27 Jun 2nd Peter #1- Power Under Pressure (2 Peter 1:1-15)
– Gotcha, good day. We start a brand new book of the Bible. This is my favorite thing. This is what I like to do. So thanks for joining me. And if you guys wanna put your hands together clap throughout the sermon, cheer, give a little love and feedback outside of this room there’s nothing to cheer for in here we got a lot to cheer for, amen? All right so we’re gonna open a brand new book of the Bible today, we’re in 2 Peter New Testament and we looked at 1 Peter, we just finished it last week and it’s gonna take us four weeks to go through 2 Peter. Peter is the leader of the disciples hand selected by Jesus. And in his first letter, he told them and us in chapter one, “You’re suffering various trials.” So think of all the trials that we’re all going through. Financial, economic, spiritual, relational, personal, emotional by chapter four 2 Peter, he peered into the future and he was prophesied saying what is coming is fiery trials. Meaning it’s gonna get worse before it gets better. It’s gonna be harder before it gets easier. And then a bit of time lapses and then he writes 2 Peter because of the future that he peered into and prophesied now has come to pass. It’s gotten really bad. It went from bad to really bad. Here’s what I’m telling you. It’s gonna get worse. That’s what I’m telling you. And I tell you that not to scare you but to prepare you and what they were dealing with is very similar to what we are dealing with. And that is that they were part of the Roman Empire which was their version of America. It was the greatest superpower in the history of the world. Biggest military, strongest economy, greatest diversity and prosperity and it was in the process of self-destructing and imploding as a nation, sound familiar? If not, you don’t have the internet. If you get the internet and you just look at what is happening it is self destruction right now and what they were experiencing was political. So they had a horrible ruler come into being his name was Nero, demonic megalomaniac, one of the worst dictators, one of the most bloodthirsty tyrants in the history of the world. So they have political problems. They also had an economic crisis. Something hit them very unexpectedly that got in them very suddenly. It wasn’t a pandemic, it was for them a fire. It hit the great city of Rome which was the headquarters of the Roman Empire. It burned for the better part of a week and destroyed businesses, it destroyed economics, it destroyed political leadership. So now they have a political crisis on top of an economic crisis, which led to a social crisis. Now the citizens were upset. They’re protesting. Some of the protests turns into riots. There is looting. There is pillaging. There is social upheaval because there are a nation made up of different communities. People’s ethnicities. People started aligning with people that shared their language or their culture. Now you’ve got racial conflict. We are against them. They are against us. in addition, this leads to all kinds of social division with all of the complex variables, families and relationships are strained. Add to it spiritual oppression is Satan and demons are taking this opportunity to create division devastation, destruction. Christians are feeling like a persecuted minority and outcast. They don’t wanna send their kids to the Roman schools. They’re not excited about what their taxes are paying for. And it’s a total dumpster fire, sound familiar?
– [Congregation] Yes.
– Yes, yeah. You don’t have to be enthusiastic. You just have to pay attention. So what Peter is telling them is it’s bad it’s going to get worse and you’re not gonna go around it. You’re gonna have to go through it. And what’s happening right now there are a percentage of people in every area, discipline and sphere who are basically hoping and waiting that it’ll just get out of the way so they don’t have to go through it. Here’s what I’m telling you. It’s not going to get better politically this year. It’s not going to get better economically this year. It’s not going to get better morally this year. It’s not going to get better spiritually next year somebody like, what about next year, pastor Mark. It doesn’t look good. Doesn’t look good. I’m not a prophet. I’m just paying attention. And if you can’t get around it and you can’t just wait for it to move itself, the question is how do you go through it? And that’s exactly what he’s telling them. And that’s exactly what God is telling us in addition to them. And so he’s gonna start by talking to us about God that’s where he’s gonna start. Because when everything is uncertain the most important thing is to find God. And so he starts 2 Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter this guy has got all kinds of names. Simon, Simon Peter, Simeon, Simeon Peter. I wrote a study guide. It explains all of his names. It’s free for 1 Peter, free for 2 Peter introduction, overview, small group discussion questions, family questions. You can go to realfaith.com get into all the details. But this is the same Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ gets right to Jesus. “To those who’ve obtained a faith “of equal standing with ours,” we’ll unpack that, “By the righteousness of our God “and savior Jesus Christ.” So what happens is you look into the future and you say, things are bad it looks like it’s getting worse. Things are hard looks like it’s going to get harder. Things are dark looks like it’s going to get darker. Where do I start? Here’s where you start, Jesus Christ. You’ve got to start with God. You have lots of problems. But the biggest problem we have is with God. Once we reconcile that relationship with God our biggest problem is dealt with and then God helps us with all of our other problems. So the first priority, the most urgent necessity is are you right with God? Are you right with God? And he uses the word standing which is legal standing or position. And he uses the word righteousness which is being declared acceptable, reconciled to right in God’s sight. And so this is the urgent priority and this is our first priority for today. Now the question is, where do you get righteousness? Most religions in some form or fashion share these basic concepts. There is a God and there is us and God is in heaven and we are on earth and God is holy. And we are unholy. God is perfect, we are imperfect. God is without flaw and we have many faults, flaws and failures they’ll use different language, but as a general concept, most religions share these big ideas. And so the question is well how do we bridge this gap between us and God? Every other religion teaches something called works. And that is that you need to do some things to climb the ladder of morality and spirituality and sort of earn your way up into God’s presence and relationship, that’s works. The other is gift and that is that God comes down, we don’t go up, that God does all of the work, we don’t do any of the work and that he gives us righteousness as a gift. This is the difference between Christianity and other religions. And he tells us here, he makes it very clear the righteousness of our God and savior Jesus Christ. So who’s got all the righteousness, Jesus Christ. He’s righteous, we’re unrighteous. He’s holy, we’re unholy. He’s perfect, we’re imperfect. He is reconciled to the father we are separated from the father. If you want righteousness, you can’t order it on Amazon. You can’t pick it up at Costco. They won’t take it out to your car if you order online at Target the only place you can get righteousness is Jesus Christ. And he says that we receive it as a gift, as a gift. And he uses this language of obtain. That’s a gift you did not deserve but you received some translations will say that you’ve received righteousness. Others will say that it was given to you. Think of it in this way. Some people will say we’re saved by grace not by works. The truth is we are saved by works it’s just Jesus who does all the work. He does all the work. God becomes a man. God lives without sin. God dies in your place for your sins. God rises to take away your sin and to conquer death. And then God not only gives you forgiveness, He gives you Jesus’ righteousness. He does all the work. You receive all the benefits. