1 Peter

Because He Cares For You (1 Peter 5:6-7)

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You can see the Facebook Live stream of the sermon here. You can listen to audio here.

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Peter has written a lot about difficult matters so far in his letter to the church.

  • living in a hostile culture
  • being holy and genuinely abstain from sin and evil
  • living “above reproach” and never give anyone reason to come down on us
  • absorbing all the unfair criticism or suffering we will experience as we are faithful to Jesus
  • loving each other well in church community so that Christ’s love flowing through us can cover the multitude of sin around us
  • using our gifts maximally to lead and serve with mutual submission and humility?

The payoff is amazing: if a church community is like this, it would be a beautiful thing internally and externally. It would be a taste of heaven.  God has revealed what a fully embraced life in His kingdom looks like, and it’s a vision of the good life, at least as much as we can experience it on this side of heaven.

I suspect all of us have experienced it at some time and in some way.

  • Someone has loved us far more than we deserve
  • Someone has inexplicably hung in with us in spite of all the things we have done that would give them reason to push us away
  • We have seen holiness modeled – never perfectly, but at least in someone we have seen a serious commitment to living as one called out from the corruption of sin and callousness of culture
  • We have had an opportunity to see how our gifts make a difference, or we have benefited from someone else lavishly sharing and helping through the strength God has given them
  • We’ve experienced the grace of someone humbly serving us; we’ve had the privilege to do the same
  • We’ve seen the gospel both modeled and preached, where the words of life matched the life, where the hope of salvation and restoration is made clear in the real stories of broken sinners made whole.

That’s good stuff. That’s church at its finest.

But this “high calling” also sounds exhausting and little overwhelming.

  • “There is none righteous” (Romans 3:10).
  • There is a war within that Paul so clearly explained (Romans 7).
  • There is a need to “die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31) and “mortify” your sinful flesh (Colossians 3:5) as we “discipline our body a bring it into submission” so that we are not disqualified from effective ministry on behalf of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:27).
  • There are “thorns in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12) that remind us that, at the end of the day, it is God’s grace the carries us, that it is in our weakness that God’s strength is perfected; that there is a reason God must increase while we decrease.

This call to unreproachable holiness and love sounds exhausting and overwhelming to me simply because I know myself.I don’t have to look any further than the mirror to know that the Bible raised the bar above what Anthony is able to achieve. But Peter knows this. How would he not?

  • He’s the guy who was really proud of forgiving his brother a whole seven times, which wasn’t even close. (Matthew 18)
  • He argued with the others about who was the greatest, and I assume he made the case for himself.
  • He went to sleep in the Garden when Jesus asked him to keep watch (Mark 14). Jesus said, “You’re spirit is willing, but your flesh is weak.”
  • Then he cut off a dude’s ear, totally missing the point that Jesus’ Kingdom was not of this world. (Matthew 26)
  • And then he totally and publicly denied Jesus (Matthew 26)

It’s that Peter who insists we be holy and blameless. How could he demand this of us when he couldn’t even do it?

Because it’s also that Peter whom Jesus later forgave, reinstated, and commanded: “Feed my sheep…You must follow me.” (John 21) And it was that Peter who went on to be one of the authors of the New Testament, and eventually to give his life as a martyr for the sake of Christ.

Peter knew flourishing and failure; he knew forgiveness and restoration. He knew that the power of our testimony was not just about what we get right but also about how God moves in and uses us when we get it wrong. This too, is how we display Christ to the world. But that can only happen if we continually repent and surrender to the work of God. This brings us today today's text:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your cares (anxiety) on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

Considering all of what has preceded this in 1 Peter, I assume the cares come from 1) persecution, and 2) the high call in our lives (he just talked about life together in the church). What is concerning his audience?  Living above reproach in their culture and in their church.

This will cause care and anxiety. But God cares…so give that over to him. That will require humility, but it is in our humility that we are raised up. It’s dying so we can live. It’s decreasing so God can increase in us. It’s God’s plan for our flourishing in the Kingdom of God and embodying the good news of the Gospel in our culture.

This command concerning our cares is found many places in Scripture.

“Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken (made to slip, fall or fail).”  (Psalms 55:22)

“Blessed be the Lord, Who daily bears our burden, the God Who is our salvation.” (Psalm 68:19)

“Be careful for nothing: but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall watch over your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

The Bible address other things that cause anxiety: “Take no thought for the things of tomorrow…” (Matthew 6:34) This broadly covers all the things we worry about: jobs, health, family, relationships. Everything that keeps us up at night. The things that give us anxiety and fear.

I could talk a lot about why it’s a bad idea to let these things eat away at us, but you know this. I don’t think I have to convince you it’s a terrible thing to be overshadowed or weighed down by anxiety.

Anxiety and depression have become close companions since my heart attack (and depression even before then). In prepping this past week, I found myself comforted and encouraged simply by reading what so many Christians have said about this issue.

“But He cares for us. My soul, has not Jesus proved it? Did He not care for you when He embarked in the work of your salvation? Did He not care for you when you were dead in trespasses and in sins? (Ephesians 2:1- note) And when the Holy Spirit convinced you of sin, and broke your heart, and led you in holy contrition to the cross, did not Jesus manifest His care for you then by raising you up from His feet, enfolding you in His arms, and applying His atoning blood to your conscience, saying to your tempest-tossed spirit, 'Peace, be still,' and there was peace? The Lord cares for you still. He cares for your needs, for your trials, for your temptations, for your sorrows. Still more, He cares for…  the doubts and fears and tremblings which sometimes assail you--for the darkness which often enshrouds you--for the loneliness and solitude of the way by which He is leading you home to Himself.”  - Octavius Winslow

“Treat cares as you treat sins. Hand them over to Jesus one by one as they occur. Commit them to Him. Roll them upon Him. Make them his. By an act of faith look to Him, saying, "This, Lord, and this, and this, I cannot bear. Thou hast taken my sins; take my cares: I lay them upon Thee, and trust Thee to do for me all, and more than all, I need. I will trust, and not be afraid…"  -  F.B. Meyer

“There is nothing Christ dislikes more than for His people to make show of Him and not to use Him. He loves to be worked. He is a great laborer. He always was for His Father, and now He loves to be a great laborer for His brethren. The more burdens you put on His shoulders, the better He will love you. Cast your burden on Him.” – Spurgeon

“I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath—these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely—these are my native air.” – Dr. E Stanley Jones

“You are staggering beneath a weight which your Father would not feel. What seems to you a crushing burden, would be to him but as the small dust of the balance… O child of suffering, be thou patient; God has not passed thee over in his providence. He who is the feeder of sparrows, will also furnish you with what you need. Sit not down in despair; hope on, hope ever… There is One who careth for you. His eye is fixed on you… He, if thou art one of his family, will bind up thy wounds, and heal thy broken heart. Doubt not his grace because of thy tribulation, but believe that he loveth thee as much in seasons of trouble as in times of happiness… He has never refused to bear your burdens, he has never fainted under their weight. Come, then, soul! have done with fretful care, and leave all thy concerns in the hand of a gracious God.” -Spurgeon

The Lord your God neither accepts nor rejects… because of the high or the low frame with which you approach Him. To suppose that He did—that the spiritual tone of your mind influenced His decision—were to make the turning point of His love to center in you rather than in Himself… God’s dealings with us from first to last, in the greatest and in the least… proceed upon the principle of His most free grace. And since He finds the motive of love and the bestowment of blessing solely within Himself, He, the unchangeable One, will not revoke the love, nor withdraw the gift, influenced by any fickleness or change He traces in you. Then, be your frame low, your heart dead, your faith weak—arise, and draw near to God… and the blessing, the richest God can bestow, or you desire, awaits your full acceptance. Little, obscure, despised, unworthy though you may be, or deem yourself to be, the Lord has an interest in you… Others may have ceased to care for you. Change has congealed the warm current of love, distance intercepts its flow, or death has stilled its pulse, and you feel as if there existed in this wide world no heart, no spirit, no mind that responded to, or that chimed and blended with your own. Yes; there is One!—Jesus cares for you.  – Octavius Winslow

