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Topical - Finding Power for Success (Petrine)

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Finding Power for Success

Letters of Peter              October 13, 2002

 

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 3:14-21

Introduction:

How can we be identified as God's people?

What makes us different from the world around us?

How can we be encouraged by the answers to these questions?

We have been discovering topical truth from the letters that Peter wrote to the churches.

These topics give detail to the theology of what the church is supposed to be.

For those of you who are into big words, the word for this theology of the church is called ecclesiology.

Maybe you have heard of this word before.

But Peter intends his ecclesiology to give us, the people of the church throughout the ages, a clear picture of our cause in Christ and the victory he will bring to us and through us.

He wants us to know the reality of our hope in the struggle for holiness.

Let us recap some of what we have learned so far in this series since the message today will bring it to a close.

            I.          The People of God are Set Apart by How They Live                                  

The people of God must make a difference in the world by their new way of life in Christ.

          - Our new way of life must be different from the world (different living).

          - Our new way of life must identify with God (godly living).

          - Our new way of life must remember the future (future living).

How should Christians remember the future in light of the past?

          We should remember that God has a longstanding plan that he has privileged us to know about and be a part of.

          We should remember that there will always be those who don't believe that God has any plan at all.

          We should remember that God's future plan has proven credibility in the past.

          We should remember that God's plan is not on our time schedule.

          We should remember that God's plan has saving power.

          We should remember that God's plan has cleansing power.

          We should remember that God's plan has present power.

          We should remember that God's plan has eternal power.

          We should remember that God's plan brings perfect peace for those who remember the future.        

          - Our new way of life must have practical present effect (effective living). 

How can our lives as Christians have practical present effect to those around us?

We must live in Christian submission to government, to employers, to spouses, to others, and to church leadership.

II.        The People of God are Set Apart by How They Suffer                           

What does suffering accomplish for us as Christians?

Suffering trials helps us to refine faith.

Suffering injustice helps us to trust God.

Suffering for others helps us to overcome sin.

Suffering joyfully helps us to promote Christ.

            III.       The People of God are Set Apart by What They Know                          

What must I know in order to endure as a Christian?

I can endure as a Christian because I know that God knew me first.

I can endure as a Christian because I know my value to God.

I can endure as a Christian because I know others have value to God.

I can endure as a Christian because I know I am not alone in my situation.

I can endure as a Christian because I know the blessings of faith in Christ.

I can endure as a Christian because I know the judgment of denying Christ.

I can endure as a Christian because I know what I know about Christ.

So Peter is writing to us, the scattered people of God, as the church in the world.

As such, we live like the people of God in the world but not of it since we are sure of the future.

We are willing to live lives of submission and even suffer for it because we are aware of God's purpose in suffering.

We are sustained by our knowledge of divine truth.

And now, lastly, we are assured of success through the outworking of divine power.

God's power is another theme that occurs six times as it works its way through Peter's letters.

It is divine power works in concert with divine knowledge.

This is what makes the knowledge of God effective for his people.

The several aspects of God's power protect, connect, exalt, subject, keep, deliver, provide and reveal.

In finality, the people of God are set apart and given success by God's power.

Big Question:

How does God's power give me success in Christ? (How do I benefit from God's power? How does it work for me? What effect does it have?)

Have you ever felt absolutely powerless in the face of what was happening to you or to those around you?

Have you ever felt abandoned by God in the midst of your pain and struggle?

It is a fact of this fallen world that we will have trouble just as Jesus has said, "In this world you will have trouble." (John 16:33)

But he also went on to say, "But take heart for I have overcome the world."

Nevertheless, life is hard for many.

Feelings of powerlessness:

ABWE Magazine for October – Article on oppression of women, especially in India.

Many baby girls killed at birth because of economic liability and cultural conditions. It was recorded even in the earliest colonial times that many villages had either no little girls or that boys outnumbered girls even 2 to 1. The government has passed laws to prohibit infanticide but to little avail. The condition still exists today. There are 3 reasons why. (1) Baby girls are killed to spare them a life of misery since women have little status and are treated as slaves. (2) Daughters are an economic liability on the family since a large dowry must be given at her marriage. This too has been prohibited but without much impact. (3) Daughters do not contribute to the economic health of the family since only sons can get jobs and care for aged parents. When a girl is married she is obliged to treat her husband as a god. If he dies she cannot remarry and has no social status. Often a wife will place herself upon his funeral pyre even though this too has been prohibited by law. Girls are often sold by families to become temple slaves and prostitutes. Essentially they have little or no power.

Many try to take power inappropriately into their own hands when they feel powerless.

Taking Power into your own hands:

Chicago Tribune for Friday, Oct. 4, 2002 – "Suicide note foretold end: 'Everybody loses'.

