Click here for the audio version.
II Peter 1:10-15; 3:17-18
Living Stones: “Be Prepared”
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
“A load of stone isn’t as hard to get going as it is to get stopped.”
“Another handy vehicle is the farm cart or two wheeled trailer pulled by tractor or mule. I advise against moving it by hand when loaded, because it will always run over you.”
“When lifting heavy objects, you must keep your back straight and give your knees and legs the work out …. Nothing is as unyielding as stone and you don’t want to have to enjoy your finished structure from a wheelchair.”
Those are quotes from Charles McRaven’s book on “Building with Stone”, and I’m guessing there is a story behind each warning, and probably a few scrapes, bruises and booboos. Good advice almost always comes from bad planning.
What’s the Boy Scout motto? “Always Be prepared.”
Last Wednesday, after having been told that Andrew would NOT leave for his Peace Corps trip the next morning but not until Friday at the earliest and most likely Saturday (because his Visa was not in hand yet); therefore he was told late Wednesday to cancel his flight for Thursday morning; then he got a wake-up phone call on Thursday, at 8:45, telling him to catch his 9:30 flight out of Spokane. After explaining how impossible that was, he rescheduled for 1:30pm.
So on the way to the airport at 11:45 we were joking about what the Peace Corps’ motto must be:
- Don’t plan on anything being what we told you
- If you might call tonight, wait until tomorrow morning anyway
- It’s better to start rumors and let them fester before actually contacting your volunteers and telling them what’s up
As we read in the Apostle Peter’s letters to those 1st Century churches in Asia Minor, to those Christian believers who risked death every day simply for their faith, we see Peter (and the Apostle John and Jude) give urgent warnings against false teachers (we talked about that last week), and about moral compromise and about theological error.
Listen to these words from the Apostle Peter. Listen to how he says we find faith-filled integrity when we guard against false teachers and bad teachings. II Peter 1:10-15….—-
10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.”
And on the next page:
17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (3:17-18)
Peter is writing these warnings almost as a last will and testament, almost like his dying wish is to make sure his church friends know these warnings; he’s writing these “warnings” because he is about to DIE, and he wants his readers to carry the GOOD NEWS to the next generation.
Peter knows that when believers, you and I, attentively practice living, learning, and loving God, following His teachings, obeying His commands, the Holy Spirit equips us with a strong and resilient faith. When trials come, we know on Whom we can depend. When doubts are raised, we remember on Whom we can trust; when we are turned against or even just misunderstood, we rely on the One Who has given His everything for our sake.
When our strong and resilient faith is combined with the faith of others, when my faith is combined with your faith, we become the very Living Stones Christ uses to build His Church!
So Peter warns his readers to “Keep ALERT”. He said, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
What’s happening in our lives that requires us to be alert? Does the devil attack us with new and chronic health diagnoses? Does he prowl after us with job insecurities? Is the devil roaring with fears and family fights?
Peter warns his readers to “Stand FAST”. He wrote, “The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. … I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.”
What’s happening in our lives that requires us to stand fast? Are we allured with the idea that everybody goes to heaven, so what difference does faith make? Do we get bombarded with ideologies that teach we have to be good enough, we have to earn our acceptance by God? Are we inundated with conceptions of “God would never call on me”?
Listen again to I Peter 5:12: “The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast… this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.”
Peter cautions his readers to “Be on your GUARD”. He tells us, “Our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”
It is so easy to become lax in our relationship to God through Jesus Christ. We take Him for granted; we know He loves us, so we forget to put any effort into our relationship. But, dear friends, we all know that any relationship requires effort. As much as Jennifer loves me, she has to put effort into forgiving me when I continue to fail to meet expectations …. And I need to try harder to please her!
Yes, God forgives us, but that does not give us permission to ignore Him! Be on your guard!
In a word, Peter warns us to “Be Prepared” for the ways we might be tripped up.
But Peter also reminds us of the promises of the Gospel: If we are prepared against getting tripped up, Peter promises “You will never STUMBLE”. His exact promise is: “Make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
How do we confirm our calling and election? As Bible believing followers of Jesus Christ – simply live like we believe what we say we believe. We receive a “rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!”
Peter also reminds us of this promise of the Gospel: “God will RESCUE you”. In context, he writes: “If he rescued Lot (see Genesis 19), a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— if this is so, then the Lord will rescue the godly from trials.”
Being “godly”, and therefore claiming this promise, does not mean being perfect or sinless, but it totally means submitting to God as Lord, and totally trusting Him as Savior.
And add to this Peter’s biblical promise of a “new HEAVEN and a new EARTH”. This promise is wrapped up in Peter’s benediction: “in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation …. since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
I was never a Boy Scout. My big brother was for a while, some of you were. I’m not sure of all the dynamics of Scout-hood Preparedness, but it has something to do with always being in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your duty.
As a Christian, it means at least that much. A state of readiness in mind, body, spirit, and soul – to be the Church, to be a Living Stone in God’s Cathedral, to break down the Gates of Hades, to stand against the forces of darkness, to be the Light of the World and the Salt of the Earth.
This Easter Season, this Resurrection Season, this Pentecost Season, let’s always Be Prepared!
If you heard God calling your name today, if you sense that Christ’s death and resurrection was meant for you today, if you want your life to withstand life’s storms today – drop a note in the Offering Plate, and I’ll get with you later this week. Let’s dedicate, rededicate, our rocky past into service as living stones today!
Happy Pentecost Season! Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed!
Bettridge, Becce; Living Stones: The Making of an Eternal Fellowship; Presbyterians for Renewal; Louisville, KY; 2012; Pp. 65-72.
McRaven, Chasrles; Building with Stone; Storey Pub.; North Adams, MA; 1989; Pp. 19-20.
The Boy Scout Manual.