The Pursuit of Maturity

I Peter 5: 1-14       

Our focus today is verses 6 & 7 

Grape Nuts Illustration: ” What the box says it has in it, is not in the box”! 

I have seen in my life time the coming and going of many gifted people. These people were given great natural gifts by God and significant spiritual gifts. However, they never proved capable in the area of spiritual maturity and even have fallen away from the faith. They had the image of the box of grape Nuts, the image of being a committed Christian, but what was on their box did not match what was in them. They have become useless because they never learned to remove their own pride, and ambition.  They never learned to submit to someone else’s leadership and authority. 

In the life of the church we are to be submissive to those who are over us. It couldn’t be clearer, “Be subject to your elders.”I have my eye on several pastors who I know for certain will fall, because they refuse to submit to anything or anyone other than their pride.  I have seen it over and over and over. It amazes me how stupid we sheep can be! 

These people do not understand God, because they are filled with pride. They do not understand what our Lord is saying to us through Peter. They do not understand God’s care for us.          

Peter is addressing the ultimate purpose of life in this chapter. Who am I? Were am I going? And What is my purpose? If we do not answer these questions in our life, then we are driving around a strange city without a map. We are trying to find our way on blind chance without any directions.

Peter is writing to a group of people who have had it tough in life. These people then had significant born again experience in the faith. They had a good vertical relationship with God and a good horizontal relationship to each other. Yet they are being harassed in life, Yet they are having a rough time in persecution. The classic question of why do bad things happen to good people. The classic question has its answer here in this passage

Peter is pleading with his people not to fall away in despair. For there is hope, the hope of Christ. As James explained in  4:6-10

I. “Humble yourselves, therefore under God’s mighty hand”:  

We Reformed Christians, who base our faith in our confessions and the Word. Because they are the most logical expression of the faith; should then be humble. First because this is our call and directive. Second because God really cares for us. Because verse 6 tells us to, “Humble yourselves, therefore under God’s mighty hand”.

His mighty hand is a hand of love and care as the mighty wing of the chicken gently sweeps the chicks in its safe haven, {well its mighty to the chicks}.

Our Christian faith is different than any other religion because it is the story of God seeking us, His mighty hand choosing to save us. In contrast, every other religion is about people trying to find God. How comforting that our God cares to seek us, so we do not have to seek Him, because we are unable too. We are the object of His love and compassion; as John 13:1 says, “Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them to the end.”

One of the clearest evidences of being a mature Christian is an increased awareness and knowledge for the need to be in Christ. So that our focus is not on ourselves. When we have an increased need for others that goes beyond our self, then we are acting humble. When we have an awareness that goes beyond our self-confidence, then we are humble. When our confidence is in on our Lord; then our self-confidence becomes Christ confidence. So our confidence is humbleness rooted and dependent in Christ who is working through us.

The result is that we are not self driven but Christ driven. Thus our will be in total surrender to God’s will as the driving force for our existence

Too many people feel they are to busy for this, to busy to ponder their own reason for existence. Just ask any one, “why do you exist”, and you will be surprised about the answers. God created us for a purpose, but most people give little to no credence to it, even Christians. We can not venture into maturity unless we realize the need and the purpose of who we are. And that is submitting ourselves to Christ and each other

The Old Testament has so much to say about this rich truth. Micah 6:8 tells us, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

” What does He require? To walk humbly with Him. What does that mean? We are to walk under His mighty hand.

Humble yourselves is one of the themes as God delivers His people. He delivered them out of slavery into a new land filled with vineyards, orchards, farm lands, and buildings, every thing they needed. Imagine that all of us were in slavery, never tasted freedom, and suddenly, we are relocated to live in the city of our choosing, filled with nice homes, businesses, farms, every thing we could possible ever need, nothing we earned or even deserved!

God is the deliverer we are the receiver, thus we are to receive in humbleness.

When we are In submission to each other, we absorb the experiences of each other. In submission and humbleness we engage each others experience, we engage in each others wisdom, we engage in authority. This will result in a church that is run is in a godly order. So that those in our congregation  who are qualified to lead will do so.  So what ever our gift and skill is, we are using them to build the body of our Lord. Building each other.  So qualified leaders who themselves are growing, well then exercise their wise authority, building us all up. This is humbleness, because we all can not be leaders, we all can not have the same gifts. So if your gift is not where you would like it, be humble and rejoice in the gift God gave you, and exercise it.

