Message OLH: Come to Him the Living Stone (A chosen people) 1 Peter 2:4-10
Peter, the writer of 1st Peter, is passionate about Jesus. He can’t help himself in telling the church in his letters all about him – who Jesus is, what Jesus has accomplished, what it means for us and a life well lived.
In our text this week, 1 Peter 2:4-10, Peter, whose name means ‘rock’, describes Jesus as the Living Stone, the Cornerstone, of a spiritual building on which we are being built. On Jesus, our lives can be built. Peter even calls us living stones.
A cornerstone is the first stone in a masonry (brick/stone) foundation. All other stones of the structure are built upon it, and are set in reference to this critical foundational stone. In the Greek language, the word holds the meaning of holding the entire structure together. Peter says that in Christ we are ‘living stones’ placed and set in reference to the ‘Living Stone – Cornerstone (Jesus)’ and we are building built into a ‘spiritual house’ so that we ‘be holy’ and ‘offer spiritual sacrifices to God.’
What does this mean and how does this look? Peter gives several outcomes for what this means and what this looks like in our lives. One of interest to me for this Sunday is in reference to shame. Peter quotes a verse from the Old Testament, “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a precious cornerstone (Jesus), and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a precious cornerstone (Jesus), and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
Shame is a reality that exerts significant influence in our lives, whether aware of it or not. We consciously or unconsciously subvert it, suppress it, bury it, ignore or obscure it. Shame infects and affects our lives in deep and significant ways. The reality of shame is as old as the Garden of Eden.
Jesus, by way of the cross and an empty tomb gives us everything we need to overcome shame. Power to wipe away shame – the cross of Jesus Christ. Power to walk in holiness – the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus is to be the cornerstone of our life and upon this foundation, we can build our life. Peter quotes Isaiah 28:16 in his letter in reference to Jesus to bring this truth home to our lives.
Looking to be free of shame? Look no further than Jesus. For in Jesus, we have everything we need, and then some, to not only be completely free of shame, but to live a life of holiness. Can’t wait for Sunday, to see you, to meet with Jesus, to learn together what this all means for a life well lived.
Message OLH: Be Holy (Become What You Are) 1 Peter 1:22-2:3
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, a couple of weeks ago, I shared with you from the heart, what has captured my heart, the Gospel of Jesus Christ – of a Living Hope-Hope for a Living Hope-Life. As we began the letter of 1st Peter, this life giving Gospel centered life is described as being a Christ centered life. And for Peter, this Christ centered life is found in two profound Christ centered realities – the cross and an empty tomb. So it follows that a Christ centered life is realized in a cross centered and empty tomb centered life in Christ. This is where we find and engage a Living Hope-Hope for a Living Hope Life.
Peter began his letter with the reality of our identity in Christ, and it’s grounded in the cross and the empty tomb. And he starts describing from the opening words what this means, how this has happened, and why we are to live in holiness. Yet, once we hear the word holiness, we seem to get confused.
Holiness is not a word that carries much weight or influence in our culture today. At least I haven’t heard anyone speak or discuss ‘holiness’ in conversation in… can’t remember how long because it’s been that long. Why is this? Peter speaks much about it, making it a central reality for those who are ‘in Christ.’ So what can we learn from Peter’s letter to the church, to us? Much…
Sometimes people ask, “Why is the Christian life so hard?” This passage gives us an important perspective. Faithful Christians will always be going against the stream of a godless culture. This requires significant effort and alert minds. It requires courageous hearts that are willing to live in holy ways that are foreign to the culture around us. God redeemed us with the precious blood of His Son so that we might be His holy people, ever reflecting the beauty of His holy heart before a watching world.
I look forward to joining you all in worship on September 17.
Message Praise to God our Living Hope for a Living Hope 1 Peter 1:1-12
We are off on a new adventure in a new book of the Bible that talks about a new birth leading to a new life – and it’s all wrapped up in a Living Hope-Hope leading us to Living-Hope Living. Yes, I did come up with this Living Hope tongue twister. Go ahead, try it as fast as you can 3x’s in a row!
1st and 2nd Peter, two books written by the disciple of Jesus, focus on emphasizing our Living Hope, who is Jesus Christ. This Living Hope covers our past, enlivens our present, and leads us toward a future hope. Entering into this Living Hope life is glorious, wonderful and life changing. Yet, Peter reminds us of Jesus’ own words and the reality that entering into this Living Hope will come with its life challenges.
This is nothing to be feared, yet has everything to do with faithful following. In the opening verses of 1 Peter (1:1-12), Peter emphasizes identity in Christ, acknowledges the reality of suffering, calls us to praise in the midst of it all, as well as, and most pointedly, to endurance in living faithfully.
It’s going to be a great start to a new series of messages and worship services based on 1st and 2nd Peter. Read the opening verses (1 Peter 1:1-12) for Sunday prep and this weekends meditation. Where does Paul emphasize identity? How does he acknowledge suffering? Is it possible to praise God in suffering? And where and how does Peter link Living Hope-Hope to Living Hope-Living?
See you Sunday, looking forward to gathering together before God, in his name of Jesus, in the posture of humility, seeking clarity, leading to integrity and courage in following Jesus faithfully,
To him be the glory both now and forever, Pastor Mark
Message Bible ‘Shorts’: 2nd & 3rd John Real Love, Real Action
1st, 2nd, and 3rd John speak much about the relationship between Truth and Love. It’s an age-old quandary for every human being: What is the relationship between the two? How do they work together?
