2 Peter

Be on guard and keep growing

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2 Peter 3

17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

 

There is a contrast here between verses 17 and 18.  In 17 Peter teaches that we can fall from our own steadfastness being led away with the error of the wicked.  Satan is and always will be the master deceiver.  He will try to deceive the elect of God and draw them away from God’s fullness for their lives.  Since we know this, we must ever be on guard, a military term, against Satan’s deceptive ways.

How do we remain on guard against these deceptions?  That is the contrast in verse 18.  As we are ever growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we will ever be aware of His truth verses Satan’s lies. There is no place in the Christian life for plateaus.  We must never level off and just coast in what we already know.  We must never revel long in past victories without remaining steadfast in our guard.

Never forget this, Satan hates you and only desires your destruction. Nothing of this world, your flesh, or the devil will bring you lasting good.  Everything about sin is a hook to get you to be drawn away from God’s peace and joy in His presence.  So, keep growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Why? Because to Him alone is the glory both now and forever.  Everything done in and for Jesus Christ is eternal, everything!  We will never regret growth in Him and deeds done for Him.  Stay in His truth and ever be on guard against the lies and deceptive ways of the enemies of your soul.

 

Sandra requested prayer for finding an apartment.  It is not going as she thought it would and this has brought her a level of distress.  Give her a call and let her know that she is exactly where God wants here and speak some peace into her soul.

Nancy is home but the healing from the surgery is painful.  She too could use some loving help. 

Men, we have our monthly prayer breakfast at Denny’s this Saturday morning at 7:30.  Join us. 

Josh and Barb Hedges will be with us this Sunday.  Come ready to be a blessing.  We asked for gift cards in $5 – $10 increments to fun places to give to the girls. If you bring these Sunday give them to Michelle.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

Be diligent in this life preparing to see your Lord

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2 Peter

14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;

As we anticipate the day when we will be with the Lord, and what an amazing day that will be, we should be looking forward to seeing Him.  Jesus addressed a crowd and said that there would be those who would call Him Lord but they would be people that He did not know.  I have been very careful not to give anyone a false hope that they will be with Jesus because of something they said or did.  We should be anticipating the return of Christ because we have been saved from sin by Him.  And those of us who know Christ, walk with Him, enjoy Him, grow in our relationship with Him, truly are looking forward to being with Him.

But Peter makes what sounds like a strange directive to us.  He tells us to be diligent so we will be found by Christ in peace, without spot and blameless.  When we see Christ there will be a judgment of our lives lived for Him.  (I will be speaking on that very judgment this Sunday from 2 Corinthians 5.)  We need to diligently live for Him now.  God has given each of us unique abilities that He wants us to use for Him in this life.  Be diligent to use those things for Him.  Last Sunday, as we gave testimony to what Sandra meant to us, it was made clear that she had the ability to show love to us and she did just that.  What are you diligently using for Christ?

“found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.”  I want to see my Lord.  I want Him to be glad to see me because I have kept myself in His peace.  As I live in peace with my Lord I am living faithful to Him.  I long to see the One who gave His life for me.  I want Him to know that I have lived without spot and blameless in this world.  No, this is not perfection but it is a daily striving, daily battling against this world and my own flesh to end each day at peace with my Jesus.  Thus when He comes may He see each of us diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.

Many many thanks to all who helped us load up the truck for Sandra on Sunday.  We pulled out Monday morning and got into Murfreesboro around 6:30.  It is always a great day when God’s people gather together to help each other. 

This Sunday we are looking forward to having the Josh Hedges family with us.  Be in prayer for Sunday that God will use this family to be a blessing to us all and for us to be a blessing to them.

Caleb and Lindsey are driving all day.  Join us in prayer for their safety.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

In light of heaven, how do we live today?

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2 Peter 3

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Peter, led by the Holy Spirit of God, tells us of a coming day when God will destroy this earth and will create a new one in righteousness where sin will never enter.  We who know the Lord and love His word look forward to this great and coming day.  (As an aside, I am not an environmentalist because all that they are trying to save God is going to destroy in a moment since it is all tainted by sin.)

But Peter’s emphasis is not on God’s coming destruction and renewal but on how this revelation affects our lives today.  So he asks, “what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?”  Since we now have a right perspective of this earth and of its stuff, how should we live?  Well, first he tells us that we should live holy and godly lives, which lives are above this tainted world.  A friend of mine worked for Mercedes.  They have him a brand new SUV that was going to be crushed at 50,000 miles.  The knowledge that this beautiful and expensive car was going to be crushed kept my friend from getting attached to it.  In fact he named it “crusher.”  Peter wants us to know that this world is going to be crushed and wants us to have a right perspective of it.  We are to live above its lusts, its pleasures, its enticements, its ways, and its calls.  It is slated for destruction.

