Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Green Pastures. Still Waters (Ps. 23:2)

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
(Psalm 23:2, KJV)

When I read these verses, I have an instant mental picture of a meadow with lush, green grass. I see the breeze rustling the trees, and just over a gentle rise comes the song of a gently flowing stream.

I see myself flat on my back watching cotton candy clouds as they wisp overhead.

Quiet. Peacefulness.

And then I hear a voice—powerful, yet kind. It’s my gentle Shepherd.

“Rest, My child,” He soothes. “Shed the burdens of this day, and come to me. Let Me take whatever is causing you pain and share the load.” (See Matt. 11:28-30.)

So many times I let my daily pain and suffering steal my peace. I forget that my Lord wants to give me rest. Spiritual rest. Emotional rest. Physical rest.

And I can go to those green pastures. I can walk beside those still waters. I can experience peace that surpasses my human understanding, if only I let go (see Phil. 4:6-7).

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Lord is My Shepherd (Ps. 23:1)

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
(Psalm 23:1, KJV)

I realized that in the six years I’ve been writing this daily devotional, I haven’t meditated on one of the best known and well-loved psalms. And since I can really use the comfort of the familiar today, I’m not only going to spend the next few days in Psalm 23, but I’m also going to use the translation I memorized as a child. Yes, the language is a bit archaic, but there’s something about the dignity of the King James language that soothes my soul … and it could use some soothing!

So we begin …

The LORD is my shepherd
. And what does a shepherd do? He watches out over his sheep. He protects and comforts them. He lifts them up when they’ve fallen. He keeps predators at bay. And he searches for them when they wander away.

And my Lord does all that for me—for you.

I shall not want. A good shepherd provides shelter and sustenance for his sheep. He meets their needs.

And my Lord provides for my needs as well.

Days like today when I have nothing to give—physically or emotionally—I’m comforted by the reminder that I’m not alone.

My good Shepherd watches over me. He protects me from the enemy. He lifts me up and carries me. He provides for my needs.

Thank You, Lord God, for being my good Shepherd. Thank You for carrying me this day … and every day.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Grow in Grace and Knowledge (2 Peter 3:17-18)

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)

Peter ends his second letter with a final exhortation. Since we know some will distort the truth, we need to be on guard. We need to be so saturated with God’s word and its truth that no one or nothing can cause us to fall away.

Instead, we need to continually “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Every day should find us eager to discover what God wants us to know of Him. We should read and study and dig deeper into His word. We should pray and ask for wisdom and discernment. We should be on alert against those who would try to pull our eyes and heart from our Lord.

And in all things and all ways we should glorify our God—Father, Son, and Spirit. Now on earth, and then eagerly awaiting the day when we will have the privilege of glorifying Him for eternity.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Spotless and Blameless (2 Peter 3:13-16)

But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
(2 Peter 3:13-16, NASB)

We are looking forward to that new heavens and a new earth. Well, I guess I should speak only for myself, but I’m really looking forward to being with my Lord for eternity. And as we learned yesterday, we need to be diligent about our behavior. How will Jesus find you when He returns? Will you be “spotless and blameless”—or as close to these as possible? Will He find you sharing His truth or reading His word or loving others?

What can we do to be fully prepared for Christ’s return?

We need to wisely study God’s word. Pray for the Spirit’s discernment as we read. We can’t rely on the teachings of those who are “untaught and unstable,” for they will distort His truth. That distortion will destroy them … don’t let it destroy you as well.

The bottom line: Know God. Know His word. Live as Christ-like as possible. Not easy. Not simple. But well worth it. For as I wrote yesterday, don’t you want to hear the Father say to you, with love and pride in His voice, “Well done, My good and faithful servant”?

I know I do.

Friday, January 27, 2012

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 do you want Him to find you praying? Reading God’s word? Volunteering at a shelter? Encouraging someone?

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?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Lord Is Not Slow (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 47 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 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.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Bible Is Truth (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. 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." 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. 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 do 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.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

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, walked through the Red Sea on dry land, and were 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.

Monday, January 23, 2012

State of the Heart (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 18 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've 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.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Springs Without Water (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.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

So Many Deceived (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 false prophets and 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 anyone else.

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.

Friday, January 20, 2012

God's Judgment (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. There have always been those who “indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires” or those who “despise authority” or those who are “self-willed.” And seriously, twice God destroyed all but a handful of people because of their depravity—once the entire earthly population in Noah’s day, and once two cities in Abraham’s.

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!”

Thursday, January 19, 2012

False Prophets and Teachers (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.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Word is Truth (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 men’s. Each and every word in the Bible was inspired by God. They were scribed by men, yes, but they were “moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

Many skeptics assert that the Bible is full of contradictions or that so many translations or interpretations have diluted its original meaning. But I believe that, 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. And through those words, we learn about Him and His will. We learn about His heart and love for His children.

What an amazing gift with which we've been blessed!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Eyewitness Account (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 bring life from death. He was with Jesus when He taught kingdom truths.

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

Then 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 there when Jesus 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 truth.

