March 1
Building-Block Christianity
(I Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23)
Thomas A’ Kempis wrote: “The loftier the building the deeper the foundation be laid.”
Paul views the Corinthian Christians as “God’s building” (v. 8). He saw their spiritual construction as all-important. He, as the “expert builder,” knew that the construction work of building needed a cornerstone that would last — Jesus was the Cornerstone. Before he, or anyone else, could build any lasting spiritual development, Jesus had to be in the mortar.
What does building block Christianity mean?
I. Building-Block Christianity Means Being a Brother (v. 21-22)
When Louis Agassiz was a boy in Switzerland, he and his little brother one day thought they would cross a frozen lake and join their father.
The mother anxiously watched them from a window till at length they came to a crack in the ice more than a foot wide. Her heart failed her. She thought, “Louis can get over it well enough, but the little fellow will try to do so and will fall in.” They were too far away to hear her call.
As she watched in an agony of fear, she saw Louis get down on the ice, his feet on one side of the crack and his hands on the other side, like a bridge, and his little brother crept over him to the other side.
A building-block style of Christianity is a support system for people in desperate need.
II. Building-Block Christianity Means Leadership Through Christ (v. 23)
“You are of Christ.”
A particular lady was pumping away at the organ and leading a choir of boys and an orchestra. But in the midst of it all she became so fascinated with the fine execution of the band, and so delighted with the singing of the choir boys, that she ceased playing the organ and just listened.
Immediatedly her husband rushed up to her exclaiming, “Don’t you know that you are leading? They are waiting on you.” In an instant her hands were on the organ, and she resumed the leadership.
We all have some little circle that depends on us for their inspiration and leadership. Their hearts will faint if we do not give them encouragement.
III. Building-Block Christianity Means Knowing Our Objective
What is our goal, our purpose, our objective? There was a touring car waiting at a fork in the road when a farmer came by. The traveler asked which road they should take.
“Where do you want to go?” the farmer asked. “They said they did not know exactly. “Well, then, it doesn’t matter,” and the busy man drove on. If we don’t know where we are going, we will never get there.
Alex Carrel said, “When man understands that the aim of life is not material profit but life itself, he ceases to fix attention exclusively on the external world. He considers more attentively his own existence and the existence of those around him. He realizes that he depends on others and that others depend on him.”
Everything worthwhile has a high wall around it; but by looking to God, He will give you the key to open the gate and go through.
IV. A Building-Block Christianity Means Making Right Choices
Two trains used to leave the LaSalle Station in Chicago at the same time and for seven miles paralleled each other in their courses. The one branched off and ran eastward until it reached New York City. The other went through the midwest toward the Pacific Coast, until finally the entire continent separated them.
Thus it is with people. Two friends start out together. They seem the same on the outside. They belong to the same school, have the same companions, live their lives closely alike.
One is traveling the route as a Christian, the other has chosen the route of sin. One route leads along the good path to heaven, the other follows the downward path to hell and destruction. We are at this very hour on the way to heaven or hell. The great sin is to have the chance and neglect it.
The construction work waits. The tools are ready for a willing hand, the equipment set in gear. The Master Builder mixes the right ingredients to make for strong mortar. He’s ready to put the building up — are we ready to be the building blocks? (DGK)
March 8
Focus on Jesus
(Matthew 4:1-11)
A man who had been cross-eyed all of his life, after undergoing a completely successful surgical operation, exclaimed, “Why for the first time in my life I can really see. Before this I was looking at myself all the time.”
Sometimes Christians get “cross-eyed” because they are always looking at themselves. Our need is to look straight ahead and focus on Jesus. Then you can really see.
Bernard of Clairvaux said, “Jesus is honey in the mouth, melody in the ear, a song of jubilee in the heart, which leaps to the lips!” Thomas A’ Kempis said, “O Jesus, brightness of the eternal glory, comfort of the pilgrim soul, with thee are my lips without a voice and my very silence speaks to thee. Thou my God, my hope and my eternal salvation.”
