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The Savior Calls Us to Trust in His Protection

Sermon Theme: Safe in the Strength of Our Savior God

By God’s grace, we can join in hearing and heeding Peter’s words from 1 Peter 5:6-11. As we consider the Second Reading today, Peter will encourage us that we too are “Safe in the Strength of our Savior God.”

A famous musician had some time to kill before her concert later in the evening. She wanted to see the sights and get a feel for this town that she had never been to before. She wanted to walk the streets and grab some local cuisine for lunch. So she gathered her belongings – her purse, her phone, her sunglasses, and lastly – she informed her two body guards where she wanted to go. And they snapped into action. They led her down the hallway peering into every open door. They flanked her as she walked down the sidewalk. And for every shop she wanted to visit – one of them went in first and the other followed right behind her. If she was recognized and a crowd began to form, those bodyguards would be the ones to manage the crowd and control the situation so that the she would not be harmed. There’s safety at the side of someone who is strong!

The Apostle Peter wanted his Christian friends who were scattered throughout the countryside of modern-day Turkey to know that same truth. By God’s grace, we can join them in hearing and heeding Peter’s words. As we consider the Second Reading today, Peter will encourage us that we too are safe in the strength of our Savior God.

Peter’s first letter is a letter of hope! He wanted to give hope to people, to Christian people who were suffering! Do you know anyone like that? The people that he writes to were living pretty difficult lives. In addition to the physical hardships of living in the First Century, they endured many spiritual hardships as well. They were in the minority as Christians living in a pagan land. Their faith guided them to live lives that were obviously different than those around them. And they were ridiculed as a result. Some were even mistreated. Many were forced to move their families to different places that were safer to live in. All of them faced temptations to keep their faith secret. “Who do you trust?” was a constant question. “Where is it safe?” was always on their minds. “Is someone coming at me today to make my life even harder?” There were doubts about the value or wisdom of living Christian life…fears about attacks of their enemies…concerns about how much worse it will be for the next generation! You live 20 centuries later, but I know this sounds pretty familiar to you – because it does to me, too!

So that means that Peter is speaking to people who are just like us! Let’s tune our ears to Peter’s words and hear the hope that he offers! Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

At first hearing, this might sound a bit perplexing! “Humble yourself !?!” That’s the best that Peter can say? To a people who are already pretty low, Peter says – get lower? To a people who are burdened and beaten down Peter says, “be humble”? Yes – that’s precisely what he says! There a few different directions that people who are suffering can go. A suffering person might say in despair “All is lost, why bother even trying anymore!” A different person might say in pride “I just have to be stronger than this hardship, so that I can overcome!” Neither one of those directions is a good one to travel. So Peter says: Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

 God is in control of your life – when your life is going really well and when it’s going really not well – when life is easy and when it’s hard. God is on the throne and he hasn’t forgotten you! In his perfect way, and in his perfect timing, God will lift you up! God’s hand is powerful enough to lift you up from any pit and he promises to do just that. So humbly accept the promises of God, find shelter the shadow of mighty hand and pray for patience and peace as you await God’s perfect timing.

God never says that will be easy. In fact, Peter tells us quite the opposite: Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. The devil is mighty and he’s on the prowl! He’s not a stationary target – launching the same old boring and predictable attacks. He’s moving around, launching his attacks from many different angles, plotting his evil schemes! He’s looking to steal another soul.

If you are at a zoo and you come to the lion exhibit, there are a lot of safeguards. If you are inside, there’s a wall of thick glass between you and the lions. If you are outside, there are railings, and a deep pit and high wall – plenty of obstacles between you and the danger. And that means that you are free to let your guard down, to turn your back, to think about other things. But what if you are the zoo worker who has to go into the cage? What happens then if you let your guard down or your mind begins to wander. What happens if you are inobservant, careless or distracted? That could be disastrous!

Be alert and of sober mind. The devil is real and his intentions are sinister. He wants to devour you. He wants to chew you up and spit you out! Don’t let him! Be alert, be on your guard. Pay attention to him and be mindful of his attacks. Be humble rest under the powerful hand of God. The devil is mighty, but our God is stronger! We are safe in the strength of our Savior God.

