Practicing this end-time discipline, continually communing with the Lord. What the apostle Paul referred to in 1 Thessalonians 5.17, praying without ceasing. It doesn't mean you stay in the closet, you never get off your knees and face life.
This is just a conversation. This is a dedication to communion with the Lord. And it begins when you wake up in the morning and it's interrupted through the day, but it ends just before you fall asleep. As believers, we're called to live our lives from the perspective that this world is not all that is.
Every person who's ever existed will continue to exist forever. So, you're supposed to live your life now, in preparation for the life to come. Prayer is one of the tools that you use to live wisely.
Would you be interested in learning what the other tools are? Please stay with us. This is Wisdom for the Heart. Today, Stephen Davy opens God's word to 1 Peter chapter 4, in a lesson he's calling, Five Practices for End-Time Preppers. Today there are nearly 50 contractors in America who've signed contracts to take care of believers' pets after the rapture. In fact, the last event that was predicted, 2011, one contractor wrote up $35,000 worth of contracts after the rapture pet care. In fact, I went on one of their sites just this week, and one of them was asking for volunteers to offer their services for after the rapture. I mean, how bizarre is that?
How twisted is that? In fact, when the widespread belief in the 2011 prediction turned out to be false, here's what the Central North Carolina Atheists and Humanist Society had to say, quote, though the absurdity of this prediction is obvious to the majority of the world, the failure of this prediction presents a great opportunity to highlight these strange beliefs and raise awareness of the need for reason. See, at a time like that, the world seems wise and the church seems foolish. Let me give you three cautions to guide us as we wait, we long for, we look for the blessed hope, which is, Paul wrote, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, Titus 2, verse 13. Caution number one, scripture provides no prediction of a day or year or century or millennium for any prophetic event to take place. No dates.
Why not? Well, for one thing, Peter evidently believed the Lord as did the other apostles in refusing to set a date because concerning that day and hour, no man knows. How clear can that be? Matthew 24, 36. So the prediction of any hour, day, week, month, year, century, millennium is not only misguided, it is disobedient to the Word of God. And I would exhort you, beloved, don't fund and allow men and women to make money off the church the next time you see a book about the next date, the next blood moon, the next festival, whatever.
It's disobedience to the Word of God. Caution number two, there is no sign to be fulfilled before the church can be raptured. Since the creation of the church described in the book of Acts, to this day, 1900 years later, there's been nothing in the way of Christ's return for the bride.
In fact, they're all waiting for it. Paul encouraged, by the way, the Thessalonian believers in his second letter, the first letter talked about the raptura, the rapturing away, the Latin verb of the church. Well, in between that and the second letter, they thought they'd missed it. The persecution of the Roman Empire must mean they may have missed the rapture. Maybe they were in the tribulation period. So Paul comes along in his second letter. He encouraged them, reassured them, you haven't missed the rapture. Second Thessalonians chapter two. Let me give you a third caution to consider in light of all the predictions and forecasting that just never seems to turn off. Thirdly, we are not approaching the last days.
We are living in them. The writer of the book of Hebrews wrote, in these last days, he said, the prophet spoke to you in the past, but in these last days, he's spoken to us by his son. The words and works of Christ comprise the New Testament through his apostles. Paul wrote to Timothy a description of the culture that he was going to pastor in. And Paul interestingly referred to it that day, in these or in the last days, difficult times will come for men will become lovers of self.
Do you think that that is just not beginning to happen? He's describing the culture around Timothy. The people they were attempting to reach with the gospel. According to New Testament terminology, you and I happen to be living in the last days. These are the last days. This era. This dispensation of the church happens to be called in scripture, the last days. And so we're still here. 1900 years now into the last days. Maybe today will be the last day of the last days.
We don't know. Maybe tomorrow. He's just around the corner.
Listen to Paul right into the believers living in Rome. You know how late it is. Time is running out.
Wake up. For the coming of the Lord is nearer now than when we first believed. Paul lived with the sense of anticipation. I mean, it's nearer now than when we first got saved. Romans 13, 11 to 12. James the apostle wrote, strengthen your hearts for the coming of the Lord is nearer.
