Preparing for Life and Godliness
At the beginning of 2021, I was asking the Lord for a word or a scripture for the year. I felt the Word I heard was: Harvest. As I ponder how a farmer plants his crops so he can harvest his grain or fruit in the future, I ponder the seeds needed for a good harvest. 2 Peter 1 comes to mind as a foundation for growing a good harvest because of cultivating faithfulness according to His Words of Life.
I want to make clear that this is about ‘Trusting the Lord’ and ‘Delighting in Him’ and cultivating faithfulness, not working or earning or performing for God. Psalm 37:3-6 says, “Trust in the Lord and do good; live in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring out your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noonday.”
We are Lovers
We are lovers who respond to God’s love. We are to “love the Lord our God with all of our heart, and with all our soul, and with all of our mind, and with all our strength.”
Out of our love relationship with God, we overflow in our love for others. Our family, friends and those we encounter day-to-day can exclaim God’s love flows from our hearts and through our hands and feet. So we love, worship, and serve God and those around us.
Christian means Christ-like. Christ-like means to reflect Who Jesus is…as in our reflection in lake water or in a mirror. As we live our lives each day, we desire to reflect who He is to those around us. We can’t do this in our own strength or through striving. Fleshly striving is futile. Reflection of Who He is means we need to be transformed.
We become transformed through surrendering ourselves to Him, following His leading, allowing ourselves to be conformed to His image. “We deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.” We reflect the One we behold, delight ourselves in, focus on and follow, so we need to choose well.
So let’s press in and run our race and plant good seeds for a great and fruitful harvest. Hebrews 12:1-3 asserts, “Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lost heart.”
Life and Godliness: Foundation
Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines foundation as “the basis or ground work; that on which anything stands, and by which it is supported. Christ is the foundation of the church.”
Colossians 3:1-4 pronounces that “if then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this word is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in [the splendor of His] glory.”
Verse nine tells us to ‘lay aside the old’ and verse ten encourages us to ‘put on the new self’ and verse twelve list what we are to ‘put on,’ mainly: a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Subsequent verses add to ‘put on’ a forbearing spirit, a forgiving spirit, and love which is the perfect bond of unity.
Ephesians 4:22-24 continues this thought, “In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
The Lord warns us to be careful in Colossians 2:8, “See to is that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”
Hebrews 12 encourages us to persevere just as those who have gone before us, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Romans 12 mentions us being transformed by the renewing of our minds, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
2 Peter 1:1-11 (AMPC)
Simon Peter, a servant and apostle (special messenger) of Jesus Christ, to those who have received (obtained an equal privilege of) like precious faith with ourselves in and through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: may grace (God’s favor) and peace (which is perfect well-being, all necessary good, all spiritual prosperity, and freedom from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts) be multiplied to you in [the full, personal, precise, and correct] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue). By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature.
For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy), and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence), and in exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control, and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance), and in [exercising[ steadfastness [develop] godliness (piety), and in [exercising] godliness [develop brotherly affection, and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love.
For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
For whoever lacks these qualities is blind, [spiritually] shortsighted, seeing only what is near to him, and has become oblivious [to the fact] that he was cleansed from his old sins.
Because of this, brethren, be all the more solicitous and eager to make sure (to ratify, to strengthen, to make steadfast) your calling and election; for if you do this, you will never stumble or fall. This there will be richly and abundantly provided for you entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Peter proclaims, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.”
Peter continues, “Through the knowledge of Him [Jesus] who called us by His own glory and excellence. Through these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world on account of lust.”
Peter instructs us to be diligent. Webster’s 1828 dictionary states diligence is: to be attentive or to take care; to give due attention; to give steady application; to give constant effort to accomplish what is undertaken; industry.
Peter encourages us to be diligent or give attention and steady application to:
- Moral Excellence
- Brotherly Affection
God says if these attributes are ours and become prevalent, we will be industrious and fruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Peter warns us that if we are not diligently giving our attention to and adding these qualities to our character, we will become short-sighted, blind and unfruitful.
