Pastor Kirk

Reflections from a spiritual pilgrim in Toledo, Ohio

Somebody's Watching You! 22 November 2015

Note: This message is similar to one preached at Scio Community Church, September 27, 2015.
Somebody’s Watching You!
Series: What In The World Is Going On? A Study of 1 Peter
1 Peter 2:11-25

Series Overview:
God’s grace is present in the midst of suffering.

Big Idea: Suffer like Jesus…God is watching.


This morning we continue our series on 1 Peter, “What In The World Is Going On?” This short letter to the early, suffering church is a powerful message not only to an ancient people but is increasing relevant to modern Christians as we face persecution. We may never face the horrors of ISIS victims, but nevertheless we can—and perhaps should—feel in the minority as followers of Jesus in a world consumed with money, sex and power. The theme of this book may well be called hope and grace in the midst of suffering. In the first three weeks we looked at hope, holiness, and harmony.

As we continue our series on 1 Peter, our text for today reminds us about
time. Time is a fascinating dimension to life. We often struggle to be fully present in the moment, instead reminiscing about the past or dreaming about the future.

Patience is related to the future. We want things now. God’s timing is never late but rarely early. If only He would answer my prayers instantly like a genie in a lamp, yet Daddy knows best and can be trusted, even His timing. Perhaps in hindsight you’re glad God waited to answer a prayer.

One of the most common expressions among children is, “It’s not fair!” Did I say children?! Adults say it all the time, too! The great theological Bill Gates said, “Life is not fair. Get used to it.” We live in a broken, sinful world where injustices are all around us. Often the best we can hope for is some sort of restitution or reconciliation through a judge or jury.

But what if you knew justice would prevail? What if you could be certain all wrongs would be righted, all perpetrators would be punished, and all suffering would be rewarded?

It all brings fairness and time into question. Our scripture today is full of encouragement from Peter to those suffering, reminding them their present suffering is not the end. There is more to their story. Judgment Day is coming, a day of reckoning, a day in which many will rejoice while others suffer the consequences of their unrighteousness.

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. (2:11)

Last week we read Peter’s instruction to get rid of sin. Throughout every day we make decisions to follow the world or Jesus. These exiles—like us—are in the midst of a war between good and evil, between God and satan. We are in the midst of a spiritual battle. D.L. Moody once said, “I have more trouble with D.L. Moody than with any man I know.” Never confuse people as being the enemy. The real enemy is satan.

We were sinners but we’ve become adopted children of God. We are strangers/sojourners/pilgrims, resident aliens with citizenship in heaven. That’s immensely important. Foreigners and exiles approach life differently than citizens. Peter’s friends were literally exiles; we are not.

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (2:12)

Have you ever been punished for doing the right thing? Have you ever been despised by cheaters for being honest? Have you ever been mocked for studying by those who failed the test? Often our greatest critics are merely envious.

I’ve seen this frequently with pastors. Thanks to the internet, everyone can have their own platform for sharing their opinion with the world. I’m truly sick and tired of hearing people trash pastors of large churches that are often doing more for the kingdom of God than their sorry whining will ever do. Sure, there are heretics that preach harmful things, but I’ve heard people attack some of the most respected people and I have to wonder if they’re just envious.

Good deeds are a witness to the world. We need words and deeds in shining the light of Jesus into our dark world.

Peter continues…

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. (2:13-15)

This is a fascinating passage. It’s easy to think of our government but remember the context. Nero was coming to the throne in Rome as the new emperor. Life was hard for followers of Jesus. Peter’s not saying dishonor God, but he seems to be saying obey the law, submit to authority.

Daniel and his friends disobeyed the law but did so in a way that honored the king and respected authority (Daniel 1). They held their convictions and glorified God in the process. In Acts 4-5, Peter and his colleagues refused to stop preaching as commanded, yet they showed respect to their leaders in the process.

Note the last sentence. Again we see actions speak louder than words, in this case our good actions silencing—literally muzzle—fools.

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. (2:16-17)

We have freedom. We have liberty—far more than Peter’s audience—but we must not abuse our freedoms. We are free but we’re God’s servants. God’s slaves. When we call God LORD we are declaring ourselves to be under His authority. We are to use our freedom to help, serve, and bless others as Nehemiah did restoring the Jerusalem walls.

He says to show “proper respect to everyone.” I wish more Christians would follow this simple instruction, especially during these political campaigns. How we submit to authority is a part of our witness to the world. Going 85 miles an hour on the expressway with a “Jesus Loves You” bumper sticker sends the wrong message.

He reiterates the command to love the family of believers. Note the context of authority. One way we love one another is by submitting to the authority of godly leaders in the church.

He says fear—or have awe for—God. Give honor to the emperor, the king, the president. The office is to be honored even if you disagree with their politics. No matter your dislike for a politician, they are created with dignity, value and worth in the image of God. Pray for them. The verbs literally mean to keep loving, keep fearing, keep honoring…constantly. This is no mere suggestion. The book of Romans says…

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Romans 13:1)

This all echoes Solomon’s wisdom:

Fear the Lord and the king, my son…(Proverbs 24:21)

I admit this can be tricky. Not every nation has a church and state separation. Facebook is abuzz with Christians supporting and opposing Kim Davis for her decisions as a county clerk in Kentucky. What do you do when the law and the Word of God are in conflict?

Perhaps one word to consider is power. Jesus did not come to overthrow the government of His day, though many hoped He would. As He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday the people shouted, “Hosanna!” which means “Save us now!” He will exercise His power when He returns, but He modeled for us a servant’s posture. Whenever I see pride or self-serving power exerted I get nervous in a hurry!

Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. (2:18-21)

First century slavery was different than the horror of slavery in the USA up to our Civil War. It was generally a temporary condition that included possibly one-third of the population. Many chose to be slaves for a season in order to become full Roman citizens. Peter’s words regarding obedience as slaves may have been partially so they could be set free. Powerful masters had powerful slaves, so for some, it was a valuable position. Some slaves were doctors, teachers, and even sea-captains.

It wasn’t necessary an easy life, however. Some slaves were both physically abused and made sexually available to their masters. Scott Bartchy writes,”

“Central features that distinguish 1st century slavery from that later practiced in the New World are the following: racial factors played no role; education was greatly encouraged (some slaves were better educated than their owners) and enhanced a slave’s value; many slaves carried out sensitive and highly responsible social functions; slaves could own property (including other slaves!); their religious and cultural traditions were the same as those of the freeborn; no laws prohibited public assembly of slaves; and (perhaps above all) the majority of urban and domestic slaves could legitimately anticipate being emancipated by the age of 30.”

Submit. Not a popular word in our culture, or perhaps any. None of us truly understand the life of a slave. Some liken their boss to a slave master. No matter your job, our nation affords us all certain freedoms unimaginable to those in other places and/or other times in history. We can’t fully appreciate the weight of Peter’s words except to say do the right thing, even if you’re not rewarded for it…now. Someday you will receive your reward.

Work as unto the LORD. Paul wrote to the church in Colossae…

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism. (Colossians 3:22-25)

Submit to the authority of your boss. When wronged, it’s human nature to want to fight, but we are to submit and let God fight. This doesn’t mean be a doormat or tolerate abuse, but it does mean remember God is watching.

Jesus understands. Jesus suffered. Not only did He suffer for doing good, He did it to both set an example for us and to sacrifice for us. He died for you and for me. He served through suffering.

“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” (2:22)

He lived a perfect life, yet He was executed, wrongfully accused. He suffered the ultimate suffering for doing good. He lived the cruciform life, shaped by the cross.

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,”
but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (2:23-25)

Peter quotes Isaiah 53. It’s such a paradox that we have been healed by His wounds, His suffering.

Jesus’ life set an example for us.
Jesus’ death was a sacrifice for us.
Jesus is now our Shepherd and will return soon.

So What?

This passage is loaded with application possibilities. I say possibilities because the relationship between us and government can be tricky. Civil disobedience may be justified, but we must respect our leaders. Enduring a difficult job and serving wholeheartedly may be God’s desire and a great witness to others. Demonstrating kindness, generosity, humility, honesty, and loyalty when we don’t “feel” like it represents God well. We are to not only do the right thing, we are often to do the right things in the midst of suffering. A cruciform understanding of the Christian life—the way of self-denial and of suffering as demonstrated by Jesus—is a radical proclamation to our world.

“The way of suffering is the divinely intended manner of bringing the greatest victory of God into the world.” - Scot McKnight

There’s a famous poem that was written on the wall in Mother Teresa's home for children in Calcutta, a version of Dr. Kent Keith’s
Paradoxical Commandments:

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.

Life is hard. Injustice happens. We suffer. But there’s more to the story. God is watching. He will right all wrongs someday. It’s gonna be worth it someday.

“Life isn’t fair.” For the follower of Jesus, this is actually good news. You don’t want what you deserve! We all deserve eternal separation from God for our sins. It’s only grace that allows us forgiveness. Only the blood of Jesus can wash away our sins and make us white as snow. Only Christ’s broken body can mend our broken relationship with our heavenly Father. Praise God life isn’t fair!

The world is watching us. So is the Good Shepherd. Hallelujah!


Some ideas from

Be Hopeful (1 Peter): How to Make the Best of Times Out of Your Worst of Times (The BE Series Commentary) by Warren

Thru The Bible audio messages by J. Vernon McGee

1 Peter (The NIV Application Commentary) by Scot McKnight

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

Harmony, 15 November 2015

Note: This message is similar to one preached at Scio Community Church, September 20, 2015.
Harmony: Christian Togetherness
Series: What In The World Is Going On? A Study of 1 Peter
1 Peter 1:22-2:10

Series Overview:
God’s grace is present in the midst of suffering.

Big Idea: When persecuted, we have not only hope and a call to holy living but also a harmonious family of God we are to love.


This morning we continue our series on 1 Peter, “What in The World is Going On?” This short letter to the early, suffering church is a powerful message not only to an ancient people but is increasing relevant to modern Christians as we face persecution. We may never face the horrors of ISIS victims, but nevertheless we can—and perhaps should—feel in the minority as followers of Jesus in a world consumed with money, sex and power. The theme of this book may well be called hope and grace in the midst of suffering.

The book of 1 Peter was never written as a book. It’s a short letter, often called an epistle. As we noted two weeks ago it was written by Peter—one of Jesus’ three closest friends— to early Christian exiles scattered in five provinces. If you read through 1 Peter, you may find it lacking order. I was relieved to read one writer who said,

Once again, Peter’s style here—weaving in and out of topics, exhorting and then stating the foundation for the exhortation, and digressing to cover important ideas— prevents many readers from finding any logical sequence. (Scot McKnight)

If you like a neat, organized, three-point sermon with each point beginning with the same letter or forming an acrostic, you will not find it today or probably in any sermon in this series. You’ve been warned! But don’t take that to mean this letter is disorganized or unimportant. The messages are timeless, timely for us today, and a true treasure.

Two weeks ago the focus was hope. Last week the key word was holy, being and living different, set apart lives reflecting Jesus. Today’s word is

As a musician, I love harmony. On the piano, I take it for granted since I can play several notes at once, but when I began playing
the trumpet I realized only one note can be played at a time. An unaccompanied trumpet sounds okay, but when additional instruments are added, the result is exponentially more beautiful.

