17: Jesus is coming, so do this…
Message 17 of 34 in the series Letters from Peter
Instructions for those going through trials, difficulties, and persecutions.
17: Jesus is coming, so do this…
Jesus is coming, so live and serve, to show Him as your most valuable treasure and your most dependable supply.
- In your own words, what do you think Peter means in v7 when he says “The end of the age is at hand”? Now read Matthew 24:12. What are two primary things that Jesus said will characterize the end of the age?
- Peter wants the church to live far differently than the world. Why do you think this will be harder to do the closer we get to the return of Christ? Read 1 Peter 4:7-8. How do these instructions to the church counter how Jesus said (in Matthew 24:12) that the world will be living?
- “For the sake of your prayers” (v7) indicates that Peter has in mind the daily prayer life of a believer. Romans 12:12 and 1 Thessalonians 5:17 indicate that Christians should pray constantly, without ceasing. How can we pray all the time? How would this help us “walk with God”?
- Peter says “love covers a multitude of sins” (v8). What do you think this means? How would this help enrich our relationships in the church? What about marriages and friendships?
- John teaches that love in the church should not be by word only, but also by deed (1 John 3:18). Peter gives 2 examples of how love should practically be expressed in the church (1 Peter 4:9-10). What are those 2 practical expressions? Can you give examples of how you have received from others in the church related to these 2 examples? How did it help you spiritually?
Trials, Difficulties, and Persecutions
So we have, obviously as we’ve been going through 1 Peter, we’ve come to this place, as we’ve talked about for a few weeks where Peter is focusing on instructions for people who are going through trials. Going through times, that are difficult, even persecutions for their faith. And as someone prayed this morning in our prayer time we have for leaders prior to church. and for us as a community — Agape — last year when really the first wave of COVID came through, we were pretty unscathed. As a matter of fact, I only can think of just a couple of families in the church that were impacted by illness during that time. And one of them I don’t even know for sure if it was, it was COVID. So we, we stayed relatively unscathed.
But in the wisdom and sovereignty of God, this time around this second wave that has come through, that’s not been the case, we have faced great trial, many of our families who have been sick and have gotten that from a lot of different sources and different places. And then also just people who are wrestling with fear, as we’ve been talking about, concern, being afraid of getting sick, or of having to go through COVID.
And so I do believe, as I mentioned last week, that it is very kind of the Lord. And I hope for us just a show of His sovereignty that even as this sermon was planned out, months and months ago that he knew in August of this year when we were studying these passages on, you know what to do, as you’re going through times of difficulty, he knew what would be happening in many of our lives, and what would be happening in our church.
The End of All Things Is at Hand
And it’s interesting to me that that is we studied this particular text today, from Peter that he starts off by saying the end of all things is at hand. I think sometimes when we’re going through trials, that’s exactly how we feel like this is the end, this must be, this must be the end.
I don’t know what you think of when you hear that phrase, the end of all things is at hand. It immediately takes me back to my childhood in the churches that I was raised in. And I came up in a denomination of churches and under teaching – and that was heavily focused on the end times. Heavily focused on the return of Jesus. in such a way that there was a lot of bold predictions about when Christ was returning. And my stepdad who I think I’ve talked about before, who was my stepdad at the time, was a well-meaning, but misguided individual often and I can remember when he was having a lot of trouble getting me to want to go to church as a teenager, I can remember him looking at me one time and saying, pointing his finger at me, “You will not even graduate high school before Jesus comes back. So you better take this seriously.”
And I grew up around that. I grew up around that type of thought process. And so I don’t know what your background is when it comes to thinking through the end times. But what is interesting about what Peter says, is that he wrote this about 30 years after the resurrection of Christ. And he said to those in his day, the end is approaching, the end is near. It is at a hand. And the instructions that we’re going to get today are going to be his instructions that as a believer, here’s how you should live, understanding that the end is near.
Now our immediate response to that might be well wait a minute, that was close to 2000 years ago that he wrote that. So 2000 years ago, he was saying the end is near and here we are 2000 years later, and things are continuing on. So what gives? And just to give you a preview, he’s going to address that later in some of his writings, but it clues us in on how the Bible sees the End Times. And that is that the death the resurrection, and the ascension of Jesus was the final act of God’s redemptive history.
