Diligent to Live for Him

II Peter 3:13-14.

Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

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Charles Haddon Spurgeon has long been a great favorite of mine. I have a copy of his Morning and Evening devotional book that is over 40 years old, and I still go back to it now and then for the year’s worth of wonderful meditations he wrote. I saw this quote from him this morning, and thought it an appropriate introduction for today’s passage:

 “The king is coming; He is coming to His throne, and to His judgment. Now a man does not go up to a king’s door, and there talk treason; and men do not sit in a king’s audience-chamber when they expect him every moment to enter, and there speak ill of him. The King is on His way, and almost here; you are at His door; He is at yours. What manner of people ought ye to be? How can ye sin against One Who is so close at hand?” (Spurgeon)

The nevertheless in v.13 refers to the description of the destruction of the heavens and the earth as we know them. God will consume them with fire, the like of which has never been seen before. Nevertheless, we, as believers, can look forward to a new heaven and a new earth, which will be filled with righteousness. Sin will no longer prevail.

And because we look forward to that day, we can hasten its coming by our diligence in living for Him now, in spite of all the evil that abounds. We have the sure promise of eternity with Him, and that is what keeps us diligently living for Him here on this tired old world.

Final Greetings

I Peter 5: 12-14.

By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand.

The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son.

Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Silvanus: This man’s name is derived from Silas, who was a Roman citizen who often accompanied Paul in his journeys. It was common practice in Peter’s day to include greetings from others at the end of his letters. It is likely that Peter dictated part or all of this letter to Silvanus, who included his own greeting, and made sure the epistle was delivered to the believers in Asia.

I like Peter’s emphasis on his letter being about the true grace, wherein ye stand. Peter had wrestled with the idea that grace had to include obedience to Old Testament law. He therefore could speak with personal knowledge and authority about the complete, true grace of God in which we can stand with assurance.

The church at Babylon: It may be that Peter wrote from Babylon, which still existed as a city in his time. Some believe he was using Babylon symbolically, although there isn’t much evidence to support that. In any case, the clearest sense is that one church was greeting another, as is still common today.

Elected together with you: Chosen, just as all believers are chosen of God. They had the same Father.

Marcus my son: This is the same Mark who wrote the gospel. Apparently Mark and Peter had a very strong and affectionate connection. It would seem that Peter’s teaching strongly influenced Mark’s writing in content and perspective.

Kiss of charity (love): This has translated as a “holy kiss,” which is exactly what it was. The practice of a kiss of greeting and/or departure existed long before Peter’s time, and is still common in many European and Asian countries. It was not established by Peter or any other Apostle. It was simply a habit of tradition. When I went to Slovakia on a short-term mission trip, I experienced this greeting for the first time in my life. I got to where I really liked it– a warm and friendly greeting that carries no hint of anything else.

Peter’s final greeting was for the believers to experience the peace of God in their lives, in spite of looming persecution. That is an encouragement for every believer.

Arm Yourselves with. . . .His Mind

I Peter 4:1.

Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;

That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

Forasmuch is not something we say these days. We would probably say, “Because Christ suffered. . . .”

Jesus voluntarily gave Himself up to physical abuse and suffering in our behalf. Armed with the love of the Father and the comfort of obedience to Him, Jesus endured agony for us.

What Peter is saying here is that we can follow Jesus’ example. We can be armed with the mind of Christ to endure suffering, if God so allows.

How does one have the mind of Christ?

We develop the mind of Christ through the reading, study, and love of God’s Word. Every word of scripture is inspired of God through the Holy Spirit. My life verse is Psalm 119:165. “Great peace have they which love Thy law; and nothing shall offend (cause to stumble) them.”

The love of God’s Word engenders inner peace. The love of God’s Word keeps us from tripping and falling over temptation that Satan strews across our pathways like little rocks. It is through the knowledge and love of God’s Word that we can get the victory over temptation. Satan figures out our vulnerabilities and tempts us accordingly. When we have the peace of God in our hearts, through His Word, we will NOT stumble over those temptations. Even when we experience great fear and dread, we can have the peace of God that enables us to face it and endure it.

Why does Peter say that those who have suffered for Christ will cease from sin? Is one perfected by suffering for Him? I’ve thought about this over the past weekend, knowing I would be writing about it today. No, we are not made sinless through suffering. However, I believe that when one has truly suffered for Christ’s sake, his faith is strengthened and refined, and his tendency to sin is decreased with the new understanding of what Christ suffered for his sake.

