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Service Archives > 60 1 & 2 Peter - Rock Solid - 2013 > Rock Solid Relationship or Relationship on the Rocks?

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Rock Solid Relationship or Relationship on the Rocks? - 1 Peter 1:8-9

Taught on | Topic: love, trust, joy | Keywords: Jesus, God, relationship, trust, love, invisible

Why do we insist that having a relationship with God is not the same as being a religious person? How is a relationship with Him even possible, since He is GOD and thus is unique from all other creatures? Today, the answer to that will be made simple as we consider the simplest components of any relationship, including a relationship with God.

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9/29/2013
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Rock Solid Relationship or Relationship on the Rocks?
1 Peter 1:8-9
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Why do we insist that having a relationship with God is not the same as being a religious person? How is a relationship with Him even possible, since He is GOD and thus is unique from all other creatures? Today, the answer to that will be made simple as we consider the simplest components of any relationship, including a relationship with God.
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60 1 & 2 Peter - Rock Solid - 2013

60 1 & 2 Peter - Rock Solid - 2013

When Jesus asked his disciples. "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" Peter responded "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus promised Peter that upon the Rock of that confession He would build His church.

The truth of who Jesus is empowers common man to speak the message that opens the doors of heaven to sinners. Join us to learn strong principles for godly living and reach new heights in our faith as we work our way through Peter's epistles—writings which evangelize the lost and instruct the church. Pastor Skip Heitzig guides us through First and Second Peter in the series Rock Solid.

Outline

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  1. Relationship is Based on Love

    1. Invisible Doesn’t Mean Unlovable

    2. Invisible Doesn’t Mean Unavailable

  2. Relationship is Based on Trust

    1. Trust Doesn’t Require Sight (Now)

    2. Trust Will Become Sight (Then)

  3. Relationship Based on Love and Trust Satisfies

    1. Producing Joy

    2. Providing Salvation

CONNECT QUESTIONS

  1. How is our relationship with God based on love and trust?

  2. How is our relationship with God based on love and trust?

  3. How is that similar to other relationships we have?

  4. What is unique about God's relationship to us, namely His character?

  5. What will be the outcome of this relationship?

  6. Which things in this passage are currently taking place and which are still to come?

  7. What did God reveal to you in this passage?

  8. Is there anything that applies directly to you or to someone you know? How can you take aim at changing a negative behavior in a biblical way?

  9. Who was this passage originally directed to?

  10. How does this passage apply to believers?

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. Personal relationship with God—How do you have that?
      1. You can't see Him
      2. It's hard to trust someone you don't see
      3. It's hard to have a relationship with someone who is invisible
      4. We want to see God
      5. Moses wanted to see God (see Exodus 33:18)
      6. "Truly You are a God who hides Himself" (Isaiah 45:15)
      7. We don't have a lot in common with God
    2. Love and trust—inseparable
  2. Relationship is based on love
    1. If you violate love or trust, the relationship disintegrates
    2. The audience Peter was writing to
      1. They had never seen Jesus or eaten a meal with Him
      2. Converts of those who had personally seen Jesus
      3. Jesus prayed about these people (see John 17:20)
      4. They believed in Him and loved Him
    3. How do Christians know that they didn't just make this up?
      1. Skip and Lenya fell in love while they were in separate locations
      2. Love is a choice you make—you don't see Him, but you love Him
      3. The essence of love: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37)
      4. Ask an unbeliever, "Do you love Jesus?" If they say yes, ask a deeper question
      5. What's the proof you love Him "Obey His commands" (see John 14:15-24)
      6. If you don't love Jesus enough to do what He says, then you don't love Jesus
    4. Just because you can't see God, doesn't mean He's not available
      1. Call 911; what happens? They respond to the call
      2. "Call on me and I will answer you" (Jeremiah 33:3)
      3. God is available
  3. Relationship is based on trust
    1. You can't separate love and trust
    2. True love trusts (see 1 Corinthians 13)
    3. "Now"
      1. There will come a time when what was invisible will become visible (see 1 John 3:2)
      2. That was the great hope of Job (see Job 19:27)
      3. "We walk by faith and not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7)
      4. What is faith now will pass away and you will see Him
      5. Hymn, It Is Well With My Soul by Horatio Spafford
      6. Now we trust and believe and personally lean on and confide in Him
    4. Which of the disciples showed weak faith?
      1. Peter (see Matthew 14:29-31, 16:21-23, and John 21:15-19)
      2. Thomas (see John 20:24-29)
      3. "Blessed are those who have never seen and yet believe" (John 20:29)
  4. Relationship based on love and trust satisfies
    1. Joy; rejoice
    2. Rejoice with joy inexpressible (above words, above language)
    3. Satisfaction
    4. Hard to describe to an unbeliever
    5. Joy is one of the great themes of God's people in every generation
    6. The word joy appears 158 times in the Bible
    7. Paul commanded believers to rejoice; he wrote that command from prison (see Philippians 4:4)
    8. Joy has little to do with what is going on around you and all about what is going on within you
    9. Christians in India have a huge joy level
    10. Joy must be carefully guarded
    11. "If you have no joy, there must be a leak in your Christianity somewhere" —Billy Sunday
    12. Joy is not automatic; it is the result of a choice you make
    13. It is our duty to be a joyful believer (not fake)
    14. The relationship and joy you have with God now, pales in comparison to what is coming
    15. "When I met Jesus Christ, I felt that I had swallowed sunshine" —E. Stanley Jones

