Promises and Virtues

Welcome to Second Peter! If you haven’t read Chapter One yet, go do that now! It is so good. It is delicious. We could just read it over and over and it would feed our souls forever! 
A few pertinent details for you to know about Second Peter…
Author: Peter                         Recipients: The churches in Asia Minor
Date: 64-67 AD                     Purpose: A lesson in godly living before Peter’s death
Second Peter was addressed to believers – to “those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (v1) It is implied that every bit of instruction Peter is giving is to Christ-followers. Remember that term? Christ-followers. We have already established that a Christ-follower is one who has not only accepted Christ as Savior but who has also made Him Lord or Boss of their lives. These instructions are not intended for people who have not made Him Savior and Lord. You can’t read Second Peter and apply it to the life of a non-believer. It’s written especially for the Church, the Bride of Christ!
If you’ve been a blog-reader for a while, you know we’ve laid a good foundation for the fact that to be a Christian, by very definition, you must be a Christ-follower. But we can’t stop there! As believers we need to keep growing! (That’s what Peter is reminding the believers in Asia Minor to do.)
Step One: Invite Jesus to be Lord of your life.
Step Two: Grow in grace and peace in the knowledge of Him.
But how? Growing in Christ sometimes seems like a daunting task. We feel like we have so far to go to reach godliness! But the truth is found in verse three. We actually have everything we need for life and godliness by his divine power! The same power that raised Jesus from the grave lives in us! John 14:12 tells us that we can do even greater things than Jesus did and that’s what he expects from us. There are no more excuses, no more reasons to feel trapped in sin or stuck in a spiritual rut. We already have every single thing we need for growth in this life.
God has granted to us so many great and precious promises so that we can partake in his divinity.
He gives us His promises! We aren’t just bystanders or audience members or bench warmers. We are partakers, fellow heirs with Christ, participants! Not Billy Graham and the Apostle Paul and Mother Teresa – me and you! And because of this power and our participation in the divine nature, we have escaped the evil and corruption in the world that is here because of sinful desire. We were all born with a sin nature, but we are not slaves to it. His divine power has given us everything we need to live godly lives and defeat sin. This is Peter’s message! 
I decided to look up some of these precious promises and here’s what I found:
Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Matthew 11:28-29 – “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Isaiah 40:29-31 – “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
Philippians 4:19 – “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 8:37-39 – “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 10:9 – “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
And then in our morning Bible Study, we thought a few more. You’ll have to look these up on your own. They’re so so good!
Proverbs 3:6          Jeremiah 33:3
Philippians 4:7      Psalm 139
Philippians 4:13    Psalm 91
Romans 10:13
So we have his promises and we have everything we need through His power to grow, so how do we grow? What does it really look like?
Well, we’ve got a list of virtues here. 
Self Control
Brotherly Affection
We had so much great discussion this week about whether or not these virtues are listed in this order for a significant reason. In my studies and reading of commentaries, I found that most likely, these are in no particular order. But some of our ladies found really meaningful insights when they looked at the order of these verses. One said that it seems like we start with the head of the body (faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control) and we move to the heart (steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, love). I love that! Another pointed out that when we can handle the first few inward qualities of faith, virtue and knowledge in our own minds and hearts, we see results in our own lives through self-control and steadfastness and godliness, and it carries over into our relationships with others with the last two outward qualities of brotherly affection and love. 
The English language doesn’t always do the original language justice in it’s translation. Whether or not the order of these virtues is significant, all of these virtues should be increasing in the life of a believer. If they aren’t increasing, it’s wise to “be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election” (v10) to make sure that you have really surrendered your life to the lordship of Christ. These qualities should be increasing in the life of a believer if we are truly believing and tapping into the power and divine nature of God. This is growth. These qualities in increasing measure keep us from being ineffective or unfruitful for Jesus. Make it a point to begin asking God to develop the virtues in your life that need some work so that you will not become ineffective or unfruitful.
Why would we NOT pursue these qualities in our lives?
Unfortunately, sometimes we become nearsighted and blindness results. We are focused on ourselves, the things of this world, the passions of the flesh, our momentary troubles and we, in our near-sightedness, become blind to the fact that those things don’t really matter and that we are supposed to have our gaze fixed on Him, especially if we want to access the power that he has promised us.
Practicing these qualities and allowing them to increase in our lives allows us to confirm our calling and election as believers and Scripture assures us that we will never fall when we do this. (v11)
So, sisters, are you ready to GROW? It’s so much easier to slack off, fall away, get lazy and make excuses. Let’s commit to not let that happen! Let’s commit to encouraging each other to read God’s Word. Let’s decide to pick each other up when we start to fall. Most importantly, let’s remind each other of the precious promises we have in Him that give us everything we need for life and godliness because of His greatest Gift, Jesus Christ!

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