Friday, November 30, 2012

2 Peter 3:5-9

For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise.” This was the answer that Peter offered the scoffers and the mockers. So, “Why does God not return yet?” would be the question that was raised often, and Peter would look to his followers and say “God is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” If God were to come back last year, there would be countless thousands who would not yet have put their faith in Him and would be lost for all eternity. God in His love desires that the unreached be called to salvation before the scroll of time is closed. He is not willing that any should perish, and so He sends His message with His messengers into the far reaches of His globe - “The day of judgment is coming. The day of destruction is coming, those who truly believe will be saved and set in the presence of the gracious God who saved them, but those who do not believe by that day are already condemned and will be cast into utter destruction and separation from the presence of God.” We do not pack our bags and sit idly by, waiting like we are at a bus station about to take a ride. Rather we are called to an active waiting. We look for His coming, with anticipation and hope and excitement, and work to build His kingdom of believers here until the day He appears. When will that be? Only God knows. So we then with faith and hope draw men to Him constantly. God has been merciful to continue to extend grace to all men for the past two-thousand years, we must not get side-tracked by the scoffers who do not understand the grace of God. We see the days not as days that we laboriously wait, but rather days that God desires us to be the hands and mouthpiece of His longsuffering grace to other men. Now see yourself with purpose in these days of waiting for His coming.
Food for Thought: According to Peter, why has God not come back yet?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

2 Peter 3:1-4

This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

Scoffers always exist. Their existence is as certain as the air we breathe. If there is someone working hard at something, there will be someone criticizing the work being done. If there is someone who sets their will on something, you can usually find someone else who is ready to be a “killjoy” and explain how the desire that the person has will never work out. It is just natural. These scoffers consider themselves extremely wise, because they can listen to another’s words and point out all the idiosyncrasies and contradictions, the stutterings and mis-speakings. They jeer and mock, and use the ridicule that they play out as a means to uplift themselves. Instead of accomplishing or striving, they find it easier to work a reactionary position that just mocks and tears down those around them. With no effort, they constantly deride those around them and in doing so, they consider that they are elevating themselves to a “higher position” than others. Talk show hosts like David Letterman, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck are masters of  “scoffing.” They will find something that the President said and then mock it until they feel as though those around them view the scoffer as more prestigious then the one being scoffed. This arrogance is not healthy, and never brings help. Solomon says in Proverbs 22:10, “Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.” The best place for scorners and scoffers is “cast out.” Scorners bring nothing to the table except negativity. Peter knows that scorners will always mock. He knows that in the days to come scorners will come and mock the fact that the Lord has not yet returned, and he tells his followers to remain in the hope of His coming. Rest in what Christ has accomplished and trust that as He has justified you, and is currently by His grace sanctifying you, one day He will glorify you. Now realize that scoffing comes from the mouths of the miserable who desire you to join their company in misery and doubt. Trust and hope in Christ, don’t be shaken by mockers.
Food For Thought: What is the term that means “one who mocks”? Are scoffers inherently happy people? What is a negative byproduct of people being scoffers?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

2 Peter 2:20-22

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

Peter doesn’t look too nicely on those who have returned to their old lifestyle. He sees people that were sinners and lived lives of corruption and filth who are found and redeemed by Christ. He then sees them return to their old lifestyle and way of thinking, and he doesn’t like it. As a matter of fact, he uses two very interesting pictures to describe it. The first is the picture of a dog. As is the nature of dogs, they over-eat, or mis-eat, or something goes horribly wrong and the contents of their stomachs become the former contents of their stomachs (they puke). As is the tendency with dogs, all of which fall under the category of omnivore, they continue to mosey around the vicinity for a while until they find a steaming hot pile of food (former contents of their stomachs)….the rest is left for the imagination, let’s just say, the dog that returns to his vomit usually leaves stuffed. The other picture is that of a pig. The farmer comes and gets his pig. He cleans her up, gives her a bath, scrubs her hooves, cleans out her ears, and sets her back in the pigpen. Without missing a beat, she runs back over to the mud/pig waste puddle and begins to roll around, securely reapplying the recently removed filth. This is exactly what those who have been cleaned by Christ yet return to their former sin are doing. The word “backsliding” doesn’t paint the right picture. Peter prefers a term like “vomit-eating,” or “mud/pig waste wallowing.” And Peter’s perspective is spot on. Perhaps if we could get the vision of our sin that God has, we too would avoid it. But too often, the allurement of a moment blinds us to the absolutely disgusting nature of the very thing that entices us. If only we could peel off that layer of lust and feel the disgust. But many don’t and they fall back into the lifestyle out of which they were saved. He has washed you, now, stay clean.
Food For Thought: According to verses 20-21, what does Peter say about those who have been entangled and overcome by this false way of thinking?

