Other References…

  • Though the LORD is exalted, he takes note of the humble; but he knows the haughty from a distance. (Psalm 138:6)

  • “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12)

  • “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)

  • “I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)
  • But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6)

This is the SPIRITUAL LAW or RULE: “God only gives grace to the humble.” In other words, pride is a barrier to grace. The Pharisees had religion, they had tradition, they had standing in the nation but they had no grace and no way to relieve grace. We cannot suffer graciously without grace, God’s grace and we can’t get His grace unless He gives it and He will not give it to the proud.

II. CLOTHE YOURSELF IN HUMILITY

Who dresses you in the morning: hopefully it is you. You choose what you wear. This requires a conscious effort. The LORD has commanded us to “Humble ourselves.” There is no question that He can do it for us but He enjoins us to do this ourselves. This requires SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE. This word clothe implies a servant or slave putting on an apron or towel to serve someone else. Jesus in John 13 is a perfect example…So he got up from supper, laid aside his outer clothing, took a towel, and tied it around himself. 5 Next, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around him. — John 13:4-5 (CSB)

You cannot divorce humility from the practice of submitting to others or serving others. Charles Spurgeon said, “Humility is to make the right estimate of one’s self.” Humility is to be aware of one’s strengths and to accept them as gifts from God to help others. It is also our awareness of our weakness which lead us to depend on God and acknowledge our need for help from others. The proud would say, “I don’t need your help.” HUMILITY IN A NUTSHELL IS PUTTING OTHERS FIRST.

Due to pride, people invariably trust themselves. Their attitude is “I’ve got this…I don’t need God’s help or yours.” Due to pride, we see only our strengths and never our weaknesses. Prideful people consider themselves a model. They think others would be wise to emulate them. They display an air of superiority, self-centeredness and self-righteous. People who dance with pride trust in themselves.

When Peter wrote this he must have had his own experience in mind. Jesus told Peter in Gethsemane, “Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” — Matthew 26:41 (CSB) Peter’s inordinate pride kept him from hearing what Jesus said. Peter had already boasted, “Even if everyone falls away because of you, I will never fall away.” — Matthew 26:33 (CSB) Due to Peter’s pride, [1]He slept when he should have been praying[2] He reacted rashly and in the flesh by drawing his sword and injuring a servant of the high priest and [3] he denied that he even knew Jesus. All three moral failures created shame and guilt; a shame that Peter would bear until his promotion. No wonder Peter has such strong words about pride, look what pride had cost him. After a while, even we slow learners learn that it is best to pray Mary’s prayer–“Be it unto me according to Your will LORD.” I’m tired of lining up ducks, of trying to manipulate people and circumstances. I learning to cast all my cares on Jesus the sovereign LORD and pray for His will to be done. I’m telling you from experience, I lived both ways and life is much, much sweeter when you submit to Christ and pray for his will to be done, not your own. People who dance with pride trust only in themselves. Inevitably, they want others to notice them, to emulate their example and to praise them for their virtue. They don’t understand that God hates such a disposition and He will withhold His grace. The end result is a miserable life filled with disappointment. Their incessant complaining and fault-finding is evidence of their misery. They are in desperate need of grace but their pride forbids it.

III. CASTING YOUR CARES

Peter said,  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you. The verb ‘casting’ literally means to throw as a rope or net. It means we turn lose, let go. We stop trying to control the situation or circumstance. Cares is a synonym for anxiety, stress or worry. Whatever worries you, let it go, cast it on Christ. Psalm 55:22… Cast your burden on the LORD, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

  1. When do we cast? Immediately! No such thing as a small worry…worry has a way of growing, becoming bigger.
  2. Why do we cast? Because Jesus can handle it and He commands us to do it.
  3. How do we cast? Let go and throw it on Him.

Destined To Suffer

Scripture: I Peter 4:12-19

12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. 13 Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may also rejoice with great joy when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 Let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a meddler. 16 But if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed but let him glorify God in having that name. 17 For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God? 

18 And if a righteous person is saved with difficulty, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner? 

19 So then, let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator while doing what is good. — 1 Peter 4:12-19 (CSB)

12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

14 If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. 15 If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs. 16 But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name! 17 For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? 18 And also,

“If the righteous are barely saved,
    what will happen to godless sinners?”

19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you. [NLT]

INTRODUCTION

Peter addresses the subject of ‘Suffering’ often because he knew that the church to whom he was writing were about to face a wave of brutal persecution. His objective is clear: He wants to prepare them for this fiery ordeal. They had experienced a singe from the heat but the fire that burns was coming. There are different levels of persecution. The first level is to be rejected, slandered or to be mocked for our faith in Christ. The second level is the lost of property, employment or freedom. The third level is martyrdom. The United States has been the least persecuted society in the world and until the last quarter of a century, we knew nothing about the second or third levels but we are getting acquainted to level two–the loss of property and rights.

In order to prepare these believers from the coming fiery ordeal {Suffering}, Peter tells them the TRUTH. As I have stated, Peter is blue collar. He is practical. He deals with reality, not fantasy.  Let’s pay close attention to what He has to say.

[1] DON’T BE SURPRISED WHEN SUFFERING COMES YOUR WAY

Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. {V. 12}

In other words, Peter is saying, do not be shocked when trials come. Be prepared to suffer because persecution is coming. Don’t feel like God is picking on you, you are not the exception to the rule, you are the rule. This is normal for Christians. In spite of all the teaching we have from the bible on the subject, we usually react to suffering with shock, “Why is this happening to me?” or “I can’t believe this is happening to me.”

