Do you want to glorify God with your life? You can’t do it by making life about you. When we make life about us, we attempt to steal the glory, the credit, the praise, for ourselves. But when we make life about loving and serving one another, according to the power and gifting of the Holy Spirit, God gets the glory.
In Peter’s first epistle to the Church scattered in Asia Minor, he gave them instructions on how to glorify God together. We can obey these instructions to glorify God together.
Below is an automated transcript of this messageGood morning church. It’s good to see all of you here this morning! We’re in the fourth Sunday of our sermon series entitled, “Better Together.” We are better together. God has made us for Himself and He’s made us for one another. We were built as relational creatures, meant to be in relationship with God and with one another. As we conclude this series today, in part four, we’re going to be talking about glorifying God together.
I would be remiss to not pray today for those that are helping us raise our children together. I would invite you, if you’re a teacher, whether it’s in the public school system or the private private school or a school administrator, would you mind to stand your feet just for a second so I can pray for you? If you’re a school teacher or an administrator, go ahead and stand and remain standing for a second so I can pray for you all. Give them a hand; we appreciate you. We are thankful for you. Let me pray for you. “Lord. We pray right now for our teachers and for administrators that are just getting started this year. We pray for their passion and for their power, for their strength, that it would come from You and they would recognize the influence they have in helping us raise up the next generation. Lord, bless them now, in Your name we pray. Amen.” Thank you, teachers and administrators. We love you and we appreciate the work you do.
Over the past four weeks, we’ve talked about what it looks like to do life together. We talked about the necessity of growing up in spiritual maturity. You can’t do it by yourself to grow up the way the Lord would have us, we need each other. Last week, we talked about how, sometimes, we offend each other and then, as a result, we have a hard time staying together. We talked about forgiveness and reconciliation last week.
This week, we’re going to be talking about the purpose of being together and how it becomes like a light to the world. Do you know the Lord’s Prayer? “Our Father, which art in heaven…” That’s the one we know as the Lord’s Prayer. That’s the Lord’s teaching prayer because He was teaching His disciples how to pray. If you want to read one of His prayers, one of his most powerful prayers is recorded in John 17. Do you know what He prays for? He prays that we would be one with Him and with one another, just as He and the Father are one. And then, He says that He wants to give us His glory and His oneness, so that the world, when they look at us, they’ll know we are His followers. The greatest evidence that we are of Christ is our togetherness, that we love each other and take care of each other.
As you look at our world today, especially if you look at America today, would you say that at least in our lifetime, our world seems to be the most disunified? Everything is just so disunified. So, that makes the church all the more important at this time; we need to be the kind of people who love each other and get along, so it would cause the world to look at us. God, I need some of that. Whatever that is that they have, I want some of that. And so, we’re better together; it’s the Lord’s purpose.
Do you want to help the last prayer of jesus? John 17 records His prayer before He went to the cross, before He went to the Garden of Gethsemane. Do you want to help His prayers get answered? You can help by starting to love and serve each other. Not that God needs any help answering the prayer of Jesus. God’s going to do it, but let’s cooperate so we’re better together and we bring glory to God when we’re together.
Don’t you want to glorify God with your life? Here’s the thing; you can’t do it by yourself. You’re just one little candle. Just one little candle. But if we all get together it creates a great light.
In the first epistle that Peter writes to the scattered church throughout Asia minor, He says this, he says, “I’m going to give you some instructions on how that you can serve one another and take care of each other so that you glorify God together.” I believe that we can hear these instructions from 1 Peter on how we can glorify God together.
As we look at the text, I think we’ll see three instructions. So, let’s look at chapter four. We’re going to pick it up at 1 Peter 4:8-11 (ESV) 8 “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 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 through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” This is God’s word.
We are looking for three instructions on how to glorify God together. Here’s the first instruction.
How to Glorify God Together: 1. Earnestly love one another without offense. If you’re looking at the reading today, how many “one another’s” do you see in today’s reading of verses 8 to 11? How many “one anothers” do you see? How many do you see? Do you see three? So let’s look for three instructions. You see, it’s not rocket science. We study God’s word and let it speak for itself. That’s where our three instructions are gonna come from. It’s the three “one anothers”
Verse eight has the first “one another.” “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” Notice, he begins with this phrase, “above all.” This is saying, make it a priority. Make it number one on your list of priorities that you love one another earnestly. It implies that he’s already told us some other things prior to this. Indeed he has. 1 Peter 4:7 (ESV) “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” It’s urgent and important. It’s urgent because the end of all things is at hand. Peter is saying that there’s nothing that’s keeping Jesus from coming back at any time.