Publications Referenced: It Is Well With My Soul by Horatio Spafford

Figures Referenced: Billy Sunday, E. Stanley Jones

Cross references: Exodus 33:18, Job 19:27, Isaiah 45:15, Jeremiah 33:3, Matthew 16:21-23, Matthew 22:37, John 14:15-24, Matthew 14:29-31, Matthew 16:21-23, John 17:20, John 21:15-19, 1 Corinthians 13, 1 Corinthians 16:22, 2 Corinthians 5:7, Philippians 4:4, 1 John 3:2, John 20:24-29


Topic: love, trust, joy

Keywords: Jesus, God, relationship, trust, love, invisible

Transcript

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Pastor Skip Heitzig guides us through First and Second Peter in the series Rock Solid.

Would you make your way over to First Peter, chapter 1 this morning? If you're new, we want to welcome you, and we want to just let you know that our style of approach to the Scripture is exposition. And so we don't always, like, just come up with ideas and thoughts and generalities. We like to take the text of Scripture and look at it, examine it, unpack it verse by verse and phrase by phrase, because we believe God has spoken.

And the reason it's so rock solid, as the series suggests, is that we're dealing with a document that we believe to be, and God has shown to be inerrant and trustworthy and reliable and sufficient for our needs in this day and age. And so we give our time believing in the power of the text itself to transform lives, God's Word to change who we are. Let's pray for that.

Lord, you know our backgrounds, you know each of us individually, and you know the things that we're exposed to during the week; as David put it, "our down sittings and our uprisings." You know what we think before we think those thoughts. And even though there are so many differences in our lives from one to another, each one very unique, there are similarities, and there's always a common need. That common need is to know you, to experience your forgiveness, to have the same kind of hope that is eternal that overshadows and outlasts our present reality.

But, Lord, I pray that you would capture thoughts. It's so easy to get distracted in life, especially at the pace in which life has been designed to be lived of late. We purposely, intentionally settle down and focus our thoughts, our hearts upon your truth. And rather than marginalizing it, we personalize it and apply it. Help us to do that. We trust your Holy Spirit will be the one who will do that for us, in us, in Jesus' name, amen.

A couple of weeks ago after a service, a man came up and asked a very good question. He said, "Skip, I hear that you speak a lot about God's relationship, and a relationship, a personal relationship with God versus having a religious experience. Could you explain to me the difference between religion and relationship?" It's a really well thought through question.

This week one of our pastors received an e-mail that was very similar. It was a lengthy e-mail where the person said, "Help me understand this whole "relationship with God" thing you guys talk about. I mean, I'm reading my Bible, and I'm praying, and I talk to God, and I listen, but I'm not really hearing anything. So, how do you have a personal relationship with God?" Now think about that.

God doesn't engage in the faculty of speech like you and I know it. God doesn't send you a text. He doesn't e-mail you during the day. God doesn't pick up the phone and say, "What's up? This is God." You don't take God to lunch. You don't take him to a park. You don't go on a bicycle ride with God. I mean, it's not quite the same. How do you have a personal relationship with God?

To make matters a little more complicated, he's invisible. So the person that you're having a personal relationship with you can't see. That makes the dynamic much more difficult, right? Because we are visual people; we like to see people that we have relationships with. You recall the book---you'd have to recall it much after the event, because it was written in the eighteen hundreds. But it's been popularized by several retakes on the movie called The Invisible Man.

H. G. Wells who wrote the book, the idea was that some guy, through science, discovered a way to become invisible. Now, who of us haven't fantasized that we could be invisible? Wouldn't it be great to overhear those conversations, find out what they're really thinking about us? And it sounds really great. And it sounded really great to the guy who became invisible, but it became a problem because the invisible man had to touch the visible world.

So, if he ate food, you could see it when he chewed it and swallowed it, and it was still visible till it was digested. That's a problem. If he were to take something, you would see that thing that he took float down the road with him. So now the invisible man is suddenly made visible. People could see that he's there, which definitely poses a problem, because it's hard to trust somebody you don't see. Hard to have a relationship with somebody that you don't see.

It's like a little girl named Lucy who wrote a letter to God, and said, "Dear God, are you really invisible, or is that just a trick?" Well, it's a pretty cool trick, but how do you have a relationship with him? We want to see God. Even Moses who heard God's voice and saw miracles God performed, he wanted more. He wanted him personally. Moses cried out, "Show me your glory. I want to see you." And at our very core we want to see and touch and experience God.

Isaiah the prophet said, "Truly you are a God who hides himself." Same sentiment is expressed. We want to see God to have a relationship with him. So, once again, I ask the question: How do we have a relationship, a personal relationship with a being who is so different from us? I mean, you know his attributes, right? He's all knowing; you're not. He's all-powerful; you're not. He's everywhere present; you're not.

I mean, you don't have a lot in common with this being. So, how do we have a relationship with God? How do we have a meaningful, rock-solid relationship with him? Well, I want to give you three principles to answer that question. Actually, it's simple. It's actually two principles, two ingredients that make for any personal relationship---with your wife, husband, friend, children, and God; two ingredients, three principles.

