In the conclusion of 1 Peter, we are reminded that we have an enemy, and his goal is to cause us to suffer and fear. 1 Peter 5:6-14 shows us that, when life is H.A.R.D., the prescription is to Humble yourself, make sure your Anxieties are cast, Resist in faith, and trust in the Dominion of God.
When Life Is H.A.R.D. | 1 Peter 5:6-14
Who’s in Charge at Watermark? | 1 Peter 5:1-5
Trusting in the Suffering | 1 Peter 4:12-19
The End Is Near | 1 Peter 4:1-11
What Christ Accomplished Through His Death, Burial, and Resurrection | 1 Peter 3:18-22
Hope in Jesus on Display | 1 Peter 3:8-17
The Key to a Better Marriage | 1 Peter 3:1-7
God’s Identity, Calling, and Example for You | 1 Peter 2:13-25
How To Find The Right Church | 1 Peter 2:4-12
3 Indicators of Spiritual Growth | 1 Peter 1:22-2:3
Battling Spiritual Amnesia | 1 Peter 1:13-21
Praise in Present Suffering | 1 Peter 1:3-12
Remember Who You Are | 1 Peter 1:1-2
When life is H.A.R.D., remember:
Good morning, and welcome to Watermark Community Church. My name is John Elmore. I'm one of the teaching pastors here. I want to give a welcome to any guests who are visiting us, exploring the faith or the church. Welcome. If anybody is here already in advance for the Church Leaders Conference, raise up your hand. Anybody here in advance? Okay. Welcome here. There are going to be about 2,997 more who are going to be here tomorrow, so we're excited to host.
Today, we are concluding the letter of 1 Peter, which, honestly, makes me super sad. I have loved this journey and seeing the richness of the letter and everything therein. We're in chapter 5 today, in the last of that passage. I'm seriously like, "Where is 1 Peter 6 or 7? No. There's no more." What you're going to see in the Word today is that you have an enemy. If you are in Christ, you have a sworn enemy. He hates you, and his desire is to incite fear and inflict suffering.
So, I'll be your motivational speaker for today. It's like, "Dude, are you serious?" But it's incredible, because despite that and despite him, we know, as John writes (one of Peter's contemporaries, one of his fellow apostles), "Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world." He has overcome Satan and conquered him. So, today, I believe you're going to find great encouragement in and as Satan incites that fear and as he inflicts suffering because Jesus reigns. So, if you would, turn in your Bible to 1 Peter, chapter 5. We're going to read verses 6 through the conclusion.
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. By Silvanus…" Theologians believe this is Silas, who traveled with Paul throughout the book of Acts. "…a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. She who is at Babylon…" We believe this was the church in Rome where Peter was writing from.
"…who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son." This is Mark from which we get the gospel of Mark. This is where Mark got his apostolic authority to write that gospel account, as he heard and sat and lived with Peter and heard the firsthand account of everything Jesus said and did and the miracles they beheld. So Mark wrote that.
"Greet one another with the kiss of love." In many cultures this is still the case. They'll greet each other with a kiss on the cheek. Not so much here in America. That might be a little too much for somebody. But it's more than a handshake. When you greet someone, you can give them a hug. It shows affection. But if it's a single guy to a single girl, maybe you go side hug instead of full-on. You might know what I'm talking about. Some of the girls are like, "Amen. Preach it."
Then it says, "Peace to all of you who are in Christ." What a great concluding word as Peter cyclically talks about suffering, and then he says, "Peace." No matter your affliction, your persecution, your suffering, the threats of the Enemy, peace to all of you who are in Christ.
So, something I do, and TA as well… When we're going through a passage, we'll have different iterations of an outline. I was probably on my fourth outline this week for this passage. You just wrestle with it, and it's not quite right. I thought I had it. Literally, on Thursday, I was like, "Oh, this is it." I sent it to the elders, even, as I do weekly. I was like, "Okay. Here it is."
Then Thursday afternoon, I feel like the Lord opened my eyes to something in the text. I was like, "Oh my goodness!" I reworked the outline and sent it back to the elders. I was like, "I have to make this change." This took zero wordsmithing of my part. It's just right there in the verse. This is incredible. Here it is. When life is HARD, remember, humble yourself (that's the H); A: anxieties are cast; R: resist in faith; and then D: dominion of God.
