July 22, 2010 David Balzer

1 Peter 1:13-2:3: Craving Milk!

What’s the most gorgeous food or drink you’ve ever tasted?espresso

For me, it’s got to be great coffee. The perfect espresso. The gorgeous aroma of freshly ground coffee as you walk into the coffee shop. And then you walk over to the gleaming, steaming espresso machine. That dispenser of joy. That provider of the elixir of life.

And then the coffee starts to come. The sweet, rich, strong smell of that creamy, black syrup as it dribbles out of the machine into YOUR cup.

And it’s a feast for the EYES TOO. The contrast in colour between the white cup, and the bubbling golden-brown of the coffee crema on the top of the cup.

And the ears. The welcoming sound of the milk steamer hissing and foaming away. It’s makes my taste buds salivate just THINKING about it.

And then you take your first sip. And the gorgeous, rich, complex taste and textures fill your mouth. It’s relaxing and invigorating at the same time. Praise God for coffee!

I don’t know what it is for YOU. Perhaps it’s Swiss chocolate, or hot apple pie, or perfect fish and chips.

And Peter’s saying in these verses that we should DESIRE GOD’S WORD the same we do the tastiest food or drink. We’re to CRAVE it / like newborn babies crave milk. 1 Peter 2:2.

(1 Pet 2:2 NIV)  Like newborn babies, CRAVE pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,

Have you ever watched a new-born baby breast-feeding? I know it’s a bit rude to watch if it’s not your baby. But it’s an amazing sight. One moment the baby is SCREAMING. There is NO OTHER PURPOSE TO LIFE at this point in time/ than getting that wonderful milk from Mum. That warming, nourishing, comforting, life-giving milk.

Newborn babies CRAVE it.

And when they finally latch on. They start sucking FURIOUSLY. Like their life depended on it. Their little brow furrows up with concentration and exertion .

And then the milk starts to come.

And their whole body relaxes. AAAH. This is the good stuff. This is what life’s about. This is where I get ALL THAT I NEED.

Is that what you’re like with God’s Word? Do you LONG for the PURE, undiluted, full-strength words from God? First priority?

Or are you happier with a cut-down, diluted, moderated, luke-warm, feel-good word? A two-minute summary?

Or maybe you don’t even mind if you don’t get it AT ALL? You’d rather snack on the newspaper or a magazine or TV?

Sometimes I think we get a case of SPIRITUAL INDIGESTION. “Not MORE teaching. The gospel AGAIN – we had that LAST week!

Do I HAVE to read my Bible? I’m full. I don’t think I could fit another thing in. Can’t I try something a little EASIER TO DIGEST?”

Everything we read, or hear, seems so familiar. So repetitious. So DRY and IRRELEVANT. DO this, BE that. Like in the FIRST half of today’s reading. “BE self-controlled. BE holy. LOVE one another. RID YOURSELVES of malice and slander and envy.”

It just washes over us like water off a duck’s back. In one ear and out the other. Leaving us unaffected.

What we need is to regain our spiritual APPETITE. Rediscover how GOOD and NUTRITIOUS God’s Word is.

So what I want to do is show you 5 reasons why we should crave the pure spiritual milk of God’s word. There in the SECOND half of the reading.

I want to describe it in detail/ like I did that wonderful cup of coffee. To whet your appetite. To stimulate your senses. And excite your spiritual taste buds.

And when we’ve done that, we’ll go back to look at those First verses. And chew over them for a little while. And see if God can’t do his stuff in us with them, through his Word. .

1. The Word that purifies

Firstly, God’s word PURIFIES. Look at v22.

(1 Pet 1:22 NIV)  Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth …

It’s talking about when someone becomes a Christian. When they obey the truth they hear. That action has the effect of purifying them. Of washing. Of cleaning. Of separating.

And it’s THE MESSAGE THEY HEAR which brings this about. That enables it to happen. It points them to the One who DOES the purifying. And so it’s the WORD that PURIFIES. God’s word.

But it’s a funny way of saying things, isn’t it? – “You have purified YOURSELVES”. We know of course that it’s GOD who does the purifying. The cleansing. The setting apart. When he forgives our sin, and makes us born again. But it’s by obeying what we hear/ that we put ourselves into the POSITION to be cleansed.

It’s like me washing the car in one of those automatic service station carwashers. I get back/ driving a nice shiny car. And Caron says, “Where have you been?” And I say, “I washed the car”

Now, technically that’s not true. What I ACTUALLY did was sit in the car seat, drive to the station. Pay the man some money. Then sit in the car for a bit longer until the job was done.

