This is no ordinary man! Growth begins at belief!
I want to tell you two stories. One happened to me and one happened to someone else. About 10 days ago I found myself sitting in my car in a parking lot near Kroger. It was maybe 7:30 in the morning. I was all by myself. No one was in my car and no one was near my car in the parking lot. I started reading my Bible. Things were quiet, but not for long. Maybe ten minutes later a person pulled up in a pickup truck maybe two parking spaces away from me and sat there. This person turned off their engine just like I did and seemed to be waiting for someone. Maybe 5 minutes later a man pulls up in a car and parks next to this pickup truck. Despite the cold he gets out of his car. I’m not really paying attention to them because I’m reading my Bible on my phone. But as I read I hear some shouting. Someone is getting louder and louder. Turns out it was the man in the car yelling at a woman in the truck! I made a decision that moment that I wouldn’t leave, but I wanted to. This man kept yelling things like – “you hurt me, you hurt my heart, you hurt our kids, you’ve been texting someone!” I truly thought he was going to hit her, but he didn’t. Finally she pulls away in her truck but this man knows I’ve been watching them. He gets in his car and makes a loop in the parking lot so his driver’s side window is facing my driver’s side window. He pulls up next to me and my window is already down. Before he says a word, I say to him, “Sir, I’m a minister and I really want to help you today!” He looks at me and says, “That’s my wife. She’s seeing somebody else. We have kids. She hurt me so bad!” I told him how sorry I am for him - that he feels so betrayed. He told me he and his wife went to see their pastor. They both believe in God. And the last thing he said before he drove away was, “You have a blessed day!” Something tells me, he didn’t!
Can you feel this man’s angst? Feel the utter betrayal of his wife going behind his back! And what about the woman? I didn’t speak with her at all. We hate hearing this but maybe her husband drove her away? Now I am not condoning her behavior. She could have been treated awesome or awful, but two wrongs don’t make a right, but I also won’t praise his behavior. He was screaming at his wife. Why do we humans think yelling is going to make a bad situation better? SorryJ Why do we humans think yelling is going to make a bad situation better?
Here’s the story that happened to someone else. “Last November a 28 year old woman named Holly Solomon was arrested after running over her husband Daniel Solomon following a wild car chase that left him pinned underneath her Jeep. Daniel tried to hide behind a light pole before he decided to make a break for it. Bad idea. His wife put the pedal to the metal and ran him down and over. Believe it or not, but Mr. Solomon survived (fractured pelvis among other things) and told police his wife was angry over his /“lack of voter participation.”[i]/ Apparently she married a lowlife couch potato who wouldn’t even take the time to vote! I just shared two stories. I could have shared a dozen more. Could a situation in your life make it three? My point is to ask this? Wouldn’t you love to live in this world and escape the EVIL (mess, the fraud, the sleaze) and participate in the divine? You can! Here’s how? Open up your Bibles today to 2 Peter 1:3! Do you need a Bible? Two letters but virtually the same people. What’s the purpose of 1st Peter? Encouragement! Grow in your faith! Why, because persecution is coming from the outside. Nero blamed Christ followers for the burning of Rome. What’s the purpose of 2nd Peter? Warning! Grow in the grace & knowledge of Jesus! Why, because this time persecution is coming from the inside. Teachers abandoned what Jesus said and created a whole new means of salvation. The solution for bad teaching is knowledge! Find verse 3 of 2 Peter 1! through our knowledge of him... It was 3 years last July that my Dad died. I can still see him in his silver white hair. It’s been around 37 years since Peter saw Jesus ascend into heaven, but he can clearly picture him. Better yet, he can still hear his words, “You’ll be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria – even to the ends of the earth.” ”Now that I have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” “A new command I give you. Love one another as I have loved you.” “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like the wise man who built his house on the rock.”
…who called us by his own glory and goodness. Peter apparently likes fruit. How do we know? He loves pairs! (2,3,4) Through these… (glory) Jesus is the reflection of God’s presence. (goodness) Jesus is morally perfect![ii] Finish 4 and start 5! What’s the reason? Do you want to participate in the divine and escape the corrupt? Then choose to GROW! How do we GROW? You have to add to your faith! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Growth begins at belief! Growth starts at faith. Faith is assurance or belief. It implies trust! Faith in God means you believe he exists and is the Creator and Ruler of all. Faith in God’s son means you believe he’s the Messiah and the source of your salvation. What are the promises of faith? Peter knows them personally and so does the Apostle John! Turn to the Gospel of John - John 1:10. Read 10-12.
