This week as we continue on in our series through the book of Proverbs, we are going to look together at the topic of our speech. In particular at the power that our words can have to destroy or to give life, but as much a Proverbs as to say about our words, Proverbs also says that our words are only the surface. There is in fact a power that lies behind the words that we speak, and it is our desire to not only see the effects that our words can have, but even more importantly to see the reason behind the words we choose, to see the motivation of our heart behind the words. And then lastly to see the power that is greater than our words, to see Him who has come taking our words of death and pain upon himself so that we may now speak words of life.
The wisdom of the proverbs is an invitation to life because it is a description of the life of Jesus Christ, who is the wisdom of God. In order for it to enter and transform our hearts, we need to retreat from the competing voices in this world and commune with him in solitude. Only when we are united with him in the desert will the teaching of this book become like a fountain of life within us.
A life of integrity gives strength to the wise, builds up important relationships, and brings rewards that last for generations. However, life daily tests our character and tempts us to take short cuts and make compromises. Only Jesus truly passed those tests. Thankfully, through the Gospel we have been given his righteousness and the desire to learn from him. Through submission to the Father, and by the power of the Spirit we humbly walk down this road of wisdom desiring to be men and women of integrity.
How do we understand our work? Why do we overwork? Why do we under-work? Do we rightly understand God’s intention for our work? Considering we spend more time in our work/vocation than likely doing anything else, it is imperative that we understand God’s intent for it.
This week we will identify what Solomon taught his sons is precious, what is worth protecting, and how to do so. He gave them wisdom in the area of sexual temptation and integrity. Wisdom that will protect one’s relational, marital, spiritual, emotional, mental, physical and ministry health. The wisdom given to Solomon’s sons is healthy for men and women (children & adults), singles and marrieds. See what Solomon says is “precious enough to protect” so you can live more wisely where you live, work, serve and play.
What is precious to you, that you would not want to lose? What will you sacrifice to keep that that which is precious, safe?
This week’s message gives wisdom for those who have not fallen sexually (is anyone without sin?), and hope for those who have. But remember, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” This is not a message of judgment, but of hope. And Jesus has provided a way.
For much of the past century, America has lived under the banner of Christendom among a culture in which Christianity prevailed. From politics to morality to the public square, the Christian story was known and exceedingly influential. However, following the path of our European forefathers, we are living in an increasingly post-Christian age. Rather than finding ourselves as followers of Jesus at the center of culture, in the places of power, or at the center of society, we find ourselves trying to figure out how to live life in the margins. In a world where the Bible is not known, Jesus is not believed, and our status is far from privileged, our reality has changed and so should our questions. How do you live in the margins, not at the center? As minority, not majority? As a sojourner, not a settler? Among plurality, not privilege? As a movement, not an institution?
Thankfully, this is not new territory for the church. In fact, it’s an ancient environment that served as fertile ground for the rapid expansion of the early church. And, letters like 1 Peter, written to the elect exiles of Asia Minor, strike a new chord with refreshing relevance. Learning from the saints who have gone before, we are reminded that life in the margins is not a curse but a blessing filled with new Kingdom opportunity. As we take the posture of pilgrims and sojourners in exile, the gospel can not only survive but thrive for God’s glory and the good of our city. Life in the margins can be a beautiful thing.
Nehemiah came to Jerusalem to seek the welfare of the people, and – with the wall building now finished – he turns his attention to the spiritual state of the people of God. After an intense season of serving and working together, they’re in need of personal and corporate renewal. So the people call on Ezra, the priest, to open up God’s word and feed their weary souls. As Ezra reads, we learn what sort of posture we must embrace to experience the kind of ongoing renewal we need to persevere in a life of service.
As we finish up the book of 1 Peter, he ends on the topic of humility, a topic which has definitely been “pushed out to the margins of our civilization” in a day and age where looking out for oneself above others is expected and almost even encouraged, in a day where anxiousness and worry looms, Peter call to us is to, “humble ourselves beneath the mighty hand of God, and to cast our anxiety upon the one who not only can change it, but who also is the one who cares for us”. Sunday we are going to explore why Peter makes humility his closing point, and how we can, “cloth ourselves in humility”. Looking forward to this!
We’re getting towards the end of First Peter. We have spent weeks learning how the Apostle Peter encouraged and exhorted the churches in his care to not only survive in a harsh environment, but to thrive in the new identities they have in Christ. He now turns his attention to the Elders of these church communities, and sets his sights on the heart and motivations that need to drive Elders to shepherd the people in their care towards the good shepherd.
We return again to the subject of suffering, one of Peter’s favorite topics. Specifically, suffering for the choice to follow Jesus. What has the choice to follow Him cost you? What could it cost you? If you don’t follow Jesus but chose to, what would it cost you? Is it worth it? These and other questions will be at the heart of our time together and it is my hope that we will see the truth and beauty inherent in suffering for Him.
In order to live a life of suffering for Jesus in margins, Peter calls all believers to arms. However, instead of arming ourselves with the weapons of the world, Peter calls the Christ follower to be armed with the mindset of Jesus. Following Jesus' lead, this results in a commitment to the Father's will in terms of our passions, pressures, and priorities. The single-minded focus of Jesus serves as our guide through suffering and every uncertain situation.
As Peter continues exploring the Christian life of suffering, he attempts to answer the question, "Is Suffering Worth It?" By weaving together 3 very different yet related stories, his answer is a resounding yes. By looking to Jesus on the cross, Noah and the ark, and a believer's experience of baptism, Peter explains why it is better to suffer for doing good and re-frames our daily struggle through gospel eyes. So often our lens is too short and our scorecard is too material.
After speaking specifically to wives and husbands, Peter now address all of us with gospel implications of how we should respond when we suffer for doing good. In the immediate context of this passage, Peter twice points to the example of Christ as one who suffered for the sake of righteousness (chapters 2:21 & 3:18). As we consider Christ’s example of suffering, what things come to mind? How might His example inform our response to the gospel as people who may increasingly find ourselves in the margins?
After addressing the realms of government and the workplace, Peter turns toward the home in 1 Peter 3 to address the practicalities of the gospel in marriage. This week we will focus on Peter's words to husbands in verse 7 after having addressed the wives in verses 1-6. Although he only spends time on one verse, Peter has so much to say to guide a husband into a life of loving pursuit, honor, service, and sacrificial leadership like Jesus. This kind of cross-shaped marriage creates a home where a wife can flourish and the gospel is put on display.
After addressing the realms of government and the workplace, Peter turns toward the home in 1 Peter 3 to address the practicalities of the gospel in marriage. This week we will focus on Peter's words to the women in verses 1-6, and next week we will focus on his admonition to the men in verse 7. Remaining consistent in his call for submission, Peter offers very specific insight and instruction for any wife to apply toward her husband. God's heart is revealed and the kingdom is advanced when a woman is marked by respect, true beauty, and fearlessness. This counter-cultural approach is not only effective for the Kingdom, but is precious in the sight of God.
As Peter begins to unpack the specific applications of His word pictures from Ch. 1 and 2, the first place he turns is to the realm of society, government, and culture at large. How does a Christian live for Jesus in the margins among a pagan empire and leadership? His answer, although simple, gets at the heart of greatness in the Kingdom of God. It involves being a servant in attitude and action. This week we will talk about what it looks like to serve with a heart of submission and honor toward those who seem not to deserve it.
The churches the Apostle Peter was writing to were living in the midst of very real circumstances that were shaping their lives. They were marginalized for their way of life and exclusive allegiance to Jesus. They were different, which equates them to being suspect, irrelevant and people to be avoided. But Peter’s vision for them is more than survival in the margins. He wants their imaginations to be shaped by their true identity and calling, better and more significant than what their immediate circumstances are telling them. He wants their imaginations to be shaped by the real story that they’re playing a role in. And to do so, Peter uses imagery that calls the hearers into their communal identity that has purposes that are rooted in God’s redemptive plan for the world.
We have to know who we are and who we belong to before we get to the “doing,” or else we spend our lives trying to define who we are by what we do or don’t do. Lets come together this Sunday and let Peter’s words help us reimagine the significance of who we are as a church and the life we get to live in response.