Weekly Blog

The Building Blocks of the Christian Life (2 Peter 1:1-15)


      A look into the epistles of Peter is a glimpse into the end of Peter’s life.  It’s a look into his heart.  It’s the man of God looking back on His ministry and giving to the church the most vital things they need to move forward for God with the benefit of all of it being given by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. 

    Luke 22 records a conversation between the Lord Jesus and Peter.  It takes place just at that last Passover supper before the Christ went to the cross.  In verse 31 and 32, Christ says to Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”

      John 21 records another conversation between the Lord Jesus and Peter that takes place after Christ’s resurrection.  Jesus asked Peter a question.  “Simon, son of Jona, lovest thou me?”  Peter answered, “Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.”  The Lord told him, “Feed my lambs.”  Two more times they exchanged these words.  “Do you love me?”  “Yes.”  “Feed my sheep.” 

    Through the course of his ministry, Peter finally understood the context of those conversations.  “Strengthen the brethren.”  “Feed my sheep.”  Peter did those things with his ministry, and with his epistles he did them at the end of his life.  Not only that, but in 1 Peter 5, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he encourages other ministers to feed the flock of God.  He encouraged them to do the same things that Jesus told him to do.

      In Chapter 1 of 2 Peter, the apostle tells the sheep that he is going to die soon.  The Lord told him so.  Because of that, there were some things he wanted to tell them once again.  There were some things he wanted them to hear once again.  (Read 12-15)  He said, “I know you know these things.  I know that you’re established in them.  But even after I’m gone, I want you to keep them in remembrance.  It’s vital.  It’s necessary.  I want it on your mind always. 

      Peter was feeding the sheep.  He was strengthening the brethren.  He knew what was good for them.  He knew what they needed, just like a shepherd.  Now God’s people are not sheep in the sense of dumb animals, but they are in the sense that they are the prized possessions of Christ, the Chief Shepherd.  As was discussed in Sunday School last week, the pastor is an under-shepherd.  He is responsible for the continual care of the flock.  

    The pastor has to ensure the proper diet of the flock.  Even if the sheep don’t want to eat, He is responsible to lead them to those green pastures.  Even if it tastes the same as the last time, the flock needs to eat.  Even if it’s not dessert all the time, that makes you feel good, it’s good for you.  When a preacher brings up certain subjects again and again, it’s not that he doesn’t have anything else to say.  He just knows what’s good for you.  So what was it that Peter wanted to put into their remembrance? 


