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Sunday, September 19, 2021

“Be Holy In All You Do” [Matt's Messages]

“Be Holy In All You Do”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
September 19, 2021 :: 1 Peter 1:13-16

“Be holy in all you do.”

That’s in 1 Peter 1:15, and it is also the title of this message.

And it is also God’s direct Word to Lanse Free Church today: “Be holy in all you do.”

How does that command hit you today? How does it rest on you?

What do you think and feel and wonder as you read it and hear it today?  

“Be holy in all you do.”

There is a part of me that thrills when I hear those words. They are thrilling.

I hear an invitation to live a different kind of life.

That’s what “holy” means, right? To be “holy” means to be different. It means to be set apart. Put in a different category. To be special. To be distinct. To be different.

We often equate “holy” with “pure,” and that’s right because what could be more different than the world than being pure?

Sometimes when I read these words, I feel an exciting invitation to live a different kind of life. A life like God’s own life.

That’s where Peter gets this. He says (v.15), “[J]ust as he who called you is holy [God], so be holy in all you do; for is written [Leviticus 19:2] ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”

That’s an invitation to live like God does! 

“Be holy in all you do.”

That’s very inspiring and rightfully so.

But, most of the time, that’s not the first thing that I think or feel when I hear those words.

Most of the time, I feel overwhelmed. I feel defeated. 

Most of the time, my first thought is, “Sounds nice, but I’ll never get there.”

Especially with that word “all” in there. “Be holy in ALL you do.”

I can often feel defeated in holiness before I even start trying.

Can you relate to that?

I hope not, but I expect you probably can.

That’s why Peter does not begin his letter in verse 15.

We’re starting today’s message with those words, but we are not hearing them until the fourth message in this series.

For the first 12 verses of his letter (what we’ve read so far), Peter gives no commands whatsoever. Zero. That very long sentence in Greek? Verses 3 through 12? Last 2 sermons? No commands.

Peter began his letter–not with commands but–with reminders. He began by reminding these precious believers WHO they are and WHOSE they are in some of the most beautiful and powerful words ever recorded on paper.

I’m tempted to read verses 1 through 12 to you again.

About how we are elect exiles. So very loved even though we’re so very displaced. 

And about how we are chosen and given new birth into a living hope, a perfect and safe inheritance that is being kept perfectly safe for us in heaven and for which we are being kept perfectly safe here while we wait for the revelation of Jesus Christ.

About a living hope that is worth rejoicing in even through fiery trials because of Jesus Christ whom we have not yet seen and yet still love and trust and rejoice in and know in ways that the prophets didn’t and the angels never will.

That’s how Peter starts his letter!

So that the holy flows out of the hope.

Do you see that? We’re going to drill down into that idea today.

The holiness flows out of the hopefulness.

And that gives me hope for the holiness!

“Be holy in all you do.”


The very first word in verse 13 is “therefore.”

And whenever you see a “therefore” in Scripture, you know you should always try to figure out, what?  What it’s there for.

This is a hinge moment in the letter. Peter has not given us any commands so far. 

But now he’s going to fire them out at us left and right.

There are like 7 in our 4 verses for today!

And there are a bunch more to come. That’s what it’s there for. Peter has already reached the “so what” of the truth he’s been proclaiming so far. And the “so what” is really really big.

I want to summarize the application today under two main headings:

100% HOPE and 100% HOLY.

#1. 100% HOPE. 

Listen now to 1 Peter 1, verse 13.

“Therefore [because of everything you’ve read in the first 12 verses of this letter, therefore], prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

100% Hope.

The main command in verse 13 is to “set your hope fully on the grace to be given to you...”

Put all of your hope, 100%, on that grace that is coming your way.

Put all of your eggs in that basket.
Put all of your chips on that number.
Put all of your investment funds in that one single stock.

Do not diversify your hope.

Rest all of your hope, 100%, on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed (same exact words in the Greek, by the way as in verse 7, “at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” when Jesus Christ comes back).

What does that mean, “set your hope”?

Do you remember what we said “hope” is in this context? Biblical hope?

It’s not just wishful thinking.

It’s not “Oh, I hope Heather Joy bakes me a Texas Sheet Cake.”

By way, I still have not gotten a Texas Sheet Cake this month.

You know why? Because Heather Joy never promised me one!

It’s just been wishful thinking on my part. The other kind of hope.

But if Heather Joy was to promise me a Texas Sheet Cake, then based upon who I know her to be, I could hope for it in this way.

Because this kind of hope is a confidence in the heart of something certain in the future. A confidence in the heart of something certain still in the future.

The Apostle Peter says that we should put 100% of our hearts’ confidence in the grace that is going to be given to us when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Now, I want you to focus on that word “grace” in verse 13.

Because that’s what we’re supposed to put our hope in. Hope fully in the grace.

What is grace? Grace is unmerited blessing. Undeserved goodness.

Grace is getting something you do not deserve.

Grace is not getting something bad that you do deserve and it’s also getting all the good that you do not deserve.

And that’s very encouraging!

Because the command to be holy in verse 15 comes after the reminder that we are going to be graced beyond belief when Jesus Christ returns. The holy flows from the hope.

We are not supposed to be holy so that we somehow earn God’s blessings.

No! It doesn’t work that way. We are going to get God’s blessings because God is amazing gracious and has promised it to us.

We are going to get God’s blessings because Jesus Christ died for us and came back to life for us and is coming back soon to give us grace upon grace.

This does not say to put your hope in you or your own efforts.

Or on anything else!

It says “set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 100%.

Now, how do you do that?

Well, it’s important to know what is going to be given to you, isn’t it?

And that’s what Peter has been talking about, especially in verses 3 through 5, right? That inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade. That’s the grace!

Wrap your mind around that inheritance and put your hope in it 100%.

And you will grow in holiness!

We have so much good coming TO us soon that we can BE good right now.

Peter gives two other commands in verse 13 that shed some light on how to do this (because they are participles that modify the main verb). Verse 13 again.

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled...”

Now, literally, the Greek for “prepare your minds for action” could be more woodenly translated “gird up the loins of your mind.” Which sounds more than a little weird.