It’s one thing for someone to have power. But how they use that power makes all the difference in the world! There are plenty of people in this world who have power and would be more than pleased to use it against you. There are even more who are self-centered and will use their power to serve themselves and they probably wouldn’t even notice if their exercise of power causes you pain. But think about how great it is when the opposite is true! When the stranger meets you in the grocery store parking lot with jumper cables because he sees your hood up and that you are in need of help.…When your neighbor lends you just the right tool so you can get the job done quickly and correctly. When someone has power and they want to use it to show you kindness, that’s a wonderful thing!

Our God has power and how he uses that power makes all the difference in the world – and even farther. Our God has power and love. And he used both for our benefit! That’s why Peter tells us: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. We can cast our burdens and our pains, our sufferings and sins on Jesus. And he promises that he will carry them for us. He takes our sins on his back and he carries them to the cross where he made the full payment that had to be made. He cares for you so much…he loves you so much…that he was willing to die so that we could have forgiveness and peace.

Yet the devil roars! He knows that he’s defeated but he roars with his accusations and lies. He knows he can’t defeat Jesus, so he comes after us. He wants to hide Jesus from our view. He wants to us to think that Jesus’ love couldn’t possibly be for us. He spews his roaring lies in our direction: “You are suffering because of how bad you are!” “You are such a failure, that’s why life hurts the way it does!” “There is no hope because there is no one else whose life is as messed up as yours is!” The devil roars, but Peter roars back with God’s words of comfort!

Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

You have a host of brothers and sisters who have gone through in the past or are currently going through the same kind of sufferings that you are! And this is great news for us, not because misery loves company. This is great news because it means that there are so many people out there who have felt your pains and who understand your emotions. There are brothers and sisters who can support and encourage you. And your trials give you the opportunity to be on the other side as well. You can be one that will support another in the same situation. What a blessing to be a family of faith – that we can support one another even as we are supported by them.

God gives us an opportunity to wrap hurting people in his love and to point them to Jesus and his unfailing promises. That’s what Peter does for us and it’s what we can do for others.

Look at how Peter teaches that truth even in the way he constructed verse 10! He speaks of the reality of suffering, but not without wrapping it first in the love of Christ. He wraps suffering – and thus the sufferer – in the Savior’s love. Here’s what I’m talking about, listen to verse 10: And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, (after you have suffered a little while) (God) will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

He’s the God of all grace. Not the God of some kind gestures or of a few deeds of kindness. No, he’s the God of all grace who shows us the greatest of undeserved love by giving us everlasting life with him in heaven. He will himself restore us and make us strong. We are safe in the strength of our Savior God.

Do you find it interesting that Peter, the guy who tells us to “Be humble” is the one who was arrogant enough to say to Jesus “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” (Mark 14:31)? “Resist temptation” says the one who called down curses on himself “I never knew this Jesus” (Matthew 26:72). “Be alert” says the one who fell asleep on Jesus twice in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:40. 43). “Stand firm” says the one who took two steps into the water and then sunk to the bottom of the sea (Matthew 14:30). We’re supposed to listen to that guy?

Yes, he’s the one to whom we are to listen because all the promises of Jesus that he offers are those he experienced first-hand. The powerful hand of Jesus lifted Peter up – literally from the bottom of the Sea of Galilee and even more powerfully from sin and death. Even though Peter denied Jesus, it was the risen Christ himself who restored and reassured Peter that there is forgiveness – even for him! Peter was a weak and frail sinner like the rest of us, but Jesus wrapped him in his love. Jesus made him strong firm and steadfast. Just like Peter learned, with Jesus at our side We are safe in the strength of Savior God.

It’s one thing to know that our God has power. It’s another thing to know that he has power and love. That’s enough to fill us with unending hope. And that’s reason enough for us to join with Peter and with Christians throughout the ages proclaiming God’s praises: To (God) be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

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