Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How Will You Live? (2 Peter 3:10-12)

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!
(2 Peter 3:10-12, NASB)

Our Lord Jesus will return. He “will come like a thief” when we least expect Him. The old heavens and earth will pass away, and the new heaven and earth will be prepared for His followers (see Rev. 21).

Since we know this earth will soon “be burned up,” we should be very, very careful of how we live. Think about it. If Jesus were to return at any time, what do you want Him to find you doing? Gossiping? Lying? Stealing? Disregarding the needy? Or worse?

Or do you want Him to find you praying? Reading God’s word? Volunteering at a shelter? Encouraging someone? Loving, really loving, your spouse?

Pretty convicting, isn’t it?

I don’t know about you, but when I think in terms of Jesus coming back this day, it makes me want to live as closely to how He did as possible. It makes me want to manifest the fruit of the spirit rather than the sins of the flesh. I want to be loving, patient, and kind, not angry, immoral or jealous.

I want to know when I stand before the throne one day, I’ll hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

What about you? How will you live this day?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

God is Patient (2 Peter 3:8-9)

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 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 3:8-9, NASB)

Ahh. Two of my most favorite verses. And wonderful words of encouragement for any of us who have family or friends who aren’t believers.

Many of us live by the calendar or by the clock. I confess: I’m one of them. I plan. I organize. I keep “to do” lists. And each day seems to fly. Seems like one day you’re graduating high school, and then the next, you’re 46 writing a daily blog … But as fast as time seems to soar by, it’s nothing to God.

He’s not hampered by time as we are. He can be as patient as He wants. Which is why this earth still exists. Which is why He hasn’t fulfilled His promise of Christ’s return. Because it's His desire that everyone—everyone—“come to repentance.” He wants to give each and every person a chance to find Him.

So we who know Him can be encouraged. God still has His heart set on your friend, your family member’s coming to know Him. And He’s given us the chance to be Jesus to that friend, that family member. He’s allowed us time to tell truth.

But remember: One day, time as we know it will end. God’s patience will end. Jesus will return.

Don’t waste time. Make each moment count. And continue to share God’s truth. Each and every day.

Monday, June 28, 2010

In the Last Days (2 Peter 3:3-7)

Know this first of all, that in the last days, mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation." For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
(2 Peter 3:3-7 NASB)

I’ve probably written this before, but anyone who reads the Bible—really reads it—cannot deny its truth. Prophecy upon prophecy fulfilled. Prophecy upon prophecy to be fulfilled. And both Peter and Paul prophesied how it would be in the “last days.”

In these verses, Peter predicted that many will mock the God of Christianity by saying, “You say Jesus is coming again. They’ve been saying that for generations, and nothing.” And isn’t true? Mockers right and left. The earth just “happened” (see blog on 6/26). There is no truth, no morality.

“It escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago …” God created heavens and earth. He created the first man and woman and gave them the choice to follow Him. When they chose their own way, mankind separated from its Creator. But God had a plan to reconcile with His created. First through sacrifice of a spotless lamb; then through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. Isaiah prophesied Christ’s first coming. And it happened. Paul and John prophesied of His second coming. It will happen.

Let the mockers say what they will. The Bible is truth. Christ will return. So what should we who know truth do? Take every opportunity to tell others exactly what the Bible says—about the past and what has happened, and about the future and what will happen.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Remember (2 Peter 3:1-2)

This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.
(2 Peter 3:1-2 NASB)


Throughout the Bible, God’s people are encouraged to remember. How God guided Abraham and named him the father of His own people. How, even through incredible adversity, Joseph was the key to saving countless people. How the Israelites were saved from slavery, walking through the Red Sea on dry land, fed each day.


We too are encouraged to remember. “Do this in remembrance of me,” Jesus said as He broke bread with His disciples (Luke 22:19, NKJV). “He is not here, but He is risen! Remember how He spoke to you …” (Luke 24:6, NKJV). We must “… remember the words of the Lord Jesus …” (Acts 20:35, NKJV).


Paul exhorted his readers, then and now: “Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead …” (1 Timothy, 2:8, NKJV). And we’re told to “… remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ …” (Jude 1:17, NKJV).


