Revive Our Hearts Podcast

You Have a Fresh Start

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss says God is calling you into an active relationship with Him.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You’re not allowed to sit out the game on the bench or just watch it from the sidelines. You can’t just say, "I’m a Christian, and I go to church, or I go to a Bible study, but I’m just going to drift in this Christian life." Not allowed.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, January 11. If you knew your days were numbered, what would you say to those you love before it was too late? One of the apostles was in that situation. Nancy will help us explore his final words as she begins a series called, Adding to Your Faith. It’s a perfect series in the first month of a new year when you feel like everything is new.

Nancy: You get a fresh page, a fresh start. You know how it is during the holidays. You eat too much. Well, I don’t know about you, but I know I often do. You find that you stay up too late, spend too much, get off your schedule. It seems like there’s one big, long holiday season from before Thanksgiving all the way through New Year’s.

By the time we get to the second day of January, we’re kind of panting and saying, “I need a fresh start.” We feel like sometimes some areas of our lives have gotten out of control, and we want to get back and we need to get back into some good routines.

I’m so thankful that God gives us those fresh opportunities to look at Him again, to look at His Word again, to start again and to develop some new patterns and routines in our lives. There are some of those that I want to develop in my life this year.

As we’re thinking about a fresh year before us, I want to challenge you with a passage of Scripture and a process that God has been using in my life over the past year.

This time last year I stopped to take stock of my life and just think about where I was spiritually. I realized that there were some real needs in my own walk with the Lord. I was at a place where I was feeling spiritually dry, sluggish, flabby. Do you know what I mean when I say that? Do you ever feel that way spiritually? We know what it is to feel physically flabby—just out of shape and like you need to get in a new routine.

I was feeling spiritually vulnerable in some areas of my life where I knew I was experiencing temptation and not doing very well in responding to the temptation. There were inconsistencies in my walk with the Lord. Mostly little things that other people would look at my life and say, well, those aren’t big things.

But I was concerned that there were some under-the-surface issues that probably others were not aware of, but I know. I’ve been walking with the Lord long enough now to know that if you don’t deal with those under-the-surface issues, sooner or later they bubble up to the surface.

I knew I needed to deal with these things. There were some cracks in my system that needed to be dealt with. I tell you, it always concerns me because I have the blessing and privilege of a public ministry. But it scares me when I get to the place where I know that I’m teaching others things that somehow don’t seem to be working in my own life. When I see a gap between my own walk with the Lord and I can hear myself saying all these things to other women all across the country and when I know in my heart of hearts that I’m not walking where I’m talking, that concerns me.

It ought to concern me. It ought to concern you as well about me and about your own life. I want to be a woman whose faith is genuine, a woman who’s real. So I had all these thoughts going through my heart. I was feeling a little frustrated and a little not knowing where to get started and what to do about this. I was just feeling spiritually needy and depleted.

Well, about that time my pastor started a new series for the new year in the book of 2 Peter, 2 Peter, chapter 1. As the Lord would have it, in God’s providence, God knew that passage and that series was just for me. That’s where I needed to be.

Since that time I have memorized 2 Peter, chapter 1. I’ve been meditating on it over and over and over and over again, word by word, phrase by phrase, for months. I’ve been living in that passage—immersed in it, saturated in it, and just letting it get engrafted into my heart. It has made a huge, huge difference in my walk with the Lord.

We’ll be focusing primarily on the first 12 verses, though I’ll give you a few glimpses of how that fits into the whole book of 2 Peter. Today to start out that series, I just want to give you an overview of these first 12 verses of 2 Peter. I want to give you an idea of where we’re headed and some of the things that I found in that passage that were such an encouragement and a help to my walk with the Lord. I hope it will be a help to your walk with the Lord as we start out this new year.

I found two primary things in this passage. The first was encouragement, and the Lord knew I needed encouragement at that moment, at that season in my life. Because in this passage in verses 3 and 4, we find that God has provided some incredible resources for every child of God, for every believer.