  1. Faith.  You’re saved.  You’ve been saved by faith in Jesus Christ.  You have believed in His righteousness.  You have faith that He is qualified, able, and willing to save you.  Through Him, you have escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.  You have eternal life.  Not only that, but by His divine power, His indwelling Holy Spirit that speaks to you through the Word, He has given unto you all things that pertain unto life and godliness.  The power to live a godly life comes not from you but from God.  Now that you’ve been saved, regenerated, and made a new creature, you have the liberty in Christ to live right and access to the power of God to live right.  All of this is made possible in your salvation.  Salvation gives you a home in heaven, but it also gives you much more.  It doesn’t just give you a destination.  It gives you a wonderful glorious journey to that destination.  Now look at verse five.  “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith.”  This does not mean that you need to do more than trust Christ to be saved.  Rather, because you are saved, you need some more things in your Christian life.  Notice he says to do it with all diligence.  Work at it.  Press toward the mark.  Determine to do it.  Faith in Christ is the foundation for the rest of your Christian life.  It is the support.  Without it, there can be nothing else, but it doesn’t end there.  So what do we add to our faith?
  1. Virtue. The kind of virtue we’re talking about here is courage or valor.  It takes courage to live the Christian life.  Be bold in your faith.  Don’t be afraid.  Have the courage to live for the Lord.  (Joshua 1:7/Proverbs 28:1)  Someone once said, “Let not your hearts fail you in the evil day, but show yourselves valiant in standing against all opposition and resisting every enemy, world, flesh, devil, yea, and death too.”  For the Christian, courage is simply knowing and believing that God is bigger than everything else.  Simply understand that standing for Christ is standing with Christ.  Nebuchadnezzar didn’t see the fourth man whose form was like the Son of God until the three Hebrews were in the fire.  But they knew He was there the whole time.  We face nothing alone.  We face everything with Christ who has already faced the worst for us.  Add virtue to your faith.
  2. Knowledge. Next add knowledge to virtue.  We need to know the Scripture.  We need to know what God’s Word says about the issues of life.  We need to arm ourselves with the knowledge of the Word.  How can we prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God lest we delve into His Word?  We fill our heads with so much useless information and leave little room for the Word of God.  Why do we devote so much attention to worldly wisdom when we can fill our minds and hearts with the knowledge of God?  Why not give the Bible have first dibs on space and let it push all those other things out?  With that knowledge, we learn wisdom and discernment as well.  Knowledge is knowing what to do.  Wisdom is knowing when to do it.  It is knowing what to say and when to say it.    It is being full of grace and truth and then speaking the truth in love.  (Proverbs 2:1-7)
  3. Temperance. On top of knowledge, add temperance. Self-control.  Control of your thoughts and affections.  Not getting hooked on the world.  Voluntarily abstaining from pleasures that do not lead to God.  An intemperate person is satisfied with feeding on the husks of the world around him.  A temperate Christian is looking higher to the Lord.  A temperate Christian says no to the world so he can say yes to the Lord. With temperance, you won’t be distracted and led astray when something that appears more attractive presents itself.  It’ll help you even when something else appears easier.  Many a preacher has given up staying true to standards and convictions because it’s easier to get a crowd without them.  But if he’s learned some temperance, he won’t run after the first flashy ministry he sees.  As God’s people, we learn what the right desires and affections are from the knowledge of God and builds temperance on that knowledge.    (Titus 2:11-13)
  4. Patience. Next, add patience.  Notice how we’re building one on top of another.  Each level built helps you reach the next. Temperance keeps you away from the wrong things.  Patience helps you wait on God for the right things.  Patience keeps you from complaining and murmuring against God.  Patience waits in faith for the fulfillment of God’s promises.  For the Christian, patience is faith that has matured.  We know God will do what He says, and we can wait on Him to do it.    Faith says, “God will always do the right thing, and will always do it at the right time.”  Patience says, “I need what God is doing right now as much as what I want to see Him do in the future.”  Patience (James 1:3-4/Romans 5:3)
  5. Godliness. Then add godliness.  Patience bears fruit.  On patience is built godliness.  Godliness does not come instantaneously when you get saved.  It is a sanctifying process.  At this point, you don’t just know how God wants you to live.  You have the self-control to stay away from the easy way and the patience to wait on God for the best way.  Now you’ve come to the place where you want only what God wants for you.  The Lord is sanctifying you and changing you.  You’ve been in the refiner’s fire since you started on the journey of the Christian life, and now it’s starting to show.  With patience, you are getting worked on by the Lord.  He is molding you and making you.  Godliness comes out of that.  Sometimes it gets uncomfortable.  Sometimes it outright hurts, but the end result is a vessel that glorifies the Lord and is useful to Him.  (Psalm 89:30-33)  Even when chastising, He is still kind and faithful.  As His child, you become more like Him, and grow in godliness.
  6. Brotherly kindness. Now we come to brotherly kindness.  Love for your brothers and sisters in Christ.  Notice the progression that we have been taking.  Now that you have been built up by the Lord, you are able to have brotherly kindness.  You can forgive.  You can encourage.  You can comfort to be a help and other Christians.  This comes so far down the list because it can be so tough.  It requires all the dying to self that we learned in the other building blocks.  Even the brethren are not always so easy to love.  We often just act like lost people.  Loving the brethren is one of the greatest evidences of being a believer.  This being in the list here ought to convince us of the importance of the local church.  It’s a lot easier show to brotherly kindness to my local church that I worship and serve God with than the entirety of the body of Christ.  If you want to show brotherly kindness, start right here in this room.  (Ephesians 4:32)  Beloved let us love one another.
  7. Charity. Lastly we come to charity.  Love people.  Love all people.  Love them with the love that God has for them.  Desire them to be saved, and then act upon it.  Witness to the lost.  When you’ve been built up this far, you’ve made it to the heartbeat of God.  Loving the lost is God’s heartbeat.  (1 Corinthians 13)
  8. Now look at verses 8-9. If you’ve got these things, you will be fruitful and useful to god.  If you don’t, you’ll end up so far from God, you won’t be sure if you ever got saved.  However, if you do them, you’ll not fall.  You have been given the foundation of Jesus Christ.  Let Christ have your whole life and build you into the Christian He designed for you to be.


There Is No Pause (by Jo Ann Newlove)

The desire of our hearts
Is our Lord to serve,
To faithfully do our parts
Honoring Him as He deserves.
Then into life affliction falls.
The work is too hard to bear, it seems.
Can’t we take just a little pause, we cry –
Take a break to follow our own dreams?
O Christian, in life there is no pause.
We back away from God, or move toward Him.
Let prayer for guidance be our only pause,
And not slip backward into sin.
Advance, move forward for His cause.
Through trials, hardships and distress
God within our hearts does call;
Move onward and upward – I will bless.


