Revelation 4:11 Worship

Main Point: The Creator God is worthy of all worship.

We have a great calling. God has called us to think about, celebrate, and talk about Him. So, it is strange that the Church, which has more training and resources available to her than ever before is so often silent. It is shameful that I am often silent when I should speak. Why is that? Why are we silent in worship and evangelism? Why are we not joyfully and consistently talking to people about Jesus?

In his book, Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out, Alvin Reid claims that one big reason we don’t talk to our neighbors and coworkers about the gospel is we don’t talk to ourselves about the gospel. Better still, Jesus says that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil (Mt 12:34). Whatever you treasure, whatever you think about, is going to come out of you. We have a treasure problem.

At one point, after teaching, Jesus stops and asks, “‘Have you understood these things?’ They said to him, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old’” (Mt 13:51-52).

Jesus wants us to be gospel-masters. I wanted to say, “Jesus wants us to be treasure-masters” but we are already treasure-masters. We know how to treasure worldly things in our minds and talk about those things. We know how to store up idols like money, family, work, cars, and houses. We easily and joyfully talk about those things. This is a call to stop stock piling worldly things in our minds and hearts. We are called today to store up the things of Christ.

When we talk to ourselves about God, when we store up God in our hearts and minds, then out of that overflow the mouth will speak. When the church talks to one another about God, when we treasure God in our songs, prayers, and conversations, then out of that overflow the mouth will speak. In our time today, I want to give you treasure that is worth talking about at Walmart or around your dinner table and for all of eternity. We will become master scribes and master stewards who taste and tell that the Lord is good.

Read Psalm 95

Here is our plan, Lord willing, for today and the next five weeks. We will focus on six passages that together form a simple outline for you to use when explaining who Jesus is and what he has done. We are pausing our memory work in Philippians 3 and are committing ourselves to memorizing Revelation 4:11 this week, then Romans 3:10-11, Hebrews 9:27, 1 Peter 3:18, 1 Peter 1:3, and finally John 3:36. If you haven’t found a Sunday school class, I want to invite you to join the group Matt Mills, Clint Spruill, and I are teaching at 9:45 am in the fellowship hall. Come and join us as we encourage one another to store up the gospel in our hearts. We will become master scribes and master stewards who taste and tell that the Lord is good.

Right now, let’s dig into creation and evangelism. Revelation 4:11 says, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

When telling the gospel story, to yourself or to others, start with creation.

I. The Triune God created all things (Gen 1:1-2)

Genesis 1:1-2 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Here’s the truth:

  • God created everything

Now we need to clarify that God did not form everything from cosmic playdough that was already on hand. Scripture teaches that God created then formed everything that exists. The Trinity (Father, Son, and Spirit) were engaged in creation. In Genesis 1:2, we see the Spirit of God present and working in creation. Colossians 1:15 says, “Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rules or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”

Everything physical and spiritual was created by the Triune God. All the rocks and trees, all the birds and bees, all the yous and mees were created by the Father, Son, and Spirit. Every spiritual being was created by the Triune God. You will never find anything anywhere that does not owe its origin to God. You will never find anything anywhere that wasn’t created for Jesus.

Now, creation is not a minor issue. Instead, we should constantly worship God because of creation.

II. The Triune God is worthy of worship because of creation (Rev 4:11)

Here is our memory verse for the week, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things and by your will they were created and have their being.”

  • The wonders of creation call us to worship God

Revelation 4 is a picture of worship in heaven. There are four magnificent creatures and twenty-four elders around the throne of God. Everything in these creatures and elders longs to worship and celebrate and enjoy the power and presence of God. Worship is not only a matter of praising God for his saving grace. We also worship God for who he is and how he works. Look at Revelation 4:11. Why do the twenty-four elders fall down and worship God? They worship God because he created all things and by his will they were created and have their being.

These angels look out over creation and their right and joyful response is to praise God. They look at the intricacies of the human body and they praise God. God you did that! The look at the intricacies of the universe and they praise God. God you did that! They look at a rose, a blade of grass, colors, textures, and sounds and they praise God. God you did that!

And God was not forced to create all things. Revelation 4:11 tells us God created all things according to his will. It was his plan and his desire to bring all of this into being. No deficiency or need made God create all of us and all of this. God created to display his glory. The glory, honor, and power of God are meant to be enjoyed by all of creation. So, where do you see and enjoy the glory of God? Paul Tripp says he goes to Starbucks to worship. He doesn’t worship the coffee or the cups. The glory and beauty of food and drink point to God and cause him to respond with thanks and praise to God.

Wednesday night I walked through an indoor garden filled with 6000 tropical plants; over 200 difference species. It was the most beautiful and intricate and exciting thing I have seen in some time. I worshipped as I went through that garden. But I didn’t worship the plants or the soil or the gardener. I worshiped and thanked and celebrated God who made those plants and gifted the gardener. The wonders of creation call us to worship and

  • Worship involves giving God glory, honor, and power

Earlier in Revelation 4, in verse 9, the four living creatures give God glory, and honor, and thanks. Here, in verse 11, the twenty-four elders give God glory, honor, and power. The four living creatures give God glory when they praise him for his work of creation. They don’t give God’s glory to another. They praise HIM for creation. And they honor God when they serve his will in creation going here and there and seeing all. They glorify God when they give him thanks. Thank you, God, for creating us and this magnificent universe! That’s the four living creatures. They glorify God by worshipping him. They honor God by doing his well. They look at God’s work and they thank him. We should do the same. What about the elders?

The elders give God glory, honor, and power. Now, they don’t give God glory, honor, and power because God lacks glory, honor, and power. They give God glory, honor, and power because he is worth it. The elders, most likely a class of angels, glorify and honor God by trusting God and seeking to accomplish his will. The power God gave them is used to accomplish God’s purposes. They love God with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength.

You see, creation is full of God’s glory. Creation is full of opportunities to honor God by accomplishing his will. Creation is filled with good works for you and I to accomplish by God’s power. Accomplishing your work, loving others, confronting evil, forgiving sin, and asking for forgiveness are all opportunities to glorify God, honor him, and show his power.

Like the angels, we are meant to worship God by doing his will. We are meant to look around at God’s creation and give him thanks. Creation fuels worship and creation plays a major role in evangelism.

III. We must talk to ourselves and others about God

You must

  1. Store up treasure in your head and heart

We must read and think about how God created. We need to read and think about why God created. Like the elders and living creatures, thinking rightly about creation will cause us to worship. Here’s an example of storing up treasure. Memorizing Philippians 3 has caused me to repeatedly think about my resurrection from the dead. I’m straining forward to the resurrection. My goal, by any means possible, is to attain the resurrection from the dead. We’ve been storing up this resurrection treasure in our heads and hearts.

