New Life


Read 2 Peter and Jude. (They’re short!)

The author is Simon, or Simeon, Peter, called “the Rock” by Jesus. Peter writes to emphasize his 2 lives, his before and after of meeting Jesus, the Christ. He shows us the difference in our old lives and what we can become through Jesus. Simon Peter describes himself as a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ. An Apostle is ‘one sent with the delegated authority of the one who sends him.’ We know that Jesus sent His Apostles out to spread the Gospel and to preach Salvation.

Peter writes “To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours” – for there are no 2nd class Christians, we are all equal in the sight of God, “by the righteousness of our God and Savior.” That’s One person, GOD and SAVIOUR, Jesus Christ, not multiple beings but One. Peter reminds us that the substance of our salvation is the righteousness given to us by Jesus Christ: GOD, SAVIOUR, SPIRIT, One person. In his letter to the Romans, he quotes King David: “Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD will not take into account.” (Romans 4:8)
Grace, the free, unmerited favor of God, Righteousness, and Peace are ongoing subjects for Peter. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; ” Ephesians 2:8 NASB He knows these intimately through his own personal experiences, and his desire is that everyone learn to know them, too. To that end, he spent his life traveling and writing, sharing the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Grace and Peace be multiplied” [grow and increase] “to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; ….” Our part, our work, is nothing; all we bring to the table is our sin. We grow through the knowledge of His Word, and full of experiential knowledge, we become God explorers, learning about Him throughout our lives. We all are all born into His kingdom as babies. There are no great Christians born; everyone must grow into their own personal relationship with the LORD.

“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:17‭-‬18 NASB
2 Peter is all about being learning, knowledge and growth – and that you have to know to grow. These books call Christians to spiritual growth to combat false teachings through the knowledge of the LORD. He was writing to the believers in modern Turkey against false teachings just as we are faced with today, such as there not being a literal hell, gender confusion, and Christ not being the Son of God. All we have to do is listen to what’s going on around us to see these falsehoods in action. Our knowledge of His Word will help prevent us from becoming like these Galatian Christians:

“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” Galatians 1:6‭-‬9 NASB

Faith and salvation both come from the LORD. As  A.W. Tozer said, “God is never found accidentally.” My prayer is that you have found God, and that you are learning His Words so that you are not deceived by the father of lies and deceit.

“To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

False Teachers

Peter warns us of the people who want to take advantage of us:

1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” 2 Peter 2:1-3 NASB

Jesus warns us in His Sermon on the Mount:

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:15 NASB

The Apostle and Physician Luke traveled with Paul, and is believed to have written the book of Acts. He also warns us of false teachers.

“I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” Acts 20:29‭-‬30 NASB

We receive ample warning, but do we really listen? We know that people will emerge from among the church; subversive traitors who secretly introduce false ideas and concepts with conviction, to cause people to choose error over truth. The enemy is insidious in his quest to destroy us. Heresy is the view of ultimate reality that is wrong and therefore bad for you. By nature, heresy is destructive. It is distorting the truth.

We identify false teachers by asking questions. Do they believe (and teach) there is definitive right and wrong? Do they teach that you should believe in yourself and ask God to help you reach your goals. Is God real? What is their view of eternity? Is Christ Divine; is He their LORD and King? Ask: Who is Jesus Christ?

Nothing is more foundational than how you believe the Bible. It is not from man but from God, the ultimate authority. Denial of God’s Laws leads to seductive activity that cater to the flesh. These are lies, because impure living is heresy for anyone claiming Christianity. False teachers feed on people’s desires. They are greedy and in ministry for the benefits they receive, instead of of bringing people to Christ. They use false words, plastic theology, that is molded to deceive, and stretched and twisted to mean anything. These are lies from the father of lies.

Listen to them. Are they teaching the Triune God? Is their behavior Christ like – is it pointing to themselves or to Christ? Look at their actions; hear what they are saying, and compare it only to the Word. They are pervasive, destructive, seductive, and manipulative.

