By the Grace of God

2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. 2 Peter 2:2-3

Often false teachers are not seeking to live Godly lives. They merely use the church as a means of financial gain. They’ll say the right words week after week, but their lives are in ruins. Because their own lives are in shambles, their lifestyle naturally filters to their children, and then it ripples through the congregation. I’ve seen it happen. Today twenty years later, the two I am familiar with have issues with the Church, their families, and authority in general. Most of that trouble points to what happened as they grew up in a godless church with major morality issues. Of course they are adults today and can make their own decisions, but not having a great spiritual upbringing can cause great havoc upon impressionable minds.

We all know incidents similar to what I’m talking about. How in the world can we possibly make a difference when the world looks in and shakes their head at us, not because they disagree with our beliefs, but because they see our actions are no different than what they’re doing? Church leaders will be held to account when the time is right.

Fortunately, the vast majority of evangelical pastors are doing their best to shepherd their flocks according to Scripture. Unfortunately, the remaining 5% are more vocal and give the Church a bad name.

This is obviously a great time to lift up your pastor and his family in prayer. Their burdens are great, and they can only bear them by the grace of God.

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On Your Guard

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Peter 2:1

Two thousand years has passed since this was written, but it could have been written yesterday. As long as greed and power exist, so will false teachings. But these teachings ultimately come from the father of lies himself because he wants to confuse and interrupt the body of Christ from carrying out its mission. False teachers prey upon the greed, power, and pride of those in the pews. Does someone set out to be a false teacher? Normally, no. But when people begin to hang on their every word, they need to introduce newer doctrines that will continue to entice and draw people. The doctrinal errors are small at first and may even be incidental. But once these teachers gather the following, they themselves get puffed up in pride and build upon their original teachings.

These false teachers exist because they have a willing and eager audience who, as the Bible says, have itching ears. In other words, they want to believe something more and have an edge over the average Christian. The false teachers are more than willing to provide that edge.

Be on your guard against those who come into the church and introduce pseudo-intellectual doctrines that sounds plausible until you examine them thoroughly. As the day of His return approaches, these false teachers will increase.

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Prophets and Preachers, Oh My!

19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:19-21

The prophets of old were an odd bunch. They ate strange things, lived peculiar lives, and said troubling things. They often spoke with messages from God Himself. They often lived dangerously because they would reveal their prophecies to rulers who could execute them within the minute if they spoke out of line. If you’re a doom and gloom prophet, you have to know that what you have to tell the king just might land you in jail at a minimum.

And yet they spoke out against corruption and societal transgressions loudly and boldly. They themselves probably didn’t have great social lives. They certainly marched to a different drummer.

But their communion with God must have been spectacular. Think about it. God tells them to go tell the king that his kingdom was about to be destroyed. Of course I don’t know for certain, but it seems to me that there would have been quite a bit of dialog at that point.

“Tell the king? You want me to tell the king that? Are you sure? The last person who told him that was buried right outside the city gates!” They had to get it right.

So a prophet had to be absolutely certain he heard from God. The penalty for not getting it right was death.

Similarly, when your pastor steps into the pulpit every Sunday morning he should have heard clearly from God the message he wanted them to hear. Most preachers I know loved it when their members fact checked his messages. It kept them on their toes theologically, and it kept the parishioners in the Word of God. Fortunately we are under grace, and if a pastor errs slightly or misspeaks, others will be there to correct course.

Pray for your pastors today as they stand on the stage before you. Pray that the Word of God will come alive as they preach and teach.

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On That Mountain

17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. 2 Peter 1:17-18

Very few people in this world can ever say they’ve heard the voice of God. Oh, God speaks to us through other people, His Word, and in prayer, but Peter heard the actual voice of God. There’s not doubt that he realized what a privilege it was to be one of the select few who could ever say that. I’m sure he could recall what he was thinking when it all occurred.

One day we will all be able to say that we heard the literal voice of God. In fact, He’s probably in heaven saying that about us now, “See that Jim down there. I’m pleased with Him. Just look at him serve!” He’s probably bragging about us now as a good Father would at every conceivable moment.

How are we doing though? Are we giving Him shareable moments? Are we serving the way we know how? Are we as compassionate or loving or kind as we know how to be? My point isn’t to beat us up if we’re not doing those things, but I think there’s room for improvement in all of us. Life just wears us down and hardens us.

That certainly gives us an opportunity to be refreshed every morning, to renew our minds, to recalibrate our priorities. We can do that every morning. And every night. And every afternoon if we need.

Peter had a once-in-a-millennia memory of his encounter with the Heavenly Father. He was also eyewitness to the Savior Himself. While our encounters with the Father and Son may not be as tangible as Peter’s, we shouldn’t discount our regular and private communion with God. He desires that closeness. He wants us to draw close to Himself.

