26 Jun 1st Peter #8 – Pray for the Best, Prepare for the Worst (1 Peter 4:12-19)
– Well howdy, we are going to be in the book of 1 Peter. We go through books of the bible, if you’re new, we’re glad to have you. And that’s going to be a nine weeks in 1 Peter, this is week eight. We’ll finish next week and as you’re finding your place in 1 Peter, I know many of you, both in person and online are new, and this is the bible. This is what we’re going to be studying this week and every week and I want you to know that this is the book that God wrote. And so if you want a word from God, you need to open the word of God. This is how God primarily, has chosen to speak to us. And when it comes to the scriptures, ultimately this book is for you, but it’s not primarily about you. It’s for you, but it’s not primarily about you. For those of you that have been with me for a while, who’s it primarily about? It’s about Jesus, it’s about Jesus. So the book is about Jesus and it is for you and me and what we’re going to do, we’re going to look at the life of Jesus and then we’re going to look at our life and what it means to follow in his footsteps, as a follower of Christ. And one big word I want to introduce to you tonight and it’ll jump into 1 Peter 4, starting in verse 12. It’s the first word that we’ll hit in just a moment. It’s the word beloved, beloved. It’s a great word. How many of you, you’re dating, engaged, married, happily married, heading toward an anniversary? It’s that kind of warmth and affection. How many of you are a parent? You’ve got a little kid that you like, you love, you enjoy. How many of you are grandparents? Amen. That’s varsity love right there. That’s varsity love, grandparent. And if you look at your grand kid or your kid and you have just deep affection, great love, great devotion, great appreciation, great delight in them, that all fits within the language of what it means to be the beloved. And so what Peter is going to tell us is that first and foremost, Jesus Christ is beloved. He writes two letters first and second Peter. We’ll finish 1 Peter next week and then we’ll jump into 2 Peter the following week. And he uses this word beloved about eight times and he uses it in 2 Peter 1, I think it’s around verse 17, for Jesus. And he goes back to one of the most amazing, important, significant moments in human history. Jesus Christ, God comes to the earth. He’s getting baptized by his cousin John, in the Jordan. Jesus comes up out of the water and it says that here is the son of God coming out of the water. The spirit of God descends upon Jesus in the form of a dove and God, the father, speaks from heaven. For those of you that know the story, what did he say? This is my beloved son, beloved son. The father looked from heaven at God the son and said, that’s my beloved, that’s my beloved. So Jesus is beloved. And then what Peter says is that you also, if you are a Christian or become a Christian, and I hope and trust and pray that you would, if you are not already, that you too are in the same position as Jesus beloved, beloved. There is nothing more encouraging than that. But here’s where I want to set up our discussion together. When you look at the life of Jesus and what he goes through and how he’s treated and what he suffers, does it look like he’s loved by God? It doesn’t. He’s hated, he’s used, he’s abused, he’s stolen, from he’s abandoned, he’s betrayed, he’s ignored, he’s denied, he’s falsely tried, he is arrested, he is murdered. You would not look at Jesus’ life and say, that looks like he was loved, but he was loved. And you too are loved, even when it doesn’t feel like you’re being loved. And then the question is, how do we follow in his footsteps on the days that are the most painful, the most difficult, in the seasons that are the most tempting and the most troubling and the most trying? And what we’re going to do today is we’re going to ask this question, how can we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, as the beloved, even what it doesn’t feel or look like we are beloved as he was? And so today’s sermon is pray for the best prepare for the worst. And a few things I just want to tell you first, that there is this powerful lie, tremendously powerful lie, that if you do the right thing, good things will happen. Any of you been told that by your mom? Your mom lied to you. I hate to tell you that, your mom lied to you. She meant well, but how many of you, you were told if you do the right thing, things are going to go well? Did Jesus do the right thing? Yes. Did things go well? No. So that can’t be true. It can’t be true that if you always do the right thing, that things will go well. In addition, suffering is a way of worshiping God, okay? Our church, most churches before the sermon, there’s singing and people say, that’s how we worship. There’s another way to worship and that is learning to not just sing, but also to suffer. And that suffering is part of our worshiping as much as our singing is. And so if you’re going to sing for God, you also need to suffer like God, both of which are ways that we worship God and they are ways that Jesus worship God. Now that being said, this sets up our discussion together. We’ll jump right in to 1 Peter 4:12, and I’m going to talk to you today about preparing for fiery trials, suffering and slander, and suffering for doing good. So if you are encouraged, I’m here to fix that. If you were here hopeful, I’m going to pull the bottom out and it’s going to be really great for me. All right, here we go, 1 Peter 4:12. What’s the first word? Beloved. So you are loved by God. You can’t, you can’t be loved by God any more, no matter what you do, you won’t be loved by God any less. God’s love for you is now predicated upon your performance, but the perfect performance of Jesus. So your relational security with God is totally established. He loves you. He can’t love you anymore and he won’t love you any less. Just rest in that, receive that, rejoice in that. Beloved do not be shocked, surprised when, what? Fiery trial. Any of you in one? We all are, right? Fiery trial is the Greek word for America. We’re all in it kids, were all in it, okay. Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, it’s a test. It’s not a punishment, it’s a test. As though something strange, unexpected, totally bizarre, who would have thought this could have ever happened to me? Why is my life so difficult? Were happening to you, were happening to you and what he’s talking about is seasons of life have what he calls fiery trials. What language does that conjure up? Hell, it’s like hell has come up into your life. When you think of fire, you think of hell or Phoenix, either way. It’s just hot, it’s unpleasant, it’s uncomfortable. Earlier, in 1 Peter in chapter one, he said that you have suffered various trials and then by the end of 1 Peter in chapter four, he talks about fiery trial. What that means is it’s getting hotter, it’s getting worse, it’s getting more difficult, it’s getting more complicated. Okay, how many of you have recently moved to the Valley? We’re the fastest growing city and county in America. How many of you notice that it’s gotten hotter? Have you noticed that? Somebody asked me recently, they’re like, is 115 hot? No, it’s freezing. Yeah, it’s hot! It’s hot, yeah it’s hot. Well, does it feel, yeah, it feels hot! It always feels hot, right? What happens in the Valley is it’ll be warm and then there’s a season where it heats up and it gets increasingly uncomfortable. What he’s saying is that there are seasons like that. 1 Peter chapter one told us that there would be various trials. It’s hot out. By chapter four it’s summertime in Phoenix, okay. And if you’re new here, June, July, August are the beast, the false prophet and the antichrist. They unleash hell on earth. It’s going to get really hot, fiery retrial, amen. If you don’t trust my double dog dare, you go for a walk on sidewalk, barefooted. I just double dogged dare ya. You’re going to see it’s fiery trial. But what he’s talking about here is that life is getting harder, not easier. And just to give you a context, he’s writing under the leadership of the Roman Empire, which was the largest, longest standing, most global and affluent and powerful nation on the earth. It was their version of the United States of America. And what was happening at that time is that the nation was in the process of self destructing. Okay, isn’t it shocking that that could happen? Aren’t we glad it’s not like that for us. The nation was in the process of self destructing. Racial groups were fighting. Political groups were fighting. Ethnic groups were fighting. Cities, nation states, regions were fighting. It wasn’t all of the external problems. It was the internal problems that were causing the self destruction largely, of the Roman Empire. And what happened was they didn’t like Christians. Christians were a small minority group. Our religion was outlawed at that time and we were considered a problem because we wouldn’t worship the emperor and we wouldn’t go along with all the other religions, faiths and beliefs. And it’s because ultimately, Christians believe that there is God and there is Satan and that everything God creates Satan counterfeits. And so God’s kingdom, it’s economic, it’s political, it’s social, it’s spiritual. And Satan tries to overtake and to mimic the kingdom of God with the kingdom of darkness. And as a result, the Christians said, we can’t worship Caesar, we worship Jesus. Our highest allegiance is not to the Roman Empire. It’s to the kingdom of God. We know that there are certain laws and rules that have been put into place, but our final authority rests in the word of God. That put them at odds with their nation and their culture. Sound familiar? Yes. Because the names and the places changed, but the spirits at work behind them never do. And so what happens is, now there is opposition to Christianity and he prophesied here in 1 Peter 4:12, that it’s going to go from opposition to full blown persecution. Full blown and I’m telling you, I think this is where we’re going. And I tell you this, not to scare you, but to prepare you. And he was not trying to scare them, but to prepare them. And 1 Peter 4:12, he says, don’t be shocked when the fiery trial comes. And what he was saying is it’s going to get worse before it gets better. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. And what was going to happen then, is in the year 64 A.D., the Roman emperor Nero, who was a godly, horrible, evil, demonic man killed those who work near him. He was a megalomaniac. He was the worst kind of dictator. He was the Adolf Hitler of his day. The Jewish people thought that he was the antichrist. I mean, he literally was the same spirit of Adolph Hitler. He just loved killing God’s people and he loved particularly, killing Jewish believers. That was his thing to do. Fire broke out in Rome where Nero ruled and reigned and the great city of Rome, he was away, celebrating his birthday, kind of on vacation. Didn’t really hustle back to Rome and ultimately the fire burned for about five days. Fire went through the entire great city of Rome, the jewel of the Roman Empire. And he didn’t really put the fire out very aggressively. As a result, all of the people who lost their businesses, they lost their homes and they lost their loved ones, they turned against him. It was a massive political revolt. It was, it was riots and protests. Sound familiar? Right, see this isn’t an old book, it’s an eternal book. So it’s not outdated. It’s constantly timely for every date because history isn’t just what happened. It’s what always happens. That’s why the word of God is always timeless and timely. So they have riots and protests and looting and people are revolting and they’re opposing the government and Nero realizes we’ve got to do something. And what he decides is to blame the Christians for the fire. Because they’d started a rumor, the citizens had, that Nero let the fire burn or that he perhaps started it, because he wanted the city to burn down so that he could build it back up in his own image. to his own glory. And he said, oh, I didn’t start the fire and I tried to put the fire out, but there are these weird groups of people called Christians that talk about the flames of hell and the judgments of the unbelievers. I think they started the fire. Now, Christians are a small minority group. We are an outlawed religion. We are opposed to the state and the worship of the emperor. There is just mob rule and vengeance. Everybody is angry and picketing and protesting and rioting and Nero says, you know what? The Christians did it, take it out on them. And they did. This became literally, the fiery trial. Peter here was, I believe, prophesying what was about to happen, the fire in Rome. It was a fiery trial. It was a fire in Rome that became a fiery trial for the Christians in the Roman Empire. At this point, it went from opposition to Christianity, to state-sponsored persecution of Christianity. Now Nero started having Christians fed to the lions in the gladiatorial games in their arenas. He would wrap us in pitch and resin, he would run us through with a stake, still alive, and he would put us in the ground and we would sit there until everyone showed up for his evening state dinner parties and he would light us on fire as the party torches. Okay, we tend to think it’s bad because this is the worst it’s been for us, but it’s been much worse. In addition, he would take Christians and draw and quarter us. Meaning he would affix our forelimbs to horses and then whip them and we would be roped tied to each horse and as they scattered in four directions, we would be dismembered, left alive to die painfully and slowly. These are the people to whom Peter writes. And what ultimately was going