Encouragement from the Heart

Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. [1Samuel 23:16 NLT]
David has been on the run from Saul for a long time. He is discouraged. He fears for his life. Did not the prophet anoint him to be king over Israel? How is it that the journey has taken so many wrong turns? He has waited for so long to ascend to the throne and grab hold of what the prophet anointed him to do.

In times like these we all need encouragement to stay strong in our faith in God. We need someone who will seek us out. One who can speak courage from their heart to our heart. In times of trial and adversity we need to be reminded that God is with us and will fulfill his calling in our lives.

Grants us Lord, to be ones who speak words of encouragement. From our heart to another heart.

... this devotion is part of a series about King David.

Heart Loyalty

Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn loyalty to each other in the Lord’s name. The Lord is the witness of a bond between us and our children forever.” [1Samuel 20:42 NLT]

Much has happened since that day when David overcame the giant. David has become famous. More famous than Saul. The king is jealous of that fame and seeks to kill young David. In spite of Saul's hatred, his son Jonathan has developed a loving friendship with David that puts him at odds with Saul.

As Saul seeks to kill David, Jonathan chooses to follow the dictates of his heart rather than the edicts of the king. An example of how we must always choose to be loyal to good so that evil does not prevail. We must be loyal to what we know to be true in our heart instead of what make sense to our heads.

Teach us about loyalty Lord Jesus. Help us to always choose you when our head wants to choose another.

... this devotion is part of a series about King David.

The Reply of the Heart

David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. ... This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” [1Samuel 17:45,47 NLT]

What do you think of when you hear the phrase: "This is the Lord’s battle"? Do you imagine miraculous intervention? Or something else? In this example David seems to be speaking about how God will be using an insignificant shepherd boy to defeat an infamous and irreverent Philistine giant.

I really love the faith and confidence that envelope David's words. His response seems to come from a place deep within his heart. He knows where he has been. He understands who he is. He has seen God work through him before and he expects Him to work through him again. It is simply beautiful.

Help us Lord to remember when you worked through us. Give us a heart filled reply to our giants today.

... this devotion is part of a series about King David.

The Heart of a Shepherd

David said, “I’ve been a shepherd, tending sheep for my father. Whenever a lion or bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I’d go after it, knock it down, and rescue the lamb. ... And I’ll do the same to this Philistine pig who is taunting the troops of God. [1Samuel 17:34-36 MSG]

I love the type of person that God chose to fight the giant. Not a seasoned warrior but a shepherd boy. Not one trained in the art of war but one seasoned in the art of caring for helpless animals. Though similarities exist, the warrior and the shepherd are very different. One attacks. One defends.

As David speaks to King Saul we hear the heart of a shepherd. One who cares more about the safety of his flock than his own safety. One who understands the call to defend the helpless. A person who understand what it means to love sacrificially. Such is the one who is called to fight giants.

Lord, help us to develop the heart of a shepherd that we might defend those who are the weakest among us.

... this devotion is part of a series about King David.

The Ridiculousness of the Heart

Don’t be ridiculous—you can’t fight the Philistine. You’re only a youth, and he has been a warrior since his childhood. You lack age and experience. [1Samuel 17:33 VOICE]

Age. Experience. These are the qualities that the brain values. These are the things that managers look for in professional resumes. Yet these are not the things that make great leaders. Or soldiers. Or software designers. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates did not change the world because of age and experience.

These two titans of computer engineering changed the world because they had what David had. They had heart. They had passion. Like David they embraced courage and believed that giants, like IBM, would fall before their passion. Such is the example we have in David. He had a ridiculous heart.

I want to have a ridiculous heart Lord. I want to see the possibilities. I want to defeat giants.

... this devotion is part of a series about King David.

Let no one lose Heart

“Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” ... “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” [1Samuel 17:26,32 NIV]

Some time has passed since Samuel anointed David king. Life has gone back to normal for young David. Back to caring for his Dad's sheep. Back to the daily grind. Back to taking provisions to his brothers as they fight the Philistines. And then Goliath appeared before him and revealed David's heart.

