13: Your Best Life How

Message 13 of 34 in the series Letters from Peter

The Christian life is marked by a surprising capacity to express the character of God in gracious, patient, sacrificial love for others.

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For

“Whoever desires to love life    and see good days,let him keep his tongue from evil    and his lips from speaking deceit;11 let him turn away from evil and do good;    let him seek peace and pursue it.12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,    and his ears are open to their prayer.But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
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1 Peter 3:8-12, ESV

13: Your Best Life How

Life-Truth: The Christian life is marked by a surprising capacity to
express the character of God in gracious, patient, sacrificial love for

Application: If you feel this is lacking in your life, then ask God to help
you with your unbelief. Ask him to reveal himself to you that you may
grow in your awe of who he is, what he has done, and ask him to
increase your faith in his promises of what he will do.

Audio Transcript

Thank you, David. David texted me a couple of months ago, inviting me to preach today and when he told me what passage it was going to be, I was like, yes, I’ll do it.

Because we had gone through 1 Peter in our small group, a year or two ago, and when we went over this particular passage, I was really moved and stirred and encouraged and there’s something I haven’t been able to escape — One word in particular in today’s passage.

So I’m going to invite all of you to underline that one word, “Bless”. Because it’s the crux of today’s passage. It’s the one thing I really want you to take away. The word and the concept that I’m — By God’s grace going to open up before you — Found in that one word bless.

So I have a connection with this. In fact, like I’ve had that opinion 3 different occasions with different organizations or companies to help create a mission statement and I think that this one word, “Bless”, it can be a one-word mission statement for every Christian. I think there’s that much power present in this one word, this imperative.

And this is not Webster’s definition, but I think it’d be helpful to define the word “blessed”, and so this is Josh’s definition — By God’s grace. it’s accurate and it’s what he wants to communicate to us, to impart into our minds, to change our way of thinking so we might be conformed in Christ’s image.

So here’s my definition. My working definition of “bless” this morning:

To reflect the character of God by imparting grace to others.

When I say “blessed” this morning, I’m saying to reflect the character of God by imparting grace to another.

If you’re here this morning and you’re struggling with hunger, like spiritual hunger, or fear about life and the future. If you’re struggling with sin, your sin or sins committed against you. If you’re struggling with feeling insignificant, Like maybe you’re just not that important or nobody notices you. Or if you’re struggling with doubt — “Did God really say?”, “Can God really do?”

I believe today’s passage is the antidote for you. What I mean by that is if you are spiritually hungry, I think that we’re going to talk about this morning, the very thing which satisfies the human soul. If you’re fearful, I think that we’re going to open up comforting words of assurance that have the potential to take root and then produce fruit in your life. If you’re struggling with sin, today we’re going to talk about the freedom for which Christ sets his followers free. If you have a sense of insignificance. Somebody who hears this morning message and lives by it, I believe will be declared by God as someone for whom this world is not worthy. if you have doubt, God working this passage of scripture in your heart will make the fertile soil, for God to reveal himself to your soul and thereby believe — transforming you into one of his children in his likeness.

When David started this first Peter series, he said to look out for five themes, so I’m going to remind you of those five themes because we’re kind of going to be wrapping up the third one.

That’s the first word in today’s passage, “finally”, I believe, is a kind of summation of the third theme.

But here’s the five themes:

The work of God. The pursuit of holiness. Living as the church in the fallen world. That’s what I believe we’re going to wrap up today. Then we’re going to get into, what we’re going to allude to in today’s passage, suffering as Saints and the sovereignty of God. We touch on both of those things this morning. But, we’re going to be wrapping up living as the church in the fallen world.

I’m gonna review real quick what we’ve gone over in 1 Peter, through the means of the imperatives. So the commands given in the book so far that we’ve touched on, I’m going to read them for you real quick, OK, and depending on how you categorize them, there’s between — We touched on 15 to 20 commands or imperatives. Here they are real quick.

