March 22, 2015 [1 Peter 5:1-4]

March 22, 2015
“The Chief Shepherd”
[1 Peter 5:1-4]
Pastor Kenny Lee

IS GOD SWEET IN YOUR LIFE?
Let me recommend a nice piece of reading. It’s one of Jonathan Edward’s most famous sermons, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. Maybe some of you in high school or maybe in college have read that, only to tear it apart because your professor or teacher didn’t like what Jonathan Edwards had to say. But I suggest you read it again, its free you know, its all over the place, if you go on the internet and write Jonathan Edwards sermon, you would see “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” It’s a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful sermon, very pointed for this day in age. Just to tell you, we all may have misconceptions about Edwards at times, especially with a sermon titled, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. But just to give you a little information, the word that Edwards used the most to describe God, was it wrath, was it vengeance, was it justice? No. More than any other words and he has a ton of work. Arguably one of the greatest minds that America has ever produced, the word that he used the most is sweet, sweet. Can you imagine sweet? My challenge to you is, is God sweet in your life? Does it have a very sweet taste in your mouth? I’m trying to refrain from sugar and my mouth is watering with even the word sweet right now. Is God sweet in your life?

Let me give you a little excerpt to get you guys started. “The bow of God's wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood. Thus all you that never passed under a great change of heart, by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls; all you that were never born again, and made new creatures, and raised from being dead in sin, to a state of new, and before altogether un-experienced light and life, are in the hands of an angry God.” Isn’t that awesome? I want to talk like that. Anyways, please if you can read that this week, it would be amazing and say with him, read it, read it. It’s good stuff.

CHURCH SHOULD BE DIFFERENT FROM THE WORLD
As a way of introduction to this sermon, it’s a hard sermon for me to preach. There are times that you wish someone else can preach, not even Pastor Brendan because Pastor Brendan is part of this church, but someone outside of the church and say “Hey. Your pastors are working really hard, so you better listen to them. You kind of want something like that, you know? It’s especially hard for me to preach this message because the fact that well it’s talking about myself, it’s talking about Pastor Brendan. We hold an office in the church you know, we’re pastors. We’re presbyters, we’re ministers of God’s word, we’re elders as it were, overseers. It’s talking exactly, it’s talking right to us. Although it is talking about a certain office, you know? There is a challenge to be made with all of us. Why is that? Because in Christ we are all called to be leaders of some sort, are we not? Yes. We look at the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. So in short, I guess what Peter is trying to say in a roundabout way, in a direct way, is saying that we should all grow up. Go from me, me, me to others you, you, you. Why isn’t this church ministering to me? Look at me! That’s what babies do. How do I know? Because I raise them. And they’re still me, me, me. Why is this church not fitting my needs? What’s wrong with this church? What’s wrong with the people? Why aren’t they ministering to my needs?

Often times as we look at the church, we often criticize it very much, especially the leadership of the church, why? Because in our modern day in age, we have lots of leadership styles to look at, do we not? We have our own opinions about leadership, we have fast paced businesses, we have particularly government management, we have coaches, professors, academia, we have Oprah, Dr. Phil, we have celebrities, you know? We look at MTV a little bit, and all these stars of leading. We’re quick to criticize leadership. And often times, we’re quick especially with churches, why? Because we somehow think the outside world is greater. We somehow think that my corporation is much better, much better organized, and it may in certain degree, yes. But is that right? We look on the outside, yes. I was at some kind of building this weekend I was so impressed. The building was amazing, I was like “What does this corporation do?” It was beautiful, you know. It was just a beautiful building; I was like “Wow. This is amazing.” I go to New York, and I look at the churches and the churches are pretty impressive, St. Patrick’s cathedral is pretty impressive. But compared to the World Trade Center, compared to all those, it’s you know? Its bigger, bright colors, very modern, very nice. Corporate structure is set.

We look at the church, the building is not as pretty, no money, no prestige, no power, no bling, no swag. And somehow you think, somehow we all think that because of that, because outside it doesn’t look that impressive, somehow we all think because of your position in the corporate world, now that you grew up from high school, now you’re in college, you read some little sermons by Calvin, or good theologians. Somehow you, we all think that we have some leadership styles and we’re so quick to criticize. We look at Ted talks, we think the same way. We somehow think we’re experts, and we’re so quick to judge on how church should be run. Just to remind you, beloved CCC, church is a Christian organization. Church is very different from anything else in this world. Church is an institution given to us by God, upon the foundation of God’s word, upon the blood of the martyrs that gave their life because of God’s word. So what do you think should be the center? Exactly God’s word. So I ask you, put your pride aside, put your opinions aside, and lets take a humble approach to what God says about church and its leaders. That’s what we’re going to look into today.

LEADERSHIP IS A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY
So the first thing we look at is the fact that leadership is a shared responsibility. It’s not just by one person, but it’s a shared responsibility. The second point is the fact that we all should be shepherds, the fact that Christ is the Chief Shepherd.  1So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed. Fellow elders, that’s what Peter calls them, fellow elders. Church is not a dictatorship, that the first thing that Peter wants you to know. That church is not a dictatorship. Leadership is a shared responsibility; church leadership is a shared responsibility. Jesus Christ had how many disciples? Twelve, right? Twelve disciples, not just one, there was one leader, right? There was Peter. But there were twelve disciples.

We’re going to take a look at Moses, we take a look at Moses because Moses is regarded as a wonderful leader, and no one could doubt that in scripture. Now but yet, Moses is doing his daily work, leading the church, leading Israel, and there were millions of them, millions of people that Moses had to take care of. And as he’s taking care of everything, he’s busy like any church leader, any leader of any organization, he’s very busy. But his father-in-law comes and checks his operation out and this is what he says 13The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. (This is from Exodus 18) 14When Moses' father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” 15And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; 16when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.” 17Moses' father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good.” What you are doing is not good. Some of you might be like “Phew, good, finally. That’s right it’s not a dictatorship. It’s a democracy.” A lot of you guys might be saying that, but no, no, no. It’s not even a democracy you see. It’s not like one person, one vote. It’s not like America, one person, one vote; it’s not like that. Two-thirds, okay we’ll pass this, we’ll pass that. Because in scripture, there’s a clear leadership, there’s a clear appointed leadership. Not a let’s vote in leadership. There’s a clear appointed leadership. Everybody has an equal value, but everyone has a very different role. And we see that when Paul is describing the body of Christ. In a family, you have a mother and father and you have children. They are all equal in value, they are all equal in that way, but clearly there are different roles. So it is with the church.

ACCOUNTABILITY COMES FROM SCRIPTURE
I’ve been in churches like that where it’s a democratic kind of church and in those churches, and I hope not in this church, but maybe. But there are many churches that I’ve been to that had that kind of model. Where you sit around and talk about the color of the doors, what kind of entrance way are we going to do. There’s a real example, there was one time the elders of the church were fighting about 80 dollars, and they spent three, four hours on eighty dollars. And so finally this one elder stood up and says, “I’ll pay the eighty dollars.” That’s not it, what type of guitar are we going to use, what type of mic are we going to use, what color chair are we going to use? Everything had to go through that. Why do they do that? “Accountability! You know that pastor has to be accountable. That pastor needs to be in check.” Beloved, do you know where accountability comes from in the church? Accountability comes from scripture. Accountability comes from scripture. Accountability comes through a bible study, when we are one minded. When one person strays, we know. That’s where a closeness, intimacy comes from.