It is Christ who fills our visions and thrills our hearts as we focus with love upon Jesus only.
I. Jesus is the Focus of Life (v. 1-4)
Often I find people who are just so busy with life that they seem to say there’s no room for Jesus. When there is a more convenient time, then I will come to Christ, much like Agrippa of Paul’s day.
Phillips Brooks wrote: “It is as if the engine had said it had no room for the steam. It is as if the tree had said it had no room for the sap. It is as if the ocean had said it had no room for the tide. It is as if the man had said he had no room for his soul. It is as if the life had said it had no time to live, when it is life.
“It is not something added to life; it is life. A man is not living without it. And for man to say, ‘I am so full in life that I have no room for life,’ you see immediately to what absurdity it reduces itself.”
II. Jesus is the Focus of Power (v. 5-7)
Many years ago a large grain elevator, having a floor of concrete twelve inches thick, was built in one of our western cities. For eighteen months one-half million bushels of wheat rested on that floor. When the wheat was removed the workers saw that the floor in a particular spot had risen a number of inches. They removed the concrete and found a growing plant had lifted up that solid concrete floor and all the grain upon it.
From where did the powerful life of the plant stem? From the sun, which gives life to all vegetation. We can, without a special gift or accomplishment, draw enough power from the Son of Righteousness to be lifted higher even when it seems impossible. Faith lets Christ do for us and with us what we could never do alone.
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale wrote in his book, The Positive Power of Jesus Christ, about a rough, tough character named Dave Henderson who would go on “regular drunks.” His speech was profane and he was always ready for a fight. He had a mean streak that was revealed in violent outbursts of temper. Rumor had it he was a wife beater, but his sweet and dignified mate never let on that he was anything but a perfect husband.
A miracle occurred. Attending a church service where Dr. Peale’s father was preaching, he came forward to the altar and asked Christ to forgive him of his sins. After a while, as he told God all of his bad qualities and actions, he began to say “Jesus! Thank you, Jesus!”
What Dr. Peale wrote intrigues me: “It was so incredibly wonderful that tears welled up in my eyes. The feeling I had was one of wonderment, astonishment. How could this be? Surely this wasn’t happening to this man! And just what was happening? The answer is the positive power of Jesus Christ was happening. A man was being changed!”
Power! Power! Power! It comes through Jesus Christ. Your life can be changed by His uplifting power, now!
III. Jesus is the Focus of Worship (v. 8-10)
The devil attempted to trick Jesus into worship of him. However, Jesus knew who should be worshipped. Hear His command: “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve’.”
How many of our congregations have been fooled by Satan? Their reverence is not to God, but materialism, humanity, religiosity, etc. Real worship recognizes that He is Creator and we are His creatures. It reminds us of our total dependence upon Him. Our faith lies in Him.
Christ makes it crystal-clear that His kingly authority and filial submission are already “as complementary poles” of the life and self-revelation of Immanuel — God with us. Jesus deserves our worship.
IV. Jesus is the Focus of Service (v. 8-10)
“… Him only shall you serve” was meant not only for Satan, but humanity, also.
The great evangelist Gipsy Smith related that a lady who was interested in Christian work in London wrote him once and said, “I have a meeting I want you to come and speak to. It is only a small meeting, and it will take nothing out of you.”
“I cannot come,” he replied, “and it would be no use if I did come. If it takes nothing out of me it will do nobody any good.” He went on to say, “It is the service that costs, and a cheap religion isn’t worth preaching.”
J. H. Jowett said that one Sunday he went to a camp meeting outside New York at which he was to speak, when one engaging in prayer said: “O Lord, we thank thee for our brother. Now blot him out and reveal thyself.”
All of our life should echo that prayer so that we might focus on Jesus! (DGK)
March 15
Ye Must Be Born Again
(John 3:1-17)
Since the 1976 election, the phrase “born again” has entered the American vocabulary. Jimmy Carter’s profession that he had been born again prompted inquiries in the secular media about the meaning of such a phrase, and a series of books and articles followed. What does it mean to be born again?
