Sunnyside Church of the Nazarene
Sunday, December 6
  • The Lion And The Lamb
  • Come Lord Jesus (Even So Come)
  • O Holy Night
  • When The Stars Burn Down (Blessing & Honor)
  • Call to Worship
    In this second week of Advent we celebrate peace. Peace is mentioned 1,608 times in Scripture. Most of the NT letters begin and end with a blessing of peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Peace is a significant theme for God’s people. Yet how many of us truly seek peace - for our neighbors and our world? Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book The Cost of Discipleship wrote this:
    “The followers of Jesus have been called to peace. When he called them they found their piece, for he is there peace. But now they are told that they must not only have peace but make it.
    And to that end they renounce all violence and tumult. In the cause of Christ nothing is to be gained by such methods. His Kingdom is one of peace, and the mutual greeting of his flock is a greeting of peace.
    His disciples keep the peace by choosing to endure suffering themselves rather than inflict it on others. They renounce all self-assertion, and quietly suffer in the face of hatred and wrong.
    In so doing they overcome evil with good, and establish the peace of God in the midst of a world of war and hate.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
    Open to 2 Peter 3:8–15 (among the last of the NT letters …).
    The passage this morning addresses the issue of how we ought to live until Christ returns. This may seem like an unusual text for Advent because the setting for chapter 3 is about the coming judgement of God and the return of Christ. What does that have to do with Advent and peace?
    The truth is we can get caught up in nostalgia or the warm fuzzies of Christmas. We can get caught up in the desire for life to be the way Christmas says it should be - simplistic, peaceful, cheerful. We can get caught up in desperately wanting that “silent and holy night.” We can get caught up in the wonderful stories we’re familiar with during this season - stories of Joseph, Mary, the Magi, the birth of Jesus. Sometimes, we get so caught up in looking back that we forget to look forward. And sometimes, we can get so caught up in looking forward that we forget the here and now - the time between Advents. Yes, the Advent season is a time to look back at the first arrival of Christ, and it is a time to look forward to His second coming- but not at the expense of the present.
    The early Christians had the same struggle. They too lived in the in-between. They were very aware of Christ’s first Advent, many of them witnessed it, and consequently they were very expectant of His return. In fact, the early disciples and Christians believed His return was imminent - it was going to be in their lifetime. And so they were waiting (any day now!) … and waiting … and waiting. And the longer they waited, the more they began to question - “What is causing this delay. What’s holding Him up? What do we do? Just sit around, scroll through our phones all day until He returns?” And that’s what Peter addresses in his letter.
    Peter begins his letter by reminding the saints (including us) that God has given us everything we need for life and for godliness through our knowledge of Christ. He then warns them about false prophets, false teachers - He says guard your lives against such people. Then he says be aware that in the last days scoffers will come - those we show contempt for people who believe in and wait for the Lord’s return. Scoffers are those who say, “You Christians have been talking about Jesus and the end of the world for over 2,000 years - Blah blah blah, same old story.” Peter says, “Yes, people will make fun of us and scoff at us but keep your hope and your wits about you - Jesus will return. Because He will return, how then do we live?”
    2 Peter 3:8 ESV
    But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
    In other words, as we wait, we must remember
    God is timeless. God is outside the boundaries or the constraints of linear time.
    So, this is not a literal formula to work out times and dates and generations etc. E.g. Genesis 1 - God created the earth in 7 days, “Oh, so according to this formula, that could mean 7,000 years.” Don’t go there, because that’s not the point. The point is God is eternal.
    So don’t overlook this fact, therefore, verse 9
    2 Peter 3:9–10 ESV
    The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
    The Day of the Lord. There are various ‘days of the Lord’ in Scripture, but this one refers to His second return and that final judgment of all the earth. That day will come, and it will come suddenly. And when it does, all things will be dissolved. Some translations say destroyed, and so we get this image of catastrophic destruction and this angry, wrathful God pouring out His vengeance! That is not entirely accurate because ultimately the return of Christ is about all things being made new - returning life to how it was supposed to be. How? Through fire, which is a biblical way of saying purification. Everything will be set ablaze or purified. This is the Refiners Fire - the bad is burned up the good remains - forever. Is this literal fire? Don’t know. Don’t care - but it will be purified.
