April 12, 2015 [2 Peter 1:1-4]

April 12, 2015
“Simeon Peter, a servant…”
[2 Peter 1:1-4]
Pastor Kenny Lee

What a wonderful prayer. When I was reading dear sister, Jane’s prayer, that part when she says “We’d rather earn our affection rather than just receive it.” You know those are things that I have said not in those words, but when I thought about that, man that’s so true. We’d rather earn our affection rather than just receive it. Yet that’s what the love of God is. You can’t earn God’s affection; you only need to receive it you see.

We had a wonderful week. Prior to that we had a terrible week. We had a week in which one of our members got hit by a truck. Then one of our church members kneecap is all the way up to his thigh. Terrible week! But then this past week, we had a wonderful week! Opening up of a business, our dear sister, Sarah got into school. She’s going to be a pharmacist. Woo! Great job, Sarah! Wonderful! Yeah, can we give her a hand? Sarah, just so proud of you, really, so proud of you. At the right campus too, I might add. She’s at the Baltimore campus, she ain’t at no whatever grove campus, is it Shady Grove? Ain’t no Shady Grove here, we’re in Baltimore campus. Great job. So proud of you. We have one of our dear sisters graduate as a police. She’s no longer a cadet; she’s a police officer. We were there to witness it, she was right there like this [Salutes like a police officer] All of that stuff: you’ve got the right to remain silent. She’s great, you know. It’s wonderful, but what stood out, I think, because I went to that graduation. I went to our wonderful sister, Jen Pepper’s graduation, oh man seeing her grow in the church “I don’t know what to do PK” to “Stop in the name of the law”, where did it go? So proud of you guys. One thing that really struck me because I’ve never been to a police academy graduation, have you? Well some of you have, and this one was probably most of you guys’ first one. But one thing that really struck me and that’s why I titled this sermon the way I did was this. There was an oath that was taken; too bad I don’t have that little pamphlet because it has the oath in it. It has “I, Blank state your name, will do this, this, XYZ, I will uphold the constitution and at least do XYZ and EFG and all that. At least Howard County police officers must swear to that. And it describes just the foundation of what a police officer should do. And so what was cool is there are all these graduates, they’re like “I, Sam/Jane/Peter/Jennifer Pepper, promises to uphold to this law, that law, and what that is it’s the very foundation, the very identity of what a police officer should be, what they should do. Every organization, a lot of organizations such as the Army, the Cub Scouts, “I will do my duty to do so and so in my country, and all that. It’s the foundation of what a police officer should do, what a Cub Scout should be, what an officer, army person should be.

And I think Simon Peter, starts off with that as well, with what a Christian should be, what the foundation of Christianity, what your identity ought to be. It starts off as “1Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ”. Simeon Peter was many things, a father, a son, a brother, maybe future grandfather, a fisherman, businessman; he was a lot of things, a friend, and an uncle. But first and foremost, his identity was the fact that he was a servant of Jesus Christ. What’s your identity? What identifies you? See that’s the problem you see in the world. Who do you belong to? What’s your identity? See, what I am is I am a servant of Jesus Christ. Kenny, father, Hayden’s father, a husband, a pastor is mere secondary. First and foremost, what I am, what Simeon Peter was, is a servant of Jesus Christ. What’s your identity? When we give our lives to Christ, we’re making that oath. I, Kenny Lee, am a servant of Jesus Christ. I will obey. I will do exactly the work of Jesus. What kind of work do you do? I will serve the Lord. Who do you serve? For me and my household, I will serve the Lord. Which house do you serve? You know its incredible what Peter does. Peter moments later a short span of time later, after he pens this letter, you know what he does? You know what happens to him? He goes on to die as a martyr, arms stretched out upside down, hung on a cross. Peter is not just merely saying this; he’s actually embodying this that is who he is. It’s remarkable, as I dig into this word a little bit more; it’s really remarkable so join in, alright?