The first person to ask that question wasn’t a news commentator, but a religious leader of Jesus’ day. A member of the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus came to see Jesus at night, perhaps to avoid the questions that would be raised about a person in his position calling on this itinerant preacher.
It was Nicodemus to whom Jesus issued the challenge: you must be born again. Notice first:
I. The Necessity of the New Birth
Jesus said you must be born again (v. 7); there is a divine imperative. There are many things in the Christian life we are told to do, but which are not essential for our salvation. The new birth is different; it is an absolute necessity, because of the difference it makes in us.
II. The Nature of the New Birth
First see what it is not:
1. It isn’t reformation. The evangelist Sam Jones used to preach a sermon entitled “Quit Your Meanness.” Some folks have quit their meanness and not joined the church, while others have joined the church and never quit their meanness. That’s not the new birth.
You can’t reform enough. Ephesians 2:8-9 remind us that God’s grace alone can restore us to His fellowship.
2. It isn’t a profession of religion. The new birth goes beyond the lips to change of heart. There are many names listed on church rolls that never attend, never give, never show any expression of a changed life. Claiming to have faith with no changed life is an empty profession.
3. It isn’t morality. Nicodemus was already a religious man; as a Pharisee, he tried to live a righteous life. Yet there was still a yearning in his heart for something else. He needed to be born again.
What is the new birth, then?
1. It’s a change in the heart produced by the Holy Spirit. God turns you around and sends you in a new direction. It comes from God; we can’t do it. And that changed heart results in a changed life.
2. It is a mystery. We may not understand how God produces the change in our lives-but we become the evidence of that change.
There are many things I don’t understand but I still enjoy. A black cow eats green grass and gives white milk which becomes yellow butter. I don’t understand all the chemical changes which take place, but that doesn’t stop me from drinking milk or eating butter. I don’t know how God changed me — but I know He did.
The new birth comes through repentance, confession and commitment to Christ. Have you been born again? (JMD)
March 22
Breaking Down the Barriers
(John 4:5-26)
Fences have a lot of uses. Some are built to keep things out: children, dogs, snoopy neighbors. Others are built to keep things in.
People also build fences around and in their lives. Fences to protect themselves, to keep out intruders … sometimes God.
Jesus was and is in the business of breaking down barriers. This day He had come to Jacob’s well, and would break down some significant barriers. Perhaps today He stands before your life, ready to break down some walls you’ve built.
I. Jesus Breaks Down Barriers Between People.
(v. 7-9) Jesus reached out to break down a barrier of hatred that existed for centuries between Jew and Samaritan. It was a bitter racial hatred with a lengthy tradition. The average Jew would not travel through Samaria, preferring the lengthy trip around. Yet Jesus had little regard for such artificial barriers.
So He sits by the well that day, and begins a conversation with this woman. In a few words He ignores barriers between Jew and Samaritan, between men and women.
It’s easy for us to inherit that kind of hatred from parents, friends, culture, tradition. Probably many Jewish children had no idea why they were supposed to hate Samaritans; they just knew they should. How many children today spout vicious racial slurs because they’ve heard them at home?
When Jesus becomes real in our lives, artificial barriers begin to fall. Prejudice and bigotry can’t coexist with Christ’s love.
And where were the disciples all this time? They had gone into town to buy food. A Samaritan town? Before meeting Jesus most of them wouldn’t even have walked through Samaria, much less eat Samaritan food. Already the barriers were falling in their lives.
Jesus breaks down barriers between people and so must we. Jesus breaks down the walls to make us free to love and serve.
II. Jesus Breaks Down Barriers Within People
(v. 9-18) Here’s a woman who is hurting. The very fact she comes to the well at mid-day — while other women came at early morning or early evening — indicates isolation, a desire to avoid encountering other people.