The only way to remember God’s commandments, His encouragements, His provision, is to spend time—quality time—in His word. And the best way to remember His blessings in your own life is to write things down. Journal. Have a blessings notebook. Keep a calendar where you can jot down what God has taught you or done for you.

And remember how much God loves you.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Beauty of God's Creation

[To my regular readers: I’m detouring briefly from 2 Peter. Join me tomorrow as we continue that journey.]

In April, my husband and I went to Oregon to celebrate the marriage of our nephew, Tim, to his new bride, Mary. We flew up a few days early to spend some time at Historic Columbia River. We enjoyed the beautiful, lush green surrounding us. We were awe-struck by incredible cascades of water.

And as I reveled in the beauty, I thanked God for His creation. All the amazing things He created just for our enjoyment.

This weekend, we’re visiting another niece and nephew, Beth and Jack, in Park City, Utah. We just came back from a 45-minute hike, and again, I marveled at the beauty of the mountains and valley. And again, I thanked God for His creation.

I've been blessed to travel to quite a few places on this earth, and every time I visit somewhere different, I’m amazed anew that He chose to create such diversity and creativity—just to please us. And I wonder: How can anyone deny an intelligent designer? Even if they don’t believe in the God of the Bible, how can people look at the complexity of the eye or the magnificence of the ocean or the grandeur of the mountains, and think it just “happened.”

I love the analogy of looking at a piece of art. Would anyone think it just happened? No, they’d know someone created it. So how can we look at the art that is this world and think it created itself?

The earth itself points to a Creator. And I happen to believe with all my heart that the God of the Bible truly did create the heavens and the earth. With all my heart.

Now I’m going out with Russ, Beth, and Jack to see more of God’s beauty!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Returning to the World (2 Peter 2:20-22)

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, "A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT," and, "A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire."
(2 Peter 2:20-22, NASB)

What about those who’ve learned of Jesus and have heard God’s truth? And they’ve gained “knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Maybe they’ve gone to church. Maybe they’ve even joined a small group. But somehow, the world entices them yet again.

I experienced this when, after asking Jesus to come into my heart at six, I allowed the abuse I endured to take me away from my faith. While it wasn’t exactly the world that pulled me away, I fell into its grasping claws for a while. For about 20 years, in fact. Praise God, this prodigal daughter found her way back to truth, and the last almost 17 years have been an amazing journey of seeking and finding God’s will.

But there are those who turn completely away from that truth. For whatever reason, they have found the attraction of the world so seductive, they fall into a “state worse for them than the first.” They, as Peter illustrated with graphic words, embrace the world like a “dog returns to its own vomit.” Gross, but true.

I have to wonder at the state of their heart. And I have to pray they’ll find their way out of the muck and recognize the world really has nothing of worth to offer. Absolutely nothing.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Enslaved (2 Peter 2:17-19)

These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.
(2 Peter 2:17-19 NASB)

Peter used such descriptive language to describe those who choose not to follow God’s truth.

They are “springs without water …” They’re dry, useless, even harmful as others are drawn to their shores with the hope of quenching thirst—and there’s no water to be found.

They are “mists drive by a storm …” They themselves have no real influence, but the storm that drives them—sin—is powerful and enticing. They are shrouded in “black darkness.”

In their arrogance and vanity, they entice others, who are drawn in to the lure of flesh and sensuality. And this doesn’t just mean sexual sin. It means addictions to food or drugs or alcohol. It means being totally absorbed by media or television or the internet. Anything that pulls a person away from truth.

And then the sad part: Those who choose the attraction of sin think they’re free. They can do whatever they want whenever they want with whomever they want. But they’re really slaves. They’re tied and bound by whatever has entrapped them.

Because it’s very true: “… for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.”

What “enslaves” you? Your flesh? Or the truth of God’s grace, mercy, and love. In history, slaves didn’t have a choice of who or what enslaved them. You do.

Choose wisely.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pray for a Broken Heart (2 Peter 2:12-16)

But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet.
(2 Peter 2:12-16, NASB)

My goodness … I think Peter had some pretty strong opinions about willful sinners!

It would be easy to say, “Well, they’ll get what they deserve.” But really? Verses like these should break our hearts. Generation after generation of sin and corruption have so infiltrated the hearts of men and women, they don’t know how far they have fallen from God’s ideal. And like “unreasoning animals,” they follow their baser instincts and “revel” in their sin.

They don’t know truth.

This should make those of us who know truth want to share it wherever and with whomever we can. We should boldly and lovingly proclaim God’s grace and mercy. We should joyfully tell how God has blessed us. We should shine the love of Jesus—not judging, not criticizing, not thinking we’re any better than they are.

Does your heart break for the lost? For those who seek something, and try to fill the empty spaces of their hearts with drugs or alcohol or sensuality? Oh, pray for God to break your heart and to give you boldness and love to share Him and the amazing grace He offers.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

History Repeats Itself (2 Peter 2:4-11)

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority, daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord.
(2 Peter 2:4-11, NASB)

King Solomon wrote, “…there is nothing new under the sun,” (Ecc. 1:9) and it’s so very true. Sometimes we think we live in the vilest, most corrupt time in history, but truly? This world has seen some really vile, corrupt stuff. Seriously, God destroyed all but a handful of people because of their depravity.

So why should we be surprised at the actions of those living today? The only real difference is mass media puts all the “yuck” of the world right in our faces. You can’t even check your email without seeing the latest headline about abuse, murder, sexual sin, moral decline … It’s all around us.

And it can be a bit depressing to see wickedness seemingly prevail.

Ah, but we can’t forget the most important thing. Our holy God is in absolute control. He will judge the sinner and rescue the saint. One day—and only the Father knows when—God the Son will return to earth and gather up those who chose to follow Him. Then our God will judge all who chose not to follow Him. And every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ, God the Son, is Lord. And God the Father will be glorified. (See Phil. 2:10-11.)

One day, all the “yuck” will be forever gone. And we’ll live eternally praising and glorifying our holy God.

And all I can say? “Lord Jesus, come quickly!”

Monday, June 21, 2010

True or False (2 Peter 2:1-3)

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. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 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)

I read these words, and it’s as though Peter had a view into our world today. False prophets and teachers introducing “destructive heresies.” Many who call themselves Christians say that Jesus is just one way to heaven. Or that the Bible was inspired by God, yes, but with so many copies and translations, it’s certainly not infallible; therefore, you can pick and choose what you want to believe.

Then there are the “religions” who deny Christ as Messiah. He was merely a good man or a wise teacher. But not the Savior. And if Jesus isn’t Savior and if the Bible is open for interpretation, then anything goes. And again, even those who call them Christians see nothing wrong with “sensual” behavior that goes against the Bible because the “truth [is] maligned.”

Finally, so many people are being “exploited with false words.” They’re asked to give to a cause or invest in a plan … and find out later they’ve been scammed. Church leaders live in mansions and drive Mercedes when their congregants are still striving for “prosperity.”

It can be quite painful to watch how God’s word is being relegated to just a nice book with some good sayings, and our Savior is just a good man. But we know that God will judge those who have willfully skewed His word. And we pray that those who are sincerely seeking the one true God will find Him, that they will look beyond the misguided and downright liars and find truth. Real truth.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

God's Inspired Word (2 Peter 1:19-21)

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. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, 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)

These verses are full of richness and affirmation and explanation.

First, Peter reminds us that we can be assured the “prophetic word” in God’s word is “sure.” It is a “lamp shining in a dark place.”

Next, he asserts that any prophecy in God’s word is God’s. Not man’s. Each and every word in the Bible was inspired by God. They were written by men, yes, but they were “moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

Many skeptics claim that the Bible is full of contradictions or that so many translations or interpretations have diluted its original meaning. But I believe, just as the Spirit wrote through the pens of men, He worked through the pens of those who faithfully copied each word. And He continues to work through interpreters or translators today.

We can be assured that God’s is truth. We read His words. We learn about Him and His will.

