These Qualities – Yours or Not?

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence,
in your faith supply moral excellence,
and in your moral excellence, knowledge,

and in your knowledge, self-control,
and in your self-control, perseverance,
and in your perseverance, godliness,

and in your godliness, brotherly kindness,
and in your brotherly kindness, love.

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing,
they render you neither useless nor unfruitful
in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted,
having forgotten his purification from his former sins.
Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent
to make certain about His calling and choosing you;
for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;

for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
will be abundantly supplied to you.
2 Peter 1:5-11

If these qualities (virtues) are part of our lives, then we can be effectively used by God.  Our lives will also bear fruit.

If they are not part of our lives, God says that we are blind or at the least short-sighted. The statement is implying that we are willfully blind because we have forgotten that we have been forgiven.

Two things, I think, will help us to keep these qualities in our lives.

1.  Consider Jesus’ life seriously.  He lived on earth as a man surrounded by sin and sinners; but He never did wrong.  He obeyed God perfectly.  Although we will not be perfect on earth, we can work to be a lot better.  Jesus’ example can encourage us.

2.  We are very willing to forgive ourselves and to make excuses for ourselves.   Often we do not do the same for others. This is sad because we are not responsible for changing other people.  We are supposed to make ourselves do right.  We should be easier and forgiving of other people and harder on ourselves.

We should be diligently adding these qualities to our lives not to make ourselves look better but to improve our relationship with others.

 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything
pertaining to life and godliness,
through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises,
so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature,
having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
2 Peter 1:3-4

These qualities are important because if we do them our entrance to heaven will “be abundantly supplied” and our time on earth will be without stumbling.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,

to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord,
be glory, majesty, dominion and authority,
before all time and now and forever.
Amen.
Jude 1:24-25

Posted in Christian living, Encouraging Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Add Love

I started this series on 2 Peter last year.  I didn’t plan for it to take so long to complete, but other thoughts came to my mind to share.  I also have increased responsibilities at school.  Sorry for the long silence, but I will now finish this series.  I will also do a post listing all the posts in this series.  Here is the last and greatest virtue to add to our lives – love.

 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence,
in your faith supply moral excellence,
and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
and in your knowledge, self-control,
and in your self-control, perseverance,
and in your perseverance, godliness,
  and in your godliness, brotherly kindness,
and in your brotherly kindness, love.
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing,
they render you neither useless nor unfruitful
in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted,
having forgotten his purification from his former sins.
Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent
to make certain about His calling and choosing you;
for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;

for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
will be abundantly supplied to you.
2 Peter 1:5-11

Love is not an emotion, but an attitude.  It is an attitude of the will based on the determination to love as God loves.  God’s love is a lasting love, an eternal unending love.  The best description of love is found in 1 Corinthians 13.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love,
I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge;
and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.
  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor,
and if I surrender my body to be burned,
but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
Love is patient,
love is kind and is not jealous;
love does not brag and is not arrogant,
  does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek its own,
is not provoked,
does not take into account a wrong suffered,
  does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails;
but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away;
if there are tongues, they will cease;
if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
  For we know in part and we prophesy in part;
  but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
When I was a child,
I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child;
when I became a man,
I did away with childish things.
  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face;
now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
  But now faith, hope, love, abide these three;
but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13 verses show us the actions of love that need to be seen in our lives.  It is a maturing process; we learn how to love and to show these actions in our lives.  Children are selfish.  They don’t think about the consequences or the future or how their words and actions will affect others.  They are irresponsible.  These are the actions that we do away with as we mature.

One way to help us to see the actions that reflect love is to look at the opposites.  Doing that can be a help us to see if we are truly reflecting the attributes of genuine love. Here are the opposites of love:

Impatience, unkindness and jealousy
bragging, boastful, and thinking that I am better than others;
acting in all kinds of inappropriate ways;
interested only in myself;
being easily frustrated and angered;
keeping track of things done to me and not forgetting those real and imagined wrongs;
being happy when a person gets punished;
not interested in the godly response to things;
having and attitude of giving up or “can’t take it anymore”;
not believing that God can change things for good;
seeing no help for the future
quitting.

 When I was a child,
I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child;
when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
1 Corinthians 13:11

We can mature with God’s help and show genuine love.  Since love is a decided attitude, we can chose to love people.  This is what makes it possible to obey God’s command to love our enemies and to not hold grudges.  This is why love is a mark of Christianity.  We absolutely cannot have this love without God’s help.  It is worth having.  It is worth giving up all those ugly thoughts that we might have about other people and allowing God’s love to start filling our lives.