Now, I was at a worship conference this passed week. We sang a lot and we sang about a lot of things. Guess which theme really got me excited? I loved singing about the resurrection because I have been treasuring the resurrection in my head and heart. Out of the overflow of the heart my mouth rejoiced in God’s promise to raise me from the grave. Thinking and worship are tied together. Worship and evangelism are tied to treasure. Let’s focus on creation. We need to

  1. Talk about God’s purposes for his creation

God is not a cosmic scientist who discovered creation and is now studying all the parts. God is not trying to figure out what plants, angels, and humans can do or why they exist. God intentionally created everything for a purpose. God created marriage, family, work, and government for a purpose. We’ve already read from Colossians 1:15 which tells us that all things were created through Jesus and for Jesus.

Are you thinking about the significance of the fact that all things were created for Jesus? Are you talking about how everything exists for Jesus? The path that we walk as Christians is a path of restoration. On Jesus’ path, we constantly seek to restore people and things to God and his purposes through Christ. What is broken around you? Maybe it’s a broken pipe, or a broken bone, or a broken spirit, or a broken promise, or a broken relationship, or a broken law. Glorify God and honor him by using the power God has given you to restore what is broken. Work for good and explain the good. The resurrected Christ has strength and wisdom for you to be an ambassador through which broken things are restored to God’s creation purposes.

So, how does your singleness advance God’s creation purposes? How does your family serve God’s creation purposes? We live in a day and in a culture where people want to know their lives and work have significance. This desire is a product of creation. Connect people to God’s creation purposes. Talk about the gift and goodness of work. Every time something works like God created it to work, that becomes an opportunity to point toward the wisdom and goodness of God.

We also need to talk about the effects of sin. Every example of brokenness is an opportunity to point to God’s purposes and, by the resurrection power of Christ, work toward restoration. Find ways to connect pain to restoration in Christ. Every case of sickness or death or frustration is an opportunity to talk about the yearning we all have for the perfection of life with God. We long for and are heading for a new creation. Every case of success or fruitfulness or joyful work is an opportunity to talk about the goodness of God in creation. God has not abandoned us. God’s work of creation includes purpose; talk about it. Then

  • Look for and celebrate God’s glory in creation

What brings you joy? Maybe it’s a savory dish or the skill of an athlete or painter or inventor. I would love to talk to you about all the shades of green I saw in that garden of 6000 plants. What about your neighbors and coworkers? What brings them joy? Here’s an interesting conversation starter, “What are you enjoying these days?” Ask the question and show your neighbor or coworker love by listening. See if you can ground their joy to God. I mean give them a simple statement without being condescending. Say something like, “Isn’t God good? He made language so we can tell and enjoy a good story. God created us with skill and strength, so we can play sports and paint pictures and play music.” Connect that joy to God who created.

But what if you ask and they don’t have any joy? What if you ask, “What are you enjoying these days?” and your neighbor Eeyore says, “Nothing, everything in my life is terrible.” What will you say? Should you sneak away and go quietly enjoy your own pleasures? No, love that neighbor by grieving with him. Your next question is powerful. Ask this, “I’m sorry, will you tell me your story?” Ask the question and genuinely listen. Don’t look at your phone. Don’t tell your story of when something like that happened to you. Listen and grieve. After you have grieved with your neighbor say something profound like this, “I grieve like you over the broken things in my life. Can we get together and talk about how God helps us in our sorrows?”

When your neighbor says yes, where do you go? You can go to Isaiah 53 and the suffering servant who bears our sorrows and carries our griefs. Start in the suffering of Isaiah 53 and make a bee-line for the cross, resurrection, and indwelling Spirit. If you aren’t ready to have that conversation, then find someone who can help get you there. Come and let me know and I’ll connect you with someone who can disciple you so that you can go and make disciples. The beauty and brokenness of creation provide everyday opportunities for us to help one another worship God.

Are you familiar with “God-sightings”? God-sightings are celebrations of God’s simple things. Start when your children are young and most things are amazing. When your little one is excited about a bug, clouds, or a puppy, simply say, “Aren’t you glad God made bugs or clouds or puppies?” Look for and celebrate God’s glory in creation. Keep looking and celebrating. Cultivate joy and gratitude. People will likely start to wonder why you have hope. When they ask you for a reason for the hope that is within you, bring out the treasures of creation and salvation.

Here is our last and profound way to honor and glorify God.

  • Gather with the church

As elders, our calling is to proclaim the greatness of God in Christ so that you can see him and love him and honor him and glorify him. In 1 Timothy 4:12 the Apostle Paul told Pastor Timothy to devote himself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, and to teaching. God has revealed himself and salvation through the Word. Therefore, we read Scripture, we read a lot of Scripture, because we need to hear from God and we need to hear about God. Through our prayers we seek to stir you up to join in the worship of God.  Through the sermons we seek to teach you about God and life. I give you notes and questions on the blog each week so that you can do the work of storing up treasure in your heart that will eventually flow out of your mouth. You need to feast, so we as elders need to work hard to teach you. We want to give you treasure that you store away and bring out to your family, coworkers, and neighbors.

But we do more than read, pray, and preach. We sing. Our singing is a powerful way to glorify and honor God. Our singing is a powerful way to teach one another and store up treasure in our hearts. Every Sunday we glorify God and help one another store up treasure. Like a chef gathering the best ingredients, we work to gather the best songs. Like a marksman meticulously weighing grains of gun powder, we meticulously weigh songs. In response to what Dale is doing with the songs, we need two things from you. We need you to think and we need you to sing.

Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” Let me break that down with teaching and a word of exhortation, “think.” You need to think about the truths we are singing. You need to store up treasure in your heart. You must help your children think and store up treasure. You need to read the words of the songs and ask, “What glorifies God in this song?” You need to read the words of the songs and ask, “How can I use all the power God has given me to honor him with this song?” We want you to work biblical truth deep into your heart and mind. Therefore, we want to give you meaty songs. Last week John Piper said, “the heights of your exaltation cannot go further than the depths of your theology.” Your joy and gladness in worship are not dependent on your preferences. Your joy and gladness in worship are dependent on your beliefs.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. We gather together each week to worship God and teach one another. God has set things up so that our singing is an act of worship and teaching. Our singing to God and about God is an act of discipleship.

So, show up each week having stored up treasure in your heart through Bible reading and Scripture memory. Gather with the body of Christ each week so that you can be taught and so that you can teach. Show up, think, and sing. We need you. We need you to teach us and you need to give God glory, honor, and power. He is worthy because he created all things. He is worthy because he has redeemed us through his Son. Let’s sing his praises and then go out and tell others.

