Author Archives: Pete

About Pete

I love the Lord. Each day, he gives me words of praise and encouragement, and asks me to share them with you I pray that they minister to you as you read them, share them, or ponder on them. Have a blessed day!

Know Your Teacher

2 Timothy 3:13-14 King James Version

13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, of whom thou hast learned them;

I think we all know this to be true.  Evil men and seducers are all around us, trying to lure us away from those things we know to be true.  They come by with new revelation, new theories, new translations, new interpretations.  These things get worse and worse as times goes on, distorting the true gospel and making it what it is not.  It is so important that we know our teacher and where they come from.

Knowledge is rampant in this world of ours.  People have so many avenues that they can search out and make up their own “truth” .  The many search findings that come up on.  Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines online can bring us a multitude of information at a milliseconds notice and we have to discern what is right and what is wrong.  Some men think a certain scripture passage means one thing and others think it means another.  This is why denominations arise, why churches spilt and why there is such division within our own churches.

Typically it is because people take one or two verses of scripture and ignore the other scriptures in regards to the same thing.  For example, let’s take the LGBTQ? Community.  Are we supposed to love them as they are?  Of course we are.  It is our command to love others and help them see their way to salvation in Jesus Christ.  But can they stay in that sinful state of behavior?  Not if they expect a home in heaven!  The Bible is very clear, in more than one place, that this behavior is sin.  Our problem is that we place mercy over truth, when in fact mercy and truth are side by side.  We must apply both to come to the truth about the way we should live.

Knowledge can also drive us away from the truth.  There are so many I have met who used to be lovers of God that are now atheist and I have had discussions with them.  They said once they learned about this, or learned about that, they decided God just could not be real.  So they gave up on God altogether.  Their worldly knowledge was more important to them than their heavenly connection.  Worldly wisdom surpassed Godly wisdom.  There are so many today who think man knows more than God.  The teaching of evolution proves this.  God says creation, man says evolution.  Creation is taught less and less ion our schools and evolution is taught more and more.  Man’s ways replace God’s ways.  This is becoming the norm rather than the abnormal.  It will lead to destruction because if we do not believe the beginning, how can we fully believe anything that happened after that?  How can we believe man was formed in God’s image?  That man was formed from the dust of the earth?  How can we believe original sin, the flood, Abraham, the plagues, the Red Sea parting? Denying one can easily become denying all.

I have a very good Catholic friend whom I believe is reading this post.  We have had lengthy email discussions on the subjects of Salvation, Truth, the Bible, the will of God, and many other topics.  We disagree on many things, but we also agree on many things.  We both have the ability to utilize scripture in backing up our beliefs.  I have learned a tremendous amount about Catholicism from him, and I believe he has learned a lot about evangelicals from me. I truly believe he is a very good teacher of the Catholic faith, as I have been told I am a good teacher of the evangelical faith.  If I was a Catholic, I would love to sit under his teachings.  We have gone back and forth over which one of us actually shares the truth in our faith.  He is thoroughly convinced that his version of what truth is can be the only truth.  I am convinced that what I am saying is truth.  Yet we have many disagreements.  But I believe our disagreement are over doctrinal issues, not what real truth is.  Doctrines are different all over the word, but the real truth is Jesus Christ crucified and risen again.  That is the gospel message we both share.  Giving our lives to Jesus Christ as a living sacrifice is the only truth that matters.  I think Him and I both agree on that!

The point I am trying to make is the same as what Paul is making in these verses.  There are many excellent teachers of the Gospel in the world.  There are also many who subvert the word of God and teach lies of half-truths.  We must be prepared to discern the truth from the heresy.  How do we do that?  Through reading the word and asking God for wisdom, which He says he will give to us if we ask (James 1:5).  It comes down to how much time and effort you have put into your own growth in His wisdom and knowledge.  Proverbs tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  That is where it starts.  Without a sense of the majesty and sovereignty of God, we will always fall for false teaching.  We must have a sense of just who God is.  Some of the teaching nowadays makes Hm out to be our buddy and our pal.  That demeans Him!  Father is a great term to use.  A father disciplines, teaches, corrects, rebukes and exhorts us.   He is loving in all his ways and only does what is good for us, even if we thinks it is not.  A good father holds us to a certain standard and expects his word to be obeyed by those in his household.  If it is not, there are consequences.  Not because the father is cruel or mean, but because he is the one who provides for us, protects us, gives us direction and purpose.  We owe him our lives.