Bottom line? We can fully trust His word.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Truth (2 Peter 1:16-18)

For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased"—and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
(2 Peter 1:16-18, NASB)

I love these verses! I know I write that a lot, but there’s so much to love about God’s word!

Peter tells us truth. Everything he writes is truth. He’s not relating folklore or fairy tales. He’s sharing what he himself witnessed.

He was with Jesus during His earthly ministry. He was with Jesus and watched Him heal and raise from the dead. He was with Jesus when He taught kingdom truths.

He was with Jesus when the soldiers arrested Him. And with heart breaking, Peter remembered not being with Jesus during the horrific trial and execution.

But he experienced forgiveness, and he was with Jesus during His last days on earth. He was with Jesus when the Father blessed the Son. He was with Jesus when He ascended into heaven.

Peter was with Jesus. So everything he wrote was truth, based on fact. Based on his own experience. Based on his eye-witness. We can trust what he writes. We can learn from his words. Because it’s true.

Friday, June 18, 2010

In this Earthly Dwelling (2 Peter 1:13-15)

I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.
(2 Peter 1:13-15, NASB)

“… as long as I am in this earthly dwelling …”

Our Lord God knows the number of our days. He alone knows how long we’ll be in our “earthly dwelling.” Some of us will live into our 8th or 9th decades as my grandparents all did. Some of us will go to heaven much younger.

The important thing to remember is as long as we’re here, as long as God keeps us on earth, we need to be diligent in pursuing God’s call on our lives, purposeful in using our God-given gifts, and bold in sharing our faith.

And we can be confident that—however many days God has planned for us—if we focus on Him and make Him our priority, we’ll stand before Him and hear “well done, my faithful child.”

Isn’t that what you want to hear? Don’t you want to know that while in your “earthly dwelling” you delighted your Father? The only way to do so is to do all those things Peter mentioned in verses 5-7.

Or at least prayerfully attempt to do them. Every day God gives you.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Be Reminded (1 Peter 1:12)

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.
(2 Peter 1:12, NASB)

Had any “senior moments” lately? That’s what my mother-in-law used to call those moments when you can’t remember a very familiar name or why you walked from the kitchen to the living room. I get them all the time.

Even though I know something, I can sometimes forget. Sometimes I need a reminder—or two or three.

Sometimes we need reminders of why we believe what we believe or how we know what we know. And that’s why it’s so important to spend time in God’s word and time with His people. When we focus on God and His word, we’re able to speak of our faith more easily. We’re ready with a logical answer for our beliefs.

Peter continues to remind us of what we already know. And we can do the same with our brothers and sisters. We can remind them of what they already know and help them to grow in faith. They can do the same for us.

So when you have a senior moment, when you can’t remember a verse or a biblical principle, go back to the source. Let the word jog your memory. Let other believers help remind you of what you already know to be true.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Practice Godly Things (2 Peter 1:10-11)

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
(2 Peter 1:10-11, NASB)

You have been called and chosen to serve God. He has uniquely designed you to work for His kingdom in a way no one else can. Whatever you’re doing—teaching Sunday school, volunteering at the local shelter, singing on the worship team, sweeping up the church lobby—God has invited you to join Him in His plan.

You may feel like anyone could do what you do … but they can’t. Not the way God has called and gifted you. You’ll always perform whatever task or service you do in your unique way.

But Peter has given us a very important key: It’s when we practice all those things he talked about—self-control, kindness, brotherly love—that we’re able to accomplish all God has called us to do. Practice these things.

Have you ever acted in a play? You have rehearsal after rehearsal after rehearsal. You practice. And it’s only by practicing that you are able to become your character. In the same way, if you practice godly things, you’ll develop godly character.

And the reward for all this practice? You’ll be more and more like Christ on earth, and then you’ll have the “entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Eternity with our Lord and Savior!

So practice, practice, practice. Play your role, whatever it might be, with diligence.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Useful and Fruitful (2 Peter 1:8-9)

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.
(2 Peter 1:8-9, NASB)

The exhortation continues …

Not only should we have all the qualities we talked about yesterday, but they should also be increasing in us. But look at the outcome: We will be useful and fruitful. If we're increasing in our knowledge of Christ, our perseverance, our brotherly love, God will use us to build His kingdom.

