Keep Building: Everything You Need

“His 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.” (2 Peter 1:3)

Whatever stage of life you’re in, it can be easy to think of “real life” as something that’s coming later, when the rest of the puzzle fills in. On that future magical day, you’ll be the real you. For now, you’re just in prep mode. Nothing really counts. The race starts somewhere down the road.

trees_350Of course, the day after you graduate or get married or finish the program and get moved into the new place or have the baby or start the job, you realize again how foolish that idea was. We are not waiting for the rest of the puzzle pieces to arrive. We’ve got the whole set right now, and the clock is running.

Today’s verse spells it out: You’re not missing anything you need to live exactly the life God calls you to right now. Today. This is your real life. Now. It won’t get any “realer.” If we’re not living for Jesus now, we aren’t living for Jesus for real.

Think: Do you think you’re postponing, on some level, getting real about living for God until some new phase of your life begins? Do you think you’ve believed the lie that you’re not yet fully equipped to live for him?

Pray: Thank God that he has given you everything you need for life and godliness.

Do: Write this verse down and put it somewhere handy so you’ll have to look it in the eye several times this week.

Keep Building: What’s a Promise Worth?

“Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:4)

What’s a promise worth? I don’t know about you, but most of the time I don’t trust them. If someone tacks “I promise” onto the end of a statement, I immediately get suspicious.

trees_350The global financial mess of the last decade had to do with a lot of people making promises they couldn’t keep. And nearly every wedding involves a promise “till death do us part.” We all know how half of those turn out. Bottom line: Promises are only as good as the person’s ability to keep them, and many of us don’t have a great track record.

But God does. The value of his promises are huge. Why? Because he never breaks them—and he never runs out of the power or love to pull them off. His promises are better than gold. Today’s verse says his promises are the difference between us wallowing in natural sin or walking the same path as our promise-keeping Father.

That’s a big promise.

Think: What value do you put on God’s promises to you? Are you completely convinced he’ll do everything for you he’s said he will or do you sometimes catch yourself taking a wait-and-see approach?

Pray: Thank God for all of his precious promises to you, and ask him to help you to trust those promises for what they’re worth.

Do: Make a quick list of all of God’s promises to you personally that you can think of. Stumped? Text a friend and ask him or her to name one promise God has made to us in the Bible.

Keep Building: Make Every Effort (Grunting Optional)

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge.” (2 Peter 1:5)

What would you say you work at the hardest in your life right now? Your job? Relationships? Studying? Origami? (You never know.)

trees_350Sometimes I think we get the wrong idea about following Jesus. We see it as a one-time commitment followed by a lifetime of trying not to do bad things. We know we should read the Bible and pray and go to church. Fine. But isn’t the point of grace that we’re not saved by works?

Yes, but that doesn’t mean we’re NOT supposed to work at our relationship with God. Paul wrote that God created work for us to do way before we were saved. (See Ephesians 2:8-10.) And here, Peter wants us to work up a sweat in a lifelong building project that adds layers of goodness and knowledge (and more) on top of our faith.

How hard are you working at following Jesus?

Think: Do you ever think of following Jesus as something that should require you to make an effort? What kind of work do you think it takes to add to your faith goodness? And to your goodness knowledge?

Pray: Ask God to give you the desire and the energy to “make every effort” to build onto to your faith goodness and knowledge.

Do: Make a quick Top 5 list of the five things you work hardest at in your life right now.

Keep Building: Don’t Stop at Faith

“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.” (2 Peter 1:5-6)

You started with faith, trusting God that Jesus’ death on the cross was full-payment for your sin and welcoming his Spirit into your new life. Too many of us try to stop trying there, content to be saved, not really wanting to be changed. But Peter said that’s only the beginning of the work to be done in you with God’s power.

trees_350Now build on to that faith with goodness, the desire to do the right thing instead of the wrong thing (because in Christ you can). But keep going. An impulse for goodness without knowing what is truly good would be worthless. You’ll need to build in knowledge.

And once you know the good to do, it will take self-control to actually do it today. Then you’ll need perseverance (self-control + time) to keep doing the good thing tomorrow. Next, you’ll need godliness to become like your Father and do the good thing all the time.

Think: Are you building on your faith in Jesus? Are you adding in a desire to do good? knowledge about what is absolutely good? self-control to do good when you don’t feel like it? perseverance to keep doing good? and godliness to do it in every area of your life?

Pray: Ask God to help you to add to your faith goodness and to that knowledge and to that self-control and to that perseverance and to that godliness.

Do: Are you a hands-on visual learner? Got any blocks around the house? Build yourself a little tower and label the bottom layer “faith,” the next layer “goodness” and so on. Leave it set up in your room for a week or so as a reminder of the Christ-powered spiritual work-in-progress that is you.

Keep Building: Where the Staircase Ends

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness . . . and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.” (2 Peter 1:5,7)

What’s the top of the pyramid? When it comes to building a life lived for God, Peter describes faith as the foundation. Then he tells us to get to work adding goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, and godliness. But what’s the top floor?

trees_350Coming in at number two is “brotherly kindness,” the idea that godly people treat others like family because we’re all adopted into God’s family through faith in Jesus. But we must keep building to add to our kindness something better. Love is where the staircase ends.

That doesn’t surprise us. After all, John tells us that God is love. Jesus said that to love God and each other are the first and second most important commands. And Paul wrote that among the finalists of faith, hope, and love, love is the greatest. The whole Bible points to love as the ultimate goal and the best of God’s great gifts.

So what’s your top floor look like?

Think: Of these 8 qualities, which needs the most building work in your life? Any ideas for how you can work in God’s power to add more of that quality to your life?

Pray: Ask God to help you to continue to grow in brotherly kindness and in his kind of love.

Do: In a sentence or two, describe how you know that God loves you and what that love is worth.

Keep Building: Don’t Waste Your Life

“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.” (2 Peter 1:8)

I remember kind of hating it when I was a student and people would tell me, “You can do anything you want to with your life.” It’s the kind of statement that sounds empowering to adults, especially those who maybe wish they’d done something else with their lives.

trees_350To me, though, it sounded like pressure, like an unfinished sentence with a threat on the end: “You can do anything you want with your life . . . so don’t blow it!” Yikes! How was I supposed to know what to do that wouldn’t be a huge waste of my one time around the track before heading to heaven?

Peter offers one good answer to that paralyzing question. Whether you become a microbiologist or a sanitation officer or a Hollywood stunt person, here’s the key to not wasting your life: Use all that freedom and potential to build into you the 8 qualities we’ve been talking about this week.

That’s the only way you as a Christian can keep from wasting all your potential in Christ. Period.

Think: Do you really believe that growing in these 8 areas is more important than where you went to college or who you married or what you do for a living? Really? If so, how does that belief play out in your every day choices?

Pray: Ask God to help you not to be ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Do: Write down the 8 qualities from verses 5-7 and put them in your Bible or on your forehead or somewhere that you’ll be forced to see and think about them again next week.

Keep Building: Don’t Be a Magoo

“But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.” (2 Peter 1:9)

Did you ever watch Mr. Magoo cartoons? He was an old guy who was “nearsighted and blind” who would comically walk into all kinds of peril and narrowly escape death over and over again without a clue that he was ever off track in the fist place.

trees_350Peter is describing Mr. Magoo in today’s verse. Okay, not that Mr. Magoo. He’s describing Christians who do not have the 8 qualities we’ve been working at growing in this week: faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.

Without those qualities, a person is living with distorted view of the universe. All that matters without them is getting what I want right now. I can’t live for anything valuable. I forget that God cleaned me up from my sinful ways, that that’s not who I am any more.

Think: Do you ever get near-sighted and blind because you can’t stop looking at what you want and start looking at what God wants for you? How does that distort our view of the world?

Pray: Ask God to help you to not be near-sighted and blind and to remember that you’ve been cleansed from your sins through faith in Jesus. Ask him to help you to work at adding these qualities into your life with his power.

Do: Watch the classic opening to Mr. Magoo and wonder what it looks like to be spiritually near-sighted.