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2021 online sermons » Dr. David Jeremiah » David Jeremiah - Stay Challenged

David Jeremiah - Stay Challenged

David Jeremiah - Stay Challenged

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David Jeremiah - Stay Challenged

For all of his 76 years, Romanian-born, Liviu Librescu, met life's challenges head on. As a child in Romania during World War II, he had been confined to a Jewish ghetto while his father was sentenced to a forced labor camp. But Liviu survived the Holocaust and he determined to fulfill his dream of becoming an engineer. And in spite of the communist party ruling Romania during all of that time, he did, indeed, get his education, his degree. He completed an undergraduate engineering degree, and then a PhD at the Institute of Fluid Mechanics at Romania's Academy of Science. As a brilliant professor, he was widely esteemed within Romania. But communist rule would not allow him to publish his research outside of Romania. So, at great risk, he smuggled his papers out of Romania to publishers in other countries.

After three years of overcoming obstacles, Dr. Librescu and his wife were granted permission to immigrate to Israel in 1978. And there, he taught at the Tel Aviv University for seven years, and finally accepted a one-year position as a visiting professor at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia. In 1985, his family moved here, and they became part of the university family. He became one of Virginia Tech's most popular and respected professors and researchers. Throughout his career, Dr. Librescu compiled a list of awards and recognitions that are too long for me to even mention, but they were evidence of how the man lived his life. He lived his life with strenuous and lavish commitment and generosity to all of the opportunities that he received. He led his family to live that way. And everyone who knew him, saw a man who was living his life wide open.

For all of his 76 years, he exemplified in his life the kind of diligence that reflects the image of God in human beings. He loved his position as a professor. He was a prolific researcher, and a wonderful teacher, and he devoted himself to the profession, solely for the love of it. When the professor himself was asked back in 2005, why he continued to work so hard as such an advanced age, he said, "It's not a question of organizations or calculations. If I had pleasure to do this, then I will put time aside to do this. It's a matter of my personal freedom. If you are limited, then you miss the freedom," he said, "and I would like to be fluid. I would like to be free as a bird and fly everywhere".

Well, that's the way he lived his life, overcoming obstacles for more than seven decades to give everything he had to what he loved. He continued to teach at Virginia Tech, well past retirement because life itself was a challenge for him. He never gave himself permission to stop as long his students needed him. In fact, it was his diligence that cost him his life and served as the ultimate illustration of what it means to live with no reservations.

Let me tell you the story. On April 16th, 2007, when a heavily armed, deranged student entered the classroom buildings on the Virginia Tech campus and began randomly killing and wounding students and staff, Dr. Librescu was teaching a class of around 20 students. As soon as it became obvious that the shooter might target his classroom, the 76-year-old professor immediately threw himself against the inside of the classroom door and instructed his students to flee out the windows to safety. One of the last students to exit the classroom remembers seeing the professor leaning against the door and then falling, fatally wounded by the bullets that came through the door and ended his life. All 20 of his students, some with broken legs from the two-story fall survived the incident.

And we have to ask ourselves this question, what would make someone sacrifice himself for the sake of others? For Liviu Librescu, it was the culmination of a life of overcoming challenges and remaining diligent to the end. From childhood, his commitment to living for others created peace in our troubled world. Christians live in that same world and we are called by God to take up our cross and march into the trouble for the sake of Christ, not knowing but that one little thing we might do will save someone's life, not only for time, but for eternity. Learning to live an exceptional life, a life of sacrifice and diligence, generous commitment. That's a process that never ends and often a process that begins in times of difficulty, and challenge and chaos like the ones we're experiencing right now.

I'd like to share with you some words from the Apostle Peter that will clue us in on the importance of living this kind of life. These words are found in 2 Peter chapter 3, verse 14, and they read like this, "Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by him in peace, without spot and blemish". Of course, throughout this series, this has all been about the return of Christ and what we're supposed to be doing while we wait. And it isn't the first time that Peter has used the word diligence. In fact, back in 2 Peter chapter 1, he says, "For this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge".

The message that he gives to us in this passage in 2 Peter is the message for this day, the importance of staying challenged and staying diligent in what we're doing, not only in life, but especially for Christ in these very uncertain days. You see, our tendency, men and women is when we come to times like this it's to just back down, to chill out, if you will, and to say, "When this is over, I'll get back to the business of living". But when we do that, we miss the opportunity that God has given us, not only to make a difference in the world where we live, but to make a difference in the world of our own life, to use the challenges, to be challenged ourselves. And that's the message I want to share with you today.