Our heavenly father is no different. He always wants what is best for us, and often will allow us to fall into this trial or that trial in order to help us grow.  These trials should never cause us to turn away from God, but should draw us closer to Him.  He loves us so much that he gave His only Son to die on a cross!  Why would he ever allow something into our lives that will harm us.  So when you hear something that appears to be new “revelation” or just doesn’t line up quite right with what you have believed before, study it out.  This tries your faith but can be a great way to grow in wisdom and grace.  God has a great desire to see us grow and become disciples, not just believers!  A disciple is one who is disciplined in the word of God.  That discipline comes through listening to the right teachers and studying out what they say, not just taking it for truth.  The truth is Jesus Christ, and He alone can reveal the real truth to you.  Pilate asked Jesus “What is truth?”  The better question would be “Who is truth!”  The truth was standing right in front of him, and he did not see it.  Will you?

You Shall Face Persecution

2 Timothy 3:10-12 King James Version

 

10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,

11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.

12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when.  We don’t want to hear that.  We want to hear that life is rosy, that all will be well and that we will not suffer at all.  We want to hear that we will be healthy, wealthy and wise.  Jesus even said that in this world we shall suffer tribulation.  Sao why do we resists it?  Why do we run away from it?  Why do we do everything we can to get out of it when it comes?  If trials, texts, persecution, tribulation and such things are going to be a part of our life, they must also be a part of God’s plan for our life.  And if they are God’s plan, why not embrace them and walk with God through them.  Doesn’t that just make sense?  Hard? Yes! Needful? Yes! Good for us? Yes!

I did a podcast with a friend of mine last week.   He wanted to know more about how I get the inspiration from God for my poetry.  How do I hear from God?  How does subject matter come to me?  Why do I write them all down?  He did a good job with the interview

 And in the midst of it I learned a lot about myself and what God was doing within me during that time.  One of the things I told Him was that, outside of my salvation and marriage, cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me.  He asked me to explain that.  I told him that because of the silence in that hospital bed for 21 days, when my wife had gone home and the TV was turned off, I could better hear the voice of God.  I learned to tune into that and write down what He was speaking to me.  As a result, almost 1,500 psalms, hymns and spiritual songs were written during that time, a few books of the Bible were studied and commented on, a book was written and people around the world were touched.  I truly believe if I did not have cancer, I would not be typing this right now.  I would not be contemplating publishing my poetry.  I would not be as close to God as I am right now.

 

Consider what Paul went through for a minute. In 2 Corinthians 11, he lists his trials.  He was in prison a few times, received 39 lashes on his back three times, stoned on, three shipwrecks during one of which he spent a day and a half adrift at sea, perils from robbers, his own countrymen, by the heathen, in the city, in the wilderness, in the sea.  He had been hungry and cold and thirsty and naked.  But he says it was all worth it for Christ.  None of us have suffered anywhere near what Paul suffered.  We are rich by comparison, and live lives of comfort, free from men who would pout scars on our body and display us as strange and deranged.  Could we withstand such tribulation, such trials as Paul did?  I hardly think so, for most of us.

 

Then look at what Paul accomplished.  Dozens of churches started, with hundreds more by people he put in place.  Half of the New Testament written by his hand.  Much of our doctrine is derived from his writings.  His affliction brought him the ability to do great things for God.  They freed him from the worry of being loved by the world because he was only concerned with being loved by Jesus!  Ost of us, on the other hand, are much more concerned with being loved by others and figure God loves us anyway.  We take God’s grace for granted so often!

 

I plan on living a Godly life.  I plan on serving Him with all my heart.  I need to get my priorities straight because if I am going to give Him my all, I am going to see trouble coming to me.  I have to know in my heart of hearts that he will work all things for my good.  I have to know that He will deliver me out of them all.  I have to know that he will direct my path if I trust Him and not try to understand things and if I acknowledge He is in it all.  There is nothing that gets by Him and nothing He cannot use to make me a better disciple.  One I get those truths through this thick skull of mine, I will be well on my way top serving Him as I should serve Him with all my heart soul, mind and strength.  That is the true will of God and it translates into loving my neighbor as myself.

 

Come one church!  Let’s show the world we are not afraid of them. Let’s show the world that we are unabashedly lovers of Jesus Christ.  Let’s get on our knees in prayer when we can so we can show the world we are a praying church.  Let’s fast and pray so the world can see the church in action, as people are healed, delivered, saved and set free. Let’s do this!

