1 Peter 4:12-16
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
Peter had spent considerable time in the preceding verses dealing with Christian character and conduct in the midst of a fallen world. He was well aware of the struggles and persecution many within the church faced. Although they were forced to deal with adversity, they were also expected to maintain their integrity before men, presenting a positive witness for Christ.
Our text today continues that thought, but Peter takes their responsibilities in a different direction. Most believers in that day dealt with opposition from the world, knowing all too well the difficulties of being a committed Christian in the midst of a pagan culture. Peter does not shy away from the truth, nor does he try to minimize the reality of their lives. He is very straightforward with the church. In fact, instead of trying to alter their focus, Peter dealt candidly with the sufferings they faced. He knew their suffering would likely continue, and he wanted to prepare them to endure even though they faced great opposition.
As with previous passages, it is difficult for us to genuinely relate to the difficulties of the early believers, but these principles remain true. Our world is rapidly changing, and we too must prepare for the difficulties that are sure to come. While we hate to admit it, the Lord often uses difficulties to strengthen our faith and reliance upon Him. The suffering we endure from time to time is actually beneficial in our Christian lives. As we consider the expectations for our lives, I want to discuss: Suffering for God’s Glory
Our Attitude in Suffering (12-14) As Peter began to deal with the suffering believers faced, he addressed their attitude in the midst of suffering. Developing and maintaining a proper attitude in suffering would enable them to better navigate the difficulties they encountered.
1 Peter 4:12-16
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.
The Reality (12) “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” Peter challenged the church in regard to their perception of trials and adversity. He urged them not to consider such difficulties as strange or unusual. No doubt, some would have felt as if they were being forced to deal with struggles that others had been able to avoid.
Human nature tends to generate feelings of pity for ourselves in the midst of adversity, causing us to feel as if we have been treated unfairly, and even thinking we are forced to deal with issues no one else has had to endure. Peter assured them that these trials were not unusual, and they were not the first to encounter such difficulty. This was simply the reality of striving to live for the Lord in the midst of a wicked and perverted culture.
Peter revealed another reality regarding these trials. Not only were they not the first to face such adversity, there was actually purpose in these trials. God had allowed them to come into their lives in order to try their faith and strengthen their resolve. While our nature resists and despises trials, the Lord knows they are beneficial in our lives.
Through them we realize our weakness and learn dependence upon the Lord. As we endure faithful, and the Lord sustains us in the midst of trials, our faith in Him grows. While trials are never enjoyable at the moment, once they are over, they almost always produce stronger Christians who are more mature in the faith. Trials will come into our lives, this is just a reality of our Christian journey.
The Rejoicing (13) “but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad, with exceeding joy.” The challenge for believers continues as Peter calls on them to not only embrace the reality of suffering, but also rejoice in the midst of their suffering. I think you will agree that is often difficult to accomplish. I know that trials are beneficial, but I find it difficult to rejoice in the midst of them. However, that is expected of us. This is easier when we realize that God has not only allowed the trial but is planning to use it in order to make us stronger in the faith.
Peter also revealed an important aspect of our sufferings. As we suffer for our faith in Christ, we are partaking in His sufferings. Consider all that Christ suffered on our behalf. He was falsely accused, condemned to death, scourged, mocked, rejected, and crucified. All of this was done in submission to the Father’s will to provide redemption. As we embrace the suffering we encounter for the Christ, we are following His example, submitting to the will of God for our lives in an effort to serve and honor Him. While suffering is not enjoyable, it is a great honor and privilege to identify with the sufferings of our Lord.
Our rejoicing in trials provides great benefit as we walk with the Lord in this life, and it will produce great joy as we meet the Lord when He returns. The suffering we endure in this life will not compare to the glory that will be revealed when the Lord comes again.
2 Corinthians 4:17
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
The Reproach (14a) “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you,” Again, contrary to human nature, Peter declared that suffering reproach for the Lord will result in great joy and even happiness. Those to whom Peter had written would certainly be able to relate to suffering reproach for Christ. These had been forced to flee their homes because of their faith in Christ. They lived a life of uncertainty and great difficulty, being rejected by the majority of society. They were pushed to the fringes of society, often impoverished and ridiculed simply because they had believed in Christ as Lord and Savior.