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SOME RECOMMENDED SONGS

Selah – I look To You

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gP2IzErAQPs[/embed]

Kari Jobe – I am Not Alone

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow4OfW4DP9s[/embed]

Kari Jobe -  Be Still My Soul

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jY_csMVzvgo[/embed]

Laura Story –He Will Not Let Go

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaHISTo7g4w[/embed]

Laura Story - Perfect Peace

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKynh0Spy-Q[/embed]

Needtobreathe – Lay ‘Em Down

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PN-BMHi5L8[/embed]

Ginny Owens – If You Want Me To

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaXxwFpavj4[/embed]

Finding Favour – Cast My Cares

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKuAMmTqUbs[/embed]

Alisa Turner – My Prayer For You

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hj_0pvIGkks[/embed]

 

 

 

Judgment Begins In The House Of God (1 Peter 4:12-19)

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Watch Facebook Live stream here. Listen to audio here.

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[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP0u8kxZY0Q[/embed]

 Dear ones, don’t be surprised when you experience your trial by fire. It is not something strange and unusual, but it is something you should rejoice in. In it you share the Jesus’ sufferings, and you will be that much more joyful when His glory is revealed. If anyone condemns you for following Jesus, consider yourself blessed. The glorious Spirit of God rests on you. But none of you should ever merit suffering like those who have murdered or stolen, meddled in the affairs of others or done evil things. But if you should suffer for being a Christian, don’t think of it as a disgrace, as it would be if you had done wrong. Praise God that you’re permitted to carry this name.

For the time for judgment has come, and it is beginning with the household of God. If it is starting with us, what will happen to those who have rejected God’s good news?  It is written in Proverbs, “If it is hard for the righteous ones to be saved,what will happen to the ungodly and the sinners?”  So even if you should suffer now for doing God’s will, continue doing good and trust your futures to the judgment and mercy of a faithful Creator.

Four points in this section, three of which we’ve covered already in this book, and the fourth, which will be our focus today.

  • First, it is not a strange or unusual thing for the people of God to face trials or be persecuted because of their faith.
  • Second, it’s not persecution if you are reaping the sin that you sowed. Don’t do evil things, and don’t meddle in the affairs of others.[1]
  • Third, in the midst of trials, remember that Christians get the Holy Spirit now and glory later.
  • Fourth, God is a righteous judge– and it starts in His people.

What does this mean? Honestly, there is a lot of speculation surrounding this. It’s probably a quote of a common proverb, and figuring out Peter’s specific purpose in this context is not an easy thing. His audience probably made the automatic connections because it was their culture and their proverb. It’s a little harder 2,000 years later But, we are going to give it a shot :)

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‘Judgment’ may mean affliction and distress God sends to purify His people.

In the Old Testament era, the Jews believed that if God was going to judge the world for something, He would begin with His own people.

  • See Ezekiel 9:1-7; Ezekiel has a vision of God’s judgment for sin, and it begins in the Temple.
  • In Jeremiah 25, when God talks about judging the nations, the first cup that Jeremiah delivers is to Jerusalem. In fact, God judges Judah with the Babylonians before he judges the Babylonians.
  • In Malachi 3, when God approaches the temple, Malachi wonders if anyone will be left standing as God purifies the priests.
  • The Talmud states (Bava Kama, fol. 60,1): "God never punishes the world but because of the wicked, but he always begins with the righteous first..."

The idea seems to be that if God is going to judge those who are not His people, expect Him to clean house first. He will deal with His own before He moves to others. It’s not a good show to hold the world accountable for something you overlook close to home. Those who have positioned themselves closest to God will be the first to be held accountable.

It’s one reason I get frustrated when I hear discussion that natural disasters in the U.S. are God’s judgment on the United States. If God uses natural disasters under the New Covenant in the same way he did in the Old Covenant – and that’s an “if” we can discuss in Message Plus - then the first place we should look when we think something is God’s divine judgment is within our own walls. It’s hard to imagine that God would let his church rot from within while cleaning up all around it. We are to be salt and light; if the world is lacking salt and light, that’s an “us” problem, not a “them” problem.

