May 10, 2015 [2 Peter 2:10b-22]

May 10, 2015
"Where Your True Friends At?"
[2 Peter 2:10b-22]
Pastor Brendon Wu

            Recently, I moved. And every time I move there’s this little piece of green paper that was ripped out from one of those calendar type things where each day there’s a saying from different famous people. It’s from May 5, 2008 where Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The only way to have a friend is to be one”. I think that’s always really stuck with me. If you know anything about moving, the more useless stuff you have the harder it is to move but for some reason I can’t get rid of this little piece of paper. When we read this passage today, there’s an intention Peter has behind this passage. This isn’t a spook story. Peter’s not trying to creep us out or going mad or something. I’m saying these things because I really struggled and wrestled and am still wrestling with the passage that we have. It says a lot of things that I think are very hard for us to hear about. But when I think about why Peter is writing – this is a man who knows what it’s like to betray Jesus but also a man who knows what it’s like to be redeemed and loved by Jesus. As Peter is about to die, he’s writing this whole letter to constantly remind us of the truth that we are established in. That was back in chapter 1:12. That we know the qualities we are supposed to have and that we are established in truth that we are supposed to have.

The purpose of Peter’s warnings
Throughout the whole 2nd chapter, he’s talking about false teachers. He’s talking about false prophets to warn us. One thing that really stuck with me from chapter 1 was how when Peter is writing, he was remembering and recounting a time where he was with Jesus Christ. Jesus told Peter, James, and John to come with Him and they witnessed the Transfiguration. God booming from heaven looked at Jesus Christ as He was radiant, more radiant than anything in this whole world and God from heaven said to Jesus Christ, “This is my son, with whom I am well pleased”. For me, I’ve never heard anything so optimistic, so positive, so joyful, so joy-giving. To the point where a lot of you guys jokingly accuse me that this is my favorite verse because I talk about it a lot. I don’t really have a favorite verse but this is one that has really been connecting with me. I think this is one of the things Peter really wants to tell us is that in Jesus Christ, God says to us, “You are my beloved son, you are my beloved daughter, with whom I am well pleased.” Now that is an amazing truth that comes from the Bible that we have to cherish and protect so much. I think that’s why I’m realizing more and more that Peter spends this whole middle chunk of just three chapters in 2nd Peter, talking about false prophets and false teachers. If you didn’t get a chance to hear last week’s sermon by Pastor Kenny, I suggest you please listen to it. It was really crucial. But today we start off from verse 10b where Peter gets into very detailed description of false teachers who don’t really know the truth and can lead us astray.

As we read this, one of the things I am reminded of is how when I was growing up, my mom was very concerned about the types of friends I made. When I was young I didn’t really understand but as I grew older, I started to appreciate her advice more. But it was usually after I had made really bad friends and did things I regretted. But Peter is trying to forewarn about the types of people that we should associate and try to become like. I just want to say upfront as I was reading about false prophets, we can’t get around the fact when in a great way – that’s all of us. Because we tell ourselves a lot of lies. We tell each other a lot of lies. It seems that the only way to really be a friend nowadays is not to really be a friend but to be someone who is compromising. To be someone who is tolerant and turns a blind eye. Or just say the things that other people agree with. But the more I think about this in light, especially in light of who God is, when God sees us in trouble, when God sees us not that close to Him, turning to things other than God’s word and church, God doesn’t just turn a blind eye. But He focuses so much of His attention, so much of His sight onto our lives. And not only looks at it and witnesses it, but wants to speak to us about it. That’s what this word here is doing for us today.

“When God sees us in trouble, when God sees us not that close to Him, turning to things other than God’s word and church, God doesn’t just turn a blind eye. But He focuses so much of His attention, so much of His sight onto our lives. And not only looks at it and witnesses it, but wants to speak to us about it.”

Irrational animals
It starts off with saying that bold and willful”, there are false teachers and a lot of times us, we don’t tremble, “they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord”. If you remember a few weeks ago, Peter was talking about how we are supposed to supplement our faith. By supplement it means to add onto our faith with virtue that leads to knowledge, that leads to self-control, and then steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. And as I was reading this, I was realizing that he also wants to show us that certain things lead us to other things. What it starts off with is pride. Us focusing on ourselves, thinking that we’re the most important beings. Bold, proud, and arrogant. Proud to the point where Peter says that we have a pride that we could blaspheme angels. Meaning, we think that we can judge angels. And if we think we can judge angels than how many of us could judge God? But Peter says even angels, though they are greater than us in might and power, they don’t pronounce a judgment onto us before God. Even though they are more powerful and greater than us, they don’t even look down and pronounce a judgment on us. They leave that to God. Yet, we think we could be like God and judge everyone, including ourselves. I think a lot of times when it starts with our pride, we tell ourselves who we are or who we think we should be. And we expect other people to be in certain types of ways. And it’s just a lot of judgment thinking this person isn’t that smart, that person is not that fun to be around with. But that’s a lot of pride for us to say things like that when we don’t realize that even though we’re total sinners, God loves us entirely and 100%. So it starts with pride and then it leads to being like irrational animals. I didn’t come up with this. Peter came up with this, inspired by the Holy Spirit. How many of us like being animals? I don’t really know a lot about animals because my mom need let us have a dog or cat. The only thing is when I was growing up my mom gave me a CD rom to learn a lot about the speed, strength, prowess about different kinds of animals. But when Peter talks about animals, unfortunately he is not talking about them in a very commendable way. He says, “But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you.” As a I was reading this, I was just thinking – man, let the word just speak for itself. There’s so much description. How many times have you noticed that when your focus or your gaze or trust is not on Jesus Christ, it’s so easy to be like an animal. But I’m talking about the sense that Peter, God Himself says “creatures of instinct”. We just do the first thing that comes to our mind. There’s no word of God. There’s no turning to a brother or sister for help and asking them for what they think is right. There’s no going to God for prayer, but we are just right off the bat born in our sin. There’s not escaping this. Born to be caught and destroyed. This reminds me of King David when he was saying in Psalm 51 that when we was born, he was born in iniquity. In His mother’s womb. That’s just crazy. A lot of us when we see a newborn baby, we’re like “Oh, they’re so cute!”. But I think don’t parents or us would look at a newborn baby and say, “Oh, born in sin you creature of instinct. You animal!”.

But God has the audacity and the love and courage to tell us, we’re born like this. We’re born so far from thinking. And yet in our generation we think that we’re thinking people. We think that we know how to be a friend, a son, a daughter, father, mother, neighbor, Christian. But we’re ignorant, set apart from God’s word. Without God’s word, we don’t know how to be any of these things. Because it’s God who designed all these things with His thought. And that’s something that we have to come back to. We can no longer assume and keep thinking that we know how to be a good friend. We need to turn to Jesus Christ who created friendship in the first place. And God has the courage to just say things for what they are. That when we try to be a friend by our own thinking and how we believe things should go, that we become blots and blemishes. We taint what’s a good pattern and way God has created. It says, “They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you.” So that pride leads us to animalistic instinct where we just do whatever we think is right even though it could be really wrong. And then at the same time we’re just feasting with other people. That leads to lust and then that leads to greed. “They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray.” I think when I read this, I have to keep reminding myself that this is coming from a loving father who is saying that a lot of times, our eyes, the way we look at the world comes with lust. “Enticing unsteady souls.” Meaning, God is not enough for us. Lust is when God is not enough for us. When God’s word and God’s church is not enough for us and we have to chase after other things – approval that might not be God’s, certain friends.

