2 Peter 1:3 reminds us that “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.” (NLT)
Here’s James’ encouragement to us in James 1:22-25…“22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” (NKJV).
Therefore, our responsibility is to take what He’s given us and put it into action. Today I’d like to share with you the concept of Actionable Intelligence.
What is Actionable Intelligence? “Broadly defined, actionable intelligence is all about having the necessary information immediately available in order to deal with the situation at hand.” From the Article...Actionable Intelligence: How U.S. Forces can Stay One Step Ahead
How can we apply Actionable Intelligence in our biblical/spiritual lives? Let’s consider the article below from gotquestions.org that further explains the meaning of the content within 1 Peter 3:15. Keep in mind as you read the article…what is our situation at hand?
What does it mean to always be ready to give an answer (1 Peter 3:15)?
First Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” It’s a verse that motivates Christian apologists as they prepare to give answers in defense of their faith.
In the immediate context, the apostle Peter discusses suffering for doing good (1 Peter 3:13–14). Persecution and suffering are to be expected in the Christian life (John 16:33), but a believer’s response to suffering should point others to Jesus. Peter emphasizes that Christ suffered and died to provide eternal life for those who believe in Him, and His example of suffering for doing good should strengthen all of us (1 Peter 3:17–18). Instead of fearing persecution, Christians are to make sure they suffer for righteousness’ sake, “honor Christ the Lord as holy,” and be prepared to give a defense of one’s hope in Jesus (verse 15, ESV). A believer should always be ready to tell others the good news of salvation in Jesus’ death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:2–4).
Providing a “defense” or giving an “answer” for one’s hope is based on the Greek word apologian, which carries the idea of “defending” something as a lawyer would defend his case in court. From the Greek word comes the English apologetics, “the discipline of defending” the Christian faith. Notice that Peter does not say that the job of giving an answer is only for the pastor or professional apologist. All Christians need to be prepared to give an answer or defense when someone asks them the reason for the hope that they have.
Peter wrote to the persecuted Christians in Asia Minor. As they were undergoing persecution, their outward behavior demonstrated hope in Jesus—not a wishful thought, but a solid and assured faith (see Hebrews 6:19–20). The believers’ lack of fear in the face of suffering would have propelled others to ask about the reason for their faith, giving the believers a perfect opportunity “to give an answer.” When believers display their sure hope in Jesus despite their circumstances, others will notice (see 1 Peter 2:12).
To properly answer someone who asks about one’s faith, the Christian must use “gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience” (1 Peter 3:15). There’s no place for harshness or disrespect in a Christian’s life, especially as he represents Christ and gives an answer to explain his faith. Peter exhorts the believer to answer unbelievers gently, respectfully, and with the example of one’s life (cf. Colossians 4:6). Believers should reflect Christ’s teaching of gentleness and “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15, NLT).
The command to “always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” presupposes a faith that causes us to live out our hope in Christ visibly before others. When unbelievers see a Christian’s great hope in the face of persecution or suffering, they will naturally want to know the reason for that hope (Matthew 5:16). We need to be prepared to share the gospel in a way that is gentle and respectful. The result will be “that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Peter 3:16).
Spend some time in prayer asking the Lord to reveal to you how it is that He’d have you apply Biblical actionable intelligence in your own personal life.
Practicing His Presence,
Below is a devotional written by Joyce Meyer...
…When they measure themselves with themselves and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding and behave unwisely.
— 2 Corinthians 10:12 (AMPC)
Advertising is often geared to make people strive to look the best, be the best, and own the most. If you buy “this” car, you will really be number one! If you buy “this” particular brand of clothes, you will be just like “this” famous celebrity and people will really admire you. The world constantly gives us the impression that we need to be something other than what we are.
Confidence begins with self-acceptance—which is made possible through a strong faith in God’s love and plan for our lives. I believe it is insulting to God when we compare ourselves with others and desire to be what they are. Make a decision to be grateful for the person God made you to be, and then you will never again compare yourself with someone else. Appreciate others for who they are and enjoy the wonderful person you are.
Prayer Starter: Father, help me to love and appreciate the person You created me to be. I thank You that I don’t have to compare myself to others in order to be accepted. You created me with a unique and wonderful purpose. I’m thankful that to You, I am special and beyond compare.
Genesis 1:26-27 (NLT) 26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” 27 So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Those verses remind us that God created us in His image. Meaning, we have the ability to express some of His characteristics in our lives. As He is patient, merciful, gracious, slow to anger, forgiving, etc., we too should make every effort to clothe ourselves with such characteristics as well. Hope the article and songs below are of great help to your spiritual growth in Him.
Practicing His Presence,
Question: What does the Bible say about second chances?
Answer: God is not only the God of second chances; He is the God of another chance. This is good news because most of us mess up the second chance fairly quickly. One of the amazing facets of God’s character is His incredible patience with us. Psalm 86:15 says it well: "But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness." Micah 7:18 says, "Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love."
The Bible is full of people who received second chances, and even third and fourth chances: Peter, Jonah, Mark, Samson, David, and others. All trophies of God’s grace.
Just as God is patient and forgiving, He wants His children to be patient with and forgiving of others. "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Colossians 3:12). He gives us second chances, and we must give the same to others. Jesus gives a stern warning to those who refuse to forgive, saying that if we will not forgive others, God will not forgive us (Matthew 6:15; see also Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13; and Proverbs 19:11). If someone is truly repentant, then we are obligated to forgive (Matthew 18:21-22).
