Now, today we’re going to continue our study of Second Peter, we started that last Sunday. So please turn your Bibles to Second Peter, chapter one. But first, how does it feel to step in gum? I have to say this. What a transition, right? I have to say this. The person who just spits out their gum for others to step in, he or she is just a different human being. And I’ll just leave it at that just saying. But to step in gum, that could ruin my day.

And it’s not just the stepping in it. It’s the disgusting work to get it off your shoe. Right. Anyway, I show you this picture to ask, do you ever feel stuck? Yes, that’s a pun. There’s more coming. My apologies in advance. But do you ever feel stuck or how about this? Maybe you relate to this. How many of you here have to drive on I-4 to work every day? You know what I’m talking about, then? Anyone here stuck in traffic on I-4 in the last couple of weeks.

Right. How does that feel? Where do I go if you’re relating to this picture, you’re thinking, Where do I go? What do I do? I’m stuck. If you’re me, I start rolling down the window. You start looking at the window. What is holding everything up here? What’s going on? Yesterday on Woodbury Road, near where I live in Waterford Lakes, I was stuck at the light turning onto Lake Underhill and the cars were all backed up at that light. And I do my routine to see what I can’t see what’s going on in front of me and what the hold up is.

And I thought my window was open all the way. Oh, Bam, smack in the face. Yes, you’re laughing with me. Not that this would ever happen to you, but in life, we all get stuck. Even animals get stuck. You’re trying to go somewhere. You’re trying to do something very important. You ever felt like this? I love this picture of the dog stuck in the watering jug. You just get stuck and you think you know what? I’m just going to stay here for a while. Like this cow on the upper right.

You can feel utterly, utterly stuck. That’s a tough crowd. And my kids knew a joke had just happened because I have a tell that I might as well just every time I think I’ve said something funny. Yeah, they know that there’s a sniff that comes right afterwards. Now, you know. But seriously, one of my biggest struggles as a man is when I start to feel that I’m stuck. Right, for all of us instead of going and growing into the character of Jesus, we can get stuck in our ways.

We can get stuck in relationships, stuck as a husband, stuck as a parent, stuck in our prayer life for our personal Bible study, we can get stuck in our outreach and feel very ineffective in our outreach to the lost. We can feel stuck in the same sin. And it can be frustrating. Sometimes we often can feel like this dog in the lower right, and there can be some shame in it as well. But here’s why. And it’s a good thing, actually, there’s something deep down inside of us, and I know you feel it, too.

We all want to grow. You want to grow spiritually, don’t you? None of us want to be stuck where we’re at. It’s how God has made us. Even yesterday morning in the car, we had the whole family in the car and we were driving to a soccer game for one of the kids. And our kids looked up on the phone something called a growth calculator. And they were estimating. They want to know how tall they were going to be. Maybe one day they can be as tall as Eddie Francis.

You know how tall can I be if dad is 5’11” and 5’11” and three quarters to be exact if dad is 5’11”, never made the six foot. And my mom is 5/4″, how tall will I be when I’m 18? How tall will I be in a few years? You see, in the same way, all of you, all of us want to grow as people. Deep down, we all desire to be more like Jesus. We want to be better people tomorrow than we are today Amen.

And the good news is this today’s text gives us the blueprint for spiritual growth. Let’s look at that now. Second Peter, chapter one and the title for Today’s lesson is simply this: How to Grow. Let’s now read second Peter, chapter one, beginning in verse five. Let’s break this down. Verse five, for this very reason, make every effort 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.

And Peter starts off here. He says, for this very reason, I really want to thank Tyler Owens for his introduction to this letter last week. He gave us all the background. He really gave us what this means when we read for this very reason. And he even discovered the original envelope that this letter came in. He made sure I had it this morning. Oddly enough, it has a United States flag stamp on it. I don’t know how that happens. God bless America, right. But, yeah, this is the envelope, apparently, that this letter came in.

All right, for this very reason, we’re not going to cover this in depth today. Tyler hit it on this at length last Sunday. So please go back to the sermon page on the website. Watch it or listen to the audio podcast on our SoundCloud Channel. But here’s the summary in case you missed it. If you’ve been baptized by faith into Christ, let me tell you this Grace and peace have been multiplied to you. You can live life now as Jesus did. You’ve been forgiven of all your past sins and future sins.

You’ve been given an escape hatch from the corruption of this world. You have received the promises of the Almighty God. Make no mistake. Those promises still hold true in Orlando in the year 2021. You and I have received divine power to grow into the awesome character of Jesus with ever increasing glory. For this very reason, Peter writes to you and me, make every effort. And this is an expression I’m sure Peter heard Jesus used many times in Luke 13. Jesus says, make every effort to enter through the narrow door.