You see, the Jews in Peter’s day wore long flowing robes that reached their ankles. And any of you ladies who have ever tried to run in a dress can tell that kind of clothing could be dangerous in a battle. So when it was time to fight, they would hitch up their outer clothes and tuck it into their belts so that they could run. That’s what “to gird up your loins means.” And this says, to gird up the loins of your mind.

Get your mind ready to fight. Prepare your mind for action.

Like when your favorite superheroes say, “Suit up!” They are getting ready to fight.

We need to get our game face on and get ready to fight for hope and for holiness.

How do you do that? You think about truth! You stock up your mind with the truth of the grace that’s on the way so that you can fight the right-now battles of hope.

You can’t hope with your heart unless you think with your head about the promises God has given you in Christ. Fill your mind with the promises of vv.3-12 and the command to hope in v.13 will not be so hard.

Then, “be self-controlled.” The Greek word here has an overtone of sobriety. The CSB and the ESV both have “be sober-minded.”

It means to be sensible. To be reality based. To be vigilant because you expect there to be a fight in your life.
 
Notice, again, that Peter is completely realistic.

Even though he has just described the most wonderful and bright future ever imagined for every true believer in Jesus Christ, he is completely sober about the bleak situation in the present.

These people are hurting, and that is normal.

And that is normal for you and. Christians hurt in the here now.

We are broken and we live in a broken world because we are not home yet to our unbroken homeland.

We need to realistic. We need to be sober-minded. We need to wrap our minds around that and focus beyond the pain of now to the joy of forever.

“Set your hope fully on the grace to be given to you when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

100%.

How are you doing at that?

I can guess that you are not running yet at 100%. Nobody does.

But what are you hoping in these days?

The stability of your job?
The enjoyment of your “family-togetherness?”
The pleasure of professional or collegiate sports?
The comfort of your entertainment system?
The approach of hunting season?
The brilliance of your intellect to plan out your life?
The pile of money in your bank account?
The government?

What are you hoping in?

“Set your hope fully on the grace to be given to you when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

It is not here yet, but it is more than enough to empower you to do whatever you need to do to be holy right now.

Because holiness comes from hope!

And that’s where Peter goes next:

#2. 100% HOLY. 

V.14. “As obedient children [who obey this command to hope], do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance [of the gospel]. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” 100% Holy.

Again, Peter is very realistic here. Very sober.

Yes, he says that we need to go for 100% holy, but he knows that it won’t come naturally. He knows that we will have to get ready for action and to resist. Look at verse 14 again.

“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance...” 

“I know you used to live that way. You used to just give in to those desires. They are natural to you.

You didn’t know about the grace, the undeserved goodness, that you will be getting because of Jesus. So of course you lived that way! Of course you gave in.

You went with the world, the flesh, and the devil.

But now, you don’t have to because of your new Dad.”

Did you see those words “as obedient children”? Remember that you and I have been chosen for adoption and even given a new birth into a new family and a whole new set of desires to follow!

“As obedient children [of our new Father we don’t have to conform...], to the evil desires [we] had when [we] lived in ignorance” back in the day!

We can and must say, “No.” “No” to those desires.

You see how our holiness flows from our hopefulness? We have so much good coming TO us soon because of our Father that we can BE good right now.

If I knew that I had Texas Sheetcake coming later today, I would not eat junk food all afternoon! Because of the good stuff I know is on the way, I could resist the evil desires that wage war against my soul.

And instead of giving in to those evil desires that still linger inside of us, we can be holy. V.15

“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” 100%

Holy, holy, holy.

Now, at first, that might seem overwhelming and daunting.

He’s holy, holy, holy. How can I be like Him?

But of course, that’s the just the right standard and the right motivation, isn’t it?

If God is holy, holy, holy, what other standard would be appropriate for His children to shoot for?

He is holy, holy, holy, but I plan to be dirty, dirty, dirty?

Or maybe dirty, sorta clean, dirty. Good enough?

Remember, this is an invitation to live like God does. To live a different kind of life.

And isn’t it amazing that Peter just lays it out there like it is actually do-able?!!!

Have you ever studied the life of Peter?

Peter? From the Gospels, and Acts, and Mr. Still Getting It Wrong in Galatians?

That Peter?

But Peter knows about the grace that is on the way, and he knows that this “holy” is the perfect standard and the perfect motivation.

I mean, don’t you want to be like your heavenly Father?

“[J]ust as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” 

Just do it.

You won’t do it perfectly, but don’t worry, your salvation does not come from doing it perfectly.

Your salvation comes from Jesus and what He did perfectly.

And you will receive all of that by grace!

So put your hope in that grace and be holy in all you do.

“Be holy in all you do.”

That means all of the time. Not just on Sundays. Not just an act.

“Be holy in all you do.” 

That means a lifestyle of holiness. Some translations say, “Be holy in all your conduct.”

“Be holy in all you do.”

That means there is no sector of your life that should not be saturated with holiness.

Be holy at work.
Be holy at play.
Be holy at school.
Be holy on the roadway.
Be holy in your words.
Be holy in your relationships.
Be holy in your parenting.
Be holy in your neighboring.
Be holy in your hobbies.
Be holy with your money.
Be holy in your entertainments.
Be holy online.
Be holy on social media.
Be holy in your habits.

“Be holy in all you do.”

This is an invitation to live differently than the rest of the world.

We’re going to see this again and again as we study 1 Peter.

He wants us to live differently than the unbelieving world around us.

How are you doing at that?

Does your life look different than the lives of the unbelievers around you?

Or are you just like them?

And I don’t just mean that you aren’t a criminal.

I mean, this is more than just following the outside of the 10 Commandments.
This is living out the inside of the Sermon on the Mount.
This is exhibiting the holy fruit of the Holy Spirit.

“Be holy in all you do.”

Take this to heart. This is God’s direct Word to you today.

Right now, from your heart, I encourage you to ask the Lord to show you areas in your life that are not currently holy as they should be. Ask specifically about your desires, any evil ones, any desires out of control, out of proportion. Ask the Lord to put His holy finger on your unholiness, and then offer that area up to Him in prayer.

Say, “Lord, I want to be holy in all I do. Please forgive me for that thing you’ve put your finger on. I confess it. Cleanse me of all unrighteousness. And help me to change. Because I believe I have so much goodness coming to me soon, I can be good right now. I can live differently. I can live out the family resemblance. I can be holy.

Make me 100%. Get me ready for battle. Help me to be sober about this and how hard it will be, but make me 100% holy.”

