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.
35 On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” 36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
We live in a time of great uncertainty, of fear of what the future may hold. If you asked me a couple of months ago, I never would have predicted that the world would be caught up in a deadly new strand of coronavirus. We have had great scares before, the Spanish flu, the H1N1 virus, Ebola. And all of these were contained, after some scare and some death. And here we are again. It’s an uncertain time. How many will be infected? How many will die? Even though every year the regular flu takes tens of thousands of lives in America and more worldwide, somehow this COVID-19 is scarier, because of the unknown element, because we don’t fully understand it and we don’t yet have a vaccine against it.
There are times when we will face what we often refer to as “storms of life” and I am glad to report that in these times we have a refuge in the storm. In these “storms” we can trust in Jesus to provide us with peace and safety. Paul said in…
7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Our God is able to provide peace in the midst of the greatest storms of life. God often works in our lives in ways that we may not understand. When we face difficult circumstances, Satan will try to convince us that God doesn't not care about us. Many times, in the storms we give the Devil too much credit. We blame our troubles on him, when the reality is God is the One who put us in the storm. This may sound strange, maybe even cruel, but God always has a reason for the storms that we face.
One night upon the sea, the Lord's Disciples learned an important lesson. Jesus and His Disciples were on a boat and a great storm arose. The winds blew, the waves crashed, and the ship was tossed to and fro. The followers of Jesus were terrified and thought that they were going to die. All the while, Jesus was in the hinder part of the ship asleep on a pillow.
At one point the Disciples thought that Jesus didn't even care about what they were going through. They became frustrated and woke Him and cried "Master do you not care that we are going to perish". After this Jesus "arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." There are several important lessons that we can learn from this passage today, perhaps none more important than the fact that “Jesus Is Our Refuge” in the storms of life.
Jesus had a plan for His followers. The storm that they encountered came as no surprise to Him. The same is true concerning the storm that we may be facing today. Furthermore, Jesus may be the cause of this storm.
- Let's begin by examining the fact that: JESUS HAS A PLAN IN THE STORM v35-36
35 On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” 36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him.
God did not just adopt us into His family to face this life alone. The trials and storms that we go through are not a means of torture. And there are reasons that we face these trials/storms in this life. There are times when we don't comprehend the reason for the trials/storm until it is over. Furthermore, there are some storms that we face and we may never fully understand the exact purpose or reason behind it. But God always has a plan.
Notice that: JESUS PLANS WHEN THE STORM WILL ARRIVE. Jesus is the one who put the Disciples in this situation. (Look at the powerpoint)
Jesus knew that this was the right time to teach His Disciples and to increase their faith. Jesus knows exactly when we will benefit the most from troubles and trials in our lives. Often God will use a storm to remind us that He is in control, not us. Sometimes these storms come when we least expect them. Sometimes when we think that things couldn’t get any worse the storm intensifies. Let us always remember that Jesus has a plan in the storm and He plans when it will arrive.
We also see that: JESUS PLANS WHERE THE STORM WILL OCCUR.
He said to His disciples in v35b “He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.”
Jesus knows what area of our life the storm will impact us the most Sometimes the troubles and trials that we face may involve our family, friends, finances, material possessions, physical health and various other areas of our life. It may seem cruel at the time, but God knows how to get our attention. I can assure you that in the midst of the greatest storm, He will never leave you!
Notice that Jesus said "let US cross over to the other side". Jesus was with them each and every step of the way, and He will be with us through the troubles and trials that we face as well.
Jesus plans when the storm will arrive, He plans where the storm will occur and as we move farther, we will see that: JESUS PLANS WHO THE STORM WILL IMPACT… “V36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him.”
Jesus sent the multitudes away; this specific storm only impacted His closest followers. The ones who had left everything behind to follow Him were now in a grave situation. The most devout and faithful followers Jesus had, were in a boat in the midst of a storm fearing for their lives. Jesus knew who would be in that boat when the storm hit... again I say, Jesus has a plan in the storm! Jesus has a plan with what is going on in the world today.
Often when facing difficult situations, we feel all alone. It seems that no one understands and that no one even cares what you are going through. Just as Jesus sent those multitudes away before the storm, I think He removes certain people from our lives during these tough times so that we will look to and trust in Him and Him alone. It has been said that "when Jesus is all you have you will find that Jesus is all you need!" That is a very true statement and you will find that in the storms of life, He is right there in the boat with you!
