Last week, we heard that God wants his people to hungry for his Word. That’s why we issued the Gospel of Mark challenge. If you took part, great! Keep it up and choose another part of God’s Word for this upcoming week. If not, go ahead and read through Mark this upcoming week.
Today we ask the question: Why? Why does God want us to feed our faith with his Word? What’s his endgame? What’s he getting at?
I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention outside next to the Preschool fence, but a couple of months ago big pieces of wood started to appear. Heavy beams. 2x4s and 2x6s. Even some OSB Plankwood. Maybe if you saw it, you thought: “What’s that for? What are they going to do with that stuff?”
If you look outside now, you’ll get your answer. Those pieces of wood – all different sizes, different types – have become a shed for the kids to put their toys in.
Today God’s Word tells us that God is interested in building something, too. It’s why He is so interested in you growing your faith through his Word. Today we’ll learn about God’s special building project as it is described in 1 Peter 2 beginning at verse 4, “As you come to him, the living Stone--rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him-- you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
1. The Builder
First things, first we’ve gotta identify is who it is that is building the house described in verses 4-5. Take a look at verse 4. It tells us that in this pile of materials is a "Living Stone…Chosen by God.” Again in verse 5 “living stones are being built through Jesus Christ.”
These verses are kind of like one of those signs that is posted on the corner of a construction site. It tells you who it is that’s at work just in case you ever want to hire them for business. It also tells you if you think you’re gonna like what they are building. “The Professional Mansion Building Lawfirm” is a more reliable name than “CheapoHouseRUs.”
Listen to who is at work in those verses. It’s God! The divine Lord of heaven and earth. The Creator who creator the heavens and the earth in 6 days—forming the deepest seas on one day and the highest mountains on another. There is no greater and more reliable construction company on earth.
God’s in charge – so you know it’ll be good.
2. The Materials
Especially considering his resources! He could use some the shiniest gold and gorgeous silver. He could use diamonds and rubies. The rays of the sun. The glistening surface of a waterfall. The nearly perfect colors of a rainbow. With all of those materials at his disposal in unlimited quantity, it’s bound to be beautiful!
So what kind of materials did he use?
…as in, you believers, as in you people gathered at this Lutheran church here in Raleigh, NC, you "…are being built into a spiritual house.”
Are you impressed with God’s choice in materials?
Now maybe you are a pessimist and maybe you are thinking, “Really God? Us? We are a mismatched bunch here. We are sinners who, while we believe we are saved through Jesus our Savior, we still struggle with sin. We struggle with addiction, greed, and lust. We gossip, betray, and struggle to forgive. Sometimes we are lazy. Other times we are fearful. Personally, I’m not feeling like I’m that great of a speaker or that good at telling people about Jesus. God, there are probably better people to build your house with. Shouldn’t you go use them?”
God – you may have made a foolish choice in materials.
But is God foolish? Doesn’t he know what he’s doing? Didn’t we just get done saying He is an awesome builder? Yes, sin ruins things. Yes, we are sinners. But didn’t Jesus die for our sins? And haven’t you heard this message to make you believers in the truth?
And having heard the truth, aren’t you a part of his building?
Look at what Scripture says. He calls you “All those who have come to him, believers, are like living stones.” Stones are powerful and sturdy, but aren’t alive. Living things are personal and breathing, but they eventually die.
Living stones? How cool is that? It’s the best of both worlds.
Think about things that are living. We were dead in our sins, but God made us alive with Christ! He forgave us all our sins. Now we live because of him.
And we live, not to be carbon copies of each other, but we have variety. We have character. We have personalities. One that is outgoing. One that is introspective. One that is musical. Another that is athletic. Still another that is artistic, right along one that is creative.
God’s building materials are living. Each one alive with its own personality!
And they are stones. Isn’t that an interesting choice? God doesn’t call us bricks. Bricks would each be the same size. The same color. They are made to match, a uniform house or wall perfect for a very specific subdivision.
God calls us stone. Stones are always different. Some bumpy. Some lumpy. Some long. Some short. Darker, lighter, jagged, rough around the edges.
Doesn’t that describe this collection of human beings right here? We are so very different. Different ages, different cultures, different backgrounds – yet together, we make up God’s beautiful spiritual house!
