Friday, May 10, 2013

Life worth Living

Scriptural Reading: 2 Peter 1:4-14
Devotional Reading: Psalm 130

Many are the times I have asked myself, “What would JESUS do (WWJD)?” When I confessed my belief in Him as my Savior, I did not realize there would be so many choices to make to remain holy as unto God in the Name of Jesus. To walk the increase of the faith walk, I found there are things I have to do along the way. I stumbled, but I got up and began to do things differently. See Col 4:5-6 Having faith in Christ is not enough. It felt as if I were in kindergarten, the beginning of my spiritual growth process of God’s plan of redemption package through belief in His Son Christ Jesus. Now I increase my faith walk daily by doing such things as recorded in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (KJV) I seek His increased grace and peace, for a joyful life in Christ is the only life worth living. 2 Pet 1:2

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight were each kidnapped on separate occasions and held in a Cleveland house for a decade. The investigators have reported they have endured rapes, pregnancies and miscarriages during their captivity. Only one of three brothers, Ariel Castro, has been charged. They had also been bound with chains and ropes. Amanda made a break for freedom and was able to scream for assistance, knocking and kicking at the door. She had her six year old daughter with her. A neighbor, Charles Ramsey, helped to free her. She called the police and advised the other two women were yet imprisoned in the home. These young ladies endured much, but somewhere in their minds they had to remember some of the many precious promises of God to believe they would eventually escape. For example, He promised never to leave nor forsake His own at Heb 13:5b (KJV). When Paul complained of a thorn in his flesh the response of the Lord is recorded at 2 Cor 12:9, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (KJV) We look at this incident from the outside, but the Lord knew how to take care of it from the inside. Bless His Holy Name for their deliverance from this corruption.

The apostle Paul penned, in his writings to the Galatians, a list of the works of the flesh or corruption. (See Gal 5:19-21 KJV) He specifically stated at verse 21b that those who possessed those traits “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” On the other hand, he also penned a list of the fruit of the Holy Spirit Gal 5:22-25 indicates “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (KJV) We see in Paul’s writings to the Galatians his revelation from God as to Christian holiness. How does it compare with the apostle Peter’s revelation? That is the subject of today’s lesson which focuses on the hope that Jesus inspires for those who are suffering. Christians have a Life worth Living. This is the second lesson of a four-part study under A Call to Holy Living.

In order to understand 2 Pe 1:4, it is necessary to look at verse 3. God has given the believer all things, not some things, pertaining to life and godliness. His plan of redemption was purposed for salvation from sin. He knew they would have constant battles against their sin nature, but He expects godliness in their new life and constant preparation for the battles to win the war. God has provided them with all weaponry. They have the work of Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God. Also included are the many precious promises of God. As Peter wrote at 2 Pe 1:4, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (KJV) The Christians to whom the apostle Peter had written this epistle needed a reminder of the many promises of God. False teachers were rampant. They believed the “body” and “flesh” was the reasons for evil and corruption, and caused problems with the weaker Christians as they taught falsely against the promises of Christ. The apostle reminded the saints they had received the innumerable precious promises of Christ to become like Him. Having the divine nature of Christ brings them in likeness with Him, in body, mind, and spirit. In this manner they shall escape the corruption of sin, because He shall deliver them from its grasp.

In verses 3 and 4 above, we see that God, in His divine power, has supplied Christians with all things needed pertaining to salvation of life and godliness. Now as believers, the saints were encouraged strongly to cultivate certain Christian characteristics, as if they are planting seeds in their spiritual garden. The apostle gives them the seeds of grace to manifest a holy spiritual garden in 2 Pe 1:5-7, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” (KJV) Peter does not instruct the believers to obtain faith. He knows he is writing to Christians who have confessed their faith and belief in Christ, His life and sufferings, His death, His burial, His Resurrection, and His Ascension. The apostle did urge them to be persistent in cultivating additional Christian characteristics to be strengthened in holiness. Seeds to be planted for maturity in their garden are as follows: Add virtue or goodness to the spiritual garden in order to reflect the goodness of Christ through indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Continue to study the Word in order to have a working knowledge of God and everything He and the Trinity represents. Believers must always exercise self-control (temperance) of his emotions through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Self-control is supplemented with perseverance and patient endurance, even if it is in the midst of persecution. It is said at James 1:3-4, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (KJV) Peter urged the Christians to have a virtue of godliness. They must possess a strong, sincere religious devotion to the Almighty God and His Son. The believers are to have religious fear in Him, worshipping God in adoring and loving ways from their hearts versus lip service. Brotherly kindness is the strongest attachment to Christ’s flock as the love of the brotherhood. “Let brotherly love continue.” (Heb 13:1 KJV) The final seed characteristic is charity a/k/a love. This is a very important seed of grace to plant in the spiritual garden because “…God is love.” (1 John 48b KJV) According to the apostle Paul at 1 Cor 13:13 “ abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (KJV) To summarize the spiritual garden of holiness for a life worth living, the grace of faith alone is not enough. It must be supported by the graces of virtue (goodness), knowledge, temperance (self-control), patience (endurance), godliness, brotherly love, and charity (love).

Peter further instructed the first-century Christians at 2 Pe 1:8, “For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (KJV) If the believers have cultivated these Christian graces in their spiritual garden, they shall be fruitful in the knowledge and acknowledgment of Christ Jesus in their heart. Wherever grace abounds, so will good works abound.

However, the apostle admonished them at 2 Pe 1:9, “But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” (KJV) The believers were reminded they had put off their old man to be purged of their old sins when they accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. They then put on the new man to be Christ-like and holy. If they were without the graces of spiritual holiness at verses 5-7, they would have no strength to add to their faith. Their light would be dim in this world of darkness, and they would have forgotten they must let their light shine. (Matt 5:16 KJV) They would have forgotten their obligation to teach all nations the Word of God. (Matt 28:18-20)

Believers are to respond to God’s adoption of them as His own people. Peter wrote at verses 10-11, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (KJV) Saints have all things pertaining to life and godliness, including many precious promises. The apostle is encouraging them to confirm their calling and election within God’s plan of salvation with conviction. God chose to elect some individuals for salvation before the world was made. This did not preclude all others. Everyone has a choice to confess a belief in His Son to be saved. (Rom 10:9 KJV) For those who God chose to elect, their calling takes place at the time of their conversion. The saints do not realize they are the elect of God until, perhaps, they realize their call is for all eternity. As believers it is pleasing to God to be highly fruitful of the graces in the spiritual garden. They would surely be saved and won’t fall. Without giving all diligence, there is no gaining any ground in the work of holiness. Saints can’t be lazy when doing the work of the Lord. They can’t join the Christian body and sit down to watch others work. God’s house is one for ministers of all sorts, whether it is praying, cooking, giving, disciplining, mentoring, etc. There is always a place to work in God’s house in the name of Jesus Christ. The questions for the saints must always be, “Have I done all I could do faithfully for God through Jesus?” and “May I place my work in your Hands, Lord?” Believers are assured of salvation when they do not faint and keep their faith. The saints will receive a rich welcome when they enter the everlasting kingdom of Christ our Lord, who sits on the right hand of God, the Father.

Peter diligently performs his work as an apostle as he writes at 2 Pe 1:12-14, “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.” (KJV) Peter knows the importance of his ministry and writes he will not be negligent in his performance. The apostle states he will continue to bring all these spiritual truths to their attention, despite the fact they have knowledge of these teachings. If ministers are negligent in putting the saints in remembrance of God’s promises, His plan of redemption, or any other Biblical teaching, the saints will be negligent and lazy in their performance. It had become even more important for Peter to put the saints in remembrance through writing. He writes that he will excite them with the Word as long as he has life in his body (the tabernacle). Tabernacles and tents are temporary dwellings to be set aside for travelers. Jesus had told him his manner of death would be by crucifixion when he would be old. (See Jo 21:18-19 KJV) Peter did not know exactly when or where it would take place, but he was preparing the saints for a period when he would no longer be with them.

Let us be reminded that God has given us everything we need for eternal life and godliness while on earth. It is a good thing to be put in remembrance of all that He has done through Jesus Christ. It is not a good thing to believe a sermon is unnecessary because it is repetitive or sounds “refrigerated”. Let us ask ourselves, “Did I receive the message the Lord intended for me?” When you receive the Lord’s message from the messenger of God, you are receiving a teaching on how to live a holy life worth living on earth toward an eternal life in heaven.

Written by Deborah C Davis

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