I have great memories of my grandparents playing their trumpets together in church, my grandpa playing the melody line and my grandma playing the harmony, blending together so beautifully.

As we dive into today’s text in 1 Peter, bear in mind we were not created to live our lives as solo individuals. We were made for community, for relationship—with God and with one another. The only thing God said was not good during creation was a single man (The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” - Genesis 2:18). This letter we’re studying is not written to an individual but rather a church, a community, a people.

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (1:22-23)

Children of God have been born again (John 3). We have been born again through the word of God. We’re all related…by blood. Notice Peter connects obedience and loving one another. As we’re going to see, following Jesus is more than an individual journey. We are a part of a family. We have not only a Father and a Big Brother, Jesus, but also spiritual brothers and sisters we are to love…deeply…from the heart.

If we could just do this one thing—love one another deeply—we’d be almost done! The two greatest commands are love God and love others…and we love God by loving others.

The word “deeply” cannot be overstated. We use the word “love” in English to describe so many things, yet this is a radical commitment, fervency, constancy, and effort. We are to share both phileo love—brotherly love—and agape love which is godly sacrificial love. Loving deeply is not tolerance; it may be the opposite of tolerance!

When we are adopted into God’s family we experience a new birth, receive a new family, and are given an unconditional love we are to share with others.

When we were born naturally, we were given bodies that will die. When we are born again, we are given the eternal Word of God. Some modern Christians call the Bible the Word of God—and it is—but the same word, logos, is used in John 1 to describe Jesus Himself.

Remember, Peter’s readers did not have YouVersion on their iPhone or a leather-bound NIV Study Bible! He quotes Isaiah 40:6-8.


“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

And this is the word that was preached to you. (1:24-25)

We’re like the grass. We will eventually die. No matter how strong, smart, cool, or talented you are, you’re going to die. God and His word are eternal. That’s why we need to read it. We need to let it read us! We need to study it.

Therefore, …(2:1a)

What’s the therefore there for?

Because this world is temporary and God’s Word is eternal…
Because born people will die but born again people will live forever…
Because we are not merely children of our parents but children of God…

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (2:1-3)

We need to get rid of sin. Last week we said, “Be holy.” Be set apart.

There are several lists of sins in the Bible. Perhaps the most famous one, the Ten Commandments, talks about murder and stealing and adultery. Peter lists some rather common sins.

Malice is congealed anger; an unforgiving spirit. Are you bitter? Is there someone you need to forgive. They don’t deserve to be forgiven, but neither do you! That’s grace. That’s agape love from God. Get rid of malice. Give it up. Surrender it to God. Replace it with God’s grace.

Deceit is guile. Ananias and Sapphira were deceitful (Acts 5). The devil is a deceiver. We are to be filled with the truth.

Do we need to talk about
hypocrisy? One of the greatest criticisms of Christians by non-Christians is we’re hypocrites. We say one thing on Sunday and do something different on Monday. None of us is perfect, but when children of God screw up, they confess and make it right.

Envy. This is one of those somewhat acceptable sins, perhaps because it’s easy to hide. Look around. Whose job do you want? Whose paycheck? Whose car? Whose family? Whose body? I believe the opposite of envy is gratefulness and contentment. God has showered all of us with a vast array of gifts, beginning with Jesus and continuing to our freedom to worship today.

Slander…of every kind. Gossip. Behind-the-back criticism. If you wouldn’t say it in their presence, don’t say it in their absence!

We need to get rid of all sin in our lives…but it’s not enough to just say, “Stop it!” We need to replace sin with Jesus, with the fruit of the Spirit, with character and godliness…because we’re God’s kids, children of the King! We need to confess our sins and invite the Holy Spirit to fill us with God’s presence and power.

I love Peter’s metaphor of spiritual milk. Babies crave milk. They long for it. They are passionate for it. They cry for it! Many of us have tasted and seen that the LORD is good! We used to crave sin and now we are to crave prayer, obedience, serving others, sharing Jesus…God. We can fill our lives with vices or virtues.

The psalmist famously wrote in Psalm 42:

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. (Psalm 42:1)

The LORD is good! He’s so good! He’s greater, smarter, stronger, more present, more loving, more kind, more compassionate, more powerful…than anyone or anything.

One reason we gather is to be reminded we are children of a mighty God!

This week you may have faced criticism, bills, broken cars, broken bodies, bad news, sickness, addictions, temptations, fear, anxiety…but God is greater! The LORD is good! We must run to Him. We must flee sin and run into the arms of our Daddy who loves us unconditionally!

We are to desire the word of God, spiritual milk. We need to grow and will discover the goodness of the LORD. We need to worship. We also need to get into the word of God!

I often pray the prayer of a father who exclaimed to Jesus,

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

Does your passion for God grow when you’re with other believers?
Does your passion for God grow when you’re in God’s Word?
Does your passion for God grow when you worship?

LORD, I want to want You! Give me a passion for You such that knowing You is truly the greatest thing in my life!

Now Peter shifts gears.

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (2:4-5)

Precious is an interesting word, especially for a fisherman, but Peter used it liberally. Jesus said He would build His church. Peter was a little stone like us. God is building a living temple. A better translation is “build yourselves.” Take action. We are to come together as living stones connected to the living Stone to form one spiritual house where—like the old temple—God dwells.

The foundation is salvation. You come to the living Stone broken.

For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.” (2:6)

Jesus is this stone.

  Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”


“A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. (2:7-8)

Here Peter quotes Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 8:14.