“Peter’s second letter was written around AD 66, about one year before the aging apostle’s execution. Peter knew his time on this earth was nearing its end and that he would die before the Lord returned. Brief but powerful, 2 Peter serves as his last written words to the church and a permanent testament of Peter’s practical teachings.” [Swindoll 287]
“Peter apparently also knew something about the importance of reminding people about fundamental truths. He wrote his second letter to equip the members of his flock to face and overcome the subtle spiritual deception of false teachers who were assaulting the church. But instead of giving them new information to mount their defense, the apostle simply wanted to remind his readers about the truth of the gospel they had already been taught. He wanted to bring some things to their remembrance that were sufficient to protect and preserve them after his life was over.” [Shaddix 3, 4]
“What do we know about the people receiving this letter is how Peter felt about them. They were a people who had ‘received a faith equal to’ the apostles, a faith that was just as precious as the salvation Jesus had given to his earliest and closest followers. The word ‘received’ ….. means ‘to obtain by lot.’ Peter reminded his readers that their faith that was equal to that of the apostles was a gift of God’s grace” [Vaughn and Lea, 142]
“In sum, Peter addresses moral corruption, doctrinal compromise, and prophetic concerns. Having matured in his own faith and having reached the end of his life, Peter wanted to leave a written legacy addressing some of the most pressing concerns facing the young church. Like a last will and testament to believers of every generation, Peter wrote this rapid-fire, urgent reminder to warn against false doctrine and moral compromise in the last days. And because his writing was inspired by the Holy Spirit, his final words are as timely for us today as they were for believers in the first century.” [Swindoll 289]
Life and Godliness: Faith
Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines faith as “the assent of the mind to the truth of divine revelation, on the authority of God’s testimony, accompanied with a cordial assent of the will or [support] of the heart; an entire confidence or trust in God’s character and declarations, and in the character and doctrines of Christ, with an unreserved surrender of the will to His guidance, and dependence on His merits for salvation. In other words, that firm belief of God’s testimony, and of the truth of the gospel, which influences the will, and leads to an entire reliance on Christ for salvation.”
Desiring to grow in our relationship with Jesus and to be more fruitful in the kingdom of God, we will delve deeper into each of these areas. Hebrews 11 declares, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” And again, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
God reiterates in His Word that it is “by grace we have been saved through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one would boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them.”
John shares with us, “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written, that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing we may have life in His name.”
Timothy warns us to “not pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which cause disputes, rather than God’s stewardship, which is in faith – but the goal of this command is love, out of a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith.”
Paul proclaims, “Watch! Stand firm in the faith! Be courageous! Be strong!” Paul also speaks out about God’s righteousness, “For in it is revealed God’s righteousness from faith to faith. As it is written, ‘But the righteous shall live by faith.’”
Paul speaks of Abraham’s faith, “Yet, looking to the promise of God, he didn’t waver through unbelief, but grew strong through faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what he had promised, he was also able to perform. Therefore it also was ‘credited to him for righteousness.’”
Paul “urged Titus, that as he had made a beginning before, so he would also complete in you this grace. But as you abound in everything, in faith, utterance, knowledge, all earnestness, and in your love to us, see that you also abound in this grace.”
OT Biblical Life of Faith
Our Old Testament Biblical Life of Faith is Job. Job was a man who was blameless, upright, God-fearing and refused evil. He had seven sons, three daughters, 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 oxen, 500 donkeys and many servants. Job was the greatest man of the east.
Job’s family was a close-knit family. Their extended family would eat a meal together and each sibling would take a turn hosting the meal in their individual home.
The Lord bragged on Job to the enemy, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”
The enemy responded that Job only feared and served God because of God’s blessings, fruitful rewards and hedge of protection about him. God allowed the enemy to test Job by removing all his blessings, but God did not allow the enemy to touch Job.
After the enemy killed all ten of his children and their families, all 11,000 animals, and most of his servants, Job “arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Again the Lord bragged on Job, “The Lord said to satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.”
Again the enemy accused Job of only fearing God for self-gain and asked to touch Job. God allowed the enemy to test Job, but the enemy was not allowed to kill Job.
Job was afflicted head to toe with boils and was in great pain. His grieving wife said, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” Job responded, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”
Three friends came to sympathize and comfort him, but instead accused him of being guilty of sin ‘since this evil had come upon him.’ Yet they brought Job despair, “I am a joke to my friends, the one who called on God and He answered him; the just and blameless man is a joke.”
Later, Job confronted his friends, “I have heard many such things; sorry comforters are you all.” And, “his anger burned against his three friends because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job.” Unfortunately, we have all experienced this!
Job remains blameless. Job determined, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him.” And, “Behold now, I have prepared my case; I know that I will be vindicated.”
Job announces, “For as long as life is in me, and the breath of God is in my nostrils, my lips certainly will not speak unjustly, nor will my tongue mutter deceit. Far be it from me that I should declare you right; till I die I will not put away my integrity from me. I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go. My heart does not reproach any of my days.”
Job communicates he will continue to walk in righteousness and integrity before God even if he is suffering hardship. Job exalts the Lord, “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives.”
