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David Jeremiah - The Priority of a Diligent Mind


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This series is not just about intellectualism. It's not about thinking better in your human mind. It's about the mind of God and the mind that he wants us to have, and really, the word "mind" takes on the concept of attitude, the concept of being mentally what God wants us to be. And so far, we've talked about how important it is for us to have a devoted mind, to love the Lord our God with all of our heart and our soul and our strength, and Jesus said, "And our mind". And then last week we talked about how we're to have the mind of Christ. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus," the dedicated mind.

And today I wanna talk with you about a diligent mind. And that passage that we've turned to in 1 Peter verse 13 is what I want us to read out loud together so it'll be on the screen and you read it with me. 1 Peter 1:13 says: "Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ". Now, Peter is obviously reminding his readers of the importance of keeping their mind set on the Coming of Christ. But he uses a term there that we do not use in our culture today, but it has great meaning. He says, "Gird up the loins of your mind".

Oswald Chambers once wrote these words. He said: "God will not make me think like Jesus. I have to do it all by myself. I have to bring every thought under the captivity of the obedience of Christ". Peter says we're to gird up our minds and we wonder when we read that whatever in the world could that mean. Well, it goes back to the culture of Peter's day when the easterner would be clothed in the long and flowing robe, and if he went into battle or he was to run a race, he would gather his clothing around him and he would tie it up with a belt or a girdle so that the flowing robe would not entangle his feet and then cause him to fall.

So the apostle says we're to gird up the loins of our minds as though we were getting ready for warfare or for a race. He uses this metaphor and he applies it to us and he says we need to get ready to think diligently by removing anything that might hinder us. We're not to be distracted; we're to develop diligence in our thinking and we are to strive to concentrate on the things that are important, not just to us but to God. To gird up the loins of your mind means to have a clear mind and focus on the task that is set before us. And I cannot think of anything that is more important for us as Christians today than to hear this admonition from Peter. How many of you know there is a clear mind and then there's a cluttered mind? Yeah, the cluttered mind is not a good thing to have when you're trying to make it through the difficult times that we're facing. God calls us to a clear mind.

It's interesting when you read the books that Peter wrote, 1 and 2 Peter, he mentions the mind more than once. In 1 Peter 4:1 he says, "Since Christ has suffered for us, we are to arm ourselves with the same mind". In other words, we're to have the same attitude that Christ had. Over in 2 Peter 3:1, he writes: "Stir up your pure minds by a reminder". And the words are different, but the primary pictures are very similar. The girded-up mind, the armed mind, and the stirred-up mind, all speak of diligence and determination to live our lives on purpose. How many of you know that there's a way you can live your life on purpose and then there's a way you can just sort of float through life and let it happen to you as you go? If ever there was a day when we need to be intentional about the way we live our lives, this is the day, and that's what we've been called to do.

Now, if you want to understand what it means to gird up your mind, as Peter writes about it in 1 Peter 1:13, if you go over to his second letter, 2 Peter chapter 1, you will discover that Peter will give us some clues about how to live this kind of life and we've called this sermon, "The Priority of a Diligent Mind". Peter is not talking here about a feel-good Christian. He's talking about an obedient, diligent Christian, and he's reminding us that we who are Christians have been given much and, because of that, much is required from us. So what does it mean to have a diligent mind and what can we learn about that that will help us get rid of the clutter and get clear in our thinking about life and about God?

In 2 Peter chapter 1, we have one of the most interesting passages, I believe, in all of the Bible. Some passages of the Word of God are easy to see how they fit together. Some are harder. This is one of those that, when you read it the first time, you get an impression of what this is all about and you see how it fits together, and I want to walk you through this passage this morning because it is an incredible passage for our day. It begins with a divine command: "But also for this very reason," 2 Peter 1:5, "giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge". This is also repeated for us in verse 10: "Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent".

