Give me a word, Lord: FOLLOWING THE RECIPE

2 Peter 1:5-11 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. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins. So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Yesterday, we made a whole bunch of plum jelly: 33 half pints and 27 quarter pints. Making jelly is a little bit of a tedious task, but when the jelly sets, it is all worth it. The final product is shiny jars full of beautifully colored and delectable sweetness. As the jar lids begin to “ting” as they seal, we can hardly wait for the batches to cool down to see if the jelly is going to set. It should set every time because we follow the recipe, but sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it is human error, and other times, we don’t have the correct recipe. We have learned through the years that if we want to make jelly, we need to have Sure-jell, lots of pure cane sugar, fruit juice, and a Sure-jell recipe for the type of fruit juice that we have on hand. Measuring is absolutely necessary when making jelly. You can’t estimate or guesstimate. You have to have exact proportions of pectin, sugar, and juice. Most of the time (not always, but mostly) if we follow the recipe, the jelly sets beautifully. However, on occasion, we will try a new fruit and try to find an equivalent fruit recipe, and we end up with a big old batch of syrup. If you give me a fruit, I’m going to try to make jelly out of it. My husband says that I can make jelly out of a rock. I must admit that I haven’t tried that one yet, but I have tried some odd fruit jelly experiments.

Following the recipe is necessary for me. My husband could compete with world class chefs, and not ever use the first recipe. He is a fabulous cook. I have a small binder full of recipes in my head, but other than that, I’m a recipe Googler. I can cook just about anything, but I need to follow a recipe. In life, we also need a recipe to follow. I have often wished that life came with a recipe book, but with the passing years, I have realized that there are no secret hidden ingredients. The recipe is as simple as simple can be. It begins with faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. If we have faith in Christ, follow Him, and allow Him to be the King of our hearts, well my friends, Christ is the ONLY ingredient we need for the recipe of life. However, Peter shared some of the necessary ingredients that will make our lives even better. Let us look at the scripture again.

Peter reminds us that we are to supplement our faith with a generous portion of moral excellence. We must strive to live a good and moral life following the instruction manual given to us in God’s Word. To moral excellence, we must add knowledge. How do we gain knowledge? We ask God for it, and He will provide. The Bible is filled with knowledge. We must learn to devour it and soak in the words of wisdom on every page. Next, Peter says we must have self control. That one is a little bit harder. We must learn to tame not only our tongues, but also our minds. We must control the words that are coming out of us, but we must also control the thoughts that are inside of our minds and the actions that result from these thoughts. Next, we must add patient endurance with godliness. Oh boy, this recipe is getting harder and harder. Don’t fret, Peeps, we are not following this recipe alone. We have the Holy Spirit to guide us along the way, and with His help, patient endurance with godliness will follow. With godliness, we must add a good helping handful of brotherly affection and love for everyone. That one is not even an option. It’s a command!

Peter tells us that the more we grow like this, the more productive and useful we will be in our knowledge of Christ, but if we fail to develop in this way, we will be shortsighted or blind, forgetting that we have been cleansed from our old sins. It will be like making jelly that doesn’t set. Instead of being the children of God that we are chosen and called to be, we will turn into a bunch of big old messes that are not useful for the Kingdom. The main ingredient to living the good life is easy: accept Christ as your Savior. Once we do this, we can’t help but following the recipe of additional ingredients listed by Peter. When we fill our hearts with Christ, our hearts desire will be to become more like Christ on a daily basis. Our lives won’t always be perfect. God doesn’t expect us to get it right every time, and He doesn’t even expect us to perfect all of the qualities listed by Peter, but he does tell us that we can possess these qualities in increasing measure, growing in each of these areas, and growing in our relationship with Christ daily. This, my friends, is the best recipe for life!

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