First of all, this word diligence, oh, it's an incredible word. It's a word that we don't talk about very much and we don't live very much either. But let me tell you what it's all about by beginning with this whole idea of, "The Purpose Of Diligence". At the beginning of 2 Peter in the first chapter of this book, we catch a glimpse of how diligence fits into Peter's overall theme. Listen to what he says in 2 Peter chapter 1 verses 3 and 4. "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".

Peter offers two focal points in this passage. First, there is this astonishing idea that every follower of Jesus Christ has been given everything that he needs for life and godliness. Not some things, not even most things, but everything. Have you ever thought about the fact that as a Christian, you have everything you need. And the second focal point of Peter's message is to tell us where all of that is, where can we find these things we need. Peter says, "They have been given to us through the exceedingly great and precious promises of the Word of God".

Now, that means, men and women, that your Bible and mine is a full utility kit for everything we need to live with confidence in this chaotic world. There's nothing tangible in life that is as wonderful and complete as the written Word of God. In between the covers of this book, from Genesis to Revelation, we have everything God wants us to have, everything that we need to be productive Christians. But I want to just stop for a moment and say that you can be a lover of the Word of God and not get the impact of Peter's message. It's possible to become so enamored of the Bible, that you we forget the fact that we need to interact with this book.

It's not enough to say, "What a beautiful, leather Bible I have," and then promptly stick it away on the shelf or under the car seat. No, the Bible is not a book to be admired. It is a book that we're to study. Philippians 2:13 says, "that it is God who works in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure". Some Christians hear that, and they think that they can sit back and relax. They tend to miss the verse that came right before it which says, "With fear and trembling," we're to work out our own salvation. That doesn't sound very relaxing to me and I can promise you, it's not. We do need to be careful how we speak of working out our salvation, of course, because that doesn't mean we can earn our salvation. Only the blood of Christ can do that.

In terms of the true reconciling work of forgiveness, we don't have any part in that, but we are to work out what God has worked in. I call that little program the divine cooperative. The gift is delivered to us through the work of God and then we take that gift, and we practice due diligence in working to perfect ourselves as followers of Christ. Now, isn't that how we look upon all gifts? If someone gives you a nice shirt for your birthday, it's up to you to wear it. If you receive a book, you're the one that has to read it. We're the recipients but we have to act on what we have been given or the gift is wasted on us.

I have two sons as most of you know, who have been gifted athletically, and I often told them when they were growing up that their ability was God's gift to them, but what they did with it was their gift to God. We receive gifts from the Holy Spirit. I hope you have a firm grasp on what your spiritual gift is, that you intentionally use it rather than tucking it away or maybe admiring it on occasion. We have the gift in hand. We have been provided with this wonderful gift. This is all we need for life and godliness. These are the precious promises of the Word of God. Here in this book, we have God's wonderful gift to us. But Peter wants us to understand that once we get the gift, there's certain diligence that's demanded of us in we're going to realize the benefit of that which we have been given. Let me speak with you now about the prerequisite of diligence.

Look again in your Bibles and you will notice that in this section of Peter, there is a list, a list of seven things. Things that we're to do, things we're to add, but notice the list begins with one word, and it's the word, faith. Faith is always the prerequisite for our diligence. Peter begins right there, telling us in verse 5 what to add to our faith. And the list of add-ons follows but the steam engine that pulls the whole train is faith. Without faith, we're going nowhere.

You see, faith is the lowest common denominator in the mathematics of this passage. If you'll look at the passage carefully, you'll notice that grace and peace are multiplied in verse 2, and then there's a number of sums that are added in verses 5 through 7. And if you pay close attention, you'll notice that God does the multiplying, and we do the adding. That's what you call divine mathematics and that's the way it's supposed to work. So the prerequisite for your diligence in your Christian life is, you must be a Christian. You must have faith. Faith is the beginning of the process. We accept Christ by faith. We are saved completely by God's grace and we move forward from that point onward with due diligence to take what God has given us to the next level. So we have the purpose of diligence. What is it? To take the things that God has given us in his Word and to use diligence to accomplish everything for which they were intended. And we have the prerequisite of diligence, you can't have the diligence of the Christian life if you don't have the Christian life. It begins with faith.