Offering forgiveness is not the same thing as reconciliation. Many people struggle to find the balance between showing mercy and enabling a harmful person to continue harming. We should be willing to forgive everyone who wrongs us, just as Jesus forgives us. But, when someone continues to unrepentantly violate another person’s boundaries, a wise person learns to set firmer boundaries. If a man has repeatedly punched you in the face, you can offer to forgive him; but you don’t stand within arm’s distance until he has proved over time that he has changed.
Giving someone a second chance means we give him another chance to earn our trust. But that does not mean we instantly forget what experience has taught us. Trust must be earned over time, and we are foolish if we give trust prematurely. We can have a loving and forgiving heart that also practices wise guardianship over our lives.
When we have wronged someone, we have no right to demand another chance. But we should work to earn another chance by continued demonstration of repentance and change.
Even God has a limit on forgiveness. In Romans 1:18-32, the apostle Paul warns us what happens when we continue to spurn God’s patience and reject His call to repentance. Three different times, the phrase "God turned them over" appears. When we insist on running our lives the way we want rather than the way God wants, He lets us. Eventually, when our hearts are hardened against Him, He lets us go. He turns us over to a reprobate mind, one that can no longer seek God. At that point, sin has become our god.
There may come a time in a human relationship when the same thing has occurred – when forgiveness has been offered and restoration made possible, but one party refuses to repent and rejects all efforts to reconcile. It may be time to end that relationship. Second chances are no longer working. Ending a relationship is a last resort, but sometimes it must be done (Matthew 18:17).
God does everything possible to draw us to repentance, offering forgiveness and second chances (2 Peter 3:9). But if we continue to reject Him, the offer is withdrawn and, at death, there are no more chances (Hebrews 9:27). God’s grace is our model. We can offer second chances to others until a healthy relationship is no longer possible.
Today I’d like to draw our attention to the idea of second chances.
Second Chance Defined: “help given to someone who has failed, in the hope that they will succeed this time”. In my opinion, this definition shows mankind’s depravity (we’ve all fallen short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23) and it also shows God’s continued involvement in the life of someone in need of a second chance…providing hope and setting us up for success. God has, is, and will always actively provide assistance through the process of being made new. Yes, by His mercy and grace He is allowing us a fresh start, and each day He is also providing us a way to escape that which is causing us to fall short (1 Corinthians 10:13), thus the need for a second chance. He is praying for His followers and cheering us on (John 17:20-23). He provides other faithful followers who can get us back on track, but most importantly He provides hope through His Word…
Consider the following passages…notice how He provides second chances in a new/renewing process. His goal is to make new / renew that which has been tainted by The Fall of man. He does so by means of second chances.
I just want to remind us that last year was last year. Yesterday was yesterday. Today, the next second on the clock, etc., and tomorrow will be and are new. God provides an opportunity for newness each and every day of our lives. What occurred previously in our lives can be put to rest, and today, today, ALL THINGS can be made new through Him. That’s the power of His grace, mercy, and love. That’s the power of repentance and forgiveness. Regardless of you’re your fallen short looks like, God provides a way for that to be dealt with, forgotten, and become brand new today. A clean slate…a starting over…made white as snow.
In the next blog we’ll continue to look at what the Bible says about second chances from an article from gotquestions.org.
Practicing His Presence,
As followers of Christ we have the opportunity and privilege to have the Lord lead us. Maybe lately some of you haven’t been sensing or desiring His leading. Maybe to some it hasn’t been a blessed thought. I encourage each of us to take some time reading through the verses from the Psalms below and then really listening to the lyrics in the hymn/songs when you’re done. I’d personally never heard the song Spirit Lead Me before, but it is a good one. Hope you enjoy your quiet time alone with the Lord and come away from it with the renewed mindset of “O blessed thought…A Faithful Follower I will be! as you allow Him to lead you from here on out.”
Self-examination question…What area(s) of your life are you not allowing the Lord to lead you in? Work? Family? Lifestyle choices? Purchases? Finances? Spiritual growth? Physical wellbeing? Confess, repent, and act accordingly. Trust me…He desires to be your Shepherd and lead you each and every day. Will you allow Him to do so?
Practicing His Presence,
If you’re stuck and don’t know how to pray this morning…then these Psalms also make for amazing prayer guides. Just because David / the Psalmist used them doesn’t mean that you can’t. Give them a try and see what happens. Surely the Spirit will bring something to surface that you can deal with.
Psalm 5:8 Lead me in the right path, O Lord, or my enemies will conquer me. Make your way plain for me to follow.
Psalm 23:2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.
Psalm 23:3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
Psalm 25:5 Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.
Psalm 27:11 Teach me how to live, O Lord. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me.
Psalm 31:3 You are my rock and my fortress. For the honor of your name, lead me out of this danger.
Psalm 43:3 Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live.
Psalm 61:2 From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety,
Psalm 73:24 You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.
Psalm 139:24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Psalm 143:10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.
Hymn: He Leadeth Me (Official Lyric Video)
Song: Spirit Lead Me by Influence Music & Michael Ketterer
Song: Lead Me by Sanctus Real
Nate Smith is a college baseball and football coach, a husband, a father of 6 girls, grandpa to 2 granddaughters, a police chaplain, and has a passion to see men grow in Christ.
#girldad including granddaughter