Unsteady souls
This is something that is very practical that as a church we’ve been constantly trying to really work out. Meaning, a lot of times it’s not good for us to be with certain people. It’s so hard for us to hear that. In our church, because of scripture, a lot of times Pastor Kenny and I or other leaders will notice certain relationships or certain friendships where it’s just a bad mix. On the outside it seems so cruel to say that two people can’t be friends. But I’m thinking more and more – what if those two people had the same exact addictions. Anybody with common sense, Christian or non-Christian, would know that if two people are caught in the same exact addictions then they are going to get destroyed by it. There’s no one there to be objective and help them out of it. I think that’s why a lot of times in church it’s a good thing for us not to be besties with somebody. A lot of times we hear, “If you have insecurities, don’t hang out with insecure people”. I’m constantly being asked about that. But if someone who is not doing well hangs out with someone who is not doing well, how can they truly be friends and help one another? If they don’t talk to one another and hang out, they just remain down and where they are. If they do talk to one another and all their focus and all they have is each other, they just spiral down. And Jesus Christ said things like that about the Pharisees because the Pharisees only hung out with people just like them. They thought they were so good. The blind just leads the blind. That’s why I am so challenged at church to not only hang out with people who are like me. It’s incredible thinking about how the whole reason why two people maybe shouldn’t talk with one another is so that they can be friends in the future. Not friends now but friends in the future once they get introduced to only one who could really save them with His word and that’s Jesus. It happened in my life. There were times where I hung out with someone or a group of people 24/7 and it totally consumed me. Scripture just knew what I was going through. They entice unsteady souls. Not a soul that was enraptured by Christ and had security. And neither did I. And all we did was use each other, use each other. Insatiable, couldn’t be controlled. We were trained in greed. But it’s really that we trained each other like that. At church, the hope, the amazing thing is that we’re getting trained by God’s word in redemption. Redemption from all these different things. We’re all addicts here. and the hope we have is that we don’t need to just hang out with people who are just like us to be comfortable. But we’re here because we need Jesus. Someone who is entirely different from all of us. Someone who won’t just turn a blind eye and tell us things what we want Him to say. But Jesus Christ who says things like this, to turn us back to Him. To save us.

“If two people are caught in the same exact addictions, then they are going to get destroyed by it. There’s no one there to be objective and help them out of it… That’s why I am so challenged at church to not only hang out with people who are like me. It’s incredible thinking about how the whole reason why two people maybe shouldn’t talk with one another is so that they can be friends in the future. Not friends now but friends in the future once they get introduced to only one who could really save them with His word and that’s Jesus.”

True Freedom
In verse 17 Peter starts to describe false prophets like waterless springs. “These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” I just talking with a group of guys earlier and just different people this past week about how a lot of people judge Christianity. A lot of people judge our faith because they think that going to church or following God’s word is something that really tames you or domesticates you. Or restricts you from being free, doing a lot of things that you want to do. But when I was thinking about this, when we’re just living by our passions and just our emotions, there seems to be that promise of freedom. That you can be just emotionally however you want. But then if we ask ourselves, are we truly free? I don’t think we would be able to say that we’re truly free.

For whatever reason a lot of times when we think of freedom, we think of it as doing whatever we want to do. But I was just so encouraged this past week when in different Bible studies and conversations, different people were mentioning how Jesus Christ could do something this amazing. Or this powerful. But He chose to do it in a very small ordinary way. That just made me think about who we are. It’s true. Church probably cannot stop us. Forcibly, physically we could do want we want. But we’re not here because we have to. But we should be here because we want to. We could do a lot of these different things that we want to do. But a lot of the freedom comes when we choose not to do these different things. A lot of times we get angry – a bad anger where we feel restricted. What I’m really encouraged by in scripture is that it doesn’t say, “Do this certain method and then your anger will be gone”. But scripture says go to Jesus Christ. Repent to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ teaches us how to love out of the love He has for us. That’s a true freedom. That Christ would love us and that that love would transform us. It’s not just us telling ourselves, “Don’t party, don’t hang out with this group of people, don’t do this don’t do that.” But Jesus Christ is constantly pointing us to the love that He has for us. So it’s not like, “If you do this, then there’s going to be negative points or penalties.” I think that’s a lot of times at any church how we think of Christianity. Like, “Oh man, if I do this then someone’s going to talk to me or something”. Or “If I do that, someone’s going to rebuke me or yell at me”. Jesus Christ is really not interested in strictly just telling us what a bad person we are. But Jesus Christ wants to point us to how much grace how we has for us. Even when we sinned. And it’s that grace that frees us from our sin and cause us to not want to continue in that pattern – in our pride, being like an animal, lust, greed. It’s the point where when we look at what Peter says next, this is just an amazing thing. Peter says, “For if after you have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

“But Jesus Christ wants to point us to how much grace how we has for us. Even when we sinned. And it’s that grace that frees us from our sin and cause us to not want to continue in that pattern – in our pride, being like an animal, lust, greed.”

Loving and serious warning to not turn from His grace
I know out of just face value when I read this, man that sounds so condemning. Doesn’t it? It sounds so negative thinking. Like, “Oh, I can know Jesus Christ for a moment but then if I go back to my old ways then God, are you just telling me that I’m just trash and that I’m condemned? Are you just trying to condemn me by pointing this out to me? But like I said at the beginning of this who message is we have to remember that what God wishes to say to us is, “You are my beloved son. You are my beloved daughter, with whom I am well pleased”. So when He is saying all this, He doesn’t want us to act in a way where we don’t know how loved we are by Him. Where we act in a way where the cross doesn’t mean anything to us. Like we’re just animals. Like where the cross where Jesus Christ became a human doesn’t mean anything to us. God is saying these things to us because He loves us and wants us to come to repentance. He loves us enough to say something so hard to hear. This is I think really hard to hear. That man God you would say things like, it would have been better for us to never have known you if we just hear about you and then turn back from Him? So what is God’s intention? God’s intention is that He wants us to really see that if we hear God’s word and if we’re here and we have any glimpse and taste of Jesus and His grace for us, we can’t turn back. We can’t turn back from this grace that God has given us. This is the worse possible thing that we could do.

I think when I think about this practically, what does it mean to turn back? Meaning, aren’t there times God where I spiritually just stumble or fall? Where I just mess up. I told myself, told you, told other people that I wouldn’t do this again. But it happened. God what do I do in that moment? Is the verdict done? Am I just an accursed child? Am I one of these? I think if we do that, we’re forgetting that the cross has a permanent, eternal, everlasting effect on us. This is the part where I just rejoice in. “Whew God, I just read some of the most heaviest stuff I read in scripture. I know you said this out of your love as a loving Father. You are warning me. But thank you at the same time that because of your son Jesus Christ, you remind me that no matter how much I sin, it’s not about me. It’s about you Jesus. It has to be about you.” This whole chapter started with saying that if we deny the Master who bought us, we’re false prophets. We’re a false teacher. We’re a false Christian. The one thing that cannot change is Jesus Christ. And knowing that, the most loving master and friend in the whole world bought us with His life. Jesus Christ bought us with His life. His life, His death, His resurrection. Blood. Everything. Jesus Christ loves us so much that He gave us His whole life for us. This past weekend my wife and I moved. The thing that I was saying to her yesterday after a long and tiring day was that I just feel so overwhelmed. So blessed that no matter what changes in our lives, we can move here or there. Money, smoney. Even health. What remains permanent and stays in our lives is Jesus Christ and the people He’s put. It’s God and people. Relationships built upon God’s word. I was so blessed and encouraged that no matter what happens, there’s brothers and sisters that God’s put in my life. I could be having the best day of my life but Jesus Christ and church needs to matter to me. I could be having the worst day of my life. Jesus Christ and church have been given to me by God. I don’t have to turn back to whatever my old ways were. Not thinking or just thinking about myself. Lusting and just going after something I shouldn’t be going after. Because of the fact that there’s something better than my vomit. There’s something better than my past and that’s the future that God just desires to give me and give us in Jesus Christ.