Now, notice thirdly the principles of diligence. It's time to understand the meaning of the word that I believe is the key to our Christian life. What does it mean to be diligent? Now so often as preachers what we do is we give people some high and lofty principal. We talk about how wonderful it is, and then we never tell them what it is. What does it mean to be diligent? So let me take the word apart, let me go back to the languages in which it was written and let me describe for you what I believe this word was meant to convey to our souls. First of all, diligence means in the language of the New Testament to strenuously give yourself the something. Strenuous is the keyword and it's a word that comes out of the realm of athletics. It is a demanding and sweat producing word, if you will. It means to give all strenuous activity toward a goal. It comes from the athletic world of intense concentration on the goal of becoming a champion.

Diligence is a picture of the sprinter who's coming around the bend toward the finish tape, exerting every muscle in his body even when it seems like he has nothing left to give. He has practice for months or years working on every tiny characteristic of his motion. He has run countless miles punishing his body toward finish times. And now as he runs the big race, he is even more focused. When you see strenuous and you see it in action, you know, and in fact, I remember seeing races where the veins in the neck of the person was running popped out. They had forced themselves to give every last drop to the goal.

Secondly, the word has another meaning. There's a secondary meaning to the word diligent and that's the word lavish, to give yourself to something lavishly. The word itself came from the background of the Greek plays in the time of the Bible. When the Greeks would put on their plays, they would find patrons to support them. And these patrons would pay all the bills and they would build all the props and the scenery. They'd get all the performers, and it became a very competitive thing among the patrons of the Greek plays. When friends would come to one play and see what that patron had done, they would try to outdo that patron in the next play. And it came to the place where it was so extravagant, there was no cost, there was no limit considerations. It is the word that we use when we talk about choreography today. It was everything to illustrate the wealth of the patron and to underwrite the cost of the play.

Now, we don't have Greek plays today. Those are gone and maybe the illustration loses a little something over time but let me give you what a modern one that will help you. Every year in our country, we host in one of the cities of the NFL teams what we call the Super Bowl. I remember when it started, and it's kind of become a part of the fabric of American life and even the church is affected by it. No one wants to be the guest speaker on Super Bowl Sunday in some church. But the Super Bowl's a great illustration of both concepts of what it means to be diligent. For instance, during the first part of the Super Bowl when the teams are playing, you have to remember there are 22 guys out there on the field who have worked all year to get to this one place, and you can be sure when they walk out on the field that day, they don't leave anything laying on the ground. They give everything they have. They give everything to the game. They know there's no tomorrow. If they lose, it's over.

There's nothing to gained by holding anything back. So what every bit of energy they can muster up, they play this game at the highest level it can be played with strenuous activity from beginning to end. That's the first meaning of the word diligent, to do something strenuously. But after the first half of that game, there's another part of the Super Bowl which is almost more famous than the Super Bowl itself and that's the halftime. Halftime entertainment comes. We already know about how much money is spent on all the commercials, but did you ever stop to think about how much money is spent to produce the halftime production of the Super Bowl?

Once again, like the Greek games, no cost is too high. Every year, they try to outdo what was done the year before. Those two words, strenuous and lavish, combined together to help us understand what the word diligence means. So how do we apply that to our lives as Christians? It's almost so foreign from our actual practice that it's hard to make the application. Could you think for a moment of what would happen if you took all the precious promises, the exceedingly precious promises of this book, which God has given to you so that you can have everything you need for life and godliness, and you took all of those precious promises and with diligence you mind them? What is diligence? Strenuous, lavish activity. Nothing is too hard. Nothing is requiring too much for you to learn the principles of the Word of God. That's what diligence means, diligence in the study of the Word of God and diligence in life.

And my friends, I have to tell you, it is so foreign from the way we live today, that's it is, I feel like John the Baptist crying in the wilderness. Does anyone here, does anyone really understand? Can we get our arms around this concept of what it means to be a diligent student of the Word of God and a diligent Christian? The truth of our salvation, the historic fact of Christ's resurrection, the understanding that he's going to come back again, these are the things upon which I base my life and my faith. And if I'm waiting to serve God until I feel like serving him, I won't serve him very much. If I'm waiting to pray until I feel like praying, my prayers won't take very long. If I wait until I feel like reading the Word of God until I open its pages and begin to diligently apply its truth, I will not be very much of a student of God's truth.

