Friday, July 20, 2012

Make Every Effort

2 Peter 1:5-11 (NIV)

"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins."
"Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®

First and foremost, I must apologize to Francis Chan from whom this is brutally plagiarized, though with my twist on things added. (His Youtube version in two parts can be found here and here)

So now, into what I wish to say.

1. For this very reason:  Just like when the word "THEREFORE" is used in the Bible, this phrase should cause us to look in the earlier verses for context. (When you see "therefore" read earlier passages to see what it is "there for.")  Here, we see in verses 3 and 4 (NIV) the following:
"His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires."
So now we know the "very reason" which Peter is speaking: we have everything we need to live a godly life through our knowledge of Him (Jesus Christ), thereby we can experience the promises He has for us and we can be like Him (participate in the divine nature) because when we grow in our knowledge of Him, we shed our evil desires (sin less and less). This in and of itself is a wonderful message and should motivate to "taste and see that the Lord is good," (Psalm 34:8-KJV) and "study to shew thyself approved, a workman who needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth" (2 Timothy 2:15-KJV).

2. make every effort: the basis of all we do should be towards this goal. Our very being should cry out for this purpose. As EP (Exalted Patriarch-my father) states there is an equation for this:

Focused Intensity (fi) over Time (t) plus God (G) equals Unstoppable Momentum (UM).  Make every effort (focused intensity) consistently (over Time) prayerfully (plus God) and the result will be forward progress that is unstoppable!

3. add to your faith goodness:  Faith is the building block of everything.  Without faith, we cannot believe; without belief, we are lost. Once we have established our faith, the next step towards Christian maturity is goodness.  "A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things." (Matthew 12:35) We have been given a good treasure through Christ, we should be working on being good and not evil.  If we call ourselves Christians, should our goal be anything other than being mistaken for Jesus?!

4. and to goodness, knowledge: Once we have started working towards being good (at least avoiding evil) the accumulation of knowledge is needed.  How do we acquire knowledge? The Word of God: daily reading and study, sitting under a Bible-teaching pastor, disciplining under a mature Christian, and prayer.

5. and to knowledge, self-control: Self-control defined by , "Control of one's emotions, desires, or actions by one's own will." I have a problem with this definition, simply because by MY own will I cannot control myself.  Following MY will leads to succumbing to temptations.  Prayer to God for strength when confronted with life's little moments of weakness is the only thing that can accomplish "self-control."  Staying in the Word and practicing the previous mentioned disciplines will assist, but it can never be through our own will that we control ourselves effectively and in a Godly manner.

6. and to self-control, perseverance: Perseverance, stick-to-it-ness.  Keep with it. It is said by behavioral scientists that doing something consistently for 2-4 weeks, and it becomes a habit. Don't quit! Keep moving forward.

7. and to perseverance, godliness: By this point, we should be striving to be like God in all areas of our lives.  Our character should be similar to the Father.  We should be displaying the Fruit of the Spirit .

8. and to godliness, mutual affection: A general concern and care for others.  ("A man who has friends must show himself friendly" Proverbs 18:24-NKJV) I cannot demonstrate mutual affection by sequestering myself in my cave and hiding behind my books/technology for company. (See yesterday's post!! )

9. and to mutual affection, love: Love is a verb.  Love requires action.  There is no such thing as passive love (trust me, that will cost you everything if you try it).

10. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure: As we persevere in the establishing of these qualities, they will grow in us.

11. they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ: As these characteristics grow in us, our ability to accomplish Kingdom building tasks improves.  We have greater testimony and display the nature of our Creator.

12. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind: Without these qualities in our life, we cannot see the "Big Picture" we only see that which is right in front of us, or worse we cannot see at all.  Remember, blindness is an analogy for lost/unsaved/in sin in the Bible.  Opening of eyes/restoring sight is salvation.

13. forgetting that they have been cleansed from past sins: We should never forget the price that Jesus paid to cleanse us of our sins.  Do not keep living in the past and reliving our sinful nature.  We are a new creation, we have put off the sinful old man and put on the new man.

A paraphrase of 2 Peter 1:5-9 from the Message:
"So don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can't see what's right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books."
The Message Bible Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

I am not normally a fan of paraphrased editions, but I like the way the spiritual foundations are stated here.  For comparison:
1. faith = basic faith
2. goodness = good character
3. knowledge = spiritual understanding
4. self-control = alert discipline (I REALLY like this one)
5. perseverance = passionate patience (Again well stated!!!)
6. godliness = reverent wonder
7. mutual affection = warm friendliness
8. love = generous love

Standing order:
Healing from the colon cancer and metastasized liver.
Complete reconciliation with my wife (that I can communicate effectively and love her as she deserves).
Health and safety of my children.

Side effect free chemo round (even with new, more aggressive drugs).
Good report from pre-chemo blood test concerning tumor markers (reducing to reflect my healing and good blood cell counts to keep immune system strong).
Daughter's broken tooth and pending repair (pain and drama free appointment Friday at 1:50 EST and cost not too crazy).
Medical bills which are accumulating (that I can return to work to pay these).
My personal/spiritual growth.
My motivation to work-out. (1 Timothy 4:8-NIV "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.")

Workout Report
Walked 1.74 miles last night in 31 minutes. Had to pause to take photos at GW Bush's childhood home which was on my route.

Since June 3, have lost 22 pounds, don't know how since I have not been active and have eaten whatever.
Currently at 208 pounds, lowest weight since December 2003.
Wouldn't mind getting down to about 185, but slowly!!
Training for the "26.2 with Donna, The National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer" February 17, 2013 in Jacksonville, FL.  Join me there!

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