Sunday, August 14, 2016, 8:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Give Ear to Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 1 (quoting vv. 13-25 ESV). Walking in Freedom (summary vv. 1-12) This letter was written by Peter, yet is God’s God-breathed words to us. It was written to God’s elect, who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives. We are strangers in the world, i.e. this world is not our home. Heaven is our home. We don’t fit in with the world anymore, for God has called us out of the world to be holy, i.e. to be separate (unlike, different) from this sinful world because we are becoming like Christ. We were chosen by God, even before the world came into being, in order that we might be obedient to Jesus Christ and be saved by his blood. In God’s great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Christ from the dead. You see, Jesus Christ existed with God from the beginning, and he is God, and he is our creator. Yet, he left his throne in heaven, he humbled himself, he came to earth, and he took on human form. He was born of an earthly mother, but God was his Father. So, while he walked this earth he was fully God yet fully man. He suffered like we suffer, and he was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. The religious leaders in the temple hated him, and they were jealous of him, so they had him killed. Yet, this was all in God’s plan for our salvation, for when he died our sins died with him and were buried with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead he rose victorious over sin so that we might walk in freedom and no longer be slaves to sin. Being Sober-Minded (vv. 13-16) Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Because we have now had the gospel preached to us, and because we have accepted God’s invitation to his great salvation, and we have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are to be in the process of preparing our minds for action, being sober-minded. So, how do we do this? First of all, we do this through submission to Jesus Christ and through obedience to his Word, and through yielding the control of our lives over to God’s Spirit now living within us. We cooperate with the Spirit’s work of grace in our lives in making us holy vessels fit for the Lord’s service. By the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh and we are walking (conducting our lives) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit and his work in our lives. We take God and his Word seriously, and we follow our Lord in obedience to his will for our lives. And, we put off whatever hinders our walks of faith so that we can run the race God has marked out for us with perseverance. We can’t be casual about our relationships with Jesus Christ or concerning his Word. We must daily be in the Word, studying it, obeying it, applying it to our lives, and then sharing it with others. We have to be holy, set apart from the world, no longer conformed to its ways. We can’t have our minds prepared for action if we are still daily consuming the junk of this sinful world into our minds. In other words, we can’t spend 5 minutes a day reading scripture and then spend hours upon hours on the internet reading junk, or watching all the junk that is on TV, or reading useless novels, and then expect to have our minds prepared for action. If we take junk in to our minds, that is what will come out through our lifestyles. The same is true if what we are doing is playing games for hours on end or spending hours reading much of the junk that is on social media, or if we are wasting away our days doing anything that is contrary to God’s Word and which keeps us from obeying our Lord. As well, we are to live our lives (conduct them) in reverent fear, as though we truly are strangers (outsiders) in this world. The fear of the Lord has been lost today in so many Christian circles. It is rarely taught these days. Instead, many are teaching a God and Jesus not consistent with scripture but pleasing to man and conformed to his image. And, they are teaching the grace of God as though it is an entitlement, and that it is all about what God does for us, as though not one thing is required of us – no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ and to his cross. Yet, the grace of God, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). This is the fear of the Lord. They, too, miss entirely the whole point of why Jesus died, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might be set free from slavery to sin and might become slaves of God and to his righteousness; and that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. They skip those scriptures which teach that if we claim to know and to love God, and to be in fellowship with him, but we don’t obey him, and we continue in sin, and we hate our brothers, that we don’t really know God at all, and that Christ is not really our Lord and Savior, and we don’t have the hope of heaven when we die. They ignore what Paul said when he wrote that Jesus died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, for if we walk according to the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the misdeeds of the flesh, we will live (eternally with God) – See Ro. 8:1-14. Obeying the Lord (vv. 22-25) Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you. In John 3:16 we read that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (with God). That word “believe” is actually “believing,” and it is present tense. In other words, we are not saved on the basis of past belief, but on the basis of the belief we have when Christ returns. There are many scriptures which teach that we must endure with Christ and remain in him and his words in us, and that we must continue in our faith until the end if we want to have that hope of eternal life with God. Believing in Jesus Christ is, thus, continuous, and it endures to the end, and it is shown to be true faith by what it does, i.e. through obedience, repentance and submission to God in reverent fear. Being “born again” is also not just a catchy phrase or a popular position to take when one wants to be elected into public office. It means we die with Christ to sin so that we can be resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” When we are born again, of the Spirit, we are metamorphosised from caterpillars into butterflies, i.e. we were slaves to sin and now we become slaves to righteousness. We once walked according to our sinful flesh, but now we conduct our lives according to (in agreement with) the Spirit. We no longer practice sin, but our desire is for our Lord, to obey him in all things. This is a spiritual transformation which takes place in the heart of the true believer in Jesus, by the Spirit, but as we cooperate fully with that work of grace. All that is of this world, including of our own human flesh, is going to one day die. All that we have accomplished in our human flesh will perish. It will have no eternal value. All the money we have stored up, or our earthly treasures, or lands, or possessions, or physical stature or intelligence, or talent is all going to fade away. All the hours we have wasted on nothing of value will also wither and amount to nothing. All the time spent living for worldly pleasures will be like garbage, to be thrown away. And, then what will we have left to show for our life, and for how we lived it? But, the Word of God and what it teaches us, and the fruit it produces in our lives by how it is lived out through our lives has eternal value and it will last forever. Remember that Jesus, through his death on the cross, redeemed us from the empty life we lived before we were “born again” of the Spirit of God, so why should we ever return to it? Or, why should we believe a false gospel which tells us that belief in Jesus does not require that we be transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God away from sin to following Christ with our lives? Don’t waste your lives living for sin or self and following after the ways of this sinful world! One day you are going to stand before God, and he is going to judge you by what you did with his Son Jesus, and by his Word. A wasted life will result in eternal damnation, but a life given over to God, in submission to his will, will last forever. Give Ear to Jesus / An Original Work Based off Isaiah 55 / February 16, 2016 Call on your Savior. Seek the Lord while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way; Turn to the Lord. God will have mercy. He’ll forgive you of your sin. He will freely pardon you And give peace within. Turn from your sin, follow Jesus, Be cleansed from sin. Give ear to Jesus. Come to Him. Your soul will live. Listen to Him speaking to you: “Eat what is good.” If you are thirsty, Come to Jesus, drink from Him. Drink His Spirit given to you. Be born again. Listen to Him. Do what He says. Rejoice in Him. God’s Word, eternal, Will achieve what He desires. He is willing none should perish, Saved by His blood. Share now the gospel. Jesus died so we’d go free. Walk in vict’ry, Free from your sin, eternally. Die to sin, and live to Jesus. In Him believe.