Precious Cornerstone

1 Peter 2:4-8

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

No Permanent Residence

Some of you have heard our story that as a family, we have transferred from one residence to another for more than thirty times. Can you believe that? We also desire to have permanent residence for retirement but it’s not priority. Our family delights as we remember many great experiences we cherished when we served as missionaries in East Asia: the community, food, neighborhood, environment, lifestyle, challenges included.

Truly, if by faith we follow the leading of Christ, our life experiences are far much better. Actually, I contemplated and considered to reside in East Asia for good. God had a better plan for us here in Canada. I believe, my family would agree with that reality.

As Christians, we should admit that this world is not our permanent residence.  Certainly, everyone will get out from this world one day, when Jesus Christ returns. All of us are transients of this temporal world. But as we wait for Jesus Christ to transport us into our eternal residence in his heaven, what should we prioritize in life?

Can you conceptualize what it says in Ephesians 2:19-22? 19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

When the Holy Spirit of God dwells in us, we prioritize our mission purposes. All believers are significant parts as holy temple where the Holy Spirit dwells. Agree?

We should choose to let God situates us where he deems fitting for his purposes.

Faith in God is most apparent when we trust that the Lord situates us where we can be most essential for his purpose, even if it means, our personal dream is sacrificed.

1.  Sacrifice

             4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 

The Lord is building a spiritual house with living stones. And, Christ is the precious cornerstone. All genuine believers are living stones; and we are essential parts of the spiritual house where the Holy Spirit of the Lord dwells on earth. Imagine this: A building is stable if its cornerstone is stable; a building will be shaky if its cornerstone is shaky.

Have you slept in house that may shake whenever semi-trailer or heavy vehicles pass by? We have in the past! It is not very amusing to sleep when the house is shaking!

God has chosen Jesus Christ as the precious cornerstone of his spiritual temple. God builds believers together as his spiritual house, and with Christ as the cornerstone of our life, we will never be shaken spiritually individually and as a congregation.

Believers are living stones that God builds as his spiritual temple. What is our part in God’s temple? We serve as his holy priests; we offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. And, what are spiritual sacrifices that God accepts or rejects?

Partial Obedience

King Saul partially obeyed when the Lord instructed him, “Destroy the Amalekites and all their properties.” He destroyed the Amalekites, but he did not kill their king. He destroyed their properties not totally; he saved the best livestock and offered some of it to God. Prophet Samuel had rhetorically admonished King Saul in 1 Samuel 15:22: 22Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

Saul did not totally obey the Lord. In comparison, King David obeyed the Lord wholeheartedly. The Lord requires complete obedience not just partial. When King David testified about it, he may have been very aware of the mistake that Saul made.

King David said in Psalm 40:6-10, 6Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—but my ears you have opened—burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. 7Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—it is written about me in the scroll.

8I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart. 9I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, Lord, as you know. 10I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness from the great assembly.

King David desired and did exactly whatever God told him to do; and God blessed him as the greatest king of Israel. As we grow more intimate in our relationship with the Lord, we grow mature spiritually and he blesses us when we obey him. Trust in Christ is apparent when we obey his instructions. The greatest command of God is to love him.

How can we show our love for God? We believe what it declares in 1 John 5:3: 3This is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.

The most practical exhibit of faith and love for God is obedience to his command. When we obey, we can also prove that godly commands include blessings, not burdens. We can obey the Lord only by faith; and we will never be put to shame. Can you agree?

2.  Shame

6For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Let’s reflect and challenge ourselves; let’s check if our faith in God is really active.

We are mandated to testify of the transformational work of Jesus Christ in our life. If you’re asked to testify randomly of what Christ has done in your life, what do you say? Ever since you placed your faith in Christ, has your life been better? Have you sensed and observed changes in your behavior, habit, character and the way you talk? What transformation story will you testify? Are you ready to testify or ashamed?

Remember. Believers of Christ will never be put to shame. And yet, when natural instinct prevails in your heart and mind, you may feel ashamed and not want to testify.

As a church, we regularly gather every week to encourage one another. Every part of our worship services: greeting others, praying, reading and listening God’s word, giving, singing and praising God – they are designed to build great confidence of how we may conduct ourselves acceptable to God no matter what observers may think or say. The manner that you may express worship of God before other believers should come very natural for you eventually. And, you won’t be concerned of what others may think or say.

