Sunday, August 14, 2016

[Matt's Messages] "Ready to Answer?"

“Ready to Answer?”
Good News Cruise 2016
August 14, 2016 :: 1 Peter 3:15-18a

We will return to the Days of Elijah in 1 Kings next time I get up here to preach.

But today, I want to help us get ourselves ready for the Good News Cruise.

We’re working hard to get all of the details together. We need your help. Water bottles, gift bags, door prizes, cooler, canopies, set-up, parking, food service. All of that. All hands on deck! We need to get all of that ready for this big event.

But even more important than all of that, we need to get ourselves ready spiritually.

Because, you may have noticed, we’ve put an invitation on your back.

Everybody see the back of the t-shirts this year? They are really cool.

They have our theme verse reference for our Hide the Word verse, Proverbs 3:5-6.

And it says, “Ask me about the Smooth Route.”

So, if they ask, what are you going to say?

If someone says to you on Saturday, “So what’s this ‘Smooth Route’ all about?” what are you going to say?

Are you ready to answer?

Because we’ve put a big target on your back. “Ask me!”

Now, some of you are saying, “Then I’m not wearing that t-shirt this Saturday!”

But the fact is that God has placed a big target on your back already. “Ask me!”

If you are a Christian, if you have been marked out as one of Jesus’ followers, then you need to be ready to talk about Him whether you wear a t-shirt or not.

That’s what baptism is. It’s like putting on the t-shirt and going out in public.

“I’m with Jesus. Go ahead, ask me about Him!”

Are you ready to answer?

That’s what Peter is talking about in chapter 3 of his first letter.

He’s writing to Christ-followers who are being persecuted for their faith. They are doing good and being good, but they are suffering for it.

They are getting a raw deal.

By the way, that’s one thing we do NOT mean by the “smooth route.” We do not mean that if you trust in Jesus then your life will run smoothly all of the time. No bumps, no roadblocks, not detours.

Is that what Jesus promised us?

No way. Jesus promised us, “In this world you will have...what?” Trouble! But take heart, Jesus has overcome the world.

That’s what it means by saying, “He will make your paths straight.” He will direct your paths, and you will get home safely. We will safely reach our destination by faith. That’s the smooth route.

Not that it won’t be painful at times.

These Christians were experiencing the painful times.

And Peter was encouraging them to hold on and to keep doing what was right even when they weren’t seeing the blessings yet in return.

And in the middle of this kind of teaching, Peter tells his readers to always be ready to answer questions about their hope in God.

Because they have big target on their backs saying, “Ask me!”

In this passage, I see at least 3 ways that we need to get ready spiritually for the Good News Cruise.

#1. READY YOUR HEART. Look at verse 15.

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.”

You won’t be ready to talk about Jesus if your heart isn’t right with Jesus.

In the context, Peter is telling the believers to not live in fear of other people, but instead to set apart Christ as Lord.

Do you need to hear that? I need to hear that. Especially when I’m going into a possible evangelistic encounter. A potential gospel-sharing moment.

What I am I thinking about?

I’m worried (afraid) of what someone is going to say to me, do to me, or (gasp!) think about me!

But Peter says, “Don’t think about that. Think about how Jesus is your Lord.”

The old King James says, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.”

Worship Him at the heart level.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and that’s how you get your heart ready to reach out at the Good News Cruise.

Or at work. Or at school. Or at soccer. Or in the neighborhood.

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.”

That means prayer, doesn’t it?

We’ve been praying for the Good News Cruise. Every month at the Harvest Prayer Time. Every Wednesday night at the Prayer Meeting. And, I’m sure, lots of other places.

Have you prayed for yourself and the Good News Cruise?  That you would, in your heart, set apart Christ as Lord.

Is there some area of your life that is not under the lordship of Christ?  Some area that you’re holding back from Him?


Set apart Christ as Lord IN YOUR HEARTS. In your innermost being.

That’s where the ALL comes from right, in our key verse? “Trust in the LORD with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In ALL your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Set apart ALL of your hearts to the Lord.

Ready your heart.


It’s not good enough to just set apart Christ in our hearts. We must also talk about Him with our mouths.

People need to know the gospel. They need to know the good news of Jesus Christ.

So somebody’s gotta tell them.  V.15 again.

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

This is like the Christian Boy Scout verse.

“Always be prepared!” Right?

Be prepared to serve someone a hot dog? Right?

Always be prepared to park another car, right?

Yes, but also “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

“Ask me about the smooth route.”

So, what are you going to say if someone asks you?

Everybody ought to have something ready to share.

It doesn’t have to be long. In fact, it shouldn’t be long.

If you are answer is a half an hour sermon, you’re doing it wrong.

Try 30 seconds.

Have you ever heard of an elevator speech?

They teach salesmen to give their presentation in the same time it takes to ride an elevator with someone you want to persuade.

Now, we’re not selling anything. Including the gospel.

But we can learn to give elevator-ride-length answers to Jesus questions.

Go ahead and try it.