2 Peter 2:17-19

These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is eh brought in bondage.

Corruption and liberty stand as two diametrically opposed forces. One who is corrupt is not free; and the one who truly will be free must flee corruption. Verse 19 today points out the fact that false teachers living in corruption offer liberty to those they are trying to mislead. They teach that their ways are the ways of freedom. They purport that bondage holds those who do not fulfill the lusts of their flesh(v.18). Their mentality is that to be free, somebody must do whatever they desire, even if those desires are sinful and corrupt. Sadly, they speak as shackled men. The bondage that they themselves are in is evident, but they still herald freedom to those around them. Ironically, they go to the house of the free, and offer freedom. They come to those in Christ and tell them of a greater liberty. The ones who were set free from the chains of sin, found liberty in the grace of God. Now as free, they are being mis-taught by false teachers that there is a greater liberty – their old lifestyle. How ludicrous this proposal! It is like telling the convict that was just released from the penitentiary that he will be freer if he returns to his cell. These false teachers have not found the way of freedom, rather, their desire to vindicate their own wicked living has become the impetus to motivate others to be as wicked as they are. The basis for their understanding, man’s reasoning, stands as an affront to the things which are spiritually discerned. He thinks that he has solved a riddle that God has not even offered up. He thinks that he has outsmarted the God who called His people to be holy. This false-teacher is gravely mistaken, and will one day face the eternal consequences for that mistake. Liberty is not found in corruption. The soul that longs to be free will only find liberty in Christ.
Food For Thought: Read 1 Corinthians 2:1-14. Why do you think that false teachers think something other than the gospel will work in the lives of men?

Monday, November 19, 2012

2 Peter 2:10-16

But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.

Peter warns of false teachers who “walk after the flesh, and despise government.” They “speak evil of the things that they understand not, and have eyes full of adultery, and an heart of covetousness.” Be cautious of churches or pastors who find it necessary to attack their government. Be cautious of Christian leaders who live lives that reflect sinful desires. Be cautious of church figures that are willing to argue about and condemn things that they are not fully informed on. Be cautious of preachers whose lives are marked by greed or sensuality. The pulpit of a church should have a primary purpose - to reveal the gospel of Christ and the glory of God. Beyond that, knowledge and understanding of Jesus and the desires of the magnificent Creator and Sustainer should be used to promote wholeness and holiness in the believer. The pulpit should not, however, be used as a stepladder for the personal desires of the speaker. The desire of God should be the driving force. The will of the Almighty should shape all speaking and presentation in the pulpit. The use of the pulpit to undermine God’s delegated authority, the government, is a misuse of the pulpit. A preacher must study and know what he is teaching, and if it is sin, he must call it that, but if it is not, he must not condemn it. It is easy to be against things, and many preachers are. Uninformed, they pass judgment on the unknown. This is a marking characteristic of a false teacher. The personal life of the preacher must match the standard that God has clearly stated in His Word. A life of sin, of greed, of sexual immorality, all point towards a man who is not preaching the truth of a holy and righteous God. Watch for all of these red flags. Notice the one who is teaching and preaching. Look for areas where you can extend grace in a humble way to any who seem to err, and pray constantly for those who minister and teach God’s Word, lest they fall into error.
Food For Thought: List three things from today’s text that are characteristic of a false teacher.

