Category Archives: New Testament

Confirming your Witness

2 Peter:1:17 when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” 18 We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.  19 Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. NLT

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The prophets spoke by the power of the Holy Spirit of things they had not themselves seen.  Peter is a witness that speaks from personal observation and experience that confirms what he what he has previously only known by word-of-mouth from the prophecy of the prophets. 

Prophecy is “pre-seeing” but prophesying is something different. Prophesying is not just knowing what is predicted but speaking of the witness of the Holy Spirit in your personal observation and experience.  I write to you today from personal awareness of the gap that exists between all I know should be a part of my life of faith and the reality of my heart’s desire to honestly be able to prophesy Peter’s encouragement to you.  “You must pay close attention to what they wrote,for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. NLT

That is the one relationship that fills the gap between what we know but have not personally experienced and what we speak. That’s what makes the words from these other witnesses the prophesy of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives,
and that is what confirms the truth of our witness.  

Reminders

2 Peter 1:12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. NIV

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Reminders are familiar to us.  Now they often come to us as notifications with banners and alert tones on computer, smart phone or tablet screens. God can use something as simple as a Verse of the Day banner on a screen to remind us of His truth and how much it still matters to Him.  

God knows we need those reminders! We need His truth to matter as much to us as it does to Him!  The many versions of the Word that populate our digital library remind us we have opportunity at our fingertips to read and understand God’s truth more clearly than ever before.  These are God’s reminders to you of what matters to Him in June of 2020 through Peter’s Word.

Support: I will
Faithfulness: always
Purpose: remind you of these things.
Faith: You know them and are firmly established in the
truth you now have.
Commitment: I think it is right to refresh your memory
Durability: after my departure.
Encouragement: You will always be able to remember these things:
Add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;  and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;  and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection,
love.  

Orchestrating

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.  5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.  NIV

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There are two words that are the mystery of God we all deal with in our feeble attempts to understand what is  humanly unknowable. I call them flashpoint words – preordained and predestination.  Neither of them is in this passage but as I read they are what came to my mind.  The word “orchestrating” is how I deal with them as part of the natural system put into place during, and even before, the time of creation that includes “everything” I do know.  God is in control. God is ever-present.  God knows all things. 

“Orchestrating” is more than those two flashpoint words. They are only a mysterious part of the music of the Sovereignty of God. Imagine God as the composer and conductor directing each of these parts of His symphony of faith. The music begins with the conductor.  You want to see faith?  Let me bring in goodness…  Now in the flow of His personal arrangement for His creation each of those lovely parts is brought in to enhance the music of life.  Faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness and mutual affection are added at just the right moment as the overall music swells to the beautiful conclusion that explains everything God pre-ordained and predestined as He composed His symphony – LOVE.

Come!

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  ESV

It’s happened again!  This one verse just happened to show up twice out-of-the-blue in a week’s time.  It’s meant for my heart.  It still surprises me to be reminded in such a simple way that the Word of God is meant for that specific purpose.  It’s not just accidentally falling into place.  

God has a plan for your life:
the right Word at the right time in the right place.

The right Word is COME. That’s all Jesus asks.  Don’t clutter it up with anything else like needing a perfect place or time or whether it happens to to feel meaningful right then.  The main thing is the choice to come. I know you want to validate your time but if you will just come, Jesus will do that for you.

The right time is NOW.  NOW is the word used to draw attention to a particular moment. NOW is the moment when so many of life’s systems seem to have fallen apart. NOW is the moment when our labor is being challenged and redefined. NOW is the moment when hearts understand heavy laden in ways never before imagined. NOW is the moment when so many are behind closed doors. NOW is the moment of availability “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9).  NOW is the moment of opportunity “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.(Rev 3:20). NOW is the particular moment to come. 

The right place is YOU…”Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16)

Jesus simply says “come to me“… that’s the “rest” of the story.

“Rest” is a Relationship

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  ESV

This morning I was thinking about an article I’d read by Billy Grahama that referenced this verse from Matthew.  It was only one part of the big truth the article contained but it was the catalyst that opened my eyes to a new idea about that one last word…”rest.”  

It’s such a simple revelation but I think it’s a meaningful one.  Life, even a privileged one involves labor.  The good life certainly has moments that are heavy laden.  We know the Word is a reliable place we come to find rest in Jesus.  The daily reading of the Word is a blessing.  We plan to read daily and we’re frustrated with ourselves when we don’t do it.  We know that devotional time seems to be impacted by…well…everything! 

There will be circumstances when your “daily” devotion may fail you but your rest is not dependent on that circumstance.  Rest is a relationship with Jesus and His devotion never fails you.  THAT dear friend is His perfect provision that overcomes circumstances that interrupt best-laid plans.  Jesus’s relationship with you is what makes it possible for you to enjoy the “rest” of your day…today, everyday and forever.

a https://decisionmagazine.com/the-three-invitations-of-christ/

Dear Friend,

1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. NIV

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Dear Friend,
Be alert and watchful, of sober mind and spirit.  The devil is not an adversary content with luring you into sin but one who is intent on your complete destruction.  All my children are united in this struggle at this time of suffering…but I am the God of all grace who has called you beyond death to eternal glory with me.  I’ve given you faith to make you strong beyond your own ability to stand firm and resist.  I myself will support and strengthen you and make it happen.  Stay in toucha.

a A composite of ESV, NIV, NLT and NASB versions

God Did!

