Monday, September 25, 2023

        Final words can be terribly important.  Last words are recorded in things like final wills and testaments, good-bye letters, family Bibles and even videos shot by smart-phones.  Peter had no modern forms of communication available to him in the first century when he wrote his two letters included in the New Testament.  But he did have the power of words—Holy Spirit inspired words to leave behind for his friends in the first century and believers like us today.  And we can be grateful for these ancient words that ring ever true with freshness and relevance.  He took time to encourage his fellow believers one last time.  He closed with some guidance that would send them walking down good pathways of faith.  In his own words, the apostle wrote, “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen” (2 Peter 3:17-18).  We find at least four truths that we can apply to our lives today from Peter’s final written words.
            First, we find a warning.  We are warned to guard against deception and sinful indulgence.  We are to hold to what is true and check what we hear by what we know to be true in Scripture.  Deceptive thinking or teachings can lead to dangerous living.  We routinely do what we believe.  Indeed, beliefs usually govern or control our actions.  We refrain from doing certain things because we know they are wrong just as much as we participate in other things because we know they are right.  Peter warned his readers (and us) to be discerning about the standards and ways we follow because they can have a heavy influence on how we will choose to live.  Steadfastly hold on to “the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” (Jude 3b).  A bit later, Jude wrote that we hold on “to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy” (Jude 24).  Today, deception and false teachings are far more accessible and easily seen than perhaps at any other time.  Even when we may not be looking for such things, they can easily find us.  Keeping good guardrails and boundaries in place is important.
            Second, Peter issued a command to grow.  Not necessarily physical growth but to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).  There are three possible destinations when it comes to spiritual growth.  One, we could be falling behind or losing ground.  Two, we could be stagnant or stuck where we are.  Or three, we could be growing in our faith and becoming more like Christ.  Peter says to grow—in grace and knowledge.  To grow in grace means we improve our relationships with others and employ grace in greater ways.  To grow in knowledge means we build deep roots and understanding in truth, Scripture, basic Christian beliefs and our understanding of the Triune God.  You can grow and it does not take an exhausting level of work—just a commitment to know Christ in greater ways through the days and years of your life.  Read the Bible, pray, worship, serve, fellowship, study the Bible with others and tithe.  These basic spiritual disciplines will help you to grow in your faith. 
            Third, live for the glory of God.  Make your life an offering or tribute to Him.  Consider the motivations you have in life.  Do you live for what you can gain or the glory you can give to Him?  If we seek to bring glory to God, we can be confident that He will provide us with the gains, blessings and gifts that we need in life.  God never promises to give us everything we want but He will give us what we need.  Some of the Lord’s most faithful and devoted disciples today are those men and women of faith who simply and without calling attention to themselves live and serve for His glory alone.  The cameras never take their picture.  Their work will never go viral.  They will never be on a stage.  But they are quietly and faithfully doing Kingdom work and giving all glory to the One who lived, died and rose again.  Peter seemed to be filled with emotion and excitement at the end of his second letter when he wrote, “to Him be glory both now and forever!” (2 Peter 3:18a).  Make His glory the goal of every day.  Make His glory the end of each decision.  Make His glory the means by which you accomplish anything. 
            And finally, Peter ended with the word “amen.”  That is a church word if there ever was one.  We end our prayers with “amen.”  We affirm a song, a teaching or a decision with the word “amen.”  Let your life be an amen.  Let your life testify to who God is and what He is doing in the world.  Let Christ be the exclamation point on all that you do.  One day we will see Christ.  We will meet him face-to-face.  Wouldn’t it be great simply to be able to say “amen” to Him rather than trying to explain, rationalize, justify or defend what we have been doing?  Amen!  Have a great day and week!  Remember you can worship any time at

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