Let’s pray- God, make us master scribes and master stewards who taste and tell that you are good.

Revelation 4:11 Discussion Questions

Check out the Two Ways to Live gospel outline.

  1. Review these passages: Revelation 4:11; Colossians 1:15; 3:16; Matthew 12:34-35; 13:51-52; and 1 Timothy 4:12.
  2. In what way did God comfort, challenge, or correct you today?
  3. Why do you think many Christians are not joyfully and consistently talking to others about Jesus?
  4. Describe the last time you talked with a neighbor, classmate, or coworker about Jesus.
  5. Make a list of those people you are trying to win to Christ. Pray for opportunities to talk with them about Jesus and pray for boldness to take those opportunities.
  6. What part of creation often calls you to worship and thank God?
  7. Explain what it looks like to give glory, honor, and power to God.
  8. In what ways are you seeking to glorify God? In what ways are you seeking to honor God? In what ways are you using your God-given power to glorify God and do good to others?
  9. Explain how worship is the product of storing up treasure in your head and heart (Matthew 12:34; 13:51-52).
  10. Explain how evangelism is the produce of storing up treasure in your head and heart. Use the doctrine of creation to explain this treasure principle.
  11. Why is it important to understand that all things were created for Jesus?
  12. Explain how 1 Timothy 4:12 works through Mambrino Baptist Church.
  13. Explain how Colossians 3:16 works through Mambrino Baptist Church.
  14. Pray for God to give you opportunities to talk to others about Jesus.

Act Like Jesus

Text: Romans 15:1-7

Main Point: The strong give the most.

We are witnessing a shift in mindset among the generations. The older generations, the builders and the boomers, often operate under the mindset that hard work and success secure privileges. Hard work and success mean you get the best office, the best parking spot, the best perks, and a seat at the table. Oftentimes the builder and boomer generations believe that hard work and success mean you necessarily get what you want. The younger generations, the millennials and gen z, often operate under the mindset that they deserve the privileges regardless of work or success. By simply being born you get the best office, best parking spot, best perks, and a seat at the table. All these generations believe the same lie. The lie is I deserve to get what I want.

But let’s dig deeper into that idea, the idea that I should get what I want. Why do we believe we should get what we want? Underneath this desire is another desire, the desire to be happy. I want to be happy therefore I want what I believe will make me happy. The next step is easy. I want to be happy turns into I deserve to be happy. Since I deserve to be happy, I deserve what will make me happy. A terrible problem arises when we don’t have the power to get what will make us happy. What should we do about that? We must get the power. We must grow strong. When we have strength and power we can get what we want and when we get what we want then we will be happy.

Each one of us is tempted to lean on a different source of power. For some of us, we trust in raw physical power. This can be the raw power of physical strength or beauty. The guys and gals work out to be strong and to look good. Both of them do it to gain power over another and get what they want. Others depend on the strength of education, money, fame, or government. If I can wield the power of money, influence, or the law then I can force people to do what I want them to do. And when people do what I want them to do then I get what I want and then I will be happy. You live under the same roof with a tyrant; each of us seeking power in order to force others to do what will hopefully bring happiness

The church is particularly vulnerable to this misuse of power. Authority and strength are good gifts from God, but they are easily hijacked for the selfish pleasure of those in power. Elders and deacons are tempted to misuse their authority. Members who have served faithfully for decades are tempted to misuse their influence. Families that have served and given generation after generation begin to think they deserve to get what they want.

Here is where Christianity demolishes our culture’s current misuse of power: the stronger you are the happier you should be because the strong give away the most. Our culture says you will be happy when you get. Christianity says you will be happy when you give. Let’s dig into God’s word for the goal of increased joy.

Romans 15:1-7

I. This is a call to be joyfully strong

The world says we are all obligated to fulfill our desires. The world instructs us to be self-centered and self-seeking. The world’s motto is do what you want and don’t let anyone tell you no. The stronger you are, the more self-centered, self-seeking, and hopefully happy you can become. The gospel leads the opposite direction.

  • The strong are made to carry the weak (1)

Look with me again at Romans 15:1, “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” God tells us that the strong are obligated to please others. The more you have, the more you give away. The stronger you are, the more burdens you bear.

The idea of an obligation can mean you have a debt to pay. I am obligated to pay my mortgage every month. The idea of obligation can also mean a responsibility like the responsibility of a husband or father or governmental authority. That is the idea here, the strong are responsible for the weak. The strong are responsible for getting to know the weak and strengthening the weak so that the weak are able to do good.

To put it simply, there will be things you want to do in the church, but you must not do them in order that you can do better things- namely, build up the weak. You are going to be tempted to put yourself first. You must fight this temptation with greater joy. Don’t settle for short term joy; the joy of meat and wine. Set your mind to gain long term joy; the joy of the salvation and maturation of soul. Instead of using your strength to grab it all for yourself,

  • Use your strength to please your weak neighbor (2)

Look with me at Romans 15:2, “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” Now, this is not saying if it pleases your neighbor to rob a bank then you should help him rob a bank. Instead, if it pleases your neighbor to not eat meat or drink wine offered to idols then don’t do it. This is a call to know your brothers and sisters. What concerns these people in this room?

This same call to please others comes in 1 Corinthians 10:33, “Give no offence to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.”

Are you strong enough to understand that food and drink are insignificant? Please your neighbor by living out the reality of the insignificance of food and drink by laying them aside. Value your brother. Value your sister. Do not value food or drink. We are set free from these things in order to do the most good.

Verse 2 is very helpful for us as a church. The question we should ask on Saturday evenings as we wait for sleep is this, “What does God expect of me tomorrow?” Romans 15:2, “God expects you to do good and build up your brothers and sisters.” We want to train you to do good and build up. We want to give you opportunities to do good and build up. Once you understand your role on this small stage, the worship gathering of the church, you are better equipped to fulfill your role on every stage- with your family, coworkers, and neighbors. In all of this, we set our eyes on Jesus.

II. Jesus is our example

Jesus is the reason why the strong do not please themselves but instead seek to do good and build up others. The apostle Paul is using the gospel to direct the use of Christian freedom. The righteous life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection tell us how to live. Jesus’ life and priorities direct our lives. So, are you a Christian? Then you are committed to live like Christ. What did Jesus do? Verse 3, “Christ did not please himself.” Know this

  • Jesus is the world’s strongest God-man

If anyone understood how to live as a son of God, it was Jesus. If anyone possessed spiritual strength and freedom it was the Son of God. Jesus is the world’s strongest man, the world’s strongest God-man. What did he do?