3. The Purpose
Now God didn’t just build us into a wall just for kicks. There is a purpose to what He has built just like any building has purpose.
The new Walgreens that just went up on Falls of Neuse is so that people can quickly and easily gets prescription medications at all times of the day. North on Six Forks there are a bunch of new apartments that just went up. The purpose of those buildings are to house people. There’s a Fitness Center being put in just south of 540. The purpose of that building is to provide a place to get in shape – or --- if you’re like me – a place to buy an expensive membership to that you will never use.
God has given his spiritual house purpose too. Take a look at verse 5 "to offer spiritual sacrifices to God.”
In the Old Testament, the building that offered people a chance to do this was the Temple. Beautiful too. Whether it was the first gold enlaced building of Solomon’s or the rebuild at the hands of the Remnant, the temple was beautiful.
But it wasn’t long after Peter wrote this very letter that the second building was torn down. Another Jewish temple was never to be built again. There is no building there anymore.
No matter. God’s temple for offering spiritual sacrifices is right here. He also isn’t asking you to go and grab a farm animal and give it up for him.
No. God wants you to give up your very self to him. To worship him in all you do. To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
Now, you might be concerned right about now. Because maybe you haven’t done a good job worshipping Christ in every aspect of your life. Perhaps you think, “I didn’t know I was apart of this spiritual house.” There are certain things I do that definitely wouldn’t qualify me for being part of that house.
But take a look at verse 5. Peter reminds us that our sacrifices are acceptable to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. (v.5)
Do you sing a little off key in church? Do you lack the organizational skills to become a member on the Council? Do you give only a few dollars a week to the Lord? Do you prepare a Sunday School lesson that falls l a little flat? Do you struggle to get the kids to come to church and struggle even more to get them to stay in church? Do you struggle to find the right words to say when you speak up for Jesus among your friends?
You may not wow the crowds of people here at Gethsemane. But done with faith in Jesus, you’ve wowed God.
You see God looks at your lives kind of like a dad who just got a coloring picture from his kids. The house is five different colors, there are scribbles all over it, and sometimes it goes outside the lines. Yet God is thrilled. With you as a believer in his spiritual house, he is pleased with all of your Christian living done for him!
4. The Foundation
But that doesn’t mean it won’t get hard. That doesn’t mean that as a congregation we won’t struggle to do God’s Will. It doesn’t mean that sin won’t rear it’s ugly head. It doesn’t mean that jealousies won’t infect our work together. It doesn’t mean that the outside world won’t make life hard for Bible abiding Christians.
That’s when it’s important to remember who our foundation is.
Look at verse 6, “I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.”
There are two words for stones in those verses. The first is a cornerstone. The cornerstone is the first stone laid by the mason. It needs to be set just right, because all of the other walls and every other brick will be based off of the measurements of that stone.
The cornerstone is important it keeps everything straight.
Then you see the Word “capstone.” The capstone was used in building arches. Back in Roman times, you’d build the archways using a wooden frame and then carefully building up the arch using bricks lined up next to the frame. When you reached the top, there’d be that stone. Curved. Placed directly in the middle. It counteracts the wait of both sides and holds the walls up.
The cornerstone is important because it holds everything up!
Who is the cornerstone in this house? Did you figure out who this cornerstone is? It’s not the pastor. It’s the elders. It’s not the "guy who's been here the longest.” It’s not Martin Luther OR Peter OR Paul.
It’s none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.
Peter calls Jesus "rejected by men…" In verse 7 he calls Jesus, “rejected.” Isn’t that exactly what the Pharisees and teachers of the law did? They despised this Jewish carpenter who was telling them what to do? They hated being told they were wrong. They couldn’t believe he could be the Messiah without the Pharisaical upbringing that they had so…
They rejected him. Like the builder who tosses aside a dusty, crumbling old stone as a terrible choice for the foundation, they tossed Jesus aside as worthless.
Some people still do that today: “Jesus is a myth.” “He’s not real.” “He’s archaic.” “His teachings are bigoted.” “His stuff doesn’t matter enough for me to build my life on him!”
Rejected. Rejected then. Rejected now.
But though humans reject Him, God chose him. God – remember – the One who is awesome at building eternal building – He chose Jesus.
In fact, God found him precious. He didn’t look at the exterior. He didn’t see some meek carpenter.