You know those people who go ”Yeah, I’m a servant of Christ.” We have this temptation you see, like any organization, you start off as an entry-level analyst and you become a senior analyst. When you’re an entry-level analyst you’re just like “Oh yeah, I’ll do what you say, you know.” And in the army, you start off as a nothing, a fuzz ball, you start off as nothing actually, then they shave your head and you’re just nothing. You’re just raking the lawn, you’re with scissors, cutting the lawn, manicuring it, literally with scissors and things like that. You do all those things and then you become a private, a PFC, you grow up in rank and everything. Just yesterday I was talking with our dear brother, “Yup.” “So, hey what are you? Are you a private?” “Nope, I’m a specialist,” he says. “I’m no longer a PFC, I’m not a private first class; I’m a specialist”, saying it with pride there. “So are you a cadet?” “No I’m a police officer, look at this badge.” “Are you a student?” “Nope, I graduated I have a Pharm D.” As you grow in any kind of culture, you know? “Are you the son?” “No, I am now the father.” In everything as you grow in your organization, there’s something that you’re proud of. Yeah I earned it, I have all the C’s and D’s to prove it, but I passed, that’s what matters I passed. I earned it, you see. We have the temptation to do that, don’t we, that ain’t Christianity. Look at this. Can we start looking at scripture and see what Peter is saying. Listen. After he pens that statement, “1Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ”, listen to what he says. “To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours”. An equal standing as ours? Peter is saying that. Peter, who momentarily walked on water until he realized he can’t walk on water and fell. Peter, who denied Jesus, but later on wept and repented and served the church. Peter, who loved the Lord with all his heart; Peter, upon his statement, is the foundation of our church. Peter says this “To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours”. Do you realize, beloved? When we love the Lord with everything that we’ve got, when God calls us to be his, we’re in equal standing with the apostles? Saint Peter? #BOOM #WOWREALLY? #INEVERKNEWTHAT Wow! Now I got something to brag about, don’t I? Yeah! It’s like becoming the President of the United States all of a sudden, without all the hassle.

But then he writes something after that, and this is what he writes “by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ”. You did nothing! I did nothing! It’s because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. God gives us that kind of thing. God provides us with that kind of intimate relationship, and we do nothing about it, nothing for it. We do not lift one single finger to earn that. The faith that we have is purely because of God’s righteousness. Do you hear that? The faith that we have is purely because of the righteousness of God. You’re here, we’re here, you and I are here right now. You’re hearing the voice, this voice that comes from scripture, purely by God’s grace. You are here not by chance; you are here purely by God’s grace. Will you listen? Will you bring down your judgment a little bit? Not be influenced by your environment. We have a temptation, this is what we do, we’re trained to do that, we’re raised up in our family and we’re taught to listen to our parents, we are taught to do all that stuff and we’re taught to submit. But there has to be a nice transition, especially for young folks. There’s got to be a time when you break out our culture, break out of your family. What you need to do as young adults is you need to grow into your own view, own thought. If you claim yourself a Christian, God’s word had to go beyond your family, Christ’s word has to go beyond your culture; Christ’s word has to go beyond all of that. You need to learn a new culture; you need to gain a new understanding. In other words, you need to be born again. Does that make sense? You need to be born again. We need to go back to the Word and we need to know. We need to be breastfed, we need to mash up some peas and eat that, we need to learn again, and we need to be born again. We cannot take what we learned from while we were growing up. We cannot do that anymore. For Christians we must be born again. We must be made anew.

Listen, here’s Peter’s blessing. After he says all of that stuff, this is great stuff that he is saying. Listen, this is what Peter’s saying, here’s Peter’s blessing. “2May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord”. What’s Peter saying here? We all know the knowledge of God. Most of us grew up in church, we know the Noah/flood story, we know Adam and Eve, we know Sodom and Gomorrah, we know all these things, and we assume that we know who God is and all that. But yet, we’re still judgmental. Yet, we’re still hard on other people, we’re so extremely hard on ourselves. And its interesting that what Peter says, “2May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God.” In other words, as the knowledge of God goes into your life, you know what should be multiplied? Grace. Peace. Grace and peace. Are you a gracious person? Are you a peaceful person? A lot of times, from my experience, as people become Christians, as they grow in Christ, I see them becoming more judgmental, less peaceful. More judgmental, less peaceful, you know why that is? They have the wrong understanding of God. They have the wrong theology. What’s your walk with God like? Does it bring you to a place where you’re more gracious, more merciful, or more judgmental?

