David Jeremiah - The Promise
Can you imagine being dropped off in the middle of the wilderness, with no compass, map, or GPS? Only experienced survivalists would be able to use the landscape around them to navigate safely out of the wild. Do you ever feel that your life has reached a point where you have lost direction, you feel stranded and unable to discern which direction to take? Hello, I'm David Jeremiah. Would you be surprised to know that God has given you a roadmap for living a stumble-proof life? He's provided everything you need to find your way forward on the path of life to godliness and spiritual success.
Today, I began a series called "Everything You Need" and over the course of these messages we will learn to develop eight qualities to add to our faith that will help us navigate our lives like experienced survivalists in the wilderness. We began with a message called "The Promise" right here today on "Turning Point". So, travel with me across the United States and join me in New York City, high above Central Park in The Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center for my series, "Everything You Need".
People often ask me, "Pastor, what's going on in the world today? What's the biggest issue we all face"? I have a lot of answers for that. I'm not sure any of them are the final perfect answer, but each of the answers I give seems to have the same overarching word, and it's the word "pressure". I began reading a passage of Scripture in the New Testament, and I wanna tell you about that in a few moments and what that passage has meant to me, but I wanna introduce it by telling you a little story.
The Mariana snailfish lives in the deepest caverns of the ocean, where the pressure is 1,000 times greater than on the surface. The temperature where this little fish lives is near freezing, and there is no light because it's so deep, and God created this little fish about the size of the human hand to thrive in extreme conditions at the bottom of the ocean. How do they do it? Well, the snailfish possesses special features like flexible skulls and bones. They produce distinct chemicals that stabilize their constitution and the pressure inside of them.
Now, get this. God created them so that the pressure inside of them would be greater than the pressure outside of them, so they can live in comfort with all this pressure on them because they have pressure on the inside. How do we create the spiritual pressure inside of us that is so strong that it makes it possible for us to live in a world where all these pressures are on us? Pretty amazing that God could create a fish like that, but the same God who creates a little fish like that creates us in such a way that we can live under pressure. He's built us that way, and I've taken this passage of Scripture apart and put it back together so many times in the last six months and every time I do that I learn something new.
Today, we're going to just deal with the first few verses. "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 we have been given exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these we may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust". Listen to me, according to Peter, who walked alongside of Jesus, you and I have been given everything we need for life and godliness. That's what it says. Not some things you need, not many things you need, not even most things you need. It's pretty specific: everything you need. Believe it or not, men and women, God has already provided the resources you need to confidently live the life you were created to live.
So what specifically are those resources? What has God given us? It starts, first of all, with access to his power. Peter tells us that we have access to the power of God. That's the best news you'll ever have today, men and women. You don't have to do this by yourself. You don't have to face the pressures of life in your own strength. In fact, if you do it's a pretty discouraging issue. We are not sufficient for these things. Can I get a witness? These things that we face sometimes are way beyond what you and I can handle in our own personal human strength and that's why Peter begins his little discussion about everything you need by introducing us again to the incredible power of God. He says by his divine power we have been given everything we need.
So let me unpack what Peter meant by this. What does he mean that we have God's power? First of all, it's unlimited power. I mean, God's power can light up the universe, fire up the stars, power the planets, move the oceans in their tides, and give life to every creature on Earth, and he doesn't get diminished by one kilowatt by doing it all. There is no problem, there is no situation in life for which God's mighty power is not adequate. You will never have a problem that's too big for God's power. You may think you're in the middle of one right now. It's just 'cause you don't understand God's power, but God is able to do above and beyond all that we could ever ask or think and through his power we don't have to be victims. We can be victors. God's power is unlimited.
