Have You Packed Your “Be Ready” Kit?

// June 13th, 2020 // Sermons

This entry is part 24 of 24 in the series 1 Peter Series

It sure is good… You can listen online or download it and listen later…Have You Packed Your Be Ready Kit Or you could use this link to watch the whole service on YouTube: https://youtu.be/UzXuFA1Wcw8…to be in worship separately together again this morning.

This morning we come to the end of our series on I Peter.  This is the 24th and final message.  We started last fall – on Sept. 19th.

I will read 1 Peter 5:5-14, lead us in prayer and then we’ll jump right in…

Pastoral Prayer

Heavenly Father, it is our privilege to come into Your throne room to intercede and lift up people and concerns before You.  Church is not a place, it’s a body; it’s family, with blood ties through Jesus Christ our Lord.  We pray that, as we look forward to meeting in the church building next Sunday, that You would keep this body safe and in good health.

Lord, we would pray that there would be no outbreaks from among those who follow You.  Place Your hedge of protection around Your people, O God.

Lord, we pray that the church, across this land and around the world, would stay true to Your message and calling.  And, we would pray that the people that make up Your church – that Your people would be committed to seeking You in prayer, and that the church would boldly proclaim Jesus as the ONLY way and ONLY hope!

We pray that in our worship, we would truly be giving You worship and adoration…in spirit and in truth.  That our Leaders in the local Church and the church around the world would follow You and serve You. 

Lord Jesus, build us, strengthen us, grow our faith.  This is YOUR church.  You created us.  We are Yours.  Use this church as YOU will, not as we will.  We stand in faith, covered in Your armor and armed with Your Word.  You are our source of life and strength.   You are King of Kings and Lord of Lords and our Savior.  It’s in Your almighty name we pray, Amen.”

Now for just a quick review – Peter wrote to scattered believers to encourage them to live for Christ in a hostile world.  “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through…”

This letter is a message of encouragement (“Stand fast”) and a warning (“Hard times are here”).  This book certainly applies to our present day.  As a church, for the past 3 months we have had to worship “separately together”.

Even before social distancing and physical isolation, because of our geographical footprint, most of our church people would only see each other on Sunday.  That’s why Potluck Sundays and most regular Sundays, there are people at the church until 1:30 or 2:00 p.m.  I think it’s great!

But, for some, it becomes easy for them to feel alone and disconnected.  Now spread out our congregation a lot further and bring it back into the pre-technological world of ancient Asia Minor, and add the hostile feelings stirred up by Emperor Nero, and well you’ve got the situation that Peter faced as he sat down to write his first letter.

So, we come to the end of Peter’s first major message for those scattered, first-century believers.  In these 14 verses, he covers six important topics – Peter’s Principles.  Essentially, they are a survival kit for tough times.  Even though these words were written 2,000 years ago, they are God’s words to us today – they meet us right where we are.

Principle #1: The Right Kind of Leaders – v. 1-4 – we looked at this last week.  These words are addressed to the elders – the spiritual leaders of the church.  They were to be older men who were wise, mature and faithful.  Their work – shepherd the flock of God as a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Chief Shepherd.  Elders must serve willingly, eagerly, and as good examples to the flock.

With the 2nd principle, Peter moves from the shepherds to the sheep. Good leaders deserve good followers….so:

Principle #2: Follow Your Leader – v. 5a

Peter addresses the young men because they typically tend to be headstrong and impulsive.  In stressful times, we need unity around the leaders to keep the church together.

God has established a chain of command in the home, in the church, in the workplace, in the government, and in society in general.  It hinges on the fact that wisdom comes from the one who is older.

No doubt, you can think of many examples that are exceptions.  There are young people with great wisdom, and unfortunately older people who are foolish.  But the exceptions do not change the general principle that in God’s design, with age comes experience and from experience comes wisdom.

I have benefited from listening to what an older man has to say.  When we are young, we tend to think we know everything.  Those who are young tend to be impatient and impulsive.  Great confidence is a mark of youth; tested wisdom is a mark of maturity.  Listen to OT wisdom:

  • ­ 20:29 – “The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old”.
  • 16:31 – “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life.”
  • 19:32 – “Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. Fear your God. I am the LORD.”