“Judgment” might simply be discipline (Hebrews 12:4–11) designed to purge the sin from our lives and teach us obedience. [2]

“Scripture makes a distinction between God’s purifying discipline of the church and His ultimate condemnation of the wicked. (1 Corinthians 11:31-32): ‘But if we took care to judge ourselves, then we wouldn’t have to worry about being judged by another. In fact, the Lord’s hand of judgment is correcting us so that we don’t suffer the same fate as the rest of the rebellious world: condemnation.’”[3]

The judgment or condemnation of sinful actions in God’s people is always meant to bring about maturity, conviction, and repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10; James 1:2–4; James 4:8) so that, as Romans 8:17says, “we may also share in his glory.”

Another way of viewing this is to think of this as the way in which God separates the wheat from the tares (weeds) in the church (Matthew 13).It is a winnowing the separates true believers from social club members. In this way, judgment begins in the house of God. There’s a sifting among God’s people by God Himself.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdCGN1dgmq8[/embed]

So, Judgment begins in the house of God means:

  • Disciplinebegins in the house of God.
  • Accountability begins in the house of God.
  • Weeding (holiness; separation)begins in the house of God.
  • Justicefalls first in the house of God.
  • Integrity and purityis demanded first in the house of God.
  • Moral responsibilitybegins in the house of God.

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Here’s the hard summary:

If we are looking for God’s righteous judgment to fall on something in our culture, God’s righteous judgment will begin in the church, and it might be accomplished through the culture we want judged.

God won’t judge lust in the culture until we’ve dealt with lust in the church. 34% of women, 37% of pastors, an around 65% of men in the church currently struggle with or intentionally access pornography.  Pastoral stats are about the same.

God won’t judge abortion in our culture until we have dealt with abortion in the church. TheAlan Guttmacher Institute reports that 43% of aborting women identify themselves as Protestant, while 27% identify themselves as Catholic. That’s 70% of all abortions in the U.S. The best place to protest, pray and offer counsel is close to churches.

God won’t judge sexual sin in the culture until we have dealt with sexual sin in the church.

  • Approximately 45 per­cent of Chris­tians indi­cate hav­ing done some­thing sex­u­ally inap­pro­pri­ate, and 23 per­cent hav­ing sex outside of marriage. The church has its own #metoo movement right now.
  • Since 1993, about 2.4 million young people have signed a TLW pledge. Just 12 percent kept their promise. The rates for having sexually transmitted diseases "were almost identical for the teenagers who took pledges and those who did not.".24(http://www3.dbu.edu/jeanhumphreys/SocialPsych/evangelicalmind.htm
  • “For the last twenty years, thousands of men from across America struggling with sexual sin have come to our intensive counseling workshop. Over half were pastors and missionaries.” – Harry Schaumburg, “Sexual Sin In The Minstry”

God won’t judge materialism and greed in the culture until we have dealt with materialism and greed in the church.

  • “Meaning and purpose comes from working hard to earn as much as possible so you can make the most of life.” This is a view held by one-fifth of practicing Christians (20%); it’s held by 37% of those under 40.” (Barna and Summit Ministries) 
  • “Today, on average, evangelicals in the U.S. give about 4% to the church. In 2002, Barna discovered that only 6 % of born-again adults did so—a 50 percent decline from 2000, when 12 percent did. And in 2002, just 9 percent of Barna's narrow class of evangelicals gave to the church.16” So, 9% give an average of 4%. (http://www3.dbu.edu/jeanhumphreys/SocialPsych/evangelicalmind.htm)

God won’t judge gossip and lies in the culture until we have dealt with gossip and lies in the church.  I am pretty sure I have seen just as much fake news spread on social media by Christians than by non-Christians.  We seem eager to want the worst to be true of others, and we have no problem distorting facts or fabricating them to further our agenda.

 God won’t judge the vulgarity and the coarseness of our culture until we have dealt with vulgarity and coarseness in the church.

