by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
For to Us Who Believe, He is Precious.
Paul speaks of his ministry to the Gentiles as a priestly offering in Romans 15:16: "But even so I have been bold enough to emphasize some of these points, knowing that all you need is this reminder from me; for I am, by God's grace, a special messenger from Jesus Christ to you Gentiles, bringing you the Gospel and offering you up as a fragrant sacrifice to God; for you have been made pure and pleasing to him by the Holy Spirit."
These sacrifices are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
It is only through Jesus Christ, our Mediator that we can approach God in the first place, and He's the only one who can make our offerings acceptable to God.
All that we do--our worship and our service--is imperfect, flawed by sin.
But before it reaches the Father, it passes through the Lord Jesus.
He removes all the sin, and when it reaches God the Father it is perfectly acceptable.
It was Michelangelo that carved the famous statue of David.
It's an enormous work of art, carved from a block of marble eighteen feet high.
But perhaps you didn't know that Michelangelo wasn't the first person to attempt to craft a statue from that chunk of marble.
There was an earlier artist named Agostino di Duccio who selected that stone forty years earlier and had begun working on a statue of either David or an Old Testament prophet.
But it was a difficult piece of marble to work with; described as quite thin and misshapen.
Di Duccio gave up; it was reported that he said, "I can do nothing with it."
In 1501, when Michelangelo was commissioned to create the statue of David, he used the same block of marble, and with his superior skill carved the David that has thrilled the world for 500 years.
You and I are difficult, misshapen blocks of marble, but Jesus Christ is a Master Sculptor, and He is chipping away, carving, polishing, and making us into His own image.
If you have ever watched a church building while it was under construction, then you know that the foundation was laid first, then the walls, then the roof.
But that building isn't the real church.
The real church is made up of the people who come into the building, and they are under construction, too.
God is building His church.
We are His construction project.
Friends, God is making, developing, growing, and building you, too.
God is building a temple out of living stones (Eph. 2:19--22), and we are privileged to be part of it.
We are built on Jesus Christ, so there is no way the temple can be destroyed.
That leads us to the third part of the equation:
If We Are His Construction Project, We Have a Divine Purpose for Our Life (v.9).
No one ever constructed a temple or cathedral without having a vision for it--of what it could be for the glory of God.
What does God intend for us?
What function and role has He designed for us?
Verse 9 says: "...for you have been chosen by God himself--you are priests of the King, you are holy and pure, you are God's very own--all this so that you may show to others how God called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light."
According to the New Testament, all believers are "priests," which means we have the special privilege of unlimited access to God, and the opportunity for ministries in His name.
Believers are instructed to speak publicly of the wonderful things the Lord has done.
They are to become part of the total work of the church--both worship and service.
Some believers are called to special ministry roles--for example, to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.
That's what it says in Ephesians 4:11: "Some of us have been given special ability as apostles; to others he has given the gift of being able to preach well; some have special ability in winning people to Christ, helping them to trust him as their Savior; still others have a gift for caring for God's people as a shepherd does his sheep, leading and teaching them in the ways of God."
Others are to serve as "ambassadors for Christ" (2 Cor. 5:18--20).
Listen to what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20: "All these new things are from God who brought us back to himself through what Christ Jesus did. And God has given us the privilege of urging everyone to come into His favor and be reconciled to him. For God was in Christ, restoring the world to himself, no longer counting men's sins against them but blotting them out. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others. We are Christ's ambassadors. God is using us to speak to you: we beg you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, receive the love he offers you--be reconciled to God.
All believers are urged to meet the needs of those experiencing sickness, suffering, and trouble, as well as to build up one another in the body of Christ.
Finally, Christians are people who belong to God in a unique way and they're of special value to Him.
The last part of verse 9 describes the responsibility of those who are God's new race of priests.
We should proclaim the wonderfulness of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Once we were groping in the darkness of sin and shame.
By a stupendous deliverance, we have been transferred into the kingdom of His dear Son.
The light is as clear and brilliant as the darkness was oppressive.
How we should shout the praises of the One who did all this for us!
If He Becomes Our Cornerstone, then we are His Construction Project, and if we Are His Construction Project, then We Have Divine Purpose for Our Life, and we Should Live Accordingly (vv.11 --12).
Verse 11 tells believers to keep away from the evil pleasures of this world.
That means to refrain from doing certain things, going certain places, and indulging in certain habits.
The Christian life is a restrictive life.
Jesus talked about self-denial, and the Bible frequently uses the words "discipline" and "self-control."
Many things may be fun for the moment, but only at the expense of our welfare and testimony.
But the positives of self-discipline outweigh the negatives, and the blessings are far greater than anything we give up.
Peter reminds believers that they're in the world only for a short time; they're pilgrims in the world and that fact should leave its stamp on their behavior.
They are pilgrims in the sense that they are obliged to live for a while in a place which is not their permanent home
As strangers whose citizenship is in heaven, we are carefully watched by the world; and we must live to glorify God.
It may be difficult today, but it will be worth it when Jesus returns.
In our day we must not pattern our lives after the world.
We should be marching to the beat of a different drummer.
If we come to Christ, He becomes our Cornerstone.
If He becomes our Cornerstone, we become His construction project.
If we become His construction project, our lives have divine purpose.
And if our lives have divine purpose, we should live accordingly. For to us who believe, He is precious.
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