What might happen if we begin to actually live like verses 13 through 16?

Setting our hope fully on the grace that is on the way.

And living genuinely authentically different lives than the unbelievers around us.

What might happen?

“Be holy in all you do.”

I think that sounds simply thrilling!


***

Previous Messages in This Series

01. "Elect Exiles" 1 Peter 1:1-2
02. "A Living Hope" 1 Peter 1:3-7
03. "Angles Long To Look Into These Things" 1 Peter 1:8-12

Thursday, September 16, 2021

You Are Invited to Celebration Sunday 2021!


Dear Church Family,

I am so pleased and excited to get to invite you to this year’s special Celebration Sunday worship time at Lanse Evangelical Free Church!

On Sunday, September 26th at 10:00am we are going to have another special outdoor worship gathering here out in the field on our church campus, and I’m hoping that everybody can come.

We’re celebrating 129 years of God’s faithfulness to us as a church family with some really special events.

Matt Cox from Miracle Mountain Ranch will be our guest preacher that Sunday, and he’s promised to bring along some four-footed friends to help him with his message. If you’ve never heard Matt Cox do a “Message from the Mount,” you’re in for a treat! I think he’s planning to bring at least a steer, a horse, and a dog. And maybe they’ll get to pose with us in our annual church family photo! I don’t think we’re going to have to use a drone this year. We’ll get to be closer together than we were last year for the picture though we’ll make sure that everybody still feels safe.

Even more special, we are planning to have testimonies and baptisms on Celebration Sunday. It’s been a while since we have done baptisms, and we’re still working out the final logistics, but I’m excited to assist a few people to publicly proclaim their faith in Christ and identify with His death, burial, and resurrection! 
   
Here’s what you need to know to prepare:

Weather-permitting, we’re all going to be out the field like we were last year. We’ll have some chairs set up and also available for you to put where you are comfortable, but you’re also welcome to bring along your own lawnchairs and canopies and even park out in the field for tailgate style worship. We may not have FM transmission, but we will have a strong sound system so that everybody can hear.

If you are able-bodied and not tailgating, please park on other side of the church and walk over. Let’s leave the prime parking spots for those who need the shorter walk or are going to worship from their cars. There will be welcome tables to grab a worship bulletin and to give your offering, and after the photo to enjoy some celebratory sweets and fellowship.

Live music will begin at 9:30am, and the service will begin promptly at 10:00. Pray for nice weather just like last year. Especially for those of us who are going to get wet with the baptisms!

If we are outside, we are not going to have children’s church or nursery because everybody will want to watch Matt Cox and the “critters” in the Message from the Mount. If it’s too wet, we’ll move inside and offer our usual outdoor options. And even then, we’ll have nursery but not children’s church because I expect Matt’s message to be one the little kids won’t want to miss.

This will be last month for having a totally outdoor worship time like we have on the last Sunday of the month all summer so, again, please pray for nice weather.

Regardless of the weather, however, please plan to come and invite your friends. This is a great opportunity to gather together, to all worship in one place at one time, and to praise our God for His great faithfulness to Lanse Free Church for 129 years.

See you at Celebration Sunday on September 26th at 10:00am!

-Pastor Matt

Sunday, September 12, 2021

"Angels Long to Look Into These Things" [Matt's Messages]

“Angels Long To Look Into These Things”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
September 12, 2021 :: 1 Peter 1:8-12

If you remember, verses 3 through 12 are one long sentence in the original Greek that Peter wrote to the “elect exiles” scattered throughout Asia Minor.

These very loved and very displaced people received this letter from the pen of the Apostle Peter to give them hope and direction as they experienced fiery trials.

Peter begins with praise because of the living hope, the guaranteed inheritance, that  is perfect and safe and perfectly safe that sustains followers of Jesus Christ no matter what various trials come upon them to test their faith and will result in glory when Jesus Christ returns.


What in the world could make an angel curious?

What would it take to fascinate an angel of God?

That last sentence in verse 12 is just astonishing, isn’t it?

“Even angels long to look into these things.”

The Christian Standard Bible says, they “long to catch a glimpse of these things.”

It interests the angels to no end!

I don’t know about you, but the word “curious” is about one of the last words that I would come up with to describe angels.

Angels are powerful.
Angels are mysterious.
Angels are flames of fire.
Angels are fearsome.
Angels are warriors.

Angels are...curious??!

Most of the time, when an angel shows up in the Bible, they have a message from God. They don’t have questions. They have answers!

But in verse 12, Peter pulls back the curtain a little bit more and reveals one more thing about angels. There are some things in the world that just totally fascinate them. There are some things that angels marvel at. Their jaws drop (if they have them), and their eyes bug out as they study these things.

“Even angels long to look into these things.”

Isn’t that astonishing?

It’s even more astonishing when you come to understand that Peter is saying that what they long to look into is something that you and I as New Testament Christians are currently experiencing!

They are on the outside curiously looking in, and you and I are on the inside.

It’s not that they’re not involved. They are involved, and have been from the beginning.

But they are involved from the outside, so to speak. You and I who belong to Jesus are experiencing these things on the inside.

We have a privileged position.

“Even angels long to look into these things.”

So. What are “these things?”

I think it’s everything from verses 3 through 12.

But it can probably be summed up with a beautiful powerful word that appears at the end of verse 9 and then right again at the start of verse 10.

“Salvation.”

V.9, “You are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

And by soul, it doesn’t just mean the immaterial substance of your spirit. It really means your whole self. The soul is the whole self.

You are receiving the salvation of your souls from sin, and death, and Hell.

That’s what the angels are fascinated by.

They are just captivated and delighted and enthralled and totally interested to study out how God is saving you and me!

Have you ever thought about that? 

Now, don’t get me wrong. They are not impressed by you and me.

Gabriel is not like, “Hey, Michael, you’ve got to see this Matt Mitchell guy. He’s really impressive.” 

No. It’s actually the opposite. “Hey, guys, you have seen what the Triune God is doing with that sinner? Did you see what kind of grace the Lord has on display? Do you see how the Master is bringing about the salvation of his soul? Astonishing!”

Even angels long to look into human salvation.

There is very little hint of angelic salvation in the Bible. Jesus did not die for the fallen angels (though His death will renew them and their world). 

