For the Glory of God-1 Peter 4_7-11
For the Glory of God
1 Peter 4:7-11
A rich man was determined to give his mother a birthday present that would outshine all others. He read of a bird that had a vocabulary of 4000 words, could speak in numerous languages and sing 3 operatic arias. He immediately bought the bird for $50,000 and had it delivered to his mother. The next day he phoned to see if she had received the bird. “What did you think of the bird?” he asked. She replied, “It was delicious.”
· Why that story is so humorous is because the purpose of the gift was not appreciated.
· The mother did not know the point and so proceeded to do with it as she saw fit.
· If I were to ask you what the purpose of the church was, what would be your answer?
· I was very curious as to what others would say and so I asked a group of friends to comment and I received several answers:
· To be known by God and make him known.
· To believe in Jesus.
· To love one another in unity.
· To preach the Gospel
· To worship God.
· All of these answers are good ones and no doubt you could add your own to this list.
· But there is a purpose for the church that should influence and direct everything we do as a group of people and as individuals.
· We are beginning a series of messages on the nature of the church and it seemed right to begin by looking closely at why we have church?
· Many times we really seem to have no clue.
· It is like this:
A group of appreciative tourists watched a demonstration put on by the Royal Artillery of the Queen. The six man team worked with flawless precision. Actually, only five of them worked with precision. One of the soldiers positioned himself about 25 yards away from the cannon and stood at attention during the entire exhibition, doing nothing. After the exhibition, one of the tourists asked the staff officer to explain the duty of the man standing off to the side. “He’s number six,” came the reply. “Yes, but what does he do?” “He stands at attention.” “Yes, I know, but why does he stand at attention?” No one knew why number six stood at attention. None of the other five knew, the man himself didn’t know, and even the commanding officer didn’t know. After many hours of research through old training manuals, it became clear what number six was to do. He was to hold the horses. Why was number six standing at attention? Because he was appointed to do so. Did he have any idea what he was supposed to do? No.
· So that we are not just standing around for no good reason we want to discover the true purpose of the church.
· To do this we want to look to 1 Peter 4:7-11 and what he has to tell us about our purpose as believers.
The Church is Living in the Last Days (4:7a)
4:7 For the culmination of all things is near.
· What would you do if you knew that your life would end in exactly one year from today?
· Would you spend more time with your family and loved ones?
· Would you take more time to appreciate a sunset or the smell of the autumn leaves?
· Would you try and get as much done as you can, living out all the things you always wanted to do?
· Would you go out and buy all the things you ever wanted knowing that you wouldn’t have to pay the money back?
· How about your spiritual life, would you make a closer evaluation of how you were living so that you were sure God would accept you?
· Would you share your faith more, encourage fellow Christians more, praise more, pray more, seek God more?
· The fact of the matter is that the end is near.
· Now we may think that this is not so because it seems at least from a New Testament perspective we have been told that the end is near for over 2000 years.
· The signs of the end such as natural disasters, wars and strife in this world are not recent phenomenon.
· Contextually we see that Peter is trying to encourage his readers who are facing all kinds of suffering because they are believers but also because in the grand scheme of things this world is a poor reflection of our final home.
· Although this is not the way it will be in the end, God does want us to mirror his Kingdom in the manner that we do church.
· If we truly knew the end was coming I would hope that each of us would be able to say that we did not change the way we lived very much.
· This means that even though we are not sure when the end is coming we live with the anticipation that it could come at any time.
· We should have a sense of urgency that recognizes that there may not be much time to do what Christ has set out for us.
· This reminds me of the parable Jesus told in Matthew 25:14-27:
25:14 “For it is like a man going on a journey, who summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them. 25:15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 25:16 The one who had received five talents went off right away and put his money to work and gained five more. 25:17 In the same way, the one who had two gained two more. 25:18 But the one who had received one talent went out and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money in it. 25:19 After a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled his accounts with them. 25:20 The one who had received the five talents came and brought five more, saying, ‘Sir, you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ 25:21 His master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 25:22 The one with the two talents also came and said, ‘Sir, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more.’ 25:23 His master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 25:24 Then the one who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Sir, I knew that you were a hard man, harvesting where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed, 25:25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ 25:26 But his master answered, ‘Evil and lazy slave! So you knew that I harvest where I didn’t sow and gather where I didn’t scatter? 25:27 Then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received my money back with interest!
· These servants had been entrusted with a piece of this mans property. They were to grow it and care for it.
· This is a picture of the Christian life and the church; we as the church have been given the task of caring for God’s Kingdom and this is not something that can wait until tomorrow.
· We cannot have the attitude of procrastination but of urgency that says there is much to prepare and not much time.
