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August 3, 2020 2:04 pm
Let me ask if you would please turn to first Peter were to work through a couple of chapters in first Peter this morning and I like the guy give a shout out blood before began to my life group is called step-by-step and they meet on Sunday evenings at 6 o'clock would love you to join us if you'd like to join a life group. You can send me a email at email@example.com and I will send you what you need to join us tonight for the life life group and connect with us but this is a special group. It's kind of an inner generational group and over the last for five weeks they have had to listen to me work on this sermon.
I know that sounds kinda crazy but sometimes messages are processed in a pastor's life. It's things that the Lord might be doing to us and they were working through, and then as we are studying Scripture. It the largest ministers to send answers the needs that we find in our own lives and so in my step-by-step life group is had to endure me for the last several weeks. As of live through this message and pardon me if you would my voice has never been strong, but how does this spinal fusion about eight weeks ago and they had to move some stuff here and it's not come back completely yet so I'm sorry. I'll try my best to work through it.
If you listen attentively. I'll appreciate that, but about five months ago, life change for most of us didn't even this virus called COBIT 19 or the coronavirus at that time arrived on the scene and it has changed our lives. I remember when you first began we were all confined to our homes due to the stay-at-home order. We work from home. My wife work from home. It was just a different time for us. That's changed the way that we do everything. Some folks of going back to work part-time summer work still working from home but is change the way that we live our lives is change the way that we shop to know about you but I was an occasional Amazon shopper before this came about, but now with coven and not really be able to go that out that much or not wanting to go out that much.
We see we see the Amazon man probably 3 to 5 times a day at our house and I think they live on our street and I know my oldest son. He gets his groceries delivered he gets his to his meals from a restaurant delivered. I don't think he ever leaves his house. It's it's also change the way that we communicate. I want to know that. Last March I had never heard of.
What about you. I made a few people may have heard of Zumba used in their workplaces. Maybe at school, but now everybody is aware of what Zoom is and we know how to use Zoom.
We communicate through Skype through face time through WhatsApp and other different types of media that we found to be able to communicate.
COBIT has changed the way that we communicate.
It's also change the way that we dress, I see some of you are still wearing your mask see some have them pull down see others have them hanging from one ear, but five months ago, we would've never thought about wearing a mask, but now we wear the mask out in public is just a thing that we have to do coven. IT is also change the way that we do church. I remember when this first hit everything at Calvary just stopped. Remember were right in the middle of our straw spring semester of electives we had so many different things taking place champ spring seasons were kicking off our worship ministries was promoting music And other things and then everything just came to a screeching halt. So grateful and God's providence that we were already doing our live stream because that Became the way that all of us connected at that time was worship through live stream. It was not until just a few weeks ago, they were able to come back into this auditorium today. I want you know there's something else changed when COBIT came and I want to speak personally for just a moment, even when COBIT came five months ago and I started worshiping online it impacted me spiritually. It impacted my daily walk with the Lord and and not in a positive way. I guess though we are presented itself. Most is and how worship you know I'll love coming to Calvary church to worship when this place is full when the choir is in the is in the choir loft went when were just operating on all cylinders. I mean, it feels like were this close to heaven. Sometimes it doesn't and live stream is just not the same. Don't get me wrong, Dr. Monroe.
I have heard him now for 11 years plus and I think his messages are better than they have ever been in pastor Hathaway in our worship ministries. They continue to pursue excellence even in challenging circumstances and I'm just amazed by our worship ministries effectiveness to create creativity and their outstanding worship that they provide for us.
Even through live stream. He but what I'm talking about is my own personal approach to worship it's changed and I'm grateful for the live stream that we can connect with over 20 to 30 countries around the world and worship with people who are worshiping in places where the gospel is not shared freely, but let me tell you what worship looks like by my house and it may look like this at your house whenever we'd worship at home. I would always tune in Oma my phone or an iPad and then I would cast it or share it with my television so I'm watching worship service on the big screen, but I also have my breakfast with me in my coffee with me see some of you nodding your head already. I've got my another electronic device in my lap because I'm checking both scores or the latest news or or what's going on in the world.
