Out of Order
I Peter 3:12-17
Everywhere you look you see signs.
The signs in front of one church could be a little confusing.
That sign says, "Don't let worry kill you. Let the church help."
A sign on a plumber's truck said, "We repair what your husband fixed."
A sign in the waiting room of a veterinarian said: "Be back in five minutes. SIT! STAY!"
Some door signs say either "push" or "pull."
In a hospital in Minneapolis, there's a sign on the door going into Labor and Delivery
that says: "PUSH! PUSH! PUSH!"
Some signs are absolutely useless because they state the obvious.
In Tennessee, a highway sign says: "When this sign is under water, this road is impassable."
A sign on a repair shop said:
"We Can Repair Anything."
Then, stuck on the door was note that said:
"Pease knock hard on the door -- the bell doesn't work!"
A Church Marquee said:
"How will you spend eternity -- smoking or non-smoking."
Many signs are often ignored.
Speed limit signs, no parking signs, and even stop signs may be ignored.
The one sign almost always noticed and followed is the "Out of order " sign
Of course, we don't like to see that sign.
Have you ever been dying of thirst and when you find a soft drink machine,
and there's an "Out of Order" sign on it?
But the worst time to see such a sign is when you're on a long trip and you need
to take a restroom break, but on the door of the restroom are those three terrible words:
"Out of order."
Sometimes our life becomes "Out of Order".
Have you ever found your life to be dysfunctional and full of pain that you felt like
you should walk around with an "Out of Order" sign around your neck?
When things are out of order, frustration occurs.
We want our life to function...
When we do what's right, we expect life to work well for us.
But sometimes we do our best, and still hurt.
As a husband or wife, you tried to make your marriage work -- and he or she walked out.
Out of order.
As a parent, you raised your children to know the Lord and to live right,
and yet they have made bad choices.
Out of order.
You worked hard at being a good employee yet you got laid off.
Out of order.
You ate right, exercised faithfully, and took vitamins, but still you got that bad diagnosis
from your doctor.
What's going on?
We know that there are times when we do everything right and we still suffer.
So, God's Word tells us what we can do when that happens.
Now look with me at I Peter 3:12-17:
"For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers:
the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?
But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye:
be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer
every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers,
may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing." (KJV)
We would like life to be fair.
We can't understand why good people suffer, and bad people seem to be prospering.
So we say: "It just isn't fair!"
Life isn't fair, but God is good.
And when it seems like your life is out order when life malfunctions,
Let us look at several ways we can respond:
First, we can react in a way that will cause others to ask us about our hope in Christ.
We should always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason
for the hope that we have. (Verse 15)
We have something the world desperately needs, and that is "hope".
Our English word "hope" isn't strong enough for the Bible word that is translated hope: "elpis" (Greek).
Many compare our English word "hope" to the word "dreams."
People talk about "their hopes and dreams."
In that sense, hope is something that we wish will happen, but we are not sure that it will.
But the Bible word "hope" (Gr.elpis) isn't anything like a dream; it's related to the word truth.
"Elpis" means having a positive anticipation that you will receive something that has been promised.
Using that Biblical meaning,when I say, "I hope I go to heaven," it means something.
Jesus has promised us that every Christian will be with Him in heaven.
So, when we face adversity, we can still have hope.
The Bible says in II Corinthians 1:10: "He has delivered us from such deadly perils,
and he will deliver us.
On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us." (2 Corinthians 1:10)
Our hope is on Jesus, not on ourselves, or on others.
How do I know I'm going to heaven?
Because He said so!
John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes
in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. "
John 10:27-29: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man
pluck them out of my hand.
My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them
out of my Father's hand. "
I go to prepare a place for you.
- 14:1-3: "Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me.
- My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself,
so that where I am, you may be also. "
2 Corinthians 5:6: "Therefore we are always confident, knowing that,
whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord."
that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not,
- John 3-2: "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us,
because it knew him not.
but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."
- Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be:
So...Because Jesus promised me that if I believed in Him I would not perish, but have everlasting life!
We can be full of assurance and hope, and yet, not be prepared to tell someone why we have hope.
Too many Christians don't know how to talk about their faith.
Nobody likes an obnoxious Christian who is constantly trying to force the truth
down someone's throat.
When a Christian does this, it is tactless and offensive.
There is an old preacher's story that I heard many years ago.
