Finding Victory When You Feel Defeated

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Good morning church family. It’s good to be with you this morning. I want to invite you, if you’re watching online today to grab a Bible and turn to 1 Peter 1. 1 Peter 1 is where we’re going to be together. I’m going to give you just a little bit of an introduction. I’m glad to be able to be with you today and wherever you’re at, wherever you’re worshiping. Just to encourage you in this section of scripture that we started together last week. I’m actually going to go back to the very beginning and give us an introduction. Last week we looked at the section of scripture in 1 Peter that dealt with the resurrection. But we’re going to give us an introduction to this week with our new series that we’re calling, “All In.” And that we’re looking at how Jesus was all in for us asking us the question, are you all in for him?

And this introduction to 1 Peter is a wonderful place of scripture for us to start because of the context in which he is writing to the individuals he’s addressed this letter too. It is relevant for us today but written to a particular audience and there was a lot of correlations that we can make to where we are in this day and age. And when Peter is writing this book, he’s writing about 30, 35 years after the death of Jesus, the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. It’s in the mid sixties A.D. This is referred to as a general epistle. And what that means is Paul didn’t write it. We refer to all the letters in the New Testament that Paul didn’t write as as the general epistles.

So an epistle is anything after the book of Acts. So when you think about the first five books of the Bible, the first four are the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Then you have the book of Acts. It’s a historical book and then after that you have the epistles. Even Revelation in some form of literary genre falls under the idea of an epistle, though it’s also apocalyptic in nature.

And so the last books of the New Testament are considered the general epistles. Some debate how many of those there are and it depends on who you see the author of Hebrews as. Hebrews may have been written by Paul, I think it was written by Paul. And so if you think Paul wrote Hebrews and you don’t count Revelation as an epistle, there’s about seven letters that are general epistles. Peter writing one of those.

And here’s what we want to talk about today. If I gave us a theme for what we’re going to discuss, how Peter introduces this letter, it’s finding victory when you feel defeated. How do you find victory when you may feel defeated? And maybe because of recent circumstances that might be you, right?

All of us to some degree have probably seen some reasons to rejoice and some reasons to feel defeated. It might even happen in your home within a five minute span. You’ve probably had, spending more time together, some great things to celebrate and also wonder if in the next few minutes you might kill each other, right? Based on how things are going. So how do you find victory when you’re feeling defeated?

I’m just going to look at the first verses of 1 Peter and I want to bring some color to what’s communicated for us here in this book. When you look at the opening section of this book, what Peter, I think begins with for us when we talk in terms of finding victory, when we’re feeling defeated, is this: the need for you to fill your soul with truth and wisdom.

If I started with just one point for us to think about as we look towards victory when we feel defeated, I think it’s important for us to really ask ourselves what we’re feeding our soul in those times that we feel we’re in a battle. And even leading up to those things. I think what you pour into your life comes out when we go through hardship.

And so I think it’s good to feed your soul even before you get into moments of adversity. But in order to find victory when you feel defeated, Peter, I think, starts off with leaning into the idea of feed your soul with truth and wisdom. Proverbs 18:21 says to us, the tongue has the ability to speak both death and life. The tongue will bring both death and life. What are your ears hearing throughout the day? Are you giving the opportunity in your soul to have it refreshed and things that are life giving, things that are truthful. And when you look at the context of 1 Peter, the way that this book opens up, it really helps us see why Peter is writing this letter of truth to feed the souls of individuals in these moments or churches in these moments.

It says in 1 Peter 1:1, Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ to those who reside as aliens scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen. Let me stop there and say, when Peter’s writing this letter, he identifies for us the particular audience, probably one of the only words that you recognize out of those people that he addresses this word Asia.

I want us to know when Peter is identifying for us the particular people he’s writing to, he doesn’t mean the continent of Asia, like we understand it today. But rather he’s referring to these different regions. And a small region in the area that he’s writing to as a region referred to as Asia. And when Peter is addressing this letter, basically what he’s saying to us today when we would think about this geographically is he’s writing this letter to what we would call modern day Turkey.