Come to the Knoweldge of the Truth

2 Timothy 3:6-9  King James Version

 

For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.

But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their’s also was.

In case you are new to this blog and have not read my last post, the “Of this sort” mentioned here refers to those who are lovers of themselves more than God, , covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers and the list goes on.  They have a form of godliness but deny it’s power.  This is not only an ignorant breed but a dangerous one as well.  The form of godliness they often have can be very charismatic and alluring.  People are drawn by a good spirit in people, and these may be ones who can attract people with their words or actions.  They can lead anyone, not just silly women, astray.  The silly women filled with sin mentioned here are quite obviously harlots of the day.  In today’s society many are led into the den of those who fill these categories.  That’s because there are many false teachers, preachers and prophets who are encouraging the things God tells us to turn away from.

Some would accuse me of ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.  I know my good Catholic friend believes this about me as I do not adhere to his interpretation of the scripture.  But then I may say the same thing about Him.   There are a lot of schools of thought as to the meaning and interpretation of scripture.  Some have been around for ages and some are popping up recently.  How do we know, if we are coming upon a different set of beliefs, whether they truly have the knowledge of the truth?  As my friend says, there can only be one truth.  The 2,000 year old question of Pilate is still asked today – What is truth?   Personally I believe we have to trust the Holy Spirit to speak to us and tell us the truth.  After all, Jesus did tell us that would happen (John 16:13). 

The way I personally look at it is that the word speaks for itself.  In other words, what it says is what it means.  But you have to take the whole body of scripture and not just one part isolated from the rest.  That is where cults can easily get started, or where people can easily be led astray.  A perfect example is the grace preaching of today.  I have heard it over and over again.  God’s grace covers all sin.  This is true!  God gives grace to all!  This is true.   Once we are saved by grace we can live our own lives.  This is not true.  Once we have been covered by grace we can do anything we want.  This is not true.   Once we are saved we can never again lose our salvation.  This is not true.  Grace must be mixed with truth. 

Grace, or mercy, and truth are often coupled together in the Bible. If you have too much grace and not enough truth, you are in a dangerous place because you think you have the liberty to do whatever you want and you cannot lose your place with Christ.  But Jesus said, in Matthew 7:21, that many will call Him Lord, Lord but will not see the kingdom of God.  Why?  Because they do not do the will of the Father.  His will is for us to give our whole salves, all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, to Him.  The grace preaching says that you don’t have to give everything up.  You can live for yourself and still be saved.  This is not truth.

On the other hand, if you have too much truth and no grace, you can fall into a place of legalism, which is just as wrong.  Legalism says I must live by a certain set of laws that man has laid down, not that God has laid down.  This is the way of the Pharisees in Jesus time.  They were very pious when it came to following the law.  But they lacked grace and mercy.  Jesus condemned such a practice, saying He came to fulfill the law, not do away with it.  He called them white washed sepulchers full of dead man’s bones.  Why?  Because they followed the letter of the law but could not even see the heart of the law, which was mercy.  Mercy and truth must have equal portion in any doctrine to be truly biblical.

Another example is the prosperity gospel that is preached so often.  This is a name-it claim it philosophy that relies on passages like ask anything in my name and it shall be done (John 14:13-14 ) or If any two of you agree it shall be done (Matthew 18:19).  But Jesus also told the rich man to give up all he had to follow him (Matthew 19:21).  He said we cannot serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24).  What is the balance?  What is the truth?  I believe that Jesus can, and will, answer any prayer we ask if He will receive the glory and not us.  He knows the end from the beginning and he knows why we are asking and how we will treat the results of our prayer.  Jesus did not call us to live a life of prosperity, although many can live this kind of life and still serve God effectively.  He is not our servant, at our beck and call, to do whatever we ask Him to do.  He is sovereign and has the right to answer any question he wants to answer and do any deed He desires.  My place is to accept what He decides to do without bitterness or complaint.  My place is to understand His will for my life, not for me to demand my will.

Jannes and Jambres are historical figures who are only mentioned this one time in the Bible.  It is believed they were the sorcerers of Egypt who stood before Moses when the plagues were announced.  The made their rods turn to serpents, turned water into blood, and made frogs come out of the water (why they would want more frogs is beside me!).  They stood against the truth of Moses, trying to convince others that Moses did not have the power of God.  Paul uses them as an example of those who do not have the knowledge of the truth.  He says they were found out in the end, and those who do not adhere to the truth of the Gospel will be found out when that heavenly role is called.  We must make sure we are not among men of this sort.  They lead silly women captive to their own lusts, as our previous post mentioned.  They can lead us all astray.  Let us not be so gullible as to follow them down the wrong path. May we all come to the knowledge of the Truth!