I mean, worship is supposed to be when we are totally, completely focused on the Lord focused on God and when we worship at home. It just doesn't happen that way.
Now we become spectators worshiping from home instead of participants meet home.
I'm sitting back and watching the things that take place on one move that shirt that Dr. Monroe was wearing today doesn't blend well with the background that they're using or how in the world can that that pastor I will call you names was probably me.
How can they walk in front of pastor Hathaway when he's about to introduce the next song I mean as a spectator, we become critical of what takes place with what were viewing. It's almost like being a ballgame. We say, I'll make that shot. I can't believe you made that call, we become a spectator, a critical spectator instead of a participant. Where were singing praises to the Lord, you know, one week and I have a dog and the dog was sitting in front of the TV watching the broadcast and I took my phone snapped a picture and send it to Dr. Monroe and said even at our house.
The pets are watching you not does that have to do with worship right. I was a spectator I was not worshiping the Lord while someone mentioned to me last week. Not a negative way, but just say they said her daughter.
Monroe mentioned in the sermon yesterday that it would be good when we could all return back to Calvary for worship and I know that Dr. Monroe wants to preach to a crowd and I realize he does. We would love to have this place filled not necessarily with members but lost people need the gospel by I want you know that Dr. Monroe does not really care about how many people are here whether there's one or 5000.
He's gonna deliver the messages that persons eternity depended upon what Dr. Monroe cares about is that he cares about what is best for this congregation.
He cares about what is best for the flock that he has been called by God to shepherd and what's best for Calvary church and what's best for every believer's corporate worship, corporate worship, where we all come together is scriptural and is the best thing for all believers. There's a reason the pilgrims going to Jerusalem to the temple for worship facing hams along the way to prepare their hearts for worship. There's a reason why corporate worship is what were going to do in heaven when Jesus comes back and calls us all home were not going to be scattered as a people were going to be to gather as the body of Christ, the bride of Christ celebrating all the wonderful amazing holy God that we have corporate worship is important for my spiritual health.
I need to be here to worship the Almighty God. And I think at home or if you're here today that you will agree that corporate worship.
Worship together is where we need to be now want to encourage you, especially those that are watching our lifestream today. As soon as you feel safe to return come back to Calvary church.
We are prepared for you here.
It is safe to worship here and when the body of Christ comes together to worship together is an amazing experience and God's presence is in this place so my soapbox thank you for tolerating it for a moment.
So what is the Bible say about coven 19 an hour. Coven 19 situation turn if you would to first Peter in the first chapter and as you're turning there. Let me give you little background in July the year 64 A.D. the great fire broke out in the city of Rome.
Soon the entire city was engulfed in flames. Hundreds of public buildings were burned to the ground.
Thousands of homes were destroyed most of the city's inhabitants of Rome were left homeless. History concludes that Emperor Nero had set fire to the entire city to destroy the ramshackle buildings of Rome and to make room to write some beautiful marble palaces and monuments. There were going to be dedicated in his name.
This event this great fire in Rome gave rise to the saying that Nero fiddled not playing the fiddle, but Phyllis thumbs while Rome burned. Historians have claimed that Emperor Nero was looking over the city and enjoying the fire skews me.
The people were incest to the point of revolution, so Nero had to create a scapegoat for his behavior.
He told the citizens of Rome that this group of people called Christians were to blame for the fire. Now these Christians follow the man whose name was Christ and it said that he was crucified and then he had been raised to life again. There were wild rumors about strange practices of these Christians participated in. They were said to be cannibals because they talk about drinking blood and eating the body of their leader. They spoke about agape love feast where they greeted one another with a holy kiss and they share their their inmost problems with one another and they had all things in common.