See, they lived with this. The rapture, the church hasn't happened yet. So the big question remains, what do we do now? I mean, how do we prepare for the end of human history as we know it? It's exactly what Peter tells us in his letter. If you haven't turned there already, go back to first Peter chapter four.
We began to explore this subject, this theme in verse seven. Peter writes, the end of all things is near. The end tell us the completion, the goal. In other words, the completion of the church in Peter's mind here. The next event on the prophetic calendar, which is the rapture of the church, the completion of that church, Peter writes, is near. And without the coming of the Lord for the church, that word is near means it's ready.
We talked about poised. It's ready to materialize. The apostle Peter, in the meantime, wants to turn us all into sanctified preppers, believers who are living in the last days prepared and ready. And it begins now in the text of fire away, rapid fire with ways to respond to that announcement of the Lord's soon appearing. What I want to do today is fairly quickly cover five of them. Five practices, we'll call it, for end time preppers.
And I think it's kind of funny that this is the first one. Number one, remain calm. I love that. Peter writes, therefore, be of sound judgment. The word is a Greek verb which describes someone with a cool head. Keep a cool head. It's important to follow up.
The end is near. Keep a cool head. Now, this is describing someone exercising self-control. In other words, you're not panicking.
There isn't any reason to panic if we understand biblically the concept of what's going to happen next. One commentator wrote that this word has in mind a measure of control over one's thinking and actions that allows a balanced outlook on any situation. When everything is coming unglued, I love this phrase, you remain level-headed.
How? Dependent on the Holy Spirit who makes perseverance in life and ministry possible. Remain calm because he is in control. Secondly, stay focused. Peter goes on to write, therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit.
Spirit is supplied. To be sober means to be on the alert, to be spiritually observant. So don't be asleep at the wheel, so to speak. The word carries the connotation of physical soberness which is the opposite of being physically drunk. Don't be like that.
When you're drunk, you're not in full control of your faculties and feelings. You can't even walk in a straight line physically. Now, he uses that idea metaphorically, spiritually. Don't have befuddled thoughts.
Don't be mixed up. Don't be unable to walk a straight line with purpose and clarity. That's the idea of the word here. Peter's using verbs that literally and metaphorically mean to stay sharp, don't panic, think life through clearly from God's perspective, stay in the word, remain calm, and stay focused. One author put it this way, having sound judgment and a sober spirit, as he comments on this text, means when natural disaster hits, you don't panic. When an official gets elected, you don't like, or the nightly news seems packed with bad news, don't worry.
Don't jump off a tall building either. This also means you don't quit your job because Jesus might come back today. You keep your nose to the grindstone and continue your work and life with an ongoing sense of purpose in the light of the unknown hour of Christ's coming.
Well put. What Peter offers next is the secret to maintaining that kind of balance and calmness and reasonableness and discernment. Notice thirdly, keep praying. Therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of, with a view to, pray. Things are going to potentially alarm you, pray. Current events might confuse you, pray. The world looks like it's spinning out of control.
What do you do? Pray. This is that communion with God. In fact, several times in the New Testament, Matthew chapter 26 and verse 41 for one, Ephesians 6 18, where the believer is told to be alert and pray.
It's rendered in the King James, watch and pray. Can't help but think that when Peter is writing this here, he's no doubt rehearsing a lesson he learned the hard way. Do you ever think he forgot the Lord's personal invitation to join him in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying in light of what Jesus knew was coming? And every time he invited Peter, Peter said, that's a great idea.
And then he went off and back to sleep. See what Jesus was attempting to teach Peter, and I think it's why it's included in the record of scripture, not to embarrass Peter, but to challenge us that when surprises come and they will, or temptations, praying prepares you for battle. You are not to pray simply when temptation comes. You are to pray because temptation will come.
Are you prepping for it? And for Peter, the memory of that garden experience, which then led into that courtyard experience, right where he denied the Lord, where Jesus is being interrogated, memory of all of that leads Peter to fully understand the danger. Here's the danger. The lack of spiritual communion simply sets the stage for spiritual collapse.
