Part 1 of GRIT: God's Resources in Troubled Times
1 Peter 1:1-9
The Cornerstone Church, September 30, 2018
I heard this story the other day; I don't know if it's true: A man was fixing his motorbike in his backyard when he accidentally engaged the clutch and the bike took off with him hanging on. It drove through the French doors of his house and landed in his living room.
The bike was dented and the man was cut up, so there was his blood and gas from the bike all over the tile floor. His wife called 911 and the EMS team arrived, patched up the man and took him to the ER to get him checked out. His wife stayed behind to clean up the glass and blood and gasoline. She used toilet paper to soak up the gas and put it in the toilet.
When the man got home, he was so stressed out that he went into the bathroom for a smoke. He finished the cigarette and (you guessed it) put it through his legs into the potty. Kaboom!
The wife found him on the bathroom floor with burns where you'd expect. She called 911 and the same EMS crew came to the house. They patched him up and put him on the gurney to take him to the ER, but they were laughing so hard about what happened that, on the way out of the house, they tipped him off the gurney. The man hit the ground hard and broke his arm.
Talk about a bad day.
All of us have bad days and even challenging seasons of life. I told a funny story, but so much of life isn't funny at all. This new teaching series is all about facing our dark days with energy and endurance. I've called the series GRIT because when we say someone has GRIT, we mean that they don't give up; they press on; they prevail. When we have GRIT, nothing keeps us down.
GRIT is also an acronym for God's resources in troubled times.
1 PETER: GOD'S RESOURCES ON DISPLAY
A great place to find God's resources is this letter called 1 Peter. Peter had experienced suffering for his commitment to Jesus, so he knew what he was talking about.
The letter is written to Christians in modern-day Turkey. Because they were followers of Jesus, they had a very difficult time fitting in; their neighbors rejected them; they couldn't find jobs; life was hard.
Peter wrote to encourage them. He wanted them to have GRIT, so he told them about God's resources in troubled times.
The letter is full of these energizing, encouraging, resources and we'll look at six of them in this series.
Today, we're looking at God's resources described in chapter 1, verses 1-9. From these truths, I created three declarations based on God and his promises. If we believe them, these declarations will carry us through bad days and seasons.
I love declarations. They are so powerful. I've been reading a book called Mind Gym. It's about sports psychology. Sports psychologists have done research on what happens when athletes train their brains to visualize victory. It rewires their brains and powerfully improves performance. That's what I want us to do. Instead of hitting the wall and filling our minds with negative, self-defeating talk - stinking thinking. I want us to filled our minds with God's truth, to visualize and verbalize three positive declarations that fill us with the energy, courage, and confidence to face our darkest days with GRIT.
DECLARATION ONE: I BELONG TO GOD - verses 1-2
(1 Peter 1:1-2) To God's elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
The letter begins with this amazing passage about who we are in Christ. Our sense of identity is foundational to everything in our lives. It's the key factor in how we think, feel, and live. Ultimately, it determines our destiny.
We belong to God - that's our identity. That is now our truest self. We are not our past. We are not what people have said or done to us. We are not our mistakes or our successes. We are not our jobs or our status. We belong to God - that's who we are.
We are God's covenant people. We've been sprinkled with the blood - verse 2 - of Jesus Christ shed on the cross. In the past, God bound himself to Israel by the sprinkling of blood:
(Exodus 24:8) Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
Today, God binds himself to us by a new covenant, sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:28; 1 Corinthians 11:25; Hebrews 9:15). God promises himself to us: I will be your God and you will be my people (Hebrews 8:10). That's what chosen according to the foreknowledge - verse 2 - means; it's all about relationship. God is committed to us by love and blood.
The Holy Spirit - verse 2 - chased us down. He turned us around and brought us to Jesus (obedience of faith, Romans 1:5). He set us apart for God - sanctifying work - and made us his holy (set apart) people (1 Peter 2:9).