Perhaps it was because of her lifestyle. She had married a series of husbands, and now she was living with a man with whom she was not married. She was a social outcast. Yet while others were busy judging her, Jesus was busy expressing love and concern for her.
As she stands there in the light of His life and love, she sees the inadequacy of her own life. She senses her own need.
The story is told that the playwright Noel Coward once sent identical notes to 20 of the most prominent men in London. The note read: “All is discovered. Escape while you can.” All 20 promptly left town!
We know there’s something wrong inside. Given the chance, people can see the need within themselves. But they don’t see it as well from what we say as by how we love them.
The Holy Spirit convicts of sin, applying the truth to each heart. That’s why the little girl could ask her mother, after hearing Spurgeon preach, “How does he know what goes on in our house?”
III. Jesus Breaks Down Barriers Between Us and God
(v. 19-26) When Jesus exposes her life with His question, she shifts the subject to theology! She’d have been a good church-goer! In doing so, she reveals a barrier that had been erected between herself and God.
Where is the proper place to worship, she asks. The Samaritans said Mount Gerizim; the Jews, Jerusalem. Each tried to enclose God in their own religious structures.
Churches can do that, too — acting as if they have God under control. If people don’t do it our way, there’s something wrong with them!
So religion can erect barriers between us and God. Yet Jesus told her that worship is not validated by a traditional place, but by a transcendent power. He will not let religion get in the way of faith. Worship takes place when our spirits meet the Divine Spirit, not when we go to a certain place or perform certain actions.
Jesus met the woman at an everyday place and did His work. Our greatest tests of faith usually come in the everyday places and situations. It is there that we must live our faith. We come to church to learn, to be strengthened, to be equipped to go into the world and be the church.
God meets us in the most ordinary places. He met a Samaritan woman at a well. How will He come to you this week: as a child; as a person in need; as someone of another race or background?
What is the barrier in your life today? The Good News is that Jesus is in the business of breaking down barriers — even yours. (JMD)
March 29
Living in the Light
(Ephesians 5:8-14)
Do you remember the song we sang as children in Sunday School: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna’ let it shine”?
The New Testament often uses light and darkness to represent good and evil. In fact, at the beginning of our text Paul says that those without Christ were not just in darkness; they literally were darkness. Their very nature was characterized by an absence of light.
By contrast, those who are in Christ are light. What does Paul say about the light that Christ brings to our lives?
I. Light Produces Good Fruit
Why don’t people plant gardens in shady spots? Because light is necessary for plants to grow strong and healthy. Likewise, Christ’s light in our lives helps to produce spiritual fruit.
It produces goodness, benevolence. A generous spirit is a mark of healthy spiritual life.
It produces righteousness. As we walk in God’s light, we seek to honor Him with our lives, our actions, our words.
It produces truth. Christ’s truth is more than something we know; it is something we do. As we walk in the light, we are strengthened to both know and do the truth.
II. Light Helps Us Determine God’s Will
We are able to discriminate between that which pleases and displeases God. All our actions and attitudes must be tested in the light of God’s will.
In the ancient Near East, many shops were simply covered areas alongside the street, with no windows. If you wanted to buy a piece of silk or brass, you would take it out onto the street and hold it up to the sunlight. That light would reveal any flaws that might be there.
Likewise, it is our responsibility to test our decisions and actions in the light of Christ.
III. Light Exposes Evil and Cleanses
What is the best way to deal with corruption in some area of society? Expose it! Shower light on it! Evil can continue in secret that will wither and die when exposed. There’s something about revealing evil, exposing it to the light of day, that helps destroy it. The light of Christ shows the works of darkness for what they really are by offering a superior way of life.
And once evil has been exposed, light can set about cleansing it.
Paul concludes with a quotation, perhaps from an early Christian hymn. The words express the emergence of a person from the dark sleep of life without Christ into the wonderful light of life in Christ — the life to which Christ calls you and me. (JMD)
April 5
Two Roads
(Romans 8:5-11)
In one of Robert Frost’s best-known poems are these words: “And I, I took the road less travelled by; and that has made all the difference.”