And the third principle is based on the two ingredients. In any personal relationship with any person, visible or invisible, there are two things that must be present: love and trust; love and trust. Inseparable---love and trust. Now, I want you to look at the verses that we're going to consider, verse 8 and 9 of First Peter, chapter 1. And if you don't mind, I'd like to get a little context with it, so I'm going to begin in verse 6.

"In this you greatly rejoice, now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ." Now for our verses to consider today: "Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith---the salvation of your souls."

You will notice in verse 8 those two ingredients are mentioned, love and believing, or trust, love and trust. Those are the two ingredients essential for any personal relationship. If you violate love, the relationship disintegrates. If you violate trust, the relationship disintegrates. One source said, "Love and trust are requirements in any relationship to make it lasting. When these two characteristics leave from our relationship, then that relationship becomes weak."

So, using verse 8 and verse 9, we're going to unpack these phrases, and we notice what Peter is saying. This relationship with God is based on love. This relationship with God is based on trust. And this relationship that is based on love and based on trust is a relationship that is deeply satisfying beyond words, "joy inexpressible and full of glory."

Let's just take one by one. First of all, this is a relationship based on love. Verse 8, look at it. Read it with me: "Whom having not seen you love." Actually, the original Greek language is much stronger: "Of whom having never had a glimpse, you love." Now think of the audience to whom Peter was writing. Peter was not writing to apostles who had been with Jesus personally; he was writing to scattered believers throughout Asia Minor as we have seen a few weeks ago, who had never ever met Christ.

They had never seen him with their eyes. They had never heard his voice. They never gazed into his eyes when he spoke. They never ate with him. They never walked with him. In fact, they were not personal followers of him at all, merely converts of those who had been personal followers. Right? I mean, Peter had seen him. He was an apostle, and these were converts of apostles.

These were the very ones Jesus prayed about in the seventeenth chapter of John when after praying for his own apostles said, "I pray not for these alone, but for all of those who will believe in me through their word." That's who he's writing to. They had no firsthand experience with Christ, but they believed in him, and according to Peter they loved him. "Whom having not seen you love."

It's normal to love. Let's put it this way: it's normal to fall in love with somebody when you see them. You know, in the old days they used to plan for marriages before you even saw the person. Not a great idea, necessarily, because you could be surprised once you see the person. Now, when I first met my wife, I saw her across the room. I hadn't really met her yet, but I saw her across the room, and I noticed her.

And I can tell you to this day what she was wearing and what she looked like: red jeans, white blouse, flip-flops, beautiful hair. And I looked at her across the room and I thought, "I want to meet her." But it was visual; I saw her. There was an attraction. Later on it was verbal; we exchanged words. We had met each other. But Peter is saying, "You love someone you don't see, and you are growing in love with that someone you don't see."

In fact, that's really the intention of the language here. It's in the present active indicative. "Whom having not seen you are loving," it's ongoing. An unbeliever in hearing what I'm talking about will say, "Impossible! This is not possible. I mean, how do you Christians know that you didn't just make this up? Maybe Jesus is simply a projection of yourself, and you're just loving a projection of yourself calling it God or calling it Jesus, but he's a mythical figure. You can't love somebody you don't see."

Au contraire. After I met my wife, and after we had started dating, she had moved to Hawaii, and he was there for two years. And two years being separated visually, you know what? I grew in my love for her. I wrote letters. She wrote letters. I still have them. We made a few phone calls, but I discovered phone calls from California to Hawaii are pretty expensive, so not many phone calls. I was cheap. [laughter] But a lot of letters.

And through those letters and those few phone calls there were things that I understood about her. I discovered her character. I discovered her values. I discovered her dreams. I discovered her fears. And at one point even I sent a bouquet of flowers with a little note attached that said, "I love you." And you could say, "Well, you can't love her, because you can't see her." That's not true, and that's my point: invisible doesn't mean unlovable.

My love was actually growing for her even though I couldn't see her. And isn't this really the essential part of Christianity? Isn't the irreducible minimum as a description of a Christian: "Here is someone who loves the Lord"? That's really a good description: he/she loves the Jesus Christ with the love of the will. That's what agape love means. It's a choice that one makes. So he says, "You've never seen, but you love him."

In fact, would you look with me at chapter 2, verse 7. "Therefore, to you who believe, he is"---what does it say?---"precious." Isn't that precious? "To you who believe, he is precious," that's how much you love him. He's precious to you. Now that's a personal relationship. And that's what Jesus meant when he summed up the entire law by saying, "Here, you can sum it all by saying this, 'Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your mind, all of your soul, and all of your strength.' "That is the essence of relationship. It's based on love.

Now, as opposed to that, unbelievers are described in the Bible as those who do not love the Lord. They don't love him. First Corinthians 16 verse 22, "If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. The Lord comes!" Now, let me suggest to you this is where we should make our examination. This is where we should make our probe. Ask a person, "Do you love Jesus?" Try that when you're witnessing to somebody instead of saying, "Have you ever heard of the four spiritual laws?"

Just ask a basic question; because they'll go, "Four spiritual what? I didn't know there was one spiritual law." Just ask them this: "Do you love Jesus Christ?" You'll just be amazed by the answers. Now, if you hear somebody describe a consuming, intimate love for Jesus, you're dealing with a transformed heart. But often you're going to hear things like, "Uh-oh." They'll get real nervous with that question.

