Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Do I Need To Remind You?

Prophecy of Scripture
12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.

As Peter nears his departure, you can see his pastor's heart. As we mentioned before, Peter's direct command from Jesus was, "Do you love me, Peter? Then feed my sheep!" Peter knows what it is like to fold under the pressure. He wants these believers to be equipped and prepared for the time when their faith will be under fire. Peter has 3 goals laid out here.

1. To remind them of these things. What are these things? He just got done reminding them that they have been called and elected by God through Jesus. God has given everything they need to live out their Christian lives.

2. To refresh their memory. It is easy to forget who we are in Christ, and how we have His power to confirm and carry out our calling.

3. To remember these things long after He was gone. Peter realizes his time in this life was short, and we see His passion to pass on this faith he had received. Remember Peter was the first to proclaim about Jesusm "You are the Christ. The a Son of Living God!" Matthew 16:16.

So there are a couple of applications for us to think about.

1. Our need to be reminded and refreshed about the basics of our faith. We mustn't forget what God has done to save us and why. We mustn't forget that faith is a gift, yet it needs to be exercised faithfully until Jesus returns. We mustn't forget that one day despite our trials in this life that Jesus will return in great and promised glory. Our suffering in this life is not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us.

2. Do we have the same passion as Peter has to pass on the faith in memorable ways. Does the next generation know what they believe and why? Do they know the bible? Have we taught them how to remember it, so one day they too can pass it on.

Peter was faithful to Jesus' command to feed His sheep. I believe this is the call on all those who have been given the gift of faith. We all need someone to shepherd us, and to be a shepherd to someone else. Do you have a shepherd in your life reminding you of God's truth? Are you shepherding the people God has called you to shepherd? We can't do this alone and that is why God calls us to live out our faith in Christian community.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

How to Keep from Being an Ineffective and Unproductive Christian!

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters,[a] make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

This would be a very confusing passage if we don't take this passage in context, and in the light of the rest of the bible. Peter says, "make every effort to add to your faith". One might think that to be an effective Christian, they have to add something to faith. Meaning it is faith plus something we do. But if we remember from yesterday, Peter said that through God's promises we have every thing we need to be sure of our salvation in Christ. And through faith not works, we participate in God's nature to be able do what He has called us to do.

With this in mind it might be that to add to one's faith is to exercise our God-given faith. This kind of "adding to your faith", results in character transformation evidenced by things like goodness, knowledge, and self control. Meaning as we are formed by faith, we start realizing the qualities Jesus had in increasing measure. We also call this spiritual growth. Notice spiritual growth is not about doing more stuff but a changed life.

What is the purpose of putting this transforming faith being put into action. Peter says, "it will keep us from being unproductive and ineffective in our knowledge of God." Meaning we can know things about God, but if we do not put this knowledge into action through faith, it will not be useful. So what does all this mean? It means someone can be a Christian and be saved and still lead an ineffective and unproductive life. Through God's calling and election we can't lose salvation, but how do we, "work out our salvation with fear and trembling", as Paul says in Ephesians.

I don't know about you, but the last thing I want to realize after being given this great gift, is that I have been ineffective and unfaithful. Faith is a gift we can't earn it. What we do with faith is what we give back to God. God wants us to make every effort to be faithful with the gifts we have been given. And when we reach the end of our lives and meet our Lord, we can hear the words, "Well done my good and faithful servant, welcome to my eternal kingdom prepared for you and all who call on my name!"

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Don't Fall For the Cheap Imitation!

2 Peter 1

1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:

2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Confirming One’s Calling and Election
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

As we begin the book of 2 Peter these first verses attribute the book to Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. In chapter 3, he further states, "Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles."

So while internally the evidence points to Peter being the author, others debate this fact with several comments about the differences in the two letters. But regardless who wrote it, the primary message to the early church, probably in Northern Galatia, was watch out for false teachers. False teachers that can even come from the inside of the church. Whereas 1 Peter reminded them of the suffering they needed to persevere through, this letter urges them to stay strong in their knowledge of God through Jesus.

Peter starts out his letter by reminding the believers of their divine calling through God's power. He reminds them that God is the one who has given the power to live a godly life. And it is through these promises God has made that they participate in the divine nature. Does this mean they become like gods? No God's promise is they have come to the knowledge of Him through the Son. The false teachers who were worming their way into the church were not grounded in these same assumptions. They began teaching that because you were saved by the promise, one could do whatever they wanted. They could pursue the desires of the flesh because they were entitled to it.

Peter is on his way out the church and he wants to make sure the church doesn't stray from the teaching He and the other apostles have brought through divine authority to give them knowledge of God. Knowledge as you will see is an important theme for Peter. Why? Because if you really know someone, you will not be deceived when an imposter comes in. When you know the original well, it is easy to see a cheap imitation.

One the reasons I try to be in God's Word regularly is it reminds me of the truth about God and the truth about me. It reminds me each day I am saved by grace not by works. It reminds me never arrive and we need to continue to stay rooted in God's promises until the day I die. And finally I realize that anything good that comes from me comes from His divine power which works for me as I trust in Him. Don't be fooled by cheap imitation, stick with real deal.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

It's All About Grace!

1 Peter 5

10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Final Greetings
12 With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. 13 She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

As Peter finishes his letter he encourages them to stand firm in the grace which called them. In spite of the suffering and trials they have undergone, they will be restored or perfect through this suffering. This is similar to what the author of Hebrews says about Jesus' own suffering and what it produced in Him.