· Does this mean that we become reckless or impatient-absolutely not but it does mean that we need to be diligent.
Thanks to the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, everyone has heard of the “Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” But few have heard of Israel Bissel, a humble post rider on the Boston-New York route. After the Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, Bissel was ordered to raise the alarm in New Haven, Connecticut. He reached Worchester, Mass., normally a day’s ride, in two hours. There, according to tradition, his horse promptly dropped dead. Pausing only to get another mount, Bissel pressed on and by April 22 was in New Haven—but he didn’t stop there! He rode on to New York, arriving April 24, and then stayed in the saddle until he reached Philadelphia the next day. Bissel’s 126 hour, 345 mile ride signaled American militia units throughout the Northeast to mobilize for war.
The Church has Things it Must Do (4:7b-11b)
So be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of prayer. 4:8 Above all keep your love for one another fervent, because love covers a multitude of sins. 4:9 Show hospitality to one another without complaining. 4:10 Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of the varied grace of God. 4:11 Whoever speaks, let it be with God’s words. Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies
· So while we wait for Christ to return and have things that we as a church are supposed to do, what exactly are those things?
· Much of the answer to that question is going to be covered in the coming weeks as we look at the nature of the church but Peter does give us some things to consider.
· All of the tasks of the church are designed to move us to a singular purpose that should motivate all the activities of the church.
· Peter provides us with six things that are essential for the church.
· First he instructs us that prayer is extremely important.
· He emphasizes that we are to be self-controlled and sober minded.
· Both of these commands are used synonymously by Peter to tell us that we are to stay alert and do not be distracted.
· As we all know there is much that can distract us from the very important task of prayer. This happens now and happened in the early church.
· Acts 6:1-4:
6:1 Now in those days, when the disciples were growing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Greek-speaking Jews against the native Hebraic Jews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 6:2 So the twelve called the whole group of the disciples together and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to wait on tables. 6:3 But carefully select from among you, brothers, seven men who are well-attested, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this necessary task. 6:4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
· There was so much important work to do that the work of prayer could be neglected. We can be so busy doing the work of God that we neglect to spend time building our relationship with God through prayer.
· So Peter reminds us: do not be distracted from the important task of prayer.
· Second, he tells us to love one another.
· He tells us that love has such ability that it can even cover sins. He provides a quote from Proverbs 10:12 for the purpose of communicating to us that our love for each other should bring with it a great deal of mercy and grace.
· The unity of the church is in large part dependant upon us being willing to bear one another’s burdens.
· This does not mean that we dismiss sin, but that we love each other despite our sin.
· We need to deal with sin and even hate it but that does mean that we hate the person.
· Our love must extend to such far reaching places that we are willing to walk with a person as they deal with their sin without condemnation.
· Next he instructs us to show hospitality to one another. This may have been in the areas of hosting the group of believers in each other’s homes.
· It may have also referred among other things to welcoming traveling ministers and teachers.
· Hospitality is not being so much emphasized by Peter as a gift but as part of a way of thinking when doing other ministry.
· He mentions that it is to be done without complaining-there is a real danger that when we extend our care to others that some may take advantage of it or it will not be appreciated as was expected.
· The church is to exercise care in all it does in order to demonstrate and reflect the care with which Christ gave us.
· Fourth, each one of us if we are followers have received at least one gift from God besides his gift of salvation.
· Peter does not get into various kinds of gifts in details but rather wants to emphasis where and how they are used.
· For more detail on some of the gifts that God gives to us we would have to turn to such passages as Rom. 12 and 1 Cor. 12
· He wants us to remember that the gift or gifts given to you by God are not used for your own benefit but for the building up of the church.
· He wants us to remember that if we are to be good stewards of these gifts we need to use them, they are not something that you use when you choose but is given to you so that you can contribute to the Kingdom of God-his church.
· The fifth task laid out for the church is that of speaking-more clearly that of teaching and instruction.
· He is not referring to casual conversation but to the speaking, instruction and teaching that takes place in worship.
· There is a great deal of truth in this world and just because something is spoken outside of the church does not mean that it is wrong.
· Everything that is true is God’s truth but not all wisdom is God’s wisdom.
· There are some things that are wise but only from the perspective of this world and so Peter reminds us that when we teach it is to be thoroughly Biblically based.
· I have read many very good Christian books written by devout followers of God but not for one second do I believe that any truth or wisdom they can express replaces or comes close to equality with the Word of God.
· The church by its very definition must be a place where the Bible is primary.
· Finally Peter states that the church is to serve.
· And just in case you were wondering how you were to serve or how you were going to find the time to serve or whether you would have the ability or gifting to serve Peter makes it clear that service for God is provided by his strength.
· Doing good should not be done in our own might but with God’s power.
