Five Things We Should Be In Troubling Times
Hopefully, if someone here just wants to pray, we can hold off the rain for a little bit. I’m going to share this message with a little more brevity than usual, anticipating we might get some rain. I’m going to blame, I think actually the first song that we sang Open Up The Heavens and Let the Floodgate … What is that? You should pick a better song set next week. Lord answered the prayer. 1 Peter 4 is where we’re going to be today. So if you want to turn your Bibles to 1 Peter 4, we’re going to look just a few verses here in 1 Peter, we’re going to start in verse 7 and we’re going to answer just, I think a question that’s, I think important for our day, as much as it is in Peter’s day.
If you remember in this book, Peter, in the early church, first century, they’re experiencing persecution and it’s about to ramp up. It’s about to get more significant in the lives of believers. And so their faith is going to cost them. And in fact, we’ve seen this together. We’ve talked about this, that Peter’s own life, he becomes a martyr and his wife is also martyred for her faith. And so Peter’s writing this letter very clearly understanding the cost that he could face because of his faith in the Lord. And he’s encouraging the early church to stand strong in the midst of the circumstance. He’s writing this letter to what is, what we would call modern day Turkey. And he’s helping them to understand how they walk in their faith.
And so in today’s portion of this text of scripture, we’re just going to look at verse 7 to verse 11, but Peter’s really answering the question for believers, “What do we do?” When you see life just kind of falling apart around you, sometimes you want to do something about it, or hopefully as believers, you do want to do something about it. But the question we often find ourselves asking is what would be most beneficial? What should we do? And Peter answers that for the first century Christians. And what we’re going to find is his answer is very relevant to even us and where we are today and how we relate to our lives and he’s going to use a word that we’ve already talked about we discussed last week.
If you remember this word therefore, I focus on that word for quite a while last week on what therefore intends for us. And Peter’s going to bring up that word one more time. And when you look at the word therefore, it’s important for us to remember or always ask the hermeneutic question or the biblical study studious question. What is therefore there for? Because the word therefore in scripture is always tied to a belief and an action. There’s an orthodoxy, a belief, and orthopraxy how you live it out in your life. So when, when scripture comes to a place of therefore it’s saying, in light of everything we’ve taught you to believe this is how you respond. And so what do we do in moments when life seems to be going crazy around us and in 1 Peter chapter 4, verse 7, this is where Peter starts.
Let’s look at this together. He says probably some of the most fitting phrases I think could fit 2020 well, he says, “The end of all things is near.” It’s like how many of you might be feeling like that right now? You think about the way 2020 is going over. We’re just one small step away from feeling like this verse is relevant. Maybe you already feel like that already the way this year has gone. “The end of all things is near.” It’s like the most obvious statement ever It’s like Peter, somehow though he’s writing in the first century, it’s like he could see 2020 or something. The end of all things is near. And then he says therefore, so this is where we come into this with the response, how do we react based on our circumstance?
And you know, when I look at this kind of phrase, the end of all things is near, I’m just going to be honest and saying, I have this sort of this love hate with that kind of a statement, because oftentimes in Christian circles, when we start talking about the end being near, I feel like that’s the code word for crazy people to say crazy things. This is where you stand out on the side of the street and just yell random things that just makes everyone feel weird around you. It’s usually the odd people that latch onto these. I know even at the church, it seems like once a week we get these random letters from all across the country of people making some sort of declaration like this, about how we need to listen to them because they can predict the future and everything’s going to fall apart. So I have this sort of this refrain within me when I come to a phrase like this and I’m like, “Nah, I don’t want to give credence to crazy people.”
But there’s also something significant about this kind of statement. And rather than go down the crazy road, I want to go down the road in which Peter intends for us to think about this phrase, “The end of all things is near, therefore.” And what Peter’s going to do from this point on is he’s going to give us five statements to practice in our lives, in the midst of the struggle of what it means to live for Jesus when the world around you may be falling apart. What do you do in circumstances like today? And I don’t think it means necessarily things have to be bad before you live what Peter’s saying here. I think this is relevant for us at all times and all places, meaning no matter how crazy the world gets around you, what you do for Jesus today, shouldn’t matter. And what you do for Jesus tomorrow, right?
