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Summary: We're strangers in this world and we will encounter difficulty. What has God supplied to help us survive the struggles and sufferings and persecutions we may encounter here?

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OPEN: On a Continental flight a pilot began his usual comments to the passengers:

“Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon and welcome on board Continental flight 428. This is your Captain speaking and I have some information about our flight. We've reached cruising altitude of 35,000 ft. & will be turning down the cabin lights.

Turning down the lights is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants."

“Just a few observations: There may be 50 ways to leave your lover but there are only 4 ways off this airplane. In case of an emergency your flight attendant will assist you on leaving the plane. In the event of an emergency water landing your seat cushions can be used for flotation; if that happens please paddle to shore & take the cushions with our compliments.”

Later, after the plane landed & passengers were about to disembark, the pilot again came on and said: “As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be evenly distributed among the flight attendants. Please… do not leave children or spouses.”

APPLY: Now, obviously, that pilot was just having fun with the passengers. I'm sure he'd grown tired of saying the same stale speech over and over again for weeks on end and just wanted to liven thing up a bit. But most of the time pilots and airplane crews are very serious about their instructions. In fact, one webpage I visited had wordings pilots would use in every possible contingency - it went on for 4 pages when I copied it into my files. I found that there were speeches the pilot might give in the event of:

• Turbulence, where the plane was shaken by cross winds of downdrafts.

• Depressurization of the cabin of the plane

• Aborted takeoffs where the plane was forced to stay on the tarmac.

• Bomb threats

• Hi-jackings… and so on.

Apparently there are airlines that have instructions on how their pilots should address every and any serious situation.

The one thing I noticed about ALL those instructions was that the Pilot’s role was to tell passengers what they needed to know in order to have a safe and comforting trip.

Now, here in I Peter 5 Peter is telling us what WE (as Christians) need to know. Throughout this letter we’ve been repeatedly reminded that we are strangers and aliens in this world. We don’t belong here. And because we don’t belong here, because we’re just passing through this world, the Bible repeatedly tells us that we will encounter difficult times. We will suffer. We will be persecuted for our faith.

And so we need to be told how we’re going to ride out the storms of life.

We need to be told what’s being done to protect us

And we need to be assured that God –will always be there with us in those difficult times.

The 1st thing Peter does in this 5th chapter is to introduce us to the flight crew.

These are the people who are responsible for your well-being and comfort.

These are the ones who on board to watch over you and protect you.

These are the ones who are trained to keep you safe when life gets difficult.

Who are these people?

They’re called Elders.

1 Peter 5:1-3 tells us “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers— not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”

The Elders are the first line of defense in the congregation.

They are the ones who are shepherds and overseers of all of us.

God has entrusted them with YOU and me.

And their job is to be our servants and our examples.

That’s why God was so demanding in their qualifications.

Elders are to be good fathers and husbands. They’re to be men who KNOW what the Bible says and have the backbone to stand up for good doctrine. They’re to be men who are so dedicated to Christ in their daily lives that EVEN the world knows they take their faith seriously and live for Jesus in all that they do.

We’ve been blessed here to have 4 of the finest Elders I’ve ever met. And that’s a good thing. In fact that’s critical for our survival as Christians our safety as a church is in their hands.

ILLUS: I read the true story of a man who was on a flight in California that had been delayed for some time in Sacramento. The flight attendant explained that there would be a 45-minute delay, and if they wanted to get off the aircraft, they would reboard in 30 minutes.

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