Let's turn over to II Peter, chapter 1. We'll begin reading with verse 2. This message I'm preaching partly to myself, as well as to the rest of you. And I guess the best title for it would be, "Partnership with God." Now, you know today, we can go in partnership with men and we can get in big trouble, can't we? Some of you know about that. We can go into partnership with men today, and we can get into all kinds of problems, can't we? We find out that our partner is incompetent. Or maybe he's even dishonest. Or maybe he's just lazy.
But all kinds of things can get us into big trouble when we go into partnership with men! Maybe he's just got a bad personality. That could even ruin you in a partnership with someone. But now in this partnership with God, we know in advance that the partnership is going to succeed, don't we?
So, let's think about this for a little while. Beginning at II Peter 1:2: "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
"3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
"4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
"5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
"6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;"
That's a difficult one to add, isn't it -- Patience! Men want to start today, and tomorrow have 500 in Church, don't we? When we start a new church? Or we want to start in business today, and tomorrow be a millionaire, when we start into business! Or just, you go down the line, any number of examples you want to mention, that patience is perhaps the hardest of these that are named here.
Continuing at verse 7 --- "7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
"8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
"9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins."
Now Peter preached a pretty good sermon in just those few verses, didn't he? Let's go ahead though and get old Brother Joshua to add something to it here. Old Brother Joshua, over in chapter 24, adds some interesting material, to go with these thoughts of Peter. Joshua chapter 24. In case you've forgotten, Joshua is the next book after the books of Moses.
You say, "Well, what are the books of Moses?" Okay, the books of Moses are the first five books of the Bible. So, if you go to the sixth book, you should find Joshua. Joshua 24:14 and 15, has this to say — "Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord," now listen to this, "choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
Now, that's the message! That's also actually the basic message of Peter, wasn't it? Serve ye the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Now, that's the whole message wrapped up in just a few words, isn't it?
The question here is, first, "Who is on the Lord's side?" That's number one on my notes that I've written here. "Who's on the Lord's side?" That's a good question, isn't it? Over in Exodus 32:26, Moses said these very same words. "Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord's side? Let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him."
That's Exodus 32:26. Moses asked that very question that we're asking today, "Who is on the Lord's side?" And we need to ask ourselves, each of us need to ask ourselves this question, and then give ourselves an entirely honest answer.
"Who is on the Lord's side?" The question is this, "Am I really, honest to goodness, sure enough," as they used to say when I was a child in Texas, "am I really, honest to goodness, sure enough, one hundred percent, on the Lord's side?" Now, that's the big question, isn't it? That's the main question. That's the number one question. That's the only really important question! If we're on the Lord's side, then there's nothing but victory ahead. If we're not on the Lord's side, then there's nothing but defeat ahead. That's just how simple it is! And it makes no difference whether we can see the victory or not. I makes no difference whether we can see how He's going to do it or not. That doesn't matter, does it?
In fact, sometimes the victory is sweeter when it looks hopeless, and then He gives it to us anyway. And as long as we're on His side, we know He's going to give us the victory. Because He's never been defeated. Not one time. Through all the ages, God has never once been defeated or thwarted in His will. And if we're on His side, then that means that we are never once going to be defeated, in the true meaning of the word "defeat." We're going to have victory, if we're truly, one hundred percent, on the Lord's side.
Going ahead a little further with this question, "Am I really, one hundred percent on the Lord's side?" Let's enlarge that question with some additional questions. "Do I really put God and His work first?" "Do I?" "Do you?" Ask yourself that question. "Do I really put God and His work first?" Or "Do I have sixteen thousand other things that I put ahead of God's work?" You know, it's so easy to think we're really putting God's work first, when sometimes we're not.
But let's ask ourselves honestly that question, "Do I in reality put God and His work first?" And then, give ourselves an honest answer. You don't have to give your wife an honest answer, although she'll know it anyway. You can't fool your wife about anything. If you think you can, you just haven't been married long enough. Or else, you're kind of stupid, one or the other. Maybe a little bit of both. But anyway, you don't have to give your wife an honest answer, she'll know it anyway. You don't have to give your friends an honest answer.
