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Summary: When it comes to marketing Christianity, Peter had it all wrong. But he tells it as it is, and maybe we need to refresh our memories: Christianity is not a bed of roses –not yet.

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Is the Price Really Right?

(I Peter 4:1-6)

1. Back in 1889, Sid and Leah’s bull took sick and died, so they needed to go to the auction to buy a new one. Sid couldn’t leave the farm because he was busy starting a farming equipment business, so Leah took the train to the city to buy a bull. If she was successful, she would take the train back to the farm, then she and Sid would borrow their neighbor’s wagon to go to town and pick up their newly purchased bull.

The bidding was furious at the livestock auction, and Leah found herself bidding on the last remaining bull. It took everything she had but ten cents; but she was finally the successful bidder. Unfortunately, the train home was fifty cents. "Please, Mr. Conductor, couldn’t you make an exception just once?" pleadedLeah. "Sorry lady," he replied, "but you can send your husband atelegram to tell him your problem. The office is just down the street."

At the Telegraph office, Leah asked, "Mister, how many vords can I send to mine husband for a dime?"

"It’s ten cents a word," the clerk answered. Leah pondered her dilemma, then finally said, "OK, here’s mine message:

"COMFORTABLE." (source: www.haruth.com/Jhumor15.html)

2. Speaking of comfortable, one uniquely American belief system is called the "prosperity Gospel."

3. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch/November 18, 2003 (By Bill Smith and Carolyn Tuft)

The prosperity gospel also has been called the "name it and claim it" theology. God wants His people to prosper, evangelists like [Joyce]Meyer maintain. Those who follow God and give generously to his ministries can have anything, and everything, they want.

…Michael Scott Horton, who teaches historical theology at the Westminister Theological Seminary in Escondido, Ca., calls the message a twisted interpretation of the Bible -- a "wild and wacky theology.

[Jim] Bakker, who spent five years in prison for defrauding Heritage USA investors, says he has had a change of heart about the prosperity gospel.

The same man who once told his PTL coworkers that "God wants you to be rich," now says he made a tragic mistake.

"For years, I helped propagate an impostor, not a true gospel, but another gospel," Bakker has said in his 1996 book, "I Was Wrong."

"The prosperity message did not line up with the tenor of the Scripture," he said. "My heart was crushed to think that I led so many people astray."

While Bakker may have changed his tune, many more TV preachers are steadfast in their conviction that if you give money, you will receive it many times in return.

[Joyce] Meyer [defends her prosperity gospel]:

"Why would He (God) want all of His people poverty stricken while all of the people that aren’t living for God have everything?" Meyer said. "I think it’s old religious thinking, and I believe the devil uses it to keep people from wanting to serve God."

5. Peter wants us to have realistic expectations, not only about the fun and positive aspects of the Christian life – and there are admittedly many blessings – but also the negatives.

Main Idea: When it comes to marketing Christianity, Peter had it all wrong. But he tells it as it is, and maybe we need to refresh our memories: Christianity is not a bed of roses –not yet.

TS----------------> Following Christ has its price tags.

I. SUFFERING (1-2)

Are you willing to endure the hardships that come from following Christ?

1. The test of commitment is willingness to SUFFER

a. Pilgrim’s Progress (Obsitinate & Pilgrim and Despondency Swamp)

b. Could you imagine what Peter’s marketing consultant would have said to Peter if he caught him writing these words? "Suffering – you’ve got to be kidding. Who wants to embrace a religion that brings suffering? Religion is supposed to give you a framework to interpret life, a place to find security and consolation. But suffering – no way. This will never catch on."

c. fighting sin is a form of suffering: "Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ’My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you…’" Hebrews 12:3-5

d. one example of many just publicized this week at Persecution.org

Eritrean Christian Pays High Price For His Freedom

July 26, 2006, 10:35:09 AM

Country:

Eritrea

ICC NOTE: Today, an estimated 1800 Christians are in prison for their faith in Eritrea.

Please pray for their release and that the government would honor the freedom to

worship Christ.

Eritrean Christian Pays High Price For His Freedom

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