This leads us to the second thing I would like to consider about our refuge in the storm. Notice that: JESUS IS PRESENT IN THE STORM v37-38
37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
This passage proves that Jesus is always with us. Notice that: JESUS IS PRESENT NO MATTER HOW SEVERE THE STORM IS!
The disciples found themselves in the midst of a great storm. The wind was blowing, the waves were crashing in and the boat was filling with water. This was an intense storm. There are times when we will face intense storms. In fact, some storms may seem to be unbearable. Often Jesus will put us in these intense situations so that we will look to Him. When we do look to Him, we will find (just as these Disciples did) that Jesus has the power to calm the most severe storms that we will ever face.
He is present no matter how severe the storm is, and verse 38 shows us that: HE IS PRESENT NO MATTER HOW SCARY THE STORM IS! V38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
I have often wondered how long the Disciples waited to call on Jesus. I wonder what all they tried to do themselves before calling on Jesus. It appears that they delayed calling on Him for some time, The text says that the ship was beginning to fill with water.
Perhaps they tried to right the ship on their own with no success. And then they finally reached a point of frustration and then went and woke Jesus up and accused Him of not caring about what they were going through. Many times, we are not different than the Lord's Disciples...We have a tendency to wait until we are drowning before calling on the Master. We forget that He is right there with us the whole time.
V38 “But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow”. The Disciples could not see Him, but He was there the whole time. If you feel alone in the storm today, let me remind you, you will not be able to see Jesus, but He has not left you and He promised to never to leave or forsake you!
Though it all, Jesus has a plan in the storm, He is present in the storm and verse 39 shows us that: JESUS PERFORMS IN THE STORM…
39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
This is one of the most powerful and amazing miracles that Jesus did while He was here on earth. And it proves that He has the power to handle anything that we may face in this life.
Church, Jesus is bigger than any trials and He is stronger than any storm! Jesus stood up on that boat and simply said 3 little words... "PEACE BE STILL". The scripture tells us that as the sound of His voice, "the wind ceased".
That is power... And the power that He possessed back then, He still possesses today. His Disciples asked Him for help and when He spoke, the storm was calmed. I would submit to you that the storm the Jesus planned had its desired effect. When the Disciples saw what Jesus did, it blew their minds! Look at their response in verse 41… “41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
What manner of Man is this? He is the same man that gave sight to the blind, made the deaf to hear, caused the lame to walk, made the dumb to speak, cleansed many lepers, cast out countless demons, and He even raised the dead.
This was not the first miracle that these men had witnessed at the hands of Jesus. But it seems that the storm caused them to forget what Jesus had done in the past. (Did you?) In the midst of their troubles they forgot who was in the boat with them. Does that sound familiar? In the midst of the intense storm that we are going through have we forgotten all that Jesus has done in our life? Do we not realize the He is more powerful than our storm? More powerful than what is happening in the world today! Do you not recognize the fact that He is still right there with you and I, in the storm? Do you not understand that when He sees fit, He can calm our storm?
He is our refuge in the storms of life. When He spoke peace on that lake, verse 39 says that "there was a great calm". I know that many people here today are in the midst of a storm. some of these storms have been raging for a long time, some of these storms are intense and severe, but not one storm has occurred without God's knowledge. In many instances He has allowed them to occur and, in some cases, He caused them in order to work out His plan in our life.
Richard Fuller, a 19th-century minister, told of an old seaman who said, “In fierce storms, we must put the ship in a certain position and keep her there. Fuller went on to say, “This, Christian, is what you must do. . . . You must put your soul in one position and keep it there. You must stay upon the Lord; and, come what may—winds, waves, cross seas, thunder, lightning, frowning rocks, roaring breakers—no matter what, you must hold fast your confidence in God’s faithfulness and His everlasting love in God” Do you feel overwhelmed by your troubles? Learn a lesson from that old sailor. Fix your mind on the Lord. Ask Him for help, then trust Him to give you peace in your storm!
Whatever it is that has you fearful, whether the coronavirus, or your own storms, let Jesus remind you of these words, “Why are you so fearful?” Did you forget who is in control!
