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WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?

2 PETER 3:12

“looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!” 

The world will never understand believers’ anticipation of the return of Christ. In fact, many scoff at us. They think our faith in His return is shallow-minded. To them, His return is a fable told for centuries.

But we know better, don’t we? Peter says we are to be “looking for and hastening” His return. The Greek word for “looking” is a bit more than just scanning the horizon. It is an eager anticipation, almost a giddy yearning. “Hastening” means to speed it on. How can we speed it on? By sharing the good news with everyone we meet.

APPLICATION

Don’t be afraid to talk about Jesus’ return with your kids. Some parents don’t want to “scare” their children with this news. But this is great news. For believers, it won’t be a scary event. We will be transformed so quickly and ushered into heaven, we won’t know what hit us. It will be pure joy.

I hear many young believers say they want to do such and such before He returns. They want to get married first. They want to have a baby first. They want to…. Listen, make sure your kids know that nothing compares to seeing Jesus. There is no earthly joy that compares.

Are you giddy for His return? Does the thought He could come any day get you excited? It should. As a believer, we should be looking and hastening that day. We should be actively preparing and seeking. We should be telling others about Him whenever we get the chance. Soon and very soon.

You promised You would return, Lord. We are eagerly waiting. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

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WE’VE HEARD THAT BEFORE

2 PETER 3:4

“and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’” 

These words in this verse are what Peter said those who were mocking and scoffing at the Gospel were saying. We are hearing those very same words today. In fact, those who oppose the Gospel have been saying those same words for centuries. That’s okay. Why? Because every day that passes means we are one day closer.

Can you feel the anticipation rising? I can. I believe we are in the last days. I know, I know. People have been saying that for years. But that’s what I believe. So, when people say these words of mocking to me, I just smile and pray for them. Listen, unless they believe in the authority of Scripture, there is nothing I can say to convince them otherwise. That’s the business of the Holy Spirit.

APPLICATION

I am not quite sure how to apply this to our children, except for us to be the role models in this. As they see or hear us confronting such individuals, they will learn to defend the Gospel. When we come into contact with our modern-day scoffers our job is to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us in the conversation. He will, if we will let Him.

Our children learn best as they watch us. So, don’t lose your cool and get into a heated argument with a scoffer. That does not represent Christ. What would He do? Love them and pray for them. Jesus had the power to force everyone to believe in Him, but He didn’t. He actually sacrificed His life for them. What can we sacrifice to bring scoffers to Him?

Are you bad about getting into arguments with unbelievers? Or do you simply sneak away and refuse to discuss your faith with them? God is not asking you to charge hell with a water pistol. No! He does, however, ask us to stand firm and be courageous. Will you today?

Lord, give me opportunities today to defend my faith and belief that the days are short until Your return. Help me be a bold and courageous witness for You.

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BAD COMPANY

2 PETER 2:13

“suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you,”

Some people are just not good to be around. Their intentions are wrong, and they seek to bring you down with them. Peter is warning us today about these people. They are going to suffer wrong. What does that mean? It means they are going to be given the same kind of justice they have given others. They will receive their judgment. They seek only their own pleasure. No one else matters.

Peter even calls them stains and blemishes. Not a very good reputation, huh? They love to deceive others even while they are pretending to fellowship with you. It is interesting that the word “carouse” is only used twice in the New Testament (here and Jude 12) and both times in a negative way.

APPLICATION

I believe Peter is telling us to not fellowship with these types of people. We still have the obligation to witness to them and love them in Jesus’ name. But that does not mean we are to be best buds with them. The old saying goes, “If you lie with dogs, you’re going to get fleas.” That’s true. If you hang out with these types of people they are going to influence you.

That’s why we guard our children from ungodly influences. We don’t let them spend the night with other boys and girls who parents live ungodly lives. That’s why we teach our children to only date fellow believers who share the same world view. That’s why we want to know who our children are hanging out with at school or on weekends. We want, to the best of our ability, to keep them from being “stained” or “blemished.”

Are you keeping yourself from being “stained” or “blemished”? It’s really not that hard, if you are following Jesus. Jesus just may send you to these types of people to share the Gospel. But He does not want you sharing their lifestyle. If you look no different than them, why would they want to hear anything about Jesus. Be different. Live holy.

Lord, protect me from the stains and blemishes of this world. Help me reach those who think and act like this, without putting myself at risk of evil influences.

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NOT OUR JOB

2 PETER 2:11

“whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord.”

Why do we think we have the right to judge others? That’s God’s job. Peter states so here. Even the angels don’t point their fingers (or wings, lol) at the wicked in judgment. They know God is holy and just. They know He will judge all mankind at some point. It is not their concern.

Why can’t we learn from the angels? We judge others because it makes us feel better. It puts us above them, or so we think. Judging others is not our responsibility. That does not mean we shouldn’t confront a brother or sister about sin. That’s love. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t share the Gospel with the lost. That’s not judging. That’s love.