Secondly, his power is unleashed. When you get Jesus Christ into your life, when you become a Christian, the power of God Almighty is turned on in your life. "With God all things are possible," all things. I remember thinking about that little word, "all things". It's in the Bible a lot in key verses that we know, like, "We know that all things work together for good to those who love God". He makes it all available to us. Now, I know you're sitting there thinking, "Why is it that this power isn't working in my life? If God has given me all this power, what's wrong with me? Why am I not living the powerful life you're talking about"? And we're gonna get there in a moment, but before we get there I want you to understand, as I've tried to comprehend in my own life, that the power that we need has been given to us by Almighty God.
Do you need joy? Do you need a heart of happiness that comes from Christ? I've watched people go through some of the most horrendous things in their life and because of the power of God in their heart they do so with a smile on their face. The Bible says you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. God's power is unlimited. It's an unleashed power. It goes to work in your life the moment you become a Christian. Here is the last thing about the power of God: it's unlocked. Listen to this. "Through the knowledge of him who called us by glory and virtue". In other words, the power of God comes to you through your relationship with Jesus Christ. When he comes into your life he lives within you and now you are connected with Almighty God, and you can begin, as you build your relationship with him, to see that power come alive.
So, the first thing that God wants to give you is his power. But the second thing you notice in the first part of 2 Peter 1 is that you have God's promises, too, so listen to what Peter said. He says you have divine power. Now, watch this. "By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises". Now, I wanna give you a little visual here. Here is the power of God. This is like a huge generator. This is God's power and here I am over here living my life, and I'm not very big compared to that. How do I, little, old me, how do I get connected with that power source? The Bible is very clear. It says this. We get connected with God as our power source by the exceeding great and precious promises of this book.
God's power is not available apart from the Scripture. If you want the power of God to be working in your life, don't ignore this book. You know, a lotta Christians come and talk to me about what's happening in their life and, you know, I just ask 'em a couple of simple questions. "Do you ever read the Bible"? "Well, no, I don't have much time to do that". Well, you know what? If you don't read the Bible don't complain about not having God's power, because it's just like there were wires connected between God and you. Those wires carry the power of God from him to you. And what are those wires? They're God's precious promises, and we're gonna talk about those for a few moments.
Why does Peter call them "exceedingly great and precious"? Well, they're great for one reason. Simply because they come from a great God, they lead to a great life, but these promises are great for at least three additional reasons, and I'm gonna give you the reasons why they're great, why you need to really focus on this. Number one, God's promises are incalculable. No one can fully count the promises of God. Somewhere in every book, in every chapter throughout the Bible there are great evidences. This is a book full of promises. Just think about it. It's not very thick. If you wanna hear God's Word to your heart, if you wanna hear what God has in store for you, if you wanna know what God has promised to you, only one place to get it. It's in between the covers of this book called the Bible.
So, one of the reasons why you wanna get involved in the promises of God is 'cause there are so many of 'em. You can spend the rest of your life and you'll never get 'em all, but it's a good project. I'm recommending it to you. Here is the second reason why these promises are so important. Not only are they incalculable, but they're infallible. God's promises are great because they always are true. Here is what the Bible says about God's promises in 2 Corinthians 1:20. The Bible says, "For every one of God's promises is 'Yes' in Christ. Therefore, through him we also say, 'Amen' to the glory of God". That's a tremendous Word. In other words, God, you have promised to never leave us or forsake us and to work all things for our good, and God says yes, and we say amen.
So, we love his promises because there are so many of them, we love his promises because he never breaks them, and we love his promises, thirdly, because they're always available to us. There is a little word that Peter loves to use, and he writes it in his book more than any other writer, I think. It's the word "precious". Say that with me, "Precious". Now, what do we mean usually when we say that? I'll tell you what we mean.
Donna and I have a little puppy. His name is Benji. We've had him just about a year, and he's captured our heart. I never thought I could fall in love with a dog. Come on, man, but that dog has got me, and we've been away now for two or three days and that dog is staying with a friend of ours, and she sent us a picture. And this little dog of ours, little Benji, he's laying on the bed with all four legs straight up in the air sound asleep, and you know what my wife said? "That's precious".
