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  • Writer's pictureLou Hernández

16-04-24 - LIVING AS IF THERE'S NOT TOMORROW - 1PETER 4:7-11

MESSAGE BY PASTOR ROB INRIG

FROM BETHANY BAPTIST IN RICHMOND, BC.

Let us pray, If you are visiting the blog I invite you to pray with me, God our Father hears our prayer, we humbly cry before your and as your word say "Whatever you ask for in prayer, believing, you will receive" (Matt: 21 -22) we are asking for healing for our dear members of our family and also dear friends who are suffering with illnesses in their lives fighting and suffering under a lot of pain, we are asking for a miracle for each of them, You know them by name (Gaby, Vicky, Nancy, Tere, Liz , Stevie, Les, Miguel, Socrates, Kate, Sara's mom) as your precious children, strengthen their faith in you with a miracle in their lives oh Father God hear our prayer, and we also pray for all the people around the world who are suffering with wars, devastation, hunger, pain and sadness we ask you beloved Father God to strengthen their faith in you, we know that you love them so much oh! Father God hear our prayer, we ask you in the name of Our Lord of Lords and King of Kings you beloved son Jesus Christ. AMEN!




This morning I want to begin with a question, How would you live if you had no more tomorrows?  What would today look like?  Where would you go?  Who would you speak to?  What things would you put in place?


I’m sure if I went around the room, there’d be a variety of responses but within the variety, some common themes: spending the last 24 with those you love, making that phone call, making certain none of the important is left unsaid, having that ‘spare no expense’ steak and lobster with ‘who cares how much’ cholesterol. 

 

One thing I’m sure that wouldn’t happen would be some fatalistic retreat where you pull up the covers, waiting for the inevitable to come.  


But let’s change the question just slightly - how would you live if a danger’s been reported on the horizon but its arrival is less certain; its danger not supported by strong evidence.  How then would you live?   


I would guess with the urgency gone, the response of many would reflect, Henny Youngman’s quip, “If you're going to do something tonight you'll be sorry for tomorrow morning, sleep late.”


In other words, just wait things out.  Then when time passes, get back to the life you’ve known. The important needing to be said still unsaid. No No phone calls made.  


In the passage we are looking at this morning, most of us are more inclined to adopt a ‘sleep late’ approach to some of what Peter is saying, knowing that in time, life as we know it will end but the urgency? – not so much.  Let’s read:   


The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another fervently, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's variegated grace: 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.  1 Pet 4:7-11.


Peter begins – The end of all things is at hand.  While we know the Bible tells us this, these warnings have been heard for 2000 years. So, how ‘at hand’ is ‘at Hans”?


Some like William Miller, who immersed himself in the study of prophecy, were convinced they knew. Miller, after 14 years of study, announced Jesus would return October 22, 1844. On that morning thousands of people gathered on mountaintops and in churches. Others met in graveyards, planning to ascend with their departed loved ones. But Jesus Christ did not return that day, the event becoming known as, “The Great Disappointment.”


Over the years, we’ve seen others give similar predictions about Jesus’ return causing followers to leave jobs and give away possessions. Not that long ago, there was the fascination with blood moons and prophetic announcements that the failure to keep Shemitah, God’s command for the land to rest and replenish every 7th year, meant Christ’s imminent return. Add technology implants and AI to the speculation and things become ripe for a, ‘we’re out of here, get ready to go’ response. Many though have become so case hardened by these ‘Christ is coming’ date setters, they’ve shut the door on all things prophetic  


Yet Peter is clear - the end of all things IS at hand.  Paul repeatedly says the same, such as what we read in Romans 13, Knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.  The night is far spent, the day is at hand.  Therefore, let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.  Rom 13:11-14.


Jesus said, Be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. . . . Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes Lk 12:40,43.  


When Peter speaks of the END, he uses a word that has 2 characteristics, the 1st – termination.  The meaning of that is obvious, it’s over.  However, God’s goal has never been termination.  His plan has been to bring things to completion.  That is – that all would receive and come into His gift of grace but as the Bible makes clear, there is a time of judgment awaiting those who reject God’s Grace.  The 2nd characteristic of the end Peter speaks of, is anticipation – the focus not on, it’s over but on, it’s beginning.  What you have been waiting for is just around the corner.  So, as you look around, don’t get lost in troubling events that might cause panic or despair.


In these 2 realities, termination and anticipation, Peter puts before us a stark contrast – those who live in great hope and those with no hope, who in :3 are described as living ‘God free’, in, “sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.”  Lives filled with empty pursuits.  Lives that were ours without Christ.


Years ago I remember reading about Wilt Chamberlain, one of the most dominating athletes of all time. Chamberlain holds countless basketball records including scoring 100 points in one game.  Referencing ‘records’ off the court, Chamberlain claimed to have slept with 20,000 different women during his life. I’m not certain what your response is to that but I find it incredibly sad. So what?  Was he better for that?  Was he more important for that?   Did he attain personal fulfilment for that? Because while he may have found sex, it’s quite apparent, he never found love. No wonder, because a ‘me-centered’, ‘me first’ life always comes up empty.  


