:) Finally had some time! Next week should be fun... we're heading into some messianic prophecies... :)

Happy studying!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

II Peter Chapter 3

vs. 1-2

- Peter has now written two letters to the church. In both letters, his goal has been to “stimulate your wholesome thinking and refresh your memory”.

- Peter has gone back to the beginning with us. Remember when you first believed? Remember how Christ died for you? Do you know that this was the plan from the beginning?

- Don't forget the foundational concepts of this faith. Don't forget how much God loves you.

- In remembering and dwelling on these things, be careful of being drawn away by fleshly desires and the world's urgings.

- Remember to stay faithful and remember to avoid things that would cause you to be otherwise.

- Remember all the teachings of the prophets and all the things Christ commanded us to do.

- They all go hand in hand. Christ is a fulfilling of the prophets. His coming is the proof of their truthfulness and their divine appointments. Christ's teachings are a continuation and expansion of those of the prophets.

- Ephesians 4:17-32, 5:1-20
- Romans 6, 8, 10, 11, 12

vs. 3-7

- In the last days scoffers will come. They will come mocking your faith.

- “Where is your Jesus? Wasn't He supposed to come back already? Everything is still the same! The world hasn't changed! If anything it's gotten worse! Where is your God? Why are you following the nonexistent? We're living life any way we want and no God is striking us down... Why don't you give up on your invisible God and join us?”

- Jude 1:17-25

- Heard any of that before? Man I have...

- About a month ago we had a youth night at the house. We've been doing these things since I was in like sixth grade or so... We have a bunch of people come to the house and mom cooks massive amounts of dinner, we do some praise songs, and then we do a little bible study. Well... I am no respecter of persons when it comes to who to invite... a lot of seemingly random people have walked through our door for this thing. And sometimes it makes for quite an interesting combination.

- These people don't know each other most of the time. They know me, or my brother, or the family... but they don't necessarily know each other. They are from all walks of life. Some are older, some are younger... our age range is from somewhere in high school to 40's and 50's now...

- So I invited my friends as usual. Anybody and everybody... : ) Well, my friend came. This man is a very angry man. He's bitter about a lot of things and he's just hard to get along with sometimes because of it. I met him in my graduate classes. He was in both of the classes I was taking last year and he ended up in both of my study groups as well... coincidence? I think not...

- When I first met this man, he'd cuss me out at the drop of a hat. I couldn't even say something like “Thank God it's Friday” or “By the grace of God we've survived the week” without getting cussed out or yelled at for bringing God into the mix... At first... it kinda scared me. I wasn't sure what to make of him. Wasn't sure how to approach him or deal with him.

- Long story short, his car broke down and I drove him the hour and something to the airport to go home a couple of times and picked him up a couple of times... and it blew his mind that I would do something like that and not expect payment... actually did it because I felt like it... not any ulterior motives...

- So the next time I asked him to come to a youth night... he did. Which shocked me. He was on his best behavior... and I have NEVER seen him be so congenial... EVER...

- So this last time, he came again... but he's still very angry with God. He opened a can of worms and got into a discussion with my dad that lasted a good couple of hours...

- I've heard it all from this man... and that night... so did dad. (which after the fact was kind of funny...) This man doesn't believe that God loves anything. In his mind, He has created this world, just to let us play around in it and laugh when we get ourselves into a mix of some sort. IF there's a God that is.

- He believes that all faiths lead to the same place... comfort in believing in something while you're alive, and absolutely nothing after you die.

- So why not live it up? There's nothing after we die anyway! We've had dinner or whatever together a couple of times after our trip to the airport and he'll sit there the whole time and try to convince me to cuss. Just say ONE word. Or try to convince me that alcohol is fine and I don't HAVE to drive home tonight... just stay in Morgantown somewhere... And so on and so forth...

- Why? All because he can't understand my faith. And it makes him angry that I defend something I can in no way (in his mind) have any sure knowledge about! I can't KNOW that there's a God because I can't see Him. Has God ever talked to me? Has God come down and walked beside me on the street? Has God looked me in the eye and told me He exists?

- Well... not in so many words or ways... but I would like to say yes to all of the above. I have sure knowledge because I know there has been a change in myself. There has been a perceptible change in my heart and in my actions... if only known to myself. God has shown Himself to be real to me. He has protected me on the roads, He has stopped my car or other cars when I thought for sure I was a goner. He has spoken to me through His word, and through other people... especially through my students... I can feel Him beside me most of the time. When I walk in the streets of unfamiliar cities and find my way around unfamiliar streets and come home again with no problems. I see God in my mountains and in my skies and in my trees... Evidence of a creator with a passion for beauty. Evidence that this God knows I love fluffy white clouds and pink sunsets... and knows just when I've had enough of a bad day to need to see something like that as to put it right in my line of vision... all the way on the drive home.

- scoffers and mockers will come in droves. But don't forget in Whom you have believed. When doubts are thrown in your face that seem like there's no way to argue against them... Remember what God has done for you. Even the little things.