 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another,
even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
  By this all men will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another.
John 13:34-35

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
  But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven;
for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good,
and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?
Matthew 5:43-46a

 Let all that you do be done in love.
1 Corinthians 16:14

The best demonstration of love

But God demonstrates His own love toward us,
in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish,
but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Posted in Christian living, Encouraging Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Helps for Busy Times

I have been very busy lately and have often felt overwhelmed.  The following verses are ones that have been a help to me.  I pray that you might find help and encouragement in them as well.

Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
Nehemiah 8:10b

This joy of the Lord is ours when we focus on serving others, not ourselves.  I have found this verse to be true when I change my thoughts and attitude.  I will admit that when my husband first encouraged me to remember this verse I doubted that joy could work.  Then I realized that it is more than just smiling all day, but it is having a different focus.  Since this joy depends on God, there is strength.

 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.
2 Thessalonians 3:13
Let us not lose heart in doing good,
for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

Galatians 6:9

Being busy will naturally make us tired.  The weariness referred to in these verses is probably referring to frustrations over expectations not met, interactions with other people that cause frictions and concerns, the burdens of responsibility that weigh heavily.  If we are doing God’s will, we can expect that there is a wonderful result.  As we work, we need to keep our focus on the end result and keep faithfully working towards it.  The end result for us should be bringing glory to God and seeing His plan fulfilled.  We each have our piece of that plan to perform, so let us not stop doing what we know God wants us to do.  There is an eternal reward.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light
Matthew 11:28-30

Rest is something you long for when you are busy.  The rest that Jesus is talking about here is not so much physical rest, but a spiritual rest.  Our tired bodies drag us down and cause us to get discouraged, but this rest is actually better for us.  It is the rest of learning to let God take care of things.  Letting Him carry our burdens.  Depending on Him to help us.  I wrote a quotation from Mood Tides by Ronald Horton in my Bible:  “Without His pulling, we could not pull, without our pulling, he would not pull – in matters, that is, whose success He ordains to depend upon our participation.”  When we are willing to depend on Him, He will unreservedly help.

And my God will supply all your needs
according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19

God will supply not just money and things.  He will also give strength, wisdom, courage, and whatever we need to help us do what needs to be done during our busy times or any time.

Posted in Christian living, Encouraging Thoughts, Serving God | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

His Name

His name is Jesus Christ.  What does that mean?

He was given the name Jesus before His birth.  The angel who explained Mary’s pregnancy to Joseph told him the baby’s name – Jesus.  This name was given because of its meaning – salvation.  Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which seems to indicate that many other boys had the names of Joshua and Jesus.  Their names meant the same thing, but only this child would be able to accomplish salvation.

behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying,
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife;
for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus,
for He will save His people from their sins.
Matthew 1:21

If Jesus decided on His own that He would save people from their sin, we would have reason to doubt His ability or authority.  His other name helps to understand that Jesus is the Saviour because He was given this task. Christ is the Hebrew form of the name Messiah.  We see this name often in the Old Testament.  The person called the Messiah in the Old Testament was anticipated to be the Saviour of the world.  The prophets foretold  the birth, life, death and future kingdom of this person.  This Messiah is Jesus, who is the Christ.

Not only is Jesus the fulfillment of the many prophecies, He was appointed to this role by the Great God Himself.  Jesus fulfilled this responsibility perfectly.  He lived and died and never sinned.  As the perfect sacrifice He could accomplish the job that He was anointed to do.

Although other men might have the same name, only this Jesus can truly save us from sin.  Because of Jesus we do not have to suffer the terrible punishment that should come to us because of our sin.  Only by believing that Jesus is only the Saviour can we have this salvation.

Jesus said to him,
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life;
no one comes to the Father but through Me.
John 14:6

let it be known to all of you . . .
that by the name of Jesus Christ . . . 

there is salvation in no one else;
for there is no other name under heaven
that has been given among men by which we must be saved.
Acts 4:10, 12

Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved
Acts 16:31

Posted in doctrine, Jesus, Salvation | Tagged | Leave a comment

Love Your Child

When I was a teen-ager, I read a book about a mother and father who abandoned their children.  They had taken the children to a fast food place for lunch which was a big treat for the children.  While the children ate, the parents made some excuse and left and never returned.  I was horrified that a mother would do that to her children.  What had happened to that wonderful mother-love?  Didn’t a mother just naturally love her children?

When I had children, I realized that real love doesn’t come naturally.  I was heart-broken when wrong, unloving thoughts came to my mind, even as a Christian who loved God very much, even as a mother who was so grateful that God had given me this precious child.  This is the aspect of our lives that we must deal with – the curse of sin.

