Looking to Jesus & Looking Forward to His Return When it Comes to Needing Truth

October 13, 2020 

2 Peter 1:12-21 (Reprint from May 2013)  What do you believe about Jesus and His place in your life and our church? Are there things that challenge that faith or lead you to live in ways that don’t fit what we say we believe? Sometimes, in the face of those things, we need the truth of Jesus in a clear way, and that is where Peter goes.

 

Sometimes, we need to be reminded (vv. 12-15) of things like the basic truths of our faith, the implications of our faith, the call and means of living out that faith, and the right way of seeing things. We need reminding because of false teachings, biases, tiredness, distraction, discouragement, etc. that can get our thinking off track. One thing Peter reminds us of is the faithfulness of the   account of Jesus, specifically in this instance, of what we call the Transfiguration (vv. 16-18). Jesus took Peter, James, and John up a mountain. There, His glory was revealed, God spoke, and Moses and Elijah (the representatives of the Old Testament Law and Prophets) showed up. If this is who Jesus is, surrender and obedience are the only acceptable options. But, as great as personal experience might be, it is not the final authority…Peter goes back to the truthfulness of the Scriptures (vv. 19-21). Of the possible sources of authority in our lives and the possible sources of knowledge about God, faith, and life, the Word of God is a light shining so that, as you receive it, the fullness of Jesus might shine more brightly in you.

 

Jesus deserves to be Lord of everything in your life and our church. There are so many ideas that might detour us from the truth and from living in it, but we need to stay grounded in the truth and closely walking with Jesus.

 



Looking to Jesus & Looking Forward to His Return Everything Needed for Life and Godliness C

October 06, 2020

2 Peter 1:8-11 (Reprint from May, 2013)  What is Christian faith supposed to do in our lives? God wants us to partake in His likeness and escape corruption, and these verses tell us what happens as we avail ourselves of His power to grow in Christ.

 

In vv. 8-9, Peter explains that we either will have a productive walk with Christ or be on a spiritual detour. Kenneth Wuest explains that the possession of the virtues mentioned earlier is expected in the Christian’s life and suggests that the person who does not have these virtues may be a Christian who has lost sight of his or her new position in Jesus and wandered from a close walk with Him. In John 15, Jesus said that it is to the Father’s glory that you and I bear much fruit, showing ourselves to be Jesus’ disciples. So, do we really desire to be fruitful and productive in our knowledge of Jesus? Continuing in vv. 10-11,  we are reminded that our desire is supposed to match God’s heart so that we grow in Jesus. Further, this kind of growth builds into our lives a guarding of our well-being and helps us participate in God’s Kingdom reign in our lives and beyond.

 

So, let’s pull it all together. If you want to see changed people and effective churches, these last two verses say that you can have God’s reign,    be kept from stumbling, and be made effective and fruitful. Going back into the first 11 verses of 2 Peter farther, we find that this happens if we are full of the Christian virtues that enable us to not be corrupt and to partake in His nature. Finally, this happens through experientially knowing Jesus so that God’s power gets to operate in us. Avail yourself of the resources God’s power has provided you in Jesus to become what God has saved you to be.

 



Looking to Jesus & Looking Forward to His Return – Everything Needed for Life and Godliness B

September 29, 2020

2 Peter 1:5-7 (Reprint from April, 2013)  What is Christian faith supposed to do in our lives? God wants us to partake in His likeness and escape corruption, but we might wonder what our part is in putting God’s power to work in our lives for life and Godliness.

Verse 5 refers back to what precedes it. In other words, because grace and peace can overflow in our lives as we cultivate our walk with Jesus; because God wants us to be molded into His likeness and escape the corruption that comes through destructive desires; and because knowing Jesus allows the power and resources God has given us to accomplish this to work in our lives, grow in these Christian virtues. Commentator Kenneth Wuest explains that this call to develop the virtues listed involves adding them one to another in a supporting way and abundantly. Out of response to who God is and what Jesus has done, draw down into Jesus’ power in a personal walk with Him, consciously choosing the Spirit life, consciously choosing against sin, consciously relying on Him, consciously obeying Him in His strength and consciously surrendering to His Lordship.

Take another look at this list. Which of these attributes is / are strong in your life? Which is / are weak or missing? The world does not value these things, and, truthfully, we may fear that if we are this kind of person, we will get run over. We may not sense much motivation to grow in these characteristics. However, we are called to this growth if we belong to God through Jesus. You have a part to play in moving from where you are to where God wants you to be as a Christian person who walks with Jesus and lives in Godliness through His power.



Everything Needed for Life and Godliness

September 22, 2020

2 Peter 1:1-4 (Reprint from April 2013)  What do you think Christian faith is supposed to do in our lives, and what should our mindset be between now and heaven? Some don’t figure it does much besides get us into heaven someday, while others figure it should change life here and now. Second Peter is all about looking to Jesus now and looking forward to His return.