What a gift!

Yesterday, I had the privilege of speaking at two women’s groups. I was so blessed when some of the women told me how God had inspired them, encouraged them. It’s amazing to me when I think that God chooses to use the broken and flawed to fulfill His purpose. Each time I have the wonderful gift to speak, I’m humbly grateful. He’s made me useful and fruitful.

But Peter doesn’t stop there. And this is the heartbreaking part of these verses. If we “lack these qualities,” we are blind. We have “forgotten [our] purification from … former sins.”

Oh, may that never be true! May we never forget what Christ has done for us! May our remembering His sacrifice on our behalf create in us an urgency to be all those things: loving, patient, kind, growing in knowledge.

It’s the least we can do to show our gratitude.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Not Alone (2 Peter 1:5-7)

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)

Wow. I don’t know about you, but there are sometimes (many times) when I read the Bible, and I think, “There’s no way I can do this. I’m just too weak (or prideful or stubborn or weary).” I read today’s verses, and I think, “There’s no way I can do this. I’m just too inadequate.”

I mean really. Read those verses again. Peter exhorts us to moral excellence. To knowledge. To self-control … perseverance … godliness … brotherly kindness … love.

Oh my goodness. Seriously? Now, there are a couple of these attributes that I pray I manifest regularly. I pray I’m kind to my brothers and sisters. I genuinely love others. I strive to grow in knowledge of my Lord. But self-control? Moral excellence? Perseverance?

I really am inadequate. But guess what? I don’t have to do this on my own. The Holy Spirit is in me to help me. When I struggle with impatience, I can ask for patience. When I’m tempted to sin, I can ask for the strength to withstand that temptation. When I just want to give up, I can ask for stamina to accomplish what God has called me to do.

Yes, the Bible often convicts me, and I often feel I’m incapable. And I am. On my own, that is. Praise my Lord God, I’m not alone.

And neither are you.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Divine Nature (2 Peter 1:4)

For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
(2 Peter 1:4, NASB)

Oh, what an amazingly gracious and loving God we serve! He, knowing the choice Adam and Eve would make, still created them. He, knowing the choices we’d make, still created us. He gave us a beautiful world. He made trees and flowers, seas and mountains. So much to bring us joy. He loves us that much.

Yesterday, I was on a picnic with three young women I’ve “adopted,” and as we chatted, I couldn’t stop looking around me. The green majestic trees. The blue, blue sky speckled with wispy clouds. The ducks gliding lazily on the pond. Such beauty. Created just for me.

But creating this beautiful world isn’t the most amazing thing. Instead of giving us what we deserve—divine punishment—He gives us what we don’t deserve—His divine nature.

He loves us so much He wants to make us more and more like Jesus Christ, God the Son. He gives us His written word. He gives us brothers and sisters in Him. And He molds and refines us daily to be “partakers of the divine nature.”


Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Letter of Encouragement (2 Peter 1:1-3)

Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
(2 Peter 1:1-3, NASB)

Letter writing is a lost art. And that’s kind of sad. We live in a world of email, texts, and instant messages. Nothing is being written down any more. Our children—and their children—won’t find a stack of letters wrapped in ribbon chronicling their parents’ courtship. Generations to come won’t read of friendships from a distance.

And it is sad. Think about it. What if Paul or Peter or John didn’t write letters? What if they’d lived in a time of IMs? What a loss that would be.

Today we start digging into 2 Peter, and from the first few verses, we are immediately encouraged. Read through these verses again. Peter prays for multiplied grace and peace. Overwhelming, abundant grace. Soul-soothing peace. And how are these multiplied? Through the “knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” Knowing God—Father, Son, and Spirit—more and more intimately day by day.

And why should we desire that knowledge? Because He loves us and “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness …” Our glorified, excellent Father God grants us life. He provides for our needs. And He grows us daily to be more godly, more like Christ. But we must seek to know Him more. And that means spending time in His word. Time communing with Him in prayer. Time worshipping with other believers.

And maybe time writing down what God has done in our lives. Maybe writing a letter? With a pen? On paper? Just a thought.