This begs the question – how is one happy when suffering reproach? This all depends on one’s perspective and attitude. Peter wanted them to view their struggles through the lens of faith, not through what their eyes could see. While they suffered greatly in this life for their faith, their suffering and commitment to Christ were not in vain. They endured difficulty here, but their eternal destiny was secure in Christ. These had to come to the realization that temporary suffering was actually a small price to pay in light of eternal life in Christ. When they viewed their reproach through the perspective of faith, it was easier to endure, and they were even able to rejoice.
The Reward (14b) “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.” Here Peter described the gracious provision of the Lord for those who suffer for Him. Many scholars agree this is the heart of the passage. Those who suffer for Christ never suffer alone. Peter assured them, as they faced trials and suffering for Christ, they would receive the Spirit of God and His glory resting upon them. Peter did not promise the Lord would prevent suffering, but he did reveal the Lord had promised to meet them in their suffering, and provide the provision of His Spirit to guide, guard, comfort, and enable them to endure.
I certainly don’t pray for trials and suffering in my life, but there is a presence and provision from the Lord that is only experienced in the midst of those difficulties. In fact, I am convinced we experience the Lord more intimately in those moments than at any other time in our lives. Trials are not enjoyable, but if we can experience His presence in the midst of them, growing in our faith, being conformed to His image, then we must agree they are beneficial.
This is tough to consider, but I wonder how many trials we have wasted? That’s an odd question but think about the principle – how often do we merely endure trials? Never really seeking the Lord or drawing strength from Him, struggling through until the trial has ended. God may have desired to teach us a great lesson that would have a significant impact on our lives and faith, and yet we squandered such a gracious opportunity. Rather than begging God to remove the trials we face, we should learn to embrace them, drawing near to the Lord, in order to receive that which He intended for us through that particular trial.
Our Fortitude in Suffering (15-16) After discussing the attitude believers are to possess in the midst of suffering, Peter then addressed how we are to endure in the midst of suffering. He referred to:
1 Peter 4:15-16
But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
Our Purity (15) “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.” Peter revealed our suffering should never be caused by ungodly actions. Those who engaged in willful sin could expect to reap the consequences of their behavior, but that should never be the case for believers. If the believer is to suffer, it should be in relation to their commitment to the faith, seeking to honor Christ rather than indulging the desires of the flesh. When suffering comes, we should be able to take comfort, knowing it is for our faith in the Lord instead of rebellion against His plan and will for our lives.
Our Integrity (16a) “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed,” Unlike those whose behavior brought about suffering, Peter declared the Christian has no reason to be ashamed for their suffering for the faith. This is one of only three times the word Christian is found within the New Testament. In that day, it was a name that, often brought reproach and disdain. Those among the world used it as a slang term to identify those who believed Jesus was the Christ. Peter wanted the believers to embrace their faith, while standing boldly for the Lord, being willing to identify with His suffering.
Many today are ridiculed for their faith. Believers in positions of prominence are often urged to keep their faith to themselves, lest others within their circle of influence discover their faith. There is no shame in identifying with Christ our Lord. We all have been in situations when we were uncomfortable, feeling as if we were the only believer within the group. While those encounters are uncomfortable, they do not provide justification for us to hide our faith. As believers in Christ, we should never be ashamed to identify with our Lord.
Our Testimony (16b) “but let him glorify God in this matter.” When faced with opposition or ridicule for their faith, Peter encouraged them to use that as an opportunity to bear witness of the grace of our Lord rather than allowing fear to silence their voice. Their faithfulness to the Lord, especially in difficult situations, would provide a tremendous witness for their faith and Christ. These difficult moments should be viewed as opportunities rather than inconveniences.
Light shines brightest in the darkest places. These situations are never easy, but we must continually seek opportunities to let our light shine for the Lord. Being a faithful witness when we are forced to stand alone often bears great influence. Those with whom we interact may never admit it publicly, but I am confident they will notice our commitment and it will make an impact in their lives. We must commit to being a consistent witness, regardless of the situation or company we are among.