There is something about giants that bring the best or worst out of us. Giants cause us to either lose heart or take heart. And, in this moment of challenge, we see the very best of David as he takes heart. As courage rises from the very depths of his being. It reminds me to feed my faith. And my courage.

In you Lord I find the faith to fight the giants in my life. Arise in me today that I might slay my fears.

... this devotion is part of a series about King David.

God sees the Heart

The LORD told Samuel, "Don't look at his appearance or his height, for I've rejected him.
Truly, God does not see what man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance,
but the LORD sees the heart." [1 Samuel 16:7 ISV]

This is the beginning of a new chapter in Israel. Saul has been rejected as King. Samuel is looking for a new man to anoint as king. Yet he seems to still have an old regal image in mind as he looks. Consider what the prophet saw, and how it skewed his judgement, when he first came upon Saul.
"Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else." [1 Samuel 9:2]
As Samuel looks for Saul's replacement he looks for someone who looked like Saul. And as he does God stops him in his tracks by telling him that his criteria was all wrong when he chose Saul. For you see, Samuel was still looking for outward stature when he inspected all of David's brothers.

Samuel thought this when he saw one of David's brothers: “Surely the Lord's anointed is before him.” It was hard for the prophet to get passed his external image of what a leader looked like. It is hard for many of us as well. God is all about the heart. He has always wanted men and women after his own heart.

Open our inner eyes Lord to see past external images. Cause us to be a people after your own heart.

... this devotion is part of a series about King David.


Grow in grace and understanding of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ. Glory to the Master, now and forever! Yes! [2Peter 3:18 MSG]

Life is a continuum of growth. A baby is born with limited mental and physical capacity. Their growth in those early years is amazing. Their bodies double and triple in size. Their abilities seem to outperform their size. As these precious children head towards adulthood their growth seems to evolve.

Such is the life of one who is born from above. Like a natural child a baby believer is in need of growth. These often look like a baby who falls as they try walk. And like the child they are wired to emulate their parents. Such is the context of growing in the grace and understanding of Jesus.

We who have been born from above are wired to glorify our Heavenly Father in the same way that a child desires to please their parents. Growing in grace and understanding is all about emulating the One of whom the Father said: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

We desire to glorify you Lord. Please guide us as we grow in grace and understanding.

... this devotion is part of my series on the epistles of Peter and biblical words.

Work Hard to Live in Peace

So, my friends, while we wait for the day of the Lord, work hard to live in peace, without flaw or blemish; and look at the patience of the Lord as your salvation. [2Peter 3:14-15a VOICE]

The words, "work hard to live in peace", speak deeply to me of what it means to walk in the Spirit. It is so difficult to experience peace on the outside when we are internally bereft of it. Yet this peace is so important for anyone who desires to follow the way of Christ. It is why we must work hard for it.

When I think of working hard for something I think of the word discipline. A disciple is one who patiently trains to achieve their goal. They exercise. They build up their muscles. The have a training regimen. Such it is for those who work hard for peace. One step at a time these do the things that make for peace.

Help me to embrace the discipline of peace Lord.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

Where Justice Reigns

What will happen next, and what we hope for, is what God promised: a new heaven and a new earth where justice reigns. [2Peter 3:13 VOICE]

The Greek word, dikaiosynē, is translated here as justice but in other translations it is rendered as righteousness. That is understandable as as righteousness can be defined as "God's judicial approval". I love the idea that divine righteousness, or doing the right thing, is centered in divine justice.

When I think about justice reigning in heaven I think not about human justice. This flavor of justice too often looks more like retribution (i.e. an eye for an eye) than reconciliation and rehabilitation. When I think about the reign of heavenly justice I imagine a place that is filled with divine reconciliation.

