Last time we looked at how to add temperance to our knowledge. For a quick recap of that devotion, check out the stats below:
Definition: Submission of our will to God, giving him control of our development.
Scripture reference: 1 John 1:8-10; admit that we need God and that God is looking to help us with our faults and developing us into godly people.
Application: By giving God control in our lives, He will guide us in how to be the best Christian we can be. The knowledge, virtue and faith we gain in Christ will be tempered by the wisdom of God, thus making us the most effective servant we can be in His kingdom. Our actions will reflect a true follower of Christ rather than what we desire on our own.
The next step in this transformation process is to not get out ahead of ourselves. In order to be truly tempered in our approach to serving in God's kingdom is to live a life of patience. Let's examine:
Patience: Being unswerved from a deliberate purpose and loyalty to God by even the greatest trials and sufferings
Patience is not an easy thing to attain, much less retain. In a world where we expect to receive instant gratification for minimal effort, patience holds little value to many. We want success before we put in the necessary effort. We desire accolades just for showing up to participate. Patience has been supplanted by privilege, and it's eating a generation alive. When live with a privileged mindset, we find ourselves frustrated when things don't go our way. As a result, we tend to give up before really get going in our pursuits.
A return to patience is what we need. The above definition shows us not only what it takes to be patient but also it inherently reveals the benefits of such a commitment. Let's break down a key part of that definition:
Unswerved: Not moving from the path that is set.
We often hear that insanity is constantly repeating the same thing and expecting different results. However, sometimes it takes 100 attempts before we see the results we are looking for. A body lifter won't have the muscle definition they desire from one day in the gym. It takes months of training and developing technique to get the physique they require. Along the way, there are tiny changes that indicate success. However, a privileged mindset says I didn't get the six pack right away so I'll just give up. A patient mindset says I haven't seen the results yet, but I'll keep working at it knowing that these techniques work.
I don't always win a soul when I attempt to witness about Christ. When I pray, my need isn't immediately met. However, I know that earnest witnessing for Christ results in souls being won. I know that prayer works and God moves when we intercede. David knew that God had ordained him as King of Israel. However, he found himself hiding in caves and constantly on the run. That didn't keep him from praying to God and seeking to act in accordance with his calling. In fact one of his most powerful Psalms was written while on the run from Saul (Psalm 57).
Through the Trials and Tribulations, Patience Preserves
In that Psalm, David talks with absolute faith that God will deliver him and do what He said He would do (v. 2-3). He acknowledges his problems (v.4, 6). Still, David gives praise to God and expects God to do the work that he cannot perform (7-11). This is the mindset of patience on full display. He isn't giving up and trying to figure things out himself. He isn't throwing in the towel and seeding his promise to his enemy. His heart and mind are fixed on God and committed to Him.
David never let his loyalty to God and purpose in His kingdom go off the rails. He stayed focused and committed to God even in his greatest trials and tribulations. We can do the same. Serving God doesn't exempt us from tough situations. In fact, it often leads us into situations that will try us. If we handle those trials with the patience that David exhibited, we'll find our loyalty to God rewarded and our promise fulfilled.
So Adding To Temperance Patience Means
When we give God control of our lives and actions, we don't abandon that plan when things get tough. We stay committed to the process knowing that their is reward to those who do. We can build our faith in this process through reading the scriptures to find people who followed God patiently and also looking at other modern saints who have done so as well. When all else fails, we can fall back on the virtue God has supplied us and know that the right decision is to trust God. If we do this, we will see success in our relationship with God and service to His Kingdom.
Last time, we looked at how we can add knowledge to our pursuit of virtue. We discovered that God desires for us to understand His plan for us. He wants to reveal Himself and develop us into His intended purpose for our lives. By taking up the call to live a virtuous live reliant on God, we find ourselves exposed to knowledge that would otherwise be hidden to us. The virtue we take on when we submit to God's plan drops the scales from our eyes and we discover a fountain of knowledge we never knew existed. It's this commitment that led Paul to become the most prolific writer of the Bible, having gained knowledge enough to write 13 of the Bible's 66 books. It's the same commitment that led David to be a great king and his son, Solomon, to become the wisest man in the history of the world. It's this same commitment that leads us to gain the knowledge we need to become our best and most fulfilled selves.
Today we learn the next step in our transformation process. Having all the knowledge in the world is futile, if you don't know how to use it. God has a method by which we should wield the knowledge that He provides us. Not surprisingly, that method comes from commitment and submission to Him.