I think you will agree this has been a difficult passage to consider. It is easy enough to understand, but difficult to put in practice. As believers we must view our trials in light of God’s plan and purpose for our lives, while striving to present a positive witness among unbelievers. If you are struggling, come to the Lord for guidance and strength to endure.
Let Us Pray:
Father, we thank you for your message. We thank you for your words of truth. We thank you for always being with us, giving us strength, courage and faith to stand when times are hard and confusing. You have brought us this far, there is no turning back. We have felt your love through your Son and that is how we know that we can endure to the end. Father, may you be glorified always. May your Son, our Lord Jesus be lifted up in all that we do. And by your Spirit, may we remain faithful. In Jesus name we pray.
36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” 39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” 40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour [b]is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”
There was once a small girl who had never seen her father anything but cheerful. As long as she could remember, he seemed to have been smiling at her. He had smiled when she was born, the daughter he had longed for. He had smiled as he held her in his arms and helped her to learn to eat and drink. He had laughed as he played with her, encouraged her with games and toys as she learned to walk, chatted brightly as he took her to school. If she hurt herself, his smile and gentle kiss helped her to relax and get over it. If she was in difficulties or trouble, the shadow that would cross his face was like a small cloud which hardly succeeded in hiding the sun; soon the smile would come out again, the eager interest in some new project, something to distract, to move on to new worlds. And then one day it happened.
To begin with she wasn’t told why. He came back home from a visit, and with a look she’d never seen before went straight to his room. Ever afterwards she would remember the sounds she then heard, the sounds she never thought to hear. The sound of a healthy, strapping 30-year-old man weeping for a dead sister.
It was of course a necessary part of growing up. In most families, grief would have struck sooner. Looking b ack, she remained grateful for the years when smiles and laughter were all she could remember. But the shock of his sudden vulnerability, far more than the fact of the death of her aunt and all that it meant, were what made the deepest impression.
I think Gethsemane was the equivalent moment for the disciples.
Church… lets us not forget the true meaning of this special day. Up to this point in the gospels, Christ has been surrounded by 100’s – so many different characters, so much activity, so many healings, so many miracles. The gospels paint a picture of a Jesus who interacts, cares and loves the world, yes spending time on His own. Here in this story, we begin to see the characters surrounding Jesus melt away into the background. Vs 36 (The disciples are told to stand aside) – 3 are left (Peter, James and John). Then He shares with them these astonishing words, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.”
Jesus wept, Jesus embraced others, Jesus healed, but nowhere have we read before such sentiment as this. Something is different, in this story we are entering into new territory, and just as the crowds around Him peel way, almost the layers upon Jesus are peeling away, and we are invited into an even greater depth of who He is than ever before.
Even then He leaves a distance between them. Asking them to “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And then He prays alone. This is the first picture I want us to hold on to – The Christ who goes on alone. And we see in the later verses how even the disciples fall asleep. The hour is late – this follows the Last Supper, and the disciples are tired, and here in the depths of the night Jesus is alone – pouring out His heart to the Father.
Why is He alone – in virtually all His other ministry He has invited His disciples alongside to get involved to share the work. Yet here He is alone. Why is this so important??
Only He can take up the Cross and die for the world, only the Son of God can be hung on the cross for the sins of the world. No other can walk this path, no other can go this way. Only Him. Some have said that Christ is in sorrow because He will die. Yet how foolish, there are many times He has been in danger for His life, and yet showed no fear, surrounded by Pharisees who wanted to stone Him and yet we read of no frightened man. Yet here alone we see a man frightened and troubled. There can but be only one reason – because He knows that His life mission has come to save each one of us by dying on a cross and suffering for our sins, that we might be forgiven.
