A Growing List

2 Peter 1:2-11 (NLT)

May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. 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. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

By Chuck Griffin

At the core of the above passage is a spiritual to-do list, a way to grow as a Christian. Each item is strengthened by something else on the list, with the ultimate goal of experiencing a strong, unshakable faith.

Moral excellence, or goodness, undergirds great faith and has to do with whether we choose what God would choose in the same circumstances. But how do we know how to choose?

Well, knowledge helps to prop up moral excellence. The Lord has revealed much to us in the Holy Bible, even if it does sometimes take a little effort and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to tease the information out. What a gift: thousands of years of holy revelation at our fingertips!

Why do we fail to dig out what we need? We have trouble staying focused. We lack self-control. The painful distractions and immediate pleasures of this world draw us away from the rich rewards available to us in the Bible and through direct contact with God in prayer.

Patient endurance marks the beginning of self-control. We see the fiery darts of the enemy coming at us, but regardless of whether and where they stick, we know we can keep moving forward as Christians because God is with us. And if we find ourselves passing through Vanity Fair, we don’t slow down, for we know our real destination.

If that previous paragraph was confusing, I just went all “Pilgrim’s Progress” on you. If you haven’t read it, you really should try it.

Godliness supports endurance, of course. This is a little different from the “goodness” or “moral excellence” that develops down the road in this spiritual journey. At this stage, there is a simple desire to please God, springing from the warmth that is felt when in fellowship with other Christians.

And the beginning of all of this is love. We understand true love when we first comprehend what God has done for us. “For God so loved the world … .” We didn’t deserve God’s love; maybe those around us should receive love regardless of what they deserve, too.

And don’t miss the promise Peter made: “Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Seems to me like we have a to-do list worth doing.

Lord, thank you for the guidance Peter and other conduits of your holy word offer us. May we grow as we live the lives of disciples. Amen.

Those Wonderful Sheepdogs

Psalm 16

A psalm of David.

Keep me safe, O God,
    for I have come to you for refuge.

I said to the Lord, “You are my Master!
    Every good thing I have comes from you.”
The godly people in the land
    are my true heroes!
    I take pleasure in them!
Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods.
    I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood
    or even speak the names of their gods.

Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.
    You guard all that is mine.
The land you have given me is a pleasant land.
    What a wonderful inheritance!

I will bless the Lord who guides me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I know the Lord is always with me.
    I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
    My body rests in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead
    or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.
You will show me the way of life,
    granting me the joy of your presence
    and the pleasures of living with you forever.

By Chuck Griffin

God is our ultimate protector. When we believe in Jesus Christ as Savior, we are protected even as we experience death, carried into eternal life by God’s great plan. The final verses of today’s psalm are a prophecy of that plan, revealing how it culminates in the resurrection of Jesus.

A desire for safety in this earthly life and the idea that godly people can be heroes are two other concepts that come together in this psalm. And as I write this devotion knowing it will be published on Veterans Day, I cannot help but think of those who took time out of their lives to serve the United States of America in a military role to protect us.

I give particular thanks for those who take on such difficult roles while clinging to godliness, the pursuit of what God would have them do.

Sometimes you hear certain people described as having “sheepdog” personalities—friendly, gentle and loyal, but a force to be reckoned with when evil threatens. Many such people are naturally drawn to military service. I love the way the sheepdogs fit into the pastoral image of the Great Shepherd, the one responsible for the flock as a whole.

A good sheepdog becomes an extension of the shepherd’s hand, sensitive to the call of the master and following commands without allowing fear to get in the way. What a comfort sheepdogs should be to the flock!

Think of the sheepdogs around you today and offer them words of affection and thanks. Let them know they are loved and welcomed among us. We need their experiences and attitudes in the midst of our churches.

Lord, pour a special blessing out today on those who have chosen to form that thin line protecting us from disaster. Amen.

What We Love

1 John 2:15-17 (NRSV)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.


By Chuck Griffin

The problem with the world is that it is so present, so right in front of us. Otherwise, the recommendation given to us in today’s text would be easy to follow.

Those objects and people we want to possess, along with those growing (we hope!) numbers in our investment accounts win most of our attention. Matters related to God are lucky to be relegated to a sleepy late evening or weekend. It’s a common pattern, one as much of a problem in the early days of the church as it is today.

If only we could see God in a sustained way. The world would dissolve like mist, and we would quickly forget its passing fancies.

That actually will happen, by the way. As Christians, we believe this world is temporary. And certainly, our lives in it are “like the morning fog,” to borrow from the fourth chapter of James.

So, how do we manage the immediacy of the world and the very detrimental effect it can have on us?

Remember that God is present in it, accessible to us any time we are in need. We live in the era where we engage with God as the Holy Spirit, who works within us and among us in the church to sustain us and empower us until we see our risen savior in full.

I’ve mentioned the means of grace before and I’ll mention them again. Pray, and God will meet you there. Delve into God’s Holy Scripture, and the Holy Spirit will speak to you in clear and undeniable ways. Live in true fellowship with other Christians, and despite their imperfections you’ll get at least an occasional glimpse of eternal life.

In all of this you will better understand God’s will for your life, and you will pursue doing his will. If you’re truly blessed, by the time you leave this world behind, you won’t be looking back.

Lord, help us to cut through the confusion of this world and see you standing nearby. Amen.