Our suffering is intensely personal. God who is Sovereign, sends us trials that are tailor made for us personally. He does not indiscriminately throw trials to the earth so that they land on whomever. It is not a random thing: he sends what we need. It is a part of our Christian education. Paul Belhiemer wrote a book years ago entitled, “Don’t Waste Your Sorrows.” Sorrow and suffering are teachers.

I heard a little poem when I was a kid that stuck in my brain…

I walked a mile with pleasure, she chatted all the way, but I was none the wiser for what she had to say. I walked a mile with sorrow and never a word spoke she, but on the things that I did learn with sorrow walked with me.

Suffering is not God’s curse, it is His blessing.

[2] REJOICE WHEN TRIALS COME

Rejoice as you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may also rejoice with great joy when his glory is revealed. [V. 13]

Again, I remind you that this is Peter talking and not Jack. Peter, like Paul had demonstrated this principle with his life. This is one thing that I don’t think I have done. I have suffered a few times but my rejoicing came when the suffering was over. We are to rejoice in the suffering.

  • Our suffering identifies us with Christ and His suffering. Paul said, “I want to know Jesus and the power of His resurrection by entering into fellowship with His suffering.” You can’t really know Christ intimately apart from suffering. You certainly can’t know the power of His resurrection without suffering.
  • Our suffering will be transformed to glory or joy. Jesus said in John 16...20 Truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice. You will become sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy. 21 When a woman is in labor, she has pain because her time has come. But when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the suffering because of the joy that a person has been born into the world. 22 So you also have sorrow now. But I will see you again. Your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy from you. — John 16:20-22 (CSB)
  • Just as a woman’s labor is transformed to joy with the birth of the child, so our suffering will be transformed to glory and joy. [Again, I remind you, that I have never met a happy, thankful Christian who had not suffered. There is a state of joy you cannot get to any other way]

[3] THERE IS NO SHAME IN SUFFERING JUSTLY

If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 Let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a meddler. 16 But if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed but let him glorify God in having that name.

The repentant thief on the cross realized this truth: 

39 Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us! ”

40 But the other answered, rebuking him: “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? 41 We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” — Luke 23:39-41 (CSB)

[4] SUFFERING CAUSES US TO EXAMINE OUR MOTIVES

For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God? 

  1. Why has God sent this particular suffering to me?

  2. What is He trying to show me or teach me?

  3. What are my motives? What needs to be consumed by the fire of this ordeal?

  4. How can this be used to glorify Christ?

  5. How can it be used as a witness?

[5] OUR SUFFERING HERE AND NOW IS NOTHING COMPARED TO THAT OF THE LOST

18 And if a righteous person is saved with difficulty, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?

[6] THE KEY IS TO ENTRUST OURSELVES TO OUR FAITHFUL CREATOR

19 So then, let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator while doing what is good. CSB

19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.

The word entrust or trust is a banking term: it means to make a deposit. Give your sorrows to Christ, entrust them to God.

 

Practical Christianity Or End Time Ethics

Scripture: I Peter 4:7-11

7 The end of all things is near; therefore, be alert and sober-minded for prayer. 8 Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 10 Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let it be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, let it be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.– 1 Peter 4:7-11 (CSB)

Introduction

If you’re like me, you first thought after reading verse 7 is that Peter was wrong because it has been 2,000 years plus since he wrote this letter. But the Greek word he uses is a very familiar word to us in English, it is telos and it carries multiple meaning: actually four–

  1. Termination, the limit at which a thing ceases to be (always of the end of some act or state, but not of the end of a period of time).

  2. The end, the last in any succession or series.

  3. That by which a thing is finished, its close.

  4. The end to which all things relate, the aim, purpose.

Peter could have meant the pupose or aim of all things is near. We don’t know. We do know that Jesus taught us that no one knows the day or hour. Peter is a practical man. He came from the middle class. He was a fisherman and that was not easy work. Peter was a man of action and here he is giving us practical wisdom on how to live our lives. The opening line, The end of all things is near, is there for a purpose. We Christians need a sense of urgency. What happened when a doctor tells a patient that he/she has six months to live? Have you witnessed such a thing up close and personal. I have. I have had several friends that heard the doctor say, “You have cancer and in inoperable. We can prolong your life with treatment but we cannot cure your cancer.” Let me tell you what happens: they go through a period of shock and denial; then they move to acceptance and then they reorder their lives. They eliminate trivial pursuits. They stop wasting time. They began to cherish relationships. They totally reshuffle their priorities and put the most important things first.

TRANSITION: Isn’t this the way we are supposed to live?

Peter gives us SEVEN PRACTICAL EXHORTATIONS

  1. BE ALERT–The Greek word means to be of sound mind, sane, (figuratively) moderate:—be in right mind, be sober (minded), soberly. 
  2. BE SOBER— We usually use this word in reference to Alcohol but it means more than not being drunk. It means to be calm and collected in spirit, temperate, and dispassionate. Obviously Peter is not trying to sell books are tapes. He is not trying to scare folks with a doomday prediction. He is doing the opposite: BE CALM. We never accomplish very much in a state of panic. I don’t know if its just me but traffic everywhere seems to be getting worse. It may be my age but I really think there are too many cars for too little road. The LORD speaks to me but I need to be in a calm state to hear Him. I’m not saying He cannot speak in the tension of traffic but I sure love my quiet little cabin.
  3. BE PRAYERFUL–Again Peter connects the word for calm to prayer. Yes, we can all pray in a state of panic but to have sweet communion with Christ, we need a quiet place. Chuck Swindoll tells two stories about prayer in his commentary on this passage.

