Life’s Simple Seven! What enables growth?
Do Good! Look no further than God!
I want to show you what’s been dubbed as Humorous Headlines from across the world. These headlines have appeared in print (primarily newspapers) or on television. Ready to laugh? Include Your Children when Baking Cookies - Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers - Iraqi Head Seeks Arms - Safety Experts Say School Bus Passengers Should Be Belted - Miners Refuse to Work after Death - Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says![i] NO! REALLY? Something went wrong. I need to become an expert!
Sometimes things go wrong and there’s no reason why. Other times things go wrong and we KNOW the reason why. . Have you ever been sneezed on? You didn’t ask for it and you didn’t see it coming. What can you do? You get sick, but it’s not your fault. But other times we have to take responsibility. Forgot to put on a coat. Having been eating well. The American Heart Association is trying to encourage people to take responsibility for their own physical health! The AHA along with the American Stroke Association launched a website called www.mylifecheck.heart.org
The website encourages people to take 7 small steps towards a healthier lifestyle. Those seven steps are called Life’s Simple Seven and they are Get Active / Control Cholesterol / Eat Better / Manage Blood Pressure / Lose Weight / Reduce Blood Sugar and Stop Smoking! Please take advantage of WCC’s mini health fair. There are hearing screenings & vision exercises. You can get your blood pressure checked! What the American Heart Association is doing physically the Apostle Peter is doing spiritually. Open up your Bibles today to 2 Peter 1! Do you need a Bible and/or a message outline? Spiritual Life Survey – 181. I do have an invitation today for anyone who wants to get to know Westerville Christian better. Come eat pizza with us TODAY at 12N in the Fireside room! Allow me to introduce you to Pat & Kacey Connor. They were baptized on January 23rd together as a couple! I welcomed them to this church family then and I do again today! Just like Pat & Kacey, I’d like you to belong – to experience community in Jesus’ church whether that’s here or somewhere else! Let’s start reading again at verse 3 of 2 Peter 1. (Read 3-5a – add to your faith, goodness…
Growth begins at faith, but you can’t stop there. Here are Life’s Simple Seven according to the Apostle Peter. (Read 5-8a)  For if you possess these qualities… Peter calls this list of seven – “qualities.” They are qualities, practices, disciplines, virtues or characteristics of holy living. Peter starts the list with faith and then adds seven more! Go back to verse 5! Just what is goodness? Well goodness is not an attitude as much as an action. Biblical goodness is the “God given ability to perform heroic deeds. The front page of the Columbus Dispatch printed this headline Man loses life trying to save child in pond.[ii] Here you have a man who dies trying to rescue a 5 year old boy he did not know. That’s goodness. Goodness is alos a quality of life which makes someone stand out as excellent!”[iii] Goodness is moral excellence.[iv] So when Peter says - add goodness to your faith he’s saying BE GOOD and DO GOOD! Let’s take BE GOOD first!
A rich, young and probably good looking man came to Jesus in Matthew 19 and asked a question. A good question. "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" As Jesus did on most occasions he answered a question with a question. "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good." When people mentioned good before Jesus he would always point them to God! When Peter brings up good he points people to Jesus. Go back to verse 3. Jesus is the epitome/the ultimate example of goodness. We are to be good because Jesus was good!
But I have found that’s easier said than done? Why do we struggle in being good? A man calls his wife and says, "Honey, I've been invited to fly to Canada with my boss and several of his friends to go fishing this weekend. This is a great opportunity to get that promotion I've been wanting, so would you please pack enough clothes for me the weekend?
And also, would you get out my rod and tackle box from the garage? We're leaving at 4:30 pm from the office and I'll only have enough time to swing by the house to grab my stuff. Oh! And please pack my new blue sweat pants." His wife thinks this all sounds a bit odd, but, being a good person, she does what he asks. Following the long weekend this man comes home a little tired, but otherwise looking pretty good. His wife asks him if he had a good time. And he said he did. Then she asks. Did you catch any fish? He says, "Yes! Lots of fish! The fishing was great!" "But, he said, "why didn't you pack my new blue sweats?" The wife replies, "I did. I put them in a plastic bag in your tackle box". We kinda laugh, but he’s sooo busted! He lied. He chose not to be good. My question is why? Why would this man lie to his wife? Why do any of us lie? Are we foolish enough to think that we can actually cover something up? Why is being good as Jesus is good so difficult? It’s because we are sinners. Go back to verse 4. Remember the promises! Promises like New birth/salvation/children of God/2nd coming of Jesus which includes the resurrection of believers and the gift and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Maybe all of us need a little incentive for being good? Watch this! (Simple Seven video here)
I want to be useful and fruitful for God. Peter said it this way. Find verse 8 in 2 Peter 1! What’s my incentive for being good like Jesus is good? We become effective and productive! We end up growing! But growth doesn’t happen by accident. Growth is intentional. Peter tells us that goodness involves being good and doing good. Why should WE do good for Jesus? Find verse 9!
