Prepared for Problems

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Well, good morning. It’s going to be worshiping with you this morning. I’m going to invite you to turn to the book of 1 Peter. We’re in chapter one together and we’re looking at a great letter Peter writes to the early church in the midst of adversity in which they are going through. And we’re using it as a source of encouragement for our lives.

We’re calling this series “All In” and we’re recognizing that in our world, in our lives, that Jesus has gone all in for us. And he’s really given us the opportunity to respond by going all in for him. And what does that look like? And especially in moments of adversity, how do we pursue after God? If you’re like me, I’ve got kids and as a parent, one of the things that you’re concerned about is the hard times that your kids might go through and you not being able to be there to walk them through those circumstances.

We can’t always be there for everything that our children endure and everything that our children go through. But one of the things that we have as parents is an opportunity to prepare them for what life might bring. And when you look at 1 Peter chapter one this is exactly why Peter is writing this letter. Remember in the very beginning, first couple of verses, he lists out these areas that he is writing this message towards specifically.

But as we know, truth always transcends, still relevant for us today. And the area in which he’s writing this letter is to the area of modern day Turkey. And for us, we also recognize in this letter that Peter’s most likely writing it from Rome. He’s not physically present with them, but he wants to prepare them for what they’re about to face because in the early church they’re now enduring persecution.

Peter’s about to be crucified upside down for his faith by Nero. History even records by Clement of Alexandria that Peter’s wife was crucified for her faith. And so Peter understands the adversity that they’re going through. In fact, in 1 Peter 1:6-7, Peter acknowledges that adversity. If you read those verses, it just says to us, in this you greatly rejoice, even though for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials so that the proof of your faith being more precious than gold, which is perishable, even though tested by fire may be found to result in the praise and glory and honor to the revelation of Jesus Christ.

So while Peter’s going through adversity, he recognizes, so the early church is going through adversity. And though Peter isn’t there physically with them to walk them through in this moment, he writes this letter in anticipation and preparation for their faith in Christ and being faithful to him in their circumstances.

We look at this passage today, and that’s exactly what we want to talk about. How can we be prepared in our problems? We don’t want to seek after problems. We don’t want to certainly run right into them. But nonetheless, when we live life from day to day, you’re going to face them. And how can we be prepared for that adversity? In 1 Peter 1, this is where Peter starts for us in verse 13. He’s describing for us how to live that life faithfully in the midst of our circumstances.

I believe this, that even in adversity, it is possible for us to go through hard things as people and come out stronger and better for it. How can we do that? How can we experience that? How can we find this kind of faith in our lives? Well, if you want just an example, even the book of Revelation 2-3. When John writes the book of Revelation, he talks about the church in Smyrna and the church in Philadelphia. Both of them going through adversity and both of them stronger in their faith because of that.

So when you think about your circumstance and maybe even particularly in this Corona virus that we’re facing, it’s not about just looking for things to get back to normal. But rather we could ask the question, God in the midst of this circumstance, how can my faith grows stronger? How can we be prepared for these problems? And because of the adversity, find our faith strengthen in these moments.

And I believe that in the circumstance of the first century, Peter is facing the same challenge and he’s answering it in the same way. And so in 1 Peter 1:13 this is where Peter starts his argument all the way to verse 16 it says this, prepare for who God calls you to be. Peter’s desire for us in verse 13 is prepare for who God calls us to be.

And this idea of preparation, I’ll read this verse in just a moment, but he uses this word prepare. And this idea of preparation is not just simply preparing for something in the future. But it’s this ongoing preparation even in this moment right now. That God doesn’t want you to do something now in anticipation of something in the future, but rather to understand your spiritual journeys that takes place right now in relationship with him. Prepare for who God calls you to be.

You can’t always control your circumstances, but you can determine how you will respond. In verse 13 this is what Peter says, therefore, prepare your minds for action. Keeps sober in spirit. Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Therefore, prepare your mind. We recognize in scripture when we read that word, “therefore,” you’ve got a backup to understand exactly why Peter’s saying what he is saying.

