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You are God's people, Christian, Christ-like

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Note Sunday July 20 Altar Prayer is for the Parents – my brothers and sisters who are blessed to be parents – As you come to Him, a living stone, you come tired and heavy laden but you are still able to come.  We have a Logan’s list for our young people.  I don’t want us to forget about the parents.  Some of you know that He is a living stone because you came to Him same living stone when they, your children, were babies and you had labored and you were heavy laden.  Remember calling on Him in labor mothers!  Some have grown and not fully on their own, others are going away for a while but they will be back, while others are at that age of selective independence. Stubborn, strong willed, sensitive, skeptical, selective, hardheaded, talk too much, don’t talk enough, think they know it all and can’t tell them nothing.  You stand here today before the living stone and you need prayer as a dad and as a mom.  So let us pray to the living stone who says again and again come to me all of you parents who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.

Lord God almighty my we need rest today!

·         In the context of what just taken place; listen

1 Peter 2:4-5 (ESV)
4
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

·         ‘You are God’s people, Christians, Christ-like’

·         This verse 5 starts off with a statement that ‘you yourselves, my brothers and sisters, like living stones’

·         You therefore have an identity that is similar in nature with Christ

·         You are ‘lively stones’ New Hope

·         But to comprehend you being lively stones, you need to get a better comprehension of the Living Stone

·         Living Stone – there is no such thing in existence in this fallen world as a living stone

·         I must admit to you my brothers and sisters, I have racked this little pea brain of mine to come up with an illustration or an example of this

·         And then it hit me just like that commercial that says; “you should have had a V8!”

·         There really is no such thing in existence in this fallen world as a Living Stone, nothing down here that can compare our Lord and Savior to

·         We know what life is, again in this fallen world, to live, to grow, to get old and then to die

·         Jesus is not like that; He is the same yesterday, the same today, and the same forever more.

·         Jesus has conquered death to die no more

·         What that a stone represent something strong, stable and secure

·         My mother for example has a foundation in her house that is made of stone and it is strong, stable and secure

·         But the stones have no life in them

·         My Jesus, your Jesus, our Jesus is indeed strong, stable and secure but;

·         We make a terrible mistake when we attempt to make comparisons of anything in this fallen world to the resurrected Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity

·         But now get this! 

·         And I’m sure if Peter ever shouted it’s when he realized this

·         So are we!  Listen to it

·         You yourselves as living stones

·         And Scripture was there to give me reproof, correction and training in righteousness

·         And now the following Scriptures began to make more sense – Passages like;

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

·         By definition, creation here means exclusively God’s work and something which has not existed before

Galatians 6:15 (ESV)
15
For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)
10
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 4:24 (ESV)
24
and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Colossians 3:10 (ESV)
10
and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

·         And to be projected from ‘more sense to simply amazing!’

·         I can now listen to, read, study and mediate on this Word of God in a new light Listen:

·         Genesis 1:26-27 (ESV)
26
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

·         You yourselves (my sisters and my brothers) like living stones you are in the image of the Living Stone

·         My God changes not!  And He has Wonders to Behold

·         We are made in the image of Jesus Christ

·         We are made in the image of God

·         So please do not misinterpreted the condition of verse 4 where it says; ‘As you come to Him’

·         This condition is not optional but is actual situational and circumstantial

·         It is not as I come to Him the first time and be saved or refuse to come and be saved

·         Nor is it, ‘I will come to him’ or ‘I won’t come to him’ after I am saved

·         But it is more ‘as I come to him with this situation or with that circumstance’

·         As a saved parent, it as you come to him with a sick baby that has kept you up all night

·         Or you come to him with your teenager who missed curfew and has kept you up all night

·         Or you come to him with your grown child who is just stopping by or moving back in and it has kept you up all night

·         As a single young or old and your singleness either out of fear or loneness has kept you up all night

·         Various situations and circumstances that are real, positive or negative but you have learned in your growth in the Lord that you need Jesus to work this out

·         The Living Stone is who you come to and He is able to deal with your contemporary issue.  

·         Because He lives, I can face tomorrow

·         We have an open invitation to come to Him.  Actually it is even better than that.

·         You don’t even need an invitation, just come

·         Parents of grown kids have experienced this concept on the receiving end.

·         That grown child knows that he or she doesn’t need an invitation to come over and even to help themselves to whatever - Amen

·         They got keys, they know the combinations, they know the hiding places, and they know where stuff is kept

·         And you as parents know that given the situation or the circumstance, they will come and the place is available to them

·         The solution is in the phrase “As you come to Him”

·         You can fuss, argue, reason, seek help from other parents, advice from older parents, get counseling,  but let me tell you this as a parent but more importantly as a believer

·         Until you come to Him, you will remain tired, frustrated, aggravated, heavy laden and in need of rest

·         But when you come, not if you come, saint

·         You will find rest for your soul, that’s guaranteed

·         And you in your Christ-likeness, you, as lively stones, are being built up as a spiritual house

·         You don’t stay like you were

·         Note, first that this is a singular phrase, there is just one spiritual house and not spiritual houses

·         It’s not your thing, my thing and their things but God cements us together as a spiritual house

·         “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house,”

·         Note, second that this spiritual house is not the local church nor even a group of saints, but it is the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church Universal

·         Again saints, it’s not your thing!