2 Peter 1:6
And to knowledge temperance…
Temperance - self-control through submission of our will to God
Temperance, or self-control, is something everyone desires, whether they believe in God or not. The ability to master one’s own domain is preached about in self-help books and seminars as much as it is from pulpits and the Bible. People will pay huge sums of money and devote days and sometimes weeks to seminars and retreats just to get control of themselves. Only through God, though, can we overcome our flesh and master the way in which we respond to situations, others and even God.
Titus 1:8 includes temperance as a requirement for being used by God as a leader of others. If we want to advance our walk with God to where we can help others, we must have temperance. Samson was a great man who did great things. He was even tasked with leading Israel as it's judge. However, his lack of temperance through godly submission saw him undone. Samson believed in his abilities more than he believed in submitting to God's plan for him. His ability was outmatched by his inability to control his flesh.
The Key To Christlike Temperance
John, the closest of Christ's followers, teaches us exactly how we should approach ourselves in terms of sin and self-control:
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)
This statement reveals temperance from a Christlike perspective perfectly. We all our flawed individuals and need God to help us. God is there for us and willing to help us right ourselves in our walk with Him every time. Every time. God is a faithful God. When He sees someone earnestly seeking Him, Christ will come to our aid. If we refuse that opportunity, though, we lose His Word and thus that access to knowledge He so richly desires us to attain.
Had Samson consistently lived his life according to 1 John 1:8-10, he would have maintained his connection to God and been prepared when the enemy swooped in on him. Instead, he regularly found himself in compromising situations and eventually lost all of the power God provided him. Still, when he repented, God forgave and strengthened him once more. Mercy is always available, even in the last moments of a person's life. However, God wants us to be fulfilled daily. Temperance opens us up to daily fulfillment.
When we come to God each day and acknowledge that we need him, He will be there for us. When we make a mistake, going to God immediately will remedy our failing faster and get us back on the right track. This daily submission to God will lead us to making fewer errors because we will be less reliant on ourselves and more reliant on Him. We will make decisions based on what the Spirit says and not the flesh.
So gaining temperance means
When we submit to God, we give control of our lives to God. Having God-control in our lives rather than self-control, we gain the ability to properly put the knowledge we attain from God into practice. David had great ability on the battlefield, but he trusted God to guide him on who, when and where to attack (2 Samuel 5:19). Phillip was a great evangelist, but he listened when God told him to go to one person instead of staying with a multitude (Acts 8:2-27). If we will submit our will to God and acknowledge that we can't get it done without God, Christ will show us what to do with all that knowledge and virtue we've added to our faith. Moreover, we will have overcome the very thing that has so often enslaved us: our flesh. Overcoming that will set us up for even greater things down the line.
After a hiatus, we return to our most recent series to continue the path of transformation through Christ. Last time, we saw how we start: by adding virtue to our faith. This week, we take the next step by adding knowledge to the virtue God freely bestow us.
2 Peter 1:5
…And to virtue knowledge;
We already defined virtue in our last entry. For our purposes today, we'll quickly recap what virtue is.
Definition: moral goodness in thought, feeling and action
Scripture Reference: Philippians 4:8
Application: With absolute belief in God (faith), we can take on a truly good way of living. This includes a transformation in our words, actions, mindset, representation and reputation. By giving God our complete trust, He will guide us in how to think, act, talk and present ourselves inside and out. This is the essence of virtue.
Trusting in God and letting him guide us in how we should live are key. However, God desires us to grow further. The next step is to add to our God-guided lifestyle knowledge that will keep us and continue the transformation.
Knowledge-Moral wisdom, such as is seen in right living
That word moral keeps coming up. It references a set of high principles handed down by a wise guide. In our case, those high principles are the Word of God and the wise guide is God himself. So God desires us to attain His high principles by reading His Word and listening intently to Him when we commune with Him.
If pursuit of virtue is submission to what God wants for our lives, knowledge is embracing God's ways and thoughts and actively seeking them out. Every day, we must open the Bible-God's voice in print-and let that Word speak to us. We must also take time in prayer to be still and listen to what God has to say to us, not just read off a grocery list of wants, needs and complaints. It's through this communion with God we can attain the knowledge we need for each day.
Knowledge is a Process
1 Corinthians 13:12 - For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Like virtue, knowledge isn't something we can gain over night. It's not something we can Google. It's not a series of classes we can take in a semester. It's a lifelong process that constantly develops and directs us to a greater understanding of God and His ways. We won't ever truly understand everything we face in this life. We won't fully know God's plan until we finally meet Him face to face. Along the way, we discover new and amazing things about God. That's the wonder of following God. We'll always grow. We'll always learn. We'll never come to the end of this fulfilling journey until the end of time. How wonderful!