There is nothing left to be done. From the moment man sinned in the Garden of Eden. God began to put into motion his plan of salvation and we are in the final act, there’s nothing left to happen, except for Christ to return for his church.
1The final act of redemption history will be marked by an increase in wickedness, and a decrease in kindness, generosity, and concern.
The final act of redemption history will be marked by an increase in wickedness, and a decrease in kindness, generosity, and concern. For others, the final act of redemption history will be marked by an increase in wickedness, and a decrease in kindness, generosity, and concern for others. If you have a Bible this morning if you would go to Matthew chapter 24. Matthew chapter 24, we’re going to look there for a few moments.
Let me take this opportunity to say that if you’re on replay if you’re here in the building, and you do not have a copy of God’s word, we would love to gift you a copy of God’s Word of the Bible, we have a brand new study Bible for you if that is something that would be helpful to you.
Here’s what we know, we are in the final act, the final act of redemption history, there’s nothing left to be done. And as we pass time, every day, every week, every month, every year, we are getting closer to the end of the end.
So we’re in the end act. But every passing year, we get closer to the end of the end. When I think of this, I think about how maybe some of us go on road trips, maybe we go on vacations, and we go to the same place every year. So we get, we get used to traveling that road and there are certain markers that we know that when we see that particular thing we know we’re getting very close to the end of the journey.
And some of those things will be an increase in wickedness and a decrease in love. In Matthew 24. Here’s how Jesus put it looking in verse 9. Talking to His disciples about the end of the end, he said, they will deliver you up to tribulation, they will put you to death. And you will be hated by all nations for my namesake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come.
I’ll say a couple of things about this text. First of all, all these things have been happening in our lifetime. Christians, the church, they’re hated by nations they have been put to tribulation and even to death. And many people have fallen away from the faith because of that. Because they proclaim Christ until it costs them something until they’re going to be persecuted for it and then they deem that It’s not worth it so they fall away. They betray other Christians they hate other Christians, false prophets have arisen for years and years centuries and lead people to death. And lawlessness has increased. And because of that, the love of mini has grown cold.
Those things have been happening in all of our lifetimes. But here’s what also knows someone who’s 43. 20 years ago, these things weren’t happening with the intensity that they are now. And if the Lord continues to tarry, “to wait”, I think 20 years from now, they’ll be happening with more intensity than they are today. That’s what you see, the closer you get to the end of the end.
An increase in wickedness means an increase in sin, and iniquity in people who don’t love God, and, and don’t find God-pleasing. It’s not even that they don’t follow Christian beliefs it’s that they hate Christian beliefs. And you will see an increase in that Jesus said, and because of that, the love of many will grow cold. You will see a decrease in people loving one another, you will see a decrease in the church, in the church loving the world, because the world hates them so much.
And even among Christians, you will see people who are falling away from being kind to one another, and generous to one another and having concern for each other. There will be much more adversity and fighting and bitterness in the world.
And what Peter is going to show us today and tell us about in these instructions, is that the Church must live far differently than the world. That the church has to live far differently than the world is living. So as the world is increasing in wickedness. And as the world is decreasing in love, the Church must do the opposite. The Church must increase in godliness. And the Church must increase in their love for one another.
We know that we’re called to be light. But as the world gets darker, we should shine brighter. Not only because the light of the church will shine against the backdrop of a world that is increasing in darkness, but because we should strive with more and more intensity, to shine our light before others, this is God’s plan. So as the world goes quickly, one way church, you strain and you go hard the other way. That’s what Peter is saying.
I summarize today’s messages as Jesus is coming. So do this. And this is to go in the opposite direction the world is. And let me just pause and say that’s not easy. Because we often feel the tug of going with the flow. We want to go with the world. We want to join with them and what they’re doing. And we certainly the more they hate, the more we want to hate. The more that they are giving themselves to worldliness and sinfulness, the more we’re tempted to do the same. Yet, we were called to live in the power of Christ, the opposite of that.
That’s the summary. That’s the big idea today. And there’s two ways in which Peter says we need to stand out. And I want you to see how these two ways are exactly counter to what Jesus said will be happening in the end times, the end of the end.
