Friday, September 30, 2016

Persecution ... It's Inevitable (1 Peter 3:13-17)

Today’s scripture: 1 Peter 3:13-17

Doesn’t it seem that everything is protected these days? Sexual orientation. Race. Gender. Religion … oh, unless you’re a Christian. Then all bets are off.

Stand up comics regularly denounce Christians. Politicians lambast us. Celebrities complain about our narrow-mindedness. And don’t get me started about the media.

But we shouldn’t be surprised. The apostle Peter warned us two millennia ago. We will likely “suffer for the sake of righteousness.” We can expect “intimidation.” We may even be “slandered” and people may “revile [our] good behavior in Christ.

So what are we to do when we face persecution because of our faith?

First, we’re to “sanctify Christ as Lord in [our] heart[s].” Sanctify means “to set apart.” We need to keep Christ fully in our hearts.

Second, we need to boldly—and gently—proclaim what we believe and why. And this means we need to know what we believe and why. We need to study God’s word, meditate on it, live by it (see Joshua 1:8).

If we stand up for our faith, we will be blessed. When we face the revilers, the jokesters, and the slanderers with intelligence and kindness, we will be blessed.

So “be ready to make a defense” of your faith. Because, sooner or later, you’ll need to stand firm.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

To Sum It Up ... (1 Peter 3:8-12)

Today’s scriptures: 1 Peter 3:8-12

Like a great attorney summing up his case, Peter recaps much of his previous exhortations. And what a recap it is. And far from easy. Read through the list of things we’re commanded to do. And then read it again.

We’re to be “
harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit.” Now sometimes, this is very easy. I can live in harmony with the nice guys, with my good friends. But this verse doesn’t say “only with those you like.” In fact, Peter makes it pretty clear. We’re not to be “returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead …”

Not easy at all. It’s really hard to “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39; Luke 6:29). That’s what we’re commanded to do, however. Why? Well, first, because we’re commanded … But God, our good Father, loves to bless His children. And He’ll bless us for “keeping our tongue from evil,” which includes saying nasty things about others. He’ll bless us for seeking and pursuing peace.

Peace. All of us, at all times, with all people. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

And Now for You, Men (1 Peter 3:7)

Today’s scriptures: 1 Peter 3:7

Yesterday, I addressed Peter’s exhortation for wives. Today, Peter talks to husbands. Now I know some take issue with the “someone weaker,” but that’s not what I want to focus on. There are a couple of key commands that may, for some of you wives out there, make submission a bit easier.

Husbands are commanded to live with their wives “in an understanding way …” One of the definitions for “understanding” is “friendly or harmonious relationship” according to Webster’s dictionary. Husbands are to live in harmony with their wives. Harmony speaks of unity, tranquility, smoothness.

Then comes a very important commandment: Husbands are to “show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life.” Two things here: honor equals esteem, but more importantly, we wives are “fellow heirs” of God’s grace. God doesn’t look at gender (Galatians 3:28). We are equal in His eyes as we’re covered by His grace and mercy.

Therefore, as wives show respect to their husbands, husbands are to honor their wives as they recognize our equality in God.

This is what makes marriage work: mutual love, mutual respect.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Biblical Submission ... For Her ... (1 Peter 3:1-6)

Today’s scripture: 1 Peter 3:1-6

I thought yesterday was controversial … I almost want to skip today’s verses because someone’s going to take issue with what I’m going to say. I can guarantee it. But if I’m going to go through 1 Peter verse by verse, I need to meditate on every verse, even those that are uncomfortable for me or for others.

So here we go.

Submission—biblical submission—has quite a negative rap these days. I believe it’s not as bad as people make it out to be. Several years ago, I wrote a Bible study for women in unequally yoked marriages, and I addressed this:

Submissive: Being willing to be subject to something
Did you catch that? To submit is an issue of willingness. I read recently that a wife-to-husband relationship is similar to a vice president-to-president relationship. Certainly a vice president is able to do as much (or perhaps more) than the president. They work together, often make decisions together. However, he willingly submits to the authority of the president because there needs to be one leader. In the same way, we as wives contribute and have a voice, but there does have to be a final authority. Submission does not mean we’re to accept bullying or abuse. Excerpted from You’re Not Alone © 2010 Sauni Rinehart
I believe there does need to be one leader in a marriage, one final decision maker. But I also believe in a healthy marriage, husbands and wives want the best for each other. So they’ll cooperate. They’ll discuss. They’ll compromise. So submission isn’t so difficult.