We have plenty of evidence of moral and physical decay around us now.  That seems very contemporary but actually it began much further back.  God has spent generations patiently waiting for His creation to understand “the end of all things is at hand” began as the natural consequence sin set in motion way back in that First Garden.  The blame game began there with the corruption of everything perfect God created.  It’s too late now for questioning “why didn’t God…?”  God did!  Jesus is our beginning that overcomes “the end of all things” and validates our life and prayers through His Spirit in us.  BC[before Christ] you were already “dead.”  

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I Peter 4:6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. 7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Who Me?

I Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered [died] once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which [the Spirit, in whom] he went and proclaimed [preached] to the spirits in prison, 20 because [when] they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. ESV

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Truthfully, I sometimes ignore footnotes when I read Scripture but this short passage of two verses with four [footnotes] caught my attention.  The footnotes have emphasized the intensity of their meaning and my curiousity.

We know “Christ [died]!
We know Christ died as “the righteous for the unrighteous”
We know Christ died for a purpose, “that he might bring us to God”
We know Christ was “made alive in the spirit”
We know THAT is [the Spirit, in whom] Christ [preached] to the spirits in prison, [when] they formerly did not obey

Now here’s where it gets interesting to think about.
Whose “spirits”? What “prison”?  Who me?

I know John 6:44 No one is able to come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me attracts and draws him and gives him the desire to come to Me, and [then] I will raise him up [from the dead] at the last day.  [AMPC]
I know John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. ESV
I know John 16:8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: ESV
I know Romans 8:9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. [NASB]

That Spirit of Christ spoke conviction and truth to my spirit when I was imprisoned by self imposed ignorance, sufficiency and disobedience.
Yes, thank God it was me.  Was it you too?

Meaningful Emphasis

1 Peter 3:8-10 ESV, NIV, AMPC
• 8 Finally, all of you…
ESV-have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
NIV-be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.
AMPC-should be of one and the same mind (united in spirit), sympathizing [with one another], loving [each other] as brethren [of one household], compassionate and courteous (tenderhearted and humble).
• 9 Do not…
ESV-repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
NIV-repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
AMPC-return evil for evil or insult for insult (scolding, tongue-lashing, berating), but on the contrary blessing [praying for their welfare, happiness, and
protection, and truly pitying and loving them]. For know that to this you have been called, that you may yourselves inherit a blessing [from God—that you may obtain a blessing as heirs, bringing welfare and happiness and protection].
• 10 For…
ESV-“Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;
NIV-“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.
AMPC-him who wants to enjoy life and see good days [good—whether apparent or not] keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from guile (treachery, deceit).

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I read through these three versions of I Peter 3:8-10.  Then I starting looking for similar words, phrases and ideas in each version with the assumption that the repetition agreed upon by so many different translators at different times gives them meaningful  emphasis.
Finally all of you…Agree to focus your minds as one heavenly household on sympathy, compassion, love, and recognizing one another with tender hearts.
Do not…miss your inheritance of blessing because of misinterpreting revenge and rebuttal as your right to justice
For…only you can restrain your tongue and lips from convincing deceit that can keep yourself, and others, from being able to love, and enjoy life and see good days.

Optional Ending

I Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. [ESV]

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I’ve Been Healed – by Shirle Bedient circa late 1980s
It’s lonely Lord, with people all around when no one knows what’s really deep inside.  Give me the courage not to hide my hollow life from you for by your wounds my lonely heart is healed.
I’ve been healed, I’ve been healed, praise the Lord
for by His wounds I have been healed.
The guilt I bear is heavy on my heart.  I want to hide my sin and shame from you.  Lord, I’m not worthy but forgive me, show me once again that by your wounds my sins have all been healed.
I’ve been healed, I’ve been healed, praise the Lord
for by His wounds I have been healed.
My spirit Lord is sometimes very low, for I forget just where my strength comes from.  Remind my heart to sing your praises all of my days, for by your wounds my spirit has been healed.
I’ve been healed, I’ve been healed, praise the Lord
for by His wounds I have been healed.

Earlier this Spring a little-known Gospel trio, The Followers, had their 40-ish reminiscence reunion and we recorded this song, from the “old” days.  I hope you ‘ll listen to the audio file all the way to the end because it’s the very end that inspired the object lesson of this post.  Many years have passed since I wrote this song but the lyrics still reflect truth; hiding, guilt and anxiety are realities of everyday life but “praise the Lord, for by His wounds” we can be healed.  Jesus has given us access to an optional ending.  “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” [and this is key] to guarantee every day our life could be “returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your soul…that we might die to sin…”  That is the daily process the Lord has provided to teach us how to”live to righteousness.”  That’s the reality that makes healing and laughter the “optional” ending to a life of hiding, guilt and anxiety.