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Through The Bible, December 13
Reading: 2 Peter 3
Summary: Always and in all circumstances, it is important for the Christian to keep in mind the coming of the Lord. It provides the encouragement and hope for the child of God to endure hardship. So too it is important to not be led astray by false teaching regarding that return.
What You Already Know
Stale and old really aren’t pleasant to anyone. Fresh and new have a definite appeal.
Of course, we have to be careful in our application of that fact.
When Peter wrote 2 Peter, he said, “I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember…” (2 Peter 3:1-2). He didn’t have any new information for them. His purpose was to bring to their minds again what they had previously heard.
There’s a fine line to distinguished here. The message of God’s word is fixed. That is, God is not giving a new revelation to man. That, in fact, is the significance of “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Make no mistake, there are always those who are looking for something new and different. And as long as someone is looking, someone else is more than willing to accommodate them, even in the name of a new revelation from God.
That is not the same as saying that we shouldn’t be looking for new and fresh ways of presenting and communicating the ancient gospel. Teachers and preachers must continually study and think in order to be effective in delivering their message.
As listeners we ought not to be looking for a new message; perhaps a new way of couching the message or means of presentation or application, but not a new message. As those who would share God’s word, we must resign ourselves to the fact that ours is a task of stirring up minds by way of reminding. We are to make sure that our presentation of what is quite old never becomes stale.
Through The Bible, December 12
Reading: 2 Peter 1-2
Summary: Peter’s second letter is very generally addressed; “to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours” (2 Pet. 1:1). Even so, it is thought to likely be for the same recipients as the first letter (see 1 Pet. 1:1). If this is true, they may already be experiencing the severe persecution foretold in the first letter. Now his attention turns to encouragement to solidify their faith and then also to be aware of false teachers. In trying times there might be a tendency to be susceptible to both their messages and claims.
The history of Christianity is stained with the blood of persecution. It has always been that way since the death of its founder and our Savior, to Stephen—the first Christian martyr—down to the present day. Followers of Christ, at least in some places, are still tormented for their faith.
The greater tragedy—yes, I said “greater”—is that of un-tormented Christians. It’s greater because Jesus Himself said that if the world hated and persecuted Him then we should expect to be hated and persecuted as well (John 15:18-20). It is tragic and sad and unjust to the extreme for followers of Christ to be tormented. It is also a reality of which Jesus warned us.
No, un-tormented Christians is a greater tragedy. By un-tormented I do not mean those who are living faithfully in favorable circumstances where life as a Christian is at the least tolerated and perhaps even promoted and encouraged. There’s no persecution here. Neither ought there to be feelings of guilt—it’s precisely what we’re told to pray for (1 Tim. 2:1-3).
Rather, I mean in the sense of Lot, whom the Bible says that, while living in Sodom and Gomorrah, his righteous soul was tormented as he “saw and heard the immoral things that people did” (2 Pet. 2:8; GWT).
Modern American culture has been described as “Sodom’s second coming.” Take a moment and think about it. If that’s not an accurate assessment, it’s not far off. Our entertainment, for instance, is absolutely saturated with immorality in ever-increasing degrees of lewdness and obscenity. Forget the flood of homosexual characterizations in television and movies, what about all the adultery and fornication that has become the expected staple of our programming? It’s so commonplace we’ve had to move on to other, attention-grabbing sins. It’s but the tip of the veritable moral iceberg that is sinking—at a rapid rate—the vessel that is this country (and even the body of Christ itself?).
Where are the cries of anguished torment? Truth be told, professing followers of Christ have become so acclimated to the moral climate that no torment remains for their soul.
Yes, it’s a far greater tragedy that those wearing the name of Christ upon seeing and hearing the immorality that people do around them are not tormented in their soul, but entertained.
Through The Bible, December 11
Reading: 1 Peter 4-5
Summary: Further instruction and encouragement are here given by Peter in regard to a Christian’s suffering according to the will of God.
Peter concludes this first letter with instructions to shepherds of God’s flock and some final encouragement to Christians to recognize that they are the objects of Satan’s efforts.
Christians are familiar with the famous Christian armor (Eph. 6:10,13). Without such, we will be unable to stand against Satan’s attacks. The importance of taking on the “whole armor” (panoply, as one of our great hymns says) cannot be overstressed. Truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation and the word of God are absolutely indispensable.
But there’s more.
