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Cramming For The Final

November 21, 2006

I crammed for final exams.As the end of the semester loomed nearer I worked a little harder.And for many people in the workforce often most of the work is crammed in at the end of the project.

Knowing that a deadline is looming naturally motivates us to pick up the pace because we want to fulfill our obligations.We don’t want to be the one who lets everyone down.We want to do our duty and fulfill our responsibility.Deadlines and due dates are natural motivators for us to get to work.

1 Peter 4:7, The end of all things is near.

From the beginning of the Christian life to the end this fact, that the end is near, should loom over us and influence everything.This is a mind set that seems to be very rare among God’s people.Proof is that few believers have a lifestyle which reflects this kind of thinking.Most work for the here and now and few, it seems, for eternal things.

I say this because there are few believers cramming for the final.There are few believers going in early and staying late at the work of God, making sure the project is done on time.If we really believed the end was near we would live like it.We would live the way Peter outlines in 1 Peter 4:7-11.There is a lot of work getting done in 1 Peter 4:7-11

Verse 7, therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit.Or, be clear thinkers and moderate in our actions.Literally, “keep your head and be sober.”Don’t freak out.Maintain composure.This is the self-control that is a fruit of the Spirit.As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:34, Become sober-minded as you ought.We should have keen and alert minds.

We are to keep our head and be sober for the purpose of prayer.Have you ever not been alert and sensible while praying?I have a confession to make.Once, while I was in seminary, I was praying with a friend and I fell asleep.

You can’t pray well if you’re nodding off or if you don’t know what you are talking about and not making sense.God wants you to talk with Him.But, like any other conversation you might have, if you are falling asleep or babbling on it’s not much of a conversation.Christians who have an eternal mindset and who are looking forward to the end of the world pray intelligently and alertly – motivated because the time is short.

Verse 8, Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Literally, “Above all, love at full stretch.“You know – people will stretch you.This pictures sprinters when they exert all their effort and stretch for the finish line.

When Christians love each other, many small offences, and even large ones, should be overlooked and forgotten.If you love someone you can get over the offence they inflicted on you.If you remember and keep track of the times you were offended, then you do not love the other person and you are not mature, as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13.

If you do not love someone then you will recall when you were wronged and you will wait for an apology.Love does not wait for apologies.Love gets over it.

love covers a multitude of sins. We are to go further than just putting up with each other’s personal quirks, personalities, faults, failures and mistakes.Love will even cover outright blatant sin.

This does not mean we tolerate sin and somehow make it not as bad as it truly is.Severe measures, like church discipline, may be required to stop sin.Sin must be dealt with and never tolerated.But, even sin must not destroy the bond of love in the church.

Verse 9, Be hospitable to one another without complaint.You can’t just go through the motions with this.We are supposed to be hospitable without complaining about it.

Have you ever been over to someone’s house and you can tell they would really rather not have people there?When people come over they eat your food, their kids break your kids toys, they mess up the place, they bug you, they are awkward, they are not that interesting to talk to and they don’t know when to go home.

My dad had a remedy for that, he used to say, “Well, why don’t we go to bed and let these nice folks go home?” and he was only half joking when he said it.Hospitality can be inconvenient and it requires time andpreparation and clean up.

Philippians 2:14 says, Do all things without grumbling or disputing.Jude 16 says complaining is a characteristic of unbelievers.

Complaining destroys fellowship.It is nothing more than finding fault with God.It shows a lack of willingness to get involved and fix the problem.Complaining takes the complainer and removes him from the midst of the fellowship and makes him an outsider.

At the very least complaining is a mark of immaturity.The antidote to grumbling and complaining is not putting on a fake smiley face and acting like you are happy with everything.Contentment with God is the antidote for complaining.

Verse 10, As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.Until the Lord returns, use your spiritual gift and serve the church with it.Christians who do not minister according to their spiritual giftedness are squandering what God has given them.

In verse 11 Peter picks out two gifts as examples.Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God.Teachers of the congregation are to speak the utterances of God and principles and truths from God’s word, the Bible.What God has said must determine, and be the content, of what is taught in the church.A teacher must never be the purveyor of his own thoughts and we should always be suspicious when someone says “what this passage means to me is …” or “The Lord revealed to me …”

This is the basis for judging preachers.If they are spewing their own ideas then you might as well listen to talk radio.

But, you must not judge whether a teacher is truthful based on their style, or how smart, or eloquent, or schmoozy, or inventive or unique they are.Style of proclamation does not determine truth of content.

The next gift is service, whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies.This could mean either the specific gift of service, or, the fact that all gifts are to be used in service to the church.Either way, the idea is that ministry is only true ministry if it is God who is doing it through His people.When God supplies the power ministry has eternal results.

We are to work, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.If you are looking for the end of the age and the coming of the Lord then you will work for His glory.

The last phrase, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen, is itself a statement of glory and a good summary of a believer’s attitude on this earth.If we have God’s glory in mind we will be sensible and sober, we will pray, love the brethren, be hospitable, won’t complain and we will use our spiritual gifts for the glory of God.That is part of the eternal perspective.

Being prepared for the end of the world and prepared to see God means active ministry here and now.

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