Gifted for God’s Glory

The following is an excerpt from a recent that sermon Pastor Brandon preached on July 22, 2018.  The sermon is entitled, “Grace on Display.”  To access the entire message, visit http://www.greenstreet.org/messages/grace-on-display

Whether you realize it or not, you are a gifted person.  The Bible says that every member of the body of Christ is uniquely gifted to meet specific needs in the body.  The grace of God gifts us to serve one another to the glory of God.  God is glorified in His church when we selflessly serve one another and seek to build one another up.

In 1 Peter 4:10-11, we read:

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 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.”

Part of God’s grace in our lives is seen through the spiritual gifts that He has given to us as believers.  Peter broadly describes spiritual gifts by putting them into two categories—speaking gifts and serving gifts.  There are those who are gifted to teach and lead.  There are those who are gifted to serve in other ways.  Yet no matter the nature of your spiritual gift, you must always serve in the strength that God supplies.  God gives us both the gift and the strength required to exercise it.

Taken together, all of these attitudes are descriptive of how Peter says we are to live out the remainder of our time in love and service to one another.  Why?  Because the end is at hand!  And yet what is to be our ultimate motive?  Notice that he says, “…in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”  The glory of God is why we exercise our gifts!  It is why we move out of our comfort zones and engage an unbelieving world for Christ’s sake.  It is why we give and selflessly serve one another.  None of these things are simply ends unto themselves.  They are a means to an end.  The ultimate end is the glory of God.

This is Peter’s main emphasis in these last two chapters.  He says that Christians are to have the same mindset that Jesus had.  We must live with gospel urgency.  We must love and serve one another—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Christ!  Why?  The answer is because to Him alone belong glory and dominion.  We worship, we serve, we give, and we share the good news because Jesus is glorious.

God’s Glory in Gospel Advancement

The glory of God is to be the primary motive and ultimate incentive behind everything we do in life.  1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  Even the mundane details of our lives take on a whole new meaning when we do them with the glory of God in mind.  If God’s glory is to be the motive of the smallest details of life, how much more should it be the motive behind those things which are most important?  This is especially true for the Great Commission.

As a task-oriented person, I have found it much easier to focus on ‘what’ more so than ‘why.’  I even like to spend my time debating ‘how’ we go about doing the ‘what.’  And yet the thing that gets overlooked the quickest is the ‘why.’  Perhaps one of the reasons we fail to see our vital role in the Great Commission is because we have emphasized the ‘what’ over the ‘why.’  The ultimate motive behind our mission is not simply reaching more people.  Now, I realize that my previous sentence is somewhat shocking.  You say, “But isn’t the church supposed to reach people?”  To which I say, “Yes, absolutely.”  But why?  The ultimate reason is not so that we can have a bigger church.  The primary reason is that God is glorified through people coming to faith in Christ from every nation, tribe, and tongue.  Jesus is the only hope of salvation for those who are lost.  If simply ‘reaching people’ is the mission motive of the church, then how you go about doing it doesn’t really matter; the end justifies the means.  That’s why a lot of pastors have abandoned Bible exposition from the pulpit because it is not ‘en vogue’ with today’s culture.  Or, we end up spending more time focusing on our ‘set design’ than we do in personal prayer.  But if God’s glory is our ultimate motivating factor, then we will operate with the right perspective.  When the glory of God is the reason why you engage in personal evangelism, you will be much more inclined to consistently live it out through your daily routines.

Over the next couple of blog posts, I want to spend some time expanding this thought of God’s glory being our primary objective in gospel advancement.

A Marriage Surrendered to God

This past Sunday, I preached from 1 Peter 3:1-7 which deals with the subject of Christian marriage.  The theme of this section is Christian submission, and it is all patterned after the submission that Jesus Himself displayed in His earthly life and ministry.  Peter shows how Jesus is the perfect example of what a surrendered life truly looks like.  In every possible way, God the Son was surrendered to the will of God the Father.  As Christ’s disciples, we are to be surrendered to Him in every way.

A life that is surrendered to the lordship of Jesus Christ will have a practical application within a marriage relationship.  There is no greater relationship among human beings or one that is more important than marriage.  It should come as no surprise then that Satan hates marriage and will do everything he can to destroy it, simply because of the picture that it is of Christ and His church.  Marriage is a mysterious and wonderful relationship, a glorious gift God has given, but it is also hard.  Pastor and author Tim Keller has said:

“Modern culture would have you believe that everyone has a soul mate; that romance is the most important part of a successful marriage; that your spouse is there to help you realize your potential; that marriage does not mean forever, but merely for now; and that starting over after a divorce is the best solution to seemingly intractable marriage issues. All those modern-day assumptions are, in one word, wrong.”

Over the last several decades, marriage has been in a steady decline in our society.  The divorce rate is nearly twice as high as it was in 1960.  In 1970, 89% of all births were to married persons, but today only 60% are.  Prior to 1960, more than 72% of American adults were married, but only around 50% are in 2018.  How ironic it is that we have more information available about marriage than ever before and yet we have more marital problems and divorces than did those generations before us.

Marriage is more about being the right person than it is finding the right person.  It is something that we have to work at, and success doesn’t come automatic.  And when you add to the mix an unbelieving spouse, it can be especially difficult.  Such was the case for many of those Christian women to whom Peter writes.  They had come to faith in Christ, but their husbands had not.  He also calls upon these godly wives to be subject to their own husbands, and remember that they have an opportunity to lead them to Christ.  And lest we think Christian men are off the hook, he’s going to give us some instruction as well.  He says that husbands are to live with their wives in an understanding way, showing them honor as equals.  Christian husbands need to understand the precious value of their wives and honor them as joint heirs of the grace of life.

There are three parties involved in every marriage—the husband, the wife, and God.  If I can live as a surrendered disciple in my home, then I can live as a surrendered disciple anywhere.  But if I’m not living as a surrendered disciple in my own home, then I really can’t live as a surrendered disciple anywhere.  And so what Peter says in these verses really gets to the heart of where we live—our homes and our marriages.

Check out the sermon notes from this past week for more:

A Marriage Surrendered to God (5-13-18)

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