    I suppose it was him on the plane but in a routine flight to NY city, on his decent to land, the pilot realized that his landing gear was not coming down and locking into place. He continued to work with the levers and buttons as he circled the airport but with no success. Finally, he calmly announced to the passengers that the landing gear was not operational and they would be making a crash landing. He calmly explained how the process would work and immediately flight attendants began circulating, giving instruction and preparing folks for the rough landing. They told them that on command, they were to put their heads between their legs and hold their ankles. It is a good think I was not aboard because I cannot put my head between my legs. I do good to tie my shoes. There was some panic among passengers but the flight attendants did their job. The emergency crew at the airport coated the runway with foam and awaited the plane with all the emergency equipment available. Upon final approach, the captain came over the intecom with these word, “At this moment, in accordance with international aviation codes established in Geneva, it is my obligation to inform you that if you believe in God, you should commence prayer.” The story has a happy ending. No one was injured. One passenger was so impress that she called the airline the next day and asked for a copy of the code. The airline refused to comment. AMAZING: the only thing that brought this secret code into the light was a crisis. I don’t see how God could not be offended. SECOND STORY: A report got caught near the mouth of Mount Saint Helens in 1980. He literally had to run for his life. He forgot to turn off his camera which recorded every word. The audio recorded coughing, gagging, heavy breathing and prayer, one prayer after the other.

  4. BE LOVINGAbove all {Peter says} maintain constant love for one another since love covers a multitude of sins.” Peterson says, “Love each other as if your life depended upon it.” The AV reads...And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves. The Greek word means stretched out, intent, earnestly, assiduously, constantly without ceasing. Peter is not implying that our love can cover our sins. He is simply making the point that when we love each other intently, we overlook each others faults. June knows my faults: it is not that she is blind to them but she is able to overlook them because she loves me. You either love or get a divorce.
  5. BE HOSPITABLE [V.9] and do it without complaining. We have totally lost the meaning of hospitality. We think it is inviting friends over for dinner. The Message reads: Be quick to give a meal to the hungry or a bed to the homeless. We are not into that kind of hospitality are we?
  6. BE SERVANTS [V.10-11] –Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God…. if anyone serves, let it be from the strength God provides. Note: Peter puts more emphasis on serving than all the others. Serving others is the most practical way to demonstrate Christ love: if we do it cheerfully and without desire for recognition. I noticed something in my study that I had not seen before…FROM THE STRENGTH GOD PROVIDES...WOW!
  7. BE WITNESSES [V.11] If anyone speaks, let it be as one who speaks God’s words. Perry told me Sunday that he had just finished a book about lay evangelism. Every believer is to be a witness. God called me to be a witness before He called me to preach.

CONCLUSION

All of the above should result in one thing: God being glorified through Jesus Christ and this is in everything.

Think Like Jesus

1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same understanding ​— ​because the one who suffers in the flesh is finished with sin ​— ​
2 in order to live the remaining time in the flesh no longer for human desires, but for God’s will. 3 For there has already been enough time spent in doing what the Gentiles choose to do: carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and lawless idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you don’t join them in the same flood of wild living ​— ​and they slander you. 5 They will give an account to the one who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this reason the gospel was also preached to those who are now dead, so that, although they might be judged in the flesh according to human standards, they might live in the spirit according to God’s standards. — 1 Peter 4:1-6 (CSB)

INTRODUCTION

I have really struggle with this message but both the Amplified Bible and the Message have helped. Basically, Peter is challenging believers to think like Christ when it comes to suffering. Peter says more about suffering than any N.T. writer. He makes six references in I Peter alone: 1:6, 2:20, 3:14, 3:17, 4:15, 4:19. Peter’s basic premise is–We are all going to suffer. We can suffer for doing evil or we can suffer for doing good but everyone is going to suffer. It is the curse of living in a broken world.

Peter said, “Since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same understanding.”

FIRST: SUFFERING IS A CALLING–Be Mentally Prepared

Philippians 1:12….For it has been granted to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.

The word ‘arm’ is a military word. When the soldier arms himself, he get all his equipment ready for battle. For the Roman infantry, that was a long spear, a shield and a short sword. No soldier goes into battle without arming himself.

Note what Jesus says prior to His crucifixion:

Mark 8:31…Then he began to teach them that it was necessary for the Son of Man to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and rise after three days.

Luke 9:22…“It is necessary that the Son of Man suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day.”

  1. What has Jesus done? He has prepared Himself for suffering. He has accepted His call to suffer and even embraced it. He is ready to suffer!
  2. Why is He telling His disciples? To prepare them; to get them ready for His suffering because when He suffers, they too will suffer.
  3. I know most of you have ridden the subways underneath the Atlanta Airport; they move fast and they stop fast. You grab a handle or you brace yourself, if not, you will going rolling to the end of the car. We need to be braced for suffering. It is surely coming. It is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’.

Augustine: God had one Son on earth without sin but none without suffering.

SECOND: SUFFERING IS NECESSARY…It has a purpose

Jesus suffered but He suffered for a reason, a cause, a purpose. Jesus suffering was a vicarious atonement for our sins. No person is their right mind wants to suffer but Jesus armed Himself to suffer in our behalf in order to save us from our sins.

Perhaps you are thinking: that is well and good but why do we have to suffer? Why should we arm ourselves?

  1. We suffer justly. A lot of our suffering is related to the fall of man. We are suffering due to our sin and rebellion. Our world is sin cursed and it is full of suffering. In a sense, all suffering is related to our sin and rebellion.
  2. We also suffer redemptively. God uses suffering as a refiners fire to purify us of vain motives and worldly lust. Suffering is a great teacher.
  3. I’ve never had a desire to suffer or to fail and yet I have suffered many failures. All CHRISTIAN VIRTUES come by way of suffering. The most humble, gracious people on the earth are those who have suffering. The most humble man I ever knew was a retired missionary from Africa by the name of Clyde Dotson. Bro. Clyde was in his 80’s by the time I met him. I’ve never been in the presence of a man with deeper convictions or greater compassion. Bro. Clyde would pray at the drop of a hat and he would drop the hat if necessary. I wept every time I heard him share his testimony of children he buried in African soil, along with two wives. Bro. Clyde got so lonesome after his first wife died that he would walk 30 miles searching for a soul he could have true fellowship with. {Ron Dunn, Adrian Rogers, Manley Beasley}

THIRD: SUFFERING IS A FORGE

To forge is to fashion something, shape something by using intense heat. A blacksmith uses a forge. He heats the iron so he can bend it, mold it and make it into something useful.

