2 PETER 3:18 (KJV)But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen
Most often when I read II Peter 3:18, my focus goes to growing in Christ and deepening my relationship with Him, but recently I stumbled on a quote that made me pause and examine Peter's use of the little phrase 'our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ'. It's amazing how incredibly those four little words point to the multiple relationships Peter had with the Lord'-and the same can apply to every true believer in Christ. Look at what each word in that one little phrase implies:
Our '- That is personal. Christ belongs to a specific group; He belongs to me. He's me personal Friend.
Lord '- Christ is my Master, my Teacher and the One I follow and obey.
Savior '- He is my Redeemer and Rescuer who takes me from the old way of life to a new one.
Jesus '- His human name reminds me that He really lived on earth so He knows the struggles and difficulties I face. He is my Brother.
Christ '- He's my Messiah, the Promised One sent from God who is worthy of all praise.
Because of Jesus, Peter's life was changed! Once a rough and impetuous fisherman, Peter became a great evangelist and the first one to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. He who once denied the Savior became a dedicated follower and friend who later willingly laid down His own life for the Master.
How would you describe your relationship with the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Is He a personal friend? Is He the Master whom you follow and obey? Has He taken you from the old to a new way of life and become your Redeemer? Do you know that He knows and helps you through your struggles? Do you see Him as the One sent from God who is worthy of all praise?
As theologian J. Niebor has well said of Peter, 'He obeyed Him as Lord, he loved Him as Saviour, he adored Him as the greatest human, Jesus, he worshipped Him as the mighty anointed Son of God, Christ,' (from Walk Through the Bible, by J. Vernon McGee)
Peter's one little phrase is certainly full of meaning for him and for all believers. Knowing and feeling all of this, then Peter breaks forth in praise'-'To Him be glory for now and forever!' And we should praise Him, too!.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we praise You and bless Your Holy name for being able to know you in so many different ways.
WORDS TO PONDER:Bless the LORD, O my soul,And forget not all His benefits:Who forgives all your iniquities,Who heals all your diseases,Who redeems your life from destruction,Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,Who satisfies your mouth with good things,So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
Job 19:25I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
What a thrill to KNOW that my Redeemer lives! Jesus Christ is just as alive today as He was right after the resurrection. In fact, He is just as much alive today as He was before the crucifixion, and even before He came to earth and was laid in the manger.
What difference does it make whether we serve a living God or one made of stone? Isn't it just a practice we believe in? Is it a crutch to help us along our way? No! Absolutely not!
A living God knows right where you are day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. He sees your every need, hears your every cry, and longs to hold you close to Himself. He is present to walk with you through the valley. He provides a song in the night. He takes your feet from the muck and mire and plants them on a rock. He blesses you with hope and gives joy for Life's journey. A god with no life is unable to do these things. He cannot see, or hear, or reach, or touch, or provide. He simply cannot.
But my God is alive! The joy and the assurance that we celebrate on Easter doesn't end when the holiday is over and the decorations are all packed away. Why? Because Christ is alive. So rejoice, my friend, and live each day with the hope and joy that Easter brings. Walk with Christ. Talk with Him, and allow His joy to penetrate your heart and fill your soul. Don't live in defeat and agony as if Christ is still on the cross, or in the tomb. HE is alive! He IS alive! He is ALIVE!
PRAYER: Lord, I praise and worship You because You are alive and because You share Your magnificent self with me as Your child. Thank You for the constant day by day fellowship I have with You. Thank You for being alive!
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JOHN 20:19-20Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
From the time they first saw Jesus, each disciple knew there was something special about Him. The more they focused on Him, the more he enabled them to do the impossible, and empowered them to live above fear. We see this so vividly portrayed on the day the disciples saw Jesus walking across the water toward the boat where they were. As soon as Peter saw that it was the Lord, he enthusiastically jumped out of the boat and miraculously walked on the water toward Jesus. But the moment Peter moved his focus from Jesus to the raging waves around him, fear set in and he began to sink. Then Jesus reached out and rescued His fearful follower. As long as his eyes were on Jesus, Peter was fine, but with a shift of focus he went from confident to cautious, and from secure to scared.
So it was with the disciples after the resurrection. Their focus had been on Jesus and setting up His kingdom on earth. They talked of it, planned for it, preached about it'-and probably even dreamed of it at night. But when Christ died, those hopes and dreams were shattered. Their focus turned to their immediate surroundings and what would become of them since their beloved leader was gone. Fear, doubt and confusion grabbed hold of them and they hid from people. Then the risen Christ appeared in the room where they gathered, and it only took one look at Him for their hope to be restored. The Gospel of John tells us, 'Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.' Their purpose and passion were renewed and their hope was restored. They were empowered again!