Christians were already a suspect group in Rome. So when Nero blamed them for the burning of Rome. The people believed him. And Christians were persecuted by Nero. Some of the Christians were dipped in tar and set a fire and used as lanterns in the gardens throughout this throughout the streets of Rome. Other Christians were tied to chariots and drag till they were killed.
Of course we know that many were fed to the lions. This is the setting for which Peter wrote this first epistle. His first epistle or first Peter as we call it in 67 A.D. it was during a difficult time of persecution where Christians were scattered all across what was known as Asia minor or modern-day Turkey. As we call it instead of remaining together as a church in Rome where it said believe that Peter was at this time. Christians fled for their lives and they hid across Asia minor. They were taken from their communities of support they were taken away from their life groups. There were taken away from their places of worship, Christians were restricted to not stay at home with a highlighted home there hiding at home was not because of the order from the governor but out of fear for their lives there coven 19 was a man named Nero and Roman centurions and justice Christians were scattered in 67 A.D. that's where we find ourselves today. We are scattered. So what happens to believers when the church is scattered what happens to us what happens to me, and what happens to you when were scattered with the first thing that Peter noticed is that when believers are scattered believers start blending back into society. Look, if you would at first Peter chapter 1 verses 14 through 16, Peter says. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in your conduct, since it is written, you shall be holy, for I am holy. Peter reminds us first off that believers are called to be holy, that we are called to be set apart. The Christians have been saved to be holy and to live lives that are holy Jesus came to make us holy. Here we are sinners, but because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross for our sins are forgiven, if we believe in him and we are made holy.
Made righteous. Both the Hebrew and the Greek words or to be holy, which appears over 2000 times in Scripture basically means to be set aside for something special.
God God is holy and he has set himself apart from creation from humanity and from all pagan gods by the fact of his deity that he is the one true God and because of his holiness, his sinlessness that he is a righteous God. That's why the angels sing of God, holy, holy, holy, and that's why Scripture declares him to be the holy God. And when we all arrive in the new kingdom.
One day we will sing holy, holy, holy, holiness. Holiness embodies the very essence of Christianity.
The holy Savior save sinners to be a holy people and that's why one of the most common names for a believer is St. you know what the word St. means it means saving and set apart. So what is this process of holiness that we go through. I'm not holy. I mean, I know that whenever I get to glory.
Whenever I stand before God and he looks at my sinfulness that he's begin to see me as righteous is holy because the blood of Christ, he has Christ has completely taken my sins away, and his righteousness has been imputed upon me the Scripture says, but there's still this process of holiness that were supposed to go through once we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. When we become a believer in Jesus Christ and accept him as our Savior, we become holy and forgiven of our sins we stand before the father blameless, but God's desire for us today is to live a lifestyle of sinlessness. This is an impossible task for us to do alone. And that's why God gave us his word and he gave us the Holy Spirit's word and the Holy Spirit is to equip believers with the power to live a holy and a sinless life. When we study the word. The Holy Spirit takes it and he changes us from the inside out. The Holy Spirit changes my sinful heart and transform my not transformed my heart to be more like the heart of our sinless Savior I wish as soon as we accepted Christ as our Savior. You be like shazam were made into the new person and were walking in holiness and everybody is just like Christ. But it doesn't happen that way. There's a regeneration as Paul describes in the book of Titus that happens in each Christians live life as we study the word of God is the Holy Spirit who lives in us the moment we accept Christ as our Savior. He takes that word and begins to change our heart, so that our heart is more like the hard Jesus. Now it doesn't happen all at once. This is a lifelong process that each and every one of us goes through and the time the. The only time that we really become holy is whenever we are in the presence of God in all our sins are gone and were standing in him and the righteousness of Christ holiness. There is a Scottish theologian John Brown and he defines holiness is this. He says holiness consist of thinking as God sees me holiness consist of thinking is God things and willing, as God wills God's mind and will are to be known from his word, and so far as I really understand and believe God's word God's mind becomes my mind. God's will becomes my will and according to the measure of my faith I become holy. So trust God more and he takes over our lives and that holiness here on this earth becomes ours never completely holy until we get to glory. But growing more and more each day like Christ. That's why we are called to be like Jesus because Jesus embodies in his sinless lifestyle. He embodies a lifestyle of holiness now in our definition of holiness. I mentioned that believers are set apart for something special and we are God has a plan for those of us who are believers and that plan is for us to be the salt and the light to the world. We are called to reflect the Savior. It appears that the first century Christians were scattered and they were returning to their old way of life. They were not reflecting the Savior, and I wonder how many of us because of our confinement have stopped being reflectors of the Savior look in the first Peter one verse 14 he says. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance during the scattered days of Cova 19 I want you to know that they're going to be some of our brothers and sisters that have gone back to their old way of life is just it just happens that way. That's how the enemy works he sees that we are scattered as a people. He sees that the sheep are isolated and he comes in he snatches them away.
