Thursday, September 21, 2023

           Preparations can be important.  We prepare for holidays.  We prepare for trips.  We prepare food to eat or share.  We prepare ourselves for meetings, appointments and presentations.  Peter spoke to the matter of preparation too.  And his agenda for preparation concerned spiritual matters.  Again, writing to his “dear friends,” the apostle addressed how we are to prepare for “that day” when the Lord comes for His people.  “That day” is the most important occasion for God’s people to be prepared and ready.  It is the next event looming on God’s prophetic calendar.  Fortunately, we have some guidance for how to prepare for this incomparable coming day.  Peter wrote, “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:14-16).  Peter gives us some practical things for the Lord’s people to do as they prepare for and await His return.  Waiting time is not idle time.  And preparation time is not wasted time.
            First, Peter says to look “forward to this day.”  The Lord’s return signals the beginning of eternity and everlasting life.  God’s people have nothing to fear.  They will instantly be with Him and be gathered to spend eternity with Him.  We can only look forward to this day if we are in a relationship with Jesus.  Simply being “religious” or “good” or “believing there is a God” will not leave us ready.  We can only look forward to eternity with the Lord if we know and trust Him with our lives and all things.  For those who are “in Christ,” there is every reason to look forward to that day and to anticipate that any day could be “that day.”  We can look for that day with hope and anticipation and not any dread. 
            Second, Peter commands that we are “to make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him.”  He was saying that our priority or passion should be to live righteously and to live obediently.  We should live without sinful blemish or stain upon our lives.  Live in an undefiled way.  We are challenged to set aside sin and sinful impulses so that we are attuned to how the Lord would have us to live and so that we would not be ashamed at or by His return.  Paul gave similar instructions in his letter to Titus.  “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-12).  When the Lord returns, we do not want to be found living sinfully or selfishly.  We want to be able to present ourselves as individuals who ran a good race, kept our faith and fought the good fight against temptation and sin.  We want to be found living for His glory and seeking to be righteous and upright. 
            Third, Peter reminds us to stay in God’s Word.  We are to continue to read and learn what God has for us to know.  He used Paul’s writings as an example.  And reading Paul’s letters and words is a good way to prepare for the Lord’s coming.  But we also have the gospels, the prophets, the law, the history books and the writings that we can read and study.  Scripture reading is like eating.  We should maintain a balanced and healthy diet with a variety of good and nutritional foods.  Likewise, we should make it a priority to read through the Bible and across the Bible and not get stuck in our favorite book, chapters or verses.  God gave us sixty-six books and each one has something important to say to us.  Reading each book is profitable to us and feeds our lives just as much as a good diet feeds the body.  No one has ever fully maxed out all the possibilities and wisdom found in Scripture.  So, we return to the Bible daily to meet the Lord and to see what He has for us.
            Fourth, Peter issued a warning to be on guard against those who “distort” and misrepresent God’s Word.  Some people knowingly distort Scripture for attention while others distort it for profit.  Some unknowingly distort Scripture because they have been deceived and misled themselves.  Be alert to the way others present their views on Jesus, salvation, the cross and the Bible itself.  Some groups will present their own book or text that they place on par with the Bible.  Others add to or take away from the gospel or how one is saved.  God gave a clear warning against taking away from or adding to His Word (see Revelation 22:19).  If you need a refresher on the gospel that Paul preached, read I Corinthians 15:1-5 for clarity.
            The enemy often likes to keep us busy with other things and many things so that we lose sight of the urgent matters that carry the greatest weight and importance.  We often need words like Peter’s to return to the things that matter most of all.  Peter knew that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief” (3:10).  There is no time to get ready or prepared when the Lord has come.  He will find us either waiting expectantly or wanting a moment to get ready.  Stay ready to keep from getting ready.  That might sound like an awkward command but it represents excellent theology.  Have a great day!  Remember you can worship at any time at YouTube.com/FirstBaptistKannapolis.    
           
 

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