I think this is important for us as believers to understand what Peter’s about to call us too is action. But before God ever calls us to action, it’s always built on the understanding identity of who this God is. God calls us to action based on him and his identity for us. This radical living for Jesus is established through the understanding of who our God is. And so he’s saying based on that understanding we love because he loves. Therefore, serve God out of the goodness of who he is.

Prepare your minds for action. Prepare for who God calls you to be. How does this preparation happen? He talks about both your mind and your spirit here. Take time to build into that. You’re going to see in verse 14 so many people, it says, as obedient children do not be conformed in the former lusts which were yours in the ignorance. Meaning, when he thinks about the world, Peter saying so many people just live for the passion of the day. Whatever makes them happy. They make that about their pursuit, but not God’s people.

God’s people, they pour into their spirit and into their mind. Therefore, based on the goodness of who God is, that’s what he’s saying in verses three to 12. If you go back and look at everything that Peter has said there, he talks about the resurrection power of God in verse three. And he goes on to show how God has given his life for us. And, and then he says to us, you have this precious faith in verse five and six. And in verse 10 to 12 he says that God’s foretold us the prophets and even the angels long to look in this.

It’s so incredible to see how God has worked his story together for you, your life. And then based on that living in these circumstances today, therefore prepare your mind and your spirit. Let your life be saturated in the goodness of who this God is. He’s saying, think about the target for which you will live now and anticipate it. Don’t live in verse 14 simply for the moment. But think about who God has called you to be and prepare your mind for that. And keep this sober spirit. What he’s saying is allow your heart to grow in the clarity and conviction of who God has called you to be in him. Prepare for who God calls you to be.

Every once in a while as a parent, when I drive around with my kids a lot of times in our van, and yes, I drive a minivan. But a lot of times when I’m driving around, things can be rambunctious in a van with three boys. But every once in a while we get to that contemplate of state where they look around to their circumstances and they start to stress a little bit sometimes about being a grownup. They’ll see how their parents navigate through this area and they do certain responsibilities while kids are in the van going around. They start thinking about how are they ever going to do that when they grow up?

They start worrying about what it’s gonna look like. And as a parent, I always remind them of the same thing. We’re more interested in who you’re called to be rather than we are and what you’re called to do. A kid sometimes will get fixated on what they’re supposed to do as a grownup. They’re not ready to be a grownup. My responsibility as a parent isn’t to dictate to them “what.” My interests primarily becomes in the “who.” Because if we can speak into their heart and get them to align their character with who God calls them to be, the “what” will take care of itself.

And this is exactly what Peter saying in chapter one verse 13. This idea of “who.” This preparation and this anticipation now of your identity in Christ, that you can’t always control your circumstances, but you can determine how you respond. And how you respond is central to who you are.

One of my favorite pleasures of being a Christian is that Christians are thinkers. Verse 14 he says that the world lives the lust of the moment and the passion of the day, but not the believer. In verse 13 he says this, the preparation of your mind and the building into your spirit. The identity of who you are. Because if you build into who you are, it will determine what you do. If you take care of the who the rest will align with itself.

Christians are thinkers. 1Peter 3:15 we’ve shared this together, that this is our focus verse. This book of the Bible, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks for you to give an account for the hope that is in you with gentleness and reverence. Why do you do what you do?

Christians are the ones that take a step back and look at the broad Biblical picture and try to adjust to the circumstances around them based on what scripture says about them. And then being a light in the world around them. Therefore, based on the goodness of who this God is, prepare your minds for action. Keep sober in spirit. Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

And that’s what he’s saying is this is our target. You think about your target and the target ultimately becomes then sending your hope on the grace that we brought to you at the revelation of Jesus. When a believer looks to Christ, we do so with great anticipation.

I can tell you over the last couple of weeks, the questions as a pastor that I have fielded more than any other, and everything seems to be related to the book of Revelation. Get all kinds of phone calls over the last few weeks of how I look at the world around me and what’s going on today in anticipation of what scripture says about these last days. And believers want to know how to respond to this. What do we spazz out? Do we? What’s supposed to be our actions to life around us? We’ve had earthquakes and coronaviruses and some of our nation’s been distorted by tornadoes. What do you do about this?

