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Topical - Remembering the Future (Petrine)

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Remembering the Future

The Letters of Peter                September 8, 2002

 

Scripture Reading: 2Peter 3:1-14

Introduction:

Swimming in the danger zone – personal/national

Accidents happen when we are in the danger zone – wrong time/place

But perhaps it is not accident at all; it is the norm in a world of evil

And evil perpetuates itself

ILLUS: Supermodel, Janice Dickinson (a non-Christian), and her book of remembrance entitled "No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World's First Supermodel" (Chgo. Trib. 9/6/02) – results of childhood abuse/hard heart

One year ago 911 our nation got abused

Perhaps we as a nation have been trying to swim naked at night on a deserted beach – we have disregarded the lifeguard's rules

We were being sucked into the undertow of the norm in a world adrift

Many are asking where our lifeguard was – hearts growing hard

Many people, even clerics in both Christian and non-Christian religions, are still searching for answers to lost faith.

ILLUS.: Channel 11 show Tuesday evening about the spiritual remembrances and perceptions of those close to the 9/11 occurrence (loss of faith in God, personification of evil).

We cannot go back – we must remember – but we must also learn what God reveals

As individuals, as a church, as a nation, we must not get stuck in the past – we must remember the future

Especially as the true people of God in Christ, we must live in a new way of life that influences the world

We must live not only differently than we used to, and separate from the world – we must live in a new way of life focused on the future

This future – rather than past – perspective gives witness to a watching world desperately in need of God

This future perspective sets us free from being locked irreversibly into the past – like those who were abused

It is this future perspective that brings truth to overcome the effects of abuse

It is truth that sets us free from the sins committed against us and the sins we commit

So as Christians, we must remember our future

Yes, we must also remember the past – that 911 cost 2,819 lives and $95 billion dollars and caused much grief

We must pay honor (415 of the deceased were rescue workers), have compassion, share the burden of grief with those who lost so much

But we must also let it sharpen our perspective on God's truth

I know one thing about God's truth that we must do if we would trust God for anything at all.

We must forgive our attackers as those who have been misled by the hand of unmitigated evil.

That is not to say that we should participate in protecting ourselves, but we must first of all seek God for his protection (he is our lifeguard), and that involves forgiveness not only for our attackers but also for ourselves.

There is protection in forgiveness because it is part of God's plan for freedom

ILLUS: Lt. Eck, fire dept., friend who lost loved ones in 9/11 intends to hold a service of forgiveness in her home on Wed. (I had opportunity to pray for him and his fire fighting team as he was here Friday to make a fire safety inspection at the church.)

We must remember that God is not to blame, but he has a plan for which we can give him glory

We can focus on the future – remember the future, if you will – and know that we are a part of it

Our identity is not in past tragedy but in God's perfect plan

We must remember our identity as God's people, and that identity has much to do with our "way of life" proven by our remembrance of the future.

We must remember what happened on 9/11, but we must remember it in light of the future to come that Peter tells us in our text for this morning - 2Peter 3:1-14.

Big Question:

As the people of God, how should we 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. (vv. 1-2)

          We should remember that there will always be those who don't believe that God has any plan at all. (vv. 3-4)

          We should remember that God's future plan has proven credibility in the past. (vv. 5-7)

          We should remember that God's plan is not on our time schedule. (v. 8)

          We should remember that God's plan has saving power. (v. 9)

          We should remember that God's plan has cleansing power. (v. 10)

          We should remember that God's plan has present power. (vv. 11-12)

          We should remember that God's plan has eternal power. (v. 13)

          We should remember that God's plan brings perfect peace for those who remember the future. (v. 14)      

Conclusion:

ILLUS: Movie "The Time Machine" – the idea that we cannot change the past but only the future. But this cannot be since, in reality, once we know the future it is already past. So we cannot change the future either. The truth is that God's future is as certain as a past event. You can't change God's plan, but you can choose to be a part of it.

ILLUS.: When we consider tragedies that happen like 911, we often ask, "What about those who never heard the gospel? Will they be condemned for what they didn't know?" VOM Newsletter, Aug. 2002, page 5-6, "Chatra's Spiritual Quest."

Big Answer:

Timeless Truth:

The people of God are affirmed by their future.

Their lives are embedded in God's perfect plan.

They understand that their God, unlike the false gods of this world, is not a terrorist, but that he will pursue peace at any cost.

Unlike Janice Dickinson, they know that their lives are not accidental.

They trust God with his part for them in the big picture of peace.

Like Chatra, our God is able to find all who will ask for him and seek him.

Even in the midst of the world and its turmoil around them, they have found peace – because they remember their future.

D.      Their New Way of Life in Christ Must be Focused on the Future

(2Pet. 3:1-14)

          The people of God live in light of the future unfolding of God's program for the world.

We have been previously taught what this entails and are reminded of it (3:1-2).

We know that Christ will return no matter what anybody else says (3:3-4).