But :5 tells me there is something worse than an empty life and that’s an empty soul.   Empty when they will appear before God to, “Give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”  


So with a clear warning that the “end of all things is at hand”, Peter instructs :7, have a clear mind and keep a calm heart or as ESV renders it be “self-controlled and sober-minded”.  Live with the end in mind, our minds rooted in an end that is Christ assured.  


Controlled in heart and mind despite what surrounds: culturally, politically, morally, climatically, spiritually.  Peter saying to followers of Christ, don’t let what you see cause panic.  Don’t sell off possessions or retreat into the hills.  Don’t set up camp in a graveyard waiting to join your loved ones in some collective air flight to meet Christ.  Besides you won’t be joining them anyway because Christians who are dead, get 1st priority delivery.


Instead be self-controlled - pray don’t panic.  As the world shakes, as it oppresses, as it deceives, as it persecutes, orient yourself up, not around.  Like in the OT when Elisha’s servant Gehazi panics because of an approaching enemy, God gives him a view of chariots of fire and a heavenly host of horses that surrounds the enemy!  That’s what Peter is calling us to – to pray, looking to the source of our strength.  Despite what’s seen, live for Jesus.  Find your hope in Him.  Find your security in Him.


Our culture has and will increasingly promote values and behaviours that directly oppose what God has said. The Word of God tells us as we near the end, They will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Tim 4:4.


Sexual identity no longer biological, but what’s ‘felt’.  Life’s end not determined by a heart that stops, as much as a choice that’s made. Sex not God’s sacred gift for husband and wife, but a commitment free plaything to indulge – no boundaries, no restrictions.  Morals – arbitrary. Success equated with wealth.  And faith? – a smorgasbord of choice as long there’s sincerity in what’s believed.    


With that in the forefront, Peter directs how end time living is to look in the house of God identifying 3 priorities: as people who are committed followers of Jesus, rooted in His Truth, we are to be a people 1st who Love 2nd who Welcome & 3rd who Serve.


Priority #1 :8 ABOVE ALL, LOVE Love that’s anchored in the truth of who Jesus is and what Jesus said.  Peter forgot that, as eyes off Jesus, he began to sink.  He forgot that, as in darkness he stood around a fire.  He forgot that as secluding himself, he gave in to overwhelming despair.


Peter soon discovering that when things get stormy, it’s dangerous to lose focus and huddle in to protect himself.  The only thing he found there was darkness.  Until resurrection came.  And it is out of that place of living hope, he now directs, ‘live outward’. Love one another. Live out love, more accurately, GIVE out love.  He understanding now in a way, he previously hadn’t what John would write, Love one another just as I have loved you Jn 13:34.  Love as you’ve been loved.


That’s why Peter can say to us, Keep loving one another fervently.  The word ‘fervent’, pictures a horse running at full gallop, stretching to the finish line. Strenuous love – outstretched love.  Loving with stretched out passion.  Love in action.  Seen, felt, celebrated.   Not love selectively given but stretched out love, without condition and without criteria.


Undeniably, the best description of love is given us in 1 Cor 13, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.


Forgiving love Peter tells us that, Covers a multitude of sins :8. To understand that, we need to step back and put God’s description of love alongside our actions – most notably how we relate to our spouse, to our kids: Love is patient, love is kind...  It doesn’t dishonor others... it keeps no record of wrongs .. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  


The obvious – how does this characterize me as a husband, a wife during that disagreement, that dispute?  How did it characterize me when I reacted as I did? Did we see the other as priority #1 in the words spoken? the actions done? Was he/she valued far greater than some offense or some argument to win?  Was honor on display in what the other was made to feel?


But isn’t this the type of love we want to give and receive?  A love that doesn’t dwell on failure or offense, that doesn’t demand perfection according to how ‘I think’ things should be done.  Yet it is this love to which we are called. A love that is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit yet it’s a love the Holy Spirit waits to be invited into. He doesn’t force His way upon me rather He wants to change who I am so I am changed in what I do. But being changed in who I am only happens when I honestly admit to God my failures, my sin – the ‘who’ I really am.  When I come to Him in repentance not justifying why I do what I do, God works the miraculous transforming me.  His miraculous when we don’t minimize words and actions we know to be wrong; when we don’t contextualize in order to excuse.  Repentance that changes who we are and how we live.


It's an important consideration to remember this Father’s day.  Many here can legitimately sing the praises of your, ‘not perfect but he did the best he could’ dad.  However, others of you can’t even come close to saying that.  For you – he was the opposite. His anger suddenly exploding, his words demeaning, his actions often unpredictable and cruel.  The results? physical and emotional wounding – most often with the verbal, but also vivid reminders of the physical. Tragically, some experiencing this is in horrific ways.  A far cry from love.