Last time, we found that applying virtue without faith is a fruitless task. The same can be said of those who try to apply knowledge without virtue. Knowledge is a powerful thing. It can also corrupt and be misused. Plenty of people have used scripture and the knowledge of God to manipulate, control and damage others. Many have sought to use knowledge to advance themselves for personal gain instead of to gain Christ. These people hurt themselves, others and the cause of Christianity. In order to benefit others and the Kingdom of God, we must pursue knowledge with godly virtue working in our lives.
Perfection in virtue is not required to learn under God. However, virtuous intent must be present if we are to truly attain the knowledge God desires for us. The disciples weren't perfect and yet God gave them the knowledge necessary to start the Early Church. David lacked virtue multiple times in his life, but his desire to pursue virtue led him to be the most successful king in Israel's history and his son to be the wisest man to ever live. The desire to live virtuously opens us up to knowledge that God would normally withhold. We gain access to the mystery and wonder of God and the Supernatural that others are blinded, too. All it takes is a decision.
Ask Paul, who, after an encounter with Christ, followed God's commands and converted to Christianity. A man who once persecuted Christians became one when he decided to follow Christ and learn more. As a result, the scales were removed from his eyes literally and figuratively (Acts 9:18). From that day forward, He pursued the virtue of God and increased in knowledge of Him as a result. It's this decision that gave us 13 books of the Bible, all of which teach us how to better understand and develop our relationship with God.
So Adding to Our Virtue Knowledge Means
Going further than belief in God (faith) and a commitment to good living (virtue), we pursue understanding of what God wants for us through His Word and communion with Him in prayer. The knowledge afforded us will allow us to further solidify our faith and virtue while also growing deeper in our relationship with God.
Last week, we introduced the God's Transformation Formula with a promise from God. We learned that God has given us a promise for a better and more fulfilled life. On our way to our eternal reward, God offers a plan for our development in how we relate with Him and those around us. Today we begin that plan with the first things we must add to our lives. Like last time, we will do so by breaking down the verse/verse segment:
2 Peter 1:5
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue…
Giving all diligence
First, and beside this refers to the previous scriptures we examined in the first lesson in this series. Moving from there, the term diligence means earnestness and to be done with haste. This gives us the mindset and approach we should take in order to advance ourselves through this transformation. We are to travel this road with sincerity and conviction. We have to be all in and true with our intentions. We must also do so with urgency. God's not looking for those who will drag their feet (Luke 9:57-62). He wants people who are ready to go and this formula is one that can be implemented without much delay. So let's start with something we should already have.
Faith: Belief in Something. Finding Something/Someone To Be Reliable
Our relationship with God starts with faith. We've all been freely given our measure (Romans 12:3). That faith, even in its smallest form, can do amazing things (Matthew 17:20). All we have to do to attain it is to believe in the God that exists. We can see God in the creation that surrounds us, in the testimony of other Christians and in moments of communion with God where he reveals His presence to us. That faith gives us a powerful starting point, but it's just a start. Belief requires action (James 2:26).
Add: to supply or furnish
The action required of us is to add something. This will actually be a theme throughout this series, so let's briefly discuss the term add here. It means to supply or furnish. Basically, we are just filling our lives with more things of God. It's like taking an empty house and filling it with furniture. So what are we going to furnish our faith with?
Virtue- Moral Goodness in Thought, Feeling and Action.
Virtue is the lifestyle that God prescribes to those who believe enough to follow Him. God welcomes all people who desires to follow Him. However, once we join in the journey, He seeks to mold and shape us into the person He desires us to be and represent.
So what does virtue entail? Philippians 4:8 gives the answer:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Phillipians 4:8)
Virtue is the truth of God applied to our words (honest), actions (just), mindset (pure) and representation (lovely) and reputation (good report). We need God and His Word to dictate how we think, act, speak and represent ourselves to others. When we do, people will come to know us as a virtuous and godly person.
We can't truly add virtue into our lives without faith in God. There are plenty of people that try to do good without God guiding them. They end up frustrated. While they may do good and live decent lives, the lack of true purpose makes it difficult to continue the path to virtue, especially when so many others refuse to follow a virtuous life without God as their guide.
Christians aren't guaranteed virtue just by showing up with their faith card, though. Some try to selectively add virtue in certain areas of their lives. They'll let God work on what they say but not what they think. They'll let God handle their actions but not completely how they represent themselves outwardly. Refusing to go all in (remember that diligence word) with God will make the pursuit of virtue a frustrating one. It also hurts their faith as they don't see the results they expect and so they start to regress in relationship and service to God.