Teach us Lord to pray for heavenly justice. As it is in heaven please let it be done on earth.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

Like a Thief in the Night

The day of the Lord will come unexpectedly like a thief in the night; and on that day, the sky will vanish with a roar, the elements will melt with intense heat, and the earth and all the works done on it will be seen as they truly are. [2Peter 3:10 VOICE]
I once read these words in a very literal sense. I believe that the only meaning to the phrase 'the day of the Lord' was the end of the world. Thinking back, it is a strange perspective. Why would Peter write about something that Christians would not experience for several millennia after he wrote it?

The more realistic meaning is summed up in acknowledging that none of us know the day of our death. That day when earth's sky will be irrelevant. When our lives on earth will be seen for what they really are. When, as Paul writes to the Corinthians, all that is not pure in our lives will be proverbially burned up. And because we do not know the time of our passing we are compelled to live every day as though it is our last.

Help us Lord to live our mortal lives with immortality in mind.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

Patient and Merciful

Now the Lord is not slow about enacting His promise—slow is how some people want to characterize it—no, He is not slow but patient and merciful to you, not wanting anyone to be destroyed, but wanting everyone to turn away from following his own path and to turn toward God’s. [2Peter 3:9 VOICE]
Sometimes it is so very hard to exercise patience as a parent. It can be equally difficult to show mercy to your children when they have followed their own path and rejected the things that you have taught them. It is during these times that our children most need our love, patience, understanding and mercy.

Such is the example that we have in our Heavenly Father. My own life is a testimony to how he has been patient with my religious arrogance and judging of my brothers and sisters in Christ. For years he watched as I rejected the path of humility. Eventually I began to grasp his mercy for me and for others. I began to be accepting of others. I learned how to patiently love and show mercy to them. Wishing them the very best.

Help us Lord to be people who help people turn towards you and follow your path.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

God’s Timetable

Don’t imagine, dear friends, that God’s timetable is the same as ours; as the psalm says, for with the Lord, one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like one day. [2Peter 3:8 VOICE]
What do you think of the idea of a timeless being having a timetable? Amusing when you consider the idea. God created everything. Including time. Apart from the rising and setting of the sun there is no point of reference for the concept. Putting God inside of time would make the created greater than the Creator.

Even so, the concept does speak to our need for patient endurance when God seems nowhere to be found. In a real sense these are the times that we need to engage faith. Not in the notion that God has a timetable but that he is greater than time. Greater than our trials. And timelessly present with us in all things.

We wait in hope Lord Jesus. Help us to sense your timeless presence today.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again?

They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.” [2Peter 3:4 NLT]

Ever wondered about the idea that Jesus is coming again? In the previous verse Peter says that scoffers ask these kinds of questions. So is he saying that it is wrong to question eschatological dogmas like the Rapture or the Battle of Armageddon? Or is the issue is more about how we question than whether we do.

For me, I love questions. I find that they cause me to seek the scriptures. They help me to refine my theological thinking. For example, in my youth I dogmatically embraced a mid-tribulation rapture and thought that it would happen in my lifetime. Time has caused me to question that dogma and think differently.

These days I read about the promise that Jesus is coming again and I see him coming for me when I breathe my last breath. It is a blessed hope that gives wings to a full embracing the promise of his return.

Help us Lord to be seekers instead of scoffers. To find hope in your coming for us.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

Whatever Controls You

They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you. ... They prove the truth of this proverb: “A dog returns to its vomit.” And another says, “A washed pig returns to the mud.” [2Peter 2:19,22 NLT]

When I think about the idea of being controlled by something I think of addiction. There is a tendency in our culture to regard addicts and addiction in a pejorative light. We often are not merciful when we consider the topic. Unless the addiction is something more resembling a Christian addiction ... I mean habit. ツ

Peter warned about false teachers in his time. Have you ever wondered about what a false teacher looks like in our day? Could it be someone who promises grace and then, like the Pharisees, impose regurgitated religious rules on their followers? Or could it be preachers who invite followers to experience the love of God and then teach people to return to habitual judging and gossiping about addictions not similar to their own?

