2 Peter 1:3 3 God’s 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.
Wow. What a tough week in the life of our church. Two different mothers are grieving the loss of their infant daughters. The Coles family, many who attend this church, are grieving what now feels like to all of us the sudden passing of Bill. Others of you have lost an aunt, a cousin, a sister-in-law, and those are just the ones I know about. Eight of our church members have had surgery this week. This week has held reminder after reminder that life is hard. Not one of us is born with the wisdom, the skills, the emotional maturity or the spiritual prowess to know how to live well. It is only as we reach for God that we can find the resources needed and the Divine direction needed to navigate the unexpected, unwanted and unthinkable moments life sometimes brings our way.
I can’t imagine doing life without God. I wouldn’t want to. Life can hand us some crushing blows. It can beg questions like, “How do I move on? What do I do now? Can I be happy again? Can I be whole again? Can I start over? Where do I go from here?” Without God, we are left to try to answer our own questions, heal our own hurts, and forge our own paths. I can tell you how that story ends every time. The ending isn’t a happy one. And so Peter tells us in II Peter 1:3 God’s power has given us everything we need for life and godliness. Anyone need some of that power about now? Anyone find yourself at a crossroads needing to know which way to go or in a pit that you can’t seem to climb out of? Anyone despaired over your life this week? The struggle is real.
We don’t think we are up to the task. We aren’t sure we have the strength it takes to keep persevering. We aren’t sure things can ever work out in a way that will leave us breathing easy again someday. And then we read Peter’s reminder that God has given us everything we need for life. Everything. Everything we need for the good parts of life. Everything we need for the bad parts of life. Everything.
I guess God gets to be the authority on all things life since He is life. God is the Author of Life. He is the Creator of all things. For we read in Colossians 1:16 16 For by Jesus all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
The text goes on to say: He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
You and I are literally held together by the power of Christ. He is enabling our lives in this very moment.
John 1:3-4 says, Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was LIFE, and that LIFE was the light of men.
Life was and is in Jesus, when we find Him, we find true life and strength for daily life and eternal life that will make our best day here pale by a billion miles. There is a sense that for believers, we know we are moving toward something spectacular and it gives us momentum and hope even on the dark days.
Peter said a mouthful when he said that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. There’s no way I could unpack all God has for us in order to equip us to live well in this life, but I believe I have four statements that if we could gain Holy Spirit help to understand their impact, that living in the power of these four statements could enable us to live a life that transforms our pain into purpose, our tests into testimonies and our heartaches into heartfelt praise. I say it because the writer of Ecclesiastes 3 tells us God makes everything beautiful in its time. I say it because in my 51 years of life I have experienced it. If you hear nothing else this morning, hear this: For every one of you who is going through a dark valley, a long night for which you see no end and no way out, hold on. God will bring you through this current storm and something will be gained for which you can rejoice. Something will be added to your life that when you look back will enable you to fall deeper in love with the Creator who is intimately involved in His creation. From fashioning you in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139) to appointing the moment of your last earthly breath, God is intricately involved in the lives of His children.
Are you ready for the four statements? Here is the first one:
To truly live you need to experience the grace of God through salvation.
People who haven’t had their sins forgiven and claimed Christ as Savior and Lord are spiritually dead. They may have a pulse, but they don’t have real life. They don’t have the new life the Bible declares comes to all who are in Christ. Christian songwriter Jeremy Camp puts it this way in his hit song:
I was a dead man walking until I was a man walking with You
I was a blind man falling ’til I felt the life You’re calling me to
Pulling me out of the darkness and pulling me out of the lies
Putting the beat in my heart again
I was a dead man walking until You loved this dead man walking back to life.
Christians, we have to be brought back to life because although we were created in the image of God which makes us of incredible value and worth, that image of God in us has been marred by sin and the sinful nature that is passed on to every person who is born. We were created for a relationship with God, but sin separates us from God. In order to have that relationship restored, we have to desire to want that relationship to be restored.
God chose us by creating us. He chose us by sending Christ to die a sinless death on the cross that would pay the price for our willful transgressions against God. God has already chosen us. We simply have to choose Him back. And in order to choose Him back, we allow the grace of God to come into our lives by asking for forgiveness of sin. We allow the grace of God to come into our lives to cover our imperfections. We allow the grace of God to carry us forward as we are slowly, step by step being transformed into people who not only want Him and want forgiveness, but as we become people who want to emulate His holiness and love in the world. It’s the first step to eternal life and a daily supernatural life that is led by God rather than a life led by our impulses our intellect or the influences of the world.
We all need the grace of God because we have all messed up. God’s Word tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) God’s grace gives us the ability to live in fellowship with Him as if we had never messed up, as if the image of God had never been marred by sin. God’s grace becomes like a factory reset on a computer, taking us all back to the manufacturer’s intentions, back to the Creator’s plans and purposes, back to REAL LIFE which is life with God. Have you taken that step? Have you experienced the grace of God?
To truly live you need to acknowledge the presence of God.
If anyone knew what it meant to acknowledge the presence of God day by day, it was Moses. Exodus 33:7-17 tells of just one encounter where Moses was spending time in the Tent of Meeting with the Lord. This pillar of cloud that represented God’s presence in Israel would come down and rest at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting while Moses would meet with God. The Israelites could see it. God’s presence was observable. And Exodus 33:11 tells us:
The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Now that is awesome. That is life, friends. When God tabernacles with you, when God speaks to you, when God’s presence saturates your mind and heart and when God is personally instructing you about what is next, that is life. There is nothing better.
In the next verse, verse 12, 12 Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” 14 The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Moses wanted to know who he could count on to go with him as he would lead people into the Promised Land. Who was going to be there to support and encourage him? Who would show him the way? Who would keep him company? God reassured Him big time, but it wasn’t with the name of a person or a team of people. God said, “Moses, I will be going with you. I will be your support. I will have your back. I will help you know where to go and what to do. Count on me to lead the way.” And I love verse 14 where God said, “Not only will my presence go with you, but I will give you rest.” Rest in your leadership, Moses. Rest in your journey, Moses. Rest in the trials that are simply part of the journey. God didn’t say, “I will give you ease,” but He said, “I will give you rest.”
There is a sense when we are aware that God is present with us that we can rest in knowing He is in charge. He is in control. He is available to us. We are not alone in life’s trials. There is another in the fire with us this morning, church. Does anyone know what I am talking about this morning? If there is one thing Scripture teaches it teaches that God is EMMANUEL which means, God with us. He isn’t disconnected. He isn’t disinterested. He isn’t watching us from a distance. God isn’t watching us from a distance. No, He is the right here, right now God.
He was the fourth man in the fire for the Hebrew children who found themselves in a life and death situation because they wouldn’t bow to King Nebuchadnezzar. He was the one who shut the mouths of the lions when Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den because he wouldn’t stop praying to Yahweh, the one, true and living God. He is the one who went after Hagar when she fled from Abraham and Sarah and God found her in the middle of the dessert in a puddle of tears. It was there, in the midst of her gut-wrenching sorrow that God spoke life to her. He was there for the woman caught in adultery who was about to be stoned to death by the religious leaders, and while Jesus didn’t overlook her sin, His offer to her was for life and a brand new start. He is the one who stood at the tomb of Lazarus and wept with his friends Mary and Martha when Lazarus died, but because He was there, with them in grief, He was able to reveal to them that death doesn’t have the final say for those who die with the Lord.
Do you see how His presence changes everything? “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow” is how the old hymn puts it. Jesus told His disciples, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
No matter what you are facing this morning, no matter what secret pain you are hiding from those around you, no matter what crushing blow you have just been dealt, if you will look for God in the middle of your circumstance you will find Him because He is there and He will give you rest. He will give you rest in your grief, rest in your pain, rest in your body. He is your buffer. He is your bodyguard. He is your best friend. Acknowledge Him, out loud. Acknowledge Him every day, and rest in Him.
To truly live you need to trust the promises of God.
God has given us some specific promises in His Word. Our main text for today from II Peter 1:3 that tells us we have everything we need for life goes on to say in verse 4 that all we need comes to us or is accessed in and through the promises of God and that by accessing those promises, they create a way of escape from this world’s corruption. When life is hard, when we need that way of escape we need to press into the Word of God. We need to consume it like we consume food. Regularly, daily. Just as food goes into our bodies to nourish us, to take life to each cell, to enable each internal system to operate, and to carry away from us those toxins and things we don’t need, God’s Word helps us take in what is needed for life and helps us eliminate that which could harm our lives.
Russell Kelso Carter, who was born in 1849, was a star athlete of a military academy and an outstanding student academically as well. He was multi-talented. He was an ordained Methodist minister, a musician and song-writer, and also earned a medical degree and spent the last of his professional years as a practicing physician. At age 30 he became critically ill with a heart problem, and the doctors told him there was nothing they could do. He was already a Christian, but it was during that health crisis that he came to a new depth in his faith. God’s Word became more alive to him than ever before. He began to study with new zeal and intensity the great promises of God set forth throughout the Scriptures, and he came to the point that he prayed, “Lord, whether you see fit to heal me or not, from now on my life is fully yours, and I’m going to stand on your promises.” He then wrote that great hymn, “Standing on the Promises.” It was several years later that his health began to improve, and he lived a full and productive life until he died at age 79.