- Science can try all they want to prove the nonexistence of God... They can throw a thousand sources at you that say there is no way that this is a created world and we, created beings. They can say we're alien life forms that landed here on a comet, they can say we started up from pond scum, they can say all they want... but the fact is, we KNOW that our God is greater than that.

- How intricate are our bodies? How intricate the cells and molecules that make up the universe? Could all these intricacies be by chance? How can you even think such a thing!?

- These scoffers and mockers “deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of His command, and He brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. Then He used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.”

- They have deliberately forgotten... wow. Romans 1:18-20 says “But God shows His anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because He has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”

- I Timothy 4:1-16
- Romans 1:18-32, 2:1-16

- They look at creation and turn and say, “there can be no God.” Adult Sunday School the last couple of months went through Focus on the Family's “Truth Project”. One of the lessons had all the standards and rules for the New Age idea of why there couldn't be a God... The guy doing the project used all of their standards to prove that there was indeed a God. Used their OWN stuff against them... and they turned and said “we know what this means... and we know what this appears to prove... but we still choose not to believe it.”

- Hebrews 11:1-40, 12:1-13

- I know people who will believe just about anything. They will believe in Buddha, they will believe in themselves, they will believe that we came from pond scum that one day decided to crawl up onto land... but they won't believe that there's a God who loves them...

- Why? Because then they have a responsibility to Him. Then they have to do something about it. They have to change their path. They have to look at God and say “because You gave Your life for me, I will give mine to You.” They have to do something with the knowledge they then have. And people don't like to do that.

- They will believe that all the religions in the world have foundation for truth except Christianity. They will lump them all together and call it a religion unto itself (no lie... new religion starting that literally combines EVERY religion...) but they refuse to give God the Name of Jesus.

- Because of this, God is storing up judgment. The heavens are being stored with fire... just as Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire, so will the people of the whole earth be destroyed by fire in the end. When Christ comes back, judgment will be swift and terrible... and without bias...

- Isaiah 5:1-30
- Matthew 10:14-42

vs. 8-16

- So if God is storing up judgment and is seeing all the evil in the world, why doesn't He go ahead and let fire fall down on them and save us from their persecution?

- II Thessalonians 1:3-12, 2:1-17

- “A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.”

- God's on His own timetable.

- Psalm 90

- Time is irrelevant. God's not planning on a given day for His plans to be put in motion. He's waiting on people with a certain kind of heart and an unmatchable passion to be in place to fulfill their plan.

- God's not slow in His promise of judgment.

- Picture this. This is written about thirty years after the death of Christ. And believers were already experiencing persecution enough to be expectant of the 2nd coming and the judgment they wanted to rain down on the evil people of the world.

- Here we are 2000 years or so later... still waiting... Easy to think Christ has forgotten? Changed His mind maybe?

- No. He hasn't forgotten and He's not being slow. He is patiently waiting on the lost to turn and accept Him with open arms. He doesn't want anyone to be destroyed. While there is still a heart close to a decision, He'll hold back His judgment.

- But eventually we're going to come to a place like Sodom and Gomorrah. Not even 10 righteous men will be found.

- And when it gets to that point, God will no longer hold back His judgment. The righteous will be saved and the unrighteous will be condemned to fire and brimstone.

- Revelation 2:18-29, 3:1-6, 15:5-8, 16, 17, 18, 19:11-21, 20:11-15

- The day of the Lord's coming back will be unexpected. Nobody's going to know He's coming until we're right in the middle of it all.

- Habakkuk 2:2-20
- Matthew 24:4-51, 25:1-46

- Everything is going to be destroyed... when, we don't know... so we should all live holy and godly lives to the utmost in order to be ready when Jesus comes back. Like the parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25.

- Five were wise and had their lamps full of oil and a bottle of extra oil on the side. Never knowing when the bridegroom was coming, they had to be ready at all times for the wedding...

- Five were foolish and only filled their lamps. They brought no extra oil with them... they weren't prepared for a long term wait. They were only ready until their lamps ran out of oil...

- Oil is almost always representative of the Holy Spirit. Five of the brides got ready and were full and overflowing with the Spirit. Five... only took what they needed and let themselves run dry.

- Instant in season and Out. Ready at a moment's notice.

- If we aren't careful, we can get dried out pretty quick. Life gets busy, we start to become apathetic, we lose sight of the Kingdom and start focusing on the problems of today...

- I was watching it snow yesterday for the first time this year. It wasn't laying or anything, it was just a little sampling of what's to come...

- You know... there's a couple ways to look at snow... on one hand, each little flake is a little miracle in and of itself. Each snowflake is different, unique, special. Who would have thought up such a wonderful thing as little pattered pieces of ice floating silently to the ground to lay in little mounds of white in the cold chill of a winter afternoon with the sun making each little flake glitter as it floats through the open expanse of sky... except our Amazing, Wonderful, Creator, Who has such a passion for beauty and elegance and the sparkle of little things that just blow our little human minds...