Well, scripture makes it clear for us in Luke 21:27, listen to this. God says this about believers and they will see the son of man coming in a cloud with power and glory. But when these things begin to take place, straighten up, lift up your heads because your redemption is drawing near. To the believer, because of everything that Jesus represents for us, it tells us in the midst of adversity, we don’t walk with tails tucked and heads heads down. But rather we lift up our heads in anticipation of the coming of Christ because we know the great glory that awaits us. But the life of the unbeliever, it says in Revelation 6:16 and they, unbelievers said to the mountains, into the rocks, fall on us and hide us from the presence of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the land.

God is our target. We look to him at the revelation that’s coming in Christ with hope. And in verse 14 to 16 it tells us what this target looks like. Listen to this. It says in verse 14 as obedient children do not be conformed to the former lusts, which were yours in your ignorance. But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior, because it is written, you shall be holy for I am holy. So what does it look like when I prepare my mind and my spirit and I had this great hope of anticipation of the coming of Christ? One word he says in verse 14-16. The who you are? Is one who is holy. God calls you to be holy.

And sometimes when we think about what this word represents, we do so I think from an un-biblical religious perspective. And what I mean is when I ask people, what is a definition of holy? Some people would describe holiness this like this. It’s either not sinning or that’s the opposite. Holiness is this idea of being good and so being unholy would be sinning. So therefore holiness you could describe as not sinning or being good. And I would say that’s a part of it. But if you’ve make that the primary definition of holiness, you can all together miss the significance of what holiness is about.

Holiness is not merely about being good or not being bad. He does talk about in this passage, verse 14 as obedient children, so you definitely see being obedient. And verse 15 at the end of it, he says, be holy yourselves in all your behavior. So there’s definitely this idea of good or not good. But the problem with just simply making holiness about being good and not being bad is that you don’t need God. And he is the primary means for which this holiness is intended to come from, the source of holiness. Holiness is the setting apart of something altogether different. Yes, it may look like being good and not being bad. It will resemble the goodness of God in this world, but it’s to recognize that God has called us to something all together other than what this world offers.

It’s this distinction of you from everything else. It’s the separation, this calling out. Is to saying, I have a completely different identity than anything this world offers. That’s holiness. It’s the setting apart in our lives. It’s about who God calls us to be. You know, I think about this idea of church. Some people come to church for sort of this self-help seminar to become a better you. But Jesus’ goal isn’t primarily about you becoming a better you. It’s about losing yourself all together in order to grab a hold of him. And so when you think about this picture of holiness, it’s about separating ourselves from everything else this world offers and understanding what Jesus has called us to is something altogether different. And therefore we prepare our minds and our spirits to step into that and live in light of that in this world. It’s about who God calls us to be.

In reality when we think about holiness, without a love for God, a pursuit of holiness will be out of guilt or pride, not a delight in him. You can come from guilt of thinking, you need to be better because you’re not good enough or this pride of thinking that you’re something great and all together miss what the picture of holiness is about. In recognizing that it’s Jesus who pursued us. You think about Jesus in John 15:5, it says, abide in him and you will bear much fruit. The goal of a holy life isn’t about bearing fruit. Our goal in a holy life is about abiding in him. The natural result of that will be bearing fruit.

So you think walking in this world, what does God call us to be? It’s about walking with this mentality of preparing our lives to be other are different in him, both mind and spirit. Focused on the goodness of this God because God has called me to something more in this world. And it’s about recognizing the beauty of who he is in my life. And as I abide in him and the love he’s demonstrated to me, the result and natural outflow of that is fruit. Who am I?

Peter continues to build that case through all of 1 Peter, but that is where the target is for us. That’s what the target looks like. It’s about this idea of holiness. Prepare yourself for who God calls you to be.

