Sunday Messages

1 Peter 3:8-15 & 1 Peter 4:7-14 by Pastor Dan Walker
Hope comes when you are following someone who is leading you to a good future. The only person who will always lead you in the best direction is Jesus. In this message, you will learn how to follow Jesus no matter what is going on around you.
Duration:32 mins 11 secs

Today, we continue in our message series called Hope Restored. I believe that each person needs to have hope in God for the future of their life. I believe that our country as a whole needs to have hope in God for our future. Hope can be lost, especially when it’s placed in something or someone other than God. God wants to restore hope in each of our lives. And He wants to restore hope in God for America. How can that happen, how can hope be restored?

Today’s message is entitled “Follow the Lead.” If you are following someone who knows where to go, then you have can have hope that you’ll reach your desired destination. Who is the only one who knows the future and where to lead you? It’s Jesus.

1 Peter 2:21 (ESV)  For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

To have hope, one does not need to have a life devoid of suffering. Suffering is a part of the existence of every person because of the fall. Hope is determined by what you do and who you follow in the midst of suffering. According to this verse, we know that Christ Himself, suffered in His life and death on this earth. Yet, Jesus left us an example to follow, He blazed a path that we might follow in His steps throughout life.

Let’s think more deeply about hope and following Christ. Hope has to do with having faith for a good future with God. If you have no idea what direction to go in life or what path to take, you are in a hopeless situation for the future. To have hope restored, you must have a clear direction and believe it’s going to lead you to a good destination.

John 10:4 (ESV)  When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

In this verse, Jesus is talking about Himself as the good shepherd. Jesus goes before His flock of sheep and they sheep follow His lead. The sheep know that if they follow the shepherd, they will be protected. They will be fed and cared for. And they will have the best possible life a sheep can have. As believers, we are Jesus’ sheep. How do we follow Jesus, as we can’t see Him. We learn to hear and know His voice when He speaks to us.

John 10:5 (ESV)  A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

There are strangers that are trying to get you to follow them. You must learn to distinguish Jesus’ voice from the voice of strangers. A stranger will promise you all kinds of good things, but will lead you to disaster and hopelessness. Today, we’re going to learn how to follow Jesus’ lead in our lives. Jesus is going to speak to you today  through His Word and give you hope for the future. How do we follow the lead of Jesus in our lives?

Live blamelessly

1 Peter 3:8 (ESV)  Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

Jesus taught the importance of loving other people and demonstrated it in His life. In this verse, Peter shows us how to follow Jesus’ lead in our relationships with our church family. There are five characteristics that should define our relationships. We could summarize them as treating one another with loving kindness. Following Jesus is not just about us and Jesus, it’s about how we relate to others as well. What about those who don’t treat you so nicely?

1 Peter 3:9 (ESV)  Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

Our natural tendency is to seek retaliation of some kind against those who hurt us. When someone does or says something hurtful to us, what are we to do? Rather than paying someone back, we are to bless the person who hurt us. How can we do that? Simply by forgiving the person and seeking to show God’s love to them. What’s in it for us? God’s Word teaches that we reap what we sow. If we show blessing into the life of a person who has hurt us, we will reap blessing in our own lives. This verse primarily applies to unbelievers who hurt us, but it can also apply to believers who do wrong as well. To follow Jesus is to sow blessing to others, no matter how they treat us.

1 Peter 3:15 (ESV)  but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

When we are honoring Jesus in our hearts, we will be ready to be His witnesses. The hope that we have in Jesus should be apparent to those around us. When they ask us how we can have hope no matter our situation, we should be ready to explain our faith and hope to them. When we witness to others, it should be done humbly, gently and respectfully. Even when we have not been treated kindly by others or ridiculed for our faith.

As a follower of Jesus, our behavior with others should be very different from those who are not followers of Jesus. When we are hurt by others, we don’t retaliate, but we bless. What are ways that we can bless others? First of all, we simply forgive them, in our hearts or verbally with the who hurt us. Jesus made it clear that as His followers, we must forgive everyone who has hurt us, no matter how deeply.

If we don’t forgive someone, Jesus will not forgive us, which means we are not a believer. It isn’t easy to forgive others who are not sorry or remorseful for their sin, but it is what we must do to follow Jesus’ lead. Remember Jesus’ words on the cross, Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. As we forgive, it opens up the door to bless others and to restore relationships.

Blessing an unbeliever, also involves being a witness to them of what Christ has done in your life. To follow Jesus is to live blamelessly as Jesus did.

 Live to do God’s will

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.