Did you notice, he connects showing respect for the elderly with revering God?  This is because disrespecting the elderly is disrespecting the Lord who established the authority structure of the universe.

That’s why the leaders of any church ought to be godly men and women whose faith has been tested and who over the years have grown in wisdom.  If you are a younger Christian, find someone who is older in the faith and learn from them.  Let them “show you the ropes” of the Christian life.  The older must be willing to teach the younger, and the younger must be willing to learn from the older.

Churches need the right kind of leaders and the right kind of followers.

Principle #3: Live Humbly – v. 5b-6

Peter turns now to the relational life of the church – our relationships with each other.  Practice makes perfect we are told, thus we must “practice humility”.  It doesn’t come naturally to most of us.

Humility is a virtue which, when you think you have it, you probably don’t.  D. L. Moody used to pray, “Lord, make me humble, but don’t let me know it.”  Even though we can’t define it very well, we all know humility when we see it.  And also, we know it when someone doesn’t have it.

  1. S. Lewis wrote: “There is one vice of which no man in the world is free, which everyone in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else…If anyone would like to acquire humility I can tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud…If you think you are not conceited, it means that you are very conceited indeed.”

Humility comes to us when we have a right understanding of the grace of God.  All that we have comes, as a gift, from God.  And, humility is not running yourself down or hiding your talents or feeling embarrassed about your gifts, abilities or accomplishments.  What God has given to you, could have been given to someone else.  And someday you will give an account of what you have done with what you were given.

Peter wrote, “Clothe yourselves…” – he uses a very rare word.  J. B. Phillips translates it, “Put on the overalls of humility.”  The word describes the apron a slave would wear, like the apron Jesus tied around his waist the night he washed the disciples’ feet.  It means, “In your dealings with others, put on the apron of humility and be ready to wash dirty feet.”

Watchman Nee, the Chinese evangelist, told of a Christian he knew in China – a poor rice farmer whose fields were high on a mountain.  Every day he pumped water into the paddies of new rice, and every morning he returned to find that a neighbor who lived down the hill had opened the dikes surrounding the Christian’s field to let the water fill his own.

For a while he tried to ignore the injustice but then he couldn’t take it any more so he decided to meet and pray with another Christian – he came up with a solution.  The next day the Christian farmer rose early in the morning and first filled his neighbor’s fields; then, his own.  Watchman Nee tells how, as a result, the neighbor became a Christian because of this genuine demonstration of humility and Christian character.

In the OT, the mighty hand of God refers to God moving to deliver His people from trouble and distress.  When you go to the hospital for a surgery, you submit yourself to the hands of a capable physician.  You do it in hope of being physically helped, in due time.  Even so, in our need we submit ourselves to the mighty hand of God that He may exalt us in due time.

God’s mighty hand is on the future of His people – on our tomorrows.   We are not called to humble ourselves to blind fate or unpredictable circumstances, but to the gracious hand of God.  Our lives are not in the hands of fate…we need to understand that our lives are directed by the hand that is behind the circumstances of life.

Principle #4: Cast Your Anxiety – v. 7

  1. 7 reads – “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” The J. B. Phillips translation reads, “You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties on him, for you are his personal concern.” I have a plaque of that verse in German, on my office wall – “Alle eure Sorge verfet auf Ihn; den Er Sorget fur euch.”

The word “cast” means to throw off with purpose.  The word pictures a hiker at the end of a long day unhooking his backpack and tossing it down.  That’s what we are to do with your anxieties.  Through an act of the will, we are to unload all our worries on the Lord.  But that’s not all.

The word “anxiety” comes from a root that means “to divide.”  Anxiety causes one’s mind to be pulled in 2 directions, as we are constantly distracted and disturbed.  I must confess that there have been times throughout this period of isolation that I have had a divided mind.