It was 2000 years ago when Peter wrote this. You might say, Well, Peter got it wrong. Peter saw Jesus, not long after that. So he got it right for himself. But as he thinks about the timeline, what does Jesus need to do before he comes back again? Really nothing. There’s no biblical reason that he can’t come back already.
There’s some things in the prophecy that seemed to indicate that they needed to happen before His return. In 70AD, they destroyed Jerusalem and there was no place called Israel until 1947. Did you know, in history there’s never been a case of a country disappearing for 2000 years and then reappearing? That’s never happened before. But prophecy talks about how Israel would be present in the last days. There’s really nothing preventing Jesus from showing up right now. What this should do for us, is give us a sense of urgency that we need to, above all, start doing the things he told us to do. It’s not just important because he said it, it’s urgent because He’s coming soon. We’ll face Him soon.
The most important thing is that we love one another earnestly. What kind of love does he give you? He gives you a kind of love that he says is motivated in a certain way and has a certain outcome. It covers over a multitude of sins. In verse 8, he says, “loving one another earnestly since love covers a multitude of sins.” Peter is not saying that our love has an atoning power; that it can somehow cause people to get forgiveness with God. No, that’s not what he’s saying. Jesus does that, that’s from Jesus. Does it mean Peter is saying that we should cover things up, we should just not address things? No, that can’t be right because you can’t cover up things; they always pop back up again and they always pop up worse. That can’t be it. What does he mean that this kind of earnest love covers a multitude, all kinds of sins.
I think what he’s saying is that our love for each other should make it possible for us to not be so easily offended by one another so that we give grace to people. I can tell that he was having a bad day.
My wife and I’ve been married for 42 years. We got into a few fights early on, trying to help each other change. And then, after a while, I began to think, She can’t help it. She also, thinks, You know what ? He’s just going to stay that way I guess. You learn to put up with it . You get to where it doesn’t offend you like it used to because love covers it over. If you have a car, you need to put oil in the motor because the gears get hot, the more they rub together. If you let it run dry, your motor will seize up. The heat will just seize it up and the gears will explode. This is a picture, a metaphor, for this kind of love. We have to have it because the gears of our relationships create a little heat from time to time. But that “oil that grace” that love creates is so we are able to tolerate it. We are able to live together and to love each other. We are able to love each other earnestly.
Here’s what Dr. Schreiner says about this passage, about this kind of love that covers a multitude of sins. He says, “When believers lavish love on others, the sins and offenses of others are overlooked.” Peter was quoting proverbs when he said this. Proverbs 17:9 (ESV) “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.”
I was thinking about all the way back in the Old Testament, with the story of Noah, who, after building the ark and after the flood dried up, he planted a vineyard. The scripture says that he drank too much and he was drunk. Here’s the man of God, the righteous man of God. He drank too much and he’s laying in his tent without clothes on. His son, Ham, goes in, sees him and comes out. He tells his brothers that the old man’s there, he drank too much and he’s laying there naked. He talks about it to them. But the two other sons, Shem and Japheth, go into the tent backwards with a blanket and cover him. What’s that story about? It seems to be a story illustrating this, that rather than doing what the Proverb says, “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.” Instead of going out, repeating it and making their sin broadcast, love says, No, let me help you with this. Let me help you get a covering for this.
We need to be that kind of people, the kind of people that make allowances for others. Faults that aren’t so quick to be offended and judged .
Colossians 3:13 (NLT) “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Plus, it’s the mark of being a disciple of Jesus, a follower of jesus.
This is Jesus speaking, John 13:34-35 (ESV) 34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” It’s the mark of being a believer. Not that you’re a “goody two shoes,” not that you’re judgmental, but that you love each other, that you have the kind of love that’s unoffendable and that you make allowance for one another.
