Judgement and a full-bodied view of evil

Scripture:  2 Peter 5:3-10

Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 5if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8(for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); 9then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.  Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones…

Observations:

Peter affirms that God is judging those who distort the truth, abuse His name, and  exploit people.

Application:

God is not asleep.  When it seems like wickedness is prevailing Peter reminds these people under pressure that God’s judgment has appeared, and will come again.  This is particularly important because of the hubris that accompanies willful rebellion against God and His Gospel.  A view of God’s judgment also is important for helping us metabolize the lack of mindfulness toward God and the lack of empathy toward people that may characterize people doing evil things.  Jesus said, “Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”  But what do we do, when they do know what they are doing?

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, To trust that you will ultimately put all things right means that I believe you are the solution to evil and to the brokenness generated by our independence from you.  To trust that you are putting things right through Jesus Christ means that I abandon revenge and self-righteousness.  To trust that you are putting things right means that I believe we can find some measure of justice in this world for others who suffer from the evil deeds and decisions humans are capable of.  But even then nothing will be so satisfying as knowing you.  AMEN.

False Teachers and Fast Ferries

Scripture:  2 Peter 2:1-3 (NLT)

1But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. 2Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. 3In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.

Observations:

Peter warns the church to pay attention:  false teachers will show up.

They are cleaver teachers with “destructive heresies.”

They deny Jesus.

They will get a following.

The “way of truth” will be slandered because of the false teachers.

They will be greedy.

Application:

A few years ago BC introduced the “fast ferry” to our fleet of ships.  They didn’t last long on the water!  The wake created by these sleek and fast boats damaged the shore lines.  The boats were expensive to maintain.  Soon they were docked and ultimately sold at a great loss.

Every leader creates a wake.  All leaders and messages are not equal in the size of their wake.  Smooth talkers will abound.  Crowds may come.  But the character and heart of a false teachers is false even as they distort the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.  In the wake of such false teachers many other people are hurt and washed up on the shore.  Then the way of Jesus is slandered by those who see the devastation.

In this text, Peter would have us pay attention to two aspects of a leader’s life:  1.  The way they handle the Gospel.  2.  The way they handle people and their money.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, may your church become so familiar with your Word and the character of Christ that they recognize what is false and distance themselves from it.  Please bring healing to those who have been hurt by false teachers.  May both your tender mercy and your fierce love prevail so that Jesus is lifted up.  May your Kingdom come.  AMEN.

Hope in the Dark

Scripture:  2 Peter 1:19-21

19And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Observations:

Peter commends the prophetic word of the Old Testament to His readers.

It is a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts.

The Holy Spirit catalyzed the prophetic word by the will of God.

Application:

I love the picture here.  Waiting for morning.  The Word of God is like a lamp brightening the dark places of my heart, until “the morning star rises” and a new day dawns casting out all the darkness.  Jesus is the morning star, He is the new day.

The Word of God encourages me to wait on the Lord.  To look expectantly for His deliverance.  To pray with the Spirit, “Come Lord Jesus.”  The Word of God shows me how waiting can be active.  And it is divinely inspired to reveal Jesus Christ in a broken world and even a broken heart.

Prayer:  

Heavenly Father, some of my friends need hope today.  May they see the promise of a new day in the company of your Son.  AMEN.

Eavesdropping on Love

Scripture:  2 Peter 1:16-18

16For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.

Observations:

Peter affirms that they were not making up their message about Jesus.  They were eyewitnesses to his majesty.

The saw and they heard the honour and glory from God the Father on the mountain when He announced his love, relationship, and delight.

Application:

The human experience is by design one in which we discover the most about us from those who speak into our lives.  This is why rejection is so powerful.  This is why announcements of love are so powerful.  Some forms of spirituality reject this reality by determining to find meaning only within oneself.  But we were designed to hear the deepest truth about ourselves from outside of ourselves.  Our identity in Christ Jesus is restored through the Gospel so that we know, “I am loved.”

We pay lots of attention at weddings and movies to declarations of love.  For the Disciples these were words of divine affirmation and love overheard between the Heavenly Father and Jesus:  “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”  Peter wants His readers to have confidence in the Gospel message:  Jesus is who he says He is, and He is uniquely qualified to announce the Father’s love to us.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, In this moment I am trusting you and your Son.  But in other moments I lose my mind and am not so aware of my true identity.  Fill me with your Spirit.  May the greatness of Jesus be seen through my weakness.  May you cause my confidence in the Gospel to grow.  AMEN.

The Disciple-Maker’s Desire

Scripture:  2 Peter 1:12-15

12Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

Observations:

Therefore:  Connects Peter’s intention to continually remind the church of these qualities (See verses 5-8) with the Gospel-inspired drive to grow as Jesus’ people (See verses 10-11).

Peter emphasizes his intention to stir them up, to remind them, and to make it possible for them to recall what they have been taught.

Application:

The work of the Gospel is to make disciples to Jesus.  This requires building relationships and creating the environments that make real-time, real-life teaching, exhortation, correction, and encouragement possible.  I love the drive and passion that Peter shows here.  He is so concerned for the well-being of these followers of Jesus.  Even as he is approaching the end of his days, he is internally motivated to do whatever it takes for them to thrive.  However, the “whatever it takes” is bounded by what Peter believes will make the difference:  their capacity to recall the Gospel.  From the cross, to the forgiveness of sin, to the vision of Jesus’ character and life in them, Peter is determined for this to remain beyond the days of His life.

And so it is for all who hear the disciple-making call of Jesus, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”  We love and pour a part of their lives into another not so they will remember us, but so that they will remember Jesus.  In this way their life, like Peter’s will become a living memorial to Jesus Christ and His Gospel for another generation.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, light up the disciple-maker’s heart in me for others to know and grow in Jesus.  AMEN.