Friday, May 23, 2008

Beginning of the Journey
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Beginning of the Journey

Intro.: Let's see, I want to be on the road by 9:00 AM. So I tell Sandra that if we don't leave by 8:00 AM, it will be driving late in to the evening.

  1. There is so much that goes into planning a trip.

  2. The packing. The stops. The snacks. The music or stories.

  3. It does take a lot of planning.

  4. Some call the Christian life journey – and like any journey, it takes a lot of planning.

  5. But we are lucky, the Christian's journey does not require that we plan it – that is God's job.

  6. Today, we will look at the first milestone along our life as a Christian.

Read: 1 Peter 1:3-6


T.S. 1 Peter 1:3-6 makes it clear that there are two participants in this thing call the Christian life.

  1. God gives the New Birth

(Ill.) I have been lucky to be present for five births. The first was my own – it was November 24, 1950, in a hospital in Southern California. The next three were in hospitals scattered both in time (1978 to 1983) and in place (Illinois, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma) – those were of course the birth of my three kids.

But the last birth was far more significant – it took place in 1966 or 1967. I was a Junior in Sacramento High School. One night I was in my room listening to the local Christian radio station and reading my Bible and I realized I had to make a decision. That night God began something in me that continues to this day – it was the night that I was Born Again.

    1. When most of us think of the new birth we usually turn to John 3 where Jesus is talking to Nicodemus. It is the same conversation that includes the most famous verse of all – John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” But much earlier in the evening, he told Nicodemus, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

    2. And now Peter reminds us now - “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” In some ways it may seem surprising to find the new birth in 1 Peter, but then they all come from the same God.

    3. Peter rests God's gift of a new birth in God's mercy. What he is really doing is reminding us that God's goodness is being displayed toward us as he blesses us with the new life that allows us to serve him. Our translation focuses on the “mercy” of God. But if you were to look at the Contemporary English Version – the translation preferred by Max Lucado – it changes our focus to God's goodness. Listen to how it tells us of the new birth: “God is so good, and by raising Jesus from death, he has given us new life and a hope that lives on.”

(Ill.) A man in Dundee, Scotland, was confined to bed for forty years, having broken his neck in a fall at age fifteen. But his spirit remained unbroken, and his cheer and courage so inspired people that he enjoyed a constant stream of guests. One day a visitor asked him, “Doesn’t Satan ever tempt you to doubt God?”

“Oh, yes,” replied the man. “He does try to tempt me. I lie here and see my old schoolmates driving along in their carriages and Satan whispers, ‘If God is so good, why does He keep you here all these years? Why did he permit your neck to be broken?’ ”

“What do you do when Satan whispers those things?” asked the guest.

“Ah,” replied the invalid, “I take him to Calvary, show him Christ, and point to those deep wounds, and say, ‘You see, he does love me.’ And Satan has no answer to that. He flees every time.”1

    1. God's goodness was demonstrated o

    2. n the cross, but it is also demonstrated in our lives today.

    3. God is good -- All the time. All the time -- God is good.

  1. You have faith in God

    1. God is certainly at work in salvation.

    2. But there is something else at work – and it partially what defines us as Methodists.

    3. There is a danger in saying that it is all God – because it means that we have no responsibility. And that is what made Wesley stand out in his day. He made it clear in his preaching that believers have a part is this thing called salvation – that part is called faith. Paul tells us that “...without faith it is impossible to please God.”

    4. But what do we get for this faith? Why bother? Peter suggests four consequences of being faithful.

    5. The first is protection both for the goal and for ourselves.

    • Heaven is there – it can never, to use Peter's words, perish, spoil, or fade.

    • But it is not just heaven, but faith also protects the believer “who, through faith, are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”

    • Life gets tough – God is there watching over you. You don't know all the answers, I don;t know all the answers, but God does.

    1. That same verse mentions the second benefit – salvation. I don't want to spend a lot of time here, but I do want to make it clear that faith does lead to salvation.

      Protection, salvation, and, then, rejoicing.

(Appl.) Too often we get so caught up in life that we forget about joy. Galatians calls it one of the “fruit of the Spirit” - a natural outgrowth of living the Christian life.

(Ill.) George Whitefield was a contemporary of John Wesley. Oh, they represented different parts of the church, but they also respected each other. And George Whitefield understood joy. The year was 1733 and he had just come to Christ. He was heard to exclaim that day, “Joy—joy unspeakable—joy that’s full of, big with glory!”2 Joy that touches the heart.

    1. Protection, Salvation, Rejoicing – that all sounds pretty good.

    2. But there is another consequence of being faithful to our faith. Look at the end of verse 6 – there is the last consequence – it is testing.

(Ill.) As an educator, I gave a lot of tests. Students never seemed to look forward to them. I want to tell you a secret – neither do the teachers. I mean, it means we need to grade papers, it means that we need to judge students. And that was never fun. Can we be surprised when the testing that comes our way as believers is also not fun?

(Appl.) As Christians we enjoy God's protection, we enjoy the salvation that is ours, we enjoy the joy that comes our way as believers. And we want it to stop there. But scripture never promised an easy life for the believer. In fact, there will be testing, there will be trials, there will be persecution. Easy – nope. But you God will give us a path through whatever comes our way.


1Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (170). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

2Federer, W. J. (2001). Great Quotations : A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Quotations Influencing Early and Modern World History Referenced according to their Sources in Literature, Memoirs, Letters, Governmental Documents, Speeches, Charters, Court Decisions and Constitutions. St. Louis, MO: AmeriSearch.

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