Simple Church, For His Glory
by Jason Southerland on July 25th, 2017

​"Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.”    - 1 Peter 2:13-15
 
Here we have a huge endorsement.  The very words of God here endorse human government as not only a legitimate institution (and one we should submit to), but one commissioned by God Himself for a dual purpose.  One purpose is to punish evildoers.  Another purpose is to praise those who do right.  Romans Chapter 13 calls civil government a “Minister of God”.  For this reason, we submit ourselves to our earthly government authorities.  We submit to them as long as they do not command us to sin.  We should pray for them and seek to benefit the society in which we live, which benefits all and gives glory to God. 
 
It is God’s will for His people to do good and to submit to authority so that the world cannot accuse us of doing wrong.  By silencing our critics, this may create an environment where people can hear God’s good news through us.


by Jason Southerland on July 21st, 2017

​​1 Peter 2:11-12 “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.  Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
 
Think of an intense war scene from World War II…  The enemy has captured one of our soldiers and at a critical time in the battle is interrogating him to gain a crucial piece of information that will turn the tide of the battle against us.  Everything in us wants to cheer on the soldier to stand strong against the enemy and not give in!  We are at war – you have to stand!  As Christians, we must understand that this kind of story unfolds every day in our own hearts.  Fleshly lusts are waging war against us.  We must abstain from the desires of our sinful flesh –desires that drive the world around us– and conduct our lives in holiness with the understanding that God can lead people to salvation through the light that shines in us.  To live different, holy lives of God’s light is the purpose of our salvation.  Strive for God’s holiness.  When we are victorious, when we win the battle, we will then know it was God who gave us strength and led us to the victory, and we will then be able to glory in Him for that victory!

by Jason Southerland on July 12th, 2017

​1 Peter 2:9-10 “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR  God's  OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.”
 
As God’s people, we have been given the great privilege and honor to represent Him to the world.  God has chosen and called us from utter darkness and has brought us into His marvelous light.  We have become His people and have been shown mercy!  Receiving mercy means that some great need of ours was met by another, a need which we couldn’t meet on our own. In this context, it refers to the guilt of our sin. Let that sink in for a minute…  We were guilty before God and He sent His son to take the punishment in our place, and then adopted us into His family!  So, of course we will live with Him as our God, living our His ways before others, and tell of the great deeds He has done in our lives!

by Jason Southerland on June 30th, 2017

​1 Peter 2:6-8  "For this is contained in Scripture:  BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A  PRECIOUS CORNER  stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE  DISAPPOINTED." This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, "THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS  REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER  stone, " and, "A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE"; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed."
 
Here we see two groups of people addressed:  those who believe in Jesus and those who disbelieve.  Those who believe in Him “will not be disappointed”.  That is something in which I can take great comfort.  How many times have you heard of something man-made, maybe a famous landmark building or something like that.  You may have heard of it your whole life and when you get there to see it, you find it under-whelming.  We may walk away disappointed because it turns out to not be all that wonderful after all.  However, we find a promise here that if we believe in Jesus, we will not be disappointed!  He is everything and far more than we ever imagined!  This is the promise for the first group – those who believe. 
 
The other group addressed here are those who have stumbled and fallen because of their disobedience to the word and have rejected God’s salvation in Christ.  In fact, the Lord Jesus HIMSELF becomes the very thing they stumble over.  Because of their unbelief, they cannot accept the Word of God, and they reject Him.  Peter tells us that those, who do not believe and reject Christ, are also those who are appointed for this end of doom.
 
So, the picture is a very clear contrast between those who believe Christ, and those who reject Him.  Where are you? Build upon or crushed under?

by Jason Southerand on June 23rd, 2017

​1 Peter 2:4-5 “And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
 
     If you read through the Old Testament, you will see much written about the Levitical Priesthood.  There is quite a bit you can read of their duties, but in general, these were the men who would go before God on behalf of the people. But now with the work of Jesus, we were all made into priests that come into His presence and continually offer the spiritual sacrifices of our lives in worship.  We as individuals are all placed on the same level, where every Christian has immediate access to God, that he serves God personally, that he ministers to others, and that he has something to give. 
     This teaching of the priesthood of believers contradicts the doctrines of other religious systems that make a distinction and give priests a higher level of privileges, or higher level of status than other believers.  Everyone who is in Jesus is part of His Holy Priesthood.  The determining factor of being part of God’s people and receiving eternal life is one’s faith in Jesus and becoming obedient to His word.  Those who put their trust in Him will never be disappointed or ashamed in God’s presence.  In contrast, those who have rejected Christ’s offer of salvation and refuse to receive Him as their God, stumble and live in disobedience to God’s ways. In Scripture, those are the only two groups we see – those who believe Jesus, and those who reject Him. There is not a higher level of priestly status that is passed down through the generations. 
     So, as we think about this passage, let our thoughts be on the Lord Jesus, who truly represented us to God when He went to a cross to pay the price for our sin. Because of Him becoming the ultimate and final sacrifice, all who believe in Him receive His righteousness and now can go directly to God. What a blessing to receive this gift! 

by Jason Southerland on June 10th, 2017

​1 Peter 2:4-5 “And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
 
     I love the picture of a large, stone lighthouse with a huge wave crashing around.  I have always thought that is a great image of what it means to be a rock.  Certainly, the Lord Jesus is a Rock who stands firm no matter what may crash around.  He is described here as a living stone, and specifically, one that was rejected of men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God.  As Christians, when we were born again, and first drew near to Christ, we were also made into living stones and placed into a spiritual house and household, a new Temple of God made of living stones built around and upon Christ and His redemption.  Along with all of the believers, we became a holy people among whom God’s presence dwells on earth.  
     As our lives reflect His character, we shine forth in the beauty of His glory.  By the way, if Jesus as a living stone was rejected of men, we should not be surprised when we, as living stones, are not understood, or are rejected by those around us also.  However, the other part of that holds true as well, and although we may be rejected by men, we are choice and precious in the sight of God! 