- On the other hand... snow means icy roads and cold weather. I hate it when the cinders and salt mix with the snow and it all turns a ghastly gray or black color on the side of the road... Slush everywhere. My uncle works for the state road in our county... He sees snow, he starts thinking of long nights, people yelling at him for not getting the roads cleared by a certain time, and the fact that they never have enough supplies to do their jobs well, and invariably, somebody's gonna wreck on the ice and blame it all on the state road.

- If we forget that we're supposed to be Kingdom focused, our lives become like a state road worker's in winter. We don't see God moving even in the little things. Even when things look bleak, God's right there with a plan and purpose... we just have to see the big picture rather than just how everything relates to ourselves.

- We are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth. We're not going to be here for forever. As we're waiting on these things to happen, make every effort possible to be found living a life worthy of our God, blameless in His sight.

- II Thessalonians 3:6-15
- I Corinthians 10:1-33, 11:1

- And don't run out of oil. Be prepared for a long wait, and be happy that God is waiting as He is on your family to get saved, or your neighbors, or strangers you don't even know... but He's giving them the same chance that you've been given... What are you going to do about their chance? Who are you going to share your oil with today? Maybe somebody just needs encouragement...

- I Timothy 2:1-6
- Psalm 50
- Colossians 1:24-29
- Romans 11:25-36

vs. 16-18

- Peter says that Paul has written these same things to the church before. He says that some of his comments are hard to understand and have been twisted by people who are unstable and ignorant. They have made them to mean something quite different than what they were intended to mean. They have done this also with other parts of scripture as well and because of their actions, they will be destroyed.

- Be warned of these people. Be on your guard so that you will not be carried away by the errors of these people and lose your own footing.

- You must grow in Christ. Be strengthened. Hold fast. Don't let anything move you from your foundation.

- Jeremiah 17:15-18
- I Corinthians 1:6-9
- Ephesians 3:6-13

- footnote- “Peter concludes this brief letter as he began, urging his readers to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; that is, they were to get to know Him better and better. This is the best way to discern false teaching. No matter where we are in our spiritual journey, no matter how mature we are in our faith, the sinful world will always challenge our faith. We still have much room for growth. Every day we need to draw closer to Christ so that we will be prepared to stand for truth in any and all circumstances.”

- I Thessalonians 5:1-11
- Isaiah 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66
- Revelation 21, 22
- I Peter 1:3-25, 2:1-12

II Peter Chapter 2

vs. 1-3

- There have always been and always will be false teachers. They are clever and sneaky.

- Deuteronomy 13:1-5
- Matthew 7:15-27

- The end of chapter one was talking about KNOWING scripture. Studying it well.

- You have to have a solid foundation. This is hard when you're a new believer. When you barely know what the Word says... barely have a clue about this faith, or this God past the fact that you know there's something different in your heart and you feel loved and you have this wonderful emotional high from it.

- When you're at this stage, it's easy to confuse things that sound close to truth. I remember hearing old sayings or lines from songs and thinking that they had to be from the Bible because they just sounded like Biblical truth...

- If a false teacher comes in preaching prosperity, good things, a life well-lived... and sounds close to right... what's to say he's wrong? If you don't know the Word, you'll fall for half truths.

- I Timothy 4:1-11
- Jude 1:3-23

- Believers in general sometimes get this idea that if they're not feeling an emotional high, then they're not close with God... or they're not where they need to be in their relationship with God...

- And when false teachers promise to provide this, or DO provide it, we tend to follow because it FEELS good.

- However, a marriage relationship is not about the butterflies. Eventually the butterflies go away... but love remains... just because we don't feel an emotional high all the time, doesn't necessarily mean we've fallen away...

- False teachers do not always come preaching some off the wall thing... instead, they “cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them.”

- There are occults that teach using portions of reworded scripture. Just reworded enough to be false... but still ring of truth. Or they focus on one portion of scripture that to them is the foundation for their beliefs and ignore the rest of the Word...

- Peter says that they will bring sudden destruction on themselves.

- “In November of 1978, the world was shocked by the suicide deaths of 913 members of the People's Temple cult. Jim Jones, the leader of the group, convinced his followers to move to Jonestown, Guyana, a remote community that Jones carved out of the South American jungle and named after himself. Jones constantly feared losing control of his followers. His paranoia was the main reason he moved the cult to Guyana.

The mass suicide occurred after U.S. Rep. Leo Ryan of California and a team of reporters visited the compound to investigate reports of abuse. After some members tried to leave with the congressman's group, Jim Jones had Ryan and his entourage ambushed at the nearby airstrip. He then ordered his flock to commit suicide by drinking grape-flavored Kool-Aid laced with potassium cyanide.

The mass suicide wasn't a spur-of-the-moment decision. During the weeks that preceded the dreadful event, Jones had conducted a series of suicide drills, according to survivors. An alarm call would sound and every person in the camp would line up to receive a fatal dosage. These exercises in insanity proved that all of the adults at the compound knew what would be the result of their actions.

The People's Temple did not start off as your average mind-controlling cult. It initially gained much respect as an interracial mission for the sick, homeless and jobless. Jim Jones did not manifest his darker side until near the end.” ( random reference, but it's a good summary...)