You know how our church functions with a dysfunctional pastor like myself? The way our church functions if the fact that I’m very thankful because of the fact that this church is very gracious to me. This church is so forgiving. I do a lot of weird stuff, mess up, over sleep... I’m not at a loss of words. I know you guys are so tempted “Besides that you’re lazy, you’re this, you’re that, you don’t pray, you don’t keep your schedule”, you know all that. But thank you for saying anything. At this church it’s so gracious. See that’s what we’re hoping, as we grow in the knowledge of Christ that we’re more gracious that because of grace, peace may abound. You see without the grace, only things that we have are judgments. Seriously I was just hanging out with some people and all of a sudden this person came up to me and goes “Hey, you one of them Japanese people?” And I’m like “Nope, we’re Korean.” He’s like “Well I don’t want to be judgmental… ” What I said was “No, we’re all judgmental.” He goes “Yeah, that’s true.” That’s right, that’s true! If there’s no grace in your life, only thing that you can be is judgmental. Why are we so judgmental? Because we need to have something one up on the person, don’t we? We need to be better than that. That’s why judgmental people are often so hard on themselves. Nitpicking every little detail: Perfectionists, hard-driven types, and self-loathing. Oh you’re so ugly today, you nothing but a pimple. Well actually you’re a person and there happens to be a pimple. And so what we do is we tend to apply that perfection on others and we judge like crazy, don’t we? The only thing that’s different, the only thing that makes you so nice, is because you keep that judgment to yourselves. You think you’re better? No. You’re no better. The fact of the matter is the Bible says we’re all sinners; we’re all 100% sinners. We fall short of the glory of God. See people who are judgmental don’t quite know themselves. When we believe in Jesus what we realize is this: we realize that we need to die, that we are utter sinners, through and through. If we had one hundred choices to make a good choice, you wouldn’t hit it. If you had a thousand chances to go to God, you’ll never pick that. It’s purely by the grace of God, and if you realize what a sinner you are, you could realize how wonderful God is, how merciful God is. And you wouldn’t be able to point a finger at anybody. God is perfect. God should’ve judged us, but he doesn’t. What God does is this: he adopts us. He adopts us as his own. And it’s that identity that Peter grabs onto and says, “I too will serve the Lord. I too will love Jesus Christ.” And as a Christian realizes that, realizes how much God loves us, we get amazed. We get amazed, most of us, we get amazed at how “Oh my gosh, I’m such a sinner. I’m such a sinner. I’m such a sinner.” But we get amazed by saying, “Lord, how can you love a wretch like me? How can you love someone who is so filled with sin? You’re amazing.” The focus becomes different. The focus is where you are not at the center. Focus is where you don’t matter because you know that you are so taken care of by God, that there’s peace, that there’s peace. God will take care of you. God will take care of all things. God will guide you.

Verse 3 “3His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life.” Let me read that again, because it’s such a sweet sound to my ear. “3His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life.” God’s divine power has granted to us all things. God provides. I promise you he does. “Oh well PK, you don’t understand I prayed for a Lamborghini and he didn’t provide.” Is that what we’re talking about? “I wanted a new Michael Kors bag and it just didn’t come in time.” Is that what we’re talking about? “I prayed to the Lord for some new Jimmy Choos. I don’t think he knows who Jimmy is, or Choo.” Is that what we’re talking about? “I just wanted to get a Suit Supply suit and I just can’t get that money. God doesn’t. God doesn’t provide.” Is that what we’re talking about? God will fulfill all your desires, if your desire is in him. I promise you.

3His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” This is the thing that gets me. God provided us all things. God provided us the money, the intelligence, beauty, influence, personality, anything that you think is you is not. God provided you with those things. God provided your drive, your beauty. I see people just using their beauty just to make some money. I see people using their intellect to mass more power. I see people using their physical prowess or physical physique to glorify themselves. March madness, right? (Makes dribbling noises) “Look at me! ARG! Make me a pro. Give me millions.” It’s not you its God. You could’ve been born in so many ways, but you weren’t. You could’ve been born to other parents, but you weren’t. You could’ve gone to any other church and listened to any other sermon. Some of you are like “Yeah that would’ve been better.” But anyways, anyways, anyways, don’t think that because God wants you here. So theologically wrong, what is wrong with y’all? What we’re called to do is use it for God’s glory, people. Your beauty, your health, your intelligence, is for God’s glory and his purpose. You don’t believe me? Come on let’s go back to God’s word. You don’t have to listen to my opinion I promise you, but if you call yourself a Christian, you better listen to what scripture says, and this is what scripture says. “Through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” Okay I just see duh. I’ll read it again. “4 By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature.” That you can be a partaker, that you can be part of God’s nature. That you can be a part of God’s plan. You don’t get it? What God is saying, what Peter is saying about what God is saying is this: That no longer are you just a regular tax person, a CPA, no longer are you just a physical trainer, no longer are you a doctor, no longer are you a lawyer, no longer all of that. Even all of those things goes back to “Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ”. That what you do has radically changed now. Your job has radically changed and your job, what you do, you could actually be used for God’s kingdom and his glory. No longer dear children, are you just dear children anymore! You believe in this stuff? You could actually go into your family and just explode it from the inside out and you could be used by God in your family. That you could extend grace upon your parents now, you could extend grace upon your brothers and sisters now, that you have a greater purpose now. That you no longer live for yourself, you have a greater purpose you see that. That somehow God who created the whole heavens and earth, that you can do his purpose.