In fact, he goes on to tell us that we are going to (absolute fact of the future) live with God in His new place for us and calls us to look for that place instead of looking for this one.  Where do our hearts long for?  Oh my friends, I hope and pray that your hearts long for heaven and that the calls of this world will ever pale in your ears as you have heard the call of God to you for His home. Live in anticipation, with holy conduct and godliness, of God’s eternal home for you.  When this world is but a shadow of your memory you will be eternally glad that your gaze and your grip was on heaven.

Nancy’s surgery went well, thanks to God for that.  As expected, she is quite uncomfortable.  Do keep her in your prayers and feel free to call her.  If she doesn’t answer, send her a text or leave a message.  Thanks to those who sent her cards. I was with her when a hospital mailman brought her a card from a church family.  It was very special to her. 

Tomorrow we are having a work day at the church from 9:00 – 3:00.   Any of you who can come for any amount of time, please do.  Spring cleaning is a big deal and there is much to be done. 

After church on Sunday we will be loading a moving truck for Sandra Smith.  I am heading this up.  If you can help for an hour or two please bring clothes to change into and stay to help.  Sandra lives very close to the church.  She is leaving on Monday so if you can bring her a card on Sunday it will be our last good-bye to her. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Longsuffering leading to salvation

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2 Peter 3

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

 

As we have been studying the Fruit of the Spirit on Sunday mornings I have come to understand the gift of longsuffering in a new light and this verse makes that light bright.  When we think of being longsuffering we think of putting up with an annoying person who is just hard to live with.  Our “putting up with” has a time limit, a patience limit, and emotional limit and a love limit.   We put up with that annoyance just as long as we have to and then either blow up or quit or breath a huge sigh of relief when the time comes to an end.

 

God’s longsuffering is so much different from our longsuffering, and I am so glad it is. For while we might practice longsuffering when we have to, God is longsuffering. God is longsuffering with humans because He wants to eternally save them from their sins. And since God’s longsuffering leads to our eternal life we have a different example to follow. God does not put up with sinners to give them a chance, no, God shows patient longsuffering with a desire to save them from eternal damnation.

 

Suppose you knew that the person you have to put up with was put in your path by God to show them His love, His kindness, His gentleness, His patience, in essence, His salvation. And suppose that most difficult person whom you can’t wait to get away from saw God in you and was drawn by God to eternal salvation because of your longsuffering toward them. Would your care for that difficult one have been worth it all? Of course it would. Furthermore, you would have gained an eternal brother or sister who would forever thank you for showing them the longsuffering of God.

 

Whom does God have in your path that He wants to show His longsuffering leading to salvation through you?

 

I heard a woman on the radio this morning saying that she is showing God to those around her through kindness. She feels that in this current political climate the missing element is kindness so when she shows it people will truly see God in her.   What a great way to look at life.

 

Nancy Schmidt’s surgery got postponed again so she is now scheduled for 1:00 on Wednesday.

 

I am going to need some help this Sunday after church loading a truck for Sandra Smith. She is getting everything ready and is on the first floor so I think with enough people we could load the truck in two to three hours. If you have teenagers they are a great help too.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

We need to be reminded

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2 Peter 3 (NKJV)

1 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you 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 Savior,

2 Peter 3 (ESV)

1 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles,

(The two translations simply serve as a comparison, read them and see what differences you notice.)

I find it interesting that Peter, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, knew the great value of the writings of the Old Testament prophets and the words of Jesus, which he was writing about.  He knew that both were necessary for the stirring up of their minds, which minds were sincerely desiring to live righteously in this present world.  Peter did not address the value of the writings of the philosophers of his day nor of philosophers who were before him.  The Greek world was filled with such men of earthly wisdom and could have found their way into the teachings of the Scriptures.  But Peter was far more concerned with the words of Christ, words he had heard both audibly and through inspiration to write these letters.

Both in chapter 1 and here Peter brings up our need of being reminded of these Scriptural teachings.  He must have observed that we Christians have a tendency to drift away and need to be reminded about the important things of life.  I think it was last summer that I used the illustration of coming to church to keep your life compass pointing to true north.  We drift.  We are pulled by the world, our flesh, and the devil and we need, desperately and daily to be reminded of those things that are important to God.

So Peter, the Apostle recognized by both the Christian and the Catholics, emphasized our need to remember the predictions of the prophets, (the OT writings) and the commandments of Christ recorded by him, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, James, and Paul.

How often are you in the Word of God for your own reminder?  Can you say with David, “Oh how I love Your law, it is my meditation day and night.”?  Can you say with Jeremiah, “Your words were found and I did eat them, and Your word was unto me the joy and the rejoicing of my heart.”?  Ironically, our own flesh resists our involvement in God’s word.  Defeat that flesh and let God’s word remind you every day and throughout the day all that you need for life and for godliness. 