Second is this determine why you want to be, really who God calls you to be. Why? Why do you want to be this? And in verse 17 he says it to us like this. If you address as Father, the one who impartially judges according to each one’s works, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth. What he’s recognizing for us is we’re going to give authority to something in our lives. You’ll worship something. You’ll be about something. You’ll lay your life down for something. You’ll sacrifice for something. You’ll give time and resources to something. What is that something? It will determine who you are becoming.

So what Peter’s saying is in a world that’s pressuring you to conform you to its image, rather than being conformed to its image, in verse 14 it says, don’t be conformed. Rather than being conformed to the world’s image, be conformed to God’s image. How do you do that? It’s gotta be the thing that you revere most in life.

Actually, the only thing that shapes you in life. Revering him in your world. You cannot live a holy life, the life that God calls you to, without completely surrendering your life to Christ alone. So you think about the target of who God calls you to be in being holy. You will never attain to that calling without the surrendering of yourself in reverence to the Lord.

In Peter’s day, you can imagine that the Christians have all sorts of temptation around them to conform. Even physical force. People are trying to get them to abandon their God. And he’s saying, don’t fear them. Instead, let your fear be in the Lord. Revere him above all else. And then he tells us why verses 18 and 19. Knowing that you are not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life, inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

Here’s why, because what Jesus offers is precious. In verse 18 he compares this to the things of this world that people might consider precious from your forefathers. But God’s really not interested in your pedigree. In fact, it doesn’t impress the King who has everything that he wants. God’s interested in you. And in verse 19 Peter’s compelling us in the reverence of the Lord by recognizing, not to guilt you, not to shame you, but the focus on the preciousness for what you have in Jesus. His precious blood in Christ.

I heard an illustration once by Martin Lloyd Jones and I changed it just a little bit to kind of fit our modern day. If you think about the significance of how something so precious inspires you to pursue and to love and response. Suppose you had for a moment a friend that was visiting you and you had not felt well for a few days. And all of a sudden you’re up and about doing some kind of menial chore in your home while your friend is visiting and you become light-headed. You pass out, you hit your head and all of a sudden when you come to you need stitches. And so your friend loads you up in their car and good thing that they were there to help you in that time of need. And they drive to the hospital and you get some stitches and you’re thankful to your friend. They just happened to be there and you really appreciate how precious that was.

But suppose while you’re at the hospital, you come to find out that the doctors want to do tests because you hadn’t been feeling well for a few days and you passed out and this is not normal. They do this test on you and they find out that the reason you passed out was because your kidneys are failing. In fact it’s so serious that you’ve got maybe just less than two days to live. And while you’re at the hospital, that friend who brought you there decides, you know what, I’m just going to go ahead and get tested to see if one of my kidneys can be donated to you. You find out that that same day while you’re still at the hospital that they are a match. And before you leave, the surgeon happens to be there and they perform a miraculous surgery and they give you one of your friend’s kidneys and now it ends up saving your life.

What kind of appreciation do you have for that friend? You walked in the hospital not knowing a dead man and they give their very life in order to spare yours. The words you might share with that friend or the expression, I should say you might have, that friend would be more than just words. You would say maybe to them, I am utterly devoted to you. What could I ever do to repay you for something that you’ve done so precious for me?

And I think this is exactly what Peter is saying to us in the recognition of Jesus. It’s more than just this earthly gift that he’s provided for us in verse 18. But something far greater than that because this impacts all of eternity. And he’s given his very life by laying himself on the cross that you might find life in him. And how are you to respond in a moment like this? Are you just simply to say words like thank you and just leave it empty? Or do you with your life respond back? God, thank you. Thank you for your love. How can I ever repay?

How do we respond and prepare our lives for these problems? One, prepare who you are. The mind and the spirit in Christ and never forget in verse 17, why? Because it’s the precious blood of this Lamb that was poured out for you. And finally in verse 22 he then shares with us to strive fervently and faithfully in this. And verse 22 is all I’m going to read. We’re going to pick up with really the second half of preparing ourselves and problems next week. But in verse 22 he says this, since you have an obedience to truth, purified your soul for a sincere love of the brethren. Fervently love one another from the heart.