Now, Peter, in 2 Peter is giving us the key to all of this. He's saying to us that we're to, by diligence, take the things that God has given us, and mind them, and use them and grow them in our own lives. He's talking about laying a foundation of faith based upon what we know from the Word of God. He is telling us that there are times when God smiles on our response when the world is treating us poorly, when our spirits are low, yet we pray anyway. We serve anyway. We open the Bible anyway. "And God," we say, I'm not at my best today, but I am still yours and I'm gonna serve you with diligence with all of my heart". And you can count on it, when you do that and you give God that kind of faith and diligence, his promises will be there for you. Someone has said, "Thank God that his promises don't fluctuate with our whims".

Isn't that true? We can cling to those promises and find a profile equilibrium for our life. I have to be the first one to tell you that when I get ready to preach, I go through a series of emotions. I don't know if I've explained this before, but like most communicators, I'm always putting myself in the shoes of my listeners. How's this going to sound to them? What if they hear the sermon and it drives them away from where I want them to go? There's always the temptation to give the people what they want, which may not be the same as what they need. Every preacher of the Word struggles with this urge, but in the end, he knows that God has called him to be true to the Bible. He knows the terrible implications of conforming his message to the world. So rather than letting his message be transforming through the true Word of Christ, he gives in to the pressure of the age. I get a sense of Peter having these same thoughts as he wrote the first chapter of his letter.

Let me explain to you what I mean by reading 2 Peter chapter 1, verses 12 through 15. Peter wrote, "For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease".

Now, of course you know Peter's tent is his body, his tattered human body, that he knows is about to be gone and he can't make small talk. He can't spend time telling people the feel good messages that massage the air. The situation is urgent, and he is already making arrangements to see that his words will outlive him as they have certainly done, as we know, for we just read them here in church today. Peter is nothing if not strenuous and lavish in training his brothers and sisters in the faith. He is totally committed to it. There is nothing that's more important to him and that's the way it ought to be for us as followers of Christ. Not normally perhaps, but especially in these days, we cannot afford to let this fall away. The pressures of the age will take us away from such a commitment. And yet, the Bible says that these pressures, these chaotic days, instead of taking us away, should drive us toward a deeper commitment to diligence in the Word of God.

So we've seen the purpose of diligence in our lives, which is to take the Word of God that we have been given and diligently work it out in our life. We've seen the prerequisite for it which is our faith and the principles of it are to be strenuous and lavish in living it out. Now, we have to take this little list that we find here in 2 Peter and take it quickly and go through and examine what it says because Peter offers us seven priorities of diligence. All of them are built upon the foundation called faith. Like many biblical lists, this one isn't exhaustive. There are other things that could be added to it. But I believe these seven things are special. They kind of form a basic matrix that we can use to build our Christian lives. These are seven elements you should look for when you're checking up on yourself periodically. And I'm going to take them one at a time and add them as we go along.

Notice, first of all, it says, "To your faith, add virtue," 2 Peter 1:5. Do you know what virtue is? Virtue is courage. This is the New Testament word for moral goodness, having the courage to do the right thing no matter what the circumstances might dictate. People with strong integrity are consistent from one situation to another. They act from their moral base rather than from consensus or popular opinion. This kind of virtue develops as we become diligent in the Word of God and begin to show the mind of Christ in our actions. Peter says, "Add to your faith, virtue," and then he says, "And add to your virtue, knowledge". This one means exactly what it says. It means we're to continue growing in the knowledge of God's Word.

In fact, the word knowledge is found five times in the first chapter of 2 Peter. What we need is knowledge that's anchored in the truth and we have it in the Scriptures. It only remains for us to extract that knowledge and make it part of all that you do. And then he says, "Add to your knowledge, self-control". Now, I have to tell you, everybody take a deep breath. We all don't like this word self-control. We're okay with gaining knowledge, we can deal with moral virtue, but self-control, this concept is a tough one. Yet, if you study the Bible, you know it shows up a lot. It's in many of the key lists of the New Testament, self-control. Whatever else it does, it speaks to us about the fact that we have choices. We can choose what we do, what we say, what we think.