Walk With God
2Believers should seek to walk with God by means of prayer.
So the end of all things is at hand. 1 Peter 4, therefore, circle that word, if you are a note-taker, even in your Bible, since the end of all things is at hand — since the end is approaching — therefore, be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. In your outline. I put it this way, believers should seek to walk with God by means of prayer. The end of all things is at hand. So believers should seek to walk with God by means of prayer. If you and I, if we as the church if we are walking with God, that is the opposite, that is the counter to the culture that is increasing and wickedness. As they’re increasing in sin. We are striving more and more to walk with God.
I want you to notice how he phrases this, the end of all things is a hand therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. The way that you could say this is the end of all things is at hand. Therefore be concerned about your prayers. Be concerned about how you pray, and how you live in prayer. The being self-controlled and sober-minded is for a purpose. So you can pray.
There’s a couple of similar passages, I’m not going to read them to you, but if you want to make a note of them, you can look at them on your own. One of them is Romans chapter 12. In Romans chapter 12, Paul is writing and he is telling the church something very similar to what we’re going to see today. Church have genuine love for one another. Christians have brotherly affection for one another. Christians show honor to one another. Church serve the Lord with zealousness. Not half-heartedly, but have a zeal for serving God. Help the saints, see the needs in the church and meet those needs where you can. Be patient when you go through trials. And he wraps it up by saying be constant in prayer. Live in prayer.
Something similar Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica, First Thessalonians, five. He’s giving instructions there and those instructions are given in the context of the day of the Lord coming. So same idea Paul is saying, the more you see the end, drawing near, here’s how you should live. And Paul says very similar to Peter, the world will be in darkness. And because the world is in darkness, they are not going to recognize any danger. They will be asleep. Because that’s what people do. When it’s dark. They will be asleep spiritually. And the Lord will come like a thief in the middle of the night. When darkness is the cover, and no one’s looking, the Lord will come.
So you, church, be children of light. Don’t sleep, be awake, he says. Be alert. And encourage each other to be awake and be alert. Build one another up. He says. Be at peace in the church. He says. seek to do good. Rejoice, always. Don’t quench God’s Spirit. don’t despise when God gives prophecies, test everything you hear by God’s word, and pray without ceasing. Pray without stopping.
So in all three of these texts, First Peter for Romans 12, First Thessalonians five, we see the same thing instructions to the church, in light of the coming of the Lord, love one another, be at peace with one another, test everything Be patient, And don’t stop praying. to be constant in prayer. Pray without ceasing. Peter says the end of all things is at hand. Therefore be concerned about your prayers.
He’s not talking about just a prayer you pray, the way that he puts it. The tense that he uses and the language that he uses, is just like Paul did, let it be constant. Don’t stop praying. Keep praying, be concerned about your prayers. The more that you see the end of the end coming and I’m I’m repeating myself and hammering this home. Because I want to exhort us to be a church that Walks With God in prayer.
I’m not exhorting you to a 10 or 15-minute quiet time in the morning before you start your day. Not saying there’s anything wrong with that. Matter of fact I think that’s a great discipline. But I’m not exhorting you to take 10 or 15 minutes in the morning and pray before you start your day. I’m exhorting you to what the Bible says, I’m exhorting myself to what the Bible says, and that is don’t stop praying.
Your entire day, seek to stay in communication and communion with God.
How can you pray without ceasing It doesn’t mean you go live in the prayer closet. As the Bible tells us You should work. You can enjoy God’s gifts. You have responsibilities. what the Bible has in mind is that you can remain in constant communication with God throughout your day.
God doesn’t show up when you say, dear Lord, he doesn’t go away when you say amen. And again, I’m not saying it’s wrong to bow your head and pray, I think we should have times where we just sit and we’re still and we pray.
But we need to develop the discipline by just staying in prayer with God the entire day. We’re driving down the road, we’re cutting grass, we’re cooking dinner. We’re reading whatever it is, we pray.
The moment we start worrying about something, we pray. the moment we’re mad about something, we pray. We bring it before God all day long, constant prayer with him. We get to the place where we fall asleep, praying, and we wake up praying. It’s possible. Not only is it possible, this is how we walk with God. I want that to be the distinctive of my life. I want that to be the distinctive of your lives. I want that to be the distinctive of our church, that we walk with God in prayer.
