Saturday, May 25, 2013

Ready and Waiting

Scriptural Reading: 2 Peter 3:1-15a
Devotional Reading: John 14:1-7

When we were kids we used to play a game called “Hide and Seek”. One of us would stand next to and touch a tree or a building. Everyone else in the game would hide. First the one who was “it” would stand at the tree reciting a poem, “Last night, night before, 24 robbers at my door,…” “It” would also count and sometimes shout “ready” before he would seek out all those who had hidden. While they were hidden, everyone would see if there was any way to run home (tree/building) without being caught by “it”. We would run and cry “safe” if we had not been caught. Invariably, the person who was “it” would eventually catch someone who, in turn, would become “it”. I am no longer that child and am not able to physically run from a hiding place to a tree. But I am a child of God and I am spiritually ready, willing and able to run to and for Christ who hung on that tree for me in accordance with the great plan of redemption orchestrated by the Almighty Father. I shall not hide, but shall see if there is something else to do for the kingdom while I wait patiently to be found of Him in peace.

The Junior League of St. Louis (JLSL) is seeking a positive school climate for all Missouri students. They recognize there are a growing trend of cyber bullying and online harassment and the detrimental outcomes of these behaviors. JLSL recommended modifying the existing Missouri laws. House Bill No 134 passed on April 3, 2013. It was then heard on April 24th before the Senate Education Committee with organizations and bullied victims who supported it. There were no opposition testimonials. It is their hope the Senate votes on House Bill No 134 and gives the State of Missouri cohesive regulations in addressing bullying issues. Perhaps the bullies will stop their harassment. Some of this behavior starts at very early ages. Some of the bully statistics indicate that about 58% of kids and teens report something mean has been said to them online, about 77% have been a bullied victim, and one out of every 4 kids will be a victim during their adolescence. The problem is all youth do not speak to a trusted adult, parent, or teacher at school. Some continue in low self-esteem for awhile, but they eventually conquer these fears and live in peace. Others are unable to conquer their fears and may eventually commit suicide. However, Jesus made them a promise at John 14:1-3, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.” (KJV)

Peter encourages scattered Gentile Christian communities that are experiencing persecution for their faith. This lesson is a study which focuses on the hope that Jesus inspires for those who are suffering. It is the final lesson of a four-part study under A Call to Holy Living.

The apostle desired to end the epistle by placing the first century saints in remembrance of doctrines they had been taught. He lovingly stated at 2 Pe 3:1-2, “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:” (KJV) Peter expresses his sincere love for his brethren in his second and final epistle. He wishes to stir up their memory as to passages of Scripture from the Old Testament which had divinely-inspired predictions spoken by the holy prophets. The apostle also wanted them to remember the teachings of the life, death, Resurrection, Ascension, and Second Coming of Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior, as taught by His apostles and written in the New Testament. Peter was placing into remembrance the importance of rising above the scoffers and false teachers. Only the Bible would forever hold true to God’s Word. The believers must be ready to say, “…I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (KJV)

Peter addressed the Christians to remember scoffers were predicted by the prophets and the apostles to come in the last days. They are cautioned at 2 Pe 3:3-4, “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lust, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (KJV) In the last days there shall be scoffers. They shall be more numerous and bold during this time. The last days is considered a period of time when the affairs of the world shall be wrapped up. The scoffers have a total disregard for Christ. They only care about their selfish whim(s). At Jude 1:18 it is stated, “How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.” (KJV) The purpose of scoffers is to laugh at the promises of Christ and God as they walk after their own lusts. Scoffers labor to prove that the Gospel is not true. They have no desire to find the truth, but attempt to seduce Christians to return to their sinful ways. Scoffers attempt to convince Christians that the promise that was foretold by the prophets has not come as yet and would never come. They argue that the prophets had died and the laws of nature would continue as from the date of creation without judgment. The scoffers argue they have not seen any changes and, therefore, have no reason to fear God. (Ps 55:19 KJV)

The apostle brings to remembrance what it is the scoffers would have the Christians to be ignorant of at 2 Pe 3:5-6, “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:” (KJV) There has been a change since the creation of the world. The scoffers refuse to remember God’s judgment of total world destruction by flood caused by the disobedience of man. (See Gen 6-8) Gen 7:24 indicates that “…the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.” (KJV) It took ten months for the waters to subside and the top of the mountains to be seen. Gen 8:4 KJV Noah went through a testing period before he, his family, and the animals left the ark with permission from God. Gen 8:6-19

In comparison to God’s judgment against the world in the past, Peter assured Christians that God has a special judgment reserved for ungodly men when he declared at 2 Pe 3:7, “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” (KJV) This will be the final judgment of the world. It is a judgment on the earth as we know it and the heavens as we can see. It will not include the heaven where God Himself resides. No one knows when this judgment shall come nor will any one be able to escape if they have not been included in the Rapture. (Matt 24; 1 Thess 4:13-17 KJV) There will be no ark provided. It is better to be a Christian and included in the Rapture than to be included in the Day of the Lord which is the final judgment for ungodly men. After the first judgment against the world, God made a covenant that He would not destroy the earth by flood again. He placed a (rain)bow in the clouds to be seen as a token of His covenant. (Gen 9:11-17 KJV) The apostle writes that there are enough waters to flood the earth, but they are kept in storage. Instead, he states, there will be fire during the final judgment. This appears to be very wicked. Yet God has patiently awaited acceptance from the unbelievers. They have laughed at Him with vengeance. The tables will be turned in the end.