“God wishes to say to us is, “You are my beloved son. You are my beloved daughter, with whom I am well pleased”. So when He is saying all this, He doesn’t want us to act in a way where we don’t know how loved we are by Him. Where we act in a way where the cross doesn’t mean anything to us… I think if we do that, we’re forgetting that the cross has a permanent, eternal, everlasting effect on us.”

I just want to end with asking and encouraging you – Do you look forward to your future? Is your future in Jesus Christ? Who is your true friend? Is it Jesus Christ and the brothers and sisters that He brought into your life? Is this your true family? Is this the group of people that you really want to spend the rest of eternity with? If that’s the case then there’s a commitment to Jesus Christ. We can’t just be like, “Yeah, I’m going to spend eternity with these different people at church but I never want to talk with them that much throughout the week. Or at all.” That doesn’t add up. And I just hope and pray that you would read this. That this would really show you how just sinful you are and can be but at the same time don’t stop there. Go to the cross. God doesn’t want us to perish but wants us to reach repentance and know our love and joy is found in Him.

May 3, 2015 [2 Peter 2:1-10a]

May 3, 2015
[2 Peter 2:1-10a]
“Get a Clue”
Pastor Kenny Lee

The title came about people were just, because I have to come up with a title so that I can put it into our bulletin. You know I just got done writing it, making the outline, so I’m like super convicted, you know? I was like man we all need to get a clue. Get a clue. That’s the title, “Get a Clue”.  We all need to know what’s up; we all need to know what’s going on in our lives. So that’s what I’m hoping and that’s my future, that’s my thesis and hopefully that you’ll get a clue. Often times people ask me, Pastor Kenny you’re one of the older people in this church, how do you get accountability? You’re the lead pastor, the associate pastor is a little over half your age, and how do you stay accountable? I’ll tell you, this is just a side note by the way. I hear people and I see people loving Jesus, loving each other, I see people’s lives, I see stories about how God matters to them, and you know often times I’m like boy that puts me to shame. I need to change. I need to be transformed. How do I get accountability? Through bible study, in that bible study we grow in intimacy. We share stories of our suffering, of our trial, and often times my iniquities, my struggles, and I realize I have to change. In other words, I get my accountability from you guys. This week I was really affected by people at our church. Nothing spectacular. Just in their ordinary lives how they lived and it brought such conviction in my life, I need to be like that; I need to be like that. I need to be the same here, there, wherever you go. I need to be like that; I need to be consistent. I need to be filled up, not just puffed up. Not sensationalized. Wherever I go, I need to be what God made me. Just really convicted. And I love how God use people in our ministry and I see them transforming, I see them changing, and I’m like Lord me too please change me as well. It’s also a privilege to see people change write in front of me, its like ringside at Pacquiao fight, you know you’re right there. Sorry, sorry Jolo. But Pacquiao wins. Sorry, bad topic. We’ll go onto something else.

You know in this second chapter of 2 Peter, Peter sets the stage of his main concern. And what’s the main concern? Well, well let me just give you a recap of what he’s saying, right? God grants us all things. Do you know that God gave you everything that you’ve got? All the molecules in your body, your ears to hear, your eyes to see, your eyeballs to see, even that little cochlea… I never got what that was. How do you say it? Cochlea? You don’t know either? Anyways, God gave us everything and God gives us faith. Faith. Do you know what that means? God gives you the faith to get out of yourself; God gives you the faith to not depend on your emotions. God gives you the faith to trust him and his word. Do you have that faith or is it my way is still right? My way is the right way because it makes me feel good. You know those people who inject needles into themselves? They say that too. My way is right because it feels good. My way is right because it makes me feel good. But minus your feelings, God gives us the faith to do his will. God gives us faith to improve who we are, to become more like Jesus. So because of that faith we want to be virtuous. Virtue is not the end all be all folks. Because of faith, we want to be virtuous and because we want to be virtuous, we want to know what the Bible says. So we put that knowledge in our head of what the Bible says. And the Bible says to do this, but I really want to do that. The Bible says to love this person, but I really don’t want to love them. But because of the fact that the Bible says that you go “No, self control. I’ve got to love them. I love you dear brother, oh I love you.” It’s hard, you know. And what God says, what Peter says is you’ve got to be self -controlled and you have to be persistent, steadfast. I love you, I love you again, and be steadfast in that. Be strong. Persevere in that. Peter says that will lead you to godliness. That will make you realize what God is all about. And as you start doing that, “You know what actually, I thought you were very different from me, but actually you’ve pretty similar to me. You’re a sinner just like me. You’re messed up just like me. You may have a different car, a different skin than I do, you may be whiter, you may be darker, you may be purple, you know. You may have purple hair or blue hair, but at the core you’re just like me, you’re a sinner. You’re all right. You’re okay. And that brotherly affection, my friends, is what Peter says is eventually that will lead you to love. That will lead you to love. You think you could just love somebody? “Oh yeah, I think I love you.” You have to examine what love is. You think love is just like “Oh I love my parents.” No.

And what Peter says is we are to remind one another. We do not follow a religion that’s cleverly devised by people. But we follow a religion that’s by God and God alone. And what Peter says is, “You know, I was an eyewitness, I saw Jesus. And I saw when Jesus was baptized, I heard God, the Father speak, those were my experiences.” And what Peter says beyond that experience, who cares about my experience, even more than that. You know the Bible? Those prophecies were written by God and that was fulfilled in Jesus, it says so in the Bible. God himself says that. God himself stands on behalf of Jesus and says, “This is my Son, whom I love.” And if you look at the Bible from Genesis all the way to Malachi, Malachi all the way to Revelation, it talks about Jesus and give witness to who Jesus is all about, who God is all about. And Peter says that’s what kind of faith, that’s what kind of religion that we follow. A religion that is not made by man, but by God alone, you can rest in that. And because of that Peter says, “Til I die, til I am no longer in this body, I will always remind you. In fact I know what I am on death row right now because of preaching the gospel, what I’m going to do is now make sure that you are always reminded”, and thus we have this letter. And what Peter is saying is get a clue, get a clue to what is going on. Get a reality check of what’s going on. You sit here, you come here and what I say doesn’t mean anything to you, you’ve got a problem. You sit here it goes in one ear and out the other. You have a problem; because these words don’t come from me, it comes from scripture itself. You think you’re offending me? Oh no. Beloved CCC, its God himself.

And listen to what Peter says. Peter says to watch out, be aware. What Peter does is Peter uses an argument like, you see right now we’re in the New Testament, but you know how God used to act in the Old Testament, right? So God will act the same way now. Okay? That’s the argument he’s using now. So what he says is. Why because God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. God doesn’t change. Why? Because God is perfect. And that’s why we always have a problem with God, why is that? Or God has a problem with us, why is that? Because we’re imperfect you see. So when you read scripture, it goes against our very nature, but the thing is since God is perfect, and we all know God is perfect, that’s the attribute of God. He’s perfect. Guess who has to change? We do. We do.

