Standing on the Promises 2 Peter 1:3-8

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1 Scripture: (NIV) 3 [God s] divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Sermon When I read today s scripture, it made me think of the Prodigal Son s older brother. Even if you weren t here last week, I m sure you re familiar with the story. When the Prodigal Son realized the error of his ways and repented turned around and went back to his father the father he d sinned against by squandering what the father had given him the father forgave him extravagantly. He restored him to being a son and gave him a new robe, ring, and sandals for his feet and ordered the fatted calf to be killed to celebrate his son s homecoming. Now, the older brother the one who d never left home, the one who had continued working on the family farm while his younger brother was out partying was seriously annoyed. He refused to come in to the party. In an echo of the father meeting the Prodigal on the road home, the father went out to the older brother to plead with him to come in. The older brother complained: Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. My son, the father said, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. You are always with me. Everything I have is yours. You realize, don t you, that that s the promise that God makes us when we become Christians? Yet how many of us realize that? Know My first point is that we need to KNOW. We need to KNOW our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has saved us from our sins. But once we ve got our salvation, do we stop there? No! We also need to KNOW His promises to us. Are we standing on the promises or are we just sitting on the premises? I d like to tell you a modern-day parable. It was told to me as a true story. In west Texas there is a famous oil field known as the Yates pool. During the Depression this field was owned by a man named Yates. Mr. Yates was not able to make enough money on his ranching operation to pay the principal and interest on the mortgage, so he was in danger of losing his ranch. With little money for clothes or food, his family, like many others, had to live on a government subsidy. Day after day, as he grazed his sheep over those rolling west Texas hills, he was no doubt greatly troubled about how he would be able to pay his bills.

3 Then a seismographic crew from an oil company came into the area and told Mr. Yates that there might be oil on his land. They asked permission to drill a wildcat well, and he signed a lease. At eleven hundred feet they struck a huge oil reserve, giving 80 thousand barrels a day. In fact, thirty years after the discovery, a government test of one of the wells showed that it still could flow 125,000 barrels of oil a day. And Mr. Yates owned it all. The day he purchased the land, he received the oil and mineral rights. Yet he was living on relief! A multimillionaire living in poverty: What was the problem? The problem was that he did not know the oil was there. He owned it, but he did not possess it. In today s scripture reading, Peter isn t talking to people in need of salvation; he s talking to people who are already Christians to the people who already own the ranch. They KNOW about Jesus. They KNOW He s their Savior. But do they KNOW Him as their Lord? Peter says in verses 1-2 (I m reading this time from the Contemporary English Version): 1 From Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ. To everyone who shares with us in the privilege of believing that our God and Savior Jesus Christ will do what is just and fair. 2 I pray that God will be kind to you and will let you live in perfect peace! May you keep learning more and more about God and our Lord Jesus. But Peter doesn t leave it there, with the book knowledge. Learning about God isn t enough. He writes, in verse 3: 3 We have everything we need to live a life that pleases God. It was all given to us by God s own power, when we learned that he had invited us to share in his wonderful goodness. Grow Peter is telling us here that we need to GROW. We need to GROW in the likeness of God. But it s not something that we re doing on our own. We have everything we need to live a life that pleases God! It was all given to us by God s own power when we accepted Jesus as our Savior! What we need is to accept Him as our Lord and to do what He tells us to do, to obey Him, which He enables us to do, through the Holy Spirit. We need to keep learning more and more about God and our Lord Jesus not only through our Bible study but by the way we live our

4 lives in Him, so that we can say, with Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. Peter specifically tells us, in verse 4: God made great and marvelous promises, so that his nature would become part of us. I have a book here that says it has one thousand promises from God s Word. (It cautions you that it s just supposed to be a handy reference, if you re feeling angry or lonely or are wondering about hope, joy, love, or peace not to replace your regular study or a concordance for in-depth study.) And that regular study is very important. But head-knowledge about God isn t enough. The goal is to have His nature become part of us. Why is that? Peter tells us in the second half of verse 4: Then we could escape our evil desires and the corrupt influences of this world. Ready, Set, Go! Knowing God isn t just knowing about God; it s putting your knowledge into action. In churchterms, it s called the process of Sanctification, and it s a process that requires a great deal from us our whole selves: body, mind, and spirit. Peter writes: 5 Do your best to improve your faith. Or, as the NIV said: make every effort to add to your faith. I find it interesting that Peter goes through this list of characteristics we should have in our lives but he starts with faith, first. We must have faith first and build upon that faith, for without our faith in God, we can do nothing. Without God and our faith in God and what He can do, we are nothing. With faith in God, we can do all things. This faith ultimately leads us to a life that reflects the love of Christ in all that we say and do. Peter gives us a practical list of characteristics that should radiate from a life in Christ. Starting with faith You can do this by adding goodness, understanding, 6 self-control, patience, devotion to God, 7 concern for others, and love.

5 The character traits Peter lists each build on the one before it. (You re not expected to manifest all these characteristics immediately!) If you re like me, sometimes you need to prayerfully and ardently work on one or more of them over again, but it does seem to be a progression. 1. Goodness seems hard to attain, but based on my studies I think this is really our acknowledgment that all goodness comes from God. We manifest goodness when we let God show through. We also heard that in verse 3, where Peter says, It was all given to us by God s own power, when we learned that he had invited us to share in his wonderful goodness. 2. Understanding is our knowledge and understanding of the things of God. This can only come to us through study, prayer, and enlightenment from the Holy Spirit. 3. Self-control is the opposite of self-indulgence, the kind of physical appetites nonbelievers are slave to. It s more in line with viewing our bodies as a temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell in. 4. Patience perseverance in some translations is staying the course, running the good race, keeping on keeping on as a follower of Christ even when it s hard, even when it s painful, even when everyone else deserts you. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me, Jesus said. 5. Devotion to God isn t so much the scripture, story, and prayer we may read daily and call it a devotion but the religion we practice in our day-to-day lives. It is the attitude of reverence toward God in everything we say and do that seeks right relations with God and our fellow human beings. 6. Concern for others brotherly kindness in some translations is practical caring for others needs and is directed towards Christians care for each other. It is the phileo love that extends past earthly families to include our Christian family. 7. Love is desiring the highest good for others for all others, not just for me and mine. It s the kind of love we know from John 3:16 For God so loved When we are able to love like God, we will truly be shar[ing] in his wonderful goodness! Peter concludes: 8 If you keep growing in this way, it will show that what you know about our Lord Jesus Christ has made your lives useful and meaningful. Then we ll definitely be beyond just head knowledge of Jesus and into heart and hand knowledge. We will be functioning as the Body of Christ in the world.

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