Category Archives: 1 Peter

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When You Suffer for the Cause of Christ – 1 Peter 4:12-29 (Scullion)

How does Peter advise Christians under fire to respond. Jim Scullion explains the text in chapter 4 of Peter’s first epistle

A Living Hope- 1 Peter 1:3-9 (Conrow)

When buying a gift, do you go for the fad or the tried and true?  Most of us would go for the tried and true.  Pastor Alan asks “Why is it that our emotional, personal well-being seems to be bases on how we feel or how things are going?”  He challenges believers to recognize that we actually have the tried and true. We have a hope that is living!

A Living Hope

Chosen By God- 1 Pet 1:1,2 (Conrow)

Are you trusting in your good deeds or are you hoping in the fact that God has chosen you?

Chosen By God

Reaching the End of Suffering (1 Pet 5:6-11) – Sonnenberg

Pastor Dan’s series on 1 Peter comes to a close as Peter stays with the experience of suffering: God’s Purpose for; Resisting the devil’s ploys; and trusting God’s promises to us.

To listen to the Podcast, scroll to the bottom of this page.

Introduction: The hope of every Christian is that when Christ returns in glory, suffering for our faith will come to an end: for some – every insult, every snub, every sneer, every missed job opportunity or job promotion will come to an end; for others – every lost home, lost family member, lost limb or lost life will one day be vindicated and rewarded by Christ in his glory.

If you are suffering for your faith, or if you ever do suffer for your faith, you are or will likely ask such questions as, “How can I endure this suffering? How will I make it to the end? When will it end? How can I keep from giving up on God because of the pain and loss I am experiencing? How can I keep from giving up my faith just so the pain will end?

In this final section before his last personal greetings, Peter summarizes his message by returning to his initial theme in 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NIV) In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faithmay result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed Continue reading Reaching the End of Suffering (1 Pet 5:6-11) – Sonnenberg

Finding Purpose in Suffering for Christ (1 Pet 4:12-19) – Sonnenberg

The Apostle Peter comes back to the theme of suffering again in chapter 4 of his first letter. Pastor Dan walks us through the later half of chapter 4 and so clearly helps us understand Peter’s message.

See the mp3 link at the bottom of this post, or read the sermon below.

Introduction: We’ve been studying First Peter, looking at what it means to suffer persecution for our faith in Christ and how we should live as aliens and strangers in the world. We’ve been trying to answer questions such as Why do we suffer? How should we respond? What is God’s purpose in suffering?  So far, we’ve found at least ten purposes God has in mind when he allows us to suffer for our faith.

  1. To prove our faith genuine and to purify our faith. (1 Peter 1:7) (NLT) These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold– though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.
  2. To bring us glory and honor at Christ’s return. (1 Peter 1:7) (NLT) So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 
  3. To lead unbelievers to Christ. (1 Peter 2:12) (NLT) Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. 
  4. To silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. (1 Peter 2:15) (NLT) It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you.
  5. To please God. 1 Peter 2:20 (NLT) Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.
  6. To follow Christ’s example. (1 Peter 2:21) (NLT) For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.
  7. To win our unbelieving husbands (or wives) to Christ. (1 Peter 3:1-2) (NLT) In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over  by observing your pure and reverent lives. 
  8. To receive God’s blessing. (1 Peter 3:14) (NLT) But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. 
  9. To shame unbelievers who slander us. (1 Peter 3:16) (NLT) But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 
  10. To enable us to live a more obedient life. (1 Peter 4:1-2) (NLT) So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin.  You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. 

  Today, we’ll add a few more purposes to the list. This passage revisits several of the purposes we just listed, but adds a few more. This passage identifies six ways God uses persecution in the life of the Christian.

1.         To test our faith – to prove it is genuine and purify it

2.         To deepen our union with Christ

3.         To increase our joy at Christ’s return

4.         To give us a foretaste of God’s presence

5.         To glorify God

6.         To increase our trust in God

1 Peter 4:12-19

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.