Teach us Lord to be teachers of love who are not controlled by our addiction to judging others.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

Like Animals

These false teachers are like unthinking animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed. They scoff at things they do not understand, and like animals, they will be destroyed. [2Peter 2:12 NLT]

I may be wading into uncomfortable territory when I say that the unregenerated human is like an animal in that they possess nothing that will survive death. As much as I dearly loved my pets, I do not believe that I will see them in heaven. They were mortal animals that simply ceased to exist when they died.

So I believe that it is with humans who have not been born of the Spirit. In my view people are not born immortal but become immortal when they are, as Jesus put it, born again. Those who have not been spiritually born have nothing in them that survives death. They simply cease to exist when they die.

We pray Lord for those who are in need of a spiritual birth. Open their eyes and their hearts to your love.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

The Day of Judgment

Since the Lord did all this, he knows how to rescue godly people when they are tested. He also knows how to hold immoral people for punishment on the day of judgment. [2Peter 2:9 GW]

In a very real sense salvation, like judgment, is finalized in the future. Life is filled with things that are not fair. Innocent children die young. Bad things happen to godly people. Good things happen to immoral people. So often life simply does not makes sense. So often we are confronted with the question of why.

Yet when I think of judgment day, my mind imagines a day when all is made right. Parents are reunited with lost children. Painful tears are wiped from our eyes. Those who have rejected the Divine are nowhere to be found. It is a time when past trials and sufferings will make sense. It will be a glorious day.

We have a Blessed Hope. Empower us again to persevere when tested Dear Jesus.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

False Teachers

Just as false prophets rose up in the past among God’s people, false teachers will rise up in the future among you. They will slip in with their destructive opinions ... These false teachers will follow their greed and exploit you with their fabrications [2Peter 2:1,3 VOICE]

It is always good to remember that the presence of something false is an evidence of something true. The idea of a counterfeit three dollar bill is ludicrous because there is not a real one printed by the government. So it is with false prophets and teachers. They exist as a testimony to those who are true teachers.

That said, I think that it is helpful to point out that not everything a person teaches is entirely true or false. Being a false teacher has everything to do with the heart and not the head. With why one says something rather than what one says. False teachers use manipulation as they follow their greed. In this context we understand that false teachers will say about anything to benefit themselves and their ministries.

Keep us Lord. Help us not to be manipulated. Give us discernment concerning false teachers.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.


Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. [2Peter 1:20-21 NIV]

Hermeneutics is the theory or methodology of biblical interpretation taught at seminaries and bible colleges. Though the concept has much merit, such classes rarely examine the prime hermeneutic, the interpretation of God himself. In reality, all biblical interpretation is filtered through how one sees God. It is a difficult topic to be taught because it reveals how the most essential hermeneutic skews every other hermeneutic.

So when Peter tells us that the scriptures are not about human interpretation we understand that he is not saying that the prophets were not human. In contrast he tells us that these humans were carried along by God's Spirit as they spoke. God spoke through them in the context of their culture, language and their image of God. As we read their words in scripture we interpret their words in the light of the prime hermeneutic.

Help us Lord to fully embrace your divine image presented by Jesus in the gospel accounts.

... this devotion is part of my series on the epistles of Peter and biblical words.

Who brings me Great Joy

“This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” [2Peter 1:17 NLT]

These are the words from the majestic glory of God that Peter, James and John heard on the Mount of Transfiguration. The words are expressive of the pride that a parent feels when they see their child. Children often create a great sense of joy in their parents as they grow into the fullness of their gifts.

I think that we are capable of bringing great joy to our Heavenly Father. When we love others the way that he loves us, we bring joy to him. When we continue to believe when it no longer makes sense, we bring him joy. When we seek him in prayer, asking for his will to be done in our lives, we bring him great joy.

Our desire Lord, is to be among those who bring you great joy. Help us to be like your dearly loved Son.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.


For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. [2Peter 1:16 ESV]

Peter seems to understand how, even in his time, there is a tendency to relegate the gospel accounts of Christ's life and ministry to mythic status. It is understandable that some think that Jesus never existed. The things that we read about Jesus in the bible are somewhat unbelievable. How could they not be?

