Friday, March 27, 2015

You will be Judged, therefore, Worship God

Scripture: 1 Peter 4:17-19
For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?  And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?  Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

Insights:  Our final subject with which we are going to examine this week deals with judgment.  We are to worship God while we are being judged.  As with the testing and the suffering, today’s verses tell us three truths about this judgment.  Firstly, God’s judgment begins with His family.  We call this judgment the Bema Seat judgment or the Mercy Seat of Christ’s judgment.  First Corinthians chapter three discusses in more detail this judgment.  The gist of it is that our works that are self-serving result in being wood, hay and stubble.  This kind of work burns up and will not last.  Work that is pleasing to the Lord, however, is gold, silver and precious stones.  These are eternal rewards that will never perish.  Our lives are going to be judged by God’s standard.  Secondly, God’s judgment on us is radically different from those who are outside of God’s family.  Revelation chapter twenty discusses in more detail this judgment which is called the Great White Throne judgment.  All those who are not born again face this judgment and they will ALL be found guilty and cast into the Lake of Fire where they will be tormented for ALL of eternity.  Thirdly, our judgment leads to life with God.  God is faithful to those who are born again.  He is going to accomplish His objective and bring us safely into His eternal care in His kingdom.  We can trust this gracious Creator with our very souls.  If we are born again, then we can trust Him to bring to completion that which He has begun in us.  Even though we will be judged, we can trust His judgments to be true and right.  He will lead us to eternity with Him if we are His children.  Praise the Lord I know where I will spend eternity.  It is my prayer that you know also where you will spend eternity.  Receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior and experience the first judgment that leads to life with God.

1.  Have you come to realize that all will be judged and that judgment starts with God’s family?
2.  Will your life be full of wood, hay and stubble or gold, silver and precious stones?

Prayer: Father, I am fully aware that I have often performed for my own earthly reward.  I pray You purge my self-serving heart and may my works be pleasing to You.  At the end of the age, may my life produce gold, silver and precious stones.  Amen.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

You will Suffer, therefore, Worship God

Scripture: 1 Peter 4:15-16
Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.

Insights:  Yesterday we learned that we ought to worship when we face testing regarding our faith.  Today, we learn we ought to worship when we suffer persecution for Jesus.  These have been two “happy day” kind of subjects, haven’t they?  Just like yesterday, today’s verses reveal three aspects to this suffering.  Firstly, our suffering ought not to be a result of sin.  In other words, murderers, thieves, evildoers and meddlers suffer the natural consequences of their sin.  We, however, suffer because of the persecution we face for being a Christian.  This kind of suffering is different from the natural consequences of sin and that is why Peter tells us to make certain we do not suffer as these worldly sinners do.  Secondly, our suffering ought not to produce shame.  In other words, as we suffer for Jesus, we ought not to be ashamed that we are His children.  We are not suffering because of sin as the first point indicated, therefore, we out not to be ashamed of our allegiance to Jesus either.  Let us not take the light of life that changed us and hide it under a bushel where no one can see that we are His children because we fear what others will say about us if they find out we are Christ-followers.  Thirdly, we ought to suffer in such a way that God is brought glory because we have remained faithful to Him.  Beloved, I know that personally, I often feel like a complete failure and Satan attacks me with insult, insinuation and tries to grip my heart with fear.  Other days I feel ten feet tall and am ready to charge hell with a water pistol.  What I am learning, and am constantly being taught, is that my feelings are irrelevant to the equation with God.  Faith is acting out what I know in my heart to be true no matter what I feel.  As I live this kind of life, persecution is the normal and natural byproduct of such obedience.  If I remain faithful, He is brought glory through me.  Beloved, live such a life for your King and may He be brought glory!

1.  Are you suffering the consequences of sin?
2.  Are you suffering is such a fashion for your faith that God is being brought glory because of your faithfulness to Him?

Prayer: Father, I am a sinner and often times I suffer because of the consequences of sin.  I, however, do not wish to suffer in this way and bring about shame in my life or upon You.  Rather, if I must suffer, I would desire for my suffering to bring You glory.  Strengthen me, Lord, to live life for You.  Amen.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

You will be Tested, therefore, Worship God

Scripture: 1 Peter 4:12-14
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.  If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