And if you go over to the 3rd chapter of 2 Peter, you will find this same expression in verse 14: "Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent". The phrase, "giving all diligence," translates a word which means strenuous activity. I thought to myself, "Could I describe my walk with the Lord, my devotion to the Christian walk, can I define that as strenuous? Now, I don't mean stressful; I mean strenuous. Do I give everything? Is there a sense of totally, completely, clear-mindedly, giving myself to my faith? This picture's the kind of effort that a runner experiences when he's approaching the finish line and he gives everything until he finally crosses the line. The command, then, the divine command is diligence, be diligent in your walk with the Lord. But Peter gives us some rationale for this by telling us what the divine cooperative is.

In verses 3 through 4 we read: "As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust". Now, what Peter is telling us is that we have a responsibility for diligence because God has been diligent with us. He has diligently, according to the Scripture, given to us everything we need for life in godliness. I don't know if that grabs you, but it says that God has provided for us, God has diligently provided for us, everything that we need for life and godliness. He doesn't say, "most of the things". He doesn't say, "some of the things". He says everything we need.

And then he further defines it by telling us that these things that he has given us diligently are found in the exceeding great and precious promises that God has provided. You know what those are, don't you? Where are the promises of God? They're in this book. I don't know where else they would be. They're in this book. The Bible says that God has diligently given to you and to me everything that we need for life and godliness and he has deposited those things within the covers of this book, the precious, exceedingly precious promises of God's Word. Now, it's very important that we see how this all fits together because, on the one hand, God has diligently done something for us and, on the other hand, he has called us to a sense of diligence as well.

Paul writes about this in a very interesting way in his letter to the Philippians. In Philippians 2:13 he says, "For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure". When I read that verse I wanna say, "Hallelujah, thank you, Lord, for giving me everything I need," and then if I'm not careful, I slip into a mode of passivity and say, "I've got it all, so what else"? but you can't do that if you read the verse that comes before it: "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence," now watch this, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling". In verse 13, it sounds like it's all of God and in verse 12 it sounds like it's all up to me.

Now, which is it? It's both. If I were to come up to you with an attorney and say, "For years I have owned one of the most productive goldmines in the world and I have decided that I am going to give it to you and here's my attorney and I'm gonna write my name at the bottom of this deed and we're gonna deed this goldmine to you". That's a nice thought, isn't it? Everybody just sort of ponders that in their mind, gold being what it is and everything else being what it is. Now, technically, you are in possession of that goldmine. It's yours. I signed it off to you. I have diligently given you everything you need to be the producer of gold. But now it's up to you to go get it.

Now you have to go into that goldmine and you have to take your pick and your shovel and you have to go get the gold. You have to take out of that mine what has been given to you, and there's a sense in which you could say, "It's not yours until you do it". It may be yours technically, but practically you do not benefit from that gift unless you go into that mine and you diligently work out what has been worked in. And that's exactly what Peter is saying to us. He is saying God has given us richly everything we need for life and godliness and he's given it to us in the precious promises of the Word of God. And we have it. It's ours.

How many of you have a Bible this morning? You all have a Bible. It's my Bible, right? But it doesn't do me any good if all I have is the deed to it. He's now gonna tell us that in order for us to experience what we need, and I believe this is more important today than it's ever been, and I really believe that God has us on this track for a specific reason, it's more important than it's ever been for us to understand that, yes, there is a divine command, but there's also a divine cooperative, that what God has given to us, we're to take that and diligently allow it to be applied to our own lives. To put it this way, what God has worked in, we need to work out. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling". It doesn't mean you work for your salvation. Please don't get mixed up about that. You can't work for your salvation, but now that you have your salvation, you are to live as ordered by God.

Now, interestingly enough, in this passage of Scripture, Peter not only gives us a divine command and the divine cooperative but he actually gives us the divine curriculum. Notice in verses 5 through 8 he says, "Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge self-control, and to self-control perseverance, and to perseverance godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love". Now, that's one of the lists of the Bible. How many of you know the Bible's got lots of lists? Paul's really into lists. Peter gets into it a little bit. This list was not meant to give us an exhaustive description of every part of the Christian life, but rather to give us some of the key principles of what it looks like when you live the Christian experience.

