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Above All

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1 Peter 4:7-11

As the end of the church age draws near there are 4 areas Peter gives us to focus on.

I. Prayer (7)

When life knocks you to your knees—well, that’s the best position in which to pray, isn’t it?—Ethel Barrymore Morgan, R. J. (2000). /Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes

A. Disciplined Prayer

Pray when you feel like it, for it is a sin to neglect such an opportunity. Pray when you don’t feel like it, for it is dangerous to remain in such a condition.—quoted by Ruth Bell Graham

Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes

How much time during the week do you devote to praying to your heavenly Father?

168 hours per week

40-50 hours of work per week

56 hours of sleep (based on 8 hours a night)

4.5 hours for regular worship services

21 hours to eat (1 hour per meal 3X a day)

168-50-56-21=41. We worship for 4.5 hours per week if you include Sunday and Wednesday night. If that is all we do, then we are just tithing our free time. If we were to tithe our week it would mean spending 16 hours a week with the Lord. Even if we count the 4.5 hours of worship, that leaves us with 11.5 hours/week with the Lord outside church. That is about an hour and a half per day in prayer and devotion. I wonder what would happen if we were to spend even the 1.5 per day with the Lord?

How Do You Find the Time?

In a Moody Magazine article, Gigi Graham Tchividjian said that while small snatches of spiritual refreshment do not replace the need for careful, in-depth Bible study, they can be a lifesaver for busy moms. As a busy mother of seven small children, Gigi found herself unable to take an hour or a half-hour a day for sustained devotions, so she took stock of her own mother’s example.

My mother had five children and often didn’t have time for long devotions. But I remember her Bible always open in a convenient place—the kitchen counter, her bedside table, beside the sofa, or even on the ironing board. In this way, she could quickly glean a promise or memorize a verse as she continued her work

Following her example, I often pray for each child as I iron a dress or fold a shirt. I find myself thanking the Lord for their healthy bodies as I bathe them at night. I praise the Lord for their beds and hot running water as I change their sheets and scrub the tub.

I find I can worship Him as I sweep the terrace or trim the hedge or dust the living room. I can meditate as I take a walk or rake the leaves.…

These brief snatches of spiritual refreshment have often served as my spiritual lifeline. On days when my nerves are stretched to the limit and I feel myself drowning in confusion, slipping off for five minutes with the Lord buoys me like a life preserver.*

* Gigi Graham Tchividjian, “How Do You Find the Time?,” Moody Magazine, November 1991, 72–73. Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes

B. Watchful Prayer

  • Sober = alert and watchful

Awakened to Pray

His nightmares began each day when he awoke.

James Stegalls was nineteen. He was in Vietnam. Though he carried a small Gideon New Testament in his shirt pocket, he couldn’t bring himself to read it. His buddies were cut down around him, terror was building within him, and God seemed far away. His twentieth birthday passed, then his twenty-first. At last, he felt he couldn’t go on.

On February 26, 1968, he prayed for it all to end, and his heart told him he would die before dusk. Sure enough, his base came under attack that day and Jim heard a rocket coming straight toward him. Three seconds to live, he told himself, then two, then …

A friend shoved him into a grease pit, and he waited for the rocket to explode, but there was only a surreal silence. The fuse malfunctioned.

For five hours James knelt in that pit, and finally his quivering hand reached into his shirt pocket and took out his Testament. Beginning with Matthew, he continued through the first 18 chapters.

“When I read Matthew 18:19–20, ” he said, “I somehow knew things would be all right.”

Long after Jim returned home, as he visited his wife’s grandmother, Mrs. Harris, she told him a night years before when she had awakened in terror. Knowing Jim was in Vietnam, she had sensed he was in trouble. She began praying for God to spare his life. Unable to kneel because of arthritis, she lay prone on the floor, praying and reading her Bible all night.

Just before dawn she read Matthew 18:19–20: If two of you agree down here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together because they are mine, I am there among them.

She immediately called her Sunday school teacher, who got out of bed and went to Mrs. Harris’ house where together they claimed the Lord’s promise as they prayed for Jim until reassured by God’s peace.

Having told Jim the story, Mrs. Harris opened her Bible to show him where she had marked the passage.

In the margin were the words: Jim, February 26, 1968.*

* Jim L. Stegall, “Hardly a Coincidence,” Changed Lives: USA Testimonies.

Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes

The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.—Samuel Chadwick* * Cameron V. Thompson, Master Secrets of Prayer (Lincoln, Nebraska: Back to the Bible, 1959), 8.

Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes

Is Satan laughing or trembling at us? Is he laghing or trembling at you?

II. Love (8)

A. Fervent Love

  • fervent means stretched out. Like a first baseman reaching for a throw with his foot still on the bag. You go as far as in your love as you possibly can within the limitations that you have.

Double the Dose Evangelist Michael Guido told of a wise physician who once said to a young doctor, “I’ve been practicing medicine for a long time. I’ve prescribed many things. But in the long run, I’ve learned that the best medicine is love.”“What if it doesn’t work?” asked the friend.“Double the dose,” he said. |

Nelson's annual preacher's sourcebook : 2003 edition

B. Forgiving Love

Proverbs 10:12

Rosalind’s List

Rosalind Goforth was a well-known missionary to China who, along with her husband Jonathan, enjoyed an illustrious career and ministry. But for many years, even having labored for the Lord in China, Rosalind often felt oppressed by a burden of sin. She felt guilty and dirty, nursing an inward sense of spiritual failure. Finally one evening when all was quiet, she settled at her desk with Bible and concordance, determined to find out God’s attitude toward the failures, the faults, the sins of his children. She put these words at the top of the page: What God Does With Our Sins. Then as she searched through the Scriptures, she compiled this list of seventeen truths:

1.     He lays them on his Son—Jesus Christ. Isaiah 53:6

2.     Christ takes them away. John 1:29

3.     They are removed an immeasurable distance—as far as East is from West. Psalm 123:12

4.     When sought for, they are not found. Jeremiah 50:20

5.     The Lord forgives them. Ephesians 1:7

6.     He cleanses them ALL away by the blood of his son. 1 John 1:7

7.     He cleanses them as white as snow or wool. Isaiah 1:18; Psalm 51:7

8.     He abundantly pardons them. Isaiah 55:7

9.     He tramples them under foot. Micah 7:19 (RV)

10.     He remembers them no more. Hebrews 10:17

11.     He casts them behind his back. Isaiah 38:17

12.     He casts them into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19

13.     He will not impute us with sins. Romans 4:8

14.     He covers them. Romans 4:7

15.     He blots them out. Isaiah 43:25

16.     He blots them out as a thick cloud. Isaiah 44:22

17.     He blots out even the proof against us, nailing it to His Son’s Cross. Colossians 2:14*

* Rosalind Goforth, Climbing (Wheaton, IL: Sword Book Club, 1940), 90.

Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes

“As God with His love covers my sins if I believe, so must I also cover the sins of my neighbor” [Luther].

III. Hospitality (9)

A. Generous

  • hospitable = generous to guests.
  • 6909 Pluck The Roses Freely*

During the summer a clergyman called on a lady who had a very fine collection of roses. She took him out to see them—white roses, red roses, yellow roses, climbing roses, and roses in pots, the gay giant of battles and the modest moss rose—every species he had ever heard of, and a great many he had never heard of, were there in rich profusion. The lady began plucking, right and left. Some bushes with but a single flower she despoiled.

The clergyman remonstrated. “You are robbing yourself, dear madam.” “Ah,” she said, “do you not know that the way to make the rosebush is to pluck its flowers freely? I lose nothing by what I give away.” This is a universal law. We never lose anything by what we give away.

Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations

  • Especially important in the days of itinerate preachers. 3 John 5-8
  • These itinerate preachers along with other church ministers both men and women are mentioned by Paul many times in his letters which shows that we don't just accept anyone off the street but only those of good character who are known to other established churches.

B. Without Murmuring

Hebrews 13:2

Matthew 25:40; 10:42

IV. Service (10-11)

A. The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts

  • Each Christian has at least one spiritual gift.
  • Gift are given by God to be used (employed) not to be stifled.
  • Spiritual gifts are not for our own selfish uses
  • They are gifts that belong to God and that we are only stewards.
  • manifold = multicolored grace. grace that is displayed in numerous ways.

B. The Variety of Spiritual Gifts

  • Speaking gifts
  • Serving gifts

1 Cor. 12:4–11, 29–31; Rom. 12:6–8

C. The Goal of Spiritual Gifts

  • This is the chief end of man, to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
  • Luke 12:35-40, 43-44 The time is coming soon! Will be found to be a faithful servant?

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