3Keep a sound mind.
Peter says the end of all things is at hand therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded. In your outline. He’s saying keep a sound mind. Keep a sound mind, being of self-control. That’s what it means. It means evaluate and think and meditate.
Well, how do we do that? One of the best ways for us to keep a sound mind and evaluate what’s happening in our lives in the world is prayer. We want to have a sound mind through prayer. And we want to have a sound mind so that we can be better at praying and staying in communication with God.
4Keep spiritually alert.
He’s also saying in your outline, keep spiritually alert. That’s what sober-minded means. It means don’t get drunk in your mind. Be sober-minded, it means Be alert, be awake, be vigilant. If you’re drunk physically, you don’t react well. You can’t think well, you’re distracted. You don’t have clarity. If you’re drunk in your mind, you’re distracted. You’re not alert, you’re asleep.
Peter saying Don’t be that way. Be alert, be vigilant. Don’t give yourself so much of the things in the world that your mind is always on the things of the world. Be sober-minded. think clearly. Keep a sound mind keep spiritually alert.
One of the things I’ve committed to you before is meditating on God’s word. I’ve done some podcasts on that on our website, and I’ve talked about it in sermons when the Bible talks about meditation. For some Christians, that’s a bad word because our mind goes to the Eastern religions that meditate. The Bible talks about meditating on the word, the differences in the Eastern religions, the idea is to meditate so you can clear your mind. In Christianity in the Bible, the idea is to meditate, so you can fill your mind with God’s thoughts. It literally means mutter to yourself. Talk to yourself.
We read God’s word, and then we just chew it over. And one of the best ways to do that is prayer. We read something and then we pray. throughout our day, we pray. Alright, so this is one of the things that we’re to do as a Christian differently than the world. While the world is increasing in wickedness, we should increase in walking with God. And we do that I believe by being constant in prayer.
Love Each other Intensely
5Believers should keep their love toward one another intense.
Secondly, he says in verse eight Above all, here’s the second thing keep loving one another earnestly. Since love covers a multitude of sins. in your outline. believers should keep their love toward one another intense. believers should keep their love toward one another intense.
Alright, so the first one is while the world is increasing in wickedness, we’re increasing and walking with God. The second one, Jesus said, the world is going to decrease in love. The love of many will grow cold, Peter says as a church keep your love for one another intense. Be earnest in your love for one another and specifically, he’s talking about the church and other believers.
He says Above all, literally before all things. That doesn’t mean Peter is saying this is more important than walking with God. But he is showing us that when we walk with God, a product of that will be that we love others. Specifically, we love other believers.
In 1 John, chapter three, John is writing. And he tells the church in 1 John 3:12, and 13, he says, Don’t be surprised that the world hates you. Don’t be surprised when the world hates you. But we know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brothers.
So john actually says that the world’s gonna hate Christians. Christians, don’t hate Christians. That’s what the world does. The world hates the church, the world hates believers, believers don’t hate one another.
As a matter of fact, one of the ways you will know that you are walking with God is that there is something inside of you that urges you to love one another.
So when Peter says, above all, keep loving one another earnestly. He’s not saying, Do that above walking with God. But he’s showing us that when we walk with God, and evidence of that will be that we love one another. That doesn’t mean we won’t struggle with one another. But we are to love one another.
And he goes on to say in first john three, that this is a love that is not just in Word, but indeed, you don’t just say you love one another. But you actually show you love one another by what you do.
6Earnest and sincere love will take care of most offenses.
In other words, when you really love the church, when you really love other Christians, practically that will work itself out in your life. One of the ways that it will work itself out in your life, is what Peter tells us. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. In your outline, earnest and sincere love will take care of most offenses. A loving and since excuse me, an earnest and sincere love will take care of most offenses.
What is Peter saying there? John tells us love one another. That’s one way you’ll know that you’re a believer, you have a love for other believers. Don’t just love and word love indeed. So actually let people see that you love them by what you do. And Peter gives some clarity to that. One of the things that we do is we let love cover most offenses. Love is able to cover a multitude of sins.