  • Jesus did not put his comforts first (3a)

Look with me at verse 3. We don’t please ourselves, “For Christ did not please himself.” Again, we’re talking about matters of freedom. It may be helpful to think in terms of comforts or pleasure. If Jesus put his comfort and pleasure first he would have never become a baby. Think of the extreme discomfort and difficulty of the eternal omnipotent Son of God becoming an utterly dependent infant. Think of the omnipresent spiritual Son of God becoming bound in a body, even a body that cannot walk. But obviously verse 3 is speaking more of the cross. If Jesus put his comforts first, if Jesus sought only what was pleasing to himself, then he would have never submitted to being beaten, humiliated, and brutally killed. The cross and self-centered pleasure cannot coexist. Jesus didn’t live for his own comfort.

  • Jesus lived to do his Father’s will (3b)

Instead of living for what feels good or tastes good, Jesus lived for what accomplishes the most good. It is not that Jesus wasn’t happy. Jesus was perfectly happy. His joy was one of the reasons people wanted him to come to their parties. Jesus was no frowning legalistic fuddy-duddy. Jesus wasn’t sitting at home ranting on Facebook or Twitter. Instead, Jesus was out loving and serving people. Jesus knew food and drink are small things. People, the salvation and discipleship of men and women, are the most important things. Doing his Father’s will, pursuing the salvation and growth of others, brought him joy.

Psalm 69:9 serves as the proof that Jesus did not please himself, “as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” One of the marks of a person separated from God is his anger toward God. The children of this world don’t like God and they don’t like God’s ways. So, here is the world shaking its fist at God and there is Jesus aligning himself with God and therefore receiving the hatred of the world.

Make the connections. Did everyone love and appreciate Jesus for doing his Father’s will? Did everyone write thank you notes to Jesus for denying himself in order to do good and build them up? No, they crucified him. You who are strong, will the weak always love and thank you for sacrificing your comfort for their good? No, you will sacrifice for them and they will not like you, they may slander you, they may reproach you, they may crucify you. Be like Jesus. Don’t please yourself. Instead, lay aside what you want in order to build up others.

How in the world are we supposed to live this way?

III. Read your Bible (4)

Pastor Aaron is going to unpack verse 4 in two weeks and get very practical with how to read your Bible. I’m going to introduce the ideas today as we head toward the Lord’s table. The way to become more like Jesus is to read your Bible. But we don’t just read it aimlessly.

  • Read your Bible with Jesus at the center

Psalm 69 was originally written by King David concerning a situation in his life. The apostles understood that Psalm 69 was not limited to David but was ultimately written about Jesus. This is why Paul could defend his call to sacrifice by pointing to Jesus and using Psalm 69 to describe Jesus. Jesus is the center of the Bible. More specifically, Jesus is the center of the Old Testament. Aaron is going to tell you how to read the Bible with Jesus at the center. Let’s stay with our quick overview. Read your Bible with Jesus at the center and

  • Read the Old Testament in order to learn

Look with me at verse 4, “For whatever was written was written in former times for our instruction.” The Old Testament was written to teach us, New Testament Christians. The Old Testament is for you. If the Old Testament confuses you then come to our new Sunday school group that starts next week. Jay Collier and Johnny Lindsey are going to make Romans 15:4 come alive in your life. You have the Bible so that you can learn from the Bible. Come to the youth room next week at 9:45 am and experience the blessing. It’s going to be good. Read your Bible in order to learn and

  • Read the Old Testament for endurance and comfort

Why do we have the Old Testament? We have the Old Testament because we need endurance and comfort. Weak Christians don’t become strong Christians overnight or after one conversation. Making disciples takes endurance. The Old Testament will give you that. Weak Christians will do and say things that disappoint you. Making disciples is costly. You need comfort. Where will you get it from? You’ll get comfort everyday from the Old Testament. Pastor Aaron is going to teach you how to get comfort. Jay and Johnny are going to teach you how.

Stay with me in verse 4. Where do endurance and comfort lead us?

  • Read the Old Testament because it produces hope

We experience joy in the face of set-backs and disappointments because we are instructed by the Old Testament and the Old Testament is producing endurance and comfort in us. Namely, the Old Testament helps us better understand who Jesus is and how Jesus lived. Knowing Jesus, through the Old Testament, gives us endurance, comfort, and hope. Read your Bible and

IV. Trust the God who speaks

Where do encouragement and endurance come from? Verse 4 tells us endurance and encouragement come from the Old Testament which points to Christ. Verse 5 tells us God stands behind the Old Testament and speaks through the Old Testament. God is the God of endurance and comfort, therefore, pray to Him. Pray to the God of endurance and encouragement (5a).

What I’m saying is prayer is the product of faith. When you believe God is the God of endurance and comfort, when you know God proves himself in Christ to be full of endurance and comfort, when you read your Bible and see example after example of God’s patience and encouragement then you will pray. Trust in God and prayer to God are inseparable. So, what does Paul’s understanding of God lead him to pray for in verse 5?

  • Pray for unity in the church

Verse 5 is Paul’s prayer wish for the Roman church. “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 5 is your prayer for this Church. You’ll see this prayer on the screens as we take the Lord’s Supper, “God of endurance and encouragement, make us live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Jesus Christ, that together we may with one voice glorify You and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ask God to show you how your use of freedom may be disrupting the body. Ask God to show you how to use your freedom to strengthen our peace and build up others. Pray for unity and focus on Jesus because

  • Jesus is the means to unity (5b)

Verse 5, our harmony with one another is in accordance with Christ Jesus. Your position for or against meat offered to idols will not unify us. Your position concerning wine or flags or how to school your children will not unify us. Jesus is the only adequate means to true unity.

For this church to grow strong and enjoy unity you must choose to deal with us according to the mercy, grace, patience, and holiness of Christ. You must choose to forgive us. You must choose to serve us. You must choose to endure with us. You must choose to deal with us according to Christ and not according to your self-centered pleasures. We must all do this.

When we unite together around Christ the result is verse 6. Because of our individual unity with Christ we will come together and glorify God with one voice. God’s goal for us is a unity and worship (6). It’s not enough for us to begrudgingly give up our freedom. God is with us through Christ so that we can joyfully sing and celebrate our life in Christ. When you do your own thing and go after your own thing it tears down our unity. When you chat with your neighbor about common or insignificant things it tears town our unity. God’s goal is for each one of us, because of Christ, to add our voice in unified praise.

Therefore, welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you. Christian, God wants you to

  • Act like Jesus (7)

If Jesus only accepted those people who look and love and act like him then he would never welcome any of us. Instead, Jesus accepts us into his family because of his transforming grace. We accept one another around this table and into membership and throughout each day because of Jesus’ transforming grace. We look, love, and act differently. That’s ok. What must unite us, what must bring us together, is our shared desire to honor our Father by living like Jesus. Everyone one of us needs to deliberately set our minds on Christ and not on pleasing ourselves.