And here's another unpleasant word, if you will, this is about discipline. Anything worth achieving life is going to come because of personal discipline and self-control. You exercise that discipline in your own personal life. Let's face it, by rising up from bed to attend church when you're a little sleepy, by getting up early so you can read the Word of God before you go to work. It's self- discipline. I remember years ago, there was a San Diego Charger that was a good friend of mine, when he was in San Diego and he continues to serve the Lord. I heard such good things about him. But he used to tell me about his routine for getting ready for the football season. He said every morning his alarm clock would go off, and he would get out of bed, and it was very early, and he would pick off running towards the hills. And he would run the hills in the early hours of the morning. And he did this day after day.

And I asked him, how did you keep this up? And he said well, he had a little mantra that he used to say to himself as he was running early in the morning. He used to say to himself, "My competitors are still in bed. My competitors are still in bed". You see, he wanted to attain that edge that would set him apart and win him starting job, get him a place on the All-Pro team, helping contribute to his team's goals. And of course, if I told you his name, you would know that in the end, he accomplished what he set out to do, but it required diligence, discipline, self-control. And then Peter says, "Add to self-control, perseverance". It sounds similar, but perseverance is a glorified synonym for patience. It means to voluntarily and continually endure difficulties and hardship for the sake of honor.

Perseverance is silencing your body when it begins to complain. Perseverance is forcing yourself awake to study the Bible in the morning when you know you could use another 15 minutes of sleep. Perseverance is the trademark of every champion you have ever met. None notice, "To perseverance, add godliness". Godliness is a word that means to have reverence and respect for God. We need real godliness all the time. But it is especially necessary in chaotic days like the ones we are currently experiencing. And when I say godliness, I'm not talking about the everyday kind of run-of-the-mill pattern that passes for godliness sometimes.

Today, we seem to be presenting our concept of God in a more casual user-friendly way, and I see some dangers there. We want unbelievers to see a positive faith and that's good. We want them to see a God of love instead of one who is relentlessly angry, and that too is good. But I worry that bit by bit, we're losing the concept of his holiness and his majestic infinite magnitude. Yes, even his judgment of our sin. Our God is an awesome God, a glorious King and so much more than a grandfather in heaven which is the way so many paint him these days. I bring this up because the godly Christian is the one who is truly humble before God. We need to stop and quit being frivolous as we talk about the one who is our Creator and is the giver of life to us all. That's what it means to be godly. It means to have a reverence for the God that we serve.

And finally, and I'm going to add these two together because they're very similar, "Add to your godliness, brotherly kindness and love". 2 Peter 1:7 says, "To godliness, we are to add brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness, we are to add love". Does it seem strange to you that we first add self- control, which is tough, and then perseverance, which is a little harder, then we become godly, which is an ultimate goal of life. And then we add, of all things, brotherly kindness. Seems kind of soft and maybe shouldn't be in the list. It's almost like a step backwards, something rather mundane compared to godliness. And yet, hear me carefully today friends. It is through our brotherly love, and our kindness and our godliness all packaged up together that we are set apart as believers. When we practice brotherly kindness and love, we are different than the people around us and especially is that true now.

I've noticed that as I look around in the culture today, as we're going through these chaotic times, there's lots of selfishness that's pride in the lives of all people. They pride themselves, "And I'm going to take care of mine and my own," and there's no looking around to the needs of others. That's exactly opposite from what we're instructed to do in this book we call the Bible. We are to diligently add to our faith virtue, and at the end of our virtue is godliness and brotherly kindness and love. We're to be people who are known by the way we care about others. So that is how Peter tells us this is to be lived out. That is the priorities of our diligence. How do those things fall into your life and mine? Where do we... if we take that list and just kind of write it down and examine how we live our life, where do those things fall? Is our life characterized by any of these virtues? Are we growing in the ability to apply these truths our life? What is the key to it?

It is the key: diligence. It doesn't happen by itself. That's one of the great, great errors of so much Christian teaching today, that you can become a strong faith-filled Christian and not have to do anything to get there. You can't do anything to get your faith, but you do everything to develop that faith as you follow Jesus Christ. Well, let me come to the end of this discussion and make a couple of practical applications that are really important. I want to talk with you about the possibilities of diligence in your life. Peter offers us some pictures of what will happen if we determine by the grace of God and in the power the Holy Spirit, that we're going to be diligent in the way we live life.