You may disagree, but I challenge you. If you’re in a Christian marriage, pray for God to work in your heart. Pray for that “imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit.”

Not a doormat. Not a whipping post. Rather, a woman of God who desires to be precious in the sight of her God.

(And wait until tomorrow; Peter talks to husbands!)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Submit to Authorities? Really? (1 Peter 2:13-20)

Today’s scripture: 1 Peter 2:13-20

Oh, today’s verses can be really controversial. Submission to “every human institution.” That can be hard. Really hard. Especially during this very controversial presidential race.

But that’s what we’re commanded to do; it is the “will of God.” And why? Because by honoring and submitting to authority, we represent Christ.

And then we’re commanded to “be submissive to [our] masters.” Peter used terms that would have been familiar to his immediate audience, but we who are working for someone else need to respect and submit to our employers, even if our employer is “unreasonable.” Ah, this is convicting. Peter knew what we’d be thinking centuries later: Sure, I can submit and respect my boss if he’s good to me, but when he’s unreasonable? Not a chance.

We’re not given that “out.” We need to honor our employers no matter what. And why? Not only do we represent Christ by “patiently enduring” harsh or unfair treatment, but we also please our Father. Our behavior “finds favor with God.”

It’s not easy. We live in a society of fallen heroes, corrupt politicians, uncaring bosses. We work hard and try to live as Christ would, and then we see evil win out—or so it seems.

Just remember two things: First, we are to work as unto God, not men (Col. 3:23); second, our ultimate Authority has already won the war (John 16:33).

Friday, September 23, 2016

How "Excellent" Are You? (1 Peter 2:11-12)

Today’s scripture: 1 Peter 2:11-12

Here’s something you should already know: The body of Christ should be an example to the world. We should be so generous to help the “least of these” that the world takes notice (Matt. 25:31-46). We should live honestly and morally. We should show love to all people, neighbors and enemies alike (Mark 12:31; Matt. 5:44).

Even if someone is sure about the whole Christianity thing, they should be impressed or inspired or intrigued by our actions.

They shouldn’t, as they often do, think that we’re hypocrites. That we say one thing (like loving neighbors and enemies) and do the opposite (like hating a particular group because of their race). Or condemning a particular group because of their lifestyle.

We really need to be looking at the logs in our own eyes instead of the specks in the eyes of others (Matt. 7:4-5). We really do need to look out for the needs of others. I’ve heard it said that if just those who call themselves Christ-followers gave just the ten percent that’s mentioned in the Bible, we could wipe out world hunger and many diseases. And if we gave generously from our abundant blessings, we could wipe out poverty.

Instead, we hoard what we have. We buy McMansions and the latest automobile. We upgrade our electronics even though what we already have works well. We throw tons of food away. And watch the stock market more closely than we do our own spouses.

I’m as guilty as the next guy … And I’m feeling particularly convicted.

What do I do—what do you do—that looks “excellent” to unbelievers? What do I do—what do you do—that makes unbelievers wonder: What is different about her—in a very good way?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Wow! (1 Peter 2:9-10

Today’s scripture: 1 Peter 2:9-10

I love these verses. I really, truly do. There’s so much hope, so much goodness, so much grace. I’m not even sure where to start …

Read these words again and again. We’re chosen, royal, holy. We’re God’s precious possession. He’s “called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

Don’t you love it?

Oh, but don’t stop there. We are the people of God. We have received mercy.

Mercy. Not receiving what we deserve.

And what are we to do in return? “… proclaim the excellencies of Him.” Praise and worship our great God. And why wouldn’t we? We are chosen, my friends. We are holy in God’s eyes.

I hope you love these verses as much as I do. Mark them. And when you feel unworthy, remember them.

And praise God.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Cornerstone (1 Peter 2:7-8)

Today’s scripture: 1 Peter 2:7-8

Yesterday’s verses encouraged those who follow Jesus Christ. Today’s should encourage us as well, but in a very different way.

Jesus, the precious Cornerstone for us, is a “rock of offense” to those who don’t believe. And because of their unbelief, they are doomed.

So, how is this in any way encouraging, you ask? Verses like these encourage me to be bolder in sharing my faith. They encourage me to be salt and light to those who are blinded to God’s truth.

We all have people in our lives who don’t know Jesus, who are offended by our faith. And they need redemption. They need the peace and joy that comes from a relationship with our Savior.

They need to see Jesus in us. Are you a shining light for Him? Are you willing to be His advocate so unbelievers will come to know Him, so they can be obedient to His word and thus avoid eternal doom?