However, a person with absolute faith in God will allow Him to mold their life completely and holistically. With that kind of faith guiding us, we will desire to wrap our lives in God's virtue. His ways will invade our conversation, actions, outward and inward living. Having that, we'll better our relationship with God and have a greater reputation as a follower of Christ. This will expand our witness and calling in Christ and make the world around us and our lives better.
Next time, we will see what we can add to this virtuous lifestyle to even further increase our relationship with God. Until then, God bless and keep searching.
We return with a brand new series! After months away, TWTL is back and looking to focus in on an important part of scripture. In his 2nd Epistle, Peter reaches out to his followers to offer them some further development. He thinks of them as great people who had embraced the faith just as he and the other apostles had (2 Peter 1:1). He wanted to strengthen them in their knowledge of Christ and share how they could further develop in God. It is with this mindset and purpose, he provides a formula from God for Christian to further their transformation in Him. Even today, it's one of the best ways for Christians new and established to gauge where they are in their relationship with God. Further, it helps in understanding where we might improve in areas of our development in Christ. Before we get into the actual formula, though, let's look at the promise attached to it:
2 Peter 1:3-4
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
These two verses provide us with a lot of information. We need to break down each section to understand exactly what this promise entails:
According as his divine power
God's divine power is unmatched. It is complete and over all things (Matthew 28:18, John 3:5, Hebrews 2:8, 1 Peter 3:22, Psalm 124:8). This includes humanity, even those who deny and reject Him (John 17:2). That power rests in us when we take on His Name and embark on this journey (2 Corinthians 12:9). So, when Peter invokes God's divine power, he lets us know this promise is coming from an unmatched source.
Hath given unto us all things pertaining to life and godliness
God loves to provide for His people. He won't withhold from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11). He gave himself as a sacrifice to us. How much more will he give unto us then? (Romans 8:32). Here, though, Peter gets specific with what God is giving us: all things pertaining to life and godliness.
The word life in 2 Peter 1:3 means to be real and genuine, active and vigorous in our devotion to God. Godliness means to have reverence and respect, or to acknowledge and adhere to God and His plan. God is willing and able to give us the tools necessary to have the realest relationship with Him possible. It's within His power to enliven our walk with Him and to steer us to the proper course of action to make that relationship thrive.
Through the knowledge of him that called us to glory and virtue
God provides this promise through the power of His knowledge. He has called each of us (Romans 9:23-24, Ephesians 4:4, Acts 2:39). He desires that we would live up the standard He has set for us in that calling (1 Thessalonians 2:12). We attain that desired promise of glory and virtue by living a holy and separate life unto Him (1 Thessalonians 4:7). If we invest ourselves in learning about God and His ways, He will reveal to us the things we require to further ourselves in relationship with Him.
Promises have been given...
Through our relationship and separation unto God, we are afforded a number of promises that help us to draw closer to God and further escape the destructive nature of the world. Here are some of those promises:
These and other promises have ensured that we would be partakers (partners) of God’s divine nature, and allow for us to escape the corruption in the world through lust. We have access to the power and nature of God if we submit to His will with all belief and reliability. This will make clearer our path to greater depth in God, making us into a more effective servant of the Most High. Moreover, it will reveal the pitfalls and dangers that the enemy and the world have implemented to ensnare us.
This is God's promise to us through his servant and keeper of the keys of heaven. What will unfold from here is a list of things we can add unto us through this promise. These things will help us to further the transformation to true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24).
Next week, we will begin our examination of God's Transformation Formula. We'll see what things we can add to our lives to come into better relationship and service to Him, and we'll look at how we can ensure those things are added correctly. We can't wait to share our findings with you.
Until then, God Bless and Keep Searching
After some time off, we return to close out the Revelation series. After reading so many things we should look out for, today we look at something (or someone) we should be looking for. What and who is it and how can this help full the Coming of the Lord? To Preach The Gospel
We conclude the Matthew 24 portion of our Revelation Series by looking at our greatest calls to action in these perilous times. We are challenged by Christ to do something internally and externally. What are those things and how can they change our focus as we live in the Last Days. Find out and share
To go along with our Podcast today, here is a devotion with an easy breakdown of the threat to our love for God and His ways. In this breakdown, we examine three churches from the Book of Revelation who either struggle with their love for God or are under direct threat of losing that love. God addresses each of them, the problems they face and the solutions he has to offer. Let's dive in and see what He has to say:
And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. (Matthew 24:12)
We turn our attention from the Church and back to the world. How will it be operating as the Last Days approach. What will be the reaction of society to atrocities, tragedies and division? How will they respond to the call to righteousness and separation unto God? If you read the above scripture, you've already got an idea. What it means and how we can respond to it is our topic of the day.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.