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says this way “God made him who knew no sin.” Jesus is righteous to become sin unrighteous so that in him you might become the righteousness of God. Martin Luther, the great protestant reformer called this the great exchange. Jesus paid your debt and Jesus gave your gift of his righteousness. He traded places with you. What this means practically is that your relationship with God is much like anything else in this life. When you’re in school your performance dictates your grade point average. When you stand before God Jesus Christ is your report card. When you go to get a job, you give them your resume. Here’s all the things I can do and have done. When you stand before God, Jesus Christ is your resume. When you have a job, you get a performance review. Did you do a good job or not? When you stand before God Jesus Christ is your performance review. So it’s ultimately all about who Jesus is, what Jesus does. And have you received this gift? Now, some people will say, well that’s just too easy. You need not do anything. And I would say it’s actually very hard because it requires humility. I am the problem, not the solution. I am bad, not good. I have a problem that is God-sized. Therefore I can’t fix it. Do you see where this requires some humility? ‘Cause as people we like to say, well let me at least contribute not to your salvation. It’s 100% gift, it’s 100% gift. And what’s interesting to me in this is that for those of you that come from different religions or backgrounds let me just say this religious people come up with the weirdest rules for works and performance. I don’t understand where the committee is that’s making up these rules. And it’s like, well how do you get righteous in God? Well, you get down three times a day on a rug and you face east and pray. God’s in heaven going I was gonna set them on fire, but I can’t now I see the rug. And then, you’re going to die and reincarnate and pay off your karmic debt, which is silly ’cause all you do when you come back is accrue more debt through more sin or you go to purgatory and suffer for a while. Let me just say this. I’m not gonna start a cult I do love Jesus. But if I was gonna start a religion I would pick different things. I thought about it. Just to share it with you field test my idea. I would call it nachoism. Okay nachoism. If we had to have a patron saint it would be Jack Black, naturally bright Right? We may not wear the stretchy pants but we would wear the kit. Okay just and the two tenets of our workspace religion would be this. You need to eat nachos and take naps. Those would be our legalistic requirements. So if you die, the question would be how many naps did you take? How many nachos did you eat? And if you said, I didn’t take naps or had nachos like you can’t come to heaven. ‘Cause we don’t wanna be with people like you forever. We just don’t want to. Now the good news is we don’t have to do anything ’cause Jesus did everything. You know, what’s nice about that. If you didn’t earn it, you can’t lose it. If God gave it to you, he won’t take it from you. And so what he’s saying upfront is this Peter’s gonna get through the remainder of the book to all of their problems, perils and pains. But their first priority has to be God. Here’s why, we need God help. I’ll never forget some years ago when we used to go places I went to a bookstore when they used to exist and I walked in and I’ll never forget I saw this big section had a big sign and it was “Self-Help” and I remember chuckling and thinking I need way more help than that. How many of you have tried self-help and what you’ve realized is you have a self problem, right? Let me say this. All the problems in your life there’s only one person who’s part of every problem, it’s you. You’re the problem not the solution. You need help it ain’t self-help how many of you have realized this? How many of you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and say, good thing you’re here. We have a God-sized problem we need God-size help. And when God deals with our sin problem and our righteousness problem then He becomes part of our life. And then He helps us with all the other parts of our life. So some of you come here today and you’re like, okay I got stuff I wanna work and fix on first thing, how are you in Jesus? First thing how are you in Jesus? Do you love Jesus? Do you know Jesus? Are you trusting Jesus? Are you following Jesus? Have you given Jesus your sin and received his righteousness? Have you received that gift of new relationship with Jesus Christ? See, this is the most important decision you’re ever going to make in your eternal life. And it will determine your eternal life but ultimately it comes down to you and Jesus. So if you have never taken a moment and to say to Jesus in your heart or your mind I give you my sin, I receive your righteousness. You need to do that in your heart and in your mind right now. So you say pastor Mark, I got so much stuff going on. First priority you need God help and when God helps you and joins your life He’s there to help you for the rest of your life. And He calls Jesus two amazing titles, God and savior. You know what that means? God is over it all, Jesus is God, Jesus is over it all. isn’t it nice to know as you look at the world how much of it is total chaos, uncertainty and transition? Is our economy going up or down? Are we going to live or die? Are we going to make it or not? It’s nice to know there is a God over it and that God doesn’t change. He’s consistent and it’s nice to know that not only is Jesus, the God over it, Jesus is the savior through it. Jesus doesn’t just save you from death. He saves you from a lot of little deaths along the way you need Jesus not just for the last day you need Jesus for every day. And so have you received Jesus as your righteousness, as your God over it, as your savior through it. If not, you need to do that right now. You can just do this in your heart or your mind ’cause Jesus knows your heart and your mind. Jesus, I am a sinner, I need a savior. You are my God, you are my savior. He will always answer that request, yes. And let me tell you this Christianity unlike everything else has no buyer’s remorse. Have you ever bought something and regretted it? Right, here’s what I know, I have never met a Christian who received Jesus and regretted it. I’ve never seen a Christian go, all my sins got forgiven. All my burdens got lifted. God blessed me, set me in an eternal life has a good future for me I really, really, really wish they had a desk where I could take it back. How many of you have received Jesus? How many of you don’t regret receiving Jesus? Okay see this is the witness of those who’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good. For you and I the first priority is where are you at with Jesus? Theologically we call this your justification to your righteous standing before God. And then he’s gonna talk about your regeneration which is your new nature from God. But the first question is how do you become a Christian? Jesus. Second thing he responds to is who are you as a Christian? We live in a world where there’s first class and second class, right? We live in a world where there was varsity and junior varsity, right? How many of you