Long-Suffering

2 Peter 3:9

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

Peter writes, as the day of the Lord approaches there will be an increase in those he calls “scoffers.” A scoffer is one who shows his contempt for an idea or concept, by not only rejecting it, but mocking it, and those who believe. Peter goes on to explain, one of the signs that Christ’s return is drawing near, is an increase in those who mock Christ and Christianity.

2 Peter 3:5-6 “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.”

Their mockery does not stem from a lack of evidence, but rather as the result of removing God from their thinking. Peter states, they have willingly forgotten the God who created and sustains all things.

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

Instead of writing of the intense anger of God toward those who mock Him and mistreat His children, Peter supports the reason for God’s patience. Knowing the longer He waits, the more He will be mocked, and the worse things will get, God remains patient, because it is His desire for all to be saved. We know God takes it very personally when His children are mistreated; He calls us the “apple of His eye.”

We also know, He considers blaspheme to be a violation of His Holy Law. Yet, He still waits patiently for more to come to saving faith in Christ. Keep in mind, more than anything, God’s desire is for you to be in heaven. He has paved the way through the death of His Son on the cross. He has given us His Word, and sent His servants around the world with a simple message, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).”

Have you trusted your life into His hands? If not, do it now. Simply pray, “Jesus, thank you for dying for my sin, I invite you into my life and give my life to You.”

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Jeremiah 51 – Not Forsaken
Jeremiah 52 – Get Out of Jail

In The Pig Pen

2 Peter 2:22
“But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: ‘A dog returns to his own vomit,’ and, ‘a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.’”

A few years ago, I was in northern Ghana with a group of people from our church. Our purpose was to bring the Gospel to remote villages that had yet to be reached for Christ. Just as Paul developed a custom of going first to the synagogue, then to the market squares, we too, had developed our own custom. Because of the practices of their culture, it is customary, when a traveler arrives at their home, to gather the family, offer the traveler a drink and ask “What brings you here and do you have a message for us?” As you can imagine, this provides a wide open door to share Christ.

On one particular day, as we were walking through a village, going from hut to hut with the gospel, I turned a corner and startled a large pig. He immediately arose from his mud hole and walked off. When he stirred up the mud, the stink was so strong it almost knocked me over. I continued down the path, then turned back, thinking of this verse in 2 Peter 2, wondering what would happen next. Sure enough, as soon as he thought it was safe, the pig walked back to the mire and plopped down.

Peter explains, while it is expected for a pig to return to its mire, you are not a pig. Once you have come to Christ, it is unnatural for you to turn back to the sins from which He saved you. He writes that returning to our past lives, results in being in a worse condition than we were prior to being saved. That worse condition is caused by the hardening of our hearts.

Each time we take a step away from the Lord, the Holy Spirit convicts us, reminding us of the promises of the Word, and the danger of that course of action. When we ignore His warnings and continue to move toward sin and away from God, our hearts become just a little harder. Soon we are able to sin without feelings of guilt or remorse. That is in no way a sign of freedom, but of extreme bondage. When sin no longer shames us, we are shackled by its deadly grip.

A good application from this text would be to take inventory. Are you allowing things back into your life that might lead you away from the Lord and back into your old life style? Turn those things back over to the Lord, before you find yourself neck-deep in the mire.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Jeremiah 49 – Excuses Excuses
Jeremiah 50Pardon the Preserved

Add To Your Faith

2 Peter 1:5-7
“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”

Building a healthy relationship with the Lord is made up of a number of elements, the first of which is faith. In Hebrews 11, we are told that without faith it is impossible to please God. We might say, faith is the currency of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is the means by which we receive from God. The gift of eternal life, the promises of the Word, and the work of the Spirit are all received by faith. For anyone to begin a relationship with God, it must start by entrusting your life to Christ, and becoming His follower.

Just like Matthew rose from his tax office and began to follow after Jesus, we must leave our old life behind and trust our lives into the care of Jesus. When that is done, a relationship with God begins. But notice, Peter makes it clear that receiving Christ is not the finish line, but the starting gate. He exhorts us to add to our faith. His list is not exhaustive, there are certainly other things that can be added to our relationship with Christ, that will ensure our spiritual growth, but these seven things are a great place to start.