Man, back a couple years ago, is Google still a good place to work for and all that stuff, very innovative. They have outside the box thinking, so everyone’s like “Oh, I want to work for Google. I want to work for Apple. They’re so creative. Oh. I want to work for Facebook. Oh. They’re so outside the box thinking and all of that. Oh yeah.” And you meet a person who works for Google. “Yeah, I just met a janitor but he worked for Google. He’s a little special you know. Yeah, yeah.” “Yeah I work for Apple.” “What do you do?” “I watch the doors, but I work for Apple, you know.” They’re so proud of that. Back in the day it used to be Big Blue IBM. “I work for Big Blue. I work for IBM.” As a Christian do you realize that you could be working alongside the Almighty who created the heavens and the earth? Whoa, whoa! No longer are you just a mere whatever your identity may be. Don’t you want that? Don’t you want a greater purpose in your life? Instead of living for yourself, instead of making more money. “I want to look prettier, oh I want to look…” Instead of that, oh please can we go beyond that? Look, we are serving because our dear Lord, God’s one and only Son came and served us. Now, when we serve the Lord, God gives us an added bonus, that we can actually work for his kingdom, for his company. Whoa. It will give you a brand new way of seeing your life, people. It will give you a brand new way of seeing other people. It will give you a brand new way of seeing your environment, even your parents, even your boss, everyone else. Kenny Lee, a servant and pastor of Jesus Christ.

March 29, 2015 [1 Peter 5:5-14]

March 29, 2015
"The Need for Humility"
[1 Peter 5:5-14 ]
Pastor Brendon Wu

The title of this sermon is, “The Need for Humility”, because I recently watched a clip from a favorite movie called Top Gun. Before Maverick and Goose take flight they always say, “You know what, I got the need for speed. Great balls of fire!”. It’s the need for humility. We need humility in our lives. The reason why we say that is because in the Bible today it says, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”. If you’re a proud person, God won’t work with you. He can’t have a relationship with you like that. Humility is an interesting thing because none of us really want it. For those who think we’re humble or think we want to be humble, we don’t know what we’re talking about. It’s a very proud thing to think, “You know, my desire in life is to be humble”. It’s a very proud thing. If you can brag about that, how can you be humble? So it’s not something what we want but it’s definitely something that we need.

As we finish 1 Peter today as a whole, I’ve been reflecting on what this book means to me and to our church. For the past few months, we’ve been through this book written by Peter. It has really done a number one me. I’m still recovering from last week’s passage. If you missed out on last week’s sermon, please listen to the sermon and read 1 Peter 5:1-5. It talked about the type of elders that elders should be. The type of shepherds that all of us here as Christians should be. 1 Peter was written to a group of people who were suffering. They were going through horrible things in their lives. And the question that I want to ask is, what kind of suffering have you gone through? And has your suffering made you proud? Or has it humbled you? When I look back on my life and my relationship with God, I realized that the time when God taught me the most was during times of suffering - during times where He was disciplining me or allowing me to fail. I think a lot of times why we’re anxious, so worried, so caught up with the emotions of our heart is because we don’t quite see what God is doing in our lives. We only see the hardship and the pain, and the things that we don’t like. And it starts to become this massive amount of things that we have to overcome instead of knowing that God is good. God is doing a lot of different things in our lives.