It sets us up for collapse. I remember when one of my twin sons was about five years old. We were praying one morning at the breakfast table before heading off to school, and it was our custom at that point to take turns, and it was one of my son's turn to pray, and he announced matter-of-factly, I'm not going to pray this morning. I thought, man, I got an apostate at the table. He's only five years old.
You know, where do I go? I tried to remain calm, and I said, well, son, why aren't you going to pray? Why aren't you going to pray? And he said, rather nonchalantly, because I don't need to.
It struck me later that my five-year-old son merely stated what we often think. I mean, we wouldn't dare say it. Why aren't we praying? We don't really need to. It's been a good day. Things look like they're working out.
We wouldn't dare say it, but how often do we live it? You see, Peter remembers that moment when he didn't really think he needed more prayer. What he thought he needed was more sleep. He set up. When you think about it, Peter didn't collapse spiritually in the courtyard.
Peter collapsed in the garden. Is it any surprise here then that Peter, an older man, a wiser disciple, would essentially write to every believer, listen, as you prepare to live in these last days, remember the end is near. Kenneth Wiest translated this phrase, be calm and collected in spirit with a view to giving yourself to prayer. So keep in mind, when Peter tells us this, he's not suggesting, you know, five minutes or 15 minutes or even an hour, although that's wonderful. He's referring to a lifestyle of preparation, preparing and practicing this end time discipline, which is a mind and a heart continually communing with the Lord. The apostle Paul referred to in 1 Thessalonians 5.17, praying without ceasing. It doesn't mean you stay in the closet and you pray.
You never get off your knees and face life. This is just a conversation. This is a dedication to communion with the Lord.
And it begins when you wake up in the morning and it's interrupted through the day, but it ends just before you fall asleep. The conversation is ongoing. I read recently a wonderful illustration of this kind of praying. It recorded a behind-the-scenes event in 1982 when the Today Show was going to interview Billy Graham. Remind you of how much the Today Show has changed, but at any rate they're going to interview Billy Graham. When he arrived at the New York studio, one of the program's assistants informed Billy Graham's assistant that a private room had been set aside, quote, for the reverend to be able to pray before the broadcast.
The assistant thanked the producer for the thoughtful gesture, but then told him immediately that Mr. Graham would not need the room. That kind of circled around the staff of the Today Show and they were rather shocked that a church leader of his reputation wouldn't want to pray a little bit before being interviewed on a live, nationally televised program. So it got back to him and Graham's assistant told the producer very kindly, listen, you need to understand that Mr. Graham began praying when he got up this morning. He prayed while he was eating his breakfast. He prayed in the car on the way over here and he's probably going to pray through the entire interview. That's the idea.
It can be anything, big or small. Have you ever caught a green light and said, thank you, Lord. Yeah, I do that all the time. So you remain calm. You stay focused because in view of, as a result of the fact that you are always praying.
He has another practice, number four, continue loving. Notice verse eight, above all, keep fervent in your love for one another because love covers a multitude of sins. Now what Peter does is he begins to focus not on our communion with God, but our communion with each other. This is life in the body of Christ as we together wait for the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
Notice how he begins verse eight with the phrase above all, that is of highest importance. In other words, of everything you're going to do and think and say and serve. This is first and foremost that you love one another fervently.
You could render that deeply. The word fervently or deeply was used in the Greek world for a horse at full gallop with taut muscles as he races along. Every muscle in your body is devoted, is dedicated to, is working hard at loving one another fervently. You're putting every effort into showing love toward the body of Christ.
And by the way, the original construction here makes everything that follows here verses eight, nine, ten, and eleven hinge back to verse seven. So in other words, if you're not remaining calm and staying focused and committed to praying, you're never going to love anybody in the church. You're never going to want to teach or serve anybody in the church.
You're never going to want to open your home to other believers. All of this flows out of that. If you're prepping correctly for the end of the world, this becomes your practice. You'll love the body of believers around you. And one of the necessities of genuine love is described here. Peter writes, because love covers a multitude of sins. How good is that?
