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Holiness

1 2 3 11
promise

In today’s Bible reading, Peter reminds us that God’s promise is sure: Jesus will return. He says that scoffers will come, trying to discourage God’s children by pointing out that Jesus has yet to return. “Where is the promise of His coming He predicted?” (2 Peter 3:4)

There will always be nay-sayers. There will always be scoffers. There will always be haters. But Peter reminds us to be vigilant and to actively wait for Jesus’ return. “Therefore, dear friends, while you wait for these things, make every effort to be found without spot or blemish in his sight, at peace.” 2 Peter 3:14 (CSB)

In Peter’s mind, there’s no such thing as expressing a belief in Christ and then living an unchanged life. Coming to faith in Christ will cause life change. Those who repent of their sin and turn to Jesus (in other words, actually becoming a Christian) have a job to do: stay close and stay clean. (2 Peter 3:14)

Application

OK, so how do you stay close and stay clean? Maintain a close relationship with God. And one of the best ways to do this is to practice the Spiritual Disciplines: Bible reading, Bible study, Bible verse memory, prayer, worship, evangelism, fasting, giving thanks, giving, and fellowshiping with other Believers. (These are a few and they are in no particular order)

One great book on the Spiritual Disciplines is Don Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life. Please take a couple of minutes to listen to John Piper talk about Dave Mathis’ book Habits of Grace. I think it really catches the idea behind practicing the Spiritual Disciplines. Spoiler alert: It isn’t about doing the disciplines. It’s about loving Jesus more.

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Martin Luther

As i read today’s Bible reading, I instantly thought of Martin Luther’s powerful hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”.

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but the one now restraining will do so until he is out of the way, and then the lawless one will be revealed. The Lord Jesus will destroy him with the breath of his mouth and will bring him to nothing at the appearance of his coming. (2 Thessalonians 2:7–8 CSB)

And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,—
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! His doom is sure,—
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers—
No thanks to them—abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also:
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is for ever.

“A Mighty Fortress is Our God” by Martin Luther

Application

As you consider the Second Coming of Jesus and His judgment on the lost, are you comforted or worried? If you are a Believer, you have nothing to be worried about! Your judgment has already been dealt with decisively in the death of Jesus on a cross almost two thousand years ago! There is no sin you could commit that could undo the provision God has already given you in Jesus! There no sin that is more powerful than the love, the grace, and the mercy of God!

But we ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, so that you might obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold to the traditions you were taught, whether by what we said or what we wrote. (2 Thessalonians 2:13–15

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Jonathan Edwards

In today’s Bible reading, following his brief greeting, Paul assures the Thessalonians that God will take care of those who persecute Christians. I’m sure the Thessalonians were on board with Paul’s promise until they read what is now labeled as 2 Thessalonians 1:7, “This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels, when he takes vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” (CSB)

Jesus’ Disciples expected Jesus to come in and right all the wrongs by the Romans against the Jews. They expected Jesus to ride in on a white horse and assume His throne. That didn’t happen because it wasn’t His time to do that. It still isn’t. The Disciples were disappointed. The Thessalonians were disappointed. And persecuted Christians today are disappointed.

It’s another reminder that God’s Word is sure and God’s timing is not our timing. “The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 (CSB)

God is gracious, merciful, and patient, giving guilty people time to repent. But a time will come when His patience will run out. He will pour out His wrath on the unrighteous. And that will be a day of wailing and gnashing of teeth. That will not be a good day from the perspective of any human. But it will be a good day for God. His righteousness will be vindicated.

Puritan preacher/theologian Jonathan Edwards, in his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” expressed his perspective in similar ways. Contrary to popular thought about the sermon — and Edwards — the sermon is about God’s mercy, not His wrath. The sermon is about God’s pleasure to restrain His wrath in order to give men a chance to repent and turn to Him.

“There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell’s wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor anything between you and hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up.”[1]

Application

God is good to grant time for repentance. It’s in the midst of persecution that Believers must remain faithful to His call, despite how things look. Christian Hedonism makes faithfulness in the face of persecution possible.

And it’s part of being ready for Jesus’ return.

[1] Source: Monergism website

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semper armatus: always ready

I’ve heard many people tell stories of their mother warning them to always wear clean underwear, because you never known when you’re going to be in an accident. If you’re like many people, it won’t matter whether you’re wearing clean underwear before the wreck because you may not be after the wreck. If you just could know when that wreck is coming, you could make double-sure … if you could.

If you knew when a thief were coming to break into your home, you’d make sure that your home security system is armed. Or you’d make sure that you’re armed. But you’re never given advanced notice when you’ll have a wreck or when someone’s coming to break into your home. So you always have to be ready.

In today’s Bible reading, Paul tells the Thessalonians to be ready, because Jesus will return like a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2) In fact, Paul adds that Jesus will come not just unexpectedly, but at the most inopportune time. You always have to be ready. And Paul actually tells us to always be armored up with “faith and love, and a helmet of the hope of salvation”. (1 Thessalonians 5:8 CSB)

Application

As I said in my last devotional, Paul knew our nature. Just like Jesus, he knew that if we were given a time and date for Jesus’ return, we’d live like the devil as long as possible and then clean ourselves up just in time for His return.

But it doesn’t work that way. We never know when Jesus will return. And if we did, we have no guarantee of when our time on this planet will end. Neither do we know when our friends, family, and coworkers will cross over to the other side of eternity. They need to hear this message! They need Jesus!

Paul’s takeaway application for us is that we need to encourage each other to always be ready. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

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Jesus will return!

I’m sure there was a lot of confusion. Jesus and the Apostles preached Jesus’ imminent return. And then He didn’t.

In today’s Bible reading, Paul sets the record straight with these encouraging words.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For we say this to you by a word from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout,, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 (CSB)

Paul tells the Thessalonians that it may look like Jesus has broken His promise, but He hasn’t. He will return. There is hope! But here’s the thing: God isn’t limited by time. His soon could be two days. Or it could be five hundred million years.

Application

It’s a good thing that Jesus didn’t tell us when He will return. Otherwise, we’d all live like the devil, knowing when we could come back and “get the slate cleaned up” just before He returns. Yes, all of us would do that because that’s what our unredeemed nature wants to do anyway. All day. Every day.

Don’t be discouraged when you groan for this life to be over and you can cross over to the other side of eternity. Creation groans for its redemption. And so do we. (Romans 8:22-23)

So just trust. Believe. And actively wait.

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1 2 3 11

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