Paul said in Philippians 3:10, My goal is to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death.

Some of the heat comes from the world…Listen to I Peter 4 via the Message….

Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. 
Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want. 
3 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. 
4 Of course, your old friends don’t understand why you don’t join in with the old gang anymore. But you don’t have to give an account to them. 
5 They’re the ones who will be called on the carpet – and before God himself. 
6 Listen to the Message. It was preached to those believers who are now dead, and yet even though they died (just as all people must), they will still get in on the life that God has given in Jesus. 

If you follow Christ, you will stand out. If you stand out, you will be persecuted is some shape form or fashion. It may be as simple as rejection. When I surrendered to preach, I not only lost friends, I lost family. I became and odd ball so to speak. I still feel that rejection today as an old man. I would love to say that it doesn’t hurt but it still hurts but that is why we call it suffering. I don’t like rejection, I don’t thrive on it but it is part of being a follower of Christ. The world hates me because it hated Jesus. {Dickie}

Remember: hot metal glows. I’ve seen believes shine in the darkness during time of crisis and suffering. It is an opportunity to be a witness for Christ. Don’t waste your sorrow. [1] God is either showing me something or [2] He is showing someone else something through me.

Suffering For Righteousness Sake

Scripture: I Peter 3:13-17 {CSB}

13 Who then will harm you if you are devoted to what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be intimidated, 15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. — 1 Peter 3:13-17 (CSB)

INTRODUCTION

Peter understands something that a great many do not understand today: we are all going to suffer. When I say that, I mean Christians. Paul said to young Timothy– “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Our suffering is not an “if” but a “when.” Christians are called to suffer. We are going to suffer one way or the other: we can suffer for doing wrong or we can suffer for doing what is right. In terms of community and civil authority, those who do right suffer the least but in God’s kingdom, those who do right often suffer the most and Jesus is the prime example. Jesus did nothing but good. He never sinned, not even once. No one on this earth could accuse Him of sin and yet He suffered more than anyone. This world rejected and hated Christ because He was good, not because He was bad.

When I came to this part of the country 40 years ago, I had a deacon who worried himself to death about my unpopularity. He liked me and he wanted everyone to like me. Of course, I offended some people right off the bat and I had folks who despised me, almost from day one. I was aware of my approval ratings but I did not give it a lot of consideration. I told him time and again, “Jesus did not die of old age. He was crucified by folks who hated Him.” Somehow, this truth never sunk in.

Folks, we are not in a popularity contest. We do not seek the world’s approval. Yes, you may suffer less by conforming to their standards: Peter tried this himself. He tried following Jesus from a distance; even denying a relationship with HIM and Peter did all of this to protect himself from the vicious scorn that was being poured out of Jesus. The closer to Jesus you walk, the more you will suffer the scorn and contempt the world has for HIM. But when Peter tried this, he was tormented in his conscience and he had no peace. So pick your poison. The point is: you suffer either way you go so why not suffer for the right things and have peace.

TRANSITION: So Peter is giving these persecuted believers a format or guide on HOW TO RESPOND TO MISTREATMENT how to live in a pagan invironment. REMEMBER: Peter is blue colar; he is practical. These are things that will work. To suceed we need…

1. A PASSION FOR DOING GOOD

13 Who then will harm you if you are devoted [passionate] to what is good? 

2. A WILLINGNESS TO SUFFER

14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed.

Jesus said…Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. {Matthew 5:10}

As a matter of fact in the next verse, Jesus says, You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me.

How is it that Peter says we are “Blessed.” Who is the source of our blessings? Who has the ability to bless us most? God, the giver of every good and perfect gift. When He is pleased with our willingness to suffer for righteousness [Christ] and He will bless us for doing the right thing.

Peter is not speaking hypothetically, he knows from experience. God can be trusted on this matter.

3. A FOCUS ON CHRIST…THE LORD

14 Do not fear what they fear or be intimidated, 15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy…

The devil is a playground bully, he loves to threaten and intimidate. This is his game. Anytime we give in to fear or to his empty threats, we are destined to fail. The classic example is Elijah verse Jezebel [devil]. She send him a threatening message and he fled the country which is exactly what she wanted. We cannot panic.

Actually Peter is quoting Isaiah 8:13-14….where king Ahaz is panicing

12 Do not call everything a conspiracy these people say is a conspiracy. Do not fear what they fear; do not be terrified.
13 You are to regard only the Lord of Armies as holy. Only He should be feared; only he should be held in awe.
14 He will be a sanctuarybut for the two houses of Israel, he will be a stone to stumble over and a rock to trip over, — Isaiah 8:12-14 (CSB)

Isaiah’s message to Ahaz is clear: “You are fearing the wrong object, stop being afraid of these people and fear God. Give Him regard as the LORD of the Armies. Only He should be feared or awed. A man fearing spirit will lead to compromise and failure. Don’t give in to intimidation. Folks it is going to happen. People are going to try to manipulate you by using intimidating tactics. I have had at least three people to make a vow, to my face, to ruin me if I did not consent to their desires. I even had one to pronounce a curse on me. We cannot give into threats. If we do, we will be follwing Satan and not Christ.