 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1Pe 4:12-19 ESV)

This passage feels as if the letter is coming to a close. Peter sets us straight  – if we’ve been wondering – about several things.  If he has beaten around the bush earlier, now he tells us in plain language three things:

1.     Suffering for our faith is normal, that we should expect it,

2.     Suffering for our faith has a purpose – in fact, a number of purposes

3.     Suffering for our faith is God’s will.

Let’s look first at how

1.     Suffering for our faith is normal

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

We’ve been saying this all along. Scripture teaches that since Jesus suffered for his faith, we, his disciples, his brothers and sisters in the faith, may experience suffering as well. The slave is not greater than the master.

If we have not experienced it yet, we should be prepared that persecution for our faith is a distinct possibility. Not a necessity, but at least a possibility. We should be prepared that it might happen to us, and we should know what to do when it happens. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

In high school in BG, my driving instructor taught me how to correct a skid while driving in the snow… When we came into the parking lot, he told me to slam on the brakes and turn into the skid. I thought to myself, “cool,” and did what he said. I learned very quickly what worked and what didn’t work.

Yesterday, I taught Beth how to drive in the snow so she could be prepared for the possibility of going into a slide in slippery conditions. I had already told her what I consider to be the three most important things about driving in the snow – drive more slowly, leave more room between you and the car in front of you, and turn into the skid. But it’s a different story when you actually have to do it, so we went to a mostly empty parking lot where there was some snow and some exposed pavement so she could practice driving in slippery conditions. She did great and learned very quickly and like me, had a little fun doing it.

The point is – Don’t be surprised when you go into a skid on a slippery road, it happens, it is a distinct possibility, this is not something strange, be prepared. Similarly, we should be prepared for the distinct possibility of suffering for our faith. It is not something strange. We should not be surprised when it happens.

2Suffering for our faith has a purpose. Six of them in this passage.

The first is

2.1.     To prove our faith is genuine and to purify our faith

12…do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

 It is a fiery test. We saw this earlier in 1 Peter 1:7 (NLT) These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold…

How many of you have a chemistry set at home or had a chemistry set when you were younger?

Testing and purifying gold is not something you can do at home, at least not the last step. Listen to the process. Chris Sherwood writes,

How to Purify Gold

By Chris Sherwood, eHow Contributor

Before gold is sold on the market, it has to go through a purification process. This process is quite complex and dangerous. It needs to be done under the right circumstances and with the utmost care in safety precautions. It is not recommended to try this process unless you have experience working with harmful chemicals.

  1. Prepare your beakers. Place your gold ore into one of the beakers… In your second beaker, mix three parts hydrochloric acid to one part nitric acid….
  2. Mix your acid beaker with your ore beaker and simmer. … simmer the mixture on a hot plate until all of the nitric acid has been boiled off….
  3. Filter the solution. Use a strainer to filter off any of the solid that may be left from the boiling process.
  4. Check for silver. Before you can extract the gold, you must first extract any silver that may be present in the ore…use a coffee filter to strain out the liquid from the silver particles….
  5. Check for gold. Put the remaining acid mixture back into a beaker. ..add sodium sulfite to the mixture. This will cause the gold to go to the bottom of the beaker… Filter the solution again
  6. Heat the gold. Now that you have your separated gold… Cover the gold and the filter with borax and place it in a furnace that is capable of reaching temperatures of 2,000 degrees F until the gold is smooth. Pour into a mold and let it cool.

Read more: How to Purify Gold |

In this process – by applying chemicals, filtering and heating – with serious heat! – the chemist tests to see whether there is any gold at all, and if he found gold, he removed the impurities.

Similarly, the fiery trials we endure through persecution test us to see if we have faith at all, and if we have faith, it purifies our faith.

Some trials come to test people to see if their faith is genuine. In Jesus’ parable of the sower, or the parable of the seeds, Jesus taught that persecution sometimes demonstrates that a person does not have saving faith. Jesus explained to his disciples, Matthew 13:20-21 (NLT) The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy.  But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. 

Other trials come to purify or refine our faith. This is what he is getting at in verses 17 and 18

17    For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

God’s testing of Christians through persecution is found also in an OT tradition based on a number of passages in which the end times judgment of all humanity begins now with the household of God as illustrated in Mal 3 as we read earlier and in other passages. (Jer. 25:29; Ezek. 9:5-6; Amos 3:2; Zech. 13:9)

 Mal 3:1-5 (NLT)…the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple…. For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes.  He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD

 Zechariah 13:9 (NLT) I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.'”