"Do you love Jesus?" "Uh, you know, uh, my grandma went to church." "Good. Let me ask that question again; maybe you didn't hear me? Do you love Jesus?" "Uh, well, you know, me and the Big Guy, we have an understanding going on." They just get uncomfortable with the whole idea of emotion and love for Christ. Now, if the person says, "Yes, I do love him," because that's a nice thing to say, and it's a pretty easy thing to say; "Let me ask a deeper question: How to you know you love him?"

I'll just ask you. You say you love the Lord; how do you know you love him? What's the proof that you would love him? "Obey his commands," that's exactly what Jesus said. If you were to say, "Well, I know that I love him because every time you say that name I get really warm and fuzzy inside." Okay, not good enough. Jesus to his twelve apostles, his men, in the upper room sharing Passover before he died---

By the way, that whole Upper Room Discourse, especially in John, chapter 14, there are two themes that run through it. You know what they are? Love and trust, love and trust, love and trust. "You believe in God"---that's trust; "believe also in me"---that's trust. "Believe me or believe me for the very sake of the works themselves"---that's trust. But then he speaks about love. This is John 14 verse 15, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." That is Christianity 101. "If you love me, obey me. Keep my commandments."

Verse 21 of the same chapter, he said, "He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." Verse 23, Jesus speaking again, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word." The very next verse, verse 24, "He who does not love me does not keep my words." Listen, if you don't love Jesus Christ enough to do what he says, you don't love Jesus Christ; Love basis of relationship. How do you prove it? You do what he says. That shows that you love him.

So, invisible does not mean unlovable. Also, invisible does not mean unavailable. Just because you can't see God doesn't mean he's not available to help you. He is your helper. I can prove that point in the physical world. Try calling 911 and see what happens. You'll talk to somebody you can't see on the other end of the line, but I'll guarantee you, you will see a visible manifestation of the call that you just made, because they will send people out. They'll respond to that call.

Invisible doesn't mean unavailable. A couple weeks ago I had to call a fencing contractor, because this last storm that blew through blew an elm tree that almost took my house out, but it took my fence out in the backyard. Just whoosh, wiped it out. So, I made a phone call to him; never met him. He was invisible to me.

A couple days he had somebody sent out, a representative, and now it's fixed. Invisible doesn't mean unavailable. Now, when I called him he could have been in his office. He could have been out in a golf course. Maybe the golf course was his office. Doesn't matter, I couldn't see him, I didn't know, but he made himself available, and God does too.

Jeremiah 33, it says, "Call on me, and I will answer you." God says, "Call on me, and I will answer you, and I will show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." That's availability. That's all part of the love relationship. Invisible doesn't mean unlovable; invisible doesn't mean unavailable. So that's the first ingredient in a personal relationship with God or with anybody else for that matter. It's based on love.

Second, relationship is based on trust. Look again at verse 8. "Though now,"---second sentence. "Though now you do not see him, yet believing, [or trust]." Same idea, trust. You see, love and trust go together. You can't really separate love and trust. The soul that believes cannot but love. The soul that loves cannot but trust. You can't separate love and trust; they go together. It's like a baseball and a mitt. It's like peanut butter and jelly. It's like coffee and doughnuts. I didn't say it's like policemen and doughnuts. I wouldn't go there. [laughter] It's like coffee and doughnuts; they're inseparable. Like popcorn and a movie, like a lock and a key, love and trust---go together.

You will recall the great chapter, the Love Chapter, First Corinthians 13, Paul said, "Love bears all things, love hopes all things, love believes all things." True love trusts. Notice something in verse 8; it's the word "now." It's very important. "Though now you do not see him." You know what that implies? You will. You don't now, but you will sometime, you will then. There will be a time when that which is invisible becomes apparent and visible and tangible.

First John, chapter 3, "When he appears, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is." That was the great hope of Job who suffered the loss of his family, the loss of his health, the curses of his wife. And he said in Job 19, "After my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God. Whom I shall see for myself, my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!"

So, now you don't see him, but now you trust him. You believe in him. In fact, until we can see, that's what we have. That's what Paul said, "For we walk by faith and not by sight." But you gotta know something, and here's the part of the hope---that which is faith right now will one day pass away and you'll see him.

Horatio Spafford who was a lawyer in Chicago wrote one of my favorite hymns called "It Is Well With My Soul." And he wrote that hymn after his wife and children died. He lost them all. They died at sea, and over the very spot, it is said, where his boat sailed as he was out there to recover the damages, he wrote "It Is Well With My Soul." And do you remember one of those phrases, one of those verses in that great hymn?

"Oh Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll; the trump shall resound, and the Lord will descend, even so, it is well with my soul." That's trust and that is personal relationship. So now, right now, we trust. We have faith. And when I say we have faith, we trust, we believe, it doesn't just mean, "I believe God exists somewhere up there." It means I personally lean on him. I depend on him. I confide in him. That's trust. So these two things bind us together in intimacy with Christ---love and trust.