Humility under the mighty hand of God
In the text is says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” Almost in a very certain way, Peter is saying, “Be humble. Humble yourselves, under God’s mighty hand.” And the way we do that is to cast our anxieties onto Him. I think this is very nice if we know how to do this ideally. But we really don’t. And I don’t find it a coincidence that our church just started going through a book called, “A Praying Life” by Paul Miller. A brother in men’s group was asking, “How do we know sometimes how to pray? How do we know how to go to God and pray?”. A lot of times it seems like we can go to God, we can pray about different things that you’re worried about. Different things that we’re anxious about and just get the answer that you want. And I think that’s a really good question. I think that’s a really important question for us to ask. A lot of times when we’re going to God and we have our anxieties and everything, we almost might have this expectation that God is supposed to answer our anxieties in the way that we think He should answer us. That’s not humble. That’s actually proud.

I remember the summer before my senior year of college, I was thinking between law school or seminary. Figuring out what you want to do after college is not an easy thing. I didn’t realize how spoiled I was back then. I didn’t know what to do so I was praying, I was praying. And I read this book called, “Just do something” by Kevin DeYoung. It’s a very good Christian book that encourages you to take action in your life, your relationship with Christ. But at the same time it’s a very dangerous book to read by yourself. That summer I didn’t know what to do so I just did everything. Everything that I could think of and I deluded myself into thinking, “If I can do everything and if I’m praying to God, then this must be how God is answering my prayers”. So I just tried to do as much as possible. Looking back, the way God had led me into ministry, into being a pastor – it’s not like I went to Him and He showed me signs in the sky. Nothing supernatural but a lot of times that’s how we want God to almost our anxieties. The way in which God had called me into ministry was – at a certain point I had a hard time. I wanted to put 100% of my faith into either doing law or going into ministry. At the end of the day, I just didn’t know. But I knew I had to trust God. God caught me something very important that time and that was – it’s not about these things that we pray about so often.

A lot of times we pray to God and we’re anxious because we’re thinking about very specific details in our lives. What school should I go to? Who should I marry or not marry? What job should I take? Very specific things. But what God was teaching me was – He wanted me to just trust Him and have faith in Him 100%. So when I think about pride, this humility that Peter is talking about, He’s not just telling us – be humble, think humble, and act humble by yourself in your own kind of way. But it’s under the mighty hand of God. In another words, do you believe that God really does have control over your life? That He is good. That He is loving. If you do, then you put 100% of your faith, 100% of your trust in scripture. In the actual will of God. The times when I’m most anxious in my life is when I’m thinking about a lot of things that God might not be as interested about. Some of the men recently got haircuts with a line on the side. I was joking earlier that I bet when we were getting this haircut for the first time we probably prayed. “God I’m so anxious. Please calm me down”. I just want to be frank, sober minded because that is what scripture is saying. I really don’t believe that God is that interested in a haircut. I believe that God cares about every detail and intricacy of our lives but I don’t think His focus is on those aspects of our plan. The kind of hair cut that we get. Whether we choose pinto or black beans in the Chipotle line. Different things that cross our minds. I’m not saying don’t pray about them but those are not the things that God really focuses on. But what is the will of God? How does we want us to be humble under Him? To not be prideful in thinking about our plans, our desires. But to be humbled under God thinking about, “God, what is your plan? What is your will?”.

Submitting to God’s will
So many times that is exactly it. I’ve come to really wrestle with and be challenged by how it’s not about the state that I live in. The universe doesn’t hinge upon the fact of whether I live in Maryland or not. Just like is God wanted to make me someone who was Asian and actually good at basketball. That doesn’t change the universe. Do we really believe that the universe hinges upon a lot of the details and certain small decisions that we make? God could have made this a church full of a lot other people – different than the gifts, talents, languages that we speak. And God would still have been glorified. It’s not about our plan. It’s not about our will. It’s not about our personal desires. But’s actually about God’s plan and what He wants to do. The will of God is to love God. The will of God is to love people, to love church. To be humbled under those things.

I shared this story in Children’s Corner. There’s a father and son who go to church for the first time. The father and son for different reasons of life, they never had a chance to go to church and have a relationship together. They were separated. This father and son go to church, they sit in the pews. The son really doesn’t really know what his father is like but because of the different experience he’s gone through in his life, his assumption, his gut just tell him that his father is probably not a loving father. When the father sitting next to him raises his hand, the son assumes that the father is going to strike him. Because the son has a sober mind and he knows that he is not a good son in general. He hasn’t been a good person and he’s done a lot of bad things. But the father takes that hand and instead of striking the son, puts it around his son, looks at him, and just tells him “You’re my son and I love you”. I don’t know what it is, when I’m reading these verses how God wants us to submit to Him, to trust in Him, to be under His mighty hand, it just sticks out to me so much how that mighty hand exalts us. That mighty hand lifts us up because of the fact that God cares about our anxieties. God cares about the different things that we go through and what we’ve done. Can we believe that? I hope and constantly pray that I would believe. That we would believe it.

