Good Morning New Journey!
It is a blessing to have you join with other Brothers and Sisters in Christ from around Wabash County and even the United States. Paul writes that
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:4-6 NIV
Even if you are feeling alone right now, you are not. No more can my hand say it is alone than you can say you are alone. For while my hand is connected to the rest of my body through flesh, bone, and nerves, you are connected to the Church through faith, the Sacraments, and the Holy Spirit.
Can I just say, if you need a phone call, a prayer, or some interaction, make sure you reach out to us. You can become a member of the New Journey Facebook Group. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Join our prayer night on Wednesday Evening at 6:30p or one of the women’s online groups. We are working on one for men as well. But, don’t give in to isolation. We are stronger together.
Having shared this, I’d like for you to join me in a responsive reading about the Body of Christ, found in 1 Corinthians 12 and 13. I’ll read the first part, you read the second part.
Leader: Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.
Congregation: For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body
Leader: —whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free… we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
Congregation: Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
Leader: And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
Congregation: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
Amen. Let’s pray.
God in Heaven, thank You for the gift of our one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one Father of all. Through You we have all we need. Let us not run on empty fumes this morning and the rest of our upcoming week. But, let us come to You, the source of life. Bless now this time of worship through song, prayer, and the hearing of Your Word.
At this moment, I invite you to stand and sing together. Don’t forget to look around and say, “It’s okay to sing bad here!” Let’s make a joyful noise to Him.
Thank you, band. It’s now time to go to prayer.
Right now, go around the room and share prayer requests. And, after everyone has shared, pray for the person on your right.
If you’ve never prayed out loud before, simple say “Lord Jesus, please be with _______” If you feel led to pray more, great. If not, that’s okay. But, it will get you started. For larger groups, split into smaller groups. If you’re online, please share as much as you are comfortable so we might lift one another up to God. Here’s a five-minute count-down.
Yes, God in Heaven, we lift these prayer to You. Amen.
Alright, now let’s jump into our message for the day. And, to get us started we have a couple of discussion questions. These will be quite fun. First, which do you hear, the words “Yanny” or the words “Laurel”?
This is an interesting phenomenon which has to do with pitch, waves, and I hate to say it, but often age! I won’t tell you which age group often hears which version.
Next, take a look at this image. Tell each other what color of dress this is.
[put up image]
Do you see a white and gold dress? Or a black and blue dress?
- What do you hear? Yanny or Laurel?
- What do you see—a blue and black dress or a white and gold dress?
What was that like for you? Isn’t it interesting that depending on our personal view, reality appears different.
This gets us into our topic this morning—perspective.
The past few weeks we have been working our way through the book of 1 Peter. This letter was written to Jews experiencing persecution and hardship. I felt that, since we all are also experiencing a great trial, we could glean a great deal from Peter’s instruction.
The letter began by talking about the reality of things we cannot see. The necessity of receiving new birth, God’s power, and the benefits of suffering through faith. After this, we discussed how Christians are called to live between now and Heaven. We hope in Jesus’ return, honor God, and stay thankful.
Now, we talk about how to live with a Heavenly-perspective.
First, Peter encourages us to
- Live Like You’re Loved
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 1 Peter 1:22 NIV
The Scripture here says “now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth” Clearly, we are about to be told some instructions on how to live, now that we have believed the Gospel. What it means to have been purified is to have been justified before God. Becoming, clean, white as snow, forgiven “just-as-if-I’d” never sinned. This happened when we obeyed the truth, literally becoming subject to what we have believed.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes my heart doesn’t believe my head. I know Christ died for me, while I was yet a sinner, but I don’t feel that it is true. Yet, Peter is clear, we are purified when we obey the truth. When we confess with our mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart He is raised from the dead, Paul writes in Romans, that point we are saved. Obey the truth, submit to it, even if it’s hard.
The second part of this verse is what we ought to do once we submit to the truth of God’s sacrificial love for you and I. It’s to, in turn, love each other the same way.
You see, when our perspective changes. When we realize that we aren’t the center of the universe, that life isn’t all about me being happy, and that I have sinned against the Maker of Heaven and Earth, I’m put in a very humble position. When I recognize my depravity before an all-Holy God who owes nothing to me, yet provided for me every day, I am more ready to realize just how great, then, is His love. Though He didn’t have to, though we do not deserve it, our Father in Heaven came to Earth as Jesus to suffer the burden and pain of our sin. Such is His love for us that He confined Himself to the body of a baby in poverty, a life without a home, and a naked, shameful death between two criminals.
