Summary: Though we are "pilgrims and strangers" here on earth, there is a certain way we should live until we make it to our heavenly home.

How To Live Here Until We Leave Here

I Peter 4:7-11

There was a teenage girl who's mother was in the National Guard. The mother's unit was activated and she was deployed to Afghanistan for one year. Because of this the girl was sent to live with her grandfather on his ranch in Texas. When she arrived it was a tremendous culture shock. There was no cell service, no internet... in fact her grandfather didn't even own a television set. This city girl didn't know how to act without all of the modern amenities she was accustomed to. Then to top it off on day one grandpa told her what was expected of her. He said that if she was going to stay with him she would have to earn her keep. She had to keep her room clean, help with the cooking, clean the dishes, feed the cows and gather the eggs from the chicken house. In the beginning she rebelled and tried to refuse, but it did not work. She was told that as long as she lived with her grandfather she would abide by his rules. Then when her mother came home she could return to what she considered to be normal.

Jesus left us with a promise that He would one day return. We have seen throughout I Peter that this world is not our home. But until we draw our last breath or until Christ returns for His bride there are some things that are expected of us while we abide on this earth. In our selected text Peter shares certain actions and attributes that each born again Christian should possess in their daily life. I would like to walk trough these verses and see "How To Live Here Until We Leave Here"

I am excited about the fact that Jesus is coming for us one day. Martin Luther said that we should live as if "Jesus died yesterday, rose today and is coming back tomorrow"

We are to watch for His return. We are to be constant in prayers. We are to possess and share love to all men. We are to be benevolent and hospitable to our neighbors and we are to be faithful stewards of the gifts that God has given us to use for His glory.

When a foreigner comes to America on a work visa they are only here for a short time. There may be customs and things that are accepted in their native land that are not legal or accepted here. And while they are here they are required to abide by the laws of this nation. Essentially there is a certain way that they are to live here until the time comes when they leave here.

We know that our time here is temporary. We have an eternal home in glory. So how exactly should we live here until the time comes that we leave here? Well, first of all:

I. We Must Live Cautiously While We Are Here - v7 ¶But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober

“The end of all things" speaks not of the end of the world but rather the consummation of this present age. The Second Coming of Christ is the ultimate consummation that we look for and long for. Peter says that this time is "at hand". This does not mean that it is necessarily a short time chronologically. Keep in mind this was written almost 2,000 years ago. The literal translation of the phrase "at hand" means that it is "imminent". This means that it will happen one day. We know that it could happen at any moment, consider what Paul said - Romans 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. - Consider what James said - James 5:7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. 8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. -- Consider what Peter said - 2 Peter 3:9 ¶The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. - Consider what Jesus said - Revelation 22:20 ...surely I come quickly.

In the New Testament it is estimated that 1 out of every 30 verses refer to Christ's return. For every prophecy concerning the first coming of the Messiah there are 8 prophecies concerning His return. The first time Jesus came to this world, He came as a Redeemer. The next time He comes, He is coming as a Ruler! The first time He endured the Cross, The next time He comes, He will wear a Crown. The first time He came there was a tomb, the next time He comes there will be a Throne. On this day Jesus Christ will return to this world in power and glory. He will destroy His enemies and rule on this earth in righteousness. We can be assured that “The King Is Coming”

Are you living like you believe that your King is Coming? Peter says that we must live that way! He says “Be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer”. Peter, James, John & Paul all believed that they would see the return of Christ in their lifetime. And no matter the timeline, even if He doesn't return for another 1,000 years, we are closer to His return today than we were yesterday. We must live our lives with seriousness, caution and prayer. We must keep a constant watch for the return of the Savior for no one knows the day or the hour when Christ may return.

This does not mean that we are to spend all of our time gazing into the clouds as some have done in the past. After 14 years of studying the Bible, William Miller became convinced that Christ would return in 1843. When Miller announced April 3 as the day, some disciples went to mountaintops, hoping for a head start to heaven. Others were in graveyards, planning to ascend in reunion with their departed loved ones. Philadelphia society ladies clustered together outside town to avoid entering God's kingdom amid the common herd. When April 4 dawned as usual the Millerites were disillusioned, but they took heart. Their leader had predicted a range of dates for Christ's return. They still had until March 21, 1844. The devout continued to make ready, but again they were disappointed. A third date--October 22, 1844--was set, but it also passed. (Today in the Word, December 20, 1991)

This is not how we are to conduct ourselves. We are to be watching but we are also to be working! Back in chapter 2:11 Peter says that we are "strangers and pilgrims". We are citizens of Heaven and we are only sojourning on earth. But while we are here there are certain things that are expected of us. One day we will give an account of our service and stewardship. - 1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

Every generation has believed they would see the return of Christ. And we say that we believe it... but do our actions back that up? If we really believe it we will get serious about God If we really believe it we will get ready and stay ready. If we really believe it then we will want to take as many people with us as we can. And if that is the case we will do all that we can to reach them while there is still time.

Noah believed God when He said that He was going to destroy the earth with a flood. And for 120 Years Noah faithfully preached and warned the people of the impending judgment of God. That is how you act when you believe that the end is near. We must be sober and watching for Christ's return! And we must warn others in the process. Unfortunately, many people who claim to believe Jesus could return at any moment are complacent and apathetic. They know what needs to be done...they know what is expected of them but they procrastinate! They live with an earthly perspective instead of an eternal one! My friends "the end is at hand" so let us "watch and be sober"

How Are We To Live Here Until We Leave Here? We Must Live Soberly! Continuing on in verse 7 we see that:

II. We Must Live Prayerfully While We Are Here - v7b and watch unto prayer.

The purpose of being "sober and watchful" is so that we can pray properly. When we have self control and the proper mindset we can pray affectively. If we have the right mindset then we can see the whole picture. We will see that the end is near. This will motivate us to live lives that would honor the Lord. And it will also show us the need for urgency concerning lost souls. If Jesus really is coming back there are many lost people that will face His wrath. And many of these people are members of our own families. When He comes if they have not surrendered to Him they will one day stand before the Great White Throne judgment. There will be no escape and there will be no exceptions. Every person who died without Jesus Christ will face Him in this Judgment one day! And ultimately they will be cast into an eternal lake of fire. We have a responsibility to witness to these people but we also have an obligation to pray for them!