The other part of this story is I just want us to wonder for a moment – what if that father didn’t put his hand around the son. What if he didn’t say, “I love you, you are my son”. What if he did something else? He got a cup of water and gave it to the son because he saw that he was thirsty. What if he raised his hand to volunteer for something at the church? What if he did a number of other things? It makes me wonder, why do we think God has to work just in one specific kind of way. And when God doesn’t do that, why are we so quick to harden our hearts and become better at Him? God does not have to submit to our desires and the way that we think church, life, and everything should be done. God doesn’t have to do that. When I look at our lives and the different things we’ve gone through, the reason why God didn’t give us what we wanted is because He loves us. Many times God doesn’t give us what we want because He loves us. But what God did give to us was His Son Jesus Christ. For everything that matters, it’s Jesus Christ who takes on our anxieties.

Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
One thing that I’ve been really thinking about is how Jesus Christ in the night before He died, He was anxious. In the night before Christ went up on the cross, He was sorrowful. He was troubled. It’s weird to think about Jesus like that. A lot of us think about Jesus Christ as almost like a God in the form of superman or something. A superhero. But Jesus Christ in all His humanity, when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He told Peter (the person who is writing this letter)– “Peter, pray for me”. Along with James and John. Christ started to become sorrowful. He started to become troubled. He said this to them. “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here. Watch with me”. Scripture says that when God, Jesus Christ went a little farther, He fell on His face and He was praying saying, “My father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will but as you will.” All this punishment, all this agony, He wanted to pass but nevertheless, not as I will but as you will, God. Even Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God wasn’t thinking about His will but the Father’s will. In that moment, we see that Jesus Christ was humbling Himself. Entrusting Himself to God His father. But I think the difference that we forget so often is that, between Jesus and us, when Jesus Christ went up on the cross, He prayed again and called out to God. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why have you left me? It was on that cross that Jesus Christ went through true aloneness. True loneliness. God really took away all His presence and there was nothing there to care for Him. God removed all the love that He had with Jesus through all of eternity.

Can we just imagine if we were in relationship with Jesus for all of eternity and then they turn their face away from us? They stopped looking at us and removed their relationship from us? This is single most heartbreaking moment of all of history, in all eternity. It should mean so much to us as Christians. Jesus Christ would willingly let Himself be humbled to the point where He would be removed from God. God would remove His gracious presence from Him. But what Jesus Christ did was, He trusted in God. Even then. He went through an eternity, an eternal amount of pain for every single of one of our sins. Every one of our vile thoughts and feelings. All the times that we’ve doubted God or questioned Him or been bitter at Him in everything. That’s the kind of God, the kind of Christ that we have. God has taken all of our ultimate anxiety. God’s resolved the ultimate problem of being separated from Him.

Be sober-minded
As we reflect on how God cares for us – especially through the cross, there’s something that we have to consider. In verse 8 it says, Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” It’s crazy to think that Satan is actively trying to come after us. He’s trying to deter, distract us in any kind of way. Satan can take something that we’ve been thinking about this past week. And on paper we know that it’s not that big of a deal but he’ll blow it up. He’ll take a little pixel of picture and make a huge deal out of it. Satan will try every trick in the book to lead us away from God. So many times I think that not only does Satan want to get at us during hard times, but a lot times he wants to delude us to thinking during good times that we’re okay. That’s Satan’s ploy. Apostle Peter is saying that, we need to have a sober mind. We can’t be twisted and drunk with the thought or the pessimism or the cynicism that God doesn’t care about us. That God isn’t working in our lives. 