· For us to take on tasks that can be done with our own abilities and strength only means that we can get away with not relying on God and also that our thinking is too small.
· When we serve by God’s strength we will find ourselves in ministry in ways that we may never have thought possible.
During Vacation Bible School one year, a pastor’s wife had an experience with her primary class that can teach us all a great lesson. About an hour before dismissal one evening, a new student was brought into the room. The little boy had one arm missing, and since the class was almost over, the teacher had no opportunity to learn the details of his situation, but she was nervous that one of the other children would say something insensitive to him, so she preceded cautiously with the lesson. As the class time came to a close, she asked the children to join her in their usual closing ceremony. “Let’s make our churches,” she said, putting her hands together to form the “church.” “Here’s the church and here’s the steeple, open the doors and …” Suddenly the awful truth struck her. The very thing she had feared that the children would do, she had done. As she stood there speechless, the little girl sitting next to the boy reached over with her left hand and placed it up to his right hand and said, “Josh, let’s make the church together.”
· Peter only mentions a few of the things that should be done in the church but they are some of the most important.
· We are to pray, love, care, use our gifts, teach the Word and serve.
· These are not activities performed in isolation but in community.
· The church is not a person it is a fellowship of people working towards the same purpose.
The Church Does Everything for a Purpose (4:11c)
so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
· In everything we are called to give glory or praise or worship to God.
· Take for a moment your Bible or the bulletin in your hands-look at the words-read some of them to yourself.
· How did you do any of that?
· Your hands moved the book, your eyes saw the words and your brain processed them so that you could understand them.
· Think about the things you do in the church?
· Do you lead, help with making coffee, lead worship, pray, instruct children or set up chairs?
· How did you do any of that?
· For the Christian it is easy to answer that all of these things come from God.
· He created me with the ability to hold a book and read its words.
· He gave me gifts for his service.
· If you do not know Jesus to whom do you acknowledge anything?
· As a Christian we should be giving God the glory for all things but we would not do so if it was not for Jesus Christ.
· Through his atoning sacrifice on the cross we could come into a relationship with him and finally understand from where we get every breath and every ability.
· This is no less true when it comes to the church.
· The work of the church is not to be done without recognizing that there is nothing we do that should not be honoring to God.
· When you pray you should do it to the glory of God.
· When you set up chairs do it to the glory of God.
· When you serve at Menno home do it to the glory of God.
· When you teach do it to the glory of God.
· When you sing do it to the glory of God.
· When you care for someone do it to the glory of God.
· When you forgive do it to the glory of God.
· The danger that enters the church and sidetracks its purpose is that in each of us is the ability and often desire to seek glory for ourselves.
· When we are willing to compromise our Christian walk for the sake of our reputation we are seeking our own glory.
· When we are concerned what people will think rather than what God would think we are seeking our own glory.
· When we remain bitter and will not forget we are seeking our own glory.
· When we pray with flowery and impressive words we are seeking our own glory.
· When we teach to impress rather than to help others grow we are seeking our own glory.
· When we serve in the community making sure others see us we are seeking our own glory.
· Peter makes it crystal clear that none of the glory belongs to us.
· Not today, not tomorrow, not ever for he is to be praised, exalted, glorified and honored forever and ever without ceasing and without compromise.
· Everything we are or will be or do should cause us to thank God and give him the glory.
· So as believers-individually and also as a church is God getting all the glory?
· Are there parts of our lives and church that God would not want the glory because what we are doing or how we are doing it?
· It is important for our lives and this church that God is the center of all things.
J. S. Bach said, “All music should have no other end and aim than the glory of God and the soul’s refreshment; where this is not remembered there is no real music but only a devilish hub-bub.” He headed his compositions: “J. J.” “Jesus Juva” which means “Jesus help me.” He ended them “S. D. G.” “Soli Dei gratia” which means “To God alone the praise.”
· May it be our purpose to begin every day, week, year and life with praise to God and may we end it the same way.
The glory of God, and, as our only means to glorifying Him, the salvation of human souls, is the real business of life. - C. S. Lewis.
· It is without a doubt that we as a church can be doing many things.
· We will not have the same objectives or tasks as another church down the road.
· We may not have the same programs or ministries.
· We may have a different structure of leadership.
· We may have different emphasis in various places in our doctrinal beliefs.
· But churches and the people who make up those churches need to make the glorification of God as their highest purpose.
· So we need a vision as to what God would have us do.
· We need to state our mission in this community and around the world
· But behind it all must be the focus of doing it all for the glory of God.
· As Christians it is no different.
· In your family, job, school, leisure activities, purchases, words and actions there is one question you must ask: Is this giving God all the glory, honor and praise he deserves?