“The Biggest Mistakes You Can Make This Christmas” (I Peter 4:12-19 sermon)

In England in 1938 no one wanted to face the reality that Germany was about to go to war. Many historians criticize British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who tried to “appease” the Germans, and failed to lead England to get re-armed to fight — but the truth is, the British people themselves were in no mood to fight. They had lost almost a million young men only 20 years before, in the first World War, and they did not want to think about another war. They just wanted to get away from it. They wanted to be entertained. So they flocked to the movies. And there were some great movies to see: the Wizard of Oz, Gone With The Wind, and Walt Disney’s Snow White all came out that year. They lost themselves in those movies, and in the new songs like “Roll Out The Barrel, we’ll have a barrel of fun,” that were all the rage in the late 1930’s. (Manchester, p. 308)

But their escapism into entertainment didn’t save them. If they didn’t want to think about war, Hitler did. Judgment Day was coming, in the form of Panzer tanks and Stuka dive bombers and Blitzkreig, Hitler’s “lightning war.”  England had made a huge mistake. They were caught unprepared, and only survived World War II with the help of the United States. It ended up costing them their Kingdom – Britain was never again the same world power they once were. Their negligence came within a hair’s breadth of costing them their country, and it cost many of them their lives. 

Why do I tell this story? Because many of us today are on the verge of a very similar thing. The Bible tells us that God’s judgment is coming — it’s time to be serious about living for Him. But all that many of us want to focus on is Thanksgiving Break, or Christmas, or the next vacation, or the next big game. Our country as a whole, and many of us personally, are doing just what England did in that fateful 1938: trying to “escape” into parties and games and entertainment, while God’s judgment is waiting right at the door. 

That’s why I’ve entitled this message: “The Biggest Mistakes You Can Make This Christmas.” Continue reading

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“What To Do If The End Is Near” (I Peter 4:7-11 sermon)

Last Sunday morning I mentioned that there had been a survey in which the American people were asked what they would do if they knew the world would end in a week. Two of the top responses, sadly, were that they would either get drunk, or go to Las Vegas if they knew the world was going to end. We all know that’s NOT what our response as God’s people should be. But what SHOULD we do, if the earth – or just the days of our life – is near an end? Peter tells us in this passage what we should do. He says:

“The end of all things is near; therefore be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.
Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
Be hospitable to one another without complaint.
As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

 

Continue reading

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“The Ark Of Our Salvation” (I Peter 3:18-22 sermon)

IMG_7477In 1913 there was a great flood in Brazoria County. The three rivers: the Brazos, the Colorado, and the San Bernard, all virtually became one, and the entire countryside was flooded. The streets of Angleton were covered in 3 to 4 feet of water. After three similar type floods in a 6-year period, citizens decided that something needed to be done, and the levee was built that now surrounds our town. 

That levee was one of the first things we were shown when we came to Angleton, and Cheryl & I quickly determined that we wanted to live INSIDE this levee!  We heard that even in the massive flooding from Hurricane Harvey, and other torrential rains, that the City of Angleton has been “high and dry” due to the levee. Thus the levee has become something like an “ark of safety” for our town’s inhabitants, against the floods that come against our area.  

Well, I am thankful for the levee we have around our town — but you know, there is nothing certain in this world. One day that levee may fail, and our town may flood. But thank God, we have an “ark of safety” that will NEVER fail us — the “ark” of salvation He has given us in Jesus Christ! God describes that “ark” in our verses for today in I Peter 3:18-22:

“For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which He also went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you — not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience — through them resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.” Continue reading

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“Christ’s Suffering/Our Salvation” (I Peter 3:18 sermon)

David McCullough is one of my favorite history writers (I loved his book on the Wright Brothers). One of HIS favorite authors was a man by the name of Conrad Richter, who won the Pulitzer Prize back in the 1950’s for a trilogy about pioneer life in Ohio. McCullough said he appreciated Richter because he wrote about the good that can come out of difficult things — “what Shakespeare called the ‘benefit of ill.’”  McCullough wrote that “In his quiet manner, Richter would say that so much of what we experience in love, art, perseverance, wisdom — are born of difficulty.” 

That is so true. No one likes to suffer — and yet if we are wise, we will realize that much good can come out of suffering. And it is certainly true that the greatest good that ever came to us, came from the greatest suffering ever: the suffering of Jesus on the cross for us. His suffering brought about our salvation, which our text for this morning reminds us: 

“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” Continue reading

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“An Effective Witness” (I Peter 3:15 sermon)

A couple of weeks ago, a group from our church went to Houston see the play “The Hiding Place,” about how Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsy were taken by the Nazis into a concentration camp during World War II because they had sheltered Jews. Corrie’s book, which the play was based upon, tells how a friend named Harry was taken away during a raid on the Ten Boom’s watchmaking business by the Nazi-controlled police. She wrote: “Harry kissed his wife. Then he took my hand and shook it solemnly. Tears filled our eyes. For the first time, Harry spoke. ‘I shall use this place — wherever they’re taking us,’ he said. ‘It will be my witness stand for Jesus.’”  (The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom, pp. 110-111)

That idea right there: of being a witness for Jesus in whatever you are going through, is a big part of the message of the Book of I Peter. God’s people were being persecuted, but Peter was teaching them that God’s purpose for them in this trial was that they might be a witness for Him. And that’s His purpose for us today, too. Wherever we are, every day, whatever our cirucmstances, God wants us to use what we are going through as “a witness stand for Jesus.”

Last Sunday we talked about how we don’t want to let fear control our lives, but that we should truly make Jesus our Lord – and not be intimidated if He tells us to witness to someone. Peter encouraged us to obey HIM, and not give in to fears that would keep us from speaking — or to give in to fears of ANY kind. This morning, Peter continues that topic of being a witness with verse 15, which talks about how we can really be “An Effective Witness” for the Lord: 

“Always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”

This verse teaches us several things that must be present in our lives for us to be effective witnesses: Continue reading

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“Whom Shall I Fear?” (I Peter 3:13-15 sermon)

In Marie Beth Jones’ Tales of the Brazos, she tells of Dr. William F. Bruner, who was one of the first doctors who lived in what would later become Angleton. One day Dr. Bruner was called to treat a young man who had suffered a gunshot wound in his hip. The young man told Dr. Bruner what happened: he said he’d seen a shadow on the way to his girlfriend’s house, and he just knew it was his rival for her affections. He’d known his rival might be there, so he had brought a gun for protection. But when he saw the shadow he started running for the woods and reached for his gun. But it was too late: a shot rang out, and he realized his rival’s bullet had struck him.

Dr. Bruner examined the wound, asked about the distance of the shooter. He looked at the pants the man was wearing, and noted the damage to them. Then he looked over the pistol the young man had been carrying for protection. Dr. Bruner’s conclusion: the shadow that the patient had been running from was his OWN shadow, and he had been so panic-stricken that he had managed to shoot himself! (p. 122)

Fear can be very destructive, can’t it? It can cause us to do a lot of foolish and harmful things. Unfortunately, even many of God’s people just live surrounded with fear. And God tells us here in I Peter 3 that if Jesus is our Lord, it should not be this way: 

“Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 

But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. ‘And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled,’ but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts …”. Continue reading

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