August 20, 2015
This section of Peter’s letter to the church focuses on the necessary behaviors in order to grow in the knowledge of God. While geared for those just beginning in their walk with the Lord, this section of chapter 2 gives good direction for all of us. We already possess an understanding of God’s love, God’s power, God’s gift of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ and how that gift can empower us. How that gift allows us to avoid the evil desires in order to share in Jesus’ divine nature (which is powered by God). In order to obtain a full portion of that empowerment however, Peter tells the early church (and the body of believers today) to “make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises to your life,” in verse 5. In other words this will require us to WORK at it. To grow in knowledge of anything requires a measure of dedication to said topic. We attend classes in order to gain knowledge of mathematics, and to truly understand what we received in class we also complete the problems assigned to us. A growing knowledge of God functions the same way. We cannot just say we are God’s children if we want our knowledge of Him to grow. We cannot just go to church and listen to the choir sing and listen to the pastor preach if we want our knowledge of God to grow. We have to practice it daily, just like those math problems. We have to remember to give Him thanks for waking us up and giving us today (since it’s always a day that He made anyway). We have to show love to those family members or coworkers or strangers on the train that agitate us like no one else can. We have to obey when God orders our steps, even if we don’t understand it, or don’t like it.
Yes, work is tough sometimes. Thankfully for us when we begin to “make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises to your life,” God will grant us the guidance, direction and strength necessary to carry out the work. All we need to do is ask. Further benefits and blessings resulting from all this work are detailed in verses 5-11.
A good place to start all of this work is listening to, reading and studying the scriptures. The scriptures, the Word of God, is a fundamental part of our faith. And strong fundamentals often lead to success in our endeavors.
Scripture is the beginning of relationship building conversations with God. Start poring through God’s word in good times and rough times and watch how God will begin to order your steps. Find a Bible Study where you can join others working toward that growing knowledge of God. Remember, we’re not supposed to sit by ourselves with God’s word. Hebrews 10:24 and 25 discusses the importance of gathering with other believers and how all benefit through this gathering. While our walk with the Lord is a personal walk, our experiences can offer insight to others, and other people’s experiences can offer insight to us. Attend Bible Study with other believers and ask questions. Go to the Lord as a group with your inquiries sometimes and watch the answers you receive.
August 13, 2015
Do not be surprised when you go through trials because you are a Christian. Sometimes people think that once they accept Christ as their Lord and Savior their lives will play out problem free. The scriptures do not say life plays out problem free once you accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. There are tremendous benefits (including everlasting salvation, a closer walk with the Lord while alive, a truer understanding of your specific purpose because of this closer walk and many others) to believing in Jesus Christ. But if Jesus himself went through trials and tribulations while on Earth, we as Christians must expect to do so as well.
Sometimes those trials will include mistreatment from other people, who either don’t understand your faith or are specifically looking to attack you because of your faith. Jesus’ teachings were turning the status quo upside down in his day and there were people who fought tooth and nail to maintain this status quo. The same is true today. The standards laid down by the Lord often conflict with what is acceptable in society. Because of this, our families may treat us harshly, our employers may pass us over for promotions since we honor the Sabbath day, some government officials will co-sign legislature that contradicts God’s word while other officials who claim to love Christ, fail to show that love in how they govern. And there are some people who are arrested, jailed and even killed for their belief in Jesus (many nations outlaw Christianity). When these trials (and others) arise, remember Peter’s words in verse 19 “So if you are suffering according to God’s will, keep on doing what is right, and trust yourself to the God who made you, for He will never fail you.” –New Living Translation.
Yes, it is tough to receive the harsh treatment without wanting to retaliate. We’re human and we want to defend ourselves against these things. It is then we must exercise caution and proceed in the way that God wants us to proceed. And God does not ask us to behave as weaklings, but to utilize the strength that He provides to carry out his will in all things. We are not to cower but stand in the authority that He gives. Remember, as a Christian your behavior is a reflection on the whole body of believers. So what you do can either win more souls for Christ, or turn people away. Keep on doing what is right, and trust yourself to the God who made you, for He will never fail you.I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It’s easy. Just click “Edit Text” or double click me to add your own content and make changes to the font. Feel free to drag and drop me anywhere you like on your page. I’m a great place for you to tell a story and let your users know a little more about you.
These verses are directed specifically to the elders of the church, the leaders. Peter encourages them to care for the flock of God and watch over it willingly, not grudgingly. He also says to do it out of a want to serve God, not for what can be received in return. Here Peter is simply reflecting the directive given to him by Jesus that is recorded in John 21:15-19.
While these words are directed to the elders specifically, they also give us who are not elders an idea of what an elder should act like. Using God’s word as a guide can keep us away from false teachers and false preachers. (Paul gives a word about this in Acts 20:28-31)
The devil’s attacks can be broad, as well as sneaky. He is out to devour our souls, so He will entice us with things that appeal to us and feel like the purest form of right but are ultimately designed to destroy us. He may also employ methods designed to tire and weaken us so we will lose focus and surrender to his whims.
And the truth is there will be days when we sin; we will lash out in anger against someone unfairly, we will take something that is not ours, we will fail to honor our parents, we will abuse our bodies chemically and sexually, we will deceive others for selfish gain…we will sin. The key is to confess these sins to the Lord, ask forgiveness of those we violated, REPENT and move on with life. We are not to wallow in the sins we committed, that is what Satan wants us to do. When we wallow, we fail to fully accept God’s grace and forgiveness for what we’ve done, which keeps us from living the life that God wants us to live. And that separation from God can only lead to worse things.
Remember, you are not alone in these things. Accept encouragement from others and share encouragement with those who need it.