Before he killed his daughter and then turned the gun on himself, John Brunson tried to explain the seemingly unexplainable. He scribbled on a suicide not that if he could not be a part of young Mary Elizabeth's life, nobody could. "Everybody loses," Brunson wrote. Family members say Brunson cared so deeply for his daughter that he couldn't stand the thought of losing her. His ex-wife, Kathy, had been granted sole custody in a nasty divorce. Brunson was scheduled to return to court the next week and feared losing his visitation privileges. "Sole custody is child abduction," Brunson wrote in his note. "Four nights and four dinners a month are insufficient time for parenting." Then, in a portion directed to his ex-wife, Brunson wrote: "Kathy, if you can't raise our daughter with me then you simply can't raise our daughter. Everybody loses." Brunson's relatives did not try to justify his actions, but they did say he was pushed to the brink by a court system that did not treat him fairly, and by his ex-wife, who did not treat him like the child's father.

The truth is that you are not powerless if you are in Christ, nor should you ever feel that you should take, or need to take, power into your own hands.

Even though this world has trouble, you have everything you need in Christ for success through it.

“ for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4 NIVUS)

Let us see what Peter has to say about it.

I.       Cycle One

          A.      Narrative (1Pet. 1:3-9)

 

We are protected or shielded by the power of God that comes to us through our faith in Christ

It has long-term effectiveness to keep us even unto the end in the last days when Christ is revealed to complete our salvation (1:5) and deliver our promised eternal inheritance (1:4).

Faith in the beginning is proved in the end.

Eternal security is a matter of keeping the faith that God gives you.

As Don said in our Bible study Wednesday evening, it is like using your seat belt.

It is the power of God that gives us faith. And our faith is in the power of God that gave it to us.

It is that faith that protects you because it is God that protects you.

And what is it that is protected? It is your salvation.

That is how Christ has overcome the world.

You might have grief now, but all that does is prove your faith if you remain in your faith.

Our trials will pass and perish but our faith will not.

Just look at what we are receiving – our salvation (v. 9).

So in the end, God's power protects what is really worth protecting – your eternal life in Christ.

Praise God for his power that we can see with the eyes of faith (Heb. 11:1).

Does your faith need corrective lenses? Make God your ophthalmologist.

          B.      Implication

God's power gives me success by protecting me through faith in Christ.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

II.      Cycle Two

          A.      Narrative (1Pet. 3:21b-22)

We can be sure that our trust in Christ for salvation has connected us with the highest power in the universe because he has raised from the dead and sits at the right hand of God with all power in subjection to him.

"It" (our faith as seen and symbolized in baptism) saves you by the resurrection of Christ.

Our faith is in the lordship of Christ.

He is Lord because the power of God in his resurrection has proven it.

His resurrection saves us not only because he has pioneered the way to eternal life but also because his resurrection has proven his dominion over all other authority.

If he is all powerful, then you need not fear any other power nor obey any other power except those that he has established by his power.

Life is made simple because there is no other power but that which points to Christ and is Christ.

No need to be confused about what to do. Just obey his authority and you have success.

I have success in him because of his success in overcoming all the conflicting voices in the universe.

I can hear clearly if I listen to him alone.

I need not fear the world if I trust Christ's power in the end to save me.

His power is my way to success over all trial and conflict.

There is no other real power.

Where do you need to apply his power in your life? What other voices do you need to silence?

          B.      Implication

God's power gives me success by placing all other power under Christ.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

III.    Cycle Three

          A.      Narrative (1Pet. 4:10-11)

 

God has given us strength in Jesus Christ.

Whether we faithfully serve others or truthfully speak well love to others, it begins with the power of God's grace and the power of God's Word.

It then flows through us to do God's will.

We can hinder the flow of that power or accelerate it by our obedience.

Why does God choose to work this way?

He wants to bring praise to Christ through us.

His purpose is to glorify his Son.

We can either help or hinder. But what a privilege it is to be used by God to bring him praise.

This is a real measure of my success, whether Christ is praised because of me, and all praise to Christ flows back to God who has risen him up so that the whole universe might be filled with his praise.

We are challenged to apply God's power as it works in us through Christ, in our lives of service to him, since it results in praise to him through Christ, who has all power and glory forever.

All things are possible with God, and for God, to the glory of God.

The Christian is to exemplify this in light of the last days (v. 7).

We will find success for ourselves in anything that brings glory to Christ.

This is because we will then have participated in the purpose of all God's creation.

Does your life bring glory to Christ in all that you do ("so that in all things God might be praised through Jesus Christ")? Or do you intend the things you do to bring glory to yourself?

          B.      Implication

God's power gives me success by working through me to bring praise to Christ.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

IV.    Cycle Four

 

          A.      Narrative (1Pet. 5:8-11)

Not only are we to bring glory to God by our obedience, but we bring his glory even unto ourselves.