But He did die and rise again to give living hope to humans who would put their faith in Him.

And that intrigues the angels to no end!

Verses 10 through 12 tell us that it wasn’t just the angels who were intrigued.

The Old Testament prophets were also curious. Look at verse 10.

“Concerning this salvation [the salvation of your souls], the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.”

Now, there are a lot of words there, but the main point is pretty clear.

The Old Testaments prophets–like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Micah, Daniel–those guys–were prophesying to Israel then but also of things to still to come. And they were really curious to understand how what they were writing was all going to come about.

I mean think about being Isaiah writing Isaiah 53! You know that the Holy Spirit is stirring your heart to write, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. [Isaiah is writing...] Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (vv.3-5).

And you’re Isaiah, and you say to God, “Who is that? Who will that be? And when will that be?” The prophets asked that question over and over again. “When?!”

Peter loves his Old Testament, especially Psalms and Isaiah. And he’s going to quote it again and again as we read his letter.

But he knows that they didn’t know when and how all of their prophecies were going to coalesce and be fulfilled!

They could see, the Spirit was showing them, the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. In shadowy form, they could see the Cross and the Empty Tomb and the Kingdom to come.

But not Who and not When. Verse 12.

“It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.”

Did you catch all of the “to you’s” there?

Verse 10, “the grace that was to come to you.”
Verse 12, “they were not serving themselves but you
Verse 12, “told you by those who have preached the gospel to you.”

Peter is saying that the elect exiles reading his letter (and by extension you and I today) have an advantage over both the Old Testament prophets and the angels of God!

Think about that!

Have you ever wished that you lived in the Old Testament and could see the miracles of God with your own eyes? The Red Sea Rescue. The Walls of Jericho come tumbling down. Goliath falling to one small smooth stone. The golden temple being erected. The fire falling on the wet sacrifice on Mt. Carmel. The Hebrew children emerging from the fiery furnace without even smelling of smoke!

Well, they wished that they could be in your shoes on this side of the Cross.

When the mystery has been revealed.

It was all leading up to you! To what God was doing with you!

Have you ever wished that you were an angel?

A powerful spiritual messenger of God. Un-fallen. Sinless. Flaming with purity.

Attending God in His throne room.  Un-suffering. (As far as we know.)

I’ll bet these precious followers of Jesus receiving Peter’s first letter envied the angels when they were experiencing persecution in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.

But Peter says that the angels longed to look into what was happening to them.

What God was up to in their lives. In their human salvation.

I think that’s truly amazing.

You and I have an advantage over the prophets and the angels.

Because the prophets were predicting the grace that has come to us now and the angels watch it play out from the outside when you and I are in!

How does that make you feel?

Why do you think that Peter tells us all of this?

What is he trying to do to us when we read this?

This isn’t just a set of curious facts that Peter happens to throw in for good measure.

He’s trying to do something in our hearts. What do think it might be?

Remember, these people were suffering. They were displaced physically. And they were displaced spiritually. They were not home. They were not in their homeland. They were exiles. Refugees. Sojourners. Foreigners. And they were feeling it.

And they were being made to feel it. They were experiencing some persecution and other various kinds of suffering.

They hurt.

Their lives hurt.

And I think it would be easy to feel sorry for yourself in that situation, right?

Anybody here struggling right now with feeling sorry for yourself?

Not just feeling sad but feeling envious of anybody who has it better than you or me?

Not just feeling lament and grief but jealousy or angry and self-pitying.  

“O poor me. O poor me.”

I fall into that one all of the time, and I know that objectively I am very blessed.

But a little bit of suffering, and I’m throwing myself a major pity party.

Peter will have none of it. Peter was bent on showing these Christians how good they have it. How loved they are. How safe they are. How known and accepted and chosen and blessed.

At least in these ways, we have it better than Isaiah or Daniel or the angel Gabriel!

“Even angels long to look into these things.”

That YOU are living right here, right now.

So what might be the application of this for us today?

Well, starting in the very next verse, Peter lays out some major points of application. We’ll jump into that next week, Lord-willing, in verse 13.

But for now, I think the application is just to keep doing what you’re already doing as a true follower of Christ. It’s the things in verses 8 and 9.

You might have noticed that we have largely skipped over verses 8 and 9 so far today. Let’s go back up and look more closely at them. V.8

“Though you have not seen him, you love him...”

There’s application point number one.

#1. YOU LOVE HIM.

This verse is talking about Jesus. Verse 7 said that one day soon Jesus Christ will be revealed.

But right now, He is hidden from view.

These Christians have never seen Him. Never laid eyes on Him.

Peter has. But he knows that these folks have not.

And yet they love Him!

How about you?

Raise your hand or honk if you have seen Jesus with your own eyes.

I don’t expect to hear even one honk.

Now. Raise your hand or honk if you love Jesus.

Isn’t that amazing?

You love somebody you’ve never seen?!

“Angels long to look into these things.”

Just keep loving Him.

You know it’s right to.

Jesus is the most amazing Person to ever live. To ever die. To ever live again.

He has shown you amazing love. Love Him back.

Cherish Jesus. Love Him more than anything else in the whole wide world.

It’s okay to love other things, but love Jesus more than anything.

Love Him so much that it could be said that you hate everything else in comparison.

Even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts. Love Him.

He loved you especially when in hurt. V.8

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him...”

That’s number two.

#2. YOU BELIEVE IN HIM.

You’re already doing it. Keep doing it. Keep trusting Him.

Peter says that even though you do not see him now, you continue to put your faith in Him. You find Jesus trustworthy.

Does anybody see Jesus right now? With your physical eyes?

No. But do you trust Him?

I know you do.

By the way, you know that you trust Him when you see yourself obeying Him.

Our faith comes out in our works.

Our works do not save us, but they can show us that we are saved.

You trust Him.

You trust Him even when it hurts.

Not only can you not see Him right now, but you can see your troubles.

Keep on trusting Him anyway.

Now, that’s not something that we should do with just anybody, right?

Some people should not be trusted when they are out of sight.

Toddlers and politicians for example.

But you know Jesus. 
And you love Him.
And you trust Him.

You believe in Him even though you do not see Him now.

“Angels long to look into these things.”

That’s God’s work in you!

And one more. V.8 again. “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

#3. YOU REJOICE IN HIM.