Monday, January 16, 2012

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 be all those things Peter mentioned in verses 5-7.

Or at least prayerfully attempt to be.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Go Back to the Source (2 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 God’s word jog your memory. Let other believers help remind you of what you already know to be true.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Practice, Practice, Practice (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? I'm in rehearsals for one right now. And the cast and I have been rehearsing ... a lot. When you're in a play, you have rehearsal after rehearsal after rehearsal. You practice. And it’s only by practicing 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.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Neither Useless nor Unfruitful (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. Our knowledge of Christ, our perseverance, our brotherly love can be used by God to build His kingdom.

What a gift!

I have the privilege of speaking at women’s groups throughout each year. I am so blessed when women tell me how God has inspired them and encouraged them through the words He has given me. It’s amazing to me God chooses to use the broken and flawed to fulfill His purpose. Each time I have the wonderful gift of speaking, I’m humbly grateful. He’s made me 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.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Living the Christian Life (2 Peter 1:5-5)

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.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Our Amazing and Gracious God (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. And 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.

For the last two years, my husband and I have taken road trips for our annual vacations. In 2010, we drove up the California coast through the Redwoods up in to Oregon and then down through Yosemite. The towering, majestic trees. The roaring ocean. The magnificent, awe-inspiring mountain peaks.

And then in 2011, we visited Zion and Bryce National Parks in southern Utah. Words just can’t describe …

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.”


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Multiplied Grace and Peace (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 really 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 Peter's second letter, 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.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Stand Firm in God's Grace (1 Peter 5:10-14)

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen. Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it! She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace be to you all who are in Christ.
(1 Peter 5:10-14, NASB)

How sad … We leave 1Peter today. I don’t know about you, but this little book has been encouraging, affirming, convicting … sometimes all at once!

What an appropriate closing, though. Yes, we will suffer “for a little while” as we inhabit these earthly bodies during our temporary stay on earth. While we’re here, God will “perfect, strengthen, and establish” us. Every day we’re on earth, we must strive to be more like Christ, knowing our ultimate reward is spending eternity with our Lord.

So as Peter wrote two thousand years ago: “… this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it!”

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Be On Alert (1 Peter 5:8-9)

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.
(1 Peter 5:8-9, NASB)

You do know you’re in a battle, right? If you follow Jesus, then the enemy of our souls, the devil, wants nothing more than to hinder your walk. He’s going to try to win a battle or two. He’s going to try to keep you from doing what God has created you to do.

He’ll whisper lies in your ear. He’ll send his minions to put roadblocks in your way. He’ll use your own areas of weakness to bring you down.

But guess what, my friend. We can resist him. We can bind him in the name of Jesus.

The key? We must be alert. We must be prepared to combat his lies with the truth of God’s Word. Just as our Lord Jesus did, when the enemy comes and tells us those lies, we can use the words of the Scriptures to counter them. That’s why it’s so very, very important that we know the Bible.

I know I’ve written about this many, many times, but it’s only because I know from personal experience just how critical it is to spend time every single day with the Lord. I can’t encourage you enough to make time to read, study, and meditate on God’s word—every single day. Pray without ceasing. Spend time of quiet solitude, just listening to God’s voice.

Every single day.

And then you’ll be ready to fight the battle.

Oh, and remember one last very important thing: Yes, the devil is doing his best to win battles—and he may indeed win sometimes. But we know, beyond doubt, Who wins the war (John 16:33).

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Cast All Your Cares (1 Peter 5:5-7)

You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:5-7, NASB)

These verses begin with Peter’s exhortation to younger men respecting elders, but the real truth is mutual humility. As children of God, we should always “esteem others better than” ourselves (Philippians 2:3, NKJV). None of us is greater than another in the eyes of God. Some may have more notoriety or fame or authority in the world’s eyes, but to God, each and every one of us is one of His precious children.

God loves humble hearts because, with humility, we take our focus off of ourselves and on to Him, the Sovereign Creator, the Almighty God.

Then Peter throws in this little gem. In our humility, we can trust God. Where does it say that, you ask? Read the very last part: We can confidently cast every anxiety (the NKJV says “care”) at the foot of the throne. And why? Because God cares for us. He loves us unconditionally with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3, NASB). We can trust Him with every single circumstance, good or bad.

I’ll leave you this morning with The Message paraphrase of verse 7: “Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.”

Be blessed this day!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Being a Godly Example (1 Peter 5:1-4)

Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
(1 Peter 5:1-4, NASB)

We live in a society that worships youth. And we spend a lot of money trying to look as young as possible. We’re bombarded with ads about miracle lotions that tighten skin, makeup that erases wrinkles, dyes that cover gray … And don’t get me started about plastic surgery. You probably heard about that young starlet who had already had several surgeries by the time she was 23. It’s nuts!

I have to admit, I use some products that supposedly camouflage some signs of aging, and I do try to hide the gray. And there are definitely some aspects of growing older that kind of … well, suck! Aches and pains. Short-term memory problems. Keeping reading glasses throughout my house so I can see …

But the Bible reminds us that being older is a blessing. We who are older should be eager examples to those younger than we are. God has given us stories to tell, wisdom to share, shoulders to offer. I love being part of a faith-based community theater, but what I love most is being able to spend time with young women, being an honorary “mama” and friend to them. I pray I’m being an example of a godly woman.

