There is such a contrast between the two letters of Peter. The first letter was written to Christians beginning to go through persecution. It was a letter of encouragement, of hope. Despite what they were going through they needed to remember Jesus who endured suffering as well.
The second letter, written a couple of years later, was encouragement of a different type. This time, the encouragement was to remain true to God’s word and not to be led astray by false teachers. Continue reading “Hold true to God’s word”
Sometimes we may think that we have it bad as Christians living in the 21st century. Our society seems to be turning against anything having to do with Christianity. But when we compare our situation to those living in the first century, what we go through is insignificant.
Nero was the ruler in Rome. He persecuted Christians, resulting in the deaths of many Christians – including, we believe, the apostles Paul and Peter. As the persecution began, Christians found themselves alienated from those around them. How do you face this type of aggression day after day?
Peter began his first letter by reminding them of all that they had because they were Christians. Continue reading “Our secure hope”
Faith is a vital ingredient in everything we do. Sometimes we don’t realize all the everyday items in which we place our faith. We have faith that when we press an “on” button that something will happen – why else would we press it if we didn’t have faith that it would do what it is designed to do?
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews described faith this way: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1 NET). That is a good description of faith – we are convinced of something we don’t see, we are sure that what we expect is true and will happen. Continue reading “The importance of faith”
“Therefore we must progress beyond the elementary instructions about Christ and move on to maturity, not laying this foundation again: repentance from dead works and faith in God, teaching about ritual washings, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment” (Hebrews 6:1-2 NET).
I’m sure if we were to draw up a “list” of the basic teachings about Jesus that all of these would be on our list. Sure, some of these would be, but I am confident that most of us would be unfamiliar with at least a few of them. What are these “elementary instructions about Christ” that we need to move beyond in order to become mature Christians? Continue reading “Back to basics”
Can you imagine what it was like for Cleopas and his friend as they walked home from Jerusalem on the Sunday after Passover? Both men were disciples of Jesus, yet their teacher had been executed over the weekend. As they began the two-hour walk back to their village they began discussing what had happened that holiday weekend.
The discussion they had became quite emotional and possibly even heated. And then a stranger joined them and asked, “What is this dispute that you’re having with each other as you are walking?” (Luke 24:17 CSB). They stopped walking and looked sad and discouraged. Continue reading “Their hearts burned within them”
Why is it that people always want to be the greatest? I realize that we should always strive to do our best, but that is not what I am referring to. We want to be better than everyone else in whatever we are doing. Even when equality is emphasized it really isn’t equality that we are after – most people seem to want special privileges and at least to feel they are better than others.
The former communist nations are a good example of this. What started out as a push for everyone to be equal very quickly turned into equality for the masses but privileges for the elite. The modern state of Israel was built on the kibbutz. These were plentiful in the early days of the new state where all lived in a collective community, with each contributing what they earned so that all had an equal share. As more people began earning greater wages they left the kibbutz in order to live on their own and keep the benefits of their own labour. Continue reading “True greatness”
“There was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. But at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus whose body was covered with sores, who longed to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. In addition, the dogs came and licked his sores” (Luke 16:19-21 NET).
Jesus told a story about two men, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had all that this life had to offer. The poor man had nothing. It would appear that he was not well, as his body was covered with sores and he lay at the rich man’s gate. He would have been happy to have had just what fell from the rich man’s table. Continue reading “Are you ready for eternity?”
“Then someone from the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator between you two?’ Then he said to them, ‘Watch out and guard yourself from all types of greed, because one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions’” (Luke 12:13-15 NET).
Two men came to Jesus with what one of them considered to be a problem: he didn’t think he was getting a fair share of the inheritance. We don’t know the circumstances of his complaint, but it could have been as simple as the way inheritance laws were set up in God’s Law. The firstborn son would receive a double portion of the inheritance (see Deuteronomy 21:15-17). If that is the case here, the younger son might be complaining that the inheritance was not split equally and was hoping Jesus would change the inheritance law so he could have more.
Jesus could see what the real problem was: greed. So he told them a story. Continue reading “Where is our security?”
“Then he said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine has stopped here while on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him.” Then he will reply from inside, “Do not bother me. The door is already shut, and my children and I are in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything.” I tell you, even though the man inside will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of the first man’s sheer persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs” (Luke 11:5-8 NET).
How many of us have friends like the one Jesus talked about? Or, maybe more personally, how many of us are like the man who was already in bed when his friend came to knock on his door? He really didn’t want to have to get back up to find some bread to give to his friend. But he seems to have realized that his friend wouldn’t go away unless he did get up and give him what he needed to meet his needs. Continue reading “Are we asking?”
“When he had concluded saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. A centurion’s servant, who was highly valued by him, was sick and about to die. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, requesting him to come and save the life of his servant. When they reached Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, ‘He is worthy for you to grant this, because he loves our nation and has built us a synagogue’” (Luke 7:1-5 CSB).
This centurion seems to have been an exceptional Roman. Stationed in Galilee, he became involved in the local life, even to the point of building a synagogue for the Jews of that town. Perhaps he was attracted to the God they worshipped and their way of life. If you visit Capernaum today you will see extensive excavations of the first century town and an impressive synagogue that would have dominated the town even in Jesus’ day. The current synagogue dates from the 4th century but it is built on the foundation of the first century synagogue, so you get an idea of the size of the one built by this Roman centurion. Continue reading “A faith that amazed Jesus”