Here are three things that will happen to you if you do it. First of all, in 2 Peter 1:8, we read, "For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ". Number one, if you allow yourself to embrace the diligent life, you will have stability in the way you live. Peter wants us to know that if we pursue God and focus on these qualities, we will begin to see them come together in our lives. Character is the result of persistent action and a pattern of diligence will lead to stability. One by one as we focus on a diligent Christian life, old and unhelpful habits will fall away, and new and profitable habits will grow. You'll simply find that some things in life that you've done historically, you don't want to do anymore, because the Spirit of God has provided something for you that is far more satisfying in your life. You'll discover that you're more resistant to the ups and downs of the world that trouble so many people. There will be a kind of evenness that develops in your life because you have mind the truth of God.

None of it comes easily. If it did, we would see stable and fruitful lives all around us and the church would be filled with super saints. But if you will be diligent in these days when you are tested, God will give you some spiritual muscles that will grow on your spiritual frame and you will discover a kind of inner strength that will take you through things, you never believed you could endure and give you the opportunity to help others along the way. You will have stability in your Christian life. Secondly, you will have vitality in the Christian life. Vitality is defined as abundant mental and physical energy. It's what people tend to lose when they leave their youth behind. It's the ability to spring out of bed in the morning, greet the day. It's the ability to embrace change and not fear it.

If you study the mature saints that you know, if you watch their lives, you will see that vitality, even deep into their golden years is evident. There's some quality about them that remains forever young. Wouldn't you love to grow with a grace like that? These qualities lived out diligently will make that happen. You will have stability in your Christian life, and you will have vitality in your Christian life. And then thirdly, you will have reality in your Christian life. Stability, vitality, and reality. Peter says, "that we will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of Jesus". That means we will know his truth deeply and it will bear real fruit all around us. We'll be involved in the real world, connecting to the truth of the gospel to the needs of the people that we see.

Some people believe that faith is some kind of fantasy world where we escape the problems of the day. But Peter says when we have diligence in developing our walk with Christ, we will become more real than we've ever been before. We won't be escape artists. We will be embrace artists. We will embrace the problems of the world and bring the presence of Jesus right into the center of them, which is something we all dream about if we're true Christians. So there are three things that will happen to you if you determine to make diligence a part of your life.

Let me give you three things that will happen to you if you don't. This is no easy in and out message. You don't just come and say, "Well, I think I'll do that and if I don't do that, I'll still be the same". No, having heard these words, you cannot be the same. Because the Bible tells us as if you embrace diligence in your walk with Christ, here are some things that will happen. And in the same passage, he tells us that if we refuse to take the challenge and live our lives challenged by God's Word, there are certain things we can expect to happen.

Number one, "We will lack spiritual power". Verse 9 of 2 Peter 1 says, "For he who lacks these things". Peter speaks of life for those who lack the list he has just given. And he says, "There are millions of people who profess to be Christians and they manage to avoid going after virtue. They manage to avoid going after knowledge and self-control". And you have a reunion with them after 30 years and what you discover is, they haven't changed at all. They're at the same level of spiritual immaturity as they were when you first knew them as Christians. There's a wonderful little story about a little boy who fell out of bed during the night, and he told his mother when he asked him what happened, he said, "I think I went to sleep too close to where I got in".

That what happens to too many of the children of God. They remain children by dozing off at the very entry point of their faith. They don't learn to pray through a trial. They can't minister to others because they're still trying to work out the things in their own life. They have no idea how to grow in grace. And the voice of the Holy Spirit is so still, so small, that they can't even hear it above all of the culture's clamor. They lack spiritual power. Without diligence, you can be sure of it, you can write it down, without a diligent walk with Christ you will end up powerless in your life as a Christian.

Number two, "You will lack spiritual perception. Interesting, 2 Peter 1:9 says, "They will be shortsighted, even to blindness". Peter speaks of the immature Christian as so shortsighted that it's like he's blind. We live in an era in which keen eyes are essential, spiritual equipment, and you realize what kind of sight I'm talking about. We have to be able to see truth as if looking through the eyes of God. There are so many things that swirl around us every day, so many different ways that we can be taken away from the path. We need to have discernment. We need to be able to see things as they really are. In the Bible says that when a person no longer has diligence, especially in the Word of God, he loses his perception. He becomes an easy target for all of the false doctrines that flow around us in the world today.

As you read the headlines and consider our own business and housing decisions, and we try to figure what to do, we need to pray but we need to read the Word of God and we need the strength that comes thought a diligent walk with Jesus Christ. So if you decide you are not going to live a diligent life and you're just happy where you are, "And thank you very much, Pastor. I wish I hadn't listened to this message". If that's where you are, if you think, "Okay, I can just be happy where I am". I'm telling you where you're going. First of all, you will lack spiritual power and you will lose your sense of perception about life.

