Today’s passages: Isaiah, chapters 50-52; Psalm 92; 2 Peter, chapter 1
Scripture: 2 Peter 1:3-11 (NRSV) – His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature. For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For anyone who lacks these things is short-sighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins. Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.
Observations: As I read this passage this morning, the first verse I’ve quoted grabbed my attention: His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness. That phrase struck me because I’m thinking about two families that I know who lost young adult children in a horrific accident last night. I can’t imagine how hard it would be for me to be in their position – but I take heart in the knowledge that God has given us everything needed for life and godliness. Whatever we need, whatever the circumstances, God has promised to supply it – and he knows what we need, because we have a great high priest who was tested in every way like we are. He knows the strength we need to defeat temptations that come our way; he knows the strength and the comfort that we need when our world is rocked by tragedy; he knows the direction that we need on our best days, and the help and the hope that we need on our worst days. Everything needed for life and godliness.
I’m also struck by the reminder of our part in this process: support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. God has been reminding me lately how important it is for us to be a part of the body – not in some generic sense, but in the sense of regularly participating in a group of believers – because we need the kind of mutual affection and love that can only come from brothers and sisters in Christ. As I deal with people who are going through difficult circumstances, one question/statement comes up time and time again: “How do people who don’t have Christ deal with things like this?” I don’t know; but I know that the way that those who do know Christ deal with life’s challenges is through the support, prayers, and love of their fellow believers. Peter is writing to the church– in verse 1 he says that he’s writing “to those who have received a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” He’s telling the church– you, me, everyone who has received that faith and proclaimed their faith in Jesus – that we need to encourage, support, and love one another as part of our progression in that faith. To borrow a phrase from the title of a book from a number of years ago, “We Really Do Need Each Other.”
Applications: God is reminding me how important it is for us to build relationships within the fellowship of believers, because we need to have the foundation to support and encourage each other – or to receive that support and encouragement. I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of that encouragement over the course of the past 12 months, which have been a difficult year for us. God is reminding me that all of us will have those difficult times, and that it’s vitally important for us to encourage each other, in good times and in bad. The members of the early church met daily, in their homes and in the temple courts; they shared fellowship together, studied God’s Word together, and supported one another in a culture and a world that did not support them. That’s what God wants us to do!
Prayer: Father, thank you for the reminder that your faithfulness is expressed through your children. Help me today to receive your encouragement, and to communicate your encouragement to others. Lead me in your ways today, that I may help others to experience you. Amen.