Sermon:  Excellent Faith

Summary:  We need to add "excellence" to our faith, which means not settling
for average or mediocrity, but striving to be the best you can be in the name of
the Lord in order to keep from stumbling.

Know:  Mediocrity and lack of excellence in our faith can lead to stumbling in our
walk with God and the danger of falling away

Feel:  Dissatisfaction and disgust with "average" or "lukewarm" faith

Do:  Identify areas in your faith that you settle for average in, and formulate a
plan to strive for excellence, share it with a brother or sister, and remember to
confess and pray about any mediocrity in our relationship with God.

Text:  2 Peter 1:3-11 (v.5)

Scripture Reading:  Rev. 3:16

1.  Good week out at camp
	a.  Water bottle, sitting on the ledge in the sun
	b.  Not hot, but not cold
	c.  Drink, spit out of mouth
2.  What does that have to do with our text?
	a.  It is a good description of the firstr quality to "add" to our faith
	b.  Text:  (2 Peter 1:3-11)
	c.  Focus on "moral excellence"
3.  Word:  Greek:  ajrethv Arete - 
	a.  Used in three other places
		- Phil 4:8 - If any "excellence" if anything worthy of praise
		- 1 Pet 2:9 - So that you may proclaim the "excellencies" of Him
		- 2 Pet 1:3 - Called us by his own glory and "excellence"
	b.  Also used in Greek O.T. to translate "praiseworthy" or "majesty"
	c.  Favorite word for Philosophers
		- The "excellence" of a knife is to cut, a horse to run
			- A dull knife is not an excellent knife, needs to stay sharp
			- Overweight horse is not an excellent horse, needs to stay fit
		- Philosophers question:  "What is the "excellence" of man?
		- Never came to a real conclusion - No wonder, didn't have God
4.  Since we are to add "excellence" to our faith, we will ask similar questions
	a.  How do we add exellence to our faith?
	b.  Ways

I.  By being disgusted with Mediocrity
	A.  The great enemy of excellence is: Average.  What is average?
		1.  Can't be average "alone"
		2.  Involves comparing self to others
			a.  Not the worst, there was one or two worse than me
			b.  I'm average, so that's not all that bad!
		3.  Message of the world:  Average is acceptable
			a.  If you rise above average - World says its bad
				- Nerd, brainiac, uptight, etc.
			b.  If you are average, cool, one of us, etc...
	B.  Does God "like" mediocrity in our faith?  (Rev. 3:15-19)
		1.  The Laodicean church apparantly not suffer hardships
			a.  They were well to do
			b.  Probably saw it as a blessing
			c.  Good respectably citizens
		2.  God found their lukewarmness repugnant
			a.  They had settled for "average"
			b.  They were a mediocre church
		3.  Solution:  (Rev 3:19) - Be "zealous" and repent
			a.  Grk:  Zelos, where we get word, "Zealot" from
			b.  Don't be mediocre, but be zealous
	C.  Do you like "average?" in your life?
		1.  In graduate school they don't like it
			a.  Have to maintain a 3.0 average "B"
			b.  If not, academic probation, if not bring up, dismissed
		2.  What about other areas of your life? (Kids and adults)
			a.  Mechanic on your car.  He not worst in town, he's average
			b.  Service at restraunt/lunch room, cleanliness, not the worst
			c.  Safety record of your airline?  Not the best, nor the worst
		3.  In these areas you get disgusted with mediocrity
		4.  Isn't our relationship with God greater than these things?
	D.  We need to get disgusted with mediocrity in our faith
		1.  Not talking about complaining about it and belly aching
		2.  Talking about rising above mediocrity