At any rate, here Peter sets the stage and this is the main concern that Peter has. And it starts off it says “1But false prophets also arose among the people”, in the Old Testament there were false prophets. In every dispensation of the church, every dispensation of time in Christianity with God’s people, there have always been false teachers. Do you think anything is any different now? No. So what Peter says is but false people also arose among those people, the people, our ancestors. “Just as there will be (and are) teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who brought them.” Watch out. There are false teachers among us. There are people who preach the wrong message that promotes themselves. They promote their own gods, they think their way is faster; they have a faster truth, faster way, faster life. They think they know what the happiness is all about. They’re bringing their own ideas, they deny God all together, or even worse they use God to get their way. They promote themselves. Do you think that people who do that they’re like “I’m going to convert all these people to my way”? Do you think they do that? No, they don’t do that. They aren’t like Megatron “We will destroy them, unless they bow their knees to me”. You think these false prophets are like that? No. They genuinely think they are doing the work of God. They genuinely think they are good. Do you really think that people like Adolph Hitler, people like Saddam Hussein, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, do you think they are like “We’re evil, we’re going to plot and we’re going to destroy the world, we’re going to take over, rule over the world!” You know Pinky and the Brain? “What are we going to do?” to the Brain. “We’re going to rule over the world! We’re going to conquer the world!” Do you think that’s how Satan operates? Do you think that’s how you operate? No, no, no, no, no. We do that automatically. We do that automatically. No way. That can’t be. I’m just a young little person. I’m so innocent, that’s evil. I’m not evil; I’m good.

How do they start? Lets look at verse 2 2And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. Now lets look at sensuality. They will go with their feelings. They will be guided by their emotion. They will be guided by what feels good, not what is good what feels right, not what is right. I know its wrong, but it feels so right. You know what the church is teaching me, what the Bible is teaching me. It feels wrong, it must be wrong. “No, no, no. That guy is too cute; I have to see that guy. Yeah, I have to see that guy. He just feels right.” And what you’ll do is, you’ll use God, you’ll use all this, and do all that. And you’ll try to hang out with people that give you the answers that you want; you’ll try to promote that and all that. And what will happen is, you’ll feel very uncomfortable with God’s word, because of that you’ll feel uncomfortable with church. And you’ll get all these people to be on your side and you’ll leave the church. Promoting your own religion, promoting your own theology that somehow God wants you to be happy. Yes, God wants you to be happy. But God wants you to be happy IN HIM. God wants you to be happy, by serving God. Why? Because that’s how you’re made, that’s how you’re made, that’s your design, that’s what the Bible says, that’s your design.

 And if you don’t do what you’re designed to do, you’ll be miserable. It’s like me being an accountant. You think I’ll be happy being an accountant? Well maybe. But I’m not designed for that. Not that accounting is bad, yea CPA! You think I’ll be happy as an engineer? Not engineering is bad; I would love to be an engineer. I’m a pastor. That’s what God called me to do, that’s my design. But our overall design, you know what we’re called to do? Glorify God and to enjoy him forever, that’s what the bible says, that’s our calling. Do you think my happiness relies on my children? No, no. My happiness resides in the person who created my children. God and God alone. And his word resides in the 66 books of scripture. Anyone that tells you from their feelings or their heart… You know if they’re convicted by the word of God and in their heart they’re convicted and they share that’s very different. But at the center it has to be scripture, at the center it has to be God’s word, not mine. And not God’s word, tainted with my messed up views. That’s why we have the church you see. That’s why you have church. And in Scripture do you know as you grow up the Bible wants you to, God wants you to examine it for yourself. Why? Because our parents love us and all that, but our parents are human, they can kind of mess us up too. They can have their own brand of theology; they can have their own brand of what you guys think is right or wrong. It sounds right because why? Because you’ve been growing up with this stuff, look at Scripture. I’m not even telling you to look at me. I’m not even telling you to “I’m right, you’re wrong!” I’m not even saying that, what I’m saying is look at the Bible. Look at Scripture.

Many will follow their sensuality”. Many will follow their desires and what they want. And what we will do is, blaspheme the church. “3And in their greed they will exploit you with false words”, they will say any and everything to lure you. They will say any and everything to get their way. Listen, they will feed on your fears, they will feed on you insecurities and they’ll say anything and everything. “Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” What that means is, God is a God of justice. And God will judge, God will judge. God will destroy the unrepentant sinner. He goes into explaining the argument again, by looking to the past the Old Testament. Number one, God didn’t spare the angels. When the angels sinned, or when the angels were unrepentant, but sinful, God judged them. God “cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment”. In the ancient world, God flooded the world because of their unrighteousness. In Exodus, God judged Sodom and Gomorrah. You think somehow because your God, not my God, your God of just pure love and God will just forgive everything and forgive everyone, that’s not true, that’s wrong. You came to the wrong religion if that’s what you think. God does not excuse sin. God will not forgive people who do not ask to be forgiven. How can you forgive someone who hasn’t asked to be forgiven? “Oh I forgive him.” “Did they ask you?” “No.” How can you just forgive them? You can’t do that; you can’t do that.

Its funny, you know like I said in bible studies, I am the one who leads some of the bible studies, and often times you think that I don’t learn, but no, I learn a lot. Are you kidding me? Right now, we’re going through, I’m going through Genesis again. I went through Genesis, seven, eight times so far and it’s even better than before. I am absolutely loving it. Liz said something like this before, but I’m probably going to butcher this, so if you want to get the real quote, ask Liz Clash and she will tell you the quote, but its something along the lines of this. She said something like this “A wise person learns from their mistakes.” Aye that’s pretty good, you learn from your mistakes, right? And something along this line “A really wise person learns from other people’s mistakes.” Pretty cool right? And so I’m adding this in now. A truly, truly wise man will learn from Scripture.

Don’t you know that you only have one life? I don’t care how young you are. Don’t you know this is one life? Don’t you want to live in joy and freedom? I see young people growing up and they are so serious. They act older than me, I feel like they have a mortgage. I feel like they have a 9 to 9 job. Do you somehow think that you’re serious now and as you grow up you will get less serious? No. You’ll get even more serious. Don’t you see a problem with that, young people? So serious. Who taught you that? Not the Bible. Do you know what the Bible teaches me? Be as a child. Let the little children come onto me. Jesus says you’ve got to be as a child. I’m busy trying to be immature. I’m busy trying to be childlike. That’s what the Bible says. Do you think in your trajectory, in your trajectory of life, and think about this people, you think you’re serious now, you think you’re going to be less serious when you grow up? You think you’re going to be chill? You think you’re going to relax? No, you’re going to get even more uptight, even more grown up. There’s something wrong with that. There’s only one life that you have. There are no do-over’s. You know people who play video games, Mario Brothers; my children try to get the most lives as possible. At one time they had 100 lives or something, boy you must really stink, if you always die and you have to find out and get more live and more lives. Life isn’t like that, wouldn’t it be great if we were like cats and had nine lives. Wouldn’t it be great if we had all these lives? But no. We only have one life and this is it. At least in this world, there are no do-over’s. What are you to do? Are you going to believe in society? Are you going to believe in parents? You know even your parents; even your parents only have one life too. But this is something wonderful about God listen. You know where God is from, you know where God just God where he’s from? He’s from heaven. You know where Jesus is from? Jesus is from heaven. Jesus must know something; God must know something.

