Ineffective Christians – 2 Peter 1:3-11

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8, ESV).

The Apostle Peter indicates in these verses that Christians can be ineffective! I’m sure you’ve heard of an ineffective employee or an ineffective manager, but an ineffective Christian?

“Ineffective” simply means not producing results, not productive–or as Peter defines it for Christians, not fruitful.

An ineffective employee doesn’t produce results. An ineffective Christian doesn’t bear fruit.

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Can Christians Commit the Unpardonable Sin? – Mark 3:20-30

“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:28-29, ESV).

Jesus states this theological conundrum in response to the scribes who were accusing Him of being possessed by an evil spirit. He replied that a kingdom can’t be divided against itself: “How can Satan cast out Satan?” (vs. 23). Then, Jesus seems to warn the scribes they may be the ones committing blasphemy!

Luke’s account complicates the conundrum. In Luke 12:10 Jesus says, “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”

Today, we use these verses as the basis for the so-called doctrine of the unpardonable sin.

We generally consider blasphemy as contemptuous behavior towards God often exhibited by cursing or reviling God. But, there is an underlying theological supposition to blasphemy–that is, to attribute to oneself the rights or qualities of God.

The scribes’ indictment of blasphemy against Jesus in Mark 3 was based on that theological component. So, when Jesus answered them back, he used the scribes own faulty reasoning against them–their accusation of Jesus’ supposed blasphemy was in itself blasphemous!

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Good Trouble – 2 Samuel 19:1-8

“‘Now get up! Go out and encourage your soldiers, for I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a man will remain with you tonight. This will be worse for you than all the trouble that has come to you from your youth until now!’ So the king got up and sat in the gate, and all the people were told: ‘Look, the king is sitting in the gate.’ Then they all came into the king’s presence” (2 Samuel 19:7-8, HCSB).

Sometimes we let our own personal problems and feelings overshadow what God is doing all around us. Such is the case with King David upon hearing of the death of his son and heir apparent, Absalom.

David’s army of Judah had just defeated an army of the other tribes of Israel in a civil war that Absalom led against David. David’s army prevailed and Absalom was killed in the fighting. When David heard the news of the victory and of Absalom’s death, he immediately went into mourning for his son: “So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people, for the people heard that day, ‘The king is grieving for his son.’” (vs. 2).

David let his own grief overcome not just his kingly responsibilities but even his gratitude to God for saving the nation.

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It’s Personal – Mark 8:27-38

“’Who do people say that I am?’…. ‘But who do you say that I am?’” (Mark 8:27-29, ESV).

Near the end of His ministry Jesus asked His disciples what people were saying about Him? Who did they think He was?

His disciples answered that some thought He was John the Baptist or one of the ancient prophets back from the dead.

Then Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was. Peter immediately responded that He was the Messiah. Apparently, that was the right answer because Jesus commanded His disciples to tell no one.

To Jesus it didn’t matter what people in general thought about Him. What mattered to Him was what His disciples in particular thought about Him.

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Prime Directive – 1 Samuel 14:12-37

“‘Follow me,’ Jonathan told his armor-bearer, ‘for the Lord has handed them over to Israel.’ Jonathan climbed up using his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer behind him. Jonathan cut them down, and his armor-bearer followed and finished them off. In that first assault Jonathan and his armor-bearer struck down about 20 men in a half-acre field… Saul said, ‘Let’s go down after the Philistines tonight and plunder them until morning. Don’t let even one remain!’ …. But the priest said, ‘We must consult God here.’ So Saul inquired of God, ‘Should I go after the Philistines? Will You hand them over to Israel?’ But God did not answer him that day” (1 Samuel 14:12-14; 36-37, HCSB).

At the beginning of 1 Samuel 14, Jonathan, King Saul’s son, and his attendant attacked a Philistine garrison. Meanwhile, Saul remained encamped on the other side of the pass with about 600 Israelite troops. In that assault Jonathan and his attendant killed about twenty Philistine soldiers.

Then panic erupted in the Philistine camp. Saul and his troops noticed the commotion among the Philistine troops.

Saul started to inquire of the Lord about what was happening in the Philistine camp by conferring with the priests who carried the ark of God. Deciding he might lose the opportunity to rout the Philistines, Saul gathered his troops and attacked and “struck down the Philistines that day from Michmash all the way to Aijalon” (vs. 31), a distance of about 15 miles.

Saul decided to renew the battle the next day and he again inquired of God whether he should go after the Philistines or not. “But God did not answer him that day” (vs 37). From Saul’s distorted theological perspective he was convinced that sin was present in the camp that was preventing the divine assistance.

It turns out the supposed sin was Jonathan’s disobedience to a direct order by King Saul that Jonathan had, in fact, not even heard Saul issue because he was single-handedly attacking the Philistine garrison.

Saul determined that Jonathan must be executed for disobeying his orders, but the Israelite troops interceded in Jonathan’s behalf and Saul relented from executing his son (vs. 44-45).

So why does God seem to favor Jonathan’s impulsive decision to attack the Philistines and not favor Saul’s contemplative actions when he stops to inquire of the Lord before attacking the Philistines?

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Five Keys to Godliness – Psalm 37

Psalm 37 is one of the wisdom psalms, so-called because these psalms stress the importance of wisdom as a result of knowing God or of providing instruction on knowing God.

Psalm 37 provides instruction in godliness and contrasts the life of the godly with the life of the wicked. The Psalm opens with five admonitions for achieving godliness in your life. Embedded in each of these admonitions are promises for what happens when you live a godly life:

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Superhero or Supervillain? – Proverbs 3:27

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it (Proverbs 3:27, ESV).

Did you know that you have superhero power? If you don’t know what your superhero power is, then read this verse from Proverbs over again!

YOU HAVE THE POWER TO DO GOOD!

If there is one superhero power better than all others, it’s certainly the power to do good! After all, isn’t “Good” what all superheroes are trying to accomplish with whatever superpower they have?

So, you have the greatest superpower of all superpowers–TO DO GOOD!

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