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Take Care

“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?”
Peter said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
Jesus said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?”
Peter said to him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
Jesus said to him a third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?”
Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And Peter said to him, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

John 21:15-17

You may be familiar with this story. It’s the conversation where Jesus restores Peter after Peter denied him three times. We can make much of the different words for ‘love’ Jesus uses in the original language. We could recognize the persistence with which Jesus relentlessly pursues Peter in an attempt to break Peter’s false assumptions about himself and others. We could delight in the fact that Jesus believed in Peter (as He believes in us) even when Peter didn’t believe in himself.

But what I notice today is something else. It’s an observation a former pastor of mine used to make.

As Jesus interrogates Peter he never once asks, “Peter, do you like sheep?”

Peter was a fisherman. He had no experience or expertise caring for sheep. In times of disappointment and failure, Peter didn’t run to the open field where sheep freely roam. He ran to open water. Like the namesake of his father, Jonah, Peter ran from what should be, to the comfort of what he knew best.

Jesus’ words to Peter were more than a personal restoration. They were a direct confrontation, a loving challenge, really. “If you love Me, you will care for, more specifically, you will provide care for My people.”

That is both the challenge and encouragement of your every interaction with people today.

The encouragement?
Just like Peter, Jesus believes in you. He believes in you enough to pursue you with relentless affection. He believes that, with zero experience, and possibly little inherent interest, you are the perfect person to provide care for everyone he brings across your path today.

The challenge?
If you love Him, care for his people. Whether you’re experienced at it or not. Whether you’re good at it or not. Whether you like it (or them) or not. Why? Because one of our greatest expressions of love for God is fulfilled as we lovingly care for His people.

It might be tempting to think this kind of thing comes easy. I can assure you, this kind of care takes deliberate attention, willful interaction, and the giving of the kind of grace you’ve already received from God and others. Just like Jesus’ friendship with Peter, our interactions with one another come with both encouragement and challenge. Today, it’s likely that you will spend the majority of your day in increasing circles of influence – from friends and family, colleagues, coworkers, neighbors, to people in your community.

Do you love Him? Feed those sheep.

Ready

Today you finished 2 Peter – let’s go to Nahum next. It only has three chapters so you can finish the entire book in three days!


2 Peter 3

SCRIPTURE

2 Peter 3:14-16 “And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him—speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction.” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

What are you waiting for?

Peter challenges us to remember the works and the word of God. He reminds us of the coming judgement of God. He recounts the creation of the world and God’s work to purify his creation. I don’t know how you feel about our world today. Some may say it’s worse than it’s ever been. You may look around and see how people refuse to believe, how they reject the faith, how they deny the truth. You see these things and think the times we live in are quite desperate. Then I read 2 Peter 3. Within Peter’s lifetime and only a few decades after the death and resurrection of Jesus the times were no different than they are now.

People will always doubt. They will always deny. They will alway scoff at the things of God.

God delays his punishment because of his kindness, because of his desire to give all people time to repent. Not all will – but it won’t because they didn’t have a chance. It will be because they rejected that chance.

Side note – In verses 14 – 16 Peter calls the letters of Paul, ‘Scripture’. That’s a bold statement. It shows the influence of Paul and demonstrates that the most significant leader of the early church believed the words of Paul to be inspired by God. This knowledge helps us better understand the context of Paul’s writings. They aren’t simply great devotional material. They are more than letters designed to encourage his converts in their faith. They are the Word of God, profitable for reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness.

Back on track – What are you waiting for?

The time will come when the certain judgement of God will fall on all people. Will you be found faithful? Better question – who will be found faithful because of you? There is a coworker you’ve been waiting for just the right moment to share Christ with. You have a family member who needs to experience the love of God. That guy on your kids ball team you’ve just been introduced to – he could use a dose of grace. What are you waiting for?

Right now there’s time. Time to let the story unfold. Time to share the gospel well. Time to love all people to Christ. But someday the time for such things will end. The work will be done. Christ will come. The day will pass. The thousand years will be over and – ready, or not, – we will meet him face to face.

APPLICATION

Will you be ready? Who will be ready because of you?

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your Word and your promises. Thank you for waiting to cast your judgement on me and the rest of the world. Thank you for your patient endurance as you lovingly lead me into repentance. Forgive my sin. Remove me from temptation. Allow me to make decisions today based on your grace. Give me your wisdom. Help me be ready – to share the gospel, to live by faith, to do things your way, to follow you. Allow me to help others be ready to do the same. Like Paul was an encouragement to Peter, may I encourage others to follow you. On the day you return, may others be ready because of me.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Everything You Need

everything2 Peter 1 & 2

SCRIPTURE

2 Peter 1:3, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

Too much. There’s too much in these two chapters for just one post. But for my current purpose I will not slow my pace of one chapter per day. Tomorrow I will move on to chapter 3.

Peter. The man who denied Christ three times and was three times restored. The man who ran into the tomb after the resurrection. The man who swung the sword at the head of the Temple Guard on the night Jesus was betrayed. The man who declared, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” And only moments later began correcting Jesus for teaching something he disagreed with. Jesus turns to Peter and responds, “Get behind me Satan.” Peter was on the mountain when Christ revealed his heavenly glory. In that moment Peter heard the voice of God. He was uneducated. He was a businessman, family man. He worked hard. And he was a follower of God.

I think Peter is a lot like you and me. When I read his story there are times I think of him as a spiritual manic depressive. When he’s on, he’s really on. When he’s off, he’s way off. I’ll bet you’ve struggled like that as well. You have moments of glory followed by seasons of distraction. You may trust God for your eternal life, but you have a hard time trusting him with matters of your daily life. You know enough about what means to be a God-follower that you understand that you want in, but haven’t yet figured out how all that applies to the everyday struggles of the daily grind.

2 Peter 1:3 says it – God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness. God can be trusted – to save, to provide, to teach, to guide. You can trust Him to lead you through and go with you. You are not alone. And the one who goes with you is the Creator and controller of everything!

Verse 8 is remarkable as well. “The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Peter gives us a list of attributes to cultivate, goals to pursue, qualities of character to practice, and then tells us that practicing these things will make knowing Christ productive and us useful in his kingdom.

APPLICATION

How’s your trust? Do you struggle to trust God for the issues of daily life? 2 Peter 1 gives us several practices to help us grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. These aren’t things we do to earn the favor of God. They are things we do because of the favor of God. They deepen our relationship with him and give us a firm foundation on which to build a life.

If practice is the systematic process of overcoming a series of small failures which virtue should you practice today? God has given you everything you need for life and godliness. Through him you can become more than you ever imagined.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for saving me. Thank you for giving me everything I need for life and godliness. Today, help me practice the virtues listed in 2 Peter 1. Lead me and give me the knowledge, will and strength to follow you. I want to be useful in your kingdom, to my family, with my coworkers and for your glory.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

BTW…because of the weekend you may have missed my last couple of devo’s. Click to catch First Things First and Back Stage Pass.