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Stop! And Let Me Tell You…

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 2 Peter 1:16

They say the Lord in action first hand. What was it like? Did he whistle while he walked with them? Did he snore? More importantly, what did they learn personally about him that no one else ever knew? What was it like to walk beside and live with a perfect man? Was it intimidating or refreshing? Once Peter figured it out, did he question him incessantly?

With that first hand experience, though, came a ton of responsibility. The Gospel resided with them. If they didn’t get the message out, it would stay with them forever. Talk about pressure! We are indirect descendants of their work. Hallelujah!

But the Gospel doesn’t stop with us.

Or does it?

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Powerful Words

12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. 2 Peter 12-15

The Bible is a powerful book. Some governments around the world still ban the book and its reading. Men and women of God are imprisoned for having a Bible in their possession. What are these powerful and influential leaders afraid of? They denounce the religion behind it and tell us the book they read is meaningless. If it’s meaningless, then why the nervousness and angst over its practitioners? They’re nervous because they do know how powerful of a book it is. They know that people get ideas when they read the Bible, ideas of freedom and of a righteous life. Societies change when people read the book and put its words into practice.

So when Peter talked about refreshing our memory about what he’s written, it’s a reminder to us of the powerful words contained in this book. Fortunately we can purchase this entire book for a few bucks from the comfort of our home or on our phone we carry with us wherever we go. We can have one in every corner of every room if we choose.

And yet, too often, this book rarely gets dusted off and opened.

People are being sent to prison and dying in order to get a glimpse at God’s Words. They know that these words are more precious than gold or silver, fame or fortunate.

It’s something to think about.

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Honing In

10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:10-11

As we grow in Christ, it is incumbent upon us to practice the things we discussed this past week. Unguarded moments and not being cautious with our words can lead to temptation and our subsequent downfall or stumble as Peter wrote. What I wrote this week is easy to write about but difficult to put into daily practice. It’s not impossible, but it’s just hard to implement.

But the Holy Spirit is nearby. He wants us to reach out, not only in our time of temptation, but our time of great joy. Any time is good, day or night. Honing in on what the Spirit is telling us is fundamental for us as Believers.

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The Wing Stall

9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 2 Peter 1:9

Yesterday we discussed the effects of tiny incremental improvements in the life of the Believer. Today, we’ll talk about what happens if you do nothing. The obvious answer is that nothing will happen. But that’s not correct. The enemy is still fighting tooth and nail against you and your beliefs. If you are not going to church, for instance, you are not being fed properly. Oh, you may get the Biblical nourishment from television or radio, but you’re not rubbing elbows with fellow believers. Granted, many church goers never speak a word to another soul in church. While this is sad, it still does not negate the benefit of seeing other people who more or less believe the same as you. This perpetuates the idea that we’re not alone in this spiritual battle.

But the Bible is stronger than my words. The Bible says if you are not growing you are nearsighted and blind. Why? The fulfilled life Jesus talks about in John 10:10 is made manifest in our lives when we reach out, when we persevere, when we practice self control, when we love others.

It’s like a wing stall of an airplane. When the air can no longer go over the wing of an aircraft because the angle is too high, the wing will “stall,” and begin to fall, but only a little at first. If the plane continues in that same angle without going forward, it will drop like a rock. The simple solution is to lower the nose and resume forward motion. Doing nothing will ultimately be detrimental to the aircraft and everyone in it. Doing nothing is not a good option.

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A Tiny Bit Each Day

8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:8

The key to remaining strong in the Christian life is to grow just a tiny bit each day. We’re not even talking baby steps here, but barely noticeable steps. You don’t see progress over the days but you certainly do over the months and years.

Many people have the misconception about Alaska that there are 6 months of daylight and 6 months of darkness. Those who have lived there know the truth. In Fairbanks Alaska, we gained 6 minutes of daylight a day after December 22, Winter Solstice. After June 22, we lost 6 minutes of light a day. You really don’t notice 6 minutes a day in one direction or another. Go away for 3-4 months and it’s a very different scenario. Now it is three full hours more light or darkness. We didn’t notice it day by day, but we certainly did after being away for a few months.

Another example is this devotional. One a day. That’s it. On rare occasions I wrote 2-3 at a time if I knew that I might not be able to write or post that night. But one a day. Ten years later and there’s more than 3700 posts. But it’s only one per day.

This principle actually has applications in marketing, writing, sales, education, Scripture reading and memorization, and a whole lot more. The adage applies: a little a day goes a long way.

Faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love. Increase one of these qualities a tiny bit every day, and it will affect the others. The inverse is also true: ignore these qualities, and you’ll grow stale and rusty. You’ll kick yourself at the end of the year because of all the potential you’ve wasted.

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