We choose to do good because we are grateful for what Jesus did on the cross. We have not forgotten the day when all our sins were washed away. We do good because we are thankful! Allow me to provide an example:
Dan Dewey is known as the “Coffee Angel” at the Michigan Cancer Institute. Every Thursday he comes and sits and talks with patients and their families. He is thankful for what the hospital did for his Dad. He asks people if they want coffee and then makes his way to his favorite Starbucks and brings back coffee for families and staff members. Since this coming Thursday is Valentine’s Day he’ll give away roses as well as coffee. He does good because he’s thankful. We should too. But that’s not the only reason. We do good because we want to grow! I’m curious? Is it possible to love God and then fall out of love for God? To grow and then have your growth stunted. Let me say it this way. Someone accepts Jesus. They repent of their sins. They profess his name. They get baptized. At that moment their heart and decision is genuine. They think they know what being a disciple or apprentice of Jesus really means! But do they?
Any married folks here? You knew everything about marriage on your wedding day, right? WRONG! I am. Marriage is awesome. I remember standing before my wife Tricia, the minister and the church on September 7, 1985. I was excited and nervous. I thought marriage couldn’t be too hard! Go ask my wife Tricia and she’ll tell you marriage is hard and that’s no criticism of me or her! Bon Jovi is on tour. One of his most popular songs is “Livin on a prayer!” Doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not. We got each other and that’s a lot. Really? Is that really enough?
You cannot comprehend marriage until you get married. (CHEESE HOUSE) You cannot fathom following Jesus until you actually follow Jesus. It’s one thing to be in love, it’s another thing to practice love. This is where I think many Christ followers get tripped up. We think growth is just supposed to happen and when it doesn’t we get disillusioned. Growth involves commitment & work.
There is a church in Stockholm, Sweden which discovered last May that a hatch to their church tower was inadvertently left open since the early 80’s. Someone noticed and decided to close the hatch only to discover 2 tons of pigeon droppings inside the church tower. The layer of pigeon droppings was a foot deep. Some 160 full size trash bags were used to haul the droppings out![v] Allot of work went into cleaning that church tower! Work is not bad. But some things you cannot work for. Like salvation. Salvation is a gift. You choose to accept God’s gift. It’s either yes or no! But if you want to grow you have to make an effort.
Being good and doing good shout Jesus to people even if they don’t know who Jesus is. Two robins were sitting in a tree. "I'm so hungry," one said to the other. "Me, too, let's fly down and find some lunch." They flew down to the ground and found a nice piece of plowed ground with lots of fresh worms. They ate, and ate, and ate 'till they could eat no more. "I'm so full, I don't think I can fly up to the tree," said the first. "Me, either. Let's just lie here in the warm sun," said the first one.
No sooner had they said that when a big fat cat pounced on them both and gobbled them up. As the cat sat washing his face, he thought, "I love Baskin' Robins." That cat took advantage of the opportunity before him.
What do you say? Let’s pounce on opportunities to do good! I have with me today 5 $20 bills. I need 5 people to go and use these $20 to do good and then come back and tell us what happened. Do I even have to mention Valentine’s Day? Go out of your way and do something good for your spouse.
I don’t ever wake up thinking, “Man, I hope this day is crummy. I pray this day I’m totally ineffective and unproductive in everything I do!” But that can happen if I won’t make an effort to grow in goodness.
[i] http://www.gcfl.net/archive/humerous headlines/January 24, 2013
[iii] John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary, 1929
[iv] EBC, New Testament, 1065
[v] Columbus Dispatch, Pigeon’s turn church tower into holy mess, November 26, 2012