Older women likewise are to be  . . . .  teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women
to love their husbands, to love their children
Titus 2:4

I find it interesting that God commands mothers to love their children.  I think we need a special command because it is hard for us to love.  Our emotions overwhelm us; we get discouraged so quickly; we have a hard time dealing with the changeableness of an immature child.  Yet it is possible to  love our children.  Whatever God commands, He helps to make it happen.  He has given us some help in knowing what love is in 1 Corinthians 13.

Love is

patient
is slow to react
is careful to listen before making a judgment

kind
works with the child gently recognizing that the child is younger
and does not have the same ability or knowledge as an adult

not jealous
of others without children and their supposed freedom
is not jealous of the child who seems to have so little responsibility

not boastful
 is not quick to brag on the child’s good work
or to speak often of the child’s bad behaviour

not arrogant
does not compare own child with others in a way
to make your child come out looking the best

doesn’t act unbecomingly
is careful how the child is talked about
is careful how the child is spoken to in public
tries to remain calm and clear thinking when difficulties come

is not self-centered
  is willing to serve the child instead of being focused
on own personal wants and wishes

not provoked
does not get angry easily, especially over childishness
stops self to think before reacting
doesn’t take the child’s misbehaviour personally thinking
that the child is deliberately being an embarrassment

does not take into account a wrong suffered
  doesn’t keep remembering all the things that the child did wrong

 does not rejoice in unrighteousness
  is not glad that the child had to be punished
is not glad that other children were part of the problem
so that they would be punished too

rejoices with the truth
 
looks for each sign of truth in the child, each correct behaviour, each improvement
and compliments the child and also thanks God for His help
– these are the things worth remembering

bears all things
  conducts self with strength of character
being confident that God is in control and He will help

believes all things
believes because that belief is based on the loving, unchangeable God

hopes all things
  there is hope because God is in control and He always does what is best

endures all things
  because with God the end is better than the beginning and
our trust in Him brings blessing

Remember that God has said:

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
John 14:27

 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you;
and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
Matthew 28:20

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Psalm 127:3

 A new commandment I give to you,
that you love one another, even as I have loved you,
that you also love one another.
John 13:34

Let us love our children

Posted in Christian living, Encouraging Thoughts, Family | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Eternality of Christ

The most important fact about Jesus Christ is that He is God.  To understand this concept, we need to see if Jesus has the qualities of God.  One quality of God that Jesus has is eternality – has always been.

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called
Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,

Eternal Father,
Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

We hear this verse often at Christmas time when we celebrate the Incarnation of Jesus (a topic that I will write about later).  Notice His name – Eternal Father.  This gives us a hint of His eternality.

In the New Testament we get more information about this quality of Jesus, beginning with John 1:1-2.

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
  He was in the beginning with God.

To understand that the Word is really Jesus we have read further down in the chapter to verse 14.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us,
and we saw His glory,
glory as of the only begotten from the Father,
full of grace and truth.

The Word who according to verse 1 is God became man.  Jesus is the only person who fits this description.

A name of Jesus gives us more information:

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last,
the beginning and the end.

Revelation 22:13

You may think that this name indicates that He had a beginning and He will end sometime in the future.  This name is much more encompassing than that, but a statement from the book of Hebrews should help.

 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8

Jesus has always been and will always be.  This concept of Jesus should make all that we know about Him more meaningful.  He was not a passing figure of history.  All of His teachings have permanence and more value because He has always been.  It is important that we learn about Him and follow Him, because His words will last as long as He does – forever.

Posted in doctrine, Jesus | Tagged | Leave a comment

Adding Brotherly Kindness

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence,
in your faith supply moral excellence,
and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
 and in your knowledge, self-control,
and in your self-control, perseverance,
and in your perseverance, godliness,
and in your godliness, brotherly kindness,
and in your brotherly kindness, love.
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing,
they render you neither useless nor unfruitful
in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted,
having forgotten his purification from his former sins.
Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent
to make certain about His calling and choosing you;
for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;
for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
will be abundantly supplied to you.
2 Peter 1:5-11

Brotherly kindness can be defined as sharing what we have in common or as being helpful to other believers.  Demonstrating brotherly kindness requires that we not be selfish, which is being only interested in ourselves.   To show this kind of kindness means that we will be where we can help people.  It is easy to step back and let others deal with the problems and meet the needs. It takes someone with brotherly kindness to reach out and help.  Within our families this is a quality that is much needed.  It is easy to assume that family members know that we care about them.  We don’t have to show it.  We think that they will understand why we don’t have time for them.  We don’t think it is important to deal with family members with kindness, after all they are just family.

It is important, mainly because they are family.  Friends will come and go, but family is yours always.  Being kind to family members will help our family bonds to strengthen.  Being kind will improve friendships.  Someone needs to show kindness, so it might as well be you.  With God’s help it is possible.

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other,
just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:32

Posted in Christian living, Encouraging Thoughts | Tagged , , | Leave a comment