The key phrase in these two verses is the phrase, “He has granted to us.” There’s some things God has granted us, some things He has given us. Let me read verses 3 and 4 of 2 Peter, chapter 1.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

This is a picture of what God has done for us and what God has given to us. That is the starting place for any new start in your Christian life.

  • It’s not what you can do for God. It’s what God has done for you.
  • It’s not what you can give God. It’s what God has given to you.

I found in my spiritually depleted condition this was such an encouragement to know what God has given to me and what God has done for me. But the passage doesn’t stop there. Not only does it give us encouragement, it gives us exhortation, and we need that as well. It talks not only about the resources God has provided. That’s a great encouragement, but it exhorts us about the responsibility that is ours in the Christian life.

You say, “Wow, I thought it was all up to God. Look at all those things God has done for us." Well, God has done all that for us, but He goes on to say, “Therefore, there’s some things you need to do.” You have some responsibility in this Christian life. This is our part. The first two verses we read, verses 3 and 4, that’s God’s part.

Now verses 5 through 7, this is our part. The key phrase here is “be diligent.” Now depending on which translation you’re using, some of your translations, as with mine, will say, “Make every effort.” Be diligent. Make every effort. You’ll find that is a theme that runs through the book of 2 Peter. Diligence.

Now that’s a word I don’t like. It means to me hardship, discipline, struggle, effort. And can I say there is some of that in the Christian life? There’s a lot of that in any area of life where you want to succeed.

I managed last year to put on about ten extra pounds of weight in a very short period of time. It took no effort at all to do that. It just came real quickly, real easily. The reason it happened was because I wasn’t diligent in the physical areas of my life. Now I’m working on taking off that weight and those of you who are over 40 know it takes diligence. It’s hard. It’s much harder to take it off than to put it on. It requires diligence in the physical area of our life to have a physically fit life.

But spiritually, to have a spiritually fit life, it takes diligence. So Peter says, having just told us all the things God has given us, now he says in verse 5,

For this very reason [because of all these things God has done for you], make every effort [or be diligent, as some of your translations say] to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love (verses 5-7).

Not only does Peter tell us that we have this responsibility, he gives us some wonderful reasons to be intentional about spiritual growth. He talks in this passage about some of the benefits if we are intentional and some of the consequences if we aren’t.

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent [there’s that word again] to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities, you will never fall. [That’s an incredible promise. We’ll come back to it later in the series.] For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:8-11).

Now Peter goes on to say in verses 12 through 15, the Lord has shown me that I don’t have very many more days left here on this earth in this body. Here’s a man who knows he’s about to leave this earth. This is a man who walked with the Lord, knew Him personally, was there on the Mount of Transfiguration, was there at the crucifixion, saw the resurrected Christ, and now this man has been serving the Lord faithfully for many years.

He’s about to be martyred for his faith and he says, I have a few things that I really want to say to you before I die, things I don’t want you to ever forget. They’re things that I know you already know, but I’m going to remind you of them no matter how many times it takes until these are drilled into your head and into your heart and you never forget them.

We need to be reminded and re-reminded. We need to review the basics because we forget so easily. We slip away from the things we know. The condition I found myself in a year ago spiritually was because I had slipped away from some of the basics, some of the fundamentals, some of the things that I know but I had forgotten to be intentional about those areas of my life.

As I began to meditate on this passage, 2 Peter, chapter 1, God began to open my eyes to things I already knew. Things I just needed to be reminded of. Over the past months I’ve made some changes in my life. I’ve put into place some new spiritual safeguards and disciplines and God has been in the process of reviving my heart, renewing my spirit, rebuilding my life in some important areas.

Now the first paragraph of 2 Peter, chapter 1 lays a foundation for the Christian life and for spiritual growth. It’s important to realize that this is a letter written by the apostle Peter. It’s a letter that was written to a particular group of people. Now when you get a letter, first of all you need to be sure that it’s addressed to you. Otherwise, what it says may not make a lot of sense or may not apply.