So, to prepare for the Lord’s Supper we are going to come together and with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are going to sing “We Hunger and Thirst.” This song may not be your favorite. Given the choice, you may choose something else. But having your own desires does not mean you are free to say one thing while we say another. Instead, our unity in Christ leads us to join our voices together and sing the same thing. Our confession is the same. Our worship is an act of unity. So let’s sing. Let’s sing together. Let’s look around and welcome one another and with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

A shift is happening. We are moving away from using our strength to fulfill our self-centered desires. We are moving toward the Lord’s table, toward joyfully laying aside our freedoms for the good and building up of others. Church, let’s join our voices and sing. Let’s confess our hunger and thirst for righteousness. We hunger and thirst for Christ.


Philippians 3:3-4a Discussion Questions

For we are the circumcision, who worship God by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also.

  1. What are some of the marks or characteristics of members of your family? These marks can include things you say or do, places you regularly go, or physical features.
  2. Under the old covenant, circumcision marked or characterized the people of God. If a male was not circumcised could he be a part of the people of God?
  3. According to Philippians 3:3-4a, what are the defining marks of the people of God?
  4. What does it mean to worship God by the Spirit of God? Study 1 Corinthians 2 for help.
  5. What does it mean to glory in Christ Jesus? Study 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 for help.
  6. What does it mean to put no confidence in the flesh? Study Romans 3:19-31 for help.
  7. Discuss some of the ways you can worship God by the Spirit of God, glory in Christ Jesus, and avoid putting confidence in the flesh?

A “Handy” Blog

I was raised in a traditional Baptist church (for which I am very thankful). But this beneficial upbringing left me a bit uncertain about what to do with my hands during worship and prayer. Maybe you can relate to Tim Hawkins.

On a more thoughtful note, I want to recommend Sam Storm’s blog post where he lists several passages referring to our hands and then draws some implications for times of worship, both individually and corporately. Check it out here- Sam Storms, I Will Lift Up My Hands

This coming Sunday

I just finished the rough draft of my sermon for Sunday March 15. I am overwhelmed with joy as I think about getting to preach this sermon. I can’t wait so I’m putting it out there now. Read it, pray for me as I continue to work on it, and let’s walk in the joy of repentance and faith.

Your Sins Are Forgiven

Text: Luke 7:36-50                                                                 3/15/2015

Main Point: Jesus gives us the joyful freedom of absolute forgiveness.

My little girl, Ruthie who is two years old, loves to take a bath. I feel a bit sorry for the nursery workers if she just heard her name and the word “bath” in the same sentence. Say the word and she will get excited. With bright eyes she’ll repeat the word bath over and over again. She loves to splash and slide and giggle and play bubbles. Ruthie knows how to enjoy a good bath.

Did you know the way Ruthie enjoys a good bath is the way you and I should enjoy complete forgiveness in Jesus Christ? Forgiveness brings freedom and joy. But a destructive thing happens to us as we grow up. We become more and more aware of ourselves and the opinion of others. Because of our sins and mistakes we begin to feel awkward. Because of the times we have made fun of the joy and freedom of others we become fearful people. Others will make fun of us if we express joy and live in freedom. It’s a vicious cycle of self-awareness which robs us of joy.

Now let’s be clear. You and I have done, said, and thought terrible things. There are good reasons to be hesitant when it comes to the joy of forgiveness. We must be clear, freedom does not come by denying or excusing or explaining away our sin. Freedom comes through forgiveness. When it comes to the joyful freedom of Christianity we must not be minimalists. We cannot minimize our sin or minimize the substitutionary atonement of Christ. True deep joy comes by owning our sin and owning Christ our Savior. So you may be unhappy because you are not serious about your sin.

The events of Luke 7:36-50 were recorded so that guilty sinners like you and I could become joyful saints like the woman in this passage. We’re going to look at the three characters in this historical event. There is a grumpy Pharisee, a sinner forgiven, and a wonderful Savior. Let’s read the passage, believe the truth, and walk in the joy of forgiveness.

Read Luke 7:36-50

Darrell Bock summarizes the passage well, “God is ready and willing to forgive the debts of people and to act graciously beyond expectation” (Bock, 700).

1. A grumpy Pharisee

  • The Pharisees were rule makers, rule keepers, and rule enforcers

In this story the Pharisee is acting as the guardian of the rules. He is not a joyful participant in grace. Look back through the account and I’ll show you what I mean. In verse 36 we learn the Pharisee has invited Jesus into his home for a meal. Now can figure out why the Pharisee issued the invitation?

Verse 39 helps. “Now when the Pharisee saw [the woman wiping and anointing Jesus’ feet] he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.’” Apparently the Pharisee is trying to figure out if Jesus is a legitimate prophet or a poser.

The Pharisee has a set of rules by which a prophet must play. The prophet must have a supernatural understanding of people. In particular a prophet must know who is sinful and must avoid those who are sinful. Since Jesus doesn’t avoid this sinful woman but accepts her, the Pharisee determines that Jesus must not be a prophet. But notice what is happening. Jesus does know this woman, verse 47, Jesus knows her sins are great. But also notice verse 40, Jesus knows what the Pharisee is thinking. Jesus is a prophet.

That the Pharisees were rule makers, rule keepers, and rule enforcers is a secondary point. Here is the main point concerning the Pharisee:

  • Self-righteous people struggle to be generous

Self-righteous people find it difficult to be kind. Self-righteous people find it especially difficult to be kind to sinners. While the Pharisee had some level of politeness (he did host Jesus to a meal and he did show Jesus the respect of calling him teacher) he was not free to be generous towards Jesus. Self-righteous people are so concerned about being self-righteous they cannot enjoy showing kindness to others. Self-righteous people are so concerned about being self-righteous they cannot show kindness towards sinners.

Look with me at the miserliness of the Pharisee in verse 40. Jesus compares the Pharisee and the sinful woman. The Pharisee-host did not offer the kindness of washing Jesus’ feet but the woman washed his feet with her tears. The Pharisee did not welcome and greet Jesus with a kiss while the woman has covered Jesus’ feet with her kisses. The Pharisee did not seek to comfort his guest with even the cheapest oil while the woman anointed Jesus’ feet with the most expensive of ointments.

God shows up in the Pharisees home bringing forgiveness and joy but the Pharisee can’t see it. He’s so wrapped up in his reputation and in doing the right thing that he misses God. Self-righteous people struggle to be generous to others because they do not find God to be generous towards them. Because the self-righteous person has not experienced abundant grace the self-righteous person is incapable of showing others abundant grace.