Instead, he saw his holy and perfect Son. He saw Jesus Christ a Mighty Lord and Savior. He saw one who did not sin. He saw one whose innocent death would be the foundation and very reason that we are built into God’s spiritual house. He is the one who died, but could not remain destroyed. He went down into the fires of hell laughing at the Devil for his failed attempts at defeating him. He rose from the dead –eternal, incredible, Victorious!
And Jesus saves the rest of God’s house from shame. Take a look at verse 6 again, “I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
It’s as if God’s cornerstone is so incredible, so beautiful, so glorious and majestic that the other less majestic, less beautiful, less glorious pieces – us – can’t even be spoken against!
This is huge. Because people will mock you. For belonging to a church, they will make fun of you. They will call you a bigot, a fool, and an arrogant person.
But you’ve got Jesus on your side. When people oppose you, they oppose Him. And when they oppose him, well, listen to verse 8, "A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. They stumble because they disobey the message--which is also what they were destined for."
You see no one can topple Jesus. No one can make him crumble. With him as our foundation, our cornerstone, our capstone, we will not fall either. Not to people. Not to the devil. Not to our own sinful natures. Not even to death.
Until one day. One day we enter the gates of heaven. A spiritual house. No longer temporal, but eternal. No longer sin ridden, but perfect. No longer opposed, but glorified.
Sometimes buildings have plaques of dedication. Built in 1995 by “so and so.” Dedicated to “So and So.” Even church buildings have plaques, “Dedicated to the Lord.”
Brothers and sister, may this spiritual house – not the building – our fellowship of believers – be dedicated to the Lord. May we serve him in all that we do. May we offer spiritual sacrifices in Jesus. May we continue to be build on this foundation.– stone by stone—brick by brick—person by person—believer by believer.
If you are musical, join in singing praises at our worship service.
If you are mechanical, join in helping to build the shed or maintaining the lawn.
If you are outgoing, help us with outreach at Duke and inviting people to Back2Church Sunday.
If you are caring, please keep us in your prayers.
If you are good with kids, please help teach Sunday School.
If you aren't in a church, join one and work together with your fellow stones to keep serve the Lord!
If you are something – use it to build God’s house! Join believers and work together for the Lord!
It is a privilege to be built into God’s spiritual house. To you God, the ultimate builder, may this building be dedicated! Amen.
Integrity. HighTower. Bluefin. CreditKarma. Transcendent One.
Those aren't the names of super heroes. They are financial companies.
I know because now that my wife and I have all of our student loan paid off, we think it's wise to start investing.
Jesus thought investing was wise too. He said so in a parable. But, since it was a parable, it's fair to say that this had less to do with making a physical fortune and more to do with making a spiritual fortune. Check it out:
Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. 28 “ ‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’"
It's a harsh punishment from the master. To throw the servants out into the streets. But it's understandable. He's firing his guy because his guy didn't do any work for him. He simply took what was given him and hid. He didn't use it.
Wouldn't you expect the same thing for the fast food employee who was left to clean the walk in cooler, but three hours later hadn't started because he didn't want to make it look worse? The parable makes sense from an earthly perspective.
But parables are earthly stories with heavenly meanings. There is more to it here.
God is the master and we are the servants. He has given all of us gifts to serve him. These gifts range from monetary to musical, from administration to athletics!
But remember this is spiritual. God's goal isn't that we put what we have to work for the growth of our own kingdom, but for the growth of his kingdom. In every case God provides the correct combination of abilities, talents, responsibilities, and opportunities, so that all of us can be of real service to him in his kingdom.
This means you too!
God has given you exactly what you need to serve him. So...PUT IT TO USE to grow his kingdom.
Jesus used everything he had for you. He didn't just use his gifts to serve himself. He used them to serve you. He used his perfect life to earn eternal life. He died an innocent death to pay the price for your sins. He used his Almighty power to defeat rise from the dead to prove his victory. He used his loving promise to hold out for you the joys of heaven through faith in him.
Jesus didn't bury these talents in the ground. He put them to use. He wanted to grow in his kingdom. He wanted to add someone.
He invested in you!
Isn't it worth investing in Him?
PRAYER: Lord, thank you for all of the gifts that you have given me. Help me to recognize my talents and gifts and to use them for service in your kingdom. Please give me strength to serve you. Amen.