II.  By Striving for excellence
	A.  Excellence is striving to be the best you can be
		1.  ILL:  The Harvard professor with High expectations
			a.  Student handed in a paper
			b.  Professor handed back withnote - Is this best you can do
				- Student redid it and handed it in again, same result
				- Happened a couple more times
			c.  Finally, student said - "Yes, this is the best I can do."
			d.  Good, said professor, Now I'll read it
		2.  ILL:  Like the child who didn't study and got a "C"
			a.  Teacher expresses dissappointment
			b.  Student says, "What's the big deal, I got a "C"
			c.  But you are an "A" student!  - Don't settle for average
		3.  Change "excellent" to a verb - "excel"
			a.  Not being better than someone else, but the best you can 
			b.  Means you strive to be better today than you were 
	B.  (Luk 6:27-35) - An example of a text teaching excellence
		1.  Do more than the absolute minimum
		2.  Many who strive for excellence communicate it with a slogan
			a.  Many universities use "excellence" as a motto
			b.  The military:  Be all you can be;  Aim High
		3.  What would be a good motto for us? (Good Life Group activity)
			a.  Go the second mile
			b.  Showing love, the more excellent way
			c.  Dead to self, alive to God
	C.  But that doesn't sound like grace John!
		1.  Grace has nothing to do with lowering expectations
			a.  Grace says, I love you an accept you when stumble
			b.  Grace turns punishment to discipline
			c.  Takes discipline in order to strive for excellence
		2.  ILL: At camp - wanted balance of grace and excellence
			a.  We had high expectations for the kids, and let them know
			b.  They had challenges every day.  Learned
				- Prayer as a lifestyle, of using the map
				- Of teamwork in their cabins
			c.  Lot of it came together at obstacle course
			d.  Exciting when some began to demonstrate leadership
	D.  So, we need to strive for excellence
		1.  But, what is the excellence of man?
		2.  If excellence of a knife is to cut, therefore it needs to be sharp...
		3.  What does it mean for us to be sharp in our faith?

III.  Examples of excellence
	A.  Instead of telling you, let me give you examples
	B.  Biblical examples
		1.  Ruth 3:11 - She was a woman of excellence
		2.  Prov 31:10ff - The "excellent" wife - some highlights
			a.  Takes care of household diligently
			b.  (v.20-21) - She helps the poor as well as her family.  
			c.  (v.23) - Reputation preceeds her
			d.  (v.25-27) - Positive, Wise, kind, gets it done
		3.  (Job 1:8; 31:1) - Job, blameless, made covenant with his eyes
		4.  Heb 1:4 - Jesus has inherited a more excellent name
	C.  Non Biblical Examples
		1.  Loaned car, got it back full of gas, washed, waxed, vacuumed
			a.  Even air freshner
			b.  Didn't expect it, she didn't have to do it -- excellence
		2.  Three of our ladies to Ukraine
			a.  Didn't "have" to go, but they did
			b.  That is excellence
		3.  A guy tired of mediocre spirituality
			a.  Went on a spiritual retreat away to the mountains
			b.  Didn't have to, but strove for more
			c.  Now has a growing devotional and prayer life
			d.  Has effected his ministry and service to others
		4.  Svetlana in Minsk a few years ago
			a.  Someone in need, she gave her the last of her money
			b.  Didn't know where dinner was going to come from
			c.  Found an american $10 bill in a pocket, not remember
			    where that came from, she just thanked God
			d.  That is excellence
	D.  Maybe you can think of examples of excellence in your own experience

1.  Excellence begins and ends with Christ
	a.  How excellent is his name
	b.  Have you made his name your own?  (Invitation)
(Pass out index card)
2.  Let's strive for excellence in all we do
	a.  Not - "How little can we do and still get by"
		- How cheaply can we do this?
		- What is the bare bones way we can get by?
	b.  We don't do that in other areas of life, let's not do it in our faith
	c.  Think bigger, greater, think growing
	d.  What opportunities do I have to grow and minister?
3.  Where do you feel mediocre in your faith?
	a.  Prayer?  Example?  Relationship with a brother?  Attendance?
	b.  Sharing Gospel?  Service or Ministry?  
4.  On paper
	a.  On top half, write down areas of devotion, ministry, service, etc. where 
	      you have become satisfied with average or less than average
	b.  On the bottom write 3 "P's"
5.  What are we going to do about these mediocre areas of my life?
	a.  Pray about it
	b.  Plan - Write a definite plan on how you will strive for excellence
	c.  Pass on - Share this with a brother or sister who will hold you 
	     accountable mutually