Rest In God, 7 February 2016

Rest in God
Series: What in the World is Going On? A Study of 1 Peter
1 Peter 5:1-7

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

Big Idea: Despite our chaotic world, we can rest in a God who cares for us.


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.

After four chapters of writing to the churches at large, Peter shifts to specific groups, addressing a variety of subjects…including two that I find especially challenging.

Peter begins with a message to the elders…

To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (1 Peter 5:1-3)

Peter speaks to elders, in the plural. Peter calls himself a fellow elder. He doesn’t claim to be superior to the others though he knew Jesus, a witness of His life, death and resurrection. He says so much in these three verses to senior saints. I want to highlight three commands here:

  1. 1. Be shepherds. Care for the flock. Watch over the flock.

  1. 2. Be eager to serve. Too many seek leadership for power. They want to be served. Elders must be willing to humbly serve others as Jesus demonstrated as the ultimate shepherd, the ultimate servant. The right motive is crucial.

  1. 3. Be examples. There’s an old expression, “Speed of the leader, speed of the team.” They are to lead, not dominate. Like Jesus, they never ask people to do something they don’t do and model themselves.

This word “example” in the Greek is “typos.” It means “an impress; a print, mark, a moral pattern or model.” Elders in the faith, you are not a perfect example but you’re a living example.

Notice how Peter contrasts how the elders should and should not behave. I’m sure he encountered plenty of careless, arrogant, power-hungry church leaders. Some things never change! One of the easiest targets for our enemy is church leaders. We are susceptible to pride, the very thing that God lucifer kicked out of heaven. We are tempted to seize power. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Paul’s words regarding elders may be the most famous in the Bible, but these instructions for Peter are a treasure. They apply to all Christian leaders, all Christians who influence others, with or without a formal title or position.

While many of you shepherd the flock by leading a small group, Sunday School class, or Bible study I can hardly continue without acknowledging the elders of First Alliance Church, nine men who faithfully serve God and our congregation. I am honored to serve with them in seeking the direction of our Senior Pastor, Jesus Christ, and shepherding, serving, and setting an example of what it means to follow the LORD.

In just a few short months I’ve grown to love and respect these men. I am not the king. I am not “the man.” I am one of ten elders seeking to know and obey Jesus’ vision and mission for us.

I want to highlight one other group of elders, those senior saints who pray, give, serve, and love. They are the unsung heroes of our church, usually ministering out of sight on their knees or with their hands.

Peter says elders will receive a reward.

And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. (1 Peter 5:4)

Elders will share in God’s glory. There are more than a dozen biblical words translated “glory.” All I can say is it will be wonderful!

Psalm 22 says the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.

Psalm 23 says the great shepherd watches over the sheep.

Here it says someday the chief shepherd will appear and reward.

So what about younger people?

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)

Our world seems fixated on youth, especially in our western culture. The younger are submit to their elders, though. They have more wisdom! Young people, old fashioned isn’t always a bad thing. Older doesn’t always mean wiser, but you can learn a lot from your elders.

Do you want God’s favor or opposition? God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.

The older I get, the more I forget the events of my childhood. I still have vivid memories of several moments, including one particular incident.

I was seven or eight years old. I began piano lessons at age seven and within the first year or so played a piano solo at our small church. After the service a lady came up to me and said, “Young man, you play very well,” to which I humbly replied, “I know!” My dad was beside me and recognized this as a teaching opportunity. Let’s just say I was quickly introduced to the subjects of pride and humility!

From that moment on I recognized the temptation of pride—and frequently submitted to it. Every compliment became an invitation for me to sin.

Some have suggested pride is the core of all sin. As I said, it’s what got lucifer kicked out of heaven. It alienates us from others. It alienates us from God, the One from whom all blessings flow.

Many struggle with the tension between pride and humility. After all, if I work hard to prepare for an exam or performance or project is it wrong to acknowledge the work? Should I just say, “It was all God” when, in fact, your hands painted the picture or your workouts led to the football team’s victory? Should we pretend we had nothing to do with it?

Someone once said humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. I like that. When we clothe ourselves with humility our focus is on God. We can politely say, “Thank you” in receiving a compliment, furthering the relationship rather than building walls with self-praise or false humility.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Peter 5:6)

I love this promise. He doesn’t just say be humble. He says humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand. Let Him lift you up, not your own ego or accomplishments.

If you’re like me, you’ve had moments when your hard work
hasn’t been acknowledged. Do we work for the applause of men and women or the applause of heaven?

We could spend hours talking about pride, but let’s move on to another struggle for me, an acceptable sin to many Christians, but a sin nonetheless.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

Anxiety. Worry. Fear.

This is quickly becoming a convicting sermon for me!

Take a moment and meditate on this verse, a command with a promise.

What does it mean to really rest? Peter’s not writing to tourists heading off on a Caribbean cruise. These people are suffering for their faith. Some may be fleeing for their very lives.

You think you’ve got stress and anxiety? I’m not making light of the challenges we all face, but Peter’s readers have every reason to be afraid, to worry, yet they’re told to cast or throw upon God all of their concerns and worries. Why? Because God cares.

This is our God. He commands rest. He demonstrated rest during creation. He cares for you. He is responsible for taking care of you! He is faithful, loyal and steadfast.

But how do you rest in the mist of suffering? How do you rest when all you can do is ask, “What in the world is going on?”

We need to know our place. There’s a connection between humility and rest. When it’s all about me, I can’t rest. Do you trust God? Is it all about Him or you? We don’t have time to unpack the Sabbath, but do you trust God can do more with six days than you can with seven?

We need to rest in knowing God is in control…and you’re not! He cares for you. He has your best interest at heart. He rules over all things. He is loving. He is love. Daddy knows best. How has He been faithful in the past? One benefit to a prayer journal is looking back at answers to prayer. Often our current challenges are no greater than our past victories. God is good. All the time!

Elizabeth Elliot said,

Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business. If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me today.”

Finally, we must realize we were created to live dependent upon God. Jesus showed us what it means to be truly human. He was fully dependent upon the Father. That’s why He studied the scriptures, devoted Himself to prayer, and obeyed even when told to give up His very life.

It’s tempting to think Jesus was God so He can’t relate to our struggles, but nothing could be further from the truth. He willingly surrendered His deity to live, breathe, suffer, and die like us. He showed us how to live, resting in the Father in the midst of suffering.

When nails were pounded into His hands and feet, He was able to experience joy—not happiness, but joy—resting in God, knowing that following the Father would be worth it in the end.

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

Cast your anxiety on Him. How? Surrender. Pray.

Jesus said,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Communion Intro

Today we celebrate Jesus. We remember His sacrifice for us. We thank Him for the gift of life—abundant life now and eternal life, too—He offers every man, woman and child.

I believe His Word for many of us is, “Let it go.”

Surrender your pride…and He will lift you up.
Surrender your anxiety…and He will bring you peace.
Surrender your fear of scarcity…and He will give you daily bread.
Surrender your bitterness…and He will provide forgiveness.
Surrender your addictions…and He will offer freedom.

It begins with crawling off of the throne of our lives and acknowledging Jesus as King.


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

Paul Tripp Sermon Podcast

1 Peter (The NIV Application Commentary) by Scot McKnight

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