Now you can ask Siri a little bit later if you failed geography where that is, but here’s a hint. It’s between Greece and Iraq. And so Peter is writing this letter to modern day Turkey. And when he is addressing this letter, he says it’s to those that are scattered. And another translation will use the word dispersion or the diaspora, this scattering of God’s people.

And people have debated, okay, is Peter writing this letter to Jews or to Gentiles? And when Peter is writing this letter, the reason they’re debating this is the word dispersion is often in reference to the Jewish people when they were scattered because of persecution, they were the dispersion. And so some people think that this letter is written to predominantly Jewish people scattered in the region of Turkey because of persecution. So this word dispersion connected to Jews in persecution.

But when you read the New Testament, what you find is God’s word went to more than just the Jews. It also went to the Gentiles. And what you see when you read in 1 Peter 2:10 is he identifies in this passage that, uh, that we were once not a people, but now we are all people of God. And so he’s recognizing that this is expanded beyond just Jewish people. That this has God’s persecuted church, Jew and Gentile. So when Peter writes this book of 1 Peter, I think he’s writing it to Jew and Gentile that are scattered abroad, experiencing hardship. Persecution for their faith.

In fact, 1 Peter 2:10 is a quote from Hosea 1:10, which Hosah is quoting from Genesis 22:17. And you can even see it requoted in Galatians 3 pointing to the idea that God’s bringing Jew and Gentile together in him. And so Peter is writing this letter to a group that is experiencing struggle, maybe even feeling defeated.

They’re in these isolated regions, hunkered down wondering what’s going to happen to them. Maybe like we are today. We’re all at our different places. Trying to abide by this idea of quarantine for the sparing or saving of lives. In your own location, going through whatever you might be facing, how do you find victory? Peter himself wasn’t immune to the circumstance. History tells us, and he’s this book of first Peter and second Peter that he writes, he’s just months away from his own martyrdom. In fact, for historical nerds like me, Clement of Alexandria, he writes that not only is Peter going to be martyred shortly after this time, but his wife was actually martyred just before him. Both of them by crucifixion.

So how do you find victory when you’re feeling defeated? And what Peter is wanting us to recognize by even writing this letter is that we should feed our soul with truth and wisdom. Especially when you’re a panic driven person. And when you’re a panic driven person once you look at all the problems first before you start to calm yourself and what is truth, what is right, how to build your yourself up in the Lord. And and see him establish you and to speak life into your life rather than death. And this is exactly where Peter starts. You think about this statement, this opening line, Peter an apostle of Jesus.

When you’re in hardship, is it nice to have words of comfort? I mean, do you have one of those friends in your life that no matter how many times you’re with them, they have such wisdom that is like you feel like when you leave the room that you just left the room with Jesus? So encouraging, so uplifting. It’s not because they give you flattery of words that you want to hear, that they’ll even speak hard things to you, but they do it with such grace that it encourages your soul even though if it’s challenging to your life.

If you don’t have those kinds of friendships, or at least you don’t think that you do, I want to encourage you in just with a perspective of seeing this letter as yes, written to the first century, but also relevant for us today.

Peter writes this letter to encourage our souls in adversity. And so all of us really have someone that cares about us. Peter wants to see the church succeed and if you belong to Jesus than Peter’s saying, he wants to see you succeed in that victory. To fill your soul with the truth and wisdom that he’s writing to us in this letter.

Now, let me just for encouragement sake and for educational purposes, just talk about this position that Peter has. What’s interesting about Peter, it tells us in Acts chapter 4:13, that Peter, it tells us what’s an uneducated man. But he was persecuted for his faith. He’s brought before the religious leaders of his day and they acknowledge in Acts 4:13, that he was one that had walked with Jesus. Though he had been uneducated, he had walked with Jesus. And it was apparent by the way that he composed himself in this world.