In Brant Hansen’s book, “Unoffendable,” he tells of a time when he worked part-time as a baseball game announcer. He described the two full-time announcers as very different people. He called one “buttoned-down John” and the other “profane Bob.” He said that he would fill in for them from time to time. John and Bob were very different people. He writes: “I was the guy they’d call to fill in for a friend of mine named John, who’s an absolutely brilliant announcer, and a very well-known radio pro too. John is a class act. He arrives at each game impeccably dressed, highly organized, and briefcase in hand. That’s how he rolls. He’s polished. He’s polite. He’s clean. He’s smooth. He’s successful. He’s also a professing Christian. Seated next to John at each game is his polar opposite in the behavior department. Bill is a grizzled former player whose life has taken some twists and turns for the worst. He’s boisterous and foul. His language is remarkably crude. , pornographic, even. He’s very tough to take. As I worked with Bill, filling in for John, I wondered, Wow! How does John, who’s even more take-charge, blunt, and straight-laced than I am, deal with this guy? And it’s night in, night out. I can’t imagine how he handles this. When profane Bill found out I was friends with buttoned-down John, he gave me my answer. I braced myself. I’ll leave the profanity out, but it went something like this: “You’re friends with John, really?” “Oh, yeah.” “You know what? I got something to say about that guy. That guy, John, is . . .” He paused. Then, momentarily, he continued: “A couple of weeks ago, you know what he did? He brought in a plaque he had made for me. It was the magazine cover from back in the day, me and my teammates. Hehad an original cover put in the plaque, and he gave it to me to honor me.” John simply refused to be offended. He was free to love Bill just the way he was. Bill was actually tearing up. “You know what?” he went on. “That guy is really good to me. And he just treats everyone the same up here. All of us are the same. The interns, me, the stadium manager, everybody. He just treats us all like he loves us.” Several seconds passed before he finally concluded, “I still can’t believe he did that for me.” I emailed John after the game and told him that I’d just heard one of the greatest compliments ever, and it was about him: he treats us all the same. John simply refused to be offended. He was free to love Bill just the way he was. My instinct, and I’m sure the instincts of many in Bill’s life, was to tell Bill to shut up, or at least watch his mouth, or get his act together. Or maybe I could ignore him. But John? John went and made him a plaque.“
What would you do if you’re around someone like Bill? Would you tell him to shut up? Would you tell them to watch his mouth? Would you decide you are going to avoid having to work with Bill if you can. Maybe you have a neighbor named Bill. Maybe you’ve got a coworker in the next seat over from you at the office. Maybe someone at school, someone that’s just hard to be a Christian around because they just are so offensive to be around. Can we learn to let the love of Jesus cover wrongs instead of judging people so that they like to be with us? Is that possible? Can we choose to love one another earnestly and just let some stuff go.
Some of us were offended on the way to church today. You’re thinking about that right now. You were offended because somebody cut you off as you were trying to change lanes or someone didn’t pull out when the light turned green and you called him a name. We’re so quick to do the opposite of loving. Maybe we got offended by someone in your car on the way to church today. I don’t know. Can we choose to have the love of Christ so that we love one another earnestly in a way that overlooks offense. Yes, we can. This is the first instruction.
2. Be hospitable to one another without complaint.
He says, love one another earnestly, the kind of love that covers wrongs. And then, be hospitable. We’re looking at verse nine. “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” Hospitality was the mark of the Middle East. It’s a mark to this day. If you go to the Middle East today. If they invite you into the house, they’re going to give you a coffee, probably in a small cup, that you can stand the spoon up in and it won’t even fall over. There is some seriously strong coffee that you can get in the Middle East. They will bring out some things to feed you because there’s still this kind of residual hospitality.
Peter says just doing is not good enough, you have to do it without grumbling. He puts that in because it was already the habit where he was growing up to be hospitable, but do it without grumbling.
Now, we’re living in the south, I don’t know if you all knew that. So if you moved down here from the north, you’re in the south now, okay? There’s this thing called “southern hospitality,” right? Some of you are still trying to figure that out. You moved down here from New York or Michigan and you’re still trying to figure out this “southern hospitality” thing. They invited you over to their house and when it was time for you to go, you couldn’t leave. They stood at the door with you, talking to you. Then they follow you down the walkway; you’re still trying to leave. Are these people trying to go home with me? You go to your car and they’re still talking to you. Then, the whole family comes out, stands and waves goodbye to you as you back out. Who are these people? They’re southerners; it’s “southern hospitality.”
Peter says, That is good that you are hospitable, but don’t go back in the house and grumble to your spouse that you thought they would never leave. You had those big southern smiles on your face, but the whole time you’re thinking that it’s 11:00pm. Don’t these people know it’s too late to stay out? You grumbled about it. What we do, if we grumble, is we steal God’s glory and we steal our own joy. Even when we try to be hospitable, we can ruin it by complaining. Peter says, “show hospitality.”