Often in life we stand at the fork of a road and face choices about what we shall do, which direction we shall go. You can probably think of such experiences in your own life: in the choice of a school, a career, a particular job, perhaps the choice of a mate.
Paul says that each one of us stands at the fork of an all-important road, and we have the opportunity — in fact, the obligation — to choose which direction our lives will go.
I. The Road of Flesh Leads to Death
The word flesh, to us, would normally refer to our skin. But Paul is using the word in a much broader, deeper sense. It refers to life apart from Christ. Godet defines this use of flesh as “the inclination to seek self-satisfaction in everything.”
To be “in the flesh” is to be unregenerate, outside of the family of God. Paul knows all too well that, even after we are in Christ, we struggle with the flesh, with that propensity to sin.
There is a little plant called a “sundew” which grows in the Australian bush country. It has tiny red, white and pink blossoms that are lovely, and an attraction to insects. But the tiny round leaves contain a shiny moisture that is sticky, and any bug that touches it will become a prisoner. In fact, the very struggle to break free causes the leaves to close even more tightly upon the little prisoner. The beautiful plant will eventually feed on its visitors if they are unable to break free. (Sermons Illustrated)
So it is with sin. How attractive it may appear to be — but a closer look shows that it leads to death and destruction. That is the inevitable result of the road of flesh, apart from God.
II. The Road of the Spirit Leads to Life
While the life in the flesh is death, says Paul, “the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (v. 6).
Once we submit our lives to Christ and accept Him as Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us. The presence of the Spirit is not a special gift to a handful of super-spiritual Christians; it is the birthright of all believers (v. 9b).
The life lived in the Spirit is the only one that leads to real and ultimate life, because it alone leads to God. As William Barclay observes, “Daily it is coming nearer heaven even while it is still on earth. Daily it is becoming more Christlike, more one with Christ. It is a life which is such a steady progress to God that the final transition of death is only a natural and inevitable stage on the way.”
And even when that physical death comes, it is those who are in the Spirit, in Christ, who will experience new life, eternal life (v. 11).
Which road have you chosen? In which direction are you going? Christ invites you to walk with Him on the road to life abundant and life eternal. (JMD)
April 15
“The Mind of Christ”
(Philippians 2:5-11)
“If you don’t watch out for yourself, nobody will.” “It’s a ‘dog eat dog’ world out there.” Have you ever heard either of these sayings. Each of us has been conditioned to watch out for ourself. The American man or woman is proud to be independent and self-sufficient. The words of Paul seem to be but distant echoes to contemporary Americans. We are the ‘me’ generation. Many Christians feel the tension of living in a society composed of self-centered individuals. Can we live for others in the ‘me’ generation?
Paul’s response to the in-fighting in the Philippian church was an appeal for the Christians to ‘have the mind of Christ.’ Paul considered himself the bond-servant of Jesus and Jesus the bond-servant of the Father. Servanthood provides the key to Paul’s solution for the petty jealousy that can destroy the fellowship of the community. What does it mean to ‘have the mind of Christ?’
I. It means refusing to allow personal interests to control your life.
Jesus exemplifies the servant heart. He lay aside the personal prerogatives of deity and took the essence of servanthood. It has been my experience that interpersonal conflict normally occurs when individuals ‘stake out’ claims to their rights and their territory. Paul calls for these early Christians to lay aside their selfish interests. It is interesting to note that the temptation in the wilderness dealt primarily with the issue of personal interest. Would Jesus use divine power at His own initiative and to meet His own needs? No, Jesus submitted Himself to the Father’s wishes and His miracles reflect a primary concern with the needs of others.