And I do not have any intention of taking you on a word-by-word verse study this morning but I'd like to make some general comments about this list. First of all, this curriculum is conditional. Look down at your Bibles and notice it says: "For this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith". And I wanna suggest to you that until you have faith, you have no place to go. If you were to go to college and you wanted to take an upper-level course, they might tell you there is a prerequisite course you must take before you can take that one. Before you can get involved in giving all diligence to your Christian life, you have to enroll in the course of faith. You have to become a Christian. There's no such thing as growing in Christ until, first of all, you know Christ. You can't grow if you don't know.

And so, the Bible says that the beginning of your Christian walk is to know Christ, to become a Christian, to add to your faith virtue. Let me pause for a moment and say: If you don't know Jesus Christ as your Savior, if you've never trusted him, if you've never placed your faith in him and become a Christian, then you will not be able to take this course. Faith is the prerequisite. The curriculum is conditional. And then notice, it's consecutive. These words are not placed willy-nilly in the text. They are there in a consecutive order. Faith comes before virtue. Virtue becomes knowledge. Don't try to take these subjects out of sequence. They are placed in order for a good reason. Everything starts from faith and culminates in love. And all the graces in between spring out of faith and find their greatest and highest glory in the concept of Christian brotherhood. They are built one upon another.

I thought through these things this week and thought about how a new Christian functions and how these things fall into that sequence for a new Christian. First he has faith and then he adds to his faith virtue. What does that mean? He starts to live differently. How many times people have come to me and said, you know, "I accepted Christ last month and I don't do this, and I'm stopped doing". Who told you? "Oh, I don't know. When I got saved, those things just didn't seem important to me anymore and I kind of had a feeling maybe I should not do them". Add to faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and then when you find that you have begun to understand some things as a Christian, then you add to that the other virtues. And one by one, they all go together until you get to the end, brotherly love. That's what happens in the body of Christ and the church, and then love which is what we do to love the whole world, even as our neighbors, we're to love them, according to the Scripture.

So the curriculum is conditional and it's consecutive and then it's comprehensive. He says in this passage of Scripture that everything we need for life and godliness is here included. Not most of the things, not some of the things, but everything. And that means that this needs to be studied as a whole. You don't just take part of the curriculum and say, "Well, I'm gonna major on this and let somebody else study that". No, you want the whole counsel of God. There's a kind of comprehensiveness to our faith that doesn't seem to make sense to people outside of the church, but it's the way we understand who we are in Christ. We study the Word of God and, while we're studying this chapter here, we may not understand how it fits into the rest, but lo and behold, as we continue to study, God brings this back to our mind and we think, "Oh, so that's what that means".

I'm finding that kind of ah-ha experience happening more and more to me as I've studied the Word of God for so many years. I think of it, and I think, "You know, I preached on that, but I didn't fully comprehend it, but now that I see how it fits with this, it's a comprehensive truth and it's incredible". And that's why it is so important for us never to get discouraged when we're studying the Bible. We may not comprehend everything that's important in that passage now, but if we will just be diligent and faithful and give ourselves to the study of the Word of God, over a period of time, God's Word will become so important to us that it will start to control, we will have the mind of Christ as we talked about last week.

And do you know, one of the reasons I want to say that is because, I'll be honest with you, sometimes when you're reading the Bible, you can have wonderful days of reading the Bible and you can have some pretty blah days of reading the Bible. Can I get a witness? Isn't that true? Lord, whatever in the world does this mean? And couldn't I find something more appropriate for what I'm going through today? And Lord, I need a blessing, not a riddle. But when you faithfully stay after it and you continue to discipline yourself to diligently study the Word of God, God begins to give you a comprehensive sense of who he is and what this whole experience is about.