If the world and everything in this world is perfect or everything in this world is falling apart, tomorrow wake up and live for Jesus. And because of the circumstance though, Peter is saying, look, because the end is near, this as God’s people should give us special sensitivity towards what’s being expressed. Now Peter made this statement in the first century, we can look today and say, okay, we’ve had 20 centuries since then, Peter, were you wrong in what you’re saying? And we look at this kind of statement, I don’t think Peter is wrong in what he’s saying. He says to us a little later in 2 Peter, that one day is like a thousand years to the Lord, right? What he’s getting us to recognize is that we live in light of the return of Jesus at any moment. In saying in your, where you are in Christ live knowing one day, you’re going to see Jesus face to face.
That is our expectation in life that what we do we’re accountable for. Now this kind of statement could provoke a couple of different responses on people. One, it could be a statement of fear, right? It could be oh no God’s going to return. What have I been doing? I don’t want to meet him. You have all this fear in our lives about seeing God face to face. But I don’t think for believers that the story of Jesus’s return is intended to be that way. Meaning when you read about eschatology or end times in the Bible, the Bible tends to say, as believers look up, right? Not running fear. That’s what the world’s response is. When you see eschatology, end times, and you read about the world’s response to it, theirs is to run in fear and hide.
They never repent, never turn to God. They’re worried about his coming. But for believers, we look up with this expectancy because he is our King and we want to be near. So for us, this doesn’t need to be a statement of fear, but of earnest expectation. And so what I think Peter is wanting us to understand what this thought is rather than worry about his return, what he wants us to start thinking about is how not to squander his mercy. God has been incredibly gracious and merciful to us to give us an opportunity to even live for his glory and to even know him and to walk with him and to allow his light to shine forth into our lives. And so Peter’s bringing this to our attention so that we, as his people can understand the significance of this moment that God has put you in this place to make a difference for him.
So with the end in near, or the idea of your King and all of this for his glory, therefore. And then he gives this statement, “Be of sound judgment and sober spirit.”
Number one, if you’ve got the sermon notes with you this morning, what he’s saying here is be stable. That’s the blank in our sermon notes this morning. Be stable. Be of sound judgment and of sober spirit. So when you look at this statement, the end of all things is near. So what do you do? You go crazy, you panic, you hold signs on the side of the street and you just randomly yell at people about doomsday right? No, that’s not what he’s saying at all. He’s saying, in fact, it makes you the opposite of crazy when you live in light of thinking about all that God intends for his glory in eternity. It makes you a person that thinks rational rationally and reasonably.
In fact this verse is intended to be contrasted with verse 3. And in verse 3 of this same chapter, Peter is demonstrating the idea of the world. And in verse 7, now the idea of believers, people in this world might look at you and be like if you live your life thinking about the end and before the Lord, you’re crazy. But what Peter’s actually saying is if you don’t live your life in light of meeting God face to face, actually you’re crazy, because all of this is leading to somewhere and to think about what it all means matters, right? So if you look in verse 3, let me just remind us of this passage of scripture. And in first Peter chapter 4 in verse 3, he says, “For the time already passed is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality.”
And so what Peter is saying in this story is he’s like, look, the world. Here’s how they live their lives. They don’t think about ultimately what this leads to. They may live for a purpose, but not truly define the ultimate purpose behind why they do what they do. It’s this core sensuality, which what he’s saying is look, they get up each day and they answer the question what makes you most happy? And because you’re God of this earth, how can you use everything else for your purposes and your pleasure? But what Peter is saying is no, no, no. You got to think bigger than this. Think stable. Think beyond yourself, because life was created for a purpose greater than you. And so what’s the ultimate reason behind anything that you do in this world. And so when you think about living a life that’s intentional and a life that matters, it starts in this place live stable.
Don’t let your emotions just determine what you do. And don’t just make this emotional response to your circumstance. But ask the question, “God, what ultimately matters to you? Why are we doing this?” The world, the modern man can look at us today and say, look, there is no ultimate truth. There is no moral absolutes. There is no ultimate meaning of life. We don’t even know if God exists, but when you start on that basis, you have no premise for any moral stand that you make in life, because there is no ultimate purpose behind your moral stance. You can argue in this world that that racism is wrong. That violence is wrong as the modern man says, or that with sexuality, you can do whatever you want, but based on what? Based on what?
