Thursday, April 28, 2011

2 Peter 3:1-8 - God's time

Scripture: 2 Peter 3:1-8

Summary: Remember the words of the prophets and the commandment of Jesus Christ spoken through the apostles. You will have people making fun of you and asking when Jesus is coming back. But 1 day for God is like a thousand years.

Thoughts: The early Christians believed that Jesus would return in just a few years. So when this book was written, many of these Christians were wondering why Jesus had not already come. This writer reminds them that time for God is different than time for us, saying that one day for God is like 1000 years to us. How many times do we need to be reminded that God is working in God's time, not in ours? When I find myself frustrated because of conditions in our world, I try to remind myself that God is not working on my schedule. So I have come to accept that the Kingdom of God will probably not be completed here on earth in my lifetime. But I know that what I am doing is important, just as what you are doing is important, to the fullfillment of God's kingdom. I look forward to the day when Christ returns, but I am not anxious for it, because I know that there is much work to be done. What are you doing to forward the Kingdom?

Prayer: God help me to see how your people are making a change in the world and help me to encourage others in this process.  Amen.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

2 Peter 2:4-22 - A God who rescues or a God who punishes?

Scripture: 2 Peter 2:4-22

Summary: God cast the angels who sinned into hell. God destroyed all humans except for Noah and his family in the flood. God burned Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins, but rescued Lot.

Thoughts: This scripture lists examples from the Bible when God rescued the just and punished offenders. It also says that it would be better for people to never have known the way of righteousness than to turn away from it, having known it. What do you think about this? Personally, I think that it it better that they have at least known God, through Jesus Christ. That way, there is at least some hope that they may rethink their decision to turn away from God. It seems to me that the more people that know about Christ and the God that he tells us of, the better. As for the issue about how God punishes offenders, I think I will leave that discussion to Rob Bell in his new book Love Wins. Suffice it to say that it is difficult for me to believe that the loving God that I believe in would allow people to suffer in hell for eternity. In the meantime, I'm going to live my life always thinking about what I can do today to change the world that I live in for the better, rather than worrying about what my existence will be like after I die.  What do you think?

Prayer: God, help me to tell everyone that I meet about you, through my words and my actions. Amen.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

2 Peter 2:1-3 - False prophets: Is it I, Lord?

Scripture: 2 Peter 2:1-3

Summary: False prophets arose and false teachers who will bring in destructive opinions. Many will follow them. In their greed they will exploit you.

Thoughts: The warnings about false prophets continue in this scripture. We all know the obvious examples: like Jim Jones and David Koresh. In my town, Garland, Texas, there was a group who thought that extraterrestial visitors were coming to whisk them away. They all bought houses in the same neighborhood expecting UFOs to come get them on March 31, 1998. When that didn't happen, the leader changed his story, saying that they had all become gods. These type of false prophets seem to me to be easy to spot. But what about the false prophets that are mainline? What about the pastor who has an affair with someone in his or her congregation? What about the preacher who preaches the prosperity gospel, telling people that if they believe (and possibly donate large sums to the church!) they will be blessed by God with prosperity? How do we determine which prophets are false? I think that we do that by evaluating their message. Is the gospel that they preach in line with the God that we know: a God of love and compassion, with a preference for the poor? Also, take a look at their actions. Do they preach the gospel as loudly with their actions as they do with their words? And we should be judging ourselves by the same standards, for we are prophets to others. What do our actions and message say about us? Are we false prophets?

Prayer: Give me the wisdom to evaluate the various messages that I hear, Oh Lord. Help me to sift out the chaff and know what is really coming from You. Amen.

Monday, April 18, 2011

2 Peter 1:16-21 - Who should we believe?

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:16-21

Summary: We have been eyewitnesses to Christ's majesty. He received honor and glory from God. So we hve the prophetic message confirmed. Prophecy is not our own interpretation, it comes from the Holy Spirit.

Thoughts: When we tell other people about Jesus Christ, whose authority do we have it on? I think I base much of my faith on the Bible, especially the New Testament. But what did the early Christians do before the New Testament books were written down? Before a council got together and decided which books were holy and should be included in our current Bible?They depended on prophets. They depended on people who told them about Jesus and who he was and what he said and did. This left alot of room for false prophets to confuse people with different versions of the truth. This writer is very concerned that the community to which he is writing has been hearing from false prophets. So the first thing we should look for when we hear a prophet speak is whether or not their truth comes from themselves or from the Holy Spirit. We certainly still have false prophets today. Some of them are extreme and can be seen leading people away from God, like Jim Jones in Ghana or David Koresh in Waco. Others are more difficult to spot. I have always thought that religion would be simpler if someone just told me what to believe. This is why many churches do so well. They are attracting people who don't want to think for themselves, who just want an authority figure to tell them what to believe. But the United Methodist Church encourages each of us to decide for ourselves what we believe. So my entire life will be spent refining what I believe about God and creation and the truth about Jesus Christ. Which means that I will have to be watching for false prophets, constantly evaluating what I hear from others to see if I believe their truth came from themselves or from the Holy Spirit. Yes, the other way seems simpler, just to be told what to believe. But God wants more from me. God wants me to use my mind, my heart, and my soul to reflect on my theology because then it becomes truly mine.

Prayer: God help me to always be searching for the truth about you. Don't let me become complacent, feeling that I know enough, because you have so much more to teach me. Amen.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2 Peter 1:12-15 - What have you learned lately?

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:12-15

Summary: I intend to keep reminding you about these things, even though you know them, as long as I am alive. And I'll make every effort so that after I'm gone you will recall these things.

