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Insurance companies hear everything; crazy things! Listen to what people actually wrote in their accident report. This is what they said as they described their car accident:
I collided with a stationary truck coming the other way. A pedestrian hit ME, and went under my car. The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him. I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law and headed over the embankment. To avoid hitting the bumper of the car in front, I struck the pedestrian. When I saw that I could not avoid the collision, I stepped on the gas and crashed into the other car. The pedestrian had no idea which direction to go, so I ran over him. The telephone pole was approaching fast. I was attempting to swerve out of its path when it struck my front end. I saw the slow-moving, sad-faced, old gentleman as he bounced off the hood of my car. We laugh at others peoples misfortune, but how do we respond when it happens to us? Can you smile when there is nothing to smile about? How do you react when life is UNFAIR? When you are…pressured, busy, chaotic, sorrowful, sad, confused, frenzied, messed up, upset, complicated, bummed, disappointed, burned, … how do you RESPOND; how do you ACT; how different are YOU? When your friends at school turn on you? When your boyfriend or girl friend walk away? When your spouse is mad at you and you don’t know what to do? When your kids just won’t obey, no matter how consistent you are? When the money has run out, when your body groans out, when you are so exhausted you can’t think? What’s your demeanor? The bible tells us repeatedly – that we Christians must REACT DIFFERENTLY to life’s trials. And today, Peter will explain just how different we should be – open 1 Peter 1:6 + outline.
Peter’s readers are experiencing unfair trials, life difficulties, even some persecution for their faith. Think about it – They’ve been ripped from their homes and sent to a foreign land and now have to start over with people who are suspicious of them since Rome kicked them out and sent them far away to the black sea! So Peter does not waste any time in verses 1-5 reminding them they are CHOSEN by God, being transformed by the Spirit, obedient to Christ, cleansed by His blood, born again, with a secure hope in a future with God in heaven AND all of that will cause a TRUE CHRISTIAN to act DIFFERENTLY when experiencing TRIALS…HOW? Christians can smile when there is nothing to smile about. Genuine believers should be BRIGHT on the DARKEST DAYS. True Christians will REJOICE during trials – what’s Peter say? Start reading with me at verse 6 – and let me have you underline two statements that form bookends to this passage.
6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,7 that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
While in their struggle, Peter invites them to FIND the joy that is already resident in their heart – not invent it, but FIND IT. Joy should be present, at home in the heart of the true believer. It is only a matter of finding it, dusting it off and returning to the joy strings of your heart. Genuine believers will find in your heart, a deep abiding joy. John 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” Christ’s love is shed abroad in our hearts, we just need to show it and His joy is IN US, we just need to dust it off and let it out! One of the most misunderstood concepts of the Christian life is to have JOY. Women talk about joy more than men…For a lot of men, JOY seems like a girly sissy concept…I don’t usually walk up to MEN here and ask, how’s your joy today? Guys just don’t do that! BUT that is foreign to biblical thinking and accurate theology – joy ought to be a part of our vocabulary and a part of our lives and joy is an essential part of our walk with Christ. In fact the LACK of JOY is a serious salvation issue. Joy is a part of our Christian experience, a part of our fellowship with God and other Christians and a part of our everyday LIFE! With Peter in the driver’s seat, he is going to steer us toward four major reasons for JOY in the midst of trials; 4 major reasons why we can be rejoicing when there is nothing to smile about. The Greek here highlights four major points, with the 2nd point explaining a lot about how we should view our trials. We will see how far we get as we work our way thru this text. So how do Christians shine BRIGHT on the DARKEST days? We can be…
#1 Rejoicing because our FUTURE is guaranteed by God
Depending on your version, Read the first 4 or 5 words in verse 6…6 In this you greatly rejoice. Every word in the original manuscripts is God breathed and Peter starts with IN THIS – most commentators believe he’s referring to the whole of verse 3-5; IN THIS future guaranteed hope. IN THIS future in heaven that God Himself guarantees. IN THIS heavenly blessing that is reserved for us by God. THIS ENTIRE PACKAGE will make you joyful in difficult times. In the midst of life threatening trials, these believers were encouraged by Peter to be JOYFUL. And they + we can be joyful because they understand that trials are God’s tool to make us like Christ. And becoming like Christ allows us to endure anything and remain faithful until the end. AND the end for us is heavenly sweetness forever, so we can be joyful NOW because God is working in and through us and will keep us all the way home to enjoy PURE heavenly BLISS…