APPLICATION

Children can be very judgmental. It starts early. When your child comes home putting down another child for the way they look or act. It starts by your child thinking they are better than the boy down the street. You have to stop that thinking quickly.

How do you do that? Every time a judgmental attitude is exhibited, stop and lead your child in prayer for that other child. Explain to them how Jesus loves them just as much as He loves your child. Talk about ways your child could be more like Jesus to them. It’s really hard to judge someone you are praying for, isn’t it?

Are you guilty of judging others? Do you see yourself better than the world around you? Listen, dear brother and sister, the only thing that makes you any better is Jesus. Therefore, only He has the right to judge anyone. Let Him handle that. You need to focus on loving, not judging. And watch what happens. It may just surprise you.

Forgive me, Father, for my judgmental attitude. Show me how to love others like You do. Use me as Your vessel.

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A HARD SALVATION

1 PETER 4:18

“AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER?” 

Peter seems to quote from Proverbs 11:31 here. He expands on this verse to give us its full meaning, though. It is no easy thing for a righteous person to be saved. Their selfish ambitions, pride, fleshly desires and overall desire for sin are in the way. Only the Holy Spirit can draw them to a point of repentance and confession leading to salvation.

However, the godless man will not turn. They see no desire for change. The Greek for “what will become” is actually better translated “where will they appear.” The godless sinner will not disappear at death. They will appear again at the judgment. There is no escape.

APPLICATION

This is kind of a harsh verse, huh? But it is the truth. Our children need to be nurtured and taught to listen carefully for the call of the Holy Spirit in their lives. He calls us all at different times. Some children hear His call at an early age. Others don’t hear it until they are older. But their ears need to be tuned to Him.

How is that made possible? By filling their hearts and minds with the Word of God. The Spirit speaks through the Word. Did you know that most people come to Christ before the age of fourteen? These are crucial years. These are years where you have the privilege to speak Jesus into their lives every day. Then let the Spirit do His job.

When did you hear His voice? I heard it at sixteen, clear as day. He spoke to me as I was singing a solo in my youth choir practice the day before we left for a choir tour. He told me plain as day that I was lost and need a Savior. I yielded right then to His call and have never looked back since. Praise be to God.

Thank You, Lord, for not ceasing to call me. I thank You that You are still calling people today. Use me as Your mouthpiece.

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LOVE STRANGERS

1 PETER 4:9

“Be hospitable to one another without complaint.”

All we hear today is stranger danger and for good reason. The world is an unsafe environment. Here, however, Peter tells us to love those strangers. The Greek word for hospitable comes from two Greek words, philos, which is brotherly love, and xenos, which is stranger. We are to love strangers.

It is interesting to me that this word is only used two other times where it is listed as a qualification for an elder. But here it is expected of all believers and with a qualifier. We are to do this “without complaint.” That literally means without murmuring or grumbling. Now, that’s hard, right?

APPLICATION

What a lesson for our kids! When they observe us doing this, they can get a glimpse of what real love is all about. Loving strangers because Jesus loves them is the key. Now, we should not be foolish and abandon all common sense. God doesn’t expect us to be foolish. But when opportunities present themselves, we need to be ready to show hospitality to those strangers God has placed in our paths.

How can you safely teach your children this? How about volunteering at the local soup kitchen? Maybe you could prepare sandwiches and hand them out to the homeless. Perhaps you could do a good deed for that neighbor on your street that no one likes or really knows too well. There are all sorts of ways to be hospitable. And remember, no grumbling.

You are probably saying, Well Carl, I don’t have the gift of hospitality. That’s a cop out. We have, through the Holy Spirit, access to all the gifts. Sure, we have primary ones which the Lord has gifted us with, but all the gifts are ours through Him. If He tells you to show a stranger kindness, don’t argue with Him. Just do it. You will be blessed!

I don’t feel comfortable approaching strangers, Lord, but I will do that as You lead. I will trust You to give me the words to say and the actions to take.

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GOD’S CHOICE

ACTS 15:7

After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe.

I am so grateful that the Lord chose me. Peter stands at the famous Council at Jerusalem to defend Paul and Barnabas’ mission to the Gentiles. Some were arguing that the Gentiles had to be circumcised to be true believers. Peter recalled his own defense of preaching to the Gentiles and their receiving the Gospel. I am thankful for his defense.

Just think. If the Council had agreed with the other side, we may be under so much law again. But we are free in Christ. We don’t need to add anything to the Gospel to be accepted by the Lord. Our salvation rests in the fact that we Admit we are sinners, Believe Jesus died for us and Confess our belief to God. A-B-C. It’s as simple as that.

APPLICATION

Don’t add to your children’s belief requirements. I have written about this too many times. Some parents want to be so sure about their child’s decision to follow Christ that they put off celebrating it. Just like the Gentiles who had no knowledge of God, our children come into this world clueless about the Father. It’s our teaching and training that gives them the knowledge. God, in His perfect time, draws them to Himself.