Even at the point when he’s challenged by leaders. It equipped his life through that adversity. And when you look at this title, Peter an apostle Jesus, what does that mean for us? Well, this is the reason we consider this text so sacred as Christians. Let me just say something to you, and if you don’t agree with me, that’s okay. Just listen to some of these passages I’m going to share for us as believers. So at least you have a perspective from a Christian worldview what this title recognizes for us as followers of Jesus, those that would call themselves mainstream Christian.

We look at these words from Peter an apostle of Jesus. We want these words to stand timeless because as believers today, we don’t believe the office of apostle has continued. And let me just give you a few reasons why. These words become more sacred to us because one, truth is timeless and two, it’s written by an apostle.

The new Testament written under Epistolic authority. It’s why we don’t look to more scripture today, but we hold to these words. And we want our souls to be fed by these words. When you read the rest of the New Testament, nowhere in the New Testament does it tell us to a point further apostles. In fact, the leadership of the churches is communicated throughout the entire Old Testament. It says appoint elders, which is also used in 1 Peter 5, we’ll look at this further in this book.

1 Peter 5 refers to elders also as pastors, a similar title wear bishops and overseers. And so those were intended to be the leaders of the church. In fact, when you read Acts 1:20, the end of the chapter, which is verse 26. When when Judas dies, the Bible tells us that they seek to replace him with another apostle. And they give us the reason why, because prophetically it was already told in Acts 1:20 that they would appoint another apostle to replace the place of Judas. But it never in scripture says and continue to do so.

And so they give the standard in Acts 1:20-26 of how you get to replace an apostle. And so when they outline it, they said that it had to be someone that had walked with Jesus and seen his ministry. And for us today, that’s an impossible position to fill. And Paul himself, in 2 Corinthians 11:1 into 12:13, he outlines the idea of what it means to be an apostle. Because during Paul’s day, there are people walking around, not only saying that they were apostles, but they’re actually saying they were super apostles. And so Paul just writes, he doesn’t argue with that.

And I don’t want to argue with this with anybody. I just want you to see some education in scripture from where Christian perspective comes from. But Paul goes on to outline, okay, well if they’re calling themselves a super apostle, this is the life of an apostle. And Paul goes on and describes in 2 Corinthians 11 that the word apostle means sent forth. And they wouldn’t stay in lofty towers, dressed in fancy clothes with lots of income. They went to the far reaches of the world where there was no gospel and they were martyred for their faith. They lived in poverty and shame and were beaten, stricken and thrown in prison. That’s what it meant to carry the title of apostle. And Paul’s really saying, 2 Corinthians 11 he’s saying, is this really what they want? Is this what they’re doing by calling themselves super apostles?

And Paul uses his own life as an illustration. And even goes on to say he’s done this signs of apostle signs and wonders, these healings and miracles. Peter’s shadow was told in scripture could even heal people. And so Paul’s laying out that standard. Just to you see as as Christians today in Ephesians 2:20 it says, the apostles laid the foundation for the building. Meaning when you build a building, you only lay a foundation once. And in Jude 3 it says, the faith was once for all delivered to the saints.

Meaning apostolically, they’re delivering to us the faith in the New Testament. And that’s why we needed their apostolic authority. But now the faith in Jude 3 says, the faith has been delivered to us, so we need no further revelation. But what you see here is the significance then of what Peter is saying to us. That we feed our soul with truth and wisdom. And the way for us to find victory when we’re feeling defeated is to understand, look, Jesus has already had the victory and therefore are you allowing the life of Christ, his life to be communicated in your life, to feed your soul with his truth.

Finding victory when you are feeling defeated begins with just asking the question. Even thinking about this week, what are you feeding your soul with?

Number two, I’m going to give you the point number two in a minute, but I want to look at this, this text as it goes on just a little further. He says to us, the region he’s writing in, to those who reside as aliens scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen. And he says this, according to the fore knowledge of God the Father by the sanctifying work of the Spirit. To obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with his blood.

What does this mean for us? See at the very end of verse one it says that we’re chosen. Beginning of verse two according to the fore knowledge of God, the father by the sanctifying work of the spirit to obey Jesus and the sprinkling of his blood. What does this mean? Well, some of you might recognize some of these words as what Christians would see sometimes as as trigger words. Let me just in humility and grace, just explain to you some thoughts as it relates to these words.