When we grasp the fact that we are engaged in a battle for souls we will pray with greater focus. If we opened our eyes and saw the vast amount of people who need the Lord and who are headed for judgment, we would pray more. If we really believe that the end of all things was near, we will pray. How long has it been since you have laid aside your selfish wants and list of demands for God and just cried out in agony for lost souls? How long has it been since you have turned the T.V off and got alone with God and pleaded with Him to reach your lost child, spouse, sibling, parent or friend. Why don't you get on your knees and as God to give you the boldness, courage, wisdom and opportunity to reach some lost soul for Jesus!

Sidlow Baxter said "...Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons -- but they are helpless against our prayers."

Prayer is a vital part of the Christian life. We can't find success without it. How Are We To Live Here Until We Leave Here? We Must Live Prayerfully! We also see that:

III. We Must Live Fervently While We Are Here - v8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

Fervent - (ektenēs - ek-ten-ace'){G} intent: - without ceasing. This word has the idea of consistency. The context of verse 8 is referring to "charity" or "love". This kind of love requires the Christian to put another’s spiritual good ahead of his own desires. And we are called to do this even when we are treated unkindly. Philippians 2: 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

This type of love is an unselfish love. This love is not extended because of what it might bring in return. It is a love so great that it loves the unlovable. This is the kind of love that God has for us!

“Charity shall cover the multitude of sins"... This means that a Christian should overlook sins against him and always be ready to forgive those who would harm him. This forgiving love was spoken of by Jesus in the Model Prayer - "forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors: (Matthew 6:12)

Have you ever heard one child tell another child I will not be your friend unless you do so and so? This is putting conditions on a friendship. Sometimes we forget that Jesus loves us unconditionally. He never says, “I’ll love you if....” He loves us whether or not we read our Bible. He loves us whether or not we go to church. He even loves us whether or not we accept Him as our lord and savior. What a friend we have in Jesus! (Lou Nicholes - Missionary/Author).

This is the kind of love we should have toward others. And this is the kind of love that will point the lost to Christ. This love is to be fervent (without ceasing). Notice how this is translated in the ESV - v8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Let us love one another and continue to do so. This applies to the brethren as well as the Lost...Jesus says to "love our neighbor as ourselves". As long as we are here, we are called to love others!!

How Are We To Live Here Until We Leave Here? We Must Live Fervently! This fervent love will produce benevolence, generosity & hospitality. Notice:

IV. We Must Live Benevolently While We Are Here - v9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.

The Greek word for Hospitality is (philoxenos - fil-ox'-en-os) this means to be fond of guests... to love strangers. In Peter’s day, believers would open their home to strangers. They would care for other needy Christians. They would host traveling preachers. Paul planned to go to Colosse, and in Philemon 1:22 He told Philemon to "prepare me a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you." He was confident that if the Lord allowed him to go there he would have a place to stay.

We have another example of this in the lives of Jesus' disciples - Luke 9:1-5 "Then he (Jesus) called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases." "And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick." "And he said unto them, Take nothing for [your] journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece." "And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart."

This hospitality is to be done without grumbling... Don't be like the man who - A man took his dog to the veterinarian and asked him to cut his tail off completely. “I don’t like to do that,” said the vet. “And why completely?” “Well,” said the dog owner, “my mother-in-law is coming to visit us, and I don’t want anything in the house to suggest that she is welcome.

We must focus on the end goal. We are all working together for the cause of Christ We must be hospitable and benevolent and help each other along the way. This was one of the key of success for the early church. Acts 4:32 ¶And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. 33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. 34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35 And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

Benevolence is the desire to do good to others. We should be benevolent to all men, but especially those who are of the faith! How Are We To Live Here Until We Leave Here? We Must Live Benevolently!

We also see that:

V. We Must Live Faithfully While We Are Here - v10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

As believers we have all been given "spiritual gifts". When we use our gifts the Holy Spirit ministers to others through us. A spiritual gift cannot be earned, pursued or worked up. It is merely “received” through the grace of God. These gifts are described in -Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

Spiritual gifts are to be used to benefit others. While we remain on this earth we are to be faithful to minister using these gifts. Peter says that we are to be "good stewards". A steward is someone who is responsible for the resources of someone else. We do not own our gifts...they belong to God and are to be use to bring Him glory! We will be held accountable for how we use the gifts God has blessed us with. Let us be faithful, devoted servants of God while we are here!

1 Peter 4:11 "If any man speak, [let him speak] as the oracles of God; if any man minister, [let him do it] as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."

If you preach, if you teach, when you witness the message is not yours... it is Christ's. If you have a "serving" gift it is not to be used to bring you glory. Don't do it for the pat on the back or the recognition. Do it out of love for your fellow man and out of obedience to your Master. Be consistent, Be faithful, Be a good steward and do so until you draw your last breath or until your Savior returns,

1) Live Cautiously

2) Live Fervently

3) Live Prayerfully

4) Live Benevolently

5) Live Faithfully

That is how to live here until we leave here!