From Such Turn Away

2 Timothy 3:1-5 King James Version

3 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

This is quite a list of people to turn away from.  The admonishment is not that we should not witness to these people groups mentioned here.  We MUST witness to them, but in the loving, gentle, patient way that we talked about in our last lesson.  The people on this list are certainly opposing themselves, and must learn to restore themselves to the place where God can guide their path.  They have lost their way and will have a hard time coming back if we are not apt to help them along.  The types of people mentioned here are indeed the hardest of all to witness to as well.  Most are so full of themselves there is no room for anyone else, especially God.  But if we can help to get just a little bit of themselves put to the side, there is where our opportunity is to chare the gospel with them.  We must watch for these moments carefully and take advantage when we see them arise.

The condition of these men is the reason perilous times have come.  When more and more people start to act on the manners described here our society starts to break down.  People will not care as much about others.  The neighborly manner in which we treat each other will slowly vanish.  Responsibility for one’s actions will disappear and accountability will vanish.  As a result, people will think they can do whatever they want with impunity.  If they are called out for their immoral behavior, the one who is on the right side will be called wring and will face persecution.  Right will become wrong and wrong will become right.  The biblical morality we once lived by will be replaced by an ever-changing worldly morality that will cater to the whim of those who have given into the lusts of the world. 

Can anyone truly deny that we are currently seeing this happen today more than just 10 years ago?  I can give a hundred examples of this but I will stick with a few.  We see school shootings and mass shootings going up all the time. Instead of centering on the critical problem that is driving these shootings, we say it’s the fault of the gun that person is handling.  Instead of doing a better job tracking and tacking care of those with mentality issues. We let them loose on a society that has little protection from them.  Instead of defending our schools in practical ways we simply lock the doors, making it even worse if a shooter does get in somehow.  The shooter is rarely held accountable as they should be.  They get a prison cell where they are catered to and the taxpayer pays for their life to the tune of $50,000 a year.  There they can finally get the help they need, but they rarely do.  Here we see these attributes form the list above: disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, fierce, despisers of those that are good.

The second example I will site is the prevalence of the gender identity discussion.  We are adding genders all the time instead of just looking at a person and knowing what sex they are biologically.  I hear on Facebook you can now choose from 56 different genders when choosing a sexual identity.  We wonder why our children are confused?  In our schools, it is taught that it does not matter if you identify as any of these genders.  All should be accepted for who they are and what they are.  In many states it is against the law to council those that are claiming such status as is against their biological identity.  You have to let them do whatever they want to do.  I cannot imagine what our society will look like when the next generation takes over.  It will be sexual nirvana for those who are raised in it, but total sexual chaos for everyone else.  In the list above, we see lovers of their own selves, covetousness, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, without natural affection and blasphemers in this group.

This is only the beginning of what we are seeing today.  Our society is falling farther short of the glory of God every day and people are caring less and less about it.  In fact, our minds are being numbed to what God wants as our ability to express disgust with these things is challenged more and more by what is becoming the mainstream.  Godly ways are called wrong, worldly passions are indulged in and no one seems to care.  It is harder and harder to find someone that will stand up for what is right and decent.  Harder and harder to speak the truth.  Harder and harder to witness to those whose hearts are gone so far away.

We must turn away from hanging around with such people all the time because we might get pulled into their own ditches and mistruths.  We might find ourselves sympathizing with them.  We must turn away from all these practices, which I am not going to try and explain one by one.  We must turn away from close friendships that might entangle us.  But we cannot turn away from doing everything we can to get them to trust us sop that we might bring the truth to them.  And we must present that truth in the method that Paul explains at the end of the previous chapter: with gentleness, patience and meekness.  We must slowly instruct them in the ways of a God who loves them just as much as He loves us.  God’s desire is to have them turn from their ungodly ways, to stop opposing themselves and to come back to Him.  Can we be such witnesses for the Lord?  They may all look on the outside like they are godly but they do not know God’s power to save.  Many would love to be saved from their ways, but they deny there is a power that can do that.  We must show them the power of God unto salvation that is Jesus Christ.  They need that power to touch their lives, and we can be the instrument of God to make that happen.  Let us not leave them to the devil’s whims.  Let us shine our light so brightly that they will be drawn to us!