Yet the testimony of those who witnessed the majestic life, death and resurrection of Christ is very believable. These were not theologians or apologists. These were people like us who were there with Jesus. Yet, unlike you and me, these testified and remained faithful to Christ in the face of torture and death.

Thank you Lord for those who have stayed faithful to you in times of suffering, trial and persecution.

... this devotion is part of my series on the epistles of Peter and biblical words.

Confirm your Call

Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. [2Peter 1:10 NRSV]

I made my confirmation in the Episcopal church when I was about thirteen. It was similar to how young Jewish boys celebrate their Bar Mitzvah. Yet the confirmation that Peter writes about here is a bit different in that it speaks to what James writes to us about showing your faith by the way that you live your life.

This to me is the heart of what it means to be a person of faith. Each day we are called to confirm the call that God has on our lives. In moments of trial and suffering our faith is being tried and tested. And perhaps, in the end, confirmation is more about conformation to the image of Jesus than anything else?

Conform me Lord. To the image that I see of your Son in the gospels. I am eager to confirm your call.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

Improve your Faith

Do your best to improve your faith. You can do this by adding goodness, understanding, self-control, patience, devotion to God, concern for others, and love. [2Peter 1:5-7 CEV]

Sometimes I think we view faith in binary terms. Yesterday we did not believe. Today we believe. I think this view is limiting. It does not allow for faith to grow or, as this translations puts it, improve. I like the idea that faith can improve over time as we add virtue to it. In reality faith and virtues are linked together.

I love the similarity between Peter's list of virtues here and the fruit of the Spirit that Paul speaks of in his letter to the Galatians. There is a symbiotic relationship between internal transformation and external fruit. In truth, internal virtues are strengthened as they are externally expressed and exercised by a believer.

Lord help us to act out and improve our faith. Teach us to follow the voice of virtue deep within us.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

Faith in the Righteousness of God

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained a like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ: [2Peter 1:1 ESV]

What do you think it means to have faith in divine righteousness? I suggest to you that it means to believe that God will always act in accordance with his character. As such, we can always expect him to be a real expression of the fruit of his Spirit. He will always be patient, loving and good in his dealings with us.

A belief such as this is precious in the sight of God. To see Him as loving in the midst of suffering is to embrace a precious faith. To know that he is good when everything around us seems so bad requires a faith in divine righteousness. To have such faith we must be, like Peter, a servant of Jesus Christ.

Help us Lord to lean into a faith in your righteousness. That we might fully embrace the fruit of your Spirit.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

Greet one another with a loving kiss.

Greet one another with a loving kiss. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. [1Peter 5:14 NET]

There is something intimate about a kiss or even a hug. I remember the first time a guy hugged me at a Christian businessmen's meeting. It was unprovoked and somewhat unwelcome. Yet I think it was the beginning of a breakdown of barriers. The stoic part of me was always more comfortable shaking hands.

Perhaps this idea of a loving kiss is best expressed in our culture by a loving embrace. A hug. I can see embraces like this all over the gospels. The healing touch of Jesus greatly abounded in his ministry. Likewise in our lives, healing and peace can also flow when we embrace each other in love.

Open our eyes Lord to those who are hurting and in need of a hug.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.

Steadfast in your Faith

Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. [1Peter 5:8-9 NRSV]

Peter reminds us in these verses that life is a spiritual battle. We have a spiritual enemy that wars against us seeking to destroy our faith in the love and goodness of God. This enemy whispers to us when we suffer. He questions and casts dispersion on the character of the Lord. Our response is to resist him in faith.

I relate to these sorts of temptations. We are open to these kinds of suggestions when we suffer and are in pain. In reality, if someone can convince you that God is the source of your pain then the battle is mostly won. It is why we must resist such accusations. It is why we must steadfastly believe that God is good and loving.

Help my suffering brothers and sisters in the world to remain steadfast in believing you are good and loving.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the epistles of Peter.