Let us never forget this picture of the lonely Christ. At every stage of life – we can feel that we are alone. As a teenager – we can feel no-one understands. As a 20 something, we can sense people don’t know the pressures that confront us, as a married couple – we can feel alone in times of pain and trouble, as a family we can feel the weight of burden to provide, or to care and look after the household, and as we get older – there is that very real sense that we are alone – when others are no longer there. At each stage of life and in the different circumstances we can see, they don’t understand, others cannot fathom what this is like to bear this burden, to face this problem.
Yet here we have Christ who stood alone in the knowledge that He bore the sins of the world. Christ went through this alone –that we might never be alone from Him. The Christian promise is that when we become Christians, Christ promises to live in us, by His Holy Spirit – that “I am with you always to the very end of the age.”
In Christianity we can proclaim of a God who stood alone – that we might never be alone – whatever our circumstance in life. Yes, I would hope as a church we would stand together with each other in the circumstances and situations that we face. So this is the first picture I want us to remember on this special day – that of, the loneliness of Christ (that we may not be alone).
Secondly, I want us to consider the prayer of Christ “Your will be done”,
Look at the 2 prayers in between v39 & v42. 39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”/ 42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” By looking at the contrast between these 2 prayers, you can see how Christ moves from “if it is possible” to the realization “if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it”. This phrase “your will be done” should sound familiar – as it comes straight from Matthew 5 where Jesus is teaching the disciples how to pray. So here, we have Christ living out the Lord’s prayer as He faces death.
But here at the very heart of Easter – at the place where the battle was fought – will the Son submit to the will of the Father – we see this prayer “thy will be done” – Do you remember the Lord’s prayer “your kingdom come, your will be done”.
In a very real way God’s kingdom could not have come unless Jesus was willing to do the will of the Father. But also, we should not expect God’s kingdom to come, to transform our lives, our neighbors lives, we shouldn’t expect to see healings, and answered prayer unless we are willing to seek the Lord’s will. I fear that far too often we expect God’s kingdom to come and great things to happen to us in our church and our lives without submitting to the will of God. Yet often we run our lives as if God doesn’t exist – so often we will get up and decide to do this and that –and we to remind ourselves, “have you sought the Father’s will”.
Let me give you an example of how this could work out. One of the major steps to remember Easter, is to remember “thy will be done”. The way of Jesus was the way of obedience to the Father’s will (the way of the cross)
Finally, the last picture I want us to consider is that of the sleeping disciples and the words of Christ “Lead us not into temptation”.
We must have much sympathy with the disciples – the hour was late, they had shared a meal together so would likely have full stomachs, and Jesus is calling them to watch and pray. Jesus tell His disciples in v41 “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” In the gospel of Matthew these are the last request that Christ makes to His disciples before He is taken, and the trial and the journey to the cross commences.
Clearly as we have thought about earlier, Christ wanted others to stand with Him as He faced the cross, to watch and pray, but the disciples show their humanness – by failing to do so. In His moment of need He wanted them to stand with Him, to pray with Him. But He was to tread a path that only He could tread. By sleeping they revealed their own sinfulness and it stands as a picture of the uniqueness of Christ to stand in our place. So, in these words – there is a very real short term meaning. It was here in Gethsemane, without the Holy Spirit – when asked to keep watch that they failed.
But I also believe there was a longer term meaning. Jesus knew that they would face beatings, persecution, that their faith would be tested after He had gone (Matthew 24: 9-13). So, they may have shown their weakness this night, but never again.
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation”
Acts 2:42 – They devoted themselves to prayer.
Acts 12: Peter was in prison and what was happening “the church was earnestly praying to God for him”- all night.
Christ knew what was needed. If anyone dare say that Christianity is a man-made religion – I would challenge them to look at the disciples before and after the resurrection. Here in Gethsemane – we see a Christ pleading with them to stay with Him, to pray with Him, that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, and yet they fail Him. Just a few weeks later we see a Spirit filled people who can’t stop praying.
As we see Gethsemane – we can see the picture of Christ standing alone, praying thy will be done – but urging the disciples to “Stay awake and pray.” That they might be a people who did not fall asleep and became self-reliant, but would be committed to prayer – How true it is that though the flesh is weak – we have a Spirit that is more than willing to help us in our prayer. I believe we live in an age where these words of Christ are more relevant than ever. Temptation is around every corner. Temptation to be unfaithful to one’s partner, temptation to put one’s job above all else, temptation to strive after the bigger and better, temptation to hide Christ from those who need Him.
