Our Calling and Election

II Peter 1:10-11.

Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Wherefore: Referring back to the previous verses, Peter says that because we sometimes fail to clearly see what God has done for us, we need to be diligent about knowing Him through His Word. I’m sure you would agree with me that we can lose sight of our future in heaven when we focus on the troubles and trials here on earth. So–we need to deliberately choose to focus on what He has done for us. We need to make our:

Calling: A calling is an invitation. In this context, it is the Divine invitation to embrace the salvation of God. He has freely offered forgiveness and redemption to all mankind. What we do with the offer determines our eternal future.

  1. the act of picking out, choosing
    1. of the act of God’s free will by which before the foundation of the world He decreed His blessings to certain persons (those who would choose Him)
    2. the decree made from choice by which He determined to bless certain persons through Christ by grace alone
  2. a thing or person chosen
    1. of persons: God’s elect


I will not engage in the never-ending wrangle that centers on this word, “elect.” It has been argued for centuries now, and never resolved. Frankly, I think John Calvin would be horrified at the division this teaching has created. I believe that when we choose Him, we become His elect. Others believe differently. God will settle it all one day. The message here is simple, really. We are to live in such a way that our future in heaven is secure, not by our own works, but by the living out of His work on Calvary.

When we live in this way, we will not stumble. We will enter abundantly into His presence for all eternity. That is where our focus should be.

Abound in the Fruit of the Spirit

II Peter 1:8-9.

For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

“These things” in v. 8 refers back to the fruit of the spirit in vv. 5-7, also listed similarly in Gal. 5: 22-23. If we are truly abiding in Christ, the fruit of the Spirit will be apparent in us; it will abound (multiply, overflow, fill up to the brim). We will not be barren or unfruitful in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

I find great comfort in this promise. As a person who speaks my mind, I’ve had to learn to do so with Holy-Spirit control. We can say whatever needs to be said; but we don’t have to be ugly and hurtful in saying it. Here’s just one example from my counseling office, years ago.

I had a mid-30s couple in my office. She was aggressive and sharp; he was quiet and didn’t retort in kind. I think he had learned that it was of no use to do so. She contradicted everything he said, calling him a liar at every opportunity. “That’s not true! That’s a lie! You never tell the truth!” I finally said to him during one session, “Do you ever get to be right?”

She flew into a rage, stomped out of the office and slammed the door. He looked up at me and said, “You have no idea what you just did. Don’t worry. She’ll be back in a few minutes.”

And she was, tearful and embarrassed. She asked him, “Do I really do that to you?”

“Yes. All the time.”

in our following sessions, I observed her literally putting her hand over her mouth before she responded to him. There was a gradual change in their relationship. He became more willing to speak up, and she made a visible effort to control her responses.

I will admit that what I wanted to say was, “Woman, be quiet and let him speak! You shut him down every single time he takes a breath! What is wrong with you!” I’m thankful that I had learned to always be in touch with God during any session, constantly seeking His direction in my own words. Hard things can be said without leaving a scorched trail of anger.

When we, as believers, lack the fruit of the Spirit, we become blind to our own failings. We forget that Jesus has cleansed us from our old habits, and created a new heart within us.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Fruit-Bearing

My son wanted me to hear a sermon he thought I’d enjoy. He was right. It was excellent.

The scripture for this sermon was the first few verses of John 15, the ‘Abide in Me” chapter in which Jesus taught His disciples what it was to please God.

We can–and should–bring glory to God through the way we live our lives. John 15:1-8 says,

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

There is a great deal of wonderful truth in these few verses. Today I want to focus on two things. In v. 5, Jesus says that without Him, we can do nothing. There will be no fruit-bearing without Him. The preacher asked, “What is fruit-bearing?” The simple answer is that fruit-bearing is Galatians 5: 22-23. We are the branches on the Vine. If we abide (stay, live, pitch our tents) in Him, clinging to Him, then the fruit of the Spirit will become apparent. We can’t work on the fruit of the Spirit. They well up in us naturally when we cling to Him, just as the sap in an apple tree results in delicious fruit. The tree does not flex its muscle and strain to bear the fruit. Neither can we “work” at bearing fruit.