Weekend Nugget:

Ecclesiastes 10:1 says “Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doeth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.” The picture that Solomon paints is that of the ancient apothecary’s shop. The apothecary, historically, was the one who dealt in cures, ointments and perfumes. He would be the ancient equivalent of the modern day pharmacist. It would also be common for him to have fragrances and scented oils burning in his shop, that he would draw in customers from outside the shop. Unfortunately, because it smelled so strong, it would no doubt attract all types of insects. Once the insects came, they would be overwhelmed by the hot oils, and would sink into the fragrant mix. After a few minutes, the burning fragrance would slowly change its smell from that of perfume, to that of dead fly. The very thing that was once used to draw people into the apothecary’s shop was now the thing that was driving people away. It didn’t matter how much perfume he had burning, the smell of the burning dead fly was overwhelming. Solomon then makes the wise analogy that those with wisdom who exercise a little bit of folly are like this perfume. They have so much to offer in their wisdom and honor, but when their folly is revealed those around them lose all their trust in them. This is seen over and over in our culture, whether it is through the impropriety of Tiger Woods, or the indiscretion of General Petraeus, or the alleged indecency of Lance Armstrong. Men who have before been viewed as leaders and role models, unravel their own worlds with some form of folly. They view the satisfaction of the moment worth more than the labors of a lifetime. Solomon says here, that the folly is horrible, even if the person attempts to cover it with layers of wisdom. It will come to light. People will smell the dead fly in the ointment.
Food For Thought: Give an example in your life of what Solomon equates to the dead fly in the perfume.

Friday, November 16, 2012

2 Peter 2:1-3

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

I imagine that after Peter saw Jesus stripped, beaten and killed, that those mental pictures stayed with him the rest of his life. No doubt, the gravity of personal experience in the occurrences of the crucifixion played and replayed in his mind at times. It must have been frustrating for him to hear others, (who he called “false teachers”) try to say that mankind was saved any other way than the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. When we see verse 1 today, Peter points out further that the ones who teach these “damnable heresies” (this is pretty much the most solid way of saying “lies”) are actually “denying the Lord that bought them.” This is an interesting phrase. There is a doctrine that says Jesus only died for the sins of those who put their faith in Him. On the other side of the theological aisle is the argument that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. This idea that Jesus’s death was only for the sins of the saved is known as “Limited Atonement.” This theology speaks about how that Jesus blood was “efficacious” (effective and useful) only for the ones who put their faith in Him. While I agree that Jesus’s blood does only save those who put their faith in Him, the distinction must be made that He did not die just for those who put their faith in him. Rather, His blood was shed even for those who would never put their faith in him. The false teachers in verse 1 were “bought by the Lord,” but they also are reserved to the “day of judgment to be punished.” If Jesus’s blood only paid for the sins of believers, then why would these “bought ones” be eternally punished by God? God is loving. God is just. God is excessively clear on what it takes to be saved from the wrath to come. Payment has been made for all mankind through the atoning work of Jesus. If we come in faith, God graciously forgives and justifies us.
Food For Thought: Read 1 John 2:1-2. Who did Jesus die for, the saved or the whole world? Who is saved by His blood?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

2 Peter 2:4-9

For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked. (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

God has never wavered in His assessment of sin. Often with a false definition of justice, we say things like, “Why is God so harsh against those who commit sin?” The reality is, “How can a God who is truly ‘just’ not punish sin when He has declared that all sin will be punished?” A judge who does not punish offenders in his courtroom, is not a just judge. If someone murders, breaking the law, the judge is only ‘just’ if he sentences the murderer to serve punishment for his crime. Justice is only true justice when it executes punishment. God then, as a just God, must execute punishment on those who commit sin. When the angels disobeyed and rebelled, they were cast down. When the world revolted and sinned from the beginning, God sent a purging flood to cleanse the earth. When Sodom and Gomorrah directly violated God’s designs especially in the area of sexuality, God used fire and brimstone to execute punishment for sin. But in all of those scenarios, God did not kill all. In heaven He did not scathe the remnant of angels who remained loyal. In the flood, Noah and his family were spared. In Sodom and Gomorrah, God retrieved Lot moments before the fiery torrent devastated the cities. He is a just and gracious God. Punishment is reserved to those who violate His designs and His laws. Sadly, we all fall into the category of “law-breaker.” Romans 3 says that we “all have sinned.” Justice calls for punishment for that sin. As the angels were cast down, and the world was drowned, and the two cities were scorched, we have positioned ourselves under the just wrath of a righteous God. But the same God who is just, according to Ephesians 2, is also rich in mercy. Without compromising His justice, He extends to us grace and forgiveness through Jesus. How? Because on the cross, He poured out His wrath on Jesus so that we would not have to feel it. Now, if we put our faith in the work of Jesus, we can have mercy and grace from the hand that once held wrath. God is Good. God is Just. God is Merciful. Jesus is Wonderful.  
Food For Thought: What question should we ask instead of “why is God so harsh against those who commit sin?”?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2 Peter 1:19-21