It's so easy in this fast-paced, faltering world to get distracted and move our focus off of Christ and onto our immediate surroundings. Natural disasters, weakening economies, political unrest, and personal failures and frustrations stir up fear and anxiety within us. One look at our powerful, risen Savior brings it all back into proper focus. Jesus is alive! He is victorious over all of life's uncertainties and tragedies. Our hope is in Him and our victory is certain! Rejoice and be glad!
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, when my eyes wander to the circumstances surrounding me, please turn my head back toward the empty tomb and the risen Savior. Then I will find peace and strength, hope and joy.
COLOSSIANS 4:5-6 (KJV)Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
Years ago my friend Grace and I spent a lot of time talking. Our children were young and played together often, and she and I were involved in many of the same activities at church. We just naturally had a lot to talk about! One day when her husband questioned how we could talk so long, I told him I was practicing a Biblical command'-'Let your speech be always with grace . . .' Although I know that wasn't what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote those words, it sounded to me like a good answer at the time!
In reality, Paul's words instruct us about the way we are to speak to others. Here the word 'grace' means acceptable, beneficial, pleasant, with favor and appreciation. Paul also reminds us that our speech is to be 'seasoned with salt.' Since salt's two primary purposes are to preserve and to add flavor, Paul seems to be telling us that our conversations should be tasteful and should preserve and not corrupt.
Bible commentator Matthew Henry puts it this way: 'Grace is the salt which seasons our discourse, and keeps it from corrupting. It is not enough to answer what is asked, unless we answer aright also.'
I've come to the conclusion that speaking with grace and kindness is not just a matter of learning to say the right words; it's an attitude of the heart and mind. What comes out of my mouth only reflects what's going on inside. Truly, I must set my heart on the things of God and let Him do His work in me if I want to fulfill His command to speak with grace seasoned with salt.
PRAYER: Lord, my heart echos the words of David when he said, 'Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.' (Psalm 19:14)
WORDS TO PONDER: "When friends meet hearts warm."-Anonymous
COLOSSIANS 3:12-13 (NKJV)Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
Part of building great relationships involves the intentional choice of building up and encouraging others. A key component in that is simply showing kindness.
Author Jerry Bridges says, 'Kindness is a sincere desire for the happiness of others . . . the inner disposition, created by the Holy Spirit that causes us to be sensitive to the needs of others, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. Goodness is kindness in action'-words and deeds.'
A smile, opening the door for someone, or speaking an encouraging word cost us nothing, and they are easy to do, but there are bigger ways to show kindness that require time, energy, and/or money. Driving someone to an appointment, opening your wallet to provide food for a needy family, helping a neighbor pack for a move, or standing beside a friend as a loved one is dying require something from you. They require being unselfish and putting others first.
Opportunities to exercise kindness and goodness in big and small ways surround us every day. They are unlimited, and they are building blocks for healthy relationships'-but most of all they reflect the life, love, and character of the Lord Jesus Christ. Are you willing to give what it takes to show the world Jesus?
PRAYER: Father in Heaven, help me today, and every day, see the needs of those around me and be willing to help meet them with kindness and goodness.
WORDS TO PONDER: 'The person who has grown in the grace of kindness has expanded his thinking outside himself and developed a genuine interest in those around him.'-Jerry Bridges
Romans 14:19(NIV)Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
After more than 25 years of professional counseling, I'm convinced that if we do things God's way, they will work for good. There is no principle in any psychology or counseling manual or text that is truly effective except those that are based on biblical guidelines. All of what is genuinely successful long term is founded on God's Word even though the authors of those books may not know it, or may choose not to acknowledge it.
I'm also convinced that the most successful relationships come out of a desire to build-up and encourage one another, just as God told us to, rather than tear down or make the other person the brunt of the joke. True humor finds the irony and ridiculousness in natural things of life, not in another person. What is hilarious to one person often humiliates, hurts, or even harms another. It's an expensive gesture to ridicule or set another person up to look foolish'-especially if it's done in front of other people.
Here are just a few samples of what the Bible says on the subject:
Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
I Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Ephesians 4:15 (NIV). . . speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ.