The White House Correspondent’s roast was disrespectful and demeaning to our President and his administration (as well as a lot of other people). Our President has been just as offensive in his disrespect and demeaning of others. Why would Christians decry one and not the other when God is displeased with both? If judgment is going to begin about what people enable or even applaud in our culture, let it begin with what people of God defend and applaud.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wKsIR5qlss[/embed]

I hear a lot of discussion about how our nation is increasingly offering legal challenges to Christian actions and morality. Even as President Trump appoints more professing Christians to political positions than any other President and issues 25 page memos from the Justice Department on religious freedom, we seem to be losing ground in how people view us and how our rights play out.

My opinion – and it’s just my opinion – is that the OT gives us insight meant for us today. God will get His people’s attention, even if He has to use Babylon as the means to do so. If there is to be judgment, it will begin in His people, and it will begin in His Temple, with His priests. And the church is the temple, and we are all priests.

“If my people….”  We love that verse in 2 Chronicles 7. It’s worth noting there are two “if’s”.  This was for Israel and Solomon, but I think there is a broader, timeless principles worth noting. God cannot and will not bless unholiness in His people. As we read, think of Israel as Christians, the temple as the ‘church’, and the land as their ‘sphere of influence’ or reputation:

19 “But if youturn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given youand go off to serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. 21 This temple will become a heap of rubble. Allwho pass by will be appalled and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ 22 People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why he brought all this disaster on them.’”

But…

13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.”

God’s judgment of His children is not meant to lead to crushing guilt. Godly sorrow is meant to bring repentance. God’s judgment/discipline/ winnowing/pruning of His church and his children is for our good and the good of his church: to refine us, to purify us, to mature us, to transform us into the salt and light the world so desperately needs.

Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of the sins I mentioned or for any of your sins you might be thinking about right now. Grace and forgiveness are beautiful things designed to turn our stories of brokenness and failure into hopeful stories of redemption and life.

It’s clear that we need the power of Christ in us. This is about God equipping us, in the midst of our surrender, repentance, humility, and commitment, to live as He called us, and to be the instrument through which the land is healed. Paul used the language of sweat equity: we take up our cross; we die daily; we train with the commitment and intensity of an Olympic athlete. But the only way we can do “all things” is through Christ, who strengthens us.

Judgment begins in God’s house. But so does mercy, love and truth. God’s plan is for His church to be the city on the hill that cannot be hidden, shining light into darkness, bringing hope where there is despair. What begins in refining judgment ends in redeeming grace.

We must go through the refinement to get to the redemption.

And it’s in redemption that the beauty of Christ is seen in us, in the church and in the world.

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[1]Adam Clarke: “The inspector of another; meddling with other people's concerns, and forgetting their own; such persons are hated of all men. But some think that meddling with those in public office is here intended, as if he had said: Meddle not with the affairs of state, leave public offices and public officers to their own master, strive to live peaceably with all men, and show yourselves to be humble and unaspiring.”

[2]Paul wrote in Romans 8:1 that “there is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but the Spirit.”[2]This doesn’t mean we don’t call out sin when there is sin; it means, literally,“exact sentence of condemnation handed down after due process”(biblehub).  Jesus has already paid the final and eternal judgment for our actions on our behalf.

[3]https://www.gotquestions.org/judgment-begins-house-God.html

 

The End Of All Things (1 Peter 4:7-11)

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Watch the Facebook Live stream here. Listen to audio here.

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Jesus is Coming. Look busy! 

It’s an uncomfortable phrase, because it feels disrespectful even as it seems like that might be how a lot of people think. But I think it raises a  question worth considering. If we thought Jesus was coming back really soon, would it change how we live?

I remember when my sister and I were old enough to be left at home, we would at times have to scramble when Mom and Dad were coming home. We lived at the end of a ½ mile lane in an old farmhouse for a while, and we would CRANK up our music when they were gone – until we saw them coming up the lane. Things changed in a hurry. When we were even older and they would be gone a couple days, it was clean up time about an hour before they got home.

Mom and Dad were returning, and we wanted to be sure we got the house in order in time.