And when they admit, believe and confess, we should shout it from the highest roof top. We should begin right then the process of disciplemaking that will lead them to be a disciplemaker. Matthew 28:18-20 applies, not only to world missions, but also to our own family.

Aren’t you thankful God’s choice was to offer the Gospel to the Gentiles? I sure am. Are you doing your part to spread the Word? There are so many around us who need to hear it. Find someone today and tell them the good news.

I am so thankful for Your choice to share Jesus with me. I will do my part today to share Him with others.

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FALSELY IMPRISONED

ACTS 12:5

“5 So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.”

Peter seemed to be in and out of prison a lot. The religious leaders did not want him preaching the Gospel. So, they threw him in jail time and time again. Peter was not hindered. God kept using him. He wasn’t afraid of prison bars because he knew he was free in Christ.

Let me ask you a question. If you were threatened with jail if you didn’t stop preaching about Jesus, what would you do? That probably won’t happen in the United States (and I say probably because things seem to be changing quickly). But it is a real threat in many parts of the world. People are praying for those who face this threat, just like people were praying for Peter.

APPLICATION

One thing we need to teach our children is to not fear sharing Jesus. It is hard for many of us to do that. We are afraid the person may get mad at us or that we may hurt their feelings. Help your children develop way to share without being harsh. Living for Jesus daily speaks volumes. Help your children tell others what Jesus has done for them.

But most importantly, help them to understand that if they are faithful to share His good news with others, God will take care of them. Now, that doesn’t mean they will be spared from insults or ridicule. It could even lead to more serious consequences. But we are safe in the arms of Jesus.

Are you willing to face the consequences for obeying Jesus? Or are you more concerned with your reputation? Peter had a mission, and nothing could keep him from it. You and I have that same mission – to spread the Gospel to a lost and dying world.

I am ready, Lord, to suffer for You. I don’t like saying that, but I know You will see me through whatever comes my way. I want to be obedient to share Jesus.

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IN A NUTSHELL

1 PETER 3:18

“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;”

This verse IS the Gospel in a nutshell. This verse says it all. Jesus died for all to forgive us of our sins and rose again to give us eternal life. I have heard it said we should have our testimony down to an elevator conversation. Do you know what that means? We should be able to share our faith in about as much time as it takes to ride on an elevator with someone.

That takes practice. You have to cover all the bases. You need to tell where you came from and what God has brought you to. Do you have a story to tell? Well, of course you do. If you are a believer, God has done a miracle in your life. He has rescued you from a sure damnation to a glorious salvation. That’s worth talking about.

APPLICATION

Our children can be taught to do this also, once they come to Christ. Help them write out their salvation. Then start whittling it down to a 12-15 second conversation. What? Yep! That’s about how much time you would have on an elevator. That may be the amount of time they would have with a friend at school between classes.

Help them practice sharing it so it’s second nature. It doesn’t need to be preachy. It needs to be practical and personal. Then help them develop a list of friends to whom they want to share their story. Be prepared to celebrate when their friends come to Christ.

Are you seeking out others with whom to share? Are you ready to share your story? Write it out and practice it, if necessary. But whatever you do, do it. Don’t wait. Don’t procrastinate. Make it a priority. Pray for those friends you know need Christ and prepare to share with them the life-changing story of your life.

Point me in the right direction today to share with someone the love of Jesus. Give me the words to share to get it across clearly and concisely.

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THEY’RE SAVED?!

ACTS 10:44-45

“44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. 45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.”

Have you ever run into someone you haven’t seen in years and learned they are a believer now? You knew them in their B.C. (Before Christ) days and are shocked they are saved. I mean, you’re glad and excited, but still you’re shocked. That’s kind of what happened here. The circumcised believers with Peter were shocked that God had saved these Gentiles.

What a great verse to show God desires that everyone be saved. He loved these Gentiles. He had sent a message to Cornelius to have Peter come and share the Gospel with them. They heard and believed. Don’t ever think someone is unreachable. It’s not you who draws them to Christ. It’s the Holy Spirit working through you.

APPLICATION

Teach your children to share the Gospel. I never cease to be amazed at the boldness of children in sharing their faith. They don’t have the fears of rejection we adults have built up over time. Children just want to talk about Jesus. We could learn a lot from them.

So, help them prepare their Gospel message. Help them share what God has done for them. Help them share what God has done for their family. Help them make a list of friends they want to share their faith with. And most importantly, pray with them. Seek the Lord’s guidance, because He is the one who will direct them to the people to share.

Do you have a list of names of people you want to share Christ with? Have you prayed for those people today? If God has placed them on your heart, it’s for a reason. Seek those individuals out today. Ask the Lord to give you the words and the opportunity to share. He will!

Father, thank You for drawing me to You so many years ago. Put people in my path today to whom I can share Your message.

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