- Notice the last part? It didn't start as something that looked scary, or wrong, or bad... it looked good! But the truth was not what it seemed...

- A lot of people will be drawn into these kinds of teachings. Have been in the past, and will continue to be so... People will blindly follow their evil teachings and shameful immorality. They will make up stories to get your money because of their greed.

- Because of these teachers, the Way of Truth will be slandered. Why? Because they will do all these things in the name of God. In the name of Jesus. In the name of Christianity. And when the discrepancies are revealed... when they are seen for what they are... then their actions are associated, not with Satan or evil... but rather, with us, with the church, with Jesus Himself.

- Romans 16:17-20

- footnote- “Peter gives three warning signs for identifying false teachers:
1. Immorality. Do their lives contain or condone immoral practices? Does the group listening to the false teachers have a lot of immoral sexual relationships?

2. Greed. Teachers have a right to financial support (I Corinthians 9:1-14; Galatians 6:6; I Timothy 5:17-18), but is money the teacher's or group's prime motivation? Before you send money to any cause, evaluate it carefully. Is the teacher or preacher clearly serving God or merely promoting his/her own interests? Will the person or organization use the money to promote valid ministry, or will it merely finance further promotions or extravagant lifestyles?

3. Lying. Is the leader offended when you ask for the scriptural backing behind his/her statements? Does he/she fudge on the facts when asked for evidence?

Believers today would do well to heed Peter's warnings against false teachers; the danger is great.”

vs. 3-6

- However, God has already condemned them. And their destruction will not be delayed. He didn't spare even the angels who rebelled against Him. He threw them into the pit of hell, into darkness to be held until the day of judgment.

- Genesis 6, 7, 8, 9, 18:16-33, 19:1-29

- Nor did God spare those during Noah's time. He destroyed all the ungodly people in the flood.

- Nor did He spare those in Sodom and Gomorrah. He turned them and their cities into heaps of ashes. He made them an example to the world as to what He will do to ungodly people.

- footnote- “If God did not spare angels, or people who lived before the Flood, or the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, He would not spare these false teachers. These words that promised justice were a great comfort to those who were oppressed. God will punish all evildoers. These words also served as a warning to wanderers to not stray away from the truth. Some people would have us believe that God will save all people because He is so loving. But it is foolish to think that God will cancel the last judgment. Don't ever minimize the certainty of God's judgment on those who rebel against Him.”

vs. 7-11

- However, don't lose heart! God rescued Noah and his family from the flood because they were found to be righteous before God. And Lot and his family was rescued from Sodom and Gomorrah because they were also found to be righteous. “Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day.”

- God knows how to rescue godly people from trials. Just as He brought relief and rescue to Lot and Noah and their families, so He is able to rescue you as well... while still destroying the wicked and maintaining their judgment. He is able to make the difference seen and felt.

- Matthew 10:5-42

- Then Peter says something interesting... “He is especially hard on those who follow their own twisted sexual desire, and who despise authority. These people are proud and arrogant, daring even to scoff at supernatural beings without so much as trembling.”

- So there's two things here that Peter is kind of putting in the same category as being things that God really hates apparently because he says that God is especially hard on these things.

- “those who follow their own twisted sexual desire”- This covers just about any and every sexual sin I can possibly come up with... sex out of wedlock, adultery, homosexuality, and who knows what else... but the one that comes to the forefront of my mind is homosexuality. Today's society has a tendency to either try to overlook the state of homosexuality, or to condone it and constantly put it forward to make everyone more used to it, more immune to the immorality of it.

- However, the fact remains that it is still a sin and in God's eyes, a horrible one. In Leviticus 18:22 it says “Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.” (NLT) The KJV says that it is an abomination. So I looked it up in Strong's and Vine's... The following excerpts are from Vine's...

- “loathsome, detestable thing. Defines something or someone as essentially unique in the sense of being dangerous, sinister, and repulsive to another individual. When used with reference to God, this nuance of the word describes people, things, acts, relationships, and characteristics that are “detestable” to Him because they are contrary to His nature. People with habits loathsome to God are themselves detestable to Him. Is used in the sphere of jurisprudence and of family or tribal relationships. Certain acts or characteristics are destructive of societal and familial harmony; both such things and the people who do them are described by this word.”

- opposites of the Hebrew for this word are reactions such as “delight” and “loveth”

- Sounds harsh doesn't it... oh but there's more...

- Well Peter goes on to lump that in with people who despise authority.

- For me, this brings up a question that I don't really have a solid answer for... and that is, does that mean that all sexual sin is a form of rebellion against God's authority?

- When we despise authority, we are generally proud and arrogant. As a human race, we can become highly self-centered. We have a survival instinct that kicks in and just overwhelms our ability to think about other people. We are a selfish people, and our selfishness can often lead to us doing things purely because they make us happy, or make us feel good, or satisfy a hunger in some way...

