For our summer Bible study friends . . .
We are taking a deep breath all around!!! And we might as well have a good chuckle to diffuse any frustration! This morning brought a string of unexpected glitches. From a noisy household, to contractors at the door (temporarily ignored by my sweet hubby who promised to greet them), to mysterious audio interference that sounded like a rewinding cassette tape(??), to an unsolved problem with a group member’s microphone, and last but not least, an unexpected discrepancy in the questions between my study book (an older copy) and the ones everyone else had answered!! There were blank stares and looks of utter confusion until we solved that mystery!
Just wow. Things that make us shake our heads, shrug our shoulders, and land very grateful for any ability to carry on meaningful conversation!!! Deciding this lesson must be carrying a very important message for the enemy to work overtime to derail it, we paused on the spot to ask for some Divine intervention to settle our time together and allow us to focus on this week’s lesson! I am happy to say that GOD was faithful to answer those prayers. Thank you to all who were able to join us today and who graciously persevered through those unexpected interruptions so we could enjoy a great discussion about lesson 10 (2 Peter 1). For those who are following along as we study, see below for a recap of our chat. . .
TODAY’S DISCUSSION – 2 Peter 1
Turning the page in our Bibles to 2 Peter, we wondered what Peter might have on his heart that prompted a second letter. Unlike the opening to his first letter, where Peter addresses believers in specific middle Eastern locations, he begins this second letter by reaching out to all believers who share the “same precious faith” he professes. From the heart of an elder, recognizing that his time of earth is short, Peter is passionate about taking every opportunity to reiterate the truth of the gospel, the eternal plan of redemption fulfilled through Christ, and to urge believers to pursue spiritual growth through increasing knowledge of GOD. Echoing his call in 1 Peter 1:14-16 to be holy as GOD is holy, Peter insists again that through JESUS’ divine power we have everything we need to live a Godly life. Not “can” have, but “will” have! GOD the Father has called us to receive His own glory and goodness, offered His mighty power, and promised that with His help we will share in His divine nature! (2 Peter 1:3-4)
In verses 5-11, Peter turns our attention to the building blocks of fruitful living through faith that grows: adding to moral excellence the knowledge of GOD, then self-control, then patient endurance, then Godliness, then love for believers, then love for everyone, so that we can be productive and useful in the cause of Christ. Lesson 10 helped us to pause and consider the initiative GOD has taken in the lives of His children, as well as the response He longs to see from us. It was interesting to chat about the wrestle we face when contemplating such a list. Those of us who are “doers” are tempted to see them as tasks to check off the list. Peter even encourages us to “make every effort to apply the benefits of GOD’s promises to our lives.” So is it up to us, or up to GOD to bring about the growth we desire (and He desires too)?
When we stop to think that GOD the Father has called us to salvation through His Son, given us all we need, promised His presence, offered the power of His Spirit, and shares His nature and His glory, [stop and reread all of those abundant and gracious gifts!], we can quickly understand that anything we have and any forward progress we experience ultimately comes from Him. But lesson 10 also asked us to consider the order of the building blocks Peter mentions. How interesting to notice that our response really does start at the top of that list with knowledge of GOD, an appreciation and growing understanding of who He is! The greater we hunger to know GOD’s character and make pursuit of that knowledge our single priority, the rest naturally falls into place. When we see Him as He is, we respond in honor, awe, respect, and gratefulness, which enables us to trust and reflect His heart, and positions us to willingly fulfill any role His plan directs for us in useful service to His purposes!
As always, Peter meets real people in a real growth process. He warns of the roadblocks to spiritual growth: when our fickle hearts forget what GOD has done for us, when we fail to value what He values, we become short-sighted and blind to His designs. We wonder why we would ever want to sacrifice His best for us, why we would ever choose something other than His plan, yet as wandering sheep, we sometimes stray from that path and forge ahead in stubborn independence. Peter offers some sweet assurances to us when we choose to commit to spiritual growth instead: the promise that with His help we will not stumble or fall away, but instead enjoy the benefits of His promises, and confidently look forward to a rich welcome to our heavenly Home one day! Our lesson also pointed to Romans 8:28-30 to fuel our desire for growth with the motivation of a deepening relationship with Christ, who is not only our Savior, but our sibling in GOD’s family!
