In All Things Glorify God through Jesus Christ!
Dear heavenly Father, You are my Light and my Salvation! Through the proclamation of Your law I have come to know that I am a sinner, while through the proclamation of Your gospel I have come to know that I am forgiven and by faith in Jesus as my Savior I am Your child. Be with me as I worship this day. Send Your Spirit to bless me with an understanding of Your Word, with clarity as I pray, and with joy as I sing Your praises. Amen.
Isaiah here speaks in poetic form of the blessings the Holy Spirit would bring to believers of the New Testament period through the proclamation of the gospel-justice, righteousness, peace, and security.
In spite of the blessings the Holy Spirit would bring, as Isaiah once foretold, Jesus informs His New Testament believers that following Him will not always be easy in a world that does not know or accept Him.
Text: 1 Peter 4:7-11
But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
In Christ Jesus, our Savior through whom we glorify God the Father, dear fellow redeemed:
“The end of all things is at hand!” If someone were standing on the corner of Broad Street and Main, or Stadium Road and Monks Avenue, or Madison Avenue and Victory Drive holding up a sign with those words as you drove by, what would you think? If you even noticed, you might well think that the individual was just some kook. After waiting nearly two thousand years for these words of the apostle Peter to come true, even we Christians tend to put our thoughts of the end of the world on the back burner…perhaps even on the floor behind the stove!
The end of life on this earth has come for five of our members in the past three weeks—a sobering reminder not just for the families involved, but for all of us who read their obituaries in the newspaper or attended their funeral services. The Scripture readings chosen for those services focus both on the brevity of our earthly lives and the promises of our Savior that by faith we possess the gift of eternal life! Those passages, as does our text today, remind us that we are but sojourners here in this world—that our future is not tied to this present world, but that our future is tied to our Savior Jesus Christ. Consequently our faith in Him and our relationship with Him are of the utmost importance. As we approach our individual lives we will want to do so with God and His will for us in mind. Peter speaks to this in our text as he directs us—IN ALL THINGS GLORIFY GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST!
To “glorify” God means to give Him the glory due Him—to praise Him. To glorify Him “through Jesus Christ” reminds us that it is only through Jesus that we truly come to know God; that it is only through the blood Jesus Christ shed that the barrier of our sins, which separates us by nature from God, has been removed so that we can now approach God; and that it is only through Jesus Christ that we by faith become children of God and so truly are able to glorify Him. How does Peter urge us to “glorify God through Jesus Christ”? He urges us to do so in our prayers,with fervent love, and as good stewards!
Peter writes, “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.” The first thing that Peter mentions after speaking of the end of time is prayer. Prayer is simply communication with God. Peter urges us to be “serious and watchful” with regard to our prayers, that is thoughtful and deliberate, regular and thorough. James reminds us that “the effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (5:16b). Consequently, prayer ought not be something inconsequential for us, but rather a part of our regular, every day schedule.
In any business setting communication is essential. Key people involved will communicate regularly through staff meetings, memos, and e-mail. In any personal relationship communication is essential. Individuals involved in any relationship will set aside time regularly to communicate—to talk about those things affecting that relationship…to seek ways to strengthen the relationship and carry it forward. What is true of our business and personal relationships in this world is also true of our relationship with God. Jesus Himself regularly went up into the mountains or some other secluded place to be alone and to pray. He needed those moments of communication in order successfully to carry out His mission of delivering mankind from sin. What was true for Jesus certainly will prove true for you and for me.
When we pray thoughtfully and deliberately we glorify God. To turn to God in prayer demonstrates that we recognize His sovereign control of all things. To turn to God in prayer in Jesus’ name demonstrates that we recognize His grace and mercy, for surely we must confess with the saints of old that we are unworthy of God’s rich blessings. Yet, God continues to shower us with blessings, even during times of great stress and trial.
