Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Monday, March 05, 2007

Sermon-3-4-07--Faith's Building Project

Hundreds of Thousands of dollars are spent each year building homes, super-markets, buildings and sky scrapers. They go through planning, blue-printing, testing, building, and finishing. UBC will soon be featured in an ad about the improvements made in our own building back in 1994. The success or failure of a building is has several key factors, the designer, their design, the builders and the quality of materials used to build it. Back in 2004 an 8 story building in Indonesia collapsed after just a few years being finished. I have never found a follow up to the cause but I suspect the investigation revealed a breakdown in one of these areas, cheap steel, thinned concrete or other cut corners.

Peter’s readers were experiencing trials and persecutions—he had already spoken to them about the great salvation that marveled even the angels. He had spoken to them about trials and what God hoped to accomplish through them. He had spoken about the Call to Holiness we have—not conforming to our old life, but living the new because of what Christ did. Last week we saw Faith’s Call to Hunger & Crave for the pure spiritual milk of the word and growing in Him.

What’s amazing is that neither everything that was happening to them nor the things that happen to us takes God by surprise. He uses it all to make His people into who He wants them to be.

In fact, God is building something wonderful in the lives of His people.

He is a great architect designing, engineering and constructing His very own building project—building His people into a Living Temple. It is Faith’s Building Project and that project in your life defines who you are right now.

Faith’s Building Project--Who You are—2:4-12

God is building a Temple—v. 4-5.

He is building you into a Temple built by God, a spiritual house where spiritual sacrifices will be offered up to God. Think of all the time, attention and detailed planning must go into such a project. Is God going to do a half-hearted or shabby job? Hardly, being God, He desires the best temple possible. Aren’t you glad God doesn’t cut corners? That God doesn’t fudge on His numbers or mixtures or quality?

Being the architect, designer and builder—He builds as He sees fit and doesn’t ask for our approval. So the way He builds us up, the things He uses to build us are not subject to our approval. He desires to build the best and we won’t always think it is the best, we won’t like what going through to get built into who God wants us to be. But it’s not about what you want or what you think is best. It’s about what God wants and what He knows is best for you. What we want is not always what God knows we need.

You are being built into a temple. Every day, every moment, every situation God is using to make your heart into

the most magnificent temple in the universe. Shining with the light of God’s presence, inspiring awe in all who see you, shaking the foundations of evil and filling the earth with the praise of God.

Paul knew this, that’s why he said of believers in 1 Cor. 3:16-17—“Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

1 Cor. 6:19—“ Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

The Holy Spirit living inside you and me makes us more important than any building on earth. The Living, Creator of the Universe has taken up residence in the Temple of our hearts because we have come to Jesus, the Living Stone rejected by men but chosen by God. God has built our temple, we did not create ourselves, we did not save ourselves or clean ourselves up. Only God’s Building Project did that.

Not only are we individual temples that God is building, but you and I are living stones that collectively we are being built into a spiritual house and temple -- See Cartoon

we are living and serving as a holy priesthood in that temple and we are offering spiritual sacrifices to God. God is building His Church into a magnificent declaration of His glory.

He is bringing people together of every tribe, tongue and nation and unifying us by giving us all the same Holy Spirit. No one, no nation, no race is better than another in Christ. No one has more of the Spirit than someone else—they may be better at living in and submitting to the Spirit, but they do not have more of Him. God is building us as individuals and as a church to offer ourselves up “Living Sacrifices”

God’s Purpose for the Temple—v. 9-12

You belong to God for a reason. He is building you for a purpose. He is building each one of us, and all of us into a temple so we may clearly “Declare the praises” of God. Our purpose is of proclamation—we’ve got to be living advertisements of the goodness and greatness of God. This is our purpose for living today. We must Pursue Him and Proclaim Him. If we don’t fulfill our purpose as the living temple of God—to make His Name great among the nations, the very rocks will cry out.

If you miss this purpose, miss your calling of faith—you’ll be missing the greatest opportunity in your life—the opportunity to glorify God, to proclaim Him.

God has chosen you and me for a purpose. God called us out of darkness into His wonderful light. He has built us into a people, a holy nation, a living temple. He has shown us mercy when we didn’t deserve it. God has greatly invested in us, He has spent a great amount of time, love and effort in building us into a Temple that can fulfill our purpose.

As God’s Temple we must be Holy—set apart to be used for His glory. Because we are aliens and strangers in the world, we must not allow the world’s rules to define our lives, to control our lives and tell us what is right or wrong, what to do or not do, what to believe or not believe.

Sometimes that means doing things that doesn’t make sense to the world, other times it means abstaining from things the world thinks is normal.

Abstain means to make a conscious difference not to participate in what other people around you may be doing—If that is alcohol, drugs, smoking, gossiping, cussing, sex outside of marriage, living together before marriage—as a believer you must make the decision with your faith not to go along with the crowd but truly live differently. If you go along just like everybody else, you lose your ability to proclaim with a voice of Authenticity and the Power of Conviction.