Yet the words of Christ come back to speak to us “Watch and pray, Watch and pray” – Every day we should let these words of Christ ring out -watch how you live, watch what you do, watch who you are copying, watch our lives and commit them in prayer to Jesus. “Watch and pray”, “Watch and pray” Will we listen to these last words of Jesus to us. Yes – the body is weak – but how good it is that the Spirit is stronger. Christ died to rescue us from the penalty and consequence of sin and temptation and urges us to watch and pray so that we will not fall.
One night an Arab had settled in for the night and had just fallen asleep when his camel stuck his head in his tent and explained that it was awful cold and asked permission to just stick his legs inside the tent to keep them warm. Granting him permission the Arab went back to sleep. A little while later the camel woke him up a second time and asked permission to stick his head in. Again permission was granted. This continued on throughout the night until finally the Arab woke up to find the entire camel in the tent with him. When he told the camel that there just was not enough room in the tent for the both of them the camel suggested that the Arab might want to leave.
This is exactly the same with temptation, it can slip into our lives a little at a time and one day we wake up and find there is no room for Jesus in our lives. Let us not let the current events of this world rob us of what we have in Christ. Let us not forget what happened in this special day.
We have looked at the loneliness of Christ (that we may not be alone). He prayed alone on a garden, and hung alone on a cross, that you & I might be forgiven, and not be alone from God. But you may feel alone in a situation and a circumstance. Christ has stood alone in a garden for you to bear your sins and that of the world, come to Him in your aloneness.
We have looked at the submission of Christ to the Fathers will – maybe there is a situation or a circumstance where you are trying to do it on your own – or a situation you are struggling with – Christ’s example calls us to pray thy will be done!
Finally, we have looked at the command of Christ to “watch and pray, so that you will not fall into temptation.” Maybe there is a temptation upon you at the moment that you are finding hard to bear. Maybe the flesh is weak – Christ calls us to pray with him.
Is there a situation you feel alone in.
- Is there a situation you may fall in
- Are you willing to pray “thy will be done”.
1 Peter 3:13-17
13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
We all need to learn to deal with fear in our life. And I am not just saying this because of what is happening in our world today. If we are all honest...before all these things started happening, we’ve always had our share of fear from time to time. What are we faced with today, illness, financial security, safety…these things has been the main focus on everyone’s minds, correct! Well…my brothers and sisters, it is now time to let these things be and fix our eyes back on Jesus.
You see…God’s people are not to live in fear. Fear should not be our god. Fear can rob us of our joy, our peace, our security in our Lord Jesus. Yes, I said it! Our security is in Jesus. The Apostle Peter has some reassuring words for us today from 1st Peter 3: 13-17…In Christ there is "No need for Fear".
Suffering is inevitable: "And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” Peter’s question must have hung in the air for a long moment when the Christians who first received this letter and heard it. They were no strangers to suffering and indeed had suffered for doing good. Peter is addressing no run of the mill believers. They were very zealous for the Lord in fact in the original language of the Greek New Testament these were people who "burned with zeal" to desire earnestly! What was it that they were so passionate about? Trusting in God regardless of the cost!
Peter was not dismissing the fact that they were suffering. In fact he was telling them that as a result of their righteous lives in God’s care, their blessedness would be such as to turn off all the malice of their persecutors and make their suffering itself to be a joy!
Someone asked C.S. Lewis, "Why do the righteous suffer?" "Why not?" he replied. "They’re the only ones who can take it."
Peter says God’s people are blessed for their suffering. That is a reoccurring theme in God’s word. There is something about great hardship that allows our Faith… if it a genuine faith to shine! What good is faith if it’s never tested? The testing is where many would fail. The trying of our faith is more precious than Gold as scripture says! Greatness often lies hidden beneath an easy or comfortable life, only to emerge when suffering is applied to such a life.