to happen is that Nero was going to kill Paul, the author of the majority of the new Testament books, and he was going to oversee the murder, the execution, the martyrdom, of Peter who warned them about the fiery trial. Now, this being said, the position that they were in was one where they were in trouble, not for doing something wrong, but doing what God said was right. You, my friend are going to get in trouble. The question is, who will you get in trouble with and what will you get in trouble for? If you do what the world says, you will get in trouble with God. If you do what God says, you will get in trouble with the world. The question is not, will you get in trouble. Who will you get in trouble with and what will you get in trouble for? That’s what Peter is addressing. So let me say a few things about this fiery trial. Number one, this ain’t heaven so don’t be shocked when hell shows up. This ain’t heaven, so don’t be shocked when hell shows up. Number two, if you are for God, then eventually the culture and the government will be against you. If you are for God, eventually the culture and the government will be against you. Number three, don’t confuse the world’s hatred of you with the Father’s heart for you. What you can think is my life is really hard, I thought God loved me. And I would say, first go back to Jesus, God loved him, the Father loved him and his life was very hard. Just because your life is hard does not mean that the Father’s heart is not filled with love. It means that if you are with the Father, that means you are against the world and the world will treat you as it treated his son. And number four, some issues are national and global. They are felt personally, but they’re not personal. Okay, the citizens of Rome included the Christians, there’s political upheaval. There is lots of rioting. There’s lots of cultural opposition to the government. There’s lots of racial and political, economic, social, cultural conflict. It included them, but it wasn’t specifically targeted to them, individually. Here’s what I’m telling you, national and global issues are not personal, but they are personally experienced. What that means is that we’re all on the boat together. So if you’re saying, man, I feel seasick, I’m throwing up, I can’t stand it anymore. It feels personal, but it’s not personal. We’re all on the same boat. Emotionally, I want you to connect with what Peter is saying to the believers and what they’re dealing with culturally, economically. That things were against them and it was going to get worse. It was going to get worse. And my job, as Peter’s job, is to prepare you for reality. I can’t change the future, but I can introduce you to the God who will change you so that you can endure the future. Number two, prepare for suffering and slander. Some of you are like gosh, why did I come this week? I heard this guy had a potty mouth and made jokes. Why did I miss that sermon? All right, prepare for suffering and slander. And that’s why I sometimes get slandered. 1 Peter 4:13-16, but what? Fiery trial rejoice. How many of you are like, I don’t man, I don’t get it. How many of you are like, I’m on fire could somebody please give me a kazoo? You like what, rejoice? Rejoice? Rejoice in so far as you share whose sufferings? Christ’s sufferings. When you’re going through it look to Jesus who has gone through it. He was beloved, you are beloved. He found a way to rejoice. You need to find a way to rejoice. We’ll deal with that in a moment. But rejoice, insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings that you may also what? He says it again, rejoice and then he adds a bonus round and be glad. You’re like man, I can’t even fake it till I make it. I mean, I got to like really be happy. Yes. When his glory is revealed, if you are what? Does this still happen insulted? Right, mocked, named-called, slandered. Have you heard of something called the internet? It’s still happening. It’s still happening. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed. Does it feel like it? One do chuckles, that’s rejoice and be glad. No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t feel like you’re blessed. Let me explain all this because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you, but let none of you, for the Christians, suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or a meddler who keeps posting comments on Facebook when they should go pray for that person and stop talking to them. That’s what it means in the Greek. I know it’s very complicated, I’m a scholar. Trust me, that’s exactly what it means. And if you’re on Facebook right now, stop typing. Okay, yet, if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be what? Everybody else has got a parade. Why should we be ashamed? But let him glorify God in that name. So the first thing he says is, okay, think about Jesus. He was beloved. Did it look like he was beloved, no, because what did he endure? Suffering and slander. He’s talking here about Jesus Christ and suffering and slander. Did Jesus Christ, while he walked on the earth, did he suffer? Absolutely. Was he slandered? Yes, he was. Yes, he was. He was slandered. I wrote down a little list of some of the things that they said about Jesus and they still do. They said he was a glutton. That meant that he was an addict. They also said that he was a drunkard, that he was an alcoholic. They also said that he was a friend of sinners. Boy, he hangs out with some really shady characters, gets invited to parties. We don’t know what goes on there because we don’t get invited. And also we wouldn’t go because we’re the Holy people of God but boy, you should see the gals with clear heels going in. Not sure what’s going on there. I’m sure it’s very nefarious. There’s probably not enough hand sanitizer to make that a safe distance, okay. They also said that he was illegitimately born, which means that his mother slept with a lot of guys and they didn’t even know who his daddy was. Not only that, they drug his mama in the fight. That’s bad. He looked at him, he says, I know who my father is. They said, no, you don’t. He said, well, I know who your father is. Your father is the devil, okay. So rock paper, scissors, devil, okay. Jesus wins. They also said he was demon-possessed. That’s pretty bad. When the religious leaders, the bible teachers, say that you’re demon possessed. He was also arrested as a criminal. Can you imagine today, Jesus in an orange jumpsuit, on an episode of cops going into the back of a patrol car? They also recorded and reported that his family thought he’d lost his mind, disowned him for a while. He was then arrested. He was mocked King of the Jews. We stuck a crown of thorns on his head in mockery. And while he’s dying on the cross, they slandered and insulted him and said, look, he saved others, he can’t even save himself. Jesus was beloved. He suffered and was slandered. To