If you’re in this room and you’re married. Or if you will, one day be married. One of the things that you learn about marriage is that it is impossible in marriage to deal with every single offense that your spouse gives you. If you try to deal with every offense, intentional or unintentional from your spouse, the majority of your marriage will be trying to put out fires and deal with offenses.
in marriage, you have to let love cover a lot of offenses. You have to let love envelop a lot of offenses. You have to be able to say you know what – That hurt my feelings that offended me. But I know they’re having a bad day. I know they’re stressed. I know they haven’t had coffee yet. I know they didn’t get enough sleep last night. I’m gonna let that go. Because they love me and I love them.
Now, you can’t do that with every offense in marriage. There are some that you have to deal with. But most offenses love covers. And Peter says it should be the same in the church. Most offenses in the church – most of the time when we offend one another love should cover it. We should just be able to say you know what – That that that’s, that’s pushing it. I’m kind of offended. That hurt my feelings. They might have done that on purpose. I love them. I’m gonna let that go.
And you know what, there’s gonna be a lot of people they’re gonna have to let things that you do, intentionally and unintentionally. Now, not every offense, some offenses you got to deal with you got to address. But most should be covered in love. That’s one of the ways that love practically works itself out in our lives. In the community of believers, love covers most defenses.
So it is this love that we have that Peter is telling us to keep intense, that’s really the language keep loving one another earnestly. When I taught this passage back in February, in a different series, we were in our rooted and growing series, we taught through this passage. And what I told you then is think about a fire. If you’ve ever went camping, if you’ve ever built a fire at your house, you build the fire, it’s roaring, it’s, it’s high, there’s a lot of heat, it’s burning. But if you just step away, and don’t do anything, what will eventually happen, the fire will burn out. If you want to keep that fire intense. You have to add wood to it. You have to stoke it, stir it up, you have to do something. That’s the language that Peter is using. You love each other because you’re believers, keep that love intense. You have to feed it. You have to stir it up. If you don’t, it will burn out.
Let me tell you what worries me the most about life in the midst of this pandemic. What worries me the most, what I struggle the most with, what I pray the most about is that we don’t trade one danger for another danger. See, there’s a physical danger to COVID. And you fight that physical danger through isolation. That’s what we’ve been told. That’s what we practice. We distance, we isolate. That’s how you fight it. You stay away. And listen, I’m not I’m not saying that’s wrong. I’m not saying that’s foolish. This week, our kids had some appointments, and I asked my wife, I said, should we really go to this? And she said, didn’t you just tell us Sunday to not be led by fear? And I said yeah, I meant the church, not this.
What the Bible shows us is the spiritual danger of isolation is fought through community and intense love for one another. There is a very real danger in isolating yourself from other believers. You can’t get away from it in the New Testament. You can’t. There is not a single picture in the New Testament of a healthy Christian life that is lived apart from community. There’s none. So we are in a time and in a pandemic where there’s this physical danger and you find it by staying away from everybody. Yet, staying away from everybody introduces a spiritual danger — that can wreck your soul.
I’m not calling us to foolishness. I’m not calling us to not be wise. I think if you’re if you’re sick, you don’t feel well. You have a fever, you have symptoms probably need to stay home for a week or two or whatever it may be to love other people well. And I know that there are people who have some type of physical and health conditions that make them even more susceptible to COVID. It makes it more dangerous for them. And I know that and it is not my role to tell you how to protect yourself medically. It is my role to warn us as a church that isolation will wreck your soul.
We have grown up in an individualistic country that teaches we don’t need anybody, and we serve a God who wrote us a book that says the exact opposite of that. We have to have one another. I’m not worried about those of us who are wrestling with how to be wise and be in community. I’m worried about those of us who are not wrestling with it at all. Who are just saying, I’ve got to protect myself. So I’m going to isolate. And my question is, or my exhortation is, but you have to protect yourself spiritually. And you do that in community. I don’t have an answer to tell you. Here’s what you do. step one, step two, step three, I am laying it before you pastorally and saying, we have to wrestle with this. be physically wise, be spiritually awake. Don’t trade one danger for another.