We’re so quick to judge because we somehow think that we are so influenced by the outside world. Church is different you know. Church is extremely different. What kind of person does God use? And you know this is an example I used with the children; this is what a pastor observed. One pastor observed this and this is what he said, “Moses spent 40 years becoming something”. Moses spent 40 years trying to become the King of Egypt, becoming the Prince of Egypt. God couldn’t use a man like this, so there were some unfortunate events that happened in Moses’ life and Moses was kicked out of Egypt. And this pastor said, “He spent another 40 years becoming nothing”. Becoming absolutely nothing and it was then, only then that God can use Moses. And its funny because before Moses was learning how to be a king, how to write in hieroglyphics, out of all the people, just learning amazing skills and going to the best schools and all that. And God chose to just humble Moses, so that he could have a shepherds crook and chase after sheep for forty years. And it was only when Moses didn’t consider himself much that God used him.

FELLOW ELDER, BE AS A SHEPHERD
Isn’t it funny that out of all the occupations of the day: a king, a wise man, a merchant, a warrior, a counselor; what would he choose? A shepherd. A shepherd. You know in Jesus’ time a shepherd’s testimony was not immiscible in court, just like a woman of the day. That shepherds were such simpletons, that their testimony was not immiscible in court. If they testified, all that they would say is “But he is but a lowly shepherd” and they would throw the case out. Even now, do you think God would choose a CEO, or inventor, or even a genius, a government official? No. Even now God would choose a blue-collared lowly shepherd. Be as a shepherd. Peter says in verse 2 2shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” As he’s writing that, I bet you anything what Peter was remembering at that time when after Jesus Christ died and rose again and met up with Peter again. Went up to Peter and says “Peter do you love me? You denied me before, but do you love me now?” And Peter says “Yes Lord. I love you.” “Feed my sheep. Feed my sheep, Peter. Feed my sheep.”  Why feed? Why feed?

You know its so funny like back in the old times, back in the olden days, its so funny. When I read something it comes out in the pulpit. I know you’ve heard a lot about the Puritans, but bear with me please. You know during those times, pastors had a lot of influence. Why? Because God mattered that much. Right now, the role of the pastor is like a glorified event planner or glorified cheerleader. “Go, go, go! Go, go, go! You can do it! You can do it! You can do it!” And God is something like that too; we place God in that place too, right? Somehow we are at the center and God says, “You can do it! God will strengthen you! Yay!” That’s terrible. Do you not know who God is? That’s awful. God calls myself, God calls myself, God calls Pastor Brendan, and God calls you “Fellow elders” to be shepherds. What can you do as a shepherd? You pet it, alright you pet it. You entertain it? What do you do with it? What do you do with sheep? I never raised a sheep, but not many of you have raised sheep either. But I’ve seen sheep and they’re very dumb animals. I look at it, its fluffy, its cute. Stare at it, its not like I’m going to entertain it, its not like I’m going to dance with it or anything. But you know what a shepherd does, shepherd feeds the sheep. Shepherd guides the sheep. Shepherd herds and cares for the sheep. Sheep tries to run away, there’s actually a part of the shepherd’s staff that keeps you from going, guides the sheep. The sheep just goes everywhere. That’s exactly what a church is. A church isn’t a place where you entertain; I’m not here to entertain. ARE YOU ENTERTAINED? I’m not here to entertain you. I might say, I might throw out some, little humor here and there, but that’s not my job, my job isn’t to dance or anything. It’s not to draw your attention. And you fellow elders, that’s not your job either. Your job is not to entertain, its not to pet them and awe. Yeah maybe there’s some of that, okay. A church is a place where you get fed; you get fed. Fed by what? Fed by God’s word, dear people. A church is mainly a place where you get fed, and you get guidance, and where you get cared for. That’s what a church is.


We are not to be domineering. How do we get rid of bullying? That’s a big thing these days. “My kid has been getting bullied. Cyber-bullying.” How do you get rid of bullying? You know how? When we look at Frederick Nietzsche all religion is power play, and he’s right. All religion can be a power play, right? But when does that power play get utterly destroyed? A power play gets destroyed when there is a relationship, do you know that? A power play only happens if you don’t really know each other and there’s a distinct judgment going on. “Oh you’re a sinner. Oh the pastor’s a sinner. Oh the pastor is this. Oh the pastor is scary.” When there is distance, that’s the only time when there is power play going on, a lot of judgment. Tim Keller famously writes, “The only person who dares to wake up a king at 3am is a child.” And Tim Keller says we have that kind of access. I couldn’t go up to the President of the United States and say, “Barack, I’m kind of thirsty right now. I’m at the Lincoln bedroom, could you get me a glass of water please?” No, no, no. I can’t do that. He’s the President of the United States. Secret service would probably put me in handcuffs and put me in jail. But what about his daughters? “Daddy, I’m thirsty.” “Alright, okay. I’ve got to meet with the Vice President tomorrow, but alright.” And gets her a glass of water. Where’s the power play there? Get to know the people of the church. And you do that through scripture, you do that through bible study, you do that by knowing God’s word. Yes. I’m a shepherd, but I am not The Shepherd. I am but a mere servant. Pastor Brendan and I are just mere servants. All of you guys are mere servants. And we need to direct each other to scripture, and then and only then can Jesus Christ be the chief shepherd.

LEARN AND BE HUMBLE
In verse 5 5Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposed the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ ” You know I’d like to tell you, although it says younger respect the older. I’ve seen some old people now and I’m up there myself, middle age. And there are some old people that I just don’t want to learn from, you know so age isn’t everything. There are some old people that have never learned the word of God, in Christ they are mere infants, but they would look through this chapter and say, “See, by sheer age, you should listen to me.” No, that’s not it. What Peter is talking about are elders, our elders who are older, who tend to be older, who’s experienced the word of God, who’s lived the word of God. Who experienced and lived the word of God. Be humble. Be humble. And note that it tells young people to be humble. Why? Because you know when I was young I didn’t quite know. I was like you guys I thought I knew everything. Especially when I went to college, I thought I knew everything; literally I thought I knew everything. Because now I’m in academia, I know everything. Now at this side of forty, I know nothing and I knew nothing then. Young people, be humble, be humble. Learn; learn upon the experiences of the elders. Learn.

My ministry there is a lot of young people and I’ve had the privilege of just talking about my experiences in the context of bible study and things like that. And I often times think about them, and if they’re able to learn what I have experienced now. How much greater will they be? How much God glorifying would they be, when they get to be my age? So the older people in our congregation invest in our children. Invest in our congregation. How much more will God’s kingdom be glorified? Young people, be humble. You don’t know. Leaders are to be an example, not only talking the talk, but also walking the walk. That’s missing, that’s a rare thing these days. We know how to quote Calvin, we know how to quote Edwards, like I did today, but rarely do we know how to have that relationship. The mentoring and all that come very organically, not systematically, organically. What’s the difference? Systematic is “We will meet at this time and this hour. And we will have mentorship, we will have discipleship.” Although there are places for that, but true mentorship, true discipleship comes when you’re living together, when you’re eating together, when you see the bad, and the good, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

CHRIST IS THE CHIEF SHEPHERD
Don’t you know that Christ is the chief shepherd? Oh beloved, Jesus loves you so much. God loves you so much. How much you say? God loves you so much that, he would send his one and only son and die for us. He would take that bow that’s pointed at our hearts and he would stand in front of that bow. And justice let that bow go, and it pierced the heart of Jesus and he died, and he did that for us. He rose again from the dead and he has the highest power and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. And that’s not it folks, God sends us the Holy Spirit, so that we can be guided by him and that’s not it. And there’s more. God sends his servants to serve you, i.e. the elders, yes elders. God sends leaders, God sends elders to serve you and tell you that Jesus loves you so much. Are you listening? Do you hear? Do you hear the Great Shepherd? Not this shepherd. Do you hear the Chief Shepherd? “Yes. I love you. Come back; stop straying.” Will you respond to the Great Shepherd?