These 7 Things:

To faith add virtue – Virtue was defined in ancient times by Socrates as “doing something as well as it can be done”. Paul wrote, we should “do all things heartily as unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). The Christian should seek to do all things well as a testimony to the world, and as an offering of worship to the Lord.

To virtue add knowledge – Knowledge is both information and experience. As Christians, we should be good students of the Bible, seeking to get to know the Word of God. This does not mean, we are searching for hidden meanings in the Bible, but we are learning to take the Bible at face value, and apply the truths to our lives. This word ‘knowledge’ also carries the idea of experience. It is not just information about the Lord that is important, but that we are getting to know Him better, by walking with Him day-to-day.

To knowledge add self-control – To exercise self-control, the Christian must learn to deny or say no to himself. Not everything we desire is healthy for us, or helpful in walking with the Lord. There are times when the flesh is tempted toward things that will lead us away from Christ. We must resist the devil and draw near to God.

To self-control add perseverance – This means simply to press on. Wherever you are currently in your relationship with Christ, it is not the end. Paul reminds us, there is a day when we will complete the race and be in the presence of God, but until that day we must keep pressing forward.

To perseverance add godliness – There are many aspects to godliness, one of which is the idea of reverence. This is a word which has sadly lost its place, not only in our vocabularies, but in our culture. It is rare to see people acting with proper reverence. The word carries the idea of having a healthy fear. When people enter the ocean without proper fear, they are often swept away by large surf or caught in rip tides. When we do not have a healthy fear of God, we will toy with sins that should have been cast aside long ago.

To godliness add brotherly kindness – It always amuses me when the New Testament writers have to encourage Christians to be nice to each other. You would think we would realize we are all saved by grace, all are adopted into the family of Christ, and we should be kind to each other. But just as a parent has to break up the bickering between siblings, we must be reminded to be kind to one another. Don’t forget the world is watching how we treat each other.

Finally, to brotherly kindness add love – As faith is the starting point of a relationship with the Lord, love is the chief evidence. Paul stated, upon receiving Christ, the love of God would be shed abroad in our hearts. As Christians, our lives should be marked by love, and that love should be categorized properly. First, love is toward God. We are to love Him with our heart, soul, mind and strength. Second, love is to be toward others, Finally, we are to fall in love with the things that God loves.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Jeremiah 47- Learn From History
Jeremiah 48 – Clean Me

Throw It All Away

1 Peter 5:7 “. . .casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

Cares, concerns, worries, and anxiety are all relatively synonymous terms. They speak of the things in life that fill us with fear, rob us of peace, overwhelm us, and stress us out. There are numerous things that create this kind of anxiety; some of them are real and others irrational, but all of them seem to have the same effect upon us. Peter tells us the solution to dealing with the cares of life.

“. . .casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

The word ‘casting’ is a translation of a compound word in Greek meaning, ‘to throw upon’. It was used in the book of Acts when Paul was traveling by ship to Rome. In the midst of the sea, they experienced a great storm similar to a hurricane. In addition to being tossed around by the large waves and driven off course by the high winds, they had lost all sense of where they were, because for many days they were unable to see the stars to navigate. As the ship was being beat up by the storm and taking on water, the crew began to realize, they may not survive. Suddenly, the precious cargo they were transporting meant little to them, and they began to toss it overboard to lighten the ship, and increase their chances of survival. When the storm continued, they reached the point where they even began throwing the ship’s tackle overboard.

This is an apt illustration of what it means to cast our cares upon Christ. Sometimes, the storms of life cause us to realize that much of what we are living for, or hold dear, matters little in light of eternity. In the storm, we, like those sailors of old, evaluate what is truly precious and we cast all the rest at the feet of Jesus. Maybe now would be a good time to cast some of those cares at His feet. Perhaps there are things you have allowed back into your life that should be left behind, as you press toward the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

As the storm continued they cast the ship’s tackle overboard. Tackle, unlike cargo is necessary to the sailors. They could not hoist the sails without it. When the storm began, they relied upon their own strength and experience to get them through. As the storm raged on, they reached a point where they realized it was too much for them. All they were accustomed to trusting in proved faulty, and as a last resort they threw the tackle overboard and listened to the instructions, not of the captain, but of the Apostle. Sometimes, life’s storms are allowed so we will stop trusting in our own strength, instead turning to the Lord for direction. It may be that the care that you need to cast at His feet is the idea that you can get through this without Heaven’s help.