These aren’t rolling stones but stable rocks.

We all choose to accept or reject Jesus. He’s a stepping stone or a stumbling stone.

We live in a world that rejects Jesus. Peter’s audience was rejected by the world. We may be rejected, too, but the world’s rejection pails in comparison to the Father’s acceptance. The story is still being written. Vindication is coming.

Now we come to our focus today.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (2:9)

We are a chosen people/generation. An elect race. These people are a scattered diaspora but they’ve been chosen like the people of Israel. We choose Jesus because He’s chosen us. We love Him because He first loved us.

We are a royal priesthood. In the Old Testament God chose the nation of Israel to be priests. They sinned so God-fearing Jews and Gentiles were chosen to become priests. If you are a follower of Jesus, you are a priest. We are royalty. In Peter’s day, royalty was inherited, but we have been adopted as sons and daughters to be not only children but priests who serve God.

Dr. Scot McKnight says, “To become a Christian is to be raised to the ultimate height in status because we suddenly become children of the God of the universe, and we have direct access to him because we are his children.” Hallelujah!

We are a holy nation. We’ve never been fully holy in conduct but we are holy in our relationship with God. Jesus is our righteousness.

Our purpose is to declare God’s praises. We are to announce good tidings of peace and joy. We are to show the light to our dark world. Some will accept and some will reject.

We are special people, a peculiar people, people of His own, a special possession. We are a ragamuffin collection of broken sinners who have found salvation in Jesus. We are God’s. We belong to HIm. He invites us to not only be with Him but also to love the people of this world and one another.

Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (2:10)

God is rich in mercy. He has made us a people, a family filled with mercy.

So What?

God has not created us to know Him in isolation.
God has not created us to live in isolation.

God exists in community—Father, Son and Spirit—and created us to do life together, to be a family, a nation, a people, a group of priests that know God…and make Him known.

We are a family. We are a body. We are various stones that together form a house.

We need one another.
We are to complement one another…and compliment one another!
You need me and I need you.

One of the great lies of our culture is individualism. Just me and Jesus. Or just me and me! We were created to be interdependent and depend on one another and God.

First Alliance, many of you are not connected to the body. Perhaps you’re new—like me—or you’ve just been a spectator, but you’ve not experienced real community, relationships, like together. I urge you to get connected.

Participate in a Sunday School class at 9 AM. There’s a list in the bulletin.
Visit some of our small groups. There’s a list in the bulletin.
Join a ministry team. There’s a list in the bulletin!

I know we live scattered around NW Ohio, but when we come together—Sunday mornings as well as Monday through Saturday—we can experience the deeper meaning and joy of community, of oikos, the Greek word for extended family…on God’s mission together.

No matter what trials we face, we are to be a united, harmonious family, faithful to Jesus. We are God’s people. We are a priesthood, a nation, a people. Nobody serves alone. Nobody plays alone. We were created for
harmony. We the people! Let’s live like it!!!


Some ideas from

Be Hopeful (1 Peter): How to Make the Best of Times Out of Your Worst of Times (The BE Series Commentary) by Warren

Thru The Bible audio messages by J. Vernon McGee

1 Peter (The NIV Application Commentary) by Scot McKnight

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

Be Holy! 8 November 2015

Note: This message is similar to one preached at Scio Community Church, September 13, 2015.

Be Holy!
Series: What In The World Is Going On? A Study of 1 Peter
1 Peter 1:13-21

Series Overview:
God’s grace is present in the midst of suffering.

Big Idea: When suffering, we need not only need empathy but also holy action.


Last week we began our series on 1 Peter, “What In The World Is Going On?” We live in crazy times, amen?

  • - We can kill babies and sell their parts but go crazy if a lion is shot
  • - It’s ok smoke weed but not cigarettes.
  • - Bush might run against Clinton for president!
  • - Women now have wives and men can have a husband.
  • - We are to be tolerant of everything yet offended by everything.

I’ve heard Christians in the USA talk about suffering and persecution. Perhaps you’ve lost friends over your faith, have been skipped over for a job promotion for following Jesus, or been teased because you love Christ. While I don’t mean to minimize those things, it’s nothing compared to the imprisonment, torture, and even death faced by our brothers and sisters around the world. In recent days, the media has shed light on the horrific actions of ISIS and other groups who have promoted violence, prompted refugees to flee their homelands, and murdered our spiritual siblings.

The theme of this book may well be called hope and grace in the midst of suffering. While we all experience trials, Peter—one of Jesus’ three best friends—is writing to scattered peoples fleeing for their freedoms and, in many cases, their very lives. In the first twelve verses of this epistle—or short letter—these exiles are addressed with reminders of their salvation, the temporary nature of their suffering, and hope both now and forever.

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.

What is therefore there for? These exiles are suffering and have been given encouragement and hope.

When you’re suffering, encouragement and hope are wonderful, but something else is needed to prevent despair: action. There are times we are to be still, quiet, reflect, and meditate, but when life gets hard, we can focus inward on our problems and miss out on God’s blessings. Most everything in life begins with our minds, our thoughts.

I’d be the first to say positive thinking can be overrated, but not always. Paul famously wrote

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

Our actions begin with our mind. Garbage in, garbage out. Purity in, purity out.

The temptation in suffering is to turn inward and suffer your own suffering, troubling your own trouble. Peter gives them a vision of something greater than the present. God is still on the throne.

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. (1 Peter 1:13)

With minds that are alert and fully sober…what an interesting phrase. It means to prepare your minds for action, literally “gird up the loins of your mind.”

Some have suggested we translate this passage “taking off the coat” or “rolling up the sleeves” of your mind. Take off your warm-up suit so your mind can move freely.