Here in the Scriptures it says the right place is under the mighty hand of God. That is the place to be, that we would get there by humbling ourselves and be under the mighty hand of God, and then the right time is his timing. He says at the proper time, which is his time, he will exalt you.
We were hiking in Colorado one summer. Laura's grandfather had a place there, so we went to visit him. We go up this… It's called Bear Mountain, because at the top of the mountain there is a cave, which is probably just family legend that it was a bear cave, but nonetheless, you hike up this mountain. There's a cave that overlooks this cliff that is an expansive mountain. So it's a great hike.
We go up the mountain. Our kids are 3, 5, and 7. They can make it up because they have a lot of energy. We had a big breakfast. We get to the top, snap the family photo, and we're like, "Okay. Time to go down, kids." Judd, our 3-year-old, is like, "No." I can't remember his 3-year-old language, but he's like, "I'm not walking. I can't walk." I'm like, "It's downhill. Gravity will help." He's like, "No."
I had this 1970s kid backpack that had the leg holes in it. I'm like, "Oh man. Okay." You know, it has aluminum poles. I'm like, "Here, sit in this," and he's getting his legs through. Then I'm like, "Okay." I mean, I've never done this before. I don't know what I'm doing. I get one shoulder in. At this point, he's leaning backward. I get another one on. I'm like, "Okay. We're good." Penny is 5. Hill is 7. I'm like, "Come on. Here we go."
Laura has all the gear, the picnic, and whatever. We're walking down the mountain, and then all of a sudden, I feel this tugging. I'm like, "What? What, Penny?" She's like, "I can't go anymore." I'm like, "You've got to go more because it's, like, two more miles down the mountain." She's like, "I can't." I'm like, "Oh man. They call this 'Bear Mountain.' I don't know what's going to happen. We can't stay here. We don't have a tent."
I'm like, "All right. All right. Here, get in front of me." I put her on my shoulders. Judd, at this point, has a really bad view. I'm like, "All right. Here we go. Hold on tight." We're walking down the mountain, walking down the mountain. "Dad, I can't go. I can't go anymore." Hill. He's 7. I'm like, "Buddy, you've got to. You're 7 years old. Be a big boy. We've got to get down this mountain. Come on." He's like, "I can't." I'm like, "Oh man! All right. Okay, man. Hey, climb up on my legs." At this point, I look like Cirque du Soleil.
I'm like, "You've got to squeeze your legs tight. I can't hold you." Penny, at this point… I'm no longer holding her. She's just squeezing her legs. I'm going down the mountain. I'm like, "This is so stupid. I can't believe this. Why did we take this hike?" Then, as I'm going, I'm like, "Oh!" and almost get pulled back. I'm like, "Stop it!" As I say that, I feel bark go down the back of my neck. I'm like, "What in the world?"
Instantaneously, Penny starts screaming. Well, I had walked her into a dead cedar tree. I had my hat on. I couldn't see anything. The fact that she has her sight is straight up a miracle. So, total dad fail. God will never fail you. It's what he says in his Scriptures. He says, "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God," that we would put ourselves in his care and he would exalt us in the proper time.
Our job is to humble ourselves. His job is to carry us under his hands and exalt us in the proper time. The phrase mighty hand is a throwback to Exodus, which was the refrain as the Israelites were enslaved to the nation of Egypt. By a mighty hand God brought down the plagues. By a mighty hand he led them out of Egypt. By a mighty hand he provided for them in the wanderings, and by a mighty hand he brought them into the Promised Land.
Peter is like, "Hey, humble yourself under God's mighty hand. That's where you want to be. He has shown himself faithful, and he has a time that he's going to exalt you." I think a lot of us are not tugging on God's shirt. We're like, "Man, you saved me from hell, but I've got it from here. I'm smart enough. I've got the degree. I've got the job. I've got the money. I've got the girl. I don't need you." He's like, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God…"
The therefore is pointing back to where it says, "God gives grace to the humble but opposes the proud." That we would tug on God and be like, "Hey, I need your help here. I can't do anything apart from you." Then God's part is to exalt us, which is like, "Okay, good, man, because I need a raise at work. I need a better promotion. I need to get into this sorority. I need to be top of my class. He's going to exalt me. Awesome. You said it in the Scriptures." No. That's not what it is.
Contextually, when it says he'll exalt us… This whole passage is talking about suffering. Not our prosperity but our perseverance in adversity, that one day, in our suffering, he's going to exalt us. This is like Psalm 40 where David writes, "I cried to the Lord out of the miry pit, and he put my feet upon a rock. He lifted me out where I was just going to die in my suffering. He lifted me out and set my feet upon a rock. I'll sing a new song to the Lord."