Ephesians 4:10-16, and we’ll end with this. "10He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

March 15, 2015 [1 Peter 4:12-19]

March 15, 2015
“A Different Kind of Suffering”
[1 Peter 4:12-19]
Pastor Kenny Lee

This week’s passage talks about suffering. We are old enough to know what suffering means; even newborns have a sense of suffering. When babies want milk they often cry, because they are suffering. This topic of suffering led me to certain readings throughout the week. My readings led me to Glasgow, Scotland where are spiritual forefathers, the Presbyterians and the Puritans, struggled. I read about their struggles. I realized we need more suffering in our lives. It seems like I’m being very flippant when I say that. Right now, as I’m approaching this topic of suffering I want to be very careful. Especially because in our day in age with one line zingers like, “It’s okay. Praise God! Everything is okay in Christ!” We simplify suffering. We hide behind our technology. We hide behind our suits. We hide behind a lot of things. We don’t know how to acknowledge suffering. Many times people come up to me and say, “One of my friend’s family members died. What do I say? What do I do? What’s a good Bible verse to tell them?” I often tell them, “The best thing you can do is to keep quiet. Just shut up. Be with them. You don’t need to do anything.” I’m not going to stand up here and tell you I know what suffering is. I don’t. That is why I would like to read what a pastor from Glasgow, Scotland, George Matheson wrote. He does know a little bit about suffering. George Matheson at the age of eighteen developed degenerative eyesight. By the age of twenty, he was completely blind. He was soon to be married and upon receiving the news that he would shortly go blind, he told his fiancée. The day before they were to be wed, she disappeared. She couldn’t imagine living her life with a man who was completely blind. George Matheson became a pastor after his eyesight failed and died unmarried at the age of 64. It is safe to say he knows more than most what it means to suffer. This is what he writes,

There is a time coming in which your glory shall consist in the very thing which now constitutes your pain. Nothing could be more sad to Jacob than the ground on which he was lying, a stone for a pillow!
It was the hour of his poverty.
It was the season of his night.
It was the seeming absence of God.

The Lord was in the place and he knew it not. Awakened from his sleep he found that day of his trial was the dawn of his triumph! Ask the great ones of the past what has been the spot of their prosperity and they will say, ‘It was the cold ground on which I was lying.’

Ask Abraham; he will point you to the sacrifice on Mount Moriah.
Ask Joseph; he will direct you to his dungeon.
Ask Moses; he will date his fortune from his danger in the Nile.
Ask Ruth; she will bid you build her monument in the field of her toil.
Ask David; he will tell you that his songs come from night.
Ask Job; he will remind you that God answered him out of the whirlwind.
Ask Peter; he will extol his submersion in the sea.
Ask John; he will give the path to Patmos.
Ask Paul; he will attribute his inspiration to the light which struck him blind.
Ask one more!- the Son of God;
Ask Him whence has come His rule over the world:
He will answer,
‘From the cold ground on which I was lying- the Gethsemane ground- I received my scepter there.’”

Let that marinate a little. Why is that important? Because I think in Christianity we have lost what it means to be a Christian. We see George Matheson, this pastor, who knows a little about suffering. He is looking at Scripture. He is going down the line of Biblical forefathers, from Abraham all the way to Paul with Jesus Christ at the center. He is noticing that suffering and the glory of God go together. Peter is saying here in this passage that we need to change our thinking. How many times in our struggles do we say, “Why would a loving God make us suffer like this? How can God be great when I’m suffering like this?” Our understanding of God needs to change. Our understanding of what a Christian life is about needs to change. There are three things that I’m going to talk about: (1) Don’t be surprised suffering is the norm (2) Don’t be ashamed. Embrace the suffering. (3) Trust

PARTAKERS IN CHRIST’S SUFFERING
Needless to say, life is tough. There is many times in my life that I never want to repeat. At the age of 12 years when I received Jesus Christ into my heart, it was a time when I was suffering a great deal. I had identity issues. I was a young kid, the only minority in the class. Everyone was popular except for me. I didn’t know who I was. I wanted to fit in. I was suffering. I wanted to be recognized. I met Jesus and accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. I had this one thought like, “Now I’m on Easy Street. Now I am going to be happy. Everything is going to be great. I will be popular. I will be the best looking guy at school. Everything is going to change!” I came back from the mountaintop. I go back to school and I’m still being teased. “Lord, what’s the matter I love you like crazy? What is this?” Somehow we think God will protect us from the outside sin. Somehow we think we are impervious. Somehow because we believe in Jesus nothing bad could happen to our family or us. Somehow God is obligated to make us happy. Unfortunately friends, that is not the case. That is not Christianity. Even as we speak, I have a dear friend whose father is dealing with terminal cancer. Even we as we speak, I have friends who are going through a bitter divorce. Even now in our midst, there are people suffering. Does Christ love us? Of course. Peter is saying we are meant to suffer. “12Beloved, do not surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” Your approach to suffering shows how God is working in your life. “13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s suffering, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”

A lot of the suffering that we experience is because of the fact we bring it on to ourselves. For example, I want to get a good grade. In order to get a good grade, I cheat. I get caught. “Oh Lord, why am I suffering?” I have problems with my friends. I have problems with my wife. I have problems at home. I want to forget it. I choose drugs. I choose TV. I choose to forget about my troubles. Next thing you know, your wife is in front of you and things are due at work. “Oh Lord, why am I suffering?” We blame God. Peter is not talking about that kind of suffering for he says, “15But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.” In our world there is tons of suffering because of sin. Instead,  Peter is referring to kind of suffering when things are not going right via your circumstances or your relationships. You are being ostracized at work because you are not going with the “flow” of the work lifestyle. You suffer because your old friends who you hung out with before you met Christ now tease and reject you because Jesus matters in your life. How do you react to that? Peter tells us to react by realizing that we are participating in the sufferings of Christ. From that suffering, God’s glory is revealed. Are you going to God as things like this are happening? Are you asking God, “What are you doing in my life, Lord? How are you changing me?” Does God matter? Those are things that you really have to think about as you are struggling. We have to see what God is doing in our lives. The assumption is the fact that God is good. We say that all the time. “God is good all the time. All the time God is good.” Even if these struggles are in your life, it is for your good. God’s will has to matter.