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Peter witnessed the feeding of the five thousand as he lugged around a basket filled with rolls and fish sticks. He personally climbed out of a boat in the middle of the wave-tossed sea and walked on water to Jesus. He saw the transfiguration of Christ with his own eyes. He lived with Jesus and understood the prophecies of the Old Testament about the Messiah. There was no more guessing when the Christ would come, Peter knew He had already come. No longer did he have to rely on someone’s opinion of the Messiah, He now walked with Him and spoke to Him. Peter didn’t have to trust in the Messiah as if He was some mystical figure like the Tooth Fairy. Peter had seen and touched Jesus. He heard God from heaven say of Jesus, “This is my beloved Son.” From the very mouth of God, Peter now heard audibly the words that God had been speaking through the writings of his appointed men. Prophecy had been the words of God from the mouths of men, but this vindication came from God’s mouth. Now, faith in Jesus’s Divinity did not have to be proven from the texts of the Old Testament, although it could be, God Himself had spoken of Jesus’s Divinity. We truly can believe God’s Words. Peter closes his treatise here in verse 21 with “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” We don’t have to say one is better than the other. The life experience of hearing the audible voice of God was to Peter as real as the written word of God being breathed through God’s holy penmen. There was no need to make a distinction, because when God speaks it is always with absolute authority. As authoritative as God’s Words were on the Mount of Transfiguration, His Holy Word that we possess in the Scriptures is equally as authoritative. We even now, with surety can read His Word with as much confidence as if He were here speaking audibly the same words to us.  
Food For Thought: Which holds more authority, God speaking to us with a voice from heaven or God speaking to us through the pages of the Bible?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

2 Peter 1:15-18

Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

Example 1: Did you hear about the guy who had his head explode because he went in a centrifuge too long? I heard that he was trying to set a world record for longest time in a centrifuge, and his head literally popped like a tomato. I think it was because he was spinning really fast, all of his blood rushed to his head, and because of the pressure, well….splat!! That is pretty gross.
Example 2: Did I ever tell you about the time that I went to Kennedy Space Center and rode in a centrifuge? After about 30 or 40 seconds, I could feel the force of gravity increasing and I felt like I weighed as much as an elephant. It started getting hard to breath without grunting, and I felt the skin on my face start to sag. I will never forget, after I was done, I felt really dizzy.
What was the difference between the two examples I just gave you? Of course, one was a bit more graphic and gross, but beyond that, what was the big difference? I hope you noticed the big difference was that one of the examples was “hear-say,” and pretty unbelievable “hear-say” at that. The second one was a personal experience, from my life, and it was loaded with facts, and even at times it was a bit embarrassing for me. This difference, hear-say vs. personal experience, is what Peter points out in reference to his personal faith in Jesus. It isn’t good enough for Peter to have heard it through the grape vine and hoped for the best. Peter had personally experienced the things that he taught about Jesus. So what about us? Well, Peter and other gospel writers wrote those specific accounts down, so that two-thousand years later, we have the perfectly preserved account of the very things that we can believe. We don’t have to believe in Jesus like we believe in Santa, Jesus was real, and all He taught was real, and what He did - die for our sins, was absolutely real. And we can believe that.
Food For Thought: What could Peter be assured of what he believed? How can we believe the things that Peter tells us about Jesus?

Monday, November 12, 2012

2 Peter 1:10-14

Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.