"In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered." Hebrews 2:10

God's grace not only called them to follow Jesus, but that same work of grace will lead them home. Some people say, "God saved me by grace and now the rest is my job." It is like saying God justified me by faith, but I will sanctify myself through hard work. What Peter does say is, "stand fast in it". This is also translated, "in which you stand", or more literally "stand firm in it". I like that thought of standing firm in grace. For by grace you were saved and by grace God will lead you home.

But still what does it mean to "stand firm in grace". A few thoughts:

1. Resist going back to works. Refuse to think God's grace took a hold of you, and the rest depends on you.

2. Grace helps us during suffering. Although suffering is very challenging in the moment, God by His grace uses it to make us more strong and complete. He girds us up to stand up under it.

3. God loves to give us grace. It is His very nature. When we don't rely on His grace, we take the focus off of Him and on to ourselves. It is actually a form of pride. From start to finish the Christian life is fueled and empowered by grace! Thank God right!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What Does the Devil Try To Do?

1 Peter 5

8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

Peter brings up another aspect for the church to consider as it faces its trials. As we live out our faith, part of the cause of our suffering is our enemy the devil. Here are the strategies Peter gives for dealing with our common enemy if we seek to live out the Christian life.

1. Be alert and of sober mind. It is important for us to know who the devil is and how he works. Although we don't have to see a devil in every bush, we need to be mindful that he is like a roaring lion looking to devour believers.

2. We do not need to afraid of our enemy as believers. We can resist him and have the power to command him to be gone. And how can we resist him, by standing firm in the faith! The ultimate goal of Satan is to cause us to lose faith. This was his original strategy in the garden when he said, "Did God really say you can't ..." The devil's main goal is to get us to not trust God nor His promises. He even tried to tempt Jesus in the wilderness to no avail.

3. Finally, we know this is a kind of suffering that is not unique to us. Believers around the world are fighting the same battle we are. We are not alone in this resistance.

Although we would like to be naive about the devil and his empty promises, Peter tells us to be alert and be of sober mind. We need to be mindful of our enemy as we seek to follow Jesus and be used to help His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


1 Peter 5

5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

In the same way the shepherds were to model themselves after Jesus, the younger men were told to submit themselves to their elders. Elders according to scholars means not so much the office of elders, but men older in age and Christian experience. To clothe literally meant to tie a knot, as in tying a knot around an apron for waiting on tables. A similar word is used when Jesus washes the disciples feet. Humility is best described in Philippians 2:1-5 as Jesus took the form of a servant and emptied himself. He looked to others' interests as greater than his own. Mark says in chapter 10, "For even the Son of Man came not to be served and to serve and give his life as a ransom for many."

In due time God raised up Jesus to the highest place that at His name every knee bow down and tongue confess that He is Lord. As we follow Jesus, our attitude should be the same. There is no duty too low for us to do. There is no position that is higher or lower in status in God's kingdom. In fact the more responsibility one has in the church the more they should demonstrate servanthood. God lifts up those who humble themselves, but He also opposes the proud. The word for "opposes the proud" is a very strong one, meaning God sets himself against. One translation says "set in battle array against the proud"

Where is God calling you to submit or serve others in the community you live in? As we see Jesus' example, we realize nothing is beneath us. And as we submit in obedience, Jesus will lift us up in due time, rather than opposing us vehemently.

Monday, September 28, 2015

What is the Crown of Glory?

To the Elders and the Flock

5 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

The elders were the spiritual overseers in the early church. They played the role of not only teachers, but shepherded the flock. Peter would be well acquainted with this term as he was a shepherd The last words Jesus said to him three times were, "Peter, Feed my sheep". In fact Jesus said, "Peter, do you love me more than these? Then feed my sheep!" Jesus was in essence telling him that in order to be a good shepherd, his sheep needed to be his number one priority. "These" could mean a lot of things, but in the context seems to mean whatever would be more important than shepherding God's people in Peter's life.

So it would make sense then as Peter instructs the elders to be shepherds with the following qualifications:

1. Watching over those under your care not because you must because you are willing. This is the difference between "servanthood" and "servitude". Servants give freely not under obligation. They choose to serve selflessly. Those in servitude serve under obligation or guilt, and aren't in it for the right reasons.

2. Another example of this is when warns them not to pursue dishonest gain. He is in effect saying, "if you are in this for the money, you are in the wrong business!" Someone said that to me before I became a pastor. LOL

3. Being examples to the flock under your care. This is perhaps the most important one. If you want to lead anyone, who you are speaks more loudly than what you say. Those who are given spiritual leadership have a higher accountability for their actions because they are examples for good or for bad. Bad examples can drive away the sheep from the flock. When a pastor or Christian leader has a moral or financial breakdown others will say, "I told you they are all hypocrites". Though we are all sinners, this type of example will not be helpful to the cause of Christ.

Finally, there is a promise that faithful shepherds will receive a crown of glory that will never fade away, when Jesus the Chief Shepherd appears. What is the crown of glory? Do the elders receive a better crown than other believers A crown was a garland of flowers the victor wore in Jesus' day. But because they were flowers they naturally faded. This is a crown that will never fade away, because it is everlasting crown reserved in heaven for those who have finished the race faithfully. The crown is the glory of God that all of those who have trusted in Christ will receive when they come into His kingdom. Any reward in this life will fade or lose its lustre over time, but the crown of glory will last forever in heaven.