Refining Fire

First Peter  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:02:18
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How are you doing? Have you taken the time to assess how you’re doing? It really is important for our own health (not just personally, but as a church) to take the time to stop and ask ourselves, how are we doing?
When we see unrest around our world, and in our own communities it can raise the anxiety in us as well. That anxiety can cause us to sort of spin our wheels. We can get on the hamster wheel where we expend a lot of energy but really don’t get anywhere. Why? Because though they are in our circles of concern, they are not in our areas of influence.
In the meantime there is a lot going on in our lives and in our communities. And that’s where Peter speaks to us today.
We read those opening verses: 1Pe 4:1-2
1 Peter 4:1–2 ESV
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.
“Live for the rest of the time in the flesh not for human passions but for the will of God.” that is our goal. What is God’s will? How do we know?
We want to do God’s will, it’s one of the great questions of faith, “What is God’s will for my life?” Peter gives us some insight to that. In verse 3 he reminds us of what the Gentiles do. It’s insightful to remember that Peter is writing to a predominantly Gentile audience but those who had converted to be followers of Christ. So when he points to what the Gentiles do, they are basically looking at their former lives: 1Pe 4:3
1 Peter 4:3 ESV
For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.
It’s much like you often hear of the testimonies of those who have come to follow Christ. Many think of their testimonies as less impactful because they weren’t living a “bad” life before they knew Christ, perhaps they grew up in the church, or the like. The reality is that shows God’s amazing mercy and grace that has been working over you your entire life. If you have one of those “testimonies” of how your life was in the gutter, look at how God has used that for His glory! Either way we recognize the idols in our lives that we can have - money, sensuality, power, popularity.
There will come a time when all will have to give an account to Him who is ready to judge.
So we want to do God’s will, how do we do that? I think vs. 10 of chapter 4 gives us great insight into that: 1Pe 4:10
1 Peter 4:10 ESV
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:
We should serve one another. We all know the golden rule, we’ve talked about that during this series. Our love for God is primary.
Secondary is to love our neighbor and the way we do that is through serving. I am indebted to people in my life who have served me at times when I was at a loss.
Several years ago, living at our old house, we were on a well. And when you live on a well you have a ballast tank that helps maintain the water pressure in your home. Ours was in the garage in this sort of closet and I was putting up the wall after putting in the insulation when I dropped the board and it sheared off the PVC pipe on the pump side of things. Suddenly water was gushing everywhere in the garage both from the ballast tank and the pump. There was no valve to stop the water, the only thing I could do was shut the tank off and wait for the ballast tank to drain.
Thankfully, I know a guy. A friend of mine came to our rescue. Purchasing the PVC pip, valves, connectors needed and coming to the house to put it all together.
I said to him as I was thanking him, “I had no idea what to do.” He said, we all have our gifts.”
Here in the church we are the same. We all have our different gifts and I’m so thankful to all of you who give of your time and talent to take care of the various functions of this church. Our deacons, who share their compassion. Our elders who together lead our congregation. For those who help with the keeping up our grounds and church campus. Managing our church property, overseeing our finances, and so much more.
As a church we come together with different amounts of time available, different talents, and different treasure to serve our community to the glory of God. We’ve talked about that so often and Peter says it so well, 1Pe 4:11
1 Peter 4:11 ESV
whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
“…in order that in everything God may be glorified.”
In the final section of our chapter this morning, if you have a study Bible it may have the heading of “Suffering as a Christian” or something like that. Peter warns us not to be surprised when trial comes our way, it’s going to happen, and indeed we may even suffer physically, mentally, emotionally, financially due to our commitment to following Christ. Like Paul, Peter tells us to rejoice and be glad.
1 Peter 4:14 ESV
If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
As I shared with you last week, we live in a post-christian culture, the Bible, and the teachings of Christ no longer are the guiding principles of our communities, so it would follow that we will likely be insulted and even suffer for our faith, and as that happens we are to glorify God, we are to continue to do the good we know to do.
This past week I posted a video to our Facebook page to encourage you and others in the midst of all that is going on in the Middle East. It is so big, and at the same time it is thousands of miles from our area. So what can we do?
We began today with the question, “How are you doing?” I think it really does begin with the intentional stop, not just pause, but a full stop and assess how we are doing. What is making you anxious? A mentor of mine used to ask the question, “How’s your soul?”

How’s your soul?

As we spend time assessing how we’re feeling, take the time to examine yourself. Are you following the commandments of God? Are you living not as slaves to the flesh, living in sensuality, passions, drunkeness, orgies, drinking parties and idolatry? Have you put away your idols to follow Christ? Are you seeking to give God the glory?
Where are you serving? This light of Christ that we carry inside of us is not something that we are to hide, it is a light to shine to a hurting world. As you shine that light, as you shine that morality, you are going to be insulted but it is not this world that you entrust your soul to, not it is our faithful Creator God.
The greatest life you can possibly live is the life for which you were created, and that’s in relationship with God. You were gifted. You’ve been put right where you are. Others have been put into your life as those to whom you can shine the light of Christ.
People often say they need to feel refreshed, one of the ways we are refreshed is to empty ourselves so that we can be filled up again. Empty ourselves by confessing our sinfulness; empty ourselves by serving others. Being filled up again by turning again towards God and receiving what God has given to us to be able to serve others. And you are blessed 1Pe 4:14
1 Peter 4:14 (ESV)
...you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
So with that, I’ll close with the closing verse of the chapter:
1 Peter 4:19 ESV
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
To the glory of God, AMEN.
Let me pray for you...
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