Second, verse 8 tells us that “herein is the Father glorified — by our fruit-bearing! Spirit-filled believers will honor and glorify God in the way they live their lives. Every word, every deed, every decision will reflect either honor or dishonor. If we’re to glorify God, we must be clinging to Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
There is so much more that could be said. You can hear this message, and those that follow, at hopechurchlv.com. I hope you’ll listen. Well worth the time.

I apologize for failing to include the video. I had trouble finding it, but here it is, the first in a series:

Saturday Soliloquy: A Chair!

I have a new chair!

It’s a Pride VivaLift Recliner. It is sized to fit shorties like me all the way up to 6′-plus. It has infinite setting capability, using a control, so I can put the lumbar support exactly where I need it. It is equipped with a lift motor. I don’t expect to use that a lot right now, but the day is coming when I know I’m going to need it.

I can actually touch the floor with my feet from a fully-seated position! If you’re short like me, you know how exciting that is! Most recliners leave me with my feet dangling six inches or more above the floor, feeling like a little girl sitting in Daddy’s chair 🙂

I could go on and on about how comfortable I am in my new chair. Terry has spent hours online making sure he found exactly what I needed. He takes such good care of me! He and son Mike got it assembled in short order, and I’m absolutely loving the comfort and convenience. It can flatten out completely if I want to sleep in it, but I already have my adjustable mattress, so I’m not seeing using the chair as a bed just yet. I did take a short nap yesterday. The headrest adjusts, too, which is a real plus. Most recliners’ headrests tend to push my head forward. Not comfortable at all.

AND: It is considered a class II medical device, so our insurance will pay for the motor lift components.

As always, there’s a song in my head when I think about the comfort of this chair. Here it is:

The Fruit of the Spirit

II Peter 1: 5-7.

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

I like the way this graphic turns the order of these characteristics into stair steps, starting with faith, which marks the beginning of our journey up the ladder of becoming Christ-like.

The importance of faith cannot be overstated. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”

We will be rewarded when we diligently seek Him. Added to our faith will be virtue, which is goodness of character. As we seek Him, we will gain knowledge of Him, which will help us with temperance (self-control),patience (perseverance), godliness (thinking and behaving in a Christ-like manner), brotherly kindness and brotherly love.

Does this list seem familiar to you? It should. Here is Paul’s version in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

It is clear that these two, Peter and Paul, were inspired by the same Holy Spirit as they wrote!

Great and Precious Promises

II Peter 1:4. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

The promises of God are rich, unbreakable, glorious! One of these days, I’m going to do a topical study on all the promises of God.

Whereby: Through the knowledge of God, through His Word, we will learn:
Exceeding great: The Greek word is megistos. It means superlative; not to be improved. Did you ever make a promise you were unable, or simply forgot, to keep? That terrible, sinking sensation when you realize that you broke your promise is awful. God will never do that. What He promises, He performs.

Promises: A promise is “a self-committal (by assurance of conferring some good).” (BlueLetterBible.com). Can a promise ever be assurance of something NOT so good? Well, I suppose so. More than once I promised my four children certain dire results if they persisted in their present behavior. But usually, we think of God’s promises in a positive sense.

Partakers of the Divine nature: Through God’s promises, we become participants in His divine nature. We share in the blessing of His being, enjoying His blessings. We share in fellowship with one another. His divine nature is simply Who He is, far above the vagaries of our human nature. It is a great blessing to be invited to take part in His divine nature!

In Christ, we can escape worldly, carnal lusts. In Him, we can grow to find those lusts unattractive, disgusting, even repellent. His promises give us the joy of fellowship in Him, with Him, in concert with other believers.

Life and Godliness. . . . Glory and Virtue

II Peter 1: 2-3.

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Continuing his greeting, Peter prays for increased grace and peace for his readers, stating clearly that it will come with increasing knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ.
We have a strong advantage, in our time, over these new Christians. They didn’t have the entire Word of God. It was being written, indeed, even as they read Peter’s words. How they must have treasured the letters he sent to all the believers in Asia! His words were straight from the Apostle; therefore straight from God!