  • Set your hope fully on the grace that we brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
  • Do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.
  • Be holy in all your conduct.
  • Conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.
  • Love one another earnestly from a pure heart.
  • Put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.
  • Long for the pure spiritual milk.
  • Abstain from the passions of the flesh.
  • Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable.
  • Be subject to every human institution.
  • Honor everyone, love the brotherhood. Fear God, honor the emperor.
  • Servants be subject to your masters.
  • Wives to be subject to your husband.
  • Do not let your adorning be external.
  • Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart.
  • Do not fear anything that is frightening.
  • Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to her.

So those are all the imperatives that we’ve touched on so far in the book of First Peter. And I believe they are all summarized in today’s passage. Particularly in the one word “Bless”.

So. I don’t want you to lose the significance of what we’re going to talk about today. But specifically, in today’s passage, we’re going to talk about, The Who, What, How, and Why of blessing?

The Who

In verse 8, like I said, this finally, since we’re wrapping up, we’re living in the church and fallen world. And starts with The Who. Those first couple of verses, “All of you”, sorry the first couple words, “all of you”

So as opposed to last week and the week before where we talked about specific commands from husbands to wives or slaves to masters or employees to bosses and today’s kind of dynamics — This one is for everybody, so you can’t sit there today and just kind of tune out. “Well I’m not a husband” or” I’m not a wife” or ”I’m not going to have kids”. This is for all of us. So The Who is all of you.

The What

The what in verse 8. This first verse, “have unity of mind sympathy. Brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”, it’s not a checklist unto salvation. This isn’t how we become Christians.I believe what it’s saying here. Verse 8, is it’s expounding on what it means to genuinely love one another, to give you a picture, sometimes to know what something is. It’s good to say what it’s not.

This list is not a path to salvation. And the opposite of all these things are disunity, callousness, disdain, a hard heart, arrogance.

You can do the right thing, but have a terrible attitude when you’re doing it. You can do the right thing, but have an awful motive. You can do something that looks like it blesses a brother, but you’re actually doing it in a callous or cursing way. And so when I believe he’s calling us too in verse 8, Peter is saying — have these things about you — He’s saying to genuinely, authentically, from the heart — Love one another.

It’s not something you can do in isolation, and it’s not something you can do while holding back, in the back of your mind, or in your soul, disdain, impatience, annoyance for others. But we’re going to talk about what it means to genuinely love one another. That’s what this verse in this passage gives us a picture of.

The How and The Why

Verse 9 we’re going to open up the How and the Why. “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless”

The How

The way God loves us is not by operating according to fairness or loving the lovely. God’s love is not exacting, calculating. It’s not a measured distribution to those who are worthy of his love. Then that’s how we’re called to love other people. It’s not evil for evil Or violent for revival.
But we’re called to bless people. The way we genuinely love others, the way God loves us, the way Jesus commanded his disciples — Is to bless everyone.

That’s a hard word because some people are not lovely and they don’t reciprocate that blessing. But I want to challenge you right now, in this moment. Consider every interaction you had with other people, this idea that I am here interacting with this person for the purpose to bless them. To genuinely love them. How would that change how you interact with people?

So what if you went to your bank and had to make a deposit. When I make a bank deposit. It’s just like “boom, boom”, it’s a business transaction. I’m trying to get through as quickly as possible.

Well, what if when I went in there, I was thinking to myself — I’m making a bank deposit for a business purpose, but the most important thing right now in this moment is I might be a blessing somehow to this bank teller. You’d like that Eli, right? If every person who came in interacted with you trying to bless you.

But that’s what we as believers are called to. The way we have unity of mind and sympathy, brotherly love, tender heart, and a humble mind. We live that out by blessing everyone. So bank teller cool got it?

What about the DMV teller? What if when you went into the DMV, you stood in line and then 30 minutes later you get there and they’re like Oh well, you need this piece of paper. If you just told me that when I walked in the door.