That's the exalting that's taking place. He's like, "I know you're suffering. I know in your life you're suffering." Humble yourselves (he opposes the proud), and at the proper time God is going to exalt you. He's going to lift you out of that pit. That's the H…humble yourself.
Worry is just an indicator that you're trusting in self and not God. That's all it is. He's not like, "Oh, you worrywart! Why can't you just…?" He's like, "Hey, let that worry be an indicator that what and who you are trusting in is yourself rather than me, so you need to cast those anxieties upon me." Like a light on your dash in your car. Here it is said another way: worry is the symptom of the sickness, and then prayer is the prescription. God says, "Cast those anxieties."
We have this worry, and he's like, "Hey, that's the symptom. Now cast it." Prayer is the prescription. The way by which you cast is through prayer. This is Philippians 4:6-7. He says, "Don't be anxious about anything, not any one thing. I know you are, but don't be. In prayer and petition present your requests to God with thanksgiving, and the peace of God that transcends understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus."
He's like, "You give me your pressures; I give you my peace." That's what we do. "You give pressures; I give peace. Cast those anxieties to me. You're not meant to carry that." Some of you are like, "I don't struggle with worry. I don't worry about things. I just get stuff done. I'm in control. I'll just put in some extra hours. I'll crank it out. GSD, man. I'll get stuff done." That's just activating on worry. There's another word for it. It's workaholism.
Now, what I'm not saying is to be lazy. That would be the other end of the spectrum. What God calls us to is to put in faithful work, and he gives the result. It's Psalm 127:2 where he says, "In vain you rise early and stay up late, eating the bread of anxious…" "Cast your anxieties." "…anxious toil, for God gives to his beloved even while they sleep." That's beautiful.
In Luke 12, Jesus says (it's like the Sermon on the Mount), "Do not fear those who can kill the body." Specifically, right here, Satan is able to do that through suffering. He can inflict suffering even unto death. He says, "Don't fear those who can kill the body. Fear him who can cast body and soul into hell." He's like, "Hey, fear God and nothing else." That's who you should be fearing right now. Nothing else.
Then he talks about sparrows, and he says, "Are not a few sparrows sold for this and that amount?" which is super weird that they were selling sparrows at that point in time, but nonetheless… Then he says, "God even knows the number of hairs on your head." It's not because God is particularly interested in hair. What he's saying is, "Hey, do you know how many hairs are on your head? No, you don't. Well, guess what? God does."
Do you know how many freckles you have? No. Well, guess what? God does. Do you know how many cancerous cells are in your body? "No, I don't, but I know I have cancer." Well, God does. He knows where they are. It doesn't matter how much is in your bank account or what's going on with your car or that your rent is overdue or that your friend group… God is like, "I know. I know you more than you know you, so you don't have to worry. I've got you. That's my job, because I care for you." Cast your anxieties on him because he cares for you.
This is the means by which we humble ourselves. When it says, "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God…" The participle that ends in -ing is like, "And this is how you do it." "Humble yourselves, casting your anxieties upon him." So, follow this logic with me. If you're worrying, you're not casting your anxieties. If you're not casting, then the Scripture right here says you're not being humble. He says, "Be humble by casting."
So, if you're not casting, you're not being humble. If you're not humble, verse 5 says you're being prideful, and God says he opposes the proud. I mean, if that's not motivation enough to cast your anxieties. We don't want God opposing us. In our pride, like, "No, I've got this." He's like, "No, you don't. But come back when you are ready, because it's my job to carry that."
The reason we can cast our anxieties upon him is because he cares for us. It says right there he cares for us. He knows you, and he cares for you. He loves you. He's not mad at you. He loves you. He knows the pressures that are upon you in your suffering, in the fear. It goes on in Luke 12. Jesus says, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? And if you can't do that one simple thing, then why are you worried about what you'll eat, what you'll wear, what you'll drink, where you'll live, who you'll date, or where your job will come from?"
You can't do anything by worrying about those things. He says, "The world chases after all these things." He says the nations that don't have God… They're like, "Well, I guess it's up to me. I mean, God doesn't exist, or God is this pagan whoever, so it's up to me." He says, "The nations chase after all these things, but not so with you. Your Father knows that you need them." So, his answer is, "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and these things will be added to you."
