Sunday, August 18, 2019

New Year Message

 

The Main Thing, Is the Main Thing

Rev. Dr. Cortroy Jarvis
Chairman of PEC

With all my heart I wish you rich blessings and all the best for the New Year. May each one of you experience the Lord in many diverse ways!

I call upon all of us to go into the New Year with great trust in the Lord. Recently I read a nice little story in which a robin said to a sparrow: “There is one thing I would really like to know: Why do humans have to rush and worry all the time?” In reply the sparrow said to the robin: “My dear friend, they probably do not know the Father in heaven, who is so kind to you and me.”

Now one might argue that life is not so easy, especially not in our days. There is a great deal of distress, concern, and suffering. And at times we just do not see any way out. I am well aware of that! Nevertheless, let us not lose confidence in the Lord and His leadership.

Peter once brought this archetypal confidence in the Lord to expression after many disciples had left the Lord. He responded to Jesus’ question: “Do you also want to go away?” with the profession: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:67-68). He was conscious of the fact that there is really no substitute for the Lord.

This must also be our attitude. Let us cast aside all hesitation and simply allow our-selves to fall into the hand of the Lord!

In 1 Peter 2:4-5, Peter speaks of God building a spiritual house. The question is, why is God building a spiritual house? There are two things that are true of every living stone. First, every living stone is placed by God into his house, his church. The idea that you can be a Christian and not be part of a church is one of the greatest lies Satan has persuaded millions of people in America to believe. It is a dangerous deception to believe that you can be a Christian and not be part of a local church. Second, every living stone that God puts in his house has the same opinion of Jesus that he does. If you are a living stone, Jesus isn’t just a person of passing interest to you. He is the most fascinating, most desirable, most necessary per-son in your life.

He is your life. You feel about him the same way that God the Father feels about him. Those who are being built into a spiritual house have examined all the potential things to build life upon and have discovered that the only thing that is trustworthy is Jesus. Those whom God builds upon the cornerstone of Jesus are those who have discovered that Jesus is the corner-stone of their lives.

At the end of v. 5 Peter changes his metaphor again. He says that God is building us, these living stones, into a spiritual house “to be a holy priesthood.” Not only are we the stones that make up the walls of his house but we are also the priests who serve in his house. Immediately, we should think of the priests of the Old Testament to understand what this illustration means. The priests in the Old Testament were the ones set apart in Israel to take care of the temple, to offer the sacrifices and prayers to God that he required, to pray to and praise God and to teach men about God and what he requires. Peter says that all of us are priests. There is not a special class of people any longer who are different than everyone else in their access to God, their service to God, and their necessity in God’s work. We don’t all have the same functions, just like all the priests in the Old Testament didn’t have the same jobs. However, all of us share equally in the value of our labor and contribution to the worship and service of God and man. All of us engage in the work of offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

What are the acceptable spiritual sacrifices that we offer to God through Christ? I don’t have time to show you this in the Scriptures but let me give you a simple definition and then a few examples. The spiritual sacrifices we offer to God are all those attitudes, thoughts, words and actions that we have or do by faith in Jesus.

These sacrifices are not just the things we do in or for our local church. It is our whole life, all of our time, abilities, resources, words and actions lived by faith in Christ and to his glory. All of our “sacrifices” are acceptable because of Christ’s sacrifice, not because they have intrinsic value in themselves. If you are a living stone through faith in Christ, then your whole life is a living sacrifice. It includes words and songs of thanks-giving and praise. It includes acts of kindness and mercy and help given to others, especially to other Christians. It is financial gifts for the support of missionaries, pastors and the work of the church. It includes the meals we eat and the leisure time we enjoy.

It includes preaching and teaching the gospel in every way that the gospel is shared. It is words of encouragement and warning and correction and comfort to one another. It is the forgiveness and acceptance we offer to one another because we have been forgiven and accepted by God. It is being a loving husband, a respectful wife, an obedient child, a fair employer, a hard working employee. It includes the work we engage in to help the poor and preach the gospel as a church. There is no part of our life together that is not included in these spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Having a church building is a good thing, a helpful thing but not the main thing. Being built, as living stones into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” that is the main thing.

The words recorded in Hebrews 3: 6 caught my attention recently: “But Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.”

“His own house” is His congregation. The defining characteristics of the congregation of the Lord are thus trust, confidence, and hope – hope in the fulfillment of the divine promises. There is really no substitute for this!

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