II. It means looking after the interests of others
Paul perceives that the community of faith is to be controlled by self-giving love which seeks to meet the needs of others. Reciprocal relationships dominate Paul’s understanding of community life. As we love one another, care for one another, pray for one another, and support one another we experience the mind of Christ. One of the ironies of life is seen at the Last Supper. The Lord of creation washes the feet of the Disciples while they argue about their rightful place in the kingdom. We can experience the mind of Christ only as we serve one another. Those who are truly great are those who serve others.
III. It means trusting the future to the Father
Jesus models for us an unshakable confidence in the Father. Self-giving love is made possible by faith in the providence of God. The belief that God is in control provides the security necessary for you to live for others in a ‘me’ generation.
The occasion for the letter to the Philippians appears to be Paul’s concern for the squabbles and infighting that were threatening the fellowship of the church. Paul uses Timothy, Epaphroditus, and himself as models of self-giving love. His primary model, however, is found in our Lord and Saviour. “Have this mind in you which is also in Christ Jesus.” (WTP)
April 19
Easter Sunday
The Truth of the Resurrection
(John 20:1-20)
Phillip Schaff pointed out that “the resurrection is either the greatest miracle or the greatest delusion in all of history.”
The resurrection of Christ was the rallying point of the early church, the focus of its preaching from the Day of Pentecost on. The Easter message has been the centerpiece of the church’s message. As Paul points out in I Corinthians 15, without the resurrection, our faith is in vain.
Observe several elements of the Easter drama.
I. The Empty Tomb
Notice the sequence of events and the gradual increase in understanding on the part of Jesus’ followers:
First the women came, only to see the stone displaced. They feared the grave had been robbed and ran back to tell the disciples. When John and Peter go to see for themselves, John was the first to arrive (u. 5); he saw — the word means to observe, to notice — as he peeked in from the outside. When Peter rushed in (v. 6-7), he also saw — but this is a different word meaning to study, to carefully evaluate. He analyzed the wrappings; why would they have been left so neatly by grave robbers?
Finally John enters (v. 8), and he saw — literally, he understood. Something “clicked” inside him, and suddenly it all made sense to him. “There’s been a resurrection!” he might have said (to which our friend Peter might have replied: “Great! What’s a resurrection?”)
One by one, each of Jesus’ followers came to understand the meaning of that empty tomb, and it changed their lives forever. Arnold Toynbee noted, “If there was one thing that would have shut up the church, it was the corpse of that Jew.” The empty tomb was compelling proof that He had risen.
II. The Risen Lord
Christ did not force them to rely on the empty tomb alone. He appeared to all groups of disciples at least 13 times following the resurrection. These appearances confirmed their trust. They weren’t just apparitions; they were bodily appearances, in which Jesus walked, talked, ate, touched. When Paul wrote that the risen Lord had appeared to 500 at once, most of the witnesses were still alive to testify to the experience. They proclaimed Christ crucified because they had seen Him themselves (Acts 2:32).
Yet there was a third evidence of the resurrection.
III. The Transformed Disciples
Compare the disciples from Good Friday to Pentecost and you’ll see the amazing difference in their lives. In the garden, they cut and ran like frightened children; on Pentecost and the days after they were willing to undergo beatings, imprisonment, even death. What happened? They had seen the risen Lord and been filled with His power.
Hand me a copy of Hamlet and tell me to write like Shakespeare, and there’s little chance I can do it. But if you could somehow infuse Shakespeare’s spirit into me, perhaps I could write as he did.
Likewise, if you hand me a New Testament and tell me to live like Jesus, that’s also going to be impossible. But if the spirit of that same Christ can abide in my life, then He can live His life through me. That’s the miracle of the resurrection — He is alive and living in you and me!
Have you allowed Him to come and live in you? What greater way to celebrate Easter than by experiencing His resurrection in your own life? (JMD)
April 26
Reasons for Praise
(I Peter 1:3-9)
Peter proclaims, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Greek euloge literally means “to speak well of.” When expressed in connection with God it means “to praise Him, acknowledging His goodness and desiring His glory.”