back in the old days when we would fly, remember that? Been so long. You would get on the plane and the first thing they’d make you walk by is what? The first class seats where all the important people got sat first. Yes, I would like something to drink while I watch the peasants. Head to the back. Right, trying to shove things in bins that don’t fit. It’s sad to be a peasant. We always live in a world where you can’t live in that neighborhood unless you can afford the HOA. You can’t go to that country club unless you can afford the dues. You can’t put your kids in that school unless you can afford the tuition. You can’t sit in that seat unless you paid for that seat. What about the kingdom of God? Does God play favorites with his kids? He doesn’t. what Peter says is if you are a Christian and that includes those of you who may be just a second ago, received Jesus, something happened in the supernatural. And that is that he says you have an equal standing with ours. Who’s he talking about? The apostles. I mean, you would think if anybody was varsity it’s the 12 guys that Jesus picked to hang out with for three years. So look at Peter. He was hand selected by Jesus for three years of training and mentoring and friendship. He was there for the miracles and the teaching. Peter denied Jesus, after he rose from the dead Jesus found Peter reinstated him as the human leader of Christianity. Then he preaches on the day of Pentecost. Jesus goes up, the spirit comes down through his preaching the church of Jesus Christ is unleashed as the most powerful force on the earth. And now he’s been a Christian for a number of years. He’s an older man. He furthermore is the highest spiritual authority on earth. And he is now writing his second book of the Bible. If anybody was varsity, if anybody got to sit at first class you would think it was Peter, here’s what he says we’re all equal because we all have the full righteousness of Jesus Christ. This is the father heart of God. Horrible things happen when parents play favorites with their kids. How many of you, okay? If you’re here with your mom, don’t raise your hand. But let me ask question. How many of you, your parents played favorites? Well, they were dad’s favorite and I was mom’s favorite and neither of them liked me. Okay, you really create problems in a family system and you’re like, I got you ice cream and I got you a spanking. If you read the book of Genesis, every generation is a disaster because they keep playing favorites. Many of the problems in your family system is that a parent played favorites. The question is in the family of God does the father play favorites? Answer, no all equal standing, all equal righteousness. Here’s what I need you to know. You don’t work for your righteousness. You work from Jesus’ righteousness. You don’t do things so that God would love you because God loves you, that changes the things you do. When you know that you’re secure. When you know that you’re forgiven. When you know that you’re loved when you know that the father’s heart is 100% for you that he could not love you anymore that he will not love you any less. Now you’re free to love the other members of the family. And it gets rid of all the factions and divisions and all the rivalries and all of the conceit. And then he tells us not only how do we become a Christian and who we are as a Christian but how we live as a Christian. And he calls himself a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ. And what he’s saying is this, my job, my title, my role is apostle but my disposition is servant. This is the difference between the Christian and the non-Christian. For the Christian whatever our role, title or responsibility is we need to intentionally precede it with servant. So he’s like, I’m a CEO if you’re a Christian, you’re a servant CEO. So I’m an accountant if you’re a Christian, you’re a servant accountant. If you’re a mom and you’re a Christian you’re a servant mom. If you’re a dad and a Christian, you’re a servant dad. If you’re a janitor and a Christian you’re a servant janitor. And what happens is people get so connected to their titles, their roles and their responsibilities that they misperceive that as their identity. Your role is servant your responsibility and role might change but ultimately being a servant never does. This is why people are married and now they’re single, crisis. If people are parents and their kids leave, crisis. If they were the CEO and now they’re unemployed, crisis they were at the top of the org chart now they’re in the middle of the org chart, crisis. Lifestyle changes, status changes roles, responsibilities, titles change, crisis. If you are a servant that never changes these are just different ways to serve. Okay Jesus, you want me to serve this way? Now you want me to serve this way. Now you want me to serve that way. Serving is consistent, the ways we serve might change but being a servant is consistent. It’s this makes sense. This means that for the Christian and the non-Christian the way we even approached the daily decisions and duties is different. And so what he’s saying here is this that Jesus Christ came to serve us. God says it this way, the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve. Since Jesus serves us through his life, death, burial, resurrection giving us his righteousness he then gives us this opportunity to serve God and others whatever our roles, responsibilities and titles might be. And he talks about this as a practical matter because as pressure is increasing there will be a greater power for serving and ministering. The more that people are hurting, the more selfish they become and the less serving they are doing. As we are all hurting we can be very selfish. But if we remember that Jesus serves us and then he calls us to serve others. Even as suffering increases through the believers, the Christians, the family of God the serving of others in need can increase. So the first thing he tells us is God’s work for you and then he talks about God’s work in you 2 Peter 1:2-4, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” How many of you right now, the thing you’re in and looking at, you’re gonna need more grace. You’re gonna need more grace. You’re like, I’ve never been there. That’s more pain than I’ve ever handled. It’s too complicated for me to sort out, God I need more grace. God will multiply grace to you and peace in you. How many of you write notes? Little bore, high anxiety, right? How many of you, you’re like, I’m looking at the economy. I’m looking at the election and I’m looking at schools. I’m looking at everything. I feel like I’m living in a Scooby-Doo episode. This is a scary place. Peace, when the pressure increases the power of the Holy Spirit increases and he multiplies not just addition but multiplication grace for you and peace in you. And what this means is friends not only does God give us more grace we got to give each other more grace. In our world right now do you see people saying times are tough we just need to give people more grace. So you chuckle ’cause it’s not happening. God’s people get grace from God therefore they have more grace to give. And we got to start by giving grace to our spouse, giving grace to our friends, giving grace to our family, to those that we do life with just put a little grace on it. Times are tough, give a little grace to each other and invite the Holy Spirit to increase and multiply the peace. “In the knowledge of God and of our Lord Jesus. “His divine power,” so Holy Spirit. “Has granted us,” how much, “All things that pertain to life and godliness.” Here’s what he’s saying not only did God do something for you through the death, burial, resurrection of Jesus God is doing something in you through the presence of the power of the person of the Holy Spirit. His divine power makes you a partaker of the divine nature. And he comes to give you all, that’s a big statement, all you need for life and godliness meaning whatever the future holds, the Holy Spirit has the power to give you whatever you need to live your life in a way that is godly, meaning you don’t just endure it but you grow through it. As you go through it. He goes on, “Through the knowledge of him who has called us “to his own glory and excellence by which he has granted us “his precious and very great promises “so that through them, you may become partakers “of the divine nature.” Again, talking about the Holy Spirit, “Having escaped from the corruption in this world.” Have you seen a little corruption in this world? Here’s what happens? People on the left are like, people on the right are corrupt. People on the right, people on the left are corrupt. The poor people are, the rich people are corrupt. The rich people are, the poor people are corrupt. You’re all right. Everybody’s corrupt. The whole thing is a dumpster fire. That’s where we’re at. The whole world is corruption because of sinful desire. What he’s talking about is God working in you. When he talks about divine power. When he talks about partakers of the divine nature, he’s talking about the same Holy Spirit who empowered the life of Jesus being sent to empower the life of Jesus’ people. I wrote a whole book called “Spirit-Filled Jesus” how Jesus went through it, suffering betrayal, poverty, loneliness, homelessness, death, demonic attack. He went through it by the power of the Holy Spirit. And then he sends the Holy Spirit to us so that whatever our little trip through hell looks like on the way to heaven we do it as partakers of the divine nature. And we do it by his divine power which has granted us all that we need to live our life in a way that marks godliness. So when he’s talking about this that God doesn’t just make you better. God makes you new. God makes you new. People are always like, I need to get better. No, that’s not good enough. You need to get new. And so when you become a Christian, it’s a new you not a perfect you but a new you that’s in the process of becoming like Jesus who is perfect by the power of the Holy Spirit. And then he tells us here five things, these are so exciting! This are awesome! I’ve been preaching the sermon all weekend and I’m still super excited about this. Okay, it’s five new things that God does for you. Number one, a new Lord. He calls him Jesus. The Lord is the one who’s over at all. He’s your highest authority. He’s your greatest alliance. Before we meet Jesus, truth be told who’s our Lord? We are. What do I want? What do I think? What do I need? How do I feel? Jesus like, oh, okay Jesus. Okay what do you think? What do you want? What do you need? How do you feel? See, ultimately we’re only healthy when we’re living under the will of God. We’re only blessed when we’re living under the will of God. And we’re anointed when we’re living under the will of God. Some of you you’re frustrated like, well I told God what to do and he doesn’t do it. It’s not working. It’s not like that. He’s the Lord. And what God won’t do is bless disobedience and sin and evil and falling. Okay, just for single people, I’ll pick on you. I’ll pick on the married people in a minute ’cause I believe in equality. I pick on everybody eventually. A lot of times single people are like, I want to be with them. You love Jesus, they don’t. Well Lord I just need you to fix and change them. God’s like I’m not blessing disobedience, foolishness and rebellion. I’m not gonna get behind your thing. I need you to get behind my thing. I’m the leader, you’re the follower. Don’t get this confused, okay? God doesn’t exist to do what you tell Him to do God exists to tell you what to do. And let me say this if you believe that God is good God takes better care of you than you take care of you. God’s given me more grace than I give myself. God’s forgiven me for things that I wouldn’t have forgiven myself for. God has put up with me when I for sure would have been sick of me. So here’s what I’m telling you. Not only is God good if he’s the Lord the life he has for you is the better life. One of the demonic deceptions is I know best what’s best for me. No, Jesus loves me and what he wants is what’s best for me. New Lord, new nature. This is awesome. When the Bible talks about being born again it means you’re born physically with a sin nature. You’re born again with the spirit’s nature partaker of the divine nature. So again, God doesn’t make you better. God makes you new. Now what happens is this. We often think particularly when we’re parenting. So let me use this as a parenting example how many of you are raising a child? And how many of you have noticed that they’re sinful? Have you notice that. Okay, I saw mother’s hands went up very quickly. One mom went like this, so pray for her, right? Maybe she’s raising sinful twins. Okay so what happens is we see the child’s behavior and we see that it’s foolish or self destructive and we’re concerned for their future, amen. So here’s what we wanna do. We wanna change their behavior. So we use fear, intimidation, legalism, rules, coercion craziest thing I’ve ever seen reverse psychology, which is like your evil so I’ll appeal to your sin nature and trick it to be holy, which really confuses the kid. Don’t worry as much about your child’s behavior. Worry far more about your child’s nature. Jesus says a good tree bears, good fruit bad tree bears, bad fruit. You can’t get a bad tree to bear good fruit. Getting a new nature is becoming a new tree. How many of you are raising kids and one of them is really difficult. And if you only have one kid its that kid, okay? So we got five kids. They love Jesus, praise God it’s a great season for us. But when they were little there was one that will remain unnamed. The most difficult, stubborn. We have no idea where they got this. It was a total befuddling mystery. Oh, they’re loud and intense and sometimes domineering and independent. Mark where could that have come from? Probably its grandparent. And so when they were little we were concerned, is this gonna continue forever because the direction is toward death not life. Now they do love Jesus. They’re doing really well. We’re super proud of them it’s awesome. And we were recently having a conversation about when they were little. And they said, yeah when I was little and I was pretty stubborn, yeah. They said, I remember when Jesus gave me a new nature. They said if Jesus wouldn’t have given me a new nature my behavior would have never changed, okay. Because the want to proceeds the how to. The nature is the want to, once God changes the want to in the nature then you can teach somebody how to with the lifestyle. This is where for a Christian, once you meet Jesus some of you it’s such a radical change. People who know you are like, who are you? You’re like, I don’t know. Like I got the same driver’s license but I got a new nature so I’m not who I was. How many of you, this is your experience, new nature what this leads to then is a new mind. He talks about the knowledge of God. Now you wanna learn the Bible. Now you wanna learn about God. How many of you you’re here ’cause you want to learn the Bible. That’s ’cause God the Holy Spirit gave you a new mind. The Bible says don’t be conformed to the pattern of this world be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The only way to avoid the sinful corruption he says in this world is with the mind that is saturated with the word of God. There are lots of ways to grow your mind. But I believe that the best way is to go through books of the Bible verse by verse and for you to learn the Bible and to learn it, to study it for yourself, amen?