I’ll give you 1 minute. Answer the question, “What is this smooth route?” to the person next to you and then give them a chance to answer it to you.

Go ahead!

[wait a minute]

That wasn’t so bad, was it?

Now these instructions from the apostle Peter have a lot more to do with just being ready to speak out than they do to having a short speech prepared.

Peter is not teaching that we have to have a sales pitch ready to go.

But he is saying that we need to be ready to speak.

When I was a student at Moody Bible Institute, they used to tell us that we needed to be ready to preach, pray, or die at moment’s notice.

Preach, pray, or die!

And I always think, “Which one do you want?”

Two of those are easier than the others.

Some of you are thinking, “I’d rather die than preach or pray!”

The point is that people need Jesus and we need to be ready to talk about Him.

Do you know who was good at that?  Blair Murray was.

He’s going to be missed this year at the Cruise-In.

Keith Folmar has written a little tribute to Blair and to Lenny Mondock. Remember Lenny?  He was always in the center of the fun at the Good New Cruise. He was the guy who was arranging for us to have all of those chips and stuff donated.

Since last year’s cruise, we have lost both Blair and Lenny. And Keith has written up a little tribute to them that will be in each of the bags for all of the vehicle participants and on the literature table for the spectators to grab.  It’s called “Missing but not Gone: What Blair and Lenny Would Want You to Know Today.”

You know, some of you might want to use that in your answer.

I’m not going to tell you today how to answer the question. I’m not going to give you a little canned speech for you to deliver on Saturday.

That’s not how it works in real life is it?

If we have 120 of us here next week, we should have like 120 different answers.

I’ve put a letter in each of the participant’s bags that explains the Smooth Route and quotes Proverbs 3:5&6. You could refer someone to that.

Or you could quote it yourself and say what it means to you and how you’ve seen it work in your life.

It’s going to be on each bottle of water. And you should have it memorized by now.

Here’s the point that Peter is making:

You have hope. People are going to want to know where it comes from.

That was especially true for Peter’s readers because they had hope even when things were going bad.

And they were living their lives in such a way that people could tell there was something different about them.

“Hey! You’re getting beat up by the people around you. Why are you so happy?  Where does your joy come from? Where does your hope come from?”

“Let me tell you.”

Do you have a painful hope?

I mean hope through the tears?

Back on September 11th during the terrorist attacks, author Jill Briscoe was on a plane to the United States that got re-directed to Greenland for two weeks.  And everyone was miserable there.  No one could go home, they had to sleep on military cots.  And New York was in rubble.

And Jill had a kind word, a shared blanket, and a smile for others, even when they gave her grief about it. She wrote when she got back that some of the people said, "What in the world do you have to smile about?"

And she says, "So I told them!"

Are you ready to tell people what you are smiling about?

Maybe God is bringing pain into your life so that your hope shows through so that people ask.

If you weren't hurting, they might miss your hope. But your hope is all you have when you hurt so God brings in pain to bring out your hope and make them ask.

Ready your mouth.


There is a right way and wrong way to do this. Look at verse 15 once again.

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

Your manner matters.

It matters how we talk to people, not just what we say.

Peter with “with gentleness.”

That means don't shove it down their throats. Be tender with people. Warren Wiersbe reminds us that when we are doing evangelism, we are “witnesses not the prosecuting attorney” (Be Hopeful, 84). The purpose of explaining our hope is not winning an argument but winning souls to Christ and that can only be done with gentle winsomeness.  Are you ready to do it that way?

“With Respect” means not lording your knowledge over them, but handing it to them respectfully. You aren't a Christian because you are so great and they are so bad.  You are a Christian because of the grace of God. Show that grace to them as you share your hope with them.

And “With a Clear Conscience” means living the life that you are talking about on the inside as well as the outside. Not being a hypocrite. Walking the walk, not just talking the talk. Because they are watching your life to see if it matches your words.

Do you trust in the Lord with all you heart?
Do you lean not on your own understanding?
Do you acknowledge Him in all your ways?

They want to know that it’s for real. Not just some sales pitch.

People are watching your life to see if it matches your words–not perfectly but truly.

And if it does, Peter says, that someday (if only on the Judgement Day) they will be ashamed that they picked on you.

Verse 16. “ that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. [Hopefully, nobody at the Good News Cruise will be slandering you. But if you are getting it in the rest of life, we have this vindication to look forward to. V.17] It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. [So keep on doing good. That’s what Jesus did! V.18] For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”

He showed us the way.

Gentleness, Respect, a Clear Conscience.

That’s the right manner to give out the gospel.

It’s the way of love.

We need to love the people we talk to.

Even the ones that are against us.

That’s what Jesus did. When WE were against Him.

“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”

Tell ‘em that!

That’s the gospel. That’s the good news that this cruise is built on.

“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”

It doesn’t have to be fancy. We just have to keep our focus on the main thing.

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

And the main thing is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Let’s ready our hearts.
Let’s ready our mouths.
Let’s ready our manner.

And let’s go out there at the Cruise and in the rest of life and answer the question we’ve got on our backs.