10/22/17 God Is Not Blind To Sin

“Those angels that followed Satan into sin, God evicted from Heaven, exiling them to a place of darkness until the day of judgment for all creatures comes.  In Noah’s time, God saved Noah, the only person whose family still worshipped and respected Him, along with his wife, his sons, and his sons’ wives – eight people total – from the destruction that He sent on the whole rest of the world in the flood.  God saved Lot and his family out of Sodom before He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, the two most wicked cities that ever existed.  Lot lived in Sodom for sixteen years, enduring daily the lecherous acts of its other citizens without succumbing to wickedness himself, before God brought destruction upon those two cities.  The cities are now a prime example of the evil of this world and what comes to those who practice such things, while Lot is an example of God’s salvation of those who resist the temptation to join the wicked in their deeds.  Look at these examples, and know that God is certainly ready, willing, and able to save those who trust in Him from the evil of this world, and to punish those who embrace evil on the day of judgment.  Sins of lust are especially hateful in God’s eyes, and those who succumb to the temptations of lust bring severe punishment upon themselves, both in this life and in the life to come.  They have not respect for God or for His creation, they spread rumors and lies about God and His people, even those in authority over them.  But angels, who have so much more power and strength than we humans do, speak honestly and respectfully of God, of those He places in authority, and would not even dare to spread rumors or lies about their enemies.”

 

2 Peter 2:4-11

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10/21/17 False Teachers

“Be warned, though.  Just like there have always been false prophets trying to lure people away from the true words of God, there will always be false teachers in the churches.  Do not listen to their lies!  You will know them because their teaching will divide people instead of uniting them, because they will speak against what you know to be true, and they will not teach that Jesus is God’s Son and the only way to God.  They will speak out against the very Messiah who paid for their sins with His own life.  If you know the Holy Scriptures and remember all that we have taught you about our Messiah, you will be able to tell when someone is teaching lies.  But they will convince many people to follow them, and their followers, in turn, will begin to speak out against the Truth of God, even while they still insist that they are Christians.  This will cause many unbelievers to hate Christianity even more.  These false teachers will make a profession out of their teaching, soliciting money for their lies, like travelling salesmen.  But do not despair, for their sin will be their downfall.  When Jesus returns, something that they themselves claim will never happen, their judgment will come quickly.  God is not ignorant of their words and actions, and He is not lax in sending punishment.  They have doomed themselves, and at the right time, their punishment will be meted out.”

 

2 Peter 2:1-3, http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/maclaren/2_peter/2.htm

10/20/17 Our Authority

“When we began to tell you about our Messiah, about His power and His purpose in coming to us, we did not simply spread rumors or tell you a fantasy story.  We were there, eyewitnesses to His ministry.  We saw and heard and felt what He did personally, and not from the back of the crowd, but from right next to Him.  We were with Him from the beginning of His work until He ascended into Heaven, and we saw with our own eyes that He is truly the Son of God.  When we were with Him on Mt. Tabor, now considered the Holy Mountain because God was there with us, we heard with our own ears God’s voice speaking from Heaven.  He said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’  And then we saw with our own eyes the glory that surrounded Jesus after God spoke, His body and face shining so brightly that we could not continue to look at Him.  We come to you with authority, knowing that our words are God’s Truth.  And it is not only our own word that confirms our story, but Jesus Himself fulfilled all the prophecies of Messiah.  You would be wise to study the prophecies so that you can confirm in your own hearts that your faith is true, for the Word of God is like a fire burning in the wilderness, leading you on the right path so that you will not stumble in the darkness, until the day that Jesus, our bright morning star, returns to us.  Keep this in your hearts, remembering that the fulfillment of prophecy is in God’s hands alone.  People cannot decide that a prophecy means whatever they would like it to mean.  Even the prophets themselves, though they spoke the words of the Holy Spirit, had no power either to interpret their prophecies or to make them come to pass.”

 

2 Peter 1:16-21

10/19/17 How Will You Enter Heaven?