Jesus used this storm to increase the faith of His Disciples. They marveled at His power. This shows us that He has a way of getting everyone’s attention. There may be some of you here who do not belong to Jesus, you have never been born again. I must warn you that a storm is on the way. Great danger is coming in the form of God’s wrath and judgment.
One day God will judge lost sinners and the consequences will be devastating. He wants you to know that there is a place of safety from the coming storm. There is a refuge and His name is Jesus Christ. Let me invite you to repent and turn to Him. Trust Jesus as your Savior and to be born again.
For those of you who do belong to Him, you may be in the midst of the greatest storm of your life, if so let me remind you that:
Jesus Has A Plan In The Storm.
Jesus Is Present In The Strom.
Jesus Performs In The Storm.
“Jesus Is Our Refuge!”
1 Peter 2:1-3
2 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
In the manufacturing industry there is a phrase that is often used to refer to goods that are no longer raw materials but also not yet a finished product. The phrase is "Work In Progress". For those that has worked in a manufacturing company, you know how the process goes. It starts from one department to another. For example, like our vehicles, with all the parts that goes into it. Before it ends up in a car lot to be sold it has to be perfect. All the components needs to be where they are. It has to be running in good condition, everything needs to work before final inspection. And then approved!!!
For those of us who are saved, we are all "A Works In Progress". We are no longer raw material, but we are FAR from a finished product (some of us are farther away than others!). As a pastor, there is nothing more fulfilling than watching a Christian grow and mature in the faith.
Sometimes Christians have a tendency to look at a new believer and expect them to act as if they had been saved for decades. They will falter and fail and we are quick to point out their flaws. We may even go as far as to question their salvation. The fact of the matter is that they are also "a work in progress". They are "spiritual babes" learning how to walk! All believers are involved in the sanctification process! And we all have a long way to go. But we have a loving God Who is constantly working on us. We are clay in the hands of the potter...and He is molding and making us into what HE would have us to be.
In the first chapter of this Epistle, Peter has revealed some of the ways that God is "working on" His people. One prominent section of that chapter is where he describes the "purification process".
1 Peter 1:6-7
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been [a]grieved by various trials, 7 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.
As we enter into chapter 2 of this epistle, The Apostle speaks of progress or "growth" in the Christian life. He speaks of salvation, turning away from sin, the importance of God's Word and the fact that we can and should "delight in the Lord". I would like to look at this growth process and preach on the thought " A Work In Progress"
In order to see the entirety of this "A Work In Progress" we must back up to chapter 1 verse 25. It is there we will see the importance of Depending on Christ!
1 Peter 1:25
But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.
Here Peter speaks of the "gospel" that was preached. The "gospel" is the good news of salvation though Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:21 ... “it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe”. - We cannot underestimate the preaching of the gospel in the salvation process. The Christian in Asia Minor whom Peter was writing to received the gospel through the preaching of the Word. The context of these verses refers to the importance of God's Word.
Look to verse 2 for a moment…from our opening verse, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word". Here Peter refers to the "spiritual birth". The greatest explanation of the "spiritual birth" comes from none other than Jesus Christ. A Jewish religious leader named Nicodemus came to Jesus one night. And began to speak to Him. Jesus told him in John 3:3 that "unless a man is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” --- John 3:4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
If you expect to go to Heaven, YOU TOO MUST BE BORN AGAIN!!! How do you do this? ....By "Depending on Christ" Not a denomination, not a church building. Jesus revealed this fact to Nicodemus as well. - John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. - Notice that Jesus said we are to "believe in Him" this means more than head knowledge. The Greek word for "believe" literally means to "entrust". In order to become a Christian, you must "Depend On Christ”.
And the moment that you do, you will then become a "Work In Progress" The next step in this "Work In Progress" is:
II. Dealing With Sin- v1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speaking.
Let me just say that "dealing with sin" is not something you can do apart from Christ. But we do have a responsibility in this process. We are to let the Holy Spirit guide our lives. Our sinful nature still craves what it has always craved. Our sinful nature is directly opposed to what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. The flesh and the Spirit are constantly battling one another.