But what if you interacted with the DMV teller with the intention? I’m here today to renew my car tag, but the much greater purpose of why I’m here is that I might be a blessing to the DMV teller.

Do that with everybody. Your boss, your employee, your ornery client, your children who are doing the thing you told him not to do for the 50th time that day.

What if every interaction, in the back of your mind, was this idea, I exist right now. In this moment, God, through sovereignty brought me here, so that I might bless this person that I’m interacting with?

I’m telling you this morning, I think this passage is very clearly saying that is what we are called to. Why? Because it says, “for to this you were called”.

There’s this awful wasteland of human interaction called Twitter. And there’s this spinoff called StockTwits which is a place where people can do tweets, but specifically about investing. And I was on that website and I was following this one particular company in there. So there’s a discussion going on about this one company and whether or not it’s a good investment or a bad investment.

And I saw this exchange where these two guys began arguing with one another. Well, this is what you should put your money. Well, that’s stupid. That company has terrible leadership and you should invest in this commodity. Well, that’s dumb. And then it kind of had devolved into insults. And then, I remembered this and looked it up yesterday because It stuck out to me. One of the guys completely flips the whole thing upside down in his head because he stopped the insults. And this was his response to the guy he was arguing with. He said, “I hope you make tons of money on”, and I’m just going to say “your investment ” – “And then you pull it out and invest it into my investment. And that you get rich and retire from it. Blessings to you, your family, your children, and your children’s children. May God have favor upon you and bless you and make his face shine upon you.” And the other guy was completely disarmed and his response was, “Thanks, you too.” Right after having said something quite derogatory in the tweet right before that.

But that’s what it does, man. When you bless people. Like our world is such a toxic, ugly, harmful, I want mine place — that people don’t even know what to do with it.

But that’s what we are called to, every interaction, to bless. Again, for to this you were called. It is the calling of a Christian to live this out, this unity mind, sympathy, brotherly love, tender heart, humble mind. Through the means of blessing. Not just the lovely, but everyone.

The Why

It’s interesting, there’s a phrase after that. “That you may obtain a blessing.“ That’s the why. The Why is to obtain a blessing. That’s what verses 10 through 12 really open up to us is what obtaining a blessing looks like.

Well, let me just say, the blessing we obtain is a blessing from God. So let’s talk about what it looks like to get it, to obtain a blessing from God.

The blessing we obtain from God is that we might live a good life. So David asked me yesterday “What’s the title of your sermon.?” And I was going to. Just say “Bless”, but then I decided to call it Your Best Life How.

Because I hate the thesis of Your Best Life Now, that bestseller. because it’s about … First of all your best … The idea that our best life is now is antithetical to the Gospel. Our best life is to come at the revelation of Jesus Christ. But also the thesis of how to obtain your best life is by thinking positively and speaking into existence, and that’s kind of his teaching. And that’s not how.

To live a good life, to love your life, and to live a great life in this life. First is through knowledge that this is not your home. That your best life is coming. And second, apparently, it’s through the means of blessing other people. Not thinking and speaking positively, but blessing others.

So the blessing we obtain from God is who might live a good life, marked by an astounding love for others. That is fueled by promises from a loving God who has blessed us, is blessing us, and has promised to bless us beyond what we can imagine.

So quick context here, Peter is writing. OK. Verse 8 is his verse. 9 is his. But verse 10 through 12, he’s quoting Psalm 34.

Quick background here. Psalm 34, David wrote relatively early in his life. Remember David killed Goliath and had gotten some prestige in Israel and Saul brought him into his house. And Sauls’s daughter actually falls in love with David. And David is just like, everything David touches is blessed and Saul, because of his disunity with God, begins to get worried.

He gets jealous of David and he gets worried that God’s anointing is on David, and he might rise like raise him up and cuts all out and so he gets fearful of David and begins to hate him in his heart. And then he begins to conspire to kill David. So David flees from Saul.

