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Response? A Word of Encouragement

On Sunday, Pastor Ed preached the fourth sermon in a series on I Peter titled "Response? How to relate to the culture around us."  This sermon was called "A Word of Encouragement."

We looked at I Peter 2:4-10, which gives Three Great Words of Encouragement.

1)  God has a local address.  (It's worth it!)

That local address is us!

Background:  When God led his people out of Egypt, He showed His presence with a cloud.  After they built the tabernacle, the cloud settled there.  When they built the temple, His presence settled there.

Now we are the temple.

Now we are God's address.

Every time we call God, it's a local call.

We are building together.  Every one of these metaphors in I Peter is a corporate metaphor about the church.

This challenges those of us who treat the church casually.

Church is what we're doing together, and it's the hope of the world!

Some of us are acting like building debris, not a part of the building, even though we're well-formed stones.

As Paul says in Romans, if you have the gift of leadership, lead!  If services, serve!  Whatever your gift, use it!

God's address should be a priority.  Be part of the building!

It's hard -- but it's worth it!

Ephesians 2:19-21 -- The whole building is built together.

We're building a spiritual building for God -- and we're also building a physical facility.

The cornerstone of the spiritual building is Jesus.

In that building, we offer spiritual sacrifices through Jesus -- humility, brokenheartedness, repentance.

Through Jesus, we offer the only thing we have -- ourselves -- in service and love and praise.

2)  Jesus is a fork.  (So don't be surprised!)

He demands that we choose.

Jesus presents Himself to people, and they must choose.

Don't be surprised when people who've rejected Him make things difficult for you.

The rock causes them to fall. 

3)  This is huge -- and we're part of it!  (So stay in the game!)

This is God's activity.

God is at work in me, and that makes my life significant.

It's true and puts wind in your sails.

We know Who wins!

It's not about living in first class -- that's not the way to heaven.  First class will not satisfy.  Only Jesus can do that.

We're not here for our own enjoyment.

The work of God is huge!  And we get to be part of it!

So stay in the game!  Galatians 6:1 -- Don't grow weary of doing good!

***

After the service, we had a community meeting, welcoming new members and hearing reports on the budget and on progress -- and obstacles -- in the building process.

After the meeting and a break for lunch, a group of us met on the property to pray.  It was a beautiful time, and we are still convinced that God is working through our church -- especially through the spiritual building.  And we're asking the way to be smoothed for the physical building.

Response? Jesus Is Not Spartacus

Last Sunday, Pastor Ed continued the sermon series from I Peter on our response to the culture around us.  This week we looked at I Peter 1:14-24.  This section answers the question, How should we behave?

If we're going to live effectively among our culture:

#1 Set Your Hope.

Resist the tendency to have our hope settle on lesser things.

We know we've set our hope wrongly when our disappointment or anger is disproportionate.  Many things are important without being the right resting place for our hope.

Being "sober-minded" means being prepared.  Drop the attitude that God should deliver us from any difficulty.  Set your hope on a place that can support your hope.

This is a pointed reminder to think about eternity.

#2 Be Holy.

Morally pure and righteous like God, doing good things, doing right things.

"As obedient children" -- the prevailing characteristic of your lives.  We're obedient -- so be holy.

The verb here is "be."  We spend a lot of time as human doings.

Don't be conforming -- like fitting into a mold.  The mold of our culture shapes almost every aspect of our lives.

Romans 12:1-2 -- Don't be conformed, but be transformed.  Then you'll be able to test and approve what God's will is.

The motivation:  God is holy.

God will judge your deeds.

We were rescued, ransomed.  Earn this!  Christ's blood was shed for you.

The Creed

Verses 18-21.  In this section, Peter gets sidetracked by doctrine.

#3 Love One Another.

Don't come here to sit -- come here to be active.

This is the heart of what it means to be a Christ-follower.  We're never asked to be good for goodness' sake -- It's so we'll love one another.

The foundation:  We've purified our souls by obedience to the truth.

#4 Crave Spiritual Milk.

Long for spiritual nourishment.

Put away things that hinder this:  malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander.

We need spiritual nourishment in order to grow.  Crave the Word.

Explanations for a lack of longing:  You might be out of the habit.  You might need a buddy, an accountability partner.  You might not be in the place Peter's referring to, born again.  "If you have tasted that the Lord is gracious."

A connection with God is freeing, in-purposing, empowering.

Big Picture Responses

1)  Jesus Is Not Spartacus.

He's not advocating military action.

We recognize ourselves as exiles.

We work on setting our hope, being holy, loving one another, and pressing into what makes us spiritually healthy.

2)  Jesus Is Not Che Guevara.

Jesus is not a radical political progressive.  That's not the heart of His message.

We focus on setting our hope, being holy, loving one another, and craving spiritual nourishment.

3)  Jesus Is Not Lee Iacocca.

Jesus is not a highly-driven capitalist.  He's not looking for the best business practices.

Productivity is good -- if you're producing the right things.

We strive to set our hope, be holy, love one another, and grow spiritually.

Jesus is growing within us!

***

This next week, we've got a lot coming up.  There's a men's prayer breakfast on Saturday April 23, as well as Seder meals at various homes in the evening, and a community meeting after church next Sunday. 

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