Now, a personal note for Peter. Which of the apostles, apart from Judas, showed weak faith? Well, Peter did, right? Now Peter was the one when Jesus announced that he was going to Jerusalem to die, Peter said, "Oh, no, no, no, no, no. Not gonna happen." He didn't even see that in God's plan. He had weak faith. He was the one who as he was drowning---at least he tried to get up and walk on the water. But as he was sinking, Jesus said raised him up with his hand and said, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"

Also, which apostle, apart from Judas, was questioned about his personal love for Jesus face-to-face? Peter was. Remember after the resurrection three times Jesus said, "Peter, do you love me?" "Yeah, I love you, Lord." Peter, do you love me?" "Yeah, I love you, Lord." Third time, it's getting awkward at this moment, "Peter, do you love me?" Three times he was questioned about his love for Jesus.

So, here is Jesus writing to people scattered, these scattered Christians. And as I see it, what a step of humility for Peter to, in effect, say, "You guys are so far above where I was as an apostle. I saw him. I walked with him. And yet I struggled with my own love of him and faith in him. You have never seen him, you don't see him now, but your love is strong and your trust is true." It's so beautiful. "I saw him, you never did. You love him. You trust him." And these are the two ingredients of a personal relationship; in fact, I would say to a greater degree.

But Thomas---you remember Thomas? He struggled too. And he said, "Oh, I really won't believe until I can actually see those wounds and put my hand in his side." Jesus showed up and said, "Okay Thomas, have at it." He didn't use those exact words, but it's my NSV, New Skip Version. [laughter] And Thomas did, and Thomas said, "My Lord and my God!" Great confession of faith.

And Jesus said, "Thomas, you believe because you've seen. But I want to tell you something. Blessed are those," O how happy are those, literally, "who have never seen and yet have believed." And that's us. That's the audience to whom Peter was writing. "You've never seen him, but you love him." So this relationship is based on love. This relationship is based on trust.

Here's a third principle from our text: this relationship based on love and based on trust is one that is ultimately satisfying, filled with joy. Look again at verse 8. You need to read it yourself. "Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible, full of glory, receiving the end of your faith---the salvation of your souls." Now, there's been a thought on Peter's mind in the verses that we have read so far; and that is, joy. He spoke about it already in verse 6. "In this you greatly rejoice."

Now follow his thinking from all the way from verse 1. He says to these people, "You guys have been picked by God. You're elect," verse 1 and 2. "That has given you a living hope," verse 3. "And an inheritance that is incorruptible, undefiled, doesn't fade away," that's verse 4. "And when this life is all over, it gets better in eternity," that's verse 5. "And because all of that is true," verse 6, "you rejoice even because you suffer in the midst of suffering great trials."

But now he uses this term, and I hope it just burns its way into your soul: "You rejoice with joy inexpressible." What does inexpressible mean? You can't express it. It literally means: above words, above language, that any words you could find to articulate the experience that you have would fall short of the real experience you have. It's inexpressible. The Phillips translation renders it, "He brings you a joy that words cannot express."

So, in this relationship based on love and trust there's a gladness of heart. There's a satisfaction. And you've probably had a hard time conveying that to an unbeliever when you try to describe, and you can only say, "You have to try it yourself to understand. It's inexpressible." Have you discovered in reading through the Bible that joy is one of the great themes of God's people in every generation?

In fact, let me frame it for you this way: most of God's people throughout all of time are just like we are and just like the recipients of this letter---they never saw him. Only three to three and a half years did people see God in human flesh walk the earth, like Peter, James, and John. But for the most part throughout history God's people have never seen him, but they've loved him and they've trusted him. And there is this resounding anthem of joy throughout all of God's redemptive history.

I looked it up, as you probably know I would, the word "joy" appears 158 times in the Bible, the word "rejoice" 199 times. Altogether words like "gladness," "joy," "joyful," "rejoicing," appear almost five hundred times. It's a constant theme. Here's just a little inkling just from a couple of psalms: Psalm 4, "You have put gladness in my heart." Psalm 37, "Delight yourself in the Lord." Psalm 5, "Let all those rejoice who put their trust in you; let them ever shout for joy." Psalm 32, "Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright." Now, that's just a sampling, but all throughout history God's people have had a constant theme of "I have joy."

Then we get to the New Testament and Paul makes a command out of it, which is kind of weird, isn't it? If I walked up to you and said, "Be happy." Okay, it's like, "You can't command somebody to do that, Skip. You can't tell them." Well, Paul does. Philippians 4 verse 4, he says, "Rejoice in the Lord." It's in the imperative. "Rejoice in the Lord. And again I say, rejoice." What makes that a particularly pregnant, powerful verse is that Paul gave that command---do you know where he wrote that from? Jail, prison, a Roman prison.

He wasn't at the Ritz-Carlton in Rome; he was in a Roman jail. And he said, "Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, rejoice." You know what that tells me? For him to be able to write that in those circumstances and give a command, that tells me, number one, that joy has little to do with what's going on around you and a lot to do with what's going on inside you. And the reason you're not joyful even though you're blaming your circumstances and your people around you, it's because what's going on in you.

Of all the places I've traveled, one place sticks out to me is India. I've traveled there several times and I met a lot of Christians in that country. And one of the things I always experience when I'm there is this: I feel convicted being around them, because they have such a joy level, and yet they're persecuted. Most of them are struggling to survive. They have very little of this world's goods, and they're full of joy.

I even met a man there named Joy. He came up to me with a big smile and goes, "My name is Joy. How are you doing?" I said, "Dude, your name fits you perfectly." And I said, "Tell me your story." He had to leave home because his dad tried to kill him when he converted to Christ. Joy---it tells me it has little to do with what's going on around you and a lot to do with what's going on inside of you. It also shows me that joy must be carefully guarded.