Thank you for letting us switch the Bible study and prayer time last night.  It was really important to Stefani that her parents came to her concert last night.  It was their annual performance at Wentz Hall which really is a big deal. 

The teens had a great time last night as Ben came to youth group and brought their message.  One of the girls bemoaned that Anna did not come so Ben told her to call Anna.  Anna got a call right then.  I love the spontaneity of the teenagers.

Nancy Schmidt is to have jaw surgery today.  This is a serious surgery as Nancy as an abscess that has actually caused a fracture.  She is in really good spirits and is looking forward to having this done so that her pain in the jaw will be gone.  She is at Loyola and enjoys visits.  

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

God will judge the wicked and He will preserve His righteous ones

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2 Peter 2

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,

 

The blasphemy of man against God is nothing new.  We see the world getting worse, it appears, but it has always been bad.

  • Peter refers to the angels who left heaven with Lucifer and some were so bad that God immediately put them in chains to await their day of judgment.
  • He refers to the destruction of the wicked in Noah’s day, a day when every imagination of the thoughts of man’s hearts were only evil continually.
  • He reminds us of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah whose wickedness of homosexuality was so great that God could not wait until their natural day of judgment but brought about swift and violent destruction against them.

Then Peter makes the key point which is this: God knows how to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.  My friends, do not envy the wicked nor must we wonder if God is seeing their wickedness and letting them get away with it.  The truth is that God is seeing the wickedness of the wicked and God is keeping perfect records.  God will, in His perfect timing, bring the wicked of this world under full penalty of His law for their rebellion against Him.

But Peter makes another point here that should encourage us.  God spared Noah and Lot, both men whom God called righteous, from His judgment and God will spare all of His righteous ones from the judgment of the wicked.  As we see the wicked facing God’s wrath (we should first pray for their conversion to Christ) we must not fear that we will be involved in their judgment.  We must maintain our righteousness before God knowing that He will save us both in this life and in the next.  For God always rescues the godly from His judgment of the wicked. “Thank you, oh God, for your mercy toward me.”

In case you forgot, be sure to turn your clocks ahead Saturday night or you will be really late for church Sunday morning.  I know how important it is for you to be on time on Sunday so I just wanted to remind you of the time change.

Ben will be with us this Sunday and will be bringing the morning message.  He has one more block class at Moody and will finish His masters this semester. He and Anna are very glad to be this close to the end.  We are looking forward to having Ben with us for a week.  (He will be in class eight hours a day and on the train for two hours a day but we will see him in the evenings.

Patrick and Peggy have influenza.  Pray with us for their swift and complete recovery.

I have a special request for you today. It is a private request that I cannot give you any details on.  Pray that God’s will might be made clear for a church family and that they would fall on His mercy.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Are we sure that the Bible is God’s word?

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2 Peter 1 (ESV)

19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

 

This is the classic New Testament passage for the inspiration of the Bible. As we saw yesterday, Peter knew the voice of God for he heard it with James and John at the mount of Transfiguration.  From that day forward Peter knew when God was speaking to him.  Peter knew that Paul’s writing were from God and compared Paul’s writings to the rest of the Scriptures.  Here we see Peter letting us know that it is good for us to pay attention to God’s prophetic word which will, like a lamp, shine into the darkness of our lives until the day dawns and the morning star of God’s light rises fully in our hearts.

Verse 20 is one that every Bible teacher and preacher needs to heed all of the time.  None of us has the liberty to tell you what we think the Scripture says but we need to determine God’s meaning and present it as it was given.  Our own interpretation may not be God’s intended message and we must be careful not to misrepresent God!

Verse 21 tells us that no writer of Scripture ever decided on his own to write the Bible.  God used men who often were the least likely to succeed to write down His holy words.  The Holy Spirit would move in their hearts and when He did these men knew they were writing down God’s words, not their own. When God’s words are read and understood lives change.  There is no power in Paul, Peter, Jeremiah, Isaiah or Moses but the power comes through the words given to them by God.  Yes, the Bible is filled from cover to cover with the very words of God for us for all time.  It has the power to change minds and lives and it is ever relevant to our cultures and lives.  It is God’s word.

Someone has said that the Bible is the anvil and those who attack it are the hammers.  The anvil is made of much stronger steel than the hammers and many hammers have been worn out attacking this anvil but the anvil remains while the hammers are all broken.  Man will never destroy God’s word, no; it will remain forever while men and their ideas will perish.  Stand on God’s word. Be steadfast and secure in it.

On Sunday we passed out a list of all church members inviting them in groups to come to our house over the next four Sundays and talk about where our church is going, what our mission is, and what else we might be able to do.  If you were not there Sunday let me know and I will let you know which Sunday you have been assigned to.  If you cannot make your assigned Sunday you can come on a different one, we just wanted to give all a chance for input. 

I hope to see you tonight for prayer.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS