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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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Sabbath Refreshment

Kingdom Living has been the over-arching theme of our messages for these past couple months. We’ve been looking at how different God intends life to be in His kingdom compared to what most people experience in the kingdom of this world.

I think most of us have at least some understanding that when we choose to follow Christ, life is going to be different. But I’m not sure any of us fully realized just how differently God wants us to live and how differently He wants us to think. We’re told in Romans 12:2…

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

And so we’ve been trying to figure out – what is God’s good and pleasing and perfect will for us? How does God want to live as citizens & ambassadors in his Kingdom? How does He want us to change our thinking? What values in our life need to be replaced or re-ordered when we begin following Christ? What customs or behaviours need to be stopped or started? What elements of our Canadian culture simply don’t mesh with the culture of the Kingdom of God?

As we’ve been asking all these questions, we’ve been discovering all kinds of ways that God wants us to think and live differently from the world. 

One of those ways that we’ve just started looking at is the practice of the Sabbath – which is certainly a very different custom from what we see in the world. And so understandably, there is a lot of misunderstanding and confusion about what the Sabbath is all about.

We first brought up this topic last week and already I’ve had many conversations filled with questions about the Sabbath. What exactly is the Sabbath? Is the Sabbath something for the ancient Jews or is it relevant for us today? Is #4 of the ten commandments still a commandment for us, or has that law been somehow fulfilled in Jesus? And if it is relevant to us today, what does that look like? Should we practice the Sabbath on Saturday or Sunday or does it even matter when? And what sort of things do we do? What do we not do?

There are all kinds of questions and we certainly won’t answer them all today – but hopefully we’ll begin to answer at least a few.

Now we started digging into this last week in what I think is the most obvious place – the ten commandments as found in Exodus 20. In fact, let me re-read that commandment for you just so that it is fresh in our minds. In Exodus 20 – verse 8 we read:

8 “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 You have six days each week for your ordinary work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. Exodus 20:8-10

So that was our starting point as we began looking at the Sabbath last week. Now the first thing we noted last week was that for these Israelites who had been living in Egypt for the last 400 years and who had just now been freed from their slavery, the idea of not working seven days a week was a very foreign idea. Slaves did not get vacations or weekends or days off. They most certainly did not stop working for a whole day every week. This was very new and very different. 

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Living As Aliens

I want to start with a little game this morning. I’m going to show you the pictures of three people, and I want you to try to figure out what they have in common. Why would they be grouped together? Let’s start with an easy one…

Answer: They are all cowboys. (Dallas Cowboys , John Wayne, Woody from Toy Story)

Let’s try another one:

Answer: They are all Prime Ministers of Canada (Kim Campbell, Wilfred Laurier, Paul Martin)

And one more…

This one might be a bit tricky for those who don’t know my buddy Dustin, but the answer is, they are all aliens!

And I’m sure some of you know exactly where I’m going with this, but for others of you – this might seem like an odd way to start to a sermon. So maybe I’d better explain a little bit before we get too far.

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God Is… Judge

Last week we began a three week mini-series entitled “God is…” and the goal of this series is to help us discover who God really is by looking at some of His attributes as found in the Bible. There are so many different opinions out there of who God really is… Is he like a sweet, old Grandpa? Is He like the force on Star Wars? Is He the ultimate policeman? We need to know what the Bible says, because what we believe about who God is, completely effects everything about how we live our lives. 

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