Saturday, September 29, 2018

September 30, 2018

"For this reason make every effort to add to your faith goodness, to goodness, knowledge, to knowledge; self-control and to self-control, perseverance"  II Peter 1:5-6

The greatest example of perseverance EVER was Jesus! His horrific suffering inflicted Him with unimaginable pain and shame. But somehow, He was able to endure it and redeem us from the penalty of our sins. What can we learn from Him about perseverance?

I think the first thing we can learn from His suffering is:

The attitude of perseverance:

When I think of perseverance I think of David Livingstone, the pioneer missionary to Africa, who walked over 29,000 miles. His wife died early in their ministry and he faced stiff opposition from his Scottish brethren. He ministered half blind. His kind of perseverance spurs me on. As I run, I remember the words in his diary: "Send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me. Sever me from any tie but the tie that binds me to Your service and to Your heart.

The attitude of perseverance is essentially this - "life is not about me"! For the Christ follower life is about Him not you or not me! That means EVERYTHING is about Him! My success is about Him. My ambition must be toward Him. My strengths will be surrendered to Him, so will my weaknesses. My joys will come from Him and my suffering will be shared with Him and endured for Him.

I have been privileged to preach and teach in the David Livingstone Memorial Presbyterian Church in Livingstone, Zambia. What a thrill that was! But there would not be a Livingstone or a Livingstone Memorial Church except for the perseverance of Dr. David Livingstone. In the true spirit of the word "hupomone" - "enduring hardship in a way that turns hardship into victory".

 Like Jesus, David Livingstone modeled the attitude of perseverance - "my hardship is not about me, I will not allow it to be about me! I will endure it for the glory of God and use it to strengthen my faith."

Are you struggling to endure your suffering?

Will you remember that your suffering is not about you?

Will you invite Him into your pain and give you His endurance?

September 29, 2018

One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway, it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey So he invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement, he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off!

Moral: Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up!
That's perseverance - "hupomone" - "enduring until you conquer the bad with good"

Here are a couple of verses that express this idea:

"Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:21

 "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" Galatians 6:9

Woody Allen has said, "Eighty percent of life is showing up."

That is the point of this virtue called "perseverance" - show up and come to stay and come in faith and expect God's power to meet you there until He turns the pain into gain! The same God that turned the tragedy of the crucifixion into the triumph of the resurrection will do the same for you if you endure!

What's the next right thing you need to do?

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Perseverance Is A Spiritual Virtue

"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance." II Peter 1:5-6

During a Monday night football game between the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants, one of the announcers observed that Walter Payton, the Bears’ running back, had accumulated over nine miles in career rushing yardage. The other announcer remarked, "Yeah, and that’s with somebody knocking him down every 4.6 yards!" Walter Payton, the most successful running back ever, knows that everyone --even the very best-- gets knocked down. The key to success is to get up and run again just as hard.

As an admirer of the late Walter Payton and an avid Bears fan I probably saw most of those yards he gained in his illustrious career. Just doing some rough math, if you figure that Walter gained over 14,000 yards at 4.6 yards per carry it means he  got tackled over 3,000 times. There were times that he got tackled for a loss behind the line of scrimmage. And each time he got up, ran back to the huddle and carried the ball just as hard the next time. Eventually, he would cross the goal line.

That is a good example of perseverance, a virtue recommended by Peter as a sign of spiritual maturity.

In the language of the New Testament the word used for perseverance is "hupomone" and it means "steadfast" or "endurance" and has the connotation of not just enduring but of turning a hurtful situation into helpful outcome.

Of course, the only way to turn pain into gain is through the power of God. But that power must be lived out by continuing to get back up each time you are knocked down and run just as hard as you did before.
Perseverance is the spiritual virtue of being determined to do the next right thing even when you don't feel like it. Perseverance is doing the next right thing even when you are being done wrong. Perseverance is doing the next right thing when everyone else is doing the wrong thing. Perseverance is doing the next right thing even when you know it will cause you more pain for doing it.

It was through perseverance that Jesus endured the cross. No one has ever illustrated the essence of "hupomone" by suffering an extremely painful and unjust death BUT through that very death He turned a very bad thing into the ultimate good thing. By enduring the agony of the cross allowed Him to experience the joy of the resurrection! THAT'S PERSEVERANCE!

