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2 Peter 1

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 21

 SCRIPTURE: 2 Peter 1

As is the case with 1 Peter, this letter was not written to a specific church.  But it was written to a specific people.  It was written to the believers of the diaspora – the believers that had been dispersed from Jerusalem and were now living in a variety of places. 

The key concept of this letter is “know”.  It, or some form of it, appears at least thirteen times in this short letter.  This concept is not primarily about an intellectual knowledge although that is included.  It is primarily about a personal experience that leads to a personal participation in the truth of the Gospel.

The second chapter is about false teachers/prophets and fake believers.  But Peter is going to tell us about the genuine before he addresses the fake.  That is a pretty good strategy.  The more familiar we are with the genuine, the better able we are to recognize the fake. 

Did you notice the way that Peter described himself as he opened this letter?  It wasn’t that he was an apostle although that is mentioned second.  It wasn’t that he had walked personally with Jesus although he had.  It wasn’t that he had been used to perform great miracles although he had.  It wasn’t even that he had been used to start the New Testament Church although he had. 

His first description of himself in this letter is that he is a servant.  As I looked at that, it became like a lightning bolt into my spirit.  Peter, one of the great characters of the New Testament, described himself as a servant.  I wonder, given the opportunity, how we would identify ourselves.  I wonder if I would be so humble as to say that first and foremost I am a servant. 

As Peter goes on in his introduction, he makes another staggering statement.  He says that the faith (e.g. the salvation) that his readers had was of equal standing with his.  I think sometimes we put the apostles on unnecessary pedestals.  On one hand, they played incredible and unique roles in the early church.  On the other hand, their faith relationship with Jesus is identical to ours.  Our salvation is the same as theirs.  The reason this true is everyone’s salvation is based in and on the righteousness of Jesus.

Peter goes on to encourage us to remember that our salvation necessarily changes how we live on this earth.  Our faith in Jesus changes our attitudes and actions.  In verse 5, he unapologetically says here are some things that you need to add in your life as a Christ follower.  Here are some things that you need to make sure you represent.  And then he goes on to list seven characteristics of a genuine Christian life.

The first one is virtue or goodness which speaks to moral excellence.  The second one is knowledge and speaks to the ability to handle life successfully.  The third one is self-control which means the ability to not do things that shouldn’t be done.  The fourth one is steadfastness or perseverance which enables us to handle the pressures and problems of life.  The fifth one is godliness which actually refers to worshipping well or knowing what is really important in life and keeping it in first place.  The sixth one is brotherly affection or brotherly kindness which should define our relationship with other Christ followers.  The seventh one is love or agape which speaks to a willingness to sacrifice greatly for the benefit of others.

Curiously enough, when you look at this section in the original language it is as though these things are built on each other.  In other words, the Christian life is a life in progress.  It is a life that God is working on but it is also a life that we need to be working on.  And these are seven things we need to add to our lives.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

2 Thessalonians 3

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 20

SCRIPTURE: 2 Thessalonians 3

Today we wrap up this short letter that Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica.  I would encourage you to remember that he was very proud of this congregation.  They were not perfect as we will see today but they were a good church.  They were living in tough times and in a tough place but they were faithful to the Gospel. 

As Paul opens this last chapter, we find him asking for prayer.  It is always good to ask for prayer.  We should indeed ask more people more often to pray for us.  And we should be committed to praying for more people.  But if you will look carefully at Paul’s prayer request you will find it wasn’t really about him or even his specific needs.

He asked that the Thessalonians pray that the Word of the Lord spread rapidly.  The English Standard Version translates it “that the Word of the Lord speed ahead”.  The New King James says that “the Word of the Lord run swiftly”.  Paul’s focus was on seeing the Word of God shared with as many people as he could possibly share with.  In fact, he was asking that the folks pray that the Word of the Lord go on ahead of him and spread beyond his limited ability to share the Gospel.  That’s a pretty neat prayer.

In verse 2, Paul’s prayer request does get a little more personal.  He asked that they pray that he and his team be delivered from wicked and evil men.  I am sure on one hand Paul was growing weary of all the attacks – spiritual and physical – that he was enduring for the sake of the Gospel.  But I am also sure that part of the basis of his request to be delivered from men that would harm him is so that he wouldn’t be hindered in his missionary work. 

In the next breath Paul reminds of the faithfulness of the Lord.  He will give us the strength to stand our Gospel ground.  And He will guard us from the evil one.  In other words, He will set limits on what Satan will be allowed to do in and around your life.

From there Paul shifts his focus to give some very practical instruction and then to close his letter.  This section begins with an admonition against idleness.  Paul encourages them to go to work and to let their work ethic be a testimony to the world around them. 

Verses 13-15 contain some incredibly important teaching.  He once again encourages them to stay the course and do good.  But then he speaks about the one who doesn’t – the one who does not obey the Gospel.  Paul said the others should not treat that person as an enemy but as a brother in need.  That is an important word to us.  Our brothers/sisters in the Lord are not our enemies.  They are part of God’s family and they needed to be treated as such – not condoning sinful behavior but encouraging Biblical behavior.

Because the Thessalonians had received a false letter by someone claiming to be Paul, Paul ends this letter by encouraging them to take note of not only his penmanship but also his style.  He wanted them to have confidence in the fact that this letter was indeed genuine.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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