Why is it today that we’re encouraged to suppress our aggressive instincts, but pursue sexual instincts? What makes racism wrong without a gun? Who says violence is wrong? If I’m the determiner of what is right or wrong within myself, what is the ultimate purpose to morality? And this is what Peter is saying, right? In light of knowing that all of this leads to the glory of God and in before his presence, don’t just simply pursue the sensual desires of your life. As if you’re God. Rather understand that God has given you his mercy and grace for a reason and provide an ultimate basis for the way that you choose to live your life. And what is that reason? Well, it’s based on the Lord who gives the framework for everything. He is the ultimate cause to a morality.
Let’s just stop and ask the question. Does God care what you do? If so, why? Does God care what you do to your body? And if so, why? Provide a reasonable basis for all people? So one is don’t respond to things emotionally. I know today that the news is wonderful at giving this emotional charge to circumstances. But just because you say things on Twitter and you spew hate, is that really going to make the change? What the world needs is a basis towards why we’re doing what we’re doing. And the Christian community provides that place, right? It’s the stability of God’s people, not just responding in a sensual way towards the things of this world, but to look at the circumstances around us, in light of who God is, and then providing that framework for why we do what we do as God’s people made in his image.
Number two, he says this, he says, “Be sober, be of sound judgment and sober spirit.” Listen to this “for the purpose of prayer.” Number two, I would say for your blankets to be prayerful, be prayerful. And look, I want to just be clear in saying this, this is not where you end. This is where you start, right? So you start with this basis, that’s stable and the identity of God, and it leads you into prayer, right? And so it’s not about ending in prayer and that’s it. You’ve done your part. This is where we start as Christians. We begin with an attitude of prayer, and this is why this is important. It’s important because when we think in terms of prayers as really people in general, and sometimes as Christians, I want to say that oftentimes we treat prayer poorly. And what I mean by that is when you ask someone, what’s the purpose of prayer?
Oftentimes the way that we see prayers, we come to God and we tell God what we want. And then we leave it up to God to do it, right? That’s the part. You just go to God and you say what you want. And then God responds however he wants to in those moments. And that’s typically, if we pray to God, how oftentimes people would just practice prayer. I have a need, I share with God my need. And that’s what prayers there for well, and I want to say that is a aspect of prayer. Peter’s going to talk about that aspect of prayer when we get to chapter five. An important part of prayer, but I don’t think that’s the primary reason of prayer.
When you read in 1 Peter chapter 4, and he’s talking about prayer. Well, if you consider the idea of prayer in terms of Jesus teaching us about prayer in Matthew 6, in Matthew 6:9-10. Jesus is asked, “How do we pray?” And he says, “Pray in this way: Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name, or sacred be name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” That’s how Jesus starts in teaching us how to pray. And in doing so, Jesus identifies something in the very beginning of prayer about the significance of the basis of prayer in the life of a believer. And here’s what he’s saying. Prayer isn’t about you telling God your will, so that God does what you want. But rather what Jesus is saying, his prayers about you aligning yourself with his will to accomplish his desires in this world. And that’s a total paradigm shift to the way that we often treat prayer. The only time I talked to God is when I need something. And so I just say to God, what it is that I want. And then I just walk away as if God’s here to serve me.
But God doesn’t exist to serve me though. I think God does find delight in providing for our needs. Rather we were created to serve him and to find our joy in living for his purposes in this world. And that’s exactly what Jesus says in Matthew 6. Your will be done, your will be done. And so the purpose of prayer is to take our hearts in pursuit of our King, to live out his desires in this world. When we look at this world around us and say, “God, this world seems to be falling apart. And I want to make a difference.” The desire of our heart should be to pursue our King and that is what the basis of prayer becomes for us, but all are we looking at the grand picture of God’s perspective in this world by being stable in our minds, not just following an emotional drive, but to also seek God and prayer, to align our hearts with our King and to communicate to our King, “Lord, my desire right now is for you.”
There is something beautiful about the Christian life when you can wake up every day and say, “God, you have gifted me another day. And God, there’s nothing that I do to deserve today, but by your grace, you give today. And so God, as one who follows you and you being my King in these moments, I surrender myself to let your light be made known in this world. God, lead my heart the way you desire to make yourself known today.” I mean, that’s what Romans 12 is, right? “I beg you brothers by the mercies of God that you present yourself as a living sacrifice.” So Peter says to us, “Be sound of judgment and sober in spirit for the purpose of prayer,” so that your heart begins really to align with God’s heart. And in verse 8, he says this, “above all.” So this is important, right?