Don't let that happen to you. Let me remind you that the world's way is not our way. That the world's way of life is not to be our way of life in first Peter one verse one Peter calls us elected exiles in the new American Standard version of a call as aliens in that translation. I, like that I like being called an alien in a diamond alien now. Do you ever think of yourself as an alien here on earth do you think that this place is not my home meet.
That's how Christians should think when I visit other countries on go trips. I know that I'm not in my home many times I'm dressed differently than they are taught differently out of southern it even difficult for some interpreters. They speak a different language.
Eat different foods we list the different musics we worship different gods when I'm in other countries. I know that I am different and so do the other people that live in the countries from visiting. What about here as believers we are called to be holy, called to be set apart, called to be different in our lifestyle should exemplify our heavenly home and we should be an example to others of where and to whom we belong. So first off, Peter's call to first century Christians were there. We are called to be holy and called to be set apart second.
It appears that many were lamenting that they were not together and they were wringing their hands and just as believers say all gosh is not the way that it used to be. What are we going to do and Peter reminded the church that you are still called to the church and let let me tell you today that we are still called to be the church. The church is not this beautiful building that we worship in, but the church is where each and every one of us is serving because we are the church is not our collective notice, but this is where individually we go out and we serve others being the hands and feet of Christ. Look in first Peter the second chapter verse five it says you yourselves are living stones. I'm sorry you yourselves like living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ say we no longer need a priest or a or to carry out the ministry as they did in in the Jewish faith but instead each and every one of us have have been given the opportunity not only to have direct access to God. We don't have to go through a priest anymore, but we are expected to be the ones who go and serve each and every one of us is a priest dispose goes serve and carried the word out to a lost and dying world.
Peter's telling believers of that time. Do not go back to the old way of life of accessing God because of Christ's sacrificial death for our sins. We now have direct access we can teach the word we can share the word, we can evangelize others and this is our responsibility. You know Anna and my wife and I we tried to make some healthy decisions during this Cova time.
I know some people are talking about, that they put on the cove at 15 pounds since Cisco had struck out and we decided we want to exercise and make sure that we didn't do that and also spiritually there are some disciplines that we didn't we walk a lot walk through the neighborhood, which we not really done before and I'm getting to know people. I know you can't believe this, but I'm a little bit extroverted and so when I'm walking on the trail. I'm speak I speak to everyone. If you don't say hey back on, standing, stepping in your way until you do.
And eventually everybody that walks the trail we doing about the same time every day I'm getting to know them. I'm getting to know their names, and other family members.
I call him by name.
Getting a spiritual diagnosis of who they are all asking most say hey when this is over we want you to come to your house and we want to dinner together and many of the folks are our different nationalities and Saul say to some of my Indian friends in the neighborhood all say are you are you vegetarian because I'm really fishy.