When I was a child, Christians could live in our culture without fear of persecution but those days are gone. If you are out spoken on the right of the unborn to life or the evil of homosexuality, you will be persecuted.

Isaiah’s point to Ahaz was simple: Look to Yahweh and Him alone. Stop focusing on your enemies [Israel and Syria] or your false friends {Assyria}. Ahaz was doing what men commonly do, He was leaving God out of the equation. He wasn’t giving Jehovah any consideration.

4. A HOPE OF GLORY

Be ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 Yet do this with gentleness and respect.

The Greek word for ‘defense’ is ä-po-lo-gē’-ä and you don’t have to be a scholar to recognize this is the root of our word apology and from this word we get ‘apologetics’ which is the defense of our faith. Appolos was probaly not the first but he was the most renown of the time. Paul was also an apoligist. Both he and Apollos could take the O.T. Scripture and prove that Jesus was the Christ. Of course, the greatest of our time is C.S. Lewis. But Peter is not directing this statement to brillant minds like Lewis, he is talking to every day, run of the mill, believers like you and me.

If there is one area where I have really dropped the ball, it is here. I have been attempting to witness for Christ for over 50 years and I’m still {sad to say} not very effective. Other than being lazy and missing opts to share my faith, my biggest problem is to slow down, relax and listen to the person I am sharing with. I entertain no illusion that I have the gift of evangelism and I have failed many times to be gentle or show respect. I have even been known to argue in my earlier days. I had a man tell me some years ago, to get off his property, that he was not interested in anything I had to say. I should have graciously dismissed myself, got in my vehicle and drove away but no, I had to have the last word…“You are not interested in knowing the way to heaven...and then I quoted John 14:6 before he had time to get his gun.” At the time, I thought I was planting seed but it is more likely that I reinforced his bias against Christians.

5. A CLEAR CONSCIENCE

Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame.

Paul said to Timothy {I Timothy 1:19} Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.

What a wonderful analogy: the Conscience is the ships hull and faith is the cargo. If you rupture your conscience, your faith will leak out and so will your joy [David]. But there are a couple of other things in the hull of your conscience and they are COURAGE and PEACE. We have to stay up to date on our repentance and confession because we need a good conscience.

The bible does speak of:

  1. Good Conscience {I Tim. 1:5}
  2. A Clear Conscience {I Tim. 3:9}
  3. A Defiled Consicience {Tit. 1:15}
  4. An Evil Conscience {Heb. 10:22}
  5. A Seared Conscience {I Tim. 4:2}

CONCLUSION

Some of you know about my recent post on Facebook that riled the liberals. I made the statement that Doug Jones is stooge. He is bought and paid for by the rich Sadducees in NY. The man did not have the liberty to change his mind no matter how many constituents called. The power brokers of the Democratic Party had already told him what to do: he represents them, not Alabama. He lied to us when he said he would support President Trump. Lying is wrong and so is slander and he has done both. Was I wrong to call him out? According to my liberal friends, I was hating and judging. The man is not my enemy. He is ignorant and misguided but he is not my enemy and God knows I do not hate him. I don’t want anyone else to hate him on account of what he said to me. He like Jones is a dupe. He is being used. Satan is the master mind and he is the real enemy. We have spiritual problem in this country and guns and ammo will not fix it. We need REVIVAL.

  1. If I have a PASSION FOR DOING RIGHT
  2. A WILLINGNESS TO SUFFER
  3. A FOCUS ON CHRIST
  4. A HOPE OF GLORY
  5. A CLEAR CONSCIENCE

…those who disparage {Accuse, speak evil of, slander] your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame….he might be converted. I will not win him by telling him how stupid he is for drinking the government coolaid.

Preparing For The Best

Scripture: I Peter 3:8-12, CSB

8 Finally, all of you be like-minded and sympathetic, love one another, and be compassionate and humble, 9 not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing.

10 For the one who wants to love life and to see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit, 11 and let him turn away from evil and do what is good. Let him seek peace and pursue it, 12 because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil.

INTRODUCTION

Peter begins this section with the Greek word ‘telos’ which means to ‘sum up.’ It is translated in the CSB as ‘finally.’ Swindoll says that Peter is going back and giving us a summary of the Christian virtues he has been teaching. Since so many of you are familiar with the KJV, I will give you that list first:

  • Be ye all of one mind
  • Having compassion one of another
  • Love as brethren
  • Be pitiful
  • Be courteous
  • Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing
  • But contrariwise blessing

The CSB

  • Be like-minded
  • Be sympathetic
  • Be loving
  • Be compassionate
  • Be humble
  • Be forgiving {not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult}
  • Be a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing.

So tonight, we will take each virtue and unpack it.