Do you know how so many Christians study the Word of God? Somebody has called it "lucky dipping". Do you know what lucky dipping is? "Lord, I need an answer from you... Oh"! That's a very dangerous way to study the Bible. I read about a man who did that one day. He was trying to figure out God's will for his life. Stuck it down in the end of Matthew and it said, "And Judas went out and hanged himself". Oh, that can't be right. So he turned over: "Go thou and do likewise". No, that's not right. Giving it one last chance, he turned to another passage and hit his finger in the lucky-dipping method and read: "And whatsoever thou doest, do quickly". Lucky dipping. Oh, you don't wanna do that.

I read about a young lady who was praying for a husband. And she wanted a word from the Bible, so she went to the Old Testament to read and she stuck her finger down on Zechariah 9:9 which reads: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion"! And, boy, she was pretty excited about that. "Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem"! Oh, this is good. "Behold, your King is coming to you," oh wow! "He is just and endowed with salvation, humble," oh, great, "mounted on a donkey". Oh no! You see, it's so silly to take the Word of God out of context. And that's not what God has called us to do. God has called us to diligently study those precious promises that help us to understand how he has endowed us with everything that is necessary for life and godliness.

So we have the divine command and the divine cooperative and the divine curriculum. Now, notice in verse 8 of 2 Peter chapter 1, we have some divine consequences. Notice what it says in verse 8: "For if these things are yours and abound, you will neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ". Peter points to three consequences that will happen to us if we diligently apply ourselves to those things which God has diligently given to us. He says, first of all, we will have an assurance. Notice what it says: "If these things are yours".

What does Peter mean? He means if you have taken hold of these truths to such an extent that they become yours. They become yours when you experience them and when you put them into operation, when God tells you to do something and you do it, and then you discover this is true. This is not only something I read in the Bible, this is absolutely true. I did what he said and it's true. And then that passage of Scripture becomes yours. And you have an assurance that comes from that, and a confidence that comes from that. I have followed the Word of God and God has been faithful to me and now I understand this is my truth. You know, you can't have your own personal truth by listening to the preacher. The truth has to become yours by your getting that truth and applying it in your life and watching how God uses that truth to shape you and to form you and to help you.

You say, "This is my verse". Why is it your verse? Because God gave it to you and you used it and you discovered that God is faithful and he has done what he said he would do. Then it becomes yours. "If these things are yours". And then, not only does it bring you assurance, but sometimes it brings you abundance. "If these things are yours and abound". In other words, if these things are true of you and not only true of you but really true of you because you become what these things are saying, and you have an abundance of that life, not just for yourself, but for those who are near you and around you, and then that assurance and that abundance transforms into an authenticity, "you will neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ".

When you take what God has diligently given to you, which is everything you need, and you diligently dig into that so that you can mine it out of what God has entrusted to you, and you begin to understand what that means and then you follow God's curriculum for growth and righteousness, the Bible says something will happen to you. First of all, you will get an assurance about your faith. Do you know, when we grow up in Christian homes, we oftentimes, we take the faith of our parents and there's not anything wrong with that. Somewhere along the way, though, we have to make that faith our own, don't we? Nobody gets to heaven because their parents were Christians. You get to heaven because you become a Christian. And when you take that faith as your own, it's a whole different quality, is it not, than just being a Christian because my parents are Christians?

Most young people have to deal with that when they go to college and they're confronted with some of the humanism and atheism that's in our colleges and in our schools. But there comes a moment of time when they have to deal with that and they have to search it out and know it, and when they come to know it, it becomes their faith. That's really the only kind of faith there is: personal faith. Now, notice in verse 9 that Peter gives us some divine contrasts. And he says, "For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins".

Did you notice that the Bible is, I don't know if I can say this, it sounds almost, it's cool. The Bible is cool. The Bible tells you what to do and then it tells you what'll happen if you do it. And then the Bible tells you what not to do and it tells you what will happen if you do what you're not supposed to do. We've already learned what God promised to do for us if we take his command to diligence, but notice what it says in verse 9: "For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins".