Walter Payton became a Hall of Fame running back by persevering despite being knocked down thousands of times and getting back up each time to run again. He gained nine miles 4.6 yards at a time! THAT'S PERSEVERANCE!

Have you been knocked down? Are you hurting and wondering what to do?

Persevere! Get up in the power of God and do the next right thing!

September 27, 2018

"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance" II Peter 1:5-6

Complete this phrase, "When life gives you lemons, make............."

That is the same big idea expressed in Peter's admonition to add "perseverance". The word used in the original language is "hupomone" and it means not only to endure but it has the idea of turning the pain into gain.

Here are some various Scriptures on this theme:

“But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” I Peter 2:20-21

"The time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed  for his appearing." 2 Tim 4:6-8

"Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:3-4

"Be not overcome with evil but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:21
Jesus modeled perseverance when He looked beyond  the terrible suffering of the cross and endured the shame because He knew it was the Father's will and He looked forward to the joy of pleasing God. He endured the momentary to gain the eternal.
Perseverance means that when you are suffering bad things, painful things, unfair and unjust things, you look for the next good thing to do to serve God. You obey and serve God just as you do in the happy times.

"Add to your faith PERSEVERANCE."

Is there some pain in your life?

Do you need some perseverance?

Will you ask God to help you look beyond the pain and turn it into a gain?

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Grab The Cookie?

"For this very reason make every effort to add to your faith, goodness and to goodness, knowledge and to knowledge, SELF-CONTROL." II Peter 1:5-6

Several years ago the ABC news show "20/20" did an experiment on self-control with a group of pre-schoolers. The reporter told the children they could have a cookie right then or they could choose to wait some 20 or 30 minutes until he returned from an errand and they would then get two cookies. Upon giving those instructions the reported left the room and the cameras watched how the children responded.

Of course, there were several who grabbed the cookie right away and munched on it in front of those trying to be more self-controlled and hold out for the double reward. The camera was trained on them as they tried to exercise restraint. One put his head down in his arms to remove the temptation. Another closed his eyes. Others sang, or hummed and one even tried to sleep. But they mastered self-control and were rewarded with two cookies.

A follow up study done years later revealed that those who were able to show self-control were happier and more successful in life and relationships. The self-indulgent ones were more anxious, more prone to depression and less successful than those with self-control.

Which group do you identify with? 

Would you grab the cookie or could you hold out for two?

Not only was this an educational and entertaining experiment but it revealed the three basic ways that people deal with life:

Self-dedicated - Those who always want the cookie and have to have it now! They make no effort to deprive themselves of anything they desire.

Self-medicated - Those who don't want to deal with the emotional, spiritual or mental pain caused by self-dedicated living and dull it by artificial means.

Self-controlled - Those who, in the strength of God and in the power of the Holy Spirit, are able to defer gratification and deal with pain in order to receive the better reward.

How would you identify yourself:


Will you surrender and live for God's joy rather than your own pleasure?


Will you discipline your destructive behavior and trust God to handle your pain?


Will you give control to God and give His Spirit control?

Monday, September 24, 2018

September 25, 2018

Peter is making the case for spiritual maturity. I think it is a pretty strong case when he starts out by stating that God has given you EVERYTHING you need for godly living.

God placed those graces and virtues in you when you received Christ. Now it is up to you to develop - or work out what God has put in.

"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control" II Peter 1:5-6 

The point of having faith is to live it out in every day life. Otherwise, what good is it?

We have already considered the virtues of goodness and knowledge. Next is the rare virtue of self-control. 

Do you have it?

If people don't master self-control they often choose one of two other approaches to life:

Some choose self-dedication - living only by selfish motives to gratify desires and lusts. That is fine for infants and toddlers, but not so good for terrible two year-olds or adults.

This self-dedicated life-style often leads to another destructive way of dealing with life I call the self-medicated life.

Self-destructive behavior results in pain and brokenness. Some of the pain is self-inflicted and some results from the destructive behavior of others. When you have emotional, spiritual or mental pain, those hurts must be dealt with. How do you choose to soothe your pain? A bad choice can actually intensify the pain.