SUFFERING TO SEE HIS GLORY 
In verse 16 Peter writes, “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” You’re not ashamed of who God is, so you share.  “I’m having these kind of struggles in my life. I don’t know what to do. I know that God is good, but I don’t know what He is doing.” The most encouraging times I’ve had is when someone is in the midst of their suffering. They are talking and they are trying to see what God is doing. I see them struggling with what God is doing and how He is being glorified. That has been the source of my greatest strength and joy to witness things like that. There are other times when I see a person going through struggles and they just pretend everything is okay. They are alone. They want to forget about it. They can handle it. There is no submission to Scripture. I look at them and go, “Why?” Let me tell you a word of warning. How you go through suffering is extremely important. You can be a person who grows extremely bitter or grows extremely tenderhearted knowing God’s will. I worked with this man who was a devout Jew. When his son was in college, he was one of those adventurous types, so he would climb mountains. His son climbed this rock, lost his grip, and fell to his death. He is telling me all this and saying, “Oh Kenny, my wife is asking God everyday why he would take our son away. She is no longer practicing Judaism. She stays home and is very bitter.” I met many Christians who lost their children; it’s not natural to bury your children. These are the most tenderhearted people. Those are the type of people I would send all you guys to talk to about suffering.

TRUST AND ENTRUST
Suffering is the very vehicle God uses to glorify Himself. How do I know that? In the words of Matheson,

“Ask one more!- the Son of God;
Ask Him whence has come His rule over the world:
He will answer,
‘From the cold ground on which I was lying- the Gethsemane ground- I received my scepter there.’”

Beloved CCC, don’t you know that Jesus Christ came from heaven to earth, which is suffering enough, as a servant? He lived his life. He was persecuted, jeered, put on trial, and died for sinners like you and me so that we can live. I’m trying to take the convictions and feelings that I had throughout this week about this passage and put it into your brains. That is my job as a pastor. I want to read an excerpt about these two women who suffered. It will show the tradition of the wonderful men and women who our faith comes from. It will depict the trajectory with which we out to go, the mindset that we should be in. Let me give you a background of the story. There are these three women, Margaret McLahlan, age 63, Margaret Wilson age 18, and Margaret’s younger sister, age 13. Margaret McLahlan, was the mentor of these two younger sisters They were put on trial because of the fact they held illegal worship, called conventicles, in the highlands of Scotland. Back in those days, the churches were very politicized. When the pastor or victor spoke they didn’t talk about theology they would instead talk about their political stance. There were a bunch of reformers known as “Presbyters” who would come and hold this illegal worship where they could hear the word of God. These are the people who wrote the Larger Catechism by the way. These three women would go to these conventicles and they would hear God’s word being preached. The field preaches would preach their hearts out. One person who infiltrated the illegal worships ratted them out and pointed to these three women. They were put on trial. Margaret McLahlan, Margaret Wilson, and her sister were imprisoned, beaten, and starved. They were told if they acknowledged the king as the head of the church they would be let go. They all refused saying, “Christ is the head of the church.” They were convicted and sentenced to death. The way they were sentence to die was by being tied to a post by the water during low tide. As the high tide came in, they would drown. The father of the two sisters was present during the trial and pleaded on behalf of them. The judge granted him one daughter, the youngest, for a vast amount of money. The father went bankrupt to buy his youngest daughter back. The story I’m about to read is about the execution of Margaret McLahlan and Margaret Wilson taken from The History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland.
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The two women were brought from Wigton, with a numerous crowd of spectators to so extraordinary an execution. Major Windram with some soldiers guarded them to the place of execution. The old woman’s stake was a good way in beyond the other, and she was first dispatched, in order to terrify the other to a compliance with such oaths and conditions, as they required. But in vain, for she adhered to her principles with an unshaken steadfastness. When the water was overflowing with her fellow-martyr, some about Margaret Wilson asked her, what she thought of the other now struggling with the pangs of death. She answered, what do I see but Christ (in one of his members) wrestling there. Think you that we are the sufferers? No, it is Christ in us, for he sends none warfare upon their own charges. When Margaret Wilson was at the stake, she sang the 25th Psalm from verse 7th, downward a good way, and read the 8th chapter to the Romans with a great deal of cheerfulness, and then prayed. While at prayer, the water covered her: but before she was quite dead, they pulled her up, and held her out of the water till she was recovered, and able to speak; and then by major Windram’s orders, she was asked, if she would pray for the king. She answered, ‘She wished the salvation of all men, and the damnation of none.’ One deeply affected with the death of the other and her case, said, ‘Dear Margaret, say God save the king, say God save the king.’ She answered in the greatest steadiness and composure, ‘God save him, if he will, for it is his salvation I desire.’ Whereupon some of her relations near by, desirous to have her life spared, if possible, called out to major Windram, ‘Sir, she hath said it, she hath said it.’ Whereupon the major came near, and offered her the abjuration, charging her instantly to swear it, otherwise return to the water. Most deliberately she refused, and said, ‘ I will not, I am one of Christ’s children, let me go.’ Upon which she was thrust down again into the water, where she finished her course with joy.”
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These women loved the word of God so much. This 18 year old sees her mentor struggling to death and says, “You think we are the ones suffering? No! Christ suffered for us! We are partaking in His suffering.” I pray we become a church that loves and holds onto the very words of God. That God’s word affects our lives so He may be glorified. Let’s pray.





March 8, 2015 [1 Peter 4:7-11]


March 8, 2015
"In The End"
[1 Peter 4:7-11]
Pastor Brendon Wu

In 2000, I was waiting for the bus and an epic song of great proportions was playing. It was by Linkin Park. I had just bought their album, “Hybrid Theory”. It was one of the first three albums I ever bought. I was hooked. Every morning as I waiting for the bus in middle school I would listen to the song, “In the end”. It was like my life anthem. Some of the words to this song went like this:

One thing I don't know why
It doesn’t even matter how hard you try
Keep that in mind, I designed this rhyme
To explain in due time
(All I know)
Time is a valuable thing
Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings
Watch it count down to the end of the day
The clock ticks life away
(It’s so unreal)
Didn’t look out below
Watch the time go right out the window
Trying to hold on but didn’t even know
I wasted it all just to watch you go

I kept everything inside and even though I tried, it all fell apart
What it meant to be will eventually be a memory of a time when...

I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn't even matter
I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn't even matter

“The end of all things”
It’s not about this song. But this song captures so much of the disappointment and devastation we experience just as people. My question this morning is, in the end what will matter to you? In the end, what does matter to you? Is what you’re living for now going to save you? At the end, if you look back at your life, will you want to be identified by it? Is your life going to matter?

Peter cares about this very much. He was one of Christ’s dearest disciples. He’s been writing this letter about how this world is finite. In another words, it will not continue forever. It will come to an end. Peter writes because he knows by Jesus we’re not meant for earth. We’re meant for heaven. We’re meant for God and that’s the only place where we can find our fulfillment. Peter starts off with saying here, “The end of all things is at hand”. Often when we think about the end times, we think about a specific point in time or day. But what Peter is saying is that because Jesus Christ has already come, He’s lived, died, and rose again and went back to God the father – in all the time after that, these are the end times. This is the time when it’s “the end of all things.” Because Jesus Christ is coming back very soon and He’s going to be judging every single one of us. I know this is kind of somber, but this is a very somber thing. He’s going to judge every single one of us because our life does not belong to us but it actually belongs to Jesus Christ who made us and saved us.

