Friday, December 09, 2011

Peter's Powerful Testimony Pt 7

They aren't going to applaud. They aren't going to honor. They aren't going to understand.
But you have to do what is right anyway.........

I Peter 3 Finally, all of you, uhave unity of mind, sympathy, vbrotherly love,wa tender heart, and xa humble mind. yDo not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, zbless, for ato this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 Forb“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
11 let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
13 Now cwho is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 dBut even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. eHave no fear of them, fnor be troubled, 15 but gin your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, halways being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and irespect, 16 jhaving a good conscience, so that, kwhen you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For lit is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil. (ESV)
Peter finishes up this major point by pointing to an ongoing reality.....

Let's pick up again the flow of what he is saying:
Believers/followers of Christ have been born again to a living hope .
That hope is rooted in the gospel: the death and resurrection of Christ for the salvation of sinners.

This message is securely in the Scriptures, it takes root in the heart, and produces a fruit of a pursuit of holiness- mostly manifest in a love and submission to God. This is a process where evil attitudes and behavior are put away and the people of God clearly demonstrate love and service to one another- not as 'rule keeping' but a sincere change of motives and desires.

But all of this takes place in an arena of challenge and combat.

Christ is our treasure..... but He is an offense to unbelievers.

But our exhortation is to never retreat from the world... on the contrary, we are called to live out the life God has called us to in full view of the rebels. We are to proclaim the good news and answer the charges or questions that come from those who do not call Christ Lord.

As in any competition or battle there are certain fundamentals that should adorn our life:
Peter says we should 'have' these things.

1) Unity of mind
2) Brotherly love
3) Tender hearts
4) Humble minds

Interesting list: Christianity has been said to be a 'full contact sport' touching all the modes of human experience: mind-emotions-will- this list overlaps and yet is distinct as well. How about it? Do we have these qualities... we should HAVE them.

These attributes have results- example- IF we have unity, love, tender hearts, and humble minds we will NOT repay evil for evil- we will NOT revile.. instead we will bless- THIS IS OUR CALLING.

I picture Peter hearing the Lord's voice as He preached the Sermon on the Mount.

I love that Peter immediately goes to His Scripture, the OT, and quotes Psalm 34:12-16.

Look at that passage again! What if God came to your front door, rang the doorbell, and asked the question: Do you want to love life and see good days? Who on earth would say NO?
And he then gave instructions:
Speak no evil
Be honest
Turn from evil and DO good
Seek peace
I'm watching you and I will be for you and answer your prayers.

How fired up would we be?

And so we set out to do it. Really get after it. We walk around encouraging people, serving others, loving.

We then find something strange... we aren't really winning the adulation of the world. In fact, people are pretty hostile!

Peter follows up with advanced instructions:
Don't be afraid of those who hate you or seek to destroy you... they really can't harm you.
Don't be troubled- Do not let them ruin your day.

It is almost like Peter says- "Jesus taught me this... when you are persecuted, when you suffer for righteousness sake- you will be blessed!

Instead, keep honoring Christ is your heart and be prepared to answer the questions and charges with gentleness and respect- in other words, we never sink into the mire- we keep walking as that Son of the King and when people see our actions, it makes the enemies seem worse in the long run.

One year ago today, I was fired from my job. I finished my last Bible class, felt really good about the work I had done that year. I had worked hard, lost weight, faithfully taught God's Word, prayed more than I ever had, and did my best work ever as a football coach. I still believe had our starting Qb not broken his collar bone in our last game, we were going to make a serious run in the playoffs. My seniors that season sang 'A Mighty Fortress is Our God' on their own before they took the field that season. I was teaching Sunday School and had just been unanimously voted as an elder in my church. My daughter stood in front of our parents at the football banquet and gave the sweetest testimony to God's grace as the captain of our cheerleaders. I had a great peace that God was with me everyday.

All of that came to an end in a 20 minute meeting. I was called in and put out. No reasons given, 'just we are making a change'. ( I have only heard from one of those people once or twice by e-mail. Most of those who wanted me out will likely never speak to me again. I just prayed, shook the dust off my feet, and walked into the providence of God's great plan for me. I did have dozens of beautiful, godly friends who have continued to bless me by checking in and encouraging me.)

There are no words to describe the pain I felt, the hurt, the shame of driving to my wife's work and tell her   I no longer had a job. The fear of what I was going to do. I had a senior daughter about to go to college and I had no job prospect that seemed to indicate anything except a serious pay cut. The job market and economy was at low levels. How can I tell my girls? How can I sell my house?

But my wife was a champ. She celebrated! She hugged me, wiped away my tears and said- God is going to show up in ways you never imagined.

One year later, I can testify to the truth of God's promises here. He walked with me in personal and powerful ways. From Dec 9, 2010 until May 2011 I have never had a more tangible experience with Christ, it was amazing... life changing.

And the evidence? I had a job offer in 24 hours from men who told me take my time and search out all my options before taking their offer. I ran a marathon in 5 hours and 20 minutes. I took a better job for a better salary.  I sold my house and closed on both my old and new home on the same day.

I am in a place with the best environment of love, encouragement, and spiritual zeal I have ever seen. I was able to pay for my daughter's tuition and watch her cheer every week. My other two daughter's were welcomed to our new school with open arms and both have told me it was the greatest spiritual growth they have ever experienced as well. There is a student led revival going on in my new school which has been a buzz in the community and impacted my children as well!  My wife lives 1.78 miles from her sister and found a job within a week of our moving.

But even if life takes a different turn- I will never change from the conviction that God is good! My hope is a living hope as well!

So I close with this:
To follow Christ is sweet.
But it is never done for the satisfaction of men.
It is always done for the glory of God.

My prayer is that you will not see me, I am a sinner- but you will see that all of us can find this kind of hope in Jesus!

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