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
We will never be able to "deal with sin" on our own, but when we "walk in the Spirit" He will help us do just that!! When a person is saved, they may attempt to flee those large, obvious sins. He/she may stop cussing. He/she may no longer go to the bar. He/she may stop doing drugs. They may no longer commit adultery. The hate & anger that they once possessed may cease. The new convert may find new living arrangements if they were living in sin. A homosexual who gets saved may renounce that lifestyle. The problem is that many new believers stop with the “obvious sins”. They fail to address those other sins that clutter the landscape of their lives.
Suppose you are planning to plant a garden. Before you plant the seed, you will clear the land. Then you will till the soil and remove and rocks or other debris. Once you plant the seed you will periodically remove the weeds and anything else that might hinder the growth of that seed. Before we can grow as Christians, we must remove those things that would hinder us. We must purge our life of those "former lusts" & fleshly desires. There are sins from our past that surround us in this wicked world in which we live. These sins a prevalent and powerful and they will hinder our spiritual growth. So, we must take the proper steps to "lay aside" and to "cast off" anything that prevents progress.
Verse 1 identifies 5 things that we MUST "lay aside":
1) "Malice" - the intention or desire to do evil. More specifically this refers to ill will toward someone with the intent to do harm.
2) “Guile” refers to deceitfulness. This means to trick or mislead someone
3) “Hypocrisies” - acting in a way that contradicts your stated beliefs. This word literally means to wear a mask.
4) “Envyings” - desiring to have a quality, possession, or other desirable characteristic of someone else. This attribute is often the motivation for one's guile and hypocrisy.
5) "Evil speaking" - slander. This is making false and/or damaging statements about someone. This kind of person will say one thing to your face and then run you down behind your back.
Peter says that if these actions mark our life... Remove them!! Since we are told to "lay aside" these actions.... this shows that we are capable of and responsible for these sins. But it also encourages us in the fact that through the power of the Spirit we can cast them off!!
Children have certain items that they cherish. A girl may have a doll or stuffed animal. A boy may have blanket or action figure. But as they grow and mature eventually, they put these things away. - Paul said, "When I became a man I put away childish things" (I Corinthians 13:11)
Are there some things that you are holding on to from your life before Christ? Church, it is time that we "put away sinful things"... LAY THEM ASIDE, CAST THEM OFF and begin to move forward for the Lord. It is possible, for we are "A Work In Progress"
Now we come to the next step in this process of progress: Desiring The Word.
1 Peter 2:2
2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.
New-born babies get their nourishment from milk. Christians get our spiritual nourishment from the Word of God. A baby cannot live long without milk, and a Christian cannot grow without studying the Word of God. Peter says that we should desire personal fellowship with God through His Word each day.
There will come a day when the young Christian is ready for solid "spiritual food". But you never outgrow your need for milk. Our goal should be to make progress every day of our life. The Bible is extremely important in this process. This book that we are blessed to hold in our hands is ESSENTIAL to our lives. We should desire this milk so "that we may grow".
Peter is talking about "growing in grace". Growing in grace is not becoming more saved than at the moment of conversion. Growing in grace is not becoming more pardoned than when converted. Growing in grace is not becoming more justified than at salvation. Christian growth is experiencing and understanding the love of God. Christian growth is learning more of what God wants through His Word. Christian growth is being able to do more of what God wants.
The Bible gives evidence of the growth process in the lives of countless individuals. Through the Bible we see John as he went from "the Son of Thunder" to "the disciple of love". Through the Bible we see Paul go from "the Damascus road" to "the Roman Road". Through the Bible we see the very author if this Epistle, Simon Peter go from denial to devotion. And when we get in the blessed Word of God we will see first-hand, what it is like for a "work in progress" to grow in grace!!!
We are commanded to spend time in God’s Word - 2 Timothy 2:15..
2 Timothy 2:15
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
The problem with many Christians today is they are trying to survive on an improper diet! We are affected physically by what we take into our mouth! But we are also affected spiritually by what we take into our mind…into our hearts!
Remember... Peter is telling us how to achieve "holiness". We are to "deal with sin" and we can do that through the Word of God! –
9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.