This leads us to ask a couple of questions of ourselves:
Application Questions: 1) Have I obeyed the truth? That is, have I accepted the truth that Jesus died for me, even me, though I didn’t deserve it? have I accepted my salvation through Him? 2) Have I come to grips with His forgiveness and love in such a way that I can’t help but forgive and love others?
They are connected aren’t they? Once we realize how much we have been forgiven, it’s a lot easier to forgive others. When we realize the difficult truth that, truly, all we deserve is Hell, and yet we will have a seat at God’s table, how can we hold the sins of others against them?
There’s a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father. On Saturday 800 “Pacos” showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.
If you’re watching this right now, your father wants to forgive you and love you, and He wants you to forgive and love your friends, neighbors, family, and co-workers, too.
Next, Peter says, now we must
- Live Like You’re New
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:23 NIV
Peter puts an exclamation point on his first argument by saying, “you ought to live different now, you’ve actually been born again! And not by a human either!” We are being encouraged to change our perspective away from living according to our sinful flesh, society, and perhaps upbringing. Instead, we are to live completely new. Our behaviors ought to now be dictated by the Holy Spirit, the Church, and the Bible.
If you really think about it, Peter makes a great point. He says that the way you’ve been born is different than the way you were born into the world. It’s different in that this new birth is lasting. The way you live now, is the way you will now live FOREVER. When you obeyed the truth of Christ, you were made new in Him so much that you’ll never need to be made new again. Sure, your body will be made new, but your heart, your soul, it has been made new with the imperishable, enduring word of God.
Application Question: 1) Are you living new, or living stuck? 2) Are you living according to the flesh, society, and your past? Or, 3) are you living according to the Spirit, the Church, and the Bible?
I’ve been blessed to attend some adoption ceremonies. For the Beachlers and for our good friends, the Kipfers. We also know several of you have blessed young people through foster care. Thank you for your love and support through their difficult time. While both adoption and foster care are essential ways of caring for the least of these. There is a huge difference between a foster placement and an adoption ceremony. One is filled with unknowns, timelines, and stress. The other is filled with certainty, permanence, and joy.
Let me tell you, once you give your life to Jesus Christ, don’t act like you’re going to go back into the foster care system, spiritually. God isn’t going to kick you out. Even if you fight with Him, yell at Him, and wrestle with Him. You aren’t His first rodeo and He knew what He was doing on the Cross. You have been adopted! So, can I encourage you… live like it! Jess and I watched Instant Family last year and were reminded of how hard it is to believe we are actually wanted once we’ve grown used to being unlovable. Folks, our God is different. You’re part of the family now. So, live like it!
- Live Like You’re Passing-Through
For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:24 NIV
Peter emphasizes here that the temporary things around us are going to fade away. No, not love, friendship, and worship. But, money, fame, and self-importance. He writes that it is our “glory” that withers like flowers. One season we have a great reputation and some money in the bank. Another season it’s gone. But, there is something that lasts forever: God’s Word.
And that “forever thing” has been given to you as a gift. You see, the rest of the world has nothing to grasp onto. They try money, they try sex, they try power, they try drugs, but it’s all paper rungs on a paper ladder. They can’t get a grip. But, you can. God’s Word is eternal. It is strong. It is sufficient. You have access to it through the Holy Spirit in prayer, the counsel of other Believers, and the Bible.
Application Question: 1) Where is your focus? The temporary or eternal? 2) What “paper rungs” are you reaching for? 3) How can you turn your perspective to Heaven?
Ultimately, we are passing through. All that we fill our minds with, mobile phone games, movies, or other pursuits may be fun for a while, but it often becomes our treasure, our hope, and our focus. Instead, we ought to think about Heaven, where the treasure is relationships, faith, creativity, laughter, learning, building, and intimacy with God.
There’s a famous scene in the New Testament where Jesus calls Peter to go walk out on the water. Yes, the same Peter who wrote this letter we’re studying. And, Peter does it! He walks on the water. But, when he focuses on the wind and the waves, he sinks. Instead of keeping his eyes on Jesus, walking on nothing more than the promise from His lips, he was part of a miracle. When Peter looked away from Jesus he found himself grasping in the air and ultimately falling in the water. Peter lost perspective, but maybe he can convince you not to.
The band is going to lead us now in the song “I will praise you in this storm” and it is my hope that you think about Peter as we sing. Peter knows about storms. The Early Christians did. We, today, do. But our perspective is that of living like we’re loved, living like we’re new, and living like we’re passing through.
Please, join me.
Eph. 6:23-24 – Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.