Any trained parachutist has a rigorous routine he goes through before every jump. The canopy of the parachute is critically inspected for split seams, frayed edges, holes, tears, or signs of excessive wear. The chords attaching the canopy to the brace are each checked thoroughly, inspected with a very discerning eye, searching for weakness or tattered threads. After repacking the parachute into the bag, the parachutist double-checks his harnesses and all the joints of the harness to ensure that everything is intact. Finally, confident that all things are as they should be, he mounts the stairs into the airplane that he will jump out of, and in a few moments, with confidence and security, he soars through the air exploiting physics and enjoying every second of it. In verse 10, Peter tells his followers to double-check their spiritual parachute. He tells them to look inside and out, to critically inspect with a discerning eye the surety of their faith. Even as he says this, he leaves the presumption that there will be some way to check the “spiritual parachute.” He almost implies that there will be tangible ways to see the saving faith that dwells inside each believer. Faith itself is not something we do, therefore it cannot truly be quantified. By God’s grace through faith, we are saved, so then what could Peter possibly be alluding to when he, like Paul in Philippians 2:12-13, says “work out your own salvation…For it is God which worketh in you.” He is not advocating that anything besides faith alone saves you. He is just advocating that if you are saved, time will reveal that that faith didn’t remain alone for very long. So, he says, “inspect your spiritual parachute. Check every cord, the canopy, the harness, and see if there is anything lacking.” Know that without a doubt, God’s grace alone saves through faith, but know also that visible assurance and eternal confidence comes through the ability to see the hands-on working of God’s grace in your life.
Food for Thought: What is the only way for us to be saved? How can we find assurance of the saving work of God’s grace?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Weekend Nugget:

1 Thessalonians 4:7 says “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.” After God calls us to salvation and to union in the body of Christ, He further calls us to holiness. This means that He desires us to be His children first, but then He desires us to act like His children. It is not fully answering the call of God for us to say we put our faith in the work of Jesus. Rather, answering the call of God, goes beyond the saving work of justification through faith in Christ, to the life-long saving work of sanctification through obedience and personal holiness. 1 Peter 1:15-16 speaks of God’s desire in our lives this way, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [lifestyle]; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” God desires that we, like Him, be holy. He is our Father, and we are His children. If that is the case, we should act like it. The danger with encouraging you to just “be holy” is that it doesn’t fully address the possibility of holiness. If we see holiness as something that we do, we miss the full scope of holiness. Paul says in Philippians 2:13 that it is “God which works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” God tells us to “do,” and follows it up with “and I will do it through you,” and then He follows that up with one more “do.” To understand personal holiness, you must see it in this spectrum. God, us, God, us, God. He is the only One Who can accomplish, but we must “do,” so that He will accomplish in us. Human responsibility rests in the hands of Divine Purpose. Charles Spurgeon said it this way, “we work out while God works in.”  God shapes our will (our desires) after His. We then desire His way. God then “leads us in the paths of righteousness,” and we take every step of the journey with strength from Him. We can be holy, only because He can make us holy. This is not “letting go, and letting God.” This is “letting go, and obeying God.” Passive, active, not passive, passive. And when we trust Him, holiness can happen. When we rest in him, obedience can happen.
Food For Thought: How can we be holy?

Friday, November 9, 2012

2 Peter 1: 5-9

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 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. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