Through God’s divine power, he has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. I had to stop and think about those lines. I understand what His divine power is, as much as I can in my limited human understanding. Over my 75 years, I have come to realize that He can do whatever He chooses! And that He loves to answer our prayers, no matter how small or enormous those prayers may be. For instance, yesterday Terry was looking for a tool. He knew he had it (I don’t know how he can keep the mental catalogue of his tools, which is gigantic–makes the Sears catalogue look small 🙂 ). He was frustrated, not finding it where he thought he had used it some time ago. “Well, I haven’t prayed for the Lord’s help. Guess I’d better.” And in a very short time, he found it! This happens to him on a regular basis. He has ADD and tends to forget where he puts things down. I DON’T have ADD, but I have Forget-Brain these days, so I feel the frustration.

Is that incident an example of God’s giving us all things that pertain to life and godliness?

Here is the definition I found for life, in the BlueLetterBible.com:

  1. of the absolute fulness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God, and through Him both to the hypostatic “logos” and to Christ in whom the “logos” put on human nature
  2. life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, but after the resurrection to be consummated by new accessions (among them a more perfect body), and to last for ever.”

Read it carefully, more than once. There’s a lot in there. Not only does He supply what we need for a good and active life; He supplies it in excess of our expectations. He supplies an abundance of life!

How about the godliness part of that phrase? In this context, it means reverence, respect; piety towards God and godliness.

When I was a lot younger, I grew up thinking that someone who was labelled as “pious” was overly, and annoyingly, concerned about being extra good. That’s not what it means at all. The word has been co-opted by those who are uncomfortable with any degree of spirituality shown in their presence. Therefore, “He’s so pious” has become an insult. That’s too bad, because that’s not what the word means. Its simple definition is “devoutly religious.” What I would like to know is why it’s just fine to be devoutly devoted about, say, football or baseball, but not about faith. It’s okay to spend four+ hours watching a game, but not talking about Jesus. Or it’s fine to debate politics, but not faith. Don’t misunderstand, please. Athletics is not wrong. All I’m saying here is that if our fervor for Christ were equal to our fervor for other pursuits, the world wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in!

God has given all we need pertaining to a rich, full, active life. He has given us all we need in our pursuit of godliness. These things are gained through knowledge of Him; we have the completed Word of God to guide us in gaining knowledge of Him.

He has called us to glory and virtue. Glory has many definitions, depending on context. Of course we know that ALL glory belongs to God! In this context, it is “the glorious condition of blessedness into which is appointed and promised that true Christians shall enter after their Saviour’s return from heaven” (BlueLetterBible.com). We can have fulness of life here, and we are promised GLORY in heaven!

Virtue is defined as moral excellence. In Christ, we develop this goodness of character through our knowledge of Him, through His Word. Virtue seems to be in short supply these days, as we truly do not know who to believe in public, political life. And that is because we have pushed God out of the public arena.

The Blood of Jesus

II Peter 1:1. “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:”

I love the way the writers of the New Testament letters introduced themselves. It was customary, in their day, to do so. It clarified their true identity, supporting their authority as apostles and followers of Jesus.

In this greeting, Peter calls himself a bond-servant of Christ. The Greek words is doulos. It denotes one who gives himself up to another’s will; those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing His cause among men.

Peter had certainly given up his own life and will to Christ! He served without reservation until the very moment of his death.

He wrote to fellow-believers, whom he described as having received the same “precious faith” as he himself knew, through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Precious faith. I’ve read those words for years, but never stopped to consider the truth of the words.

That which is precious has indescribable value. Its worth cannot be measured. Peter applied the word to the blood of Jesus in I Peter 1:17-21:

If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth18 knowing that you were not [a]redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared [b]in these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Jesus’ blood was precious because it was unpolluted by sin. Our redemption depends not on earthly, perishable things–not even on our own good works. It is only through the shed blood of Jesus that we have entrance into heaven when we repent of our sin nature and accept His death as the only atonement for our sin.

Sunday Morning Coffee: “You’re just like. . . . .”

To whom do you often get compared? One or both of your parents? A grandparent, aunt or uncle? Someone else?

It is a common trait among us to look for resemblances the moment a new baby is born. “Oh, look! He has daddy’s ears!” “Look, she has Grandma’s dimples!”