To reiterate this point he quotes Proverbs 11:31 in verse 18.

 18    And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

The point is that if believers are judged through God’s refining fires of persecution, how much worse will be the judgment for those who disobey.

The second and third purpose for persecution found in this passage is

2.2. To deepen our union with Christ, and

2.3. To increase our joy at his return

13    But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings… that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

 Suffering for our faith is a participation or fellowship in Christ’s suffering,  – rejoice in it now so that you can rejoice even more when you participate in his glory

Paul… “the fellowship of his sufferings…”

7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ,

10 that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;

 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Phi 3:7-11 NAS)

A fourth purpose is

2.4.     To give us a foretaste of God’s presence                                            

14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.


Since suffering is accompanied by the presence of the Spirit, rejoice that you have received a foretaste of your future reward.

Matthew 5:10-12 (NAS) 10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12  “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 A fifth purpose is

 2.5.     To glorify God

 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.

16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

We should be ashamed if we suffer for doing wrong, but we should not be ashamed for doing good because it glorifies God.

 Jesus “despised” the shame of the cross. Hebrews 12:1-2 (NAS)  for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising (disregarding) the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

He disregarded it. His enemies’ and God’s values were completely opposite.

  2.6.     To increase our trust in God, combined with

3.     Suffering for our faith is God’s will

19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

We should entrust ourselves to God as we continue to do good, since he will not allow us to suffer beyond what we can bear.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT) The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.


That word for “commit” is actually a banking term. It means to deposit something for safekeeping. Well, that’s what we’re to do with our lives when we go through times of suffering. Deposit your life in God’s bank (so to speak) for safe-keeping. Trust Him to preserve you in the fire. Give yourself to the Lord by continuing to do good.

That’s what Bethany Hamilton did. At one time, Bethany was ranked as the #1 amateur teen surfer in Hawaii. Then she lost an arm to a tiger shark in October 2003, but she never lost her faith.

Soon after the attack, she began to raise money to restore a man’s eyesight. While visiting New York City, she gave her ski coat to homeless girl. When asked about the gift, she said she had more than she needed in life.

At the time, Steve Thompson, her pastor, said, “She’s looking forward to the future. She’s asking herself, ‘How can I show the world I still have a life, that I enjoy my life, and that my life is filled with joy?’ She has an underlying trust that God is taking care of her.”

(Jill Lieber, “Teen Surfer Riding Wave of Amazing Grace,” USA Today, 3-19-04;

Bethany Hamilton entrusted herself to her faithful Creator. She didn’t quit living when she lost her arm. No! She gave her life to God. She deposited her life for safekeeping into His hands; and now, God has given her an international platform from which to share her story and bring Him glory. Bethany Hamilton returned to surfing; and just over a year after the shark attack, she took 1st place in the Explorer Women’s division of the 2005 NSSA National Championships — winning her first National Title. Since then, she has turned pro, and a major motion picture about her life was just released this last April (2011). It’s called Soul Surfer, and God is using it to bring hope to people all over the world. (

(From a sermon by C. Philip Green, In the Fire! 7/30/2011)


1.      suffering for our faith is normal

2.     suffering for our faith has purpose

3.     suffering for our faith is God’s will.

Living as a Christian Community in an Unbelieving World (1 Peter 4:7-11) – Sonnenberg

Pastor Dan hits the nail right on the head: What we’re called to; what’s important; where to start…  Do listen if you missed hearing the sermon.

Listen to the sermon by going to the mp3 link at the bottom of this post, or read the sermon below.

Introduction: Last week we looked at what it means to live with the same attitude as Christ in an unbelieving world. This week we’re looking at what it means to live as a Christian community in an unbelieving world. To live as a community of faith in an unbelieving world there are five things we should know:

  1. What time it is
  2. Where to begin
  3. What’s most important
  4. How to use our resources
  5. What our ultimate purpose is

1 Peter 4:7 (ESV)

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies–in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Let’s look first at how

1.     Knowing what time it is: should cause us to feel a sense of urgency

Verse 7 begins, “Now the end of all things has drawn near…”

Saying the end has drawn near here is equivalent to Jesus’ saying in Mat 4:17, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven has drawn near (is at hand). In other words, since the KOH has drawn near, you should repent. “Since the end has drawn near” is a prelude to a call to action, as we will see later in this verse. Peter is simply saying that since Messiah has come, and we are expecting his return at any time, we should feel a sense of urgency to make preparations for his coming. Like the wise virgins in the parable of the bridegroom and the servants in the parable of the talents, we are not to be complacent, but prepared for his return, working diligently on his behalf and praying “Come, Lord Jesus.” We don’t know when he is coming, but we are certain that he is coming. Therefore, as his servants who have been given a job to do on his behalf, we should be prepared for his return at any time.