How needed is that? Now, don't misunderstand. Peter's dealing with one nuance of love in its application. Nowhere in the New Testament are we told here, and he's not telling us here, to condone sin or to ignore sin or to refuse or to discipline unrepentant sinners. Peter's referring to here is an attitude of graciousness. In fact, every commentator I read that explored this text pointed back to that text in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which Peter is quoting a portion of here. It's Proverbs chapter 10 and verse 12, where the proverb reads, hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers all transgressions. And that contrast helps us understand the nuance Peter's after, I believe, here.
He's wanting us to demonstrate as we wait for the coming of Christ this gracious spirit that avoids pettiness, that avoids pickiness, that avoids the activity of gossip, that loves to broadcast the sins and the failures and the shortcomings of others. Peter wants us to avoid that hateful spirit that loves pointing out the faults of others and just keeps everything stirred up. To put it in our vernacular, the world out there is a dog-eat-dog world. They will take advantage of your weakness. They will take advantage of someone's failure. Just watch how they consume each other.
Don't bring that in here, what he's talking about. Peter commands us to love fervently, keep it at full strength. One author wrote it this way, the faucet of love should never be turned off in the body, let it flow deeply and fervently toward one another.
I love that expression, keep the faucet turned on and flowing. Let me mention one more practice for our study today. Number five, be available. Be available. Notice verse nine where Peter writes, be hospitable to one another without complaint.
Is he practical or what? Here's the activity and also the spirit of hospitality. In the first century it's helpful to know that hospitality was really much more critically necessary. There were a few ends and most of them doubled as brothels. Ends were unsafe, undesirable and as persecution mounted against the Christians, believers were losing their jobs, they were being ostracized, adult children being disinherited, left alone and without any help or assistance. The body was encouraged to open their home to those in need. By the way, keep in mind as well that for the first 200 years of church history there were no sanctuaries, there were no church buildings.
They met at homes. Romans 16 verse 5, 1 Corinthians 16, 19, Paul is commending people who hosted churches in their homes. Now the fact that Peter here commands hospitality implies what? People aren't tripping over each other to do it. Wasn't any easier in the first century as it is in the 21st century.
Everybody wasn't automatically volunteering. I mean hospitality could be inconvenient, right? It can be costly.
It takes time. It can drain resources. The people you host might not be grateful or kind or neat. They might not say thank you. They may take advantage of you.
They may stay longer than you expected. I can remember when Marsha and I had been married, we'd been married for probably eight weeks. We were setting up our apartment and I entered seminary full time and Marsha worked full time to put us through.
We were at church one Sunday night, the host church of the seminary and I spotted sitting near us a missionary couple and I recognized the guy from years earlier, my childhood. We chatted a bit and then I said, you know, it was evening. I said, hey, where are you guys eating supper tonight?
And so we don't have any plans. I said, great, come on over to our apartment for supper. What?
You got it. On the way home, my wife said, uh, honey, this is the end of the pay period and all I've got in the refrigerator is one head of lettuce and a tomato and some salad dressing. Well, she made a wonderful salad.
You'd never know. You know, we're sitting around eating and near the end of our dinner, if you can call it that, I said, so where are you guys staying tonight? They said, we don't have any plans.
I said, great, stay with us. We have a one bedroom apartment. My wife graciously gave them our bedroom, changed the sheets, set everything out for them. She made a pallet on the floor of the living room for us. Actually, I slept in the dog house.
She was, she was there. Trouble was we got up the next morning, they stayed in bed. We left.
I left for seminary full day and she left for work and we came back home and there they were. They were planning on leaving and we'd already eaten all the lettuce. Someone said it this way.
Hospitality is making people feel at home when you really wish they were. The end is near. Peter writes, the end is near. So do we hide away from the world and we leave the church?
Do we not care about people? Let's just stock up for us. No, don't panic. Stay focused. Keep praying. Continue graciously loving each other. Stay involved and available to those in need.
This is the second lesson in Stephen's series entitled Survival Kit and we'll continue through this series next time. I'm excited to be able to tell you about something pretty new here at Wisdom International. We've rolled out new technology that allows our website to be experienced in multiple languages. We're going to be working over the next several months to upload more of our foreign language content and we want to offer all nine of our current languages. Visit wisdomonline.org to see what I'm talking about. Then join us back here next time for more Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-16 00:26:16 / 2023-01-16 00:35:21 / 9