I’m encouraged—and convicted—today. I pray you are too.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Living Stones ... (1 Peter 2:4-6)

Today’s scripture: 1 Peter 2:4-6

Peter quotes the prophet Isaiah in these verses, the same Isaiah who prophesied of Jesus’ birth (9:6) and death (53:3-5). Prophecies fulfilled, by the way.

Jesus Christ, the Cornerstone, precious in God’s sight. As it should be. But we’re a part of the story. We’re “living stones,” part of God’s “spiritual house.”

Think about it: God chooses to use us. He allows us to participate in His plan. When we serve Him, when we follow His call on our lives, we’re offering “spiritual sacrifices.” I find it astounding that the God of the universe, the Sovereign Lord of all things, gives us the privilege of being stones to build His temple on earth.

He doesn’t need us. In fact, I often say things would be a lot easier without us! But He loves us so much He wants to bring us joy as we serve Him and others.

And I’m not disappointed. Are you?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Do You Long for It? (1 Peter 2:1-3)

Today’s scripture: 1 Peter 2:1-3

I asked Jesus to come into my heart when I was six, and as a child, I loved God’s Word. While I’m not sure I would have described myself as “longing” for His Word, I remember reading and memorizing scriptures with joy.

Then came my twenty-year rebellion. As my path meandered, times when I wanted nothing to do with God intersected with moments I desired nothing more than to find Him again.

I recommitted my life to Jesus in September of 1993, and for a while, I was content just knowing I was back in the fold. Praise God, that contentment didn’t last. About five years into my renewed relationship, I realized I needed more. If I was going to become the woman God desired me to be, if I was going to “grow in respect to salvation,” I needed really know God’s Word. I needed to meditate and study and respond.

I needed to long for it.

In the last 23 years, I still experienced seasons where that longing was suppressed—usually by my own selfishness or pride. But for quite a while now, I seek to spend time in God’s Word daily. And I find myself missing that time when I neglect it. I recognize such weakness in me that if I don’t take this crucial time, I tend to falter.

I’ve “tasted the kindness of the Lord,” and the least I can do is make time for Him, in prayer and enjoying the “pure milk” of the gift of my Father’s Word.

I pray for you, my friend. Long for the Word of your Father. Grow in Him. Be grateful to Him.

Friday, September 16, 2016

What To Do While Waiting for Eternity (1 Peter 1:22-25)

Today’s scripture: 1 Peter 1:22-25

I love how Peter describes our eternal salvation. We are born again imperishably “through the living and enduring word of God.” The apostle John described our Savior Jesus Christ as the living Word, and we are saved through His death and resurrection.

Because of that gift, we can be assured of eternity with God.

But these verses command us to do something while we remain on earth. We are to have a “sincere love of the brethren.” We are to “fervently love one another from the heart.”

I don’t know about you, but this pierces my heart a bit. I rejoice in the thought of being imperishably born again. I long for the day when I’ll discard this weak, fleshly body—especially on days like today when several of my chronic health issues are flaring—and spend eternity praising and worshiping my Lord.

But do I sincerely and fervently love my brothers and sisters? Do I, as the apostle Paul wrote, think more highly of them than I do of myself? (Phil. 2:3, my paraphrase).

I know I want to. I pray I do.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Faith In a Real Hope (1 Peter 1:20-21)

Today’s scripture: 1 Peter 1:20-21

One of the hardest concepts for nonbelievers to grasp is that of what we Christ-followers call the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Many accuse us of worshipping three gods. Or they argue that it’s impossible for there to be a three-in-one being.

It is difficult to grasp, and continues to be one of those mysteries we probably won’t fully understand this side of heaven. However, it’s clear throughout the Bible that our Sovereign God manifests Himself as God the Father—Creator, Sustainer, Provider—God the Son—Redeemer, Savior—and God the Spirit—Helper, Encourager, Convicter.

Today’s verses tell us that Jesus was foreknown before the foundation of the world. And in Genesis, we read that God created man in “Our image.” In the gospels, when Jesus—God the Son—was baptized, God the Father spoke and God the Holy Spirit descended like a dove.

In God’s perfect plan, humankind would need a Redeemer, a perfect sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sin. God the Son appeared on earth “for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God.” Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have hope and faith in God the Father.