“I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:2‭-‬6 NASB

The Rescue

“GOD rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the Kingdom of the Son He Loves so much, the SON Who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.” Colossians 1:13‭-‬14 MSG

I don’t know about anyone else, but this verse resonates deeply with me. I’ve been in those dead-end alleys, the dark dungeons, the black pits. That’s what happens when we do what we decide is right.

No matter how deep you are in trouble, or how much you despair of ever seeing the light, I promise you this. Lift up your head and your hand, and Jesus will be there. It doesn’t take much, just make the effort. It’s all that He’s waiting for, and He will lift you out of the trouble, and carry you until you can walk again.

No worries. No doubts. He will never, ever leave you. Never. Ever. Always by your side. Forever and ever and a day. Just call out His Name and the devil will run!

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind
Sight, riches, healing of the mind
Yea, all I need, in Thee to find
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve
Because Thy promise I believe
O Lamb of God, I come, I come

AMEN!

The Bible is….

The Bible is not fiction or fantasy or fairytales. The Bible is “…… men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (verse 21b)

“For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” 2 Peter 1:16 NIV
19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” 2 Peter 1:19-21 NASB [compare ESV v21]

We know Scripture has Authority (19a), and Peter writes about the Transfiguration to bolster what the Old Testament prophesies say. There are over 300 prophecies about Jesus Christ – He would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem, of the tribe of Judah, He would enter Jerusalem as a King, riding on the back of a donkey colt, soldiers would cast lots for His clothing, and He would be crucified. Just to start: Micah 5:2; Zechariah 9:9, 13:6, 11:13; Isaiah 53:7.

Peter W. Stoner wrote a fascinating book titled Science Speaks. To read it, especially chapter 3, The Christ of Prophesy, go to http://sciencespeaks.dstoner.net

Because the world is dark and dingy, and JESUS is the Light (19b); it is through His illumination that we can see.

“And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” John 9:39 NASB

We think we are autonomous, but this is the truth: We are bound to society’s boundaries through our minds, because our minds are fallen and dark; our hearts, because our emotions, our feelings, are deceptive; and because of our traditions that bind us into place. We are only Protestants because of the people who broke away from tradition. All of these traits must be subordinate to the teachings and authority of the Bible. The Holy Spirit, the Triune God gives Scripture its Authority (20-21). God inspired Scripture; He did not force the writers to write the words by moving their hands across the paper.

Obedience to God’s Word is comparable to parents telling toddlers to do or not doing a thing. We resist God in the same ways as they resist doing what they are told. Since we know God’s wisdom far exceeds that of a parent compared to a 3 year old, why do we resist Him? Because we know that it will cost us to live His way, just as it is often painful for a toddler to live the way their parents tell them to. Our heart compares to sealing wax and the seal… without FIRE to soften the wax/heart, it will only be scratched or crushed. When the wax is softened from the flame, and indelible impression can be made. Even Jesus, Son of GOD and part of the Triune God, submitted to the Father.

Remember – Be reminded of God’s inspired, authoritative teachings through the study and reading of His Word. He created it to be our guidebook, our instruction manual, our map, and our inspiration.

“Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder….” 2 Peter 1:12‭-‬13 NASB

Moral Excellence, Take 2

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.” 2 Peter 1:5‭-‬7 NASB

We start in verses 1-4 with “We have received a Faith….” and follow with the attributes we want to model as followers of Jesus Christ. Our Justification and our Glorification are all God, but our Sanctification is for us and God. It requires diligence on our part. God does His work but ours MUST follow, and we should be working on them simultaneously, not separately.

Moral excellence isn’t an attitude, and it doesn’t mean Christians are any better than anyone else. We sin just like non-Christians. The difference should be that we are consciously working towards a “cleaner” life; getting rid of the “rocks” and “weeds”, the trash and detritus, the people and things that separate us from our LORD.

We search out knowledge. It is how we grow, and is essential to a healthy spiritual life, learning and knowing God. Our knowledge must be applied and lived out in our lives. We gain it through Bible studies, by meeting together in small groups, and in our personal reading and study of God’s Word in a daily quiet time. Knowledge of His Word helps us by intensifying our worship, and it sustains us in time of crisis.