You’re already doing it. 

All true Christians do this.

Because of what Jesus has done, because of the sufferings of Christ predicted by the Old Testament prophets long ago, we are receiving the end result of our faith, the biggest thing we’ve been trusting Him for, the salvation of our entire beings.

We ARE receiving it.

Notice how certain that is.

Everything we saw last week about how perfectly safe our salvation is kept in heaven and how we are being kept safe for our salvation “shielded by God’s power.”

We ARE by faith receiving that salvation, and no power in the universe can stop it!

So we cannot help but rejoice!!

We “are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy[!]”

We have no words for it; it so good.

We "are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy[!]"

Of course we are! 

We rejoice in Him.
We rejoice in Jesus.
Even when it hurts.

That’s what it takes to make an angel curious.

“Angels long to look into these things.”

They say, “Wow! Wow! Wow! Would you look at that? How amazing is the work of our Triune God!

They love Jesus. Even though they have never seen Him!
They trust Jesus. Even though they do not see Him now!
They rejoice in Jesus even though they are hurting really really bad.

Would you just look at that? How fascinating!

Just catch a glimpse of what the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are doing right here, right now...in them!”

May God get the glory.


***

Saturday, September 11, 2021

"Turn and Trust - 9/11" [Matt's Messages]

What follows is the unedited manuscript of the message I preached the Sunday after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. At that time the death-toll was estimated to be about 5,000 people. The official number turned out to be 2,977 which is devastating to consider. 

As we mark this day 20 years later, may we continue to remember the awfulness of what happened, to applaud with gratitude the courage and service of so many who ran into danger, and to learn the lessons the Lord wants us to hear and to heed.

World-Trade-Center 9-11
AnonymousUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

"Turn & Trust"
September 16, 2001
Luke 13:1-9

What do you say after a week like this?  As you know, on Tuesday, terrorists succeeded in leveling the World Trade Center and killing thousands of people.  The Pentagon was attacked by another hijacked airplane and yet another dug a deep crater south and west of here in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Our nation has been attacked.  The death toll is higher than Pearl Harbor and the Titanic combined.  The nation has been in crisis-mode all week with planes grounded and financial markets frozen.

This has been the greatest American tragedy in my lifetime, and most of the week I had no idea what I was going to say to you this morning because of my grief for the nation.

What do you say?  In 5 short days, our country has gone through shock, fear, exhaustion, and mourning in quick succession.  It’s been overwhelming.

Christian leaders from around the country have urged that this day be set apart as a “National Day of Mourning and Prayer” and have urged pastors everywhere to give words of comfort and consolation to our congregations.

And that is right.  We need to hear words of comfort–words about the powerful love of God that cannot be separated from us who are in Christ Jesus (Did you hear George W. Bush quote Romans 8 on Friday?).  And we need to hear words of consolation–words about the God who cares about pain and suffering and is powerful enough to do something about it.  A God who is great and a God who is near–just like Pastor Russell told us a few weeks ago.

But there is a word that is conspicuously missing from the national dialogue this week.  I have not heard it on National Public Radio or heard about it being spoken on the television or written in the newspapers.

And that word is “repentance.”  Repentance.

And while I intend to share words of comfort this morning, I believe that God is calling for Christian leaders to call people to repent because of this tragedy.  Don’t just mourn.  Don’t just pray.  Don’t just hold candlelight vigils.  Repent!

Why do I say that?  Because Jesus said it.  Let’s look at Luke chapter 13, verses 1-9.

V.1.  “Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.”

Jesus receives some bad news just like we received bad news this week.  People from his homeland had been killed while worshiping.  Imagine some armed thugs breaking in here right now, and slicing some of our throats and then pouring our thick, red blood on the communion table.  That’s how horrible this was.  Pilate’s men had killed some Galileans and mingled their blood with the blood of bulls, rams, goats, and doves on the altar in the temple.

And some people shared this bad news with Jesus.  And Jesus knows what they are thinking.  You see, the prevailing notion of the day was that if someone suffered like this, then they must have been an extraordinary sinner to deserve it.  Remember the story of Job from late January?  Job’s quote-unquote friend Eliphaz said, “Who, being innocent, has ever perished?  Where were the upright ever destroyed?  As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it.” (Job 4:7)  One for one.  Sin for suffering.  That was the prevailing notion.

Strangely enough, something almost opposite is the prevailing notion today–and that is that there is almost no sin worthy of perishing.  That those who worked in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and were flying on commercial airliners did in no way deserve their fate on Tuesday.  They were completely innocent and should not have suffered at all.  That is today’s prevailing notion.

And both notions are partly right and mostly wrong.  Jesus saw things far differently than we often do.  And he saw them absolutely accurately.  He is the one human who absolutely accurately saw reality clearly as it really is.

V.2 is Jesus’ stunning answer to the bad news.  And it is shocking to today’s ears.

“Jesus answered, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than the other Galileans because they suffered this way?  I tell you, no!  But unless you repent, you too will all perish.’”

Their suffering was not in proportion to extraordinary sin.  Their suffering was in proportion to ordinary sin.

The wonder in the world is not that people suffer.  The wonder is that people don’t suffer more often because we are all ordinary sinners–and deserve a fate worse than death.  That’s Jesus’ perspective.

He takes this bad news as normal.  And uses it as an opportunity to warn people to repent.  “Unless you repent, you too will perish.”

To perish means to die.  And he means much more than just physically dying, because we all do that (even repentant people), it means spiritually dying, spending eternity in hell–conscious eternal torment.

“Unless you repent, you too will perish.”

Jesus is saying, those Galileans met a dreadful end.  But they were no worse than you.  And you, too, will meet a dreadful end unless you repent.

But someone might say, those Galileans probably did something against Pilate to deserve some action.  We don’t know what, but that wouldn’t be surprising.  So Jesus, goes out of his way to show that this principle of God’s wrath applies to natural disasters, too.  V.4

Jesus says, “Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them–do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?  I tell you, no!  But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Now, 18 sounds like a very low number compared with 5000, but here we have a building falling on top of people and killing them.  Would Jesus have mourned their deaths? I believe, yes, He would.  He hated death. Jesus hated the enemy of death. Would Jesus have comforted and consoled the families of the victims left behind in the wake of the tower of Siloam tragedy?  I believe, yes, He would.  He wept with those who wept and cared for people like a gentle shepherd.