·         The Holy Scripture is again the best commentary for scripture and we find a wonderful explanation of this point in the book of Ephesians

Ephesians 2:19-23 (ESV)  19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

·         And the church can say – Amen!

·         You are connected to this letter of Peter and the people that he is writing to in fact you could say that the letter is also addressed to me, we are connected to each other, and we are connected to the brothers and sisters who will come along after us

·         Note, third that the building is present tense and ongoing

·         As you come to Him, verse 4, you  are being built up as a spiritual house

·         A spiritual house, a temple where Jesus is the corner stone and we are the living stones held together by the blood of Jesus

·         Allow me to illustrate using the example of parenting

·         Building up is not always very obvious to those involved and are close to it

·         Child rearing is an example of this, for in many situations it takes someone else who haven’t seen your child in a while, to point out how much they have grown

·         But talk with some grandparents or parents who have grown children and they can talk with you about the ongoing growth that is taking place

·         You young people you have finished college talk with those who are just starting college and let them know about the ongoing growth

·         Our older brothers and sisters, you know about the ongoing growth based on what He has brought you through

·         Many of you would be the first to say that He is not through with me yet, that’s ongoing growth

·         You are being built up a spiritual house the dwelling place of God

·         To be a holy priesthood

Exodus 19:5-6 (ESV)
5
Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

·         The priest were allowed to go into the presence of God

·         To speak to God and to make sacrifices to God

·         And this does not change with Peter in this letter, notice

·         To be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

·         We could spend this entire day just on testimony about you and your going before the Lord

·         Going before Him with prayers, with supplications (asking humbly and earnestly), with intercessions, with thanksgiving, and with praise

·         You have meet Him privately, publicly, in the sanctuary, on your job, in hospitals, jails, courtrooms, school houses, university campus

·         Because you are a holy priesthood and you have access to the Alpha and Omega, the Lord who sits high and looks low, the Creator of this entire Universe

·         I pray that the ‘who you’ are in your Christ likeness is a little clearer

·         You are becoming more like Jesus the Living Stone by the Holy Spirit that dwells within you as the spiritual house of God

·         That’s the ‘building up’, another word is ‘edification’

·         The church is being edified

·         What you do as the spiritual house and the holy priesthood is the spiritual sacrifices

·         Here are just four examples

·         Example One - The offering of our bodies to God for His service.  

 

Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)
1
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

·         It is not just on Sundays and not only in the sanctuary

·         Our life must be different

·         We don’t parent like the world does

·         So my young people we are not to be like the family down the street especially if that family don’t know Jesus

·         This presenting your bodies a living sacrifice is accomplished every time you come to Jesus the Living Stone.

·         Example Two - The giving of gifts to enable the spread of the gospel  

Philippians 4:18 

18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.

·         How you deal with the money and resources that the Lord has blessed you with is an indication of whose you are and who you are

·         Full payment and more Paul received

·         And there is a joy in giving for the spread of the Gospel

·         Times are rough but it  is that way for everyone and New Hope we should be praying about opportunities to increase our mission offerings and not decrease them

·         Example Three - The singing of praise 

Hebrews 13:15 

15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

 

·         It is also good to sing when you don’t feel like a song

·         For it is amazing how a song can change your attitude

·         Example Four - The doing of good and sharing our possessions

Hebrews 13:16 

16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

·         This is just a few

·         And we are blessed because most of you are doing these sacrifices

·         And they are acceptable to God because

These sacrifices are offered through Jesus Christ.

For no one comes to the Father but by Jesus the Son!

 

·         How can all of this be?

·         Because you are God’s people

·         You are Christian

·         You are Christ-like

·         I started with prayer with and for parents so let me end there

·         Parents you have learned or you will soon learn that you must come to the Living Stone with your parenting issues

·         Parenting and the situations and circumstances associated with this ministry continue well past your child or children growing up

·         Parents can’t make believers of their children but they are our closest mission field

·         You must be like living stones before them, strong, stable, and secure but all in the name of Jesus and not in your last name.

·         You are a member of the holy priesthood and you have access to the King of kings and Lord of lords anytime and any place

·         And since God has made us a part of His spiritual house, we are in this together and Scripture is our friend

·         My prayers are with you brother and sister parent and with the rest of you in Jesus name

Let us pray

As we take time to meditate on this

If you are looking for a church home and you have decided to make New Hope home then this is the time to acknowledge that

 

 

This is also the time to acknowledge that you are a candidate for Baptism.

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