- And if the authority opposes our desires in any way... it just gives us more of a reason to rebel... (in our eyes) Sometimes opposition just leads to more rebellion... because we are also very stubborn people who are very set in our ways...

- Peter says that people who follow their own desires and despise authority dare even to scoff at supernatural beings without so much as trembling... But the angels who are greater than us... THEY don't even do that... They're stronger than us, more powerful than us, but they don't even dare to be blasphemous in their actions or their words.

- (supernatural beings could be a number of things... could be the angels themselves, or God, or demons, or Satan... who knows...)

- Regardless of who “supernatural beings” are speaking of, the fact is that these people are rebelling and scoffing in the face of something much more powerful than themselves because they are that arrogant and full of themselves. They think so much of themselves that they are willing to laugh in the face of something that has power over them... It's like walking up to your captor who's holding an automatic machine gun and laughing in his face or making fun of him trying to get a laugh out of the other captives... not smart... this is not something you want to play class clown with.

- Romans 9:25-29

vs. 12-19

- Peter says “these false teachers are like unthinking animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed.”

- Because they scoff at things they don't understand and are like animals... in that they are selfish, seeking self-survival, fulfilling their own desires regardless of who others are or what their relationship is to themselves... they will be destroyed.

- Their destruction will be their reward for the harm they have done.

- They love to indulge in evil pleasures in broad daylight. They don't care who sees their sin. They'll act however they please... even flaunt their sins in front of all who see because they are that arrogant. They feel no shame, no reason to think badly of their actions... they laugh at morality and scoff at the authority that warns them to be careful of their actions.

- “They are a disgrace and a stain among you.” ouch... “they delight in deception even as they eat with you in your fellowship meals.”

- Not only are they disgraceful and a stain on the church, but they deceive even as they are fellowshipping with you.

- footnote- “The fellowship meal may have been part of the celebration of the Lord's Supper—a full meal that ended with Communion. The false teachers, although they were sinning openly, took part in these meals with everyone else in the church. In one of the greatest of hypocritical acts, they attended a sacred meal designed to promote love and unity among believers, while at the same time they gossiped and slandered those who disagreed with their opinions. Paul told the Corinthians, “So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord” (I Corinthians 11:27). These men were guilty of more than false teaching and promoting evil pleasures; they were guilty of leading others away from God's Son, Jesus.”

- The meal in Jewish culture (if I remember right) was a huge part of their culture. When you sat down to eat with another person, it meant friendship, agreement, unity, and in a lot of cases, it was a part of a covenant. A covenant made over a fellowship meal was one of the most binding and supposedly the most face to face, honest, take-me-at-my-word meetings. And these false teachers were coming in and using the fellowship meal to lead people astray. The very place you were supposed to be able to be open and honest... was the place they were using to spread lies.

- I Corinthians 11:17-34

- They commit adultery with their eyes. Jesus in Matthew said that if you look at a woman, you have committed adultery in your heart. These false teachers are lustful. They have an insatiable desire for sin.

- They lure in unstable people to their sin. They find people who are weak in their faith, or who need attention, or who have a tendency to follow the leader blindly...

- they are well trained in greed. They want your money and they know how to play you to get it...

- They live under God's curse. They have not accepted Christ, the gift of life... they are living under the everlasting curse of death and eventual torment in hell... They have no hope. They have wandered off the right road. They were there once... they were following Christ... and somewhere along the way, they started off the path onto a path they themselves are forging. They are following in the footsteps of Balaam.

- Now if you know nothing about Balaam, here we go. Balaam was a prophet living in the promised land (Numbers 22-24). The Israelites are getting ready to cross the Jordan river coming out of Egypt. Balak, the king of Moab sends messengers to Balaam asking him to come and curse these people so he can conquer them. So Balaam says that he'll give the king God's answer in the morning.

- So God comes to Balaam and says, hey, who're these people? Balaam tells Him who they are and what they want him to do. God says, don't do it. They are a blessed people and you are not to curse them.

- Balaam got up the next morning and tells the messengers that God isn't going to let him go with them.

- So they go back to the king to report and he sends back to Balaam saying please! Don't let anything stop you from coming! I will pay you very well, just please come and curse these people for me!

- Balaam says “even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the Lord my God.”

- So that night God says, okay... go with them, but ONLY DO WHAT I TELL YOU.

- So Balaam gets up and goes with the messengers. But God's still not happy about this... He knew that Balaam wanted to go... and He knew that He wanted the money... so He sent the angel of the Lord to stand in the road and block the way.

- As Balaam and the two servants were riding along, Balaam's donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing with a drawn sword in his hand. The donkey bolted. This is not a dumb beast... but Balaam beats it and turns him back into the road.

- So the angel is standing at a place in the road where it narrows between two vineyards. The donkey tried to squeeze between the angel and the wall and he crushes Balaams foot against the wall. So Balaam beats the donkey again and continues on his way.

- So this time, the angel stands in such a narrow place in the road that the donkey can't get through... and so when the donkey sees the angel, he just lays down. He is NOT going any further... So Balaam is getting pretty mad, and he starts beating the donkey again... And God gives the donkey the ability to speak... and he says “what have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?”

