Strong Where it Counts

As we wrap up our series, Standing Firm, this week, we find the apostle taking a turn from everything he’s been talking about for the past nine weeks. But then again, he’s not doing that at all. Instead, after spending the rest of the letter telling us how to stand firm in our faith without sacrificing our Gospel witness, Peter closes things out by talking about where we can find the strength we need to do it. I’ll give you a hint: It comes from God, but it isn’t found inside of us. Keep reading to find out what is the source of this strength.

Strong Where It Counts

Some of you are builders and so you understand the ins and outs of building and building materials better than I do. But from my rudimentary understanding, concrete is a pretty good building material. It’s stable. It’s sturdy. It’s strong. It holds up pretty well under a whole variety of weather conditions. It doesn’t degrade much over time. It’s low maintenance. There are all kinds of advantages to it. If you’re building something that requires extra stability and support, though—perhaps because of its size, for instance—concrete isn’t enough by itself. It needs a little bit more to make it up to the task to which you are applying it. Specifically, it needs a steel skeleton. To add this, you build an internal rebar frame inside your concrete mold and pour the mixture over it. With the rebar encased in the slab or structure, its strength is increased many times over concrete by itself. Now, this doesn’t mean that concrete alone isn’t still really strong stuff. It is. But when it has that extra element of support, it can withstand just about anything that might be thrown at it.

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Something Special

This week, as we continue our series, Standing Firm, we are talking about the third part of the foundation Peter builds before getting into the meat of his message. We’ve talked about the hope we have in Christ and the fact that we actually need to live out that hope if we want it to do anything positive for us. This week we’re talking about what that foundation can do in and for our lives if we’ll embrace it. We all want to be someone. Peter here tells us how.

Something Special

We live in a celebrity-obsessed world. Hopefully you don’t waste too much time doing this, but have you ever looked at the magazines in the racks at the checkout counters in stores? Almost without fail, their front covers are filled each month by one celebrity or another promising to tell readers about something they couldn’t possibly have known yet and on which their whole lives are hanging. Why are they covered with celebrities like this? Because the marketing folks know that you and I are more likely to buy something because Dwayne Johnson has something to tell us about physical fitness. We’re more likely to shell out some dough because Scarlet Johansson promises to give us the skinny on the squabbles her co-stars had on the latest movie set. The same thing goes with TV shows. We are much more likely to tune into the latest game show if it features a rotating celebrity cast than if it is just filled with…normal…people. News programs regularly include celebrities on their round table panels, not because they are particularly knowledgeable about the subjects being covered, but because they want more viewers and celebrities are the way to do that.

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Digging in Deeper: Acts 2:42

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.” (CSB –Read the chapter)

One of the dominant sitcoms of the 1980s and early 1990s was Cheers. Its writing and acting were always terrific and its cast of characters was both quirky and compelling. It generated one spinoff series (Fraiser) that itself lasted longer than the original and is slated for a reboot sometime soon. More impactful than the show itself, though, was the idea behind. We all want to go to a place “where everybody knows your name.” Last night, a modern sitcom ended its 6-year run. It was rather starkly different from Cheers, but that same idea beat at the heart of the show. It’s an idea that is bigger than any single sitcom. It is a part of who we are as a people and what drives the church when it’s working like it should. This morning let’s talk about the church and Superstore.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 7:5

“So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, ‘Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders, instead of eating bread with ceremonially unclean hands?'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever crossed a taboo? I live in the south now where, “Yes, Ma’am,” and “Yes, Sir,” are a fundamental part of the culture. Not so where I grew up. I grew up greeting most adults with nothing more than their first names. You can perhaps imagine the shock, then, when I met my wonderful in-laws when visiting Lisa in Charleston, SC for the first time and greeted them warmly by name…first name. Much to their credit, they handled my massive faux pas without even blinking, but I had violated a culturally sacred custom. Every culture has its customs. Some are wise and rightly held (like patterns of respect and honor in the south), but some are just there because, well, they’re there. Others are locked in place because of the currently prevailing worldview whether or not that worldview accords with reality. Jesus and His disciples came up against some of these during His ministry. Let’s talk about it.

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Digging in Deeper: Romans 14:13

“Therefore, let us no longer judge one another. Instead decide never to put a stumbling block or pitfall in the way of your brother of sister.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I used to wear rubber bands on my wrist. It was a phase in high school. I always had a least one and sometimes wore several. Whenever I found one sitting around somewhere I’d slip it on and wear it. The thing about rubber bands is that over time they begin to lose their elasticity when they are exposed to the rigors of life. It doesn’t happen all at once. But eventually, when you stretch them, you begin to notice that there are cracks in them. Once these start forming as long as you leave the rubber band alone, you can’t see them. If you stretch them, though, they show up. The further you stretch them, the more they show and the bigger they become. Stretch too far – and what counts as “too far” narrows over time – and eventually they snap. Our culture is like a rubber band right now. The church is too. Let’s talk this morning about how to avoid the snap.

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