Today on Insight for Living from Chuck Swindoll. The Lord chose you because he chose to choose you. He set his love upon us because in the goodness of his own heart, he said, I want you to be mine. It's like all of us begin our lives in the midst of an enormous orphanage and God our Father steps on the scene and says, I want you. In a court of law, when the judge drops his gavel with a thud, onlookers pay due attention.
But following a case, when the judge declares this one word, you can almost hear a pin drop. A pall is cast when the audience feels the gravity of this one condemning word, guilty. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll talks about the spiritual implications of shame. He's especially addressing the nagging internal struggle with guilt and God's merciful solution for his chosen ones. Teaching from 1 Peter 2, Chuck titled his message, Hope Beyond Guilt. I think if I were to ask adults to write God a letter and take a rambling sample of what they write, I think it would be altogether different than what they wrote as children. As a matter of fact, I think probably there will be written across the pages of those letters, feelings of guilt and fear. That's why for the next few minutes, I want us to turn in our Bibles and get a rather quick and simple profile of God's appraisal of us. He has taken us in our brokenness and he has made something beautiful of our lives.
Jeremiah 29, look at verse 11 and then verse 12. You want to know what his agenda is for you tomorrow morning? What his agenda is for you the next day? These are his plans. He wrote them originally to Israel, but by application they fit. Jeremiah speaking for the Lord God, I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord.
My agenda for you would be plans for welfare, not for calamity. To give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you.
Isn't that wonderful? One more, the book of James chapter 1. Sometime it's kind of nice just to thumb through the scriptures and find promises that tell us what God thinks of us.
Especially in a world that's continually telling us all the things they have against us and all the things they see wrong with us. It's kind of nice to find the things God says about us that are affirming. James 1 verses 17 and 18. Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of lights with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
Literally that last little phrase says or shadow of turning. In other words, God's light, God's gifts come constantly and they come even when we turn away from him. The reason I've begun in this vein is because in the study of 1 Peter, I've come across six lovely portraits that Peter paints. Six specific titles God gives his people. Found in verses 4-10 of chapter 2 in 1 Peter. They're beautiful.
They're extremely encouraging and affirming and positive. Right away verse 4 of 1 Peter 2, the emphasis falls on Christ. Coming to him, by the way the context is in verse 3, if you have tasted the goodness or the kindness of the Lord. Now coming to him, verse 4 continues, as to a living stone, remember that word picture, rejected by men but choice and precious in the sight of God.
Now here's the first title or portrait of God's people. And you also as living stones. So the first picture we have in scripture is we are living stones in a spiritual house. That's verse 5. As living stones we are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood.
We'll come back to that in a moment. To offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Focus on we are being built up as a spiritual house. Maybe you haven't thought about it ever in your Christian life but you are a stone in the building of God's church, the body of Christ. Remember Matthew 16 18, Jesus is answering Peter who has told him you are the Christ, the son of the living God.
And Jesus says blessed are you Simon son of Jonah, flesh and blood hasn't revealed this to you but my Father. And then he says I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. I will build my church.
There's a construction project going on. Jesus Christ is in the process of building his family. It's called the ekklesia, the church.
Those who were called out from the mass of humanity to become a part of God's family. You have been picked, chosen, and called out. He has quarried you from the pit of your sin. He has cut you and is developing you into just the right size, shape, and preparation of development for his house. And he is sliding you into place.
You are a part of his building project. Peter calls us living stones. Being built up as a spiritual house. Think of it this way, each time someone trusts Christ as savior, another stone is quarried out from the pit. Cemented into place through the kind work of the Holy Spirit. Now there are a lot of prophets of doom that are saying the church is done for, we've lost our effectiveness, we're fast passing off the scene, our great days were yesterday, they're not going to be that effective tomorrow.
I don't believe that. I believe God is still at work in his church and I believe that his church will never stop growing until it has come to its fulfillment. He will not have the gates of hell prevail against him. If you love music, you have seen crescendo signs in the score. It looks like a long arrow head that begins here on one side and it gets larger and larger and larger and as you, if you play an instrument or if you're singing that piece of music, you play harder, you blow harder or you sing louder as the conductor leads you in the crescendo. God's church is like that long crescendo mark. It's continuing to grow in volume, in effectiveness, in size and in the process of growth somewhere along the way, you child of God have been placed as a living stone in the building.
None of it is futile effort. In verses six through eight, Peter describes the Lord Jesus, accepted by some as Messiah, rejected by others. For this is contained in scripture. Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious cornerstone and he who believes in the Messiah shall not be disappointed. This precious value then is for you who believe, but for those who disbelieve, he quotes again from the Old Testament, the stone which the builders rejected, this became the very cornerstone and a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense. For they stumble because they are disobedient to the word and to this doom they were also appointed.
There is another way to live on this earth and that's just been described for you as a person doomed to a life of disappointment and ultimate condemnation. And it all revolves around one's relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. To those of us who are living stones related to the Lord Jesus Christ, he has become for us the chief cornerstone. For those who have rejected him, he has become to them a stone of offense.
Now back to our list. The first, we are stones, living stones in a spiritual building. Second, we are priests in the same temple. I mentioned in verse 5 that reference, we are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood.