Are you feeling hopeful? Or hopeless? Remember that the only real hope we have is in Christ. When all else fails, our triune God—Father, Son, and Spirit—will never fail.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

You Are Worthy! Yes, You! (1 Peter 1:17-19)

Today’s scripture: 1 Peter 1:17-19

Have you ever felt unworthy? And I don’t mean that put-yourself-down “I’m pond scum” kind of unworthy. I mean, have you ever pondered on what Jesus did for you? And then recognized how very unworthy you are?

Over the last couple of years, God has blessed me so abundantly. I live in a beautiful area. I am able to teach from the comfort of my home. I have a wonderful church where I serve by coordinating the drama ministry and by leading a small group. I’m married to a great man who supports me in so many ways.

I often shake my head (literally!), wondering how He could possibly love this flawed, weak woman as much as He does.

I am unworthy of His blessings. Oh, but He—in His unimaginable grace—sees worth in me. So much so, He trusts me to help fulfill His mission. Amazing grace.

Then I read verses like this, and I’m humbled again. And convicted.

Humbled because I am redeemed by the “precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” God the Father saw enough worth in me, He sent His beloved Son to pay the price for my sin (John 3:16). I resonate with the words of the psalmist: “Why do you bother with us? Why take a second look our way?” (MSG, 8:4).

Convicted because I have to ask myself, do I really “conduct [myself] with fear [with reverent awe] during the time of [my] stay on earth”? I pray I do. I know I want to. It’s my heart’s desire to somehow, in some small way, give back to God a fraction of what He’s given me.

To somehow let Him know how grateful I am He sees worth in this cracked, unworthy vessel.

Amazing grace. Indeed.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Be Holy? Really? Me? (1 Peter 1:13-16)

Today’s scripture: 1 Peter 1:13-16

As I’ve heard many pastors say, when you see a “therefore” in the Bible, you need ask yourself what it’s “there for.”

Yesterday’s passage spoke of prophets serving us and preaching the “gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.” Today’s verses now put the focus on us. If indeed the prophets spoke truth about the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus—and I believe with all my heart they did—then what are we to do to continue to proclaim the gospel—the good news?

We have a pretty concise “to do” list here:

Prepare our minds for action Keep sober in spirit Fix our hope completely (Did you get that? Completely) on grace Do not be conformed to former lusts
And finally:
Be holy
Wow. I don’t know about you, but this list is pretty daunting. In fact the “easiest” of these tasks (for me, at least) is fixing my hope on grace. I am so very, very grateful that, 46 years ago, God adopted me as His beloved daughter. I’m equally grateful that, 23 years ago, He brought this prodigal back to Himself. I understand grace.

I can even handle being prepared for action, keeping sober in spirit, and not being conformed to former lust—that’s where grace comes in.

But that last? Be holy? Me? With all my flaws and weaknesses and brokenness? Are you kidding me?

I’m far from holy. You may be thinking the same about yourself.

Ah, but it’s not about us. It’s not about me. I’m holy because the One to whom I belong is holy. When I gave my life completely and irrevocably to God, I was washed clean. I was made righteous in His eyes.

And in gratitude, I strive to live as closely to how Christ lived as I can. I desire my Lord’s will. I want to follow His plan.

And I, with His grace, am becoming more and more like my Savior.

Thank You, Abba, for seeing the worth in me. Thank Your for looking past my rebellion, my deliberate sin. Thank You for making me holy in your eyes. Amen.

Monday, September 12, 2016

An Amazing Gift (1 Peter 1:10-12)

Today’s scripture: 1 Peter 1:10-12

One thing I love about the Bible—among many—is the fact of already fulfilled prophecies. Old Testament prophecies about the birth and death of Christ. New Testament prophecies about the destruction of the temple.

I feel so blessed to know that because some prophecies have already been fulfilled, others will one day be also.

In these verses, Peter reminds his readers—that’s us, by the way—that the prophets of old predicted Christ’s suffering and His glory to come. Jesus did suffer, and one day, those who know Him will bask in His glory.

But there’s more in these verses. In fact, in a very real way, these verses define the reason God inspired men to write His words: to serve us. Have you thought of that? God didn’t have to leave a written account of His work. He could have just left it to general revelation through creation. Or He could have let us figure it out on our own (like that would happen!).

No. He loves us so much He left the gift of written word. Words inspired by Him, flowing through chosen men. Men who dedicated their lives to accurately scribe God’s inspiration.
Have you thought of what an amazing gift your Bible is? Have you praised God for speaking to you through its words? Don’t take it for granted, my friend. Read it. Meditate on it.

And thank God for it.