  1. BE LIKE-MINDED: Unity is not uniformity, where everyone looks an acts the same. We all have a different set of spiritual gifts and we are members of one body but we don’t all have the same function. Remember what Paul said in I Corinthians…12:12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ….18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. So Peter is not talking about unison but Harmony. Unison is everyone singing the same eact note, harmony is different notes but the same tune. What Peter is talking about is having ONE SINGLE PURPOSE and that is obedience to Jesus Christ, the Head and Savior of the Body.
  2. BE SYMPATHIC. The Greek word here is very similiar to our English, it is ‘sympatheis’ and it literally means to ‘feel with.’ It literally means we care about each other. Again the human body serves as a good illustration. What happens when you get something in your eye, does it affect the other members of your body? Of course it does, the hand responds immediately and so do the fingers. When we are like minded with Christ as Paul says in I Corinthians 2:16, we feel each others pain. We also celebrate with each other.
  3. BE LOVING: The Greek word here is the same word from which we get Philadelphia; it is the Greek word for brotherly love. It is more than casual fellowship, it is deep affection for each other. I woke up one morning this week with the church on my mind and so I got up and began my bible reading: the verse that really spoke to me was I Corinthians 16:13-14, Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be courageous be strong. Do everything in love. I am very honest and very direct, that can be a virtue but it can also be an excuse. There is nothing wrong with speaking the truth but the scripture exhorts us to speak the truth in love. I got up from bed seeking direction and this is where God lead me. I don’t desire confrontation but I stop running from it years ago. We never solve our problems by running away but in Kingdom work, we don’t solve them with the truth alone; we must love each other amidst our differences.
  4. BE COMPASSIONATE: No this is not the same word as ‘sympathy’, it is the same word used in Ephesians 4:32, my mother’s favorite verse in the bible…And be kind and compassionate [KJV, tenderhearted’] to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. This is a heartfelt compassion that is closely associated with forgiveness [as we will see later].
  5. BE HUMBLE: this is not false or fake humility [which is sickening]. It is certainly not self-pity which is the flip side of Pride. This is a learned humility that comes with failure {like Peter}. It is the ability to put others before yourself. Paul told the Philippians… Make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. — Philippians 2:2-4 (CSB) Humility is not thinking little of yourself, it is not thinking of yourself period.
  6. BE FORGIVING: [V.9] Don’t pay back evil for evil or insult for insult. God said through Moses…“Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay.” Again, the LORD speaks through Isaiah the prophet…“Look, it is written in front of me: I will not keep silent, but I will repay; I will repay them fully for your iniquities and the iniquities of yourfathers together,” says the LORD. [Isaiah 65:6-7] Jeremiah reminded the Jews that God would repay their enemies…“Before your very eyes, I will repay Babylon and all the residents of Chaldea for all their evil they have done in Zion.” [Jeremiah 51:24] Then Moses is quoted twice in the NT… Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord. [Romas 12:19 and Hebrews 10:30]
  7. BE A BLESSING: [V.9] Giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing. Then Peter quotes Psalm 34…

10 For the one who wants to love life and to see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit, 11 and let him turn away from evil and do what is good. Let him seek peace and pursue it, 12 because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil.

CONCLUSION

The last two virtues, BE FORGIVING and BE A BLESSING go together. Unless we are willing to forgive, we will not be a blessing. Unforgiveness will sap your joy and keep you from loving life and seeing good days. Sin has taken its toll on the entire human race: we have all been hurt by sin–there is no exception. We have all been the victims of injustice at one time or another. BUT, those of us who cling to GRACE have given justice to the LORD. We make no attempt to even the score–we leave that to God. This is why we enjoy life. We do not assume a responsibility that is not ours.

Take a look at history: has the LORD been faithful to take care of Israel’s enemies? Yes or no? You know it is a firm YES.

As I look back over 50 years of serving churches, there have been a lot of hurts, a lot of painful experiences but now I laugh about them. They were not pleasant at the time but I never tried to settle the score and it all worked out for my good. God has never failed to avenge me, not once. I could tell you story after story.

God will and is avenging the death of His Son. You and I don’t need to concern ourselves with His system of justice…The LORD can handle without our help.

Now you can turn a deaf ear to what I am saying and you can try to expidite God’s judgment but if you do, you will destroy any chance of having a good and blessed life.

Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch watch maker and friend to the Jews. She and her family help many Jews escape the Nazi death camps but eventually, they were found out and arrested. Her father was murdered by the Nazi’s and she and her sister Betsey were put in  Ravensbruck, a death camp. While there Corrie was treated with contempt. Her sister Betsy was not strong enough to survive and Corrie was discharged because of a clerical error one week before all the women in the camp were executed. After the war, Corrie traveled the world as an advocate for Christ. She was speaking in a church [in Europe I suppose] when she spotted one of the Nazi guards in the congregation. Her heart almost stopped as all the horrors of that death camp flooding her mind. “What am I going to do LORD?” She prayed. “What if that man approaches me after the service? What am I going to do? What if he extends his hand in fellowship? His presence in the service was upsetting but she made it through. Sure enough, the guard approached her after the service and put out his hand with an apology. He told her his behavior was unforgiveable but that God had forgiven him and he wanted her forgiveness also. It was a hard moment for Corrie as she thought about forgiving this horrible man but the Spirit of grace in her finally moved her to extend her hand and her forgiveness.

Later Corrie said, “I learned to give my pain to the LORD. I would picture it as a rose and lay it at the feet of Jesus.” You can hold on to your pain if you want but you will forfiet any chance of having a blessed life.

Wedlock or Deadlock

1 Peter 3 New Living Translation (NLT)

Wives

In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives.

Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They put their trust in God and accepted the authority of their husbands. For instance, Sarah obeyed her husband, Abraham, and called him her master. You are her daughters when you do what is right without fear of what your husbands might do.

Husbands

7 In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.

INTRODUCTION

Since it has been a while between messages; let me remind you that Peter is giving these believers instruction and encouragement on SUBMITTING TO AUTHORITY which has always been a sensitive issue. Tonight, it will get even more sensitive as we talk about SUBMISSION IN MARRIAGE.

I want to encourage everyone to relax, take a deep breath and remember that this is the LORD’s instruction to us, not my instruction to you. Tonight’s subject has been totally misunderstood by our present culture. SUBMISSION is not a bad word. Mr. Webster says that Submission is the condition of being submissive, humble or compliant…an act of submitting to the authority or control of another. The Greek word means to make oneself a subject to another. In other words, it is exercising the humility to serve another. It is a word that fits Christ who is our ultimate example in submission [Philippians 2:3-8]

In our present culture, we have more information on marriage and more self-helps than ever before in the history of mankind and yet divorce is epidemic. What is the problem? Well, I think it is safe to say, it is not due to lack of information but lack of understanding and one of the most misunderstood concepts is SUBMISSION and God’s order for the home. If I were on TV tonight, this message would ignite a media fire storm; that is how misunderstood this subject is.