Notice the use of the phrase “all things.” It is a single word, (pantone), meaning all or every in the original and it appears three times in this passage: here, in the next verse and in the last verse.

It invites us to look at the big picture and make preparations for the big changes that are in the making. I want us in the coming months to step back and look at the big picture by asking the question, “In view of the end of all things, what should we as a church be doing? Since our time may be limited, what are the most important things we should do individually and corporately. What should we do – to use a phrase from last week – with the time remaining to us?

Have you ever known a person who was facing the certainty of his own end? Persons who know the end is near often look at life differently and do life differently. I recently watched the movie title, “I Am” produced by the same man who became very rich by producing a number of silly, but very popular movies including “Bruce Almighty.” He experienced a very serious accident and sustained some very serious injuries that caused him to take another look at his life. What he discovered was a life of self-gratification and consumption. The result was a decision to make some significant changes in his life so that his focus was on serving others rather than simply serving his own desires.

Sometimes these changes take place at Mid-life / half-time: what’s the best use of your remaining time?

Knowing that the master will return, we should prepare for his coming by faithfully doing what he has called us to do. But what is the first step?

The second part of verse 7 reminds us that as a community of faith in an unbelieving world, we should

2. Know where to begin: by preparing our minds for communicating with God

7b “Therefore, be self-controlled and sober-minded in your prayers.”

A more literal translation would render it, “be self-controlled and sober-minded into your prayers or for the purpose of your prayers. The picture here is of a person making mental preparation before entering into prayer with God or in order to better enter into prayer with God. Let’s look first at what it means to be

Self-controlled for the purpose of prayer

This is the self-controlled found also 1:13: “Fully set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed by making your mind ready for action by being self-controlled.” A self-controlled mind is a mind that is ready for action.

A self-controlled or disciplined person has his life in order. He does so not out an obsessive need for order, but so that he can be ready for action at a moment’s notice. He has put the affairs of his life in their proper places so he can find them when he needs them and use them as necessary. His life is not like indiscriminate piles of paper on the desk. Rather, it is like papers organized in alphabetical folders so they can be found as needed. He is self-controlled and therefore ready for action. As he comes to prayer, his mind is ready for action, to do whatever the Lord tells him to do.

Second, we are to be

 Sober-minded (or clear-minded) for the purpose of prayer

A sober mind is clear of the fogginess of a drunken lifestyle. A sober mind is free from the dissipations of a worldly lifestyle. A Christian obtains a clear mind not by practicing eastern meditation, focusing on a particular color or reciting a mantra. He becomes clear-minded by focusing on the work and words of Christ.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NAU) …let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith… 

With self-controlled and sober minds, we can enjoy a vital prayer life individually and corporately. When our focus is on Christ, we can pray in one accord. Jesus had a vital prayer life with his Father because he kept first things first and kept his Father’s will at the top of the list. By contrast, a community of faith that is made up of members who are undisciplined and fuzzy in their thinking cannot have a vital prayer life together and therefore must forego the confidence and power that goes along with it.

As we seek the Lord together in the coming months with minds ready for action and focused on Christ, we can trust that he will guide us safely into the next phase of our ministry here.

This passage tells us not only what time it is and where to begin, but third,

3.     (Know) what’s most important: Loving one another

8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

The phrase, “all things” appears here again. Above all things… keep loving one another earnestly since love covers a multitude of sins. And then he gives an illustration of HOW we should love one another.

When it comes to Christian community, love is the most important thing because love covers all the ways we will sin against one another. When you are in community – real community – you rub one another the wrong way – often.