I am speaking to many today who is in the midst of suffering. It has torn at your heart and sapped your strength. You are today a weary follower of Christ. For the Lord, and His great cause you don’t burn with passion, you couldn’t be categorized as being someone who desires Him earnestly! And it’s all because of suffering, suffering you believe is undeserved and unwelcome! Could it be that suffering has come to you not as an enemy but as a friend? A friend who will take you by the hand and heart and show you the depths of God’s sufficiency?
"And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?
Church, let me say it again, suffering is inevitable, face it in the strength of the Lord! Be passionate about your faith, desire Him earnestly.
Saying no to fear. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” The apostle Peter is saying literally "Do not be affected with fear by the fear which they try to inspire in your heart"
Why and what do Christians fear? Peter of course is describing the fear that often is found in the committed believers heart! We fear many things as it relates to this world’s perception of us.
What is the heart of Peter’s thinking here? In the context of his day it’s simple not to be afraid to assert your love and passion for God! Risk being misunderstood to be a person of faith! In that regard the admonition to not be afraid spans the centuries! What it comes down to is this, Am I as a follower of Christ willing to allow the Lord to direct my life, shape my ethics control my conduct, even if it set’s me at odds with society? A society that wraps itself tightly around the idea that one should "Do what you want, there are no moral absolutes and in fact truth is not in a person it’s not in Christ it’s in what I feel at the moment! "Do not fear what they fear, do not be frightened."
"Fear not" or "Be not afraid" is found three hundred and 65 times in the word of God! That’s one for every day! "Do not fear what they fear, do not be frightened." There are legitimate fears, fears that cause us to be cautious! Like driving through a stormy weather! Or the fear of wild animals or heights! Peter wants us to not be afraid to live for Jesus to let His life dominate our own. Some may wrongly conclude that such devotion will eradicate our individuality. On the contrary you will become the "you" that God destined you to be when you…."Do not fear what they fear, do not be frightened." How is that possible you ask? Is there an antidote for spiritual fear? Yes!
The antidote for fear is…
1 Peter 3:15-17
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
Peter states that believers are to, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts”. Lord means “Kurious” it has it’s meaning in the old testament and is referring to Jesus as Jehovah God! Christ means the anointed One and speaks of the Jewish Messiah. Peter in no uncertain terms is challenging all believers then and now too, set apart their Messiah the Lord Jesus as Jehovah, the very God in their hearts, giving first place to Him in obedience of life. When we think of Jesus being Lord, the appropriate response for Christians is to bow to Him as master! The second person of the trinity is to be Lord and master of our lives! He is our resource our defender when persecution comes. After all, He is and will always be the One in control!
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”
Suffering is inevitable, circled on the calendar of our life, our days will prove to be quite difficult! Are you ready for such a time of suffering? Are you a fearful person? We can learn to say no to fear. Fear should never be our master. Though life can and often is difficult, they will be in His hands, guiding you, leading you, watching over you….and all will be well! Impossible? No not in the least!
But church… Sunday only Christianity will not cut it, God is looking and waiting for people to seek Him with passion and trust Him with the faith of a child! If your bible is neglected and your spiritual fervor is burning low, you won’t stand when the winds blow and adversity strikes! You will wilt like a flower. It doesn’t have to be that way…but that’s a choice we make every day. Will I, do I … “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord”
A.W. Tozer says that people who are crucified with Christ have three distinct marks:
Notice the conduct of God’s people. If were to have a vital part in touching this country, our friends and neighbors we must, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”
When Peter writes of believer’s needing to be ready to give an answer, he is using a word that would be well known in legal circles. It literally means an attorney who defends his client. Christians must be prepared to share the Hope i.e. the life of Jesus is a clear direct well thought out manner! "But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander" Character is much better kept than recovered.
Let me give you one more reminder of who we belong to…
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Here’s the truth. Each of us will face fear at some point, it is what we do with it that matters the most. We must claim our position as God’s children! Let me say that again, “WE MUST CLAIM OUR POSITION AS GOD’S CHILDREN!” We have the power, through Christ to overcome fear when we apply His words to our lives!