Verse two says it perfectly. Persecution has the tendency to encourage us to live the rest of our lives in obedience to God’s will, and not in giving in to human lusts.

I’m not very brave. I would much rather choose to live for God because of my love for Him than to have to suffer persecution that would bring me to that point of surrender.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Distraction

I’m sitting here, Saturday night, trying to focus on something for this post. There are three other people in the room, none of whom are trying to write anything, and are having conversations about a variety of topics.

So I got my headphones on, plugged in to my computer, and I’m listening to beautiful piano music. Ahhhh. Much better.

Blocks out the voices 🙂

My thoughts have been all over the place today. There is more information coming at me than I really want to deal with, so I’m not going to talk about politics, Ukraine, or Russia. Those topics are talked to death. Am I not concerned? Yes, of course I am. Any thinking person would be.

However. I simply cannot allow myself to be consumed with things over which I have no control. So instead, I hold my mind on things that lift me up, give me peace, encourage me, and make me able to rest in a few minutes when I toddle off to bed.

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27.

David wrote, “Great peace have they which love Thy law, and nothing shall offend them (cause them to stumble). Psalm 119:165.

Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

Isaiah wrote, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.” Isaiah 26:3.

There is a lovely old gospel song, sung here by George Beverly Shea.

Just the name of Jesus brings peace and rest to a weary soul. I think all of us are weary of the tumult of the world today. Find peace in Him that will carry you through the day tomorrow, and all the tomorrows to come.

A Backsliding Heifer

Hoseas 4: 16. “For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place.”

Don't be stubborn; be fed by the Lord. — Hosea 4:16 | Scripture pictures,  Picture photo, Picture

I was hoping to find a picture of a young cow sliding down a hill backward, unable to stop the momentum. This was as close as I could come. I think it does aptly portray the cow’s resistance to going the way she should, digging in her heels against the pushing and prodding of the men to make her go where she should.

Israel was stubborn, choosing the path of idolatry against God. No matter how much she was warned of the dire consequences, still she resisted God’s offer of mercy, and chose His judgment instead. When it was all over, judgment having been passed and her repentance sincere, THEN God would care for Israel as a shepherd would take his lambs to a wise meadow of succulent green grass.

Pat on Twitter: "✝️ Today's 1-Yr #Bible ~ Hosea 4:16 True of God's people  in the OT...so often true of myself today. Stubborn heifer or trusting,  obedient lamb? Only with obedience comes

Jesus Breathed on Them

John 20:21-23.

Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.

And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

Do you suppose the disciples were more than a little fearful when Jesus suddenly appeared among them? After all, they had all, but one, left Him during His trials and His death. I think that their presence together in that locked room spoke something of their fear, their regret, their uncertainty of what was to come.

Jesus knew all that. His first word to them was possibly the traditional Hebrew greeting: “Shalom!” “Peace to you.” It was an assurance to them that He came not in anger, or to rebuke, but in love. His next words, though, were perhaps more alarming: “as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.”

I’m certain there were questions in the minds of all those who gathered there. Perhaps, by now, they understood that Jesus had been sent by the Father. But to what was He sending them?

They were just ordinary men, about to be given an extraordinary task. What happened next just gives me goose bumps!

He breathed on them. His breath was the breath of life, the giving of the Spirit. I don’t know how this looked. Did He blow through His mouth, turning in every direction to cover them all? Did He just stand still, and fill the room with the sweet breath of life and the Holy Spirit? Did they feel anything?

The Greek word used here is the same as that used in the Septuagint in Genesis 2:7, ‘the Lord God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath (or The Spirit) of Life’; and Ezekiel 37:9,‘breathe into these slain and they shall live’ (the vision of the Dry Bones).”

There is an important connection with the breath of God that brought Adam to life and the breath of God that gave new life and meaning to the disciples and, in fact, all who were gathered there with them (Luke 24:33). Jesus could have said, “I give you new life, new power, new understanding to enable you to go out and carry on the work I have begun.”

Finally, verse 23, which has given rise to some false teaching, and misunderstanding of what Jesus was saying. It is not, and never has been, within the power of any human being to forgive sin in the sense of complete remission, and entrance into the presence of God. We can–and must–forgive each other for offenses, but we do not have the authority of the Father to know who gains heaven and who does not.

The mission Jesus was giving the disciples here was to become messengers of God, announcing the completed work on Calvary, the resurrection, the freedom from sin and death that God provided through His Son. Jesus has always been central! Not any particular church or hierarchy can presume to take the place of the risen Christ, through Whom all sin is remitted when anyone turns to Him in true repentance and acceptance of the gift of salvation, not to be won by any works that we have done, but according to His mercy (Titus 3:5-7).