The word, “hospital,” comes from the same root. There were no hospitals until the 1st, 2nd and 3rd century; Christians started realising nobody was taking care of the sick. The people didn’t have a place to go and they couldn’t take care of themselves. Christians started building hospitals. Most of the hospitals around the world were originally founded by Christians. Did you know that that comes from the idea of being hospitable, literally in the Greek? It’s a Greek compound word. From φίλος (phileo – brotherly love) and ξένος (xenos – stranger or foreigner) – hospitable, generous to guests. It literally means, “loving strangers, loving guests, loving people different from you.” That’s what that word, “hospitality,” in the Greek literally means. It means to love people that are different from you.
The idea of taking care of people as your guests without complaining about it is what Peter is talking about here, not grumbling about it. Romans 12:13 (NIV) “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
Some of us need some practice; some of us need to get better at it. When we first planted the church, I was about 32 or 33 years old. We first planned the church back in 1992. During that year, we decided to have a church picnic. We told everybody, “Okay, the church is going to provide the dogs and buns. Everybody else needs to bring something to share. Bring enough for your family and enough to share and we’ll put it on the table together.” Everybody gets there. Afamily of five would show up with a little container of baked beans or something. I started looking at the table and I turned to Robin and said to her, “We don’t have enough food!” Our families didn’t know how to be hospitable. And so, I slipped Robin some money and told her to go to Kentucky Fried Chicken and get some food to put on the table. That’s what we had to do. We had to, out of our own pockets, take care of the church. When we planted the church, I was one of the older people at 32 or 33 years old. We attracted all these people in their twenties; there were more singles. They didn’t know how to be hospitable. At first, I wanted to grumble about this. In fact, I didn’t just want to, I did grumble about it. Who are these people that think that was enough to share? And then, it hit me; no one had ever taught them how to share. No one had taught him how to be hospitable and how to bring enough to share and to take care of other people. We recognized, as a church, that we had to practice hospitality. We needed some hospitality rehearsals and we needed to grow together. How do you get better at something? You practice it. You open up your home. Who does your home belong to? Have you made a decision, Christian, to say, “This is God’s house, My house belongs to you, Lord.” What about your car? Is that your car? My identity is tied up in that car. No, it’s God’s car. So, if somebody needs a ride, you start thinking about what you have as tools of ministry. We can be hospitable towards people, We can take care of people, and besides, you never know who you’re taking care of.
Hebrews 13:2 (ESV) “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” You just never know who you’re being hospitable to; treat them all like Jesus. Jesus says in Matthew 15: 35-40, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,6 you did it to me.’
We take care of one another as if we were caring for Jesus himself and we do it without grumbling. Grumbling ruins it. Philippians 2:14-15 (ESV) 14 “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” If you want to give God the glory, you can’t grumble about it. You have to have a wholehearted joy about it. I can’t help it. It just comes out sometimes. But the truth is, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” God, help me to stop grumbling.
You might not know when you’re grumbling. But if you’re married, your spouse will tell you, “You are being grumpy today.” Of course, I say back to her, “I am not.” Maybe I am. Your spouse will help you with that. Then, you have to say to her, “ I’m sorry, you’re right.” God hates grumbling because grumbling is the opposite of gratitude. God loves gratitude. We can stop grumbling and we can learn to be hospitable.
In Rosaria Butterfield’s book, The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post Christian World, she articulates a gospel-minded hospitality that she says was essential to her own conversion. She was a tenured professor at Syracuse University, a lesbian feminist activist and an unlikely convert, when she was invited to a small group at Ken and Floy Smith’s home.“For two years, I was loved and welcomed by a Christian community that I mocked, despised, and rejected. I accepted them when it worked for me and rejected them all the other times. There is simply no way I would have walked into a church if I had not a genuine friendship with them. I met with them once a week. At their home, the door was wide open. People were always in and out of the house—people from church and people not from church. Heated, genuine conversation would happen. People would speak honestly, and tears would flow. But it was different because Ken would open the Bible and sing from the Psalter, and then he would pray. It was so disarming; I couldn’t help but go back. It was in this context of hospitality that Ken brought the church to me, because it was impossible for me to get to the church without the bridge of somebody’s home.” She writes about this and how she experienced life change through Jesus, as a result of someone showing hospitality to her, even though she admittedly was far from God.