- okay... a donkey starts talking to me, I'm gonna freak out... I am not going to respond...

- But Balaam does... and he's yelling “You have made me look like a fool! If I had a sword with me, I would kill you!” (I mean really... who talks back to a talking donkey... this is not Shrek...)

- And the donkey says look... I'm the same donkey you have ridden all your life... have I ever done anything like this before?

- well no... so God opened Balaam's eyes and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with sword drawn... oops... He falls to his face on the ground...

- “Why did you beat your donkey those three times? I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me. Three times the donkey saw me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey.”

- And then and only then does Balaam finally get it through his brain and realize that he's probably in the wrong... “I have sinned. I didn't realize you were standing in the road to block my way. I will return home if you are against my going.”

- Okay first of all, God already said don't go once. God does not change His mind. Secondly, Balaam is only changing HIS mind about not going on threat of death... “OK God... if You REALLY are SURE You don't want me to go... I guess I won't *heaves sigh...*”

- So finally Balaam does what God asks him to do. He goes to Balak and he blesses Israel. Three times. And Balak kept getting more angry... lol

- Peter is likening these false teachers to Balaam's attitude. They want money despite all the desires of God. They will go against the will of God just to make a buck. It took a talking donkey to stop Balaam in his downward spiraling course... sometimes it takes more than that even for someone to see the error of their ways...

- Revelation 2:12-17

- These people are as useless as dried-up springs. They give no life. They have no use... they're an empty hole in the ground with no purpose.

- Or they're like a mist that is blown away by the wind. They are here a moment and then gone. They don't last. They have no substance to withstand the winds of time.

- They are doomed to the blackest darkness. They are headed for the pits of hell. No way out.

- They brag about themselves with empty, foolish boasting. They are so full of pride that they are constantly spouting off about themselves. Or they just hold themselves higher than everybody. They may seem to be generous, considerate, kind... but they think of their actions only in the light of how it reflects on them. It's like the guy who buys his girlfriend expensive things or is very thoughtful in public, but beats her behind closed doors. It only matters what the world sees... what is truly his character is hidden...

- They lure in those who have escaped sin and a life of deception through appealing to twisted sexual desires. They promise freedom. They promise a life free of restraint. A life free of rules. A life free of morality.

- But you are a slave to sin! As free as we may feel, if we are sinning, we are slaves! Because sin will run our lives. It takes over and completely takes control. We become slaves to whatever controls us... whatever desires we just can't seem to satisfy.

vs. 20-22

- When we escape from sin, from the world's wickedness, from our own evil inborn nature by coming to know Christ, and then become enslaved yet again, we become worse off than ever before.

- It would be better had we never known righteousness... had never known purity in Christ. To know and then to reject the command we are given to live a holy life...

- Peter gives a couple of proverbs that illustrate this principal. “A dog returns to its vomit” and “a washed pig returns to the mud.”

- We have turned and rejected our only way of escape. We have turned our backs on our only hope.

- Romans 13:8-14
- Ephesians 2, 3, 4, 5:1-20
- Matthew 12:38-45
- Ezekiel 18
- Hebrews 6:4-12, 10:19-39

II Peter Chapter 1

vs. 1-2

- Peter is writing to us. We share the same precious faith that he and the church of his day shared.

- This faith is a gift given to us because Christ is just and fair.

- Christ calls to everyone to come and receive a gift. Because He is just and fair, He doesn't count ANYONE out.

- There's a song lyric by Stellar Kart that says “there will always be second chances, and you'll always be on your first try.”

- Jesus will always provide second chances if we are willing to receive them. Sometimes we beat ourselves up over all our past mistakes... and God has already forgiven and forgotten them...

- Casting Crowns has a song called “East to West”. It talks about Jesus casting our sins as far as the east is from the west... “but Jesus can you SHOW me just how far the east is from the west, cause I can't bear to see the man I've become rising up in me again...”

- We forget that it's done. Once we get down and pray for forgiveness for an act of sin, we're done with it. Christ forgives and forgets completely. He's not keeping a list so that one day when you mess up again, He can pull out the list and run down through all the reasons why you don't match up to His standards.

- When you become friends with someone, you gradually start to understand all their personality traits and quirks.

- If I talk to a friend I've known for a few years, I can generally tell when they're hiding something. I know when they're not okay... even when they swear they are... I know when there's something they're just bursting to tell me, but waiting on the right place and time to explode with some kind of good news... Why? Because I've spent TIME with them. I've talked with them and learned to understand their moods and facial expressions and body language.

- I don't have to worry that my friend is mad at me over something I don't know I did. If they're upset with me, I KNOW it. I know what kinds of things get on their nerves and what things bug them, so I usually know when I do something that might hurt them, or might make them angry with me. And because I know how to read my friend, I can tell when they ARE and AREN'T upset with me.

- As we grow in our knowledge of God, may God give us more and more grace and peace.