Are you grumpy or are you gracious? Let’s look at our next character in the story

2. A forgiven sinner

  • This woman was a notorious sinner

Verse 37 tells us this woman is a “woman of the city, who was a sinner.” We do not know the specifics of this woman’s sin and we do not know her identity in particular. We do know, however, that everyone knew she was a terrible person. While the Pharisee had a reputation for keeping the rules, this woman had a reputation for breaking the rules. The best guess is this woman had been a prostitute. She was involved in gross, repeated, and known immorality. She was a notorious sinner. But

  • This woman had faith

Look down in verse 50, “And [Jesus] said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’” Apparently this woman knows and believes something about Jesus before coming to wash and anoint Jesus’ feet. It is her faith which drives her deeds. So the sinful woman is similar to the Pharisee in this way; she knew something of Jesus before this episode. Maybe she had been there when the paralytic was healed in Luke chapter 5. She heard the promise of forgiveness and saw that power in action. Possibly she was one of Levi’s friends who heard Jesus announce he had “not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Maybe she had heard Jesus preach or been told about these things. We don’t know how she came to repent of her sins and trust Jesus for forgiveness. All we know is she had faith. Let’s look at the specifics of that faith.

  • This woman found forgiveness in Jesus Christ

There is an undeniable progression here. The woman has great sins. Jesus offers her great grace. Her response is great love. Why is she, verse 38, standing at Jesus’ feet weeping? Because she sees how terrible her sins are while experiencing the wonder and power of Jesus’ grace. This woman has every reason not to be there. Those people, that Pharisee, know her. They have shunned her often. But she cannot stay away. She cannot hold back. Grace is too powerful. So she goes in and wets Jesus’ feet with penitent and thankful tears. She has no towel but she has her hair. Now every social norm every rule has been thrown out and she begins to try his feet with her hair. She cares nothing for herself. She does not care what they think. She is overwhelmed by the forgiveness she has found in Christ.

She then kisses Jesus’ feet. There is nothing romantic happening here. This is the natural display of this woman’s affections toward the God who has set her free from sin and guilt. What can she give? How can she thank this great Savior? How can she show her love? The alabaster flash hanging around her neck is her offering. She breaks the vial and rubs the ointment into Jesus’ feet. Here’s the point

  • Her experience of forgiveness led to a display of love

Look at verse 47. I think about this verse as the jumbo jet, a 747, of Jesus’ grace. “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much.” The sinner’s display of love does not earn her forgiveness. Jesus doesn’t forgive her because she loves him. No, Jesus freely forgives therefore the sinner responds with love. How do we know this great sinner has been forgiven? She has been forgiven because her faith in Jesus produces a grateful love for Jesus. She believes Jesus forgives her and this faith saves her. Let’s ask what has she been saved from?

She has been saved from the wrath of God. Because of her sin she does not have peace. The sinful woman knows she is guilty; guilty of great sin. She knows she deserves God’s judgment and condemnation. She doesn’t hide or excuse her sin. She confesses her sin and trusts Jesus to remove all her sin. She is no longer cut off from God. She is no longer guilty before God. This woman has peace because Jesus forgives sin. No longer weighed down by a guilty conscience, no longer bound by her reputation, she has been set free. She has been forgiven. It is simply a glorious experience to be forgiven. Jesus is a wonderful savior.

3. A wonderful Savior

Look at the parable of verse 41, “A certain money-lender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Catch this

  • God is a debt collector

We must be clear on this point. Especially in our day when so-called pastors and so-called Christians are intend on explaining away sin all together. God is serious about your sin and my sin. God knows all of our sin and God holds us accountable for our sin. The day is coming when God will judge you for your sin. And the holiness of God will empower God to cast you into a forever hell because of your sin-debt. Hebrews 4:13 puts it plainly, “no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.”

God will not consider your excuse. God will not miss even the smallest sin. The day of reckoning is coming. God is a debt collector but also

  • God is a debt forgiver

Oh Church, do not miss the glory of verse 42, “When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both.” Here is the free grace of God. God does not expect you to pay Him for your sins. God does not punish you for your sins. God freely forgives. God knows you will never be good enough.  God knows you will never be able to pay. The Catholics are wrong about purgatory. If purgatory were a real place where you went to pay off your sin-debt you would never get out. It doesn’t matter how big or small your debt is, you cannot pay it back. God freely forgives sin. How does he forgive? Why does God forgive?

  • Jesus is God’s wonderful Savior

1 Peter 3:18, “Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous that he might bring us to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Jesus has the authority to forgive your sin and my sin because he is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). This woman knew the truth concerning her sin and the truth concerning Jesus. Jesus will forgive me of all my sin by paying my debt for me. Jesus will forgive me of all my sin by dying in my place, taking my punishment. Jesus will forgive me and Jesus will make me righteous. Jesus will give me all of his righteousness making me everything God requires of me. Jesus is a wonderful Savior!

4. So what do we do with all this truth?

  • Refuse to minimize your sin

We live in a day when evil is called good and good is called evil. The only sin in our culture is calling a sin a sin. We are harming people with all this guilty sin talk so welcome people as they are, celebrate and empower them to seek self-fulfillment. Let the sinner enjoy his sin because we all know there’s really no such thing as sin. If there is a God he would never judge us.

Step back and ask a question. Is our society any happier today for all its tolerance and celebration of sin? We are more open and accepting than before and we are more medicated for depression than ever before. As sin increases so does depression. But I also do not propose that we return to the legalism of days gone by. Being legalistic and being lawless are both joy-stealing traps. We must refuse to minimize sin by calling evil good. And we must refuse to minimize sin by trying to hide it or cover it with self-righteousness. Here is another point of application

  • Parents gently expose your children’s sin

If we harm our neighbors and coworkers by calling evil good then we also harm our children by calling evil good. Because I want my children to trust in Christ their Savior I want them to understand their sin. I’m not running around waiting on them to point out so I can point and yell, “That’s a sin! That’s a sin!” No, in discipline I seek to ground every correction in the reality of sin. You are being punished because you sinned. Disobeying me when I told you to come is a sin. Hitting your sister is a sin. Lying is a sin. But Jesus is a great savior. When you expose your child’s sin you must do so in order to point him or her to the freedom and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Never expose sin without proclaiming the free grace of Jesus Christ. This is what we’re after

  • Believe the gospel

There are two necessary parts of faith- believing Jesus has paid for all your sin and believing Jesus gives you his righteousness. Preach the gospel of free grace for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus loves to forgive sinners. Jesus lived and died and rose again because he loves to forgive sinners. The good news today is that Jesus not only can forgive you but Jesus wants to forgive you. Jesus wants to forgive disobedience children, rebellious teenagers, dead beat dads, self-righteous do-gooders, meth heads, prostitutes, and every other sinner out there. Own your sin today. And as you confess your sin own Jesus Christ your Savior. We expose sin and preach Christ because the free grace of God is so attractive to those who are sinners.