And David then does the very thing that epitomizes the phrase, “Out of the frying pan, into the fire.” David flees his king who’s trying to kill him and has no other option, and I don’t know how to pronounce this guy’s name, but he flees to King Achish.

He flees King Saul goes to King Achish. That’s the only place he can go. Do you know who King Achish was? He knew who David was! Because Achish was king of Gath. And Gath at one point had a mighty warrior whose name was Goliath.

So David flees one guy trying to kill him and goes to the king of his arch-enemy. And he’s fearful for his life. He didn’t know what he was gonna do. And the king’s servants kind of get David and they take him to the king and I think in that transition, David is probably crying out to the Lord, “What is about to happen? Are they going to quarter me and send my body parts to across the nation?” — Maybe — This guy who killed our mighty warrior has been delivered into our hand and this is how great we are. We’ve cut him up into pieces.

I think he cried out to the Lord and God gave him an idea. And that was to act like a crazy man. And so when he gets to the palace, he begins to act wild and talk gibberish and bang against the doorposts and let spit run down his beard and when the king sees David, this guy who killed his mighty warrior, he says, “Do I not already have enough madmen living in my country? Get this Guy out here. I don’t want to deal with him? He’s crazy, he’s lost his mind.“

And so, without threat of violence, without lying — God delivers David from this, out of the frying pan into the fire situation.

In Psalm 34, something he writes reflecting on the goodness of God of, of watching over him and preparing him and David’s troubles hadn’t even really yet gotten started. He was going to continue to flee from Saul for a while. It was a long time before he would be made King of Israel.

But that’s the context of Psalm — That’s the background for Psalm 34, and that’s what Peter pulls out these few verses 10—12.

I said the blessing we obtain from God is we might live a good life and I want to confess something to y’all. I’ve struggled with that — that idea. I am exceedingly attracted to my wife. That’s something I really delight in is with how pretty she is. But I had this thought a month or two ago, but what do I value about Jennifer, above all else?

And with no hesitation, the thing that I cherish about my wife is that she longs to be with Jesus.

So if last week you checked out because you don’t have a husband or wife, but it might be something that’s on your horizon. I would challenge you to make that something that is really important — to think about what I’m saying and ask yourself, whether or not that should be something that you look for in a spouse. It’s the #1 thing I cherish about my wife. That she does not consider this to be her home, but she longs to be with Jesus.

If somebody came to her and said, “The Lord’s gonna take you Friday afternoon.” There would be some mourning with my wife, but she would kind of be like, ”All right, right on.”

A large part of her will be delighting to go be with Jesus. My wife understands what the writer meant when he said, “to die is gain.” My wife gets that. I struggle with that.

I love a good party, great food, music, I like dancing. I love a day with my boys in the Creek fishing. I love a great sunset. I love these good things that God has given me in this life. And I’ve wondered, is it bad that I say, “I love my life.” I struggle because of John 12:25. What’s that mean?


I’ve struggled with that because I feel like I really, really enjoy this life and the good things God has given me.

25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
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John 12:25, ESV

Sorry, I quoted it — I deleted it when I was doing my digital notes. That’s what it says. Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. And I’ve wondered this. Jennifer does she hate her life, and so she’s gonna go to heaven. And I love this life and this is all I’m gonna get.

I’ve wondered that. Sometimes when I don’t know where Jennifer is and I’m calling her and she’s not answering. I’m like, “Man this rapture, is that true? And she’s gone and I’m not.”

I have a good life. But, I struggle with that y’all. Until I began to wrestle with this sermon, I don’t struggle with it anymore. Because David says, whoever desires to love life and see good days — as though — the implication there. That’s a good thing because it is.

Let me explain why. Living a good life is a gift from God. Living a good life is a gift given to us by God because it is a good and Godly desire to long to see the goodness of the Lord manifested in this life.