One of their Hindu or not. At this, Emma. Vegetarian is a good chance that there there Hindus are know how good have to connect to them, but I find out all about them because I realize that God's purpose for me is to be the church into evangelize the neighborhood where he put me in okay with the church were supposed to disperse from here. This should worship on Sunday should be like a somebody's going misquote this or misunderstand almost no one said it should be like a pep rally. I'm not saying we shall be cheering and I will note that we should get motivated when we leave this place to go, be able to serve out in our communities.
We are living stones were not dead stones were living stones that are supposed to be continuing to build the body of Christ. So first off, as believers during this time of cove. It during this time that were scattered. We are called to be holy, called to be set apart were called to be the church called to carry the message of Christ around the world. Next, we are called to behave or to live our lives differently. It appears that for some who were scattered their behavior was such that no one could really tell that they were believers.
Their behavior showed no respect for their leaders for their slaves for their slave owners or even in family relationships. The last half of first Peter two and the first half of chapter 3 of first Peter. Peter discusses relationships. He talks about Christians under even under persecution of Rome should respect and obey authorities that they should. He talks of slaves and paymasters.
He talks of wives submitting to their husbands, and then he says the impossible that husbands are supposed to understand their wives. I don't know how that happens but he summarizes it in first Peter three verse four.
He says let your adorning be hidden be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. Peter tells believers that you and I we can dress-up the outside.
All we want but is the inside that is important to God and that he wants our behavior to be such that people might come to see Jesus by looking at us. I think Peter wants to remind us of that today because I see so many people, even believers who are living their lives like this cove.
It is the end all the end-all is not. God is still in control and we got to live our lives as believers, knowing that God is in control. He knew this was coming and as the church we've got to continue to respond to be the church now, I want others to see Christ in me and I recognize that over the last several months there been other things that are shaping who I am as a person because I'm not a Calvary church doing ministry serving it to an end. There are him watching probably more TV I've ever watched before. I was watching use quit on the use anybody watching the news anymore.
I'm just about tired of watching the news anymore, but I realize that my life is not being shaped spiritually as it needs to be shaped and yet a sermon is something that will that we pastors are working through in our own lives and this is an area where I've got to do better with my personal holiness but my behavior has changed and of the other day I stopped at a red light know I was going through an intersection I got stopped at a red light and he turned in front of me. He didn't have room to turn but he turned right in front of me. I hit the brakes and guess what else I had I hit the horn today I had the horn. How dare you pull out in front of me. We didn't have enough room and this gentleman then just stopped his car his car stopped.
So what do I blew the horn more if I can a bone allowed or I would've blown it louder, but I blew the horn more showing my Christlike demeanor right with this gentleman got out of his car and he waved to me, but I know he didn't have all five fingers up okay and then he went to the front of his car and he popped the hood. The guy had broken down.
Whenever he turned in front of me and I felt like Lord your convicting me the way that I'm treating other people. I turn my sing-along and drove around in embarrassed for my behavior. So what should exile behavior look like look at first Peter three verses eight through 11 verse eight finally, all of you have unity of mind sympathy brotherly love a tender heart a humble spirit humble mind do not repay evil for evil refiling for reliable reviling. On the contrary, bless Ford fit for to this you were called that you might obtain a blessing for whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good, let him seek peace and pursue it. What you have done at the red light. I should stop, turn my emergency flashers on going up to this gentleman and apologize and said that's not really to. I am, I should offer to help and assistance. I should have see peace.
So much so that I pursued it. So when we have right behavior.
God rewards it. He rewards it with intimacy with him. You see what I had this anger in my heart is God turn in front of me. There was no intimacy with God. At that time. But when we are behaving right allowing Christ to live through us. There is intimacy with him.
Look at verse 15 chapter 3, but in your heart to honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asked you for a reason for the hope that is in you yet do it with gentleness and respect. See our reward is that we have the opportunity to be solved and light in the world and tell others about the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ right behavior.