Listen, this is what Peter says and Peter’s making another connection, right? This is how God worked back then, he must work the same now. “7and if he rescued Lot (from Sodom and Gomorrah), greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked; 9then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials”. God was able to save Lot. God was able to save Noah. And what Peter was saying is that God must know something about saving the righteous. God must know and in fact he does. Do you know in both cases, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Noah, and all these cases, do you know what the difference between salvation and no salvation, salvation and destruction, you know what the difference was? Listening. Listening. Listening to God. Do you hear him? Even as I am talking to you, are you hearing me? Or are you just staring at your phone, pretending like you’re looking at scripture, but what you’re actually doing is just, chatting it up with somebody or looking at a website and everything. Are you listening? Does it matter? You’re just guarded and have an attitude. You’re not listening. You know with Noah. Build an ark, make it out of this wood, do this and do that. Don’t make it too high. Don’t make it too low. Make it exactly like this, make it like this, make it like that, make it so many cubits, make it so many width, and all of that. Why? That’s my vehicle for your salvation.

And the Bible is saying the same thing. The Bible tells us the same thing. The Bible is God’s word, and you know what the Bible says? Listen, beloved. The Bible is saying you can trust me. Jesus is saying you can trust me. God is saying you can trust me. How do I know you can trust me? Because you’ve placed me in a not so nice place in life, you gave me a bad father, bad mother, or you gave me a really good mother and good father, that I have to life up to their expectations, and you didn’t give me the gifts to do it. How do I know you’re good? Listen. Do you know that God says that I gave my one and only Son up for you? Do you know I gave you those parents that you eventually could meet me, that you could hear my words? Do you know that? Do you know that that cross was actually made for you, that that bullet had your name on it? But what I’m doing, God says is I’m sending my Son, so that he can take that bullet for you, so that he can get nailed to the cross. You can trust me. Just imagine you can trust me. How can I trust you? Instead of sending you to the front line, I’m going to send my Son to the front line, that’s how much I love you. You can trust me. And this God is saying listen to me, don’t listen to the desires of your heart.

You know when I was younger I was afraid of needles; I still hate needles. I hate the hospital; I hated the hospital. I remember this one time. I had to get inoculated they had that shot, I ran away as far as I could. It took like my mom told me it took five-six hours. I hated it, but if I didn’t get that I’d be dead. If I didn’t have that I’d be dead. Thank God, my mom and dad were there to drag me kicking and screaming. I had such fear of it. I still remember it now that was at the age of four or five. I still remember it now, that’s how much fear I had. But thank God, that my mom and dad had the love to hold me, even though I hated it. And as that needle came into my body and that fluid came into my body to save me, but I hated it so much. Don’t you know that God is good? You need to have self-control. Stay. Listen. Go against your comfort and I’m telling you right now listen to God’s word. I’m not even telling you to listen to me. Well if I’m taking it from scripture and telling you, we both have to listen to it. I’m begging you, for your sake, not for mine, for your sake, listen to God’s word. Jesus loves you.

April 26, 2015 [2 Peter 1:12-21]

April 26, 2015
[2 Peter 1:12-21]
“Peter’s Call: The Christian Life”
Pastor Kenny Lee

Peter loves Jesus Christ. After all, he is an apostle. We always want to know God’s will for us. We want to know what the Christian life is all about. We discover in this section of Scripture what Peter is all about. I know that because Peter is about to die, and when someone is dying they look back on their life. They look at the person they love and tell them what is on their mind and heart. They tell them what they have been working towards all their life. A person who built up their entire life doing business would say on their deathbed, “Take care of all my transactions. Be sure to make smart decisions. Grow the company bigger.” A person who loves education might say, “My PhD has served me well. You only have a BA. Get a higher education.” People who love their family would urge, “Talk to your brother. Talk to your sister. When you get married concentrate on your wife. Be good to her.” That is the most important. As Peter is penning this letter, he is in jail. He knows that he is going to die soon. 2 Peter 1:14, “Since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me.” We see this section of Scripture as Peter’s dying wish.

[[So what does a man who loves Jesus Christ
and will die for Jesus Christ say?]]

What are we as people who are committed to Christ, or supposedly committed to Christ, and gave up their life for Christ, or supposedly gave up their life for Christ, to do? Peter’s call should be embraced by our life. What Peter says should be embedded in our life. That should be our calling in life. It should be the Christian life.

What is Peter’s call? “12Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.13I think it right as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder.” Therefore means because of everything that Peter said before. Peter is saying that as long as he has his body he will remind you. Many of us hang out and chill. We call it fellowship. We use that term so loosely. Two Christians playing basketball, that’s fellowship. No, it’s not. It’s basketball with a guy who happens to be Christian. Do you know what you do when you fellowship with people? You talk about things that matter. You remind each other of these qualities that Peter is talking about. Let’s go back. What are these qualities? Peter starts off by saying that our faith is in equal standing with him. 2 Peter 1:1, “Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” From this faith our knowledge of God grows, and as it grows grace and peace will abound. As your start knowing and experiencing God more, grace and peace are multiplied. 2 Peter 1:2, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ our Lord.” As our knowledge of God increases, grace and peace is multiplied. Beloved church, how is your walk with God? Does your knowledge of God multiply your grace? Does your knowledge of God multiply your peace? As you are going on through life, do you find yourself more gracious and peaceful or more judgmental, harsh, and insecure? Peter wants to remind us of these things.

Secondly, what’s added to this faith is virtue. “5For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge.” Many people want to be virtuous on their own. They want to be good people. “Look at me. I’m serving the church. I’m cleaning the bathrooms.” God says that is what you’re supposed to do. You shouldn’t be applauded for those things. Your faith will drive you to do wonderful things. These are a supplement, not the main thing. The main thing is the grace, peace, and knowledge of our Lord. We always think it is about what we do. “Look Pastor Kenny, I’m doing all these wonderful things. I’m hanging out with the church.” Yeah, but you have no faith. It is not the main thing. It is the by-product. Your faith should drive you to virtue because you want to know more about God’s virtue, and because of that you learn Scripture even more. Because you know what the Bible says you’re self-controlled. “6And knowledge with self control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness.” What that means is if you want to do something, like run away from people because you’re afraid, you’re self control says, “No, God’s word tells me to turn back.” You’re inkling is to be lazy at home. “No, I need to turn back.” You’re self-controlled. It’s not a prescription. “I’ve done my good deed for the day. Now I feel better. Let me go back to my old ways.” This is your identity. This is your way of life. We are self-controlled. We are steadfast. One of the reasons Michael Jordan was so great was because he was the first to practice and the last to leave. It takes perseverance in the Lord. It starts with your faith, and if you have a right faith you will grow in all these things.