– [Congregation] Amen.
– It’s a new mind. You start to think differently. All of a sudden you’re like, I know who God is. I know who I am. I know what I’m supposed to do what I’m not supposed to do. I think differently about everything because I’ve got a new mind. This leads to a new power. He’s talking about divine power. What this means practically is things that are impossible for you are possible for you with the Holy Spirit. So you’re like, I can’t forgive them. Holy Spirit’s like, I got this. I can’t endure that level of suffering. Holy Spirit’s like, no problem. I’ll never learn that lesson. I’ll never overcome that temptation. Holy Spirit says I got divine power. So you plus the Holy Spirit is a totally different life. And faith is saying, I see what’s coming and as the pressure around me increases the power in me increases to meet the pressure around me and that’s the power of the Holy Spirit. He also talks about new desires. This is one of my favorite things. One of my favorite things is that when you do meet Jesus and the Holy Spirit gives you a new Lord, new nature, new mind, new power and new desires now Christianity is a list of things not that you have to do against the old nature but that you get to do in the new nature. How many of you have the things you loved you now hate, the things you hated you now love. How many of you you’re you’re experiencing the change. This is the Holy Spirit. I talked to somebody recently came into church Says Pastor Mark I’m brand new and I started reading the Bible. I said how’s it going? They’re like, it’s not working. I was like, what do you mean its not working. They said I just read it and I feel terrible. It’s working. its working, it’s a mirror. You’re now seeing yourself. Well, what do you think about Jesus? He’s awesome and I just keep reading. ‘Cause actually I just find him totally intriguing and very interesting and I’ve never seen anyone like him. Oh, do you love him. Well first he’s stop or like I do. They’re like it’s weird. I’ve never really asked myself. Yeah I love Jesus. They look and they say, what happened? You got a new nature. You got a new Lord. You got a new mind. You got a new power. And now you’ve got new desires. What the Holy Spirit worked in you now you’re working out. God saved you. Now you’re figuring out what that means. Now let me just be honest with you. This is why non-Christians can’t even understand Christians. This is why some of you, when you met Jesus your family has no idea what you’re even talking about. And I thought the same way. So in high school I thought that Christians were the weirdest people I ever met. Just those weird Christians and in my high school I was at a public high school not a great high school. The Christians let you know who they were. They’d wear the shirts, this bloods for you, you know. It was the 80s, right? So this blood is for you. They would wear the bracelets. They would carry the Bible. I mean, they bought the kit. They bought the full-on Ned Flanders in my heart kit. And they’d let you know. They’d literally use Christian language. How are you doing brother? We don’t have to say mom, what are you about. Such a weird Christian. So they’d started inviting me to their youth groups. So I’ll never forget one of the first times dude comes up he’s like, I’d really like you to, and they’re always so chipper, you know? Like okay, whatever. So you wanna go to youth group? We’re in high school. We’re all youths. Aren’t we already doing that? Oh no, no youth groups different. Okay well what is it? It’s at the church. No, I don’t wanna go. Well, no, no it’s really fun. It’s really fun. Okay, tell me what the fun stuff is. Do you guys have firearms, bottle rockets, beer, fist fighting? No, we have prayer and worship, Bible reading and singing. Look you need to get a bigger list of options for fun. I’m telling you that’s not on the fun list, right? No, it’s really fun. And I think that there’s no way I’m going to youth group at the church. So I asked, I said, I shouldn’t ask. I asked, I said, are there girls ’cause I’m a high school boy always driving toward the same end zone. You know I don’t know Jesus. And so they’re like, yeah there’s a lot of girls. Okay now we’re on the realm of possibility. Okay now we’re in the realm of possibility. Okay so tell me about the girls. They said, well we don’t really talk to them. The girls are in one group the boys are in another. This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of in my whole life. Even if we’re trying to pretend like we’re good people and the girls can’t see it how can we use this to our advantage? This is a stupid plan Right? No, I don’t wanna go. I don’t wanna change your dad’s oil. I don’t wanna eat gravel. I don’t wanna pay your house. I don’t wanna hit myself in the head with a tire on. There’s a list of things I don’t wanna do. Now at the very top, youth group. Go to college, Grace gives me a Bible because she could tell I need work. And I start reading it in college ’cause everybody was bashing it and then God saved me. Holy Spirit flipped the switch in my soul reading Romans one which I’ll start in next month. And then I’m sitting on my dorm bed, reading the Bible all of a sudden I don’t know what’s going on. I really like reading the Bible. Next thing I know I’m finding the Christians and I could tell ’cause they’re wearing the T-shirts. Hey, nice T-shirt brother. Do you go to church? I do. Where do you go to church? Now I’m looking for a church. One guy’s carrying a Bible. Hey brother, I’m like I’m now the weirdest Christian I’ve ever met. Hey brother you got a Bible, does your church teach the Bible? He’s like oh yeah, we go through books of the Bible. Can I come? I’m inviting myself to the church to learn the Bible. I go, I sit in the first service, I bring my Bible. The pastor says, please open your Bibles is like, I got one, I got one right here. Okay I’m good, I’m locked and loaded, let’s do this. So he starts going through books of the Bible I’m taking notes, I like it. I like it. I’m the most surprised that I like it of everyone. So then what happens, the service gets over. Everybody leaves and I’m walking out and then other people are walking in. I was like hey, what do you guys doing? And they’re like, there’s another service. We do this again. I went again same sermon, more notes. I went to all the services. So then they pass out a clipboard who wants to join a Bible study? I do, I do. So they pass it around all the Bible studies are for men only. I was like, that sounds great. I signed up, they had seven. I think it was seven Bible studies for college guys. I signed