Friday, June 11, 2010

He Is God. I Am Not. (Ps. 9:19-20)

Arise, O LORD, do not let man prevail;
Let the nations be judged before You.
Put them in fear, O LORD;
Let the nations know that they are but men. Selah.

(Psalm 9:19-20, NASB)

There’s Steven Curtis Chapman song that says, “You are God, and I am not.” Jehovah God is the Creator. We are the created. He is infinite. We are finite. He is Savior. We are sinner.

Yet, we live in a world where a lot of people think they can be their own gods. They're self-sufficient. They're in control. They’re more than mere men—or so they think. But they're sadly—and eternally—mistaken.

I believe with all I am there is one God and one only. And I believe with all I am He’s the God of the Bible. There is no other. And man (and I’m using the generic “man”) certainly isn’t god—in any way, shape or form. It saddens me that we live in a nation where God has been neglected or forgotten or outright denied. And it may take God’s having to “put them in fear” for this nation to “know that they are but men.”

He’s chastised nations that have rejected Him in the past. He may just have to do the same with us … and perhaps He already is. Financial crises. Political scandals. Oil spills. Hmmm. Perhaps He’s trying to get our attention. And I haven’t even mentioned all the natural disasters we’ve had lately.

We need a reawakening. We need a revival. We need to remember that we are but men.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Not Without Hope (Ps. 9:18)

For the needy will not always be forgotten,
Nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever.

(Psalm 9:18, NASB)

I’m not needy in the sense I have little or no material possessions. I’m blessed with shelter and food and clothing—those things the Lord promises to provide for His children. I’m not afflicted in the sense that enemies are on my doorstep day and night. I’m equally blessed to live in a nation where I can worship freely and live in freedom.

But I am needy. I need grace. I need strength. I need God to hold me up and sometimes even carry me.

And I am afflicted. I’ve often written about some chronic health problems I deal with. There are days when I honestly struggle to get out of bed. Just lately, I’ve had more of those days than not.

Yet, I have hope. I know I’m not forgotten. I know my Abba wraps His arms of love around me. I know He has a purpose even for my pain.

What do you need today? How are you afflicted? Do you feel forgotten? Are you without hope?

If you’re a child of God, if you’ve accepted the free gift of salvation through His Son, you are not forgotten. You are not without hope. Lay all your burdens at the foot of God’s throne. Trust that He really will work all things out for good. And one day, when you stand before that throne, you can be confident you’ll never need, never hurt, never cry—ever again.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

A Convicted Heart (Ps. 9:17)

The wicked will return to Sheol,
Even all the nations who forget God.

(Psalm 9:17, NASB)

These are very sobering words—or they should be. One day, every person who chooses not to follow the one true God will forever reside in Sheol—hell. Whether you believe in a literal “fire and brimstone” hell, countless will experience an even greater suffering: eternal separation from their loving God. Forever separated. How heartbreaking.

We who know the truth need to share it with everyone. We need to do all we possibly can to keep others from that eternal separation. My mother-in-law had a neighbor who has such a heart for Jesus. One of her first questions to people is “Are you a Christian?” And if they’re not, she sweetly and lovingly befriends them. Not pushing her faith, but making sure they know truth.

I’m convicted. I’m never that bold, but I need to be. I need to take every opportunity to share truth. I don’t want to be the reason someone doesn’t hear about the love of God and His grace and mercy.

Help me, Lord, to be bold to tell Your truth whenever and wherever I can. Let me be light in a dark world. Let me be Your voice. Your hands. Your feet. Amen.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Make the Right Choice (Ps. 9:15-16)

The nations have sunk down in the pit which they have made;
In the net which they hid, their own foot has been caught.
The LORD has made Himself known;
He has executed judgment.
In the work of his own hands the wicked is snared.
Higgaion Selah.

(Psalm 9:15-16, NASB)

The Lord God loves us so much. He loves us so much He’s given us a choice: Follow Him or follow the world. And because He loves us so much, He honors the choice we make. If someone ends up separated from God for eternity, it’s because she has made a choice to do so. It’s the “pit which [she has] made … the net which [she] hid.”