Do you worship the Lord and sing praises with all your might consciously?

Undignified King David

Learn from King David. It states in 2 Samuel 6:16ff, 16As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart… 20When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!” 21David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. 22I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.” 23And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.

In Hebrew culture, the more children they have, means more blessings for them; they believe that God withholds blessings from Michal so that she did not have children.

When it recorded that Michal did not have children until she died, it teaches that the Lord withhold blessing from her after she despised as improper and undignified the manner that King David worshipped God and celebrated before the Ark of the Lord.

Michal assumed that King David should protect his dignity as royal even during celebration. She thought that the way he praised God was an embarrassment. David was not bothered how others may think or say, as long as he celebrated before God; the way he desired to express praise and worship of God, David did it with all his might.

How about you? Are you concerned about what others may say when you praise the Lord? Jesus is the truth, and whatever he says is truth. He declares in John 12:25-26: 25Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

It is natural that if we love Christ, we prioritize him; if we don’t prioritize him, the Lord considers it as hatred to him. If we love life, we prioritize our personal concerns.

If we don’t prioritize our personal concerns, does it mean that we hate our life?

When Christ challenges us to prioritize service to him, we do not worry about our personal concerns of life. When Christ said that “whoever serves him will live in his heaven and honored by God the Father,” he offers options of priority. Reflect: If God is concerned about our eternal life, would he disregard our needs to live in righteousness?

Can you accept that if we prioritize service to Christ, we should not worry about material needs? How would you interpret what Christ declared in Matthew 10:37-39? 37Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  38Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  39Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

Normally, everyone in this world is concerned about health, career, relationship, mortgage, etc. Can you strongly believe that if we serve the Lord, he provides essential needs for righteous lifestyle so that we do not worry about material needs? If by the grace of God we prioritize service to Christ, we will not stumble and (not) fall spiritually.

3.  Stumble

7Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

Apostle Peter wrote this letter to believers who were exiled and scattered in Asia Minor or the modern day Turkey. As foreigners in their new residence, they may have struggled with prejudice and racism at places of work or where they have resided.

Certainly, immigrants may have experienced similar struggles that first century Christians had gone through in Asia Minor. In like manner, all believers should expect unfair treatment from this world. Anyone who rejects Christ may or may not persecute us. It is very helpful for us to have strong trust in Christ as our cornerstone; despite the prejudice, we can celebrate and worship God when his Holy Spirit produces joy in us.

Public Singing

Every moment, we have choices to make. We prioritize what is important to us. Do you publicly sing “Happy Birthday” with all your might for celebrant your care?

There was a father who sang “Happy Birthday” to his son in public. Observers were very amused how the father gladly celebrated the birthday of his son with singing; ironically, his friend thought that it was very embarrassing to sing very loud in public.

The father prioritized showing much care to his son, and he was not concerned about what others may say when he sang “Happy Birthday” to his son. In comparison, his friend prioritized what is assumed as embarrassment of singing loudly in public.

As believers, we also have choices and priorities in life. As we grow mature in our salvation, we choose to serve the Lord even if others can’t understand why we choose to follow Christ. And we trust that the Lord provides all our needs for godly lifestyle.

Personally, how do you interpret what Christ said in Matthew 19:29? 29Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

Many among us have personally experienced that our life has become far better when we follow and serve the Lord. The Lord situates us exactly where he planned us to be essential parts of his spiritual house. Are you curious how you may serve the Lord? Pray earnestly, and do any good, right and proper thing that comes to you attention.

Slowly and surely, God shapes our attitude, behavior, character and habit as preparation to our calling. God may have called you to fulltime ministry or not yet; he does not require us to make rush decision. As for start, we serve God in our situation.

How do you interpret and practically apply what it says in Colossians 3:23-25? 23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.

Authorities, officers or anybody who gives us instructions that we should follow, they serve as our master: may it be in our home, workplace, in school, or society. When we follow instructions, as if we follow instructions from Christ, God will reward us.

Of course, we expect to enter his heaven. Christ has instructed us to surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees and teachers of Jewish laws. He says in Matthew 5:20, 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

The Pharisees and teachers of the Jewish Laws gave tithes, prayed and fasted all their life. Can we surpass their righteousness? If by faith, we reckon and consider Christ as cornerstone of our life; we serve with gladness the purposes of God for us. We trust that when Christ returns, he takes us into his heaven and live with him forever. Amen!

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