be beloved of God means to suffer and experience slandering in the world. Number two, Jesus, if you looked at him, did he look like a guy who had joy and rejoicing and gladness? No. In Isaiah old Testament books, 700 years before he was born, he’s called the suffering servant and a man of sorrows. The shortest verse in the new Testament is Jesus wept. The bible says he was beloved, but he endured suffering and slander. The bible says that he had joy. I think it’s in Luke 12:41, if memory serves me correct, it says that Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, that his emotional disposition was joy. That part of the fruit of the spirit is joy. That Jesus was filled with the spirit of God and he had joy. Now here’s the difference, there’s a difference between joy in your life and enjoying your life. You don’t have to enjoy your life to have joy in your life because your joy is in the Lord, it’s not in your life. So the joy of the Lord is your strength. It doesn’t say that the joy of your life is your strength. Jesus had joy, amidst weeping and suffering and frustration and anxiety. It says this in Hebrews 12:2, it says to look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. What he’s saying is this, for Jesus there was not joy in his suffering, but there was joy through his suffering. Here is the cross where he is going to suffer and die in your place for your sins out of love for you. And on the other side of his death, his worst day, his greatest suffering, his most intense slandering that he experienced and endured, he knew that if he went through that on the other side, God, the father would be glorified and that you would become the beloved. How many of us love Jesus that he went through that so that we could share in his title of beloved, amen? That’s amazing! So what he’s saying is this, you can have joy, not in your circumstances, but in what God will do through your circumstances. The blessing is on the other side of the suffering. To quote Winston Churchill, when you’re in hell, keep going. You’ve got to go through it to get to the blessing. God’s joy, God’s grace, God’s presence, God’s peace, God’s power is oftentimes on the other side of suffering and slander and sorrow. And the reason that many people don’t arrive there is they stop in it, they don’t persevere through it. And Jesus does. And number three, this is amazing. This is amazing. When you look at Jesus, would you have assumed that he was powerful? He’s broke, he’s homeless, he’s single, he’s harassed, he’s arrested, he’s beaten, he’s murdered. He does not look powerful. But what he is is he’s meek, and that is the power of the Holy Spirit enabling him to endure evil for love of you and I. Here’s how he explains it. He goes to say the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you in your suffering, in your slander, in your sorrow. That the, the weight, the word there glory, literally means heaviness or weightiness. What he’s saying is this, as life burdens you with greater weight, that the spirit of God empowers you with greater strength. It’s almost like a teeter totter. It’s almost like a counterbalance of weights that is so heavy it’s going to bury me. No, no, the spirit of God is heavier and he will lift me. How many of you have been through hell and the spirit of God has sustained you in a way that was super natural? In a way that was inexplicable? In a way that earnestly, at the beginning of the journey, you would have not thought possible? This is why the children of God who undergo the worst suffering, the worst slander and the worst sorrow experienced the greatest presence, power of the person, of the spirit of God. That’s why when they find themselves going through it and on the other side of it, they say it’s the worst thing I’ve ever been through and I wouldn’t trade it for anything because I met God in a fresh and new way and I know that I know that I know that I’m the beloved. This is the hope of the believer. And what it tells us, he says that the spirit, and he’s talking about the Holy Spirit of glory of God rests on you. It’s this constant, ongoing and abiding. It says in multiple gospels that Jesus was baptized and that the spirit of God came to rest upon him. One of the gospels includes this line, which Peter is quoting, and it says that the spirit of God rested on Jesus. What that means is that the rest of Jesus’ life is lived by the person, the presence of the power of the Holy spirit. And what he’s saying is that if you will follow Jesus, the spirit of God will rest on you in power as the spirit of God rested on Jesus in power. Now let me say you this, I’m gonna give you my testimony, a little bit of it, okay. Because some of you are hearing this you’re like, this sounds great, does it work? How many of you have watched a commercial, you’re like, that sounds great, I gotta find somebody who’s tried the product and see if it works. Right, the pitch is great, I want to know if the product works. So for my family and I, we were in the hardest, worst season of our whole life. I got fantastic wife and five amazing kids. Suffering, yes. Slander, you bet ya and also sorrow, to be sure. And it was overwhelming. If I could just be totally honest with you, overwhelming. Worst season of our whole life by far, a season that will probably to some degree, just sort of linger with me for the rest of my life. And the first thing I wanted to do, I wanted to fight and argue. I don’t know if you know this, I can argue. I’m pretty good on my feet. In high school, I didn’t ever join the debate team and then one day I joined a competition for impromptu debate and I’d never debated and I won. At the state level because I’m Irish and it’s a spiritual gift. We could just argue, right, so we can argue. So I thought, you know what? I’m going to tell my side, I’m going to argue, I’m gonna fight. And I kid you not 1 Peter 1, God brought me to that verse, says, do you want to see good days? Yes. Do you want to experience peace? Yes. Don’t return reviling for reviling or insult for insult, but bless those who do evil to you. I was like, no. I’m a bible teacher, not a bible user. Like I, hey man, I give prescriptions, I don’t take ’em. I’m not doing that. So I thought, okay, Holy Spirit, I’m a need to shut up. So we’re gonna need a miracle. We’re gonna need a miracle. Transitioned, tried to figure out what to do. At this point, I’m in my mid 40s. I’ll be 50 this fall. Mid 40s, quit my job, no job and didn’t know where we were going to live, didn’t know what we were going to do. No clue. Moved our family to Arizona in July. That’s not the easiest way to get your kids excited about their new life, just so you know. Hey, kids . Literally, I opened the door to the truck, one of my kids said, and I quote, “Dad freaking moved us to a pizza oven.” That’s what my kid said, okay. And I was like, hey, we love pizza. You know, so we’ll just make pizza. So anyways, I