This right behavior becomes a part of our DNA were allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts. You know I'm a good Southern boy. My mother told me to say yes sir to everybody and yes ma'am to everybody no matter what the age they are. I may though be a waitress in a restaurant and she might be 17 years old, but when she says, is there anything else on the say no ma'am, I mean that's just how installed I was told to open a door, and sometimes a meal so you don't need to open the door for me and I'll say I'm not doing it for you.
I'm doing it because that's who.
Who I am alone, be kind to other people. That's for Christ should do in our lives. He should change us in such a way that his nature, his way becomes our way and our behavior should be that of Christ's behavior so forth, times out to be the last one Peter noticed that Christians were not using their gifts so we are called to use our gifts.
Look at the first Peter four verses 10 and 11 says as each one has received a gift use it to serve one another as good servants as good stewards of God's varied grace.
Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God.
Whoever serves as one who serves by the strength that God supplies in order that in everything God may be glorified. To him be the glory and dominion forever and ever man Peter understood what happened when believers didn't use their gifts, they lose them. He was there when Jesus shared the parable of the talents and Peter want to make sure that though we are scattered that we continue to use the gifts that God has given us petering you the benefit of using our gifts. As believers we have all been given spiritual gifts and will we use our gifts to Holy Spirit ministers to others through us. I mean even in this exile exiled situation. If we use our gifts God uses them to touch the lives of others and to change laws with the gospel. These gifts are described in Romans 12, verses three through eight and we will read that today I'll let you read that a home but spiritual gifts are used, to benefit other people will remain on this earth, we are to be faithful to minister using these gifts. And Peter says that we are to be good stewards now. A steward is someone who is responsible for the resources of someone else. These gifts that God has given us are not our gifts were stewards of those gifts, he did gifts belong to God and are used to bring him glory will be held accountable for how we use the gifts that God has blessed us with. Let us be faithful, let us be devoted servants of God.
While we were here.
If you preach if you teach if you witness the message is not yours. It is Christ message and that's what were supposed to deliver to other people using our gifts.
Do it out of love for your fellow man out of obedience to obedience to your master, be consistent. Be faithful good stewards. So the until you draw your last breath. You will be serving the Savior now I want you to know that to use our gifts God calls us to leave the comfort of our hiding place for the first century Christians and he calls us to leave our cocoons of home where we feel safe and protected from coveted 19 we may have to wear a mask will have to sanitize our hands more but God expects us to use the gifts that he has given us for the building of his kingdom and that means that we are to take his guests out to the highways and byways to the neighborhoods where he's called us and tell others about now. In conclusion, the church is always grown during persecution during difficult times. This first century church here in 64 A.D. 67 A.D. it would've been easy for them just to to die away and I'm so afraid that I'm just gonna crawl back in and take up my old way of life, but instead the church flourished during this time of persecution.
Why because they recognize that this was God sending them out to different places in the world to tell others about Jesus. The church dispersed and because of that, there were churches that were started all across Asia minor, not just the ones of Paul started the churches that were started because of Christians who were dispersed as the message for us. We are the church were not a building.
We are dispersed by God into our neighborhoods to tell others about Jesus. What if we quit hiding because of code and got active so this as a call by God to be holy to be set apart to evangelize the neighborhoods where he called us to. What a great revival with see a Calvary church. I want to be a part of it. What about you join as we pray together. Father, we thank you so much for your word because it reminds us that you are not only with us during difficult, challenging days, the father, you have a plan for us during difficult and challenging days and that plan is to serve you and to reflect you to a lost and dying world who desperately needs you. Father, I want to be a part of what you're doing through this covert, 19 situation help me and my friends to be responsible with the tacit you've given us to tell a lost and dying world about Jesus. Use these days father to grow your church bring us out of hiding and bring us into your life where we might be the salt and the light of the world to others for us in Jesus name we pray.