So Jesus Christ wants to ask us this morning, “The end of all things is at hand. But do we know what matters during these end times? These final days?” When we look back on our life, what are the things that we have been occupied by? What are the things that we have been investing all of our energy and time into? Maybe it’s studying. Maybe it’s work. Maybe it’s chores. I studied sociology and I really enjoyed statistics so I read these things time to time. A study came out not too long ago that talked about “the evolution of how we spend time”. There are 168 hours in the week and 56 hours of that time go to sleep. That leaves 112 hours left. Most of us work 30 to 40 hours a week. Or we study 40-60 hours a week. But how do we spend the rest of the time? According to this study, the average American watches five hours of T.V., YouTube, Netflix, media a day. Our humanity has evolved into a tube-watching people. Just watching things. We’re missing the point of what our life is supposed to be. God goes right into saying through Peter, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.”  We have to think with a clear mind. We have to realize that a lot of the things that we spend our life on are probably not going to be worth it at the end of our life. So what is worth it? What is important?

“Above all, God’s love..”
In verse 8 Peter goes on to say, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” In another words, God’s love is all that really matters at the end of the day. Recently a friend was telling me about somehow he knew, who grew up throughout her life. And things didn’t turn out that well. For her and a lot of the relationships that she was in. I asked him, why did it turn out like that? When she grew up, why didn’t she feel loved or secure. Why didn’t she have assurance or confidence in her life? I was told that when we was growing up, she was always analyzed by her parents through the lens of her academic and career performance. She was not a person that did exceptionally well. So as a result, she was not really loved and cared for by her parents. That what led to her feeling very insecure during adulthood. When I heard that, I thought about this passage. I thought about all of our relationships. And it boiled down to the simple thing of, we don’t know enough how much Jesus loves us. We don’t know that enough. Recently, my wife and I have been talking about our 20 months of marriage and all the amazing things God has done so far. I couldn’t help that in the past couple of weeks, as we have been reflecting on our marriage and what God has been doing, it has made me think about the relationships that I have with each and every single one of you. Every single time I think about it, love for Jesus is all that really matters.

A few of us were joking around in Friday Covgroup. Because Christianity is strange. What would bring a twelve-year-old and a twenty-seven-year old dude like me to the same room to spend time together and want to get to know each other. Outside of Christ, outside of church, that’s just really weird. Normally if you’re a teenager and you meet someone with my height and age, you would want to run away. Why is this man talking to me and trying to get to know me? Why does this person want to have a relationship with me? But isn’t that how most of us grew up too? Meaning, I’d rather hang out with my friends or people my age. Grandma always tells the same stories. Every time I se her. But what it really boils down to is the fact that, it’s Jesus and a love for Him. That’s all that matters. How do we choose the relationships we have? How do we choose the friendships that we have? If we choose them for any purpose, any reason other than Jesus Christ, it’s not going to end well. In the end, it’s not going to matter. Because if you don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, than you are spiritually dead. If your friends don’t have a relationship with Christ, then they are spiritually dead. And the Bible says we are all spiritually dead. The only way to truly have life is in Jesus Christ and a love for Jesus.

I’m sure there are people who are much older and more seasoned than me, who can testify that over the years of friendship, marriage, family, parenting – all the things you liked at first start to become annoying. I can’t tell you how many times I hang out with a friend. And I think he is amazing because he likes the same music as me, likes the NBA, things like that. And then after a short amount of time you realize that there’s not much that we have in common and these things that I thought were so cool start to become annoying. The Bible shows us that these things are perishables. The only thing that truly attracts Christians to other people, is a love for Jesus Christ. Because above all, it’s love for one another and love for Jesus that matters. That’s the only way our relationships are carried into eternity. The question I want to ask our church this morning is, what kind of relationships do you have? Do you have the right brothers and sisters? Do you want to get to know people because of Jesus? Or not? Do you have the right Heavenly Father? Do your relationships count for something that will ring and carry on into eternity?

Love covers a multitude of sins
I think it’s so easy for us to always think about ourselves and how Jesus just loves me and then, I don’t need to do anything. But the fact of the matter is that, Peter is saying if we know how much Jesus loves us, then why aren’t we going out and loving other people? Going out of our way? Getting out of who we are to love one another and see we can love them. And this only happens because love covers a multitude of sins. Like I was saying in the Children’s Corner, I think it’s in our instinct to not want to be seen as a sinner. Not want to acknowledge the wrong that we’ve done. And it’s so natural, so instinctive. And the Bible explains that this is because we’re born with a sinful heart. I don’t know if you can relate to this, but recently I was supposed to meet a friend at a certain time. I was running late and man it was crazy. I was thinking of all the different things I could say. And I was like, “Wow, I’m really creative”. But then I also thought, I’m really evil. Our mind just naturally thinks of excuses to hide our wrong. Do you do that? Not just in your relationship with God but with the people in your lives. That cannot end well when you think about it. When we have to hide ourselves and guard ourselves, and never allow people to see our vulnerabilities and what we are going through, we are always going to be on the defensive. Always trying to love yourself, care for yourself. Always worrying about yourself for the rest of your life. That is a life separated from God and that’s a life that does not realize the amazingness of Jesus’ love.

When Jesus says love covers a multitude of sins, He’s not saying that Christianity is an easy pill. So many times when we think about Jesus Christ’s forgiveness, His grace, His love, we think, “Okay, Jesus Christ forgives all my sin so everything is good. I want to go straight there and everything’s good because Christ just loves me. But we never really take the time to think through what He loves us in spite of. What He died for us. The Bible says that Jesus Christ didn’t die for good people. He died because of how unrighteous and bad we actually are. So when it says that love covers a multitude of sins, it’s not saying that Jesus Christ just put our sin under the rug and we don’t think about it. We just pretend we’re okay. That’s not a real relationship with Jesus. When Jesus says, “Love covers a multitude of sin”, the first question we should ask is what is this multitude of sin that His love covers? What is it that He really paid for and died for? And as we realize how much of a sinner we are, then comes a genuine need for a savior. For Jesus. I think one practical from this is that, so much of our time we grew up in families where we try to shortcut things. I’m a person that likes to short cut a lot of things – especially when it comes to driving. What I noticed about myself and us a lot of times is that, when we do something wrong, we instinctively want to say, “I’m so sorry. My bad. I’ll never do it again”. It’s so natural to try to say the right thing. But when we do that, we’re just acting out of the impulse of our heart. That’s not real love. We’re just acting out of our feeling, out emotions. That’s not real love.

For example, marriage is where it’s about a person feeling something for another person, and love is strictly that. How I feel and how I feel about that person. If it’s out of the heart and the heart changes so much, there’s a great tendency for that relationship to not last well or end well at all. Or heart changes so much. Our emotions change so much. This is how much of our emotions change. Our minds not as much. If you’re a democrat, you’re not going to become a republican automatically. Our minds don’t change as much. If you hate the Yankees, you’re not going to love the Yankees overnight. Our minds don’t change as much. But the only thing that is concrete - absolutely secure is scripture. And what I’ve been challenged with in my life recently is to re-engineer my relationships. With my family, with church, my life, my friends. It can’t just be, “I love you Jesus, it’s something from my heart. Straight from my heart”. Your heart changes a lot. If that’s the case, then this relationship is very unstable, very unsecured. It could be very inconsistent. Our actions become very inconsistent. But what the Bible teaches is that, it has to start with God’ word.