But, as much as I did ANYTHING in the task. In a sense, I WASHED THE CAR.

And it’s in THAT sense that we purify OURSELVES when we respond to the gospel message.

And it’s the word of God that we actually RESPOND to. And so it’s his word that PURIFIES. It’s SOAP for the SOUL.

2. The Word that rebirths

Secondly, It’s God’s word that REBIRTHS. I’m not sure if that’s a word, or not. But it’s God’s Word that CAUSES US TO BE BORN AGAIN. Look at v23

(1 Pet 1:23 NIV)  For you have been BORN AGAIN, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, THROUGH the living and enduring WORD OF GOD.

It’s describing the same event as the CLEANSING. A different picture/ to describe what happens when God accepts us, and makes us one of his children.

When we first become Christians. when we respond to God’s offer of salvation. We’ve already been born ONCE. Physically. But God makes us BRAND NEW PEOPLE. He puts a new heart in us. A clean one. One that DESIRES to follow Jesus instead. And that’s like being BORN AGAIN.

And it’s THROUGH his word/ that God causes that to happen. It might be a word we HEAR. It might be a word we READ. It might be on a tape. Or live. It might be from a sermon, or it might be from mum or dad/ or from a neighbour across the back fence.

But if we hear about God’s offer of forgiveness and acceptance, then it’s GOD’S word. And it makes us born again.

Have YOU done that? If you haven’t, why not do something about it today?

3. The Word that lives

But how can just A BUNCH OF WORDS do something that enormous? PURIFY someone? Give NEW BIRTH?

Because they’re more than just words. They’re GOD’S words. The eternal, all-powerful Creator of the Universe. And that makes them LIVING and ENDURING words. That’s what it says in the same verse. Verse 23.

the living and enduring word of God.

Firstly. Living. What does it mean that the word of God is LIVING?

God’s word has a very different character to, say, MY words. Anything I say just rests there on the table. Or hangs in the air. Limp, listless, lifeless. There’s no intrinsic POWER in my words. No power to change people’s minds, or force them to obey me, or create something.

But God’s words are different. They’re ALIVE. And I think that means three things. Firstly, living words have LIFE-GIVING POWER. They MAKE life. That’s what we’ve just found out. It’s through these words that we’re born again.

Secondly, living words are ACTIVE words. Heb 4:12 says

(Heb 4:12 NIV)  For the word of God is LIVING AND ACTIVE. SHARPER than any double-edged sword, it PENETRATES even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it JUDGES the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

God’s word’s got the knack of smacking you right between the eyes. Holding a bright torch into dark and miserable areas of your life. The thoughts and attitudes and sins that you treasure, and don’t want to let go of. It’s got the knack of CONVICTING you of things about yourself that you need to change. It kills things off. And brings other things to life.

God’s word’s living and ACTIVE.

Another aspect of being living, is that it achieves what God intends for it. It ACHIEVES HIS PURPOSES. Is 55:10-11 says

(Isa 55:10-11 NIV)  As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without WATERING THE EARTH AND MAKING IT BUD AND FLOURISH, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, {11} so is my word that goes out from my mouth (this is God talking): It will not return to me empty, but WILL ACCOMPLISH WHAT I DESIRE AND ACHIEVE THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH I SENT IT.

Because it’s the God of infinite power who SAYS the words, they’ll ALWAYS achieve what he intended by them.

God said “Let there be light” and there was. Jesus said “Be still”. And the wind and the waves were. Or “Wake up” to the dead little girl and she came back to life.

And he says to you and me “I love you. Come to me. Repent. Follow me” And we DO.

4. The Word that endures:

(God’s word PURIFIES. It brings REBIRTH. It’s LIVING). And fourthly, it ENDURES. It’s IMPERISHABLE. That’s also in v23.

When I was in primary school, my parents bought the World Book Encyclopedia. Useful for every project and piece of homework. Cost them A SMALL FORTUNE!

But every year it got more and more outdated. And they had to keep purchasing the UPDATE volume. With everything that had changed in the previous year.

I don’t think school kids today even know what an Encyclopaedia IS.

But God’s Word isn’t like that. It doesn’t go out of date, or out of fashion. It’s never superseded by new technology or updated information. Once true, powerful and relevant. ALWAYS true, powerful and relevant.