Your relationship with God starts with an assured faith in the accomplished work of Christ on your behalf. But your relationship doesn’t end there. Saying that your Christian life consists of only your conversion and nothing thereafter is tantamount to saying that human life consists of birth and nothing thereafter. This just isn’t the case with either. Just as you are born and then you grow and develop. In human life, after birth, before long, your diet changes, your vocabulary changes, your actions change, your understanding changes, your desires change, your efforts change, and you continue to change until the day your human life ends. The Christian life isn’t much different. From the day of your spiritual birth into God’s family, His Divine nature begins to dominate your sinful nature. Through daily faith and constant obedience, your vocabulary, actions, desires and understanding all change. If you are a growing Christian, your ignorance becomes knowledge, your vile living becomes virtue, your anxiety becomes patience, your selfishness becomes love for others, and day after day, week after week, month after month, you grow and conform more and more into the image of Jesus Christ. And if you don’t grow, something is wrong. If you view your conversion as something that happened to you one time and now you go back to living the way you did before, you are in some serious need for re-evaluation. Christians grow, and if you are not growing, you need to look at verse 8-9 and see the admonition Peter gives. Paul says in Colossians 3:1, if you have been converted, “seek those things which are above.” Seeking doesn’t happen on its own. It takes work. It takes, according to 2 Peter 1:5, “all diligence.”  It won’t be simple, but it will be healthy. Ironically, in human life, the lazy and unhealthy are often the most unhappy and dissatisfied. Similarly, in Christian life, it is the lazy and non-growing who are most frustrated and live in shame and guilt. Free yourself from the bonds of Christian complacency and grow in Christ “with all diligence.”
Food For Thought: Both the lazy and the hard-working experience pleasure. What is the difference between the types of pleasure that they enjoy?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

2 Peter 1:1-4

Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 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: 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.

Divine promises are an area of great controversy in modern churches today. A great number of preachers across America are trading their theology out for a new set of teachings that minimize the call to personal holiness and virtue, and over-emphasize the Divine promises (promises of God) that deal especially with health, fortune, and overall success. The “gospel” (good news) that they preach is not the gospel that Jesus desires that ministers and pastors should faithfully proclaim. Rather, these “Prosperity Gospel” teachers purport that the greatest news of the Bible isn’t that Jesus saves us from our sins, but that Jesus saves us from our problems. When we read today’s text, Peter mentions “exceeding great and precious promises of God,” but in context, those great and precious promises of God aren’t the ones that deal with health and prosperity, they are promises that deal with escaping the corruption of this world that is brought about through the lusts and sinful desires of greedy and vile people. Furthermore, in the beginning of the passage, Peter plays out what the true gospel is. He doesn’t present a set of promises about getting wealthy using a secret formula of prayers and attitudes, but rather he shows that “grace and peace” have been multiplied through God’s Divine power to declare us righteous because of the work of Jesus. The God who saves has given us power now to live in a way that helps us draw closer to him in godliness and holiness. The measure of our blessing from God is not the size of our bank account, but the amount of grace and peace that He gives us. In true understanding of the blessings of God, it is not good enough to say that the people of God don’t have health or money problems. Instead, we should say that the people of God that truly live in the blessing of God have grace and peace from God, even in the midst of financial or physical problems. The gauge of the gospel is not determined by the needle of the temporal, but by the scale of the eternal.
Food For Thought: What are the promises that Peter says we should be excited about? What is wrong with “prosperity gospel” promises?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

1 Peter 5:12-14

By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand. The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son. Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.

In Romans 5, Paul writes, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” According to Paul, we see that because of Jesus’s work, we have access to the grace of God. By birth and by deed we are dually convicted as sinners. As sinners, the wrath of God is the only just payment we should receive. But “God sent forth His Son…to redeem” all of mankind. A black and white, just and holy God extended His favor to us through the accomplishing life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Only by Jesus’s work, and not by any of our work, we find grace poured out on us instead of wrath. Where once we stood condemned, now because of Jesus’s atoning work we stand forgiven and bathed in the grace of the Almighty. We are established in God’s grace by Christ’s sacrificial work. Both in Romans 5, and in 1 Peter 5, the phrase “the grace wherein you stand,” is used to confirm to us that we are set securely in God’s grace. And as such, there is a certain heart and mind attitude that we can have regarding life and the circumstances of life. According to this text, it is not just a grace that we have and acknowledge, rather it is a grace by which we stand. It is not sufficient that we “have grace.” We are rather to stand in grace. This means that in every situation, we are to look to God and receive from Him the grace He offers to us. Instead of posers who spout off religious words, as God-loving grace-filled followers of Jesus, we are to find daily grace in the hands of God. That whether finances are tight at home, or relationships are unraveling, or stress and pressure and uncertainty have your soul in knots, God’s grace that saved you will be sufficient for you to rest in through the troubles of life. Now, lean on the God who saved you.
Food For Thought: What does it mean to “stand in grace”? Give an area of life where you could better “stand in grace.”