But I need to tell you that's not what Peter is talking about here. He's not talking about teddy bears and precious babies and what we say, "Oh, that's so precious". No, no, he's talking about precious in a different way, not in a sentimental way. Think precious stones. Think precious metals. Think gold. Just think about gold for a minute. That's a precious metal. It's precious because God made it. God buried it in the earth, and he loves it so much that one day he's gonna pave the streets of New Jerusalem with it, and experts say that gold has special chemical properties. First of all, gold cannot be destroyed by water, cannot be destroyed by time, cannot be destroyed by fire. It's malleable, which means it spreads without cracking. It's ductile. Means it stretches without breaking. It's rare.
Do you know how rare gold is? I was shocked when I read this, but listen to me. All the gold that's ever been mined in the whole world would fit into two Olympic swimming pools. Now, that's a lotta gold but in light of the vastness of the universe it doesn't seem like that much, does it? One of the reasons gold is so precious is because there is not a lot of it. There is not a huge amount of gold, and so we call it a precious metal, and what Peter is talking about here is that each and every promise God issues you in his Word is as precious as gold, so valuable that just one of those promises can make you infinitely richer than somebody who owns all the gold in both of those swimming pools.
I believe that. I believe that if you get ahold of the right promise in the right situation it will change everything about you and everything about your life. And, ladies and gentlemen, we don't have to go hunting for these promises. We have 'em in our hands. The precious promises of God we take with us to church every week. We lay the book of those promises down on the nightstand before we go to bed, and we read it in the morning. Sometimes we read it at night and as you read this book you understand and recognize the life-changing gifts that God has given you and when you understand these things you cannot believe you have them.
They're here, and this is what Peter wants us to understand. We don't have to wait for these. We don't have to do anything to get them. We don't have to sign up for them. There's no class where we have to go and learn about 'em. The Bible says God has given you everything you need through his great precious promises. William Randolph Hearst was a wealthy 20th-century newspaper publisher, and he was an incredible art collector. One day, he read a description of some valuable pieces of art, and he called his people together, and he said, "I have to have that art immediately. Go find it. I don't care what it costs".
He commissioned his agent to go wherever he had to go and get those pieces of art so he could have them for his collection. You can imagine his surprise when he received a telegram from his art agent telling him the pieces were in his own warehouse where his collection of art was stored. So, if William Hearst had compared the valuable items he wanted with the precious items he already possessed, he would have discovered that the very things he longed for he already had and that's what I wanna convey to you today most of all.
Ladies and gentlemen, we don't have to go looking for it. Isn't it interesting that we have this, and God has given it to us? It's his precious book and instead of going to the precious book where we have promises from God that if we do this he will connect us to his power, we run around to seminars, we listen to tapes, we read all kinds of ancillary books, all of which there's nothing wrong with it. But if we do that to the exclusion of reading where the real gold is, we're just messing with our own lives, and then we look up one day and we wonder why it isn't working. It's not gonna work unless you follow God's plan, so let me encourage you to remember you have God's power. It's been given to you by Almighty God who is himself power. You have God's precious promises. God's given 'em to you in his book. Those promises are like the electric wires that connect you with the generator of God's almighty power.
If you want the power of God you gotta be in this book. There's no such thing as being a powerful Christian without being in this book. This is the secret to all of that, but number three you have God's purpose. What is God doing in your life? Why is he doing all of this? Why does God provide you with his divine power through his promises? Because he wants to do something in your life. He has a purpose in mind for you. Listen to what Peter says in 2 Peter 1:3 and 4. "His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, that through these things we might be partakers of his divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust".
