Tuesday, August 28, 2012


The last characteristic Peter talks about in this passage is Love.

The Strong’s Concordance definition for love (agape) is:

- brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence, love feasts

This type of love refers to the type of love God has for us. A self-less love, a love passionately committed to the well-being of another. The love of I Corinthians 13 - a patient, kind, not envying or boastful, not arrogant or rude, rejoicing with the truth, bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things, never failing kind of love. A love that involves self-sacrifice, an active and thoughtful love, love in action - like Jesus putting aside His God-hood and becoming a man so He could die on the cross for us!

Love is the last characteristic Peter lists here, and so this is the conclusion of our study. As we conclude we must also consider verse 8:

For if these qualities are yours and increasing, they keep you from being ineffective [useless] or unfruitful [barren] in the [true] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

That is why we need to continue to grow in these qualities - not because they gain our salvation, rather because they prevent us from going backwards in our spiritual growth!

So in conclusion, prayerfully consider how you can strengthen the love “muscle” in your daily life!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Brotherly Affection

The next-to-last characteristic we are looking at in this study is Brotherly Affection. Remember that each of the characteristics build on one another…we are to supplement godliness with brotherly affection.

The Strong’s Concordance definition for brotherly affection (philadelphia) is:

- love of brothers or sisters, the love which Christians cherish for each other as brethren

This is NOT an obligatory love. It is not an “I love you but don’t like you” kind of love. It is a cherishing love. It involves genuine, heartfelt, warm, affectionate feelings for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

While it is not an obligatory love, it’s not an optional love, either. Consider I John 4:20:

“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God Whom he has not seen.”

So how do we reconcile this with reality when there are individuals (even Christians) in our lives we do not like? One way is to ask God to show us how HE sees that person. Learn how to see others through Jesus’s eyes - we are each precious to Him, and when we see others the way He does, they will also become precious to us!

What are some other ways to strengthen the brotherly affection “muscle” in every day life?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Counting “gifts” is becoming popular in Christian circles - and that is a very good thing. Thanksgiving is commanded in Scripture, and psychological research confirms that gratitude is a key to good mental health.

Are you counting your blessings?

Here are a few of mine from the past week:

687) Decluttering (aka “life, edited”)
688) Buttercup Squash, fresh from the farm stand
690) Relationships
693) Wedding rings
694) Reliable transportation
698) Peace that passes all understanding
699) Trees that provide beauty and shade
700) Comfy pajamas
701) Framed family photos
705) Selfishness revealed
706) Deadwood
707) Wilderness experiences

Monday, August 13, 2012


The next characteristic we’re going to consider is godliness. The Strong’s Concordance definition for godliness (eusebeia) is:

- reverence, respect, piety towards God, godliness

Supplementing our faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, and steadfastness has NOT been something we’ve done in our own strength - it’s in Christ’s strength that we’ve been able to “exercise” these “muscles.” As we practice steadfastness, we learn more and more to rely on God. Godliness - a reverence and respect, a piety - is recognition that our strength comes from God, and God alone!

Simply put, the more we practice our faith, and the more we strengthen (in Christ’s power) the “muscles” we’ve talked about so far, the more we will recognize Who He is, and the more we will know - truly, deeply KNOW - that God is MUCH BIGGER than we can imagine. With that knowledge, our reverence and respect - and humility and devotion - will increase.

Until next time, consider … Who is God? For some jumping off points, visit the following links from blb.org:

Alphabet on What God is to His People - Part 1

Alphabet on What God is to His People - Part 2

The Names of God in the OT - Intro


El Elyon



Jehovah Nissi

Jehovah Raah

Jehovah Rapha

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Connecting with God (a.k.a. "worship")

“Following Jesus is about connection with God and with one another.”

(The Digital Disciple)

God has been talking to me about connection lately. Last August, my mother died unexpectedly, and I spent several months reconsidering what type of connections were most beneficial. My connection with God was - and IS - vital to my very being. And to meaningfully connect with other people became more important than it already was. I desired for connection to be meaningful, and began to use technology as a way to deepen existing connection rather than to replace face-to-face relationship. And I was blessed to reconnect with people who had been an important part of my past. The rewards have been rich, richer than I could have imagined. I am deeply grateful for the relationships God has given me!

As I continue to ponder connection, I’ve thought about ways we can honor God for Who He is (a.k.a. “worship”). Worship is more than music, it’s acknowledging Who God is with every aspect of our life. Music is one of the creative ways we can worship. We can also worship through words, art, photography, dance, acts of service, etc.