Do you have the memory of A VACATION TRIP where you were crammed in a car, traveling for days with very little break – like it was TORTURE, just so you could get somewhere? That is what it’s like traveling to heaven – the journey is going to be ROUGH, but the destination will totally overshadow the journey. We can have joy in the midst of the difficult journey HERE because at our destination, is MIND BLOWING DELIGHT forever. As a result of the guarantee of heaven and our Lord who is there, Peter says, as a FACT, you ALL will continually be GLAD. As a Christian and as a church, you ALL will be continually REJOICING. What I want you to do, is look into your heart, and FIND that joy, dust it off, since… if you know Christ, that JOY is there. IF you don’t know Christ, then you don’t know JOY – you only know occasional happiness. Your life is like Magic Mountain, you have to keep going on scarier rides to get a thrill, but the true Christian needs no external rides, since our Joy is within. Peter made it clear in verses 1-5, God chose you, and guarantees your FUTURE with Him in heaven. It was not because of you, and it is STILL not because of you and in the future, no matter what happens, it doesn’t depend on you; IN CHRIST, you have the hope of heaven, so no matter what’s happening, you can continually REJOICE – you have JOY. Even though Rome sent you to the BLACK SEA, you can still rejoice! The word GREATLY REJOICE here is a state of intensive gladness and happiness [We don’t talk enough about happiness as Christians] often found in verbal expression [in being excited] and bodily movement, like jumping, leaping and dancing. Greatly rejoice is to exult, to leap for joy, shown by dancing and singing – it is. You know how it looks, your college team SCORES in the last second to win the game – you don’t say flatly, yeah…, ok, good job. You are screaming, smiling, you jump up, high five and celebrate. I love the way you greatly rejoice, is used in Luke 1:44 when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting 44 “For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. Preborn John jumped with great gladness – he kicked her ribs…I don’t how all that happens in the womb, but it’s in the scripture, therefore it’s true, the fetus is happy and glad…Each of you REJOICE over a lot of stuff…Every family is different on Christmas morning – some are calm, open one present at a time, then they thank the person that gave it, and move on to the next person – its ‘controlled’ JOY. Then there are other families where presents are ripped open like wood chippers, flying in the air, shouts, thank you’s; tears flow. Wood chippers is an illustration of verse 6, you greatly rejoice. Rarely, do you receive a gift and say – oh, that’s nice, thank you. Typically, when it’s that perfect gift, it’s NO WAY – thanks – hug. One time, a long time ago, when I was much nicer, I was shepherding a whole bunch of Collegians – On a Sunday, not a birthday, not Christmas, not any time special but on this ordinary everyday Sunday, they interrupted me, and had a little surprise ceremony, and gave me, back in the mid 80’s, a gift of $800 of cash, to do whatever I wanted with – I later purchased my study desk I still use today with that gift- it was the perfect gift, because I desperately needed a desk…The moment I understood… what they had actually done I cried, I couldn’t speak, I had never experienced a random act of appreciation like that before. Think about it-they were collegians, the people with the most energy and the least amount of money. I reacted to that gift with JOY, happiness; it affected my mouth, my heart, my eyes, my entire body…, I was vs. 6, rejoicing greatly…So here, Peter says because of the certainty of heaven that awaits, you can leap for joy, be glad, rejoice greatly and exult God…Have you jumped for joy over the fact you get to go to heaven? Are you excited about YOUR salvation now and forever? The Philippian jailer was – using the same term, Acts 16:34 And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household. There is no such thing as a boring Christian. Boredom is SIN and no true Christian is boring. If you don’t have JOY in your life because you’re going to heaven, forever in absolute perfection, praising, enjoying, learning, growing, fellowshipping, no sin, no tears, no discouragement, no bad days, no let downs, no insults, no hurt and no SIN… YOU HAVE ISSUES…IF… you are not rejoicing before God…One of my bible dictionaries says to GREATLY REJOICE means to experience a state of great joy and gladness, often involving verbal expression and appropriate body movement…Do you remember when you first came to Christ? Was it, now I am going to Heaven’ – oh well. No, you could hardly contain yourself…I could remember right before becoming a Christian I was afraid of demons and the end of the world. Those horribly made RAPTURE MOVIES bad and the EXORCIST fueled my fears. Then I remember after turning to Christ, not being afraid anymore, and realized I was actually looking forward to the world ending and Jesus returning. I had a deep abiding JOY. What is JOY? Here’s a definition. Christian joy is the glad emotion comes from the settled confidence that God is in absolute control and will bring our good in time and our glory in eternity. Do you possess that kind of Joy? Something’s wrong with solid doctrine reformed type Christians – we have the true gospel, we have the truth, we have sound doctrine but we have buried our gladness, we’ve subdued our rejoicing, we are afraid of expressing our emotions – we should NOT be…Once I was engaged, I couldn’t wait for my wedding and on the wedding day, I couldn’t wait for the ceremony and at the ceremony, I couldn’t wait for the bridesmaids to get out the way…My heart was bursting. I hurt my neck, waiting to SEE Jean… and when she came, my heart raced as she floated on air down the isle. I was so happy it hurt – she was and still is a mouth gaping VISION! Peter says, your future wedding with Christ is coming soon and THAT DAY should affect TODAY with GLADNESS – Those who Peter writes are suffering and some of you are today, but OUR rejoicing is not based upon circumstances [don’t say, I am doing OK under the circumstances – I say “What are you doing under there?”] but our rejoicing is based upon our certain salvation as God’s chosen children verses 1-5. That internal gladness is so strong, that Jesus says even when you are persecuted for your faith, you can [same word used in 1 Peter 1:6] Matthew 5:12 “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Some Sunday’s ago, I was HIT like a machine gun before the first service with 9 messages of bad or difficult news. By the 5th report, I started laughing and it scared the people who were talking to me – something’s even more wrong with Chris! But the test was so obvious, it became funny to me–I was glad. The next person that rolled up, I said with a smile, ok hit me with it! I don’t always respond that way, but I hope to; the older I get. WHY? Because each of us have resources of JOY and GLADNESS. REACH IN and FIND IT, DUST IT OFF and allow it to FUEL your spiritual engine when you are in the midst of a trial…Even in the midst of the most difficult trials, you can be …