Thoughts: I've been to many training sessions where, even though I knew everything that was discussed, the training was very valuable to me. Because I need to be reminded on occassion of the truths that I know. The writer of this scripture knows that it is not enough to hear the truth just once. Of course, there is always that first time that you understand something, when the truth burns in you and you are overwhelmed with the knowledge. But even those things that are vitally important to us, such as the knowledge of Jesus Christ and what he brought to us, need to be revisited regularly. Not only do we need to be reminded of the truths that we know, but we need to revisit them and re-evaluate them, so that new truths can be gleaned. We are never too old to stop learning, especially learning things about Christ. What have you learned lately?

Prayer: Lord, help me to continue studying your Word and learning about you so that I continue to grow. Amen.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

2 Peter 1:10-11 - Do you hear the call?

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:10-11

Summary: Be eager to confirm your call because if you do this you will never stumble. This will give you entry into the eternal kingdom of Christ.

Thoughts: I've been thinking alot about my call lately. I have passed my first set of interviews and will be Commissioned as a Deacon in the United Methodist Church at Annual Conference this June. It was late in the year of 2011 that I first admitted that I was hearing a call from God and it was this call that led me into youth ministry. My life is very different now than it was 10 years ago. I have gone from making a 6 digit salary in the Software industry to a salary in the church that is one quarter of that. I have gone from managing 20 people to managing none (although I could consider myself sort of managing the adults and youth that I work with at church!). My family is also different. My children, who were 5 and 9 are now 15 and 19. My husband is now the CEO of the Youth Worker Movement. I have transitioned from a youth ministry volunteer to a full-time youth minister, in leadership with youth in the Conference and the Jurisdiction. And even though I have been in ministry for almost 10 years now, I sometimes find myself unsure of what I am doing. I still wonder what God is going to call me to next. That's the exciting part of following God's call on your life. Once you let go and begin to follow where God is leading, you never know where you will end up next. So as far as the scripture goes, I think I am still going to stumble, even though I have confirmed my call. But even when I stumble, I know that God is there, to pick me up, dust me off, and set me on God's path again. I just have to remain open to God's leading!

Prayer: God, Help me listen for your call for my life and help me be open to new experiences and possibilities as you open new doors for me. Amen.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

2 Peter 1:5-9 - What do I need to prop up my faith?

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:5-9

Summary: Support your faith with goodness, with knowlede, with self-control, with endurance, with godliness, with mutual affection, with love. They will keep you from being ineffective. For without them you are blind, forgetful of cleansing of past sins.

Thoughts: It is critical for us, as Christians, to have faith. Without faith, we are nothing. Faith is what is required for our salvation in Jesus Christ. But to continue to have faith, we have to support it with goodness. We have to choose good in our daily lives. And the goodness must be supported by knowledge. We need to continue to read and study so that our knowledge doesn't decay. The knowledge must be tempered with self-control as we make good choices in our daily lives. And endurance is required for those days when our self control fails. Endurance, not only in the long races, but in resisting the tempations that our lives are sprinkled with. Then we need to cultivate godliness, trying to follow in the path that Christ leads us. And we need to care about all people. Yes everyone. Even that person that drives you stark raving mad! But most importantly, we have to love. Love is the foundation that ultimately supports our faith. Without love, we are nothing. As Christ himself showed us, love can turn the world around. Thanks be to God!

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to cultivate all of these aspects of faith in my life. Amen.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

2 Peter 1:1-4 - How much is enough?

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:1-4

Summary: May grace and peace be yours in abundance through the righteousness of God and Jesus Christ. His power has given us everything that we need. The things he has given us can help us escape the corruption of the world.

Thoughts: As I read this scripture I keep coming back to one line: "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." If God has given us everything that we need, why do we continue to struggle so hard to get things for ourselves? We teach our children that they have to make the best grades in school, so that they can go to the best colleges where they need to make even better grades, so that they can get a job making the most money, so that they can buy the biggest house and marry the best looking spouse. Where does it all end? If God has given us everything that we need for life why do we continue to try to get more? At what point do we get off of the merry go round and take a job that we love? When is it enough? Perhaps, instead, we should teach our children to have well rounded lives and to find a vocation that gives them a sense of fullfillment, rather than a high paying job. Let's show our children, through our own choices, what a well rounded, fulfilled adult looks like, so that they will have something meaningful to strive for.

Prayer: God, you have given me everything that I need "for life and godliness." Let this be enough for me. Amen.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

1 Peter 5:6-14 - A Day without Shoes: Suffering with my sisters & brothers

Scripture: 1 Peter 5:6-14

Summary: Be humble so that God might exalt you in time. Give God all your anxieties, because God cares for you. Resist evil because your brothers and sisters around the world are also suffering. Afterwards, God will restore, support, strengthen and establish you.

Thoughts: I've been feeling anxious this past week. One of those unformed anxieties that doesn't really have a source. Things are actually going pretty well for me lately. I have finished the taxes for my mother-in-law and my dad and my own taxes are almost complete. I'm caught up with work (for the most part!). Everyone in my house is healthy. So why am I anxious? I don't know. What I do know, however, is that I can cast these anxieties on God, because God cares for me. Today has been designated by Tom's shoes as "a day without shoes." So I am trying my best to go the entire day without shoes or socks. I already find myself more aware of my feet and their discomfort. How much worse would it be if I lived in a village with dirt roads and had to go my entire life without shoes? And so it seems fitting to me in this time of Lent that I go one day without my shoes so that I will remember my brothers and sisters around the world who are without shoes. So during this Lenten season, I want to practice casting my anxieties onto God. I also want to suffer with my sisters and brothers who are suffering. These two things seem tied together to me. God will take my anxieties but it makes me want to "pay it forward." I need to remember the suffering of the world and do what I can to ease it.

Prayer: God, keep me from getting to tied up in my own life. Help me to remember my sisters and brothers around the world who are suffering. Amen.