Friday, September 09, 2016

More Precious Than Gold (1 Peter 1:6-9)

Today’s scripture: 1Peter 1:6-9

I find it very interesting that some followers of Christ are surprised when trials come. Somehow they think that becoming a Christian means rainbows, cotton candy, and puppy dogs.

They haven’t read their Bible apparently.

I’ve written before about being refined as gold, and I love today’s scripture. Not the being “distressed by various trials” part. Frankly, I’d rather avoid trials. Suffering isn’t on my top ten favorite things to do. If God chose to grow me and mature my faith in any other way, I’d say, “Bring it on.”

But that’s not how God works. He knows we’re fickle and frail and fleshly. He knows we (or maybe it’s just me) tend to be self-sufficient when the skies are clear and the waves calm. It’s when the storms hit—when we face the fiery furnace—that we lift our hands up and plead for His presence.

So no, I’d rather not have the trials, but since I know I’m who I am today because of the difficult times and how they’ve shaped me, I can rejoice as Peter exhorted.

I can praise and glorify and honor my Lord. I can love Him through the trials. I can find hope, knowing that my trials are for “a little while.” And I can be confident God will use those trials to make me precious like gold. 

Thursday, September 08, 2016

A Living Hope (1 Peter 1:1-5)

Today’s scripture: 1 Peter 1:1-5

Well … we’ve spent well over a year and a half going through most of Paul’s epistles … It’s been quite a journey, and I pray you have been blessed. For the next few weeks, we’re going to visit the epistles from Peter.
And may I pray, as Peter prayed: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure!

We start our review of 1 Peter with hope—a living hope. We who follow Christ, who have personal relationships with Him, have been offered a great mercy from our Lord God.

We are promised an inheritance—imperishable and undefiled—in heaven.

We are promised protection—by the power of God through faith—here on earth.

When I read verses like this, I get homesick. I completely resonate with Paul’s words to the Philippians: “For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Phil. 1:23).

It gives me a hope I can live with on earth to know one day the cares and sufferings I experience now won’t even be a memory. I’ll be in the presence of the triune God!

Now, that’s a hope I can live with!

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Final Prayers from Paul (2 Timothy 4:19-22)

Today’s scripture: 2 Timothy 4:19-22

As we wrap up this journey through Paul’s second letter to Timothy, I pray the same for you as he did for his protégé.

I pray the Lord will be with your spirit. No matter your circumstances, never forget that God is with you (Deut. 31:6, 8; Josh. 1:5; Ps. 27:9; Heb. 13:5). Jesus is helping to bear your burdens (Matt. 11:29-30). He will give you an overwhelming peace (Phil. 4:6-7). The Holy Spirit will work in you to manifest His fruit (Gal. 5:22-23).

I pray God’s grace will shower you. We know salvation comes from grace (Eph.2:8-9). But God’s grace—His unmerited favor—covers you each and every day. As He blesses you with a roof over your head (whether you own your home or are renting a room in someone else’s), with sustenance, with relationships, remember it’s because He loves you. None of us deserves God’s grace, but He loves us so much He chooses to bless us abundantly (Eph. 3:20-21).

And so I pray along with Paul:  "
Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen" (Eph. 6:23-24).

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Great Promises! (2 Timothy 4:17-19)

Today’s scripture: 2 Timothy 4:17-19

Three promises … Two for today. One for tomorrow.

“The Lord [stands] with me and strengthen[s] me” each and every day. To be honest, this is the promise that keeps me going. If it weren’t for the confidence I have that God is with me every day, right by my side, I don’t know how I’d make it.

If you’ve been a regular follower of these daily devotionals, you know I suffer from several chronic health issues. I feel constant pain and weariness, and my energy level is usually quite low. I desperately need the strength of my heavenly Father to get me through each day. And that’s not an exaggeration. Too many mornings I wake up, and it’s all I can do to get out of bed. And yet, each evening, I crawl back into bed, knowing I accomplished much through God-given strength.

“The Lord rescue[s] me from every evil deed.” We’ve talked a lot about battles, and I find great comfort in knowing the Lord “has my back.” No matter what the enemy throws at me, God will rescue me. He’ll protect me as I continue this earthly journey.

And the promise for tomorrow?

One day, He “will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom.” One day, all my weariness and pain will end. One day, I will no longer have to battle against the enemy of my soul. One day, I’ll be in the very presence of my God—Father, Son, and Spirit.

How blessed I am to know that God never leaves me nor forsakes me here on earth (Deut. 31:6, 8; Josh. 1:5; Ps. 27:9; Heb. 13:5). And how even more blessed I am that one day I’ll shed this earthly skin and spend eternity with the Lord.

