One Comment to “By What Power Can You Be the Person You Ought to Be?”

  1. Pastor Don
    December 18, 2017

    “By What Power Can You Be the Person You Ought to Be?” (2 Peter 1:1-12)(12.17.17)
    2 Peter 1:1–12 (NIV84)
    Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
    To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:
    2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
    3 His 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. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
    10 Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
    12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.
    The word of God for the people of God.
    Title: “By What Power Can You Be the Person You Ought to Be?”
    ICE BREAKER: I was working on this message when my son Joshua called me on Friday with what he called a biblical question. See, he was having trouble with his home internet connection. Yeah, I know; sounds crazy. He is thinking of resetting his router to factory default settings, which then would require him to input a password. Well, it is quite revealing that for quite some time his password has been “Josh is the best.” He is wondering if he changed his password to “Jesus is the best,” would that be using God’s name in vain.
    That initiated a 30 minute conversation about the challenges of living out our faith. He has recently started reading the New Testament again and is in the Gospel of Luke. He is troubled because the megachurch he goes to is constantly trumpeting grace; but, Joshua’s reading of Jesus’ words in the Gospels makes salvation sound a lot tougher than what his church is teaching. For instance, Jesus says in Matthew 7:13–14 (NIV84) 13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. On the other hand, we must remember that Jesus says in John 10:7–10 (NIV84) {which Joshua has not got to yet}
    “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
    So, I told my son two things. First, yes it is fine to change his router password to “Jesus is the best.” Second, listen to today’s message to hear how we are called to live and by what power that life is possible.
    Yesterday, I went to Absecon UMC to hear my wife, Carol, and their choir, perform their dress rehearsal for today’s Christmas Cantata. My favorite song that they sang was “Waiting for the coming King.”
    You may be wondering why we have read these two scriptures from the Apostle Peter during this Advent season of anticipation. We remember the anticipation with which the Jewish people awaited the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ. And, we too are waiting for Jesus’ 2nd coming and the new heaven and the new earth.
    The birth of baby Jesus was part of God’s plan from the foundation of this world. The Almighty was not surprised by the sad state of the human heart and he planned from the beginning to send his beloved Son to rescue us. It was said by Alexander Maclaren and others that “the meaning and central fact of Christianity, is the incarnation-that the Divine becomes a partaker of the human in order that the human may partake of the Divine.
    This rescue mission was not just to secure our entry into our heavenly reward. Jesus’ mission was to bring us out of darkness into his marvelous light in order that we may live God honoring lives here on earth. The single most significant fact of human history is that God became a human being. Have you become numb to this astounding reality? Does it impact your daily living? Are you the people you ought to be?
    Yes, this is why we celebrate Christmas every year. We need to remember that Jesus was born as a helpless baby boy. Israel waited for Immanuel. We are waiting for Jesus’ triumphant return. In the meantime, we are waiting for Jesus to become formed within each of us. BUT, how does that happen?
    Peter lays out an extensive list of how we should live and what our lives should look like. In fact, it would be overwhelming if we were left on our own, futilely striving to live godly lives. And to be frank, it is still overwhelming on many days.
    From last week’s and this week’s scripture reading we have received this list: Our thinking is to be wholesome. We are to remember what the holy prophets taught. We are to look forward to the Promised Coming and not be scoffers. We are to recognize God as Creator and Judge of all on the earth. We are to remember that Judgement Day is coming when the heavens and the earth will be destroyed by fire.
    Incidentally, this week I heard two news reports that further support what I laid out for you last week. The first report was that North Korea’s underground nuclear tests in September set off earthquakes and aftershocks that people fear might lead to dramatic upheavals. Then yesterday an asteroid that is three miles wide made a pass at the closest distance to the Earth in 45 years. It orbits the earth every 523 days.
    We are to remember that God is patient and not slow because he wants everyone to be saved by coming to repentance. We are called to live holy and godly lives as we actually look forward to the “day of God.” We are told to make EVERY EFFORT to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace or reconciled with God.
    We are not to ignorant or unstable. Never distort the Scriptures. Be on your guard. Do not be led astray. Keep growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And, we are to glorify Him.
    We are to value our faith and see it for what faith is supposed to be in its fullness.
    We should have abundant grace and peace through our knowing God in a personal relationship. Other translations say a multiplying of grace and peace. Grace leads to more grace and knowledge leads to more knowledge. The grammar of chapter 1 verse 1 uses a parallel “AND.” The significance of this is Jesus is being called God. We ought to know Jesus as part of the Godhead. This knowing Jesus as God saturates us with grace.
    We are to be free of corruption and evil motivations. Again Peter says we are to make every effort to be involved in this ongoing process. Make every effort to add to your faith. He starts with goodness, which is very instructive. Goodness is equated to morality. This is a fundamental starting point not an ending point. We make a mistake when we equate holiness and godliness with simple moral living because morality is a necessary subset of the type of people we are called to be.
    Then add knowledge; how much time do you spend examining God’s Holy inspired Word? Add self-control; boy to we often fail there. Whether it be food, drink, or seeking after earthly pleasures-too often they control us instead of vice versa.
    Add perseverance; many of us make significant progress in our Christian walk. Sometimes it happens in the beginning; sometimes a while after coming to Jesus. But, very few of us make steady progress over the long haul. A crisis comes into our life and we stall. Or, nothing seems to be happening at all as we become stale and lethargic in our faith.