He talks about this idea of foreknowledge and chosen. Foreknowledge means it’s regarding God’s predetermined understanding of what we would need, right? It’s saying that God knew what we would need before we needed it. God has an eternal perspective. He is outside the boundaries of time. He foreknew. And so if you think in terms of what it means to be an individual that is experiencing hardship, experiencing persecution, sometimes when we go through difficult times, we start to internalize that.

When things are happy, we’re very outward focused and all the great things around us and enjoying life and just being open to the world around us. And when things get hard, we start to become a recluse and we internalize and get depressed and sort of isolate ourselves. But here’s what Peter is saying in this word, the foreknowledge of God. There is nowhere you’ve been that’s a surprise to the Lord. He knew everything you needed before you needed it. His plan for human life didn’t take him by surprise. And God is more than sufficient to supply our need.

This word foreknowledge is intended to bring us comfort, not division. That you have a God so sovereign that nothing is outside of his realm, power and control. That he works all things together for good. That the final say, rest in his authority. And to the early church, facing the persecution and hardship scattered throughout modern day Turkey. Before they were in that moment, God knew. And God’s able to supply.

And maybe in that sort of statement we could ask ourselves, well, how do we know? How do we know that God could do that? And then he uses this next word, chosen. Now when scripture uses this term in relationship to his church, he uses it in the plural form, saying that we as his body, God in his foreknowledge, chose all people in him from every tribe, tongue, language, and nation.

That’s the promise in Genesis 22, that through the seed of Abraham, all people would come to this place in Jesus, in Christ. That we could put our faith in him from every tribe, language and tongue. That it’s not simply about you putting your faith in Jesus and you hope in the end that it just sort of works out. But rather it’s to recognize that God also chooses and seals us in him.

Let me give it to you from another thought. Apart from God choosing you, there is no hope. You can do nothing to avail yourself to the grace of God. God doesn’t owe you anything. But here’s the beauty, God still chooses. Now determining whether or not you’re that person, here’s what the Bible says to us. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Put your faith in him How do you know you’re secure? Because God chooses you. We can’t rescue ourselves in sin. We’re bound by sin and in the forecast for us is death. That’s what the Bible says.

But Jesus is the great rescuer and he knew what we needed before we got there and he chooses us. Can I tell you? Point number two for me has been one of the most comforting things I could rest in as a Christian. What it’s saying to me sometimes when I walk in this world and I realized God calls me to be a light where I’m at. Sometimes I can put the pressure on me like it all depends on me.

But here’s what God’s saying. God’s not surprised. God knows exactly where you are. God knows exactly what you need. God knew it better than you knew it and God knows it better than you know it. God doesn’t get surprised by our circumstance. You don’t have to just beat down the door and say, God, you didn’t look in the midst of this current virus. God, do you not know where I’m at? God already knows where you’re at.

God isn’t a God who has to learn or it needs to know things because God doesn’t think. Let that blow your mind for a minute. God doesn’t need to think because he already knows all things. He’s not learning. God already is and knows all things, the beginning from the end, he doesn’t grow tired or weary. He’s not checked out in any capacity or form. And he still chooses.

He’s writing to the church, God’s chosen people. This is a sacred place to be in. So what it’s saying to us, point number two then is rest in a victorious God in complete control. It’s true, we have battles. But Christ has won the war. And that’s what verse one and two is saying that according to the foreknowledge, God already knew what we would need and he’s chosen his people in him.

What’s important for our lives is to make sure that we are in him, that we understand the significance of what Jesus has done and we rest our soul there. Like in the midst of our panic, we allow ourselves to be captivated by a God who was far greater than the temporal circumstance by which we face. That it’s not all on us, that God already knew our need before our need even arrived and we can rest in him for the strength and supply in those moments.

The third is this finding victory when you’re feeling defeated. How else does this happen? Peter gives this ending phrase at the very end of verse two, may grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. How do you find victory when you feel defeated? Well, receive grace and peace in the fullest measure.