If you’re sick, and you have to stay home, engage with your church, through replay in media. And if you have to stay away for a period of time, don’t let go of community. Reach out to people, engage with people, find ways to exhort one another, and spend time together, even if it’s virtually. Stay in community, and come back together the moment that you can.
Practical Expressions of Love
Love in the world. And love from the world may decrease. But for us in the church, it must increase. And it can’t just be in Word. But we also must love practically. And that’s where Peter goes next. He actually gives two practical ways in which we express this love for one another. Above all keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. And then he says in verses 9-10, giving us two practical ways that we do this, show hospitality to one another without grumbling. And as each has received the gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.
So in your handout, we practically worked out this love in the church, First, through various expressions of hospitality. We practically work out this love in the church through various expressions of hospitality. That’s what he says in verse nine. Show hospitality with one another without grumbling. Hospitality means to show kindness and generosity to guests or to strangers, use whatever you can whatever you have at your disposal to help other people, and extend to them a family-type love.
Several years ago in a — before Allison and I entered into this season where I was the lead pastor of this church. We were in a season where one of our primary ministries was we were traveling around for an organization in Birmingham called Lifeline. And we were traveling around and we were doing ministry training, as Lifeline had started this ministry called Families Count. And it was a ministry that was aimed at helping parents who were working on reconciling with their children who had been placed in foster care. It was giving them parenting classes that were Bible-based.
And so we would travel around and go to different churches, and we would teach them how to do this ministry at their church. And so one of the ways that Lifeline kept down on cost is when they would send you somewhere they would find host homes for you to stay in. I didn’t mind that, I am the type of personality that I can make myself at home in anyone’s place. But my family is not like that. And my wife was not always comfortable with this scenario. But we traveled one time to Arkansas. And when we got there, we were asked to go to this home and this family. We had never met them before ever. Like we met them for the first time in their driveway. And for the next three days. We lived in their house. And they gave us, they had this nice big farmhouse on all this land. And they gave us the entire upstairs of their home. They didn’t know who we were. They were believers and they knew we were believers. And we were coming to town to do ministry training. They gave us the entire upstairs of their home. They took their kids put them downstairs. the kids slept in the laundry room or in their floor or something.
And we had two bedrooms and a bathroom and a little living area and it was all ours for two days. They took care of all of our food they told us to make ourselves at home Go to their refrigerator, their pantry, whatever we wanted, whatever was theirs was ours. That’s what they told us for the next two or three days, they took care of every meal that we had all of our transportation.
When we were done. We train them for two days. At the end of it, they had told us before we got there, hey if you can take three days after you’re done with the training, we have a gift for you. One of the families in the church that had – that was there for the training, had a timeshare at this resort in the Ozarks in Missouri. They gave us their timeshare for three days that we could go on vacation and just spend some time as a family. They’d never met us before. That is the hospitality that we’re called to show to one another in the church. Even the strangers. Using what we have to help other people in glorifying God.
Now that it happened here in this church before, about a year ago, we had we were down to one vehicle, we were having some vehicle problems, and we had this weekend where we needed to, we needed some transportation. And so I called someone in the church. And I just said, Hey, do you have, you know, can I borrow your vehicle for a couple of hours on Saturday, and they said you can have it for as long as you want. And they said just take it through three, four days, whatever you need. And then they said, as a matter of fact, I’ll bring it to you. I’ll drop it off in your driveway. When you’re done, let me know I’ll come pick it up for you. That kind of hospitality, where we don’t consider just anything to be ours. But we consider what we have to be here’s how I serve others.
I’ve watched so many of you. So many of you on replay the last few weeks, as people have been going through trials I’ve watched you serve each other, making meals, doing things to love one another and take care of one another and try to serve one another. This is one of the ways in which we express our earnest love for each other. We show hospitality. And the Bible says do so without complaining.
Likely if we’re asked to show someone hospitality, and we’re going to be led to grumble and complain it won’t be to them. It’ll be to our spouse, it’ll be to ourselves, it’ll be to God. He says don’t grumble, do so joyfully. Show hospitality the way God has shown it to you, without grumbling or complaining.
The other thing Peter tells us to do, and how we express this earnest love for one another in your outline, is we do so through various forms of gifted service, through various forms of gifted service, as each has received the gift use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.