Jesus is boring because you have ignored or excused your sin. Jesus is wonderful and worthy to those who confess their sin. So what should we do? Confess your sin, don’t minimize it. Believe the gospel and thank God for Jesus Christ.

  • Thank God for Jesus Christ

This woman did not wipe Jesus’ feet with her tears and anoint his feet with ointment everyday but I guarantee she never got offer the beauty of free grace. Because she was honest about the  heinous nature of her sin and because she believed in the greater power of Jesus’ forgiveness she lived a  life of gratitude. Self-righteous people like Simon struggle to be grateful. Self-righteous people are always aware of the good things they deserve but do not receive. Self-righteous people always deserve better kids, a better spouse, better friends, a better job, a more public ministry, and on and on. Sinners know they deserve God’s wrath in a forever hell but have been given forgiveness freely in Jesus Christ.

I do not propose we beat ourselves up more for our sin. My invitation is that we become honest about the sin which is actually there in order that we might find the freedom of joy Jesus actually offers. Here is a necessary point to parents.

  • Parents need to preach the gospel and live out the joy of repentance

As much as our children need to know their sins they also need to see in us the joy of forgiveness. Your children need to see the tears of repentant joy. Your children need to hear your confession of sin and your children need to see your joyful confession of Jesus Christ. This isn’t ultimately about the danger of never worshipping with your children. This is about the danger of never delighting in Jesus around your dinner table. Your children do not need to know the details of your sin. But when your child picks up on you being convicted bring them in. Let them knell beside you as you confess. Let them listen as you pour out thanksgiving for forgiveness. Let them hear you sing songs of joy. Parents preach the gospel to yourself and live out the joy of repentance. Teach your children the truth and show them the power of forgiveness.

Listen today to the words of Jesus. In your sin and in your guilt listen to the words of Jesus, to all those who repent and believe Jesus says these wonderful words, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Praise God, 1 Peter 1:3-5

Listen to sermon audio here.

Main Point: God is worthy of trust and praise in every situation

Proverbs 13:22 tells us, “a good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” A male may be able to cause life but begetting a child is not the goal of a father. A faithful father gives life, guards life, and gives an inheritance. Every faithful dad giving life, guarding life, and giving an inheritance is like a sign post pointing to our heavenly Father. The good we have from our earthly fathers is a small taste of the banquet of eternal good we have from our heavenly Father. Our heavenly Father is worthy of trust and praise in every situation. He has given us spiritual life, he is guarding us, and he will give us a wonderful inheritance. Praise God!

1 Peter 1:1-5 was written and preserved for your benefit. Let’s find that benefit together. (Read 1 Peter 1:1-5)

I.  Praise God (v3)

Verse 3 opens with the words, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” God is awesome, wonderful, and amazing. He is good and everything he does is good. Peter is not just filling up space in his letter. He’s calling us to join in as he praises God.

  • We need encouragement to praise God

1. We need encouragement to praise God because idols of ease and comfort must be torn down. We are in constant danger of drifting away from joy in God. And the danger of idolatry grows when we suffer for righteousness. Test yourself for bitterness and resentment. When called to worship God do you respond with gladness, indifference, or even anger?  The call to praise God wakes us up to the idols which have stolen our joy. We need the encouragement to praise God because our idols have distracted us and

2. We need the encouragement to praise God because true faith and right worship must be built up. In hard times we need the outside encouragement of the church. We need our brothers and sisters to teach us, to warn us, and to encourage us. The worst thing we can do in difficulty is get off by ourselves. We need other voices encouraging and helping us.

3. And the best encouragement to worship is worship. Peter isn’t telling them to praise God, Peter is praising God. Peter isn’t telling them to bless God, Peter is blessing God. Worship encourages worship so Ephesians 5:19 tells us to address one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (ca. Colossians 3:16).

Why do we sing? We need to teach one another. Why should you show up and sing each week? God is worthy of all praise and your church needs your help to praise God. This church needs you to praise God.

Let’s return to 1 Peter 1:3 for some specific reasons to praise god. The Holy Spirit has inspired and preserved these verses so that you and I will always have reasons to thank God. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

II. Praise the God who has begotten us again (vs3-4)

No matter the situation, our salvation gives us reason to sing

  • Praise God for his mercy in salvation

Look back at verse 3. “According to his great mercy he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

The only claim you and I have to salvation is the mercy of God. Think about it. Why have you been given life? You have been born again because God is merciful. You and I do not deserve salvation. There is nothing in us which motivates God to act on our behalf. God is under no obligation to us. The King owes rebels nothing. Only because of the great mercy of God is anyone saved.

Verse 3 states, “According to his great mercy he has caused us to be born again.” In John 3 Jesus said, “you must be born again.” You were born physically a descendent of Adam; you were born spiritually dead bearing the image of Adam. You must be born again spiritually a descendent of Jesus Christ. How does this happen? Jesus said the new birth is the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit. Peter explains that God the Father of Jesus Christ is the ultimate cause of anyone being born again. Literally, God is the one who has begotten us again. The merciful God is the initiator of the new birth.

Let’s connect the dots. John 3, the Holy Spirit gives this life. 1 Peter 1:23 says you are born again through the living and abiding word of God. 1 Peter 1:3 says you were born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ because of God’s initiative. Here’s how it goes. The merciful God is the giver of life. The life we are given is the resurrection life of Jesus Christ. The way we receive that life is by faith through hearing the word of God; the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who awakens us and gives us understanding. Your salvation is Trinitarian- the Father, Son, and Spirit are at work causing the new birth.

We need this truth for two big reasons. First, we need to be assured of the sovereignty of God. God can be trusted to bring to completion what he starts in us. Especially in suffering the merciful initiating God can be trusted to see us safely through. God’s got you- trust Him. Second, we need this truth so we can praise God. We are called to marvel over the mercy of God. No one deserves salvation. That anyone is saved is proof of the mercy of God. So praise the God who according to his great mercy has caused you to be born again. And

  • Praise God we have a living hope

We are born again because of God’s great mercy and as we get more specific we see we are born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus is the source of our new spiritual life. If you are spiritual, if you have been given eternal life it is only because Jesus has risen from the grave. This merciful God has given his greatest treasure to redeem his greatest enemies. He has given his own Son for us. Through faith, our lives, our destinies become wrapped up in Christ. Because Jesus has life we live. Because Jesus rose from the dead we too will be raised. One day we will put on immortality and we will be made like Jesus because we already have his life. The resurrection of Jesus is the source of our spiritual rebirth. He gives us his life. And

The resurrection of Jesus gives us life and joy and reason to praise God in difficulty. Look back at verse 3. What type of hope has God brought us into? Is it a vain hope? Is it an empty hope? Is it a long shot? Is our hope dead on arrival? Our hope is a living hope because our hope is the living Christ.

