A Tale of Three men and the Lessons for Us

Fall Festival With Leaves.pngDoes character count? How do we evaluate?

3 John  A Tale of Three Men and the Lessons for Us.

The Apostle John wrote a snail mail letter to the church. He had no hesitation of having it read publicly; in fact—he published it on the open market! So what did he say and why should we read it too?

This is a tale of three men with different character qualities. Two are good, we might even say great, but then there is that one that is ugly to the core. If written today, we might call him a “stinker.”

Two men, Gaius and Demetrius were truth seekers. The church testified that they loved Christ. The Apostle John called Gaius both brother and friend, which show us their close relationship. In addition, Gaius was esteemed because he was also hospitable to the itinerant preachers as they came to town seeking food and provisions. He opened his pocketbook more than once, it seems, so John encouraged him to keep supporting these traveling preachers.

John adds that he rejoiced because others testified to both men’s faithfulness.

Now, as to Diotrephes, the no-good church member, the one we might call a “stinker.” It seems he had a problem with pride. John wrote,  “he loves to be first among them.” If others didn’t shower praise upon him, he just wrote them off his list. If that didn’t get their attention, he ushered them out the back door much like the Pharisees did to the early apostles. Both Diotrephes and the Pharisees had a problem of envy or being jealous. Beloved, jealousy happens when we fear others getting the attention we feel is justly ours. Can you resonate? Sometimes that sin enters our life as well so we need to be on guard. Remember, even Pilate saw through the cracks of the Pharisees and John saw through Dioterphes’ cracks as well.

So what is our “take away” from what John wrote?

 Be grateful for the faithful. Be discerning and lovingly rebuke those who have a character flaw.

But in the end,  remind yourself of this truth: 

“the one who does good is of God; the one who does what is bad has not seen God.”

So does character count? I guess we could say it does. If John were to write about you, what would he say? 

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Mom’s Take Heart…This blog is especially for you!

moms and children 1John 42ADo you ever wonder if all your parenting is coming to naught? Then this blog is for you and especially for the Moms.

2 John “Mom’s Take Heart…Others Are Watching and Noting”

The Apostle John wrote to the elect lady “I rejoiced greatly because I have found some of your children living according to the truth, just as the Father commanded us.”

Nothing makes a mom’s heart be more encouraged than when someone speaks glowingly of their children’s actions, or behavior.

Stop right there

As you listen are you inwardly asking yourself:  Is this the same child I live with 24/7?  You smile but you think: Do they really know my child?

Yet, the Apostle John noted some children indeed were living out their faith. What an encouragement to hear these words from someone who has been the observer not the one who has been living it day to day, night after night! To hear that all of your prayers, sweat and tears have been noted are God’s gift to a mom for persevering in all of the tough times, the sweet times and the prayer times.

Mom’s, today if you are feeling weary of training your child, take heart and be spurred on by John’s words.  If your child is fearful, pray for courage. If your child is disobedient pray for a spirit of obedience. If your child has a special need pray for God to give you wisdom and your child to understand. If your child travels a distance to school or work, pray for their safety. Whatever the need is for them, bring that need to the Christ who came in the flesh, the very Son of the Holy Father; He hears your prayers.

Bring your children to the Lord just as the parents brought their little ones to Jesus to seek His blessing.

ps These same words could be just as well be written to Dad’s because they too are part of the parenting team. Once a parent, always a parent; so be ye “steadfast always abounding in the work of the Lord, your labor is not in vain.” [1Cor 15:58] Succinctly that means not only are others watching and noting but God is watching your perseverance, your steadfastness. Do not grow weary in well doing! [2Thess 3:13]

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“The Mind Boggling Confidence”

marc-olivier-touch 1john 51 John 5 “The Mind Boggling Confidence”

A sunrise is mind boggling and yet we can be confident it will happen tomorrow and the next day and the next. There is one more thing that is even more mind-blowing and that is we can know for certain that if we were to die today we would stand before the heavenly throne and see Jesus in all of His glory.  John is proposing that idea to his readers. He is saying you can have mind-blowing confidence because you believed that Jesus is “THE” Christ. It was because of your faith in this claim that you can be confident that you are conquerors of all that comes your way—even death. This is the testimony: God has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son!