We must live good lives among unbelievers. Even when they disagree with you on your faith, even when they don’t like you, even when they slander you, ridicule you or accuse you of all kinds of wrongs—let your light shine through. In the midst of life, through trials and struggles—the light from the Living God can shine from His temple. In the way you respond, in how you don’t lash out in malice and hurt.

In this way, those same unbelievers may see and believe. They may turn around and begin glorifying God because of how He has made such a difference in your life even in simple things, in how you can be so different by speaking a word of love and forgiveness to your enemies.

They will see how precious you are to Him, how you will never be put to shame. How you have been built into a glorious temple for the love of God to be proclaimed.

But if all God built with was us, we would come crashing down—we are not stable or strong enough to build with such a magnificent Temple. That’s why God used something even better

Jesus is the most important piece in God’s Building Project—v. 6-8

Jesus is chosen—selected to fulfill the specific task of God. In the ancient world, and even today, for a solid and beautiful building to be built, you must have a solid and well made foundation. The cornerstone was chosen, cut and transported with great care and expense because it was often the first stone laid.

It became the standard by it the rest of the building was determined. Archaeologists have found foundation stones 69’x12’x13 feet weighing many tons.

From the Cornerstone, all lines and References for the future building are made.

No other stones could act as the cornerstone and Jesus is our chosen cornerstone—the most important piece of God’s construction. Jesus is also unique b/c no one else could be the foundation for the church, no one else could purchase our forgiveness because no one else was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on a cross and rose again. Jesus is precious not only because He is the most important part of God’s saving work but because of His unique relationship to the Father.

Jesus is the unique, One and Only Begotten Son. He is Precious to the Father.

You can see it in how the Father had to watch the Son He loves, suffer;

the Father who had to allow the One in whom He was well pleased endure cruel injustice; Precious to the Father who had to allow death to the only One who didn’t deserve it; who had to wait while His Son felt forsaken. Precious to the Father who came running, tearing the veil of the Temple out of His way when Jesus cried out “Into Your hands I commit my Spirit.”

Jesus is chosen for the task of saving humanity and building our eternity and He is precious and the most valuable to God and to us.

To us who believe Jesus is also Precious because we see on the Cross just how much He loves us. He is precious to us b/c of how He has compassion on us, and saves us even when we were His enemies, Precious to us because

Vs. 6—“Those who trust Him will never be put to shame”—This promise comes to us through Isaiah. When we trust in Jesus, we don’t have to worry about standing before God in shame and fear. Jesus already bore our shame on the Cross—He destroyed the power of Satan and death so we don’t have to be afraid of Judgment. When God sees the Blood of Christ over the door of our hearts, His judgment passes over us.

When we invite Jesus to be our Lord and Savior and ask His forgiveness, we will NEVER be put to shame—never be disappointed.

Since the Father honored and glorified Jesus, we too will be glorified.

I hate to break this too you, but life and eternity is not about you. It’s about Jesus. It’s not about how good you are, how strong you are, or how perfect you are—it’s about How good He is, How strong He is, and how Perfect He is.

We are never great in and of ourselves—but Greatness has been applied to us. The greatness of the chosen Cornerstone, Jesus Christ has been given, and covers over our failure.

Our eternal life never depends on our perfection, our righteousness or our goodness. Our Chosen and Precious Cornerstone is the One who builds us into the Saints of God. In order for Joy, happiness and fulfillment to be possible you must build upon the Cornerstone of Christ, the Rock that cannot be moved or changed; the Only one that can give purpose, direction and can be a solid foundation for life. There are consequences for not trusting Jesus.

Those who reject Him will themselves be rejected—v. 7. What at first seemed an insignificant baby in a small little town became the King of Kings.

What first seemed like a rabble of men led by an oddball teacher overwhelmed the world by a message of the Kingdom of God and forgiveness.

The One rejected and passed over by the important religious leaders, who said this couldn’t be the Messiah was in reality the most important part in God’s plan for the universe.

Men and women have been stumbling over the person and life of Jesus for thousands of years.

Matthew 21:44—“He who falls on this stone will be broken to

pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed." In other words, if you lay yourself on the stone, sin and death will be broken in you, but if you don’t, the same stone crushes—it is the standard—without His greatness applied to you, covering your sin you will be rejected and forever out of the Presence of God. And that is not what we were created for.

God is building a Temple to proclaim His glory and He wants you to be a part of it—a beautiful display of His craftsmanship that will stand for eternity.

Are you allowing God to build you—using the Precious cornerstone, using the trials and circumstances of life, trusting that His blueprints are better than yours.

Are you a part of that temple? Have you asked the Rock of Christ Jesus to be the foundation of your life? He made you and formed you. He knows your name and is calling you.

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