For whom and for what will we want to pray? The Bible tells us to pray “for all men” and especially “for all who are in authority” (1 Tim. 2:1-2). It goes on to tell us “by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests (about everything) be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6). How do you keep track of those people for whom you want to offer special prayers? Do you at times tell people, “I will keep you in my prayers,” and then promptly forget all about them? I am afraid that I have been guilty of that at times upon occasion in the past. How can we help ourselves remember to be “serious and watchful” in our prayers? Two methods that might help are to keep an actual list of those people or those issues for whom and about which you want to pray. Another thought is to pray for special people or things on specific days. I am not suggesting something mechanical, but rather consider such things as methods of reminder. Prayer is a blessed privilege we as God’s children possess, because Jesus has redeemed us and made us God’s own. We will want to remember that the end of time is coming and that prayer is an important way to bring blessing to ourselves and others, while bringing glory to our God. Yes, IN ALL THINGS GLORIFY GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST! Do so in your prayers.
Do so as well with fervent love! Peter writes, “Above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.” Peter urges us to love. The love of which he speaks is that love of understanding and purpose. Our Savior would have us seek to understand the needs of those around us and then strive to meet those needs. Love, therefore, is not something passive that I only feel, but rather active—something that moves me to do! The apostle John writes, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 Jn. 3:18). That love, Peter says, is to be “fervent.” In other words, we are not to love once here and then love once there…to love this afternoon, and then perhaps Tuesday morning, and then again around Friday noon. No, we are to glorify God with an on-going loving life-style.
Such a love is pleasing to our God, for it is a reflection of and motivated by God’s own love for us in Christ Jesus. The apostle John writes again, “God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:7-11). Is that not wonderful?! God loved us, sinners such as we are, and sent His only begotten Son to pay the price necessary to remove our sins and to bestow upon us by His grace the gift of everlasting life!
It is that love, then which moves us to want to love our fellow men with two very important results. Peter says that such fervent love “will cover a multitude of sins” and such love will move us to be “hospitable (kind and welcoming) to each other without grumbling.” Life together as sinners is seldom easy. As we rub shoulders friction is inevitable. As we confess, we sin daily and much. It is important that we approach one another with a spirit of forgiveness, even as God has forgiven us in Christ Jesus. Only then will God’s will be done among us. Only when we focus our attention on God’s redeeming love for us in Christ Jesus, will we be able to move beyond selfishness and grumbling to genuine care and concern for each other. In so doing, however, we become what God has called us to be—lights in this world, shining to the glory of God! Yes, IN ALL THINGS GLORIFY GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST! Do so with fervent love!
Do so, finally, as good stewards! Peter writes, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
A steward is a trusted servant—someone in whose hands valuable things have been placed. We are all by grace through faith in Jesus Christ stewards of God. Peter urges us to be “good stewards.” He informs us that each of us has received gifts according to the manifold grace of God, and we are to use those gifts in service to others. The apostle Paul informed the Ephesian Christians, “When He (Jesus) ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men” (4:8). What are the gifts Jesus has given you? Have you discovered them? Have you developed them? Are you using them faithfully to serve others? By doing so you and I can and do glorify God!
We are not necessarily talking about big things. Our little ones used the gift of their voices and their enthusiasm at the beginning of the service to glorify God. We can use some of our spare time to visit those who are sick. We can make a phone call to someone who is lonely. We can plant a garden and share the produce we grow. We can help someone who is in need of financial help. We can be ready to give an answer for the hope of salvation we have within us (cf. 1 Pet. 3:15).
Peter adds two important thoughts to his encouragement to good stewardship. He urges us if we speak to speak “as the oracles of God.” In other words, Peter urges us to speak the truth as we find it in Scripture. Secondly, he reminds us that as we seek to use our particular gifts, God will provide us with the ability to do so. God never gives us a gift without enabling us to use it!
Are you tired yet? This has been pretty much a “do-do” sermon, and it certainly fits the text. Let us remember always that the ability to fulfill God’s will in our lives comes not from within ourselves but from God Himself. Remember these words of Isaiah, “Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (40:31) and “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (41:10).
“The end of all things is at hand!” Let us bear that fact in mind and IN ALL THINGS GLORIFY GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST! Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting