February 6 – Faithfulness – He Doesn’t Want Anyone to Perish

Read 2 Peter 3: 3-9

John Schlitt sang about being a Christian in the group PETRA. When he sings, “he brings home the bacon”. He sang THE LAST DAZE, based on 2 Peter 3:3: “First off, you need to know that in the last days, mockers are going to have a heyday.”

Mockers. You know, critics. They put me into a daze sometimes. How do you deal with critics?

For 20 years, this writer was a high school varsity basketball coach. While coaching a losing team one season, this coach felt like he was in a daze. Everything we tried that year went wrong. I was “roast coach.” We were outmanned and outcoached. We needed time and a lot of practice. Could a simple basketball season seem like a thousand years? No, but I considered it.

I was in a daze much of the time. I couldn’t sleep. I learned a lot. I dealt with it by talking to my wife and my family – that helped me keep things in perspective. One thing I learned is that a team that has a losing record can be very desperate.

I have observed that people who are struggling in life can also be desperate. Have you ever felt that way? How do you deal with it? How do you deal with criticism? Critics may be helpful if I have the right attitude.

Ignoring them may not be effective.

Peter was talking about the return of Christ, and that he does not want anyone to perish without knowing Him. In verse 5, Peter talks about how scoffers ignored talk of the flood (Gen 6 and 7). How do you think that went?

“The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.” (7:24)

Have you noticed that Jesus constantly encounters critics? The leaders of our churches, schools and states have certainly felt bewildered and in a daze during the pandemic. It is a true test of Christian leadership! The critics are everywhere and these leaders are trying to do the right thing. Someone always disagrees. It is my hope and prayer that they can deal with critics in a positive way.

Peter said in verse 8 that “With the Lord a day is like 1000 years, and 1000 years are like a day.” He doesn’t want anyone to perish. He wants everyone to know and accept Jesus Christ as THE Son of God.

If I am a Christian, then I deal with critics with a Christian response so “everyone” can see Christ living in me:

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

Ephesians 4:2

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant.”

1 Cor 13:4

“Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Gal 6:9

Jesus listened to critics with gentless, kindness and patience.

How about you?

Tom Weckesser

December 27 – Jonah

Read 2 Peter 3:9

There’s a specific strategy to getting a toddler to go anywhere. If you are ever at Grace Church and see our family of three in the halls, it’s quite possible you will see us in the “Bait” formation. This is when Kelly leads the way with Mattie in the middle and me behind Mattie. You see, Mattie is SUCH a mommy’s boy in that, if Kelly goes anywhere, Mattie is usually not far behind. In the “Bait” formation, Kelly motivates Mattie to move and I make sure he gets there by guiding him in the right direction, reminding him that we’re following Mommy.

Getting a toddler to do anything takes a lot of patience. There are some times when my patience has been tested that my mind drifts to the patience which God has with us. Even worse than a toddler taking his SWEET OLD TIME getting from point A to point B, we must be terrible to keep an eye on. For all that God has done for us by saving us from eternal damnation in Hell by sending His only Son to die a gruesome death while having the wrath of God dished out upon Him, we repay Him with, I’m sure, headaches and eye rolls.

None of us are perfect but God’s patience is.

A great example of God’s patience comes in the book of Jonah. This is a story where God reaches out to a prophet named Jonah, telling him to go to a super pagan city and share the gospel with them. Jonah isn’t too thrilled to go on this excursion and we read about his adventure of running away from God.

Should be fun.

Our reading today in 2 Peter describes the patience which God shows in wanting no one to breathe their last breath while apart from Him. Peter writes that, what we think is slow, isn’t slow to God. He has a plan of redemption that has been in motion since Genesis 3.

Over the next 4 days, we will read about God’s plan for the people of Nineveh and Jonah’s journey of running from God to being an integral part of the salvation of a city far from God.

Jake Lawson

September 14 – Heaven FAQ’s – What do we mean when we say “heaven”?

Read 2 Peter 3:1-13

Over the next fourteen days, we will be exploring some key questions that are often asked about heaven…probably some of the questions you have asked or thought. Today’s question is a great place to start. What do we mean when we talk about “heaven”?

Did you realize that the Bible uses the word “heaven” in at least three different ways? Let’s take a closer look.

