If God’s promise to you is delayed, you have time to step up and prepare! The Apostle Peter gives some instructions on how we can make the most of the waiting.
“ And because of his (God’s) glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge,and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:4-8 TPT
Peter tells us that, in view of God’s promises, there are seven steps we need to take to prepare ourselves. We need to work on some things!
Step One: Add to Your Faith, Moral Excellence
We start as believers with faith in Christ. But we can’t stop there. To have a productive, useful faith we must do a few things. So, to our faith Peter tells us to add “a generous provision of moral excellence”, also called goodness. Because of our faith in Christ, we are His representatives to others. To represent Him authentically, we must be like Him. Psalm 119:68 says of God, “You are good and do only good.” And I Peter 1:16 reminds us God’s says to, “be holy, for I am holy.”
Our morals and behavior matter to God. They are supposed to be a testament of His saving work in us that attracts others in a way that makes them want to know God too. Peter isn’t talking about a bunch of burdensome religious rules and regulations. He is talking about eliminating the sin that so easily entangles us and weighs us down. Then as Christ instructs us, we can be the salt of the earth and a light on a lampstand.
Step Two: Supplement your Moral Excellence with Knowledge
Once we are committed to moral excellence; Peter says we should add knowledge. Again, if we are to represent Christ well, we need to know Him better. We gain that knowledge by spending time with Him, by reading His word, and having conversations with Him. We need to find out what is important to Him, what He likes and what He doesn’t. Then when people ask us about God and our faith, we can speak truthfully about Him – not our opinions, but Truth. And “the truth will set <them> free” (John 8:32). We know God’s chief desire is for everyone to have relationship with Him. So, when His promise manifests in our lives, it is to further that goal. We must be ready to introduce others to Him, so we must know Him!
Step Three: With Knowledge Learn Self-Control
As we are gaining knowledge of Christ, we must also learn self-control. Proverbs 25:28 says, “A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.” A city with broken-down walls invites thieves and those who want to take advantage of weakness. Who does that sound like? Jesus, Himself, tells us that satan “comes only to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10); and without self-control we can unwittingly give him access to wreak havoc in our lives, family, business, church and/or ministry. God wants to protect the purpose of His promise to you, so you need self-control.
Step Four: Add to your Self-Control, Patient Endurance
With self-control as our defensive wall in place, we are ready to stand firm in our faith as long as it takes. This requires patient endurance. Hebrews 10:36 explains, “patient endurance is what you now need, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” The Apostle Paul says it this way, “let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9). Joseph persevered 20 years and Abraham 25 years for the fulfillment of their promise to begin; but that was not the end. They then lived in the promise, obeying God as it unfolded. We need staying power, patient endurance, to fully receive what God has promised.
Step Five: Supplement Patient Endurance with Godliness
Patient endurance ensures we will stand firm through our challenges, but still, that is not enough. We must add to that godliness. Godliness is heartfelt reverence for God and the things of God. It means to offer honor, respect and admiration in our actions, attitudes and words. It is being in such awe of God that it changes the way we think, act and speak.
In his instructions to Timothy, Paul explains that Scripture, “will empower you by its instruction and correction, giving you the strength to take the right direction and lead you deeper into the path of godliness.” The more we seek the knowledge of God, and operate in self-control, the more we are cultivating godliness in our lives. Proverbs 21:3 tells us, “it pleases God more when we demonstrate godliness and justice than when we merely offer him a sacrifice.” Peter tells us to “live the rest of our earthly life no longer concerned with human desires but consumed with what brings pleasure to God” (I Peter 4:2). This is godliness. It ensures that, in the midst of the promise being fulfilled in our lives, we do what brings God pleasure.
Step Six: With Godliness Cultivate Brotherly Affection
Godliness, or reverence for the Lord, must be accompanied by genuine affection for our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are all one family in the Lord. Romans 12:10 (TPT) says “be devoted to tenderly loving your fellow believers as members of one family. Try to outdo yourselves in respect and honor of one another.” Beyond it being a nice thing to do, Paul explains in I Corinthians 14:26b, “everything that is done must strengthen all of you.” He was speaking of using spiritual gifts in the context of worship gatherings, but the principle applies to all our interactions. We need to build others up. And, we need others to build us up. Only together can we walk forward into the promises of God without stumbling!
Step Seven: Grow Brotherly Affection Into Love
Brotherly affection for our fellow believers is the seed to growing in God’s unconditional agape love. Peter explains it like this, “now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other <brotherly love>, love one another deeply, from the heart <agape>” I Peter 1:22 NIV. You can read about this kind of love in I Corinthians 13. The very next verse, I Cor, 14:1 (NIV) says, “follow the way of love <agape>.” And Romans 13:10 (NIV) reads, “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” This is what reveals to the world that we are true followers of Jesus (John 13:35), if we agape love one another. Even unbelievers can exhibit brotherly love for their friends, but only God can give us agape love for one another. When God’s promise finally comes, it is the agape love of God flowing through us that will certify our message as Truth.
Don’t Be Overwhelmed
Don’t be overwhelmed! I’ve held the best for last. Before Peter listed the steps we need to take add what is needed in our lives, he gave us the secret! “By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” 2 Peter 1:3-4 (NLT). It is all possible because God gives it to us! It is up to us to receive what we need and apply it in our lives. We respond to His promises by allowing Him to transform us!
Remember the Reason
In a previous article, I laid the reason for the delays we experience in the fulfillment of God’s promises in our lives. In 2 Peter 3:9 we see it clearly. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” If we look at the lives of Joseph, Abraham and others we see this to be true. The reason for the delay of any of His promises is the same – the saving of many lives.
Hold On To The Promise
The Angel Gabriel told Mary, “not one promise from God is empty of power. Nothing is impossible with God” Luke 1:37 (TPT). In response, Mary submitted herself to God’s plan. She knew it would be misunderstood and she would be ridiculed. But she didn’t fight it or try to change it. She said “yes”.
Paul told the Corinthians, “all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory” 2 Cor. 1:20 (NLT). When we say yes to His promises, and take steps to prepare, we give Him glory. Sometimes we have to keep saying “yes” until the promise manifests in our lives. “You must be willing to wait without giving up. After you have done what God wants you to do, God will give you what He promised you” Heb. 10:36 (NLV). The apostles are often talking about the promise of Holy Spirit or of Christ’s return, but as the Angel Gabriel said, “not one promise from God is empty of power!”
So, as you wait for what God has promised you, remember His purpose. It is to draw more people to Himself. It’s time to prepare yourself to be part of God’s end time harvest!
Dr. Jodie Chiricosta is vice president of Somebody Cares America/International. She is teaches and consults on a variety of Christian living and leadership topics and is a host of the podcast Her God Story https://somebodycares.org/hergodstory/which is available on major podcast streaming services.