Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Serving God's Way

Serving God's Way
Intro.: There are some topics I just don't like preaching about.
  1. The problem is that, even though I don't like preaching about them, God talks about them.

  2. For example, I don't like preaching about money. But I have read that the New Testament says more about money than any other single topic. So, every so often, I do preach about your pocketbooks.
  3. Another topic that I find difficult to preach about is submission. I remember growing up listening to preachers in church or on the radio trying to convince every wife they are to be submissive to their husbands. It still sound abusive the way it was presented back in the 60's and early 70's. Yet Paul and Peter do preach about submission.

  4. Six months ago I stopped preaching from I Peter for two reasons. It was partly because it was at that time I had my heart attack. But it was also because we were ready to look at this topic of submission and I was not read.

  5. Now six months later, as promised, we are returning to I Peter. And, though I suppose I could skip any discussion of submission, I will not do so.

Read: I Peter 2:13-17 Pray

Trans: Peter is the author of this book of scripture.

  1. This man of God had spent three years of our Lord – living with him, listening to him, watching him.

  2. And now he writes his first letter (or at least the first that we have) to a group of believers that felt alone and isolated from the rest of the church. Peter writes to encourage these young believers as the seek to serve their Lord.
T.S. Let's look at three ways in which we as believers must submit.
  1. We are called to submit to each other
    1. God has created us to be in relationships to each other.
    2. And in those relationships we are called to serve each other.
    3. Not surprising – Jesus made it clear in the gospels, when he reminded us that he “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”
    4. Look around you – beside you, behind you, in front of you. These are all members of the family of God. As a family, we are will be there for each other. We will support each other. We will serve each other.

(Ill.) The word “serve” has a very uncomfortable derivation. It comes from the Latin word servier meaning servant or slave. (Appl.) I don't want to be anybody's slave. I enjoy my freedom. I enjoy setting my own agenda, I want to set my own path. Yet God calls on my serve – serve you, serve my fellow man, serve those around me. No matter how uncomfortable it may be, I am called to serve.

  1. We are called to submit to authority
    1. I don't like authority. Authority makes feel very uncomfortable.
(Ill.) As we drove home last Sunday, the weather was far better than it had been the night before. We were tooling down I-90 heading toward New York. I have no idea what the speed limit was. But I expect that the Pennsylvania trooper that was stationed on the divider between the the Eastbound and Westbound lanes knew the speed limit. I saw the trooper, saw my speed was 65 MPH, and the 55 MPH speed limit sign in a single scan of my surroundings. I immediately started to slow down, but was certain that the trooper was about to leave his post and follow a silver Ford Taurus with New York plates. I was certain because I do not like authority. But you know what, he did not start to follow me. I still don't trust authority.
    1. But I Peter 2 reminds us that “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.”
    2. Regardless of how I feel about authority, regardless of who that authority is – I am to submit.
    3. You see, if I am called to serve, then there are no limits. Regardless of how I feel about someone, I am their to represent Christ to them.

(Appl.) Somehow it seems appropriate as we approach the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States that we spend a few moments speaking about our submission to authority. I do not know who you voted for – I really don't want to know who you voted for. You see, it really doesn't matter – regardless of who we voted for, we are to be submit to every authority. During the coming months, changes will come – yet we are to submit. (Ill.) The problem with submission, be to each other or to authorities, is that we are too much like the boy who was about to be disciplined by his parents. His mom was trying to get him to sit down so they could talk. Knowing what was coming, the boy refused – at least at first. He finally did sit down, but when he did just glared at his mother. But too often his words echo our feeling toward God, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but I'm standing up on the inside.”1

    1. Submission does not always come easy. You will remember that I earlier said, “I enjoy my freedom.” I am not alone – as long as we respond to this thing called submission using our own power, it will be difficult. As we learn to trust God, as we learn to rely on his strength, rather than our own, submission becomes easier. Whether it be to each other, to the authorities God has placed over us, or whether it be to God Himself.
  1. We are called to submit to God
    1. And that brings us to the third point of our sermon – ultimately we are to submit to God.
    2. Though it may seem easier to speak about being submissive to God than being submissive to human, I cannot help wondering if the reverse is actually true.

    3. Even as we submit to each other and to the authorities, we are submitting to God. We cannot submit to each other, we cannot submit to the authorities God has given us, unless we are submitting to God as well.

(Appl.) Stand as we close. I want you spend a minute thinking about where submission becomes hard for you. Is it with each other, is it to authorities, or maybe it is God. I don't want you to tell me where it is your struggle, but I do want you to tell God. Tell God where submission becomes hard for you and then ask Him to teach you this year how He wants you to be more submissive.

1Green, M. P. (1989). Illustrations for Biblical Preaching : Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

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