Sermon 5.28.17 Easter 7

Seventh Sunday of Easter – May 28, 2017

Pastor Don Ninmer – I Peter 4:12-17, 5:6-11

“Therefore humble yourselves under God’s powerful hand so that He may lift you up in the appointed time. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Have sound judgment. Be alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him by being firm in the faith. You know that the same kinds of sufferings are being laid on your brotherhood all over the world.”  (I Peter 5:6-9)

When I was teaching Confirmation Instruction Class, two of my favorite passages were: I Peter 5:7 – “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” and I Peter 5:8: “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith.” You may recognize that I have just quoted these two passages  in the King James Version. Our text for today is translated this way: Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Have sound judgment. Be alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him by being firm in the faith.

Do you know why these passages were some of my favorites? The first reason is that I wanted the kids in instruction class to do that. The second reason is that I know I don’t always do that.  I am sure you will admit that too. We constantly need Peter’s reminder to do these things. We need God’s help to do them.  It is very easy to say: Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. It is not so easy to do.  

So we ask, what are your personal cares today? What is bothering you today? What is causing you anxiety? Are there financial issues? – Will Social Security be around when I retire?  Will the interest rate rise, increasing my house payments or increasing the interest on my CD or Money Market Account?

Are your cares caused by health concerns?  Is your heart going to continue to work?  Will the cancer treatment work?  How about that congestive heart failure? Will the cancer return? Maybe your concern is for a loved one, maybe a child or a grandchild. Will their health problems go away? Will they be happy? Will they make a good living?

Maybe your cares and anxiety are caused by conditions in the world. Will there be war in various places. Will there continue to be strife and turmoil in our country? What about that mounting national debt? Will our president and congress provide good Christian leadership? You can make your own list. Sometimes in Bible Class we take five minutes to discuss an issue and make a list. We are not going to do that now. Make your own list. What are your anxieties and cares today? Do you have something to add to that list?

When we mention all of those things, those cares and anxieties, you may say: Now I am depressed. I am depressed when I think about all of the problems that there are in the world. What am I going to do with all of my problems and all of the issues that concern me? We all know that there are times when we do become discouraged as we think and worry about these things.  What do we do then?

One of the things that we can do is to think about this passage: Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Or we can think of the hymn verse: Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged – Take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful, Who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness – Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Why is that so important? Peter answers that: Have sound judgment. Be alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Notice that Peter says that casting all of your care upon the Lord is sound judgment. Peter is saying: Don’t be a dummy. He knows that so many times in life we don’t show sound judgment. We are dummies.

We says, show sound judgment. Be alert. Be awake. Don’t snooze. Of course he is not saying that we must be awake 24 hours a day. He is saying: do not fall asleep spiritually. The he uses one of the best pictures in the Bible: Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

You go to the zoo. You walk past the lion’s cage. Inside the cage you see a roaring lion walking around. He is snarling and showing his teeth. He is looking for something to eat, and you look like a good meal. Your arm looks like an appetizer. Would you stick your hand into the cage and say, nice kitty? Occasionally someone will jump the fence and do that. Then they blame the zoo, even though they knew that the roaring lion was looking for something to devour and they stuck their hand in there anyway.

We do that too. We know that the lion is out there. Peter identifies him very clearly: The devil. Since God created the world he has been prowling around looking for someone to devour. He succeeded. Peter knew what he was writing about because he was eaten by the devil so that he said three times: I don’t know Jesus. Satan devoured Judas and even such patriarchs as David and Abraham.

We confess that we are no different than them. Confronted with the same temptations we would be likely to give in. Indeed we have denied our Lord in our words and in our lives. We have disobeyed His Word. We have broken every commandment in thought, word and deed. 

When we are tempted we remember Peter’s words, written by inspiration: Resist him by being firm in the faith…The God of all grace will Himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you…Dear friends, do not be surprised by the fiery trial that is happening among  you to test you, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead rejoice whenever you are sharing in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.

But the key to this whole section is verse 9: Resist him by being firm in the faith. How do we resist temptation? How do we lead a Christian life? Certainly it is not by our own power. We know that from experience. Peter, Judas, Abraham depended on their own power. How do we please our Lord? It is by faith. That is not our own doing. Faith is given and strengthened by God. Peter said: The God of all grace, who called you into His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you. Paul clearly points this out in I Corinthians: No one can say, Jesus is the Lord, except by the Holy Spirit. ( I Cor 12:3)

Let’s try to summarize all that Peter teaches us this morning. We all know that in our lives we will have cares and anxieties. That is a fact of life. Just ask any senior citizen. Many a senior citizen would say: Let me tell you about it. I don’t know of anyone, even children, who have not had some care or anxiety in their life. 

At the same time we know that satan is out there. He is in here. There is only one way to resist him. We don’t stick our hands into the cage. We walk by with God’s help. Peter gives us this powerful advice: Resist him by being firm in the faith. That means that we faithfully study God’s Word, and try our hardest to follow that Word. Don’t stick your hand in the cage.