Now, those are some wordy statements. Let me unpack 'em. Through these promises the nature of God that's within you, that's growing in you in opposition to your old nature, that new nature is being fed. How is it fed? Through the promises of God. You connect the Word of God with the nature of God within you and the Bible says when you do that, number one, you become more godly. And number two, he promises that if you do that you will escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Now, let's just pause for a moment and ask ourselves what in the world does that mean? And I ought to be careful here, 'cause when I'm not careful I get in a lotta trouble, so I'm gonna be real careful. The world in which we live, men and women, is no longer a world capable of communicating positive things to our lives. It's not. You may have a positive family, you may have a little positive group, but the world as we know it, especially here in the United States, is no longer a world that values virtue, that values goodness. The Bible says there would come a time when we would call evil, good, and good, evil. We're at that time and all you gotta do is watch. I mean, it's just so evident, so here we are as believers. We're connected to the power source. We've been given the divine promises.
How in the world are we supposed to live in this world where we live? The Bible says that you and I as believers we've been called to live righteous lives in the midst of that culture. We can't be absorbed into this culture. We have to be different. How do we do that? You have to do it through the power of God. Well, how do you get the power of God? Through his great and precious promises that are downloaded into your heart. You say, "Okay, Pastor, I got that. That was a good lesson. How do I download all this stuff"?
So, I got a little five-point conclusion. It sounds like I'm a motivational speaker, but hopefully this will be motivational. Here is my five-step strategy for analyzing and downloading this. Here we go:
Number one, analyze.
Number two, personalize.
Number three, memorize.
Number four, verbalize.
Number five, organize.
You ready? Step one, analyze. If you're feeling a little bit powerless in some areas of your life as a Christian, take inventory. Where do you find yourself most lacking power? The Word of God was meant to help us with personal things, so first thing you do is you analyze.
Number two, after you analyze personalize. What does that mean? Well, now that you have your list start finding the promises of God's Word that deal with your challenges. How do I get God's power and integrate it into the thing I'm dealing with? It's gonna be through a Scripture. Connect your life with the power source, so analyze. "Here is what my need is". Personalize, here's what the Scripture says.
All right, now this one will kill you: memorize. How many of you know there is a tremendous value in memorizing Scripture? And lemme tell you something. I don't know how old you have to be before you can't memorize it, but it's sometime after 77, I can tell you right there, 'cause I'm still working on it. The psalmist said this, "Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you". When you memorize the Bible you make God's Word portable. When you memorize the Bible, you have the Bible with you wherever you go. How many of you know when you get into a tough spot you can't say, "Could you just hold it while I go get my concordance? I know there's a verse in the Bible here for that"? No, it doesn't work, does it?
Most of the issues we have in life are instantaneous, momentary. We don't have a long time to go find, so you gotta get some stuff in your hard drive. You know, just take one simple verse, one verse that deals with something you're dealing with. Memorize that verse. Call it to memory and when you memorize the verse on your list you can recall that promise any time no matter where you are.
Now, here is the fourth one. I don't ever hear anybody talk about this. Analyze, personalize, memorize. Fourth, verbalize. If you wanna make these promises stick to the ribs of your spiritual being, find ways to share them with others. Speak them out loud. Here is one thing I've written down in my journal: "It's one thing to tell God about your problems, but sometimes you need to tell your problems about God". And when you do that with the Word of God you neutralize the situation, so here you go. Analyze. Figure out what it is you're dealing with. Personalize. Find the right Scripture. Memorize. Commit some of them to memory.
Number four, verbalize. Tell 'em to everybody, 'cause as soon as you start telling 'em to somebody it will be easier for you to remember them. And then, organize. When you start doing this you'll get a little list, so you organize the list, and here is how you do it. Get yourself a little loose-leaf notebook that you can move the pages around. Whatever problem it is you're working with, put this title at the top of the page.
When you get a verse from your study, print the verse out. Write it out on the page. Little by little, you're not only adding verses, but you're adding pages. Then you can put those pages in alphabetical order, and you've built your own little memory bank to help you download the power of God into your own life. My prayer is that as we work through these lessons from this section of Scripture it will dawn upon us in the deepest part of our life what God has done for us. He not only gave us eternal life so we can spend eternity with him in heaven. He gave us everything we need to live a life on this Earth that will bring glory to his name. Amen.