His WORD does change, because GOD doesn’t change. And that means we can TRUST his word. His promises stand. He doesn’t change his mind like us. He isn’t influenced by the latest books, or movies, or philosophies. The reliability of his PROMISES rests on the reliability of GOD HIMSELF.

When Jesus promises he’s preparing a place for us. And that he’ll come back to take us to be with him. We can TRUST it.

When he says he gives his sheep eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one can snatch them out of his hand. We can TRUST it.

When God promises that all things work together for good for those who love God. We can TRUST it.

God’s word ENDURES.

A second aspect to this/ is that the EFFECTS of God’s word are PERMANENT.

WE promise something – give our WORD to DO something, or BE somewhere. And even if we GENUINELY WANT to, there are no guarantees. Because so much of life is out of our control.

But when God’s word produces something. It stays done. Until God says otherwise. He created the world by his word. And it’ll stay that way until he says otherwise.

If you’re BORN AGAIN, you stay that way. Your sins are forgiven. They can’t be UN forgiven. He can’t UN-love you.

God’s word ENDURES.

 

5. The Word that nourishes – produces growth/ change

Fifthly, we see that God’s word NOURISHES. It actually builds up. Strengthens. Brings growth. Look at Ch 2 v2.

(1 Pet 2:2 NIV)  Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, SO THAT BY IT YOU MAY GROW UP IN YOUR SALVATION,

Just like mother’s milk carries everything a baby needs to grow. All the essential fluid, nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and anti-bodies. So God’s word carries everything WE need for growth.

The full smorgasbord. Right there in one little book. A bowl of encouragement. A plate of enlightenment. A saucer of correction. A jug of fear and reverent awe. A platter of instruction. And a long, deep glass of refreshment.

2 Tim 3:16 says

(2 Tim 3:16-17 NIV)  …from infancy you have known THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, which are ABLE TO MAKE YOU WISE FOR SALVATION through faith in Christ Jesus. {16} All Scripture is God-breathed and is USEFUL FOR TEACHING, REBUKING, CORRECTING AND TRAINING IN RIGHTEOUSNESS, {17} so that the man of God may be THOROUGHLY EQUIPPED FOR EVERY GOOD WORK.

THOROUGHLY equipped. Fully grown. Well nourished. And it all happens through God’s Word.

Well, that’s five good reasons to CRAVE the pure spiritual milk of God’s Word. THAT BOOK in your hands is a dangerous, delightful, powerful, beautiful, attractive, nutritious BANQUET.

Have I excited your appetite yet? Tickled the taste buds?

Take the taste test! That’s what Peter says. Chapter 2 v3. “Grow up into your salvation now that you have TASTED THAT THE LORD IS GOOD.

Because we don’t just crave a taste for a BOOK. We crave a taste for the LORD of the book. It’s not the sweet poetry of the WORDS that attracts us, but the sweet goodness and love and acceptance/ of the One who lovingly WHISPERS them to us.

The One who didn’t keep to himself, or play a game of cosmic hide-and-seek with his creatures. But who went to the trouble of TELLING us about himself. And then PRESERVING those words IN A BOOK. “Here’s what I’m like. Here’s what I’ve done for you. Here’s what pleases me.”

Take the taste test challenge. Taste the Lord, in his word, and as you live for him, and you’ll find that he’s good.

Since, therefore, because

(pause) Well, I’ve told you what the Word’s LIKE, and what it DOES. But I haven’t actually LET IT LOOSE. So let’s spend a few minutes looking at the verses before these ones. And see if God can actively NOURISH AND CLEANSE AND GIVE LIFE through his words.

Peter uses a bit of a formula for HOW God’s word builds up his readers.

Firstly, he describes WHERE THEY ARE. Who they are already. Or what they’ve got.

Secondly, BECAUSE of where they are, he goes on to describe WHO THEY SHOULD BE. What they should be like.

And thirdly, he gives them REASONS for why they should go there.

“Since, therefore, because.”

Firstly, have a look at v13. “Therefore prepare your minds for action” We’re actually starting halfway through an argument. That’s the “Here’s where you’re going” We need to go back a few verses to find out the “Here’s where you are”

All the way back in v3, Peter’s PRAISING God because he’s given us NEW BIRTH, into a LOVING HOPE through Jesus’ resurrection. And into an imperishable inheritance.

And down in v8, we’re filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, because we’re receiving SALVATION when Jesus is revealed.

That’s the “here’s where you are”. Salvation, hope, inheritance, joyful.