#2 Rejoicing because trials are powerful TOOLS in our lives
Do you remember what James says…James 1:2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James calls for JOY in trials as well, tells us there will be varied trials but that all trials have a purpose, to test your faith and produce endurance, causing you to grow more like Christ and live by the WORD in every area of your life… to be fully dependent! God is working out His sovereign purpose through your trials. We can rejoice greatly because trials are powerful tools for life change. Now look at 1 Peter 1, verse 6. Right now let’s pull the car over, so you’re not distracted with other things, really tune in, tighten your belt, ask God to make that coffee do its work right now – since this is a difficult text to work through. Verse 6 In this you greatly rejoice, then Peter gives a parenthetical expression describing 7 TRUTHS ABOUT TRIALS that come directly from verses 6 and 7… we will be:
1st Rejoicing because trials are TEMPORARY
Verse 6 In this you greatly rejoice even though now for a little while even though now for a little while, I LOVE THAT PHRASE – do you know WHY? I love the description FOR A LITTLE WHILE, because with that phrase Peter is describing YOUR entire life on earth. Your tombstone should not have 1990 to 2040, it should have FOR A LITTLE WHILE; Your entire life on earth is for a little while. Just a little while, the Greek word means FEW or SLIGHT or LITTLE. We need to start using this phrase MORE in daily conversation. How long are my kids going to be disobeying me, for a little while! My boss is the Son of Satan; only for a little while. This economy is killing us, yes but only for a little while. Our preacher just won’t preach shorter, only for a little while. My marriage is really difficult, only for a little while. James 4:14 uses the same greek word translated a little while this way 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. The word a little while, IS used of the feeding of the 4000 in Matthew 15:34 by describing a seven loaves and a FEW small fish. Your life is FEW; your life is SLIGHT; your life is a LITTLE WHILE. Peter’s readers are under the weight of difficult circumstances and potential persecution, but with this phrase Peter reminds them it is only temporary. Go ahead, I dare you; Compare 90 YEARS on earth in TRIALS with… FOREVER in heaven in total PERFECTION – go ahead. You and I can greatly rejoice in trials because they are temporary. They’re only for a little while compared to heaven in forever JOY. Plus we can be secondly:
2nd Rejoicing because trials are NECESSARY
Vs6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary. TUNE IN as I get a little technical for a MOMENT! In English, we have one basic kind of IF, but in Greek you have several different kinds of IF and this one is a first class conditional IF, meaning the writer assumes it’s true. In other words, it’s TRULY necessary, you experience trials. Necessary is a type of word which gives it on-going action. In English the true sense of necessary is NECESSARY-ING. In fact, written in the Greek, but not appearing in the English is the verb IT IS, actually making this little phrase very POINTED even though now for a little while, IT IS TRULY NECESSARY you have been distressed by various trials, NOW THIS IS so ENCOURAGING – ‘really Chris, you’re loopy’, NO! IF NECESSARY tells us that trials are required, but also tells us ONLY when necessary – not everyone endures the same trials and not everyone endures the same level of suffering, but only what is necessary for each person, each family and each church. One of my favorite Narnia books is The Horse and His boy and in it, there are several lion attacks. At the end of the adventure, the Christ figure, Aslan the great Lion, confesses that all the Lions who attacked them in their adventure were him. At which point, one of the characters asks why one particular character was not attacked and clawed. Aslan tells him, that is HIS story, not YOURS. I only tell you YOUR STORY, not another’s. Everyone has their own story. I don’t know WHY certain people suffer more than others nor do I know WHY certain people suffer less or more than me – but I do know THIS – that everyone has their own story and that Christ is the one who writes each of our LIFE stories. ALSO IF NECESSARY tells us God is in control of our Trials – they only hit us when they are necessary, they only COME when God allows trials or God causes trials. And when God allows His children to go through the furnace, He keeps His eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat. Even with temptation, God is very very clear, when He says in 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it. Nothing happens to you outside of God’s control – even trials, even suffering, even temptation, suffering, injustice and death. What did Peter say about the DEATH OF CHRIST on the cross? Acts 2:23 this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. God predetermined the horrific cross of Christ yet men nailed Him to the Cross and put Him to death – God is in control, friends, and trials are a part of His plan. That is why we can rejoice when there is nothing to smile about even when it HURTS.
