Friday, November 14, 2014

PAY ATTENTION (2 Peter Chapter 1)

2 Peter 1:16-21, “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. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

It had been nearly four decades since Peter experienced what he wrote about here, but he well-remembered what took place.  His testimony regarding Christ’s transfiguration did not arise from “cleverly devised myths” (2 Peter 1:16).  Peter and his companions were “eyewitnesses of his majesty”, heard the “voice borne from heaven”, and were “with (Jesus) on the holy mountain” (2 Peter 1:16-18).

We’ve not shared in Peter’s experience--in fact we’ve never seen Jesus and don’t see Him now (Cf. 1 Peter 1:8)—but we have “the prophetic word” to guide us and to that we would “do well to pay attention” (2 Peter 1:19).  Many in this postmodern day preference personal experience as a guide, but Peter directs us to something better—the objective truth revealed to us in God’s inspired Word (Cf. 1 Peter 1:20-21; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).  We are exhorted to “pay attention” to it as we navigate through this present darkness in eager anticipation of the dawn of Christ’s return.

The Greek Word translated “pay attention” was a nautical term meaning to hold a ship in a direction.  It is in the present tense and speaks to the need to keep holding one’s mind to the Word, as a ship might navigate in a dark stormy night by the glimmer of light from a distant lighthouse.  A GPS is an amazing device—by satellite it determines your position, within a few feet, anywhere on the planet. Give it a destination and it will give you audible instructions as to when to turn. No longer is there a need for maps or to stop and embarrassingly ask for directions. But a GPS has its limitations--It will do you no good to type in “heaven” as your destination—it doesn’t know the way. The best of earthbound navigational means are of no value or assistance when it comes to spiritual matters.  The hymn “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning” is based on a true story D. L. Moody once told.  Cleveland harbor was marked by two sets of lights.  A ship was headed into the harbor on a dark and stormy night.  They spotted the upper lights, but not the lower ones.  They needed both to successfully navigate the passage, but due to the ferocity of the storm they had no choice but to proceed.  The ship ultimately crashed into the rocks and few survived.  There is a need to pay attention to the Word lest we be led off course into treacherous waters (Cf. 2 Peter 2:1-3; Ephesians 4:14).  The hymn’s theme—“let the lower lights be burning”—speaks to the need for believers to uphold a light-bearing testimony in this dark world, but the hymn also illustrates the need we each have for God’s supreme “navigational aid.”

The Bible is elsewhere said to be a light to our feet and a lamp to our path (Cf. Psalm 119:105).  In darkness it is difficult to safely find one’s way apart from the provision of light from some external source.  God’s word is that light to us.  How are we to distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil, truth and falsehood?  How are we to know if a thing is in fact pleasing unto God?  What will work to help us to stay the course on the narrow path that leads to life when most everyone else is headed in a different direction?  God’s inspired Word alone can do that (Cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17).   Every Gideon Bible includes this wonderful testimony regarding the Scripture’s ability to guide us: “The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword, and the Christian's charter. Here Paradise is restored, Heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. CHRIST is its grand subject, our good the design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.”  God’s Word provides direction for life for us and helps us to stay on course.

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