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.
FIRST AND FOREMOST, WE ARE SERVANTS OF JESUS CHRIST
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.
BE BORN AGAIN, BE MADE ANEW
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.
DESIRE GOD, LIVE FOR A GREATER PURPOSE
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.