Reader: “Continue to show deep love for each other,”
Response: “for love covers a multitude of sins.”
Scripture: I Peter 4:7-11
The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
“The end of the world is coming soon.” Yikes! Those are ominous words. In reading the letters of Peter and Paul in particular, there was a strong feeling that Jesus would be returning shortly, certainly within their lifetimes. Through the centuries there have been numerous times when it seemed the end seemed imminent. There is no shortage of people in our day and age who likewise think the end of the world and the return of Christ is very near, perhaps within our lifetime. In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus warned people what to watch for in terms of signs, but made very clear only the Father knew when the Second Coming would be. There have been any number of books written about how we are to live in the last days. God gives us some very practical direction through Peter’s epistle. We are to be earnest, serious, clear-minded, watchful, and disciplined in our prayers. We are to be a praying people. Are you disciplined in your prayer life? A second instruction until the return of Christ, is the demonstration of loving each other.
Loving someone earnestly from the heart surely makes forgiving the offender much easier. The more mature we are in loving people, the less easily we are offended. Hospitality is the mark of the Holy Spirit and all of us are to live that way. God is reminding, as you read this (!), that he has given you a gift to be used in serving other people. Whether it is in speaking or helping others, do it with energy and joy! What happens when you use what God has given you is that God gets glory through Jesus.
Peter adds a final doxology: All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen. We have simple instructions: pray, be hospitable, love, use what God has given you. Did you notice, Peter did not say, dwell on the last days or the end times, but be busy doing God’s work?
Music: “Down to the River to Pray” Bethel College Choir from a grain bin! Don’t miss it! The point is to pray until Jesus returns!
Almighty God, you have given us the sure promise that our Lord Jesus will return to judge the earth: make us ready, we pray for his royal coming, that we may consider daily the quality of our service and so be found faithful servants waiting and watching for our Master’s return. Make us bold in our witness and grant in our mercy that many may be turned to righteousness before he comes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
―from Prayers for Sunday Services, p.67