Friday, June 18, 2010

Love, the top building block above faith

2 Peter 1:7b says " and to brotherly kindness love".

Peter has given us a list of characteristics to work on within our journey of sanctification. Love is the last one that he brought to the table. Does this mean that it is the least significant? Absolutely not!

It may appear that Peter is geing a little repetitive with the love virtue, because he just mentioned brotherly kindness (or brotherly love). What is the difference here? The previous characteristic, brotherly love, is a love that we show within the walls of the church. It is a love that we exhibit to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Today's characteristic is one that is shown outside of the church walls.

Jesus was very specific about showing love to this world that is around us. He told us to love our enemies. He told us to love those who persecute us. He told us to love our neighbor. As Christians do we love our enemies and neighbors? Better yet, do we even know the names of our neighbors?

Love is the final virtue for a very special purpose. Love is the fruit of faith. When your faith is strong and growing, you will find it easy to love. So as we are going and as we are growing let us express the love of Christ in all we do. The Southern Baptists recently had a slogan that said "Love Out Loud". Let me follow that by saying "crank it up"!

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Brotherly kindness, a building block above faith

2 Peter 1:7a says "to godliness brotherly kindness".

Brotherly kindness comes from the Greek word philadelphia and carries the meaning to show love to your brothers and sisters in Christ. This showing of love should come from the heart and not be just meaningless actions. There is a lot to say in the Bible about how we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Matthew 22:37-39 says "Jesus said to him, You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’"

It is interesting that we can plug all 10 Old Testament Commandments into these two that Jesus gave us. Note that we first must love God with all of our being and then we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. Sometimes I wonder how much the Christian loves himself when I see how they treat their friends with disrespect.

Romans 12:10 says "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another". In other words we need to be showing our brothers love in all that we do. We need to have a genuine concern for our brother caring for their needs and well being.

One of the most compelling verses in the New Testament about loving our brother is found in 1 John 4:20 which says "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?"

These words speak volumes concerning our love for our brother. What are your actions saying about the condition of your heart?

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Monday, June 14, 2010

Godliness, a building block above faith.

The last part of 2 Peter 1:6 says: "to perseverance godliness". This is our next building block to add to the foundation of faith. Yesterday we saw that perseverance meant to remain under God's direction in any situation we encounter. It is interesting that Peter now adds the element of godliness to the mix.

Godliness essentially means to live "godly lives". In light of the fact that we are to persevere within all circumstances, we are also to live our lives in a godly manner. If we mess up and make bad decisions or unwise choices we could ruin our reputation and destroy our witness. Therefore, it is critical that we strive to live godly lives in the face of a corrupt and dark world. It is too easy to "give in" or "give up" when times are tough, which is exactly what satan wants.

Maybe you have already messed up, given up, and allowed the enemy to shut you up. This doesn't mean that it is over. It means that you need to allow God to pick you up, dust you off, and get you back on track. Make a concious effort to live a life that is honoring to the Father. Be in His Word and under Biblically sound teaching and preaching. Think about the incredible opportunities which are before us. (Matthew 9:37)

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Perseverence, a building block above faith

Within verse 6 of 2nd Peter chapter 1 we see the next building block to add to faith after self-control. It says: "to self-control perseverance".

This is another element that we need to add to the mix in our Spiritual growth. Keep in mind that Peter is getting ready to talk in detail about false prophets and false teachers. The word used for perseverance is "hypomenen". This word essentially means to "stay under". It gives us the impression that we need to hold fast in the face of adversity and to stay steady no matter what challenges us. We do not need to give up in these troubled times.

As we approach the last days, there will be more and more false teachings. There will be more opportunities for deception and evil. We must be sure to remain in His Word and remain steadfast in our faith. As we are to be self-controlled, we are to persevere. As we are to live a life above reproach, we are to persevere. As we learn more about our Savior and apply His truths to our lives, we are to persevere.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Self-Control, a building block above faith

2 Peter 1:6a says "to knowledge, self-control..."

As we continue look at the list of characteristics that Peter emphasizes that must be added to the foundation of faith, we quickly realize that the process of sanctification is becoming evident. The life of the Christian must always be growing and maturing and this involves self-control.

Do we have issues with self-control in today's society? Absolutely! We find it difficult to keep ourselves from getting seconds or thirds at the dinner table. We have difficulty putting down the remote control when we know that we would be better off spending the time in the study of God's Word. We find it difficult not to say what is on our mind when someone rubs us the wrong way. In general, we struggle with self-control.

In the Hellenistic world of Peter's day the idea of self-control is related to athletics. When an athlete would begin to prepare for competition, he would become very disciplined and exercise great self-control. He would obstain from certain foods and drink. He would carve out long periods of his day preparing and training for the events that were before him. He would make sure his actions before the days of competition would not disqualify him from competiton or tarnish his reputation (too bad today's athletes don't do this). Self-control was serious for the one who was preparing for competition.

The apostle Paul compared the Christian life to a race. In 1 Corinthians 9:25 he said: And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.

Our journey of spiritual growth requires self-control. Like the athlete who carves out great amounts of time each day for training, we also need to focus our day on the Lord. Like the athlete who obstains from certain food and drink, we too need to be careful what we take into our minds and hearts. Like the athlete who watches his actions, we too need to be careful what we do and where we go as not to destroy our witness or fall to temptation. The careful thought and control of our actions is part of maturing in the faith.

In your life what will it take to be self-controlled?

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Friday, June 11, 2010

Knowledge, a building block above faith

2 Peter 1:5 says "But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge"

You might think this one is obvious in meaning. However, I think there may be a little more to it than surface value. For example, the original term in the Greek for the word knowlege could mean understanding the moral compass of others, having insight in all circumstances, and the ability to use our minds in whatever we do.

It would be easy to take this verse and say that we need to be always learning. However, learning without application is pretty useless. I could learn all I wanted to about a person's human nature but if I do not use that knowledge to help me relate to others or to forsee an event that I need to help them avoid, then it is only knowledge.

What is interesting is the fact that knowledge can strengthen our faith. It has also been said that knowledge is rooted in trust. The more you know about God, the stronger your faith will become. The more you understand the nature of God the more you will trust Him.

This should be a driving force for our quiet time or daily devotion time. We should desire to be in His Word learning more about Him. As we learn more about Him then our trust will naturally grow. Therefore, as the Scripture says, to our faith we need to add virtue (outstanding moral character). On top of virtue we need to add knowledge (having insight in all circumstances). Are you growing in your faith?

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Virtue, a building block above faith.

2 Peter 1:5a says the following: But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue...

The Christian life is full of challenges and as I continue to learn more and more about my faith I am coming to the conclusion that I must continually grow in my faith. I cannot sit still and do nothing. The question that comes to mind is "how can I grow in my faith"? 2 Peter chapter 1 gives us an idea of things we need to be adding to our faith in our daily walk with the Lord.

First, it says we must add virtue to our faith. What is virtue, and how do I add it to my faith? The word used for virtue comes from the Greek word that can also be translated "excellence of character" or "goodness". It is interesting that immediately on the top of our faith we need to add a characteristic that reflects the nature of God. We know that God is good and as be strive to become more like Christ, our nature should be good as well. We should strive for moral excellence.

That means we need to seek to remove anything from or lives that would not reflect the nature of God. This is no easy task because it requires knowing Him and understanding His ways. We have to be in His Word daily and be seeking Him through prayer.

Spend a few minutes thinking about adding moral excellence to your list of characteristics. Can it be said of you that virtue is a characteristic that you hold? I hope and pray that is true for your life.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson