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Dec 31, 2017

A Year God Will Bless

Passage: 1 Peter 3:8-12

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: A Year God Will Bless

Keywords: events, forgetting, new year, pursuing, remembering

Summary:

This message looks at what God wants us to remember, what He wants us to forget and what He wants us to reach out for as we end one year and start another today.

Detail:

A New Year God Will Bless

I Peter 3:8-12

December 31, 2017

INTRO:  Today we’re going to take some time to do a little spiritual inventory of 2017.  It’s not every year that New Year’s Eve falls on a Sunday.  So I thought it would be a worthy experience for us to do some looking back and looking ahead both personally as well as a church. 

So, to ease us into this, what were the major events of 2017 in the world and the U.S.?

  • January—Inauguration of Donald Trump
  • February— Korea first another ballistic missile
  • March—The UNwarns that the world is facing the biggest humanitarian crisis since World War II, with up to 20 million people at risk of starvation and famine in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria.  SpaceX conducted the world's first reflight of an orbital class rocket
  • April--In response to a suspected chemical weapons attackin Syria on a rebel-held town, the U.S. military launches 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at an air base in Syria, ratcheting up rhetoric between the U.S. and Russia.

Neil Gorsuch was confirmed as our newest Supreme Court Justice at age 49.

  • May-- computers around the world are hit by a large-scale ransomwarecyberattack, which goes on to affect at least 150 countries.
  • June-- the S. announces a decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. The 2017 World Expo is opened in Astana, Kazakhstan.  J
  • July-- North Korea successfully tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile
  • August—total solar eclipse across a band of the U.S.; The first observation of a collision of two neutron stars; ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslimsbegan in Myanmar; hurricane Harvey, the costliest disaster in U.S. history, hit Houston, TX and cost us nearly $200 billion!
  • September—Hurricane Irma & Maria both hit the Caribbean and cause $166 billion in damage and deaths of 228 deaths. 1 magnitude earthquake in central Mexico kills 350 people and leaves tens of thousands homeless.
  • October-- 58 people are killed and 546 injured when a gunman opens fire on a crowd in Las Vegas. A massive blast caused by a truck bombing in Mogadishu, Somalia kills at least 512 people and injures 316 others.   Catalonia declares independence from Spain,
  • November-- A magnitude 7.3 earthquake strikes the border region between Iraq and Iran leaving at least 530 dead and over 70,000 homeless.  A new species of orangutan is identified in Indonesia, becoming the third known species of orangutan as well as the first great ape to be described for almost a century.  A mosque attack in Sinai, Egypt kills 305 worshipers and leaves hundreds more wounded.
  • December-- Russia is banned from the 2018 Winter Olympicsin Pyeongchang by the International Olympic Committee, following an investigation into state-sponsored doping. The United States officially recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital.  Tax reform bill passes and is signed into law. 

That’s a brief summary of major events in our nation and world. It’s amazing how bad news dominates world headlines, no?

So let’s switch to Mosaic.  What major things happened in our life as a church in 2017?  There were LOTS!!!

  • Bid “See you later” to some of our dear saints of different ages: starting with Jeremy Stanton in January (36), Joe “Pops” Putnam (Bob’s dad) in March (91), Marianne Rodriguez mid-year (?), Glen Johnson this month (76). 
  • Weekly work parties on the building renovation.
  • Praise in the Parking Lot in the summer.
  • Permits, permits, permits…and occupancy!
  • Move from Healing Rooms to here in mid-Feb.
  • Partnered with Safe Families, HRC Ministries, Spokane Fatherhood Initiative, Life Services
  • Provided ministry space for YFC and Unite Family Services, the Bible Truck Exhibit, Life Services Mobile clinic.
  • Sponsored first ever in Spokane, The Washing—82 hours of continuous Bible reading and prayer.
  • Potlucks, dinners, desserts
  • Dedication services and Contractor appreciation luncheon
  • Launched Adult Ed classes and continued Children’s S.S.
  • Had our 3rd summer retreat at Farragut State Park.
  • Women’s Bible studies and special events
  • First Mosaic Photo Directory
  • Building outreaches like Christmas gifts to 40 people at the Pioneer Pathways Bld.
  • First Friday Art Walk Silent Auction, Pastor’s Desserts,
  • 1st Howard St. Combined Worship service with 3 neighborhood churches
  • Fought successful battles in prayer for numerous cancer patients at Mosaic.
  • Had our first Whitworth University summer intern, Carter Hudson.
  • Launched monthly Wednesday worship nights called Abide.
  • Joined the Whitworth Academy of Chr. Discipleship and started two Mosaic discipleship groups studying The Third Way..
  • Raised $37,500 towards the building purchase and renovations. Had Mosaic members loan us $70,000 interest free for the building upgrades.  Received $25,000 gift to help us with the renovations from Life Center.
  • Gave away 350 Christmas gift bags in residential buildings downtown.
  • Had weekly Bible studies in 2 apartment buildings in our neighborhood, 4 downtown.

We’ve definitely had a year to remember at Mosaic!  And a HUGE “THANK YOU” to every one of you who had a part in that. 

When it comes to looking back on God’s work in our lives, just what is it that the Bible calls us to “remember”?  Let me give you a handful of consistent themes when it comes to remembering that God doesn’t want us to forget.

  • 5:15—“Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.” >>

Ephesians 2:12, 13—“Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

  • Psalm 77:11“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.”
  • Psalm 105:5“Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced….”
  • Psalm 103:1-5

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

  • John 15:20“Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”
  • 2 Timothy 2:8-- Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel….”

APP:  So NOW I’d like you to make it personal.  We’re going to enter into a time of worship through written and spoken praise.  We’ll be singing about the goodness of the Lord…and hopefully you will be writing about His goodness too. 

Take about 60 seconds to write down as many things as you can think of for which to be thankful to God for in 2017.  Write them down on the _________ Post-It-Note.  And as we’re singing, slip out of your chair and go put it on the back wall as a personal expression of what you are remembering God did this past year. 

[Worship Set]

MEDITATION #2

There are some things God wants us to “let go of” or at least not dwell on.  For example, I’m sure that most of us have experienced some hurts this past year. 

  • Maybe a boy or girlfriend broke up with you.
  • Maybe someone said some really hurtful things about you.
  • Maybe someone just dropped you as a friend.
  • Maybe a family member cut themselves off from you or distanced themselves relationally or emotionally.
  • Maybe you just got sideways with someone over something that shouldn’t matter so much.

Whatever it is, we all need to let go of painful things from time to time. 

That could be…

  • An expectation that God didn’t fulfill.
  • A desire that was disappointed by someone.
  • A dream that got interrupted or derailed.
  • A blessing that was taken away.

Ephesians 4:31, 32-- Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Mark 11:25-- And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Colossians 3:13-- Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

APP:  Take the ________ colored Post-It-Note and write down the names or an initial or a descriptive word about an incident that you want to let go of…to forgive.  Then we’re going to have an opportunity to either come forward and stick it on the cross OR throw it in the trash can.  Both symbolize your granting of forgiveness to another or a letting go of the issue to God. 

[Worship Set…COMMUNION 2nd Service]

Gratitude & letting go—they are both things that are fitting and right as we look back over the past year, both the highs and the lows, what God has done and what we have done. 

But as we look forward to the coming New Year and what God might want to do in, around and with us, I want us to look at one passage in 1st Peter 3:10-12.  (Most of it is a quote from Psalm 34.)

            It starts with a statement I trust reflects all our hopes and wishes as we head into a new year.  It says, “Whoever would love life and see good days….” 

“Life”= zoe = includes but is more than just physical existence.  The biblical notion of life is one that involves both physical existence combined with shared life with God.  It involves eternal life after temporal death as well as present life shared with Christ.

            And what kind of “love” is this of life? It’s more than a mere enjoyment of life.  Remember that Greek is rich in words for love whereas English is poverty-stricken.  Peter could have said a love that is “brotherly” (phileo) or “warm/cozy/comfortable/ agreeable”… “brotherly” in nature.  But he didn’t. 

            He could have used the Greek word that has the sense of sexual love, a sort of lusting after life (eros).  That kind of love is never mentioned in the N.T.  That’s a kind of “loving life,” that says, “I want out of life what I want out of life.  I want it to make me feel good.  I want it to serve my self-interests.  I want to conquer life and use it like some people lust after another person to use them for their own selfish desires.” 

Instead God chose agape love, the other-centered love, God-connected, giving-type love (used 320+ times in N.T.).  It’s self-sacrificing for the sake of the object of its love.  So this phrase here is not talking about loving yourself or making life more pleasant for yourself. It’s talking about an approach to “life” that is how God approaches life:  loving it self-sacrificingly, with your interest in making life all that it is intended to be under God. 

