As we draw close to the end of our walk through 1 Peter, written to brothers and sisters in Christ who are living in times extremely similar and relevant to ours. Peter will give us a sobering warning in his writings that absolutely demands attention and change from us now. So put away your "playing church" mentalities and see this church for what we are right now: a band of like believers in the middle of a fallen world with it's filth still all over us as well, but striving with sincere hearts to rise up in these last days and truly please our Savior—no matter the cost. Let's jump back into God's Words again together.
We left off, where Peter had just reminded his brothers and sisters in Christ that they should not only endure increasing persecution, but willingly and joyfully accept or "partake" of anything brought against them for their faith in Jesus Christ. Here is where we pick up, as Peter gives us one more powerful reason for this joy in willingly "partaking" of Christ's suffering in our lives: 1 Peter 4:12-14: we have to understand and envelop this mindset in our culture. Here is one place we need to understand an original Greek word used: rests. Peter is saying that when we are ridiculed, attacked or threatened for our love or actions for Christ—which is very possible right now—we are to realize at that moment the Spirit of God is literally present with us if we will stop and allow ourselves to be open to Him—to calm our hearts, set us at ease and comfort us right there; communing and celebrating with us—that God Himself is being glorified in our actions at that very moment. As they are blaspheming Him, you are glorifying Him. It is not a waste, not a bad moment, but pure worship. 1 Peter 4:15-16: Peter springboards from how they are to properly react to persecution into how they should not react to persecution. We cannot let anger, threats or unjust treatment push us to act as unsaved, and unloving people ourselves, lashing out in hatred, murdering, stealing or doing unjust things for the sake of retaliation. If you think these things will not be a temptation, wait until true unjust treatment begins to hit some of us. This does not, however mean that we are not to defend our loved one's from violence or attack. The clear word for murder here means intentional, unjustified, homicide of an innocent person. It is our duty to protect those we love who are under our care that are being abused or attacked.
1 Peter 4:17-19: we take a look around us today at the incredible changes that are coming like a whirlwind; and we shake our heads in amazement at how fast and how far our very society around us has fallen from God; and we wait in expectation for God to rise up and set this world straight—as we should—but the very scary and sobering truth is that God will—and now is—bringing His judgment first to the House of His own people: the church. The first question we ask in astonishment is, “Why would God bring Judgment on those living in the midst of persecution for His sake?” Do you truly think we are living in the middle of this rebellious, selfish world, and we are just sinless, blameless victims in need of protection from the evil around us? If judgment is to be honest and fair, it must first start with us. 1) because we are the ones who have God’s Word in our heads and His Spirit in our souls, and supposedly, His love in our hearts. We, my friends know a better way; have received a greater love, acceptance and forgiveness; have the power living in us to choose and act differently, and we are supposed to have a higher calling and purpose. If we still persist in living in the evil and selfishness of this world, we are without excuse and should be the first ones to receive judgment. 2) some will say, “But I haven’t joined in the world’s sin; I haven’t done anything.” Because what is even more incriminating and condemning is the fact that we as Christ's church are the only light and salt this world has under Satan's rule. If the people have become blind to God's ways, it is partially because we are not lighting the path. If the moral heart of society has begun to rot, it is partially because we did not act to preserve it, but instead, jumped right into the decay. We are heavily to blame for the condition of the culture which we shake our righteous heads and fists at, living with a casual or totally apathetic attitude to what we are called to do in this world—not living or loving as Christ, but as the world—having our hearts and eyes set on all the material things like everyone else; abandoning our spouses, our children, our churches, and our faith, and then wondering just what has happened to this crazy sinful world? How could we have gotten like this? We happened to this world; we have played right into Satan's hands; we have been used for his purposes; and we must now take great strides to rise back out of the muck and show Him we are ready to serve Him and the world because judgment has begun.