We cast the anxieties. We run after God, knowing that he is going to run down our problems and provide for us. But listen. I think a lot of us, myself included, aren't casting our anxieties because we don't ultimately believe he's caring. I think if we did believe he was caring, we would be casting our anxieties. I think sometimes we don't cast because we don't believe he cares, or we don't cast because we don't like his clock.
It says that he would exalt us at the proper time. We're like, "You know what, God? I prayed. I kind of waited, and, man, I don't like your timing, so I'm going to activate on this. I'm going to send the text. I'm going to send the email. I'm going to insert myself into this situation. I'm going to activate and make things happen rather than waiting on you."
Now, you should be faithful in your work, but you know when you've stepped into control and you're doing something versus waiting on God. I think sometimes we don't cast because we don't like his clock. Remember, he says, "At the proper time." So, my question for you right now to apply is…What are you carrying instead of casting? What anxiousness, what worry, what fear are you carrying rather than casting? It's not yours to carry.
Or, said otherwise, what are you trying to control versus cast? Right now, let the Lord speak it to your heart and mind. What situation, what relationship, are you being controlling in rather than casting that to him and trusting that, in time, he will help? This is the value of fully surrendered. Anxieties are cast. Like, "Lord, you saved me, so it's all you. I'm fully surrendered. I'm going to trust you with everything, not withholding anything." The opposite of being fully surrendered is to be fully independent, and we don't want that. He opposes the proud.
A lot of times, people will be like, "Man, I'm going out of town this weekend, so pray for me, because there's a roaring lion seeking to devour. You know Satan is like a lion." Or "Hey, I'm going into this situation. It's really hard. We've always had fighting. Man, Satan is just after me. He's a roaring lion." We sometimes speak about temptation as that being Satan's roaring lion, that he's seeking to devour. That's not the case here. That's not what the verse says.
Now, he does do that. He's an adversary. He's a liar. He's a tempter. He's a murderer from the beginning. He's the Father of Lies. But right here, when he says, "Your adversary the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour…" You're going to see later in that verse, "You know, your brothers are suffering throughout the world," and then later it says, "After you have suffered a little while…" So, the context is suffering. Meaning, when you're suffering…
Satan is going to come after you through suffering. Yes, he will do it through temptation, but that's another verse and another action of his. This way, here, he's saying he's coming after you through suffering. But not just suffering. There are two things here. It's to incite fear and to inflict suffering. Those are two of his offenses.
How can I say "incite fear"? I'm looking at this verse. I'm like, "Prowls around like a roaring lion." You know, people preach this passage, and it's like everybody goes to Animal Kingdom, because we've seen it. We've seen the lion in the savanna going after the gazelle. But you never hear the lion roar when that's happening. The lion is not like, "Rawr! Gazelle." It would run. That's never the case. Instead, its ears go down, and it's pawing through those tall grasses until it's within reach, and then it goes on the chase.
That's not what's in view here either. Instead, it says he prowls around like a roaring lion. Well, roaring alerts everyone to his presence. So why is he roaring? To make us afraid. He wants to incite fear. It says in Hebrews 12 that he has subjected all of us to slavery to lifelong fear of death. That's why Jesus took on flesh: to conquer Satan, to set us free from the fear of death. We can never die because of Jesus.
But here he is roaring to incite fear. It's where it says in Proverbs 22:13, "The sluggard says, 'There's a lion in the streets. I'll be killed.'" I think, in the same way, with the roar of the lion, the spiritual roar, which sounds a lot more like a whisper in your mind to make you a spiritual sluggard… Like, "Man, I can't speak up about my faith at work. They'll think I'm some kind of fanatic. You know, all paths lead up the mountain to God, right? So, I'll just keep my mouth shut. God loves me, and that's okay."
"I'm not going to bring it up with my family" or "I'm not going to take a stand in my relationship and break up with the guy, because if I did, then I'd be lonely the rest of my life. So I'm just going to compromise and live in this sexual sin, because I'm afraid if I don't, then I'd be lonely." The fear of Satan that he's using as a tool to keep you from doing what you ought to do and be that spiritual sluggard. We don't listen to him. We resist in faith.
So, my question for you to apply is…Where are you hearing roars and living in fear? Where is it that, right now, you're experiencing fear for your faith? Maybe relationships, your health, money…something you ought to do, but you're afraid to because of consequences when the Scripture is clear on it.
