Sunday, October 26, 2014

Not just for eternity

3 His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. 4 By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4

Sometimes it is easy to forget that "eternal life" is not just for eternity. Here in Peter's second letter, he makes a profound statement about the nature of our life here on this earth: we "share in the divine nature". If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, you have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you. Literally, there is divinity inside of you. Through the mystery of salvation, we have been invited into the triune nature of God. 

It boggles my mind to think that we "share" in God's divine nature. What does that mean, really? This does not make us God, obviously, for there is only one God. Isaiah 43:10 makes that abundantly clear. So what is Peter saying here? 

The Greek word being translated here is koinonos (Strongs 2844). It means one who shares in or partners with someone in something. The ESV translates this as "partakers of the divine nature." Peter used this same word in 1 Peter 5:1 to describe himself as "a participant in the glory about to be revealed." I believe what Peter is talking about is the fellowship and relationship we now have with God through the Holy Spirit by the blood of Jesus Christ. We know God because He invited us to share in Himself.

As a child, I really hated the process of being chosen for teams on the playground. I was always one of the last few picked. As anyone else who experienced the same will tell you, it felt more like they were stuck with me rather than being invited to join their team. Some unwritten rule of 8-year old society told the choosers that they had to pick everyone that wanted to play. That's likely the only reason I was ever invited to play. It was a horrible feeling.

God not only invited you into fellowship with Himself, He also paid a price we can never fully understand to extend that invitation. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, know that you are valuable to God because of the precious blood of Jesus that was shed to establish fellowship with you.

But as I alluded to at the beginning, this doesn't just result in "eternal" life the way most of us think of eternity, that is, after we die. This section of verse 3-4 tells us that through this partaking of divinity, we have "everything required for life and godliness" so that we can escape "the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires." That's here and now. You have eternal life right now. That is an amazing thought.

As you go through this week and face all the consequences of a world filled with "evil desires", I encourage you to remember that you have everything required for life and godliness, right here, right now. That doesn't mean that you will never fall. However, it does mean that we are no longer slaves to sin. As Romans 8:1-2 says, we have been set free from sin and death. What a "very great and precious promise!"

This is eternal life:
that they may know You, the only true God,
and the One You have sent—Jesus Christ.
John 17:3

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Give thanks in everything

"Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Did you thank God today? For what, you may ask? For anything other than your last meal. Sometimes I can go an entire day without remembering God even once, much less thanking Him for His many gifts.

It is so easy to forget in the relative safety of the Western Church just how dependent on God we really are. No one is trying to kill or imprison us for our faith. Comfort can breed complacency. We need to combat this potential with the truth of God’s Word.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A spirit of fearfulness

For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, 
but one of power, love, and sound judgment.
2 Timothy 1:7

I was on a camping trip recently learning wilderness survival skills. It's been a hobby/passion of mine for the last four years or so. There were four other guys there that I hadn't met before, and in between instructional sessions, we had a lot of down time to get to know one another. There was a lot of random conversation about typical guy stuff. But one conversation topic from one guy in particular kind of surprised me. He frequently brought up the topic of the recent Ebola infections in the US. Now, this in and of itself isn't all that surprising; Ebola is big news these days. It was his reaction to it that surprised me.

From other things he said over the weekend, I am pretty sure he is a believer. And yet, multiple times a day, he would pull out his cell phone to check the latest news on Ebola. He and his family are planning a big move sometime next year. But at one point, he said something like "If they have 10 reported cases of Ebola in Dallas, I'm packing up my family and moving them now." Another time while he was checking and relaying to us the latest news, he said in a nervous, sing-song kind of voice, "We're gonna get Ebola."

One believer is so concerned about a situation that he's ready to move his family hundreds or thousands of miles at a moment's notice. Another sits casually in front of a keyboard writing about it. What makes the difference? Do I just not understand how serious Ebola really is? Perhaps. But there is one thing I do understand that overrides any fear, concern, or anxiety about whatever way I may leave this life or face in this life while I am still here:

A man’s heart plans his way,
but the Lord determines his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

The Lord of Hosts has sworn:
As I have purposed, so it will be;
as I have planned it, so it will happen.
Isaiah 14:24

If God has ordained that I will die by Ebola, then there's nothing that I can do to alter that decree. I don't drive to Dallas, find the hospital where the infections are and bathe in the virus. But I also don't plan on moving my family hundreds of miles further away at a moment's notice. If you have read my thoughts on the Second Coming of Jesus, you understand that I believe that believers will be here to experience some pretty awful stuff before Jesus comes back. And though I had studied and started to implement several different strategies for preparing for when "all hell breaks loose," I don't do that now because I realized that I would be acting out of a spirit of fearfulness to do so.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I study and prepare for emergency survival scenarios. I do this because I am interested in acquiring the knowledge that I hope I will never have to use. But, and this is important, I am not driven by a spirit of fear in doing so. 

In whatever situation you may be currently facing or see potentially coming on the horizon, sometimes how you respond is not as important as why you respond the way you do. The guy I mentioned earlier, I don't know what his motivations are. God obviously has a different plan for his life than He does for mine, and it is not for me to judge God's servant (Romans 14:4). But one thing I do know that applies to him and me and all disciples of Jesus: 

You cannot trust God and fear the unknown at the same time.

For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, 
but you received the Spirit of adoption, 
by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!”
Romans 8:15

Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow,
because tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:34