He says, “Fear not, for I am with you”. Who is the I Am in this verse? That is our God, Jehovah!
The sovereign Creator of the universe. “I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” It doesn’t matter what we face in this life, we belong to God. Listen… God is saying, look here…you are in My hands, I got safely in the palm of My hands, I will uphold you, I will strengthen you, I will help you! That is our God church and He does not lie!!! Let me remind you of what God said…I AM YOUR GOD!
If we’re to live trusting rather than fearful, encouraged rather than discouraged when suffering comes our way. We must constantly apply the antidote for fear. Consistent Christian living is the most effective way to point others to Christ! Because when we share His love, our lives will back up our words!
Let Us Pray:
Father, we thank you and praise you today. We thank you for your words and your promises. Father, how grateful we are, for your awesome love for us. And Lord, we know that you know all about fear, but You said… “My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Lord Jesus, we will trust in You with all of our heart, for this is Your will. Thank you Lord Jesus for your message today. We Love You, we praise you. In Jesus name we pray. AMEN!
1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence comes my help? 2 My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. 3 He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.
8 The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.
Death was walking toward a city one morning and a man asked, "What are you going to do?" "I’m going to take 100 people today," Death replied. "That’s horrible!" the man said. "That’s just the way it is," Death said. "That’s what I do." The man hurried to warn everyone he could about Death’s plan. As evening fell the man saw a newspaper that said 1000 had died that day in the city. Just as he arrived at his home he met Death again. "You told me you were going to take 100 people," the man said. "Why then did 1,000 die?" "I kept my word," Death responded. "I only took 100 people. Worry took the rest."
Are you worried about anything today? Odds are that someone is. Worry seems to be an epidemic in the world in which we live. Some years ago, the Mayo Clinic stated that statistically 80 percent to 85 percent of their total case load were ill either in reality or artificially due directly to worry and anxiety. Many experts say that coping with stress is the #1 health priority of our day. One leading physician has stated that, in his opinion, 70% of all medical patients could cure themselves if only they got rid of their worries and fears. Medical science has closely tied worry to heart trouble, blood pressure problems, ulcers, thyroid malfunction, migraine headaches, and a host of stomach disorders. An estimated 25 mill Americans have high blood pressure due to stress/anxiety. 8 million have stomach ulcers. Every week 112 million people take medication for stress related symptoms.
When you feel unsettled, unsafe, you need help. Psalm 121 is a great reminder of our only and ultimate security. Three times a year, faithful Israelite families would march from the small towns of their nation to the proud city of Jerusalem, home of Solomon’s Temple. The capital sat on a hilltop, so no matter what direction you came from, you could truthfully say you were “going UP to Jerusalem.” And as these pilgrims walked, they would often sing together, to pass the time. (This was before cell phones, you see.) Psalm 121 is one of a number of “Ascent psalms,” sung on the way up to Jerusalem. Look at the opening two verses:
“1I will lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence comes my help? 2 My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.”
Lots of things promise help today, the latest pharmaceutical on TV will take away your pain, or help you forget you ever had it. It will cure your depression, and give you zest for life once again. Alcohol will numb your fears. Drugs claim to bring life more vividly. Hobbies keep your mind busy. Close friends bring fulfillment. But ultimately, our help comes only from the Lord, the one true God, Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 121 reminds us of three great ways God helps us. Consider them with me on your outline. How does God help? 1. God watches over you always (vv. 3-4) Verses 3 and 4 give the image of one who stands guard over us 24/7:
3 He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
A big no-no in the military is falling asleep while on guard duty. When it comes to the military’s mortal sins, falling asleep on guard duty is right up there with losing your weapon. It’s a huge deal, it could be the difference between life and death! And here we see that God never slumbers, He never sleeps. Why? Because He is on guard duty. He’s watching over you 24/7. The Hebrew word for “watch over” or “keep” appears six times in this short poem, the same amount of times as the word “Yahweh,” or “Jehovah,” interpreted here as “The LORD.”
