Pul­pit Notes

The Covington News - - Religion -

The church as a cho­sen peo­ple

In his two New Tes­ta­ment let­ters, Si­mon Peter, that im­petu­ous but loyal dis­ci­ple of Je­sus, wrote to the Chris­tians scat­tered across Asia Mi­nor, lo­cated in the ter­ri­tory that is now in the na­tion of Turkey. He chal­lenged his read­ers to hold steady in the face of a se­ri­ous chal­lenge to their sta­bil­ity, their ef­fec­tive­ness, and their mes­sage.

Peter re­minded them of their true iden­tity. They were the new Is­rael. Through Christ they were re­lated di­rectly to the prom­ises of God in the Old Tes­ta­ment. They were the new peo­ple of God.

In 1 Peter 2:9-10 Peter said: “But you are a cho­sen peo­ple, a royal priest­hood, a holy na­tion, a peo­ple be­long­ing to God, that you may de­clare the praises of him who called you out of dark­ness into his won­der­ful light.”

Peter was telling them, and us, that we are a cho­sen peo­ple. We have not come to be the peo­ple of God on our own ini­tia­tive. We have been cho­sen by the gra­cious act of God. By his grace and mercy he has called us into be­ing as his covenant peo­ple. This is the her­itage of all of God’s peo­ple. We have been cho­sen by God.

Peter was also telling them, and us, that we are a holy peo­ple. God ac­cepts noth­ing less than ho­li­ness from his peo­ple. He is a holy God who says: “be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” To be holy means to be set apart for the sa­cred pur­poses of God, as well as to be en­tirely con­se­crated and ded­i­cated to God. To be holy re­quires that we rad­i­cally obey and sur­ren­der to the lord­ship of Je­sus Christ and al­low him to em­power us by his spirit.

Fi­nally, Peter was also telling them, and us, that we are a sent peo­ple. He said that we are to “de­clare the praises of him who called us out of dark­ness into his won­der­ful light.” We are cho­sen and made holy, so that we can be sent to de­clare the good news of Je­sus to a world that so des­per­ately needs to know him.

Ask your­self th­ese ques­tions: do I un­der­stand that I have been per­son­ally cho­sen by God and do I re­ally know him in a per­sonal way? Fur­ther, have I fully ded­i­cated my­self to him and al­lowed him to fill me with his Spirit and make me holy? This is not only the her­itage of the peo­ple of God long ago, but it re­mains the will of God for each of us to­day.

God has al­ready cho­sen you. Have you re­ally cho­sen him? Let us live like the cho­sen, holy peo­ple of God in th­ese days.

the Rev. Wayne Ruther­ford Life­Pointe Church of the Nazarene

Evan­ge­lism - it’s a love thing

Oc­to­ber 19 we’ll be host­ing a huge out­reach event at our prop­erty for our ground­break­ing fes­ti­val. We’re try­ing to in­vite as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble to cel­e­brate this amaz­ing bless­ing from God by wor­ship­ping him and by en­joy­ing the fun and fel­low­ship we have planned to­gether in the fes­ti­val and con­cert. Why? Be­cause that is why we are here — to share the good news of Je­sus. We are here to do evan­ge­lism in ev­ery­thing we do. So, our read­ings to­day are pretty timely.

You see, in our text, God’s word gives us some guid­ance in this evan­ge­lism stuff and shows us that evan­ge­lism, re­ally, is all about love. Here, Paul talks about the Thes­sa­lo­ni­ans and shows how they were nat­u­rally do­ing evan­ge­lism, even though it was hard to do the right thing in their sit­u­a­tion. And it be­comes clear that evan­ge­lism was not for them just a mat­ter of what they said. It was how they lived.

Paul talks about their work “pro­duced by faith,” their la­bor “prompted by love,” and their en­durance “in­spired by hope in our Lord Je­sus Christ.” Their evan­ge­lism was a love thing in that it is prompted and mo­ti­vated by love. Re­mem­ber what John wrote: “We love be­cause he first loved us.”

Even when we weren’t do­ing the work God wanted us to do, or when we were do­ing it just be­cause we “had to” or just go­ing through the mo­tions, God loved us — enough to send us Je­sus. One sin and we’ve fallen short of per­fec­tion. One sin and we de­serve God’s wrath. You see, God is just and sin must be paid for, fail­ure must be made right, short­com­ings must be ac­counted for. There is no gov­ern­ment bailout on sin. The price was too high. But Je­sus “res­cued us from this com­ing wrath.”

Je­sus taught us God’s love, Paul demon­strates, from when he chose us (verse 4), to when he worked his power in us (verse 5) to when he sac­ri­ficed ev­ery­thing, pay­ing the ran­som price for our sins with his blood to “res­cue us from the com­ing wrath” (verse 10). Our fail­ures de­serve God’s pu­n­ish­ment but Je­sus took that to make us his. That is love. And that is some­thing worth shar­ing.

Then, Paul shows us, that shar­ing of love is some­thing that is evan­ge­lism. The way we act, the way we live, the way we hope and talk and love — that is evan­ge­lism. That gives us op­por­tu­nity to in­tro­duce peo­ple to Je­sus. You see, Paul writes that peo­ple all over were see­ing the Thes­sa­lo­ni­ans’ joy in spite of set­backs, their love in spite of per­se­cu­tion, their trust in the face of so many who doubted. And all of that made the gospel look good.

Now, ap­ply that. God has loved you. He has put you in the lives of those around you and you show love. That is a given be­cause God’s love is in you and it nat­u­rally comes out. And that gives you op­por­tu­ni­ties to share. Use those. Use the re­la­tion­ships God has given you (friends, fam­ily, co­work­ers, coplay­ers, etc.). They see your love. Now tell them where it comes from and to where it leads. You can start by invit­ing them to ground­break­ing where they’ll hear all about this love. And even bet­ter, I pray they’ll see it in action.

the Rev. Jonathan E. Scharf Abid­ing Grace Lutheran Church

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