No one will be able to say, “I didn’t know.” God truly has “made Himself known.” Through His creation. Through the testimonies of His children. Through so-called coincidences. So when judgment is one day executed, it will be just. It will be according to each person’s choice.

What choice have you made? What choice will you make? Are you going to sink into your own pit? Or will you accept truth? See the amazing intricacy of God’s creation. Listen to stories of men and women of true faith. Remember how God has worked miraculously.

And remember this: If you’ve never made a choice to follow God, you’ve already made your choice. Oh, choose wisely, my friend. Choose Him today.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Tell of His Praises (Ps. 9:13-14)

Be gracious to me, O LORD;
See my affliction from those who hate me,
You who lift me up from the gates of death,
That I may tell of all Your praises,
That in the gates of the daughter of Zion
I may rejoice in Your salvation.

(Psalm 9:13-14, NASB)

Last night, I had the unique privilege of listening to a story. You may be familiar with Teen Challenge, an international organization that ministers to gang members and addicts. It started back in the 50s when a rural preacher, David Wilkerson, felt called to reach out to “the least of these” in New York City. One of "these" was Nicky Cruz.

It was Nicky’s story I listened to last night. This is a man who knows what it means to have been “lifted up from the gates of death.” He was a hard-core gang leader. He even laughed at the sight of blood. But he met Jesus, and he’s spent his life doing exactly what the psalmist did: “tell of all [God’s] praises” and, last night, he proudly and boldly rejoiced in God’s salvation.

It was inspirational. And it reminded me of what I wrote yesterday. Because Nicky was willing to tell his story, countless people have come to know Jesus, and countless others have been inspired and challenged. Now you may not speak in front of crowds of hundreds or thousands, but you too can inspire and challenge others.

Tell your story. Tell of His praises. Rejoice in His salvation. You’ll touch lives. Guaranteed!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

God's Stories (Ps. 9:11-12)

Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion;
Declare among the peoples His deeds.
For He who requires blood remembers them;
He does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

(Psalm 9:11-12, NASB)

Two of my favorite things: singing praises to my Lord and declaring to others what He’s done in my life.

What a blessing to know when I do either, I’m obeying commandments! I’ve been equally blessed when I listen to others sing. And hearing how God has worked in others’ lives? I love it! My church began a “Kingdom Assignment” a few months ago, and this last Sunday, several of our congregation shared what God had done. It was such an amazing blessing!

How often do you tell your own story? And how often do you really listen to how God has worked in the lives of your brothers and sisters in Christ?

If you want to be inspired or encouraged or convicted, listen to those stories. Read biographies of men and women of faith. Your faith will grow. And you will be blessed.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

My Stronghold (Ps. 9:9-10)

The LORD also will be a stronghold for the oppressed,
A stronghold in times of trouble;
And those who know Your name will put their trust in You,
For You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.

(Psalm 9:9-10, NASB)

Oh, how I love the opening words of these verses. The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

I’m not oppressed by a human enemy or tyrant, but living with chronic health issues can definitely be oppressive. Anyone who deals with the same problem knows exactly what I mean. So often, chronic ill health takes over one’s life. From the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep, my body reminds me of its aches and pains. I can’t ever forget.

But I’m not alone in my pain. God is with me. And it’s that confidence that allows me to make it through each day. And not just make it, but thrive.

I put my trust in my Lord because He’s been overwhelmingly faithful. He’s never left my side. He’s never forsaken me. Even when I turned my back on Him, He never left me. He’s too loving and gracious to even think of leaving His children.

I hope you’re as comforted by these words as I am. Never forget your stronghold.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Our Forever God (Ps. 9:7-8)

But the LORD abides forever;
He has established His throne for judgment,
And He will judge the world in righteousness;
He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.

(Psalm 9:7-8, NASB)

These verses touch my heart. In fact, I want to add them to my list of scriptures I want to memorize. They’re encouraging and affirming and confidence-building.

The Lord abides forever. Our all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God is eternal. He’s always been and always will be.