didn’t say that. So what happens then is we move into a VRBO ’cause I don’t know where we’re going to live. Our VRBO had some sort of gaseous problem. It smelled like Satan’s breath. That’s what the house smelled like. So the kids nicknamed at the stinky camp house. So now I’m unemployed, we have no family or friends. we’re in a stinky camp house. Thankfully, all of our stuff is out of state, in a house, waiting for it to sell so that we can collect all the equity and then I can go buy a home and we could go from hell to heaven and then this happened. It’s a Saturday, okay, it’s a Saturday. My phone goes off, ’cause the alarm at my house is going off. I’m thinking we’re being harassed or something else is happening again, ’cause that was like a part time job. And I tell my realtor, hey man, could you go check my house? He calls me, he can’t even speak English. My house was on the market, all of our possessions were in the house. All of our equity was in the house. I’m unemployed. This is a situation. Okay, what that is on the right, some of you have seen this before, what that is on the right, that our bedroom. Do you see the far right? That’s the corner of the bed. You see the little black thing on the right? That’s my nightstand. You see where the tree is? That’s my pillow. This was Saturday morning, early, and I don’t get up in the morning because I have faith in God and I know that he’s got it till noon. Okay, so I get up around lunch, that’s when I get up. So I would have been asleep with that and Grace would have been in bed with me, which means in the worst season of our life, our children would also have been orphans. We would have died. I jumped on a plane, I flew there, It was the middle of the night, raining, power was out, massive storm. I hopped the fence that we had for security and I’m standing there and this is what I’m looking at with my phone flashlight. Okay, mid 40s, reputation destroyed, unemployed, wife and kids in the VRBO in Arizona, where we have no family or friends, all of our possessions are in a house, like with deer and squirrels, who have now moved in. All our equity is in the house. I can’t go buy another house. Hey, I need to buy a house. Okay, great, what’s your job? I don’t have a job. Well, what’s your equity? Well, I own a tree house. Does that count? And I can laugh about it now, ’cause it’s not that day, I’m beyond. Middle of the night, I’m standing there in the rain. I kid you not, I’m just like, oh gosh, what do we do now? What do we do now? And I remember being totally overwhelmed, I’m not gonna lie to you. And I remember just talking to the Father, just like Father, I don’t know what to do now. I don’t know what to do now. Everything that I was trying to prevent has happened at the same time for Grace and the kids, who I love with my whole heart. And at that moment, I just talked to the Father because I was overwhelmed. And I kid you not as I was standing there in the dark, looking at this scenario, God spoke to me 1 Peter 4. I’ll read it to you. The spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. I kid you not, God brought to memory 1 Peter 4. And God said, and I remember asking him, I said, Father, what happens now? And I remember the Father told me, don’t worry about that. And I said, Father, I’ve lost everything. And he said, all you need is my anointing and you’ve not lost that. The most important thing in your life is the anointing of God. If the Holy Spirit is in you, with you and for you, whatever is ahead of you is not more powerful than the spirit of God that is for you, with you, in you and through you, okay. But now at that moment, I’m like, okay, and I remember asking him, Father, okay, what do I do now? And he spoke to me and he said, son, don’t worry about that. Just stay close to me. My two directives at that moment were to stick close to the Father and to not sin in a way that would cause God to remove his anointing. The worse you’re going through, the greater the Holy Spirit shows up to empower you to endure it. That’s the story of Jesus. And that’s the story of those who follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Let me just say this, I’m not Jesus. Everything that Jesus endured was unjust. Some of what I’ve endured and you’ve endured, we’ve caused it ourselves. So I’m not going to tell you, I read the bible and I saw Jesus, and I thought, that looks familiar. I’m not saying that, right. But what I am saying is that at that moment we had nothing but the anointing of God’s spirit. It didn’t look like– I’ll just tell you right now, do you think standing there my first thought was I’m beloved? No, no, but I’m beloved. And the anointing of God never left and the spirit of God rested in great heaviness in a glorious way on my family and I. We’re not a perfect family, but here’s what I could tell you, my wife and I love each other more than ever, our kids are all walking with Jesus. God worked everything out. I mean, it’s a total miracle story and here we are with you. Thank you for coming. Thank you for letting me teach you the bible. Thank you for being God’s church family for us. Thank you that we get do life with you, that’s amazing. And what I have seen is that God has been completely, totally, utterly, miraculously, unexpectedly faithful. For those of you that are at the beginning of your journey and you’re like, okay, I read the verses, but I don’t see the path forward. I’m telling you the verses are true. Trust the one who knows the path forward. And we’re on the other side. Now there may be something else coming, I hope not. I hope not. But here’s what I want to testify to publicly, that it’s not what you’re going through, but it’s the presence of God with you that makes all the difference, okay. I would rather be in hell with the Holy Spirit than in heaven without him. It is the anointing of the power of the presence of God that sustains the believer. And what he’s talking about here, I’ll read it to you again, but rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are what, blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. Those of you who are going through the most are the most blessed because you have the most of the Spirit’s power at work in your life. That is your blessing. Let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer, or a meddler. If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but he should glorify God in that name. Here’s what he’s saying, to be a Christian is ultimately to be stereotyped and slandered. That is part of your and our suffering and it was part of the suffering of Christ. Therefore, it is part of the suffering of Christians. And what he says is when you are slandered, he does not say if, he says when you are slandered and he says to suffer as a Christian, that word for us is fairly positive. In their day it was intensely negative. The word Christian was a slang and slander word the critics and