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

November 8: The Ever Unchanging Word of God

Read 2 Peter 1:12-27

What did God’s voice sound like? What was it like to hear the very voice of God?

This is my Son, whom I love. (See Mk. 9:2-7.)

Did the mountain shake with the echo of the Almighty? Did that voice change something in the fiber of Peter’s being? Did thoughts like this resonate with the echo of His voice? I just heard the very voice of God. Almighty God has spoken. And I have heard. And now I know the voice of God. Now I know the Words He speaks. God spoke His Word on that sacred mountain. Very God spoke. And man heard God.

Man can know God because He spoke.

God gave His Word in a sacred manger, too. When the Word became flesh. God made Himself known in the form of a man. And we can know God because He came.

The ancient prophets, too. They heard the truth of God by the leading of the Holy Spirit. The spoke it. And wrote it. And we can know God because He used men to speak His Word.

Yes, God has made Himself known. He has revealed His Word to man. Same truth spoken on that sacred mountain, spoken in the life of Jesus Christ, God Himself. Same solid foundation He spoke through His prophets so very long ago.

God’s truth, His Word, has never changed. It always stands. Always. Therefore, we can live solidly planted on the truth of that Word. The solid hope of the promises.

November 7: The Faith That Produces

Read 2 Peter 1:1-11

It is only through the righteousness of Jesus Christ that we have this faith. The faith by which we know God. Intimately. And this faith itself is a gift all its own. By it we don’t just know about God. We have a relationship with Him. For God made Himself known through Jesus Christ the Son, and now we can know Him, Almighty God. Yes, He gave us this faith, more precious than the rarest stone.

In fact, the very grace of God has allowed us everything we need to live. Everything we could possibly necessitate for life the way God calls us to do it. It’s really the only true kind of life. He has given us promises, too. The kinds of promises that change the way we live if we keep our focus on Him.

Yes, this faith we have is a precious and vital gift of grace from God Himself. A vital part of the life we have received. As such, Peter writes, we need to keep it growing. We can’t let it grow stagnant or cold or numb. Strengthening the already solid base of unshakable grace that we have already been given, Peter calls us to fervently seek to know God more. To go after Him like we’re madly in love. For, in so doing, we will keep our focus on the truth of the promises. The truth of eternity. And this knowing God will not be just something we say we have. Rather, our knowledge of God will deepen as our relationship with Him does. Our faith, as a result, will bring forth the affect that God intended — making us more like Himself, bringing more people to know Him.

It’s relationship at its finest. A gift of God Himself. Not one us of has either earned it or achieved it. Even so, all of has the ability to chase God with the kind of fever-like desire that can only deepen any love story. Strengthen any relational bond.

You see, it’s up to us. And it’s not up to us. All at the same time. We have what we need because God has gifted us with His absolutely undeserved grace. But we need not forget it, lest we grow stagnant and weak as we stand in this grace called relationship with God through Jesus Christ His Son.

brw

November 6: Humility

Read 1 Peter 5:1-14

Solomon expressed one of mankind’s problems centuries before Peter addressed it in today’s reading. This former king of Israel said, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Prov. 14:12) As ones who are possibly discontent with their life situation, people in the midst of trials can easily adopt an “I know best” mentality. If it were up to them, they would have planned life differently. If they had been in charge, they would have led in a different direction. Their situation is the fault of someone else. We must recognize, however, that there is an adversary who wants to leverage his influence in our situation in order to consume us (1 Pet. 5:8, 9).

Unfortunately, we don’t know best on our own. God knows that. In fact, He “opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet. 5:5). Even though adverse circumstances can be the most difficult time to demonstrate humility, we are most protected and blessed when we are humble.

When we willingly subject ourselves to elders and spiritual leaders in our lives (v. 5a), we are blessed. If they are worth their salt, these leaders are not trying to take advantage of us. They are exercising an important stewardship given them from God Himself, for which they will be accountable (vv.1-4). Humbly subject yourself to them knowing that they have your good in mind.

In fact, we are to exercise that humility towards all believers (v. 5b). Any kind of “I am better…know better…am more important” attitude will do anything but lead to the other person’s encouragement and growth. And it certainly does not put the prideful person in a position to receive something of value from others.

Of course, ultimately, our humility is demonstrated in our vertical relationship to our heavenly Father. By placing ourselves willingly under His mighty hand, we recognize His sovereign, purposeful control and put ourselves in a position for future exaltation. This kind of humility will cause us to take all of the adversity and all of the anxiety and cast them onto Him. Rest assured, He cares for you (v. 7). Recognize trials won’t last forever (v. 10).