God was angry with Job’s friends for how they answered him, “My wrath is kindled against you…because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has.”
God tells the three friends, “Go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you according to your folly, because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.”
Job forgave his friends and prayed for those who had falsely accused him.
God restored Job. All his livestock was increased twofold: 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 oxen and 1,000 donkeys. His brothers, sisters and friends came and consoled and confronted him. They ate with him and brought money and a ring of gold.
And God blessed Job with ten more children: seven sons and three daughters. Job died an old man and lived to see his grandchildren, great-grandchildren and his great, great-grandchildren. He left an inheritance for all ten children, including his three daughters (rare in those days). The Lord had restored Job.
NT Biblical Life of Faith
Our New Testament Biblical Life of Faith is the woman with the issue of blood. She had spent “twelve years, and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse.”
She “came up behind Jesus and touched the fringe of His cloak; for she was saying to herself, ‘If I only touch His garment, I shall be well.”
“Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched My garments?’”
“But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.’”
That’s twelve years or 4,380 days of pain. That’s many physicians and all of her resources.
Though a private sickness, it had public implications. Because she was declared unclean and any one touching her was made unclean, many probably knew of her sickness. Because she was declared unclean, she probably had very little human contact.
The women with the issue of blood was probably confined to her home. She ventured out to the physicians and probably had a few people that brought her food from the marketplace and sold her resources for money to pay the many physicians she visited.
She was not allowed to visit the temple. She had a painful and lonely journey, yet she maintained and cultivated hope and faith for wholeness. She was healed physically and restored to her community through Jesus’ kind words.
Historical Life of Faith
David Brainerd (1718-1747), a missionary to the Indian tribes on the Forks of the Delaware River, gives us a historical account of a life of faith. David trusted God with his life.
“Arriving the night before he would begin his work, he camped just outside the Indian settlement. He did not know, until the next morning (when he safely entered the Indian village) that he was being watched by warriors who were sent to kill him that night.”
“The warriors made their move, approaching David’s tent, when they saw their target, on his knees, praying. Then, they saw a snake crawl up to David’s side, and lift up its head to strike. David did not even see the snake, even when the snake’s forked tongue almost touched his face. Then, suddenly, for no reason, the snake froze, and then quickly slithered away into the woods.”
“David had no idea he was inches from sure death – one way or the other. However, the Indians ran back to the village and proclaimed that “The Great Spirit is with the paleface!” And, they gave David Brainerd a prophet’s welcome. His short life with the Indians would be full of miraculous interventions of God on his behalf, and of the great ministry and revivals that would follow.”
Modern-Day Life of Faith
Jim and Joan Yost are missionaries to Indonesia. In 2016, Jim spoke of their arrival to a remote tribe (Sawi) in Indonesia in 1977 (to the Island of Irian in the lowlands in the southern part of Irian Jaya) that had never experienced a person from outside their jungles. They arrived just as the tribe was sitting down to eat a large meal.
After eating, there was a large war cry, then everyone ran to the right or to the left where they grabbed stone axes, spears, bows and arrows. Jim went to one side and Joan went to the other side where they broke arrows in half and tried to stop the senseless killings. We can imagine the scene of thousands of natives trying to kill each other to settle a tribal feud.
Jim Yost spent the first year hunting wild boar with the men. Joan spent her first year with the women digging for grub worms [their favorite snack]. Jim proclaims, “The messenger has to be accepted before the message is accepted. You have to have credibility.”
At the end of their first year in the jungle, the tribal leader said, “You look different, but we have the same stomach (or the same emotions). You are just like us.” The second year, the Yosts taught the tribe to read and write; the third year, they did Bible translation; the fifth year they received opposition.
Jim Yost shared a story that happened the fifth year with the tribe: a small child fell out of the family boat and into the river and drown. It took the tribe 30 minutes to find the child’s body [the water is very dark]. Joan did CPR for 25 minutes before she stopped, realizing the child could not be resuscitated.
Jim shares that in that moment, he received a gift of faith [a gift of faith is a gift imparted by God at a specific point in time when God wants to do something]. He stood to his feet and prayed the following prayer, “God, even though these people do not acknowledge You as their Lord and Savior, please allow this little boy to live again.”
The boy spit up water, then sat upright with eyes open wide. The tribe began clicking their tongues which was their sign of amazement. A week later, when Jim was doing an all-day teaching, people started getting saved. Ten, twenty at a time. Now, eighty percent of the tribe knows God. He taught them that this Good News isn’t just for you; you must share it with others. So the tribe sent people to their neighboring tribes; who were their enemies and who were cannibals.
