“The Prophets and Your Salvation” (I Peter 1:10-12 sermon)

Back when I was a young preacher at my first church in Oklahoma City, I got a little book in the mail one day, from Edgar Whisenant: “88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be In 1988.” Whisenant was a NASA engineer, and Bible student, and many people took him seriously. His book sold over 4.5 million copies! Of course, when the rapture didn’t happen in 1988, he wrote another book in 1989 …” (you can make this stuff up!)

More recently it has been the “blood moons” that sold thousands of books, and prophesied some “earth-changing event” to take place after Fall, 2015 — but again, nothing happened. Which is a good reminder to us as God’s people, not to get caught up in these “fads.”

However, there were legitimate prophets, through whom God spoke, and to whom we do well to still pay close attention to, today. These are the Old Testament prophets who prophesied about the coming of Christ. We see them referred to in our passage this morning, I Peter 1:10-12: Continue reading

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“The Faith That Saves” (I Peter 1:8-9 sermon)

II Timothy 1:5 has one of the great Mothers Day verses. It says: “For I am mindful of the sincere FAITH within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” That verse talks about how these faithful moms passed down their faith to their children and grandchildren. And there is nothing more important than that. If you would ask any Christian mother, I am sure they would say that THE single most important thing to them, would be to know for sure that every one of their children and grandchildren had that true faith.

But just what IS saving faith? How can you know if you have a faith that really saves? The good news is, the Bible teaches us here in I Peter 1:8-9 about the kind of faith that saves. Verses 8-9 here tell us:

“… and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”

Here the Bible teaches us several things about the faith that saves: Continue reading

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“Tried By Fire” (I Peter 1:6-7 sermon)

Theodore Roosevelt was a man of very unique character: he gloried in facing obstacles and overcoming them. He would take his guests out on a 20-mile hike – and much to their dismay, the tougher the course, the better he liked it. They would come in exhausted, but he would just smile and say: “It was bully!” The higher the mountain he had to climb, the better. The stronger the wind against him when he was rowing, the better. He just loved facing and overcoming difficulties.

Well, not too many of us have that kind of composition, to where we just delight in difficulties. But as God’s children, if we knew more of what the Bible says about our trials, and the difficulties we face — and what is waiting for us on the other side of them — then we would be a lot more able to rejoice in the trials that face us in life, than most of us do now.

“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Continue reading

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“Great Expectations” (I Peter 1:4-5 sermon)

One of Charles Dickens’ greatest novels bears the title: Great Expectations. “Great Expectations” didn’t just mean that great things were expected of the young man Pip, whom the story was about. To have “expectations” in old England meant that you had the “prospect of an inheritance” that was coming to you. So if a large inheritance was expected to come to you, then it might be said of you that you had “great expectations.”

Well if anyone has “Great Expectations,” it is the child of God. Our scripture in I Peter 1 this morning says we have been “born again to a living hope … to obtain an inheritance, which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you who are protected by power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Last week we saw that because Jesus rose from the dead, those who commit their lives to Him have “a living hope.” And this verse now goes on to tell us that this “living hope” is TO an INHERITANCE that God has waiting for us in heaven, that is the greatest of all “Great Expectations”! Continue reading

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“A Living Hope” (I Peter 1:3 sermon)

(Preached at First Baptist Church, Angleton, TX Easter 2019)

One of my privileges as a pastor over the last 35 years of ministry, has been to be able to hear the last words and testimonies of my church members who knew they were facing death. People who went to the grave with confidence and joy, because they had a “living hope” in Jesus that was stronger than the grave. One of the last services I did in North Carolina was for a senior adult man by the name of Jimmy Duckworth. He was a faithful man, who had just spent months tending to his wife Faye in the nursing home rehab, and who thought he was just tired from caring for her — when in fact unbeknownst to him he was developing cancer. When they found it, it was too late to do anything about it. And when I heard, I went to their house again — I’d been there just a few days before, when they had finally gotten home from the rehab, but this time it was to see him in light of this news. I wondered: “How is he going to feel? What is his outlook going to be?” I wondered if he would be crushed and devastated. But the man was a rock. He just sat there and in a very plainspoken manner told me what his condition was, and that he had a short time to live. But he said, “Pastor, I have lived a good life, and I know where I am going. I am ready to go.” He had an amazing peace. He did not fear the grave. Jimmy Duckworth had “a living hope” — and he had that hope because of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

That is what our verse in I Peter 1:3 talks about this morning:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Continue reading

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“Red Letters”

I recently watched David Crowder’s testimony about writing the popular song, “Red Letters.” He said when he was a little boy, he was sitting in a church service with his grandmother, and he was fiddling with the envelopes or whatever — but he looked over and saw his grandmother’s Bible open, and it was one of those “red letter” edition Bibles, in which all the words of Jesus are printed in red. And he asked his grandmother: “Why are those words in red?” And she told him the story: that God Himself came down to earth in Jesus Christ, and those were the words that He Himself spoke while He was here. He said it made such an impression on him: these were the words of God! Words that ended up changing his life.

But he said when he was older, he began to research those “red letter Bibles” some more. Continue reading

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“Pilgrim’s Progress” (I Peter 1:1-2 sermon)

The Bible is the #1 best-selling, most-read book of all time. But right behind it, is The Pilgrim’s Progress, widely considered the second most-read book in history. It was written by Puritan John Bunyan, in the form of an allegory: a man, “Christian”, receives God’s word from a messenger named “Evangelist,” so he leaves “The City of Destruction” and heads towards “The Celestial City.” Of course it is all a parable, representing the story of every “Christian” on our journey through this world to heaven. There are a number of very clever characters in the story: “Mr. Worldly Wise Man,” “The Giant Despair,” and many others Pilgrim encounters which represent people and circumstances we all deal with in life. If you have never read this classic book, you really should. It is very insightful.

But the “big picture” you get out of this book is that for “Pilgrim,” the Christian, this world is not our home. We are just passing through, on a journey to heaven. And this is one of the most important attitudes that we as Christians need to adopt. We are just “pilgrims,” temporary travelers through this world. This world is not our home. If we “get” that; then we will be able to deal successfully with a lot of the things that face us in life. If we don’t “get” that, then we will FAIL in a lot of ways, because we’ll wonder why we have certain difficulties, or why people don’t “accept” us, because we haven’t realized that we are only temporary residents, “pilgrims” in this world.

This morning, we are beginning a journey as a church body through the Book of I Peter, and one of the themes of this book is that as Christians, we are “pilgrims” in this world like Bunyan talked about. We aren’t living for the pleasures and applause of this world, but we are just traveling through it, and we are living for the God who has called us to our ultimate home with Him in heaven. So let’s look together at what the first couple of verses of this insightful and challenging book have to tell us: Continue reading

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