Peace is not the absence of trouble. It’s the presence of God.
“But now thus says the LORD, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: ‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.’” Isaiah 43:1-2
Choose relationship over circumstance.
Who you belong to makes all the difference in the world.
“Therefore, dear friends since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:17-18
The best players in sport are those that effectively play both sides of the ball, defense and offense. They guard well and get buckets. So much of their greatness is defined by being a two-way player. They’re the ones who’ve really got game. Are you one?
As 2 Peter closes, the apostle Peter challenges us to become two-way players spiritually. Let’s take a closer look at what this means.
GUARDING. Be spiritual ‘rim protectors’. Defend the truth of the gospel. ‘Lawless men’ (false teachers, spiritual hustlers, counterfeit religions) spiritually prey on those ignorant of the Word. They downsize Jesus, minimize scripture, marginalize truth, doubt His return, cheapen His grace, push prosperity, sell special knowledge, and proclaim a freedom that eventually enslaves. They carry people away.
Let’s not let these kinds of guys score on us or our teammates. Let’s not let our confidence in Christ, in who God says we are in Him, be shaken. Commit to defense. Be immune to coercion. Know the scriptures really well. Get in front of sound doctrine and good teaching faithfully. Rightly divide the word of truth. Guard the house.
GROWING. Peter also says to grow our offensive game. He highlights two moves in particular. First, become a grace guy. Receive it. Give it. All the time. Score this ball. God’s grace is so irresistible, unstoppable. It’s the best move to make. Let it wow you and then wow others through you. Learn grace. Score with grace. Grace wins.
Second, expand Jesus’s scoring range in you by growing your knowledge and understanding of him on two crucial fronts: Savior and Lord. Savior means he’s the only one who makes us righteous, so stop trying to self-justify. Lord means I bow the knee to him as King and #FollowTheLeader for life. Whatever He says goes. He’s that worthy.
God’s Word indeed challenges us to become two-way players. Guarding the truth is imperative. And growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ are the two scores we gotta get every day.
May I ask…
How’s your spiritual defense? Is the enemy of your soul scoring on you? Where do you need to tighten up the D? What truth do you need to defend or apply?
Relentlessly committed to growing in grace and following an amazing, undefeated, worthy Savior-Lord?
LORD, I wanna be a two-way player for You. I wanna guard the truth and get spiritual buckets, not just physical ones. Help me in my journey. To You be glory both now and forever! Amen.
Endeared American college basketball coach Skip Prosser had a favorite quote that expressed his heart in working with with his team, his players. It was this:
“Our chief wants in life is Someone who can make us do what we can.“ (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
We all need Someone to show up in our life to help us get over the hump, to get us where we really want to get and be all we were meant to be. And we all need to be someone that shows up in another’s life to help them too. And, as necessary, keep showing up.
Today’s short scripture meditation helps us think about this a bit more and offers a crucial way to live a well-prompted life. Check it out.
“To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen.“ 2 Peter 3:18
We all need a good bottom line. It gets us beyond all the distractions. It settles our thinking when all sorts of things vie for our attention. It moves away the clutter. It lifts the haze. It clarifies. It doesn’t let us drown in the sea of everything else. It sheds true light. It brings the power of one thing to center stage and eliminates all the rest. It is the most powerful soliloquy there is.
Athletes need one. Teams need one. Students need one. Coaches need one. Businessmen need one. Families need one. Churches need one. Communities need one. Rulers need one. Nations need one. The living and the dying need one. Men and women need one. The whole world needs one.
Do you know what it is? The book of 2 Peter closes by highlighting life’s greatest bottom line.
It’s not me.
Yep. That’s it.
Bringing Him honor.
As the exact representation and fullness of God, the Father wants our bottom line worship routing this way, towards Christ, to honor the Son.
And a role of the Holy Spirit is to prompt this bottom line playing out in us.
Our bottom line why, chief purpose and maximum motivation is found here: God’s glory in Christ. Any other bottom line you and I rest on is not the bottom line. It will cave in on us eventually. It’s not built to handle the weight. Only His glory is.
And may I remind you that there’s an urgency at play here? Scripture says to do it now. And forever. So stop and drop anchor around this. Download it for a lifetime. No delay.
We were made for worship. His! Everything we say and do is to reflect this somehow. So give Him the honor due his Name now and forever. That’s the bottom line.
May I ask…
Is your life’s biggest bottom line bringing Him glory now? Trending faithfully towards forever?
Are you better at stealing glory or giving it? Which one is your default setting?
Where could God’s glory be more evident in your bottom line living?
