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II Peter 1:16-21
Living Stones: “God’s Word Is Available and Reliable”
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
Who here remembers the very first church song you learned – maybe as a young child, maybe taught you by your mother?
Here’s the one I think I learned first – I’ll bet it was early on many of your play-lists, too:
Jesus loves me, this I know – for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me – the Bible tells me so!
If I’m wrong about that song being first, then it was this one, for sure – (How about you?):
The B-I-B-L-E! Yes that’s the book for me.
I stand alone on the Word of God!
Children, as well as adults, find comfort in knowing that there are places of safety, places where they can find help and guidance, places where they can trust the source to be trustworthy! The Bible is just such a place!
The First Century spiritual climate wasn’t all that different from our 21st Century spiritual climate. People practice individualistic religions of personal preference. Even our prayers tend to be prayers for what I want, or think I need. When was the last time we prayed together and just listened??
2,000 years ago people could pick from a spiritual smorgasbord of cults and deities that they felt most met their personal tastes and desires. As long as you worshiped the Emperor and the statue of Caesar, you could add all the other gods you wanted to, and no one really cared.
Today we hear things like, “Whatever is true for you is true for you … whatever is true for me is true for me.” There is no absolute Truth allowed in our society. It’s really all the same thing.
Peter says something totally different, though. And John and Jude agree with him. “Jesus is the Truth (capital T Truth); and we can tell you about Him!”
Peter agreed with the Jewish assertion that there is only one God, and we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength! And Jesus made God visible and tangible! This so shocked and surprised those First Century listeners that they stood in awe of this Good News!
And, Peter said, we don’t have to search out the Truth about this God or even this Jesus by ourselves. God has not hidden His Truth! We are not left to grope blindly, guided by nothing more than our own hopes and dreams! God has given His Truth; He has revealed His Truth so that we might continually read, study, and apply it to our lives every day!
The Living Word of God, found in Scripture, the B-I-B-L-E, is the help we need so that when the rains fall and the rivers rise and the wind beats against our house – we will not fall because our faith is built on that Solid Rock!
During these couple of months following Easter we are invited to listen to the Apostle Peter, and hear some Biblical instruction that’s been around for nearly 2,000 years, and is based on totally true counsel, about “good masonry” with Jesus Christ as the Cornerstone of God’s Cathedral.
Listen to these words from the Apostle Peter. This comes from a letter he wrote to the churches in Asia Minor, south Turkey, to people who faced death daily. Listen to how he says we find faith-filled integrity when we apply ourselves to God’s available and reliable Word – the Bible. II Peter 1:16-21….—-
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. (Peter was with James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus when this happened. All three synoptic Gospels tell us about this.)
19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Not only can we tell you about our personal convictions, says Peter, but we also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable!
Luke tells the story about the events of the day Jesus was resurrected from the dead about two disciples, not the main 12 Apostles but just two other guys who followed Jesus, who were walking home to Emmaus from Jerusalem and the resurrected Jesus catches up to them and He tells them, from Moses and the prophets (from Genesis, the Books of Moses, thru Malachi, the major and minor prophets – that’s the whole Old Testament) how the promises of the some-day Messiah, the coming Christ, the descendant of Abraham who would come to save the world, were fulfilled in Jesus Himself!
Peter tells us that this Old Testament is available, “we also have the prophetic message”, and is completely trustworthy, “as something completely reliable”!
A week ago we had our Spring New Member Class, and I asked at the beginning, as I always do, what the participants think the Bible is. “In one word, or one phrase, how would you describe what the Bible is?”
The answers that people share almost never surprise me: God’s Word, the Truth, Guide Book, story of God’s power and love.
Do you have a copy of the Bible in your possession? That’s one of the questions we will learn from the families and leaders of the church and the Shim Children’s Center in Kiminini, Kenya. Do you own a Swahili version of the Bible? It is available for you to read!
Is it trustworthy? Do you trust it as God’s Word to tell you what you need to know about God and about yourself? If it is trustworthy, do you obey what it tells you to do?
Peter goes on to say, “you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”
Can someone shout out a benefit of incorporating God’s Word into our lives as believers?
Do you see what we just did there? As a gathered community of faith, a local church, we added to each other’s benefits. It’s entirely possible that no on other that Diana would have thought of “vitamins” as a benefit of having God’s Word in our hearts, trusting the Bible as dependable and reliable as a source of Godly wisdom. Thank you, Diana, for adding that particular benefit to our collective wisdom!
In today’s Call to Worship we read in Hebrews 10 that part of being a collection of Christ-followers together is that we “consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together … encouraging one another, and all the more as we see the Day approaching.”
Can someone give a shout out about how, maybe, you have experienced being strengthened/supported/encouraged through a difficult season of your life by being involved in this wing of God’s Cathedral, by being a part of LPC? Describe some ways you have been blessed through your church:
This is what John Calvin calls “be[ing] guided and receiv[ing] maternal care until [we] grow into the perfection of faith.”
We are to build our spiritual “house” – our church mission, our lives of faith, our families – on God’s firm foundation, with Jesus Christ as the Cornerstone; and this requires that the Bible be our Book!
We live in a world that insists we build our “house” on sand; that we ignore the Truth taught us in Scripture; that we deny the Divine claims of Jesus Christ.
Living like we believe what we say we believe – as followers of Jesus Christ – requires a desire to live counter-culturally! Even deciding to get up on a Sunday morning and giving that time to the Lord has become a unique and counter-cultural activity! (And yes, I know that I am preaching to the choir here.)
But, as an encouragement to yourself, write down on the bottom of your Sermon Notes Page any description you can think of of an experience in your life in which you had to choose to act in accordance to your Christ-centered beliefs in spite of pressure to do otherwise. What happened? Was there a Bible verse, or a Sunday School lesson, or a voice from your Mom, that strengthened your faithfulness during that temptation?
That is a benefit of accessing God’s very available and readily reliable Word in my life, in your life, in our life together.
This Easter Season, this Resurrection Season, let’s trust even deeper in God’s Word!
If you heard God calling your name today, if you sense that Christ’s death and resurrection was meant for you today, if you want your life to withstand life’s storms today – drop a note in the Offering Plate, and I’ll get with you later this week. Let’s dedicate, rededicate, our rocky past into service as living stones today!
The B-I-B-L-E! Yes that’s the book for me.
I stand alone on the Word of God!
Happy Easter Season! Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed!
Bettridge, Becce; Living Stones: The Making of an Eternal Fellowship; Presbyterians for Renewal; Louisville, KY; 2012; Pp. 32-39.
Calvin, John; Institutes of the Christian Religion IV:I Summation.