the enemies of Christianity called us. You guys think you’re the little Jesus. It was negative, a pejorative. You only find the word Christian three times in the new Testament. This is only one of three. And the Christians decided, you know what? I’m not Jesus, but I’m trying to be a little Jesus by the grace of God, so you can use it as a slander term and I’ll use it as a worship term. Yes, I am a Christian. Yes, I am with Christ. Yes, I trust in Christ. Yes, I follow Christ. Yes, I will be judged by Christ. Yes, I was created by Christ. Yes, the most important person to me is not me, it’s Christ. And so we took it as a term. So what Peter says, if you’re going to fly the team Jesus flag, expect some name calling, expect some slander, expect some misrepresentation. This happened in the early church. They called us atheists because wouldn’t worship the emperor. And they heard that we had communion, broken body shed, blood of Jesus, and they decided to call us cannibals. So in this culture, who are the Christians? Those are those atheistic cannibals, just so you know, that’s not exactly our team, but that was the negative narrative that was set and once the negative narrative set, all of the information gets filtered through the negative narrative and it’s happened to Christians and Christianity right now. And he says, when suffering and slander, don’t suffer for doing evil. ‘Cause see, what can happen is you get opposed for doing what is right, this can be family, friends, neighbors, or coworkers and what you decide is I’m tired of being opposed. Therefore, I’m going to change teams and I’m going to say or do what everyone else is saying or doing. I’m going to use their hashtag. I’m going to march in their parade. I’m going to share in their outrage because when the mob comes with their pitchforks and their lanterns, I want to get out of the way and I joined them. And he says, also, when you are suffering, don’t be sinning. Because sometimes when we’re suffering, we’re very, very selfish. I’ve been through a lot, I’ve heard a lot, I’ve endured a lot therefore I have a right to rebel. It’s a demonic deception because it leads to self destruction. I’ve never seen anyone who rebelled against God and it benefited them because the anointing of God is only on those who obey God, not those who disobey God. God cannot bless evil. He will not bless evil. And he says, don’t be ashamed, don’t be ashamed. Jesus, wasn’t ashamed of you, you should not be ashamed of him. And one of the ways that we have shame for Jesus is that we start to edit the parts of the bible that everyone else finds offensive. And or, we hide our Christianity and we make it a private and not a public matter. The problem is not having Jesus in your heart. The problem happens when you let Jesus rule your life. Our faith is not private, it’s public. The things that we think about life and marriage and family and religious freedom and prayer and the rights of parents to raise their children, all based on the word of God, it is very much public, not private. It’s not just Jesus in my heart, but Jesus rules over all of my life. He says, when you do suffer, rejoice and be glad and glorify God. Here’s what he is saying, rejoice and be glad, that’s your emotions. Glorify God, that’s your will. You have jurisdiction and dominion over your emotions and your will. How do I know this? Jesus says to love your enemies. Say, I don’t feel like it, you have dominion, jurisdiction, God-given authority over your emotions. You could choose to rejoice and be glad, not ignoring your circumstances, but finding the power of God, the presence of God in your circumstances. And he says rejoice and be glad and glorify God. That’s your will, making decisions that honor him. I use this analogy a lot, but think of it like sailing, your emotions are like a sail, very powerful, okay. Your will is like a rudder. Many of you are very emotional, but you’re not very well directed and wise. Imagine a sailboat with no rudder. You’re like, that’s powerful! Yes, headed toward the rocks, as fast as possible, right. And that’s not progress, that’s self-destruction. When you’re feeling the strongest emotions, you need to be exercising the most God-directed decision-making, okay. What he says is when you are suffering, when you are slandered, when you are sorrowful, you’re going to be very emotional, rejoice, and be glad, find God in the midst of it, and then choose, by the decision of your will, to glorify God, to do what is right in God’s sight. So you say don’t feel like it, I don’t agree, I don’t like it. The issue is you need to trust and faith is trusting in the word of God to direct you into the future that God intends for you. But he says that as Christians, we will be slandered and here’s why, there’s team Jesus and team Satan. Let me make this as clear as I can. Team Jesus and team Satan are at war in this world. If you are on team Jesus, what are you going to have with team Satan? Conflict, slender, suffering and opposition. If you change teams and go to team Satan, you will have conflict and problems from God. The question is not are you going to be in the fight. The question is which side of the fight will you be on? Are you going to have a problem with God or you’re going to side with God, and as a result, have problem with the demonic forces that are at work in the world? And this is increasing pressure, and what he says is that you will be insulted or slandered or mocked. So let me just tell you what is happening in our culture, and I am not a prophet, but I will just predict that between now and the election, it doesn’t get better. I don’t feel like ever to be like, let’s just try the Holy Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. Let’s stop yelling at each other and start praying for each other. Let’s stop hitting each other and start hugging each other. What I think is adorable is those commercials on TV where they’re like, we’re all in this together. No, we’re not. We’re not. We’re beating the marmalade out of each other. I mean, that’s what we’re doing. So how does this look today? Let me make this very, very practical, okay. You’re talking to someone who’s not a Christian as a Christian. This is what slander mockery might look like. I believe in human life and flourishing. I do not believe that social Marxism will deliver on what it promises. I do not believe that it will bless people everywhere. It has been tried. It is a failed experiment based upon communistic, atheistic, idolatry, and ideology. Oh, so you’re a racist! Huh, okay. Whew, okay, let me just read me a little 1 Peter. Try again, okay. What I think would be helpful is if we could invest our time and energy in men to love their wives and kids, to bless and not burden them, to strengthen the family, which is the foundation of society. Oh, you believe in men and women? You believe in, you’re those two bathroom people. You’re