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What God Has Called Us To Do

With everything that has been happening in the last couple of weeks, I’ve wondered whether we should continue our study in the book of 1 Peter or if we should re-adjust our focus to something else. And I am still considering that for the weeks ahead, but for this week anyway, I do want to continue in 1 Peter. 

However, as we’ve just finished up chapter 2 last week, our next passage in chapter 3 is Peter’s instructions for how husbands and wives are to relate to one another. And if you’ve looked at this passage, there are some pretty controversial things written there so I want to be careful that I present this passage in a way that is accurate and consistent with what the rest of the Bible says. I don’t want to say things or not say things simply because they don’t fit our modern cultural expectations. So that’s going to take a little bit of extra study on my part.

However, with the craziness of this week, I’m simply haven’t had the time for that extra study, so for today, I want to skip down just a little bit for now to a passage that is a little bit more straight forward – and we’ll come back to this passage later. I want to look today at 1 Peter chapter 3, verses 8 to 12. And this I think is very applicable to all of us – especially in light of all that’s going on in our world over these past weeks.

So let me begin by reading these verses to you: Peter writes in 1 Peter chapter 3 starting at verse 8:

8 Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. 9 Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. 10 For the Scriptures say,

“If you want to enjoy life

    and see many happy days,

keep your tongue from speaking evil

    and your lips from telling lies.

11 Turn away from evil and do good.

    Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,

    and his ears are open to their prayers.

But the Lord turns his face

    against those who do evil.”

1 Peter 3:8-12

Now again, I’ll remind you why Peter is writing this letter. You’ll recall that Peter addressing Christians who are living in exile – some them literally exiled from their homes because of persecution – But all of them living in exile as Christians in an unbelieving world. As citizens of the Kingdom of God, we pledge allegiance to different King and we live under his authority and His rule. 

The values and priorities and practices of those in the kingdom of God are often very different from those in the kingdom of this world. And so these Christians to whom Peter was writing, were living very differently from the people around them. And because of this, many around them began to view these Christians with a great deal of suspicious – as if they were some strange cult or something – and therefore, the Christians at that time began to face increasing hostility.

And I can imagine, that without the support and care of the others in their church family, these Christians would feel very much alone. Some of them were physically alone – without their extended families nearby to support and encourage them. Others may have felt spiritually alone – perhaps being the only Christian in their family or their circle of friends. To these people living in exile – whether physically or relationally – being cared for and loved by their church family was extremely important! And so that’s why Peter writes these words in verse 8.

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Let Your Light Shine

There is an old formula for public speaking that has been used by preachers & speech-givers for centuries. It’s a formula that was believed to be first used by Aristotle, more recently it was promoted by Dale Carnegie (the guy who wrote “How to win friends and influence people”) and it’s been used by many pastors over the years in preparing their Sunday sermons.

And it’s pretty simple formula. There’s just three simple parts to it. Anyone can use this formula… If you ever have to write a speech or anything like that, just remember these three steps. It goes like this: And I’ll quote it directly from an ol’ southern preacher. I think he says it best. He says:

“First I tell ’em what I’m about to tell ’em, 

Second I tell ’em with all my might what I said I’d tell ’em, 

And third, lest they forget, I tell ‘em what I told ’em.”

It’s a pretty simply but effective formula for communication. Repeat, repeat, repeat. And it seems that maybe Peter was following that formula when he wrote the book of 1 Peter.

We’re about half-way through 1 Peter chapter two today and as I was preparing for this message, it all seemed very familiar. Much of what Peter has to say in this part of chapter two, he’s already said in some very similar ways back in chapter 1.

So it would seem that this is obviously a very important point that Peter is trying to get across to his readers since he’s repeating it several times.

You’ll recall that the over-arching theme of 1 Peter is how to live as followers of King Jesus in world that does not recognize or acknowledge his kingdom. As Christians, we are citizens of one kingdom while living in another. In that sense, all Christians are very much refugees – we are living in a world that is no longer our home – and we’re living in a world that thinks our practices and our beliefs and our values are very strange to say the least. 

And quite often, throughout history we’ve seen Christians being persecuted for these differences. Because we do not belong – because we pledge allegiance to another king – many Christians have been mistreated, marginalized, looked-down upon, and sometimes even physically attacked or put to death. We see the worst of this happening in parts of our world today. Even here in Canada – while we may not yet face physical persecution at this point, there is an increasing hostility towards our Christian beliefs and values.

But this is exactly the situation that Peter is addressing this letter. How should Christians live in a world that is hostile towards their Christianity?

And Peter has already begun to answer that question in chapter 1, but he’s going to fill it out with a little more detail in the verses ahead.

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Cravings

What are some of the strangest foods that you crave? What odd acquired tastes do you have? Are there things that you absolutely love – but everyone else thinks you’re crazy for eating that stuff? What strange foods do you crave?

Isn’t it strange how we can grow love certain foods that other people couldn’t imagine eating – let alone enjoy eating! But yet, somehow, somewhere along the line, for some reason, we grew to love it! Maybe at some point, we tried it for the first time, then we tried it again, then we tried it again, and before too long, we decided that we really like it! And now, we crave that food! We seek it out! It’s like we’ve trained our tastebuds to love that food!

And I was just wondering this week, I wonder if you could do that with any food? Can you train your tastebuds to love any food – even a food that you maybe hate right now? For example, I really don’t care for mustard at all – but I wonder if I had a taste of mustard every week for a year – would I grow to enjoy mustard? Would I even grow to crave mustard? I don’t know – maybe!

But most of you know how adventurous I am with food, so of course, this is not an experiment that I would ever try – but if one of you want to try it, I’d sure be interested in hearing your results.

But I bring all this up because in our passage today, Peter talks a little bit about our cravings. Not our cravings for coffee or mustard or hot peppers or anything like that, but our cravings for something much more significant.

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Living In Love

Today we are getting back into the book of 1 Peter. We took a bit of a break from Peter last week, as Mike brought us a message from the book of John, but today we’re getting back at it and my goal for today is to finish up this first chapter so that we can start chapter 2 next week. But in case you’ve missed the last couple messages from Peter, let me give you just a quick recap.

In this letter, Peter is writing to Christians who were really going through some really difficult times. At that time and in that part of the world, being a Christian was really not a popular thing. There were social consequences, (if not physical consequences) for pledging allegiance to King Jesus.

And we don’t know specifically what kind of trials these folks were going through, but we do know that it’s not too long after writing this letter that Peter himself is put to death for his faith. So it’s not hard to imagine some of the challenges and struggles some of these Christians might have been experiencing.

And so Peter is writing this letter with two purposes in mind. First of all, He writes to encourage those Christians as they experience these hardships and difficulties. He reminds them of the hope and the joy they have in Jesus. Peter talks about the priceless inheritance that they have to look forward to – and how they are dearly loved by God – chosen by Him to receive endless joy in his presence forever. And so that’s how Peter starts off this letter – with that encouragement.

But his second purpose for this letter is to instruct them on how live in this world until they receive their promised salvation in full. Peter mentions frequently how they are exiles or foreigners or temporary residents – and perhaps some of Peter’s original audience were literally exiled from their homeland because of persecution, but certainly every Christian both then and today – no matter where we are in the world – we understand that this world is not our home. We are citizens of heaven – and thus we are all exiles and foreigners.

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Living in Holiness

Last Sunday we began looking at the book of 1 Peter. By way of introduction, we learned that this book is actually a letter written by the Apostle Peter to Christians living in exile in five Romans provinces in what is now modern-day Turkey.

Now we’re not entirely sure why Peter refers to these Christians “exiles or foreigners”. It could be that they were literally exiled from their homes around Jerusalem – forced to flee the persecution that broke out around the time of Saul… Or it could be that Peter refers to them as “exiles” simply because they are Christians – because they are citizens of heaven and as such, this world is no longer their home.

Either way, Peter is writing to encourage them in their state of exile. As we read through this letter, it quickly becomes obvious that these Christians are going through some difficult trials in life – and so, in the first few verses, Peter reminds them of the hope and the joy they have, because God, in his mercy, has given them salvation through Jesus Christ. Peter talks about a priceless inheritance that God is keeping for them in heaven – and how God is protecting them through their faith, until they receive their salvation in full! And that’s why, even though they must endure many trials in this present life, they can still be filled with joy because they know three key things:

    1. They have been chosen by God and are dearly loved by him, 
    2. Their trials are only temporary – whatever they are going through – “This too shall pass” 
    3. Because of their hope in Jesus, there is wonderful joy ahead on the day when God rewards them with their salvation in full!

So with those three encouragements in mind, Peter is going to continue (as we are going to see today) to exhort them or urge them to live as exiles in some specific ways.

Peter wants them to know that the Christian life isn’t just about the reward we will get one day in heaven – but it’s also about how we live on earth today! You’ve probably noticed that God doesn’t just teleport us immediately to heaven upon conversion. He leaves us to live as exiles in this world for a time. He’s got a reason for that – there is a purpose for us living here as exiles.

And so in today’s passage, Peter is saying “In light of our great reward that we have to look forward to, in light of who God is and what He has done for us, here’s how God expects us to live as exiles in this world.”

And then we’re going to see Peter beginning to lay out some of those exceptions for us. Actually, two weeks ago we talked about God’s expectations for us as we looked at that passage in Deuteronomy (if you can remember that far back). Well, the book of 1 Peter really builds on that same idea – as well as giving us some very practical applications for what that looks like. But we’ll get into some of that a little bit later.

For now, let’s begin today by starting at 1 Peter, chapter 1, verse 13.

13 So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 14 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

17 And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.” 18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 20 God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake.

1 Peter 1:13-20

So as I mentioned earlier – in this passage, Peter is beginning to lay out God’s expectations for us as as exiles (or as temporary residents) in this world. And it all comes out everything Peter wrote about just prior to this.

You’ll notice that verse 13 begins with the word “so”…. Or other translations might say “therefore”…. And Whenever you see that, you know that whatever you’re about to read hinges on what you’ve just finished reading. 

Because of this…. therefore…. this.

I’ve told you these facts, so…. here’s what you need to do.

And that’s what Peter is saying… Because God has chosen you and adopted you into His family, because God has promised you this priceless inheritance, because you’ve trusted him for your salvation…. here’s what you need to do. Step #1…. He says in verse 13…

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