A few years ago, LifeWay study revealed that 90 percent of professing Christians say that they "desire to please and honor Jesus in all they do". But 81% of them do not read their Bible daily. LifeWay Research president Ed Stetzer went on to say "Bible engagement points people toward maturity and maturing Christians have practices that correspond to Bible reading"
If there is going to be progress in your Christian walk...there must be a desire for the scriptures! So far we have seen that this "Work In Progress" involves Depending On Christ, Dealing With Sin, and Desiring The Word. Finally we will see that this also involves:
1 Peter 2:3
3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
This seems to be a reference to - Psalms 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him. - Just as the milk for the baby is sweet, the Word of God is sweet to the Christian. At salvation, we experience how gracious the Lord is to those who trust Him. That initial taste compels believers to seek more of it. The glory of the conversion tastes so good it whets the appetite for more.
The people Peter was writing to had "tasted the goodness of Christ". They were "born again, of incorruptible seed" and "their hearts were purified by the truth." Their lives truly were a "Work In Progress". And they could rest assured that .... he which hath begun a good work in them would perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6) And we can cling to that same promise today!
When John Newton (author of Amazing Grace) was in his old age, he could no longer see to read, but he heard someone recite this text, "By the grace of God—I am what I am. "Newton spoke up and said "Though I am not what I ought to be, what I wish to be, and what I hope to be—yet I can truly say, I am not what I once was—a slave to sin and Satan! I can heartily join with the apostle and acknowledge, "By the grace of God—I am what I am!"
Maybe you are here and you have failed in some way. The Devil would like nothing more than for you to become discouraged and quit the good fight. Do not be discouraged... get up and go, let go of whatever it is that weighs heavy in your heart and press on towards the goal. Realize that God is still working a greater plan in our life. Maybe you are here and you have never been "born again". Then, cry out to God, pray that God…by His grace will save you today? If you will then you too can be a " A Work In Progress"
Let Us Pray:
2 Peter 1:16-21
16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
First Peter deals with problems from the outside, Second Peter deals with problems from the inside. Peter writes in his second letter to warn believers about false teachers and false teachings, who promote damaging doctrine.
Peter begins by urging the church/brothers and sisters, to keep close watch on their personal lives. The Christian life demands diligence in pursuing moral excellence, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, and selfless love.
By contrast, the false teachers are trying to seduce unsuspecting believers. Peter does not want his fellow believers to forget that the Lord Jesus is most certainly coming back to earth in power and great glory, bringing both His judgement and His rewards with Him.
False teachers may spread doctrine that appeals to the flesh, but they will face the judgement of God in doing so. And so will those who follow them. Sometimes attacks on the Bible come from cynics, but sometimes—if we’re truthful—we have doubts ourselves. Is the Bible real? Is it really God’s word? What about the seeming inconsistencies that people point out? And how come there are so many translations? Can I really trust it?
This afternoon, I want to borrow from the verses we just heard from 2 Peter chapter 1 and give you three reasons why you can trust that the Bible is the word of God.
2 Peter 1:16-18
16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
First: It was written by direct eyewitnesses at risk of their lives (vv. 16-18)
Peter was one of the three disciples Jesus allowed to be present at the Transfiguration, that mountaintop experience when God transfigured His Son Jesus to His fully glorified self as deity in the flesh. It was such a supernatural experience that the gospel of Mark records about Jesus, “His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them” (Mark 9:3). Most scholars believe Peter helped Mark write his gospel.
Peter is that great disciple that, when he doesn’t know what to say, he just says something! (“Open mouth and insert foot!”) Here he was so awestruck that he began to babble about putting up tents for Jesus and his two companions, Moses and Elijah, so they could stay a while. A dark cloud covered the three, and a voice boomed from heaven, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” (Mark 9:7). After the cloud dissipated, Jesus alone remained. Understandably, Peter and his two companions were shaken to the core.
It was this story that came to mind when Peter wrote today’s letter. Listen again to verses 16-18… “16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.”
This was a case when truth was stranger than fiction. Peter says basically, “Hey, we saw it! We did not make this stuff up!” In a Jewish court of law at the time, if you were to bring a charge against someone, you needed a witness or two to corroborate your story. I find it interesting that Jesus provided that for Peter. He allowed Peter and two witnesses to be present. And here’s the thing…Peter, James, and John would all die violent deaths for their belief in Jesus as the Messiah. And all three would go all the way to their death not once wavering in their account of Jesus Christ.