binary, you’re binary, you’re very binary. And you believe that marriage is for a man and a woman. You’re a homophobe and a bigot. You’re like, okay, well let me write this down. The list is getting long here, okay. No, I still think that it would be good that the men who are causing the problems by not loving wives and providing for children, I think it would be good if we got men to have the father, heart of God. That’s because you’re a patriarchal chauvinist who believes in gender and traditional marriage and that’s why you’re a bigot. No, actually I want all life to flourish, including the unborn. Oh you’re anti-choice, anti-woman and sexist. Okay, wait, the list, let me get another sheet of paper here. Okay, let me write down all the things I am, okay. Well, here’s what I don’t believe. I don’t believe that the ideology that is apart from the word of God actually leads to human flourishing and it’s ’cause I love you and I love everyone and I want the best for them. Well, you see that because you’re a racist oppressor. You say, well, I disagree. It’s because you’re a narcissist. Well, I don’t see it the way you do. It’s because of your privilege. Okay, let me write this down here, okay, okay. So okay, so can we talk about Jesus ’cause I think Jesus is really the most helpful. Oh, so you’re, you’re an intolerant religious bigot who thinks that only Jesus leads to salvation. Yes I do, because I read that in the bible. Oh, well that’s an outdated, antiquated, oppressive book that has created Western culture that is an abysmal failure and needs to be torn down and replaced. Actually, it’s not a Western book, it’s an Eastern book. It’s not a hundred years old, it’s thousands of years old. In fact, at the beginning, there’s only two people and they were a man and a woman and they got married and… So we say Pastor Mark, where did you learn all this? I just check my Facebook before the sermon, that’s what I did. Am I lying?
– [Audience] No.
– No. You know what, I’ve been to South Africa, I’ve seen the townships and the result of apartheid. I’ve been to India. I’ve seen the result of karma and the untouchable class. I’ve been to Haiti to see the result of oppressive slavery and the most ruined economy and the poorest poverty in the Western hemisphere. I’ve been to East Germany to see the demonic spirit of Marxism, still oppress people, even though they are free, they are not spiritually, economically, or morally free. I believe that everything that God creates Satan counterfeits. I believe that the bible is true. I believe that Jesus is the answer and I believe that the only way that people will experience human flourishing is if they open the word of God, they meet the son of God and they live under the anointing of the spirit of God. So just a few thoughts from an old guy from the front lines, on this issue of trying to love people who don’t like what you believe is best for them. Number one, if you believe that biblical Christianity is the most loving and helpful, then love people enough to remain steadfast. Not out of anger to defeat them, but out of love to deliver them. People are not our enemies. Our war is not against flesh and blood, but powers, principalities and spirits. If we believe that God’s love is for them, then we need to love them even if they don’t agree that God’s love is best for them. Number two, the only way to avoid suffering and slander is to say, do and have nothing. I was riding with Rick Warren, a great pastor and a good man, who’s been through a lot. And he said, Mark, do you want to never be harassed or hated again? I was like, yeah, that’d be amazing. He said, don’t have anything, say anything or do anything. I was like, well, then I’m going to put up with some stuff. There’s a great book on Billy Graham and why he was a world class leader, it’s called, “Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham.” They said Billy, how’d you become such a great leader? He said, I turned my critics into my coaches. Turn your critics into your coaches. Just because you’re being slandered doesn’t mean it’s not at least containing something that is truthful and could be helpful. Number four, if you’ve already given God your sin, why not throw on your reputation? I was having one of the worst days of my whole life. I was having a pity party for Pastor Mark, Pastor Mark’s pity party. And I remember God, things are being said about me, some are true, some are partially true, a whole lot of them are just completely untrue. I said, God, how do I fix this? And he said, son, you’ve already given me your sin, why not your reputation? How many of us are really excited to give God our sin? Amen, God’s like, I want your sin. Awesome, I got a garage full, here let me go get. Oh, and while you’re at it, throwing your reputation. Oh no, no, no, no, no, no, not my reputation. And I know some of you religious people, you’re going to say Paul said we need to have a good reputation with outsiders. He’s a guy who started riots and wrote most of his best work from prison. So whatever good reputation is, it’s big enough for that, amen? Number five, the power and joy of the spirit are often waiting for you in the darkness. It’s the darkness where we don’t see the path forward and we don’t want to go into the darkness, but that’s where the power and the joy of the Holy Spirit are often waiting for us if we will have faith to enter into the darkness. And number six, don’t worry about being on the wrong side of history, do worry about being on the right side of eternity. Every generation, there are certain issues that become incredibly difficult. Lots of slander and pressure are applied to God’s people. And they’re told you need to be on the right side of history. I’d rather be on the right side of eternity because I know that when all is said and done, it doesn’t matter who’s judged me. I know that he will judge them. And so I’m waiting for that judgment. And I want you to know the Lord Jesus, so that you will meet him on a day, not for judgment, but for blessing. This issue of slander is only going to increase. I’m just telling you that Western culture is not trending toward biblical fidelity. I’m telling you that there are wholesale parts of the church and Christianity that are in the process of apostasy. I’m telling you that as the temperatures get hotter, more and more people put on a reversible jersey and go from team Jesus to the other team. My job is not to scare you, but to prepare you. And that was what Peter was seeking to do for the people that he loved as well and he’s still ministering to us today, doing the very same thing. Because in their day they had a bad government and what was coming was narrow. What they had was opposition, what was coming was persecution. What they had was a nation in crisis and then what they would have is a nation that was in collapse. And he closes with this, “Prepare to suffer for doing good.” 1 Peter 