Father, thank you for giving us such a clear, selfless, powerful bottom line in Jesus. May this play out in all I say and do today through the power of your Spirit, now and forever! Amen
“How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” John 5:44
Two things we all want are praise and validation. Being affirmed, as having what it takes, is important. The trick is to get those things the right way, to make sure the right voice(s) are weighing in.
Jesus gives us three great clues as to how to do this:
1. DON’T CREATE YOUR OWN PRAISE. No fishing for compliments. It’s tempting but not wise. Bragging about yourself backfires. It works against the praise you seek. Self-generated praise is not valid, just vain. Heed Jesus’s words: “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid.” (John 5:31)*
2. DON’T ACCEPT THE PRAISE OF MEN. It makes you settle for less than the best. That kind of praise comes back to bite because it is consistently fickle and fleeting. It skews reality and becomes addicting. Heed Jesus’s words instead: “I do not accept praise from men.” (John 5:41)
3. GET IT FROM GOD. Seek His praise. Let Him validate you by His word, through His spirit. Take aim at His approval above all (Audience of One). Jesus suggests that pursuing other praise diets will drown out God’s voice in our lives. Expect the greater reward, God’s reward. Get a “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master” from Him. (Matthew 25:21)
Jesus clues us well because He’s like the finest of coaches. He will not seek praise to validate Himself, only to praise and validate others along the way. Having His Heavenly Father’s approval was, is, and always will be enough. (Do you believe this?) O may we function this same way.
You better at generating praise for yourself or the building up of others?
Are you addicted to man’s approval, dependent more than you care to admit on their praise and affirmations?
Is social media getting too much playing time in your life? What adjustments might be necessary?
Who makes you feel most validated in life? Getting enough true messages that you have what it takes?
Sweet, strong Jesus, don’t let me become easily satisfied with the praise of men. I want Yours. Win the approval war that’s waged in me. Settle my heart and make me like You. Amen
“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” 2 Peter 3:11-12
Stephen Covey wrote a massive 20th century bestseller called ‘7 Habits of Highly Successful People’. The third habit he identifies is ‘Begin with the End in Mind’. All great missions, all great teams start and build from here.
The Bible repeatedly talks about the end and asks us to live in light of it. That end includes coming judgment, the destruction of this world, the ushering in of another better one, and Christ’s catalytic return to set this brand new end in motion.
God’s Word in 2 Peter 3:11-14 gives us a few pointers as to what living with the end in mind should look like. Here’s the picture:
LIVING HOLY. This does not mean living perfect. It means living ‘set apart’ for special service to our Master. It means living for Him.
LIVING GODLY. This means living like Jesus, imitating Him, patterning ‘your game’ after His. It means living like Him.
LOOKING FORWARD. This means anticipating His return – vigilant, ready, hopeful and hope-filled. It means living in the now but with an eye on eternity. It means living with Him always in view.
GETTING BUSY. This means seizing and maximizing moments, pushing the tempo, making possessions matter and each day a masterpiece. It means ‘speeding His return’ by not being spiritually lazy, casual, or indifferent. It means working hard for what matters most.
BEING BLAMELESS. This means fighting off sin and receiving forgiveness when you do. It means living spotless before God and others, cleaning up the relational messes you make. It means keeping yourself clean.
EXPERIENCING PEACE. This means forging a great relationship with God and maintaining it. It means close friendship, committed to being on great terms with Him consistently.
May I ask… How well are you living with the end in mind? Of the six pointers scripture mentions here, where could you use some tightening up?
LORD, thank you for making the end game clear and showing us how to live in light of this. You don’t leave us guessing on either front. All other religions and worldviews do. I love You for this!
Keep future, eternal realities ever before me. Don’t let me get numb to this. I want to live with the end in mind…just like Jesus. Spirit of God, help me make this habit. For Your glory and my joy and peace. Amen
Extensive research among Olympians has identified 7 common personality traits of all elite athletes (high performance-type people). High organizational ability is one of them. It gives them structure and helps them figure out what needs to be done when. ‘W.I.N.’ (What’s Important Now) shapes their thinking. And good self-reminders populate all the time.
How do you create structure in your day (or do you simply let others structure the majority of it for you)? How do you remind yourself of what’s important, of what must be done today? One crucial but oft overlooked way is to let God’s Word remind and stimulate you. It’s prompts are amazingly valuable and beneficial, insightful and wise. The more often scripture is deeply, daily read, the better.
And what happens if you and I don’t? 2 Peter 3 gives us some clues, a ‘nasty nine’.