Peter is saying maintain a loose grip on this world and a tight grip on what lies ahead. This world is temporary.

Life is short. Eat dessert first!

Then he says to make sure your minds are fully sober. This is a metaphor. He’s saying be self-controlled. Drunks cannot control themselves or their bodies. What’s the point of this gird of loins and self-control? Hope! With focused, ready minds “set your hope.”

Hope is a challenging word because it means so many different things. I can hope to play baseball for the Detroit Tigers or I can hope you like this sermon or I can hope my wife will love me tomorrow. Like faith, the issue isn’t so much with me, but with the object of my hope. Playing for the Tigers is wishful thinking. It’s not going to happen no matter how much I think about it, pray about it, or hope for it. The love of my wife, however, is secure. Although I haven’t experienced tomorrow yet, I am confident in the love my wife has for me and I look forward to being with her tomorrow.

Peter is saying our hope is in Jesus and His return. We can be sure Jesus is alive and coming back. It has not yet happened. We are waiting, but it is going to happen! There may be pain and trials now but Christ will return and justice will be served.

1 Peter 1:14…

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16)

Although our culture likes to talk about how things are not black and white but gray, the Bible is filled with contrasts: hot or cold, good or evil, heaven or hell. Every day we can choose to follow the world or God. We can reflect society’s consumerism and individualism or we can reflect God and His character, His nature, His holiness.

There’s a lot of opinions in our world about right and wrong…or if there is any such thing. One of the tenants of postmodern philosophy is the belief that since words are subjective, there is no such thing as absolute truth.

Of course the problem with saying there is no such thing as absolute truth is it is a declaration that the statement itself is true!

Truth. This has been the dilemma of our court system. Who is right? What is ok? Abortion? Marijuana? Gay marriage? Adultery? Sharing a Netflix account with a friend? Pornography? Human cloning?

Ethics originate from within ourselves (conscience, reasons, nature) or from outside ourselves (the Constitution, revelation, codes of ethics). Scot McKnight writes

Christian orthodoxy teaches that ethics flows from salvation and that humans, by themselves, cannot discern the will of God—for personal salvation, for personal ethics, or for the social order. We know God’s will because in his grace he has made his will known to us through his revelation, the Bible being the primary mode of this revelation. The same construction applies to our knowledge of ethics: We know what is good from what is bad because God has told us in his Word, beginning with the Mosaic legislation and climaxing in the teachings of Jesus and the apostolic testimony.

Our text for today is quite explicit in this, distinguishing between evil desires of the world and holiness, reflecting God. Holy means “set apart” or “different.” It’s not necessarily saying perfection—though God is perfect and we are not—but different, unique, special. We are to be holy because we have been changed and because we are children of a holy God. Kids are like their parents (sorry kids!). Obedient children follow Daddy. We were children of the devil, the world, following its ways. Now we are to be obedient children of God, walking in holiness, imitating Jesus.

We are
called to be holy. As Jesus called Peter to follow Him, so also He is calling us to be holy and follow His example.

Notice, too, Peter says, “It is written.” The Word of God is powerful. Do you know it? Do you read it? Do you live it? An hour on Sunday isn’t going to make up for the 167 hours you’re in the world, absorbing its messages of selfishness and pride. As Warren Wiersbe says,

The Word reveals

God’s mind, so we should learn it.
God’s heart, so we should love it.
God’s will, so we should live it.

Author John Eldridge wrote, “Our journey to holiness is the process whereby we receive more and more of the holiness of Jesus Christ into more and more of our being…In fact, the assumption of the New Testament is that you cannot become whole without becoming holy; nor can you become holy without becoming whole. The two go hand in hand.”

In order to make humans what they are meant to be the love of God seeks to make us whole and holy. We are not holy because of what we do for God, we are made holy because of what God has done for us.

Are you an obedient child of God?

When I reflect upon God’s holiness and my sin I realize I am desperate for Him.
When I recognize God’s power and my weakness I realize I am desperate for HIm.
This is why worship is so important.

When I am desperate for God, I spend time with Him.
When I spend time with Him, I know Him.
When I know Him, I love Him.
When I love Him, I obey Him.

Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. (1 Peter 1:17)

This fear does not mean anxiety or scary, but rather awe. Dad is watching us now, and one day He will judge each of us. We can have awe or desire the approval of the world as citizens or we can be in awe of and seek the Father as foreigners; visitors.

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:18-21)

We have been redeemed, purchased with a price. Jesus died, shedding His blood for us. Our redemption makes us grateful for not only forgiveness but adoption into our new family and a desire to live in holiness and awe before God.

Our Father is the standard. He is holy. He shows us through Jesus what it means to truly be human, to live as we were created to live, full of faith, hope and love. He shows us the benefits of salvation, an eternal hope that cannot be taken away.

So What?

Is your faith and hope in God…or in the stock market?
Is your faith and hope in God…or in your friends?
Is your faith and hope in God…or in your job?
Is your faith and hope in God…or in your social media popularity?
Is your faith and hope in God…or in your stuff…the house, the cars, the vacations?
Is your faith and hope in God…or in our president, governor, or political party?
Is your faith and hope in God…or in your gifts, talents and abilities?
Is your faith and hope in God…or in your education and diplomas?

Is your faith and hope in the present…or in the future?

Peter encourages us to be aware of the future—God’s righteous judgment of our lives and also the hope of the joy of final salvation. The best is yet to come.


Some ideas from

Be Hopeful (1 Peter): How to Make the Best of Times Out of Your Worst of Times (The BE Series Commentary) by Warren Wiersbe

Thru The Bible audio messages by J. Vernon McGee

1 Peter (The NIV Application Commentary) by Scot McKnight

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

A Living Hope, 1 November 2015

Note: This message is similar to one preached at Scio Community Church, September 6, 2015.