An agape loving of life is what will lead thousands of fellow Christians to let go of life this year and be killed/martyred for their faith so that they can love life with God better in this life and in eternity. 

An agape loving of life is what will lead thousands of other Christians to open their homes to the homeless in their city…to adopt orphaned children…to take in abused and abandoned foster children…to give money they could sorely use for some personal comfort in order to comfort someone else who is suffering more deeply in this world.   

            So we could translate this little phrase, “Whoever would love life…” as “Whoever wants to do what is in the best interest of this shared life with God…whoever wants to steward well this life we have both now and forever with Jesus….”

It’s not actually an easy sort of “loving life.”  It could be rather difficult, rather fatiguing, rather painful and self-expending.  So we shouldn’t assume that everyone here today is ready to love life like that. Most of us will find it far easier to “lust life” like most people we live around do—getting all the “gusto” they can living every day grabbing “life” as they want it to be, not as God wants it to be. 

            But, if we want to love life like God knows and wants it to be loved, the next question Peter asks is of us is critical: “Do we want to… see good days?”  “Good” here = the goodness of God’s nature and actions. 

Again, we’re not talking winning the lottery.  We’re talking winning over greed. 

We’re not talking “the good life” of ease, comfort and pleasure; we’re talking the giving life of God who is constantly giving to us good things and himself without regardless of what our response to Him is. 

We’re not talking “good days” of weather or a soaring stock market or even political stability; we’re talking “good days” of living out the goodness of God in a world often oblivious to God and frequently fighting against His goodness. 

            If this is the kind of “life” and “days” we want to experience in 2018, then this passage has a lot to say to us about going forward into a new year.   It actually calls us to 2 complementary things, 2 equally important actions. 

NOTE:  This passage doesn’t really lay out HOW we develop this kind of life in Christ.  It is simply calling us to recognize WHERE those “good days” and “life well-loved” will be found. 

HOW to find them is the subject of daily growing in our experience of Jesus. 

HOW to “love life” well is the subject of all the Step Studies, the Adult Ed classes, the Discipleship Cohorts that we offer all week long.  If you are wanting more of the HOW to experience this kind of life, then you will need to engage in more of those groups, classes and studies. 

EX: 

  • Spiritual Practices class starting next week.
  • Whitworth Academy of Discipleship cohorts that meet Tuesday and Wed. late afternoons.
  • The 12-Step Studies Changing Lives
  • The person mentoring various men and women offer here at Mosaic.
  • The small group studies like Overcoming the Darkness and Boundaries and Steps to Freedom or Home Groups that we have and will continue to offer.

Back to the 2 complementary actions that God says will give us “good days” and the ability to “love life” as God does. 

“Whoever would love life
    and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
    and their lips from deceitful speech.
11 They must turn from evil and do good;
    they must seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
    and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

The latter part of vs. 10 calls us to refrain and desist from certain kinds of SPEECH, namely “deceitful speech” and “evil” speech.  We could spend a long time defining that but let me ask instead what is the opposite of evil and deceitful speaking? 

  • Truthful speech.
  • Loving (agape) speech.
  • Constructive, self-disciplined and self-restrained speech.
  • Kind, gentle, peace-making speech.

If you look back a few verses in this chapter, you will find that there is really a list of 5 adjectives that define the kind of people we are to “be” (vs. 8).  They are…

  • Like-minded
  • Sympathetic
  • Loving
  • Compassionate
  • Humble

Then vs 9 calls us to a particular kind of speaking—“blessing” rather than insulting or repaying curses with curses.  “Blessing” in most of Scripture has to do with speaking things that are good, admiring, laudatory of others.  When we “bless God” we speak truth about His greatness, His character, His goodness, kindness, love, patience, etc. that he showers on us.  Rather than blaming Him for evil, blessing God acknowledges that He is the giver of every good thing we have in life.  Rather than cursing God for a world of illness, of death, of suffering, we speak truth about the goodness of God despite that kind of world that our and other’s sin has produced.   

The context of this whole passage has to do with saints who suffer at the hands of evil people precisely because we do good.  If God is calling us to “bless” people who do harm to us in this world because they don’t know our Savior, then certainly we are called to speak blessing over each other as God’s fellow-children.  But how often does Satan and our flesh get us to speak curses and gossip and harm over fellow-believers?