Let’s begin by backing off and taking a broad view of these verses. First, Christian faith is so very precious and only is found in Jesus. Additionally, there is an abundance of God’s grace available for daily life, and this grace leads to peace. Both of these, however, come through an experiential knowledge of God in Jesus. To those who might wonder how this plays out, we are told that God’s power has given us everything needed to confess God and live it out and everything needed to allow the new life of Jesus that is in the Christian to be fleshed out. This power is set in motion by the experiential knowledge of Jesus, who called us by His own glory and goodness and gave us, through this glory and goodness, great promises that allow us to do two things. The power of God working in our lives allows us to participate in God’s nature, and it enables us to run away from the corruption that comes when un-Godly desires have their way in our lives. In other words, we don’t have to give in to sin and find its destruction in our lives.

 One warning from these verses is to make sure we don’t trade Jesus for just doing church. Neither church detached from Jesus nor Bible knowledge without a personal walk with Christ will cut it. God wants us transformed by the knowledge of Jesus, and He has given us the power to grow in the abundant grace and peace of walking in Him.



What do I do in the Meantime? – Live Out the Gospel

September 15, 2020

1 Peter 5:1-14  It has been said the Christian is a citizen of two realms – the Kingdom of God and the world. We have already mentioned many things that are to characterize our lives between when we came to Christ and when He returns. I believe a good summary of this last chapter is, “Live out the Gospel in your church and the world.” Here are some specifics in Peter’s mind.

  • Support Your Pastor – This support can come in the form of prayer, cooperation, and encouragement. Prayer can be for the sense of calling and responsibility, the spirit to stay strong, strength of endurance and positive attitude, a life that reflects Christ, and for unity and cooperation with the pastor’s leadership.
  • Walk Humbly – We are called to humility in relationship to God and each other, which comes from a Godly way of seeing self and others and leads to cooperation and service. Humility or lack of it has a lot to do with whether or not we cooperate with God’s purposes and see Him bless. This humility has everything to do with trusting and resting in God.
  • Stand Firm in the Faith – This stance is one of readiness and involves an attitude and position of resistance to the devil and his schemes, as well as camaraderie with other Christians so we are mutually supported in faithfulness.
  • Hope in God – This is victory-expectant life is available because God will step in decisively in His time and bring relief by the work of His grace.

There is an offer and call to live in the groundedness of Jesus found in His promise and power as we live in partnership with Him as a part of His people – a people with a great gift and a high purpose.



What do I do in the Meantime? – Live Out the Gospel

September 08, 2020

1 Peter 5:1-14 (Reprint from June 2010)  Peter calls us, basically, to live out the Gospel in the church and in the world, and he begins his instructions by addressing pastors. However, these words imply a call to support and encourage pastors through prayer and partnership in the church. Pray for your pastor’s sense of calling and responsibility, as well as his desire to share in Jesus’ glory, as well as that his life will bear the imprint of  Jesus. You see, the word translated “example” is really the word for the imprint a tool or embosser would leave on an object. Finally, we need to pull together as a partnering team.

 

Additionally, we are called to walk humbly. This is a God-dependent life that results in humility toward each other and    toward God, a lifestyle that frees God to support instead of opposing us. Then, we are encouraged to stand firm in the faith. This is a devil-resistant life that requires readiness, awareness, and intentional resistance to the enemy that is grounded in faith in Jesus. Finally, we are encouraged to place our hope in God. This is a victory-expectant life. We are reminded that our suffering is temporary and that God will intervene and that He will shape us toward His will for us.

 

Those in Jesus have God’s offer and call to live in the  grounded-ness of Jesus found in His promise and power as we live in partnership with Him as a part of His people – a people with a great gift and a high purpose.

 



What do I do in the Meantime? –  Be a Good Steward of Jesus’ Name

September 01, 2020

1 Peter 4:12-19 (Reprint from June 2010)  When we come to Christ, our identity gets changed, and we are called to live it well. Here, Peter tells us how to live out our identity well even in times of suffering.

 

Sometimes, we are surprised when suffering comes our way. We figure being a Christian means God will keep us from difficulty. Other times, we figure suffering means God is punishing us or that we are outside of His will. It can mean these things, but it doesn’t have to. Much suffering happens simply because of sin in the world. Another cause of suffering is our own behavior.    Either our behavior directly leads to suffering, or we respond to suffering with poor choices that set more destructive patterns in motion. Additionally, some suffering is God’s discipline. Finally, some suffering comes about because    people respond poorly to the presence and work of Jesus in our lives.

 

The first part of living out our identity well is making sure “Christian” is more than a label for us. Peter references God’s glory on us when we participate in Jesus’ sufferings – suffering that comes as we work to further God’s Kingdom purposes. He also tells us to make sure we are not living in ways that deserve suffering. Some Christians suffer not because they are being Godly, but because they are jerks, sometimes even using Jesus as an excuse for their behavior.