Insights:  Today we will learn how we are to worship in the midst of our testing.  There are three aspects to this testing that today’s verses bring to light.  Firstly, Satan is the one who causes the fiery ordeals.  Think back to Ephesians chapter six.  What does the shield of faith defend against?  It defends against the fiery arrows or darts of Satan.  Those darts are these fiery ordeals with which we face in these verses.  Just like with Job in the Old Testament, God allows Satan to sift us like wheat and his ordeals prove or disprove our faith.  Secondly, our fiery ordeals are no different from that of Christ Jesus.  In fact, they are no different from Eve back in the garden.  Satan only has three types of arrows with which he attacks us.  They are found in 1 John 2:16.  Satan tests us with the lust of the flesh (LOF), the lust of the eye (LOE) and the boastful pride of life (POL).  Jesus was first tempted to make bread out of rocks and this was an appeal to the LOF of Jesus.  Next Jesus was tempted with the desire of position.  In other words, Satan said that if Jesus would jump form the pinnacle of the temple the angels would protect Him.  This prophetic word was spoken of regarding the Messiah.  Only the Messiah could have had that happen.  Satan was appealing to the POL in Jesus life.  The final temptation took place as Jesus looked over the kingdoms of the world and Satan said if He would just worship him, then he would give Jesus all these kingdoms.  This final attack was showing Jesus things He would have desired (LOE).  Jesus resisted all of these temptations and this leads to the final truth today’s verses reveal.  Thirdly, if you resist the temptation, then it will result in blessing.  Angels came an attended to Jesus after His temptation experience.  God’s grace and blessing is bestowed on those who remain faithful to Him.  This blessing may or may not come on this side of eternity, but we can take it to the bank, that these blessings will come to those who are faithful and worship during these times of testing.

1.  In what way is Satan being used to test your faith?
2. Have you come to realize Satan uses the same old tricks to test your faith that he has used from the beginning?

Prayer: Father, bless me as I draw near to You and resist the devil.  Let Your strength be my strength and may I pass these test with victory all for Your glory!  Amen.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Worship that is Relevant Focuses on the People, NOT the Power

Scripture: 1 Peter 4:8-11
Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.  Be hospitable to one another without complaint.  As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Insights:  Our final thought for this week deals with our focus of worship being displayed through our service of others.  These verses are the fourth of the four areas in the New Testament that discuss spiritual gifts.  The other three references are found in Romans chapter twelve, First Corinthians chapter twelve, and Ephesians chapter four.  All too often we see people and use people as a means to our ends.  We know that we need them to accomplish our tasks and goals.  This truth unfortunately means that some people use manipulation tactics to get people to serve them.  Jesus on the other hand said to us that the greatest among us would be servant of all.  True spiritual power is not found in subjugation of others, but rather in the service of others for their betterment.  These verses tell us that love for one another is the compelling factor in our ability to serve them.  We do not naturally have this kind of love within us.  This kind of love is generated by the Lord as we turn our focus on Him.  All of a sudden we start seeing people the way the Lord God sees people.  As we see them the way He sees them, then we start treating them the way He treats them.  He treated them with kindness and love as He served them.  He served them all the way to the cross of Calvary.  Beloved, let me challenge you to surrender to the Lord and worship Him.  As you are worshipping Him ask Him to change the way you see other people.  As He changes your vision of others, begin to serve them and watch the Lord do amazing things in your life.  To God be the glory!

1.  Are you using people for your own advancement and self-promotion?
2.  Are you serving people as a way of portrayal of your worship of the Lord?

Prayer: Father, not everyone is easy to love and serve, but I thank You for them because they teach me to be reliant on You and Your presence and power.  May I worship You whole heartedly as I serve those You put in my life.  Amen.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Worship that is Relevant Focuses on the Paraclete, NOT the Person

Scripture: 1 Peter 4:7
The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.

Insights:  You may be reading today’s verse and saying to yourself, “Scott, I don’t see anything in this passage about the Holy Spirit.”  If you are thinking such a thought, then you would be correct in a technical sense of the word.  But I would contend with you that if your focus is on prayer, then the Holy Spirit is at work in your life.  I would also contend that the more you worship the Lord, the more you are able to recognize the Holy Spirit’s promptings in your life.  The more you recognize His promptings, because you are worshipping Him, the more you are able to pray.  The more you are able to pray, the more you are able to recognize God’s answers to your prayers.  The more you recognize God’s answers to your prayers, the more your prayers change and become God centered and focused.  One of the ways this process I have just written about takes place is because our focus has changed because of the Spirit’s work in our lives.  Because we have this changed focus we are able to make sound judgment decisions and our spirit is sober in the sense of focus.  What I mean by a sober spirit is not a lack of emotionalism, but rather that we are controlled and under the authority of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Throughout Scripture, and in life experience, we are able to observe that people who are not under the control and authority of the Holy Spirit, make poor decisions.  These choices are more often than not self-serving and personally driven.  Those personally focused decisions are often times driven by our past which we have discussed the past two days.  When we have that kind of focus, then we are not able to properly worship the Lord because He is not the central area on which our eyes are directed.  Let me encourage you, Beloved, to surrender to the Holy Spirit and turn your eyes on Him and the thing with which He is concerned.  As He gives promptings, quickly obey Him and you will be amazed at how your life will radically change.  This change does not mean you won’t have problems, but what it does mean is that there is One who walks with you that has already overcome this world and it’s obstacles.  Focus on the Holy Spirit’s work in you life as you worship Him and you won’ regret it.