Every believer, every Christian has a divine ability, a gift, a charisma in the Greek. And each person is called to manage their gifts in such a way as to serve the church, to build it up to encourage it. And to help its mission. You are not supposed to take your gift and set it on a shelf. And it’s not even for you to use in the outside world to make much of yourself. You are called to use your gifts primarily to glorify God and build up the church.
And what I want to stress to you today is that if you’re a believer, God has empowered you in some way. He has made his grace be manifest in your life in some way for the good of other believers. And this is another reason that we can’t shrink back in isolation, because you have a gift the church needs and if you shrink back in total isolation, the church is not helped by your gift and you are not helped by their gifts.
And these gifts very, there is no listing of the Bible. There’s no listing in the Bible where the spiritual gifts are listed. There’s no one list exactly like the other. They’re different, which tells us that the lists are not exhaustive. Some of your gifts may be obvious, some are not. You can take a test. You can go out online, you can take a spiritual gifts test that’s what a lot of people do. And I’m not saying that’s bad. But I would tell you, start by asking yourself this question How is God wired me? What am I good at? What do I enjoy doing? What is it given me? It might be that asking those questions is where you discover what God has gifted you to be able to do.
I think sometimes the problem with spiritual gifts is Our mind goes to teaching and prophecy and speaking in tongues, and all of these things. And we overlook the fact that God works in so many different ways. Through people.
If you have an opportunity today, go home. Or if you’re already at home, go online and go to our website, go to agapepinson.com. And you will find a brand new, redesigned website that looks incredible. looks good on mobile, but it looks incredible on the desktop. And we have that because someone in our church who has a gifted ability to build websites said I want to serve the church that way. And that’s what they did. And he said, was that really a gift? In the Old Testament, God would gift people with craftsmanship, so they could build for God. In this redesigned website, one of the things that’s been redone is that are so many of our messages and podcasts and things like that had been tagged with certain labels and categories, you can go on the website now, and you can search for certain topics and find it easily. It’s a way that people can get to teaching that they want or that they need in a quicker way. God does that in people and cause people to use their gifts.
So maybe you’re a craftsman, maybe you’re a technological craftsman, but maybe it is that you can sing. Or you can play an instrument or you can teach or prophesy. Maybe it is that you have the strength to work. Maybe you have an ability to listen to people. Maybe you can cook or you can bake, maybe you can repair things. What are you good at? What has God given you? What do you enjoy? Don’t assume He’s just given you that for yourself for your career. It is very likely he’s given you that, in your outline, for the highest purposes, that He has given it to you for the highest of purposes.
In verse 11, whoever speaks, let them speak as one who speaks oracles of God, whoever serves, let them be as one who serves by the strength that God supplies in order that in everything, God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. in all that we do. A believer wants God to be glorified. We want to walk with Him in prayer. And from that walking with Him, we are urged in our hearts to love people, especially the church intensely, and to make Him known. And we do these things, we use the gifts that He has given us and the things that we’re good at to serve the church and glorify God. And we should do these things with more intensity. The more we see the day coming where Jesus returns.
He says if you speak, that literally covers every gifting that involves words. Teaching evangelism, singing, testimonies, writing, poetry. If you speak, if that’s your gift, with words, take it seriously. Like you’re speaking on God’s behalf. Not that your words have the same authority as his but you view it as I am doing this as a conduit of God’s grace. I want people to hear about God and from God through me or serving, which is a very broad category. If you serve as one who serves with a strength God’s supplies.
One of the quickest ways to get burned out in serving is to make it about you. If you’re serving of people, is primarily about you. You will burn out quick because there will come a time where you feel personally rejected. I tried to serve they didn’t receive it. I tried to speak they didn’t listen. And if you’ve made it about you, and that act of service doesn’t get the desired result, you’ll burn out. But when you can make it about Him, then regardless of what the person does, that you’re serving, you know that you’ve pleased God and that’s enough and you know that he’ll use it.
So when all of our services, we look to Him for strength, and we point to him, viewing ourselves as a conduit of His grace in someone’s life. We want God to be glorified through Jesus who saved us.
A Gospel Plea
7Jesus is coming, so live and serve, to show him as your most valuable treasure and your most dependable supply.