We who are older are given the privilege of mentoring and teaching younger people. But that privilege requires our being true examples of our Lord. As I’ve written many times, we need to be grounded in faith. We need to know God’s word. We need to pursue His will and live according to His commandments.

Only then can we be “shepherds” to those younger than we—either in age or in faith. Are you prepared to shepherd well?

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Share the Good News (1 Peter 4:17-19)

For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER? Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.
(1 Peter 4:17-19, NASB)

Today’s verses hurt my heart. Peter asks, “… what will become of the godless man and the sinner?” The answer is, he’ll be eternally separated from God.

We all know people who aren’t followers of Christ, and verses like these should urge us to share the wonderful truth of salvation with them, as lovingly as we can. They need to understand that they will face judgment. They will spend eternity apart from Creator God.

We also need to pray for softened hearts—every day. We need to reflect Christ by being loving, patient, peaceful, gentle, and kind. We need to remember that we could very well be the only example of Christ they see.

Wow. I don’t know about you, but that makes the preceding verses even more convicting. We need to obey God. We need to live according to His commandments. We need to consistently spend time with Him, learning more, becoming more whom He created us to be.

Yes, the bottom line is it’s between our unbelieving friends and God. We cannot save them. But we can be light to a dark world, especially to those closest to us.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Suffer as a Christian (1 Peter 4:14-16)

If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.
(1 Peter 4:14-16, NASB)

It’s pretty simple. Obey God, and be blessed. Disobey God, and be cursed. I was reading Deuteronomy this morning, and I was struck by verses 1 and 2 in chapter 28. God tells the people of Israel, if they “diligently obey” Him and are “careful to do all His commandments,” He promised overly-abundant blessings, which will “come upon … and overtake” them.

Can you imagine being “overtaken” by God’s blessings? How awesome is that?!

Now not everything that was written in the books of the law pertains to us. Many of the commandments were for a specific time and place. But I do know this: Obeying God is for all times and all places.

If I love God, if I want to follow Him, I’ll obey His commandments. That’s what I learn over and over in the Old Testament. Then I learn something more in the New Testament: Many won’t like my following God’s commandments. Many will revile me or persecute me because of my faith.

I can expect this, but I can also know God will bless me as I obey Him. I don’t have to be—I must not be—ashamed if I “suffer as a Christian.” Instead, I can—and must—glorify my Lord God and know He’ll bless me as I do.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Fiery Ordeal (1 Peter 4:12-13)

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
(1 Peter 4:12-13, NASB)

I’ve written about this before, and I’m sure I’ll write about it again. We should expect trials. We should expect suffering. Christ Himself told us we’d suffer as He suffered. We’d be persecuted as He was persecuted.

Why is it then so many of us complain or whine when we face adversity? I’m not saying we can’t cry out to God in our suffering. The psalmists certainly did. I’m not saying we can’t ask “why?” Job certainly did.

We don’t have to understand. We don’t even have to like it. But we shouldn’t be surprised.

However, we should rejoice. I know it’s an oxymoron: joyful suffering. But in Christ, we can rejoice even through trials and tribulations. We can know, with certainty, God will use every situation—good and bad—for His ultimate good. And we can give glory to God … at all times and in all ways.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Employing Our Gifts (1 Peter 4:10-11)

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
(1 Peter 4:10-11, NASB)

God is so good! He is loving and gracious and merciful. He provides and protects. He blesses us so far beyond our expectations.

And He invites us to work with Him to fulfill His plans. That just blows my mind.

The Sovereign Creator, the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God of the universe invites us—you and me—to help fulfill His plans. I often say He could certainly do it better without me, but He chooses to bless me by allowing me to participate.

He’s given His children gifts to use to serve Him and others. And everything we do with those gifts must be done for His glory, and His glory alone. God has given me the gift of encouragement, and He uses that gift as I speak, write, sing, act or provide a shoulder to a hurting friend. And I pray every time I’m blessed to use my God-given gift that I do give glory to Him. I remind myself regularly that anything I’m able to do—everything I’m able to do—is only because of God’s amazing love and grace for me.

You’re gifted as well. Do you know how God has gifted you? If you don’t, find out. And then joyfully use your gift to serve others and glorify God.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2012!

I want to take a moment to thank each of you who reads my daily devotional. I've often said I'd write this devotional even if no one ever read it. It's been such a wonderful part of my own spiritual journey. But I'm so blessed that the Lord has also blessed you through the words He gives me!

Please know that I'll be praying for you throughout this year.

I pray for health ... or strength to handle any ill health you experience.

I pray for joy ... or comfort in times of sorrow.

I pray for peace ... or God's arms to hold you when the storms come.

In all things, I pray you'll draw closer to our Lord this year. And if you don't know Him personally, may this be the year you're covered with His grace as you accept the free gift of salvation.

And so I say again, Happy New Year!!!