When I realize what is happening, I have to make a choice:  Either I allow the Lord to carry my worry or I carry it.  If I carry it, I know I will be divided, distracted, disturbed, confused, frustrated and burdened.  If the Lord carries the load, I might still have trouble and difficulty, but I’m not consumed with anxiety, fear, undue concern, and definitely not hopeless despair.

The reason for this confidence comes – 4 simple words: “He cares for you.”  We get anxious thinking that if we submit our lives to Jesus Christ, He’ll mess things up for us.  He’ll ask us to do things we don’t want to do and send us places we don’t want to go.  He’ll bring unpleasant people into our lives, and force us to be someone we don’t want to be.  We are prone to doubt that God can be trusted to take care of us.  So we try to manage our own problems and we wonder why we are frustrated and unfulfilled spiritually.

For most of us, our deepest problems are theological.  We’ve never settled the question, about the kind of God we believe in.  We’ve never settled the question of whether we believe God really cares for us.  We think he does, we hope he does, but many days we’re not sure.  When you get right down to it, we’re not sure about God: We can’t quite bring ourselves to trust him.  When I get it settled in my mind that God really cares for me, then there are many other questions that get settled.

I read about a woman who said that she doesn’t have any problem casting her burdens on the Lord.  Her problem is that she keeps pulling her burdens back, like a fisherman with a casting rod – he tosses the lure out and then reels it back in.  Many of us can identify with that.  There is an old song that says, “take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.”

The blessing of Biblical Christianity is – God cares for me.  He proved it by sending His own Son to die.  That issue was settled once-for-all, at the cross.  A God who would sacrifice His own Son for a person like me must truly care for me.

And so, when we come to God, we don’t have to convince him to hear us. We don’t have to chant or shout or burn incense or ring bells or use a priest or offer a sacrifice…we come as His children and He gladly hears us.  Our relationship with Him must be built on the fact that God cares for us.  On that basis we can unload all our worries on Him.  Next,

Principle #5: The Enemy Lurks – v. 8-9

Listen to v. 8-9 – “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”

Notice the 2 opposite sides:  We are to cast our cares on the Lord but we are not to be careless.  We are instructed to keep our eyes open – to watch for the enemy.

Satan – the devil – desires to destroy us.  We’ve all seen lions at the zoo – I’m grateful for the bars that separate me from the lions because they are fearful animals.  The Bible tells us that Satan is like that – he’s crafty, cruel, restless, vicious and brutal.  Any follower of Jesus who thinks he/she is immune to Satan’s attacks, is a fool!

We need to grasp this truth – Satan is hungry, and gullible Christians are on his menu.  He prowls as he watches us to find our weak spots.  And, believe me, we all have weak areas.  It may be a temptation, a bad habit, or a besetting sin.  Our weakness could even be something that is disguised as an area we think is our strength.  If you have figured out your strengths and weaknesses, the devil has too.  And he knows just how, when and where to attack.  So, Peter wrote,  “Be on the alert. Don’t let your guard down for a moment.”

  1. 9 gives a two-fold strategy for defeating Satan’s attacks: Resist and Remember. First, resist him by standing firm in the faith.  We don’t defeat Satan by standing firm in our faith because our faith alone is no match for his power.  We must stand firm in the faith.  That means standing firm in the truth of God’s Word.

The truth of Holy Scripture provides the firm foundation we need for resisting Satan’s attacks.  We must learn to do what Jesus did when the devil tempted him in the wilderness.  He fought back with the Word of God.  In our own strength, we are no match for the devil, but when you “stand firm” in “the faith” revealed in the Bible, you won’t be defeated.

Second, remember our brothers and sisters – fellow believers around the world, who at this very moment are standing firm in the face of satanic attack.

In our paper bulletin, I try to make sure to bring to our attention those who are being persecuted for their faith.  And, I have tried to keep it fresh in our minds that Peter wrote this letter to persecuted believers who were scattered throughout Asia Minor.  He calls on them to find strength in remembering that they are not alone!

You know, our troubles are small when compared with what others have to endure day-after-day.  When you feel like giving in, first resist and second, remember.  Resist by standing firm in the faith; and, remember your brothers and sisters who suffer every day for their Christian testimony.

