Thriving in Babylon

A Study on the Book of 1 Peter

Gardening in Babylon

1 Peter 5:5-11 • February 18, 2018 • Gary Brandenburg

When God's people were exiles in Babylon they formed a resistance movement under the guidance of the prophet Jeremiah. What is interesting is how they resisted the Babylonians. They were told, "Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare." Jer. 29:5-7. In other words, don't build walls plant gardens. Be a blessing to those around you.

Shepherd the Flock

1 Peter 5:1-5 • February 11, 2018 • Kurt Pressler

Even though Jesus had come to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to secure our perfect eternity with him, and even though he knew this world was temporary, he was not indifferent to the condition of his people here and now. In fact, it was just the opposite. Jesus was so concerned about the welfare of his people, he established leaders who are responsible for the care, protection, and guidance of his church.

The University of Adversity

1 Peter 4:12-19 • February 4, 2018 • Gary Brandenburg

Today I want to take up one of the most frequently asked questions in life. "Why does God allow suffering?" No matter who you are or where you came from we are all required to attend the same school. It's called the University of Adversity. There are no electives. All the courses are required courses. In 1 Pe. 4:12-19, Peter offers some timeless truth about tough times. His first word of advice to those who are suffering for their faith is, "Don't be surprised." v. 12.

Visionary Stewardship

1 Peter 4:11 • January 28, 2018 • Kurt Pressler

We are chosen, we are united around the cause of Christ, we are representatives of the kingdom of heaven, we live in a land no longer our own, we have been born for a purpose and, as we began to discuss last week, we too have gifts, spiritual gifts, given to us by God’s grace, that we are to use to serve others and glorify God.

God's Symphony

1 Peter 4:10 • January 21, 2018 • Gary Brandenburg

There is only one kind of Christian; the messed up-falling down-failing constantly-full of pride- desperately-insecure but clinging tenaciously to God’s amazing grace kind. The Bible presents us with a steady parade of characters who are a mess. Look at the disciples. How is Jesus going to save the world with these guys? We have nothing to offer, He has everything we need. The source of our strength is the grace of God.

The End is Near

1 Peter 4:1-2 • January 14, 2018 • Gary Brandenburg

Why does it seem like there is so little urgency in our churches today? One possible explanation is that the more comfortable our circumstances the less urgent our actions.


1 Peter 4:1-6 • January 7, 2018 • Kurt Pressler

Happy New Year! The beginning of the year is traditionally the beginning of a new season. We come out of the holiday season, with it’s fun and joy and the excesses of making merry, and we enter into…the resolution season. Every January so many of us make determined decisions to live our lives in a different way in the new year. Some of us resolve to lose a little weight. Others want to exercise more. Some want to get a better handle on their finances. Others are determined to read their Bible more. All good things. But here’s the problem, and many of you know what I’m going to say. So few of these resolutions are actually kept. In fact, the stat I read this week said that only 8% of resolutions are achieved. Most people don’t even make it out of February. I recently heard a comedian lament his own struggle with his 2017 resolution: “Well, I made a resolution this year to lose 15 lbs.…and I only have 25 left to go!” I saw more articles at the beginning of the year not on what your resolution should be, but on how to keep it. I read counsel that included writing down your goal, telling others, building a plan, and so on. Ultimately, the problem is that success is based on our willpower. And so, this morning, I want to challenge all of us to make the same New Year’s resolution. It’s a resolution based not on our willpower, but one based on God’s will and power.

Five Hopeful Habits of a Game Changer

1 Peter 3:8-22 • November 26, 2017 • Gary Brandenburg

Some events are so monumental that they change the course of history. The invention of the printing press. The airplane. The atom bomb. The computer. All these are what we sometimes call “game changers.” We experience game changing moments when something so big and so impactful literally changes the course of our lives. A game changer could be a person who walks into your life and changes your perspective or an event that changes your trajectory.

Lord of the Dance

1 Peter 3:1-7 • November 19, 2017 • Gary Brandenburg

I’m no dancer but when I see it done well I am in awe of the grace, the discipline, the strength of a man and a woman flowing across the floor in a way that seems effortless. But unfortunately, marriage is often more like a wrestling match than a dance. Marriage is never effortless. It takes a lot of practice…and a lot of patience because we get our toes stepped on in the process of learning how to do it.

A Tough Call

1 Peter 2:18-25 • November 12, 2017 • Kurt Pressler

Suffering is part of God’s plan. His Son had to go through it, and so must we. I wish I could tell you otherwise, but Scripture, and the life of our Savior, don’t allow for that. But we can accept that difficult truth knowing that our God is good and our suffering is not in vain. So let me ask you one final time: Do you want to follow Jesus?

Spiritual Cyber Warfare

1 Peter 2:11-17 • November 5, 2017 • Gary Brandenburg

Some of us here today need to surrender our will to God’s will. Until we surrender we will never know true freedom. Until we surrender the world will have no reason to listen to us and God will have no reason to be pleased with us. Don’t miss four important words in v. 13, “For the Lord’s sake.” Those words remind us that God’s agenda is far more important than my own personal freedoms. Write this down…BYSSIW…Because you say so I will.

The Cathedral Project

1 Peter 2:4-10 • October 29, 2017 • Gary Brandenburg

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth to be a holy temple. He set out to fill the temple with priests who would represent Him on the earth. Three chapters into the story something went terribly wrong and the temple God was building came crashing down and now living stones are in ruins and the rubble is scattered everywhere - broken lives, broken families, broken nations. But God had a plan to put it all back together someday.

Love One Another

1 Peter 1:22-2:3 • October 22, 2017 • Kurt Pressler

If we have truly tasted the goodness of God, we can’t help but go back for more. As we consume the pure spiritual milk of his Word, and as we encounter the person of God, we grow up into our salvation; we mature in our faith. The more we mature, the more our character takes on God’s character, and the more we are enabled to put away those five relational sins and live a life characterized by love. If you want more love in your life, spend more time at the source.

Living with Fear

1 Peter 1:17-21 • October 15, 2017 • Kurt Pressler

There will also come a time when God judges each person’s work. All our deeds are judged according to God’s holy standard, and we will stand before Jesus and give an accounting of what we did with our lives. That thought should induce awe in you. Understand, there is no fear of losing our salvation. If you are God’s child, you are his forever. There should be fear, though, of losing heavenly rewards.

Don't Get Mad - Get Holy

1 Peter 1:10-16 • October 1, 2017 • Gary Brandenburg

There are times I just don’t feel at home in this world. One of the hardest parts about being a Christian is that there is less and less cultural reinforcement for Christianity. Every day I read some story that reminds me that this world is opposed to what I believe. For example, the Hi-Way Tabernacle Church in Rockport was severely flooded during Hurricane Harvey. Still, the church served as a FEMA staging center, provided shelter for 70 displaced people and distributed more than 8,000 emergency meals. But the church is not eligible for any of the billions of dollars of recovery money from FEMA, because FEMA “categorically excludes houses of worship from equal access to disaster relief grants because of their religious status.” Ok, separation of church and state. I get it.