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

1 Peter 5:8-9

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

Since the beginning of mankind, one has sought to undermine and destroy the glorious work of God. History has given Him many titles, “the Deceiver,” “Old Slewfoot,” “the Devil.” His myriad of titles all seemingly leave those who utter them with a sense of darkness and evil that is intrinsic to the one who holds the titles. His titles all give an indication as to the goal of the devil. He seeks not to build, but to destroy. He does not desire to help, but to hurt. His heart is one of rebellion. His mind is one of deception. His actions drip with subversion and sabotage. Any thing of his that seems like light ends in darkness. All promises he makes are hollow and misleading. Here in 1 Peter 5, God tells us of the devil’s ultimate purpose in dealing with believers: “as a roaring lion, [he is] seeking whom he may devour.” Being devoured by a lion is not something that you recover from. National Geographic sometimes plays the “lion vs. gazelle” clip (as a hint, the gazelle loses). At the end of the clip, the gazelle doesn’t go prancing off into the sunset. Rather, it’s carcass lies in the middle of the savannah reeking of destruction and decimation. This is the devil’s end game for us. He does not offer us pleasure in sin for our own good, but rather because he knows in the end we will be battered and gutted spiritually. God knows this, and issues this warning. Just as it is not wise for the gazelle to hang out near the lion’s den, we should wisely guard our hearts and minds from the destruction pits that Satan often uses to maim God’s Kingdom builders. God goes one step further and tells us how to resist this devastating force: “faith.” Our only hope in the face of an adversary is not our reasoning power (for that was what failed Eve), but rather it is a surrendered reliance on the only One who can help, and Who has eternally already defeated this subverter.
Food For Thought: Read James 4:7. What two steps does James give to us regarding overcoming our foe?

Monday, November 5, 2012

1 Peter 5:10-11

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus tells a story about a couple different people. The first is a man who built his house on a big rock. The second is a man who built his house on the sand. After building their respective houses, a hurricane rolled in and “beat upon” the house. Driving rain, severe flooding, and heavy winds all relentlessly pounded on the houses. As the storm cleared, the damage left in its wake was startling. While the house that was founded on the rock still stood strong, the house that had been built in the sand had been devastated. Pillars had been toppled, the roof was missing, everything inside of the house including the owner had perished. So what made the difference? It was, according to verse 25, that “it was founded upon a rock.” The word here literally meaning that it had a solid foundation. It was settled and secure. It was firmly established on something that was immovable and unshakeable. It was fixed and fastened to something that would not be affected by passing tides or fleeting droplets of rain. Wind could not unsettle this house, for it was resting secured to the rock. 1 Peter 5:10 tells us of a rock that we can fasten ourselves to that will be able to “establish, strengthen, and settle(same word as “founded” Mt. 7:25)” us. That Rock according to Peter is our great and powerful God. No passing storm can shake Him. No amount of circumstance can catch Him off guard. No heart-aching tragedy can unsettle Him. No, rather, when we are affixed to Him and trusting fully in Him, the storms of life and the problems we face only tend to strengthen our trust and reliance in Him. He is a Rock that we can be settled on. Heartache and tragedy cannot unsettle us, rather they only serve to further fasten our trust and hope in Him.
Food For Thought: What word that Matthew uses as “founded” is used in 1 Peter 5? What are we “founded” on that makes us secure through trials and testings?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Weekend Nugget