A Living Hope
Series: What In The World Is Going On? A Study of 1 Peter
1 Peter 1:1-12

Series Overview: God’s grace is present in the midst of suffering.

Big Idea: Suffering is real but temporary. Salvation and hope are real and eternal.

Prelude Comments

Good morning, First Alliance! Before we dive into our sermon, I want to begin with a simple question: why are you here?

There are many good answers to this question, but I hope above the social benefits, the music team, serving others, and even communion is a desire to deepen your relationship with God in order to become a disciple of Jesus.

I was challenged several years ago by a friend who wondered whether or not discipleship occurs at all during the Sunday morning worship gathering. Since our mission is essentially to make disciples, I hope so!

As we open God’s Word, the Bible, together, I want to preach not merely for the sake of conveying information, and not even for inspiration, but ultimately for transformation. I can’t do that, but the Holy Spirit can take the scriptures and activate them in our lives.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. – Psalm 19:14


What in the world is going on?

Does it seem like society has gone insane?

  • - We can kill babies and sell their parts but go crazy if a lion is shot
  • - It’s ok to smoke weed but not cigarettes.
  • - Ashley Madison says “Life is short. Have an affair.”
  • - Bush might run against Clinton for president!
  • - Women now have wives and men can have a husband.
  • - The worldwide movement of Jesus based upon love is known for hate.
  • - We are to be tolerant of everything yet offended by everything.

There are many reasons why we are alarmed, worried, depressed, and fearful about our world. We are exposed to more “bad news” than ever before, bombarded by media outlets virtually everywhere. Cultural Christianity has been in decline for years, something I celebrate while others mourn. As a result, the influence—power—once possessed by Christians seems to be waning.

If you feel even a little afraid, if you find yourself in the minority, the underdog, you’re not alone. For thousands of years, God-fearers have faced opposition and persecution. Throughout our lifetimes our brothers and sisters in Christ have suffered unimaginable agony for their faith. What’s unique is our so-called “Christian nation” appears to be less Christian each day.

It is my prayer that the next several weeks will provide you with hope, encouragement, and peace as we examine a letter from Peter to early Christians exiled.


Before we begin in 1 Peter, I want to offer a quick lesson in hermeneutics, a fancy words for studying the Bible. It may sound simple: read and apply. The challenge comes in understanding the context. There are three steps:

  • 1. What did it mean originally?
  • 2. What does it mean today?
  • 3. How can I apply it today?

People are quick to quote a verse without understanding the context, often deriving a very different message than the author’s intent.

The book of 1 Peter begins

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, (1 Peter 1:1a)

This is Peter, also known as Simon. He’s the one who denied Christ three times, the one who walked on the Sea of Galilee, one of Jesus’ three closest friends. Catholics look to him as the first Pope. His name means “rock.” Peter and Paul were the primary leaders of the early Church. He writes this letter around the year 63, around the time Paul was martyred and not long before Peter himself would die for his faith. He’s most likely writing from Babylon.

To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: (1 Peter 1:1b-2a)

To God’s elect. This phrase has prompted great discussion. Do we choose God or does God choose us? To be “elect” is to receive God’s grace. He initiates. We love Him because He first loved us.

This word “exiles” is often translated “strangers” or “resident aliens” or “sojourners.” In chapter two they will be referred to as “pilgrims.” Like us, they were citizens of heaven through faith in Jesus (Philippians 3:20), in the world but not of it (John 17:16). They are temporary residents. As strangers, they were considered strange by many, a scattered (diaspora) people in five different parts of the Roman Empire in what we now know as Turkey.

Paul wrote to Gentiles, Peter to a Jewish audience.

Have you ever been a stranger somewhere? How did it feel?

Today is my third day living in Ohio. I feel like an alien! The First Alliance family has graciously welcomed me and my family, but I’m just beginning to understand my new surroundings, my new city, my new state, my new church family…

We are so excited to be here despite being in unfamiliar territory.

Our situation is far different than the recipients of this short letter.

As we will see, Peter addresses these scattered strangers and acknowledges their suffering, at least fifteen times with eight different Greek words! Each time it is tied to hope. We have all experienced suffering in one form or another, though few to the extent of the first Christians. This is not persecution from someone calling you a name or even losing your job because you wanted to honor God above an unbelieving boss. A “fiery trial” was coming, persecution from the Roman Empire. Think ISIS or Boco Harum.

What do you say to someone who is suffering?
What do you say to someone who is about to experience suffering?

The thing about suffering is we’re all coming out of suffering, in the midst of suffering, or about to experience suffering. It’s a part of the broken, human condition in this life.

Note God has a plan. He knows what He’s doing. God has foreknowledge. He knows the plan. He is omniscient—He knows everything!

Sanctification: we are set apart, becoming like Jesus, bearing the fruit of the Spirit. We are not to be spiritual infants but grow to maturity as we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Sanctification is not merely something after conversion but rather three dimensions: separation from sin, growing in holiness throughout life, and “the final act of God when He makes his holy people completely holy for eternity.” (Scot McKnight) The electing work of God leads to the conversion of these disenfranchised sojourners of Asia Minor.

The blood of Jesus is also present. You can’t make too much of the blood of Christ. We remember it through communion. Blood is life! In the Old Testament, the blood of animals was used in sacrifices. Jesus is the perfect sacrifice. Do you obey Jesus? Do you do what He wants? That’s making Him LORD. Note here the Trinity is in view, one God in three Persons, Father, Son and Spirit.