  1. There are the present, stellar heavens. Peter reminds us that these were created by God as He spoke them into existence (2 Pet. 3:5 cf. Gen. 1:1). These heavens contain the vastness of planets, stars, and other galaxies. The present heavens declare God’s glory (Ps. 19:1) and display His eternal power and divine nature (Rom. 1:20). One, day, according to Peter, these heavens will be destroyed (2 Pet. 3:7).
  2. There is also heaven, the current dwelling place of God. John was invited to this heaven in Revelation 4. As will be seen in a future devotional, it is also the dwelling place of angels and a place of worship. It is to this heaven that all are invited, but only those who repent in faith in Jesus Christ will come (2 Pet. 3:9). One day, the redeemed from every tribe, language, people, and nation will gather there (Rev. 5:9).
  3. There is the future New Heaven. The fallen state of creation is only temporary. In the future, a New Heaven and New Earth will replace the current one (2 Pet. 3:7; Rev. 21:1). This will be a place where the redeemed will gather eternally. It is a place where God’s glory will be eternal and the repercussions of man’s fall will be eliminated (Rev. 21, 22). This will be the heaven and earth God intended from the outset.

Both descriptions #2 and #3 above have overlaps. God, angels, and the redeemed inhabit both. Throughout this series, we will sometimes refer to “heaven” without discriminating between the two.

Let’s close for today, though, with three key questions:

  1. Are you confident that you will one day join God in heaven? (Check out 1 John 5:11, 12.)
  2. Are you living life with expectations of accountability before God in heaven? (Followers of Jesus will be rewarded according to the service and the conduct of their lives according to 2 Corinthians 5:10.)
  3. Are you boldly and compassionately inviting others to be with God in heaven? (The message is as simple as John 3:16.)

Steve Kern

May 11 – When I Get Out – Giving Up Control and Knowing Him

Read Colossians 3:16a and 2 Peter 1:2

I admit it. I’m a bit of a control freak. Many leaders are. In fact, I’m not even a big fan of surprises…because they’re out of my control!

But I have been learning there are many things I cannot control in life. That lack of control can create not only uncertainty, but also anxiety.

So you can guess how I initially responded during this coronavirus quarantine. I loved spending more time at home with my wife, but I also felt a bit like a caged animal because all of this was out of my control.

Recent days have reminded me of bedrock truths on which I have built my life – especially the importance of the Word of God. Nothing produces peace during uncertain times like the perspective which comes from knowing that God is in control. That’s why Paul wrote to the Colossians: “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you….” (Colossians 3:16a NASB).

It’s a bit like flying. I’m not a big fan of turbulence, but few things are more exhilarating than breaking through clouds below into the calm and glow of a higher altitude. That’s what the Word of God does for us. It provides perspective when things are turbulent down here on earth.

Early in this season of social distancing, Pastor Randy Moomaw challenged us to memorize 2 Peter, and I joined the challenge. Immediately I was confronted with these words: “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:2 – NIV).

When Peter uses the word “knowledge,” he’s talking about knowledge that comes by personal experience.  That personal knowledge of God comes through interacting consistently with His Word.

Sure enough! God showed me again that peace does not come when I’m in control. It only comes to me when I understand that He is in control.

In the middle of all this uncertainty, I’ve been reminded that real peace is available only through my personal knowledge of Him!

And I’m taking that with me to “the other side” of this quarantine!  I hope you will, too!

Bob Fetterhoff

January 13 – God’s Will – God’s will…salvation

Read 2 Peter 3:1-18

As we move from our teens into our twenties, most of us wrestle with burning questions like:

  • What career should I pursue?
  • Should I attend college?
  • Should I marry?  If so, whom?
  • Where should I live?

During that time, many people earnestly desire to know God’s individual and specific will for them.  But there are dimensions of the will of God that are even more fundamental than these.  Although the need for answers to these aspects of God’s will may not be felt as intensely, they are arguably much more important.  And rather than being unique to an individual, these are universal for all.

In these first few days of the study of God’s will, we want to explore these more universal expressions of God’s will for people.  The first of these is captured in the words of 2 Peter 3:9:

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

God wants all people to repent and spend eternity with Him.

The reality is that everyone has sinned.  Each one of us has violated God’s moral plan for mankind.  The consequences of sin are vast.  As a result, we are spiritually dead, separated from God, and deserving of eternal punishment.  Turning over a new leaf, just won’t resolve this problem.  As a result, reconciling our relationship with God represents a human impossibility, and it marks the biggest need of our lives . . . bigger than the understanding of what job to take or the person to marry.