Now, this is a profound verse of Scripture. This verse of Scripture tells us that if we choose to be passive about our walk with the Lord, if we choose to float instead of fight, what will happen to us is pretty certain. First of all, we will be incomplete. "For he who lacks these things". Peter says that it is possible to be a Christian and lack the things that are listed in the curriculum. "You mean, you can be a Christian and lack virtue"? Oh, yes. Oh, yes. "Can you lack brotherly love as a Christian"? Talk to me about it. Yes, you can be a Christian and not act like a Christian, not look like a Christian, because becoming a Christian is simply making a commitment to Jesus Christ for your salvation and your eternal life. And there are many Christians who, once they get to that place, it doesn't go much further.

I remember hearing a story about a little boy who fell out of bed one night and his mother went up to help him 'cause she heard him crying. When she put him back in bed and tucked him in, she asked him, "What do you think? Why did you fall out of bed"? He said, "I don't know, Mommy. I think I fell asleep too near to where I got in," you know? That's what happens to a lot of Christians, isn't it? They fall asleep too near to where they get into the faith. And the Bible says that if you do that, you will just be incomplete. You'll be a Christian, but that's all you'll be able to say. You won't be living as a Christian. You won't be looking like a Christian. You'll just be a Christian. You'll be incomplete. But notice, secondly, you'll be ineffective. Says here you'll be "shortsighted, even to blindness," if you don't develop a determination to walk with the Lord and take from what God has given you and develop it diligently. The Bible says you'll be nearsighted.

What is a nearsighted person? They're a person that can only see things close. You will lose all sense of perspective. Do you know why a lot of Christians don't want to have anything to do with prophecy? Because they're nearsighted. Do you know what that means is, "Don't tell me about the future. Just tell me about what I need today. Give me something for today". And I'm all for that. I think we all need hope and encouragement for today. But a Christian who's walking with the Lord and diligently employed in the study of the Word of God is going to have a much larger picture than what's going on tomorrow. And, friends, we better have that kind of picture today, living where we are in the world that we live in. It says: "Shortsighted, even to blindness". Some Christians have so neglected the graces and disciplines of the Christian life that it's like they're blind.

You know, I hear this conversation more than I think I've ever heard it before. "I've known that person. They've been a Christian for many years. How in the world did they ever get into that mess"? Well, you know, a lot of Christians are just, they walk around, bumping into walls, falling into ditches, because they've never taken any time to build the inwardness of their walk with the Lord. And so, they're Christians in name and in reality because they confess their sin, but somehow they've lost the motivation to go on with God. And when a person does that, they're just like a hollow shell, walking around in a Christian suit with no reality about who they are. And then the Bible says they'll be incomplete, ineffective, and insincere, "and has forgotten that they were cleansed from their old sins".

How could that happen? How could you be a Christian and not remember what it was like before you became a Christian? Well, the way that happens is you start living more and more like you used to live before you became a Christian, and the difference is lost in your life. One of the reasons we have Communion is so we will remember. Isn't it interesting that Almighty God knows us better than we know ourselves? He's our Maker. I've wondered sometimes, "Why would you ever have to have a remembrance service for your salvation"? God knows. 'Cause we're so easily forgetting it. Peter says in one of his passages about the mind, he says, "Stir up your mind by remembering".

That's a great thought. We need to remember what we were and what we are and how we got from what we were to where we are today. Because if we don't, we will lose the fervency and vibrancy and urgency of our faith. The Bible goes on to say that not only is there a divine command and a divine cooperative and a divine curriculum and some consequences and a contrast, but there's a conclusion. Notice verses 10 and 11: "Therefore, brethren". Therefore what? Therefore, because of what we've just been talking about. "Therefore, be even more diligent". Not just diligent, but even more diligent, "to make your call and your election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; and an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ".

