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?