Galatians 6:10 (NIV)Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Want to improve your relationships? Try intentionally building up and encouraging the other person. Speak words of kindness, appreciation, sincere compliments, and recognition for things well done. Do it face to face, through written notes, emails, or any social media. Give eye contact and focused attention. Listen carefully to what he/she is saying and repeat back what you think you heard.
If there is a problem, direct communication with the individual in a private setting is the way to confront the issue, being sure to speak in the spirit of brotherly love, with kindness and respect as Paul told us to in Ephesians 4:15.
Following these biblical principles will not only help other people, but you'll feel good about it, too-and you'll build stronger relationships. Ultimately, God will be pleased and glorified, so it's a winning strategy all the way around!
PRAYER: Lord, I realize my mouth is a power force for good or evil. Help me to be mindful of the words I choose, and the tone I use so what I say will help and not hurt others.
WORDS TO PONDER: 'The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life.' -Proverbs15:4 (NIV)
II TIMOTHY 1:8-9 (NKJV) . . . Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord . . . who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began . . .
There are hundreds of verses in the Bible that amaze me, but there's one in particular that goes so far beyond my human comprehension that it absolutely astounds me! In Paul's second letter to Timothy, he wrote that God's plan and purpose for each believer was established before the world began.
Just imagine, in the void and emptiness that existed before God spoke the world and the universes into existence, He knew about you. Even then, He had a plan in mind that would make it possible for you to have a relationship with Him, and a purpose for your life'-and not only your, but for each and every person that has ever existed on earth, and all those yet to come.
The next time you're feeling small and insignificant, meditate on this thought for a while. To get even greater amazement from this idea, sit down and read Genesis chapter one. Try to picture what it was like as God spent six days creating the heavens and earth, the land and sea, and all life on and around this globe. As you read, remind yourself that He had you in mind all that time. It's amazing!
PRAYER: Almighty Creator, keep me ever mindful of Your great love and grace that fashioned me with purpose and meaning. May I live daily to fulfill Your will for me, and bring glory and honor to You.
WORDS TO PONDER: 'Purpose in life is the foundation on which we build our actions, our affections, and our aspirations.'-Robert Jeffress, Choose Your Attitude, Change Your Life
UNDERSTANDING THE ANGRY CHILDPresented by Ann Shorb, Ph.D.
Monday, April 3, 2017 at 7:00Held at Calvary Bible Church, 603 Wilson Ave., Hanover, PA 17331
Teasing, being bullied, feeling like a failure, hurting at home, and/or physical problems may produce anger in the heart of a child. As you gain insight into the dynamics of this powerful emotion, you will be better able to cope with and help the angry child in your home or classroom.
Sponsored by Child Evangelism Fellowship of York CountyRegistration is required. Call CEF of York County at 717-757-3212 to register!
FREE EASTER SKIT FOR CHILDREN OR PUPPETS! This simple skit, 'The Resurrection Rock', is fun to use in Sunday School, Children's Church, or in family devotions.
Please Tell a Friend
Would you take just a moment to prayerfully consider sending this to two friends who might be blessed by what we've shared today?
JAMES 4:8 (NKJV)Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded.
There's an interesting contrast in Scripture between Adam and Eve's response to hearing God's voice after they sinned and the reaction of the disciple named Peter when he sinned against God. In Genesis we read that Adam and Eve lived in a perfect world and had daily fellowship with their Creator. Then Eve listened to the deceitful voice of desire; ultimately they both chose to disobey God and ate the fruit He called forbidden. Instantly they knew they had done wrong, but instead of running to Him for His forgiveness and reconciliation, the next time God called them, they hid from Him. Guilt, shame, and fear replaced their perfect fellowship, and they feared and avoided Him.
In contrast to that, look at the life of Peter. As a disciple, he spent time with the Lord on a day to day basis and had wonderful fellowship with Him. Peter preached His message, participated in His miracles, sought to protect Him in the garden. Then the unthinkable happened'-Peter gave in to fear, doubt and confusion and he sinned terribly against the Lord by three times denying that he even knew Christ. Realizing his sin, Peter wept bitterly and repented, and just a few days later he was among those who saw the risen Lord. The most interesting scene, however, came after an unsuccessful night of fishing. The disciples heard a voice from the shore telling them to put down their nets on the right side of the boat. They did, and their nets were filled with fish! That's when they realized it was the resurrected Christ speaking to them. Peter couldn't wait long enough for the boat to take him the rest of the way to the shore, so he jumped in the water and ran to the Lord.