To see peace, loveliness, beauty, to drink deeply from the well of God provision, sunsets, great food, marriage, the union, pure and highly regarded celebrations, restfulness, fun. These are God’s gifts to us.

Let me give you an example of why I think that’s true. I like to cook and the other day I cooked a meal for the boys and they were like, “Oh Daddy, this is delicious. This is so good.” And that made my heart full. I loved that I did something that I enjoy and it was good and they delighted in that. That brought me joy. How much more does our Heavenly Father when he gives us good things — and we say this is awesome — Does his heart swell?

For Jake’s 4th birthday, his favorite movie is Polar Express and my parents gave him a train conductor’s hat and this little stopwatch like the train conductor has in that movie. My parents gave him the watch. And so I had gotten down, I had taken a picture of his face when he opened it and realized what it was.

And there’s just this look of like just aw and delight. And I sent it to my folks and all of us love that picture because it’s just this Joy that Jake had in getting something that really, really wanted and did not expect.

How much more does our God give us good things and delight when we delight in them now. You can also make them the object of your worship and that’s what God despises. But God doesn’t despise when we delight in good things that are from his hand.

Romans 1, this is on my notes. Romans 1 says that God gives people over to their sin because they forget to — They no longer acknowledge God as God or give him thanks. Thankfulness is a critical element of a right relationship with God is to understand that good things come from him and to be thankful for them, and so it is a good thing to love your life. Not in the sense that Jesus is talking about — I believe when he warns us not to love our lives — where this is the only thing that matters, where we view this as our home and our hope. But it’s good in the sense that God can give us good things, and we say thank you and enjoy them.

So when David writes and then Peter quotes him, whoever desires to love life and see good days, that’s a good thing. We should long for peace. We should long for a life that’s full of good things. The heart-check there is that we don’t hate God when the good things don’t come or the good things get taken away, but we need to have a heart like Job when he got the news they gotta take in everything from him. He said the Lord gives, the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of our God.

We’re called to have an astounding love for other people in our lives. Be it good or difficult. So live truth this morning is the Christian life is marked by a surprising capacity to express the character of God in gracious, patient, sacrificial love for other people.

“That’s a bold claim. Josh.” Sure, but it’s not me who’s saying it, Jesus taught this. Remember the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ MO was to take the external and then show you how it really is the internal that matters.

And he said in Matthew 5

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
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Matthew 5:43-48, ESV

Jesus taught that the Christian life is marked by surprising love for others. Because, He calls us to love our enemies and pray for those, who I would say curse you. We bless everyone, even those who curse us.

So Jesus taught that on the Sermon on the Mount. He also commanded it. Remember after the Last Supper, He takes off his robe. He gets down on his knees and He washes the disciple’s feet. Jesus had only a few hours to live, and that’s one of the things he did. In the last few hours of his life, was he washed his disciple’s feet.

Do you know who was among his disciples? Same dude who hours later would betray him with a kiss. Jesus washed Judas’ feet. Jesus washed Judas’ feet.

He commanded this to his disciples when he did this, He said:

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, …
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John 13:34, ESV

That is no small thing. That’s why I’d say we should have an astounding love for other people. That the Christian life is marked by surprising capacity. The world should see us and be like, “That doesn’t make any sense. Why are those people doing that?”

Jesus demonstrated this. Romans 5 says,

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
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Romans 5:7-8, ESV

I think the world should look at us and just be confused. “That does not make any sense. Why would you respond like that?” There’s this stupid show that’s been on for way too many seasons called Survivor. They take these people and they put them in on this island and they vote each other off and at the end of the season, there’s usually two or three people left. And then the very people they conspired to vote off? They then have to make an appeal to them of why the people who were voted off should vote for them to win $1,000,000.

I was thinking last night o this morning, I don’t remember which, If a Christian ever got to the final two. A Christian response to that moment would be to say, “Look, y’all. I have an exceedingly rich father. I don’t need $1,000,000.” Like, “God is giving me a good life. Just give the million dollars to the other dude.”

Because on Social media we’re up saying what a stupid guy that’s the worst move on Survivor ever. Like. “That guy is an idiot. Doesn’t make any sense. Why would you give your $1,000,000 away?” But like how — If they had played with integrity and people knew they’re (…) — how beautiful would that be?

Like, so it’s just a stupid example, but what in your life can you do, that the world — Why are you doing that? Doesn’t make any sense. — That’s what you’re called to, bless everyone. Your enemies included. Your enemies in particular.

For to this you were called so that you might obtain a blessing. ‘Cause if you desire to love life and see good days, then do these things. Keep your tongue from evil, your lips from speaking deceit. That’s integrity, that’s honesty. Turn away from evil and do good even to your enemies. Seek peace, so diffuse arguments. Blessed are the peacemakers. Then seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

I say that we should have this surprising capacity to love that we share this astounding love. I don’t expect you to muster that of your own will. I do think we’re called to it. But I think it’s fueled by promise. Fueled by promises, I believe that’s our theological inheritance.

Galatians 3:29 says, “if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” Heirs according to promise. So if you’ve been adopted in the family of God, it’s not because of how great you are. It’s because of promise and that you believe that promise. Namely that Jesus died for your sins, and he’s coming to gather his bride and bring them to the New Kingdom where there won’t be any more sickness or death — if you believe that, if you believe the promise that Jesus came, died for you, and has promised you righteousness, and that he will come and reward those who earnestly seek him. You become adopted and grafted into the family of God.

This is like the radical teaching of Christianity. Paul spends a lot of effort making this case in Romans and condensing it down and making the case again in Galatians That’s what he’s saying here. If you’re Christ and you’re Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. This was radical because the Jews always thought, no, we are Abraham’s offering Because of descendants and blood. We’re Jews. So we’re Abraham’s offspring and Paul saying “No!” God called Abraham out in the wilderness sent into this new thing. I will make you a father of a great nation. And Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, making a way for anyone who would come and be in God’s family, a path to do that. Through believing God’s word. That’s our theological foundation. That’s why we’re Christians. Because we believe this, that we can go from outside of God’s family into God’s family by believing his promises.

There’s precedent for this, that God gives a command and then gives a reward as an incentive to obey the command. We see that in Ephesians 6:1-3

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”
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Ephesians 6:1-3, ESV

So that’s apparently something God does. He commands us to walk in him, to obey him. Because he’s going to reward us if we do. So it’s our foundation — There’s precedent for this. It’s also essential, apparently, to the very Christian faith.

Hebrews 11:6 says:

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
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Hebrews 11:6, ESV

You must believe that God is a rewarding God in order to please him. So in short, what I’m trying to say is if we believe, it shows up in our actions. We believe God’s promises, and so we act accordingly.

So this is a heavy thing, man. To authentically, genuinely love others, and to bless even our enemies. That’s a hard thing. But God has promised that He would give us a good life. And he will reward us. But I feel like I need to give you some encouragements here. Because sometimes things seem very desperate.

And in those moments when you’re tempted to not believe that God is Sovereign. I’ve mentioned a stupid example of Survivor. I hope this is not a stupid example. I hope this is a beautiful example. I think it is.

But there’s a book, a series of books that were turned into movies Tolkien wrote, Lord of the Rings, and Tolkien was a believer and he puts some spiritual themes in those books.

And there’s this one scene that I think is incredibly precious. Frodo, who’s the ring-bearer says to this wise wizard, “It’s a pity my uncle didn’t kill Gollum, the creature when he had the chance.” And Gandalf says, “Pity? It’s a pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play in it, for good or evil, before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.”

Frodo thinks about what Gandalf has said, and he says, ”I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish. None of this had happened.” Gandalf the Wise responds with, “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides that of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, in which case you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.”