Some choose to self-medicate with "comfort food" and the more comfort they need the more food they eat.

Some self-medicate with alcohol and it the process become over-dependent on it or use too much.

Some self-medicate by spending money and buying things.Overspending and indebtedness creates more pain.

Pain is very real and unavoidable in life. Jesus experienced pain when He walked the earth. He understands pain! That is why He invited you, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Have you taken a serious look at what is causing your pain?

How do you deal with your pain?

Is your "medication" of choice relieving your pain or deepening it?

September 24, 2018

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control" II Peter 1:5-6

I mentioned that I observe three primary ways of approaching life:

Those who are self-dedicated
Those who self-medicate
Those who are self-controlled

Today I want to work with the first approach - self-dedication.

What do I mean by self-dedication?

A self-dedicated person is one who is primarily dedicated to satisfying himself, his wants, his needs, his appetites, his whims and his pleasures. His credo is:

If it feels good I’ll do it!

If I want I will get it!

Life is short and I want to max it out.

Hugh Hefner has been one of the leading proponents and adherents of this hedonistic life-style. These people seem to believe that happiness comes from the outside in

In the New Testament Jesus told a story of a very wealthy man who was doing so well that he ordered bigger barns to be built to hold his bountiful bumper-crop! With so much wealth he now had no worries and decided he would live a self-indulgent life. But he didn't make it through the night and his life ended.

Jesus called that man a fool.

You and me and Hugh Hefner and this Rich Fool all have one thing in common. We all have a God-shaped void in the core of our beings. Until that void is filled we can never be contented and only God can fill that void. Trying to find satisfaction in anything else will only bring frustration and disillusionment.

Maybe that is why Jesus said, "But seek first my kingdom and my righteousness and all these others will be added to you as well."

Where are you looking for happiness and satisfaction?

Can you recognize any self-indulgence in your life?

Sunday, September 23, 2018

September 23, 2018

"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;"  II Peter 1:5-6

Self-control is mentioned here as one of the graces that must be developed to work out the faith that God imparts to believers. According to Peter that faith gives us "everything we need for godliness".

Self-control is also listed among the gifts of the Spirit that are evidence of a life filled with the Holy Spirit.

Clearly, self-control, the ability to get a grip on your passions and emotions, is a sign of Christian maturity.

The are three options I have observed for dealing with life:

1) Self-Dedication

By this I refer to a totally self-indulgent life-style. This attitude of life not only lacks self-control but it has no desire for self-control.

A self-dedicated person gratifies every whim as often as possible. Whatever this person wants they get it.

Greed, lust and sensuality are al they live for.

2) Self-Medication

The lack of self-control characterized by the self-dedicated life leads to feelings of anxiety, loss of self-respect, shame, depression and addictions. In an attempt to deal with the emotional and psychological pain caused by self-indulgent behavior, a person will self-medicate with one or more of the following:

*Alcohol consumption 

*Food as comfort

*Eating disorders

*Exercise disorders

*Gaming (OnLine Gaming Anon) (1/10 young people)

*Internet activities (61% addicted – FB, Twitter, stock trading, gambling, etc)

*Prescription drugs (1/12 HS seniors– Vicodin 1/20 — OxyContin)

12-17 year-olds abuse prescription drugs more than ecstasy, heroin, crack/cocaine and meth combined.

*Substance abuse (cigarettes, marijuana, meth, cocaine, etc)

*Sexual promiscuity



Unfortunately, these behaviors not only fail to help you get a grip on life but instead get a grip on your life.

3) Self-Control

Of course, this is the only acceptable life-style for Christ-followers. Rejecting a life of self-indulgence and a life of self-medication takes a strength greater than you have.

How then do I achieve the self-controlled life?

That will be answered over the next several blog posts. But for now, which life-style most characterizes you?

What has a grip on you?




Saturday, September 22, 2018

September 22, 2018

"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control"  II Peter 1:5-6

God, through Christ, has given you everything you need for godliness. That is amazing truth!

Now it is up to you to allow God's Spirit to develop these graces to live out through your attitudes and actions. Peter urges you to "bend every energy" toward adding to your faith. The word for "add" means to support what God wants to accomplish.

You are to add to your faith moral courage to choose what is right and the practical knowledge to discern what is right.