Love and relationships based on scripture
First Peter says it’s God’s word that is alive and true. And at the end of the day, it will stand in the end forever. It’s God’s word and only His word. Do you have a relationship with Jesus because of scripture? Do you know the very words and oracles of scripture? Does his word matter to you? The re-examine your relationship with Jesus. Because it’s not about how we just love Jesus with our heart and feeling at the time. But it’s how we love Jesus based upon scripture. It’s scripture first. That then affects our mind to think through what scripture is saying, that then affects our heart. As we start to think and feel in the way that God does, our actions start to become more consistent. Because scripture is always consistent.

To our youth, I don’t want any single one of you to assume or grow older thinking, “Yeah, there was one time at a retreat or a church event where I felt like I loved Jesus and that means I’ll love Jesus forever.” But I want you guys in the end, to have a love that is based on scripture. I want our church to have a love for Jesus that is based upon scripture because this never changes. And it’s scripture that shows us how God loves us. It’s not about how we feel about God, how we love God. It’s about how God loves us. And without this, we won’t make it. We need a love for God that’s based upon scripture. It starts with scripture, that affects our mind, challenges our heart and emotions. Scripture, you guys in Bible study, challenge my heart every single day. That’s why I’m at this church. Because you guys challenge my heart every day and there are days where I just don’t want to have it, but I need it. We need this.

You wonder why your feelings and your relationships toward God are so inconsistent? You have to have a relationship with Jesus of scripture. Jesus of the Bible. You wonder why things are a burden to you? Why going to church and loving people, or showing hospitality is a burden? It’s because you need to know Jesus of the Bible. Jesus of scripture. It doesn’t just start with your heart and your temporary emotions.

Hospitality
From this verse come three things that Peter wants us to do. But even when I go through this, it’s really about knowing God’s love from His word. There are three questions I will ask really briefly. Do you show hospitality? A lot of times when I think about hospitality, we think of – giving a homeless man five bucks. Or inviting a friend over. I think hospitality means so much more than that. Peter says, show hospitality to one another without grumbling. In another words, do you know that you’re loved by Jesus to the point where you don’t have to concentrate on loving yourself and you can just concentrate on loving other people. And it’s not a burden but it’s freeing! It’s freeing to love other people. It’s freeing to give, and to serve, and to speak to other people.

Speaking truth
And out of that, a second question. Do you love speaking encouraging Biblical truth? Comfort when necessary and challenge when necessary. It’s not talking about just meeting up with people and talking with them. But it says, “whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God”. Do you speak the very words of God? Do you speak the oracles of God? It’s not just – oh you meet with someone in Chik-fil-A, a Christian restaurant, and then you fill that time asking the other person “Hey, how’s your quiet time? Anything I can pray about?”. It’s not just that. But is there a genuine love, where you love to talk about scripture? In all truthfulness, I am such a sinner to the point where there are people that I never thought I would be able to have a relationship with. But it’s amazing how when they love scripture, talk about it, ask about it, and they’re thinking through how to live for Jesus, I don’t know what this is. This is truly something miraculous. I can’t believe it, but that person is a person that I just fall in love with. And there are people that I’ve know from a year to seven years, and some people I’ve gotten to know just recently. When I see to see their love for God and their love for the oracles of God, man my love for them has just been so humbling. I’m just so blind to how much God loves them and what God is doing in their life. But because they love the Bible, I just love them. Do you fall in love with people who love the Bible and love Jesus? Or do you just fall in love with people who just love the things that you personally like? It has to be the oracles of God.

Serving as God served us
The final question that Peter asks is, do you serve with all the strength that God has supplied you? Do you serve with all the strength that God has supplied you? I remember a conversation from last year that has been seared into my mind. I think it was one of personally the hardest conversations that I ever had since I’ve been a member at our church. A very dear friend challenged me with a question – “Will you and do you love and serve this church, like you served and loved that thing that you did in the past?” My friend was referencing to how much of my time and my life and energies I had invested much in something that I was apart of long ago. When you think about your relationship with God, when I think about my relationship with God, do you love and serve the church in the way that God loves and serves this church? Do you love and serve this church more than anything else in your life? Do you love your work more? So much I see people putting their heart, soul, mind into something that is not going to last for eternity. Don’t you want your life to matter for eternity? Because so many things that we are doing have such a temporary cause. More than anything, at the end of my life, at the end of our lives, what is it going to say on our tombstones? When I see the people at our church, I don’t want it to just say a member of our church. I don’t want it to just say, another teenager. Another adult. Another deacon. Another whoever. But, I pray and I’m hoping that my life and our lives, will eternal significance where Jesus will have mattered first. So He matters in the end. It’s Jesus that defines everything on there. That we gave it our all in loving family. Loving friends, loving this church. That we love people in the way that God wants us to love. Not live our own selfish lives. What are you fighting for? What are you living for? Is it going to be worth it?

Let me share with you something that I think I know but don’t know. I think we know this all the time but we don’t know. I have a relationship with you guys and we’re here at this church because Jesus Christ really is the only Son of God who became a man a died for us. God really became a man and died for you. The Bible says, John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life”. We’re here because God wants us to have eternal life. God loves us. But just as we think love covers a multitude of sins, Peter reminds us from 1 Peter 3:18 that “for Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God. Being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit.” We are not a good people. We are a group of sinners in all of our sinfulness. But the only reason why it even matters to live, is because Jesus loves us like this. Do you care just about living? Or do you truly want to be spiritually alive? You might be living right now but are you alive? Does Jesus Christ’s life and death matter to you? God loves us so much. And Peter just ends with saying, with all these things that happen above all – loving one another earnestly, hospitality, speaking, and serving, it’s for the purpose “in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

The application that I want our church to take away is, do you love Jesus? Than love His people. If you love His people, than serve His people. Find your worth in Jesus and in that, that’s the only thing that matters in the end. A love for Jesus.

March 1, 2015 [1 Peter 4:1-6]

March 1, 2015
[1 Peter 4: 1-6]
“Past, Present, Future”
Pastor Kenny Lee

Just to tell you what’s going on in Peter. During the time of Peter, there is persecution; things are not going well for the Christians. Christianity is just starting, just emerging. Jesus Christ died maybe about 25-30 years back and Christianity is just beginning. So people are looking at Christianity and saying, “What is this?” Not only that, but people are actively persecuting them because they can’t really understand. Because they can’t really understand, there are all these rumors going around. They talk about communion and they’re like “They’re eating this mans flesh and drinking his blood, so are they cannibals?” There are all these fears going around and so Christianity is not popular. During this time, Cesar by the name of Nero, he’s the king and he burned Rome and what he does is he blames the Christians. So you can understand what kind of culture this is, it’s a very diverse culture. Peter is writing to people from Asia Minor, so they’re very different. Kind of like ours, not as intense, but kind of like ours. Christianity is not really popular these days, although we live in a country founded by Christian forefathers. So this is very relevant to us. Because of that, what does it mean to live for Christ? How do we live for Christ in this age and culture?