Instruct Those that Oppose Themselves

2 Timothy 2:24-26 King James Version

 

24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

 

What an interesting thought.  People that oppose themselves!  They are their own worst enemy.  Have you ever heard someone say that?  “I am my own worst enemy.”  I have – it was me.  Oh, I was having a good time.  Drinking all through the night, smoking pot, hanging with friends, enjoying good food and good times on a regular basis.  I was making good money and travelling where I wanted, when I wanted. I worked as a computer programmer back in the big computer era in the early 70’s, before PC’s even started to be thought of.  I was doing well.  I lacked nothing that I wanted.

 

But I was drowning.  Drowning in a sea of despair.  When I was alone, I was really alone.  I knew I needed more but I had no idea what that more was.  I was raised in the church, but had put it behind me and taken on the life of an agnostic.  I knew there was some power out there, but had no idea who it was.  I thought I was headed to heaven, but I was bound for hell and I didn’t even know what that meant.  We made jokes about partying in hell, not knowing what really awaited us there.  I was indeed my own worst enemy.  I opposed myself at every turn.  Thinking I was making the right turns when all the time I was going left.  I was lost!

 

I am so thankful for the men and women who slowly led me to the right place.  They took on the attributes mentioned here.  Gentle, patient teachers who were humble and approached me with meekness.  They instructed me about Jesus, about His love, about His mercy, about His sacrifice.  Over time I learned how to walk with the Lord and stop doing things that would oppose the spirit within me.  There are still times that the old man rises up again and tries to oppose me, but I have an adversary now.  I have one who will come alongside and help me through any situation I may get into.  He keeps me from opposing myself.

 

Now it is my turn to help those who oppose themselves, to pass on the blessing that has been given to me.  But I must do it the right way.  I cannot force Christ on them.  I cannot force them to conform to my idea of what serving Jesus means.  I must not strive with the, argue with them, manipulate them or be angry with them.  Paul gives us a great formula here for winning the lost to Christ.  First, we must be gentle.  Our words and our actions must be alluring so that they want to hear what we have to say.  We should not come from a position of power, but of meekness.  We must be patient with them as they try to find their way out of their own way.  Too often we get stuffed up in our pride and think they should come to maturity sooner.  We forget that they have been opposing themselves for a long time.  Transformation of the mind does not happen overnight!  It can take years to come out of the bondage and chaos that a troubled mind can leave.  Believe Me, I know.  But God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all we can think or imagine! (Ephesians 3:20).  We have a mandate to tell people about this amazing God we serve.  He is the one who sets the captive free!  Those who are in opposition to themselves will find the greatest advocate of all time when we introduce them to Jesus.

 

The truth is that those who oppose themselves are in the enemy’s clutches.  He has them right where he wants them, and has no desire tom let them go.  It is our responsibility to help them find themselves, to recover themselves, and become the person God designed them to be, not the one the enemy has tricked them into.  I was tricked by the enemy into a lifestyle of drugs, booze and sex.  The riches of this world trapped me into believing I was fulfilling the plan for my life.  But I was not even close to it.  I was in such opposition to the plan God had for me that I would not even begin to see His plan.  God’s plan was for me to be His witness, my plan was to be isolated and alone.  God’s plan was to have me minister the word; my plan was to hurt people with my words.   God’s plan was for me to sing the songs he gave me, my plan was to sing in silence.  God’s plan was there all the time but I did not see it.  I had to recover myself before I could see it.  The real me that God had created needed to be turned into the clay so the potter could mold it.  I was in the enemy’s hands.

 

I was so glad when God finally urged me into His plan.  There is so much more peace here.  So much more joy and so much more love.  There is little to fear and so much to be thankful for.  There is little doubt about who God wants me to be and a lot of faith that I can become that person.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still oppose myself at times.  There are still times that I do not walk where I should walk.  There are times the snare of the enemy tries to capture me once again.  But I have been set free and am no longer bound by it.  When the snare catches me, God quickly opens it and I escape.  That’s how much He loves me, and He loves you too!

 

How about you?  Are you opposing yourself today?  Are you living a life that is not in line with what God wants for you?  I ask you to come out of that place.  Come meet the Savior, Jesus Christ.  He can help you recover the real you and walk with God once again.  Just trust Him!