Your family is in community when you live together in the same house. You make deposits into and withdrawals from one another’s emotional bank accounts when you live together. You love one another, but you often you don’t agree on the best or right way to do things. You each have preferences that are not the same as the others, and you each have habits, some of which, grate on the others. When a couple gets married and move in together they discover annoyances about the other that they weren’t aware of during the engagement – the way he unrolls the toilet paper or doesn’t put the lid down, the way she leaves her clothes on the floor or doesn’t cook the meals the same way as mom used to, for example. When children come along, the pressure goes up because there’s less time for one another and often less money to go around. As the children grow into teens and young adulthood, they have their own ideas about things and their own habits that can grate on each other and on their parents. It’s not easy living in a family.

A church is in community by virtue of the members’ common life in Christ and their common worship, fellowship, ministry and even their government. We don’t always agree on the best way to do things, on what’s most important, and some of us have personalities and habits and preferences that are difficult to understand and hard to live with.

That’s why love is the most important thing. We need lots of love for one another because love covers – puts up with, makes allowance for, overlooks, and doesn’t keep a count of – the sins of the other person. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things  . (1Co 13:7 ESV) about the other person.

But that is not to say that we never confront one another about our sins. We do, and Matthew 18 tells us exactly how we should do that. But first, we try to overlook the offense. “So far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (Rom 12:18) Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult. (Pro 12:16 NIV)

Peter quotes a source that is quoted also in Pro 10:12 “Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.” It shows the contrast between hate and love. A person who hates, stirs things up. A person who loves, smooths things over. The person who hates, uncovers the bowl, as it were, and stirs in some additional ingredients, that ruin the recipe, while the person who loves, leaves the cover on the bowl, leaving well enough alone.

If you can’t or refuse to love one another, you will eventually become overwhelmed by all the ways you will sin against each other. This was perhaps more pronounced to Peter’s original audience than it is to us. In our day, if we get offended in one church, we can go to another church. In Peter’s day, the number of Christians was much smaller, and they may not have been able to change churches as readily. By the way, many people don’t leave their offenses at the previous church. They take them with them to the new church and the cycle begins again. If we stay offended by what happened to us in our previous church or with our previous pastor or his spouse or children, we stir up strife wherever we go. Rather, we should forgive and return to love that covers the sins of others.

Second, Peter illustrates a practical way this love is demonstrated – through our hospitality to one another. From time to time, people need our hospitality – perhaps when they’ve been hospitalized, or have a death in the family – and we are asked to help them out by bringing a meal to their home. Or sometimes a person’s car breaks down and they need a ride to get to work or to the doctor or to the store.

Peter says we should do this without grumbling. Yeah, it’s inconvenient, it’s a pain, it’s more work than we planned for that day, it might cost you some money, but that’s what we’re supposed to do, because we’re in Christian community with one another.

It’s a little bit like a natural family. Did you or your kids ever say, “I didn’t ask to be born into this family?” In some ways, you didn’t ask to be put in this faith family, and you certainly didn’t ask for Mr. So and So or Mrs. What’s Her Name to be here. But here you are, stuck with each other. So you are being commanded to make the best of the situation, to love one another, and moreover, to do it without grumbling.

Jesus demonstrated how to show hospitality without grumbling when he washed his disciples’ feet. He went above and beyond the call of duty. He had a meal prepared for them, and when they showed up for the meal, he took the time and the effort, he put up with the grit and the grime they brought with them, to wash their feet.

A few years ago, on June 28 (2005), four Navy SEAL commandos were on a mission in Afghanistan, searching for a notorious al-Qaeda terrorist leader hiding in a Taliban stronghold.

As the battle ensued, three of the SEALs were killed, and the fourth, Marcus Luttrell was blasted unconscious by a rocket grenade and blown over a cliff. Severely injured, he spent the next four days fighting off six al Qaeda assassins who were sent to finish him, and then crawled for seven miles through the mountains before he was taken in by a Pashtun tribe, who risked everything to protect him from the encircling Taliban killers.