APP: It’s not enough to just be quiet when we come together.  We are called to speak blessing over and to each other.  That may be a sympathetic word or loving prayer.  It may be a compassionate question about how life is going.  It may be a humble act of service with a simple “I hope you are blessed today” comment. 

            If we want to “love life” and “see good days” in 2018, we will need to come together fairly frequently.  And when we come together, we will need to speak words of blessing over each other. 

Secondly, there is another behavior that will need to characterize our lives:

11 They must turn from evil and do good;
    they must seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
    and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
Vs. 11 presents us with the daily choice we all have:  Will I “do evil” today or “do good?”  Will I engage in selfish living or self-sacrificing living?  Will I pray good down upon others or will I call curses down upon them?  Will I keep fighting daily to abandon the evil naturally in my heart AND will I replace that evil with actions that visit the goodness of God upon others. 

            Then there is this line about “seek peace and pursue it.”  The kind of peace talked about here isn’t just a cessation of hostilities between people or nations.  It is a bringing of well-being and salvation that puts people in right relationship with their God and thus with one another.  When we “seek peace” for someone, we are showing them how to find God, how to meet Jesus, and how to prosper in that most important of relationship so that their life is full of harmony and oneness with God’s people around them.   

            Verse 12 is God’s way of telling us that when we engage in righteous living (in actions and spending our lives as Christ spent His life and would have us spend our lives in agreement with the nature of God), THEN God’s eye is “on us.”  Not the scolding parent look we got when we were kids and did something wrong.  Rather the adoring “I love to watch you do good things” look that some of us got on those rare occasions when we treated our siblings kindly or did something selfless for a friend. 

            Then notice the effect righteous living has on God:  He pays attention to our prayers.  He really hears and responds to our simple requests. 

ILL:

  • It’s the difference between a child who asks Dad for a bowl of snacks so he can eat them all himself and a daughter who asks Dad for a bowl of snacks so she can share them with her friends who are there playing with her.
  • It’s the difference between a kid who asks for the keys to the car so they can take kids to youth group with them or go serve other teens weekly at YFC and a kid who wants to go show off to their teammates or pick up girls on Friday night and go party.  

Whether we use the gifts God has and has already given us to do the things God wants to do with those gifts OR whether we use them for ourselves and our own selfish exploits makes a big difference as to what God grants us going forward into this New Year.

If we live all 365 days of this next year, God will have given us 8,760 hours to “spend” as we see fit.  How many of those hours will we spend “loving” our own life the way we want it to be?  Or how many will we spend “loving with the best interests of God and others at heart” in this next year? 

            None of us will do it perfectly…but all of us can do it better than last year. 

APP:  There are some specific opportunities to “do righteousness”, to “do good” to the people God has called us to love right around us.  I think God is asking MOST OF US to “love life” and “see good days” in 2018 by stepping up to His INVITATION to partner with Him in “seeking peace and pursuing it” in our city and our neighborhood.

1.)  YFC—Weekly Meal Team:  Wednesday and Thursday nights.

2.)  Building Outreach & Bible Study Teams:  we have 3 or 4 new buildings that want us to come in every week to love on people there, maybe share a meal, maybe share some time in God’s word, maybe pray for them, maybe go to bat for them in finding or keeping employment, in finding sobriety, in finding hope…in finding God. 

3.)  If you find those two life-changing ministries too far outside your comfort zone, then how about starting inside the family of God right here at Mosaic?

  • Teaching our children on Sundays?
  • Helping plan Mosaic fellowship meals, Women’s teas, Men’s mentoring breakfasts, etc.?
  • Hosting a home group…or leading and organizing one?
  • Participating on a worship team that helps us bless God weekly with our praise and worship?
  • Helping Changing Lives with the furniture bank…or weekly meals…or a Step Study?

Most of these things will take you an additional 2-3 hours a week or less! 

So what’s the NEXT STEP for you in “loving life” and “seeing good days” in 2018?  How about planning a 2018 that God WILL bless? 

  1. Last Post-It-Note for the west wall—of favor of God you would like to experience as you do some good/righteous work in Christ’s kingdom in 2018.
  2. Sign-Ups in the foyer and on the back tables.
    1. YFC dinners
    2. Building Outreach Teams
    3. Changing Lives—varied ministries
    4. Mosaic—varied ministries.