In speaking to the timelessness of the Lord, Peter wrote in 2 Pe 3:8, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (KJV) He had to lovingly remind his brethren they couldn’t put either Christ or God the Heavenly Father in their mental box of time. The brethren must live within a space of time. All that they have to accomplish in life must be done within that space of time or it will not be done. Such is not the case with either Jesus or God the Father. All time is of an eternal nature for them. Whether they decide to act upon a promise on one day or in one thousand years is irrelevant. The apostle wanted to make sure his fellow believers knew that their time was not wasted since they had not seen the promises as yet.

Peter fervently declared they were not to be ignorant in their actions because the Lord’s promise was a sure thing. He assured them in 2 Pe 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning in his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (KJV) It may appear as if the promise of the second coming of the Lord will not occur. Such is not the case. God has no delight in the death of sinners. He has not decreed the damnation of any man. Instead God is providing an opportunity for all unbelievers to repent before His Son returns as promised in the second coming. Repentance is absolutely necessary for salvation. Jesus said at Luke 13:3, “I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (KJV) This is the grace and mercy of God which He patiently allows us before the Day of the Lord.

The apostle Peter explained what his fellow believers should know about the Day of Judgment at 2 Pe 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (KJV) The Day of the Lord is when God shall act in judgment. In the Old Testament it was a period of time when God punished evildoers. (See Isa 2:12; Ezek 13:5 KJV) In the New Testament it is a period of time with various stages. Paul had given the saints doctrinal teaching on both the Rapture and the Day of the Lord. However, many had suffered such persecution they felt they had missed the Rapture and were in the middle of the Day of the Lord. (2 Thess 2:1-3 KJV) To assure them Paul taught that following the Rapture (1 Thess 4:13-18 KJV), certain events will occur as warning signs that the Day of the Lord has begun. There shall be widespread rebellion against God, a great Christian rejection. (See 2 Tim 3:1-8 KJV) The “man of sin” a/k/a the “man of lawlessness’ a/k/a “Antichrist” shall come before Christ’s return. The Antichrist opposes everything concerning God and will promote himself to the ranks of god. (See 2 Thess 2:4 KJV) He shall lead the great rebellion or “falling away” against God. In the end Christ shall come in glory and destroy the Antichrist. (2 Thess 2:8; Rev 19:11-21 KJV) Both apostles compared the coming of the Day of the Lord to a thief in the night. Thieves do not warn their victims and neither will the Day of the Lord. The world will be destroyed after the second coming of Christ. The heavens as far as we can see will be destroyed with a great noise/explosion. The elements shall melt with an intense heat following the explosion and pass away. The heaven where God resides will be left untouched. Not only shall the heavens be consumed by this intense heat, earth and all natural creation and civilization shall be burned in the fire and will pass away. Fire is known to change matter to another element. God intends to finally destroy the heavens and the earth during the latter part of the Day of the Lord.

Having instructed the believers as to the Day of the Lord Peter urges that they die to sin at 2 Pe 3:11-12,”Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” (KJV) Since the believers have knowledge of the outcome of the last days, they are advised to be holy in all their conversation and godly in all manners. They are to live for eternity because the heavens and earth will be destroyed by fire. The Day of God is different from the Day of the Lord. The former refers to eternity while the latter refers to God’s judgment. The Day of God is the Day of His complete and final triumph. It follows the final destruction of the heavens and earth at the end of the Day of the Lord. Because it represents eternity, believers are urged to look forward to the Day of God.

Peter expresses God’s faithfulness at 2 Pe 3:13, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (KJV) The future glory of the saints in eternity in the new heavens and earth will be entirely different from what they have ever known. The prophet Isaiah wrote of God’s promise to create new heavens and a new earth at Isa 65:17; 66:22. The apostle John wrote of His vision at Rev 21:1, “…I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” (KJV) The new heavens and earth will be holy. They will be the home where righteousness lives. Everyone shall be holy and righteous. The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Co 4:9-10 KJV) John states at Rev 21:27, “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (KJV)

The apostle encouraged the first century believers to live holy and godly lives, spotless and clean before the Lord at 2 Pe 3:14, “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” (KJV) Because believers have expectation of the blessedness of the promises, they must be willing to labor diligently so their work won’t be found in vain. The saints must be found to be found as a church that is without a spot or wrinkle. (Eph 5:27 KJV) They are to be found at peace in Him. Their sins are pardoned by the God of peace through Jesus Christ. Peter wrote at 1 Thess 5:23, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (KJV) Believers want to be found without any stain of sin.

As believers actively fulfill the call of the Great Commission, Peter reminded them at 2 Pe 3:15, “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.” (KJV) Believers are to be thankful for the unmerited favor and many mercies granted them. The wicked can’t complain, stating the promises will not be fulfilled. God’s longsuffering (patience) is proof that He desires all to be saved. He is the Author of the plan of redemption. Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior who carried out the plan in giving His life on the cross. The promises shall be fulfilled.

Are you actively working in the kingdom of God? Do you believe in the promises of God? Remember Jesus stated in Matt 24:44, “Therefore, be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” (KJV) Will you be ready?

Written by Deborah C Davis

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