Peter, writing to both Jewish and Gentile converts, lays a blueprint of praise. They needed some solid reasons for praise. They were in the mist of cruel hardships and temptations. These folks endured ostracism, slander, violence, hatred, suspicion, loss of goods and worldly ruin. In the thick of it all Peter writes his “Epistle of Hope.”
Our hope generates from a praise-worthy God.
I. We Can Praise God for His Loving Action (v. 3)
God’s action revolves around terms like mercy, salvation, and living hope.
Mercy is the help given those who cannot help themselves. “God is my Refuge, a very present help in trouble” wasn’t just for the Psalmist. It also becomes our theme.
Someone wrote: “Trust Him. Love Him. Remind yourself that He is trustworthy. He won’t hang you out to dry … release your defense … seek no other refuge.”
Salvation from a loving God comes to us by way of the cross of Christ. His death brings reconciliation between a separated man and God. The crisis of acceptance and belief begins the process. Confession and forgiveness are the flipsides of a coin. We confess, He forgives, salvation results! We become part of the family of God. I come running home to Father, thanks to Jesus, who paves the way with His own blood.
That is living hope for us. It comforts me to know that God can look into the swamp of my life and see tremendous possibilities. This is the reason the Son of God came to seek and save the lost. He sees more hope in us than we do in ourselves.
G. Campbell Morgan told of a man whose shop had been burned in the great Chicago fire. He arrived at the ruins the next morning carrying a table. He set this table up amid the charred debris, and above it placed an optimistic sign reading “Everything lost except wife, children and hope. Business as usual tomorrow morning.” As Christians our hope rises because it is in the Living Hope — God!
II. We Can Praise God for Our Inheritance (v. 4)
The Christian’s inheritance is eternal life. Peter’s excitement excelled as he thought about what all that entailed.
The inheritance is for those who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. The inheritance is incorruptible. It has no principles of decay or dissolution. It totally differs from materialistic concepts.
Our inheritance is undefiled. Nothing impure can enter into it. Our inheritance will not fade. It will always bloom. It will never lose its hue or fragrance. Our inheritance is reserved in heaven.
John Newton expressed it well: “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun!”
Our inheritance can already be on reserve! How? Faith in the indivisible God seen through the Son — Jesus — and revealed by the Holy Spirit.
III. We Can Praise God for His Protection (v. 5)
Peter uses two interesting verbs. One is tnpew signifying “to keep watch, guard, place of custody.” The other is throurew, meaning to “keep under military guard.”
One commentator wrote that the true disciples of Christ are under the continual watchful care of God, and the inheritance is guarded.” We who are Christ’s can be thankful for His keeping power and protection.
IV. We Can Praise Him for His Refinement (v. 6-9)
God’s refinement of our lives comes through trials and temptations. Sustaining power comes even through the most hard-pressed times because of the deep sense of rightness with God and the inner well-being that rightness brings.
What is the outcome of our tried faith? Not a hopeless eternity, but the personal experience with Christ now, and the celebration of His second coming. Through life’s circumstances we are committed to God — and praise Him.
Peter knew the truth — that to praise God is to worship God alone! J. H. Howett looked out his window one day and penned these words: “A little while ago I saw a half dozen sandwich men walking through the streets of London, looking thoroughly pinched and starved and wretched, and their board carried the advertisement as to where the onlookers could get ‘the best dinners in London!’ Famished wretches advertising the best dinners in town! Cheerless men and women advertising ‘the joy of the Lord!’ Heralds in whom there is no buoyancy advertising the right of life! No, it is the cheery spirit, the praiseful spirit, that offers the best commendation of the grace of God!” (DGK)
Sermons provided by Deri G. Keefer, pastor of Three Rivers Church of the Nazarene. Three Rivers, MI: William T. Pyle, pastor of Rocky Ford Baptist Church, Hustonville, KY, and a doctoral student in homiletics at Southern Baptist Seminary, Louisville, KY; and Michael Duduit, editor of Preaching.

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