That steadfastness will lead you to godliness. As you start knowing God, you want to become like Him. God loves God’s people. He loves his people so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for them. If you love God, you will love his people.  7And godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” Doesn’t that make sense? If I don’t like something, my kids don’t like something. When parents love the church, their kids love the church. If parents don’t love the church, their kids don’t love the church. We are called to be just like children in front of God. And God loves His children. When Pastor Brendon and Rebecca have little Rebecca’s and little Brendon’s, I am going to love whatever comes out. Why? Because I adore Pastor Brendon and Rebecca. It is because of the relationship I have with them. What does your relationship with your Heavenly Father do to you? Does it make you run away? Does it make you fear? Does it make you alone? Then you have the wrong God. Then you have the wrong Lord. Or as you grow, does it make you gracious, peaceful, and loving? Out of that brotherly affection will come love. We are in a world where we say we can love everybody. It is not that easy. Love is a process. For example, “At my job all I have to do is act this way for eight hours a day. Then I’m okay. I act like I’m confident.” In Christianity it doesn’t work like that. In the world it is all about putting up a good front. It doesn’t matter what’s on the inside. Everything is about putting on a good show because that is how we are. That’s how our personalities came to be. If you have a good personality, you want to show that off before anything else. You’re pretty. You don’t want to show your personality, you just want to show your looks. You have a decent family. You hide behind your wife and kids. In the words of a well-known pastor, you want to be puffed up. You could go on through life being puffed up with hot air. That’s not Christianity. Christianity wants to fill you up with something solid. I give this analogy where you fill a balloon up with cement or and another balloon with hot air. If you look at either balloon it looks the same. When do you notice the difference? When hardship comes around. One balloon will burst; the other will hold its shape. It is really interesting when things do not go well in your life to see how you guys react, to see how I react. Will you stand firm or will you grow bitter and alone? That’s how you know what’s on the inside. Are you puffed up or filled up? Peter is asking you, what do you have on the inside? Peter is reminding you at the end of all it should be about loving Christ. Or are you just here for a good show? Peter knows his life is short. Young people, you think your life is long? Who are you going to live for, God or yourself?  Where is your loyalty? Leave the ideologies of your parents. What I’m telling you is go to Scripture. Don’t go to anything- psychology, education, science. In this world we think if we become educated somehow that will change us. If you educate a criminal who shoplifts, when he becomes educated he will steal the whole store. At the heart of the matter nothing has changed. What you want is to be changed. You need to be born again. You want to be made anew. We only have about eighty years in this life. I am a middle-aged man. I am half way. Yesterday, I thought I was in high school. You don’t believe me ask your parents. Ask anyone older. People, wake up! You’re life is not that long.

Listen, do you know where our faith comes from? We have a faith that is credible. It doesn’t come from one person who had a vision. It doesn’t come from smart people in a lab who say “Big Bang.” Our faith is supported from eyewitness, people who genuinely did not believe Jesus Christ was the Son of God. 2 Peter 2:16, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. Do you think the people that followed Jesus just believed that he was he was the Messiah? They had to rationalize it. That’s why when they realized this Messiah isn’t the Messiah they were waiting for, they all fled. These people were agnostic at best. They wanted to believe, but they couldn’t believe. These are the eyewitness accounts of these kinds of people. They are people who feared and doubted. But as they are with Jesus, they heard God the Father speak. “17For when we received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, 18we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.” There is a witness to where God the Father said something about his Son. These are people who just didn’t believe. Some of you guys are raised in a family where your parents say, “Just believe!” You guys are semi educated and think, “How can I just believe?” These people are like that. They heard this and start thinking about it. Peter heard the voice of God. Jesus did not proclaim himself. Peter heard God proclaiming who Jesus is. Peter was at the transfiguration. He was on the holy mountain. 

It doesn’t’ even stop there. We have a prophetic word. “19And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.”  We have the Bible. If you knew the Bible, it would confirm so many things for you. Do you know the Bible? Don’t assume that you do. I have a whole library that says I don’t know the Bible. There are whole volumes devoted to Genesis 1. More than all of this, the Bible confirms this. Peter is saying it will do you well to pay attention to God’s word. Are you in the dark? Do you know where you are going? Think about the people whom you are comfortable with. That describes your spirituality. If you find yourself in the dark, if you find yourself lonely, look to Scripture. Know this, that every bit of Scripture is not a person’s brain, no man thought of it. Every word of Scripture is inspired by God Himself. 21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” If you look at the 66 books of the Bible, written through time and space that spans thousands of years, and how the thought is coherent is one, it’s God. God wrote those words using flawed sinners. God uses ordinary things so that he can show the world that He is extraordinary. We are so interested in making ourselves extraordinary. God can’t use extraordinary people. God will use ordinary people so that He may look extraordinary. The word of God is carried along by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives inside of those whom God loves. The Holy Spirit resides in those who hear, listen, obey, and act on God’s word. Does God love you? Yes, He does. It says so in His word. “That God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whosever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” I ask that even though you may think you’ve given your life to Jesus, give your life to Jesus and commit to God. Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, and strength. That will lead you to love others.

April 19, 2015 [2 Peter 1:5-11]

April 19, 2015
"The Right Motivation"
[2 Peter 1:5-11]
Pastor Brendon Wu

Yes your honor, my name is Peter. Full name, Simeon Peter.”

“Did you pen these words? For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,[e] and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities[f] are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful 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.

“Yes your honor. I did”.

“Are these thoughts from you and you alone?”

“No, I was inspired by the Holy Spirit. So it’s not my own words or own interpretation but it’s the Holy Spirit”.

“Do you understand why you are in this court today?”

“Yes, you think that I am being hypocritical. Or being the opposite of what I just said.”

“Yes, that is quite right. You were saying that God’s grace and peace will multiply to us. That it was His divine power that has granted to us all things that pertain to life. It was He who called us to our own glory and excellence. It was He who granted to us His precious and very great promises. How can you stand in this court, this institution and say before all this people that we are supposed to make every effort to supplement that faith with all these other things we are supposed to do when you just said that it’s supposed to be God doing all these things.”

Freedom versus imprisonment             
This didn’t really happen. But in all seriousness, the passage we see today almost seems the opposite of what we just heard. But our passage today starts with “for this very reason”. It’s talking about all these virtues. But we have to have the right motivation for these things. Otherwise it just doesn’t make sense. I remember growing up, one of the things that my tiger parents instilled within me was – “Hey, when you work, you gotta work hard. You gotta labor like a horse.” A lot of times at church and when we’re reading scripture together, we hear how much work we have to into relationships that matter. One of the things I hear a lot of times from us as a community or I hear from my inner self is, “Man, that can be really tiring and everything”. Yesterday, I had the awesome privilege to scope my body and work on my guns, helping different people move furniture. Some of us 15 guys who didn’t know anything, had this golden privilege yesterday of going to our brother Ricky’s house to do yard work. He basically made it known to us that we did 20 minutes worth of work in 1 hour. Wow, very humbling! But as we were pulling weeds out of the ground and doing different things most of us white collared men would never do, I started realizing – this is the life! As I was joking with some of the guys about those movies where prisoners are chained together on the side of the road, doing all this community service. It just made me realize that if we were pulling weeds like that or doing other stuff, it just wouldn’t be fun. It wouldn’t have the same effect. And if I didn’t know Ricky I would just be like, “Why am I in the backyard of this strangers house doing all this stuff?” 2 hours later… the same thing.

But the fact is we know Ricky. We know each other. And I think there is a difference between having right motivation and not having the right motivation. Not just with yard work but with all of life. It’s the difference between freedom and imprisonment. It’s the difference between coming to this church and feeling like there’s so many things you just have to do and the ways that you have to measure up to God and what God is calling you to do and this huge do to list that you will never finish. It’s the difference between all the things you have to do (imprisonment) versus being free. Having the freedom to love to do these things because of the relationships that we have. Peter says, For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith. And I really want to spend some just looking at those words.