1. Doubt will start to dominate. (v3-7)
2. Coming consequences (judgment) will seem imaginary not inevitable. (v7,10-12)
3. Overall perspective will get wacky. (v8,10-13, 15)
4. God will seem distant and slow. (v9)
5. God’s promises will be forgotten, sidelined, benched. (v10, 13)
6. Living life with a good sense of urgency will be lost. (v14)
7. Living in right relationship with God will seem irrelevant. (v14)
8. Playing good defense, being vigilant and always on guard, will seem pointless. (v17)
9. Insecurity in life will rise. (v17)
Are you being routinely stimulated to wholesome thinking? Are you getting enough Bible intake to live wisely, with the end in mind? Are you suffering from any of the ‘nasty nine’? What mental or organizational adjustment(s) need to be made in order to get more daily wins?
LORD, fill my days with great thoughts and sound structure. Don’t let me succumb to the ‘nasty nine’. Your Word Is such a good gift. Keep feeding me the truth and reminding me by your Spirit of the wholesome thinking I need to get wins every day.
“Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders, to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.“ ~ 2 Peter 3:1
Cultures often use rocks to memorialize things. * Rocks are piled over corpses to give the dead a simple home. * Rock-built (often-crossed) tombstones (paired with a small flag on days like today) honor fallen American heroes due to war.
Big rocks are placed and painted on college campuses to commemorate something noteworthy. * There is a great rock showcased beautifully inside the San Antonio Spurs practice facility. It helps tell a very special story that defines that sports franchise’s deep DNA.
Here’s one more rock story. God gave His people an assignment. Take twelve great rocks from the middle of the Jordan River and pile them up together beyond its west banks to serve as a memorial. It was to signal the LORD’s faithfulness in parting those waters and bringing His people to their Promised Land. When generations to come would ask why the stones were piled up so obviously, people would tell this story of God‘s great deliverance and faithfulness.
May I ask… What all do you commemorate? How much does your memorializing include others? How do you consider Christ and celebrate His amazing faithfulness, sacrificial death, and abundant life-giving any given day?
LORD, I am in awe of your faithfulness. I treasure the sacrificial gift of your Son and unending presence of your Spirit. These are huge rocks to me. Help me to esteem others well, as better than myself, and bring You the full honor due your name in life and in death. Amen
“These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” Joshua 4:7
Memorial Day is a day observed by millions of people in the United States of America in remembrance of men and women who sacrificed their time, careers, and lives for their country. America is not the only country which honors their military…many countries around the world do the same in some fashion.
The history, rituals, and the customs of the United States Military has always fascinated and intrigues me. I hold in highest esteem and respect, all people who have sacrificed their time and/or their lives for their country.
A military tradition that has always been deeply moving to me, is watching the person of a fallen spouse or child, receive the folded American flag during a funeral ceremony.
I often wondered the story behind the folded flag. Why is it folded in that particular manner? What does each fold represent? What…
I asked two Hall of
Fame basketball players independently what factor was most important to
effective team leadership. Both said the same thing: congruence. By that they
meant consistency between what is preached and what is actually lived out.
There must be connection.
disqualifies a man’s leadership more than moments like these:
* Saying you work hard
but nobody really agrees.
* Saying you’re a team
player but functionally playing for yourself.
* Saying you believe
in tolerance but practicing intolerance of those who disagree with you.
* Preaching a gospel
that doesn’t line up with either what the Bible actually says or how one
And may I remind you
that, when it comes to God, the stakes for congruent living grow way higher.
The life He calls us to, according to 2 Peter 2:2, is termed “the way of
truth”. Living an incongruent life to this not only erodes our leadership
before men but also “brings the way of truth (itself) into disrepute”. In other
words, for those of us who claim to know and follow Jesus, He gets a black eye
when we live an incongruent, inconsistent life. He gets disrespected before a
watching world when we operate outside the way of truth He gave us.
Truth must become a
way of life. It must be believed, not just known. It must be practiced, not
just proclaimed. It must be consistent with the word of God. It must change our
lives. Orthopraxy must attach to orthodoxy. Only then does truth become fully
powerful and truly experienced.
May I ask:
* Does the “way of
truth” have your great attention? How well do you know it? Are you feeding on
‘weak stuff’ fed to you by false teachers? (Read all of 2 Peter 2 and 2 Timothy
2-4 for starters.)
* How big is the gap
in you between knowing the truth and believing the truth?
* Are people failing
to follow God on account of you? Are you disqualifying your leadership of
others by how you live?
LORD God Almighty,
there is a way of truth. It’s You! Thank you for being so knowable through Your
Son, Jesus. What a gift!
Help me not to put You in disrepute before men or disqualify myself from leading others by not knowing or believing ‘the way of truth’. Make me solid by your Spirit in holding to this game plan. I need You to coach me in congruence. For Your glory, my good, and satisfying wins. Amen
“…and bring the way of truth into disrepute.” 2 Peter 2:2