up for all seven. I am now officially the weirdest Christian I’ve ever met. So I go to the first Bible study. I’m in school, I’m in college and I got a job but I’m spending more time in Bible study and church than anything else. First Bible study, I go to my pastors teaching so Hey Mark, second one is like, Hey Mark. Third is like, Mark. You know. By like the seventh one he’s like, you know you don’t even have to go to all of them. I was like I know, but they’re all on different things. And I think they’re all very, very interesting. New desires. Friday night I’m in my dorm. A bunch of guys come in there. Hey Mark we’re going to go drink and meet girls and we have firearms. Hmm that’s quite a trinity. Do you wanna go with us? Here’s what I said, I couldn’t believe it. I said, no, I don’t. They’re like, what are you gonna do? I literally said this, as the words are coming out I said, I’m just going to read my Bible! And they look at me like a beagle that heard a whistle like what the they look at they ask this question like why? I was like, I don’t know. It just sounds good to me. You know what that is? New desire. See, that’s why non-Christians are like why don’t you die? You don’t have the new desire ’cause you don’t have the new nature. And as a result what sounds horrible to you sounds wonderful to me. This is where, let me say this to you religious people especially religious parents don’t take get tos and turn them into have tos, you’ll ruin it. You have to read the Bible. You have to pray. You got to sing louder. Don’t say it like that, man. This’ll be like a premarital counsel. Okay you two are gonna have to date, hold hands, consummate and go on your honeymoon or else. Dude be like, I was gonna do all of that and you’re freaking me out. Hey, I was looking forward to it don’t ruin it. So how you know, you’re a Christian is your desires change and your temptations are less or lower desires from your old nature that are warring against your new nature. The key is to feed the deeper desires of your new nature that’s how you overcome the sinful desires of your old nature. So Christianity is about passion and freedom and joy and liberty and satisfaction. It’s the greatest life, it’s the greatest life. I’ll just stop right there. God works for you, God works in you, God works with you. I’ll hit this fairly quickly. 2 Peter 1:5-9, “For this very reason,” he tells you about all the things God does for you in you and then how you work out what he’s worked in. “For this very reason make every effort to supplement.” As your body needs vitamins your soul needs these supplements to be healthy. “Your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, “knowledge with self-control, “self-control with steadfastness, “steadfastness with godliness “godliness with brotherly affection, “brotherly affection with love. “For it these qualities are yours and increasing.” Always learning, always growing, always maturing by the power of the Holy Spirit. “They keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful.” We’ll come back to that, “In the knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ. “For whoever lacks these qualities “is so nearsighted that he is blind “having forgotten that he was cleansed “from his former sins.” The first thing, your cleansed from all your former sins. So all of your sin is cleansed at the cross of Jesus, forgiven, dealt with. So what that means is you don’t have to keep looking back all your faults, all your flaws, all your failures, all your sins, all your mistakes, all your regrets. Jesus died for all of that. Now you get to start to figure out what the future looks like not who you are, who you’re becoming, not where you were but where you are going. But he says, as you’re moving forward you can become so nearsighted that you’re blind. And what this is that some person or problem takes such a place that you lose sight of who God is making you and where God is taking you. I’ll tell you what this looks like. You don’t forgive somebody and you’re bitter against them. You become nearsighted and blind. You need to forgive them. Something that you just can’t get over. You just can’t let it go. You become nearsighted and blind. Some trauma or pain from your past. You’ve not healed up from it. You just keep looking at it. You’re consumed by you, miss other people and God and the future and who he’s making you and where he’s taking you. You become nearsighted and blind. And let me just say, what is true physically is also true spiritually. Statistically there is a high increasing of near-sightedness. You know why? This, okay God’s got a future for me but I can’t see it. God’s got some things he’s teaching me but I can’t see it. God has some hope for me but I can’t see it. How many of you this literally is causing you to become so nearsighted that you’re blind. You know why it rings and it buzzes because it pretends like it’s important. If you wake up every day and you start with this news and not this news, you become near-sighted and blind. If you look at what they’re saying about you on social media not what he’s saying about you in scripture you’ll become nearsighted and blind. If all you do is look at the false prophets who are prophesying nothing but a devastating future and not getting to know the God who rules over the future you’ll become so nearsighted that you’re blind. I’m not saying that this doesn’t matter but I’m saying it doesn’t matter nearly as much as we think it does. I am saying that this matters a whole lot more than we think it does. In fact, next week if we become back he’s going to start talking about scripture because the answer to become nearsighted and blind is opening the word of God and then seeing the future through the word of God. And I was thinking about it as I was praying for you this week and I tend to be very visual. I see things in pictures and I want to share an analogy with you that might be of some help. God works for you through the death, burial, resurrection of Jesus. God works in you through the Holy Spirit. And then God works with you not to make you a Christian but once you are a Christian to grow that relationship and character of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Some years ago, our family lived next to a major university. There was a large waterway and our house was an old rental house just off the water and the rowing teams would practice there. And so I would go down to this public dock and it was just kind of fascinating to watch the rowing team. And I especially just was mesmerized by the fact that there was complete unity and consistency rowing together, okay? Now imagine if there’s one boat and there’s two rowers and they’re facing each other and rowing against each other what is that like? Marriage. Just, see the single people chuckle at the married people like that is not funny at all that’s terrible. So accurate. The key is if Jesus is the Lord that means he’s the one up front with the blowhorn and that he is the one sort of leading the ship and that everybody needs to row together. And I’ll never forget there was one morning a storm came there were some swells, major headwind. Some of these rowing teams, there were varying off course or they lost their rhythm but there was one it was a tandem, two rowers. And it was just like they were one person just completely pulling in unison no waste of energy, just absolutely straight as an arrow right into the headwind, overcoming the waves. And as I was praying for you, salvation is like Jesus rose up in a boat and you’re drowning. And he literally grabs you and pulls you in his boat. He does all the work you get all the benefits. He saves you. What he’s talking about here is the Christian life where he then hands you an oar and he’s like okay, I’m gonna teach you how to row we need to row together. We’re in the same boat, we’re going the same direction. I’m gonna row but you need to row, we need to row together. And so what he’s talking about here is faith which is a deeper trust and virtue which is consistent character and knowledge which is learning the scriptures and self-control which is the way that you overcome self destruction. Right now, under pressure people are not practicing control they are self-destructing. They are drinking, they are beating. I’ve been talking to police officers that attend the church and friends, domestic violence is up. Child abuse is up. People are drinking and hurting each other. That’s not self-control, that’s self destruction. Jesus says self-control, steadfastness which is endurance and consistency and fortitude to continue to row when the waves swell up and the headwinds grow stronger it is godliness which is ultimately I am going to get to God. My ultimate goal is to be with God and I will keep rowing until my faith becomes sight. He says in addition is brotherly love. As other people are on the boat with us and they’re brothers and sisters in Christ we love them, we pray for them, we bless them, we give them more grace so that they can experience more peace. This world is a brutal place. And if we’re hitting each other with the oars it doesn’t make the journey any better. And then he talks about love, which ultimately everything comes from the Holy Spirit who is the source of love. The God poured out his love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit he has given us, the God is love and He gives us this love to love him back and to love others, including our enemies and strangers. And as we row out, we get to see Jesus grab some new people and throw them in the boat and save them. And ultimately they become part of the family and God gives them an oar and they row with us and life better together even though things get darker. And he says, all of this will allow you to prevent unfruitfulness. The goal of life is not to be successful it’s to be fruitful. Americans are driving toward the wrong goal which is why they’re having so much grief. If your goal is to be successful, no, your goal is to be fruitful. The point of fruitfulness is that your life would have character that nourishes and feeds others starting with those who are nearest and dearest to you. So, you know what? I wanna be a good tree that bears good fruit so that I can nourish my wife, Grace, so that I can nourish our kids whom I love with my whole heart, that I can nourish this flock that God gives me the honor of being the pastor for. That God wants you to be healthy so that you could be fruitful so that others are nourished by you. You’re a life giving person, not a life taking person. You’re a burden lifting person, not a burden giving person that people are stronger and not weaker when they’re around you that they’re healthier and not sicker because of their relationship with you. I’m asking you a question, I love you. It’s a bit of a tough question for those of you that know something about seasons and harvests and fruitfulness, what’s the key to fruitfulness? Pruning, pruning. Some years ago, our family moved into a home that originally the entire estate was an apple orchard, very old mature apple trees. Most of them had been torn down for the construction of the homes. In our yard they left a few of the very old trees, apple trees and season came in wet. This one particular tree it bore no fruit at all. It was a fruitless tree. It was, to use Peter’s language unfruitful. It had not been pruned in years, branches way up in the air, down on the ground. Literally the branches in every direction, taking the entire yard, laying on the ground. So I brought in a gardener and I asked them, all right what do we do? He said, well, what do you want? I said, I want that tree to be fruitful. I wanna see some apples. He said, well, then we’re going to need to give it a severe pruning. And this was a curious line and I give it to you who are older saints? He said, even a good tree becomes unfruitful unless it continues to be pruned. Some of you are good trees you’ve born a lot of fruit but you’re not bearing a lot of fruit right now because you’re fighting the pruning. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad tree. It means you’ve not been well pruned. I said well, what do we do? He said well, you’ve got sucker branches and all of the life and energy is being wasted not invested, that’s why it’s unfruitful. He said, so I’m gonna need to prune it. I said, okay what’s that gonna be like? He said, it’s going to be severe. Like this tree is going to be, you know, having PTSD for a year. It’s gonna be a rough year for the tree. At first, he started with a few little sheers and then he got out of saw and started taking off. So at first he was looking at the good branches taking off the sucker branches and then he was looking at the dead branches that used to be fruitful but were no longer fruitful and he was sawing them off entirely so that all of the life and energy of the tree would go to the new shoots to bear new fruit. And I waited, nothing happened but eventually this entire tree bloomed and blossomed and it was filled with apples. Let me say this your pain is not punishment from God. Your pain is pruning from God. You are being pruned. Our world is being pruned. Our nation is being pruned. Our churches are being pruned. Our businesses