But you can't fool God. And there's one other person you can't fool either. You can pretend that you have fooled yourself, but you can't really fool yourself either, can you? So, just now ask yourself this question, and then give yourself an honest answer, "Do I really put God and His work first?"
Let us go on now to another question, still thinking about this, "Am I really a hundred percent on the Lord's side?" Ask yourself this second sub-question here, "What do I put ahead of God's way and will in my life?" You know, it's very easy to put something ahead of God's way and God's will in our lives. In fact, it's very difficult not to do that sometimes – but it shouldn't be!
Now another question. "Does my work situation, my job, bring glory to God?" Does it? Oh, I know, we can say, "Well, I invited so-and-so at work the other day, so therefore my job and work situation brings glory to God." But that doesn't necessarily answer that question, does it? Maybe some other job and work situation might allow you a thousand times more opportunities to bring glory to God. Or maybe you have a thousand other opportunities to bring glory to God in your present work situation, of which you do not take advantage. There are so many things that enter into this question.
Again, another question. "Do I really put God ahead of my family and friends as I should?" You say,"Oh, but I can't put God ahead of my family and friends." Well, you remember what the Lord Himself said about that, don't you. Or maybe you don't. Maybe I should remind you of it. Luke 14:33 says it well — "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."
Christ said he who is not willing to forsake his family, his friends, even his closest friends and closest family and follow me, he cannot be my disciple. That is, a true, constant and active follower of Christ, a real disciple. Now that's what the Lord Himself said to people who wanted to hold back because of family or because of friends, or because of life's situations, isn't it?
So we can put, and should put God ahead of everything. And you know what happens when we do put God ahead of everything. He takes care of our family better than we can. He takes care of our friends better than we can. He takes care of us better than we can ourselves, when we do really put Him ahead of everything else.
Another question here. "What about my time?" Well — What about that? You know, time is a most peculiar thing. Many people don't really realize that the most valuable thing in the world, from the human viewpoint at least, is time. Time. Time. "What about my time?" "Do I use it to bring glory to Him and His work?" "Do I really use His time efficiently?" "What if He didn't give us this time that we have? What then?" And there's coming a day when time shall be no more. We should use this time that He gives us now! We should use it to the fullest advantage in winning others to Him. Because when we get to that day when time shall be no more, all of our friends and loved ones that are lost, it'll be too late, won't it? All of our acquaintances, whom we might have been able to win in time --- it will be too late when time shall be no more.
And there's coming a day when time will cease. There'll be no more time. There will not even be any more night and day. In the sense that we think of night and day today, because He'll be the light and they'll be no darkness at all. So, that even if you speak of night and day in heaven, it's not referring to the same thing as we think of as night and day here, because there'll be no darkness there.
"What about my money?" Now, that other was preaching, but this is meddling, isn't it? The other parts were preaching, but this is getting down to the meddling part, "What about my money?" "Do I give God His share through His church?" "Do I pay my tithe faithfully as all should?" "Do I give special offerings to God's work, over and above my tithes, as all should?" Or, "Do I act like the hog under the oak tree eating acorns?" I've used this before, but it's such an apt illustration, I'll probably use it again. "Do we act sometimes like the hog under the acorn tree eating acorns?" That hog just goes around eating all the acorns he can, he never even once looks up and thinks about the fact that it came down from that tree above him, does he? He never thinks about that. We need to be sure we don't adopt that attitude about God's blessings on us, don't we?
Going on now, we've said who's on the Lord's side. Let's think about another little idea here for a few minutes. Real partnership with God gives us blessed assurance. Look at Deuteronomy chapter 20. Deuteronomy chapter 20, verse 4, says this: "For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you." Aren't you glad of that? He goes with us, doesn't He? He's our partner. He's always with us, He leads the way!