    Add godliness; what does that mean? Isn’t all of this about godliness? It has to do with piety. We are to pray, search the Scriptures, fast, be part of the local church, and participate in Holy Communion. As Jesus said, we are to take care of the “least of these,” my brethren: Feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and visit the sick or imprisoned. In other words, we are to exercise our religion.
    Add brotherly kindness. The early church was starkly different than the world that surrounded it. Early Christians loved each other like the rest of the culture believed was reserved for blood relatives. Christians were thought strange and people said, see how they love each other.
    On top of brotherly kindness, add love. Add Agape love; supernatural love. Add the love of 1 Corinthians 13.
    What Peter is describing is a process, a growing process. Think of it as a spiral that forms in ever increasing heights as it layers up and up. By continuing in this escalating process we become effective in God’s purposes for our lives. We become fruitful and productive for the kingdom of God.
    Peter tells us that if we are not participating in this process, we show ourselves as so short-sighted that we might as well be blind. Of course, if we are living as if we are blind, then we are choosing to live in darkness.
    In all of these we are to be earnest and eager to secure our position with our Lord. We won’t fall if we are living like the scriptures instruct us. Wait a second Pastor, doesn’t Romans 8 tell us that nothing can separate us from the love of God and that we are eternally secure. Yes, the same Paul who wrote the letter to the Romans wrote the letter to the Philippians that says, Philippians 2:12–13 (NIV84)
    12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
    See, here we have Peter and Paul agreeing once again. Peter emphasizes that this Christian life is a process and that we play a significant role. We will be held accountable for our contribution or lack thereof. At the same time, this life to we which we are called is only possible within a certain context.
    What is that context? His 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.
    Here is a very significant connection-everything we need for life. Surely you can see that this cannot be referring to merely living. It cannot be referring to simply having the basic necessities of life. Peter is actually defining the nature of true life; a life we can only live while being the people we ought to be.
    Peter intentionally intertwines the divine with God’s VERY GREAT & PRECIOUS PROMISES. We have been given Everything needed for this true life and godliness. By what means? Through knowledge of God, which in this instance is intimacy knowledge or relationship experience, not intellectual knowledge. It is because of God’s innate goodness and mysterious majesty that he draws us with cords of love. He calls us because the Almighty does not desire that any should perish.
    These precious promises are not delineated here, possibly not to limit them; but, it is plainly stated that there is a connection to our partaking and participating in the divine nature. Here is the key to how we can live into the high calling of our precious faith. The more we participate in the divine nature, the fuller our life and the more Christ-like we become.
    Let us look at some scriptural promises we are given in regard to this divine nature.
    2 Timothy 1:1 (NIV84)
    Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,
    Ephesians 3:6 (NIV84)
    6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
    Galatians 3:22 (NIV84)
    22 But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
    Acts 13:23 (NIV84)
    23 “From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised.
    Galatians 3:14 (NIV84)
    14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. (God the Holy Spirit)
    My brothers and sisters, when we come to this precious faith, the divine nature of Jesus is born within our hearts. We become the temple of God the Holy Spirit. As we listen and submit to the Holy Spirit, we become like our Savior. We live into our baptism; the baptism that we share with Jesus; the baptism of his life and death. We are able to live a resurrected life in the power, presence, and participation of God’s divine nature.
    Pastor and theologian Tim Keller has said, “We exist only because God is upholding us, keeping us together every moment. You are borrowing your being from him.”
    During the Children’s Chat, I spoke about our anchor being from above. Our anchor is our Advocate Jesus who sits at the right hand of the Father. With Jesus as our security we can live that full life He won for us on that Calvary Cross.
    During the Pastoral Prayer time, I read the letter from AARP. Of course, we always want to celebrate with each other when the Body of Christ is being glorified. I tell you now that there are many elements of this letter that exemplify what kind of people we ought to be.
    The Food Pantry was born out of several parishioners’ desire to serve the hungry in our community. This is God honoring and demonstrates love.
    Another aspect is the formation of the Friday morning prayer group followed by a Bible Study. God the Holy Spirit guided the formation of these groups as individual hearts were moved to come together. There are people in these two groups who are part of other churches. That is little “c” churches; but, we are all part of the big “C” church (the holy, universal, and apostolic church).
    A woman named Carol is one of those from another church. She is also the person that is connected with the Galloway Chapter of the AARP that invited Pat & Craig to share about our Food Pantry Ministry and the family of 11 that we are helping to feed. Now, AARP has adopted this family to help them have a better holiday. Can’t you see the hand of God involved? Gender, age, race, and denomination are not determinants; only sharing grace and blessings as God has rained grace and blessings on us here at Emmaus.
    Do you know someone that needs the abundant life that Jesus came to provide? No, I am not talking about a prosperity Gospel I am talking about a full life, a true life, a life of godliness. Do you know someone that needs an anchor in their life? We need to tether ourselves to the Lord Jesus. Do you know someone that need’s Jesus to be born within them? We need to be equipped and empowered by the divine nature to be the people we ought to be.
    Maybe it is a neighbor. Maybe it is a family member. Maybe it is you. Make every effort as you partake of the Lord’s divine nature and you will not stumble and fall.
    Isaiah 9:6 (NIV84)
    6 For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
    And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
    Hebrews 6:19 (NIV84)
    19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
    Amen and amen. Let us pray.


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