“Although your salvation depends solely on your acceptance of the free gift offered by Jesus’ sacrifice, the way you enter the Kingdom of Heaven depends on you.  When you stand before God, will you be ashamed of the way you lived your life after accepting Jesus as your Messiah?  Wouldn’t you rather stand before Him knowing that you lived the rest of your life on earth doing the things that He wanted you to do?  Because of this, I will not stop reminding you to be the men and women God has called you to be, though I am aware that you already know all of this.  But it is important to me to help as many of my brothers and sisters as I can to live their lives as forgiven and freed children of God, so I will continue to remind you long as I am alive in this body.  I know that the time is coming, and may be coming very soon, when my body will be just an empty shell, and I will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus told me that when the time comes for my death, it will be violent, but quick, and so I will not have time then to say the things I want to say.  Therefore, I will say what I am compelled to say now, while I still have the opportunity and means to do so, and I will do all I can to make sure that these words are always available to you, both now and after my death, in case you forget.”

 

2 Peter 1:12-15

10/18/17 How To Grow In Your Faith

“Because of this great gift that Jesus has given to us – the gift of salvation from our sins – we must be very careful in how we live this life on earth.  We need to look to God to see how to live, doing all we can to use the gifts He blesses us with to build up His Kingdom, instead of for our own pleasure and glory.  You have faith in our Messiah.  That is where we are to start, not end.  Work toward perfecting your faith a little bit more every day.  In the perfection of your faith, you must grow in the knowledge of God and of His will for your life.  As you grow in your knowledge of God and of His will for your life, you must learn to exercise self-control, so that you can resist sin’s temptations.  As your ability to exercise self-control grows, you must learn patience, so that you can persevere in the face of trials, keeping the goal of standing before God unashamedly always before you.  Then you will begin to grow in your reverence for God, which will keep you from going in the wrong direction – falling prey to pride in your own piety.  This reverence for God will lead you to become a kinder person toward your brothers and sisters, and in turn your love for your brothers and sisters will grow, leading to increasing the acts of love that you do for each other.  If you are filled with these wonderful, Godly attributes, your knowledge of Jesus, our Messiah, will grow and cause you to be more productive in all that you say and do, instead of stagnating in your faith and producing no fruit.  Whoever does not grow in his faith in this way shows that he does not understand what Jesus has done for him or what He intends for his life.  He is blind to the realities of God’s grace and soon forgets that his sins were washed away by Jesus’ blood.  For this reason, I implore you to be very careful to make sure that your faith is real, that you have truly given your lives to Jesus, and to keep your faith alive and ever growing.  If you do these things, you will never go wrong, because God will keep you in His will until the day you enter into the Kingdom of Heaven to live for all eternity in the joy of our Lord and our Messiah, Jesus.”

 

2 Peter 1:5-11

10/17/17 Peter’s 2nd Letter To The Asian Churches

After sending off his first letter to the Asian churches, Peter realizes that although he has dealt with threats to the church from outside, he has not spoken to the dangers the church faces from the inside.  Silvanus again acts as his scribe as Peter pours out his heart in a second letter to the churches of Asia.  “I, Simon Peter, servant and apostle of Jesus, the Messiah, greet my brothers and sisters in our precious faith through the gracious gift of the sacrifice of Jesus our Messiah on behalf of His Father, our God in Heaven.  As you grow in the knowledge of God, and of His Son, our Messiah, Jesus, may His grace and His peace grow in your hearts exponentially.  Through Jesus’ power as God’s Son, He has given us real life and everything good that goes along with it, and we receive His gifts through our relationship with Him when we give ourselves over to Him.  We know that He has called us to be His own, to be heirs with Him of His own glory and perfection, and has promised astounding things to us, that we are to be rulers with Him for all eternity in the Kingdom of Heaven.  These promises are dear to us and give us hope in our hearts as we struggle though this present time of trouble in the world.  Through the promises of God, we can have joy even during trouble, knowing that through Him we have been freed from the sin that has enslaved the world through its desire for things that will only lead to death.”

 

2 Peter 1:1-4

10/16/17 Closing Remarks

“Silvanus has assisted me in writing this letter to you.  He is a true brother to me and to all of you in our faith.  Together, he and I bear witness to you all that what I have written to you, though only a brief statement, is the truth, and that it is only by God’s grace and mercy to me and to all of you that I am able to write these things to you.  The church of that place that we call Babylon, one in our Lord with you, sends you greetings, as does Mark, my son in the faith.  When you greet each other, do it out of love, with a chaste kiss on each cheek.  I pray peace for you all in our Messiah, Jesus.  Amen.”