To Do Right (by Jo Ann Newlove)



When I know to do right,

O Lord, hear my plea,

Help me with thy might

In faith, to act obediently.


Help me, Lord, daily to deny,

The fast-fleeting charms of sin.

And then, my heart will testify

Doing right gives peace and joy within.


Jo Ann Newlove



A Cross (by Jo Ann Newlove)

A Cross


A cross to bear.

A cross to share.

A cross that lifts.

A cross that gifts.


A cross of shame

That calls my name

My heart to give

To believe and live.


To trust God’s Son

The only One

Who died for us

And rose most glorious.


He loved me first,

And lifted my curse.

Jesus, always in my heart,

And never will depart.

Jo Ann Newlove



Do You Have Enough Bars? (By Jo Ann Newlove)

Do You Have Enough Bars?


Need to make calls near and far?

Do you have enough bars?

No bars are needed to tell your cares

When you call out to God in prayer.


All thumbs when you text?

Put your heart at rest.

You can reach God’s throne

And you don’t need a phone.


To cure loneliness, where do you look?

Is it Facetime or friends on Facebook?

Turn your eyes to Jesus’ Face

Shining with mercy and grace.


No electronic apps or gear

Can erase the soul’s fears.

Only the Lord Himself can give

Eternal peace in which the soul can live.


Jo Ann Newlove

May 20, 2020



All the Valiant Men Arose (1 Samuel 31:8-13)

     Jabeshgilead stands out early on in Israel’s history in the Promised Land.  And there would be a connection between Saul and Jabeshgilead that took place before he was ever born.  Years before the reign of Saul, a rebellion took place in Israel.  In the book of Judges and chapter nineteen, we find a heinous crime has taken place in the territory of Benjamin among the inhabitants of Gibeah.  All of Israel is called together in chapter twenty to meet out justice.  The tribe of Benjamin is asked to turn in the guilty to the authorities for judgment.  The tribe, however, refuses to do so.  What follows is a long and bloody series of battles that leaves over sixty-five thousand men dead and the entire tribe of Benjamin decimated except for six hundred men. 

      The rest of the tribes wept before the Lord and asked Him what to do about this now nearly extinct tribe.  You see, the tribes had taken a vow not to gives their daughters to Benjamin to marry.  There were no women left of Benjamin and the remaining men were holed up in a cave.  Two hundred of the daughters of Shiloh were whisked away by the men of Benjamin in a prearranged setup.  But what would become of the other four hundred men?  The decision was made to destroy whichever city that had not sent anyone to the battle, save alive four hundred virgins, and give them to the tribe of Benjamin for wives. There was just one city that did not send anyone to the battle.  That city was Jabeshgilead.  The tribe of Benjamin was rebuilt over time and two-thirds of the mothers of Benjamin were of Jabeshgilead. 

      Fast-forwarding through time, we come to 1 Samuel chapter eleven.  This is the beginning of Saul’s reign, the first king of Israel who happened to be of the tribe of Benjamin and from the region of Gibeah.  This is where we find a much deeper connection between Saul and Jabeshgilead.  You see, men are rarely valiant unless they are inspired to it.  Whether it is on the physical battlefield or on the spiritual battlefield, we are generally inspired to courage. 

      We are moved to fight for what is right because we watched someone else fight for what is right.  We are valiant because someone else was valiant for us.  It always has been, but in the day we live especially, the need is great for valiant Christians in the church and in the fight for the truth of the Gospel.  Let’s look at some things from God’s Word that will help us be valiant for Christ.  The first thing I’d like you to see is…

I.  The Memory of the Victory. In chapter eleven, forty years before the valiant men arise; we find the city of Jabeshgilead under siege by the Ammonites.  The Ammonites were marauders.  Under the leadership of Nahash, they encamped against a solitary city in Israel.  Saul had just been anointed king, but Israel was still just a loose confederation at this point.  The land was very easily invaded as there was little nationally organized defense.  Jabeshgilead finds itself in a doomed condition.  I can almost see those old men amongst the valiant as they prepare to assault Beth-shan and get Saul’s body back.  Maybe they stood still and went back in their minds’ eye to when they had not felt so valiant.  Perhaps they thought back to the day when their city was on the brink of destruction.  Most everyone can go back to a low point in their life.  Perhaps it was before you got saved or maybe it was afterward, but you can remember a time when you felt like there was no way out.  Maybe it seemed as if no matter what you did, things were going to end badly.  That’s where Jabeshgilead was when the Ammonites surrounded the city.  It seemed that no matter what they did, there would be…
A.  A Reproach on Israel. If they surrendered to the Ammonites, it would bring shame not just to Jabeshgilead but to all of Israel.  More so, it would bring reproach upon the name of God.  If they fought, they would be slaughtered fairly quickly and still there would be a reproach because of an easy victory for the Ammonites.  Our decisions always affect more than just us.  There are others to consider.  Truthfully, if all Israel had been right with God including Jabeshgilead than perhaps the situation would not have been as dire in the first place.
1.  The Fear-filled Decision. Jabeshgilead was surrounded by an unbeatable foe.  What should they do?  How could they get out of this?  One small city versus an army?  What could be done?  Christians everywhere often look at the battle of living for God, or the battle against the world for their children, or the battle for holiness in the church, or the battle for souls and think that there’s nothing that can be done.  The men of Jabeshgilead decided it would be better to capitulate than die.  O that God’s people would decide that it is would be better to die than capitulate.  Some battles are always worth fighting.
2.  Facing Desperation. Jabeshgilead was between a rock and a hard place.  Nahash said that he would accept them as his servants only if he thrust out their right eye first.  This meant more than just simple servitude.  The soldier of ancient times generally held his shield in his left hand.  It blocked his view from that eye.  Without the right eye, a soldier would be blind in battle.  This meant no possibility of ever rising up against their masters.  Sometimes that’s where we seem to be…facing a desperate situation with no way out.  They needed a deliverer, and so do we.  We need our champion, the Lord Jesus Christ to take up our cause and give us victory.
B.  A Response from the Indignant. Complacency is the Christian’s worst enemy.  Complacency says we can’t do anything about it.  If we believe we can’t do anything about it, then we won’t do anything about it!  Complacency stops the forward momentum of the Christian life.  Where there is complacency there is no growth.  God can turn the tide against evil, but God’s people must rise, deal with their own sin, and not stand by idly.  Decide that you will not go silently into the night, that you will live for God and stand against sin.
1.  A Failed Determination. When Israel heard about the dire situation of Jabeshgilead, they wept.  There doesn’t seem to be a call to action amongst the people.  At some point we have to realize it is not enough to be upset about sin.  It’s not enough to bemoan it.  Yes, we might be upset, but lest we act, it amounts to a waste.  There must be a turning point where we say enough is enough and act.  We must go to the battle.  And this battle is for the souls of men.
2.  A Fiery Demand. So often, the whole won’t act until the one does.  Saul came in out of the field.  He found the people weeping but did not know the reason.  When he found out the reason, his reaction was different than that of the people.  The Spirit of God came upon him, and in righteous anger he spurred a people to take up the fight for a righteous cause.  Saul fought for a city.  What will we fight for?  Will we fight for our city?  Will we fight for our state, our country, our world?  The stakes are much greater than ever before.  What will we do?
II.  The Motive of the Valiant. What makes valiant men arise?  What makes ordinary men become valiant men?  What changed in the hearts of these men to make them hazard their lives for a man that was already dead?  What makes the soldiers that guard the tomb of the Unknown Soldier keep their post in a hurricane when they’ve been ordered to leave?  Saul’s death occurred forty years after his rescue of Jabeshgilead.  Many of those valiant men may never have even met Saul.  Why would they do what they did?  What motivates you?  As a Christian, why do you do what you do?  How far does that motivation take you?  How far are you willing to go for Christ?
A.  A Matter of Honor. For the valiant men, it was a matter of honor.  Saul was their hero and the king of Israel.  His position and his feats demanded that such action be taken.  Not even his body deserved this kind of treatment.  They remembered Saul’s sacrifice.  They remembered his loyalty.  They remembered how far he went to rescue their city.  They owed everything to Saul.  And let me say this, we owe all to Jesus Christ.  Should there be a limit on how far we will go for Him?