For Paul to say, "Here's a commandment---rejoice. And I'll said it again---rejoice," shows me that human beings can typically get our eyes onto the circumstances and off of the Lord and we lose perspective. Billy Sunday an evangelist from another generation said, "If you have no joy, there must be a leak in your Christianity somewhere." Your eyes are on the circumstances.

A third thing this tells me is that joy is not automatic. It's not automatic. It just doesn't happen; it's a learned response. In fact, it's the result of a choice that you make. The essence of Christian joy is when you choose to love Jesus, and you choose to trust him, that's the essence of it. And I'll add something to that; I think it's one of the greatest privileges, if not, dare I say, the greatest duty to be a joyful believer, to be a joyful believer.

When I say it's our duty to be a joyful believer, I am not suggesting you plaster on some fake plastic smile and go, "Hi, praise the Lord. I'm joyful all the time. I'm visualizing happiness all the time." No, you're just weird doing that. [laughter] That's just goofy stuff. But when you get a spiritual reality check of who God is and who you are, and you love him and you trust him, the joy goes up and you can't even express it. It's that real.

Let's close it off, verse 9; really it's a postscript in this thought. There's a comma and then verse 9. It's the same thought. "Receiving the end of your faith---the salvation of your souls." Please do not misunderstand that verse. He's not saying that if you keep on loving and you keep on trusting that in the end God will finally save you. It simply means this: what is invisible now and apprehended only by faith now, will one day be visible and one day be tangible. This relationship you have with God that is so indescribable doesn't even pale in comparison to what's coming up when he shows up.

Here's an example I use: in photography---well, let me just recast this. Once upon a time they had cameras that you put film in. [laughter] Okay, I have to explain that because people go, "Film? What is that?" This is all before these little screens on the back of cameras. In those days when there were silver bromide crystals on the emulsion of film, there was produced what is called a latent image. You would take a picture and there would be an image on the film, but you couldn't see it.

Truly you lived by faith and not by sight when you used to take pictures. Nowadays you just look at the back of the camera and go, "Cool! Got it." You couldn't look at the back of your camera, it was inside the camera, and film couldn't by exposed to light. But when you took the film into a darkroom and you immersed it in certain chemicals, and those silver crystals clumped together, it formed an image. And when you put a clearing agent on it, you could see it. What was invisible was now made visible.

And that's really the thought here. The joy you have now based upon the love you have and the trust you have in Christ, that joy that's part of your experience that at times is so good you can't even describe it, it ain't even developed yet. There's coming a day when it will be fully developed and you'll be in his presence, and everything now pales now in comparison.

Now, if we believe that, and if we live that way, you are an attractive person to an unbeliever. Do you think an unbeliever is attracted to a joyless person? A person who grumbles and gripes and complains and is legalistic, who's got his face down looking at all the problems in life? Do you think a person listens to that and goes, "I want to be just like that---miserable. Ooh, it's so attractive to me." No, I don't think so.

When somebody sees a genuine, real person experiencing in Christ a joy based upon your love and trust for him, they go, "Man, I want that." Like the old saying: "You catch more flies with a spoonful of honey than a jar full of vinegar." And so it's our great privilege, if not our great duty to exemplify and to radiate real joy of heart, real gladness of heart that comes from love and trust.

E. Stanley Jones that great missionary said, "When I met Jesus Christ, I felt that I had swallowed sunshine." Isn't that a great description? "What happened to you?" "Ah, swallowed sunshine, man."

Our Father in heaven, we trust you, we love you. We have never seen you. There's enough evidence to give validity to our trust. It's not a blind faith. It's a faith that is based on objective, testable reality, and then we've entered into with our own human experience, your Holy Spirit bears witness, other believers around us, changed lives of people who know you---all of that lends itself to say not only is there a God, but that God is personal, a real person who wants to have a relationship with his creation.

And we enter into that relationship like any other relationship on those two factors---love and trust. And our love for you, even though we don't see you, can grow and can blossom. Even though it's really a latent image, it will be fully developed when Jesus comes. Thank you, Lord, that we could take the time to just unpack these thoughts and apply them, because it's really the nitty-gritty, it's what it's all about. And I pray for the relationship that each one here has with you, it will continue to grow and thrive, in Jesus' name, amen.

For more resources from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig visit calvaryabq.org.