Whatever you are facing, cast those cares at His feet. Peter promises that Jesus cares for us.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Jeremiah 45- Self-Promotion
Jeremiah 46- Armed And Dangerous

The End Is Near

1 Peter 4:7-10
“But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another.”

Peter gives a series of exhortations, all predicated upon the fact that the end is near. When the Bible refers to the end of all things, it does so, not out of fear or despair, but out of joy and anticipation. For the believer, the end of all things means Christ will call His church home, and ultimately return to set up His earthly kingdom, where He will reign and rule in righteousness.

This end was the anticipation of the prophets of old, who spoke of things like righteousness covering the earth, as the waters cover the sea; or the lion and the lamb lying down together; and weapons of war being turned into instruments of agriculture; and men learning war no more. Peter is reminding us that Christ will come back and make things right.

In addition to filling us with hope, the reality of His return should stir us to proper behavior. Peter lists four areas of life that should be impacted by the expectation of Christ’s return. First, we must be watchful in prayer. I think there are two very important things we must watch for in prayer. One, we must watch that we are praying. Too often, prayer becomes our last resort, instead of our first instinct. If we want to see God accomplish the things He promises, we must be men and women of prayer. James said we have not, because we ask not (James 4:2). Also, we must watch that we are praying according to the Word of God. The Bible is filled with promises predicated upon asking. James went on to explain, the reason we do not see God accomplish what He promises is that we ask amiss (James 4:3). In other words, we are asking for things He has no intention of doing, while neglecting to ask Him to do what He promised.

Second, Peter exhorts us to love one another. Love is the greatest of all the commandments. Jesus said our first love must be directed to God. If we truly love God, it will be expressed in love for each other. John asked, “How you can love God whom you cannot see, if you do not love others who you do see” (1 John 4:20)?  One way this love is expressed is through covering the faults of another. Peter is not suggesting that we condone sin. The Bible clearly teaches, if a Christian is in sin, we must confront him, to help rescue him from impending danger. What we are exhorted to do is look beyond the failures of one another, and love each other. This is where forgiveness is a huge expression of love. The proper way to have a relationship is to be willing to forgive and press forward.

Third, Peter speaks of being hospitable. The Greek word translated hospitable is a compound word literally meaning “to love strangers.” As we are to love each other, we are also to love those who do not yet know Christ. One of the great ministries of the early church was breaking bread from house to house. They turned their homes into places where others were welcome to come and learn about Jesus. We should be those who are always looking for ways to express the love of Christ to those who have not yet come to Christ.

Finally, Peter declares that as we await the arrival of Jesus, we must be involved in ministry. Sadly, many Christians think ministry is to be done by the professionals; when the Bible clearly teaches that every Christian has been called to ministry. The church was designed by Jesus as a place where the Bible would be taught so the Christian could grow and impact others. It was also to be a place where the Gospel would be declared, so Christians can bring their friends and family to hear about Jesus and be saved. As we await Christ’s return, let’s be busy serving the Lord.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Jeremiah 43- Self-Willed 
Jeremiah 44- Self-Inflicted

Answers

1 Peter 3:15
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;”

Shortly after coming to Christ, I was driving down PCH in Southern California and found myself stuck at one of the many red lights, waiting for the arrow to turn green so I could continue to my destination. It was a summer day, and since my car did not have AC, my windows were rolled down. A car pulled up next to me and the driver called out to get my attention. I had never seen him before, and to my knowledge have never seen him since, but what he said to me has stuck with me for more than 25 years.