Self Control – this is a trait that is laughed at by many who are out in the world. Get hold of yourself? Reining in passion and desire? What happened to “If it feels good, do it”? In controlling our desires rather than being controlled, we exhibit one of the fruits of the Spirit: “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13 (also verses 19-21) NO ONE and NO THING should control me other than the Master. (Proverbs 16:32, 24:16)

As Christians, our perseverance can be evident in a “Never give up” attitude. Perseverance produces maturity. Perseverance prevails. “….. knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” James 1:3 NASB We live one day at a time; just for today – doing the next thing; refusing to quit or to give up what God has called us to do with our life. When we surround ourselves with encouragers, it is much easier to persevere. (Recommended reading: “Suffering is Never for Nothing” by Elizabeth Elliot)

Godliness means literally “God likeness, becoming like God/ Christ.” We are to emulate Christ, and to do that, we must spend time with Him. The Rev. Adoniram Judson said “Don’t compare me to other men, compare me to Jesus.” Will people say that of me – or of you?

How do we show brotherly kindness? The word Philadelphia means literally to “love your brother.” It’s our attitude towards people. Brotherly kindness isn’t just about our physical, familial brother or sister, but it’s about all of our human “siblings,” regardless of color, nationality, or proximity. True brotherly kindness prays for each other, forgives, and is generous to others. This naturally leads to the last of the fruits of the Spirit, love.

Love for others is the capstone, crowning glory; the willingness to sacrifice ourselves for the higher good. All we have to do is look at the example set by Jesus; His sacrifice starting with leaving Heaven’s throne and coming to spend a lifetime on the earth. His sacrifice lead to the offering of His life on the cross, and culminated in His victory over death with His resurrection. I’m thankful that He doesn’t require that of us! As we bask in and revel in God’s love, we can love others. There are many Scriptures on loving others: John 13:36, 1 Corinthians 13, Galatians 5 for just an example.

“We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” 1 John 4:19‭-‬21 NASB

Is God Slow?

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 NASB

“Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.” 2 Timothy 2:25 NLT

“…… and My people who are called by My Name humble themselves and pray and seek My Face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 NASB

“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’ ” Jeremiah 29:7 NASB

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NASB

I know God loves me. He takes on my troubles and my worries. He cares for me. He will never – HAS never – left me alone. He doesn’t lie or cheat on me. He is the perfect husband. He should be enough for me. He IS enough for me. Why, then, do I have such a yearning to have a flesh and blood man in my life?

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 NASB

I am a daughter of The KING. My feelings that I have failed at things doesn’t affect how much He LOVES me. My thoughts that I am inadequate don’t even phase Him. In His eyes, I am His beautiful daughter. When I am upset, He is there to comfort me. Always. Even when I do my best to run away from Him, He’s right there. And the MOST important thing? He isn’t there to judge me like the world does, He’s just THERE for me.

I would like to have that flesh and blood man in my life, but I don’t. I may not have him in this life. I have Someone, though, and He is enough.

Pray About Everything

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 NASB

Every time I read this verse, it strikes me.

“Anxious for nothing.”

“In everything…. let your requests be made known to God.”

“….. prayer …. supplication …. thanksgiving ….”

I’m not supposed to worry about anything. Anything. Geeze Louise, how does that work??? Not worry when the money runs out in the middle of the month? Not worry when the kids are sick, or I’m sick? Not worry about the person traveling in the snow and ice? Not worry when the boss says “You’re fired”, and you are the sole income? Not worry about that family member who is addicted to drugs or alcohol? How does that work?

“…. in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Prayer (noun): a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.

Supplication (noun): the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly. “He fell to his knees in supplication”

Solemnly, seriously, on our knees – whether literally or figuratively – ask God for help while thanking Him for the situation. The Serenity Prayer (used by many 12 Step programs) by Reinhold Niebuhr is a good place to start.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and Wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.