What’s the promise of God? That when we put our faith in Jesus Christ we become children of God! Something astonishing happens at salvation. We become children of God and as children we have been adopted by God with all the rights and privileges the Father can grant. As children of God we’ve been rescued. We are not getting out without help. Listen to Colossians 1:13. That’s what salvation is - a worldwide rescue mission. Are you still in John 1? Find verse 17! The law shouts “You’re a sinner!” Grace shouts “You’ve been forgiven!” “You’ve seen rescued!” “God did his work in you through Christ!” “You’ve been changed from the inside out.” I’m curious. Do you consider yourself a tactful person? That means you consider someone’s feelings when speaking to them. A supervisor has to let go of an administrator. He’s not very tactful. "Miss Smith, I really don't know how we're going to get along without you, but starting Monday, we're going to try."
Peter is not tactful. We are toast without Jesus! You can’t participate in the divine! You can’t escape the corrupt without being first rescued from sin! The promises of God are extraordinary. We are saved. We are children of God. We are empowered by Holy Spirit. We are sanctified - that is made holy because we put our faith in Jesus and now the spirit of God is IN us and works through us! Max Lucado has a new book out called Grace! He tells a story about Todd & Tara Storch. In the spring of 2010 a skiing accident took the life of their 13 year old daughter Taylor. What followed for Tara and Todd was their worst nightmare – a funeral, a burial and a ton of questions and tears. They decided to donate their daughter’s organs to needy patients. Taylor’s heart went to Patricia Winters and Tara made one request. She wanted to hear her daughter’s heart again. So Tara and Todd flew from Dallas to Phoenix and went to Patricia’s home. Patricia met them at the door and the two Moms just hugged each other. Patricia then handed them a stethoscope. Todd & Tara listened and what they heard was Taylor’s heart beating inside Patricia’s body. Paul said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me!”[iii] So many people sent me this video. Here’s why! Stethoscope video!
The spirit of God occupies your heart and mine. Once again – how do we participate in the divine and escape the corrupt? It starts at salvation! It starts at faith! I really enjoyed Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson in the movie The Bucket List! Here you have two terminally ill cancer patients who travel around the world checking off things they want to experience before they kick the bucket! Here’s my favorite part of the movie! (Video here)
Did you catch this exchange? Edward Cole: I envy people who have faith, I just can't get my head around it. Carter Chambers: Maybe because your head's in the way.[iv] I totally agree, but! Does that mean people of faith are not required to be intelligent? Not according to Peter. Peter tells us to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ! And if you will you’ll discover there’s no one quite like him! What Jesus said has been quoted and debated about more than any other person on the planet. Jesus was no ordinary man! When you investigate him as a person you’ll discover he was human in every detail yet never sinned. Jesus was no ordinary man! Jesus defended the oppressed, namely women and children. Jesus was no ordinary man! He took on religious elite who thought they were better than everyone else. Jesus was no ordinary man! He walked on water, healed disease and forgave sin! Jesus was no ordinary man! He died for sins he did not commit and came back from the dead! May I encourage you today to put your faith in him! And here’s why! In just a few moments we’re all going to walk out of these doors and when we do how long will it be before we are tempted with evil desires? Minutes or seconds? Evil desires are going to come. A person in this church asked us to pray for their friend who is addicted to meth! Do you even think they can get out without God? Maybe you’re not happy with your spouse. I’m gonna text someone else! The only way this bullying will stop is if I take my life. Traffic is frustrating me and I refuse to be patient. Someone I love has died and that’s it – I’ll never see them again! That’s NOT true! Go back to what you KNOW! I have been created by God. I have been saved by God’s son! I am empowered by God to participate in the divine and escape the corrupt and it all hinges on faith! Faith is assurance, but faith isn’t faith unless it does something! Faith builds a boat! Faith steps out of the boat! Where do you need to take God at his word today?
[i] http://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2012/News that Illustrates/November 19
[ii] Allen & Mark Black, College Press NIV Commentary, 1 & 2 Peter, 161
[iii] Max Lucado, Grace, pages 8-9