I. FIRST MISCONCEPTION: MARRIAGE IS A BED OF ROSES

Chuck Swindoll tells about the couple who got married, got in a buggy or carriage to leave for their overnight room before leaving for their honeymoon and a few hundred feet from the church, the bride took the reins because she didn’t think a lot of the husbands driving and they were fighting before they could reach their cabin. A WEDDING is one thing, MARRIAGE is another. Good marriages don’t just happen. They are the product of hard work and sacrifice.

Peter begins this teaching with instructions to the wives of unsaved husbands. When we marry a lost person, our marriage begins with a major problem which explains why Paul told us not to marry unbelievers. Peter here, is exhorting wives with unsaved husbands to be submissive so that they can reach their husbands with a gentle and quiet spirit.

These unbelieving husbands will be won by what they see, not what they hear. We can’t nag people into the kingdom of God. The better question might be: what kind of woman does it take to reach a lost man?

  1. Submissiveness
  2. Pure
  3. Reverent
  4. Inward Beauty
  5. Gentle Spirit

Let me remind you that marriage is a test to see if we can be faithful, loyal and true. This is a part of our stewardship training for the next life.

Let’s talk for a moment about what Peter is not saying

  1. He is not saying that a woman should hag it up. He is not talking about hair rollers, sweat pants and no make up. He is not saying that it is wrong to wear make up or to fix your hair any more than he is saying don’t wear clothes. It is OK for a woman to fix herself up but she must understand that real beauty comes from the heart not the store.  Your character is more important than your appearance. Don’t rely on externals, eventually they will fail you.
  2. He is not saying that a woman is to submit to anything her husband asked. We don’t submit to any authority when we are asked to violate God’s laws and principles. Peter makes it clear in verse 6 that we are not to be intimidated. We are not to submit out of fear. SUBMISSION is the true sense of the word is voluntary. No one forced Christ to submit: He did it voluntarily. Submission is a choice, you can either submit or not submit.
  3. He is not saying that it will always be easy. Submission is costly. It is not always easy. Peter uses Sarah as an example. Some have used the argument, “Sure, it was easy for her, she was married to a Saint.” Evidently, you have not read your bible. Twice Abraham lied about his relationship with Sarah to protect his own hide. Plus, he comes in one day and tells her God has asked for their son and he is going to sacrifice him. Plus he moves every few months. He refuses to settle anywhere.

II. THE SECOND MISCONCEPTION IS THE TERM “WEAKER VESSEL” [V.7]

  • The most literal translation of this verse is the NASB…You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
  • The NIV and CSB translate it weaker partner. There is no word for ‘Vessel’ or ‘Partner’ in the Greek.
  • The NLT offers some explanation: In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.

Peter is definitely referring to ‘physical weakness’ and nothing else. God made the man to be stronger physically. Are there exceptions? Sure, we have women weight lifters. I have a grand-daughter who won a weight lifting competition last Saturday. Am I happy about this? No! I have known women who wanted to prove that they could do anything a man could include arm wrestle. Personally, I am not attracted to women who lift weights. I don’t want to live with a woman who can beat me up. All Peter is saying is that normally, the man is physically stronger than the woman which can make intimidation a temptation for the man.

Equality is a misunderstood word: no two people are equal, to be so, they would have to be clones. We have to face the facts, some are more intelligent than others, some are more athletically inclined than others. There is no such thing as equality among men, let alone the sexes. In many ways, men are inferior to women. We can’t carry a baby on our hip for hours. We don’t cook and wash dishes as well–just kidding. I say they to get your attention but seriously, there are many ways in which a female is superior.

  • Women are more intuitive than men.
  • Women can operate from both sides of the brain: they can multi-task.
  • Women are more sensitive. Try getting a man to listen and understand what you are saying, or feeling.

Peter is not saying that women are inferior, he is saying they are different and I say, Praise the LORD for it! Personally, I have no desire to be like women. I am not about to match my intuitive skills with my wife because I am going to lose. I don’t play checkers with her for the same reason. I’m not going to work on my multi-tasking skills so I can be like her, it will not work and I’m not wasting my effort. She and I are different and I celebrate the difference.

Actually men and women were not made alike. Adam is the clay man, he was made from red dust. A man is dirt, water and breath but the woman was made from the man, not from dirt, not directly. God created the man but He fashioned the woman. In other words, He spent more time on her and it shows. Some have explained this difference by using Gold and Iron. The man is iron, he is harder and stronger but the woman is gold, she is purer and more valuable. There is something wrong when Gold wants to become Iron but we live in a sin cursed fallen world where values are inverted. Our society scoffs at righteousness and praises immorality. We promote the killing of innocent children and protest the slaughter of animals for food.

III. THE THIRD MISCONCEPTION IS GOD’S ORDER FOR THE HOME

Paul said in Ephesians 5:22-23, Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. [this truth is also stated in 1 Cor. 11:3] God does everything decently and in order [1 Cor. 14:40] God created three institution to make life meaningful: [1] The Home [2] Government [3] Church and He created them is this order. Everything in His creation is about ORDER and AUTHORITY. The goal of communism is to destroy one and three, the home and the church and make GOVERNMENT supreme but this is not God’s way and it will not work.

Not only did He create these three INSTITUTIONS, He designed them to have ORDER and AUTHORITY within the institution itself. Take the HOME for example: He created the man first, then the woman or wife, and then the children, in that order. The man is to be the head of the wife and both are in authority over the children. NOTE: everyone except the children are IN AUTHORITY and UNDER AUTHORITY. I Corinthians 11:3, But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ.