But He also cared about their souls.  And He knew that their deepest need was for repentance.  “Unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

You and I deserve a fate worse than a building falling upon us.  We deserve the torment of Hell because we are ordinary (not extraordinary!) ordinary sinners.

That’s what Jesus says!

On one level, of course, we are shocked by what has happened this week.  We thought we were generally safe and secure and protected by the military might of the United States of America.

But on a reality-level, we should be shocked every day that we don’t die in a worse way!  Because we are sinners.  And God is absolutely holy.

“Unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Jesus is sounding a warning.  A warning to everyone here in this room.  A warning to everyone in our country.  A warning to everyone who hears about this tragedy all over the world.  And, yes, a warning to those who perpetrated this atrocious crime against our nation.

“Unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

When Jesus hears or tells of a tragedy, he reminds the crowd that God is holy, and we are sinful.  God is righteous, and we are unclean.  God is just, and we are rebellious.

God would be and is right to cause us to perish.  And every tragedy is a warning bell going off for us to repent while there is still time.

“Unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
“Unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
“Unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Those are not my words.  I didn’t want to say them this morning.  But they are Jesus’ words.  And He would not let me say anything else.

Jesus says, “Do you think that the 5,000 people buried under the World Trade Center were worse sinners than the ones who escaped?  Unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Those are hard words.  But I have good news for you this morning:

#1.  There is time for us to repent today!

Starting in v.6, Jesus tells a story, a parable, that further explains his point of view . It is scary, but also full of hope.

After saying, “‘Unless you repent, you too will all perish.  Then he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any.  So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, `For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any.  Cut it down!  Why should it use up the soil?’` ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it.  If it bears fruit next year, fine!  If not, then cut it down.’`”

Notice, that this story comes on the heals of the warning to repent.  The fig tree is you and me.  And God’s justice is looking for fruit on us, “the fruit of faith, the fruit of repentance.”  And He has not found it.  So He plans to cut us down (that is to judge us!).  But there is another part of God’s character–His mercy, His longsuffering, His patience–that stays His hand for another period of time with more gracious care and fertilizing words of promise rained down upon the fruitless fig-tree.

This parable is saying that God is patient–that there is time today for us to repent.

If you are listening to this sermon, if you are alive: breathing, thinking, weighing what I’m saying, then God is being patient with you and giving you a chance right now to repent.  My words are the vinedresser’s care and fertilizer for you. God is calling you now while there is time to repent.

2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness [some of you are wondering why God does not strike Osama Bin Laden dead right now.  2 Peter 3:9 says...] God is patient with you [why doesn’t God strike you dead right now?], not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

For those of us who are unrepentant today, God is saying, “Don’t cut the tree down just yet.  Wait a bit.  I have every right to cut this tree down, but I will give him or her more time for the fruit of repentance.”

The good news this morning is not only that God has sounded a warning that we should repent, but God is also giving us time to repent.

God is not just holy and righteous.  God is merciful and patient.

And the second good news is even greater!

#2.  God is granting life to those who repent!

Jesus said (in both v.3 and v.5), “Unless you repent, you too will all perish.”  But the opposite is also true, “If you repent, you will have life!”  That’s the opposite of perishing.

John 3:16:  “God so loved the world (that’s despicable people like you and me) that He gave His One and Only Son (Jesus Christ, the One who Himself suffered the wrath of God upon sin,) that whoever [repents] and believes in him shall NOT PERISH but have eternal life.”

John 10:27:  Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. [Unsnatchable! Safe!] My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all [greater than the US Government, greater than Osama Bin Laden, greater than the fear of death, greater than all] no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”  (John 10:27-29)  Safe and secure from all alarms!

The greatest news in all the world is that God has provided a substitute to perish in our place so that if we come to Him repentantly we will not suffer the pains of Hell.  And we will be safe!  At home in God!  “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty!” (Psalm 91:1)

Not perishing, but having eternal life.

Life, brothers and sisters! Life!  Abundant life!  The terrorist comes to steal, and kill, and destroy, but Jesus has come so that we might have life! And life abundantly! Life in the fullest sense of term. Life that we can’t begin to imagine the joys of!

“Unless you repent, you too will all perish.”  But if you do repent, you will have life!

I can’t think of a more comforting and consoling phrase to hang onto in a week of death than “eternal life.”  God is granting life to those who repent.

So repent!  Repent!  Repent!

What does that mean?  Let me put it this simply:

To repent means to turn from sin and trust in Him.

I think we can all remember that.  To repent means to turn from sin and trust in Him.

It’s not just saying, “I’m sorry,” It means making a break from the passing pleasures of sin, of choosing our own way to live our lives, and trusting in Him.  Looking to Him to be our soul’s satisfaction and asking Him to run our lives.

In preparing to build a house this Fall, I’ve learned a lot about contracts.  If you don’t set the terms, someone else will set them for you.

And God is God.  And He offers the only terms acceptable to Him–total surrender.  No bargaining. No giving Him only Sundays and Wednesday Nights.  No token prayers.  Total surrender.

Turn from sin and trust in Him.

If you are an unbeliever or living like one this morning, I call you, with Jesus, to repent.  You are a sinner deserving of Hell (just like I am).  But God is holding your catastrophe back and giving you this chance right now to repent. Turn from your sin and put your trust in Him.  Surrender.  Ask Jesus right now to forgive your sin and rule your life.  Give Him the steering wheel of your life.

If you are a professing believer right now, I call you, with Jesus, to repent.  You and I are no better than those who suffered on Tuesday. We need to turn from our self-satisfied sins and trust in Him.  We need to make Him our All-in-All, our sufficiency, our greatest treasure, our joy.  We need to be able to say, “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also, the body they may kill, God’s truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever!”

Our nation needs to repent.  Not just pray, not just hold candlight vigils, not just mourn.  But repent.  I pray that many and not few would bow the knee to the Lord Jesus Christ because of the warning of this tragedy.  Because if they do not, the real tragedy will be even worse.

On Tuesday, those who had not repented perished–not just once but twice–and the second death is eternal.  But those who had surrendered their lives in repentance to Jesus Christ were ushered into His glorious presence and found out what life truly is.

If you repent today, no matter who you are, you will have life.  God is holding back for repentance, and God is granting life through Jesus to all who surrender to Him.