He has established His throne for judgment. Every single person who’s lived, is now living, or will live in the future will stand before God’s throne. Each of us will either be judged for what we didn’t do (accept God’s gift of salvation) or awarded for what we did do (those things believers did to serve God and others).

And He will judge the world in righteousness. God is holy, righteous. We can be assured God will judge each of us through His heart of righteousness, through His eyes of love.

He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity. And in His righteousness, He’ll judge fairly. He’ll honor the decision many will make: To follow Him. He’ll equally honor the decision many others will make: To reject Him.

So when you feel overwhelmed by life, when it seems the enemy is winning, remember: Our eternal God truly is in control. He is righteous and just. And fair. And loving.

What a good God we serve!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Very Memory (Ps. 9:4-6)

For You have maintained my just cause;
You have sat on the throne judging righteously.
You have rebuked the nations, You have destroyed the wicked;
You have blotted out their name forever and ever.
The enemy has come to an end in perpetual ruins,
And You have uprooted the cities;
The very memory of them has perished.

(Psalm 9:4-6, NASB)

I don’t know if David meant them to be, but these verses are quite prophetic. If you read about the nations that fought against Israel in David’s time, you’ll see that many of them don’t exist any longer.

I read these verses, though, and they become quite personal. I encourage you to read them the same way.

I’ve had “enemies.” I’ve faced the “wicked.” I’ve been attacked and abused. And even though I may not have seen it at the time, God always “maintained my just cause.” He always had my back, as they say. And although my own enemies may not have been destroyed, God has been gracious and has taken away the “very memory.” Or should I say, He’s taken away the power of those memories.

God continues to sit on His throne “judging righteously,” and I’m confident that one day anyone who hurt me, who hurt you, will be judged.

In the meantime, let God take the “very memory” of your own enemies from your heart and mind. Let Him remove the anger or unforgiveness you feel and replace it with His peace, His joy.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

When my enemies turn back,
They stumble and perish before You.

(Psalm 9:3, NASB)

We think we live in turbulent times … and we do indeed. However, if you read the Old Testament, you’ll see what turbulence times really were. David certainly knew turbulence. Constant wars. Enemies chasing him, seeking his death.

But he also knew God’s faithfulness. He knew he was God’s anointed king, and even through his sin and its consequences, David was confident in God’s ultimate protection. Time and time again, David prayed for victory over his enemies, and time and time again, God answered his prayer.

But not always. Sometimes the enemy won.

And sometimes the enemy seems to win against us as well. How often has someone hurt you or maligned you or tried to destroy you? And the enemy wins—or at least it appears so. We pray that he’ll stumble, yet he doesn’t.

At those times, the only thing we can do is exactly what David did: Cry out to God and trust He’ll protect us—whether or not our enemy stumbles or turns back.

And remember God is the ultimate Victor!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Telling God's Story (Ps. 9:1-2)

I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart;
I will tell of all Your wonders.
I will be glad and exult in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.

(Psalm 9:1-2, NASB)

What a wonderful privilege we have to serve the Sovereign Creator, the one true God, the Savior of mankind. He—the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God—can be known by those who choose to follow Him. He is personal. He desires a relationship with us. He’s not some far-off, disinterested God. Rather, He allows Himself to be intimately known.

How can we help but praise Him?

That’s why I love so many of the psalms. The words of gratitude and praise are so encouraging—and sometimes convicting.

Take the opening verses of Psalm 19. I too can give thanks to the Lord with all my heart. I am glad and exult in Him. I do sing praises to His name.

The conviction? Those words, “I will tell of all Your wonders.”

He is a wonderful, amazing God. He blesses beyond expectation. He carries me through the darkest valleys. He causes even the most difficult moments to turn out for good. He loves me as His own daughter.

Yet, how often to I tell others of “all [His] wonders”? Not often enough. I remember hearing someone ask, “If you had a cure for cancer, wouldn’t you tell everyone you knew?” I have the “cure” for soul cancer. I have the best story to tell.

And I need to tell it much more often.

Lord God, I do thank You and praise You. I do give You glory. Please continue to convict my heart to tell Your story to anyone who’ll listen, so they might give You glory as well. Amen.