Colossians 3:2 says “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
So what is an “affection,” and how do we “set” it? “Set” means “to cause to sit, put in some place, fix firmly,” and has the idea of attaching something securely to an object. “Affection,” now that word is a little bit more tricky than what we think at face value. Often, we hear of someone having affection for someone else, and we think of ooey-gooey passionate feelings. Affection although used in this context often, is not truly understanding the meaning of the word “affection.” “Affection” has, at it’s root, the word “affect.” This means “to cause an effect, to make a change.” “Affections” are thence the things that cause us to do something or be a certain way. It has a little to do with our emotions, but not fully. Rather it deals very much with the broader scope of the things that “affect” our decisions and our actions. Although this can be our emotions, many times the things that truly affect us are the facts. The reason I don’t jump off of skyscrapers isn’t really because of my emotions, rather it is because I know the fact of gravity will mean that when I jump, I will splatter on the ground below. The thing that affects my decision to not jump, isn’t as much my emotions as the facts. So how then do we “set our affections on things above?” We can do this by “fixing securely” our minds and our hearts on the deep things of heaven (the “above”) and of our God, and allowing those facts to determine our attitudes and our actions in life. It is to set our minds in such a way that what truly affects us is the truth of “above”, and not just the circumstantial transience that we interact with on a daily basis around us. Ultimately, we set our affections when we intentionally view God, not circumstances or emotions, as our guide and strength, and that in any situation He is in control, meaning that in those circumstances we will react in a mindset of trust and reliance on Him.
Food For Thought: What does “set your affections on things above mean?” How can we do this?

1 Peter 5:5-7

Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Some people view God as aloof and uninvolved in the affairs of men. They see the earth as a spinning top that God set in motion thousands of years ago, and then walked away from. They view God as impotent (powerless) and as incapable of intervening with the world we live in. But this view is not the view that Scripture gives. As a matter of fact, in today’s text, Peter typifies a very active God. God knows that those who are prideful do so to their own detriment and to the detriment of others; and according to verse 5, He intervenes. So then , God, Who is not aloof, but rather intimately involved in the afairs of all men, lovingly and powerfully resists the prideful. With force, with strength, with His Divine might He resists the proud. It isn’t good enough to acknowledge the prideful and condescendingly say “Pride is wrong.” No, God Who works in the lives of men, sees and acts in all things earthly. Here He resists the proud, but Peter continues with “but He giveth grace to the humble.” So if God is acting on and interacting with mankind, would you prefer that He be actively resisting you or pouring out His grace on you? This is why Peter goes on to give the advice, “Humble yourselves.” That is the wise thing to do. The mighty hand of God is not weak, so humble yourself under it, or have it humble you. If we stop there though, our theology paints God almost as a Cosmic kill-joy, and He is not. So as we read on, He is the one Who exalts. He doesn’t want you to not be proud because you should live in a monastic life of obscurity, no, He desires that you rely on Him and humble yourself under His hand so that with that same hand He can exalt you. Exaltation from God is far greater than self-exaltation, but too often we lose sight of this and seek our own praise. Don’t. He will lift you up in due time. You don’t have to lift up yourself.
Food For Thought: In what ways does God lift us up? Give at least one temporal example and one eternal example.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

1 Peter 5:1-4

The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Whether you know it or not, someone looks up to you. If you have younger siblings, it’s probably them. If you are the youngest or an only child, there are plenty of those around you, both older and especially younger, who see you as a role model. They acquire your words as their own thoughts. Your implications become their inferences. Your attitude affects their actions. Your actions become the very template by which they live their lives. Whether or not you want to, you are leading others in some capacity or another. So, knowing that others follow you, what should be your reaction? How should you live? Well, Peter addresses that very point in today’s text. Understanding that he himself was a leader of others admonished others that they too should strive to lead well. A few of the points he gave were: don’t lord over others as if you are an emperor and they are your slaves, rather, become an ensample (meaning “example in life and deed”) to those who follow you for how they should live. He goes on to explain that the heart that leads well doesn’t do so simply from duty or obligation. He says that instead of duty, you as a leader should actually want or personally desire to lead well. You should have it as your own personal will to see them grow in the Truth. He says, furthermore, not that you are trying to earn anything out of it, but rather that you are of a “ready mind.” The idea of a “ready mind” is simply the concept that you are eager and jumping at every possible opportunity to lead others towards Jesus. This is what you have been given favor from God for, not so that you can serve yourself, but rather that through the influence that you have, you can serve God and serve others. Now, take your little brother towards Jesus. Grab that classmate and point them towards godliness. Live it out, so that they will have the opportunity to grow in God.
Food For Thought: According to 1 Peter 5:1-4, in what ways are we supposed to lead others well? Give two examples of how not to lead others.