Lee Strobel, in “The Case for Christ,” makes the point that people will not die for a lie. They will not go to the grave defending something that is untrue. Yet, Peter and others wrote what happened to them, knowing that in their lifetime, with the paranoid Roman government and the corrupt Jewish leadership, their words would not be well accepted. Yet they never wavered in their account.
You can trust the Bible as the word of God because it was written by people telling the truth, putting their lives at great risk by penning the words we read today. We benefit from their courage.
Secondly, you can trust scripture as God’s word because...
It reflects God’s single message through a variety of human writers (vv. 20-21)
1 Peter 1:20-21
20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
Think about this: The Bible consists of 66 books by 40 different authors covering about 1600 years of history. It contains poetry and prose, history and prophecy. Some books are dry, while others are downright riveting. And yet, with all this variety, this Bible has one unified them of God’s love for humanity. It is the story of a God who created a people to be in fellowship with Him. It is the story of that people’s betrayal of their God, and God’s efforts to woo them back and account for their sin, no matter how high the price. It’s a love story through and through.
Peter writes, in verses 20 and 21, “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
That last phrase, “were moved by,” is used elsewhere in scripture to convey the idea of a ship carried along by the ocean’s force. All these 40 human writers were “carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Yet their writings still reflect each of their unique human personalities. Guess which gospel writer pays the most attention to healing miracles? Well, Dr. Luke of course. Mark writes his gospel with hard hitting common Greek. Contrast that with John’s formal, polished Greek. For instance, read the beautiful Prologue in the first 14 verses of the gospel of John. Remember this phrase? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14). Very polished and beautiful.
Yet, even with their own unique personalities, the Bible writers were keenly aware that God was speaking through them. It wasn’t their message; it was God’s. The Apostle Paul reminded a young preacher, in 2 Timothy 3:16…
2 Timothy 3:16
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
That’s what our English word “inspired” means, to be God-breathed. So… you can trust this as God’s word. Why? Because people died to write it. And because God used ordinary everyday human beings to capture his message of love. And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, because...
Thirdly: It will change your life as you read it (v. 19)
2 Peter 1:19
19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
Peter notes in verse 19, And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
“you will do well to heed.” Indeed. To be honest, sometimes we read without paying much attention. When we pay attention, we find that God uses His word to grow us. The Holy Spirit shines a light on our sin, exposing it. The Holy Spirit shines light on the path of our lives, showing us the next step, how to proceed. The Holy Spirit offers the light of hope, when scripture urges us to not give up.
Peter says to pay attention to the Word like we would a light shining in a dark place. If you’re not confident in the authority of the Scriptures, you will be a slave to what sounds right. Trust God’s word to keep you on the right path.
And then Peter gives an image of hope. He says to keep paying attention until the “day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” A new day, a new sunrise, brings hope, as life starts anew. And the true Morning Star is Jesus, according to Revelation 22:16. Jesus himself rises in our hearts. He brings about change in our lives, as we stay in His word daily.
Consider Bill, who was just a young man at the time. He had tried preaching but didn’t always feel the power of God or see any results. One of his contemporaries, Charles Templeton, got into academia and started to believe scripture as flawed and outdated. Bill wondered about all of this. A friend of his, Henrietta Mears, invited him to speak at a Christian retreat center called Forest Home. The night before, he went off alone into the nearby woods, put his Bible on a stump, and had an honest talk with God. He prayed, “O God! There are many things in this book I do not understand. There are many problems with it for which I have no solution. There are many seeming contradictions. There are some areas in it that do not seem to correlate with modern science.
I can’t answer some of the philosophical and psychological questions Chuck and others are raising.” And then he fell to his knees and the Holy Spirit moved in him as he said, “Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word—by faith! I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word!”
He later wrote that, as he stood up, his eyes stung with tears, but he felt the power and presence of God in a way he hadn’t in months. “A major bridge had been crossed,” he said. The next day he preached with a new vitality. His Mears noted, he “preached with authority” that she hadn’t seen before. And some 400 people made a commitment to Christ that day. A few weeks later he would preach the historic Los Angeles Crusade. It was planned to go three weeks but ended up going eight. And the career of an upstart evangelist took off. The world found Billy Graham, as Billy found the Word of God.
Let Us Pray:
Pastor Richard Santos
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