August 26, 2015

Peter as Pastor - Epilogue (P 33)

I have loved delving into the life and teachings of Peter.  I have thrilled to watch as Jesus shaped and transformed him into a giant pillar of faith and of the church.  I love his honesty.  I love his bluntness. I love his total lack of passive-aggressive behaviors.  I love his teachable spirit.  I love his quick repentance and turnings.  I would like to be more like this apostle of our Lord's.

We have come to his final words to his "beloved".  His last words and reminders to those believers that were so dear to his heart.  Let's listen ... perhaps they are for us as well!

Read 2 Peter 3: 14 - 18

So then ... when all is said and done ... since we are people who are anticipating Christ's return to earth ... there are some things we are "to do".  We are not to be passive observers.  We are to be active participants.

First - we are to "make every effort" (that screams diligence and determination, no?) "to live peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in His sight." (New Living Translation)    Really?  Even in this particular culture and time?  Yes.  Even now.

In The Women of Faith Study Bible, we read:
We don't know if it is a thousand years away or tomorrow.  But Jesus is coming.  Peter paints a vivid and shocking picture of the consummation of time.  Like a thief in the night, Jesus will return, the heavens and the earth will be consumed and a new order will begin.  A new heaven and earth will replace the old.  Yet this news does not seem to be the focal point of Peter's teaching.
Here is Peter's message about the end times.  It comes down to seven simple words:  What kind of person should you be?  Peter call us to invest our energy in living 'spotless, blameless' lives.
Our confidence that Jesus will return is not meant to draw us into complex speculations on when and where and how.  Rather, it should move us into godly living that will honor him and empower us to reach those who do not yet know his grace.

Is that your top goal?  Does it even make your list of life goals at all?  If not, why not?  Do we think it doesn't matter?  How do you define blameless?  Do you use comparison with our culture ... or maybe comparison with other church members ... to define it for you?  Are you willing to take this plea to God Himself and ask Him to shape your definitions?  To place in your heart and spirit the DESIRE for it?

God, help us want this!  More than we want anything else.

Second - we are not to get frustrated or angry or complacent as we wait for Christ's return.  Peter wants us to realize that this long delay means salvation for some!  Even when life seems so hard and so unfair and so cruel.  I'm not sure a person can be "at peace" with this thought unless they truly "love" other people.  They have to care about their salvation - their peace with God.  Peter had learned to care about the salvation of the Gentiles, as well as his own Jewish brothers and sisters.  He had to learn it.  So do we.

Do I truly care about others?  What about the 'others' who are not like me - at all.  What about other cultures, others countries, other nationalities, other faiths?  Do I care?  Do you?

Lord, help us love!  Your love - extended to others.  

Third - we are to grow.  I love verse 18.  In fact, I chose it as the theme verse for our Women's Ministry at my church.  "Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." 
Grow.  Doesn't matter how old you are ... grow more.  Doesn't matter who knowledgeable you are in matters of scripture and faith ... grow more.  Keep growing.  Make every effort!

There are two branches on this tree of growth.  One is - in the grace of our Lord.  Grow in understanding how that grace, that unearned favor of God, belongs to you.  There is security there. There is peace there.  Also grow in your extension of that grace to others - the ones you want to be grace-ful toward ... and the ones that you don't.  Grow.

The other branch is the knowledge of our Lord.  Grow in your knowledge of who Jesus is ... what He was like when He walked on the planet ... what kinds of things He said ... what kinds of things He did.  Know more this year than you did last.  Know more - not to impress anyone - not to flaunt your superior knowledge to anyone else - but so that you will know the LORD, Himself, better.  Grow.

Lord, I desire to grow.  Be my stimulant and source.  Be my root and water. 
 Be my sun.  Grow me.  

Peter modeled these things for us.  We have watched him and listened to him.

Now it's our turn.  We do have more knowledge after walking with Peter.  So - what will we do with it?  That's the question as we close this study.  That's always the question.  What will you do ... now that you know?

I pray God's blessings on each of you as you read.  Thank you for joining me on this journey.

As we close ...
To God be glory both now and forever!  Amen.

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