are being pruned. Our families are being pruned. Our marriages are being pruned. Our children are being pruned. For the non-Christian all they feel is the pain. They don’t understand the potential of the pruning. I’m telling you that everything that we are in the midst of and everything that we will be going through is not punishment for the believer it is pruning for the believer to be more fruitful. So it is not hopeless, it is hopeful. It is not forever, it is for a season. Some years ago, my family and I went through the most severe, I mean it was chainsaw season. That’s what it felt like to us. The most severe pruning of our entire family history and ministry. And today I’m happy to report that because of the Holy Spirit it is now bearing fruit. We love each other. We love Jesus. We love the church. We love people. We forgive quicker. We’ve seen God deliver. And so our hope is greater than at any point in our life. And I’m not saying that the pruning is good but I am saying that the pruning is worth it. If you get to be healthy and God’s using this to make you healthier and so that you can encourage others and nurse them to be healthy as well. I believe that this is the heart of what Peter is teaching about the trials, the fiery trials and the unfruitfulness that the pruning is for a reason and that the pruning is for a season. And then he concludes with this. God works through you so God works for you. God works in you, God works with you, God works through you. I’ll invite the band up at this point. We’ll start reading 2 Peter 1:10-15, “Therefore brothers in light of all that God has done “be all the more diligent,” Focus, priority, intentionality, “To confirm your calling and election.” We’re going to get into this enrollments but God has elected you before the foundations of the world. God has chosen you to be a son or daughter. And at a moment in time, he called you by name that’s when you met Jesus, received the Holy Spirit and God saved. So if you don’t like this, come back for Romans. I’m gonna unpack it in great detail, it’s awesome. Because what it means is this Satan doesn’t make the choice. You don’t make the choice. Jesus makes the choice who gets chosen and elected. I don’t know about you. He’s like, we need to vote. We’ve been voting. It’s not going well. I say we let Jesus vote, amen? That’s what election is. That’s what election does, “For if you practice these qualities you will never fail.” Pastor Mark the economy might fail. You’ll never fail. Pastor Mark my business might fail. You’ll never fail. The point is that if you live with character and you row with Christ you will never fail meaning you may not be successful but you will be fruitful and you will be joyful. He goes on to say, “For in this way “you will be richly provided “for an entrance into the eternal kingdom “of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.” Don’t be so nearsighted and blind that you lose sight of the eternal hope that God has for you in the end. “Therefore, I intend to always to remind you “we forget these things, “though you know them and are established “in the truth that you have. “I think it is right as long as I am in this body “to stir you up,” to motivate you, to raise my voice, to encourage a little life. Out there there’s nothing to celebrate in here there is someone to celebrate. Our God is Jesus. Our savior is Jesus. Our power is a divine power. Our destiny is a secure destiny. I wanna stir you up in these things. “Since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon.” Peter says, you know what? I’m gonna die soon. And people are just freaking out, oh my gosh, what if we die? You’re gonna, you’re gonna, I don’t know where. I don’t know how but I know you will. Wouldn’t it be nice if we knew a guy who defeated death and was waiting for us on the other side, I know a guy, Peter knows the guy. That’s why to live is Christ to die is gain to depart and to be with the Lord is far better. This is as close to hell as we’re gonna to get. Says I’m gonna die and, “Our Lord Jesus made it clear to me “and I will make every effort so that after my departure,” After I’m dead and gone and with the Lord, “You may be able to recall these things.” Now, what I want to do is I want to stir you up so you can out of your new nature with the new power of the Holy Spirit out of new desires worship Jesus as your new Lord. So I’m going to ask you all to stand. Please stand, please stand. And I’m just gonna ask you one question is Jesus Christ your God and savior?
– [Congregation] Yes.
– Not very enthusiastic. We’ll try that again, is Jesus Christ your God and savior?
– [Congregation] Yes!
– Okay, then I have good news for you. God has called you to himself. He has chosen you as his child. God has given you the full righteousness of Jesus Christ. Your standing is equal with the apostles. God promises, no matter what is coming that he will multiply grace, peace and knowledge of himself to you. You now have access to the divine power because you’re a partaker of the divine nature of God the Holy Spirit, you have the most powerful source for life and godliness in all of creation, continually available to you and that is the person of the Holy Spirit. You have a new Lord. What’s his name? It’s Jesus. You have a new nature, you have a new mind. You have a new power and now you have new desires. You’ve been cleansed from all of your sin, past, present and future. Jesus took care of your past so you could look forward to your future. You are blind, but now you see you are near-sighted and now you can see Jesus on the kingdom horizon of forever. You were unfruitful but in this season of pruning I promise it will result in more fruitfulness because he has given you all that you need for life and godliness. I promise you, he has given you all that you need for life and godliness. So now we are going to stir one another up, amen? We’re going to start one another up. Father God, as we come to worship we invite the Holy Spirit to come down and to fill us with the peace and power of his presence. Jesus, we thank you that you were alive and well right now we thank you that you are ruling and reigning. We thank you that you are forgiving and saving. We thank you that you are healing and blessing. We say that we need more grace, we need more peace, we need more power. So Holy Spirit we invite your presence and God please help these people to remain stirred up, to stay motivated with the fire flame burning bright even though the world grows darker and Holy Spirit as we come to send our songs up we invite you to come down and stir us up in Jesus name. Amen, thank you.