1.  Are you focusing on you and your problems?
2.  Have you experienced the incredible peace that comes from focusing on the Holy Spirit and His work in your life?

Prayer: Father, thank You that You have given me Your Spirit to dwell within me.  He convicts me of sin and righteousness.  He also judges my spirit rightly.  As a result of this relationship I am able to worship in the midst of the storm.  Thank You for this grace.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Worship that is Relevant Focuses on the Present and the Future, NOT the Past, Part 2

Scripture: 1 Peter 4:3-6
For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.  In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.  For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.

Insights:  In these verses we see all three aspects of time being portrayed.  In the first part we see that Satan often times attempts to take our mind back to the “time already past” which was full of sin and self-idolatry.  Because of our past Satan often times tries to tell us that we are not really born again as he reminds us of our former sins and way of life.  In our present, Satan uses some of our former associates to malign us because of our previous life.  We, on the other hand, no longer run with them.  We, because our focus is on the Lord, are able to live a life which is contradictory to our past.  The future is set based on the decisions of this life.  What I mean by that statement is that if we are born again, those who are saved by Jesus’ work on the cross of Calvary, we are judged in the flesh as men, but we will live in the spirit with the Lord.  We will be glorified.  For those who are not born again, however, they will give an account to Jesus for their rejection of Him and the way in which they maligned those of us who are born again.  Here is the key to all three of these time frames—worship!  If we are worshipping the Lord, then our focus is not on ourselves and our past or our personal greatness, but on Him.  He is the only One worthy of our worship.  When we are worshipping Him, we no longer have a desire for the things of our past.  We desire to please Him because our focus has changed.

1.  Does Satan often times bring up your past in order to prevent you from walking in faith?
2.  Have you allowed the Lord to change your focus to be on Him in the present as you look toward your future with Him through worship?

Prayer: Father, it is easy to say I will not be dictated to by my past, but it is another thing all together to always live this reality out in my daily life.  Lord, deliver me from my ill thoughts and false faith that often rises because of my past failures.  Let me walk wholly in Your grace in this moment as I long for You in my future glory.  Amen.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Worship that is Relevant Focuses on the Present and the Future, NOT the Past, Part 1

Scripture: 1 Peter 4:1-2
Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

Insights:  We must keep in mind throughout this sermon series that we are turning out attention toward REAL worship and each letter represents a specific aspect regarding worship that we are breaking down into great detail.  We have been looking at the letter R since the beginning of the year and how it points to the Relevancy of worship in our daily lives.  Of all the sermons we have preached in regards to this aspect of worship, I believe yesterday’s sermon has been the most vital to our understanding of Relevant worship.  The reason is because the whole point of relevant worship is about focus.  On what or whom are we placing our focus determines how we respond to every life situation we face.  This week we will look at three areas in which we ought to place our focus and not get side tracked on three areas that our enemy tries to get us to focus our time and energy.  Tomorrow I will elaborate more on this concept that I am about to introduce to us today regarding our focus, but until then we must understand that relevant worship focuses our attention on the present and the future, not the past.  Notice that we are to arm ourselves and this is in the present tense.  We are arming ourselves for the purpose of suffering in this present life.  Notice also that the focus points to the future as well when Peter tells us that we will live the rest of our lives for the will of God because we have ceased to sin (this statement does not mean that we no longer sin, but we are no longer bond by its dominion over our lives).  The point is that our focus is not on our past.  Our past is behind us and we can do nothing about it.  We can, however, choose how we will live this moment as we plan for our future involvement in God’s glorious plan.  Beloved, evaluate your life today and determine if you are focusing more on your past than you are on the present and the future.  If for some reason you come to the realization that your focus is misaligned, then repent and return to Jesus and let Him fix your vision.

1.  In what time frame do you spend the majority of your time?
2.  Do you understand the need to keep the proper balance between living in the moment and living with our future hope in mind?

Prayer: Father, thank You for the promised hope in glory that You have given to me.  Help me to live each day to the fullest because of this secured future.  May my focus be properly aligned on You and what You are doing in my life at this moment.  Amen.