We have a saying in our church, “Build a bridge of trust that will bear the weight of truth.” Build a relationship. Why not use your home? Why not talk to your neighbors? Why not begin immediately? You know one way you can begin immediately is you can follow the “three minute rule.” We don’t talk about the “three minute rule” as much as we used to. Some of you have been with us for a while and remember it at the end of this service. Instead of running straight to your best friends to talk, go meet somebody you’ve never met before. It might be a little awkward when you first do it. You might go up to somebody and say, “Hey, I don’t think you and I have ever met. Have you just started coming here?” They may say, “I’ve been coming here for five years.” It will be kind of awkward because you’re just starting to reach out and talk to people that you don’t already know. But as you practice it, as you practice hospitality, you will improve and talk to people.
Here’s the thing, who’s the church? Is the church ageographic place? No, the church is wherever we are, we just happen to be meeting in this old movie theater that we bought and fixed up some years ago. We are the church, you are the church. If people visit our church, if there’s going to be hospitality here, we have to offer it. Help us, so that when people come here, they know that we love them and that we’re hospitable.
I remember a time when my wife and I visited a church when we were newlyweds, we hadn’t been married long. We were living in the Roanoke, Virginia area in those days and we attended this church. I loved the preaching; the preaching was awesome. I really thought tht this might be the church we should start going to and we needed to get to know some people. We would stand in the lobby and wait for somebody to talk to us, but nobody did. And then, we would stand out in the parking lot next to our car to see if anybody would ask us to go somewhere to get lunch, but nobody did. I really liked the preaching, but Robin kept saying to me, “They don’t seem very friendly.” We started going to another church and the preaching wasn’t quite as good and the building wasn’t quite as impressive, but the people were hospitable. There was this one guy who followed me around saying, “Have you met such and such?” This guy took me on as his personal project. I had to go back. This guy wouldn’t let go of me . His gift was hospitality.
People make a decision about whether or not they want to come back to this church before they ever get into the worship place. They make it out in the parking lot. They make it out in the lobby. Some of you come in spite of me and my preaching because someone here loves you and is hospitable to you. Let’s be hospitable, church, without grumbling.
3. Minister to one another with words and service.
We are in verses 10 and 11; we’re getting to that third “one another.” We’ve covered the first two. In verse 10, we read this, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another” would serve, in many translations, as the word “minister” to one another because, guess what? I’m not your minister, I’m your pastor and I’m equipping you to do the ministry. We studied that a couple of weeks ago. Pastor Jonathan Minter preached that sermon from the previous chapters.
Ephesians 4:11-12 (ESV) 11 “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” This scripture talks about every member being a minister, being equipped by the pastors of the church. You’re the ministers, so what’s your job? It is according to your gift; as you have received a gift, use it. Be a good steward of it. In other words, don’t waste it; use it.
He gives two categories of gifts. He says, there’s all kinds of gifts. There’s all kinds of varied grace, there’s varieties of giftedness, so use yours. He gives two categories. He says, we have speaking gifts and we have serving gifts. You can go look at the list of gifts. We’re not going to do that this morning. You can go to 1 Corinthians 12 -14 and get a long list. Romans 12 has a list there, where Paul goes into greater detail. He starts talking about all these different gifts. There’s about 21 of them that he lists.
Peter gives you two categories: speaking gifts and serving gifts. Whichever type you have, use it to build each other up and to minister to each other. Those gifts were not given to you for you only; they were given for the body, which is the church. Use them. Don’t waste them. Be good stewards. Be managers of what God has given you.
1 Peter 4:11 (NLT) “Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you.” “Whoever speaks as one who speaks oracles of God.” You’re probably reading that wondering, What are oracles? It has this idea of having heard from God; having heard God’s word speak out of that. If you’ve been given a speaking gift for others, don’t waste words with your own words. Use the words God has given you for one another.
Where are you going to get those words? We highly recommend this book (Bible). You can’t put out what you haven’t put in. Put these words from the Bible in. Then, when someone’s in need or someone needs encouragement, you have words that you received here.
The other thing you can do is you can listen to people and say, “Holy Spirit I don’t know what to say to this person. This person just lost a loved one. This person just got news that they’re facing cancer. You heard in Blake and Claudia Rhudy’s testimony that that happened to them. As a result, it became a ministry. Now, they feel called to help others who have received that news and desire to help them get through it.