What it means to supplement
Last week we heard about how it’s grace and peace that is multiplied to us by God. It’s God alone in His divine power that rescues us and saves us and gives us a very special identity. The identity of being a Christian, and then everything after that. So for this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith. I think that word supplement is very interesting. Not only because lately when I’ve been looking at food, I only see Ms. Sol’s face reminding me - “Does this have seven or less ingredients?? If not, watch out!”. And then brothers reminding me, “Carb up! Carb up! Eat everything with protein! Take supplements”. So I’ve been taking B3, B12, Vitamin D, folic acid, fish oil. Supplements. They’re not the main thing I take. It’s something you add in onto. And the way Peter is using this word supplement, in the original way He is talking about it, he’s actually meaning to say, “Add”. Isn’t that interesting? Because if we go back to verse 2, Peter was saying, May grace and peace be multiplied. Remember 5 x 5 is 25. It’s multiplied. May grace and peace be multiplied to you. But in addition to that, there is something that we’re supposed to add. So in another words, grace and peace in our relationship with God is the big thing. But there’s something on top of that, that we’re supposed to have. That we’re just supposed to add onto. One at a time. One plus one, plus one, plus one. As we think about this, there is something to it in the sense that when he says to supplement our faith with these seven things – virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love – that as we add to our faith these things, it’s not the main thing. It’s not the biggest thing. And at the same time those aren’t the things that multiply in our lives but they get added in our lives.

A lot of times I think of God’s grace like an ocean. A lot of times our sin like a drop of water. But the amount of God’s grace is like an ocean. And I think even in this kind of way, every time we go to Ocean City together, it’s not like you can swim the whole ocean. But every time you step into it, your body gets totally drenched. An a little bit of that ocean gets added to you. You still marvel at the fact that there’s this whole ocean that we can’t possibly comprehend or attain. But it’s just beautiful and marvelous. At the same time when we step into it, we’re adding a little bit of joy into our lives. We splash around, splash each other. I think that’s what Peter is saying here. There’s a relationship with God that we have. His amazing grace that we can’t fully grasp by ourselves. But there are things added to it. Things that we learn along the way.

Make every effort, by God’s grace that is powerfully at work in you
He says to make “every effort” to add this to our faith. Make every effort. If I asked you right now, “If you just use your mind, can you slide your body into Ocean City from here?” So far none of you have disappeared. So because of that, the answer is – no, you cannot. First we must carpool. And if you know things about our generation, carpooling is one of the hardest things for us to do. People are saying that they live an hour away in places like Bel Air. Other people are saying, “Well, I finish work at five but I have three hours of commuting traffic”. Whatever the case, carpooling is hard work. And then when you finally get into the car, there’s always one person that doesn’t chip in for gas. And you have to deal with that emotional distress. Along the way, being people who don’t eat on time, we have to stop by McDonalds. But some girls and a few guys are watching their .. physique so they don’t want McDonalds. And you’re just thinking, “Well, I’m just trying to get to the ocean. Does it matter if we eat a Big Mac or not?” And then along the way someone warns that there’s a lot of cops so we can’t drive 100 mph. So we have to drive 50 mph. And then finally when you get there, being the community that we are, we love to loiter. Even when there’s nothing to loiter after, we love to loiter before, during, and after. And even after that we’re getting stuff out of the car which takes 15 minutes. By that time you had planned on getting to the ocean by 10 am but it’s already 2 pm! And then when you get to the ocean, more complaining. And you realize, you don’t even have kids yet! Imagine what your kids will be like. And then finally after that, you’re buddies tell you, “Hey, you gotta apply sun tan or you’ll burn to a crisp”. And the bottle says, “Wait, 30 minutes”. So you wait 30 minutes on that beach, looking at that ocean. And you’re wondering, what is this? And then finally we get into the ocean. And we let our hearts go, “Yeahhhh!!!!”.

I’m not just venting why I don’t like to go to OC as much anymore. But if that means something to you, change those bad habits! But for the sake of this sermon, Make every effort. When we want to go into that Atlantic, man we make every effort. And I’ve seen us do it every time. We will put up with each other, we will eat the Big Mac, we will chip in for gas, and then we will put on the sun tan and wait. 28 minutes. And then we will go into the ocean. Because we make every effort. Peter is saying that Christianity is not just this thing where you think, “Oh, you want to go to ocean city? Okay, you’ll just get raptured into Ocean City”. But we have to make efforts to go there. And we make every effort to. So I want to share something that the great reformer Martin Luther said. “Yes, it is true that we are saved by faith alone. By grace alone. But the faith that saves is never alone.” Or if you want someone a little more youthful D.A. Carson said, “The dominant Biblical pattern is neither ‘Let go and let God’ nor ‘God has done His bit, and now it’s up to you’. But rather since God is powerfully at work in you, you yourself must make every effort”. In another words, the Biblical pattern is not “Oh just let go, and just let God, and just get teleported magically somehow into His ocean of grace. Let go and let God.” And it’s also not – “Oh, God saved us. Now it’s all up to us to do everything”. But it’s somewhere in between. Where His God is powerfully at work in us, we must make every effort, by God’s grace. That’s a Christian. Are you just a let go and let God person? Or are you a, God has done His bit, now it’s up to me. Maybe you are a Christian but maybe you’re struggling with this. But in our passage today it has to be somewhere in between where we count on God’s grace and spirit to make every effort to grow closer to God.

Supplement your faith
How does this work? It says, For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith. So there’s a foundation. It’s our faith. And the whole essence of faith is not looking at ourselves but looking at God. Faith isn’t – “How much are we growing?” or things like that. But faith is looking at Jesus Christ and counting on Him. I think that’s really important because a lot of times when we look at these virtues, we always make them about ourselves. Whether it’s in the church or outside of church, we make them about ourselves. Yesterday, I was talking with a friend and I was just saying, “Man, I don’t really understand what a virtue is”. And he was like, “Confucius”. I didn’t understand but he was saying that it reminded him of Confucius or Confucian family values. Being honorable. Being faithful. Caring about the family. And as he started to say that, he started to prick open my mind. He started making me think a lot of the different ways that we see virtues and good qualities. And when we see these virtues, it’s not just things that we improve on ourselves. Rather, we look to Jesus Christ and realize that we don’t have them in of ourselves. But this is what Jesus is like. And there’s a freedom to that.

This past week I was catching up and hanging out with some people from my family and when I asked them, “Hey, how are you doing?” My relatives felt strange and kind of awkward about really sharing about what they were going through. I see them a lot so I wonder, “When are they finally going to be able to share?”. Now if you met my relatives, you would really believe that on the outside, morally they are very honest and upright people. In our society and culture when it comes to honesty, we think of it as just being moral and having integrity, not telling lies, being straight. But as I started to think about it more, I realize that a lot of times we use this outside honesty to really mask and to hide what’s really going on inside. And so we won’t tell lies. We will do all the right things on the outside. But on the inside we just can’t share how we are really doing. How we are feeling. And it just hit me so much because a lot of times I text with people from our church. And a lot of times like a sister or brother will ask, “Hey PB :) How’s it going?”. I’ll respond that I’m okay and that I’m kind of tired. And when I ask them how they are doing they respond, “Oh, it’s alright!”. I’m like, okay that’s cool. “Alright, catch you later!”. This is why texting is always really awkward!! But then it’s weird because this past week as I was reading this, I was appreciating more how some of us I don’t know what’s wrong with you but just text, “PB, I feel judgmental today. I don’t know why. I think it’s that time”. What??! Or “Hey, I just feel really irritated at so and so.” But it’s just so refreshing. How many times when we just talk with each other we’re like, “Hey, how are you?” and the other person just responds with a whiff “I’m fine.” Move on.