It's not just inciting fear; it's devouring, that he would inflict suffering, which is what we're going to see in the remaining verses. He inflicts suffering. You see it in the life of Job. He inflicts incredible suffering. We tell our kids, "Hey, if an aggressive dog ever comes toward you…" They can really harm kids, so we've told them this in advance.
"You stand there. Do not run. Try to get big. Be loud, but do not run. If you run, they're going to think you're prey. It's going to activate in them, like, 'Oh, I am after this,' and they'll go after you. So you just stand there. Don't even back up." We've been around some dogs before. They'll put their hands up. We're like, "Just stand there. Don't show them fear."
Well, I got curious in this passage, so I Googled, "How do you resist a lion attack?" I had some time on my hands. The kids were down. It was late, and I'm a curious person. Do you know what it says? In the natural realm, what you do is stand your ground. It literally says, "Do not take a step backward. Never turn your back. Rather, if you face a lion, you just stand there." It's exactly what Peter writes, by the Spirit, in the supernatural realm. He says, "Resist him in faith."
Resist him. Don't flee. In fact, James says, "Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you." Resist. It says, "Resist him, firm in your faith," which is why the point is resist in faith. Hear me out. It's not resist in your faith, that you're the owner of that faith. It's resist him in the object of your faith. Your faith is in Jesus. He is the one who conquered Satan. So, your faith is not in the ownership of your faith. Like, "Oh, I've got such big faith. I can stand against Satan." That's nonsense. Your faith is in the object of your faith, Jesus. He is the means by which you can stand firm.
We were at T Bar M Family Camp last summer. You know, red against blue in this tug-of-war thing. I had some beast guys who clearly spent more time in the gym than me. I'm like, "Oh, we are so going to win this. Those other dads look like chumps like me. I have you guys." So we line up to the tug-of-war. I don't even know exactly what happened. Before it started, they took dish soap, and then hosed it down with water.
I truly don't know what happened. I think I blacked out. I don't even know if they said, "One, two, three, go!" All of a sudden, my legs go out from under me. Then a 180, and all of a sudden, I'm on the ground, contorted, and one of those huge beast guys goes Boom! on my hip. Now I'm getting dragged across the tarp with Gigantor on my hip. I'm like, "Hey, bro, you're on my hip," as we're getting dragged along.
I didn't want to tap him too hard because he could hurt me. I'm like, "Hey! You're on my hip." He's like, "Aagh!" still thinking he's going to win. I'm like, "Bro, forget it." I'm like, "Hey, you're on my hip!" He's like, "Oh, sorry, man." He rolls off. The whole reason any of that happened is because my feet weren't firm. It didn't matter what I was wearing. When there was that soap and water, it was over no matter how physically strong those dudes were.
It says we are to stand firm in our faith. Now, you go to a parallel passage where you hear about Satan, your Enemy (Ephesians, chapter 6), and Paul writes and talks about the armor of God. If you're ever in a men's Bible study, you're all about the armor of God. You're like, "Yeah, breastplate of righteousness, belt of truth, helmet of salvation, sword of the Spirit, and shield of faith. Aagh!" Then you're like, "Oh, and the gospel shoes, whatever that means. I don't know."
It's the most unthreatening part of the whole… It's like, "Gospel shoes? Paul missed a beat, had a bad day." He didn't have a bad day. That's the centrality of all of it. The gospel feet are what keep you firm, that you would never slip, never be pulled out from your place, but that in Christ… Not in your faith. Your faith in Christ will keep you to stand firm and keep you from being yanked around by the whims and all the wiles of Satan.
No matter what he does, if you have the gospel on your feet, that Jesus lived and died and rose again, and you've trusted in him, then Revelation says your adversary, though he accuses you day and night before God… You overcome him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony. Like, "No, that's the gospel. You're not going to pull me down, Satan, because I've trusted in the blood of the Lamb, and I proclaim that I'm his…the word of my testimony. I've overcome you because of my gospel feet. I stand firm in my faith."
Then it goes on to say this really strange thing. "…knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world." I'm like, "What? What good does that do?" You know, Laura has breast cancer, and I'm supposed to be like, "Well, there's persecution in Sudan." What good does that do for me? It does a whole lot of good for me.