You may say, Okay, I’ve got these words. I’ve been studying the word of God, so I have the oracles of God. I’m learning them. But now which ones do I say? Serve one another by ministering to another with words that build others up. How powerful is your ability to bless other people and apply it to them, using God’s word. So he says, “whoever speaks as one who speaks oracles of God.” I like the NLT here. “As though God Himself were speaking through you.” Is that not humbling to consider, that the spirit lives in us and we let Him speak? It often means to be quiet for a minute and listen. As someone’s talking to you, you can pray, “Holy Spirit tell me what to say. Tell me if I just need to be quiet.”
How many of you have been in that funeral line during the time of visitation? There’s the family; some of them are crying and some of them are smiling but people are talking to them. and you’re thinking, I wonder what they’re saying to the people, I wonder what they’re saying. I wonder what I’m going to say. What if you did this, ask the Lord, Lord just help me to be fully present, listening to You and listening to them because you know what matters most to people that are grieving is that You’re there. They won’t remember all the words that everybody said to them. You don’t have to be a genius to shake their hand, look them in the eye and say, “I’ve been praying for you.” Listen to see what they say. If they want to talk about their loved one, just listen. Maybe, as you’re listening, say, Holy Spirit, there’s something I need to say right here. Maybe something will pop in your head. Hey, can we get together for coffee next week? I just love to hear more about your brother. I want you to think about the adventure of being gifted by God to be His spokesperson into people’s lives and to minister to one another with words. I said this before that pastor Jonathan preached from Ephesians 4, “he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers to equip the saints for the work of the ministry for building up the body of Christ.” We are called to be ministers to one another.
I’ve noticed that people are especially open to ministry and the gospel when they have a “D day.” “D days” are deaths, disease, divorce, being dismissed from a job or deployment. “D day” is when we can speak words, but we can also serve meals. We can help people move, we can help with babysitting. When the words and the deeds come together from God through us. People will often hear what we’re saying about the gospel that they never could have heard any other way. We’re called to that. I’ve heard people say, Even my own family has not cared for me and loved on me the way my small group just did or the way my church has. This only happens when God’s people use the gifts that God has given us to speak and to serve the way He’s called us.
Will you use, as a good steward, what God has given you? When you do, there’s a purpose for it. Speak the words that God is giving you and then serve according to the strength that God supplies. In other words, even when you’re tired, ask God for strength because often those opportunities come when you’re tired. Some of us are just perpetually tired. It’s a demanding world we live in. But yet, God. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Strengthen me to do that thing to serve people for Your sake and for Your glory because that’s the purpose, in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.
Peter breaks into a benediction at the end. Heshouts praises to God. When the church starts looking like this, loving each other so earnestly that it covers a multitude of sins and showing so much hospitality, wholeheartedly without grumbling and we start carrying out the gifts towards one another, the whole world sees the glory of God. Peter shouts, “to him belong glory and dominion forever and ever, Amen.” He has to close with this benediction. He has to shout because this is what the church looks like in all of its glory. Let’s make the prayer of Christ and John chapter 17 come true, let’s cooperate with it. God’s going to do it. Let’s look like we’re together because there’s three “one anothers” here, but did you know there are 100 of them in the New Testament. “You can’t do the one anothers without one another.” We need each other. Will you decide today, to earnestly love one another, stop being so easily offended, to show hospitality without complaining and to serve one another? Minister to one another in word and deed.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank You for Your word. I pray, first of all, for that person that really got here on a thin thread today. They barely made it today, but as they’re listening, they feel so attracted to a relationship with You, Lord. If that’s you, my friend and you’ve decided today that you want to be a Christ follower, it begins with a prayer of faith,making a decision to do it. It begins by just saying, “I believe and then I receive.” Pray with me, I believe in You,Jesus. I believe You died on the cross for my sins. I believe You were raised from the grave and that You live today. I believe it and I receive You as my Lord and Savior. I give my life to You. Come into my life and forgive me of my sin. Make me a child of God. I want You to be my Lord and Savior . If you’re expressing your faith right now, and that’s what prayer is, it’s just talking to God, He’s ready to save you and receive you as His own child. Others are here and you’ve done that. You know Him as your Lord and Savior, but you’re not getting along with someone. There’s someone at work, someone in your neighborhood, someone in your family, a spouse, a child or a parent. There’s someone and you’re easily offended. Would you give that to the Lord right now and say, Lord, help me to have that kind of fervent love, that earnest love that covers a multitude of sins. Lord help me to be hospitable and to reach out to others and help them. Help me to speak words like they’re Your words, Lord, to others and to serve others according to Your strength. Lord help me today. I repent of those places where I’ve grumbled and where I’ve been judgmental. Lord help me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.