“Your Witness Under Authority” (I Peter 2:13-20 sermon)

When General Douglas MacArthur was stationed in the Philippines, he was given an order to survey the whole area of Bataan, the jungly, mountainous peninsula at the mouth of Manila Bay. Another officer on his staff saw the order and said: “Why, that’s a job for a young engineer officer and not for a brigadier general; What are you going to do about it?” MacArthur replied, “Obey it, of course. It’s an order. What else can I do?” And he left his headquarters and personally mapped forty square miles of that malaria-infested terrain. (William Manchester, American Caesar, p. 132)
When he did that, MacArthur showed his men the kind of obedience he wanted from THEM as he led them, and he also demonstrated his character, in being willing to submit to authority.

Last week we ended the message by saying that God wants His disciples to SHOW the world by their good behavior that the accusations people make against us are false, and to be a good witness for Him. Now he follows that up with some specific applications: Just what are we to do, specifically, to be good witnesses? It’s interesting that the very first thing he talks about is the way we are to witness through our submission to the authorities in our lives: Continue reading

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“You’re Not From Around Here” (I Peter 2:11-12 sermon)

Our daughter Libby grew up in Oklahoma and Louisiana, but since she has been married and in the ministry, she has lived in some different parts of the country, where they talk differently, and do things differently. She and Josh were serving in a church in New Mexico and she had gone to the jewelry store to get her ring cleaned, and she was talking with the worker, and after a few minutes he looked up and said, “You’re not from around here, are you?” They could tell by the way she talked she wasn’t from there: she said “y’all;” her letter “a” would take 2-3 syllables, etc. People can tell, by the way you talk, and often times by the way you do certain things, when “you’re not from around here.”

Well, there is a very real sense in which people should be able to look at us as God’s people, and say “You’re not from around here, are you?” Because as Christians, our eternal home is not here. We live in this world, but we are not “of” this world. Our language should be different; our actions should be different. People should be able to look at the way we live, and the way we talk, and say “You’re not from around here.” NOT because we dress in old fashioned ways, and say “thee” and “thou,” but because there are things we do not say; there are things we do not do — and there are things we do that no one but a Christian would. Because of that, people should be able to tell that we are not “of this world.” We “aren’t from around here.”

Last week we saw that when we make Jesus the Cornerstone of our life, that the Lord makes us into “The People of God”, with a number of great privileges and responsibilities. Now, in :11-12, he shares one of our most important responsibilities as God’s people, which is the life we are supposed to live in the world:

“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

These verses serve as an introduction to the whole next section of I Peter, which focuses on glorifying God by the way we live, as His people. We’ll get into more of those specifics in coming weeks, but for today let’s look at this overview in :11-12 about our behavior as the people of God: Continue reading

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“The People of God” (I Peter 2:9-10 sermon)

I noticed from our very first days in Angleton that there is a palpable state pride here in Texas that exceeds what I have felt from the people of any other state – and I love it! The people of Texas are an interesting mix. I am reading the book Lone Star, by T.R. Fehrenbach, which is considered by many to be the best history of Texas, and it relates how people from all these different backgrounds: American Indians, from Mexico, from the plantations of the Old South, from Tennessee and the midwest, and immigrants from Germany and Ireland — all came together to form this one great people now called “Texans.” And it IS a great state, and a great people. Cheryl & I are glad to be here.
But as great as it is to be a member of the Great State of Texas, there is an even greater citizenship — and that is to be “the people of God”!

Last week we saw how Jesus Christ is either the Cornerstone or the Stumbling Stone for every person. Now in :9-10 Peter continues, and he talks about those of us who have accepted Jesus as our Cornerstone, and he says: “BUT YOU …” and he begins to talk about us as the people of God:

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

These verses tell us about how the followers of Jesus Christ have now become “The People of God”: Continue reading

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“Jesus Christ: Cornerstone or Stumbling-Stone?” (I Peter 2:4-8 sermon)

When Cheryl & I were on vacation a couple of weeks ago, the church we attended had a report from a mission trip. One of their goals on the trip was to put new tile down in a room of the mission church building. But they reported that it was so difficult, because none of the walls, or floors were square with each other! It’s hard to make improvements to any place, when its very foundation was not put in straight.

But as important as it is to have a good foundation in a physical building, it is even MORE important to have the right foundation in your spiritual life, and in the church. Paul says in I Corinthians 3 that there is only ONE foundation that can be laid, spiritually, that will last, and that is Jesus Christ. You must make sure that HE is the foundation of your life. (As we have the baby/parent dedication today, what we are really committing to is that we will have Jesus Christ as the “foundation” or “Cornerstone” for each of these homes.) Our passage for today talks about how Jesus is the “Cornerstone” for a successful life, or family, or for a spiritual church. And yet, many reject Jesus as the Cornerstone. He must be one or the other for each of us: either “Cornerstone,” or “Stumbling Stone,” as I Peter 2 shows us:

“And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God though Jesus Christ.
For this is contained in scripture: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious cornerstone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.’
This precious value, then, is for you who believe, but for those who disbelieve, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very corner stone,’ and “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense;’
For they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.” Continue reading

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“God’s Purpose For Your Life” (I Peter 2:4-5 sermon)

One of the most common questions people ask in life is, “What am I here for?” If you think we have just “evolved” from nothing, then there IS no good answer for that. A genuine atheist will tell you that the hard truth is, there just IS no meaning at all to life. I read recently where atheist psychiatrist Ralph Lewis wrote: “Atheists do not believe that life is inherently purposeful or meaningful.” There just IS no “purpose” or “meaning” to a life if it didn’t come from God.

But if there is a God, which we believe, then He has created us for a reason, and there IS a meaning and purpose for your life. And if there is, and we believe there is — then there is nothing more important for you than finding out what that purpose IS! And God SHOWS us what that purpose is in our scripture for today, I Peter 2:4-5:

“And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

We will talk some more about Jesus as the “living stone” and “the Cornerstone” next week. But for today, I want us to focus on what this says here about God’s people as being “living stones.” What has God called us for? What is His purpose for you as one of His people? Continue reading

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“4 ‘MUSTS’ For Spiritual Growth” (I Peter 2:1-3 sermon)

On Sunday morning, December 7th, 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Washington called General Douglas MacArthur, who was in charge of the Philippines, to tell him about the attack, and that they would undoubtedly be next. William Manchester, author of the MacArthur biography, American Caesar, writes that as soon he got the call, General MacArthur asked “his wife Jean to bring him his Bible, read it for a while, and then set out for The House On The Wall (Philippine HQ), where the situation was chaotic.”

It’s striking that in the midst of a crisis moment like that, General MacArthur would take time to read his Bible; but it shows you how important he knew that it was. The question is: Do WE realize how important it is, for ourselves, and for our spiritual growth? In our passage for today, Peter writes about how to grow as Christians. He says:

“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”

Here Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, gives us some requirements, “4 ‘Musts’ for Spiritual Growth”: Continue reading

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“The Firm Foundation” (I Peter 1:23-25 sermon)

Years ago, John Wesley wrote:

“I want to know one thing: the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way; for this very end he came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book! Oh give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me.”

We can be grateful that like John Wesley, we DO have that book: the Bible, the word of God. It is what God uses to save us, and instruct us. It is the foundation of our lives as Christians, as I Peter 1 reminds us here:

“… for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For,
‘All flesh is like grass,
And all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
And the flower falls off,
But the word of the Lord endures forever.’
And this is the word which was preached to you.” Continue reading

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