The promises of God aren’t just something to know and recite, but some of them are for us to participate in. Some of God’s promises come with a condition. II Chronicles 7:14, for example, says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
It is clear to me that this promise involves our participation. Too many people, however, want the promises of God without the participation in the kind of life that God says activates the power inside the promises.
When we claim God’s promises we need to ask God to help us live in such a way that the blessings intended in every promise can flow into our lives. Here’s another conditional promise of God as is found in Proverbs 3:5-6 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
The promise is clear here. God will make our path straight. What does that mean? It means God will enable you to make forward progress. It means God will clear the way for you to live a fruitful, full, productive and joy-filled life. It means He will give you favor with people. It means He will line you up with opportunities that will be for your benefit. It means He will show you how to live as a Christian and empower you to do it. But we have a part to play in order for that incredible promise to be enacted on our lives, don’t we?
We have to fully surrender our hearts to the Lord. We have to completely deny our wisdom and the wisdom of this world to seek what God wants. We can’t just want the promise without the participation. Listen, life with Jesus is a life of participation. Paul said He wanted to participate in life with Jesus. Why was he empowered to relentlessly travel and preach the Gospel even though he was persecuted, imprisoned, shipwrecked, exiled and such? Because every promise of God was enacted on his life through Paul’s faithful participation with Jesus.
The promises of God become alive in our lives when we are trusting fully in the Lord. Life comes to us as we access God’s promises.
To truly live you need to surrender to the plan of God.
Have you ever said this, “My life is ruined.” “I’ll never get over this pain.” “I’ll never forgive him for what he did to me.” “I’ll never be happy again.” “I’ll never recover from this.” “I’ll never trust anyone again.” “I’ll never love again.” “I’ll never be vulnerable again.” “I’ll never feel well again.”
When life hurts, it is easy to let the hurts become the loudest voice and to allow some momentary hurt to become the authority for our future. There are times when we feel as if the hurt in the moment will be the pain that alters our lives forever. Romans 8:28 is tucked into the NT not just so that every pastor can have at least one feel-good message each year. It is there because those who live with Christ live with the reality that no life experience, no crushing blow, no unexpected suffering can change the plan of God.
When bad things happen, when there is profound loss, you can remind yourself that God is always good and He is always working things for our good. A friend of mine, when he was sixteen or seventeen, was driving on a rainy day. He was in a crowded parking lot and an elderly woman stepped out in front of him. He didn’t see her. He hit her. She was killed. The heaviness of that event, the guilt that plagued him was incomprehensible. It almost took him completely out of any participation in life. It changed who he was. At sixteen, he was emotionally wrecked, relationally incapacitated.
About two years later, he was in a Bible study where someone began to testify about how their family experienced the grace of God. His grandma had Alzheimer’s along with a slow, painful form of cancer. The treatments were terrible for her. Every day was a battle. Her family was dealing with the intense emotional struggle of trying to help her fight the cancer even while they were losing her and had really lost her mentally due to the Alzheimer’s. It was then that the boy shared that his grandma had stepped in front of a car in a parking lot on a rainy day and was killed, and as he shared that, he testified that his family saw that as God’s grace being applied to a very difficult and painful situation. Wow.
The life sentence my friend had placed on himself because of what happened, the self-loathing, the self-punishment, the depression lifted as he began to consider a bigger plan at work, something that hinted of goodness, something that hinted of God. Not every story is wrapped up so neatly, is it? Often we don’t get an answer for our question, “Why?” God isn’t the Author of pain, but He lovingly uses every part of our story to write something beautiful. Real life is discovered when we lean on the One who knows how our story is supposed to end.
God has a detailed plan for your life and mine. We need to let God bring definition to the bad things that happen to us so that we do not define ourselves and our futures by them based on our limited understanding. And sometimes that takes a minute. You can’t correctly look back on something until you have first gotten through something. Part of trusting God’s plan is giving God time to work without jumping to our earthly conclusions. Even our mess ups and mistakes, even what has been done to us can work out for our good if we will trust God. If you will let God lead you through the bad times, He will take you to places and spaces that leave you stronger, refreshed, refocused, and even rejoicing.
So that’s it. You have heard four statements about how real life can be accessed and lived well. Will you let God show you, teach you, and equip you how to do this thing called life?