What a wonderful promise that is. Two things Peter says will happen to us if we're diligent and if we mine the truths God has given us. Two things, and they're very simple. First of all, we will have a good experience on our way to heaven. "If you do these things you will never stumble". It's not enough just to go to heaven. I mean, it's enough if all you want is heaven. But how many of you think it would be all right if we enjoyed the journey? I mean, some people, you know, you've heard it said, they're so heavenly minded they're no earthly good. Have you heard that? There are a lot of Christians, and I say that because I teach prophecy and I know that one of the dangers people have is they get so caught up in what's gonna happen in the future, they forget what's happening today.

And here's what I know from the Word of God. Not only has God given us this precious promise and, yes, there's gonna be trials and tribulations, but if you're a Christian, your walk on this earth is the best experience you could ever have because you know where you're going, you know that it's guaranteed and God has promised it to you, and then along the way, you can enjoy the walk that you have. Yes, there will be tough times and there's spiritual warfare as we know. But notice what it says. "If you do these things you will never stumble".

What ruins the Christian experience is when we get off the path, isn't it? I mean, if we stay walking with the Lord, if we stay in fellowship with the Lord, it's a wonderful, joyous experience. Yes, with some challenges, but always with the knowledge that God is there to help you. This passage of Scripture says there's something you can do that will keep you from stumbling. Let me see if I can put this together for us this morning. Why do we stumble along the way? It's usually not because of the moment. It's because of what hasn't happened before the moment.

I remember hearing Chuck Swindoll say one time about marriage that "a broken marriage is never a blowout. It's always a slow leak". And what he meant by that was just exactly what we're talking about here. If we fail to build with diligence the things that God has given us as our treasure, if we fail to utilize those things, little by little the pressure from the outside takes over since there's no pressure from the inside, and when we face a temptation or a problem, we stumble. And let me tell you something, there's nothing on God's earth more miserable than a Christian out of fellowship with God. I've said that and people question it, but it's absolutely true because if you're out of fellowship with God, you have a distinctive difference than a person who's not been saved.

You know what it's like to have fellowship with God and now it's gone. You can't lose your salvation, but how many of you know you can lose the joy of your salvation if you don't walk with the Lord? And so, Peter says if you don't wanna make shipwreck out of your life, here's what you do. Just stay diligent. Do the things that God has called you to do. And he promises us that if we do that, we won't stumble, we won't fall in the ditch, we won't get off on a cul-de-sac, we won't go on a detour. God will help us stay focused. As we go forward, we'll have a good experience on our way. And then here's the culmination of the whole passage: "We will have a glorious entrance into heaven". We'll have a good experience on our way to heaven, and we'll have a glorious entrance into heaven.

Read this passage: "For so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ". Do you know, some people are going to get to heaven with the smell of smoke on their clothes? And that's not because they smoke cigarettes, either. What I mean by that is they've accepted Christ and that's it. And that's what I'm trying to help us understand today. There's a way you can live the Christian life that's very unproductive, very unsatisfactory.

Some people say, "Well, if you're living that way, you're not a Christian," and that may be true of some folks, but I know people that are genuinely Christians who somehow they've gotten off the hard track and they've fallen into this habit of just being a Christian outwardly and everything else is unchanged. The Bible says you can go to heaven like that or you can go to heaven and enter in abundantly. I want to go to heaven with my hands straight up in the air. I wanna go into heaven filled with joy and excitement and the thrill of everything that God has allowed me to do in my walk with him. I don't wanna just sneak into heaven through the side door. I wanna go in through the front door with my hands up high, saying, "Thank you, Lord, for all that you've done".

And the Bible says that's possible, but don't think that it's possible if you don't take what Paul and Peter tell us about the diligence of our walk with the Lord. I'm stirred up about this because I've studied enough to know that the challenges aren't over. There are some things coming down our way that we're gonna have to deal with and, if nothing else, I could say this, it's become extremely unpopular to be a Christian. Can I get a witness? So if we're gonna be Christians, let's be real Christians. Let's be Christians all the way through to the core. Let's be the kind of Christians that, when the criticism comes and the ridicule comes, we can stand strong because we have diligently taken the exceeding precious promises that give to us everything we need for life and godliness, and we have put them to work in our lives.