These words were written 2000 years ago and the end of all things is much closer today. Jesus is coming back soon and so we must live to do God’s will in our lives. We are to be self-controlled and sober-minded. What does that mean? Self-control is one of the fruit of the Spirit and is the opposite of being out of control. To be self-controlled for the believer is to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Sober-minded is to be serious and earnest about life and how you live it. The reason given for these instructions is for our prayer life. We need to be self-controlled and earnest in order to pray regularly and effectively.

1 Peter 4:8 (ESV)  Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

Peter returns to the theme of loving other believers earnestly, which should be the mark of a church family. How does love cover a multitude of sins? When you love others earnestly, forgiveness comes easily. Many hurts that we have from others can be forgiven in our hearts. The relationship can continue and grow, as we keep no ongoing record of wrongs. Sometimes, a bigger issue between believers must be resolved. Yet, forgiveness is always at the heart of reconciliation. How else should we live to do God’s will with others in the church family?

1 Peter 4:10 (ESV)  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

Each believer has received gifts from God. These gifts are intended by God to be used to serve others, especially those in the church family. Serving others is how we can bless others through God’s grace. If we don’t use the gifts that God has given us to serve, then we are not being good managers of what God has blessed us with. These verses instruct us how to follow Jesus by doing God’s will in our relationships.

What is the opposite of living to do God’s will? It’s living to do our own will, choosing to do what we want to do. Our natural human tendency is to put ourselves first in life and to put God and others below ourselves. Jesus came to serve people, even though He was the Son of God. To follow in Jesus’ steps is to do God’s will by serving one another. 

The gifts that each one of us has are different. We may have the ability to use different gifts in different stages of our lives. Yet, as long as we’re alive, we have gifts that we can use to bless others. 

What is one gift that every believer has that can be used throughout life to bless others? That gift is prayer, a gift we often think of as not being very important. However, God’s Word tells us that prayer is powerful and effective. Our tendency is to just pray for ourselves and our families. And we should pray for ourselves and our families, but what about others? Are you praying for those in our church family? Are you praying for those relatives of yours who are not saved or who have drifted from God? What about your neighbors and workmates? Prayer on your own and in the small groups of church is vitally important, both for your spiritual growth and for the growth of others. Live to do God’s will.

Endure suffering

1 Peter 4:12 (ESV)  Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

Now, we come to the tests of trials that God allows in our lives. We are not to be surprised by suffering, because it is inevitable in our lives. Trials and suffering come not to destroy us but to test us, to test our faith and hope in God. If we are not to be surprised at suffering, how are we to respond?

1 Peter 4:13 (ESV)  But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

We are to rejoice in the suffering that comes into our lives. Why? Because we are following Jesus by sharing in His suffering. Jesus suffered in many ways throughout His life, as well as in His death. One day when Christ returns, we will be with Him forever without any suffering. As we look forward to that day, we can rejoice in any suffering we face as we follow Him.

1 Peter 4:14 (ESV)  If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

If we are insulted for being a Christian, this verse says that we are blessed. You see, the Spirit of God is always with us and is with you in a special way in the midst of suffering. Another name for the Holy Spirit is the comforter, who comforts us when we are enduring suffering in our lives. We are to endure and rejoice in the suffering that we face in life. We entrust our souls to our creator and keep on doing good when life is hard.

So, how should we position ourselves to follow Jesus in suffering? First of all, is we’re not to be surprised at trials, then we should expect them. And when we expect that they’re coming from time to time, we should prepare ourselves to rejoice in them. We don’t rejoice in the problem, but that God is with us and is going to bless us as we go through the trial. Trials and suffering are tests, allowed by God in our lives.

What happens if we don’t trust God in the midst of suffering? We begin to lose hope and spiral down into hopelessness. When you face a trial in your life, it’s a great time to ask others in the church family to pray for you. They will be blessed for praying and you will be blessed by the answers to their prayers. Together our faith will grow as God’s gets the glory.

Chapters 3 and 4 in 1 Peter gives us some practical instructions on how to follow Jesus in our lives. I’d encourage you to read through the entire chapters this week on your own. To follow Jesus is to live blameless lives, serving God and loving others. God is training us to do His will and not follow our own desires in life.

He’s given us gifts to use to serve one another. Each one of us can grow in the use of the gift of prayer to pray for others. We shouldn’t be surprised when suffering comes into our lives or the lives of others. God has allowed everything that we face to test us and help us grow closer to Him. Therefore we can rejoice in the midst of suffering, knowing that God is with us. We commit ourselves to following Jesus all the days of our lives.