But God has made that possible.  Through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, He offers to reconcile our relationship.  His desire for all is that we experience that through repentant faith in Christ.

Thankfully, He is patient with us.  He gives each of us an entire lifetime.  He brings circumstances, messengers, and reminders of His powerful glory into each person’s life.  All of these prompt individuals to surrender to Christ in repentant faith.

That is His will for you and for everyone you will encounter today!

Steve Kern

May 12: Growth

Read 2 Peter 1:1-11

As the Vine, Jesus promises growth and fruitfulness to those who remain in Him.  Now, I have no propensity for biological terms, no natural tendencies toward physiological studies of any kind. Just ask Mr. Stewart, my 10th grade biology teacher. I do, however, understand that each of us is born with a sort-of program called DNA that holds all it needs for an entire lifetime’s worth of growth. That DNA will not multiply or change according to our age or our maturity. We have it at birth.

In a very real way, the same can be said of our spiritual DNA. According to the Apostle Peter, we already have “everything we need for life and godliness (v3).” In fact, the very God Whose goodness and glory called us to this new life in Him through faith. And the very God Who makes us righteous when we trust His Son Jesus Christ and follow Him in faith, He wants us to live in the divine power that He has given us. He gave us everything we need when we gave our lives to Him. So now He wants us to live in the truth of that power.

That’s why He wants us to grow. For in the growing, we live and act and react according to the divine power which He has given us. It starts with the faith that God Himself gives us. It grows, then, in goodness and knowledge and self-control, in perseverance and godliness and brotherly kindness and love. When we grow in these, we can’t help but share the truth and character of Jesus Christ because we become more and more like Him, thus, following God’s purpose for our lives.

In growing, we fulfill our part of covenant relationship with God. The one we entered into when we asked Him to save us from darkness and sin-living and give us new life. When we asked Him to be the Lord of our lives Whom we would follow wherever.

Here’s the thing about growing: we have everything we need in order to mature in our faith and become Christ-like. But we can’t be complacent with that and not seek to know God more. If we do, we will soon forget the amazing gift of new life, of salvation, that God has given us.

It’s not easy. Just like the pains that my daughter sometimes gets in her legs when she goes through growth spurts, spiritual growth sometimes comes with growing pains, too. But, just as my daughter doesn’t want to be the size of a 12-year-old all her life, neither do we want to be spiritually stagnant.

brw

September 23: God’s Will . . . Salvation

Read 2 Peter 3:1-18

As we move from our teens into our twenties, most of us wrestle with burning questions like:

  • What career should I pursue?
  • Should I attend college?
  • Should I marry?  If so, whom?
  • Where should I live?

During that time, many people earnestly desire to know God’s individual and specific will for them.  But there are dimensions of the will of God that are even more fundamental than these.  Although the need for answers to these aspects of God’s will may not be felt as intensely, they are arguably much more important.  And rather than being unique to an individual, these are universal for all.

In these first few days of the study of God’s will, we want to explore these more universal expressions of God’s will for people.  The first of these is captured in the words of 2 Peter 3:9:

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

God wants all people to repent and spend eternity with Him.

The reality is that everyone has sinned.  Each one of us has violated God’s moral plan for mankind.  The consequences of sin are vast.  As a result, we are spiritually dead, separated from God, and deserving of eternal punishment.  Turning over a new leaf, just won’t resolve this problem.  As a result, reconciling our relationship with God represents a human impossibility, and it marks the biggest need of our lives . . . bigger than the understanding of what job to take or the person to marry.

But God has made that possible.  Through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, He offers to reconcile our relationship.  His desire for all is that we experience that through repentant faith in Christ.

Thankfully, He is patient with us.  He gives each of us an entire lifetime.  He brings circumstances, messengers, and reminders of His powerful glory into each person’s life.  All of these prompt individuals to surrender to Christ in repentant faith.

That is His will for you and for everyone you will encounter today!

sbk

November 11: Dont. Ever. Forget.

Read 2 Peter 3:10-18

Peter knew the dire consequences of letting his guard down. Did he write from experience when he told the believers of his day to keep growing, to stay firm, to stay on your guard? I have to wonder if Peter felt so strongly about growing in the faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ because he knew firsthand what happens when you let that faith grow even a little bit lukewarm. He knew what could happen when he himself let his guard down that night before the rooster crowed.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (v18).