Those for us that’s black and white words on a page. But what I want to do is I want to add color to this meaning. Now, when you read most epistles, what you see is what Peter is doing here is a general introduction that you find in nearly every epistle. Grace and peace, grace and peace. But I can tell you these are just more than words on a page. And I think especially in the life of Peter when he’s saying he wants us to experience this in the fullest of measure, it’s because his own life has experienced this in the fullest of measure. And I think it’s worth pausing and just considering what do these words mean to experience it in the fullest form of which Peter is describing?

Let me just ask you this. How do you want your life to be remembered? When it’s all said and done? What do you want people to say about you? Yesterday I had the sorrow and the joy of conducting a funeral for someone that I cherish dearly. And they loved Jesus deeply. And I remember as I was walking away from the funeral, I was reflecting on the front of the paper that they give you in memorial to the individual. And it just sat on the very front, a life well lived. A life well lived.

And as I walked away yesterday I said, how do I want to be remembered? Who am I? And the only thing that I kept reflecting on was the idea of the story of the prodigal son. I think when I’m laid into whatever age God gives me in this world, 50, 60, 70, 80, however far I make it, I’m knocking on 40 now. I don’t think I’m ever going to get over what Jesus has done for me to rescue my soul. The person I was before I knew Christ and the way his love has transformed me. I think I want to be forever remembered as his prodigal son.

And that makes grace and peace be transforming in my life. That walking after Jesus isn’t this obligation, but it’s a privilege. And I think it’s the same for Peter. Because when you consider the life of Peter, he rests on these words, one because he wants to see the church succeed in the grace and peace of God he knows is what brings us that success. But at the same time when he was an individual that faced persecution, maybe even like this church was facing now early in his faith, when that arose for him, he wasn’t one that always walked faithfully.

But he knows having walked through those circumstances, that the thing that brought him back to the Lord time and time again was his continual grace and peace in his life. Peter was not a perfect individual. Even as an apostle. Galatians 1 opens up that Paul had to oppose Peter to his face in verse 11. Peter didn’t walk life perfectly. And when we face hard things, neither do we. And sometimes there are moments where I just want to get together in a family hug and kiss my kids and we love each other and it’s great. And there are other times where I just get a twitch.

Families aren’t perfect, life isn’t going to go perfect. But I’m called to live as Jesus in this world and I’m not going to be perfect. And so how can I even begin to follow after God in the midst of these circumstances, in a way that’s resting in victory? Well here it is. It’s grace and peace. And when you think about these words and the color it brings from Peter’s own life, how beautiful it is. If I give us a throwback for a moment and we just go back to what we celebrated in Easter, we think about the upper room with Jesus.

Remember how Jesus’ last days went? Jesus in Matthew 20, right before he goes into Jerusalem, he passes by two blind men. And the blind men call him King. Jesus throughout the gospels when anyone ever called him King, he would sort of push away from that title.

Because he knew his timing for his crucifixion wasn’t ready yet. So he would tell people, look, don’t pronounce that, don’t pronounce that. Not ready, not ready. In Matthew 20 at the end, finally two blind men give him that title. They call him King and Jesus embraces it. And then he jumps on the back of a donkey and he rides into Jerusalem and the streets are just packed with people for the Passover and they’re all celebrating this title of Jesus. Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Matthew 21.

And then when Jesus gets into Jerusalem, he goes toe to toe with the leaders in the town. The figureheads of society, and it gets tense. And I think the disciples could see the tension building. To the point when Jesus goes into the upper room with his disciples, Jesus says to his disciples in Mark 14, Jesus says to his disciples, listen to this in verse 18, as they were reclining at the table and eating with Jesus, Jesus said, truly, I say to you that one of you will betray me. One who is eating with me. And here’s the interesting statement, verse 19, they began to be grieved and to say to him, one by one, surely not I, Lord. Surely not I.