That’s an encouraging thought because among other forces at work, was fate in the book, which I believe fate is a placeholder for God’s sovereignty. And if fate had brought the ring to Frodo and had brought Frodo to where he was that made him say I wish not as it happened. Then it stood to reason, it would not be chance that would see them through the remainder of the journey. So it is with us. It’s not chance that brings you to where you are this morning. It was the hand of a good and sovereign God. And if He’s lead us here, He will continue to lead us from here and into that which He has promised us.

So when things are desperate, God has brought you to that point and He will see you through it. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but out of them, the Lord delivers them all.

Do you guys remember my connection with that verse? I was sitting at the dining room table of a couple when she got the call from her oncologist that she had cancer. And God had given me that verse that morning right before I walked into that meeting. I said – This stuck out to me when I was doing this morning. I didn’t know what it was, why? I know now — It’s to give to you. And she said thank you. I needed to hear that in this moment.

God is a sovereign God who sees his people through. You know that one has a good ending. Miss Betty fought her cancer and she was cured of it. I also have another friend who I was in their presence when they got the call and her cancer overturned and it killed her. But she had hope in Jesus.

And so I will say that though in this life God did not cure her of cancer. In the next life, he most certainly did. And she is present with the Lord. ’cause that’s what it says, “absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” But one day Christ will return and make all things new and she will be resurrected unto life for eternity where there will be no more sickness. And so remember last time I preached, I reminded you of the Daniel 3 passage where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said. “God will deliver us out of your hand, but even if He doesn’t. We will not worship you.

God is capable, able — he will save you. He will see you through. He will give you a good life. But even if things come your way that are not good. It doesn’t change who he is. And doesn’t change the reality that his promises ultimately will be fulfilled in the last days.

It really bothers me. Anytime I hear somebody misquote “Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:55

Death has a sting now. That scripture has not been fulfilled yet. If you read the passage, there’s coming a day when it will be said, “Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?”

When somebody dies now, it hurts. Now the wonderful thing about a Christian is that we don’t mourn like those who have no hope.

I had this weird opportunity to go to a funeral a couple of months ago, somebody was not a believer and it was like a very bizarre experience. It was no hope. It was not a joyful thing.

No funeral is a joyful thing, but the funeral of a believer can be a celebration of that person’s life. Particularly because it isn’t the end for them, but it still stings in the moment. But there’s coming a day when death will be put to death. And then it’ll be said, “Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?” Because death will be no more. Who knows? It’s just a personal thing.

Alright, second encouragement. God hears your cries and he intervenes for his children. That passage read for us, when the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears. He delivers them out of all of their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted. He saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken. Affliction will slay the wicked. And those who hate the righteous will be condemned. But the Lord redeems the life of his servants. None of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

Does that sound familiar? There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

One more encouragement to y’all. I challenge you to be more like my wife who longs to be with Jesus. We are aliens and foreigners in this land. This is not our home! This (…) is your home.

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Expand Passage …
Revelation 21:1-4, ESV

Set your open in that. Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Finally, Agape, have unity of mind, sympathy. Brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Genuinely love one another. Do not repay evil for evil in this body or as you experience, the world. Or reviling for reviling. But on the contrary, bless everyone. For to this, you were called, so that you may obtain a blessing. That you’ll receive a good life and see good days. May the spirit work in us to keep our tongues from evil and our lips from speaking deceit. May we turn away from evil. May we repent and do good. May we seek peace amongst one another, and in the world. And pursue it.

Remember that the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous. The eyes of the Lord are on you who believe. And he hears your prayer. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, so you don’t have to set your face against them. You can bless them.

Genuinely love everyone. Bless everyone. Enjoy when God gives you good things when you get to drink from the well of God goodness, pause and drink deeply. Thank him, let your hearts be full of gratitude. Test yourself by asking if your life is marked by an astounding love for others. And if it’s not, get on your face before the Lord and say, “work in me, to make this true.”

Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus. So here’s the application this morning of what I said. If you feel like this is lacking in your life. I’m not asking you to get up early tomorrow morning and try harder. I’m not asking you to put it on your calendar bless someone today. I’m asking you to ask God to help you with your unbelief, ’cause that’s your problem.

If your life is not marked by a surprising love for the people that God has put in your life, it’s because you have a problem with unbelief. Joshua Dean has a problem with unbelief. I don’t believe the promises of God enough. Because this reality, this playing itself out my life, is fueled by my looking at God’s promises and believing them.

And God has to do that work in my heart for me to believe his promises. For me to grow in faith. If this is a struggle for you, despite my encouragements, cry out to God to help you with your unbelief. Like the Father whose daughter was sick, he said, Lord, I believe, help me with my unbelief. I’m saying that’s your problem.

Ask God to reveal himself to you. Ask God that you might love your life and see good days. Ask God that you might love your life and see good days, but have eyes to see that those are gifts from him and not the end. But they are Gifts from him that you might fall in love more with the gift giver. And believe that if he blesses you with a great Saturday with your family, that he will bless you in the midst of dealing with cancer or in the midst of losing a loved one. In the midst of your own facing your deathbed.

Because you believe that he will see you on the other side of the river death, and he will welcome you into his Kingdom. Ask God to reveal himself to you that you may grow in your awe of who he is. What he has done in redemptive history, what he’s done in your own family, what he’s done in your own life. And ask him to increase your faith in his promises of what he will do.

The hope of the church, I said this last time I preached, the hope of the church is the return of Jesus. The Old Testament Saints looked for a Messiah. Zechariah was that Prophet who got the word he’s gonna come before you die. And John the Baptist was the greatest prophet because He said, one foot in the old Covenant and one foot in the new. And he understood that I had this ministry that I must decrease, Jesus might increase.

And the same way we look for a Messiah. ’cause we have one foot in the fulfillment of all of God’s promises and we’re waiting for that next foot where we might live them out. When faith would become sight. And hope will become hearing, well done, Good and faithful servant.

Ask God to increase your faith. And we’re going to end this service a little bit different than normal.
My boys have done pretty good this morning. And I like (…) Oh well I’ve been focused (…) I haven’t really done a lot of that, sorry.

Well, that kind of takes away what I was gonna say. I was going to say that one of the things that we’ve been doing with the boys sometimes because they struggle sitting still is we do this thing called practicing stillness. Where I literally set a timer and we’re not supposed to say a word we’re supposed to sit on the couches and be quiet. It is a good idea you should try it.

And we worked up to like 7minutes, and sometimes they can actually sit still and be quiet. Now sometimes they start making faces at each other and you hear (‘laughs’) a lot, but Its weird man, sitting still in quiet is uncomfortable. We’re not used to it. There’s always music or advertisements, buzzing noise.

But God’s word is just been proclaimed and I’m calling you to look to the promises of God. And I’m asking you a very difficult thing that would become a reality of your life and that is that you bless your enemies.

And I believe God would have some words with you, each as individuals. So I’m going to go sit down. And for the next few minutes, I just want you to be silent before the Lord. Read the passage. Pray to him, come to the altar. Kneel at your seat. However, the Lord moves you. Set yourself in a physical and spiritual posture to hear from the Lord because he still speaks. He speaks through his word and he speaks as he moves and by his spirit upon your heart, to bring his word to life and listen to him. Listen to what he would tell you. Regarding his word and respond with silence.

Hear what he has to say to you. And then when he’s done I’m gonna come back up here and I’m gonna lead us into a time of prayer. And then we’re going to respond in worship. And I’ve asked the worship team to stay with their families. We’re going to hear a song and I’m inviting you to sing it because the word has been proclaimed, I hope. And the Lord is going to speak to you. And then you’re going to pray. And then I want. us as a body to exult. And who God is and to worship him.

So for the next few minutes, listen to what God is saying.

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