    So, that’s what’s coming, but why is it taking so long? Doesn't God see what's going on in this world - all the pain and suffering, the chaos, the death? If God really cared, wouldn't He return and put an end to it all! Of course He sees, and of course He cares, but we must understand that
    God is not constrained by time, but He is constrained by love.
    - His love for people. Because He loves people so much, He desires that no person spend eternity without Him. Therefore,
    Any delay in His return is a sign of God’s love and patience, not His indifference.
    Any delay in His return is not because God has forgotten His promises or forgotten the world. No. His delay is because He has not forgotten His promises or this world. God is patient with all because He wants all to turn toward Him in repentance and be saved.
    If God’s desire is that no person spend eternity without Him, what is my desire? How does it align with His?
    If God is willing to endure chaos, pain, and suffering in this world for the sake of saving souls, what am I willing to endure?
    So, Christ is not slow in His return. So how then do we live while we wait?
    2 Peter 3:11–15 ESV
    Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,
    This is echoed in
    1 John 2:28 ESV
    And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.
    Why would any Christian shrink back in shame? “Oh, man, you’re back? Um …. Can you come back next month?” We are warned about living righteously in the here and now. Martin-Lloyd Jones said that,
    “It is the blessed hope [of His return that] is the greatest incentive to holy living.” ~ Martin-Lloyd Jones
    Why does he say that? Because that's what the Word of God says.
    Peter, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit said -
    Be diligent. It is a verb, an action - it is something that you and I do, and it takes effort - not effort to be saved -
    Salvation is the work of Christ.
    Christ-like character is the call of Christ.
    Be diligent in pursuing Christ Jesus and in living the kind of life He desires. Be diligent in pursuing holiness - being separated from the sinful world and dedicated unto Christ. Be diligent in pursuing purity - spotless and blameless - moral purity before God (we derive our morality from the Word of God, not from this world!). Be diligent in pursuing peace - which is what this week is all about.
    It takes time and effort to develop a life of holiness. It takes time and effort to develop a life of purity and to develop a life of peace. This message from Peter is not about passivity. No, Scripture tells us to “make every effort” to live at peace with all men. It’s something that we must work toward; it’s something that we proclaim; it’s something that we should live - and the peace of God must begin in our hearts.
    The Christmas season affords one of the best times to proclaim the peace of Christ - that through Christ we can have peace with God and with one another if we live according to His ways.
    How? How can we do this? By
    Ephesians 5:1–2 ESV
    Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
    being imitators of God and walking in love as Christ loved us. We can imitate God and exhibit patience toward others, with the same patience that God had with us. We can imitate God in holiness: aligning our entire lives with the Holy Spirit, and seeking God’s presence in our homes, neighborhoods, cities, and world. We can imitate God by being agents of peace - by creating peace in our own lives, and in our homes - being active in breaking cycles of sin, violence and abuse - by loving and raising our children, our grandchildren and nieces, nephews, children without fathers and mothers - raising them to know and believe they are loved by God. We can imitate God by seeking justice in our communities - by getting involved where God is already at work, - by following the law of Christ by loving the poor, the oppressed, the hungry, the widow, the orphan, the “unlovable.”
    We are not called to passively wait for His return, but to actively live as though the Kingdom of God is real, and it is - and to live as though Christ will return, because He will. We are called to live as if the way we live really matters - as if holiness really matters, as if purity really matters, as if peace really matters. Believe me, the way we live does matter.
    And so,
    As we enter the second week of Advent, what is the Lord saying to you this morning?
    Do you need to put faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?
      • 2 Peter 3:8ESV

      • 2 Peter 3:9–10ESV

      • 2 Peter 3:11–15ESV

      • 1 John 2:28ESV

      • Ephesians 5:1–2ESV

  • Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

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