After getting my attention, he asked if I was a Christian, the “Jesus Loves You” bumper sticker gave me away. I replied that I was, and he then asked how a person could be saved. I was caught off guard, and was not clear on how to articulate the Gospel, so I sat there stunned. As the signal turned green and he sped off, I hollered out “believe in Jesus!” At that point, I determined, I wanted to have an answer for others who were seeking to find the truth about Christ. It would be quite some time before I stumbled across Peter’s words recorded here,

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;”

Peter explains how we can be ready, when the opportunity arises, to help point someone to Christ. This readiness involves two things. First, we must sanctify the Lord in our hearts. Sanctify means to set apart. Christ must be set apart from all other things to which your heart is attached. It is not enough to simply have Jesus as one of the many things you are devoted to; He does not enter a life and take second place. Remember when He said “You cannot serve two masters”? (Matthew 6:24) Jesus demands and deserves first place in our hearts and lives. He calls for us to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to give Him first place in our lives. If we want to affect others for the kingdom of Heaven, it begins by giving Jesus first place in our own life. Perhaps other things have risen to the top, or crowded Jesus out of His rightful place. If that is the case, take a moment right now to recommit yourself to Him.

Second, Peter says, “be ready.” We do this by getting to know the Bible. Paul wrote that we should “Study to show yourself approved to God.” (2 Timothy 2:15) As believers, we are called to become students of Scripture. We do this by taking time daily to read our Bibles. Over the years, I have been amazed at how often the answer someone is seeking, comes right out of the passage I read that morning. Jesus promised us help in this area when He said, the Holy Spirit would remind us of the Words that Christ had spoken (John 14:26).

If someone were to ask you today how to become a Christian are you prepared to give them the Biblical answer?

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Jeremiah 41- Game Over
Jeremiah 42- Ready, Willing and…

Living Stone

1 Peter 2:5
“You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”

Peter describes Christians as Living Stones. This simple phrase reveals the miraculous nature of our salvation. Individuals can no more have their sins forgiven than a stone can come to life. However, what is impossible with men, is possible for God. We, who are dead in sin, are made alive through faith in Christ. Peter adds to the miracle of salvation by explaining, once we have been made alive, we now have a divine purpose, “we are being built up a spiritual house.” God is shaping us into the people He created us to be, that we might experience abundant life and have an impact upon others, for the kingdom of heaven. We, who were once without God and without hope in this world, have been made alive and given a life of purpose. How should we respond ?

“. . . to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Peter explains that one of the primary purposes of our life, is to offer up spiritual sacrifices that have been approved by God. In other words, there are things God desires in return for the salvation He has freely given. First, we are told to offer ourselves as living sacrifices. This is done when we willingly surrender ourselves to Christ, and seek to live in accordance with His Word. A living sacrifice is one who reads the Bible and does what it says. Peter goes on to speak of abstaining from fleshly lusts, obeying authority, and following after the example of Christ. The living sacrifice looks to the Word, and seeks to put these things into practice in his life. Are there any fleshly lusts you have been toying with, instead of abstaining from? Perhaps your eyes have been looking, your lips speaking, or you ears hearing, things that they shouldn’t be. The right thing to do, as a living stone, is offer yourself back to God.

Another acceptable spiritual sacrifice is worship. Worship falls into at least three categories, and we should be consistently involved in all three. First, we worship God for who He is. No matter what our circumstances might be, God has not changed, and He is worthy of praise for being God. The Bible describes Him as dwelling in unapproachable light, being surrounded by companies of angels that declare His holiness and majesty. We should join Heaven’s chorus and offer praise. Second, we worship God for what He has done. When life hits us hard, we are able to look back to the cross where the Son of God died for us. We look at His bleeding hands and feet, and we are reminded of His love for us; a love that understands our weakness and knows our pain. Looking to the cross will fill us with faith, enabling us to press forward, despite the trials. Finally, we worship because of what He promises to do. The Bible is filled with promises for the child of God. Each of them stronger than any obstacle in our way. We must learn to look to the promises and to cling to them. Paul, referring to the promises of God, said they were all “yes and amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20), meaning that every promise of God is certain to come true.

Christian, it is time to offer up spiritual sacrifices, no matter what you are facing, give God your highest praise.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Jeremiah 39- Competition
Jeremiah 40- Seek Counsel