— Brother Phil Enlow: If I were…let’s say I was looking for…silverware, let’s just pick silverware. And my only source for the silverware was to go through all the junk shops around, and pick through all of the dirty, tarnished, messed-up, bent…all those kinds of things that have just really reached the point of being junk, and I began to choose. You know, there might be one that kind of looks halfway okay. Do I choose it because of that?
I’ll tell you, there’s a God who will look there and say, there’s one that’s bent and tarnished, but I’m gonna take that one. That’s in My pile. And here’s another one. That’s in My pile. And there’s a God who can take you from the junk heap, and clean you up and unbend you, and make you fit to serve a king.
( congregational amens ).
The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! That means chosen, set apart! This pile is going into the trash. This pile is mine! That’s the God that we serve! Folks, I want to be one of those!
But there is a sanctifying work. There is a work that God would do. He’s a Spirit and He will come and work on your heart and convict you and drop thoughts into your minds and show you your need.
The real question is what do we do when He does that? Do we resist and fight and put up our guard and just demand this is my way? Just get away. Leave me alone. I’m okay. I want to do my thing.
Or do we say, yes, Lord? I’m exactly what You say I am. I am a sinner in need of a Savior. And I cannot help myself and I don’t deserve Your help, but I’m listening. But I believe the words of the promise, the hope of the Gospel. I’ve heard your words, Lord, and they touched my heart and I embrace them. I let go…I gladly hand over this life that I cannot keep anyway. I give it to You, and I receive You into my heart as my life, as my Lord, as my Savior.
You know, Brother J.P. asked last night…last week, who is Jesus Christ to you? Very related to all of this, today. But I’ll tell you, there’s a God who knew you, who went out to look for you when you weren’t looking for Him. I wasn’t either. He came looking for me.
He didn’t come because He thought I was special, better than anybody else. I have exactly the same need as anybody else! If there’s somebody that’s hearing this and you’re in prison because you’ve done horrible things, I am no better than you are! When it comes to being a human being, we were born with a nature that drives us to do the very opposite of how God means us to be.
And there is no religion that can fix that. There is only a Savior who comes to the inside, gives us a new heart and a new life, and then we learn how to live that life!
Listen to how Peter puts it. He’s exhorting us as to how to live and how God wants us to live. Verse 22 of chapter 1, he says, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth….” (NIV). See, there’s that choice. Truth is gonna come. What do we do when it comes? There’s a respect. There’s an obedience that has to happen, and from the heart.
“…Obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers….” You know, you don’t have anything that could be described as real genuine love, unless He, the Author of love, comes in. We can sort of like each other, for very selfish reasons. But the kind of love that he’s talking about here, only God can put in our hearts. That’s what we need.
“…So that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” Okay, how does that happen? How can I do that? “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”
I’ll tell you, when God speaks it’s like planting a seed and there’s life in that seed. And our hearts are like soil. Oh, my God, I just sense…just a tiny little bit of what the Lord is feeling. I wish I could sense it better. I’m such a poor vessel.
But, there are young people right here. You need to realize what God thinks about you and how much He cares about your life. And I’ll tell you, if He ever saves you, no matter what it takes, you’re gonna look back with such incredible gratitude—incredible gratitude that God would go to such lengths to cross your stubborn will and mine, and reveal His love and His perfect provision!
He’s not coming and saying, measure up and I’ll accept you. He’s saying, come broken as you are. Give me your heart, your life. I’m the only One that can rescue you and make you what you need to be! I’m the only One that has the power but you’re gonna have to give me your heart and your life! It won’t be yours anymore, it’ll be Mine!
“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed….” See, human life just doesn’t have the power to endure. It’s not in it. It’s been corrupted by death. You’re born into Adam’s family, that’s all you’ve got. You’re gonna die, and so will everybody else that’s born into Adam’s family.
“…But of imperishable….” The kind that cannot perish. If God can die, so can we who know Him and have been born of His life. It’s His life that He shares with us. “…Through the living and enduring word of God.”
Now, here’s….you want to look at the world and see it through God’s eyes? He says, “All men are like grass….” You want to glory in what’s happening in the world and feel like you can step in and fix things, and make…make a life for yourself here, and conquer and do all those kinds of things, achieve things?
“All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fail, but the word of the Lord stands forever. And this is the word that was preached to you. Therefore…” because of all of this, because you’ve got a new life in you, now, “…rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.”
So, how do I do that? You better go to the God who can give you that…exactly what brother Ricky was saying. When I feel those things want to rise up in me, any one of us…don’t you lie to me. They rise up in you too. We’re gonna have to go to the Source. We’re gonna have to say, Lord, Your plan for me is not me, but it’s You in me. I need You. I need You to set me free. I do not have the power to be the person You’ve called me to be, but You do.
There is only One who’s ever lived the Christian life, and that’s Christ! But the Gospel is about Him coming and living that life again through me. Listen to how that happens. It’s just kind of like a human family, isn’t it? It says, “Like new born babies…” They’re born, but they’re still babies. “…Crave pure spiritual milk…” We better get something from Him. “…So that by it…” by that spiritual milk, by what we get from Him, “…by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
Oh, ‘Taste and See’ that we sang this morning, have you ever really tasted, I mean beyond just being in a place and feeling good? I don’t know who this is for, but I just pray that God will…if you are one that has just gone along, and you’ve never come to that point where you have passed from death to life, and it’s a one-way trip, and the bridge is burned behind you, and you are His come hell or high water…if you haven’t done that, you are in an incredibly dangerous place.
( congregational amens ).
You have no idea what’s coming! But God loves you enough to look you in the eye and say you need Me—you need Me. “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men 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.”