We love to see physical traits that identify our tribe. Later we look for characteristics that tend to run in families–a hot temper, a great sense of humor, a tendency to ruminate, or to be critical, or to be generally on the happy side of life. Some families have lots of artistic members, or musical, or athletic, and so on. These traits are not mutually exclusive, of course 🙂

There are several teachers on one side of my family. Several musicians, several who are quite gifted artistically. That last one skipped me. I can’t draw a convincing stick figure :). Art, however, can take other forms. I love to knit and crochet, and I used to do counted cross stitch. Not so much these days because of eye strain.

I got to thinking last night about how we really should be developing the characteristics of Jesus. Luke 2: 52 tells us that Jesus increased (grew) in wisdom (intellect) and stature (physical strength) and in favor with God (spiritual growth) and with man (social relationships). That’s a good measure of maturity, isn’t it? He set us the example for which to strive in our own lives, as well as in teaching our children to reach high personal goals.

Jesus, of course, was not afflicted with the sin nature that besets us. He never disobeyed, never was mean to His siblings, never talked back to Mary and Joseph. He never even tried to defend Himself against the outrageous accusations made against Him. He was God incarnate. We won’t reach sinless perfection until we all get to heaven. What a day of rejoicing that will be!

Saturday Soliloquy: Changeable

This is an in-between season here in southeastern PA. In one week’s time, we can go from night temps in the low 30s to daytime temps in the high 70s, often accompanied by high humidity and thunderstorms. One never knows what a day will hold. The daily weather reports aren’t as reliable as we might wish they were.

Do I need to layer my clothing? Will I need my umbrella? Short or long, jacket or no jacket? I guess you have to just be prepared either way. Right now, it’s 66 degrees, with high humidity and a dense fog warning. That warning should lift quickly, though, because the skies have cleared completely for the time being, and the sun is burning off the fog. (The temperature has risen three degrees since I finished typing this post!)

My azaleas are in full bloom. I have peonies and iris in the back yard, preparing to display their beauty before the next storm comes along and shreds them–especially the peonies. They don’t stand up to a heavy rain very well.

I don’t stand up to the humidity very well. I woke up very early this morning with stiff, aching hands and fingers. In fact, just about everything that CAN ache IS aching 🙂 The temperature doesn’t seem to affect me nearly as strongly as the humidity. I’ll be letting Terry know, today, that it’s time to turn on the air conditioning. To which request he will go look at the temperature inside the house and inform me that it’s not quite hot enough. To which I will respond, as I have done for lo, these many long years, that it’s not the heat! It’s the humidity!

And he will agree to turn on the AC.

Did you ever wish, when you’re stuck in one of these endless-loop conversations, that you had a little recorder on which you could simply push a button under the number of whatever conversation you’re having?

I wonder if God ever feels that way with us. He has given us all we need in His Word, the Bible. When there is a lack of communication, it’s not God Who has failed to tell us what we need. WE have failed to hear, understand, and remember.

Many times, in my years as a therapist, parents would come in to complain, “My kids don’t LISTEN to me!” I would usually say, “It’s not failure to listen. It’s a failure to obey. We teach people how to treat us. It would seem that you have taught your kids that they don’t have to worry about obeying until you yell, and usually that won’t work either. They don’t fear the consequences of disobedience because you threaten, but you don’t follow through. They know it. So they look and act as if they didn’t hear you. It is deliberate disobedience, not a failure of their ability to listen.” I would then proceed to offer them some counsel on how to speak–and act quickly–to retrain their children to obey them immediately. Sometimes they did what I suggested, sometimes not. The ones who did not? They just couldn’t accept that their kids were deliberately disobedient. It must be something else.

God is patient with us, but His Spirit will not always strive with us (Gen. 6:3). At some point, when we choose to disobey His Word, He will act decisively, as He said He would, to discipline our disobedience. Our reaction to His Word will determine His blessing or His chastisement.

HE is not the One Who is changeable. WE are the inconsistent factor in this equation. Just like spring weather, we can’t seem to make up our minds to be reliable. We are driven with the wind, tossed about like a ship without a rudder (James 1:6). We are fickle, open to every wind of doctrine (Eph. 4:14).

The only way for us to avoid the inconsistency of disobedience is to determine to obey. Period.

There is a song I remember singing as a child. It included the words, “If we listen and obey, we’ll be happy every day!” It’s a two-part action: We listen, then we obey. When we ignore God’s promptings, we will suffer consequences.