Since you have purified your soul fervently love. This purified is an imperative, meaning it’s not something that you did, meaning you purified your soul in the truth. It involves something that you did, but it also involves something that you continue to do. You’re refined in this identity in Christ. Because his precious life is continually offered to you as you are made new in him. And so therefore the result of looking towards this target is continuing to purify your soul in sincere love for the brethren, fervently loving one another from the heart.

This idea of fervently loving is to understand it’s not always going to be easy. But you’re devoted to this because of everything that Jesus has done for you. How do we strive therefore, it tells us to keep loving each other. When we’re wholly given over to Christ, it’s demonstrated through a life of love. And 1 Corinthians 13, Paul talks about this is the love chapter, and he says in the very beginning. That if we have the tongue of men and angels, but if we have not love, we’re a sounding goal or an empty symbol.

If we have all the wisdom and all the profiting utterances in the world, faith as to move mountains but have not love, we’re empty. If we give that we have and we give our bodies over to be burned but have not love, it’s useless. Meaning holiness to God isn’t this simply intellectual ascent. Holiness to God is a life transforming power that compels us to love others because of the love of Jesus that’s been demonstrated in our lives. Love one another.

A dedication to the Lord will always lead to a love for others. Even an enemy. Maybe we could even say, especially for our enemies. Because when we look at the love of Christ, we recognize that our lives were even enemies towards him. That’s why he had to give himself for us.

What Peter is saying is so important for the life of the believer. Because what it’s demonstrating is a person that’s not allowing their circumstance to dictate who God has called them to be. They’re prepared for their problems, because they’ve already determined even before the problem arises the kind of person they’re going to be. And even in those circumstances, that are adverse, they continue to be refined in that identity. And they know why they’re that person. Because of the precious blood of Christ.

It’s given them entirely new life. That Jesus has given his life for us, that we could have new life in him. And it’s not because of their own efforts, because when you think of holiness in terms of your own efforts, it’s going to lead to despair or pride. But it’s because of Jesus’ efforts on our behalf in giving his life for our freedom so that we can give our lives for him. And then demonstrate it in the way that we love others.

In hard times people start looking at circumstances around them and I think sometimes we begin to wonder what in the world is happening? Is this the end? I mean is are things going to be difficult until the end and Jesus returns? And you know when you think about things like that, I’m glad that circumstances might get us to consider God. Where is God and all of this?

For a moment, let’s just imagine worst case scenario. Let’s suppose that that what we’re going through right now in our nation and around the world doesn’t get better. Let’s suppose for a moment, circumstances get worse. What do you do? Does that change how you live for Jesus? If it takes a crisis to make your faith in Christ more serious? I’m thankful that something has arisen for any of us to consider to take our faith more serious in Christ.

But why not in our lives walk with the same devotion to Jesus in adversity as in times of peace? That way, no matter the circumstance, our soul was always ready. Because our minds and our lives have been prepared to follow Jesus no matter what. Because we’ve considered the preciousness of what it means to be in him.

Friends, whoever’s watching this morning, I am no fool to think that everyone watching, has the certainty that they belong to Jesus. So let me just say this, Jesus has already paid it all so that you can belong to him. He’s died for your sins. But let me tell you, he’s also King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and he will judge all sin.

Meaning just because Jesus die on the cross doesn’t mean everyone goes to heaven. The Bible calls us to bow to this King who’s given everything for us. Heaven is the kingdom of this King and he doesn’t let you through but through him. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth in life. No one gets to the father, but by me. This King has come and given his life for you, and he’s given you the opportunity to bow to him, that you may have life in him forever. And from that moment he shapes us new.

The question for all of us, whether we’re believer or not, is your life surrendered to that King and the holiness of who he is? To allow his goodness to shape your life. Because as you abide in him, you will bear much fruit. Make your life about living for Jesus, whether it’s a good day or a bad day, it won’t change the circumstance to who you are in Christ because you belong to him.