Next we get to verse 13. BECAUSE of that, here’s what you need to do.

(1 Pet 1:13 NIV)  THEREFORE, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope FULLY on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

First things first. Get your MIND right, and the actions will follow. Prepare your MINDS for action. It’s literally “gird up the loins of your minds”. Like a soldier before he goes into battle. He tucks his long shirt into his belt so he doesn’t trip over it. Get your MINDS ready.

Do it by being SELF-CONTROLLED. It’s the word for being SOBER. Keep your wits about you. Make the DECISION that whatever comes your way/ YOU control your reaction to it. No excuses. It’s not circumstances that control you. But the other way around.

How can your thinking be THAT one-tracked?

Peter continues. You do it by SETTING YOUR HOPE FULLY on what Jesus has in store for you. The inheritance he’s preparing. The “well done good and faithful servant” he’ll greet you with. The broad smile, and the slap on the back. That’s what we set our hope on.

And the FLIP SIDE of that. DON’T desire the things you’ve left behind. Verse 14. Don’t conform to THE EVIL DESIRES YOU USED TO HAVE. Lusting after this thing and that thing. Thinking it will make you happy, or fulfilled.

It’s all there in YOUR MIND. Your thoughts, desires, motivations. The battle to live differently, as God’s person, begins IN YOUR MIND.

Once the MIND’S right, the actions FOLLOW. Don’t CONFORM to the old desires. Mould your behavior into a different shape. V15. Be holy like your heavenly Father is holy. That’s the clincher. The “here’s why you should”. Because the Father is holy, the children should be too. There should be a family resemblance.

(pause) And Peter repeats the same pattern. Verse 17. Here’s where you are. One day, your heavenly father will JUDGE YOU JUSTLY. It’s a fact.

THEREFORE. (Here’s the second step). Live in reverent fear. It’s obvious really. If he SEES everything, and he’s going to judge you JUSTLY. Then RESPECT him in the way you live. Don’t presume that just because he’s your FATHER, he doesn’t EXPECT certain behaviour. And will call you to account for it.

And then v18 . Here’s WHY YOU SHOULD. Because you were bought for a huge price. Nothing like silver or gold. But with the precious blood of Christ. That’s how GENEROUS God’s been to you. So MEASURE UP to that generosity. You’re PRECIOUS and HOLY.

(pause) And the THIRD cycle. Verse 22. Here’s where you are. Now that you’re purified, and love the brothers.

Here’s where you’re going – Do it even more. Do it DEEPLY – without limit, from the heart. And do it SINCERELY. No faking it. No ulterior motives. No hidden agenda. Helping someone just to help yourself.

Why should you? Verse 23. Because you’ve been born again by the LIVING ENDURING word of God. Words that are POWERFUL. That DO THEIR STUFF. So ALLOW them to WORK.

And finally, the fourth cycle. Verse 25. Here’s where you are. THIS is the word that was preached to you. Imperishable. Enduring. Eternal.

Chapter 2 v 1. Therefore. Here’s where you’re going. Get rid of all the stuff that doesn’t measure up to the word. That doesn’t last. That withers and fades.

Get rid of it. The word literally means “cast it off”. Imagine you’re in a hot air balloon. It’s losing altitude too quickly. You’re going to crash into the ocean.

So you start throwing overboard everything that’s not important. All the things that are weighing you down. Because when you land/ it’s only the CRUCIAL things that matter.

Get rid of all that ballast/ Peter says. Things like malice, and deceit, and hypocrisy, and envy, and slander.

As far as lists of sins go. It’s not a really awful one. It could have been much worse. In fact, on the surface, it’s quite a PRESENTABLE list. The sort of list you can cling to long after you’ve dumped some of the more OBVIOUS sins. The sort of list you can keep doing while still presenting a respectable Christian face to the world.

In fact. It’s the sort of list you might even have brought to church this morning. The sort of list that can rear its ugly head when you’re comparing achievements, or sharing prayer points, or even just chatting about the weather.

Chuck out of the balloon/ malice. Deceit. Hypocrisy. Envy. And slander of every kind.

And crave pure spiritual milk. God’s word. Fill up on him. And empty yourself of all the rubbish that weighs you down.

And Peter’s final point. Here’s why you should. You’ve tasted that THE LORD IS GOOD. Life with God IS wonderful. Don’t fall for the trap that there’s anything that tastes better.

Take the taste test. Crave pure spiritual milk. Taste and see that the Lord is good.

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