Jim Yost’s life quote is, “We are on borrowed time. God has something in store for us. If we are alive, it means He has more good works for us to do.”
He shared two life scriptures:
- Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (WEB)
- Colossians 3:1-4, “If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory.” (WEB)
In 2018, Jim Yost shared a message about a world of broken people who need to know Jesus. He shared several key thoughts of how our compassion and actions have the power to reflect the character of God:
- People want and need hope.
- It’s not about your likes or dislikes, and it’s not about your abilities or inabilities, it’s about your obedience to God.
- Discipleship is not a method or a sermon, it’s a lifestyle.
- All social problems come back to a broken image of God.
- Our love and help reflects the character of God.
Jim Yost is also a social activist, Jim seeks “to implement a unified service, a whole service which includes schools to eradicate illiteracy, he teaches livestock courses, health services, water projects, etc.” [Justian]
Today, Jim is expanding and replicating the work he had with the Sawi tribe in the Sentani District. “He promotes health, welfare, education, and character with the people.” [Justian]
Personal Life of Faith
Each of us can share a moment in time where we have experienced God’s faithful care or intervention in our lives. Just as with Job, the woman with the issue of blood, Brainerd or Yost, we can testify of God’s faithfulness to us in the midst of the joys and trials of life.
2 Corinthians 4 announces, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Sometimes we don’t see the fullness of someone’s story. Job and his wife lost all ten of their children, then had ten more children. That’s twenty pregnancies of nine months each; twenty births, child training, etc. We can sometimes read quickly what took days, months and years for others to experience. And we can sometimes fail to capture what it meant for Job to prosper for the rest of his life. That small phrase entailed time and heart choices.
Job made daily choices of forgiveness to others who had falsely accused him and who had failed to comfort him in his greatest hour of need. Whether others bless or curse us, we can choose to bless the Lord and to bless others.
Whether physically prospering or in pain and need, we can choose to trust, pray and give thanks in all things and believe in His goodness and even that He will work these momentary afflictions for our good because He promises to do it in His Word. And whether we see that good while here on earth or in eternity, we continue to trust Him.
This brings us back to Psalm 37, “Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and he will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass.”
Lord, we ask that You would strengthen us to trust You and love You with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength that we could be transformed into Your image and bring glory to Your Name by walking in faith in good times and in difficult times. Thank you for empowering us to lay a foundation and build with godly attributes for life and godliness that we might be fruitful, steadfast, and reap a great harvest. Amen.
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 24-25)
Psalm 37:3-6; Job 1:8, 20-22; 2:3, 10; 12:4; 13:15, 18; 16:2; 19:25a; 27:3-6; 32:3; 42:7b, 8b; Matthew 9:21; Mark 5:26, 29-30, 33-34; 12:30; Luke 9:23; John 20:30-31; Romans 1:17; 4:20-22;12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 16:13; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; Ephesians 2:8-10; 4:22-24; Colossians 2:8; 3:1-4, 9-10, 12-14; 1 Timothy 1:4-5; Hebrews 11:1, 6; 12:1-3; 2 Peter 1:1-11; Jude 24-25
For further reading on how faith overcomes fear, see Lisa’s post, To Fear or Not to Fear: Man or God?
Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC). Copyright 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by the Lockman Foundation.
Justian, Justin. Jim Yost – An American Man with an Indonesian Heart. Published July 21, 2018 on indovoices.com. Retrieved February 26, 2021, 2021 from https://www.indovoices.com/budaya/jim-yost-an-american-man-with-an-indonesian-heart/
New American Standard Bible, Copyright 1960, 1971, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.
Shaddix, Jim and Daniel L. Akin. Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in 2 Peter and Jude. B & H Publishing Group, 2018.
Swindoll, Charles R. Swindoll’s Living Insights: New Testament Commentary – James – 1 & 2 Peter. Tyndale House Publishers, 2014.
Vaughan, Curtis, and Thomas D. Lea. 1, 2 Peter, Jude. The Bible Study Commentary. Zondervan, 1988.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. Retrieved February 22, 2021, from http://webstersdictionary1828.com/
World English Bible (WEB) by Public Domain. The name “World English Bible” is trademarked.
Yost, Jim. Guest Speaker at Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas. www.antiochwaco.com Recorded on January 27, 2016. Retrieved February 22, 2021 from https://antiochwaco.com/sermons/guest-speaker-jim-yost/
Yost, Jim. Guest Speaker at Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas. www.antiochwaco.com Recorded on February 3, 2018. Sermon notes. Retrieved February 22, 2021 from https://antiochwaco.com/world-mandate-2018-session-two-recap/