I remember going home in February of 1981 and telling my mom I was going to be baptized. She didn’t say much, he kind of frowned and looked at me. She said Michael, if this is right for you I am happy for you- just don’t go overboard. Don’t get carried away.
One of our relatives was involved in a oneness church in Wenatchee at the time. They had a lot of legalistic rules and were following them wholeheartedly. What seemed like an extreme.
I went to church and went with some kids on a retreat and we came back wired. We were all kinds of excited. One of the church leaders was watching us, and turned to the pastor. I remember his saying that “this always happens, but they will get over it.”
When Rachelle sings sometimes she gets caught up in the moment and begins to weep. When I talk to some folks they get mad when others at church do not do as much as they do.
And then I read Peters letter. And it gives me a reason to pause.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Seven things. Each one building on the other. In our faith we discover goodness, in our goodness we learn knowledge is an invitation to get to know God in a way we never have before. And then Peter hits us with self control. It is almost like he is showing us the magnificence of our faith, al the wonders that come from this communion with God, and boom control yourself. I think back and look at the idea of don’t go overboard and I hear Steven Curtis Chapman singing I’m diving in I’m going deep in over my head I wanna be, and I want to just immerse myself in him.
So if this idea of self control isn’t about going overboard, if it isn’t about immersing yourself in Jesus- what is it?
I think in order to really see this we need to look at 1 Peter.
Peter looks at three things that can really help us to under stand our faith and what self control means. Yet as we look at them this morning we are going to be like a shotgun blast this morning. I hope we get to tie these all together.
This last week I went to a conference called Count the Cost. In very real ways it is like a business plan for a church. Like many others I have looked at church for years as - lets just do it and see what happens. I will wear my faith on my sleeve, be vocal about it in any way I can. People will hear the music I listen to, the t-shirts I wear and they will know I am a Christian and then they will hear me preach the Gospel and voila - the church is gonna grow. We might even have a revival or an evangelism team come and see what happens.
Look at this passage.
13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Where Peter writes sober, the same word means self controlled. But how does he start this out? Why should we be sober or self-controlled or alert all aroung us.
He just wrote us about the mercy of God. As amatter of fact lets read this text.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. 10 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, 11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.
Because we have been given so very much- we have been given an imperishable salvation. Imperishable. Nothing, nothing can ever diminish the magnificent refining we have received thrhough no part of our own. We are to safeguard and keep our salvation in our hearts.
Think about this for just a moment with me. If our salvation is imperishable, if it is sealed in our souls then why do we need to safeguard it and keep it in our hearts?
Ed Welch wrote an article this week on doubt. He is the author of one of my favorite books, When People are Big and God is Small. He talks about going in for a blood draw and them not being able to draw the blood, in spite of his prayers of let them draw blood. A woman who was so caught up in the writing of James that as she prayed for he r husband to survive cancer and did everything the scripture said and he still died. When we pray and nothing happens and our confidence in God begins to wane.
A family I knew was so head over heals in love with Jesus and then found out the church was stealing from them. So they abandoned church. Never looking back. It happens a lot where people just quit. A guy I worked with in the Air Force- he got so frustrated with the way people lived when they claimed to believe in Jesus, but lived far from what they said. He left because God never did anything about it.
Self control, keeping a sober mind means that you realize the magnitude of what you have been blessed with. It means that even through the minor nit noid things of life you see that there is more. Look at verse 16. Practicing Self Control brings us closer by the moment to holiness as God is holy. It is all about looking past the things we do not understand and pursuing holiness. Pressing forward -even through our tears to the mark.
But he doesnt stop there. Look in
7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.
If you are going to pursue this idea of holiness you must be able to pray. If you have read 2 peter before you know we are going to be talking about the last days soon enough. Peter is not trying to scare us, He isnt even trying to give us some scare tactics to try to get people to accept the completed work of Christ. What is is doing i trying to help us see that God is at work. In the Chronicles of Narnia the people of Narnia are excited more than ever because they have heard Aslan is on the move. Peter, centuries before C.S. Lewis is telling us to look forward to the day of God and we wil speed its coming.
What is the purpose of prophetic scripture? It is to know we need to get ready. He doesn’t tell us we need to go do something. He doesn’t tell us to learn some new evangelism technique. He simply says we need to pray. Why
When you pray you have to stop what you are doing. When you pray you have to close your mind to distractions. When you pray you enter into the presence of God and it is holy. In the midst of the The End is near- Peter says pray. How does Jesus start out the Lord’s prayer? Our father who art in heaven hallowed b thy name. He begins by practicing the presence of God. Acknowledge Him and his kingdom becore you start asking for anything.
But lets face it that is easier said than done. If something is wrong I want to fix it. Last year when my son’s father in law had him so flustered he called me in tears, I went into my closet and grabbed my super dad cape. I called Camp and tried to get someone to cover for me. I was fired up. And then when I took just a second to pray, God simply said “cool your jets buckwheat, I got this. The last thing we want to do in those situations is pray. I know why I didn’t want to pray- I wanted to be the hero- the one who swooped in and saved the day.
God wanted me on my knees - seeking His face. Knowing this is all just temporary light affliction.
The habit of prayer is not simple or automatic. It takes time. But in order to get there you need a clear head and self control.
Peter has one more statement of self control’
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Satan is not a happy camper. He likes for you to be productive. He likes for you to be active for God. He is hungry and waiting. When you are serving Jesus fully, the more he wants to make and watch you fail. When he does he tries to discredit Jesus.
He has been trying for years. When Jesus was hear he was tempted by Satan. He was tempted to be who He was so Satan could prevent God’s plan. He fired up crowds and did a lot to try to discredit Jesus. He couldn’t do it. So now you are the target. Why? Because Jesus promised that we would do even greater things than he did. He reached a few, we have taught his gospel to millions. He healed the sick. We have healed entire communities. He walked on water- we fly to the uttermost parts of hte earth. So Satan is hungry.
He prowls, he looks for someone with their guard down. And then he pounces. Have you ever noticed the times when you are most vulnerable to sin is when you are tired? Worn down emotionally and physically? He knows that just as well as you do.
Have you ever noticed in Fairy tales it is always an old - seemingly helpless woman who is the bad guy?
When we were in Kenya they told us beware of the monkeys. Beware of the monkeys? If you see them make sure you lock your door. They knew how to open the door and they could smell if you had food in your room. We were walking back to our room one day and there was a Hippo outside our door. That critter may seemingly be slow, but you needed to be careful around them as well.
One of the last days there suddenly Fred stopped our van. In the field was a family of cheetahs. the mom was playing with her cubs when she suddenly made them be silent and stop. There was a gazelle just a little way off. She began to slink through the grass. Cubs in tow. Well they were supposed to be. They kept pouncing and playing with each other. The mome would go back and they would calm down for a second. The gazelle was just kinda munching away like wow I found me some good chow. Oblivious to the cheetah. Right about then the cub went in the road. The mom did not hesitate and as that gazelle started to move- she became dinner.
The purpose of that story is the moms self discipline. The gazelle was caught up in dinner.
Peter has one more point about self control
9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
You are not alone. We can encourage one another.
We can see the wonder of our salvation and be holy
The end is near- we need to pray
Satan wants to devour us- we can resist Him
We can find courage in not being alone!