When I came back from cancer and I got home and there's a recliner in the living room where I kinda hung out for a few weeks while I was getting better. First day I got home, Donna came in and she brought me all the mail that had come while I'd been sick. And it was quite a stack. Right on the top of the stack was a book written by Gordon MacDonald called, "The Life God Blesses". Now, you have to understand, we read books in the context of our life and when you come away from having, you know, the wonder of whether or not you're gonna make it or not, you come home, and here's the message from God on the top of your mail stack, "The Life God Blesses".

I think I might read this book. I think I might like to find out how this works. I read it and it was a wonderful blessing to me and I've quoted from other parts of the book in years past. In the book, Gordon MacDonald tells this story which, fittingly, helps us put everything we've talked about together today. He says:

In the autumn of 1992, Michael Plant, a popular American yachtsman, commenced a solo crossing of the North Atlantic Ocean from the United States to France. But 2 weeks into the voyage something went amiss, and Plant and his sailboat were lost at sea. Plant's mid-sized sailboat, called the 'Coyote,' was state of the art. I mean, the design of its hull, the materials used in its fabrication, the creature comforts: those and every other aspect of his equipment were the epitome of modern sailing lore.

So one couldn't say that Plant didn't have everything. I mean, he had the best of expertise, he had the best of experience, and equipment, and when he unfurled his sails and put out to sea for Europe, everyone thought nothing could go wrong. But something did go wrong. And 11 days into the voyage, radio contact with Michael Plant was lost. A search was launched. Airplane pilots crossing the ocean were asked to listen for emergency signals; ships in the general area of Plant's course were told to be on the lookout; rescue aircraft from several nations began combing parts of the Atlantic. And days passed with no signals or no sightings. And then the news that no one had ever expected.

The Coyote was found, floating upside down, 450 miles west of the Azores Islands. Everyone in the sailing world must have been surprised when the Coyote was found: it was upside down in the water, and sailboats do not capsize, normally. They are built to take the most vigorous pounding a sea can offer. Sailors allege that a sailboat is the most natural of all sailing vessels, and it will always right itself even if a wind or a wave were to momentarily push it over on its side or even upside down. So why would Michael Plant's sailboat be upside down?

That answer would soon become clear. I am not a sailor, but I discovered this much about sailboats as I read about Michael Plant's tragedy. I learned that in order for a sailboat to maintain a steady course, and in order for it to not capsize, but to harness the tremendous power of the wind, there must be more weight below the waterline than there is above it. Any violation of this principle of weight distribution means disaster. When the Coyote was built, an 8000-pound weight was bolted to the keel for this very reason. That kind of ballast below the waterline assures stability. But alter the ratio (permitting more weight above the waterline than below), and the first threatening wind or wave can become a serious problem. And that's exactly what happened.


When they retrieved Michael Plant's sailing vessel, they discovered that somehow the 8000-pound weight beneath the keel had broken loose, either perhaps because he hit a rock or someone even suggested a submarine. But the weight was gone, and the boat was lost. The ship was lost. Now, let me say something to you. The soul is somewhere below the personal waterline, and it is easily ignored until the storms of life arise. And if there is no weight at the level of the soul, there is little promise of survival.

So Peter urges us to be diligent and to gird up the loins of our minds and to quit worrying so much about what's above water that everybody looks at, and to begin to build below the waterline. Storms happen, but we can be ready. If we will take the challenge of the diligent mind and begin to do what God has asked us to do, when the storms come, our ship of state will be upright. And, ladies and gentlemen, that's the difference that we as Christians have. We have the potential to live above the fray, to be strong in the midst of all of the weakness, to be secure in the midst of the despair, to be courageous in the midst of the fear. Where does that come from? It comes from below the waterline, when we build strong the issues of our souls.
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