How refreshing is it that we can have enough honesty and freedom in God, and it’s only in God and Christ, to be able to say “You know, I’m going through this in this way, in this time. Could we talk about it together and look to God?” So when I see these virtues, these aren’t just where we’re good and we’re upright. Just more virtues that we tack on. But it’s added onto our faith. It’s supplemented into our relationship with God. And whatever you or I think of when it comes to knowledge, virtue, and steadfastness, just consider that wrong. Because we’ve grown up in this world to see these things in a very different way than I think how God intends. Growing in so much knowledge and how much you know and that makes you godly and the more you know, the more godly you are. But one thing that I have learned so much from our church is that, the more that I get to know Jesus Christ and everything, the more I realize that I don’t know. It’s so opposite of how I grew up.

The order of virtues
Why this order of virtues? I would say that your guess is as good as mine. Unless your guess is really really bad. But I was playing around with this order and just trying to figure it out. Is there an order to the virtues that are here? I was thinking maybe our faith, our relationship with God leads to us having more excellence. And then, after that we need knowledge for it. Know how to be virtuous. But then what’s the point of knowledge without self-control? If you know a lot of things but you don’t have self-control, what’s the point of self-control and resisting temptation if you can’t be steadfast or persevere in it? I could be like, “I have great self-control!” Two minutes later. I don’t know what happened to my self-control. Most people would agree that I didn’t really have self-control. What’s the point of persevering if you’re not godly and just being jerk? You could persevere at being a mean person. I don’t think this is what it’s saying. You need godliness too. What’s the point of being godly or like God if you’re the only one who thinks your godly and you don’t show affection or care about other people? And what’s the point of showing affection and trying to care for other people if you don’t even know what love is?

In that kind of way, I don’t think there’s a chronological order in that you have to work on step one, step two, step three, and then get through the rest. But there’s a logical order. The only reason I mention this is because I just think it’s awesome how at different times and in different ways, we learn to become more like God in these different ways. But for us so many times we think our Christianity has to be “a step 1, step 2, step 3, how do I get on the right path” kind of religion. And it’s not. These things naturally flow from leading one thing to another. I was thinking about this so much. Let’s get into it more in Bible study. The main thing is, if you notice even before these seven things, it starts with our faith. It doesn’t start with, looking at ourselves. But it starts with faith and looking at Christ. And then if you see the last virtue, it culminates and ends with loving Jesus Christ. In another words, it begins and ends with Jesus Christ. Without a relationship with Jesus we can’t have these things.

Being good versus loving Jesus
Is your Christianity, your relationship with God, focused on these qualities and things like this? Or is your Christianity focused on Jesus Christ? And this is the big difference between being good and loving Jesus. Do you know that being good, being a good person, according to scripture, is not better than being a bad person but actually worse? I don’t know the exact verse off the top of my head but in Isaiah it says, Our good deeds are like filthy rags before God. In Philippians 3, Paul says to the point where he declares he had a lot of good deeds. Good qualities. But all these things because of knowing Jesus, I’m going to consider them rubbish. Like a smelly baby diaper. Or just garbage. Just trash. Just dung. And yet so many times, how often are we preoccupied with being good. Just a good person. I wanna just tell you not by my own words, just like Peter he didn’t write this based on his own thinking, but scripture says to all of us today, you are not a good person. And if you think you are a good person, you’re wrong. And you’re on a bad, bad path. You think you have more knowledge than other people? You don’t know anything more than anyone else than. You have self-control? I don’t really know the intimates of our lives but if we think we have control all the time, we definitely don’t. Do we think we know brotherly affection on our own? We don’t. But then God’s not expecting that. We expect that out of ourselves and out of each other. To be these good, moral virtuous people. And one thing that has helped me so much is that I thought growing in holiness meant becoming more godly, and then becoming more disciplined, and then more responsible. But more and more I am realizing why Peter starts with this command, Make every effort to supplement your faith, with For this very reason, is because I need to, we all need to remember that we are not virtuous good people on our own. And this is why Jesus Christ died for us.

Jesus’s love for His Father
There was a story that my friend shared a few years back. I stayed over his place one night and he was talking about how when he grew up starting from age five, we learned how to play the piano from his father. His father was really good at piano. But my friend was telling me how he saw how good his father was at playing piano. So he practiced so hard. Age five. Age six. Age seven. All the way until he was about twenty-three. He played so hard and practiced so much every single week. Now I would say he made every effort. At times he said it was like a part time job. He would put in 20-25 hours. He practiced so much to the point he got better than his dad. His dad has gotten old so he doesn’t play as well. But thing he said was that, whenever he hears his dad play the piano, the father plays it more beautifully than the son. Because you can just tell when the father plays the piano and hits all those keys with his fingers, there’s just love coming out. He loves to play the piano. And he loves to play for his family. For his son. And that’s the difference between his father and him. The son just plays it well and plays a lot of amazing impregios and things like that. But his father, when he plays, just plays beautifully. And it’s because of the love he had in him.

When I was reading this passage this past week, I started thinking about it and I started writing to my old friend. Just telling him, I realized through your story and more as I was reading 2 Peter, that I spend so much time growing up trying to please my dad and my mom. I could have spent all this time getting to know my dad instead of trying to please him. Now I’m 27 years old, I just recently started getting to know my dad. Getting to know my mom. Not trying to please them. What’s the point of having knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, all these things if I don’t realize how much God loves me? I see a lot of us, people in our church, spending and wasting so much time, trying to be good. Do the right thing. Just be pleasing. Instead, we could enter into a relationship with God. Into an eternity of love with God our father. And have a relationship with a God who already loves us. How much time are you going to spend? How much time are you going to waste in your life? And you can be grown people who don’t live with your parents anymore. But then again, I’m not talking about our relationship with our parents. That’s part of it. But it’s mainly our relationship with God, our heavenly father.

How much time are you going to spend and waste trying to do all right, good things in life? Saying the things you should say. Doing all the things you should do. You think being that kind of good person will save you? It won’t. Little do we know we were damned thus far in our lives growing up like this. It’s only because of Jesus and only because of the word that saves us. This is the difference between whether you are Jesus or like a Pharisee. They both did good works. Pharisees did lots of good works. We think they are so high up there, never getting their hands dirty. But no, they did lots of good works actually. They were very proud of that and they let all of us know. I mean literally all of us know because it’s in scripture and 2000 years later we’re reading about it. When it came to offering time, it wasn’t a little red basket that was beautifully crafted by one of hour sisters J. Couldn’t possibly fit all the money they were going to offer. They had this huge gold container. They were generous. But you know when I think about that these Pharisees did the good, right thing on outside. They put many coins into this offering container. But it just doesn’t compare to our Savior Jesus. My Savior Jesus. When Jesus made His offering, He didn’t care about people being pleased with what He did. He wasn’t living life for another human being. He wasn’t doing it because it was the good, right thing to do. But when Jesus was offering up His life, He put all His love into this sacrifice on the cross. And that love came from His relationship with the Father. That’s the kind of love that we have to begin with. The only right motivation is a love that comes from God our Father, who says to us who are in Christ, “You are my beloved Son, my beloved daughter, with whom I am well pleased.”