It is a reciprocal relationship. We will have glory in his glory. It spills out. It overflows.

When we are rightfully related to God's power we are encompassed by it as we become part of him in Christ – his sons and daughters and heirs.

God's power is revealed in his ability to bring us spiritually unscathed, even through suffering, to the place of eternal glory in Christ to which we are called.

He brings us safely through the safari of life where the growling, prowling, roaring lion waits for our blood.

We resist fear by faith. We are given power by God to hold steady aim as we bag the lion, the devil's brute.

God, who funded the safari, gets the glory when the trophy is mounted on our wall of victory, but it is also our glory because he shares it with us.

He allowed us to have a part in the hunt for truth.

The only lasting glory you will ever get for yourself is what God gives you.

And he only gives to those who bring him glory.

If you want glory that will last, you must make God first.

God does not give his glory to another or his praise to idols (Is. 42:8), but when we give him glory we find that we become part of his glory.

How much glory do you want?

But don't forget that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

In fact, we cannot receive anything if we do not give. And God's glory is the only thing that will last. It is the only measure of success.

          B.      Implication

God's power gives me success by bringing me to glory in Christ.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

V.      Cycle Five

 

          A.      Narrative (2Pet. 1:3-4)

The availability of God's power leaves nothing out when it comes to his provision for us to live lives of godliness.

His power is available to us through our knowledge of Christ so we can live like Christ, emulating his glory and goodness.

We can never find complaint or deficiency in God as we work to live lives of godliness. We are left with no excuse.

It may be true that you had a rough childhood or have a tough marriage.

But that leaves you no excuse once you know the truth.

Actually, you have no excuse even if you don't know the truth because the truth is there for you to know any time you want to pick it up.

So you have everything you need for success – you always did.

Christ is there for you. 1Cor. 10:13 tells us, "But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

That way out is always Christ, because he has given us everything we need for life and godliness.

Trust in his promises. Participate in the divine nature. Escape the corruption of the world.

He is the way and the truth and the life. What else do you need for success?

          B.      Implication

God's power gives me success by giving me all I need for life in Christ.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

VI.    Cycle Six

 

          A.      Narrative (2Pet. 1:16-18)

We live for the ultimate revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We are assured that just as the power of Jesus revealed himself in all his glory to his disciples, so also will he reveal himself to us.

They were not deceived when they witnessed his majesty with their own eyes.

It was backed up by years of experience with the Master. He had consistently told them about these things.

He was revealed in all his majesty on the Mount of Transfiguration to Peter, James, and John.

He was revealed in all his majesty upon the cross when the sky grew dark, the earth quaked, the tombs split open, and the curtain was torn in two.

He was revealed in all his majesty after he arose from the dead and when he ascended into heaven.

These same revelations are given to us.

When you believe the truth about Jesus, who he is, and all he has, and all he wants to give to you, you have success.

You are an eyewitness of the truth, and by your obedience to his lordship you become a witness of the truth for other eyes.

Have you seen Jesus? He has revealed himself to you. He is revealing himself to you today.

Have you seen him? He speaks to you from heaven.

Have you heard him? He is the power of God personified. He is the power of God for you. He is your success.

In him, God may well say of you, "This is my son/daughter, whom I love; with him/her I am well pleased.

Has God revealed his success for you today?

          B.      Implication

God's power gives me success by revealing Christ to me.

          C.      Illustration

PGM – "One step to success." You find Jesus and you quit.

          D.      Application

Conclusion:

We, as the scattered people of God, are drawn together as a powerful force of righteousness in a wicked world through our calling to godly and submissive behavior.

And although we suffer for doing so, we are drawn together in a common experience that makes us stronger.

The things we know about God, and are reminded of, sustain us.

But ultimately it is the power of God that keeps us.

In this we are set apart as the people of God, not only because we are obviously strangers in the world, but also because we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that we might declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light (1Pet. 2:9).

It is the power of God at work in us as the church of the living God that enables us to be his people and declare his praise.

Big Answer:

How does God's power give me success in Christ?

God's power gives me success by protecting me through faith in Christ.

God's power gives me success by placing all other power under Christ.

God's power gives me success by working through me to bring praise to Christ.

God's power gives me success by bringing me to glory in Christ.

God's power gives me success by giving me all I need for life in Christ.

God's power gives me success by revealing Christ to me.

Timeless Truth:

“ If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success.” (Ecclesiastes 10:10 NIVUS)

“ Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother’s name was Jecoliah; she was from Jerusalem.  He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Amaziah had done.  He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success.” (2 Chronicles 26:3-5 NIVUS)

Your power for success is in seeking the Lord. And the Bible tells us that if we seek him, we will find him.

“ I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” (Proverbs 8:17 NIVUS)

 “ "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7 NIVUS)

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