1.  An Unforgettable Defeat. Saul’s last battle was a resounding defeat.  His heart was hardened. He had no help from God.  His forces were routed.  He and three of his sons died on the battlefield.  Saul resorted to taking his own life.  Israel was on the run.  With the bodies of Saul and sons in the hands of the Philistines, the moral of Israel would beyond repair.  It was the men of Jabeshgilead that decided not to let it get any worse.
2.  An Unwarranted Desecration. The Philistines cut off the heads of Saul and his sons.  They put their armor in the temple of their false god.  The armor, the identifying items of the king of Jehovah’s people was placed in an idol’s temple after being paraded through their cities.  Then they fastened the bodies to the wall of Beth-shan.  It was the wall that faced the land of Israel for all of God’s people to see.
B.  A Moment of Heroism. What if your life amounted to one pivotal moment?  What if there was only one thing you’d be known for?  Would you seize the moment?  What if there was just one opportunity that you have to make a difference for Christ?  Well, we are presented with not just one opportunity.  Every day is an opportunity to impact this world for Christ.  Why not have a moment of heroism every day and reach a world for Christ?
1.  An Unusual Defiance. This moment of heroism greatly differed from the track record of Jabeshgilead.  Up to this point, we don’t see much in the way of a warrior spirit in these men.  They wouldn’t come to the fight against Benjamin.  They wouldn’t defend themselves against Ammon.  They don’t seem to be at the battle against the Philistines.  But this time it was personal.  Nothing becomes powerful until it is personal.  Take the cause of Christ to heart.
2.  An Unflappable Devotion. This is devotion that sees beyond a man’s faults.  This is devotion that moves you to do what you would not normally do.  It’s not easy to inspire men to this kind of devotion.  Saul rescued a city and won the hearts of two generations.  Christ has rescued our souls from eternity in hell, and He has no faults.  He has no failures.  How much more devotion should He receive?
III.  The Memorial by the Vigilant. Then all the valiant men arose.  Jabeshgilead was, archeologists believe, about twelve miles from the Philistine city of Beth-shan.  It was far enough to be a long journey when you’re in a hurry, but close enough to infuriate the men who had come to revere Saul as their hero.  The valiant men arose and went all night to reach that wall.  They went all night with a determination that the men of that city had never known before.  They went all night with one goal in mind.  They desired the proper respect for Saul.  They desired to make good on what Saul had taught them.  They existed because Saul committed himself to their fight.  Now, they were following through on that example, and that was a far greater memorial than giving his body a proper burial.  We’ve had so many that have gone before and paved the way for us.  So many have lived and died for Jesus Christ.  We are encompassed about by so great a cloud of witnesses.  So many took the time to make a difference for Christ in our lives.  May that we be a people who make a memorial unto them by following through on what they have taught us, and then making a difference for Christ in the life of someone else.
A.  The Worth of a Name. “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.”  Saul’s name meant something to the men of Jabeshgilead.  They knew his name would still mean something to his family and to many in Israel.  They couldn’t stand the idea of men of Beth-shan laughing about the king of Israel’s body hanging on their wall.  Saul made many ruinous decisions, but he earned a good name with Jabeshgilead.  They were determined to protect it from the likes of the Philistines. 
1.  A Loyal Tribute. It was a sad thing that it was only the men of Jabeshgilead and not all of Israel that took back those bodies.  The life Saul lived after he delivered Jabeshgilead tarnished the memory others had of him.  It weakened his effectiveness.  It destroyed his ability to inspire.  The legacy we leave behind us in not left in buildings or events.  It’s left in people.  Saul had a long list of sins and mistakes.  At least from his influence, he left some valiant men behind, but what could his influence have been like?
2.  A Loving Tenderness. The valiant men of Jabeshgilead weren’t the only ones to memorialize Saul.  David had served under Saul, had learned from Saul, and remained loyal to him even after Saul’s death.  He mourned for Saul and his sons.  He thanked Jabeshgilead.  Years later he took those bones and buried them in the tomb of Saul’s father.  Saul had done some terrible things to David and to others.  We are going to fail people.  We are going to hurt people.  But what will we be remembered more for, the help or for the hurt? 
B.  The Worship of a Name. It would be a big stretch to make Saul a type of Christ here, but I would be remiss if I did not point our attention back to Christ.  Truly, the greatest battle and the greatest deliverance that ever took place happened on the cross of Calvary.  The cross is the greatest memorial in history.
1.  A Living Testament. The cross is not just a memorial of death.  It is a memorial to everlasting life.  It is a memorial to what God can do in a life.  We are a living testament of the victory Christ has won.  We are a living memorial of His victory over sin, death, the grave, and hell. 
2.  A Lasting Triumph. Jabeshgilead is gone now.  We are only approximately sure of its location.  Saul’s bones and that of his sons have long since turned to dust.  But we have a living Savior, a living Victor, and a living Deliverer that sits at the right hand of the Father and will one day have final and lasting triumph and rule forever.