Peter continues…

Grace and peace be yours in abundance. (1 Peter 1:2b)

Grace is a customary Greco-Roman greeting and peace is a Jewish greeting. Peter uses the word grace in every chapter of this letter. Grace is unmerited favor. When we depend upon God’s grace, we can glorify Him in suffering, turning trials into triumphs. Peace comes when we have assurance of the forgiveness of our sins. In the midst of persecution we can have a true hope of future glory and blessing.

Peter continues in what is essentially a ten-verse run-on sentence!
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

This word “praise” is never used with regard to man, only God. We are to praise God the Father, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We don’t “hope so,” but instead we have a living hope. It is our resurrected LORD. It rests upon Jesus’ blood. A body without blood is dead. He died so we might live.

Scot McKnight writes, “It is not so much that believers are now living “full of hope,” but that they have a fixed “hope,” a clear vision of what God will do for them in the future.”

Where John spoke of love and Paul faith, hope is a common theme in Peter’s messages. Warren Wiersbe said,

“Hope is not a sedative; it is a shot of adrenaline, a blood transfusion. Like an anchor, our hope in Christ stabilizes us in the storms of life (Hebrews 6:18-19), but unlike an anchor, our hope moves us forward, it does not hold us back.”

Our inheritance cannot be lost like cash, stocks, car keys, or cell phones. It is in heaven. It is indestructible.

We are kept by the power of God through faith. A Scottish man had one word on his tombstone: kept.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. (1 Peter 1:6)

Some believe verse six is the key of the epistle. Jesus and James and Paul said we will have trials and troubles. Life is hard. We can rejoice, though, not because we have trials but because we have salvation. We have hope. Trials are temporary. This life is so short. Paul said

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

Unbroken film: Louis "Louie" Zamperini

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:7)

Faith is precious.
Trials have a purpose.

God puts us into a furnace not to destroy us but to refine us.

When we see Jesus, we will thank God for our trials.

“If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.”

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9)

Peter had seen Him and lived with Him for three years. These people have not seen Jesus…but they love Him. We have not seen Jesus. Do you love Jesus?

The writer of Hebrews said

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

Now the final three verses for today:

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. (1 Peter 1:10-12)

The Old Testament prophets wrote by the Spirit of Christ.

Angels are real! They would love to make an announcement as Gabriel did. Angels are great, but we have the Holy Spirit which is even better. Angels are mentioned to remind us of the privileges of salvation. Neither angels nor the prophets experience what we assume and enjoy as followers of Jesus today.

So What?

Increasingly followers of Jesus in our culture are becoming the minority (if we ever were in the majority). In a world of pluralism, it is radical to claim Jesus as the One Way to the Father (though Jesus said those very words). In a world of consumerism, it is radical to be generous. In a world of tolerance, it is radical to exhibit true love.

When we respond to God’s invitation to follow Him, we are to live for Him, not ourselves. We are to maintain the course of a loving, holy lifestyle, and find our identity in being part of God’s family, God’s elect, the church, not in being part of a society that does not accept us.

Are you first and foremost an American or a child of God?

This life is short and will soon end. It is filled with trials and suffering…but we have a great hope for eternity. We have salvation. We have Christ.


Some ideas from

Be Hopeful (1 Peter): How to Make the Best of Times Out of Your Worst of Times (The BE Series Commentary) by Warren Wiersbe

Thru The Bible audio messages by J. Vernon McGee

1 Peter (The NIV Application Commentary) by Scot McKnight

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

Be Prepared! 11 October 2015

Be Prepared!
Series: What In The World Is Going On? A Study of 1 Peter
1 Peter 3:8-17

Series Overview:
God’s grace is present in the midst of suffering.

Big Idea: Always be ready to give a reason for the hope you have in Jesus.


This morning we continue our series on 1 Peter, “What In The World Is Going On?” This short letter to the early, suffering church is a powerful message not only to an ancient people but is increasing relevant to modern Christians as we face persecution. We may never face the horrors of ISIS victims, but nevertheless we can—and perhaps should—feel in the minority as followers of Jesus in a world consumed with money, sex and power. The theme of this book may well be called hope and grace in the midst of suffering. We’ve looked at hope, holiness, and harmony. Then we looked at the unpopular word of submission, first at the marketplace, then at home, and today in the church.

Before we dive into today’s text, however, I want to acknowledge the elephant in the room. This is my last Sunday as your pastor, something that affects me deeply, far beyond words. I’ll talk a bit about that later, but being this is my final Scio sermon, i thought it might be a great opportunity to briefly share some of my favorite passages of scripture, concluding with 1 Peter 3:8-17. This is not my greatest hits but what I think are some of the Bible’s greatest hits!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

If I could only tell you one thing, that’s it. That’s my life verse. Make Jesus LORD. Submit—there’s that word—everything to God. That’s what it means to follow Jesus. It’s not just praying a prayer. It’s not just studying a book. It’s knowing, loving, and obeying God. Trust is not easy, but Daddy knows best. He is good and faithful.

The second passage—or passages—are found in John 3:16 and 1 John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Belief requires action. It’s not simply mental agreement, but authentic faith. Jesus said the two greatest commands are to love God and love your neighbor…and one way we love God is by loving our neighbor. 1 John 3:16 says

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:16)

I have been delighted to both see and receive this love at Scio. There are some incredibly generous, servant-hearted people in the Scio family and that’s fantastic. The first series I did almost five years ago was a continuation of a series about “one another.” The greatest of all of them was to love one another. Peter said it a few weeks ago in our text

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. (1 Peter 1:22)

The next passage I want to share was preached by our previous District Superintendent, Jeff Brown, at my pastoral installation. The simple message: be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-20)

When you receive Jesus, you get the Holy Spirit, too. Many feel they can’t come to Jesus until they clean up their act. Nothing could be further from the truth! Jesus is a friend of sinners. He died to show His love and grace and provide forgiveness so we can know our Holy Father. The Holy Spirit—the same power that raised Jesus from the dead—is available to all followers of Jesus.