4:17-19, “For it is time for judgment to begin,” in what? The household of God. God expects Christians to have behavior that is different than non-Christians. If you have the spirit of God, God expects more out of you than he does the one who does not yet have the spirit because he does not know Jesus. You can’t just say, well, this is what they said and they did. It doesn’t matter. They don’t have the Holy Spirit, you do. God expects completely different things from his kids. I always told my kids, they come home and be like, well at their house, this is what they do. Hey, you’re my kids. This is how we do things in our family. That family different than our family. This is our family. What will the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner? Therefore, let those who suffer according to God’s will and trust their souls to a faithful creator while doing what? Good. What happens is when the fiery trials come and the flames of hell, come up, those who do not know God are exposed and those who do know God are purified. That’s what happens. Peter knew this firsthand. When the fiery trial came in the ministry of Jesus, there was a guy named Judas Iscariot who got exposed. He was using Jesus, not loving Jesus. He was with Jesus physically, but he was not with Jesus emotionally. He was with Jesus’ people physically, but he was not one of God’s people spiritually. In that same moment, the fiery trial came and Peter, he denied Christ. He caved in to the media mob. He changed teams. He denied the one who would never deny him! Yet he was restored. This just goes to show that the only perfect Christian is Christ and that Peter is an imperfect Christian, but he is a genuine Christian. He is not Judas. Though on one day they both look very similar, but it was the next day that the spirit of God and of glory rested upon Peter and changed him from a man who was a coward to a man who was courageous. By the time they are done with Peter, he goes from denying Christ to dying for Christ. History outside of the bible records that he was hung upside down because he didn’t think he was worthy of being crucified right side up like Jesus. You and I live at this pivotal moment where we have to decide as the fiery trial comes, will I be Judas or will I be Peter? Peter followed Jesus, not perfectly, but he followed Jesus until the finish line. And here’s what I’m telling you. Maybe this is prophetic. There is always this great hope for a revival! That one thing would fix everything! Some people are hoping in an economic revival. Some people are hoping in an election revival. Some people are hoping in a vaccine revival. Some people are hoping in a spiritual revival. One thing will happen, fix everything, we’re gonna be great! What if it doesn’t happen? What if the economy tanks, the vaccine doesn’t work, the next president is not helpful and there’s not a mass outpouring of salvations and baptisms? What happens then? The reason that Peter is writing is because that’s the future that’s coming. Now here’s what I hope for, I would love it of the economy rebounded, if there was a vaccine and we could do things like leave the house, that would be amazing. If whoever got elected, like did something that didn’t suck, I would be totally for it. And if everybody met Jesus, I got a church, I’m in. Here’s what I’m telling you, pray for the best, prepare for the worst. After we finish 1 Peter next week, we’re going to get into 2 Peter. I wasn’t going to teach the book, but I feel inclined in the spirit to teach the book. Why did he write second, Peter? Because things got harder. They had a bad politician, then they got Nero. They missed the old bad politician. They went from opposition to persecution. Peter went from writing books of the bible to being put to death. There’s a revivalist escapist theology that’s always popular, God’ll get us out of it or he’ll just fix it. You know what? Like Jesus, we may need to go through it. I tell you this, not to discourage you, but to prepare you. And we’re going to get into 2 Peter in more specifics in a few weeks on how to do that. I believe that the timing of first and second Peter are prophetic, I believe that they are perfect. I believe that everything that those people were going through, the same things that you are going through. And what we’re going to do, we’re going to take the bad news of this world, we’re going to look at it through the good news of God’s word and then we’re going to trust that the same Holy Spirit, who empowered Jesus to have joy, to rejoice, to be glad, will be in power, present in and through the children of God so that we can rejoice and be glad, not in our circumstances, but in the God who calls us beloved, who shows us we’re beloved, who proves that we’re beloved as we go through it with him! Amen! You are the beloved children of God and whatever you are going through, the spirit of God rests in you and greater power and glory so that you will know the love of Jesus, that you will experience the love of Jesus, that you will trust the salvation of Jesus, that you will experience the life of Jesus, that you will be more like Jesus, that you will more appreciate Jesus, that you’ll be more in love with Jesus because you are beloved! You will love him in spite of everything you’re going through, in spite of everything you’re suffering, in spite of all the trials and the fiery trials and the flames of hell that are burning everything down around you, it’s the spirit of God that burns bright in you and gives you joy, amen. Let’s bring the band up and sing a little bit! Father God, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! You looked down at Jesus and said, beloved! Father, we just read, we’re beloved. Some days it doesn’t feel like it. Some days it doesn’t look like it, but it’s true. Lord Jesus, as we follow you, as we follow in your footsteps, as we follow in your example, let us learn how to have our singing and our suffering both be part of our worshiping. That God, I pray for those dear saints that have given me the honor of opening the word of God for them today. For some of them, Lord, this is a sorrowful day. For some of them, this is a shameful day. For some of them, this is a scary day. Lord, may this be the spirit’s day. Holy Spirit, we invite you to come and rest on your people, to bring the power that empowered the life of Jesus to your people, to give them joy, to give them rejoicing so they can rejoice and be glad! Lord God, this is as close to hell as we’ll ever be. This is as bad as it’s ever going to get. We already know that Jesus has gone before us. He’s not suffering today, he’s reigning today. He’s not slandered today, he’s worshiped by angels and departed saints at this very moment. Lord God for the joy set before him, he endured the cross. Help us to pick up our cross and follow him until we see him and receive our joy in Jesus’ good name. Amen, love you, thank you.