What a contrast! In both stories the individuals had sweet fellowship with God, yet they sinned against Him. Although the reasons for their sin were different, the result was the same'-their fellowship with God was broken. The most important aspect of the story, though, is their response. Adam and Eve ran from the Lord; Peter repented and ran to the Lord. He left the shame, guilt and confusion of his sin behind, and ran to Christ when he heard His voice. His fellowship was restored, and his faith rewarded.
PRAYER: Precious Lord Jesus, how thankful we are that we can run to Your loving, forgiving arms when we turn from our sin, and find sweet fellowship restored.
WORDS TO PONDER: 'Repent therefore and be coverted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.'-The Apostle Paul, Acts 3:19
'Be still!' I remember my mother directing me with these words when I wanted to talk at the wrong time, when others were talking, or when I was making too much noise. She also used those words when my wiggling and squirming were distracting me and others around me. Often I was just too busy chattering and making noise to hear important instructions or necessary information. She knew in that moment that it was good for me to be still.
My loving Heavenly Father also tells me, 'Be still', because in those quiet moments I can truly hear from Him. I want to be still and listen to God, but it's so hard in this noisy, busy, chaotic world. I can get alone and shut the door, turn off the computer, TV, CD player, iPod, radio and telephone, but the thing I often can't shut off is my mind! Things to do, places to go, and people to see swirl through my thoughts and just won't let me focus on anything else. So what can I do?
Over time I've developed a little routine that works for me. First I get alone and shut off all the other distractions. Then I just sit and take a few slow deep breaths to slow down my mind and body, and I prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to take away other thoughts for the moment. After that, I like to sing a hymn of worship and praise, or read a poem to begin to focus my attention. As I pick up my Bible or study book, I ask the Lord to speak to me through His Word or through that still small voice as I pray. Most of the time, these things really do quiet my spirit so that I can hear from God, but there are days when things I must remember keep popping into my head and distracting me. When that's the case, I grab the tablet next to my bed and jot them down, then immediately go back to my reading and prayer. Some days I actually take a few minutes to do this before I even start my quiet time with God.
It's so easy to just grab a devotional book and read a short passage, shut the book and then be on my way. The problem is that I usually don't focus long enough to even remember what I have read when I when I do that. So if I truly want to hear from God, I have to take the time, invest the energy, and discipline myself to be still.
Perhaps you have found ways of having a daily quiet time that are effective for you. I'd love to hear from you, so take a moment to jot a note and let me know about it. You can send your message to firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you!
PRAYER: Loving Heavenly Father, I know that You want to speak to me. Help me to learn to be still and to listen attentively to Your voice.
WORDS TO PONDER: Be Still My Soul! For God is Near Be still, my soul! for God is near! The great High Priest is with thee now; The Lord of life Himself is near, Before Whose face the angels bow.
To make thy heart His lowly throne Thy Savior God in love draws nigh; He gives Himself unto His own, For whom He once came down to die.
He pleads before the mercy-seat; He pleads with God, He pleads for thee; He gives thee bread from Heav'n to eat, His flesh and blood in mystery.
I come, O Lord! for Thou dost call'- To blend my pleading prayer with Thine; To Thee I give myself'-my all, And feed on Thee and make Thee mine. -By William D. MacLagan, 1873
EXODUS 3:14 (KJV) And God said to Moses, 'I AM THAT I AM.' And He said, 'You shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.''
A number of years ago, I picked up a little card with a poem printed on it. It wasn't very long, but the words are among the most profound I've ever read. The author, Helen Mallicoat (1913-2004), was an ordinary woman who lived in the mid-western section of the United States. She was a wife, mother, and grandmother who loved deeply, and comforted those who knew her with her many acts of kindness; however, it was her little poem that touched encouraged the lives of millions she never met. And it continues to do so. I hope it will bless your heart as it blesses mine.
MY NAME IS I AM
I was regretting the past And fearing the future. Suddenly my Lord was speaking:
'My name is I Am.' He paused. I waited. He continued, When you live in the past With its mistakes and regrets, It is hard. I am not there, My name is not I WAS'.
When you live in the future With its problems and fears, It is hard. I am not there. My name is not I WILL BE.
When you live in this moment, It is not hard. I am here. My name is I AM.
PRAYER: Loving Father, as You were with Moses and the people of Israel, be with me. Guide me, guard me, keep me in Your ever-present care that I may serve You all the days of my life.