And here's the third one, "You will lose your spiritual privilege". You can never lose your salvation, but you can lose the joy of it. You can lose the sense of God's presence in your life. Listen to 2 Peter 1:9, and I'm going to read it, and I wanted to listen to it, and I want you to understand it means exactly what it says. Here's what Peter said, "And in that moment when you have no longer diligently followed Christ, you will have forgotten that you were cleansed from your old sins".

Let me read that again, "You will have forgotten that you have been cleansed from your old sins". Can you imagine experiencing the miracle of salvation, the cleansing of the blood of Christ, the arrival of the Holy Spirit, the joy of Christian fellowship only to forget that that ever happened? Do you know that you can get so far away from God as a Christian, so far away from the instruction of his Word, so lacking in diligence, so lacking in strenuous and lavish pursuit of the things of God, that you wake up one day and you can hardly find any evidence in your own life? And then you come along and use it to the pastor, "Pastor, I don't know what's going on. Am I really saved? How can I be sure"?

This is why as a Christian, you want to develop a passionate, focused diligence life, growing in the traits that Peter mentions. Everything we could possibly need to be difference makers in this world, once again has been given to us. We don't need any more information. We don't need another revelation. We have it all. God has given it to us in between the covers of this book. Now it's up to us to take what we have been given and give it back to God in the life of diligence that will bring honor to his name and strength to our lives. I've talked with you today about the purpose of diligence and the prerequisite of it, the principles of it, the priorities of it, the possibilities of it, and I want to finish with the promise of it. You got your Bible still open?

Look down on 2 Peter 1, verse 10. Here's what it says, "If you do these things, you will never stumble". Say that again, "If you do these things, you will never stumble". Peter gives us this promise that if we will follow a life of diligence, we won't be cast away, we won't be lost on the side of the highway. Today, as a pastor, there's hardly a week goes by that I don't hear of some spiritual tragedy. I met with those folks this week who were going through a spiritual tragedy where someone has lost their way. They have stumbled in their walk. Friends, you don't want to be there. You don't want remorse and the sadness of a stumbling Christian life.

And Peter says, "Here's the way you get past it. Here's the promise of God. If you will diligently apply our heart to the Word of God and to the principles of the Word, you can go through life, and you won't have to stumble along the way". And it says in 2 Peter 1:11, "You will be given an entrance into heaven that is abundant". I remember studying this some years ago and realizing that Peter was using a nautical phrase here. He's giving an illustration from the world of boats, from the nautical world. He says, "If you will live your life with diligence, when it comes time for you to go to heaven, you will enter into the everlasting kingdom in an abundance".

Now, let me see if I can get that through to us before we close our Bible today. This is actually, this picture that heaven has a harbor, and as we sail Godward toward that harbor, moving through the storms and the rocks that lurk in the waves, some ships barely make it into the port. Some ships get to heaven. The crew is exhausted, there's almost mutiny, the rigging's torn, supplies are low, the ship has sprung leaks. It's not exactly like a hail the conquering hero entrance into heaven. But Peter says, "You don't want to go to heaven that way. You don't have to go to heaven that way".

Peter is telling us that diligent believers are like diligent captains and sailors. They sail with discipline, manning the watchtower, maintain the ship, keeping the morale high among the crew. It's a picture of the well-lived Christian life. The storms will come, but God has given us what we need to come through all of them, all the stronger. In other words, it isn't about just going to heaven. If you have trusted Jesus Christ, your name is on the crew list by order of the captain. What is at issue is the quality of your journey.

Think about the sailors of old and the life they led on the sea. The confinement of a small ship and the dangers of storm, and stone and shipwreck. And the hard life of the open sea required absolute discipline, unquestioned diligence, and particularly an unquestioning obedience to the captain no matter how desperate the voyage became. So I want to ask you today, how strong is your faith? Are you disciplined and diligent enough to weather the storm? Let me encourage you with these words, as we see the world around us disintegrating, there has never been a time for us to take up the call to diligence that we have been given in the Word of God, to live our lives for Christ with strenuous activity, and lavish involvement and self-control. And we will discover in the process, that it not only will prepare us for where we are heading, but it will help us on the way there.
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