We must exercise constant vigilance against the enemy.  Peter says, “Be sober, be vigilant, be firm in your faith”.  Resist the devil and let your faith be a solid wall.  #6…

Principle #6: The Fitting Conclusion – v. 10-11

If you have been tracking with us through the sermon series, you will know that I have used these two verses as the Benediction for every sermon in this series.  Peter’s final prayer for his readers is a fitting conclusion to the entire book.

How do you handle days of stress and times of uncertainty?  Peter says, Look beyond the present to the future.  “After you have suffered a little while.”  He compares our life on earth with eternal life with God.  He compares the approximate 70 years with the never-ending-life that is ahead of us.

For many, that means sickness now and healing later; rejection now and acceptance later; failure now and success later; persecution/injustice from depraved people now and the praise of God later; the cross of shame today and the crown of glory tomorrow.

The ultimate fulfillment comes in heaven but the promise applies to here and now.

Peter uses 4 words to describe what God will do for those who suffer:

  • He will “Restore” – God Himself will make up whatever you lack.
  • He will “Confirm” – God Himself will give you whatever you need to complete the task.
  • He will “Strengthen” – God Himself will strengthen that which is weak.
  • And, He will “Establish you” – God Himself will set your feet on a firm foundation. The Message reads, “…he will have you put together and on your feet for good.”

Why will God do all this?  Because He is “the God of all grace” – literally, the God of every kind of grace.

  • If you are confused and uncertain, His grace is sufficient for you.
  • If you are discouraged/downcast, His grace is sufficient for you.
  • If you are upset and life doesn’t make sense, His grace is sufficient for you.
  • If you are angry, His grace is sufficient for you.
  • If you are overwhelmed by guilt, His grace is sufficient for you.
  • If you feel like giving up, His grace is sufficient for you.
  • If you feel like you are all alone, the world has turned against you, His grace is sufficient for you.

Whatever you need, our God has an unlimited supply.  He’s the God of all grace!  This is not some abstract pie-in-the-sky principle:  God himself intervenes for us.  He does that because He is the God of all grace, and also because He possesses all power.  V. 11 says, “to him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”  He has grace for every need and the power to apply that grace to every problem you and I face.  Now, let me ask you:  What could be better than that?

In light of all that God has promised, let us never give up.  Stand your ground when the devil attacks.  Don’t give in to bitterness or fear or moral compromise.

Most of us have heard the story about Sir Winston Churchill, who was asked to give the Graduation Challenge at his old school, Harrow – a school for young men.  Apparently, after fanfare and acclamation, Sir Winston stood to his feet, acknowledged the introduction, and gave his address:  “Young men, never give up.  Never give up!  Never give up!! Never, never, never-never-never-never!'”  And then, he sat down.

 

It’s amazing what God can do through people like you and me.  As far as the world is concerned, we are ordinary men and women.  We have no special gifts or unusual ability.  But, it is amazing what God can do through people like us when we dare to stand our ground, trust in God, and believe His Word.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.  He alone is the Savior – we, the church, are His body.  As pastor of this church, I urge you to trust Him as Savior.  Put your trust in the one who died for you and rose from the dead.  Ask Him for forgiveness and He will remove your guilt.  Bank your eternity on Jesus and you will get to spend eternity with Him.

And, don’t put it off!  Do it now while you have breath and life, time and opportunity.  May God grant you faith to believe in Jesus for your eternal salvation.

Peter ends his letter with a few formal acknowledgements, including the admonition to “Greet one another with the kiss of love.”  We need to keep in mind that in their culture, as today, men would kiss men on the both cheeks, and women would kiss women.  It was a standard form of greeting in that part of the world as it is in many countries today.

Peter has given us a letter, as inspired by God’s Holy Spirit, a letter that encourages us to hope in the Lord no matter who trying the times may be.  Down through the ages, the church has experienced various fiery trials, and yet, Satan has not been able to destroy it.  The church today is facing a fiery trial, and we must stand firm and be vigilant.

Peter is still telling us today…Be Hopeful.  The glory of tomorrow is soon here!”

Let’s pray…

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