Sunday School: Results of the Call
We're so glad you decided to join us today!
This is the first Sunday of Lent.
When we meet in person, we share our joys and concerns together. Think about the past week, and any prayer requests you may have. If you have any you would like to share, you can add them to this post as a comment. When you are ready, use the prayer below (source) to get started.
Thank You, Father, for including me as one of Your chosen servants. Enable me, in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of the Lord Jesus, to be a good and faithful witness to You in my earthly walk. May You be glorified and exulted in my life, and in all I say and do, I pray that I may sing forth Your eternal praises and glory, from this day forward and for evermore. AMEN.
Today's lesson is on 1 Peter 2:1-10.
Results of the Call
When we read the New Testament today, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that becoming a Christian was a huge step in that cultural and religious context. Beginning with the apostles, Christian leaders worked tirelessly to help new believers come to see themselves in a new light. They had a new identity in Christ.
The 27 books of the New Testament include 2 that are ascribed to the apostle Peter. The first of these two is particularly thick with citations from and allusions to various Old Testament passages. Only Revelation has a greater percentage.
Peter's audience – the members of the congregation to which he wrote- had received the gospel of Jesus Christ willingly. They had obeyed the truth, had purified their souls and had been born again. Consequently, they must resolve to live in a way that was consistent with those facts.
What follows is called a “vice list” of five items in three groupings. Malice constitutes the first grouping. It carries the sense of evil actions in general. Such actions can be motivated by greed, spite, jealousy or other moral failings; the resulting action intends to harm another person.
The second grouping consists of attitudes or personality traits that present themselves in behavior. Deceit is an orientation of general dishonesty. Hypocrisy characterizes a person who will play whatever role is most beneficial to him or her. Envy characterizes a bitter, restless spirit that begrudges the success or possessions of others. Envy is the opposite of gratitude, of contentment with what God has given.
The third grouping is the spiritual poison of slander of every kind. Such behavior is what results from the previously three: a deceitful person feigning innocence and friendship yet harboring deep resentment and envy. Such persons work behind the scenes to damage the reputation of others.
All this reveals Peter's concern for congregational Solidarity. A congregation under pressure tends toward bickering and division.
As there are different levels of spiritual maturity, there are different foods that are appropriate for those levels. There is nothing wrong with spiritual milk; it is necessary and desirable for those who are newborn babies, spiritually speaking. But its ingestion should lead to something important. There are two extremes to avoid when it comes to the milk of the world as spiritual nourishment. One extreme is to become so attached to that milk that the believer becomes satisfied and never moves on to spiritual meat; the other is to avoid the milk altogether. Either extremes yields the same eventual outcome; stunted or no spiritual growth. We need to grow in holiness.
One stone does not a building make, no matter how immense that stone may be. God's spiritual house requires numerous other living stones. The nature of this structure is also not in doubt; it is a spiritual house not a physical one. The way Peter phrases things in the verse before us, this spiritual house consists of holy priesthood. In the Old Testament era, the priest went to the physical temple to offer physical sacrifices that included animals; in the New Testament era, the priest, (all Christians) are the temple, and they offer living spiritual sacrifices of themselves. The concept of the priesthood and temple have not been done away with; rather, they have been transformed. Christians do not need a priest as the ancient Israelites did, because we now are priests ourselves as we serve under the great high priest, Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul is most direct in identifying the crucified Christ as this stumbling block. All devout Jews expected the Messiah to come, but no one expected him to be crucified. The concept was downright offensive. Not everyone will believe when presented with the gospel; the crucifixion of Jesus can be incomprehensible for many.
The church as a chosen people has not been granted that status because of its accomplishments, but because God selected it to be a royal priesthood. In ancient Israel, those of royal lineage were separate and distinct from those in the priesthood. That changes in the New Testament era. Believers are royalty because of our relationship with King Jesus, but we're also priests in that we minister to one another.
The contrast between spiritual darkness and light is a key New Testament theme. We are not only called into his wonderful light; we are indeed light, as the apostle Paul points out in Ephesians 5:8. The nature of our light sets us apart from unbelievers. To the degree that we fail to use the light to declare the praise of him, we lose the counter cultural power of the Christian faith.
The description and titles Peter bestows on the baptized believers are all the more amazing when we consider the place from where the Jewish element of his audience had come. One time, they had fortified their status as God's people. Israel had been unfaithful toward God. The Gentiles, for their part, had never been God's people just by definition. But in Christ the reversal for both was complete; believers are the people of God and recipients of his mercy. In light of that, no persecution or suffering at the hands of enemies of the cross can ultimately prevail.
The question of identity is at the center of today's text. In the face of persecution and suffering, the believers to whom Peter wrote seemed to have had their doubts. In our contemporary world, the issue of our identity as Christians is just as important. Our world bombards us with endless identity options. These options is in and of themselves range for the harmless to the sinful. But what all of these have in common is that they must give way before our allegiance to King Jesus. May we honor that role in the year 2023 and beyond as we work toward the unity of believers as the holy, royal nation of King Jesus.
Lord God, help us to remember our identity in your Son as we live out that identity. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
This week's benediction is from the God's Word Translation.
Next week, we start our spring quarter, which will be Jesus Calls Us. The lesson will be on Luke 15:11-24.
Get Your Donkey in Gear
Our guest speaker this week is Rev. Renny Domske.
Our video recorder was a little late today, so the beginning of the announcements did not get recorded.
Gathering Around the Word
Prelude Music Director Robert Senay
CALL TO WORSHIP from Psalm 11
In the Lord I take refuge.
How can you say to me: “Flee away like a bird.”
The wicked set their arrows against the strings to shoot
from the shadows at the upright in heart.
When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous man or woman do?
The Lord is in His holy temple, on His heavenly throne.
The Lord observes the sons of men and examines them.
The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence His soul hates.
For the Lord is righteous and loves justice; how joyful
that upright men and women will see His face!
INVOCATION Dr. Domske
Our Lenten Journey
Today’s guest speaker is Rev. Don Austin.
All of the information normally found in our bulletin is below the video. Simply click on "Read More" to load the rest of the bulletin. You can use this to follow the service, as well as to pray our unison prayers. All joys and concerns that we know, as well as our continuing prayer list is within the Joys and Concerns. Announcements can be found at the bottom of this service.
Welcome and morning greeting
INTROIT: Hymn: “His Name is Wonderful”
CALL TO WORSHIP: (Psalm 25) Lord, make me to know Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth, and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all day long. Be mindful of Your mercy, O Lord, and of Your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to Your steadfast love remember me, for Your goodness’ sake, O Lord! Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way.
Growing in Our Faith
All of the information normally found in our bulletin is below the video. Simply click on "Read More" to load the rest of the bulletin. You can use this to follow the service, as well as to pray our unison prayers. Announcements can be found at the bottom of this service.
Hymn: My Faith Looks Up to Thee
Call to Worship
Now is the moment of grace.
This is the hour of blessing
Today is the day of salvation.
Here is the path to a new life.
For this is the day that God is making.
Let us rejoice and celebrate the love of our God.
All in the Family
1 Peter 3:8-18
Suffering for Doing Good
8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For,
“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.
11 They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”[a]
13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats[b]; do not be frightened.”[c] 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.
Something to Think About
1 Peter 1:13-21
13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”[a]
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.