So this gospel plea for us in your outline, kind of a summary of today, Jesus is coming. So do this, what is the this, Jesus is coming, so live and serve, to show him as your most valuable treasure and your most dependable supply, live and serve to show him as your most valuable treasure. And as your most dependable supply. If Christ is your treasure, and you are a person that is committed to walking with Him and prayer, people will take notice of that. You won’t have to brag about it, you won’t have to make sure that you do it in such a way that people see it. They’ll take notice, and Christ will be glorified. They will ask themselves, why do they spend so much time reading and praying?
Why do they try to be so serious and not just enjoy life? And the answer will be because Jesus is my treasure. If Christ is your supply, and you are committed to serving people and loving people, eventually your life will beg the question, why do you do what you do? Why do you give so much time and so much energy to that? Why are you serving others? Why don’t you take care of yourself? Why would you show that kind of hospitality? Why would you give away your things? Why are you weakening your life in order to build up someone else’s life? And your answer will be because Jesus is my supply. He gives me everything I need. Let it be said of us, as Peter ended this little section. When it comes to what I want my life to be about. To him be glory and dominion forever and ever. And that’s why I’m living the way that I’m living. Because I want him to receive the glory. And I want everything I do to reflect His power.
This week, I want to invite you to our prayer focus as a church in your handout. Our prayer focus for this week comes for first John 4 Beloved, let us love one another for love is from God. And whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. If we love one another God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. I want to ask you this morning is — Eli, you guys can come back up — I want to ask you this morning as we end in worship, that you would pray, spend some time praying that God would fill Agape with his love and that he would perfect that love in us. And I will also want to ask that you would pray that we would know his love and we would reflect it well to each other. We’re not leaving the world out. We’re not leaving evangelism out. When we love each other well, Jesus said that will prove to people that were his disciples.
walking with God and loving the church intensely is a way to evangelize. It will open up doors. And as a church, it will put us more on mission because we will desire more and more that people can come and be a part of what God is doing. And that they can experience that same love that we’re experiencing one with another. I hope you take these prayer focuses seriously each week. Please pray this week that God would fill our church with his love.
There will be times in the midst of this pandemic. There’s already been times and there will be times in the days ahead where I say something that maybe is confusing or frustrating. Most of you know that I didn’t finish seminary, but I won’t blame it on that. Because there’s no seminary classes for pandemic shepherding. They don’t teach you how to do that.
I want us to be wise. I want us to not feel shamed when one week we just really feel in our spirit like we need to lay back and do replay. Honestly, I think there are believers in the world right now who were dismissing the pandemic so much that it is not glorifying to God because it’s overlooking a lot of people’s pain and suffering.
A church we cannot isolate, wrestle with what that looks like. It is spiritually dangerous, to take yourself away from God, and away from the church, that he is designed for you to be a part of. And what I do know is that if you will cry out for wisdom, he will show you what to do. I want us to be filled with a desire to walk with him and love each other.
So, God, I ask that you would give us that wisdom. God, I admit to you that we don’t know what we’re doing. I certainly don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know day to day, what is the right answer. But I know God, that by Your word, we need each other And we need community. And we can’t shrink back from one another. I know by your word. And I know that when you wrote this word, you knew pandemics would come. You knew that trials and difficulties and dangers would come. You didn’t give exceptions to these things. You told us that those things would increase. As the end of The end gets nearer. And you told us that we needed more of you and more of one another as that day approaches. So God, would you please fill us with wisdom? Would you please fill us with good judgment? Would you please spare us from fear? Would you please show us how to engage in community day after day and week after week even in the midst of a pandemic? God, you protected Agape last year by sheltering us. I pray you would protect us now by keeping us in the midst of this trial. Bring us out of it quickly and back together. God let no one is lost or wander away. God, We love you. Fill us with your love for you and one another and help us to walk with you in prayer. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If today you want to speak with me about your relationship with Jesus. Before you leave today, let me know that or if you’re watching this on live replay after a while you can get in touch with me on our website. Just let me know we want to talk about your relationship with Christ. Let’s worship together. Let’s not be distracted or sleepy. If you are willing and able to stand to sing or kneel to pray. But engage your hearts. Engage the Lord with your heart and respond to what he is saying. Amen.
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