The certainty with which Peter writes these letters astounds me. This fisherman turned man-fisher was himself a testimony to the transforming power of Almighty God. He had learned some things about resting on his laurels regarding his side of the relationship with Jesus Christ. He knew what it was like to get lazy in his faith. And he knew the grave consequences of such laziness. The shame he lived with those few days between his “No I don’t know him” and Jesus’, “Peter, feed my sheep.” Yes, Peter had been given a direct charge from God Himself regarding His people. “Feed my lambs.” Take care of my sheep. Feed my sheep.”

And that gut-wrenching question Jesus asked post-cross “Peter, do you love me?” Peter knew all too well what it felt like to have to answer that question with words. To have the Lord of his life, his very best friend, ask those four words in earnest and not just assume the positive answer. Of course, I love you, Lord! Peter would say. And, Jesus, in His all-knowing, full-of-grace gentleness gave Peter direction full of forgiveness and grace for how to go on now.  Now that Jesus had rendered sin and shame powerless.

Certainly, that was not lost on Peter as he wrote these letters to his fellow Christ-followers. Keep growing. Keep at it. This grace you’ve been given, don’t forget its amazing. Don’t lose its incredible. Keep it at the forefront. And don’t. Ever. Forget. Don’t even for a second think that God has forgotten or that He will not follow through on His promise. Don’t let the long wait for His return fool you into thinking it won’t happen. Rather, live holy. Keep growing.

The message is for us, just as clearly as it was for the believers of Peter’s day. Keep growing in this grace. Keep knowing Him more, seeking Him fully. And don’t. Ever. Forget. The promise is for us, too.

brw

November 10: What Took You So Long?

Read 2 Peter 3:1-18

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

“What took you so long?” You have probably voiced those exact words at some point in time. Your expectations were that the person would have shown up long before his/her actual arrival. But, the person didn’t come…and didn’t come…and didn’t come. In fact, you may have begun to doubt whether he/she was coming at all. The person promised, but where is he/she?

Have you ever had similar thoughts about the coming of Jesus? Peter reminds us in this chapter that there will be last day cynics who will cast doubt on the Second Coming of Christ. If you are not careful, you may buy into their rationale. It has been a long time and He still hasn’t come. In fact, it seems like life in this world just continues to roll on the way it always has. But that is faulty thinking. Just as God interrupted the “never changing” flow of time in the past with the flood, so too He will interrupt it with destruction during the tribulation and transformation afterward. And in the midst of that, Jesus will return!

God is One who keeps His promises. Although you might have expected the return of Jesus by now, keep in mind that His patient delay is allowing more and more people to come to Him in repentant faith (vv. 9, 15).

So what should you do while you wait patiently? Peter says, “…make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him.” Live a life of purity in anticipation of His coming. But, you should also participate in His plan of reaching as many as possible. Share the message of Christ sensitively, boldly, and clearly with others. Jesus will indeed one day return, and you and others you reach will be so glad you did!

sbk

November 9: Judgment

Read 2 Peter 2:1-22

It is very possible that you have met in the past and perhaps presently know the kind of people described in 2 Peter 2. Their description causes you to wince! They…

  • Bring in destructive heresies (v. 1)
  • Deny the Master (v. 1)
  • Blaspheme (vv. 10, 12)
  • Revel in their wrongdoing (v. 13)
  • Are adulterous (v. 14)
  • Have an insatiable appetite for sin (v. 14)
  • Entice the weak (vv. 14, 18)
  • Are greedy (v. 14)
  • Promise freedom while being enslaved (v. 19)

About such people, Peter gives us both warning and reassurance. The warning is that we must be on guard, watchful. You see, they will even try to infiltrate and exploit true followers of Christ. They will try to lead you astray, try to cause you to buy into their rationale, and try to persuade you to join in with their conduct. Watch out!

The reassurance is that God will bring judgment on them. Face it…some of these kinds of people described in the list above seem to be the most successful the world has ever seen. Not only do they seem to be getting away with their godless lifestyle but they almost seem to be rewarded for it. Rest assured, however, that the same God who punishes evil angels will not spare them. The same God who destroyed the world while rescuing Noah and his family will bring punishment on them while rescuing His own. The same God who burned Sodom and Gomorrah while saving Lot will condemn them while freeing those who have been declared righteous in Christ. Know that God will bring judgment upon those who thumb their nose at Him.

sbk