They took Luttrell back to their village, where the law of hospitality, considered “strictly non-negotiable,” took hold. “They were committed to defend me against the Taliban,” Luttrell wrote, “until there was no one left alive.” (Lone Survivor – by Marcus Luttrell) [submitted by Austin Mansfield]

In order to live in Christian community in an unbelieving world, fourth, we should,

4.     Know how to use (y)our resources: we do that by Serving one another with the gifts God has supplied each of us

10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

Everyone of us has received a gift. The word is charis or grace. Each of us has received a grace of God to use in serving others. But we haven’t all received the same gift. God’s grace is varied, it is multifaceted, multidimensional, and it is expressed in the diversity of his body. Eph 4 tells us we are one body with many gifts for the common good.

And we are to be good stewards of the gifts he gives us – not to waste them or bury them, but to maximize their potential for his benefit and glory, just as the wise servants multiplied the talents they were given five and ten times.

There are varieties of gifts as we know from Eph 4, Rom 12 and 1 Cor 12, but Peter summarizes them here – there are speaking gifts and there are serving gifts.

He tells us how they should be used.

First, speaking gifts should be used as though God is speaking through you.

11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God;

In seminary, our preaching professor told us what to tell ourselves as we approached the pulpit – not before then and not later, but only as we approached the pulpit preach. He said, “Tell yourself, ‘I’m the man.’”

Serving gifts, secondly, should be used as though God’s strength was enabling you to do the task at hand.

whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—

When you serve in the name of Jesus, you can trust that God’s strength is upon you. Paul reminds us in 2 Cor that “his strength is made perfect in our weakness,” and we can say “when I am weak, then I am strong” in him. This has, I believe as much to do with our effectiveness as it does physical or mental strength. We can trust God to accomplish his purpose through our efforts when we serve in his name.

So what are our greatest resources as a Christian community? Each other! I need you to serve me and you need me to serve you. One part complements another part, and all the parts, even the most unseemly, are important. I cannot say to you because you are a foot, that you are unimportant because you are not a hand like I am. Nor can you tell someone else they are not necessary because they are not like you. Again, we’re stuck in this body of Christ together, not because we asked to be, but because he called us into it and has given us the gifts he did.

Are you using the gifts he has given you to serve one another? Maybe you haven’t had the opportunity yet. Maybe you’ve become burned out. Maybe you think your gift is unimportant or not needed. The important thing is to begin, perhaps begin again, perhaps to begin in a different way than before. It’s never too late to begin again.

We’re simply to be faithful to use what we’ve been given to serve one another in some way, because when we do, we’re serving we’re serving Christ himself, and we’re serving as Christ himself as his tangible hands and feet and voice on the earth. When we love one another, others we see and believe that we are his disciples.

This in turn prepares us to love and serve those outside the body of Christ who are often even more difficult to love and serve than those inside. We really need each other to accomplish the task of going even further outside our comfort zone to love and serve those who don’t yet know Christ.

Finally, In order to live in Christian community in an unbelieving world, we should,

5.     Know (y)our ultimate purpose: which is Glorifying God through Jesus Christ

11b in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

There’s that phrase again, “all things” translated here, “everything.” In order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. We began with “the end of all things is at hand.” In the middle we said, the most important of all things is love. And we end with the purpose of everything is the glory of God.

The Westminster Longer and Shorter Catechisms begin with the question, “What is man’s primary purpose?” The answer given is, “To glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

The proof text cited is 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV) So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God,

Jesus’ highest purpose was to glorify his Father. He said in his high priestly prayer, in  John 17:1 “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.

 It’s easy to become disenchanted with the church when difficult things happen – when people fail you, when people attack you, when people constantly disagree with one another about the small stuff.

But if we can be clear – and motivated by – our common purpose – to glorify God through Jesus Christ – we can survive and thrive as a church in an unbelieving world. The person – or the church – that loses its purpose, loses its way. When you have a clear purpose, as Jesus did, we can accomplish everything that God has called us to do, and we can persevere through persecution and suffering if necessary in doing it.

When I get fuzzy in my own thinking, I remember Eph 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which he prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

He has called you individually to himself to accomplish his purposes in the world, and he has called you together as his church, his body, to accomplish his purposes in the world – today, right now. Let’s don’t give up because we’ve had setbacks in the past, but press on to do all everything God has for us in the days ahead, and let’s do it together.

Prayer: As we move into the next phase of our ministry together as a church, help us to keep this passage in mind so that in our thinking, our loving, and our serving, we might in all things seek to glorify you through Jesus Christ our Lord.