Sunday, January 25, 2009

Spiritual Integrity Part 2


2 Peter 1:1-8 “Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

What’s the most powerful thing you can think of? In relational terms it may be a woman scorned. In earthly terms it may be a hurricane, or a huge volcano blowing up. In bigger terms it would be a super nova, a star that has literally exploded. One of Hubble’s pictures is of two galaxies that are in the midst of colliding. Now, it’s not like a car crash where screech, boom, bang it is over. It is unimaginable amounts of time with billions of stars and gas clouds and black holes slamming into one another – utter chaos. Take one step further and consider the one behind that wastefulness of creation. Consider the power of God…

“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings…” Philippians 3:10

The power of His resurrection (God) reaches into a realm that we have very little information of or experience with. Before we consider what happened with Jesus, let’s remind ourselves with Lazarus. He was dead for four days. Word had been sent to Jesus earlier but He delayed a couple days and finally arrived. First Martha met Him, then Mary. He was troubled at their sorrow. He was troubled that people said if He had been here Jesus could have healed Lazarus. John 11 “Jesus said, "Remove the stone." Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, "Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?" So they removed the stone Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. "I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me." When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth." The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go." “

What do you do with that? How do you get your head around what happened? There are no descriptions outside of Lazarus being bound. The earth didn’t shake, no lightening – but there was a power there in Jesus that raised the dead. The power goes beyond just the physical part of you and I into the soul, into the part of us that causes the heart to beat and the lungs to breathe.
And then Jesus died. He was raised, though, not just because of a command, but because of an accomplishment – a work that was finished and found satisfactory. Jesus was raised because His death was sufficient payment for sin. The power of God that conquered sin, Satan, and death blew that rock from the entrance of the tomb and raised Jesus Christ from the dead. That same power resides where? In Heaven? Yes! There is a temple here on earth where it resides too, and that is in the heart and life of every believer, every follower of Jesus Christ. Paul said I want to know Him and the power of His resurrection. There is a connection of this power to holiness, to sanctification. It was the sinless life of Jesus that was sufficient. As you and I pursue holiness, as we pursue a life that is pleasing to God, we come to experience that power because it is a connection to God in Christ-likeness.

Then there is the fellowship of His suffering. This is the part where we say, “Hold it – let’s go back to the power and the abundant life!” This verse is talking about the tension between the finite and the infinite; between the present and the eternity; between the citizenship we have here on earth and the one we have in heaven. This suffering is focussed on the stuff of this earth. It is about the priority it places in our life. Muslims suffer in places around the world for their faith, as do Buddhists and Hindus and atheists, and the list goes on. What Paul is talking about here is the community of sharing. What makes Christianity unique is the Holy Spirit working in and through us binding us together. Our community is not just the people in Saskatoon, but includes those in the Philippines, in Cameroon and Britain; all around the world. Paul wants to experience the fellowship of those around the world with whom he is connected to through the Holy Spirit, and he is not afraid of the hard stuff. Read Hebrews 11 again and see how people have suffered over the years for their faith. And that is just a tip of the iceberg of stuff that continues in parts of the world. In the province of Orissa in India we have had reports last fall of very serious persecution. Who prays for them if we don’t? Who prays for those on the Ndop Plain in Cameroon who are afraid of owls if not us?

So, you want that power in your life? Who wouldn’t? Well, there’s a price to pay, and it is amazing how few people are willing to pay it. People say I want it but they won’t pay for it. The price is simple – it is everything. You have to be willing to give everything up – relationships, prestige, power, money… everything, and follow Jesus. We are willing to lose out in the long term so often when we pursue the selfish short term stuff. Some people are afraid that Jesus is just out to spoil our fun. God created fun – He wants you to have joy unspeakable as His creation. He wants you to have an abundant life. But you have a choice. Look at 1 John 2 “Do not love the world nor the things in the world If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. “ Do we really think money will make us happy? Do we really think pursuing pleasure will give us lasting happiness? The stuff of this world is so fleeting. It is like trying to grasp sand. Even as you hold it the sand is sliding between your fingers. Jesus said to seek Him first and all those other things will be added to you. There is a cost, but the payout is guaranteed in eternity and second to none. Don’t leave this place today without giving Jesus everything.

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