“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” Blank number three, if you’ve got the sermon notes is be fervent in love, be fervent in love. When you think about this idea of love, he really says the way that we are to practice love is in two ways, one, he uses this word fervent, and then he talks about love covering a multitude of sin. So it gives us two pictures of how he wants love to play out in difficult circumstances that he’s writing in. When you think about fervent love, what he’s saying to us is love takes effort. In fact, this picture is of an athlete straining towards a goal, if any of you’ve ever played sports as a kid in life, all of the practice and all of the repetition that went with that and all of the muscle development and muscle memory that you gain. And it leads up to this one moment, this one performance, this end of the season, trying to strive for that goal. And that’s the picture here. It’s as if to stop and ask does your love have limits?
You think about the world today. Let me just ask of all the things that you’ve seen, maybe in the news lately, what have you disliked the most? And is there a person attached to that dislike? And how would you feel if they were around you right now? Is there a limit to your love? I think Peter is talking to a group of people that he wants to see make change in this world for the glory of God. And so when he talks about this fervency of love, he’s saying, “Look, if you can’t find a place in your life where your love is taking effort and to challenge yourself in the way that you’re living in light of this world.” It’s not about complaining for change. It’s about being the change you want to see made. And so love takes effort. And if there’s a limit to your love, that doesn’t sound very Jesus like does it? Because he loved us while we were still sinful or sinners, the Bible tells us in Romans 5:8.
And so Peter is saying, look, okay, make a difference in this world. First don’t respond. Don’t respond emotionally. That’ll get you in trouble. But take a God perspective. Be stable. Think rationally towards the greater picture of what God desires. Enter into this prayerfully to seek after your King’s will, but not your will. And then think about fervent love. What is fervent love looks like? And he says, love covers a multitude of sins. It’s sort of like this sin is ammunition that destroys, but love is sort of that protective armor. Sin will rip this world apart, it is the bullet to destroy this world. But God’s people become the covering to sin to shield this world. It’s not to say you’re not honest with sin or not to say you’re trying to hide it or anything like that. But rather what it’s saying to us is look, we come in as ministers of mercy to the destruction of sin and we speak truth and love and the life of people we’re fervent that way.
It’s not just simply about proving you’re right to people or putting people in their place. It doesn’t help. There’s a time to stand, but there’s also an important way in which you stand. It’s not about just what you say, but it’s also about the way you say it and you can allow truth to still be seasoned with grace. And so it’s about being this type of fervent love for people. And then he goes on further in verse 9 and he, I think, develops this idea of fervent love. He says, “Be hospitable to one another without complaint.” Be hospitable to one another without complaint. This is an important picture, I think of how love continues to develop. When you look at the word hospitable in scripture, nearly every time it’s used in the New Testament, it’s always in relationship to the unbelieving world and the blank that you have in your notes is to be welcoming, to connect with people.
I think this is a beautiful word that Peter’s using here is especially as you think about Jesus as ministry, because the accusation of Jesus in his hospitality was he was a friend of sinners and drunkards and tax collectors. That was the criticism that Jesus received in this world that he didn’t go to. Those that were well, but as Jesus said, he went to those who were sick. Those who knew that they needed help. And this is a matter of looking at ourselves and saying, “Okay, how do I treat this world that I feel like is broken? Or are those that maybe even frustrated me? What kind of person am I to them? Am I a bridge builder? Or do I throw stones and return”? And when you read Jesus ministry, some of the greatest things that happened in Jesus’s life happened around a dinner table, hospitality, welcoming.
How do you treat people that you don’t always agree with? What do they think about you? And they may know you don’t agree with them, but when they think about you, is it fond thoughts? I think about Jesus’s interaction with people that were sinful. Jesus was, he was honest with, with their relationship to God and how sin destroyed that relationship. I think about the woman at the well, and Jesus starts the discussion with her and he says to you, “Where’s your husband.” And she says, “I don’t have one.” He says, “You know, you’re right. You’ve been married five times. And the person you’re with now is not even your husband.” Jesus was honest, but you know what? This lady thought about Jesus? That Jesus loved her and she loved Jesus because of how she was treated by Christ. We might have to end here, huh?
Love one another. Be hospitable. Here’s the last one real quick. Be a giver. Use your gifts to give for the Lord. I think that might be it for us today. Use your gifts, the gift from the Lord. I want to pray for us. And then we’re going to dismiss. Lord, we love you. Thank you for today. Thank you for worship. And we are done. God, and we appreciate your goodness for us in Christ’s name. Amen. Run for cover.