Yet this Father’s day God wanting you to know a love that’s completely new.  Where you no longer need to be captive to the sin experienced in your past.  Where you no longer need to be captive by the sin in your present as you hear in your voice, similar words that wounded when you were young.  Breaking the sin in actions done then and actions done now.  The Holy Spirit wanting to make new - changing who we are so it changes what we do. 1 Jn 1:9 tells us, If we confess our sins agree, say the same thing, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and as :7 says, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.  The point is not just to cleanse what was but to cleanse what IS and what will be as 2 Cor 5:17 tells us, If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.


God’s promise is clear – we are enabled to live new when we invite the Holy Spirit to make us new. When we truly come to the place where we lay hold of what the blood of Jesus does – making us dead to sin and alive to God.  God’s love set free to transform when we truly bow in repentance before Him. Christ’s transforming love that makes everything new.


So as Peter reminds, we, as 1st priority are to be a people as the ‘end is near’ who are known by LOVE. The 2nd priority God call us to, is to be people who, Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  That as people who have received love, we are to be people who give love.  People with hearts set free - WELCOMING HEARTS.  Offering hospitality - coming alongside the lonely, the hurting and those going through the pains of life - the word ‘hospital’ taken from this.  So our actions are those that welcome and draw close in a world that shuts out.  The Bible tells us that hospitality is so important that it is a requirement for those in leadership 1 Tim 3, Rom 12:13, Heb 13:2, 1 Pet 4:2.


During times of persecution, hospitality of food and lodging was especially valued by those who lost everything for their faith. With this, we are reminded that we are to be demonstrators of God’s love who bring light into areas of darkness. And note that Peter adds, ‘without grumbling’.  His point is that love isn’t about ‘doing the right thing’, it’s about doing with the right heart.  Loving authentically.  Truly caring.  Truly listening.


When our actions are motivated merely by doing the right thing, it would be like me, thinking my mic’s turned off, saying things far differently than what I’ve publicly stated.  That warm handshake and the inward disconnect, What’s he doing here? That friendly, We’ve got a program your kids will love over the silent grumble, Who can worship with their fussing and noise?  It’s taking on a focus of all that’s wrong instead of being God’s ambassador for all that is right.


As reminder, this isn’t the 1st time Peter has shone a light on grumbling, something Paul, James and John all speak to, so it’s no small thing.  As we were previously reminded in Peter, God hates our grumbling and in fact, God destroyed a generation in the desert because of it.


When the people of God come alongside one another with loving hospitality, we have no idea how our light is being used to speak into someone’s darkness.  Providing the hospitality of care.  To the parent at wits end. To the single still struggling with the loss of a spouse. To the unemployed who hides behind appearance that all is well.  To the person who feels like an outsider.  The family of God – living with light so real, so attractive that His light shines out into a watching community. So, 1st LOVE then a WELCOMING HEART and finally, the 

3rd priority:  A SERVING HAND


Serving is love in action. 


Serving as we: teach kids, greet people, serve coffee, welcome newcomers, do sound, come alongside a young mother whose emotional and physical resources are almost gone, speaking a word of appreciation or encouragement when unbeknownst to you, they were on the verge of packing it in.  Setting up chairs for a Bible study or fixing a malfunctioning toilet.   

Serving one another in the body of Christ where our lives are lived for HIM.  When we serve and understand that our service is for Jesus, the sound of grumbling is rarely heard.  

Francis Chan, commenting on why he left the megachurch he pastored observed, Every single one of these people has a supernatural gift that's meant to be used for the body. And I'm like 5,000 people show up every week to hear my gift, see my gift.  By inference he was concerned that his church had become ‘mouth large’ and hands and feet small.


Simply put, the family of God is not about me – my preferences, my needs, my demands.  It’s one another living so the reality of everything we do points to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Living with a one another heart because the Body of Christ is to be other-centered.  Giving to give not giving to get.  Why?  That in ALL things Jesus gets the glory.


Peter says this type of living displays the :10 variegated / manifold grace of God.  Variegated - many coloured.  The picture that comes to me is a mallard duck.  Next time you get the chance stop long enough to take a good look.  Because what you’ll see is a demonstration of the variegated grace of God. Depending on where you stand, the angle it turns its head and the light that hits the pond, you will get totally different looks.  To one person a brilliant green, another purple hues, another teal, another patches of dark blue.


Here is the thing – God has chosen His church to be the demonstration of His glory – not as individuals but as His collective – a splash of colour here; a splash of colour there.  One colour capturing the attention of one while another attracted by a completely different colour.  But all being drawn by the radiance of God’s multi coloured grace.  Iris or Marion as they do coffee; the welcomes at the doors of Heidi or Kami, the care of the children by Angelika and Madison, the broken, needs fixing by Brian and Bob.  And on it goes – all serving - God glorified as they do.  


So what does this mean for you?  simply this - if you and I are not sharing our gift, the family of God is not seeing the full colour spectrum of the gifts God intends for His glory to be revealed.  


So, let me return to the question I asked as we began this morning, how would you live if you had no more tomorrows?  Bunkered down, waiting for all this to end or as Peter has called us to live, the family of God engaged, ‘as the end is near’, LOVING, WELCOMING and SERVING so others will see and come to know the Jesus who died so they may truly live? 





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