Peter says it’s critical to “arm” ourselves with the right attitude. “Arm yourselves with the same way of thinking” (1 Pet. 4:1). What is that way? The way of Jesus that led him to be willing to suffer in the flesh. It’s the way of thinking that lives life “no longer for human passions but for the will of God” (v. 2).
When we are so mentally armed, the desire to avoid harm and hurt—which is a powerful personal attitude for self-preservation—is subjected to God’s own will. That means we, like Jesus, will be willing to endure suffering and persecution for His sake.
And that is why the one who “has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” (v. 1). Not that we live in sinless perfection, but that our whole emphasis is God’s will over our own passions and desires.
So, for the well-armed Christian, it’s both the panoply of God and the thinking of Jesus.
Through The Bible, December 10
Reading: 1 Peter 3
Summary: Following the instructions to servants and their responsibility to masters (2:18-25), Peter moves on to address husbands and wives and their responsibilities in the marriage relationship.
Peter finally speaks directly to the issue of persecution. Christians must remember that suffering was very much a part of Jesus’ own life and mission. As His followers, should we expect any different?
Life Loved and Good Days
Who could ask for anything more? Really? To be able to say that one loves the life they live and that their days are good, would be the dream of so many people. It would be so much better than the frustration and aggravation they feel presently dominates their lives. And let’s face it, we’ve all had too many of the days that are anything but good.
Ok, so how does one get there? How do we achieve what everyone wants? That answer is likely as surprising as it is old. Peter quotes from Psalms 34 for the answer. The one who “desires to love life and see good days” should do some specific things. These include:
- watch what you say—“keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit”
- be careful to do good—“let him turn away from evil and do good”
- make peace a priority—“let him seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:10-11).
Had you been asked about the course of action for loving life would any of these be on your list? Is it not telling that what would lead to what we want, is so neglected or at least minimized?
Think about how these three impact the relationships of our lives. Is not our joy and pleasure in life directly related to the condition of our relationships? Our focus becomes more of providing an atmosphere where we can enjoy the love, companionship, and interaction with friends, family, and loved ones instead of getting what we want.
Whoever desires to love life and see good days; that’s me!
Archived weeks and months:
2017 Bible Reading Plan
This year’s Bible reading plan will have the purpose of recounting the Bible’s story line. The goal is not to read through the entire Bible. Instead, we’ll focus on tracing the events of God’s eternal plan from Creation all the way through to Christ, the church, and the ultimate hope of heaven.
We’ll use the framework of the twelve calendar months and the four weeks in each of those months as the basis for our schedule. The “extra” days in each month (that is, those beyond 28–each month will have 2 or 3, except February) we’ll use for additional readings related to that month’s portion of the story line.
The Bible reading schedule will also contain some explanatory notes, tying the story line together and telling some about each of the books and their role in the account. Again, we will not be reading the entire Bible (though we will be reading the entire New Testament) but at least a sample reading from each book will be included in the reading schedule.
The reading schedule will be published daily and made available online. At the beginning of each month a month’s overview will be provided as well as weekly overviews at the beginning of each week.
Also, readings will be scheduled for 6 days of each week. The seventh day can be used to get caught up or do additional readings if you may have chosen to read through the entire Bible in the year.
Following is an overview of our schedule by month:
Creation to the flood to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, also Job: Genesis, Job
Egyptian bondage, the Exodus, Mt. Sinai, and wilderness wandering: Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers
Preparation for and conquest of Canaan. Dividing the land and the time of the Judges: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth
The monarchy begins: God’s people ruled by kings Saul, David, & Solomon: 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 Kings 1 11 1 Chron. 10-29; 2 Chron. 1-9
The wisdom of the kings: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes; Song of Solomon
The kingdom divides into Israel & Judah. God begins a more extensive use of Prophets. Israel falls to Assyria:
1 Kings 11-2 Kings 17; 2 Chron. 10-28; Hosea, Amos, Jonah, Micah, Isaiah
Judah alone remains. Jerusalem and Judah fall to Babylon: 2 Kings 18-25;2 Chron. 28-36; Zephaniah, Nahum, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Habakkuk, Obadiah
Babylonian captivity. The return and rebuilding of Jerusalem, the close of Old Testament history: Ezekiel, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
Jesus: His life, ministry, and teaching: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
Jesus: His ministry ends, the crucifixion, and resurrection: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
The establishment and spread of the church; Christian living: Acts, Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, 1 & 2 Thessalonians
The church, Christian living, and the hope of heaven: 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2, & 3 John, Jude, Revelation