When I was growing up, I don’t know if you had one of these people in your class. But we had this one guy in our class, we live in the Internet age, so everything is videotaped and everything is recorded, so I’m not going to say any names, just in case. What are the chances that this guy would be listening to my sermon? I met him when I was in third grade, we were classmates all the way until about seventh/ eighth grade, went to different high schools and everything. Well anyways, this guy he was a little weird. He was odd, lanky, scrawny, had a bowl hair cut. And everybody knew he was weird, so all of us would look at him, because he would do weird things. We would have art class and he would eat crayons. He was the guy that would eat glue and eat crayons. And this one time, he would eat a red crayon and he would eat a blue crayon. I went to a Catholic school, so this girl, our classmate, would raise her hand and say, “Sister, (at that time it was Sister Clarice) Sister Clarice”. “Yes So-and-So?” “So-and-So is eating crayons.” And that guy would say “Sister, no! I’m not eating crayons, I’m not eating crayons at all!” And Sister Clarice goes “Come here, smile.” He’s like (in a muffled voice) “I’m not eating crayons, seriously! I’m seriously not eating crayons!” “Look, smile.” So he smiles, red, white, and blue. He was weird, we grow up in early age, and we don’t like weird people. So during that time, I would go to church, all these people, my bible study teacher would say, “You got to be nice to those people. You got to be nice to people.”  And Monday comes around, and I feel superficially convicted, and so I went up to that person and became friends with him, just a little bit. I noticed something and this was one of the first times I recognized this, so that’s why it’s so burned in my mind. I noticed something. People started treating me different. People started associating me with him. In the cafeteria, some of the people I normally sat with wouldn’t sit with me. Somehow I was weird. I wish I could say right now that I stood up for him and I did what was right. I wish it were one of those movies where all he had to do was take off his glasses, and he’s a good looking guy and show him some manners. “All I had to do was take off my glasses, and that’s it! I’m this jock all of a sudden!” But that wasn’t the case. People started treating me really weird, so what started doing was I started feeling the effects of the world. My fourth grade world… And I stopped hanging out with him. And somehow I gained all my friends back.

OUR LIFE SHOULD HAVE TWO DISTINCT CHAPTERS
We don’t want to be weird. We learn from an early age that by being different like that or being associated with that is not good. We want to stand out. He’s a standout athlete; he’s a standout scholar. Wow, she’s a standout beauty. Man, that guy stands out he’s handsome. We want to be that though, don’t we? In other words, what the world values, we want to stand out in that. In terms of the world not valuing certain things, if we standout in something like that, you’re kind of weird. It used to be like that in the hippie generations, people used to really make fun of that, especially in the 80s. Because in the 80s, it was all about making money, it’s still all about making money. People that started making money, finally realized that those people who are artsy and all that, that’s where the real money is. And so now in your age, in your culture right now, being artsy is cool. That’s why ergonomic design is cool; gentrification is cool. When artsy people go into places its really cool, like Soho, like Tribeca in New York. Even Fells Point, all these creative people go in there, money comes in and looks really pretty and that really cool now. But it wasn’t like that. The funny thing is, God calls us to be different. God calls us to be unique. So today I’m going to talk about our past life. I think it was John Stott, who says that we have two volumes of our lives. Before we were saved and after we are saved. In other words there is a difference between volume one and volume two. But so many times in my experience, that volume one and volume two gets kind of mushed around. Its not a clear chapter break. In books, there’s a clear chapter break. Chapter one, this. Chapter two, the continuation of this. There’s a clear chapter break, but so often that chapter break is not quite there. Its like volume one, we get introduced to Christ and it keeps on going. According to John Stott, there are two chapters. Two clear chapters. Before Christ. After Christ.

We’re going to start with verse, “33For 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.” Life without Christ we do what we want to do. In other words, we do what we fell like doing. We do what makes us happy. We don’t do what makes us sad. We follow the patterns of this world, acting out of our sensuality, acting out of our passions of our eyes. It doesn’t merely have to do with sexuality or anything. Out of the passions of our eyes, out of our own greed, trying to satisfy our own selves. Drunkenness. Being filled with something else. A lot of times why we do the things we do, why we over-drink? Why do we have addictions and stuff like that? The reason why we have that is because of the fact because we don’t live in accordance with God’s will, there’s a lot of stress in our lives. There’s a lot of stress and all that. So what we do to forget that is we get drunk, we smoke, and we get into drugs, and many other things, so that we can forget about our lives. It makes us feel good. Because when we think about the realities of the world it doesn’t quite make us feel good, does it? To make us feel good we get into things like that, we get into heavy drinking, we get into sensuality, we get into drinking parties, we want to hang out with people who are just like us, so that’s what we do. Lawless idolatry. And that’s how we lived before we meet Christ. But Peter says something very different now, the present. That’s the past and now in the present, Peter says something different. In verse 4 “4 With respect to this they (the Gentiles, your former friends) are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you”. As a Christian have you experienced that? As a Christian have you experienced that? That you used to hang out with these people, certain types of people. You used to chill out with them, you used to drink with them, you used to party with them, you used to play World of War craft with them. You used to watch videos with them, you used to listen to music with them, and you used to do all of that. And all of a sudden, things changed. Let me get to know you a little bit better. How are you doing? Things start changing a little bit. Because you know why? Christ matters and because of that you change. Somehow your relationship with God matters and because of that it affects the things you used to do. And your friends are surprised. Naturally they’re surprised. “What’s going on? What are you doing? Why can’t we just drink it up? Why can’t we smoke it up? Why can’t we do the same thing that we’ve done?”

FREEDOM THROUGH CHRIST
Augustine tells a story, which I’m going to recount for you and it goes something along the lines of this. Augustine before he was saved was a very handsome character. I’m sure he had a great personality and was good-looking guy. And he used to go around town sleeping with one woman, sleeping with another woman, and coveting with this person and that person and all of that. After his conversion, he became a monk; he became a very pious, respectable person. He went to this town, where he used to go there often before he was saved. He’s walking around and finally this one woman recognized him. “Augustine. Augustine. It’s me. Don’t you know me? Don’t you remember me?” Augustine looks and says “How do you do ma’am? Yes I do” and continues walking. Woman is a little perplexed, she’s like wait a minute. So the woman chases after Augustine and goes to Augustine and says “Augustine, don’t you remember me?” “Yes I do remember you. Of course I remember you.” He was saying something along the lines of this, “Yes I knew you, but it’s not me anymore. It’s me, but it’s not me.” Somehow he changed. Somehow there was a difference. Is there a difference in your life now? Or do you still have two sets of friends. You go to church, but you still go around and you are so accepted by these groups of people. But you know, and you know, that if you acted like the church they will not accept you and you know that. You’re making a choice there. Does Christ matter? Does Jesus matter? Do you still want you old life and want Christ? You can’t. It’s Christ or nothing. Because you know when you do not join them, you don’t join the flood of debauchery, what they’ll do is they’ll malign you. They’ll check you off the list and you know that.

The fact of the matter is we go to the first part of Chapter 4 and what it says is that Christ suffered. Christ died. And Christ has risen and he’s at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. Why did he suffer? Why did he come here? And Peter says, Jesus Christ came, the righteous for the unrighteous. He died as righteous for the unrighteous, so that you all, the readers of this letter, may go to heaven. So that the readers of this letter may go directly to God. So it gets a little personal, doesn’t it? He died righteous for the unrighteous, in other words for the readers, he did it for you, he did it for us.