One of the explicit reasons God has caused you to be born again is so that right now you can have a living hope. Doing life with Christ and because of Christ produces hope in spite of difficulty. God hasn’t promised to keep you from difficulty. No, God has promised to give you hope even in difficulty.

The wisdom of Hebrews 12 cries out to us. Find those who are struggling. Find those who seem to have no hope. Reach out to your brothers and sisters. Invite them into your home. Look after their needs. Care for them. Lift the drooping hands and strengthen the weak knees. Because of Christ in you be a source of hope in others. Point your brothers and sisters to Christ who is our living hope. Let us praise God for this hope and let us

  • Praise God we have a sure and strong inheritance

Now it would be great if we were simply been born again to a living hope but it gets better. Verse 4 tells us we have been born again to an inheritance. We have hope now and an inheritance to come.

In your suffering know that you have a glorious future. We are a part of a family that has a future. Look at how our inheritance is described in verse 4. It is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. Our health, our money, our power, our beauty, and our suffering are all perishable. Our biological families, marriages, and accomplishments are temporary. The good and the bad of these days will not last. But our inheritance, our eternal life with Christ Jesus is imperishable. There is no shelf date on this inheritance. There can be and there will be no decay.

It is an imperishable and undefiled inheritance. There are no weak spots or bruises or sinfulness or dirtiness on our inheritance. Our future is absolutely perfect. It is undefiled and unfading. The glory and joy and splendor of our inheritance will never fade. It is mindboggling and worship inspiring and hope providing to think of an eternity that cannot do anything but get better with every passing year.

You who are struggling, lift up your eyes from the temporary and set your eyes on the eternal. Let us help you live by faith. There is an inheritance for you because you belong to God. And that inheritance is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. That inheritance is ready. It is kept in heaven for you. It’s a sure thing.

Beloved, have hope today but not because of your circumstances. Enjoy a living hope because Jesus has risen from the dead and he promises to bring you into an eternity which is far better than anyone could ever imagine. Have hope because that inheritance is kept in heaven for you. It doesn’t matter what you have done. It doesn’t matter what type of family you were first born into. God has caused you to be born again into a new family with a glorious strong and sure inheritance. Praise the God who has caused you to be born again.

III. Praise the God who guards you (v5)

When faced with suffering or persecution we often begin to wonder how much suffering or persecution we can take. If forced to renounce Christ or die will I have the faith to confess Christ? Will I deny him? If forced to endure mistreatment for years or even decades will I have hope or will I give into bitterness? What will I do if things get worse from here? These are the important questions. Let’s answer them from God’s word.

When times get tough

  • Praise God for the power to keep in and keep out

While we are looking ahead to our inheritance we are filled with a real hope. The reality of eternity gives us joy now. But this reality does not mean we will be exempt from difficulty. So we need to be clear about our inheritance with God for our joy and we need to be clear about God’s commitment to guard us for our stability.

Verse 5 tells us that those whom God has begotten again are those whom God is guarding. Look at verse 5. The born again are those “who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

When we were looking at the good news of perseverance from Philippians 1:6 we were glad to hear these words, “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.” 1 Peter 1:5 helps us understand why we can be so sure that God will bring our salvation safely to its determined end. God commits to guard us. All those whom God has begotten again will be saved. All those whom God has begotten again will be protected from the sin which would destroy their faith. God keeps his children in and God keeps destruction out. The omnipotent God is guarding you.

Think on 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

God knows you. God knows where you are. God knows what you are up against. God promises to show you the way of escape in every temptation. So how can you endure even the harshest of persecution? God promises his power so you can endure.

When you wonder if you can make it through with your faith intact look away from yourself and rest in the promise of God: He is guarding you. But God is not guarding you in spite of you. You cannot abandon the faith and be saved. God is guarding you through faith.

  • Praise God for faith

We are guarded by God’s power through faith. At times it is tempting to think we are the cause of our faith. But this is an unbiblical idea and it is incredibly unsatisfying in suffering. If I am the cause of my faith then my faith is only as strong as me. But if God is the cause of my faith then my faith is as strong as God.

The unified biblical witness is that God is the giver of repentance and faith (Ephesians 2:8-10; Acts 5:31; 11:18 and 2 Timothy 2:25). God is the foundation and cause of your faith. It is through faith that you receive God’s power. Because you have God’s power you are guarded and brought into great joy.

You must have faith and God must give faith. The sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man are great mysteries. When it comes to being saved we don’t tell people to be begotten of God we tell people to repent and believe. Like Jesus we do tell them they must be born again. But we don’t tell people to twist God’s arm until he causes the new birth. We plead with people to repent and believe. Praise God that he gives us what he requires of us. He gives us righteousness, repentance, and faith.

Now this matters during suffering because we need the reminders that God can be trusted. God is guarding you through the faith he has given you. Since he has begotten you, then like a good father he will give you a glorious inheritance. Praise God because he has caused you to be born again. Praise God because he is guarding you through faith.

  • Praise God for our coming salvation

God’s power is guarding us through faith for a purpose. God’s power is guarding us through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Do not think the crudiness of your current situation is the fullness of your salvation. The sorrows of today are a far cry from the best that is to come. The best of today is a far cry from the best that is to come. 2 Corinthians 4:16

Now, God has not brought us the fullness of salvation because he’s still working on it. God has not brought us the fullness of salvation because the time is not right. The inheritance is ready but the time is not right. The patience of God is not weakness it is mercy. The gospel must advance. All the nations must hear and then the end will come (Mt 24:14).

Here’s what I think Peter is after in these verses: Your suffering for the advance of the gospel is not a denial of salvation. Your suffering for the advance of the gospel is bringing salvation near. We must understand that the nearer we come to the fullness of our salvation the greater our suffering will be. We must understand that the nearer we come to the fullness of life and joy in eternity the greater our difficulty will be. But this increasing difficulty does not mean decreasing joy.

Beloved, do not be surprised by the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share in Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed (1 Peter 4:12-13).

Praise God and rejoice. Jesus is coming soon and when he does we will stand before him as those who are not ashamed. Our tested faith will shine and Jesus will be praised, honored, and glorified. He is the cause of our salvation. By his power we are guarded for salvation. He is coming quickly and with him he brings the fullness of salvation.

Come quickly Lord Jesus.