Sunday, February 22, 2009



Intro.: We Sandra and I traveled to Erie this weekend, we did it differently than we normally do.

  1. You see, when we traveled we did not take our GPS.

  2. We could have gotten lost.

  3. One wrong turn and who knows where we may have ended up almost anywhere.

  4. Or, as it snowed on Thursday afternoon, a wrong twist of the wheel, and we could have ended up in the island between the two sides of Thruway – like the one car we saw.

  5. But I had a goal. I knew where we were going.

  6. Now that is not always the case – there are times that I will just take a road and see where it goes. No planned destination, no route, just drive to see what we see.

  7. Sometimes it is fun to drive with a purpose. Other times it is fun to drive with no purpose.

  8. It may be true when traveling – I am not so sure that it is true for our spiritual lives.

  9. Let me illustrate that with today's passage.

Read: I Peter 4:1-6


T.S. I Peter 4:1-6 helps us to see that we must put Christ at the center of our lives – and let him set the direction that our lives will take.

  1. Purposeless Wandering

    1. Peter moves from the suffering that believers experienced because of their faith to examining the world in which they all lived.

    2. As we read Peter, Christopher Hall suggests that we get the feeling that the “world of his day as a society has lost its mind.”1

    3. Violence, oppression, cruelty, the abuse of power, and sexual insanity dominate the landscape.

    4. What is sad is that much of those same terms might be used to describe our own culture.

(Ill.) Yesterday, as Sandra and I drove home from Erie, we listened to a sermon by E. Stanley Jones. E. Stanley Jones was a United Methodist missionary who spent much of his life living in and ministering to the people of India. During his life he became a friend of Ghandi. Though I had heard of Jones, I had never had the opportunity to hear his preaching until yesterday. In his sermon “My Life's Convictions” he outlines 12 key concepts that shaped his ministry over 50+ years he served Christ. Here was a man with a purpose, a man who shared that purpose where he lived.

    1. We live in a culture that has no purpose. We live in a culture that cares for itself. A culture that one man has said is characterized by “purposeless wandering”

  1. Purposeful Direction

    1. But Peter calls believers to something else – something I will call “Purposeful Direction”.

    2. Peter knows that if his readers make decisions to follow the holy path that God calls them to, there will be repercussions.

    3. You know people will be really surprised when we choose God's way rather their way. Last week we suggested that Jesus would have a much easier life, if he ignored this thing called sin. What Peter is saying here is that the same would be true for you and me. “...when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery” (I Peter 4:4a)

    4. But there is another repercussion – to understand it you need to look at the word at the end of verse 4. The Greek word is clearly “blaspheme.” “

    5. The English translations are scattered all over the place. But they fall into two categories.

      1. One group of English translations suggest that when non-believer observe our holy behavior, they will blaspheme – which very closely matches the Greek. [1 Pe 4:4] "With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they blaspheme; "

      2. But the vast majority of the translations suggest that when non-believers observe our holy behavior they will attack us – injure us, malign us, or abuse us.

      3. And when I saw this I was confused. But I had a breakthrough. The church is the body of Christ. When the church is attacked, Christ, the body of Christ, is being attacked. So the connection between the two translations makes sense.

(Ill.) At an open-air meeting in Liverpool, a skeptic gave a strong address against Christianity to a large audience and at the close said, “If any man here can say a single word in favor of Jesus Christ, let him come out and say it.” Not a man moved. The silence became oppressive. Then two young girls arose, walked hand in hand, as if moved by the Holy Spirit, up to the speaker and said, “We can’t speak, but we will sing for Christ,” and they sang with great power, “Stand up, stand up for Jesus.” When the song ceased, every head was uncovered, all were deeply moved, some were sobbing, and the crowd quietly went away, apparently with no thought of the skeptic’s words.2

(Appl.) Can you stand with God against the blasphemies, against sneers, against temptations to dishonesty, against bribery in subtle form, against flattery, against persecution?

  1. Choices

    1. Well, that's it.

    2. We are left with a couple of choices.

      1. The first choice we have to make is what will we do with this man named Jesus? He calls us to believe in him. The first choice for each of us is to place our faith in Him.

      2. But there is another choice. Once we decide to follow Jesus, what difference will it make? Will life remain the same or will you let God make the changes he needs in your life?

    3. So whether you are a believer or not, Christ has choices for us to make.


1Hall, Christopher A. (2005). The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible. San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers. Page 443 (NT).

2AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

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