 

The second part of being a good steward of Jesus’ name involves responding well when His name gets you treated poorly. To do this, we need to understand the refining and redeeming work of God that He can do in our lives through suffering. Not only that, but the positive, God-honoring way to get through it is to entrust ourselves to God and continue to do the right thing.   When we suffer, a good question is, “How can God’s glory and Kingdom be increased in this and my response to it?”

 



What do I do in the Meantime? – Be a Good Steward of God’s Grace

August 25, 2020

1 Peter 4:7-11 (Reprint from June 2010)  Recently, we celebrated Memorial Day, and as I think about what it means to be a military person, I think about individuals who exude “military.” They have a privilege and responsibility, and they wear their identity well.  Those who are in Jesus have a new identity, and Peter calls us to wear it well – to be good stewards of the grace of God poured into our lives through Jesus. But, how do we do this?

 

First, Peter tells us, effectively, to nurture and maintain our connection with the Lord in prayer. He says that we are to be sober minded. Distraction, flippancy, and mental clutter all work against our connection with the Lord, so these things must be dealt with. Second, he tells us to love one another deeply. Occasionally, we sin against one another, and love frees us to extend grace to one another so that we can maintain unity and continue moving forward together in Jesus. Third, we are told to extend hospitality to one another without grumbling. Scholars suggest this might have been a reference to traveling missionaries in a day with very limited accommodations for travelers.   If so, the principle is that you and I need to provide for one another whatever is needed to further our effectiveness in Jesus and to do so gladly. Finally, we are told to serve one another according to our individual areas of gifting.

 

In Peter’s follow-up thoughts, we are reminded that Jesus is the source for our ability to serve and that the glory of God is to be our motivation for serving. Yet, how often do we try to serve God for selfish motives and in our own strength instead of His? As you think about these aspects of living for Jesus, is the goodness of God flowing through you to those around you in these ways?

 



What do I do in the Meantime? – Live Under the Lordship of Jesus

August 18, 2020

1 Peter 3:18-4:6 (Reprint from June 2010)  Last week, we discovered that, when Jesus is Lord, you don’t have to get thrown by life, because confidence, stability, and consistency is found in Jesus. There is freedom to live in victory and honor God with our lives. Setting Jesus as Lord means actively keeping every aspect of life in total submission to Him – living each moment in dependence on Jesus.

 

Verses 18-22 basically tell us that God being glorified and us being well-grounded results from Jesus being Lord in our hearts, because of His redeeming victory. First, we find that Jesus’ redeeming work has everything to do with moving from the flesh to the Spirit. The suggestion here is not that we, like Jesus, are paying for sin as we suffer but that     Jesus, like us, has suffered unjustly. However, our power for life is found not in our flesh but in God’s Holy Spirit. We are called to die to sin and live by God’s Spirit. This working of Jesus’ resurrection power that made you new at salvation and that you have demonstrated through baptism is also available for daily life. The way to live in that power is through keeping   Jesus Lord in your heart.

 

This begs the question, “How do we set ourselves in a place where the Lordship of Jesus is consistently enlivening us with the power of Jesus?” We are told in chapter 4, verses 1-6. We do so by making a fundamental and continuing decision to place ourselves in a position of guardedness, living out our submission to the Lordship of Jesus even if it means suffering. We also take God’s attitude toward sinful compromise. It dishonors God and destroys us and others, and we do not need to indulge in it.

 



What do I do in the Meantime? – Live Under Jesus’ Lordship

August 11, 2020

 
1 Peter 3:13-17 (Reprint from May 2010)  In verses 8-12, we find a transition from Peter’s instructions on how to show God’s goodness in life’s settings and the means of walking in God’s favor. Then, he basically says, “If this is the way you live life, more than likely, you will get along OK, but, if not, you still don’t have to get thrown by life.”

 

What gets you off track in your well-being and spiritual walk – the threats and abuse of those who are made uncomfortable by Jesus in you, family members who undercut you and treat you poorly, the uncertainty of various life challenges, your own personality issues or a powerful area of temptation? True confidence, stability, and consistency are found in the Lordship of Jesus. Something or someone will be on the throne of your life, and Peter says here that the Christian’s call is to make sure your defining priority and reality is Jesus Christ. Jesus reigning in your heart will produce something different that will get noticed, and when you speak of Him, as you will have the opportunity to do, a gentle spirit and reverence of God is to characterize what you say.

 

So, what does it mean for Jesus to be Lord in your heart? Walk through each area of your life and look at how things would function if that area truly were surrendered to Jesus. When others look at you, what do they see – Jesus’ glory or your flesh? It should not depend on whether life is good or bad or circumstances are favorable or not. What they need to see is the glory of God demonstrated as every part of life is lived in the power of Jesus. When Jesus is Lord, there is freedom to honor God and live in victory, regardless of other people and life circumstances.