God would not establish such an ORDER if it were not for the good of mankind. Everything He does is to make your life better. Can you imagine life without a home, government [law and order] and your church? A husband has some authority but he does not have “all authority”, that has been given to Christ. A little child asked me one day [WEE Care], “Bro. Jack, do you have a boss?” I said, “I sure do, His name is Jesus” I use to have a bumper sticker on my truck, “My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter.” ANYONE WHO REBELS AGAINST GOD’S SYSTEM OF AUTHORITY IS GOING TO SUFFER MISERY.

Perhaps you are doubting me. Don’t doubt me, what Peter said last is true…Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered. Some men do it but for some reason I can’t, I cannot mistreat my wife and then get up here and preach because I cannot preach if I cannot pray. The last thing I want is for may prayers to be hindered. You can doubt me if you want and you can doubt Peter but I don’t.

 

Suffering For Christ’s Sake

1 Peter 2:13-25, NLT 

13 For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, 
14 or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. 
15 It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you.
16 For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. 
17 Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king. 
18 You who are slaves must submit to your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. 
19 For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. 
20 Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. 
21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.
22 He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. 
23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. 
24 He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. 
25 Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.

NASB

Submit yourselves for the LORD’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him [the king] for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor [not worship] the king. Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good to and gentle, but also those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it, you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps. WHO [Christ] committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to HIM who judges righteously, and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

INTRODUCTION

In our last message, we talked about submitting to authority. Before the flood, there was no such thing as government. God sent the flood because anarchy was destroying mankind. Noah had no institution or power to protect him or his family. After the flood, God instituted Government. We find this in Genesis 9:6, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.” This is the basis of our capital punishment laws. Human life is to be protected by the State.

There are three basic institutions that God has ordained to make life blessed: The FAMILY, the GOVERNMENT and the CHURCH. Everyone of these institution is maintained by authority and order. Families have fathers, Governments have kings and such, and the church has pastors. God leads these ordained institutions through these ordained leaders. You must understand that technically speaking Christ is the head of all three but He leads familes through the father, governments through the kings, presidents or whatever and church through the pastors.

The QUESTION before us tonight: does there come a time when legally and morally, we have a right to rebel against these God ordained authorities? Are we to blindly obey our leaders?

First of all tonight: let’s talk about the things we know for sure…

  1. We know that God has called us to suffer {v.21}…For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. [1] Suffering enhances our witness [2] The key component in our sanctification.
  2. We know that God ordained Authority for the good of mankind. Anarchy is brutal; we do not want anarchy. Anything beats anarchy. {v.14} For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. 
  3. We also know that rebellion is most instances is evil. The devil is a rebel. We know for sure, we do not want to rebel against God.
  4. We know that God is not honored when we clammor constantly about our “Rights.” God doesn’t want us to be selfish and always looking our for our best interest. He wants us to deny our personal rights for the benefit of others. God is pleased when we suffer for others sake.

NOW, LET’S ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS

  1. Can a husband/father become an abusive bully?
  2. Can a king/govenment become a tyrant? One who enslaves and punishes the righteous.
  3. Can a pastor become a dictator?
  4. Can authority be abused and misused? If so, what are we to do?

NOW, LETS LOOK AT THESE QUESTION IN LIGHT OF OUR PRESENT CULTURE

  1. Paul told the Thessalonians that before Christ returned, there would be an age of REBELLION and sometimes I wonder if we are in it. {II Thes. 23} During this age, there will be a “spirit of lawlessness,” which will produce horror. I don’t think there is any doubt that we see this “spirit of lawlessness” at work today.
  2. Paige Patterson is under attack for telling about a woman he counseled years ago. He advised her to stay with an abusive husband, which she did, and to my knowledge the story had a happy ending, but the press got wind of the story and now Patterson is catching so much heat from the left that he has canceled his speaking engagements.
  3. We know that God doesn’t want us to imulate the spirit of rebellion or to act in the likeness of the antichrist or devil but does this scripture imply that Christians are to take all manor of abuse. Are we do become the doormats of society?
  4. Thomas Jefferson and all our founding father spent hours discussing the tyranny of King George. They understood the gravity of the moment and gave lots of thought and prayer to their decison to revolt. Jefferson said, The two enemies of the people are Criminals and Government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the constitution so that the second will not become a legalized version of the first.
  5. These men studied the bible carefully and the last thing they wanted was to rebel against God. Could they rebel against King George without rebelling against God?
  6. They believed that God ordained government in lieu of anarchy: they firmly believed that God opposes anarchy, rebellion, lawlessness and wickedness and that He ordained government to be a terror to the evil doer but a protector of the righteous. So they made a distinction between government and it’s leaders.
  7. How could these men have formed the greatest Republic in the history of mankind had they been anti-government?
  8. They cited scriptual models to support their belief: Moses, Gideon, Ehud, Jepthah, Samson and Deborah…They believed that tyranny can be opposed without one being opposed to government.
  9. The Founding Fathers, all of which were students of scripture clearly believed that they were not in rebellion against God but they were standing up to tyranny and protecting their individual lives and liberty. The bible has always granted man the right to defend himself and his property.
  10. They believed…Rebellion to Tyrants was obedience to God. Of course to the British, we are rebels just as we are referred to as rebels by our catholic friends. You will not hear an old school Catholic use the term Reformation, they will always use the word Rebellion.

CONCLUSION

So how do we conclude. Jesus gave his life voluntarily but He gave protection to His disciples at the same time. He even told them to arm themselves {Luke 22:36}…And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. If you have the grace to suffer redemptively and you choose to do so, I have no problem, only admiration. My problem comes when we do not give protection to those around us and for those who do not have the stamina to endure abuse without it destroying their soul.