 In one of the bible studies, I think this is the reason why we go to bible studies, one of out sisters said something that really stuck in my mind, it was this. We always freedom is about drinking, partying, having wild orgies. We think that’s freedom, don’t we? We think that doing bad things that there’s freedom in that, right? “Yo, I gotta let loose, I gotta be free. I’m just gonna go party it up. Yo I’ve been so restricted my whole life, I’m just gonna go and go woo, do it up. I’m gonna dance, I’m gonna do all this. I’m gonna do everything that I can’t do.” You know why you think that? Because somehow you think you’re good. Somehow you and I think that we’re somehow good. Because of that our freedom is to do something bad, but that isn’t biblical is it? That’s not what the Bible says does it. What the Bible says is the fact that you’re a sinner, you’re unrighteous and the freedom is the fact that you can do something good. That’s the freedom, the freedom is the fact that you don’t have to get drunk, the freedom is that you don’t have to smoke up, the freedom is the fact that you don’t have to have wild orgies. That’s the freedom; you no longer have to do that anymore. That somehow Christ matters, and that your natural tendency is to do all these things and you have the freedom NOT to do it. Seriously if we were in a more multicultural church, I would hear an “Amen, Amen, Woo!” You know that right? (Faint Amen in the crowd) Thank you, sir. That’s what we would have; really that’s your freedom. You have the freedom not to do all that, my beloved people.

BAPTISM AND JUDGMENT
And somehow your baptism, your baptism has to matter. You know when Jesus Christ first came into your life, when Jesus Christ somehow just went into your life and when you fell in love with Jesus, it’s that time that has to matter, that has to somehow rock your world. Does it rock your world? Does Jesus Christ matter? Does Jesus Christ matter more than you? Does scripture matter more than you, more than what you think? You know, during baptism, when we plunge ourselves into the water, as it were; do you know what that’s saying? It’s saying that you identify yourself in the death of Christ. Do you identify in the death of Christ? Meaning everything that I am, every being that I am, is nailed to the cross with Christ. All my shame, all the pain that I have, everything is nailed on that cross with Christ. Do you identify yourself in that? What that means is, I have died that’s why I plunge myself into the water and its God’s spirit, just like how God’s spirit raised Jesus, just like that I’m being raised up as a new creation, born again. Are you a new creation? Are you born again? Do you have a second chapter of your life? I’ll tell you what the future is going to be like. In verse 5 5but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead”. Do you know who that is, that’s Jesus Christ. Everyone will be judged whether you’re a Christian or a non-Christian. And in the end, you know what the judgment is? The judgment is death. The judgment is death, judgment is dead, and that’s your judgment. And everyone is judged. Have you died? Have you identified yourself with Christ’s death? And now do you identify yourself with life in Christ? That’s what matters. That’s what matters. Not how much money can I make, what kind of status do I have? What’s the best Cordon Bleu around? Who makes the best wings? That doesn’t matter, although it’s good though. Don’t get me wrong, its good. But that’s not the main thing. Do you identify yourself in Christ’s death, but importantly in Christ’s life? Because of the fact that in the future, everyone will have to give an account. Everyone.

LIVE BY BIBLICAL CONVICTION, BE BORN AGAIN
And so Peter goes on to say “6For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.” Are you living in the spirit? Are you dead to yourself, alive in Christ? How can I tell? How comfortable are you in this world? How comfortable are you in this world? How comfortable are you in this world? How comfortable are you in this church? How comfortable are you with people that are not God’s people? How comfortable are you with people that are God’s people? That’s a good test. Where is your comfort? Is your comfort in this world or is your comfort somewhere else? Things have to change. We need two volumes in our lives. There has to be a clear distinction in our lives. There has to be a clear choice in our lives. Christians are people who live by biblical conviction, not by our emotion. Not to say emotions are bad, but what I’m saying is that what drives that emotion is our biblical thinking. Our biblical thinking drives our emotion and because of that it drives our action. In our culture, it’s our environment, it’s our emotion that drives our action that drives us to think. The Bible is very different. What does the Bible say how should I think, what it does is how does that make me feel, how does that call me to act? And I’ll tell you something. Jesus Christ came into this world and he suffered. Why did he suffer? He could’ve been the most accepted man in this world. “You need food? Here you go. Oh, you need food? Here you go.” He could’ve ended the food crisis; he could’ve ended the food shortage, right? He could’ve gone to Africa. And been like “Here you go. Here you go. Fish? Hey you want to catch good fish? Go on the right side and you’ll catch all the fish you can.” He could’ve been a really popular guy, right? “Oh you’re sick, bloop! You sick too? Okay. You sick too? Hey you know what all you have to do is touch me, go ahead. You healed?” How awesome would that be? He could’ve been so accepted, but no. You know what he did? He cared for the weak. He loved that guy that wasn’t so popular and he associated himself with him, unlike me…I’m so sorry. But that was my life ago when I didn’t have Christ. But how about you what excuse do you have? Do you not know Christ? Do you not know Jesus? Men, women, be people that live by biblical thought.

LIVE LIKE ADOPTED CHILDREN
Jesus Christ came and we were so not right, we were so poor, we were orphans, you know, that’s what the Bible says, that we were orphans. Jesus Christ came from heaven to earth and looked at us and had compassion on us. Our face was battered us, we were tattered we were orphans. And Jesus Christ picked us up and cleaned us. And Jesus Christ says, “My daddy will adopt you. God will adopt you. My Father will adopt you.” Now you belong, for those who love Jesus, for those who have a relationship with Jesus. Now you belong, you’re a part of his family, now you’re royalty. You’re a son and daughter of God. Why are you still acting like un-adopted children, like orphans? You’re no longer orphans, you’re adopted children who are loved.

Do you know what’s so great about adopted children? Like my children, I didn’t have a choice who I got, whatever came out that’s my kid, those are my children. Sometimes, you know, lets face it, you know what I’m saying sometimes you hit the jackpot and sometimes maybe not, honestly, come on. But anyways you get that right? Adopting there’s a choice, there’s a choice. I don’t have to adopt you, you check out the teeth and all that, you know, maybe. There’s a choice. Like our dear friend, Brian got a dog, right? I’m sure he checked her out, what kind of personality does she have, its important to see, does she mesh with my personality, its like Christian Mingle, what is this? What is this? It’s like a dating service. “Yeah PK I swear, she’s got a great personality, her teeth are in check.” And Brian goes “I will have you as a dog” and he loves that dog to death. I love that dog to death. What I’m saying is that Jesus Christ looked at us and looked at the reality of who we are and we weren’t worth adopting. We weren’t worth all that. Do you know what God does? God says “Your mine. You are so mine. You are no one else’s.” How do I know that? “Here you go, let me give my son to pay. Let me give you my one and only child.” Let that sink in a little bit. “Let me give you my one and only son.”

I know that our dear brother Minsuk has a dog, Kobe. This kid would not give that thing up for any human being, right? “We need Kobe’s heart or this person will die.” “Let him die. Kobe’s mine.” We feel that way about that, but God gave up his one and only son for you. Do you think God will leave you alone? You think somehow God will let you be. That’s how precious you are and you think somehow God will just be like “Oh okay, off on your own, you do everything by yourself.” NO! God does not make a mistake, the fact that you’re here; God does not make a mistake wherever you are. And God will continue to guide you. God will love you. So have security in that and do you know what you do? You live. You live for Christ. You live for God. You’d be different. And if you knew how precious you are, if you knew the cost of your salvation you would do the same. I pray that our dear, beloved church would be a church that’s different, that’s a little unique, that will love people that are unlovable, that people will cherish the relationship that not worth cherishing, and that we would usher each other in doing the same.