Paul the Apostle also uses this inspirational phrase often, as does the writer of Hebrews three times in this letter alone, the second letter of Peter the Apostle appeals to us. He tells us he wants us to make every effort. So here’s what’s coming with the lesson today. It’s a heavy dose of practical theology from the Apostle Peter. Nike theology if you will. Dare, I say, for this very reason, just do it. Make every effort. And it’s not enough to settle down in our current faith. That’s how you get stuck.

The Word of God tells us that we must make every effort to add to our faith in Jesus. So here it comes. Nuts and bolts. Practicals if you want to get unstuck, if you want to grow as a spiritual man, a spiritual woman, what comes next is the blueprint. Are you ready? Well, here we go. Now, what I’d like for you to do today, this is different. And as we get into this assessment, we’re going to do a spiritual growth assessment. So remember, this is because of for this very reason which was covered last week.

All right. We’re getting into practical application today with the Apostle Peter. So I want you to grab a sheet of paper or find some place you can jot down notes on your device. Go ahead and do this. Let’s all participate in this. It’s practical theology time. It’s time to self evaluate because you want to grow right? I know I want to grow. If we desire growth, if we want to be better spiritually than we are today and go to a different place tomorrow. And the days ahead, we must first take stock of where we are in our discipleship of Jesus.

It’s time for a spiritual growth assessment. I want to credit Dr. Douglas Jacoby with this exercise. We’re going to cover eight areas of our faith. And what you’ll do is you’ll just jot down as we go through each of these eight areas. If you’re not a Christian yet, if you’re young. Still, this is what it is to grow as a Christian. It’s so much more than that initial step of faith, of getting into the waters of baptism. It’s what happens afterward. All right. So this is good for everyone.

We’re going to cover these eight areas of faith. Rate yourself from low to high one to five, low being on the one scale. And then as you move up, if you feel like this is an area of strength of yours, you’ll go up 23456. So just rate yourself one through five on each one of these areas. Does that make sense? Yes. All right. At the end, you’re going to add up your total score. Remember, I should say this. The goal here is not selfrighteousness or to beat ourselves up.

The goal is to get unstuck. The goal is to grow spiritually for each one of us to claim the promises of God. All right. So let’s go. Faith. That’s the first one. We all began our Christian walk with faith. But I ask you today, as you rate yourself, is your faith growing as the months and years pass by? Now, I do want to give a side note here. If you’ve not been baptized into Christ by faith as an adult, and that means it’s your decision, right?

It’s not a decision made for you as a child or when you were a baby. I encourage you to get help today. That’s what we’re here for. Right. Let’s discover true Christianity together as the Bible defines it. So faith, we see that definition in Hebrews eleven one faith is being sure of what we hope for, certain of what we cannot see. And I ask you today when you rate your faith, are you sure? Are you more sure today than you were a year ago before all the craziness started.

Do you really believe God exists? Do you trust God more today than you did a few years ago? Do you believe in the resurrection? Do you believe in your resurrection? Do you believe Jesus is coming back? Do you trust what God’s Word says on controversial issues? You may not understand it all, but do you have faith? Do you trust God, for instance, in this day and age, do you trust what God’s Word says on the sins of sexual immorality or the practice of homosexuality? What about social injustice?

What about violence against both the unborn and violence against adults? Where are you on those? Where’s your faith? Do you trust God’s Word on those things? Do you trust God and trust the Bible? It says Jesus is the only way to the Father in heaven. You see, faith comes from hearing the Word, not pop culture or worldly wisdom. And we have some itching ears, don’t we? On a scale of one to five. Where is your faith this year? Jot it down. Next, Peter tells us through the Holy Spirit, you must make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness goodness.

It’s a fruit of God’s Spirit, the good person that’s, like the Samaritan in the famous parable in Luke Ten, actively seeks opportunities to help others. I think when we talk about goodness motivation here is important. This comes from the inside out. How many good deeds do you and I do that are very private. We do good, but we desire this goodness, not because we want the reward or we fear getting punished if we don’t do the good. Spiritual goodness is because we desire to become more like God on a scale of one to five.

Jot down how is your goodness? Next? You must make every effort to add to your goodness knowledge. Spiritual knowledge is both intellectual and it’s relational. You can’t have one without the other. Certainly this is growing day by day, week by week, year by year. You’re growing in your knowledge of the Scriptures. But the question you see up here and it’s a good one for me. Is anyone Besides you benefiting from your knowledge of Jesus? Knowledge puffs up. Love builds up. So it’s both all right. It’s been said education is like manure.