This section of lesson 10 on “living out our faith” closed with a reference to Colossian 1:9-12. It reminded me of the encouragement from a recent couples retreat to pray BIG prayers for one another. This set of verses contains so many rich spiritual goals. Echoing Paul’s heart, we can speak these Words back to the Father, praying this BIG prayer for ourselves and others:
that GOD will give us a complete understanding of what He wants to do in our lives,
that He will make us wise in spiritual wisdom,
that the way we live will always honor and please the LORD,
that we will learn to know GOD better and better,
that we will be strengthened with His glorious power…
increasing in us patience and endurance,
and granting us JOY, thankfulness to the Father, and the ability to live in LIGHT.
[yep, those are fantastic phrases to read one more time, too…. slowly!]
Peter closes this first chapter of his second letter with one of our favorites… a look back that informs a look forward! Knowing his time on earth is short, Peter speaks the hope he, himself, holds! With a look back to the glimpse of eternal glory he saw with his own eyes on the mount of transfiguration, and the majestic voice he heard with his own ears, of the Father declaring full pleasure in His Son, Peter looks forward to the sights and sounds he will behold when he steps from this life to the one that will last forever… in the presence of eternal, almighty GOD!
He assures his readers that these are not clever stories concocted by mere men. No. These are eye witness accounts of the reality of GOD’s majesty, the power of Christ’s endless life, and the fulfillment of every word of Scripture. He urges these dear believers (and us as well) to pay close attention to the words of prophesy, the good news of the Mighty One who saves, the Light of Life that opens our understanding and dispels any darkness. This word picture pours hope into our weary bones! As we open the flood gates to allow the Light of GOD’s truth to saturate our minds, our hearts, our homes, and our days, we discover freedom from any darkness that hovers, holds us captive, or threatens to crush us.
As we noticed in Hebrews 4:12-13, the Light of GOD’s word is powerful and exposing. Nothing is hidden from Him. Our truest thoughts and intentions are laid bare. But in the safe place of His care and the training ground of His Spirit, He can lead us in love from any wrong path to the one that leads to a heart and a life that reflects His own divine nature (vs 4). Following one of Peter’s themes in these letters, GOD’s Word offers us a look back (to be informed by prophesy), a look in (to reveal the true condition of our hearts), and a look forward (directed by His Spirit to a correct understanding of GOD’s way and the desire to follow).
What a wonder!!!
Lesson 10 ended with another fantastic “apply what you have learned” section. If we are to tap into all that GOD offers us to fully live a fruitful, Godly life, what changes might we desire to see in our faith or lifestyle? I love that the note in our study book encouraged us to talk to GOD about this question – with an expectant heart. We are truly welcomed into 2-way dialogue with our Father. He longs for us to ask Him . . .
what He desires for our lives,
what He thinks about circumstances that impact us,
the potential He sees in us,
the rough places He longs to refine,
the joys of His presence He longs for us to discover and treasure.
We can enter that conversation with anticipation, confident that He will reveal His heart to us, individually! One of our group members paused on that one word, “wonder.” She longs to cultivate a sense of wonder as she gets to know our LORD JESUS better. For me personally, I long for the steadiness with which He walked this scene, unshaken in the face of challenges of every kind, simply resting in the Father’s plan, with a singular focus to stay on that path, held and buoyed by the unfathomable depth of the Father’s love.
What is it that you long for most as you grow in the knowledge of the Savior who loves you, the Father who claims you, and His Spirit that leads you?
“Pay attention to the message of the prophets, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts.” 2 Peter 1:19
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