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Holiness in an unholy world... (14)

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Putting our gifts to use...

You may have noticed that we’ve skipped past a few verses. We will come back to them, but since this Sunday is our AGM, I felt that it would be appropriate to spend a bit of time looking at how God wants to use us a body.
Each and every one of us has gifts and abilities that God has given us. You have specific gifts that I don’t have and God has given me some abilities that some of you might not feel as that they are your strengths.
Peter exhorts the believers to use their gifts. I believe that it’s as true today as it was then.
1 Peter 4:7–11 NIV
The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

The end of all things is near...

It was Peter that quoted from the prophet Joel in Acts 2:17-20
Acts 2:17–20 NIV
“ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
The early church were strong in their belief that Jesus could come at any time. Peter was there when Jesus was taken up into Heaven. Acts 1:10-11
Acts 1:10–11 ESV
And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
I don’t know the hour, the day, the month or the year when Jesus will come back, but it won’t be long. Will you be ready when Jesus comes? Are you looking for His coming?
Hebrews 9:28 NIV
so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
When Paul the Apostle was coming near to his execution, he wrote to Timothy and said,
2 Timothy 4:6–8 NIV
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
Now is not the time to the time for us to shrink back and turn from the faith. Brothers and sisters, now is the time that we need to draw near to God. He will draw near to you.
We live in uncertain times, and yet we are very content. We have food on our tables. We have clothes on our backs. We have need for seemingly nothing. If there has ever been a time that we need to lean on the Lord, it’s now.
Psalm 55:22 NIV
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.
Because...
1 Peter 4:7 NIV
The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.

Be alert and sober-minded

The NKJV says to be “serious and watchful in your prayers.”
James 5:13–18 NIV
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

Prayer

How important is prayer in your life?
Does it really matter if we pray? Does it make a difference if we spend time with God?
2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Matthew 7:7–8 NIV
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 18:18–20 ESV
Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Do believe that there is power in prayer? Do you believe that prayer moves the hand of God? With God all things are possible.
John 14:12–14 NKJV
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
I can’t emphasize how important prayer is. Even Jesus, God the Son, knew that He needed to get alone and spend time with the Father. He was filled with the Spirit without measure, and He still went to a place of solitude to get alone with the Father.

In everything...

Philippians 4:6–7 NKJV
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Prayer needs to be our first resort, not our last ditch effort. It takes spiritual effort to get spiritual results. We can’t expect anything from God if we don’t ask.
I don’t pretend to agree with everything that John MacArthur says, but in his book Alone with God, I found the title, “A Heart Set on God” helpful.
Alone with God A Heart Set on God

For Christians prayer is like breathing. You don’t have to think to breathe because the atmosphere exerts pressure on your lungs and forces you to breathe. That’s why it is more difficult to hold your breath than it is to breathe. Similarly, when you’re born into the family of God, you enter into a spiritual atmosphere wherein God’s presence and grace exert pressure, or influence, on your life. Prayer is the normal response to that pressure. As believers we have all entered the divine atmosphere to breathe the air of prayer. Only then can we survive in the darkness of the world.

Unfortunately many believers hold their spiritual breaths for long periods, thinking brief moments with God are sufficient to allow them to survive. But such restricting of their spiritual intake is caused by sinful desires. The fact is, every believer must be continually in the presence of God, constantly breathing in His truths to be fully functional.

Because ours is such a free and prosperous society, it is easier for Christians to feel secure by presuming on instead of depending on God’s grace. Too many believers become satisfied with physical blessings and have little desire for spiritual blessings. Having become so dependent on their physical resources, they feel little need for spiritual resources. When programs, methods, and money produce impressive results, there is an inclination to confuse human success with divine blessing. Christians can actually behave like practical humanists, living as if God were not necessary. When that happens, passionate longing for God and yearning for His help will be missing—along with His empowerment. Because of this great and common danger, Paul urged believers to “pray at all times” (Eph. 6:18) and to “devote yourselves to prayer” (Col. 4:2). Continual, persistent, incessant prayer is an essential part of Christian living and flows out of dependence on God.

Two Great Commandments

Jesus was asked the the Great Commandment in the Law was:
Matthew 22:37–40 NIV
Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Let’s show God our love by how we spend time in His presence.

Putting our faith into Action

It’s not enough to say that we believe in God, but have no evidence that God is working in us. James 2:14-19
James 2:14–19 NIV
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
It’s only by Jesus death on the cross that we can be saved, but when we believe in His death, burial, and resurrection, something changes.
If we try to get into Heaven by works, we try to sneak past the cross. Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. It’s still by grace that we are saved through faith, it is the gift of God, not by works lest anyone should boast.

Love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8 NIV
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
God’s love covers over a multitude of sins, and He calls us to love each other deeply. It can be so easy to see each others faults, and yet God has called us to love each other deeply because agape (God’s love) covers over a great number, a populace of sins. (Strong’s)

The Prodigal Son

The story of the Lost son, the Prodigal son, is more about the Father than it is about the son. If the son had come home, but the father had rejected him, what would have become of the son?
God in His great mercy received us with open arms. Let’s show this same mercy. We don’t save people. We don’t change people. We don’t set people free, but God in His great mercy will choose to use us if we are willing.

Offer Hospitality

1 Peter 4:9 NIV
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
I grew up in a home, where the rule was, try not to drive into somebody’s yard at mealtime. Sometimes, it’s hard to avoid it, but we should try to avoid showing up unannounced to someone’s place PERIOD.
We are busy people that live in a busy society, but I miss the old way. I miss the way it used to be. Growing up, we used to have people drop in often, sometimes it was at mealtime. If Dad saw somebody driving into the yard at mealtime, he might say, “They’re here again,” but Mom would be saying, “How many are in the vehicle, set out another four plates.” I guess we always had leftovers, for a reason, maybe just somebody might show up for supper.
Let’s be quick to offer hospitality without grumbling. Let’s be quick to entertain others.
I look forward to the day that we as a church family are able to do more things together. Prayer meetings and Bible Studies are essential, but sitting around a table, throwing a bowling ball down the lane, watching a hockey game of one of the church family is important too.
Over the next while, we may be called to show hospitality to somebody from the Ukraine. Let’s start praying into what God would have us do as Christians, you never know what He might be up to.

Use whatever gift you have...

1 Peter 4:10 NIV
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
God is creative. God has made us in all different shapes and sizes. He has made us with many different abilities. How can we use these to serve others?
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. God will use what is in our hands. We can come up with lofty goals and we can even pull them off, but sometimes we look at our dreams and visions and think that they are too big to achieve, but if we never dream or aim at anything, we’ll never achieve.
It’s better to try and fail than to never try, but it’s even better to try and succeed.
In our history, God has done some amazing things in LifePoint Church. I believe that in our future God will also do above and beyond what we can ask think or even imagine.
My question is this, “What gift do you have in your hand to you are willing to use?” It might be your time, it might be your talents, and it might even be your money. Whatever it is, let’s use it for the glory of God.
I want to know what dreams and visions that God has given you. Maybe God has brought you here for such a time as this. In many ways, it may feel like we’ve been holding on for dear life since March of 2020, but it’s time to dream again. It’s time to see what God is going to do among us.

That God may be praised...

1 Peter 4:11 NIV
If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Sometimes we may feel that our gift is too small. If David had thought his sling was too small, he would have never fought Goliath. If Moses thought his staff was too small, he would have never parted the Red Sea.
Give what you have to the Lord, no matter how big or small it might be, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
To Him be glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Let’s pray.
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