 
Find the full sermon at www.gfow.us or better yet, come visit on Sunday!  

by Jason Southerland on June 1st, 2017

1 Peter 2:2-3 “like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord”

     What a joy to see and hold a newborn baby! However, everyone also knows that when the baby gets hungry, that baby is not at all worried about being social – it’s time to eat! The desire for milk is designed into the child, and nothing is more important than getting that need met.  This is how Christians should feel about God’s Word. For the same reason the baby needs milk – to grow – Christians need God’s Word to grow in love. The holiness of growing in love requires that we have a singular and driving desire for the truth of God – just like the baby’s singular desire for milk. God’s Word is the only source that will nourish our spiritual lives and cause us to grow. If we have experienced God’s kindness in salvation, why wouldn’t we want more of Him? Consuming more of His truth reveals to us what is right and what is good, which we need in order to love others and to purify our lives from the sin we hate. May we desire the pure milk of God’s Word in our lives today!
     If we should find ourselves in a role of teaching others, understand also that instructing others in the ways of the Lord is among the most important things we do! Nobody would give that crying baby something other than the pure milk he needs. We need to give God’s precious people His pure, unmixed truth. God’s word is the only means for salvation and growth.



by Jason Southerland on May 27th, 2017

1 Peter 2:1  “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander”
     Jesus said that the world will know His disciples by their love for one another.  This passage in 1 Peter is teaching us about growing in love – something that Christians should be doing!  Sometimes we think first of things that need to be added to our lives to be more holy or loving, but this verse talks about things that should be taken out.  The holiness of growing in love requires that we discard those things in life that hinder our love for others.  Is there malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, or slander in our hearts?  If we are born again into God’s family and thus devoted to brotherly love, these must be laid aside.
     Of course there are things that we need to add in place of what is laid aside.  If we take the opposite of these negative qualities, we can see how the Father expects His community to live. We need to be gracious toward one another, trustworthy, honest, and trusting of each other.  We need to be thankful for the successes of others, and encourage others with kind and edifying words.  Remember these things are not natural to us!  The former list is what comes naturally – those are the things we need to lay aside.  We need to seek God for His work in our lives to make this transition possible and get involved with a group of sincere Christians who will help us! 

Find the full sermon at www.gfow.us or better yet, come visit on Sunday!  

by Jason Southerland on May 20th, 2017

1 Peter 1:22-25  “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For,
ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS.  THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER." 
And this is the word which was preached to you."
     In responding to God’s Word, the Christian purified his life and entered into a life that is continually obedient to God’s truth.  Therefore, our lives, as believers, should be continually moving into greater purity and holiness.  Sometimes I need to ask - Is this my direction?  How have I been approaching God? 


As this passage reminds us, one of the key realities and goals of holy living is brotherly love.  Jesus said we could recognize His disciples by their love one for another.  When we entered into the people and family of God, we entered into a community where our Father’s expectation is a sincere family love.  This is achieved as we are devoted to loving others.  Again, I can check up on myself by asking - Is this something I desire and work toward? Is this how I view the believers around me?  Do I interact with those around me in love?  Real love demonstrates the eternal, recreated life in you and is the beautiful glory of God that will last into eternity.  Seek after a life that shines the love of God.  God’s word is the imperishable, living, and enduring source of God’s truth, which brought us eternal life and brings us life and knowledge of God. It is God’s chosen means to communicate with His children.  Treasure His Word and guard your time in it.
Ironically, one time when Christians are most tempted to depart from a spirit of love toward others is in theological “discussions” that may sometimes heat up.  It is important to remember that neither our arguments nor our life examples will bring new life to an unbeliever, but only the powerful words of God Himself.  We still have these words preserved today in Scripture. Study, memorize, and share them!

Find the full sermon at www.gfow.us or better yet, come visit on Sunday!  

by Jason Southerland on May 12th, 2017

​1 Peter 1:17-21  “If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God."

     Like a loving father, God is active in the lives of His children and disciplines them without favoritism. As Christians, we should determine to conduct our lives in holiness because we would rather have the blessings of God than His discipline!  We were ransomed out of a useless way of life to serve His household, and the cost was far greater than earthly riches.  If I paid a bunch of money for something that might communicate to you that it is valuable to me.  However, if I told you I gave up my son’s life for something, you would be shocked at the huge value I had placed on it.  God sacrificed the extremely valuable, sinless, blameless, and morally pure life of Christ and paid our debt so that we can be saved!  This is extreme love – and extreme value that God places on our salvation.  This is a debt we can never repay.  It is a huge and gracious gift.  We must conduct our lives in fear of displeasing our Father since we know how much was spent to bring us into His family.

Find the full sermon at www.gfow.us or better yet, come visit on Sunday!  





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