We are privy to a plan and its evidence that the world ignores to its peril (3:5-7) because the world does not understand (or want to understand) God (3:8-9).

But the ultimate plan of God is not just the end of the world as it is presently known (3:10), rather it is the salvation of people in it in light of its ultimate destruction (3:9).

So the people of God are affirmed by how they live now in light of then.

We must live lives of holiness and godliness (3:11) in order to advance God's plan of salvation (3:12) before the time of destruction.

We must bring others to the hope we have of a new heaven and earth where righteousness is not the exception but the rule (3:13).

This purpose for our lives is accomplished by being (3:14) and remaining (3:17) at peace with God as our peace witnesses to a world in a turmoil that will only get worse (3:10).

I.       Cycle One

          A.      Narrative

          B.      Implication

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

II.      Cycle Two

          A.      Narrative

          B.      Implication

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

III.    Cycle Three

          A.      Narrative

          B.      Implication

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

IV.    Cycle Four

 

          A.      Narrative

          B.      Implication

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

Two previous messages this summer beginning on themes in the letters of the apostle, Peter, focused on the "way of life" that Christians must maintain in the world.

We understood that our new way of life in Christ witnesses about God to a watching world.

And we understood that this way of life also holds us together as his people in the face of an opposing world.

We saw that the people of God are indeed shown or proven to be his people by the way we live in the world – that we must live differently from the way we used to live, and that we must live separate from the world.

This morning we will learn about another aspect our identity as the people of God, and this is that the people of God have a new way of life in Christ that is focused on the future.

As we come to this time of remembrance of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center one year ago this week, we appropriately remember the past in honor of those who lost and even gave their lives in this great atrocity committed against us by Islamic extremists.

But I believe that even more as Christians we cannot stay there - we must remember our future.

This is so important for so many of us if we could just grasp the truth of it.

As a child of God - as a brother or sister of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God - from where do you take your identity?

Is it from the past you have come through or in the future you are going toward? 

So many people, even Christians, continue to assume their identity from the past they have come through even though they have been told about their future.

If you have sinned or you have been sinned against, it does have that tendency to define you, but we have been given a new life in the plan of God by faith if we will just receive it and believe it.

The effects of sin are appalling when we consider the results: children who are abused physically, emotionally, sexually, often carry into life feelings of worthlessness compounded by their own behaviors conforming to that image.

Their view of God is skewed to that of their fallen caretakers.

Families fallen apart and torn by violence and divorce and immorality often produce offspring with similar instability.

Sometimes it is only later in life that the innocence of childhood discovers the effects of its defilement.

This is often so deep, compounded by our own sin nature, that even as Christians, these dear children as adults cannot seem to find conformity to Christ.

They somehow have not grasped that if they can believe Christ for salvation through the forgiveness of sin, they can also believe him for the obedience for victory over that sin.

For this reason, God has laid out the knowledge and assurance of our future for us – and it is glorious, but it is only for us who believe in his son, Jesus.

ILLUS: Supermodel, Janice Dickinson (a non-Christian), and her book of remembrance entitled "No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World's First Supermodel" (Chgo. Trib. 9/6/02).

One year ago, our nation took abuse at the hands of Islamic fanatic terrorists.

It was monumentally tragic and fatal to 2,819 people.

The staggering cost of its effect approaches 95 billion, and still counting.

What has that done to/for us as a nation?

Will we remain stuck on that tragedy (even though the dead must be remembered with honor and respect) or will we now even more trust God for the future?

I know one thing we must do if we would trust God for anything at all?

We must forgive our attackers as those who have been misled by the hand of unmitigated evil.

That is not to say that we should not protect ourselves, but we must first of all seek God for his protection, and that involves forgiveness not only for our attackers but also for ourselves.

ILLUS: Lt. Eck, fire dept., friend who lost loved ones in 9/11 intends to hold a service of forgiveness in her home on Wed. (I had opportunity to pray for him and his fire fighting team as he was here Friday to make a fire safety inspection at the church.)

But even though remembering the past is appropriate in a certain way, we must remember even more the future we have as the children of God in the world.

We must remember our witness to the world as Christians.

As the people of God will we remain stuck in our identity from what happened one year ago, or will we assume responsibility for the future that God has outlined for us in his Word?

And where will we assume our identity as a nation? Will we be the "one nation under God" that our forefathers envisioned?

Many people, even clerics in both Christian and non-Christian religions, are still searching for answers to lost faith.

ILLUS.: Channel 11 show Tuesday evening about the spiritual remembrances and perceptions of those close to the 9/11 occurrence (loss of faith in God, personification of evil).

There is a place for the true believer before a watching world.

What do God's people need to remember about their witness to the world?

We must remember our identity as God's people, and that identity has much to do with our "way of life" proven by our remembrance of the future.

We must remember what happened on 9/11, but we must remember it in light of the future to come that Peter tells us in 2Peter 3:1-15.

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