Rejected on behalf of Christ
Peter talks about a very specific kind of suffering. He says that knowing “knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” As I was reflecting on Peter, it started to make me realize that I don’t think the kind of suffering we have in mind are the same as the kind of suffering Peter has in mind a lot of times. He was writing to people who were being persecuted, hated, rejected because of Christ. But at the same time, Peter never says that kind of suffering that God allows us to go through is a bad thing. In fact, he says that suffering on behalf of Christ and being rejected is a good thing. Jesus Christ wants us to be hated by the world. His will for us is to be rejected by the world. His will for us isn’t to be loved, cherished, adored by this world. Not at all. He says things like if the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. It’s because of the fact that, that’s the kind of suffering that Jesus Christ went through. More than anything, it was because Christ was sharing His life, sharing the gospel. Loving God, loving people. Sharing with them what salvation meant. That’s when He was most hated. That’s when He was most rejected. And yet, in those moments that was when He was doing the will of God the most. In our lives, do you see yourself being rejected? Do you see yourself being hated? Are you losing friends? I know that sounds so weird but why aren’t you losing friends? Why aren’t you getting into arguments? Why aren’t you at odds with some of the co-workers that you have gotten to know. Following Jesus doesn’t mean everything’s peachy and happy and peaceful all the time. Jesus Christ didn’t bring peace but He came to bring a sword. To the point where Christ says, “I have come to set a man against his father. Daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law”. A person’s enemies will be those of his household. And whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me”. Christ isn’t saying treat your mother-in-laws or daughter-in-laws like crap. That’s not glorifying to God. He’s not saying to get into these weird arguments with your dad either. But what Christ is saying is that – at some point, when we love Jesus and we love Christ so much and when we’re under God in humility to Him, there’s got to be friction, conflict, argument. There’s a battle going on where things are not at odds with each other.

I think this has been really on my mind lately because as we’re going through first Peter and reaching the end, so many times the sufferings we talk about are like this. “You know what, I have relationship issue again.” Or “I’m struggling with my friend because I just said really awful to them”. Those are okay things to talk about but after a while it’s like “Okay stop being a jerk to your friend. Cool, if you recognize that stop not keeping your word with them”. Things like that. I wish in our church, in the body of Christ, it would be more things like “You know what I was trying to reach out to this person. I have no idea how to share the gospel. I’m just not articulate so I just went up to them and tried to share something I was learning from church and they just laughed at me. It was horrible”. I wanna hear that. I wanna see our church people get rejected more. I’m not talking about getting rejected from the school or job we wanna go to. But getting rejected, getting humbled from the fact that loving Jesus and loving people includes that. I remember when I first became a Christian, I had no idea but the book of John. I sounded ridiculous. I sounded like an idiot. I would talk with my friends in my dorm about John. One time Tuesday night at dinner, I was eating with Andrew Wang and one other friend. I didn’t know at the time that Andrew and I would become as good of friends are we are now. But at the time he was a Christian longer than I was so I was coming to him and I was like, “Andrew, I tried sharing the gospel with my friend. It didn’t go well. I’m so discouraged and I just don’t know what to do”. The other friend was like, “Oh man, that really stinks. Sorry to hear that happened.” I think in all God’s sovereign wisdom this is why Andrew said what he said. He said, “Okay”. I was like, “That’s it?? I just became a Christian and I was trying to share the gospel. That’s it?”. But over time I’ve come to appreciate that. It’s not like Andrew knew what I was going through. But Andrew was like, “Okay, that’s what’s supposed to happen”. We would talk about scripture. We would talk about Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. We would talk about how if they reject you, it’s because they rejected Jesus first. So don’t take it so personally unless you’re a jerk. But if people reject you, it’s because you’re bearing the name of Christ. That’s a wonderful thing. That’s a beautiful thing. I lost 90% of my friends the first year I was a Christian. But then with the 10% that was left, half of that it’s like we’re part of the same church now. What I just think about over and over is the fact that when we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, this is the kind of suffering that is beautiful. It’s the primary kind of suffering that we’re supposed to go through. God’s beautiful church around the whole world is going through all different kinds of suffering. When I read the news, I realize I’m not suffering compared to them. But getting rejected in that kind of way, going through that – what else is there? What’s amazing is that when we’re following God and we’re suffering on behalf of loving God and sharing about what He’s done in our lives – we’re not without comfort at all. God sent Andrew and a lot of brothers here and what’s amazing is what Peter says in verse 10, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” When we read this, God is not saying to every single person in this world that He is going to restore them, confirm them, strengthen them, establish them. But He’s only saying to those who are suffering for Christ and willing to, who see the magnitude of Jesus Christ’s sufferings on the cross. To think about how Jesus Christ would die for us. To think how much Jesus Christ would love us and give up His life for us. His dignity, His social status, His position, everything – including His relationship with God. Why doesn’t that drive us throughout the day? Why doesn’t that keep us up at night sometimes? To think about eternal souls. I don’t think we’re too young or too old to care about stuff like this. In God’s eternal perspective, where are people going? Do we think, “Oh, people are just going to class. They’re just going to work. They’re just going to the mall.” Scripture says that outside of Christ, that’s not it. Without Jesus Christ in their pride, God opposes that and they’re going to hell! Set apart from Jesus Christ, that’s where we would all be going. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s the crazy Puritan stories that Pastor Kenny has been talking about. How they were suffering. I think it’s the sermon from last week about how Jesus Christ, the shepherd gave Himself up for us. I don’t know what it is but I don’t want to see myself stand here as a Christian and worry about and only think about my personal, my new issues. I’ll be real frank a lot of times I do that. But that’s where I should repent. For worry about the day to day things when God is looking at people eternally and looking at their souls. If you love Jesus and if you love your friends and you love your family – in there is there a sharing, a risk taking of wanting to share what Jesus Christ has done in our lives? How God has used the church? Are we going to fear man over God? Are we going to fear our classmates? Are we going to fear these people that we just know for a single second because God says this life is just a small second compared to eternity. I had a totally different sermon at first but the more and more I thought about the kind of suffering that Apostle Peter is going through, he’s talking about giving our life up for Christ. If we’re not living for God then what are we living for?