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. (Romans 8:11)

The Holy Spirit—when we confess our sins and exhale the junk and then inhale the Spirit—fills us with beautiful fruit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23a)

Now we turn to Scio’s mission. My first words to you as pastor were…why are you here? There are many answers to that question—if we’re honest—but here’s our purposes in existing:

We exist to fulfill the Great Commission and follow the Great Commandment by 
• serving our communities
• sharing our story
• sending disciples to bless the nations

so that God is glorified.
The Great Commandment is to love God and love your neighbor. The Great Commission was spoken before Jesus ascended into heaven.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Make disciples. Of all nations. Reproduce the life of Jesus in others. Fill this world with people who look like Jesus, who act like Jesus, who love like Jesus, who know Jesus.

Great! So how do we make disciples? How do we become disciples? Today’s passage offers a secret.

1 Peter 3:8…

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. (3:8)

If I had one challenge for you, Scio, one verse upon which to meditate and practice it could very well be this one. I have prayed four things for Scio since I arrived nearly five years ago:

Direction: wisdom to hear from God
Protection: we are engaged in a battle against satan
Unity: Jesus’ prayer for us in John 17

Peter tells us to be united. He doesn’t promote uniformity but unity. We are different—by design—but we are to work together. We are to love and serve one another.

We may not always agree on how to do things, but we should always be united regarding what to do and why. That’s the mission. That’s the Great Commandment. That’s the Great Commission.

D.L. Moody was once criticized for his evangelism methods. He responded, “Well, I’m always ready for improvement. What are your methods?” The man had no answer so Moody said, “Then I’ll stick to my own.”

Unity, not uniformity.

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (3:9)

We are to bless others. The Golden Rule. Turning the other cheek. Community 101.

Returning evil for good is satanic.
Returning good for good and evil for evil is human.
Returning good for evil is divine. Jesus set the ultimate example for us.


“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.
They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (3:10-12)

Peter quotes Psalm 34:15-16 and Ecclesiastes 2:17. There’s so much here.

We choose to love life. It is truly a gift…and the next one will be even better!
We must control our tongues, the source of so many of our problems.
We are to do good and hate evil.
We are to seek and pursue peace, though it is not always possible (Romans 12:18).

Let’s live it up…doing good!

God is watching. God is listening. He hears the prayers of His children.

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” (3:13-14)

We talked about suffering in chapter two. Suffering for being right should bring us joy, not because we enjoy suffering, but because God is watching and doing the right thing brings Him glory.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (3:15a)

How do we make disciples? It begins with a conversation. It might be at a picnic, a party, a water cooler chat, or an online encounter. If we are truly following Jesus, our lives will be different. They will radiate love, joy, and peace. They will be filled with hope, and people will ask.

But you have to be ready. We must know the Bible. Even more, we must know Jesus and always “be prepared” (the Boy Scout motto!) to introduce others to HIm. The word “apology” is from the Greek word “answer.” It’s not regret or saying you’re sorry, but rather like a defense in a court. Apologetics is defending the faith.

But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. (3:15b-17)

I love this passage! We are to treat everyone—Republicans, Democrats, even Buckeyes—with gentleness and respect as they are created in the image of God with dignity, value and worth. They’re lost and Jesus wants them found (Luke 15). There’s no greater thrill than introducing people to Jesus! But it’s not just what we say that’s important, but how we say it. Megaphones are not always the best tool for evangelism and discipleship!

We must keep a clear conscience in the process. This word “conscience” comes from two Latin words, “con” which is “with” and “scio” which is “to know.”

(Did you catch that? Scio means “to know”!). Conscience enables us “to know with.”

Peter closing this section by reiterating what he has said so many times before: sometimes we will suffer for doing good, and that may be God’s will. We pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” If you suffer for Jesus, rejoice. Great will be your reward. Our enemies may hurt us, but they can never harm us.

Closing Thoughts

It might be cliche but appropriate to challenge you to

love God
love your neighbor
make disciples

That’s our mission as a church. How are you doing? How are we doing?

I want to close by saying thank you. I love you, Scio. You have blessed me in my family in ways you cannot begin to understand. You embraced us when our arrived in the midst of suffering and remained faithful with us during many storms. You have been generous, encouraging, and kind. I will cherish these years together and delight in knowing this is not goodbye, but simply “see you later.” We will remain in the Great Lakes District of the Christian & Missionary Alliance. Although we’re crossing the border, we’re only an hour away—and near a great zoo, the Toledo Mud Hens baseball team, and the Walleye minor league hockey team!

When Heather and I visited nearly five years ago, her comment to me in the car was, “I think they need us and we need them.” Jeff Brown uttered the exact same words at the conclusion of my licensing prior to starting at Scio. I think both Heather and Jeff were right. Hopefully we have added value to your lives and you have certainly been a blessing to us.

I will continue to pray for you, your search for a new pastor, and my big four:


LORD, may Your kingdom come and Your will be done at Scio as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Thank you, Scio. Shalom!


Some ideas from

Be Hopeful (1 Peter): How to Make the Best of Times Out of Your Worst of Times (The BE Series Commentary) by Warren

Thru The Bible audio messages by J. Vernon McGee

1 Peter (The NIV Application Commentary) by Scot McKnight

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.