I don’t know about you, but I have always found that as an interesting statement. How do you not know if you’re the one that’s going to betray Jesus? All these disciples sort of looking around the room, just kind of wondering, is it me? Am I the person? Surely it’s not me. Could it be me? And they want the Lord to take away from them the doubt. But why in the world would they even be asking the question? How do they not know if it’s them that’s going to betray Jesus? Maybe I’ll give you a sort of a speculative thought in this text.

Maybe the reason the disciples didn’t know who was really in that room going to betray them is because they were all feeling the temptation to walk away. They’re all feeling the pressure. You remember going into the final days of Jesus’ life. He has gone toe to toe with the religious leaders, and yet for whatever reason, he isn’t taking the title of King and sitting on his earthly throne and ruling and reigning. And the disciples start to see the clock ticking down. They realize if they don’t act soon, these leaders are going to get together and they’re going to take out Jesus and probably take out them with it. And so they’re all starting to feel the tension and the temptation of saying, do I bail or do I stay? Which is why when Jesus had one of you is going to betray me, they all ask the question, is it me, Lord? Is it me?

When you read this story in John 13, this is the part of the story in the gospels where Jesus washes the feet of the disciples. And towards the end of this chapter, Peter says to Jesus, Jesus says, I’m going to die now. And Peter says, over my dead body, I’m going to give my life. It’s not happening. And Jesus says, Peter, before the rooster crows, you would have denied me three times. Just like Judas denies Jesus. Peter goes on and tries to show up Jesus, I’m never going to do that. And he follows Jesus through his trial. And finally when Peter’s watching what’s happening to Jesus from a distance. Finally, Peter keeps getting asked, aren’t you one of Jesus’ followers? Aren’t you one of them? And Peter denied Jesus three times and the rooster crows and Peter runs away crying.

What happens in the life of Peter? Matthew 26 tells us after the resurrection, Jesus shows up on the shore of Peter’s life. And he looks at Peter and he asks him the question three times. Do you love me? And finally Jesus and Peter in the discussion, Peter affirms, yes Lord, I love you. And Jesus says this, then feed my sheep. From the place of Peter’s rejection, in the moments of his weakness, Jesus calls on Peter to feed his sheep. Peter has been humbled and broken and it’s from that place God says, feed my sheep.

And why is Peter able to live for the Lord? Not because of his strength, but because of the Lord. The fullness of God’s grace and peace made known in his life. How do you walk in victory when you’re feeling defeated? When the pressure of life comes on us, we don’t do it perfect. When we think about the Christian life, sometimes it’s not about the goal, but it’s about the journey. That God is doing a work within us.

And when you look in 1 Peter 1:2-3, this is what he says. Remember he said to us in verse two, he says, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, you see God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with his blood.

What Peter is acknowledging is the triunity of God, the Trinity of God working in our lives. That the Father, according to his foreknowledge, knew what we needed. And the Spirit of God sets us apart, continuing to do his work in us because the Lord has cleansed us from the beauty of Jesus, that when God sees us, he sees the beauty of Jesus. We aren’t perfect, he is.

And what do we need over and over to walk that path? Well, it’s not always about the goal, but about the journey. The sanctifying work of the spirit made known in our life because God’s grace and peace to the fullest measure. Do you see the beauty of those words in Peter’s life? It wasn’t always perfect. Those tense moments came along and what he wants to see for the church in these moments, is faithfulness to the King that was already victorious for us.

Sometimes we go through hard things. Maybe you consider this coronavirus, a difficult thing that we’re going through. And you say to yourself, I really need God today because of these hard things. But can I tell you, your need for God today in your hard times, as much as you think you need him today, we also needed him yesterday when we may have called it easier times. It’s just sometimes in those hard times we become more aware of our need for Jesus. But the reality is you need them all the time.

And the beauty of what Peter is saying is that his grace and peace is made known to us. So how do we find victory when we feel defeated? We rest in this thought that he is in control. That his grace and peace can be ours in the fullest measure if we walk in faith in him and allow our souls to find the truth of who God is. To be filled with that truth and rather than speak death, allow the Lord to speak his life into us because he has won the battle for us.