What is holding you back?

“Unless you repent, you too will all perish.”  But if you do repent, you will have life!

Sunday, September 05, 2021

"A Living Hope" [Matt's Messages]

“A Living Hope”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
September 5, 2021 :: 1 Peter 1:3-7

Who needs some encouragement this morning?

I don’t know anybody who would refuse some true encouragement. 

And I’m finding that these days many Christians need a big healthy dose of it. I know I do.

How badly do you need encouragement today?

What kind of a week have you had? What kind of a week do you expect? What are you facing right now and how do you feel about it? Who needs some encouragement this morning?

Well, get ready to be encouraged!

The Christians to whom the Apostle Peter was writing his letter definitely needed encouragement.

They were suffering.

They were suffering from persecution.

They were hurting.

And they were far from home.

We learned last week in the very first verse that they were exiles, resident foreigners scattered throughout Asia Minor in what is now Northern and Western Turkey. 

And more than just physical ethnic exiles, even more importantly, they were spiritual exiles. They were not in their spiritual homeland either. And neither are we.

This world is not our home. We are citizens of a kingdom that has not yet come in its fullness. We are emissaries and ambassadors of that kingdom, but we are not home yet. We might be in our homes, but our homes are not in our true homeland.

And when we live like citizens of that kingdom that is coming, we often get into trouble with the kingdoms in which we presently live.

That was what these believers in Jesus were experiencing. They were hurting.

And Peter was writing to encourage them.

And, boy, does he!

Peter busts out of the gate with some of the most beautiful and powerful words in the whole New Testament of the Bible.

There is nothing weak in these opening words of his letter!  

Peter tells these elect exiles exactly what they most need to hear.

At the very same time, he doesn’t downplay, at all, what they are going through. There is nothing false or minimizing about their pain.

Peter just gives them a great and shining hope that more than overshadows their suffering. Hope for the hurting. 

He calls it in verse 3, “A Living Hope” and that’ll be the title of our message for today. “A Living Hope.” And there is no hope greater.

Let me read it to you. Verses 3 through 7 of 1 Peter chapter 1.

Amazingly, verses 3 through 12 are one long run-on sentence in the original Greek. Yes. Verses 3 through 12 are one sentence in the original! But I’m going to divide it up into two messages, this week and next, to try to get down into the details a little more. So I had to cut off somewhere, and I picked verse 7 as the cutoff for this week. 1 Peter 1:3-7.


Just reading it is encouraging, isn’t it?

Peter is so positive. He breaks out of the gate with this blessing to God. V.1

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!”

Before we get to talking about how hard it is, we need to start with blessing God for how great He is.

He is so worthy of our praise. "O For a Thousand Tongues to sing" His praise!

We bless His name because we have been so blessed by Him. Here’s what He did. Verse 1 again.

“In his great mercy [so He did something we could never do for ourselves] he [God the Father] has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...”

Now, if I slow down too much, we could spend a whole month on these verses!

This is such good news.

“In his great mercy he has given us [Christians] new birth into a living hope...”

So Christians, you need encouragement?

Start here. You have been given a new birth.

Christians have been born again. That’s something that we can’t do for ourselves. You can’t give yourself birth. But God has done it for us.

“In his great mercy he has given us new birth...”

Where did Peter get that language from?

Well, he was present that night that Nicodemus came to see Jesus, wasn’t he? The original Nick at Nite? John chapter 3. Jesus said, “You must be born again.”

And that’s exactly what’s happened to every genuine Christian in history.

We have experienced a new birth.

Which is really good news because we really needed it!

We needed a new identity. We needed a new citizenship. We needed a new potentiality. We need a new slate. We needed a new us!

You needed a new you.

I needed a new me.

Because we were dead in our trespasses and sins. We might have been walking around, but we were spiritually dead. We were the original Walking Dead.

And we needed a new birth. And God gave it to us. HOW? (V.3 again)

“through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...”

There is a lot of life here, isn’t there?

Jesus was also dead, physically dead, and God raised Him to life.

And that same resurrection power gives you and me new spiritual life, as well.

A new birth into...“a living hope.”

What wonderful words.

Now it’s important to understand what hope is in this context.

Biblical hope like this is not just a wishful feeling.

It is not just “I hope Heather Joy makes me a Texas Sheetcake this week” when Heather Joy has promised me no such thing.

That’s just a wishful feeling.

The only part of that that is hope is that it’s facing into the future.

Hope is always forward looking. Looking for something good in the future.

But this kind of hope is a sure thing.

This kind of hope is a certainty in the heart of something secure in the future.

This is like if Heather Joy promised me a Texas Sheetcake this week, and I know that she has all of the ingredients. (Which by the way, Sweetie, I’m going to the grocery store tomorrow if you want me to pick anything up for you!)

If Heather Joy told me that there would be a Texas Sheetcake some time this week, I would have this kind of hope. And it would be a living hope!

I love that word “living” modifying that word “hope.”

That shows just how powerful this hope is!

What would the opposite be? A dead hope. A cold hope. A stillborn hope. A lifeless hope. A hope that is not going anywhere.

But that’s not the kind of hope that God, in His mercy, has given us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead! He has given us a living hope.

A dynamic hope.
A vital hope.
An active hope.
A vibrant hope.

This is a hope that does stuff. Right?

A living hope is a hope that does something.

It’s a hope that lives.
It’s a hope that changes your life.
It’s a hope that gives you life.

Anybody encouraged yet?

This hope is what is pictured in your baptism. Christian, when you went down into the water, you were picturing your death with Christ. And when you came back up out of the water, you were illustrating your new birth in union with His resurrection!

You were picturing your new birth into a vibrant living hope.

Isn’t that wonderful?

Now, how certain is this hope?

The degree to which this hope lives is the degree to which this hope is secure.

These exiles need to know just how much they can count on this living hope.

Because there aren’t that many things they know that they can count on.

Well, that’s where Peter goes next, and he goes all the way. He says that this hope is perfect and perfectly secure. Verse 4.

In his great mercy God has given us new birth into a life hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead “and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you...”

Now that “and” in verse 4 could also be translated, “that is.” I think that this “inheritance” in verse 4 is the “living hope” of verse 3.

A living hope THAT IS “an inheritance...”

That sounds good, doesn’t it?