If you asked Laura (and I did)… We have these two bookshelves in our bedroom. I'm like, "Hey, babe, what book category do you think we have the most of?" Some of you might be like, "Oh, theology books because you went to seminary." It's not the case. We have books on suffering, because Laura, having gone through breast cancer and OCD… She has a whole lot of books on suffering.
Do you know why she has books on suffering? Because when she's in the suffering, she needs to remember that others have been through suffering and that Jesus has brought them out every time to the other side. So, she's going to read books by Joni Eareckson Tada, and she's going to read books by Elisabeth Elliot, and she's going to read books by Lysa TerKeurst, and she's going to read books about the saints who have gone before who have endured incredible suffering.
What the Scripture is saying right here is that remembrance gives resistance, as you're like, "Jesus brought them through. He's going to bring me through too." Remembrance brings resistance. That's why the Spirit through Peter says, "Hey, remember, your brothers and sisters throughout the world are suffering the same kinds of things."
I just talked to my sister here from Nigeria. Right now in Nigeria there's incredible suffering. People are being martyred daily by the Fulani herdsmen and other militant groups who are killing Christians. But we remember that this is but a brief and momentary suffering and that Christ is coming and is going to make all things right. We remember our brothers and sisters as they suffer throughout the world.
Let me ask you something. Does anybody here know who John Landy is? John Landy fans? Anybody? Nobody. I'll tell you why. Who has heard of Roger Bannister? Anybody heard of Roger Bannister? Yeah, the hands go up. He's the one who broke the four-minute mile barrier. He ran a sub-four-minute mile, the first one to do it.
Well, the second one to do it was John Landy. Nobody has heard of John Landy. After John Landy, 1,663 more people did it, and people are going to continue to do it. Why is that happening? How come for known human history nobody could break the four-minute barrier until Roger Bannister did, and after Roger did, then a lot of people did? Because he broke a mental physical barrier. They saw Roger and were like, "Oh. Well, if he can, man, I bet I can."
So it is as we read about others and know about others who are suffering also throughout the world. This is why Foxe's Book of Martyrs, which begins with the apostles and goes all the way through the martyrs of the modern age, is read by Christians throughout the world in every language. You remember, and you're emboldened in your faith.
It's why I commend you Tom Doyle's books Standing in the Fire and Killing Christians. They are Muslim-background believers who trust in Jesus. They're persecuted for their faith, and then, in Killing Christians… That's a book about their martyrdom as they say, "You can kill me. I will not renounce Jesus." And we are emboldened.
They're some of my favorite books to read, because then when I'm in suffering, I remember others who have gone before and how Jesus sustained them. This would be the value of courageous faith. Here at the church, we value courageous faith. It's not that we are courageous. It's a courageous faith in Jesus, believing that he has the audacity to carry us through every single fire and affliction that Satan throws at us.
I'll tell you about Fanny Crosby. Some of you may be familiar with her name. Fanny Crosby was born into a family near New York City in the 1800s. She was born in 1820. She had impaired vision as a little girl, as a child. This traveling charlatan, hoax, quack doctor comes through and is like, "Oh, I can heal your daughter if you pay me this money. Here's what you need to do. Take some hot mustard, make a poultice, and keep it over her eyes."
Well, that mustard ate through her optic nerve, and she was blind for the rest of her life. Fanny never held resentment toward the doctor, nor toward her parents, but instead, went on to pen 8,000 hymns. That's 100 for every year of her life. Then later in life she said this, after she had suffered for a little while, a "little while" being her entire life: "It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation." She thanked him.
"If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow, I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me." Fanny, who suffered a little while… I'm mindful right now of our deaf and hard of hearing friends right over to my right and the affliction they're suffering. It may not feel like a little while, as it lasts their entire lives, yet God says, "The God of all grace will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish." So he is at work all the time.
It says, interestingly, the "God of all grace." Why that appellation, that title? Well, here's why, I think: because every other false religion purports the god of all works. "You work your way to me. You'd better be good. Your good better outweigh your bad. Maybe then you would reach me. Maybe, after reincarnating into multiple iterations of self, trying to improve, generation after generation, you would be absorbed into Brahmin." Nonsense.
The god of all works is every other religion. In Christianity alone is there the God of all grace. Grace, it has been said, is God's riches at Christ's expense. I would say it's God's redemption at Christ's expense. He has redeemed you. Though you had no merit of your own, he has rescued you, ransomed you by his grace.