On those dark days when you feel alone or abandoned and Satan whispers, "You're rejected," remind yourself of the truth: I am accepted. I belong to God.
DECLARATION TWO: I AM HOPEFUL - verses 3-6
1 Peter 1:3-6 (NIV-WS) 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
I have a theory why hard times rock our faith. It's because we expect something better; we expect that life will be easier than it is; better health, better relationships, better everything. And that sets us up for disappointment because as verse 6 explains, "now for a little while you may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials." This present world - now - has been wrecked by sin. That's why bad things happen to good people - disease, disasters, death. We should never feel totally at home here.
If we want GRIT, we have to shift focus from NOW to NEXT. From hopelessness to hope. I read an article in an online newspaper: "You can die from 'give-up-itis', doctor warns." After a traumatic life-event, such as the death of a loved one, people often pass away within days because they lose the will to live. The medical term is psychogenic death. It's death by hopelessness.
We need hope, and we get hope by focusing on what's next: Jesus and salvation will be revealed - verse 4 - and there will be no more crying, sighing, or dying (Revelation 21:4). A whole new creation. Only then will it feel like home.
Can Jesus really do that? Is our hope realistic? Yes, the resurrection - verse 3 - of Jesus Christ proves it. There is a new creation coming. That's our the inheritance - verse 4, the perfect life we dream of. Right now, God is keeping - verse 4 - it safe for us.
How do we hang on until then? By the power - verse 5 - of God that shields us (Gk: guards, protects, walls of a city). We hang on because God hangs on to us.
When we shift focus from now to next, it produces hope. And hope produces GRIT. Declare every day: I am hopeful, the best is yet to come.
DECLARATION THREE: I CANNOT LOSE - verses 7-9
(1 Peter 1:7-9) These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
When the door slams shut on your job application; when the medical test comes back positive; when the relationship blows apart; when the trials crash over us - and they always do - that's when our genuine faith - verse 7 - shines through.
Genuine faith is better, stronger, and more enduring that gold - verse 7 - because it is sustained by God himself. The devil can't steal it and death can't destroy it. Paul knew this from experience:
(2 Corinthians 1:8-10) We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,
(2 Corinthians 1:21) Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.
(2 Corinthians 1:24b) ... it is by faith you stand firm.
(2 Corinthians 4:7-10) We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God & not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
Trials come to prove our faith, verse 7, not to shatter it. How so? Because they root us deeper into Jesus, verse 8: On dark days, we still love Jesus, we still trust in Jesus, we still rejoice in Jesus, even though we cannot see Jesus.
And faith that is genuine, that is rooted in Jesus, that endures through hardships, results in salvation, verse 9. No more crying, sighing, dying. Inheritance. Jesus wins!
Jesus will not fail us so we cannot lose. One day, we will meet Jesus and we will let loose with praise, glory, and honor to him - verse 7. Declare every day: I cannot lose.
I belong to God: that's declaring our identity in Christ.
I have hope: that's declaring our destiny in Christ.
I cannot lose: that's declaring our certainty in Christ.
These three daily declarations will make you strong and positive. They will give you GRIT. They are God's resources for troubled times. No more stinking thinking. No more negative self-talk. Stand firm in the truth. Live large in the power of God.
Inside your bulletin is a card called "I declare." We have extras on the welcome table in the atrium. Put your card somewhere you can see it every day. Speak these truths out loud like you mean them and they will rewire your brain from defeat to victory.
Try this: create a playlist called MIND GYM. Play yourself songs that affirm the truth: I belong to God, I have hope, and I cannot lose. For example:
Resurrecting: "By your Spirit I will rise from the ashes of defeat, the resurrected king is resurrecting me."
God of Angel Armies: "My strength is in Your name, For You alone can save, You will deliver me, Yours is the victory."
The Lion and the Lamb: "Our God is the Lion, The Lion of Judah, He's roaring with power, And fighting our battles."