If you get something in the mail that’s an offer, you need to make sure that you qualify for the offer. There are some conditions. You need to see if you meet those conditions. If there are instructions, you want to be sure that they apply to you. So after identifying himself at the beginning of this letter as Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, Peter begins his letter by making it clear to whom he’s writing.

So he says I’m a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ and I’m writing, “to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (verse 2). Now it seems very obvious, but I think it’s important to notice that this letter, this passage is written to believers, to those who have obtained faith in Christ, those who have been given faith by the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

The message Peter is about to give is not for unbelievers. It’s not to tell people how to get faith. It’s written to those who have already received faith, those who have believed on Christ. It addresses the question, not how do you get faith, but what do you do now that you’re a believer? Now that you have faith, how do you live?

I want us to notice today two important things about this group of people and about that faith. First of all, we see in verse 1 of 2 Peter, chapter 1 that this faith is a gift. Peter says this is written to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours.

Obtained—that word if you go back and trace it in its original meaning in the Greek language has to do with receiving something by the drawing of a lot, almost like a lottery. This is something you didn’t do anything to earn or deserve. In God’s providence and in God’s sovereign mercy and grace, He chose you to have this faith.

It’s a faith that’s been allotted to us through no virtue of our own, through no effort of our own. We didn’t deserve this faith. We didn’t deserve to be children of God. And how did we receive it? By the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Not through our righteousness, but through His. We were chosen by God to believe in Christ. You had nothing to do with it.

The Scripture says there’s none that seeks after God. You weren’t looking for God. When I was saved as a four-year-old child, I wasn’t looking for God. God was looking for us. And God said, "I want you to be in my family." That means we can’t take credit for anything about our salvation. It was initiated by God.

Some months back I had to go get some blood drawn for some tests I was having done. The nurse who was drawing my blood brought up something about spiritual matters, and so I looked at her and I said, “Are you a Christian?” She said quickly, “I’m trying.” As soon as I heard her say that, I thought of this passage, which I had been memorizing and meditating on.

You don’t try to have salvation. That’s not how you get it. The Scripture says you obtain this faith, you’re given this faith by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. We’re saved not by trying, not by going to church, not by being good. Who could ever be good enough to win God’s favor?

That’s what the Scripture says in Romans chapter 3, verses 23-24:

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Then Titus chapter 3, verses 3-7:

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures . . . But when the goodness and lovingkindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy . . . through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

It’s all, all, all of God. It’s the righteousness of Christ. You have been given this faith by the righteousness that is in Christ Jesus.

I was thinking as I was preparing this series of how many of our best-known songs and hymns of the Christian faith go back to this theme. Some of the old ones. You don’t hear it as much anymore. But songs like this:

Nothing can for sin atone,
Not of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

This is all my hope and peace.
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.1

Then you remember this one:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean [trust] in Jesus’ name.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.2

Listen, when you get into the presence of God and He says, “Why should I let you in? On what basis should you be able to spend eternity in this holy heaven in My presence?” If you start to list for Him all the things you’ve done, all your spiritual credentials, you’re not going to have a list that’s long enough.

The Scripture says even all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. They’re useless. They’re worthless. If you want to stand in His presence faultless, it’s going to be because you’re dressed in His righteousness alone.

My hope is in the Lord
Who gave Himself for me
And paid the price of all my sin at Calvary.

No merit of my own
His anger to suppress.
My only hope is found in Jesus’ righteousness.

His grace has planned it all,
'Tis mine but to believe
And recognize His work of love and Christ receive.3

It’s God who even gives us the faith to believe, isn’t it? God gives us the gift of faith. He gives us the gift of repentance. Peter says this faith that you have is not a faith you worked to earn or that you could have ever deserved. It’s a gift of God. It has come to you. It’s been given to you by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Have you obtained that faith? Is it yours? Are you clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ? If not, you cannot claim the promises and the provision of God that we’re going to read about in the next portion of this chapter. But if you have obtained that faith, if you have placed your faith in the righteousness of Jesus Christ to save you, then I want you to see something else in this passage about that faith before we close today.