“Humility…God, I want that word to be the description of me today…even in the face of life’s challenges.”

sbk

November 5: Life is Short!

Read 1 Peter 4:7-19

If today were your last day, what would you do? If we knew that to be true, most of us would gravitate towards our family…making sure that we gave those last hugs and kisses, being careful to attempt to verbalize those last words of love and wise counsel. Some might scramble to make sure that the will is up to date and financial matters are as clear as possible for their heirs. A few might tie up loose ends with work related issues.

Let’s face it, the idea of a “last day” is one that we give passing thought to now, but probably don’t take too seriously because our experience has caused us to expect a “tomorrow.”

Nevertheless, Peter gives us godly insight as to what this kind of expectant life should look like. He instructs us that “the end of all things is near” (v. 7a). True, this is not a “today is your last day” statement. It is, however, a reminder that Christ’s return is imminent. It could be today. I realize that may sound trite. After all, those reading these lines have seen thousands of “todays” become “tomorrows.” Nevertheless, as Paul puts it, “our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” (Rom. 13:11)

So what do we do with that reality? Nod our head and go on unaffected by it? Of course not! The immanency of the return of Jesus should motivate us to…

  • Be sober-minded
  • Love people
  • Be hospitable
  • Use the gifts God has given us
  • Handle adversity well

While each of those merits special attention, I feel as if I (and perhaps many reading these lines) need to be reminded of the last. When we forget that we are just passing through this world and that this is not yet our final home, we somehow expect to sail through life without major challenges. Instead, Peter reminds us to not be surprised by trials. After all, why should our experience be any different from our Savior’s?

As we expect share in the return of Jesus, we can also expect to share in sufferings.

sbk

November 4: The Hope to Stake Your Life Upon

Read 1 Peter 3:13-4:6

Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord (3:14).

Peter writes a lot about living hope. You’ve probably noticed. It’s the kind of hope that transforms a mind. Transforms a life. And it is only found in the One True and Living God. Those who find it live by it. Those who trust Jesus Christ to be the Lord of their lives find it.

Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master (3:14, MSG).

The living, breathing hope we have changes everything about the way we live. Because we have set apart Jesus Christ as the Lord, we can have real life. We can live without fear. We can operate from a standpoint that doesn’t worry about what other people think. When we set apart Christ as Lord, our hope shows clearly to everyone. So clearly, in fact, that people who don’t yet have this hope will ask about it.

When we are stayed, securely founded on Jesus Christ as our only hope, our perspective changes so drastically that the way we live can’t not be affected. Our lives can’t help but display it.

Jesus Christ Himself shows us how to live this hope. He suffered. And died. Then, by His resurrection from that death, He provided the living hope in which you and I can now operate freely. Through which you and I can freely live. And this is how — with full confidence in knowing that Jesus Christ is our only hope for real life.

Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want (4:1-2, MSG).

Do you live in that hope? Have you let your hope in Jesus Christ penetrate every part of your living so that others see it and have to ask about it?

brw

November 3: How the True Grace of God Changes Everything

Read 1 Peter 3:1-12

The true grace of God. We’ve seen it written a bunch of times this week. It’s the theme around which Peter wrote this letter. For it is the true and very real undeserved gift of life and forgiveness and mercy and love that changed everything about his life. It changes how we live, too.

It makes wives trust God alone for how to live. Points them straight to His ways, His peace-filled and wise methods for showing others the incredible beauty of Who He is.

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that . . . they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives (vv1-2).

Not because men are superior. Because it’s the way God said it would work. And when His people do things according to how He says they should, His grace is made known. His glory shines bright.

This true grace of God, the living hope that Peter writes about, it changes everything. It makes husbands respect their wives. Makes them see the beauty that God has given them, makes then want to treat that beauty with honor. Not because women are greater. Because it’s how God said it would work.

This true grace of God should lead us to that same kind of living. Harmony with each other. Compassion. Humility. Willingness to let offenses slide for the sake of pursuing peace.

Because God Himself gave His own life for you and me, we can live differently. We are called to live differently.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed (2:24).

That’s how His glory shows through His people. It’s how people who don’t yet know the living hope start to sit up and take notice. It’s why we live the way we do — according to God’s ways, chasing the living hope that is already ours for all eternity.

brw

November 2: Election Day…And Beyond

Read 1 Peter 2:11-25

Election Day is only four days away! Even though you have likely selected your candidates for the different offices, the campaign rhetoric and advertising will continue. But, eventually, the advertising will cease and the polls will close. Candidates will have been selected. As citizens, we will have opportunity to experience the leadership of the men and women our nation will have selected. And, it is then that we will have opportunity to practice the principles outlined in verses 13-17.