Additional Messages in this Series

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9/1/2013
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A Pebble, a Boulder & a Solid Foundation
1 Peter 1:1
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Peter is the most famous of the apostles, even though he only wrote two short epistles in the New Testament. But of all the early followers of Christ, Peter is perhaps the most relatable to us since he demonstrates all the weaknesses and failures we see in ourselves. But Peter's personal life and his writings become a composite model of "strength through trust." Any weak, wobbly, failure-ridden person can become Rock Solid through Christ.
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9/8/2013
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The Underpinnings of a Rock-Solid Life
1 Peter 1:2
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Peter skillfully lays the foundational basis for the Christian life to his readers in a single verse. We've been picked by God, placed in His family, and promised future benefits. For anyone who has ever struggled with a weak faith, these truths can be transforming. In this introduction to Peter's letter, let's unpack the meaning of these encouraging realities.
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9/15/2013
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Stepping Stones of the New Birth
1 Peter 1:3-5
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"Born again" wasn't a term invented by the popular press or religious fundamentalists. It was something Jesus told Nicodemus must happen for anyone to enter heaven (see John 3:3). Peter certainly heard that term from Jesus and speaks of it here (as well as in 1 Peter 1:23). It's a term synonymous with being saved and having eternal life. What does this new birth provide? In a word—solidity! Coming to Christ brings hope, inheritance, and power.
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9/22/2013
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Why We Hate Trials (And Why We Love Them)
1 Peter 1:6-7
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If the trials of life could only exist by popular demand, we would have voted them away long ago. People, by and large, hate suffering of any kind. Here in the Western world, we have made it our aim to mitigate against any form of it by a multitude of distractions and experiences. There is even a theology that seeks to say God never wants us to suffer—ever. Let's look at five reasons why we hate (and love) trials, and consider how they can be used to make us better people.
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10/6/2013
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Our Bedrock Salvation
1 Peter 1:10-12
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God has always planned on saving you. You were never an afterthought or a last-minute consideration. Not only have you been chosen before time began (1 Peter 1:2), but throughout the ages your salvation has been expected and planned for. The spokesmen of the Old Testament wrote about Jesus’ coming and the new covenant of grace, which you are now a part of. All this makes our salvation more secure than ever, built on the bedrock of His promises.
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10/20/2013
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How To Walk In The Dark
1 Peter 1:13-18
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Holiness is an uncomfortable subject for most believers. We have no problem assigning holiness to God as we sing, “You Are Holy, Oh Lord!” But our minds get muddled when we think of our own holiness because we don’t want to appear holier than thou. So what does it mean to be holy? And how can we live holy lives around unholy people? In short, how can we be “children of light” (Ephesians 5:8) while walking in a dark world?
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11/3/2013
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Where You Fit In God's Plan
1 Peter 1:18-21
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God's plan always involves people, and you are one of those people. God's plan includes you. Just think of it. God had you in mind when He put His plan together for the whole world. So where do you fit in that plan? When did this plan have its beginning? How much did this plan cost, and what is your part in it? Today we make that discovery by noting five vital truths:
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11/10/2013
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Rock Solid Love
1 Peter 1:22-2:3
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Peter's love for his Friend and Lord, Jesus Christ, was at one time on shaky ground when he denied that he even knew Jesus. His love would even get questioned by Christ later on (John 21:15-17). But now Peter knows that love for Christ and love for His people is all part of the same package. A relationship with God includes an affection for God's people. Four components of a rock-solid love are given by the very man who learned what true love is.
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11/17/2013
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Got Milk?
1 Peter 2:1-3
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Babies need milk to survive and to thrive. And newborn babies need and crave it a lot. So too, those who have been spiritually born-again need spiritual milk so that they can grow and be mature. As believers grow, they will begin to enjoy more solid spiritual food. But here Peter is addressing our appetites?those things we desire and crave. He gives us a three-part instruction that will curb and train our appetites in such a way that maximum growth will be achieved.
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11/24/2013
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This Old House
1 Peter 2:4-10
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God has been building His "house" since He first made the world. This is not a physical home nor a temple of worship as much as an assembly of peoples whom He has gathered to Himself. The stones He chooses are human beings in relationship to Christ, the cornerstone foundation. Let's consider God's site-plan for this construction project today.
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12/8/2013
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Maximum Impact
1 Peter 2:11-12
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How can Christ-followers make the most meaningful impact on the unbelieving world? That was in Peter's mind when he wrote this letter to scattered believers facing hostility from their neighbors. Four principles that transcend time stand out here; these will encourage us and empower us as we seek to influence our world for Christ and leave a lasting impression.
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1/12/2014
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The World's Hardest Activity
1 Peter 2:13-17
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Some people are just gifted at music or naturally talented with their hands. Others find that sports come easy, while others can perform math functions with total ease. But there is something that practically everyone finds difficult and that is submission. To abdicate our will to that of another, even for the sake of order and peace, is extremely tough. But there are higher goals and loftier purposes for believers to live submissive lives.
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1/19/2014
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Take This Job And Love It
1 Peter 2:18-21
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I want to make you a promise today: If you can learn and master the four principles in our text, your job will never be the same. The tedium, tension, and labor will give way to a higher motive that will bring authentic joy and deep satisfaction. As Peter addresses slaves in the ancient Roman world, let?s apply it to a much more modern and humane situation?your place of employment.
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1/26/2014
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You Remind Me of Someone!
1 Peter 2:21-25
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Whom do you remind people of? At work or in society at large, is it evident that you are a Christ-follower? Jesus is always our supreme example for how to live a godly life in an ungodly world. Peter told us that we should submit to government as well as to management, and now he tells us why we should—because Jesus did and He's the one we follow.
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2/2/2014