 

1 Peter 5:12-14

10/15/17 Humility, Respect, Honor

“Young people, do not think yourselves wiser than your elders.  Respect them for the wisdom that comes with their age and experience, and for the depth of their faith, and be willing to submit to them.  In fact, we all must be willing to submit to each other humbly and respectfully, in love.  Remember the proverb that says, ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’  Remember who you are to God – one of His beloved children who needs His leading and instruction in everything, not the leader of the world who knows all and can instruct everyone else in how best to live life.  Be willing to live humbly under His authority instead of puffing up your own estimation.  Take your burdens to Him and ask Him to help and guide you, because He loves you dearly.  Then, when the right time comes, He will lift you up.  Keep watch over your life and your actions, because Satan is a powerful enemy who is always looking for even the smallest crack in which He can squeeze in and influence you to move away from God.  He is prowling like a hungry lion, and you are like a tasty treat to him.  When you notice him coming against you, stand strong in your faith so that you can win the battle against his attack with the help of the Holy Spirit within you.  Remember that your brothers and sisters in faith are also under attack, and you are battling together.  But our gracious God called you to be His for all eternity through His Son Jesus, and He is with you always.  I pray that you would stand firm in your faith in the midst of your suffering, so that He may continue to grow your faith, plant your roots more deeply in Him, make you stronger and more able to resist Satan’s attacks against you, and help you to know true peace and joy in your heart no matter what circumstances you find yourself in.  The Kingdom of Heaven and all glory and honor belongs to Him for all eternity.  Amen.”

 

1 Peter 5:5-11, Proverbs 3:34

10/14/17 True Leadership

“I speak now to my fellow church leaders – elders, bishops, pastors.  I speak to you as one who personally witnessed the suffering of our Messiah, and one who will share in His glory when He returns to take His own to be with Him forever in Heaven.  I implore you to take these words to heart and live them out in all that you do:  just as Jesus is our Good Shepherd, so you must be a shepherd to God’s people, His flock.  Watch over them because you love them and genuinely want to care for them, not just because you were called upon to fulfill this need in the church.  Do the work you have been called to do as a gift of service for your God, not for the money you might receive for it.  Just because you are leaders in the church does not mean you are more important than anyone else, or that you have the right to special favors that nobody else receives.  Do not act like tyrants, ruling over God’s people unfairly.  Remember that we are all one in Jesus, that nobody is better or more important than anyone else, and that we all will stand before God in judgment someday.  Lead by example, and be willing to do whatever is required of you in the course of your leadership.  Do the work you have been called to do, and do it according to God’s will, out of love for God and for your brothers and sisters in Jesus, and when Jesus returns to take us home to Him, you will be rewarded with a crown of glory that will last for all eternity.”

 

1 Peter 5:1-4

10/13/17 Joy In Suffering For Jesus

“My dear ones, remember that Jesus told us that we would have trials if we followed Him, so don’t be surprised when you face fierce persecution, as though you did not expect it.  Instead, take joy in your trials, knowing that through your trials you are sharing in the suffering of your Messiah, and when He returns to this world in all His glory for everyone to see, your joy will be that much greater.  Consider yourself blessed when someone hates you and speaks out against you because of your faith in your Messiah, because you know that God’s Holy Spirit lives within you.  They intend to show their contempt for God through you, but you show God’s glory through your steadfast faith in Him during times of trial.  But do not suffer unnecessarily by doing what is evil, becoming a thief or murderer, or interfering in matters that have nothing to do with you.  Then you will suffer not for good, but for evil, and you will bring no glory to God through your actions.  It is only through suffering unjustly for the good that you do as a Christian that you bring glory to God, so do not be ashamed to live out your faith boldly, and do not be afraid to suffer for your faith.  This is the beginning stage of the judgment that is to come at the end of the world.  If we, as God’s children and members of His own household, are the first to be judged, what will come of those who have not trusted in Jesus to save them from their sins?  As the proverb says, ‘If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?’   If you belong to God, therefore, give complete control of your soul to Him to keep safe, so that you will suffer for doing what is right according to God’s will, being faithful to the one who created you and who alone is able to keep you safe until the day that He brings you to His Kingdom for all eternity.”

 

1 Peter 4:12-19, Proverbs 11:31