Before we draw attention to those verses, it is important to understand that verse 13 introduces a section that extends from 2:13 to 3:7. The general focus of this section is that of submission or subjection within the different relationships where a Christian might find himself/herself. You see, how we relate to others in authority is important to God and at the core of the Christian life. It was so important that we find similar passages in Romans 13:1-7, Ephesians 5:22-6:9, Colossians 3:18-4:1, 1 Timothy 2:9-6:2, and Titus 2:1-3:1. Theologians often refer to these passages as the “household code” for the church.

So, how are we to specifically respond to those in government positions…even if our candidate isn’t elected? Peter expresses it in two terms: submission and honor. Honor certainly doesn’t characterize the pre-election atmosphere. Candidates are attacked and slandered. That is not the Christian response! Will you, through your words and actions, demonstrate respect for our government leaders and willingly place yourself under their leadership?

But our response to government is only a part of the “household code” you read in 1 Peter 2. In the first century, servants were also to demonstrate respectful submission to their masters. Of course, the present day parallel would be found in employee/boss relationships. Even there, Christians are to honor those over them as they subject themselves to their leadership. And…did you notice? We are to do this, even if the boss is unjust!

Thankfully, these seemingly unnatural responses are fueled by two things:

  1. We are aliens and strangers in a foreign land where we are on mission (vv. 11, 12)! Don’t settle in this world too much!
  2. Christ has modeled this kind of response (vv. 22-25)! We can do it because He has shown us how!

sbk

November 1: A Taste that Keeps You Coming Back

Read 1 Peter 2:1-10

What is that food item for you? What is that delicacy where just a bite won’t do? It is one of those foods where a simple taste…while incredible in itself…just leads to the next mouthful…and the next. Celeste’s apple dumplings are one of her many creations that have that effect on me. A single bite causes me to crave more.

People in the first century must have had similar culinary experiences. After all, Peter used that imagery to remind his readers that, in salvation, they had experienced a taste of God’s goodness. Think about the grace you experience at salvation. All of your past sin…forgiven. All of God’s wrath…satisfied. All of Christ’s righteousness…imputed to you. All of your future…in His hands. All of heaven…securely yours.

Peter reminds us of the delicious taste of God’s goodness as he points us to our current status and position. Here are some of the word pictures he uses.

  • Even though we were once not people recognized by Him, now we are His very possession!
  • Though we were once not recipients of His mercy, now, in Christ, we have received it.
  • We have gone from nobodies to being a holy race.
  • We have been transported from darkness to light.
  • We are now a royal priesthood…princes and princesses who can serve the King!

Those represent but a taste of God’s goodness. Because of all that, we should crave more. We should yearn for the Scriptures where our souls can be nourished with an ever increasing awareness of the realities of His goodness towards us (v. 2). Because of all that, we should experience transformation from our old ways to ways that please him (v. 1). Because of all that, we should verbalized His goodness in very opportunity we have

sbk

October 31: Laser-Focus Faith

Read 1 Peter 1:13-25

The living hope made all the difference in the way Peter lived. It’s how he could stand up in that temple court and proclaim to the Jews the truth about Jesus Christ. (See Acts 2.) That they had killed Him. That Jesus had conquered death, and the darkness of sin, anyway. This living hope, this new birth, new life, is the only way that Peter could give a crippled beggar complete healing. (See Acts 3.) How he could claim to the paralytic in Lydda Jesus Christ heals you. (See Acts 9:32-35.) Peter had seen and experienced the new life, the rebirth, the living hope, first hand. He new the unknowable abundance of the grace of God. And it made all the difference in the world.

Peter knew the difference this living hope could make in a life. And he knew the catastrophic consequences of taking one’s focus off of that truth. He had experienced it first in his undisturbed gaze. The faith focus that stepped him out of that boat and right onto the water. It wasn’t until he noticed the wind, got distracted by the circumstances, that he started to sink into the natural.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:29-30)

That’s why he wrote in this book we call 1 Peter,

Prepare your minds for action . . . set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed (v13).

Because Peter knew that when the people of God place their laser-focus faith in Jesus Christ as the only true and living hope, they start living the unbelievable.

So how’s your focus? Are you distracted or is your mind prepared with laser-focus faith?

brw