There was an barber in a small town who talked about God with everyone who sat in his chair.
One day a stranger was in his chair for a haircut and a shave.
The barber was busy talking to another customer who was waiting and had forgotten to talk
to this new man about God.
Just as he had the man all lathered up for his shave, he remembered.
With the straight razor poised in his hand the barber blurted out, "Are you prepared to meet God?"
The man must have thought he meant right then because he jumped out of the chair
and ran out the door with the shaving lather still on his face!
Witnessing shouldn't be like a telemarketer trying to push a product.
Witnessing is simply one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.
We are to tell others where they can find hope.
Hope is found only in Jesus!
This is the most important news that anyone can ever hear.
This is the most urgent message that a person without Jesus as Saviour needs to hear.
The best way to share your faith is when someone asks questions about the Bible
or where or why you go to church.
When others see that you have hope when conditions seem hopeless,
you won't have to tell them, they'll ask.
Are you prepared to answer them?
When life seems out of order let others see your hope that you have in Christ..
That is the best testimony you can give that Jesus Christ lives in you.
Also, when life gets out of order we should count our blessings!
"But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed." (Verse 14)
When we are struggling and hurting, it is time to count our blessings.
When we feel depressed, it is time to count our blessings.
When we feel that everything is against us, it is time to count our blessings.
Regardless of the difficulties we may be facing, we can always find some blessings in our lives.
I love the old hymn that says:
"When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed;
when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost;
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
and it will surprise you what the Lord has done."
-- Written by Johnson Oatman Jr.
In Ephesians 1:3 Paul wrote: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ."
Some blessings are physical blessings -- like good health.
Other blessings are blessings upon us and our family.
Then, there are material blessings.
Do you not know that God owns everything.
Everything you and I have, God has provided.
But the very best blessings are heavenly blessings, and the Bible says
that the followers of Jesus are blessed with every spiritual blessing not some,
or most but with every one!
One way to count our blessings is to substitute the word "blessed" for "lucky."
God tells us that we are blessed.
Some may think, "Well, I don't feel very blessed right now."
Feeling has nothing to do with it.
God's Word assures us that we are blessed.
When the Apostle Paul wrote about being blessed with every spiritual blessing,
he was a prisoner in jail.
When he looked at his surroundings, there wasn't much to make him happy.
But when he looked up into the heavenly realms, he said,
"I'm Blessed! I'm blessed with every spiritual blessing!"
Have you noticed we can have 100 days of good health, and then we can have
one bad day of sickness, and we complain, "Why me, Lord?"
We need to thank God every day for our health!
We can drive a car for 10 years without a wreck, and then when we have an accident;
immediately, we moan, "Oh me, why me, Lord?"
How often do you say, "Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to arrive safely at my destination?"
In the early part of the 20th century, a great Methodist pastor in London, named William Sangster.
Sangster started having some health problems, and after several tests,
he was told that he had ASL (often called Lou Gherig's disease).
It's a painful disease in which paralysis gradually develops.
Upon getting this devastating diagnosis, Pastor Sangster wrote down four resolutions
to guide his life.
(1) I will never complain;
(2) I will keep my home bright;
(3) I will count my blessings;
(4) I will try to turn it to gain.
Until the day he died he kept that powerful attitude.
Many hundreds of people came to know Christ because of the way he reacted to his illness.
On his last resurrection Sunday he wrote this note and passed it to his daughter:
"How terrible to wake up on Easter and have no voice to shout, 'He is risen!'
But far worse: To have a voice and not want to shout."
Thirdly, when life gets out of order, we must not panic.
"Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." (Verse 14)
When it seems our life is out of order, it's easy to become afraid.
The word Peter uses here can be translated "terror."
It's the same word Jesus used in Luke 21:26 when He was talking about the conditions
that will exist in the world before He returns.
He said, "Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world."
It literally means "hearts will fail because of terror."
But since 9/11 we know what the words, "terror" and "terrorists," mean.
The radical Islamic terrorists who declared holy war on our culture have stated
they want to make us live in fear.
When we live a life of fear, they have been partially successful.
There are frightening things in this world, but God tells us over and over: "Do not fear."
I've been told the phrase, "Fear not" appears 365 times in the Bible.
That's one for every day of the year.
Just one should be enough!
Jesus said, "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that
can do no more
the very hairs of your head are numbered. Don't be afraid." (Luke 12:4, 7)
It is a human tendency to "fear the worst."
When we are going through a difficult time, the devil tries to sabotage our minds
and get us to think things will never get any better.
But we must realize that there are times when the painful circumstances in our lives
will produce positive results.
A shipwreck survivor once washed up a deserted island.
Everyday he cried out to God to be rescued and he searched the horizon for a ship,
but no help arrived.
He finally managed to collect some materials and built a hut.
Everyday he prayed for God to send someone to rescue him.
One afternoon he returned from searching for food to discover the worst had happened.
His hut was in flames from a cook fire he had left burning.
He sat down on the ground as his hut burned, complaining to God the whole time.
"Why me, God? Why did you allow this to happen to me?"
The next morning he was surprised to see a sailing vessel anchored off his island.
As he was rescued, he asked the crew, "How did you know I was here?"
The captain said, "We saw your smoke signal yesterday afternoon."
What he thought was the worst that could happen to him had turned out
to be best thing that happened to him.
How often have we cried, "Why me, God? Why did you allow this to happen to me?"
I love the poem,"Blessed Indeed: "
"Today upon a bus, I saw a lovely girl, I envied her:
She seemed so happy. And I wish I were as fair.
And then, suddenly, she rose to leave,
and I saw her hobble down the aisle,
She had one leg and wore a crutch,
But as she passed, a smile.
Oh God, forgive me when I whine, I have two legs,
I am blessed indeed. The world is mine!
Later, walking down the street,
I saw a man with eyes of blue.
But he just stood and watched the others play.
So, I stopped a moment and then I said,
"Why don't you join the others, sir?"
But he looked ahead without a word.
And then I knew he could not hear.
Oh God, forgive me when I whine, I have two ears,
I am blessed indeed. The world is mine!
And later, I stopped to buy some sweets,
The lad who sold them had such charm,
I talked with him. If I were late, it would do no harm.
But as I turned to go, he said to me,
" I thank you sir. You've been so kind.
It's nice to talk with folks like you."
" You see," he said, " I am blind."
Oh God forgive me when I whine, I have two eyes,
I am blessed indeed. The world is mine!
With legs to take me where I want to go,
With ears to hear the things I need to know,
With eyes to watch that radiant sunset glow.
Oh God, forgive me when I whine,
I AM BLESSED INDEED!
THE WORLD IS MINE!
- Author Unknown
So, whatever fearful experience you are facing now, just write Romans 8:28 over it:
"For we know that in all things God is working for the good of those who love Him."
What's your sign?
Everyone wears a sign?
Many signs read, "Out of Order"!
What does your sign say?
People read the signs we wear!
Does your sign read, "I am miserable...unhappy...sad...afraid...ungrateful..."
People read the signs we wear!
Does your sign read: "I am happy...victorious...have no fear... grateful..."
If that is what your sign says people will take notice of you life, and ask why.
Are you ready to give a witness to them that you are a Christian.
You can tell them of the hope that you have in Christ.
You can tell them how God blesses!
And when you do, you will give them the best news that they have ever heard!
So, when life gets out of order reaffirm that Jesus is Lord of your life!
Verse 15 says. "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord."
Some people want Jesus as Savior but they don't want Him as Lord.
They want someone to save them from going to hell, but they don't want someone
to control their lives.
But the truth is that you cannot accept Jesus as your Savior and then reject Him as your Lord.
In the King James Version, it says we are to "sanctify" Christ as Lord.
The word, "sanctify," means to cherish something so much, you set it aside because it is special.
We must realize how precious and valuable Jesus is.
In your heart, there's only room for one Lord, and it must be Jesus.
"O the bitter shame and sorrow
That a time could ever be
When I let the Saviour's pity
Plead in vain, and proudly answered,
'All of self, and none of Thee!'
Yet He found me; I beheld Him
Bleeding on the accursed tree,
Heard Him pray, 'Forgive them, Father!'
And my wistful heart said faintly,
'Some of self, and some of Thee!'
Day by day His tender mercy,
Healing, helping, full, and free,
Sweet and strong, and ah, so patient,
Brought me lower, while I whispered,
'Less of self, and more of Thee!'
Higher than the highest heaven,
Deeper than the deepest sea,
Lord, Thy love at last hath conquered;
Grant me now my supplication,
'None of self, and all of Thee!'"
Sermon compiled by Dr. Harold L. White