God’s building Him a house. It’s just like Livera was saying. She likened it to an orchestra, But there are so many ways to illustrate the simple things, the body of Christ, the parts of the body, a building, the various stones that go into making up that building. Though every one of us is unique, if we are born of His Spirit, we have been called into a relationship, not only with Him, but with one another!
You want to enjoy the fruits of truly being a part of the family of God, you better have Him in you. You better have been born of that Spirit, because I’ll tell you, events are going to unfold where if you do not have Christ in you, you will fall, and you will go away, and you’ll turn away. You will embrace the darkness, and you will feel like you did the right thing. That’s a scary thing. That’s where we’re at in the history of this planet.
But I’ll tell you, there’s a God is so patient. If He weren’t patient, He would have ended things a long time ago. You look at the things that are happening in the world, and they’re gonna get a lot worse. I’ll tell you, this is who, by God’s grace, I am. I’m His. I cannot look in the mirror and see any reason why God would choose somebody like me. But that applies to every one of us. But that’s the kind of a God He is. Thank God!
Then he talks about the fact that He’s laid a stone, a foundation. But down here in verse 9, I’m gonna read this. I don’t think it needs…for more to be said. (Anyway, I only stutter when I talk!)
“But you are a chosen people…” Is this your identity this morning, or are you just sort of going along? Are you just sort of, well, I’m born here? This is what my parents believe, my teachers believe. Have you ever entered into this? Has it ever really become yours? I mean, have you crossed that bridge and literally burned it behind you? Have you opened your heart and said, oh God, I am a sinner, and I need a Savior? Please come in. Take my life. Make me the kind of person You need me to be. I’ll tell you, I pray that if you haven’t, you will.
This is the result. “…A chosen people, a royal priesthood….” I’m not gonna go into a lot of the detail of this. It just means we’re in a position to help other people, because God’s in us. “…A holy nation…” separated to God. Yes, that’s going to have its implications in how we live and the kind of people we are! But basically, it means I am His, period! I’m not the Devil’s.
Now the Lord may allow that Devil to fight, and he does. We have seasons where we do go through the kind of battles we heard about this morning, but we have a God who fights those battles with us if we’ll trust Him and stand fast. There’s a time when we are called to stand. I mean, having done all, what do we do? Stand, because God is faithful, and God is strengthening the hearts and the faith of those who have to fight. “Fight the good fight of the faith,” He says.
“…A holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God….” Are you part of this? “…Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
Now I confess, this is an area where I wrestle. I’m no evangelist. And you know I’m not…I don’t think there’s any terrible wrong, but I’m not much for giving invitations. I’m gonna do what I think they did in the scriptures. If God’s talking to you, you need to respond to Him. You don’t need a big public something, necessarily.
I’ll tell you, the answer, first of all, it has to be you and Him. The Lord does tell you to repent and be baptized, doesn’t He? Repent is turning from your own life and your own way and giving it to Him and recognizing that if you follow your own way, it’s gonna lead to death. You say, Lord, come and give me Your heart and Your new life, and change my heart.
And then, there is that testimony, that public testimony. But this is between you and Him. If He’s talking to you, you don’t have to wait. It’s not a fancy prayer. It’s not certain words. It’s reaching out from the heart and saying, oh God, I need a Savior today. I put my faith in You now, today. Come into my heart, and be what You have promised in Your Word. Lord, I don’t come because I’m anything or because I’m worthy…none of that, Lord. I just come as I am, “Just as I am, without one plea,” but that Christ died for me.
And I’ll tell you, if you do that from your heart, you’ll know it. Others around you will begin to know it. And I believe God will put it on your heart to come talk about it, and say, I need to be baptized. I’m His. I’ve been going along with it. I didn’t know.
Maybe it wasn’t time. There’s a time that God is gonna bring everybody to that point of decision, that point of choice. Is this your day? I don’t know. All I can do is put the Word out there and say, God, You’re gonna have to do it. Pray, folks. Pray that God will convict those who need convicting.
The saddest thing is for someone to grow up, to hear all of these things, to go along, and just look like you’re part of it, and then you get to a point in your life, and it’s never really taken root in your heart. Do you think you’re gonna find it somehow in yourself to go on and be a good person? I’ll tell you, if it isn’t in here, this darkness out here will swallow you up.
I warn you, I promise you, that there is Someone who sits on a throne, who went to a cross, because you and I needed a Savior. He willingly came down, humbled Himself to that cross. But He didn’t stay in that tomb, did He? He proved, by His resurrection, that He holds the key of death and hell. That’s the One I want to serve.
If you miss this, you miss everything. If you see this and humble yourself and come put your faith in Him, you gain everything, regardless of how events play out in this world. If you have Him, you have everything. If they walk up to you with a sword and cut your head off, are you gonna be the loser? You’ll be the winner. Man, that’s a one-way trip out of this place.
You know, Brother Timothy wrote the other day and mentioned that his Dad had passed. I just had a scripture come back to me, and I think we’re gonna see this in greater need. It’s one that I think about every now and then, in Isaiah. I’ll just read this and be done. I didn’t think I was going here, but, “The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.”
Do we really believe the promises of God that this world is not where it’s at, that He has something beyond? If that’s the case, then we can say with Paul, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” You want to talk about the kind of interest that pays eternally? There’s where your investment needs to be. It’s in Him and in the Gospel.
It comes back to this. Who are you? When we talk about being chosen, being His children, are we talking about you? That’s a fair question. I pray that every one here who is unsure, you will begin to seek God from the depths of your heart until you know, because He will help you, if you really want help. He loves you with an everlasting love. Praise God!