Parable of the Talents
I just want to end with a parable that Jesus Christ told Peter and his fellow disciples. This has been a parable that has been just grabbing me by the heart. It says that God will eventually call us to His eternal glory. In 1 Peter 5:4 it said, “And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” In this Parable of the Talents – Talents is a type of coin. In this parable that Jesus Christ was telling his disciples, he was saying that there was a master with three servants. To one servant he gave five coins. To another servant he gave two talents. To another servant he gave one talent. Before the master left them he said, “Make the most of these coins I have given you”. When the master returned home, he went up to each of these servants and said, “Hey, how’d it go?”. The first servant who had the five talents, invested them, and got back five more. What the master said to him was, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into my joy”. With the servant that had two coins, the same thing happened. He invested them and made two more. And Jesus again said to this servant, “Enter into my joy”. He went up to the third servant. He had seen the labor and the hardship that the first two servants had gone through. So the master said, “Hey, how’d it go?”. The third servant came up to the master and said, “You know with this one coin, I know you’re a hard man. I know you’re a mean man and you’re so demanding and you had all these expectations of me and everything. I was so afraid so what I did was I went and hid it. I sat on it. I hid it. I just didn’t do anything with it. I was just scared that you would yell at me and do al this stuff. So here you go, the coin that I hid. I just had one coin.”

The master answered him, “You wicked and slothful servant!” That’s the exact words of Jesus. “You know that I can do miracles out of so many different things. I can reap where I have not sow. I can sow where I didn’t reap. You should have been investing my money with the bankers. And when I came I should have been receiving my interest. Because of that, I’m taking your coin away from you. I’m giving it to someone else”. Jesus Christ through the master says, “For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  This is a real parable that Jesus Christ told. What is He saying? What Christ is saying is that if He’s given with everything that He’s given you, will you live for God or not? Are you a Christian? Are you saved? Are you sharing the gospel or at least endeavoring to do so? To love other people. To love God. With your life, are you living for God? Are you living to share His glory like Jesus Christ did with other people? If not, in the most sober-minded way possible, Jesus Christ preaches and tell us that we might not be Christians. If we’re not giving our life to God and to God’s people, then there is a place where we will end up. And it’s not with God because God never was the person that we wanted to glorify. When I think about this I’m not, “Jesus, why do you tell this parable? It’s freaky. It’s really scary.” But I realize that Jesus Christ tells this parable to give us a sober mind. Are we living for God? Are we loving people? And all the while what Jesus Christ has done for us is that, He’s the one a lot of our place. Many times where we didn’t put God first, didn’t trust in Him and love Him, He’s the one who took our place. He’s the one who has exchanged His life for ours. None of us should even have a chance in the presence of a really Holy God. But God, even in His Holiness and His perfection, by His grace, allows us to come to Him. For many of us, I don’t know what would gilt us. What will just get us to realize, we need Jesus. What have I been doing? Is school just about me? Is work just about me? Is dating just about me? Do I realize these are all things that God has given and He wants me to glorify Him with everything that I have so that I can eventually enter into His joy. The joy of my master.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.
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.”

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.