Friday, September 30, 2011

Spiritual Math, Part 4

One more thought I’d like to pass along regarding 2 Peter 1 and doing our “spiritual math.” While researching the keywords in that passage, “brotherly kindness” wasn’t exactly what I thought it might be. It spoke of uprightness of life and heart, and genuine love towards others of like faith. It is demonstrating love, honor, and respect to those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s gotta begin there. And that can be very challenging: this love thing, this honor thing, and this respect thing. We’re good at doing it to one another’s faces; we’re not so good behind one another’s backs.

Quite some time ago, I was out to lunch with a good friend, Omar Reyes. And there was this old, homeless guy watching cars in the Chinese restaurant’s parking lot, and he recognized Omar and said, “Hey bro, don’t worry, I got your back.” And Omar said, “You leave my back alone!”

Sometimes the people who got out of their way to tell me they got my back, makes me want to say, “You leave my back alone. God’s got my back, cuz I don’t know what you’re doing back there.” We really ought to be our brother’s keeper. We really ought to commit ourselves to watching out for one another and defending one another; that’s called “honor.”

And to brotherly kindness, Peter says we are to add “love.” This speaks of a love for all mankind. There is to be a peculiar affection for brothers and sisters in the family of God, and then there is to be a true, genuine love for the entire human race. And in doing the math, look at this in verse 8, he says, “You will not be barren, you will not be unfruitful,” in other words you’re not going to be idle, and you’re not going to be inactive. To say that you won’t be unfruitful is to say that you will be fruitful. And each of us is going to be judged by our fruit!

Peter says that if you don’t want to be unfruitful, do the math! Add it up. Go through the process. He says you won’t be shortsighted, in other words, you won’t be blind. To be “shortsighted” means that you can’t see far off. In fact, the word being used in this passage is not found anywhere else in the New Testament. It literally means to shut the eyes, contract the eyelids, to blink, as one who cannot see clearly, hence, to be nearsighted. He said, “You will not be shortsighted”; you’re going to be able to see the bigger picture. You’re going to be able to see beyond where you are.

And then he says we are to make our calling and our election sure. Look at verse 10: “If you do these things.” “Do” is the action word; look at this promise. I just love this. “If you do these things, you will not stumble.”

You know there are times that I stumble. And now I know why. I stumble because I’m not doing these things. Wow, pretty simple math. Do these things, and you won’t stumble. In other words, if you don’t do these, then you will stumble. So when I stumble, it’s because I’m not a’doin’ these things that He says that I oughtta be a’doin,’ cuz when I’m a’doin’ the things I oughtta be a’doin,’ then I’m a’doin’ what I oughtta do! Harvey Tater.

And finally, in verse 11, “And so an entrance will be supplied to you.” Look at that, “an entrance” will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This speaks to me even in the “now.” What this means is that if I do these things, I’ll not only enter in, I’ll experience a greater realm of the Kingdom of God in this life and in the life to come. It’s not just talking about in eternity and in the sweet by and by. There will be an entrance granted to me into the Kingdom that I have yet to experience. I will be able to experience, to see, to experience, and thus demonstrate a greater amount of God’s Kingdom than I can if I don’t do these things. This is how I believe that we experience a fuller measure of God’s Kingdom in this life and in the life that is to come.

~ pg

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Do the Math, Part 3

We’ve been talking about doing some spiritual math based upon 2 Peter 1, and so far we’ve added virtue to our faith, knowledge to our virtue, and self-control to our knowledge. Now we are ready to move on and add some perseverance to that self-control. In other words, we have to be persistent. How persistent are we? We live in a society that lacks persistence. In many ways, we’ve become a “give up easy” kind of people.

This isn’t a political message at all, but I want to reference a guy who is one of the candidates in the Republican Party, and he didn't win last time. I’ve heard people say, “Man, why is he even running again? He got beat, what makes him think that he’s gonna win this time?” Well, you know, Abe Lincoln was defeated a whole bunch of times before he finally won one. There is an old adage that goes something like, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” If at first we don’t succeed, we just get discouraged and depressed, and walk around all gloomy, and God doesn’t love me, and maybe I’ll just try something else. Then we keep trying something else because we can’t stick with the one thing that God’s given us to do, and we can’t figure out why God’s not blessing the “something else.” It’s because we haven’t done what He told us to do a year ago! Hello!

But we want to jump from thing to thing. We’re like a bunch of bipolar, ADD, DCBC, what was that flying around the room, and “let’s do something else” people. Is it playtime now? Huh? Peter says we have to be persistent; we have to be patient. We have need of endurance the Bible says. Remaining constant and steadfast. Stick with it!

I heard a story some time ago about Sutter’s Mill. Why is Sutter’s Mill significant? It was the first gold strike in California. It opened up the whole California gold rush. I always wondered how the Golden Gate Bridge received its name, and I discovered the answer upon a bit of research. They called it that because it was the gate (a bridge) to the gold! Well, I’ll be! The people who owned the land wanted to be wealthy; they were a young couple. They wanted money, and they sought wealth. They thought they’d find gold. But no, they didn’t find gold there. Gave up the property. Old Man Sutter got his hands on it. He had a certain man working for him in a sawmill, and before long, that man discovered gold! The ironic thing was that the guy who first discovered the gold at Sutter’s Mill ended up dying poor. But when other people were giving up, he was persistent!

We need perseverance. We live in a culture, a society, that demands instant gratification, instant results, and I don’t mind telling you that some things simply take time. I’m looking at some things in my life right now, and there are times that I even have to remind my wife, “Look, just chill, my baby.” Some things just take time; simply let it play out. I’ve learned. I don’t always need to rush in and make something happen. There’s a time for that. In Christianity we call that, “Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run.” There’s a principle in there for Christian living; I’m sure of it. But I don’t think Kenny Rogers was thinking that way.

Next, we are to add godliness. Now one of the first words that you find in the definition of godliness, you’re going to love this one, is piety. Isn’t that just one of those words . . . it’s kind of like the word, “theology.” I used to take pride in the fact and even say publicly, “I’m not into theology.” And then I found out that I’m a theologian. Wow! What is theology? The study of God! Well, that’s one of my life’s purposes ever since I’ve been called. I study God! Does that make me a theologian? I guess it does!

But there are certain words that just kind of flip our switch. I’ve noticed that piety can be one of those words. God wants you to be pious. You may think, “I don’t want to be pious; I’m not legalistic!” I didn’t say, “legalistic.” I said, “God wants you to be pious.” Piety speaks of holiness, fidelity, and being devout. There’s nothing wrong with that. We are to be devout. We are to demonstrate fidelity to God and to men. It speaks of a deep, reverential fear, not only worshiping God with our outward acts, but also adoring, magnifying, and loving Him in our hearts! That’s piety! And was it not the Lord who said, “Be ye holy for I am holy?” God calls us to holiness! He calls us to a life of piety.

And then He says, “Add to that, brotherly kindness.” You know, I did the math and if we would just add and add and add, we wouldn’t have to worry about subtract, subtract, subtract. Because there wouldn’t be room for anything except godliness if we would just do the math. Do the math!

~ pg