An inheritance is a promise of a gift later, isn’t it? Normally, after someone dies.

But it’s something future (like a hope) that is something to look forward to. And it’s promised now for later.
 
The Greek word here was frequently used in the Greek Old Testament for the land promised to Abraham and his descendants. The promised land of the Abrahamic Covenant. 

But it’s not just land here. It’s every single promise that comes with belonging to Jesus!

That’s our inheritance. We don’t have it all yet, but it’s all promised.

And it’s all guaranteed!

Listen to what Peter says about it. Verse 4 again.

It’s “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade...”

That’s perfect in every way.

Name something else that can never perish, spoil, or fade.

Everything perishes.
Everything spoils.
Everything fades.

But not these promises!
Not this inheritance.

And this “kept in heaven for you.”

Exile, that’s your true homeland! And that’s where your inheritance is.

And it’s safe there. It’s perfect. And it’s safe. And it’s perfectly safe.

It’s like a treasure in the First Bank of Heaven guarded by the angels of God and safeguarded by God’s own omnipotent power beyond that. 

And who is going to break into that bank and steal your inheritance?

“Kept in heaven for you.”

Encouraged yet?

That sounds pretty safe and secure.

But I have a worry. Do you have the same worry?

I’m not worried that the inheritance is not safe in heaven.

I’m just worried that I might not make it there to the inheritance.

I’m a little worried because I’m suffering. And I’m worried that I might not make it.

I’m a little worried because I’m suffering. And what does that mean?

Does that mean that I’m doing it wrong?

That I’m lacking faith?

Does this suffering mean that God has abandoned me?

And that I’m not his?

Some of those TV preachers say that God wants me to be healthy and wealthy and successful and prosperous.

And if I’m not, then there is something wrong with me.

And maybe the inheritance is secure, but I am not going to make it.

And that’s why Peter wrote verse 5!

Peter says that the inheritance is being kept in heaven, and that you and I are being kept for the inheritance. Look at verse 5.

You “who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Do you see that? It’s not just the inheritance that is safe and secure from all alarms.

So are all of God the Father’s children!

We are “shielded” by the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.

It’s like we’re in a armed car from the First Bank of Heaven, protected by the same security force that guards the bank in heaven, and is safely delivering us through all of the foreign territory to get to the bank to claim our inheritance.

And that shield is in place “until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”

That’s when Jesus Christ returns.

We have been saved when we were born again.
We are being saved as we’re being shielded.
And one day, we will be saved when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Anybody encouraged yet?!

“He will hold me fast
He will hold me fast
For My Savior loves me so

That is our hope.

And it is perfectly safe.

It is perfect. And it is safe. And it is perfectly safe.

Kept in heaven for us.

And we’re being kept for it.

BUT we are not being kept from suffering.

We’re being protected from apostasy. We’re being protected from Satan. We’re being protected from spiritual death.

But we’re not being protected from persecution.
We’re not being protected from suffering.
We’re not being protected from pain. V.6

“In this [living hope] you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”

Peter knows.

Peter knows how much these Christians are hurting.

And he’s not minimizing their pain. He’s certainly not saying that it’s all their fault.

Or that they are doing something wrong. That’s why it hurts. No!

He’s saying that it’s normal to “suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”

Including persecution.
Including disease.
Including breakdowns in relationships.

It’s normal. Suffering is normal. It is to be expected in this lifetime.

Jesus went through it. Why would we think we won’t?!

“All kinds of trials.”

They are not a punishment.
They are not a surprise (or at least they shouldn’t be).
And they are not proof of unbelief.

In fact, these trials have come through the Father’s hand to do the exact opposite! They have come to show that you and I are real. Look at verse 7.

“These [various trials] have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold [what a phrase!], which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

In turns out that God has a purpose for our pain.

There is divine reason for this fire.

Satan may want us to hurt. But God uses the pain to refine us.

It’s a smelting process.

He is refining us through the heat of suffering.

The impurities, the dross, are being removed and what is left is Christlikeness.

I think that’s encouraging.

It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt. It hurts.

It hurts.

But it helps to know that there is a purpose in the pain.

And that if it hurts, it doesn’t mean I’m doing it wrong.

In fact, it probably means that I’m doing it right.

So, I grieve and lament, like we learned how to do in the Psalms.

But I also hope. I trust and I hope. And I rejoice.

Peter says that we have a living hope. And that means this hope lives and it does stuff. Living things grow and do stuff.

Here are three things I see that this hope does in you and me.

#1. IT MAKES US REJOICE.

The living hope makes us rejoice. Don’t miss the first words of verse 6 for all the pain and suffering!

“In this [living hope] you greatly rejoice[!]”

Yes, it hurts. But we have a hope that is greater than the pain. And we have every reason to be overjoyed, to exult, to dance.


Just spend some time today marinating in verses 3 through 5, and your heart will rejoice.

#2. IT HELPS US TRUST.

This living hope helps us trust God through all of the trials that we face.

That’s our part. God is supplying all of the power here. Our job is just to place our faith in Him.

Verse 5 mentions our faith. We are trusting in His work in us.

Verse 7 mentions our faith, and how precious it is. It’s of greater worth than gold!

So we need to exercise it. We need to trust in the Lord even in the face of terrible suffering.

And we can! Because of what God has done in the resurrection and in our new births.

What are you facing right now?

You can trust Him in that situation.

You can trust Him.

Hold on.

Hold on to Him.

It’s just going to be a “little while.”

Did you hear that in verse 6? These trials may come for a “little while.”

Now that little while might be 90 or 100 years.

But compared to eternity? Compared to an inheritance that can NEVER perish, NEVER spoil, and NEVER fade?

That’s just a second.

Hold on. Trust Him and hold onto Him.

Hold onto this living hope. Because...

#3. IT LEADS US TO GLORY.

Look one more time at verse 7. Look at the end result of trusting in this living hope!

This “may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

You know, it doesn’t say who gets the praise, glory, and honor.

It’s certainly Jesus that does because He deserve it all.

But I think from the grammar here, that we get to share in it, somehow, someway.

We are so vitally connected to Him that we get to somehow, someway enjoy the praise, glory, and honor with Him when Jesus comes again.

This living hope leads us to glory!

The enjoyment of His glory forever and ever and ever!

How’s that for encouraging?!


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