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The Irresistible Beauty of a Tender Heart
1 Peter 3:1-6
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The most attractive people in the world are those who display depth of character and pleasant personalities. Solomon insisted that “[outward] beauty is passing” (Proverbs 31:30). As Peter speaks to a common issue in the early church (Christian wives married to unbelieving husbands), he also gives us three marks of a tenderhearted woman: in her actions, attitudes, and admiration.
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2/9/2014
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The Four-Sided Fortress of a Husband's Love
1 Peter 3:7
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If life is to be rock solid, then family relationships—especially marriage—must be rock solid. No wonder Peter speaks to husbands after addressing wives. In his directive toward submission, he addresses citizens (and not government officials); he addresses servants (and not their masters). But when it comes to the home, he addresses both wives and husbands. Let's consider how a husband's love can make a woman feel firmly secure.
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2/16/2014
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How To Attract Flies
1 Peter 3:8-12
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The old saying "You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar" fits perfectly with Peter's letter. He's been telling Christians how to live in plain view of the unbelieving world. Now he goes into the church and tells us how to treat each other. It's his hope that an exhibition of real, Christian love will provide a base of satisfying fellowship for us and attract unbelievers. But how?
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2/23/2014
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When Holiness Meets Hostility
1 Peter 3:13-17
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Faith is not neutral. It’s a powerful and dynamic force that changes behavior (if it is genuine faith). Unbelief is also a powerful force, and when believers try to live out their faith in an unbelieving environment, there are some predictable and unavoidable results. Let’s consider four truths from Peter’s pen that will be helpful when God’s holy people meet up with a hostile world.
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3/2/2014
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A Reason For Every "Ouch!"
1 Peter 3:18-22
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Perhaps the most common word in our language is the tiny word, "Ouch!" Every day, it's repeatedly expressed in variant forms around the world. It's a word that conveys pain and suffering. Peter’s audience knew all about suffering, but they didn't always know how it could actually be used for anything good. Christ's own sufferings provide the best example of both the power and usefulness of suffering.
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3/9/2014
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The Invisible War
1 Peter 3:18-22
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In every war, strategy plays a role. Each side plans and makes movements in accordance to what it learns about the other side’s tactics. If information is leaked, a counteroffensive can be launched. This can be seen in the grand and most profound war of the universe: The Invisible War. In this battle, Satan and his minions wage war against God, His angels, and His people. We’ll consider it by looking again at one of the most enigmatic texts in the New Testament. Let’s unravel it.
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3/16/2014
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Should I Get Soaking Wet?
1 Peter 3:20-21
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So what's the deal with baptism? Why do Christians practice it? What does it have to do with my relationship to God? Peter raised the issue of baptism in this letter, but he tied it into what happened during the time of Noah and the great flood. What on earth could one have to do with the other? Let's unravel these verses and then relate them to our current understanding of Christian baptism. Does this really save a person?
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3/23/2014
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Just Counting Time Or Making Time Count?
1 Peter 4:1-6
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There is a certain amount of time allotted to us all, and we all decide how we are going to spend it. But none of us knows exactly how much of it we have left. So a huge question for all of us is: What will you do with the time you have left? Some never face that issue honestly, thinking that they'll always have plenty of time. Today, let's consider four solid principles that will make the time you have left really count.
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5/4/2014
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Living Like There's No Tomorrow
1 Peter 4:7-11
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People have been predicting the end of the world since the beginning of the world. But Scripture declares there will be an end. For some, their world could end this week or this year when death pays them a visit. But with whatever time we have left, we should live with a sense of imminence and anticipation that God's kingdom is around the corner. What elements can make our lives stronger as we await the end of the age?
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5/11/2014
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The Dos and Don'ts of Suffering
1 Peter 4:12-19
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Pain and suffering dominate our world. To some, that poses an insurmountable roadblock to faith in a good and loving God. How can a loving God let such unlovely things happen all around the globe every day for millennia? Not only is this a deal breaker for unbelievers, but it presents a quandary for believers who want to make sense out of everything in life. The apostle Peter weighed in on these issues in a very personal way to his fellow Christians.
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5/18/2014
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Profile of A Good Shepherd
1 Peter 5:1-4
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"The church needs leaders who serve and servants who lead." So said one notable pastor. Peter doesn't address just the suffering flock of believers in this letter; he also has encouragement for the leaders of the flock—the pastors. What are the characteristics of a shepherd who serves among God's flock? What are his responsibilities, and how can a church flourish under such leadership? Here, Peter places himself and fellow shepherds under the microscope.
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5/25/2014
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The Upright Walk of A Bowed-Down Man
1 Peter 5:5-7
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One website I came across recently stated that "the more in control you are of your life, the more assured and confident you'll become." The same website warned readers to not trust others. That is, unfortunately, the by-product of our proud world. But walking among others means we sometimes need to bend low in humility for the sake of solidarity and unity. Peter's words on this are timeless.
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6/1/2014
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Lion Alert!
1 Peter 5:8-9
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Just think what would happen if a lion from our local zoo escaped and was wandering around the park, looking for a fresh kill. Can you imagine the pandemonium that would erupt if such a misfortune occurred? Imagine no more! Our Enemy is far more dangerous and formidable and is on the prowl to destroy the spiritual lives of the residents of planet Earth, especially those who belong to Christ. Let's consider the battle and the potential outcome.
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6/29/2014
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A Rock-Solid Finish
1 Peter 5:10-14
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Peter ended his letter with a few nuggets of distilled truth. In just a couple of verses, he concentrated everything he had already said. To his suffering audience, Peter offered assurance of God’s perfect plan that began when they trusted in Christ and wouldn’t end until they were firmly secure in the glories of heaven. Though pain is part of the process of perfection, the finish line is worth it!
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