Look down in verse 9, you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, mentions it again. It is always a happy experience of mine to announce to congregations every chance I get that we are our own priests. We don't have to go to someone else to represent us to God. We, because of Christ's death, because of his causing the veil to be split apart, letting all of us into the holiest place of all, we now have the privilege, even the right to represent needs to God. We also have the privilege of being a priest on behalf of one another. That's why we're admonished again and again in the New Testament to intercede for our brothers and our sisters, for our nation, for the lost, for ourselves.
That's because we are priests and priests do what? Verse 5, they offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God. One of my favorite verses out of Hebrews says this, let me have you look at it rather than my quoting it.
Chapter 13 verse 16, verse 15. Through him then, Hebrews 13, 15, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God that is the fruit of lips that give thanks to his name. You want to know what your sacrifices include? They include the sacrifice of praise to God, the fruit of our lips that give thanks to his name. Years ago the priests sacrificed blood, sacrificed animals on altars with literal fire and literal smoke.
Now the literalness is gone but the significance is still there. We as God's people approved by God, born again by God's power, we now are not only parts of the same building being built, we are a part of the priesthood in the same temple. Back to 1 Peter chapter 2, we're offering up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God. Now listen, it is true that we are not all career preachers, we are not all career missionaries, we are not all career teachers, but we are all career priests, all of us. And you're not fulfilling your role as a child of God if you're not carrying out the functions of a priest. Offering up sacrifices, representing needs to the Father. Priests offer up prayers, they bring spiritual sacrifices, they represent the needs of others, they traffic in spiritual truths throughout their day. Are you faithful in fulfilling your calling as a priest?
Here's a third pin portrait. We are a chosen race. See back in verse 9, you are a chosen race.
Now before this gives anybody a feeling of self-appointed pride, before you start believing something that isn't true, let me remind you that you were not chosen because you were that great a deal. Over in Deuteronomy chapter 7 verses 6, 7, and 8, there is a great three verse analysis of why God chose his first nation. Turn back to Deuteronomy 7, 6, 7, and 8. For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, speaking to the people of the Hebrews. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession out of all the peoples who were on the face of the earth. Now if you just read verse 6, you could think, not bad.
Must be something great about us. He picked us and nobody else. Well verse 7 will help take the edge off that. The Lord did not set his love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples. For you were the fewest of all peoples.
Then why? Why would God choose us as a part of his chosen nation? Verse 7, because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which he swore to your forefathers. The Lord brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. I challenge you to find one statement in verses 6, 7, and 8 that describes how great we are. Or how great the Hebrews were. Or how significant they stood out among all the other people.
It's not there. The Lord chose you because he chose to choose you. He set his love upon us because in the goodness of his own heart, he said, I want you to be mine. It's like all of us begin our lives in the midst of an enormous orphanage and God our Father steps on the scene and says, I want you. We were too ignorant, we were too wayward, we were too unconcerned to even know what was best and we were chosen by him.
You know why I love that? Not only because it exalts the grace of God, I love it because God gets all the glory in it. As I've said on a number of occasions, we won't walk around heaven with our thumbs under our suspenders out bragging one another. We'll spend our first number of years in heaven absolutely amazed that we were even privileged to be there. By the grace of God, we're a chosen nation. He's talking about Christians over here in 1 Peter 2. It's a new thought, a chosen race. By the way, John 15 and 16, you didn't choose me, I chose you. You didn't hunt me down, I hunted you down.
You didn't work half your life to find me, I found you. Let's make sure we understand that. Let's don't get the cart before the horse. Fourth, verse 9, you are a holy nation. So we're a stone in the building that's being built, we're a priest in the same temple, we are a chosen race, we are a holy nation. Interesting, isn't it, that within this great nation of ours there exists another nation.
It's a nation that is set apart. See the word holy, we've looked at it before rather in depth back in chapter 1. Holy means to be set apart.
Let me take away all the sacredness of the word. I'm wearing a tie right now. This evening, before I got dressed for this meeting, I walked up into my bedroom and I looked on my tie rack and I selected a tie. I had a number of ones to select from.
I chose this one. I pulled it off the rack and I put it around my neck and I tied the knot and at that moment the tie became holy. It doesn't look holy. I can assure you it doesn't feel holy.
As a matter of fact, there's a little gravy spot on it right here from the other night when I had a meal wearing this tie. But it's set apart for a particular purpose. That's holy. You are a holy nation. You and I make up this set apart body of people for a special purpose to represent, to be ambassadors for the king, the Lord Jesus Christ. We live in a nation that we love and in this nation there is a set apart nation. A nation within a nation. A body of people set apart for his special purpose and glory.
I'm turning right now to Philippians chapter 3 verse 20. For our citizenship is in heaven from which also we eagerly wait for a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. That will do something to you if you are connected too closely to things on this earth. Every time there's an earth tremor, I am so glad my citizenship is in heaven.
I stopped a long time ago holding tightly to things on this earth. I enjoy them. They are lovely.