- Grace and Peace are not automatically abundant in our lives. Rather, as we grow in our knowledge of God, so does He give you more Grace and Peace.

- I think that's a little expected. The better we know our savior and the more we come to understand His character, the more we KNOW we can depend on Him, trust Him, love Him... and have that love returned.

- And through being able to depend on Him and trust Him, peace and grace naturally follow. Understanding the character of God means that His peace will flow in and around because we TRUST him.

- Last night at youth night, our speaker had a word picture of peace. He said it was like you were rowing. You're in the boat and every muscle from your toes to your head is straining in one movement. If you paddle too deep, you're going to hurt yourself. If you paddle too shallow, you're going to make a lot of noise, but make no progress. If you try to look behind you, you're going to end up paddling with one hand and going in circles.

- However, God has pointed the boat where he wants it to go, and if you just focus on the stroke, and just focus on pulling the oars... you'll get where you need to go.

- This is peace. To trust God and just focus on the moment. God knows where the boat's going. He's not going to let you run aground. Just focus on the stroke... and God will handle the rest.

- Are you trusting God? I mean really? Are you still trying to row the boat and steer at the same time?
- How's your relationship with God? Are you making God your everything? Or just your fire insurance policy?

- Ezekiel 34:25-31
- Romans 5:1-11
- Philippians 4:6-7

vs. 3-4

- Through His power, God has given us everything we need to live a Godly life. How? By coming to KNOW Him. (There's that knowing and understanding again... seems to be a theme with this chapter so far...)

- footnote- “The power to lead a Godly life comes from God. Because we don't have the resources to be truly Godly, God allows us to “share His divine nature” in order to keep us from sin and help us live for Him. When we are born again, God by His Spirit empowers us with His own goodness.”

- John 3:1-21, 14:15-29
II Corinthians 5:18-21
I Peter 1:13-25

- Christ calls to us to come to him through his glory and excellence, through which He has also given us great and precious promises. These promises enable us to share in Christ's divine nature and escape the world's corruption, which is caused by human desires.

- So what promises do we have? The promise of eternal salvation. The promise of equal heirship with Christ. The promise of a life everlasting with our Lord.

- Because of these promises, we have the ability to share in Christ's divine nature. Which consists of what? Well... holiness, perfection, love to the max, a desire to do good, all knowing, all seeing, all understanding...

- Now, are we holy? Perfect? All those things? no... but we do have the ability to share those things to an extent BECAUSE Christ is living and working in our hearts. With Him working in our hearts, we become more like Him and exhibit those same attributes. Maybe not to the same extent, but definitely to some extent.

- With Christ in our hearts, we can escape the world's corruption. How? Through Christ moving in our hearts. If God is the center of our lives and working in our hearts to change us into a masterpiece reflecting Him, we aren't going to desire worldly things so much. So through Christ, we have to ability to avoid the temptation to fall into fleshly desires.

- What kind of reflection do you show the world?
- What are you doing with the promises that God has laid before you?
- Are you sharing in those things that God has for you; that He is longing to be able to place in your hands?

- Titus 2:11-15

vs. 5-9

- In view of all of the above, we should make every effort to respond to God's promises.

- God's promises are that He will give us life abundant, life everlasting, that He will never leave us, nor forsake us... There should be a response to this in some manner. If someone gives you good gifts, you don't turn around and treat them like a servant... you treat them as a friend. If we are responsive to God's promises, our hearts should allow Him to change them. If our hearts are changing then we are going to become more like the image of Christ.

- So 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.

- These read a little like the Fruit of the Spirit...

- Galatians 5:22-26

- If we have faith that Christ is all He said He is, faith that there is a heaven and a hell, faith that this walk is going to lead exactly where Christ said it would... then our lives should reflect that faith.

- The first thing Peter mentions is moral excellence. If we have faith that all that Christ has promised is true, then shouldn't our lives reflect the same moral excellence as His? Shouldn't we fight for moral justice in our culture and strive for morality in our own lives?

- But to just live a moral life means nothing without knowing why we're doing it. So supplement your moral excellence with knowledge about not only this walk and our Lord and Savior, but also about the importance of morality and what morality means to God.

- II Corinthians 4:1-18

- With our knowledge of these things, should come self-control. Self-control is a hard one today... Our society is so used to getting whatever we want, when we want it, how we want it... that it's hard to maintain self-control...

- I was visiting a church last week and the pastor's sermon was on finances and stewardship and tithing... I guess this church does like a finance group for people who are struggling with finances... between just a few couples, there was like 2 million dollars worth of debt... just in this one church...

- I can't IMAGINE being so far in debt... my parents have always been conscientious of money things, and they made us to be so as well... but you put a piece of plastic into a hand, and sometimes, it's just perceived as free money. And even in the church, where finances sometimes are not taught very often, there's a lot of times even people in the church find themselves swimming in debt.

- Self-control reaches to all aspects of our lives... if we don't have self-control in one area, it spreads to others... My problem area might not be finances, but it could be a multitude of other things... like food, or clothing, or sex, or video games, or... spider solitaire... true story... LOL (totally addicted and takes up WAY too much of my time...)

- With Self-control comes patient endurance... yeah that makes sense... If I make myself wait on something then I can see it building patience and endurance. If I wait to buy things until they're on sale or until I have enough money to pay cash, or if I wait till dinner to eat instead of snacking all the time, or if I don't play solitaire until the very end of the day and limit myself to like 2 games... It would build patience... and definitely the endurance to wait until it's even better than expected...

- With patient endurance comes Godliness... wow... Can you see this picture? Christ endured suffering beyond our comprehension. He had to patiently wait until it was time for His ministry to start, then He had to endure all the scoffing and the ridicule because of speaking truth, then He had to endure pain and suffering unlike any other... and NOW, He patiently waits for us to turn and accept all that He did for us...

- And Godliness brings brotherly affection. A love for one's neighbors, family, friends, strangers, mankind in general...

- And brotherly affection begets a love for everyone...

- footnote- “Faith must be more than belief in certain facts; it must result in action, growth in Christian character, and the practice of moral discipline, or it will die away. Peter lists several of faith's actions: learning to know God better, developing perseverance, doing God's will, loving others. These actions do not come automatically; they require hard work. They are not optional; all of them must be a continual part of the Christian life. We don't finish one and start on the next, but we work on them all together. God empowers and enables us; but He also gives us the responsibility to learn and to grow.”

- I Corinthians 9:24-27

- “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.” vs. 8-9

- What is your response to God's promises? What is your response to His gifts?
- Is your faith resulting in action? Do you believe that God is loving? How have you shown that attribute to the world this week? This month? This year?
- What are the attributes of God? If you believe that this is the character and personage of God, what are ways that you can put them into action in the world to show the world the essence of in Whom you put your faith?

- Romans 12:1-21

vs. 10-11

- Work to prove that you are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things and you will never fall away.

- Faith without works is dead. Without SHOWING our faith without putting it into practice, what do we have? A belief. I can believe a lot of things... but it takes a lot to put it into practice... I can believe and have faith that if I step off of a bridge I'm going to walk on air like bugs bunny always does... however... if I don't put it into practice, there's no proof that I believe that. And if I'm too afraid to put it into practice, then how strong is my faith? (Now obviously if I walked off a bridge I'd fall to my death... because the law of gravity would kick in... but I know that because I've fallen before and gravity is very real to me...)

- Faith without action proves nothing to the world. We are the only sermon some will ever hear, the only bible some will ever read, the only Christ some will ever know. So show me your faith.

- Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

- footnote- “Our faith must go beyond what we believe, it must become a dynamic part of all we do, resulting in good fruit and spiritual maturity. Salvation does not depend on good deeds, but it results in good deeds. A person who claims to be saved while remaining unchanged does not understand faith or what God has done for him or her.”

- What fruits are you bearing in your life? What do people see when they look at your life? Do they see just another person like them? Or do they see something deeper, something more emanating from your life?

- Colossians 3:1-17, 1:9-14
- John 15:1-17
- Romans 8:26-30

vs. 12-21

- footnote- “Outstanding coaches constantly review the basics of the sport with their teams, and good athletes can execute the fundamentals consistently well. Believers must not neglect the basics of their faith, even as they go on to study deeper truths. Just as an athlete needs constant practice, Christians need constant reminders of the fundamentals of our faith and of how we came to believe in the first place. Don't allow yourself to be bored or impatient with messages on the basics of the Christian life. Instead, take the attitude of an athlete who continues to practice and refine the basics.”

- It doesn't hurt to be reminded of all the basic things of this faith... like we are saved by grace through faith. Or like Jesus loves me, this I know, for the bible tells me so... : ) The better we know and understand the basics, the better we can explain them to new believers and unbelievers and the more founded we ourselves will be in the basic necessities of this faith.

- These stories and tales are not made up. They are things that these men saw with their own eyes, experienced themselves, just as we have experienced things about God... like His working in our hearts, or His forgiveness for our sins, or His salvation from life threatening situations, or even just the little things... like finding just enough money in your car to pay for enough gas to get you home when you forgot your wallet at home...

- Christ is not a fairy tale. He is real and living and moving in this life.

- Peter relates the transfiguration on the mount. “We saw His majestic splendor with our own eyes when He received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to Him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.” vs. 16-18 As we each hear the same voice when we are called to repentance... calling us to become His dearly loved children...

- Matthew 17:1-13
- Mark 13:26-37
- I Corinthians 2:1-16
- II Timothy 3:14-17

- Because of this experience (and because of our own individual experiences) we can have confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. Their words were the light shining in the darkness before Christ came... the light leading the way to the coming of Christ.

- What kind of experiences have you had with God? How has God made Himself real to you?

- Psalm 119:105
- Luke 1:67-80
- I Peter 1:3-25

- This understanding of the coming of Christ did not come from their own understanding or from their own human initiative, but rather, they were moved by the Holy Spirit and their words were spoken from God.

- Colossians 1:15-23
- II Corinthians 5:1-21, 6:1-2