God’s mighty hand means God’s covering power.  God’s controlling power, God’s sovereignty, God is in charge. The mighty hand of God is the hand of God in charge of us. The  mighty hand of God means different things at different times. It can be a shelter rather than a deliverance.. But always it is the sovereign mighty hand of God…whether for deliverance, for testing, for chastening, always God’s mighty hand.

His mighty hand is always extended to us, alway outstretched to us {Duet 26:8}. God meets our needs. Paul tells us, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” {Philp 4:13}. 

So, Peter says, “Look, you just need to humble yourself”. The mighty hand of God is there to deliver you! The mighty hand of God is there to protect you through whatever you are going through. Don’t question God, don’t argue with God, don’t debate with God.  Humble yourself under His will, under His Word, under His power.”

We can not be a caring community if we are not in submission, if we are not humble in our relationship to God and then to each other.

II.”He will lift you up in due time”:

Submission is an act of faith. We are to trust God to direct our life. Even when we are suffering we are to hang in there and trust Him. Our completeness is our dependence in our Lord.  Learning to be dependent will be the strength that builds us up and makes us strong. Embracing our Lord until He delivers us in His due time. This to is humbleness at work. 

You do not need to fight it. You do not  need to argue with it. You need to accept the mighty hand of God over you whatever your circumstance. Because you know…”He will lift you up in due time” ...that He may exalt you at the proper time.” So what’s the proper time? His time, which is not our time, His time, the perfect time for God to lift you up. He knows when it is. We only think we know, but we do not! 

If we fight God at this point, we literally destroy ourselves and the church.  When we are suffering through very difficult experiences, we are not to become discouraged, we are not to blame God; rather, we are to be humble. Yes it is hard, but remember He is in charge.

Job tells us in chapter 30,

v20  “I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me.

21  You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me.

22  You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; you toss me about in the storm.

23  I know you will bring me down to death, to the place appointed for all the living.

24  “Surely no one lays a hand on a broken man when he cries for help in his distress.

25  Have I not wept for those in trouble? Has not my soul grieved for the poor?

26  Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness.

27  The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me.

28  I go about blackened, but not by the sun; I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.

Here Job is pouring out his heart because he lost every thing, his family, his wealth, his health, every thing! 

We learn from verse 7 that it is not so much a question of how we answer the problem of suffering, the why it has happened to me. Rather it is about how we live our lives regardless of our circumstances.

God sometimes brings pressure against you to test you, to purge you, to purify you so that you become strong and are more willing and able to be used to give Him glory. God’s goal is not to personally attack and destroy you. But rather, to improve us, to make us our best for His glory. He wants to grow us like an oak, which grows strongest with hash conditions.  We are to accept it and grow from it. The other choice is to become bitter and harsh, and all we end up being is a burden to others and our self.

We are to accept His mighty hand, and we will be lifted up. We are to endure the pain and difficulties that life brings, for He will lift us up. We are to endure the trouble and trials, for He will lift us up.

Our Lord will bring us the solution to our problems, on His time schedule, for our benefit. We want it done yesterday, He may say tomorrow.

Our Lord give us the prime example of this in the garden of Gethsemane. Three times it is recorded that Christ asked that the suffering that was to come be stopped, but each time He said to the Father not my will, but yours be done! Jesus Himself demonstrated the way. Will we not follow?

We will receive no answer until we say too. Verse 6 tells us, “not my will but yours Lord be done. That is not my way but your way Lord”!

One of the reasons we suffer is because of our pride, and our impatience with God. So He allows suffering, so we might learn patience. God has to teach us patience before He can use us. 

Psalm 119:50 tells us,”My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”

The opposite would to be to rely on ourselves!

Psalm 88:8‑9 tells us, “I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, O Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you”. 

So what ever the circumstances, weather feast of famine, our God is sovereign. He is in control. Our whole destiny is in His hands. What incredible comfort! What comfort that He is in control and not we with our feeble ways!

So what does this humility require?  How can I make this work?  Prayer and more prayer and the death of our pride. Do not think this will be easy. Humbleness  takes the surrender of our will and much prayer…much prayer. It takes confession of sin

Peter says you also have to have an attitude of trust. Trust in what? In His care so that you cast all your anxiety on Him because you know He cares for you. And so you’re able to say, “Lord, …it’s difficult and I can’t handle the trial, but I’m going to give you the whole deal because I know      You care for me.

