They celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
A Life of Victory. The entire course of your life is based upon one simple question, asked by one man, Christ Jesus, Who do you say that I am? (Matthew 16:15b). All history, throughout time and into eternity will be the manifestation of the answer for all people. And today, just as 2000 years ago, the answers appear broad in range, but they will be cut down to only two. Jesus claimed to be the Son of God who came as the promised Messiah, who was not only the savior and King of Israel, but the whole world, for this is what was spoken of when the LORD told Abraham, In you shall all the nations be blessed because you have obeyed my voice (Galatians 3:7-9; Genesis 18:18; 22:18-19). The LORD has spoken from heaven by sending angels and prophets, but more has He spoken by sending His Son, who is the radiance of His glory and the exact imprint of His divine nature (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus came to do the will of the Father (John 5:30; 6:38) and He did nothing of His own authority for He spoke what He has seen with the Father and just what the Father taught Him (John 8:28, 38). Jesus spoke the words of God Almighty, the creator of heaven and earth, the giver of life. And, just as it was with Abraham, so it is with us. We heard Him speak, and we will either believe or not believe. Because Abraham believed and trusted God, He was able to obey the words of the LORD. Abraham did as he was told, without disbelief - and so it is with us. Will you believe enough to obey?
The Authority of Christ. Jesus claimed to be a gift of God, bread from heaven, the source of all judgment because He is the Son of Man, and therefore the source of eternal life who can raise people from the dead (John 4:10, 14; 5:20-22, 27; 6:32). He was the Son of God, and the Father loves the Son and is well pleased with Him (John 5:20, Matthew 3:17). The Father has given all things to the Son (John 3:35). The LORD is the light and life of the world (John 1:4, 16). He came from the unshakable heaven, the one that existed before the creation of heaven and earth. He came from the true heaven, which places Him above all things (John 3:31; Hebrews 12:28). Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).
God Spoke from Heaven on Earth Through His Son. The LORD spoke while here on earth the perfect will of the Father in heaven. Whoever honors His words, honors the Father; and whoever dishonors the Son, dishonors the Father, God Almighty (John 5:23). Since all have dishonored the Lord, judgment awaited all of us, but there is redemption for the one who believes in Lord Jesus, for, He does not come into judgement, but has passed from death to life (John 5:24b). Everything was given to the Son so that whosoever believes on Him will be saved, given eternal life in the unshakable heaven, the kingdom of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, Mount Zion, with myriads of angels gather in festivity, to the assembly of the firstborn, and to those enrolled in the book of life (Hebrews 12:22-23). There is no 'back door' to being united with God Almighty, the creator of heaven and earth. The door is Jesus for He told us so, 'I am the door' (John 10:9). If you've seen or heard Jesus, and have rejected Him, then you've rejected the God of heaven. For Jesus and God are one for Jesus said, 'I and the Father are one' (John 10:30). There is no truth in a person who claims to have a relationship with the God of heaven, apart from believing in Jesus. To say that you are good and going to heaven because God knows you and that you're a good person, even though you've openly denounce and burred Jesus - this claim is a lie. To believe you are in a right standing with the God of heaven, after having rejected His Son - is disillusionment. The kingdom of God has suffered violence, because the violent try to take it by force, and this has happened ever since the doors of heaven were opened with the coming of John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus (Matthew 11:12).
He Has Come Into Darkness. The LORD sent messengers ahead of Himself to prepare the way for His coming. After having chosen our own wanting and lusting desires over God, we had strayed far away from light, truth, love and peace (Romans 1:25-26). He first sent angels to remind a chosen people of who He is, then He became more personal and sent His Spirit to rest upon specific people so they could speak to the other Israelites on behalf of God, these are His anointed ones: prophets, priests, judges and kings. But then, He sent His Son. But they did just what the parable said they would do. After the rich landowner planted His vineyard and allowed tenants to look over it, they became corrupt and covetous of the harvest and the vineyard itself. So, when the land owner sent his servants to collect some fruit from His harvest, the tenants beat and shamefully treated them, sending them away empty handed. Then the land owner thought to send His beloved Son - for surely they'd listen to Him. But no, they killed Him. They thought they could get the vineyard, by killed the Son, the heir to the land (Luke 20:9-18). Jesus is the Son of God Almighty, owner and creator of heaven and earth. And just as the parable says, they killed Jesus trying to get the inheritance. They killed him on the cross in that generation, but we crucify Him by not believing that He is who said He is.
He Came to Bring the Light. The Lord is so glorious, He came to save people from the bitter fruit of their own sinful ways. He came to redeem mankind from death and sin. The light came into darkness, to bring light to man. He came to defeat our greatest enemy so that we can experience the fruits of His kingdom which is eternal life, hope, purpose, unity, peace, joy and love. He gifted us with these treasures for He is eternally and steadfastly merciful and good. He came into our darkened minds and hardened hearts, to remove the emptiness, despair and brokenness to give us the hope of eternal life. Instead of deep emptiness, He gives rivers of living water that overflows to a life of godliness and thanksgiving for those who believe. The LORD has given us a new heart and spirit (Ezekiel 26:26). He joyously has given His Spirit to bless us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3b) so that our inner man (our spirit) can be strengthened through faith and an increasing knowledge of Christ, so that Christ can dwell in our hearts, grounded in love, so we can be filled with the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:16-19). He is the magnificent radiant glory of God. He lovingly humbled Himself to become man to set the captive free from the bondage of sin, death, hell and the grave. He came to die - once and for all to take away our sins and give us hope in this fallen world.
You Have a Divine Purpose. We learn that victory is ours, given as a free gift by Jesus Christ. He has given eternal life to those who believe, so we ought to be thankful to the LORD (1 Corinthians 15:57; Romans 6:23). But we see that we have a role to play in participation with this gift. And we should run the race as if to win the prize at the end (1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1). There is a calling from God on our lives (Ephesians 4:1). And because God is able to accomplish every work of faith and desire for goodness that He purposed through you; He is able to count you worthy of that calling (2 Thessalonians 1:11). The Lord created everything, including us, with a specific purpose (Psalm 138:8; Proverbs 16:4; Isaiah 14:26-27; 46:10-11; Luke 4:43; 7:30; John 1:31; Acts 13:36; 26:16; Romans 8:28; 9:11; Ephesians 1:5, 9; Revelation 17:17). He has a plan for the universe, and a plan for every one of us. And even though He has created us with our own wills, which are against Him, He is able to effectively achieve that purpose. Our labor is to become the people God destined us to be and to discover and fulfill the purpose and calling of our lives.
Be Worthy of Your Calling. Therefore, brothers be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fail (2 Peter 1:10). This verse shows there are practical steps we can employ to achieve every purpose of faith the LORD has destined for us, which would make us worthy of our calling. But what are these practices? Earlier in this epistle, we learn Christ Jesus, through His eternal power, has called us to His own glory and excellence; He granted us all things needed for life and godliness, which we obtain through knowledge of Him - where we learn of the magnificent promises He granted us, so we can share in His divine nature, instead of living in the corruption of the world or in our own sinful desires (2 Peter 1:3-4). The LORD has given us everything we need, everything, to live a godly life on earth, instead of living a sinful life as we formerly did. This is not to say that we won't make mistakes, for the Lord accepts repentance. But we are called to walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh as in our former days of the rebellion (Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 2:1-3; Romans 8:4). Grace is not a license to continue to sin, for we are to turn from our evil ways to a new life in Christ. Through Him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for His name's sake (Romans 1:5). Even though the Lord's grace covers all our sins, we are not to continue in our sin. As we see, For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace (Romans 6:14). Those who love God, seek to do His will.
Walk in the Light. Now remember second Peter outlined strategies to confirm our calling so that we never fail. Not walk in your former ways, according to the desires of your flesh and think that you are going to satisfy God and achieve your destiny is to deny the truthfulness of the gospel. For even Jesus said, 'I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life' (John 8:12). And John confirms this, If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth (1 John 1:16). So we hide from the truth and believe a lie when we think we can do as we please because we believed upon Jesus - living a life of ungodliness and spurring His righteousness. For he continues, But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin (1 John 1:7). And James adds, You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did (James 1:22). In this response, James is addressing those who claim to have faith with no actions, with no good fruit. They claim to have faith with no deeds (James 1:14-20). We do not labor for our justification, but we labor because of our justification. James gives the account of Abraham and others who believed God and then acted accordingly, therefore, You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone (James 2:24). The violent try to take the kingdom by force, they don't want to believe the gospels as they want what is pleasing to their ears.
Yield Your Members to the LORD. Getting back to the second epistle of Peter, we see the LORD provides tactical steps to achieve godly living by coming into agreement with who God said we are. We are then able to achieve the plan and purpose of our lives. There are daily practices and applications that we need to do to be sanitized as we die to ourselves and live for Christ daily, by picking up our cross and following Him. When we live a godly life, we obtain the victory for we have yielded the members of our body to the Lord for His good use, and then we manifest the divine qualities of God, which gives Him glory. We are then living witnesses of the miracles of God, for people will have known us in our former ways, but now they see the newness of life; they see a life restored by the glory of God. This can give others hope, as we spread the gospel by how we live our lives, so we are to be ready to give an account of what the Lord has done for us. Now, the Lord, through Peter, urges us to make every effort to add the following things to our faith portfolio (2 Peter 1:5-7):
1. goodness (G703 arete; virtue, moral goodness, modesty, purity),
2. knowledge (G1108 gnosis; doctrine, wisdom, to know from experience),
3. self-control (G1466 egkrateia; mastery, temperance, sphere of dominion),
4. endurance (G5281 hupomone; perseverance, steadfastness, patience),
5. godliness (G2150 eusebeia; piety, devotion, rightly venerate, worship, adore),
6. mutual affection (G5360 philadephia; brotherly love, loving friend), and
7. love (G26 agape; benevolence, selfless, sacrificial, steadfast, enduring love).
Be Effective and Productive. Peter adds that if you yield to the Lord and do the above recommended practices, that you will be successful. He summarizes, 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). So, if you walk in faith and add these to your daily log of your life's strategic plan, and you increase in knowledge of the LORD, then you will have an effective and purposeful life - achieving all the Lord has predestined for you. This will give you joy and peace in your days and rest in the night, for your conscience will bear witness that your heart is pure. But he warns, But, whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins (2 Peters 1:9). So, the life of every christian should be based on continual learning and praise and adoration of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We should be striving to be who God called us to be, walking in the Spirit, in the covenant of righteousness, living our lives fully devoted to God and godliness. We should be holy, set apart, from the world. We should live a markedly different life then the world. Our lips should be filled with praises and blessings - for all, our hearts should be lifted up in thanksgiving for all the LORD has done, and we should be building up the body of believers with patience while striving together with forgiveness, compassion and love. We should have the divine character of God being manifest in our lives. People should see a strong presence of God upon us, for the LORD has anointed and elected us. The manifested presence of the Lord in our lives, should make others long to have this relationship with God. They should be drawn to the light, of the Holy Spirit, which they see pouring out of our broken humanity. Direct and open communication with God should be a necessity and daily routine as we continually look to Him for guidance in all things and give Him praise and thanksgiving. We should seek Him and His righteousness. As Moses, was unwilling to go into the promised land without the Lord, so should we. We should see to gain wisdom and knowledge from Him to achieve the goals He set before us by skillfully navigating this hostile and dark world while having God-hating flesh still upon our being. After tasting the fruits of the flesh, we should joyfully jump to our feet and follow Him, for to know Him is to love Him and to seek to do His will by serving Him. He is a God of restoration and second chances, He is a God who brings life from death, and brings something out of nothing, He is a light to darkness, and healing to the sick, He is hope for the future and pleasure in my current day. He is the LORD God Almighty, who was, and is, and is yet to come. He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He is my rock, my refuge, my strong mighty tower, my defender, my treasure, my portion, my all in all. He has guided me through the valleys of darkness and raised me to mountain heights. He has shielded me from my enemies and gave me the victory. He has healed my broken and dividedness. He has come near in my hour of despair and comforted me. He has given me wisdom and knowledge to overcome obstacles. He has loved me and made me feel complete. He has even more than I have listed. He has walked close with me. He has manifested through me. He has been my witness against my accusers. He has brought me joy and peace. He has given me hope. He has given me a purpose to live. A person who has truly seen the LORD and felt His divine presence is a person who has been born again, and they will seek to do His will; they will do it freely and willingly for to see Him is to love Him. They will want to build such a large supply of the Spirit that it pours forth continually, as a fountain of living water for all those in their lives and around the world. When we have been loved by such an awesome God, we can't help but want to share it - and this can only be achieved by living a life of devotion.
Reflection: A Sober Look at Ourselves. Is this your life? Do you have hope in trouble? Do you praise Him in the storms because you know He is good? Can others see Christ in you? Is He able to manifest upon you? Are miracles part of your regular life? Is the divine character of God seen by others upon you? Is there any difference between you and the lost? Are you holy and set apart? Or do you look and sound like the lost? If you never told someone that you're a born-again believer - would they know it in the first five minutes of knowing you? Can neighborhood children see your peace without even talking to you or meeting you?
Dear heavenly Father, I beseech you to give us a double measure of faith, love and Your Spirit, let the fire of the Holy Spirit burn bright in our hearts, let our love abound more and more, ever growing so that we not only love our christian brothers and sisters, but let the love grow until we even love our enemies, so we graciously bless those who curse us, let us grow in the depth and knowledge of You so we will have the wisdom to be godly in all situations, and able to break from the bondage of sin and death which still remains in our mortal bodies, let us discern good from evil and let us love to do Your will, let us run the good race and finish strong, breaking from every curse and bondage or evil spirit that ever once held us down, let us rise in Christ in the resurrection of the dead on the day of the LORD. AMEN
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