He's the God of all grace. Meaning, there is no grace outside of him. Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father. He is the God of all grace, not the God of all works. Hear me. There are people here today who don't know this God of all grace. You're dead in your sin. I'm a recovering alcoholic. That's who I used to be. I was a drunk until the age of 30. What this means is that Jesus, God's Son, suffered for you…death upon the cross, raised again from the dead.
He suffered for you, if you place your faith in him, so you will not have to suffer eternally in a very real place called hell, in eternal torment, separated from everything good and the goodness and presence of God. That's the good news. Today you could be saved. You could pass by the suffering that awaits because Jesus took your suffering upon the cross. He is the God of all grace. Grace began this, grace will continue it, and grace will one day complete it.
Let me tell you, this Bible is one quarter prophecy. A quarter of it, 25 percent or more, is prophecy. Right here in 1 Peter, as I'm reading and thinking about it, I'm like, "Dude, that's a prophecy." There is a prophecy in the Scriptures for every single person who is in Christ, which is so powerful. Like, "Really? There's a prophecy for me?" There were all of these prophecies about Jesus. Here's a prophecy for you by God himself.
He says that if he has called you, then he himself will restore you, confirm you, strengthen you, and establish you. That's incredible. No matter what suffering comes upon you in your life, there is a prophetic word right here that the God who has called you will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. He will have the final word upon your life, and it is good.
How can this be trusted? How can we trust God with all of this? Because, it says, "To him be the dominion forever and ever." Dominion this theological term that means might, strength, and power. It is a royal word about the reign of a king. No matter what happens in this life, he's sovereign over it all. Nothing happens that hasn't first passed through his sovereign hand, and you, humbly, would be under his mighty hand. He's a king, and he reigns no matter what comes upon our lives. When life is hard, remember, humble yourself, anxieties are cast, resist in faith, and dominion of God.
I'm going to ask the team to bring the lights down because I want to give you a little time and space to reflect and to pray and maybe journal. The reason is because I was reading recently in Isaiah. I wanted to learn more about Hezekiah and what happened that he would write those words that he did in chapter 38. So I go backward, and I'm in Isaiah 37. I came across this passage, and it stopped me in my tracks. I know I've read it before. It was already underlined, but now it got circled, and I wrote it in all caps at the top of my page, because I was like, "Man, I never want to forget that."
Hezekiah is a small king of a small nation, the nation of Judah. They're surrounded by the world's superpower, the Assyrians. They were a crazy army that would impale their victims to create terror in the land. "If you ever resist us, that's what's going to come for you." They send their emissary to Hezekiah, and they're like, "Hey, we've surrounded you, so you might as well just surrender, and we might spare your life. So, take our terms."
Hezekiah hears them out, goes into his chamber, and prays. Then Isaiah comes to Hezekiah and says these words. Verse 21: "Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, 'Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria, this is the word that the Lord has spoken concerning him…'" What he goes on to say… God is like, "I'm going to crush him. He's nothing. I've got you. I've got you." Then it says an angel of the Lord struck down 185,000 of their army, and the rest just fled. Judah remained.
What struck me in that passage, what stood out to me that I wrote in all caps at the top of my page is this: "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Because you have prayed…" Hezekiah humbled himself under the mighty hand of God and trusted in God that at the proper time he would exalt him, and he cast all of his anxieties upon him. He resisted in the faith, knowing that God had dominion. So, right now, with time and space, be with God. Cast anxieties. Confess fears. Ask him for more faith to resist as you look to Jesus, and then we'll come back together and sing.
Lord God, as every anxiety has been cast upon you because you care for us, take that weight from us, and when we try to pick it back up again, remind us that worry is the symptom and prayer is the prescription. Lord, would you silence the fears? Help us to resist in faith. Lord, we believe; help our unbelief, to stand firm in the gospel of Jesus Christ no matter what suffering comes upon us. Lord, may we know that yours is the dominion forever and ever, amen.
In this passage it says, "Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." I sat there looking at those words. It says, "Your adversary the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion." The Devil prowls around like a roaring lion. Prowls like a roaring lion. Like a lion. But there is one who is not like a lion but who is a lion, the Lion of Judah. As Lewis said, he's not safe, but he's good, and he has conquered.
Satan is a counterfeiter. He mimics. He's a glory thief, and he is no lion; he's like a lion, but we have trusted in one who is the lion. In Revelation 5:5, it says, at the end of the story, after all the suffering, "Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals." Stand to your feet and sing to the Lion of Judah who has conquered!