It ain’t good for nothing unless it’s spread around. Knowledge is also relational. I mentioned that. How well do you really know Jesus on a personal level? I think any one of you, if you know Jesus, you can come up here in a moment’s notice and share for 5-10 minutes. Why you love Jesus and we can take Communion together. What’s your favorite story about Jesus? Why do you love wearing the yoke of Jesus? Why do you think the lifestyle of Jesus is the best possible way to live?

What do you remember about Jesus? Why do you celebrate Jesus? Do you know Jesus? Are you walking with Jesus? Do you know Jesus better today than you did a few years ago? And that’s where I’m weak. I may have outstanding intellectual knowledge of the Scriptures, but there’s an important difference here. My relationship is not with the Bible. My most intimate relationship must be with God who spoke the Bible. Do you see what I’m saying? So on a scale of one to five, how is your spiritual knowledge?

Write that one down. Next, we must make every effort to add to our knowledge self control. Self control or discipline. When you’ve been baptized, the Spirit of the living God lives inside of you. And that Spirit is a spirit of self control. Thank God that our God has self control. Aren’t you thankful that we serve a God that has self control? What would God be like if he didn’t have discipline? Right? So if God’s spirit lives inside of you, this is not a take it or leave it thing.

Well, you just kind of laugh. I’m not very disciplined. No. You’re telling the Spirit of God to shut up if you’re doing that. Are you a man or woman of discipline? Are you a man or woman of self control? This includes but it’s not limited to your thoughts, what you say or what you don’t say. Your desires, your appetites, your body, your schedule when you lay down, when you rise every day. And the convicting quote Here is a disciple without discipline is a walking contradiction. It’s in the word disciple.

Discipline. Same word. So that’s a challenging one on a scale of one to five. How is your self control? Next, you must make every effort to add to your selfcontrol perseverance or steadfastness or endurance. There’s the famous scripture that many of us have heard. We’ve shared with other people. You want to build a tower? Says Jesus in Luke 1428. Will you not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to build it for if you lay the foundation, you’re not able to complete it everyone who sees it will ridicule him saying this fellow began to build and was not able to finish. This is a spiritual quality of the utmost importance. Spiritual stamina, endurance, perseverance. How is your spiritual stamina? Do you finish what you start? Without endurance you and I will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. On a scale of one to five, how steadfast are you in the Church? How steadfast are you in your walk with Jesus? Next, you must make every effort to add to your perseverance godliness, godliness.

We see in Galatians five verses 16 through 18 every morning we have a choice to make if we’re Christians. Will I feed God’s Spirit today, or will I feed my desires today? I love the analogy. It’s like you have two dogs and one dog is the spirit dog. One dog is the flesh dog. The dog that you feed is going to be that dominant Alpha dog. So are you starving the flesh and feeding God’s Spirit every day? When thinking about Godliness, we must ask ourselves, do my friends do my family members do nonchristians I’m around on a daily basis, when I interact with them, do they see a weird, radical difference in me? I’m studying gratitude and contentment the last part of this year. I look forward to sharing with you what I’m learning in the future. But I did find this quote. No Godliness, no contentment, no Godliness, no contentment. You can see on the screen the trick and the spelling there. I really do think it’s profound. Ask me about it later if you’re interested, but on a scale to one to five, how is your Godliness. On a scale of one to five, jot it down.

Are you radically set apart from the world around you and maybe be good to think how would my coworkers rate me on this one? How would my classmates rate me on this? My extended family? What score would they give me? Next, make every effort to add to your Godliness brotherly kindness and the Greek word here is Philadelphia. This is for the men and the women. This is not gender specific okay? Are you known as tender, gentle and kind? That’s who God is? How’s your communication with others?

The world’s pattern is to stuff it in or when it comes down. It’s passive aggressive. Or it’s harsh. The way of Jesus and the way of a Christian is to speakk the truth in love to teach and instruct with great patience and careful instruction. I know this is a growth point for me. I’m a two, maybe a three on a good day. This is an area where I’ve grown, but I must grow more. On a scale of one to five how are you with Brotherly kindness?

Then we wrap up these qualities and our spiritual assessment. With this, you must make every effort to add to your kindness agape love. And that’s the Greek word here. This is selfsacrificing. This is unconditional love. This includes loving your enemies. This includes loving those who speak harshly to you. This includes loving those that oppose you, those that hurt you. You can have zeal. You can have commitment to the Church. You can have the best spiritual plans for building the Church. They all mean nothing without a heart of love.

Love is the greatest of all virtues. On a scale of one to five, how is your agape love? Final score time. So add all those up. Add up those eight areas. All right. And think about it. How did you do? Do the math? Add them up, add up your total scores, all eight of those characteristics. And as we look at the different categories, well, I think if you add it all up and you’re in eight to 15, you’re in the right place. But you may be too hard on yourself.

That’s a possibility. But if you’re in the 16 to 23 range, keep going at it. Keep growing. 24 to 31. This is all arbitrary, by the way. Okay. This is just all a tool to help us. 24 to 31. You’re doing well. But focus on strengthening those weak areas. 32 through 39. Watch out. You’re hot. You’re like Moses. We’ve got to put a veil over your face. And I hope that’s the case. I hope we have a few people out here, like 32 to 39, and it’s legit.

All right, put a veil of your face. You are Holy. You are burning me out there. You are set apart like nobody’s business. And then if you got a 40, we need to talk about honesty.

We need to have a talk about telling the truth and self assessment here.

So what I encourage you to do, there’s going to be a final song in a few moments. Don’t let this fly. This is important. Have great conversations with people you trust. And you know what? If you’re bold, so bold is to do this. I mean, I love sometimes I meet strangers here some days or people I don’t know really well, but because of the spirit of the living God, we have a deep conversation about ourselves. And it’s awesome. So have some great conversations afterwards. I’m giving you just the starter here.

Hey, here’s how I did. And here’s where I need to grow and here, hey, I’m doing better here than I thought. Or if you know someone really well and you’re so bored, you can say, do you agree with this? Sometimes we need people to help us out. And I encourage you to carry on these conversations with your family. They know you best.

I fear a little bit later asking my children how they think I would score on some of these.

But carry on those conversations with your family, your roommates, your small groups, your house churches this week. Here’s why let’s get unstuck together. Let’s grow together. And as we conclude our lesson in verse eight, and we’re going to read this. Peter tells us why we must make every effort. Let’s read together verse eight. For if these qualities are yours. Those are the eight we just looked at. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, for if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will 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’s blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.

Therefore, brothers and sisters be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and your election. For if you practice these qualities, you will never fall for in this way, there will be richly provided for you, an entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And Peter says, therefore, I intend to always remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it’s right as long as I’m in this body to stir you up by a way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, he’s like, hey, my life is ending.

This is important. You need to know this as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And then Peter says, I will make every effort so that after my departure, you may be able at any time to recall these things. God bless the Holy Spirit. We’re still recalling these things today, 2000 years later. And I love this. Peter basically tells us in verses twelve through 15, I’m going to just keep on talking about this and talking about this until I die. I’m going to say it over and over again until you get it.

Until you just do it, he says, I will make every effort to make sure I remind you of this. And I tell you what, Tyler, Eddie and I, we’re going to do the same. And these lessons are our study of Second Peter. We will keep coming back to this. We’ll have all kinds of beautiful theology to draw out. But when it comes down to the nuts and bolts, we will be coming back to the practical of make every effort to add to your faith. And here’s why. Today I’m wearing glasses.

I’ve always had bad eyesight. As long as I can remember. I used to wear contact lenses. I’m nearsighted, right. So that means without my glasses or contacts, I can only see what’s right in front of my face. Right. I see shapes that look like trees. Okay, I see shapes out there, right. I can’t really see my notes, but just imagine the analogy that’s being made here near sighted. Imagine living the Christian life where you can only see what’s right in front of your face. And yet I think too many of us are living that way.

We only see this small picture. We only see the drama, and we get caught up in whatever’s right in front of us. Our vision is limited only to the latest problems. The latest drama. It’s an absolute torture. That’s not the way we were meant to live as Christians. So who better to teach us this than Peter right? He had to learn the hard way. Too many of us are stuck as we stumble along in our walk with Jesus. Do not walk near sighted as a Christian. We must make every effort to have and gain a bigger vision.

We can see through the waves of life, not as the waves right in front of us, crashing on us. But then suddenly we’re above the waves and we can see them so much better. We grow into the character of Christ. And I love this promise. If you practice and train these qualities we’re studying today, you will never fall. Claim that promise brothers and sisters. Make every effort and Jesus will catch you before you fall. And last. But not least, don’t miss this. We don’t make every effort simply for self improvement, self advancement or self righteousness.

We make every effort to participate in the divine nature of Christ as we add to our faith. All of these virtues. Remember, we’re becoming more like Christ from one degree of glory to the next. Then one day in the blink of an eye, that crazy day that Jesus returns the day of the resurrection. Jesus will look you in the eye and say, Brother or sister, you and I share the same character now. We share the same father. We share the same eternal destiny. Job well done, good and faithful servant.

No eye is seen, no ear is heard, no mind is conceived what God has in store for those who love them. Our best days as Christians are right on in front of us. Amen. Let’s stand and sing our final song.