John grounds the relationship between truth and love in the person of Jesus. Interestingly, he grounds the unity of these two wedded realities (truth and love) in the belief of Jesus being fully human and fully God. Interesting. How does Jesus being fully human and fully divine relate to the living out of truth and love in wedded harmony? John recounts the ways of relationship – forgiveness of sins, saved for service (love and obedience to God’s commands), the list goes on.
In understanding the relationship between love and truth, I found these core phrases helpful from a teaching of John Piper’s ministry, Desiring God: Truth aims at love… love aims at truth… love shapes how we speak and live the truth… truth shapes how we show love… much to ponder there.
I’m looking forward to Sunday, a national holiday weekend, to worship of God, fellowship with one another, and partnership in serving God. Looking forward to hearing from 2nd (219 words) and 3rd (245 words) John for Sunday, the two shortest books/letters in the Biblical canon.
Message Bible ‘Shorts’: 1st John Abiding in Christ, Walking in Truth, Obeying God’s Commands
This week, we will be taking a look at 1st John. 1st John is known as a book of the Bible that emphasizes LOVE. I’ve been struck by the emphasis of the ‘doing of good’ as a repeated theme in this series of Biblical ‘Shorts’ (short in length books of the Bible that are lesser known and read.) How do we know that we belong to God? Jesus says it best, ‘A good tree bears good fruit.’
I would be the first to echo the truth from God’s word that there is nothing ‘good’ about us in and of ourselves – for sure, nothing of any ‘saving good’ in us. That is, apart from Jesus Christ. But once we receive God’s salvation in Jesus, our central calling is to ‘bear good fruit.’ No greater, more beautiful, tastier, satisfying, God glorifying good fruit than LOVE.
1st John has so many memorable teachings of truth.
1:5 – “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”
1:9 – “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
2:6 – “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus lived.”
3:1 – “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.”
4:7-12 – “Beloved, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love… this is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins, sent into the world that we might live through him… God so loved us, we also ought to love one another… if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
5:2 – “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.”
So much goodness and truth in 1 John. John keeps it simple for us. Bear the ‘good fruit’ of LOVE.
Message Bible ‘Shorts’: The Book of Titus Do good, do good, do good… because, because, because
These Biblical ‘shorts’ of Philemon, Jude, and now Titus, are packed with powerful revelation. I’m enjoying this journey into God’s Word as we listen together and sit at Jesus feet, engaged in the transformational truth of God’s Word. Paul’s main point in the letter to Titus and the households of faith on the island of Crete is ‘Do good, do good, do good… because, because, because…’ From the opening verse, to the closing word, we are to ‘do good’ because we are ‘God’s servants, disciples/followers of Jesus Christ, God’s elect, called to truth and living productive lives.’
So what does ‘doing good’ look like? That is exactly what Paul unpacks for us in the other 44 verses of this short letter to Titus. Does this ancient letter speaking to the people then, still speak today? You bet it does… The Cretan reputation of Titus’ time was this, “All Cretans are liars, evil brutes and lazy gluttons”, and everyone knew it. Paul speaks to the disorder and dishonesty of their cultural context, speaking directly to those who have committed their lives to Jesus. He describes in vivid language, instruction and encouragement how God’s people, Jesus followers, are to be and do when it comes to ‘doing good.’ And this is quite counter cultural to the Cretan reputation and ‘creed’ of the Cretan culture.
Good stuff for Sunday… may we never tire of ‘doing good’ in the name of Jesus, for the Glory of God.
Go ahead, I dare you. Sit down between now and Sunday morning and read through the entire letter of Titus (if you can find it), it’s only 46 verses…
The short book of Jude contains a big message for God’s people. Jude calls us to not only hold onto the faith once delivered to the saints. But to fight for it and passionately persuade fellow believers to stick with it. We should not take the path of false teachers because that path leads to destruction.
And yet we don’t face this task of staying faithful alone. Jude assures us that our God “will keep us from falling” and will present us before His glorious face on the Last Day.
From this Sunday until Advent season in December, we will explore in our messages some Biblical ‘shorts’. It seems like ‘shorts’ are the things of fashion and communication today. Just look at youtube… if you’re not careful, you could waste an entire evening or afternoon watching video short, after short, after short… These ‘shorts’ are addictive.
The Bible has some ‘shorts’ too – the book of Philemon, Jude, 1st/2nd/3rd John, some would consider 1st/2nd Peter as well. So let’s do it – time to explore them further. These Biblical ‘shorts’ range from just 1-5 chapters, and are often pushed aside to make room for other books of the Bible. Yet, these books are packed with engaging contexts, terrific teaching, transformative applications for following Christ, and some trouble as well. Though they are short in length and small in word count, they pack a powerful punch…
1st up, this Sunday, the Book of Philemon. Only one chapter, you can do this, come ready to listen and engage. See you Sunday, Pastor Mark
Message Esther Purim Spiel: God’s Call – What about me? You? Esther Purim
God’s word is ‘alive and active.’ (Hebrews) The one who meditates on it and walks in it – flourishes (Psalm 1). All of God’s word is ‘God-breathed.’ (1 Timothy)
As we conclude our series on the Book of Esther, how is the Spirit of God bringing his truth and transformation to your life? At the crux of Esther’s story, we heard key phrases, such as, “If you remain silent…”, “Who knows that you have become queen for such a time as this?” and “I will go to the king, though against the law. If I perish, I perish.” I asked last week, in light of some key phrases from Esther, “What is God leading you to ‘be, say, and do’?
During service Sunday, we will enter into a Purim spiel (a play of sorts), based on the story of Esther. After our service, and a brief time of fellowship, we will have the opportunity to share with one another, listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit that have bubbled to the surface during the past few weeks.