When I was in high school in Bowie, I had a partner like that. I was a little, tiny, scrawny thing, weighed about 115 pounds and I was about six feet tall. Just almost skin and bones. And, you know, in every high school, there's always a few thugs that want to terrorize everybody else. But I had a partner that makes a pretty good illustration of what he says here about the Lord goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies.
I'll never forget this old boy. His name was Billy Cozart. He was saved in the Church that my dad started there in Bowie, later, after we had been friends for awhile. He came to Church and was saved there and baptized in the Church that my father started, now called Central Baptist Church. But some of these school "thugs" started out to try to give me a hard time. (After all, I was that "preqcher's kid.") And it didn't take much from my friend, Billy, to stop that foolishness right quick. Because he was over six feet tall and about 230 pounds and just about all of it was bone and muscle. And he knew how to handle this situation. He knew exactly how to talk their language.
And that's all it took. One day Billy just said, "Okay boys, come on, we'll take the whole gang of you." And, of course, what he really meant was, "I'll take the whole gang of you." And they decided they didn't want to have anything to do with either one of us about anything like that anyway. But that's a pretty good illustration of what we're talking about here in Deuteronomy 20:4. "The Lord your God is with you it is he that goeth with you." He's with you to fight for you against your enemies, to save you. So, when we feel so low down, like I did the other day, that it'd take a sixteen foot extension ladder to get up to the level of a snake's belly, then we need to read some verses like this, don't we? He's the one that goes with you. He'll fight for you against your enemies to save you. Remember, He take care of His own!
Sometimes our worst enemy is a funny, little fellow, you know that? Sometimes our very worst enemy is a funny, little fellow. his name is spelled S-E-L-F! Yes, Self. And he is a funny little fellow sometimes, you know that? Self is a peculiar fellow and often times, he's our worst enemy. He often becomes our worst enemy when we have a desire to do our own thing. You know the attitude: "Well, God, I'm getting along pretty good, don't worry about me now!" --- That type of attitude.
I know we don't say it in those words, but that's basically what it boils down to sometimes, isn't it? A desire to do our own thing. An unwillingness to fully submit to God. "Oh," we think, "well, I'm doing more than the other fellow in the Lord's work." "I'm living closer to God than the other fellow." Well, la de dah --- that doesn't mean anything, does it? Maybe the other fellow's not living very close to the Lord. Maybe the other fellow's not doing what he should for the Lord's work. So, just comparing yourself with Him doesn't mean a thing, does it? A desire to make our own decisions to run our own lives can quickly make that little, funny fellow, S-E-L-F, our worst enemy!
A Christian though, in full partnership with God, will allow God to run his life. It's as if He's the senior partner, which He certainly is, isn't He? And we're a junior partner or a non-voting partner. Now, that's the way it ought to be, and that's the way it must be, mustn't it? So then a Christian who is really and truly in full partnership with God, will and must allow God to run his life. A real partner with God can not just do his own thing, nor go the way he wants to, make his own decisions, run his own life; but he must allow God to run his life. And when we do that, you know, it's amazing how much less trouble, how much less anguish, or how many less jams we get into. You know, the kind where it just looks like there's no hope.
The problem is, we can't see far enough ahead. That's part of our problem! We're blind, about the future aren't we? There's not one of us can see tomorrow and see exactly what's going to happen tomorrow. But we've got a partner in this partnership who can. He can see tomorrow and next month, next year, next century. He can see it all from the beginning, can't He? That's really something to have a partner that can actually see and know the future. Think what you could do in business, if you had a partner like that. If you were in business with a man who could accurately foresee the future for the next hundred years, or even for the next ten years, imagine what you could do. It would be limitless the things you could do, wouldn't it?
So, in the same manner, it's limitless what we can do in this partnership with God, if we just remember to let God run our lives. And remember that He's the senior partner, we're junior partners. And when everything looks hopeless, He knows all about it. He knows what's going on. And He knows what's going to go on in the future, too. And we don't. That's part of the problem with us.