Let's take a moment and remind ourselves of just what God has spelled out about His expectations for His people, called by His name in His Church today. 1) We are first called to bring broken and lost souls to Christ: “Great Commission!” John 15:16 2) We are called to present His love, His care and provision to the fallen world around us in our words and actions. John 13:34-35; James 1:27; Matthew 25:44-45 3) We are called to support, help, encourage and instruct one another in the church. 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Acts 2:44-45; Colossians 3:16-17 4) We are called to give to God's house and His work in this world. 1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 9:7-8. 5) We are called to protect, preserve, and live the true Word of God. Galatians 1:8-9; 2 Timothy 4:3-5; Titus 1:9; Matthew 5:16; 1 John 5:3. These, among other things are the calling and mission of Christians in this world today—the whole purpose of the Church body. How Are We Doing? We wonder why God would start His judgment of the world with the Church? Well, forget your view of how righteous and good we all seem sitting here in our church pews today, and honestly compare how we live and act as disciples of Christ today to these expectations of Jesus' True Bride. How many here today have shared your story of salvation? Told another of God's faithfulness and goodness? Explained the mercy and sacrifice of Jesus? Or even invited one single person to join you at church? In weeks, months, ever? Do you not think God is coming soon? Do you not see the pain and floundering in lives? Do you not care for where someone will spend eternity? What on earth are we waiting for? Do you spend more time talking about sinners than you do talking to them? Do you spend more time condemning them than showing their worth and why there is a better way? To date, since abortion has been legalized (1973), over 62 million innocent children have been killed. That is equivalent to the total number of people living in the states of: Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Rhode Island, Montana, Maine, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Idaho, West Virginia, Nebraska, New Mexico, Kansas, Mississippi, Arkansas, Nevada, Iowa, Utah, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Oregon, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Alabama (27 states). If a terrorist act killed that many people, or a surprise attack in war with another country, would you take action? Demand a response? And according to the Guttmacher Institute, study of abortions, over half of all abortion are from women which claim religious affiliation
(17% Protestant/ 13% Evangelical/ 24% Catholic). And a vast portion of these abortions are from unlearned, troubled, scared teens who suffer terribly as victims themselves in the process. Where is the righteousness, love for innocence, and action from all those professing Christ in this country? Where is the desire to help those who are in trouble rather than shame and condemn them? Where is the help for children in need of a home from those who have chosen to give life, but cannot or will not care for the child? There are over 400,000 children in foster care today, with at least 123,000 with no hope of returning to a home of their own, ever. How many people attend church when it's convenient? And even then, as a task to be completed, treating church as a social club of acquaintances ready to leave if not pleased or entertained? How many people have used this virus as a reason to justify disappearing from church altogether? Christ's true church lives together in love, interest, sacrifice and loyalty through sin, trials, offenses and troubles. How do you think He feels about our "pick and choose, consumer-casual, apathy" towards church attendance and fellow Christians, right here in the midst of the greatest war against Christian faith this country has seen to date? We build ministry empires worth millions in facilities, payrolls, and wasted material goals, while local and distant needs are life-threatening and severe. We encourage people to pray for and expect God to bless them in material abundance so they can sit on it and brag of God's favor. The vast majority of attending church members do not give regularly to their church (most say because they cannot afford it—but it is of utmost importance to have multiple cell phones, toys, vacations, movie channels, etc.) God does not demand a certain amount of money from us. He asks that we give as each can, joyfully because we want to further His Word, help others, etc. Giving shows our thanks to Him, shows His ownership in our lives and our trust in His faithfulness. Most of us have money for what is important to us. Based on your spending account, what is important to you?
We proclaim that God is real, His Word is true and that we live for Him, yet in front of the rest of the unsaved world, we as Christians, not unbelievers splinter our homes in divorce after divorce; living for self; devastating spouses and children; ruining God's will in our lives; destroy the beautiful honor and true intimacy of sexuality through cohabitation, unmarried sex, and pornography; destroy the identities and roles God has specifically designed us to fill; not trusting His ways or His design; accept anything as entertainment saying it doesn't hurt us; imprinting the world on our hearts, hardening our conscience, inferring agreement with the world, opening doors to attitudes and actions. We've joined the world in attitudes of arrogance, quick to anger, and constantly offended with little care for those outside of our own bubble with no responsibility to anyone unless it affects my world. Most of us don't truly want or seek God's presence or His Word. We don't try to know Him intimately, don’t try to know or do His desires. His Word is last on our daily agenda. We allow and even accept anything taught in His name so we won't sound judgmental or politically incorrect, destroying everything He truly is before the world so some may justify their sins and desires over God. And we ruin true joy in so many lives, remove the real God from reach of others and blaspheme His name all to avoid persecution. We are apathetic towards other's ever knowing Christ as Savior; apathetic and often involved in the monumental sin of killing millions; apathetic towards the needy in church and out with our money and time; apathetic towards really seeking God's Presence or knowing His Word—much less doing it; apathetic and often embracing sexual sins; and holding selfish, removed and unforgiving attitudes. [What does Christ say about “apathy” or lukewarm hearts?] For a Church that is called to be the loving, saving, helping, sacrificial, righteous hand of Christ to the world; a Church that is equipped with His Word, His Spirit, His forgiveness that knows better and has received better—do we stand in need of judgment before the world that does not claim to know Him? That is not called? It is far past time to reach out in fear, reverence and repentance for our attachment to the world over Christ; for the lost we have let down; for the time and life we have wasted as the world does, and become what Christ called us to be in these last hours on this earth. That doesn't mean having the goal of sinning less and doing more. That would again miss the entire understanding of what Jesus died for. The goal is to seek the God we know is real with all we have left; to return to our first love; to trust what He wants and says is best with passion—guarding His true Words, wherever that take us—turning our backs completely on the world's ways to live such devoted and happy lives in Christ—even in rejection, that the world of hungry souls has something to covet; to bring as many people to Christ, to Church, and to healing as possible—with whatever resources and time we have, with urgency that cannot wait any longer; to keep God's Word in passion in our hearts, in our entertainment, in our words, in our actions; to turn our backs completely on the ways of the world so that world may see the True Christ in us.
If you truly want to know Him more intimately, you have to be where He is doing what He is doing, together. The time for judgment has come for this country—and the world—and it has begun first with the house of God. We have to return to our first love and repent and change—or by his own words: Revelation 2:4-5: the time is now!
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