What are some creative ways you worship? What are some creative ways you would LIKE to worship?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Expanding Focus

We're going to briefly diverge from our I Peter study. I hope that's okay. :)

For a few weeks, I've felt prompted to expand the focus of Better Things - not to take away from moving toward maturity, but to supplement how we do this. (Don't panic, I'm not talking about adding to Scripture, I am talking about using different methods to make Scripture an integral part of our everyday lives.) :)

God uses different methods to grow us. Oftentimes He uses trial. Think for a bit about how gold, pearls, and precious stones (such as diamonds!) are made. Gold is refined through fire. Pearls are made by oysters and are essentially created in response to a wound inflicted by an irritant (sand). And precious stones come from being subjected to intense pressure over time. Other things God uses to develop maturity include worship, prayer, connection with other people, and various spiritual disciplines (including gratitude, Bible reading and study, reading other Christian literature, journaling, silence, meditation, memorization, and giving of time and resources).

While we won’t necessarily discuss all of these things, from this point forward Better Things will be a place for Bible study AND for discussing other aspects of being a committed follower of Jesus.

I hope each post encourages you to draw closer to Jesus, who is “the author and perfecter of our faith.”



Monday, August 6, 2012


Moving on through the list of characteristics, this week we are talking about supplementing faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness! The Strong’s Concordance definition for steadfastness (hupomone) is:


  1. steadfastness, constancy, endurance
    • in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings
    • patiently, and steadfastly
  2. a patient, steadfast waiting for
  3. a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance
Constancy. Endurance. Patience. This is the polar opposite of our society’s tendency to quit things when they become difficult. It’s a “stick-to-itiveness” even when the “it” is hard.

Let’s consider how the virtues build on each other…when we have gained knowledge and know God expects us to exert self-control in a specific area of our lives (be it having a daily quiet time, changing eating [or activity or other] habits, or some other area), it is very easy to give up and revert back to old (often easier) habits. Steadfastness - constancy/endurance - will be necessary to overcome some difficult things.

I think this passage is meant to be encouraging - when difficult times come, when distractions will try to sway you from accomplishing the assignment(s) God has for you, steadfastness will be necessary. (The good news is, “I can do all things through Him Who strengthens me.” - Philippians 4:13)

Supplement self-control with steadfastness. A logical and important next step!

Until next time, consider … what is one specific way you can strengthen your steadfastness “muscle” in your every day life?

Monday, July 30, 2012


Well, so far we’ve considered the qualities of both virtue and knowledge. Peter continues to instruct, saying to supplement our knowledge with self-control. As in previous posts, let’s consider the Strong’s Concordance definition for self-control:


self-control: the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, esp. his sensual appetites

Self-control is a vital quality in implementing the increased knowledge we gain as we spend time in His Word. God speaks to us individually, and He will tell us what He expects. Sometimes He will instruct us to remove things from our lives - things that may not be “bad” in any way except that they are keeping us from growing in intimacy with Him. Sometimes He will instruct us to add things to our lives - things to improve our spiritual, emotional, physical, and even social lives. Some examples in my own life have included eliminating some forms of entertainment or certain types of foods and adding spiritual disciplines, social interaction, or healthier foods and exercise.

Until next time, consider … what is one specific way you can strengthen your self-control “muscle” in your every day life?

Monday, July 23, 2012


Peter continues in this passage by instructing us to supplement our virtue with knowledge. Strong’s Concordance defines knowledge (gnosis) as a general intelligence or understanding…”the general knowledge of Christian religion; the deeper more perfect and enlarged knowledge of this religion, such as belongs to the more advanced; esp. of things lawful and unlawful for Christians; moral wisdom, such as is seen in right living.”

This implies that our ethical and moral code, our virtuous living, needs to be founded in a knowledge of what God expects from us, but not simply knowing what He tells us to do, but also actually DOING it (“such as is seen in right living”). Therefore, we need to be both reading the Word of God (to learn what He expects from us) and applying what we have learned from our reading. Read it. Do it. :)

Until next time, consider … what is one specific way you can strengthen your knowledge “muscle” in your every day life?

Monday, July 16, 2012


The first characteristic Peter instructs us to supplement our faith with is virtue. Strong’s Concordance defines virtue (arete) as: “A virtuous course of thought, feeling and action, virtue, moral goodness, any particular moral excellence, as modesty, purity.” Nave’s Topical Bible adds “excellence,” “chastity,” and “courage” to this definition.

We often think of virtue as purity, in word, thought, and deed. While I do believe this characteristic includes this type of purity, in my opinion the idea of “moral excellence” is larger than that. My mother used to say God wants us “to do what is right just because it’s right.” Not because there is any reward in it, but just because it is the moral, ethical thing to do.

Until next time, consider … what is one specific way you can strengthen your virtue “muscle” in your every day life?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Supplementing Faith

After a longer than anticipated delay (please accept my apologies!), let's continue our study of 2 Peter 1:3-8 by looking at the beginning of verse 5:

"For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith…”

What is faith? The Greek word used here, pistes, refers to belief. Believing God - knowing that God exists and is Creator and Ruler of all, and the provider of eternal life through Christ, and believing Christ - knowing that Jesus is the Messiah, the ONE through Whom we obtain eternal salvation! Our salvation is a gift, through faith - this believing God (see Ephesians 2:8). (Note, not believing IN God, but believing God….)