To "goodness" and to "knowledge" you are to add "self-control".

Uh, oh! That's a tough one!

According to William Barclay, the word used for "self-control" means literally "the ability to take a grip of oneself".

Do you have a grip on yourself?

Are you in charge of your emotions or do your emotions get the best of you?

Which has a stronger hold on you faith or feelings?

The battle between reason and passion IS the struggle of the human condition. No one really wants to live and indifferent life devoid of passion. Nor should you live an indulgent life 

giving in to every passionate desire.

Bringing these two in balance is further complicated for a Christian who has a sinful will at war with the Spirit of God. This is a struggle you are probably familiar with. The great Apostle Paul was and expressed it like this:

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Romans 7:15-25

As you identify with the frustration expressed in these verses, take hope from the knowledge that both Paul and Peter discovered how to live with great passion under the grip of self-control!

Are you struggling to get a grip on your emotions? 

Do you find yourself still struggling to balance passion and reason?

In the meantime, yield your struggle to the Holy Spirit and lean on His strength!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Heart Knowledge

"Make every effort to add to your faith goodness and to goodness, knowledge...." II Peter 1:5

The knowledge that is required to strengthen your faith is a practical faith that arises out of a relationship with Christ.

To have this knowledge you need to begin with a head knowledge. But also you need a HEART knowledge.

Jesus prayed for that:

John 17:20-25  I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;  that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.  And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:  I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.  O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me.

The Apostle Paul thought it is important:

II Corinthians 4:6 – “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

Romans 5:5 – “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Peter had a heart knowledge of Jesus. I am sure he remembered fondly of the encounter he had with the resurrected Jesus on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus tenderly reassured him that He had forgiven Peter and that He stilled believed in him! That day Peter was restored and called back to ministry. It was after that day he had his greatest ministry because now he had not just a head knowledge of Christ but a heart knowledge as well!


You can’t know God well until you get your heart right! Is your heart right?

The knowledge you want to add to your faith is a HEAD knowledge and it is also a HEART knowledge but what you really need is a HOLY knowledge!

Peter knew about that, too!

I Peter 1:13-16 – Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

As he wrote these words to these early Christians I am sure he was fondly remembering that day in the upper room when the Holy Spirit fell upon him and the other 119 Christians who were there. He must have had a warm feeling as he recalled preaching under the anointing of the Spirit and how 3,000 responded to his words by accepting Christ!

It is good to have a HEAD knowledge of God. It is even better to possess a HEART knowledge of Him, but the fulfillment of those levels of knowledge only comes when you receive a HOLY knowledge!

Do you have that holy knowledge? Have you received the Holy Spirit? Is your will surrendered to His will so His Spirit can fill you?


Thursday, September 20, 2018

September 20, 2018

“Make every effort to add to your faith goodness and to goodness, knowledge….” II Peter 1:5

According to, William Barclay, the original Greek word used for knowledge is “gnosis” a practical knowledge, that knowledge which enables a man to decide rightly and to act honorably and efficiently in the day to day circumstances of life.

It is easy to think that knowledge is the key to gaining access to all the good things God wants you to have. Most world religions teach you some version of this idea - the way to God is through meditation and enlightenment. Unfortunately, some Christians buy into that notion.

Peter teaches just the opposite. In the first few verses of this chapter he stresses the truth that when you received Jesus as Savior you also received everything you need to live a godly life. So, the purpose of knowledge when added to moral courage, is to help you know how to live out what God has put in.

You must know it so you can grow in it so you can show it!

What do I need to know about knowledge?

You Need A Head Knowledge

Here’s your “head” start:

Romans 12:1-2 – Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

II Corinthians 5:17 –“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!”

You need to know God and You can’t know God well until you get your mind right! You can't get your mind right without a knowledge of the Word and a personal relationship with Christ.

Peter must have been thinking how he got to know Jesus after he left his nets and began following Him. Peter heard the teachings, marveled at the parables, beheld the miracles and then declared in an inspired moment, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!"

By following Christ, Peter gained knowledge of Who He was!

That is how you will know Him and how I will know Him. Paul said, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing from the Word of God!"

Have you gotten your head right? Do you know Who Jesus is? Are you learning form His Word?