1 Peter 4:7-11 The Voice (VOICE): "We are coming to the end (telos – completion) of all things…"

We hear a lot about End Times today, but biblically the “end of all things” is the completion of God’s plan for history. The end began with the arrival of Jesus. “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in man ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son”(Hebrews 1:1-2) at "the end of the ages" (Hebrews 9:26).  James said that "the coming of the Lord is at hand" (James 5:8); John wrote, in 1 John 2:18, "It is the last hour." We are certainly always closer, but Christians have been anticipating His inevitable return since He left.

For 2,000 years, we have lived in the age in which the end is near. So what should we be doing in light of this?

 “So be serious and stable, and keep your wits about you in order to be ready to pray with perseverance.” 

We shouldn't have to scramble to clean our spiritual house like my sister and I did our physical house; we shouldn’t be afraid of our Savior’s return, wondering what we need to turn off or hide something; we shouldn’t be panicked about how we are going to survive whatever is coming.

Instead, we are to exercise self-control and exhibit the peace of the Spirit as we purposefully pray. We should be calm and collected, knowing that God is in control.

The Bible warns that we will face trials or persecution in the last days, and the last 2,000 years have proven that to be true. The United States will inevitably move in that direction if the history of world cultures has anything to offer our understanding of the times in which we live. I think we would do well to pay attention to Peter here, as I’ve noticed how easily we panic when the going gets tough for us as Christians.

There is no doubt that the United States is trending away from affirmation of religious belief and in some sectors is even becoming increasingly hostile. But even in a worst case scenario where anti-Christian bigotry eventually moves toward real persecution, what should our response be?

Should we be scared and angry, or should we glorify God by revealing His power in us by our calm engagement, peace-filled presence, and our ongoing, persevering attitude of prayer, which involves surrendering our fears to God and trusting in His sovereignty? Panic is not a good look for people of faith.

Now, Paul had no problem maxing out his rights as a Roman citizen, so I don’t have a problem with Christians around the world maxing out their political rights for their freedom and safety. But no matter what, in every situation, followers of Jesus should be “serious, and keep our wits about us, and pray more perseverance,” not panic, despair, and yell more loudly.

But, even more importantly:

Most of all,love each other steadily and unselfishly, because love makes up for many faults. Show hospitality to each other without complaint. 10 Use whatever gift you’ve received for the good of one another so that you can show yourselves to be good stewards of God’s gifts of grace in all its varieties. 11 If you’re called upon to talk, speak as though God put the words in your mouth; if you’re called upon to serve others, serve as though you had the strength of God behind you. In these ways, God may be glorified in all you do through Jesus, to whom belongs glory and power, now and forever. Amen.

It seems to me that “prepping” has increasingly been made a priority, as if it's the most urgent need facing us if the world falls apart economically or if we are ever forced underground. It is not. [1]There is prudence in preparation – I’m not belittling those who prepare - but it is not the most important thing. If Peter were to host a seminar on How To Prepare For End Times, it wouldn’t involve a lot of practical things we hear like converting cash to gold or buying food that will last. It would be this: Learn how to pray, love, help each other, and use your gifts for the glory of God!”

This love "covers a multitude of sins" – not our sins, but the sins of others. Love forgives seventy times seventy. It is not constantly critical or constantly requiring perfection of the other. God’s agape love flowing throughus toothers covers a multitude of sins.  The Bible does not mess around on this point:

“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.” (1 John 3:14

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and every one who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)

Then we see that love is expressed in hospitality, not just for those we know, but those we don’t. [2]It’s not padding our social resume, or hanging out with cool people, and it’s not surrounding ourselves constantly with close friends.  The Greek word combines philos ("friendly love") with xenos ("a stranger").  Really, this is the ability to be hospitable to strangers[3]- and let me tell you, some of us are strange J

Hospitality is a legitimate and important ministry. We can get caught up in thinking of ministry as something that happens when we are in charge of something, or oversees, or when we are involved in an official ministry. But going out for lunch with someone you don’t know, or helping someone with food, money, time or lodging when they are in need is an opportunity for deep ministry.

Finally, we SERVE EACH OTHER FAITHFULLY (v. 10-11) with the gifts God has given us.