God will not lift us up until we are ready for it. Our grace came after the cross. Our crown comes after the cross. Suffering comes before glory.

Verse 7 tells us how to be humble. It is the promise and privilege from obeying verses 5 and 6.

III. “Cast your anxiety on Him”:

What word did I miss? ALL! That is cast all, all your anxiety on Him!

Not some, not a little, not all but one; all! All of our cares, all that was in the past. All that will be in the future.  All of our cares are to be surrendered to our Lord.

If you are looking for a solution to your problems then search no more. If you feel life is overwhelming you, seek your comfort in Him. Because He does care for you!

Receive His care, receive His love, surrender your doubts, your frustrations, your concerns, your frailty. Trust in God’s love in all of our circumstances

There are too many Christians who flat out and deliberately refuse to surrender themselves to the Lordship of Christ.  For them Christianity is merely fire insurance from Hell.

People will always disappoint us, we will even disappoint ourselves, but Christ will not disappoint, but gives us the care, love, and His grace that we do not deserve. Submission is a risk, there is a danger to it. Because people may take advantage or lead us astray. But this can only happen if we take our eyes of our Lord.

This requires an Attitude of Trust. verse 7, “Cast all your anxiety upon Him because He cares for you.”

            The word “casting,” it is the throwing of something on something.    For example, casting a fishing line out or placing a blanket over a horse, {Luke 19:35}. Peter says, “Just cast it out, just throw it on Him all your anxiety.” What’s the anxiety? All of the discontent, stress, fears, discouragement, despair, questioning, wondering, pain, and suffering, all that we are going through, just give it all to Him. Trust in the God who really cares about you.

           Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you, He will never allow the righteous to be shaken,” Wow how encouraging and comforting! “Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you, He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” He cares for you. Jesus said in the  Sermon on the Mount, “If He takes care of the lilies of the field, will He clothe you? If He feeds the birds of the air, He will feed you?” Paul says, “My God shall  supply..some or part, NO, ALL of our need.”

Christ gives us the courage to endure suffering. {Isa 41:10} Christ gives us the strength to persevere. {Philp 4:13} Christ gives us the wisdom to understand. {James 1:5} And Christ gives us the faith to put it in perspective and to trust Him and go on. {Psalm 37:5}

A few years ago I took 36 young people on a mission trip and a study of our reformation heritage to Germany. On a break we went into a museum and saw a lot of pre-renaissance paintings. The old paintings that are mostly black and dark images of saints.

At the end of a long hall of countless paintings that seemed all the same to me, one stood out. It was a rather large painting of disjointed dark colors, with no discernable pattern. It was more of and early twentieth century painting..

In fact I found it very ugly, so I looked at it more carefully. Not because I like ugly stuff, but because all the other paintings were boring. And this large ugly one stood out. Then I noticed a bright spot in the lower right hand corner. Then I took such a close look my nose was touching the canvas. Then I stood back, and called all the students over to see it.

I asked what did they see? And the answers were the same as mine first were. Ugly, dumb, pointless, dark, scary, foreboding and fighting. I pointed to the corner and said to them look there. There responses  were, wow’s, and oh yeas, they saw as I saw. A band of angels. In the dispar of the painting was a ray of hope.

So it is in our lives. In our trials and suffering there is comfort that is found only in our Lord. God’s mercy and love. We need to see our situation with the hope of the Gospel and not with the fears of our making. We must allow Christ to work in us and not just for us. So we can do as the Psalm says, “cast your burdens upon the Lord, and he shall care for you”. {Psalm 55:22} This is our hope and comport that should bring us to humbleness, and rid ourselves of our anxiety. 

Let’s pray.

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About Biblical Guy

Dr. Richard Joseph Krejcir lives in Southern California and is married to the beautiful MaryRuth and a precious son Ryan, a miracle from God. He is a child of God who is committed to biblical understanding, prayer, spiritual growth, and integrity. He is the Founder and Director of Into Thy Word Ministries, a missions and discipling ministry, with a call upon his heart to bring discipleship materials to pastors and everyone who needs them here and overseas. He is also a researcher at the Schaeffer Institute and spent over fifteen years on an in-depth, careful and through study on End Times. He is the author of numerous articles, curriculum's and books such as "Into Thy Word," and is also an ordained pastor, teacher, and speaker. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena California (Master of Divinity) and holds a Ph.D. (Practical Theology) from London. He has amounted over 25 years of pastoral ministry experience including serving as a church growth consultant.
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