The disciples, and all believers, are commissioned to be ambassadors for Christ, announcing the availability of freedom from sin that comes through Him, and only through Him.

The gifting of the Holy Spirit manifests differently in different people. Peter was gifted to preach powerfully to masses of people. Philip was gifted to become a one-on-one soul-winner. God has a special kind of task for each of us, which He will reveal as we seek Him.

Peace

John 14:27-28.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved Me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for My Father is greater than I.

See the source image

Sweet peace, the gift of God’s love. Don’t we all need that peace these days? The peace that Jesus gives is deep, abiding, and changeless no matter what other circumstance may exist in your life. It is, aside from salvation, one of His greatest gifts to us all.

A troubled heart can be a sign that we are not resting in His peace. We are allowing our hearts to be troubled and afraid.

You may be thinking, “But Linda, how can we NOT be troubled by the tumult in America right now? How can we sleep at night wondering if rioters and looters are going to hit our neighborhood next? What if the government shuts everything down again? People are already hurting financially!”

Do you see how just those three sentences may have already sent you into a tailspin of worry?

II Timothy 1:7. “God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Philippians 4:4-8. “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, REJOICE! Let your moderation (quiet self-control) be known unto all men. The Lord IS at hand. Be careful (don’t worry ) for nothing (about anything); but in every thing by prayer and supplication (begging) with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.

Jesus said to His disciples, “If you truly understood, and loved Me, you would be thrilled that I am returning to My Father. He is, after all, greater than I! And He will send you the Comforter.”

Don’t let your hearts be filled with fear and worry. Take it to the Lord. Be strong and of good courage. The Comforter is with us!

These are My Father’s Words

John 14: 22-23.

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.

He that loveth Me not keepeth not My sayings: and the word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me.

The simplicity of Jesus’ answer to Judas is profound. Wouldn’t you love to have been a fly on the wall during this intimate conversation? Jesus was so patient, explaining and re-explaining, because the disciples were only men, after all, who did not have His knowledge and understanding of what was about to take place.

Judas had asked Jesus, “How will You make Yourself known to us, but not to the world? How can it be that we will see You but the world will not?”

Judas was thinking in human terms. All the disciples so desperately wanted Jesus to remain with them, and they were having a hard time accepting that He would not be there in the physical sense; that the Father would send them the Comforter when Jesus returned to heaven.

The concept was clear in these two verses. If anyone loves God, he will keep God’s commandments; when that happens, Jesus and the Father will come to that person, and abide (pitch a tent, make a home) in that person.

But those who do not love God will not heed His words. He will not experience the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, of Jesus Christ, and of the Father.

Think of someone you know who obviously loves God and is obedient to Him. There is a joy, a peace, a sense of comfort that radiates from that person. That is what Jesus promised His disciples, if they obeyed His words.

Wisdom

Eccl. 8:1. Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.

Image result for Ecclesiastes 8:1

Think of a very wise person you know, a person whose wisdom is biblical, godly wisdom and not necessarily just human intelligence.

Now think of the impression that person’s face leaves on you. Is it an impression of goodness? Kindness? Patience? Joy?

Here, Solomon says that true godly wisdom not only lights up a person’s face, but also softens it.

My dad had a stern face. Partly it was his temperament; partly hereditary, partly his personal history. He grew up during the Depression, and did his part in World War II. I always thought he was a handsome man, but as he grew older, and especially after his major heart surgeries, his face softened. It was an amazing thing to see him respond to my brothers little children when they came to visit him in the hospital. He loved them so much, and for perhaps the first time in his life he allowed that softer emotion to show.

It was during the last ten years of his life that I noticed such changes in him on our rare visits together. Softer, kinder, more gentle; all his years of studying and preaching God’s Word were showing on his face.

That should be true for every believer who walks with God. There should be that in the countenance that reveals God’s wisdom, love and grace.

Peace and Help

Isaiah 61: 4-5.

And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.

And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.

Image result for The shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations


Once the time of Tribulation has passed and Satan is bound, no longer able to stir up trouble, Israel will begin the process of rebuilding. Cities that have been desolate for generations will be rebuilt and re-inhabited. Help will come from nations around the world. Gentiles will travel to Jerusalem and throughout Israel. They will tend flock, dress the vineyards, plough the fields for planting.

It is difficult to imagine the excitement and joy that will exist in Israel, after all the centuries of being the target of hatred. I’m reminded of the old song Peace in the Valley.