There are a variety of gifts given by the same Holy Spirit to each different believer, just as He wills (1 Cor. 12:11). They exist for the good of the church and the reputation of God. You aren’t given your gift for you;you have been given a gift for us to"serve one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."[i] Here is a list of gifts present in the New Testament church:

  • Prophecy(boldly proclaiming God’s mind and purpose) 1 Corinthians 12, 14; Micah 3:8
  • Serving(a wide variety of ministries that “make the dust fly”)- 1 Peter 4; 1 Corinthians 12:5
  • Teaching- (explaining God’s truth)Romans 12; 1 Cor. 12; Ephesians 4
  • Working- (bringing energy to a project)1 Corinthians 12:6
  • Exhortation(motivational skills; encouragement)- Romans 12
  • Giving(joyful, sacrificial generosity)Romans 12
  • Mercy(compassion)- Romans 12
  • Intercession(prayer) Romans 8:26, 27
  • Wisdom(knowledge rightly applied to situations)James 1:5; Numbers 27
  • Words of Wisdom (giving insightful, practical knowledge)- 1 Corinthians 12
  • Words of Knowledge(giving insight into doctrine/spiritual truth)- 1 Corinthians 12
  • Faith(unwavering commitment)- 1 Corinthians 12
  • Healing(miraculous interventions for sickness)1 Corinthians 12
  • Miracles- (supernatural acts)1 Corinthians 12
  • Discerning spirits (insight into the “spirit” of a situation)- 1 Corinthians 12
  • Tongues(gifted in human or heavenly languages)- 1 Corinthians 12, 14
  • Interpretation of Tongues - (translating those languages)1 Cor. 12, 14
  • Apostle(founders of the church)- 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4
  • Leadership(church planters and church sustainers)- Romans 12
  • Pastor(“shepherds” who guide and lead)- Ephesians 4
  • Evangelist/Missionary(boldness in sharing the gospel)Acts 1:8; 5:32; 26:22; 1 John 5:6; Ephesians 4
  • Helps(helping/serving the poor and downtrodden) 1 Corinthians 12; 1 Timothy 3:8-13; Romans 16:1-4; 12
  • Administration(the ability to give oversight)1 Corinthians 12; 1 Samuel 11 and 16
  • Celibacy(living in abstinent sexual purity) 1 Corinthians 7:7
  • Marriage(committing to a covenant with integrity) 1 Corinthians 7:7
  • Hospitality(openness and friendliness) 1 Peter 4:9-10
  • Craftsmanship(building, construction)Exodus 31:3; 35:30-35
  • The Arts(music, poetry, prose, painting...) - Exodus 31:2-6; Exodus 35:25-26; Psalm 150:3-5 Luke 1:1-3
  • Voluntary Poverty (forgoing wealth without envy or jealousy)1 Corinthians 13:1-3
  • Business Sense (reward from hard work and investment) Ecclesiastes 3,5
  • Courage(as seen in Gideon) Judges 6
  • Strength(as seen in Samson) Judges 13
  • Architectural Engineering (planning; constructing; building)1 Chronicles 28

Whatever your gift, it is significant. The body of Christ needs you. You are to use your gift not to glorify yourself or other people, but to glorify -God. If you want to be ready for the end times, learn how to use your gifts toward the service of one another in the harmony of the Spirit of God.

Steven Cole recounts a story that I think offers a picture that captures the purpose of this passage well.

“In 1959, the Queen of England visited Chicago. Elaborate preparations were made for her visit. The waterfront was readied for docking her yacht. Litter baskets were painted. A red carpet was rolled out. Many hotels were alerted. But when they contacted the Drake, the manager explained, “We are making no plans for the Queen; our rooms are always ready for royalty.”

I like that goal.

“We are making no new plans for the arrival of the King; His house is always ready for Him.”

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[1]See this article from Focus On The Family, “A Biblical View Of Survivalists And Preppers.” https://www.focusonthefamily.com/family-q-and-a/faith/a-biblical-view-of-survivalists-and-preppers

[2]When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous (Luke 14:12-14).

[3]"without complaint".  Paul wrote, "Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world . . ." (Phil. 2:14-15).

[i]These are all gifts to help you serve the church and the world.