Going a little further with this thought about partnership with God, we've said already that sometimes our worst enemy is this funny, little fellow, spelled S-E-L-F. But other times, our worst enemy may be the family or friends. And, of course, we do sometimes have genuine, clear cut open enemies as well. But sometimes, those who are our friends, or those whom we think are our friends, may turn out to be our worst enemies, as far as partnership with God is concerned. Sometimes a fear of what our family — or what our wife may think can interfere with us doing God's will in our lives. Or sometimes, a desire to be well thought of by our friends and neighbors can interfere with our really being in full and free partnership with God.
Now, going on a little further, we've already talked about the fact, the first question to ask is, "Who is on the Lord's side?" Then we mentioned the fact that real partnership with God gives us blessed assurance. Now, thirdly, partnership with God brings encouraging words when we need them most. Just when things look dark and hopeless, just when it looks like we're in the bottom of a bottomless hole and the sides are about to cave in on us, just when it looks like there's no way out; that's when this partnership really pays off! Because He knows the way out, doesn't He? Yes, He always knows the way out. And He'll show us the way. So partnership with God brings encouraging words when we need them most, when things look dark and hopeless.
Judges 6:12, says this: "And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour." That's a peculiar thing to say, isn't it? If you know the circumstances, that's a very peculiar thing to say, isn't it? Here's Gideon, he's out here hiding out in a secret place, trying to fix up enough food to keep from starving to death for himself and his family. The Midianites were so bad and had been persecuting and defeating the Israelites so regularly and so often and so severely, that they had to hide out to grind food to eat.
They had to hide little patches of crops here and there in the hills and in spots where they hoped the Midianites wouldn't find them. They had to do this in order to even have enough food to live. And then, in the midst of all this situation, when they're all hiding out from these Midianites, here the angel of the Lord comes up to Gideon and says, "The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour." But he's hiding out from the Midianites when the angel says that. That's something, isn't it? Hiding out, God's angel comes up and says to him: "Oh, you mighty man of valour, you're a great warrior for the Lord." This is really something.
Because of their own sins, God had allowed the Israelites at this time, to be completely overrun by the Midianites. As we said, the Israelites had to hide out from the plundering bands of Midian. The bands of Midian just wandered everywhere they wanted to in the Israelite territories. And these Israelites even hid in the caves and in the mountains, to hide from these raiding bands of the Midianites. And when they planted crops, the enemy would come and loot the crop or burn it. And even Gideon here, he had to hide out from the Midianites in order to thresh wheat in this place that we just read to you from in Judges 6.
And at this time of defeat, destruction and sorrow, the angel of God came. What did we just say? We said that partnership with God brings encouraging words when we need them most, just when things look dark and hopeless. And, you know, it must have looked mighty hopeless to Gideon there, hiding out to thresh a little bit of wheat, so he wouldn't starve to death with his family. But God does bring hope and encouragement at the time of hopelessness. He does that for us today, just as He did for Gideon and the children of Israel. And if you go on and study the full story there, you'll find that the Lord used Gideon and 300 men to completely destroy the Midianites and deliver His people from their bondage and virtual slavery to these Midianites.
Going on a little further now, full partnership with God brings wonderful words from Him to those who come back to full submission to Him and His will.
Look now at Hosea 2:23. You may remember that the entire book of Hosea is written basically dealing with the backsliding of the children of Israel. It's emphasizing this all the way through. Reading here in Hosea 2:23, it says this: "And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that hath not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God." Isn't that wonderful? This is applicable to the northern kingdom of Israel, which was badly astray from God. And it's also applicable to us today, this passage that we just read. "I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God." Full partnership with God, even for the Gentiles, the outcasts, the dogs of the Jews. Think of that: we can have full partnership with God!