What great promises!

Monday, September 05, 2016

When You're Let Down ... (2 Timothy 4:9-16)

Today’s scripture: 2 Timothy 4:9-16

We were created for relationship. We need other people in our lives.

But sometimes those “others” let us down. Sometimes they harm us. Sometimes they desert us. Sometimes they oppose us.

What do we do then? In just a few words, Paul answered that question: “may it not be counted against them.”

I interpret these words as “Pray for them.” He didn’t want them to be harmed in return. He didn’t want revenge. Rather, he
“hope[ed] it [wouldn’t] be held against them” (CEV). And how would it not be “held against them”? Well, as far as I know, the only way something we don’t hold something against another person is if we forgive them. But often we can’t do that easily on our own. We need help.

And so, I believe Paul prayed for those who harmed him. I believe he chose to forgive them and, even more, he prayed for their redemption.

It reminds me of stories you read about a murder victim’s parent going to visit the killer and offering him forgiveness. And being able to do this is only possible by prayerfully seeking God’s help.

Is there anyone who has harmed you? Have you been deserted? It may be the hardest thing for you to do, but forgive them. Then pray for them. Don’t hold anything against them.

And let God do His work in them. 

Friday, September 02, 2016

Are You Ready for Your Departure? (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

Today’s scripture: 2 Timothy 4:6-8

One day, unless Jesus returns first, we will all face our “time of departure.” And I don’t know about you, but I so want to be able to sincerely say as Paul did:

I have fought the good fight. We are in a battle, folks. A rough, sometimes bloody battle. Every morning, we need to get up and put on our armor in preparation to combat whatever the enemy throws our way (Eph. 6:10-14).

I have finished the course. Paul liked to use athletic metaphors, and although I’m far from being an athlete, I understand wanting to “finish the course.” You don’t start a race if you don’t intend to finish. And what does it take to finish? Training. Perseverance. Focus. And that’s exactly how we should live our lives as Christ-followers. Training by studying God’s word. Persevering through trials. Keeping focus on the Lord and His will.

I have kept the faith. Faith isn’t always easy. Believing in what we can’t touch or see or hear seems contrary to logic. But that’s what being a Christian is all about. We believe in God—Father, Son, and Spirit—because we see His work in creation. We feel His presence as He works in and through us. We hear how He works in the lives of others.

Don’t you want to one day stand before your Lord God and receive your own crown of righteousness? You will if you submit your life to the righteous Judge and seek to do His will. Fight the fight. Finish the course. Keep the faith.

And receive your crown.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Know ... Really Know ... God's Word (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

Today’s scripture: 2 Timothy 4:1-5

Have I mentioned lately how much I love God’s word? And how much I love Paul’s letters? Sometimes, though, I read passages, and I’m almost overwhelmed with how much God speaks to my heart. This is one of those times.

I want to focus on two areas Paul writes about.

We must be ready to preach God’s word, patiently and lovingly. No, not all of us are gifted as teachers or preachers or evangelists. However, we all have opportunities to share God’s word. And so we need to know it. I’ve emphasized Bible study—real get-into-the-meat-of-it study—a lot lately, and it’s so very critical. How can you share with others something about which you don’t really know yourself? I challenge you: If you’re not already spending quality time in God’s word, start today. Be ready.

People in our world today aren’t willing to “endure sound doctrine.” This is the biggest tragedy I see in Christendom today. In order to justify choices or sometimes blatant sin, they seek teachers who will “tickle” their ears. In other words, who will tell them what they want to hear. They’re not seeking the real truth of the Bible—in fact, they even say the Bible isn’t really the inspired, inerrant word of God.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: If you call yourself a Christian, then be one. Read and study and know God’s word. Know what delights Him—and what breaks His heart. Believe Jesus when He said that He, and He alone, is the “way, truth, and life” and that no one can come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). Believe that those who choose to follow Him and commit their lives to Him will spend eternity with Him (John 3:16).

And those who don’t will spend eternity separated from Him. Remember, not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter God’s kingdom (Matt. 7:21-23).

Please. If you’re reading this, and you’ve allowed false teachers to tickle your ear, go to the source of truth. Read the book of John. And then read it again. See what the Lord Jesus Himself says about knowing and following Him.

And then commit to doing so. Submit your life completely to your loving Father. Trust me. It will be so very worth it … because being in a true relationship with Creator God is better than anything this world can offer. Anything.