Our God, Yahweh, has our back. He watches over our lives, day in and day out. Sometimes you pray and you see nothing happen, and you wonder if God is asleep at the wheel. No, He is not. Just because He hasn’t answered your prayer the way YOU thought was best doesn’t mean He hasn’t answered your prayer. God is always at work in and around you. He always has your best interests at heart. He is infinitely in love with you and will stand for nothing less than your very best.
Know that you are guarded, 24/7. God has angels watching over you. And God himself is on guard duty. And secondly, know that... 2. God protects you always (vv. 5-7a)
5 The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.
Remember, this was one of the songs sung by Israelites walking up to Jerusalem. Can you imagine the hot dry sun beating down on you in the desert? A rare shade tree became a refreshing oasis. On the other hand, the moon reminds us of the dangers of the night, robbers and wild animals. Day or night, God will “keep you from all harm.” He gives round-the-clock protection.
Can you say with me what the Apostle Paul said in…
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
God is your protector, always. He will “watch over your life.” Your ultimate security—from COVID-19, from the regular flu virus, from every sickness and illness known to mankind, everything that is happening in our world today. Your only real security is found in God. Charles Stanley writes, “Why worry? The omnipotent Lord of the universe has declared His unending love for you and will never fail in protecting you.”
Yet, we all know that bad things happen to good people. And we know that death comes for us all, unless Jesus comes first. So how can God keep us from ALL harm? Hold that thought; we’ll come back to it in a minute. And consider lastly, that you are not alone because... 3. God is with you always (vv. 7b-8)
7 The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. 8 The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.
Let’s pick up on the second half of verse 7 and then verse 8:
“7b He shall preserve your soul. 8 The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.”
God is always watching over you. Not in a negative sense, waiting for you to trip up, “I caught you now! I knew you were going to go for that extra dessert!” No, God is the most loving, non-manipulative parent, not one to impose guilt every chance He gets. God watches over you with the promise of His presence. The phrase, “going out and your coming in” refers to the everyday ebb and flow of life. Certainly, God was with you in those big moments, when you got married, when you had a child, when you got promoted, when you lost a spouse, lost your job and when you moved here. God was with you in those moments.
But God is with you in the little moments too… when you wake up in the morning, when you eat breakfast, when you take a walk, when you watch a movie, or write an e-mail, or meet someone for lunch, when you go to bed at night. God is there. If you’re a believer, everywhere you go, the Holy Spirit goes with you. He knows our fears, our worries, He knows what we are going through. And He promises to be with us every step of the way. He alone knows what is best. He’s already had it written down in His book.
This was the big promise Jesus made to his disciples, in John 16:7…
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
The Holy Spirit is your advocate. He fights for you. He stands up for you. He speaks out for you. He is always with you. He is the very Spirit of Jesus Christ; the Trinity: three yet one. That’s why Jesus could truthfully say, right before he ascended back to heaven…
20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
And so that care extends from this life to the next; you see it in the little phrase, “both now and forevermore.” That’s why, for the believer, death has lost its sting. When Jesus walked free of the grave, He broke the power of sin and death for all time. In him, we have life, eternal life, forever life. So we don’t have to be afraid. What’s the worst that could happen? We die and go to heaven. Not too shabby, right? I like how the NIV Jesus Bible puts it: “Followers of Christ will not be kept from difficulty, but they WILL be kept.” Remember, six times in this poem, it says God will “keep you” or “watch over you.”
God watches over you, always. God protects you, always. God is with you, always. You belong to the One who controls the whole universe. So have no fear and know that you are in good hands.
Thank you, Father, for your protective hand over each one of us. Thank you that we can sing, like the Israelites, of your great love and protection. We need you, because you are our very life. Help us all to turn our fears into faith, as we reach out to Jesus, the Lover of our souls. And to know that You are in control and will never leave us or forsake us. We pray this in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.
Pastor Richard Santos
Audio copies of previously delivered messages are now available in CD. Requests can be made on the 'Contacts' tab.
Video message is now available in YouTube as of Jan. 2020