3rd Rejoicing because trials are PAINFUL
Verse 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials. Trials are painful; the word distressed actually means to make sad, sorrowful, grieved, or pained. How do you like that? We are to be exceedingly GLAD, leaping, dancing and rejoicing even when we are sad, grieved and pained…How does that WORK? This is so good, it hurts! God doesn’t expect you to pretend OR to put on a fake face when your guts have been punched by life. There is no place for silly type gladness at the death of a child or when a beloved brother or sister is in great physical pain – With this word DISTRESSED or GRIEVED, our Father is acknowledging sorrow, hurt, physical suffering and mental anguish – but underneath, internally, God also has given us JOY and a great awareness of the temporary nature of our trial and suffering – Peter’s readers may be in a bad place with their families now surrounded by hostile people and with no source of income; they’ve been distressed by this, saddened in heart and physically pained. But they can greatly rejoice because they are verse 1 and 2 chosen by God, the Spirit will use this distress to make them like Christ, who they can obey and when they fail – are covered by His blood. Verse 3-5 say they’ve been made alive, with the certain hope of a future resurrection in Heaven forever guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ – all protected by the power of God. So HOW do you get through the pain with JOY? Keep your eyes on Jesus. Hebrews 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Your joy through the pain of distressing trials comes as you keep your eyes fixed on the one who went through the greatest pain and the greatest distress, keeping the end result OF JOY before Him. HOLD YOUR PLACE and TURN TO 2 Corinthians 6:4ff Look at what Paul went through and see if you can discover both JOY and SORROW both together in His experiences, too. 2 Corinthians 6:4 … as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, 5 in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, 6 in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, 7 in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, 8 by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; 9 as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, 10 as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things. Paul was sorrowful,same word as distressing here in 1 Peter, yet ALWAYS rejoicing – because trials are temporary and necessary. BUT there is even BETTER news about trials – in fact, it is so good, it will actually almost make you WANT to have more trials. What are they?
4th in your outline and the remainder of this outline, will be completed NEXT WEEK and you’ll just have to come back. Peter’s words are even MORE encouraging and life changing and shocking – hurry back…But as we close, God’s Word has made some strong challenges.
1. Christians are a GLAD people, so let God’s Joy show. There is no need to put on a show but there is no reason to not show your JOY, gladness, celebration, thanks and praise. Even on our darkest days, we should be shining BRIGHT! Even when our hearts are breaking, there is a solid hope, and an internal joy that burns within every genuine Christian. Unplug the cork, and let your JOY out, celebrate a little more of what it means to be a child of God. Give a few more Amens, clap a little loader, move your body a little when you sing – when someone shares a victory, celebrate the Lords work – Joy in God’s work in others honors Him… I used to love it when I could make my boys super GLAD – God feels the same way…I am not suggesting you turn charismatic, but you can’t ignore God’s Word and God’s expectation of Joy and Rejoicing. Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Habakkuk 3:18 Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Christians are GLAD people – show your joy – are you a Christian?
2. Not having or showing Joy is a serious SPIRITUAL issue. Friends, the fruit of the Spirit is JOY; IF there is no joy in and through you – even manly men, quiet women, shy kids, and science geeks that means you are only and always IN THE FLESH which points to the fact that you don’t KNOW Christ. You need to turn to Christ today in repentance and faith CRY OUT to GOD to give you a new heart of JOY!
3. What brings us the greatest joy is Christ and His SALVATION. Listen to this powerful verse from Isaiah 61:10 I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. NO matter what you have gone through, are going through or will go through – how can you not rejoice in the LORD and exult in your God? Because of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, God has clothed you with garments of salvation, he has taken your sin upon Himself and wrapped you in a robe of His perfect righteousness so that you can stand before a Holy God now and forever in heaven you are ready to be ONE [like a bride] with God forever. Let’s leave here today full of the JOY of our salvation.