The apostle Peter says that he is writing "to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ" (verse 1). If you are a child of God, you have placed your faith in Christ, then did you know that the faith you have is of equal standing with the faith of every other believer?

Peter says, I’m a "servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ" (verse 1). Well, none of us are apostles of Jesus Christ. But he says that the faith that you have, the faith God has given you is of equal standing with ours. Some of your translations say “like precious faith” or “a faith of the same kind as ours.” A faith of equal value.

Sometimes we think of other people as being more spiritually blessed than we are. Those apostles—they were with Jesus. They saw Him. They walked with Him. They had something we don’t have. No, you have a faith of equal standing with the apostles. The apostle Peter didn’t have anything when it comes to faith that you don’t have. His faith was no greater than yours. If God has placed faith in your heart, your faith is of equal value. It’s a faith of the same kind as theirs.

I don’t have any faith that you don’t have. God has put faith in my heart, but it’s no greater than the faith that God has put in your heart. There are not different classes of believers. That means that you have the same privileges as every other believer when it comes to your salvation.

But it also means that you have the same responsibilities and obligations as every other believer. It means that you are called to grow and to mature in your faith. You’re called to serve. You’re called to be conformed to the image of Christ just as every other believer is.

You’re not allowed to sit out the game on the bench or just watch it from the sidelines. You can’t just say, "I’m a Christian and I go to church or I go to a Bible study, but I’m just going to drift in this Christian life." Not allowed.

You have a faith of equal standing and that means you have the privileges and the responsibilities of every other believer. The same responsibility to nurture your faith, to cultivate it, to grow it, to use it.

And here’s what else you have: You have same resources available to you that every other believer does to make it possible.

  • You can grow spiritually.
  • You can be spiritually mature.
  • You can walk with God.
  • You can walk in victory over sin.
  • You can say no to temptation.
  • You can add these things to your faith that we’re going to talk about through this series. Things we read about in 2 Peter 1.

God has given you the same resources He gave the apostle Peter. The same resources He’s given me. The same resources He’s given your pastor. The same resources—we’ll talk about some of them tomorrow—are available to you as are available to every other believer. So grow in your faith. It’s a faith of equal standing with every other believer.

Lord, I thank You for the incredible wonder of the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, that You would clothe us—filthy, condemned sinners and enemies of God, unrighteous as we were. That You would place our unrighteousness on Christ and place Your righteousness on us. And then that You would give us faith to believe that it’s true.

Now Lord for those who have never believed, might this be a day when You would grant faith to them to say, “Yes, Lord, I see it. I believe and my hope is no longer going to be in my own works or my own efforts or my own righteousness, but from this day forward my faith will be in Christ and Christ alone." I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: The beginning of every year feels like a fresh start, but Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing you how to truly enjoy a fresh start, the greatest one you can ever know. Whether that fresh start came for you long ago or is just beginning, the apostle Peter calls you to add to your faith. That’s what we’ll be exploring all week.

When you make a donation of any amount during this series, we’ll send it to you on CD. When you listen to the CDs, you’ll hear longer versions of Nancy’s teaching segments than we had time to air. When you listen and study 2 Peter with Nancy, you’ll receive a clear plan to grow in 2010. You’ll watch yourself take significant steps forward when you apply all you learn in this series.

We’ll also include a booklet called Making the Most of Your Time. Perfect as we move into a new productive year. You can make your donation online at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call 1-800-569-5959.

Well, it’s pretty easy to imagine 2010 to be different than 2009, but in reality what will give you the power to be different day by day? Nancy will address that tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

1 Robert Lowry. "Nothing but the Blood."
2 Edward Mote. "The Solid Rock."
3 Norman J. Clayton. "My Hope is in the Lord."

 

 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.