Wonderful statements are made and recorded all through the Scriptures to those who come into partnership with God. I want to give you just a few of them here. I won't give you the references, or take the time for you to jot them down, but let's get this quickly — just take a look at some of these wonderful statements that are made all through the Scriptures to those who do come into partnership with God.
Start with this statement: "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." That's good enough for the whole thing by itself, isn't it? Here's another one, "I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish." We recognize that, of course, from John 10. Then, a third statement here, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength." And it goes on to say something like this, "They shall mount up with wings as the eagle; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint." Again, He said, "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine." Again, He said, "And the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him." Another one, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." And we could just go on and on and on and on with hundreds of statements like that! Wonderful statements that are made to all those who come into partnership with God.
Now, the last thought we want to give you, real partners are workers together with God. What a glorious job. Now, a real partner is someone who has an active part in the business, isn't he? You couldn't be a partner, a proper partner in any proper business without having an active part of some sort in that business, could you? Not in the true meaning of partnership. So, real partners are workers together with God and it's a glorious job.
First Corinthians 3:9 says this: "For we are labourers together with God." Now, that is partnership, isn't it? "Together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." Then if we go on down to verse 11 in that same chapter, it says this, "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
God's objective in partnership with men who surrender fully, is given to us in Philippians 2:13. What object does God have in mind in partnership with men who surrender fully? What is His object that He wants to accomplish in this partnership? In the normal, human meaning of the word, He certainly doesn't need us, does He? I mean, this partnership could go along just fine without this junior partner we're talking about, (remember, we are the junior partners)! He doesn't have to have us. But what's His object in this, or His objective in it? Philippians 2:13 says: "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
The partnership, in other words, is not to accomplish our will, but to accomplish His will. That's the purpose of the partnership --- the sole objective. The purpose of the partnership given in the verses that follow there in Philippians, is to shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life. You'll find that a little further down in that reference in Philippians 2. Christians are partakers of the divine nature. And should and will act like it, if they are truly saved. Now, we have no time to go into this very far,but just remember that Christians are definitely partakers of the divine nature, and they should and will act like it, if they're truly saved.
Second Peter 1:4, says this: "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." People who will not be true partners with God, had better look carefully to see if they are truly saved. You know, we have a lot of Christians around us, so-called Christians at least, people who profess to be Christians, who absolutely would refuse instantly with great indignation, any such thing as becoming a true partner with God. You've seen Christians, so-called, like that. But those people like that, those who will not be true partners with God, they'd better look carefully, very carefully, to see if they are even truly saved. I know, we can't judge them definitively.
But one time our neighbor gave us some nectarines. They were pretty nice too. And I was a little bit hungry just before I went to bed, so I ate a couple of them. That is, I started to eat a couple of them. I ate one and it was wonderful, delicious, really good. And I took a good big bite, about half of another one in my mouth, and started chewing on it and then I looked down and there was a PIECE of a worm. That just sort of spoiled it for me, you know. So, I had to throw that second one away. Of course, the worm didn't eat very much, but still, it DID put me off my appetite a bit. So, as I said, we cannot judge things definitively, only God can do that, but we certainly can be fruit inspectors in some circumstances.
Remember John 10:27. And this is still true today, though most so-called Christians don't fit this description at all. John 10:27 says, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." Now, that's plain enough for a child to understand, isn't it? And you don't have to be too smart to know that you can turn that around into a negative form and say that unless they hear His voice, and unless they follow Him, then it's very doubtful if they are His sheep.
Let's truly follow Him through this week, through this month, through our lives. And be real partners with God. And remember, that all these wonderful promises and all this guaranteed victory, these words of encouragement when we need them, this victory when we can't have it any other way, all these things come only from being in partnership with God.
Are you ready, here and now, to commit yourself completely and without any reservation to a real "partnership with God?"
Remember, there's ONLY ONE LIFE TO LIVE, ONE LIFE TO GIVE, IN SERVICE TO OUR GLORIOUS KING!