They are wonderful. But they're all held very loosely because at any moment my citizenship can be claimed and I am homeward bound. All the time I'm on this earth and all the time you were on this earth, child of God, we are citizens away from home. Our citizenship is in heaven.
Remember that old quartet song you've heard sung so many years or at least I've heard. This world is not my home. I'm just a passing through. He even talks about these treasures. They're not my treasures. Someday I'll go on beyond the blue.
I'll go outside of this world and the treasures of this world will mean nothing to me. Be careful about your involvements on this planet. Don't dig your foundation too deep. As a friend of mine always says, keep your tent pegs real shallow.
Keep them shallow. You're just passing through. Peter says we are a holy nation.
Look at the next one. We are a people for God's own possession. I love that in verse 9. A people for God's own possession. I'm glad this section of scripture is correctly translated in the version of the Bible I'm using. For the longest time I used a Bible that said we are a peculiar people. And I saw all kinds of evidence of that around me. As if we were supposed to be odd or weird or strange.
It's not the correct rendering. It's a word peculiar should be rendered a people for God's own possession. Now think about that. Here's a new twist. When someone powerful or someone wealthy or someone significant owns something, that common thing becomes priceless. Did you hear recently that Napoleon's toothbrush sold for $21,000? And it's an old cruddy looking thing that you'd never want to put in your mouth. Why did it sell for $21,000? Napoleon had it in his mouth at one time. The car that Hitler owned sold for over $150,000 just because the man one time owned it. The desk where Winston Churchill sat to study is now beyond price.
You cannot buy it. It's not that great a looking desk. But Winston Churchill studied at it. He sat at it. And because Churchill owned it, it's priceless. A walking stick owned by a master poet. A house once lived in by Ernest Hemingway. A bed slept in by George Washington or Thomas Jefferson. Priceless.
Not because they themselves are that worthy, but because they are owned or they once were owned by someone who was significant. Now look again at this title. You are a people for God's own possession.
That'll do something to your innards when you study that. Talk about a feeling of dignity. You and I, child of God, have been purchased with a price.
We are therefore to glorify God in our bodies. We are not even our own possession. You are not your own.
You have been bought with a price. This is Insight for Living. Chuck Swindoll is teaching from First Peter chapter two. In this message, we're encouraged to learn that we're a people for God's own possession. There's more teaching on this topic coming up, so please keep listening. Chuck titled his message Hope Beyond Guilt. If you'd like to learn more about this ministry, visit us online at insideworld.org. It's possible you've been listening to Chuck's teaching today and you're resonating with Peter's reference to becoming living stones.
It's an unfamiliar phrase to most of us. And as you're prepared to learn more, let me remind you that Chuck wrote a book that includes much more detail on this passage. His book is titled Hope Again, When Life Hurts and Dreams Fade.
In the first few pages of the book, Chuck admits this. Hope isn't merely a nice option that helps us temporarily clear a hurdle. Hope is essential to our survival. Whatever you might be going through, whatever guilt you might be trying to suppress, we highly recommend Chuck's book as a helpful resource. It's available for purchase when you go to insight.org slash offer or call us.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Well, we're living in desperate times. Our world is divided on so many fronts and there's a growing cynicism about the role of faith in our culture. In this season, Chuck is determined to remain focused not on the world's problems, but on our sole mission as followers of Jesus Christ. While saying goodbye to his disciples, Jesus gave us a mandate that we carry to this very day.
Here's Chuck. Have you noticed when good friends say goodbye, some of the most profound statements are exchanged in their final moments together. Imagine what it was like for the men who stood with Jesus just before he ascended into heaven. Scripture tells us that the eleven disciples went up to the mountain where they saw Jesus and they worshiped him, but some of them doubted. Doubted?
Really? Seems incredible that even in that sacred moment, some of Jesus' closest friends were second-guessing him. Well, you and I have the benefit of watching history unfold, don't we? And at Insight for Living Ministries, we're not second-guessing Jesus whatsoever. What our Lord said to his closest friends on that hilltop has become the driving force of my life.
In fact, the Great Commission has caused me to remove the word retirement from my vocabulary. Jesus said, without apology or qualification of any kind, go and make disciples. And his mandate was not isolated to those first disciples, or to preachers or missionaries or evangelists. It's for every Christian. In fact, it's for you. For this reason, I'm calling on you to join me in this all-out campaign to make disciples. You have my word. Every dollar you donate to Insight for Living Ministries is stewarded with utmost care and integrity.
And every gift is directly channeled into fulfilling the Great Commission. Can I count on you to do your part? Please, don't wait for someone else to fulfill your role.
Don't be like the individuals who stood in the shadows and doubted Jesus. Pick up that phone or go online or write your letter today. Thanks so much. And here's how to get in touch with us at Insight for Living. If you have access to our webpage, just go online to insight.org and follow the instructions. Or if you'd like to speak to one of our friendly team members, if you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888.
That's 800-772-8888. Or you can give online at insight.org. I'm Bill Meyer, inviting you to join us next time when Chuck Swindoll continues his message called Hope Beyond Guilt on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Hope Beyond Guilt, Becoming Living Stones, was copyrighted in 1988, 1990, 1996, 2006, and 2010. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2011 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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