It bears repeating, our salvation is a gift, through faith. We cannot earn it through any effort. And while our spiritual growth requires our effort, we do not cause our growth, no matter how many good things we do. God causes our growth as we obey the Holy Spirit’s voice. Promptly (delayed obedience equals disobedience).

This passage is telling us to “make every effort to supplement [our] faith.” To, earnestly and diligently, strive to supplement, or enhance, our faith with additional qualities. This could be approached much like physical exercise. As we exercise physical muscles they grow stronger and we find it easier to do things that might have previously found difficult. In this same way, we are to exercise the “muscles” of these characteristics. Using these qualities in our daily lives, as we learn how to live out our faith, is a choice we make, and continue to make, as we go through each day.

Why should we put forth the effort? “For this very reason,” because of Who God is and because by His ability He has given us freedom and everything we need to live a victorious life!

Next time, we will look at the first characteristic Peter identifies - virtue. Until then, consider this - what is the difference between believing IN God, and BELIEVING God? Please feel free to share thoughts in the comments!

Monday, May 21, 2012

2 Peter 1:3-8 Introduction

As we begin studying this passage in 2 Peter, we are going to be making one small change - we are going to look only at verses 3 to 8 in this mini-series. Today, we will look at verses 3 and 4. In future posts we will take some time to consider the meaning of each of the qualities discussed in verses 5 through 7, and we will conclude with a study of verse 8.

So, let’s take some time to look at the entire passage one more time:

And reconsider verses 3 and 4:
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desires.”

Let’s look at some word definitions (excerpted)*:
  • divine - of the only and true God, the trinity
  • power - strength and ability residing in one by virtue of (His) nature
  • granted - bestowed, presented with an honor, right, or gift
  • all things - the whole, everything
  • pertain - with regard to
  • life - life real and genuine, active and vigorous, devoted, blessed
  • godliness - reverence, respect
  • through - on account of, because of
  • knowledge - precise and correct knowledge, knowledge of the things ethical and divine
  • called - to give a name to, to receive the name of
  • own - pertaining to one’s self
  • glory - opinion, judgment, view, splendor, brightness, majesty
  • excellence - a virtuous course of thought, feeling, and action
  • precious - esteemed, especially dear
  • very great - magnificent
  • promises - assurance
  • become - receive being, be made
  • partakers - partner, associate, sharer, comrade, companion
  • nature: the sum of innate properties and powers by which one person differs from others, distinctive native peculiarities, natural characteristics, natural strength
  • escaped - flee from, break free from control
  • corruption - destruction, perishing, moral decay
  • world - the ungodly multitude, the mass of men alienated from God and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ
  • lust - desire, craving, longing, (for what is forbidden)

As overwhelming as this life can be, these verses offer a very real and tangible lifeline to cling to! God has given His children everything we need to live a godly life. Some things to consider:
  1. It’s because of Who He is (“divine”).
  2. It’s by His ability, not ours (“power”).
  3. He has given us everything we need with regard to life - real, genuine, active, vigorous, devoted life! God does not want His children living in defeat - He has given us everything we need to live life to the fullest, to live in victory! How?
  4. Through precise and correct knowledge of Him, Who He is, what He has done!
    • Note: This can only be accomplished by spending time with Him, reading His Word to us, the Bible
  5. He has given us assurance (“promises” - found in His Word) and through those promises we become “partakers” - partners, sharers, in His divine nature - He will make us like Him!
  6. Also through this gift He has given us, He has freed us from the control of ungodly people, thought, desires, cravings, and longings!
  7. We have been given everything we need to live a victorious life!
As we look at each of the characteristics in the next three verses, it will be very important to remember this foundation. God has given us everything we need to live out these qualities in our every day lives.

Father, please teach us how to live out the qualities You’ve given to us so that we walk in a manner worthy of and pleasing to You!

*Word definitions are from The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon by Thayer and Smith (1999) or the New Oxford American Dictionary.

Monday, April 30, 2012

New Study Announcement!

Hello, Sisters!

Thank you for grace and patience these last four (nearly five!) months. Words cannot describe how it has felt to sit quietly and wait before the LORD!

He is faithful and gracious, isn’t He?

I am not sure how Better Things! will look over the next few weeks and months, but you will find regular activity here once again.

We’re going to start with a study of 2 Peter 1:3-11. I am excited to see what the LORD has for us in this passage! I hope to post the first section of the study in the next few days.

In the meantime, I encourage you to read the passage we’re going to be studying. It is my hope you will read it at least 3 times in 3 different ways - perhaps out loud, to yourself, writing it out, using multiple translations - however the LORD leads you!

Abiding in Him,