John has written this short little letter to his flock. Over and over he notes “I have written or we are writing.”  It is John’s legacy of his love for the flock that he is pastoring. As this letter was passed down through the centuries it is as if we are reading it firsthand. John is writing to us! John says I am taking pen in hand: ch 1:4 “so that our joy may be complete; 2:1 so you may not sin; 2:21 so you know the truth; 2:26 so you can be discerning regarding the deceiver and his workers; 5:13 so you may know that you have eternal life.” All of this is possible because you took a step of faith and believed that Jesus was who He said he was: the Son of God.

All of this is mind boggling but true. It is so simple a child can know it. Do you?

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True or False? How Do We Tell?

rod-long-bible study ijohn 41 John 4 “True or False?”

The Apostle John certainly has seen both those who are true and those who are false. Even he, like the other disciples did not see it coming when Judas was proven to be a false follower of Jesus. Remember this conversation around the dinner table that last night? “I tell you the truth; one of you eating with me will betray me.” As Jesus spoke to Judas saying ‘go and do what you are about to do,’ the disciples watched but misunderstood. “now none of them present at the table understood why Jesus said this to Judas.” [John 13:27] If the disciples could not see or understand how much more are we also misunderstanding the ways of the spirit of antichrist!  And that is the crux of what John is saying to the flock he was teaching. Look, if even I was in the dark, how much more you, for I was with the Master and you have never been! It wasn’t until the Illuminating Holy Spirit came upon me did I put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

That is why John wrote: do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God. Do they speak truth? Do they believe in the incarnate Christ? They may say they believe that the Bible is inspired but deny the truth therein regarding Him as the only way to salvation. Instead, He is but one of many roads leading to heaven.

So how do you tell? How can you be discerning? Filter everything through the scripture. Be a Berean of whom it was said: for they eagerly received the message, examining the scriptures carefully every day to see if these things were so.[Acts 17:11]

You, Beloved must study the scriptures that you may rightly divide the word of truth which teaches, reproves, corrects and trains in righteousness.  [2 Tim 3:16]

Photo Credit: Rod Long/Unsplash + Author’s Caption

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Prayer and Gorilla Glue

family-prayer2a1 John 2  “Family Prayer is like Gorilla Glue—stuck for a Life Time”

[I just got a text from a friend. Heading out to be with family; can’t wait! We can pray together! Does that resonate with you? Does your family pray together? If not, then this blog is for you! I must admit I was a bit jealous; few of my family members pray together. So this is my heart speaking to you; please listen….]

So what does that conversation have to do with Gorilla Glue and Prayer? Stay tuned! Gorilla glue is a strong substance which, if used properly, bonds two surfaces and keeps them bonded. Prayer is like the family’s Gorilla Glue bonding each family member to one another.

The Apostle John wanted his flock to know the truth that “families that pray together stay together!”  It was true then and it is true now because prayer awakens our hearts to carry one another’s burdens and/or to rejoice with them. Unfortunately, today we are seeing more and more families that are dysfunctional or fractured; their glue has lost its “stick-to-i-tive-ness.” Some members remain aloof or protective behind their self-imposed cloak of privacy. Perhaps that is why John, like a father, uses this term of endearment, “my little children.” He is encouraging them to be a fully functional family because he is aware that they will face the adversary who roams about seeking whom he can devour.

If you are still reading, know this: Prayer is our “Gorilla Glue” protection against the adversary, Satan. Our Advocate, Jesus Christ the Righteous One, reminds us that prayer is our weapon, our “Gorilla Glue,” against him. Beloved, know this; the adversary knows that a family that practices righteous praying together is able to thwart his advances.

So let me ask you, are you praying together as a family? If not, why not start today?

 

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1john exciting news2A1 John 1 From the pen of the Apostle John:

I just have to tell you what Jesus has done for me He can do for you. 

Did you ever have such an amazing experience that you can’t stop telling everyone you meet all about it?  You want them to join you in the joy you have, to experience the same emotions you have.  That is the setting in this brief letter the Apostle John penned many years ago. He was overwhelmed with joy as he recalled his exposure to the love and life of Jesus.

But I digress…

In the last chapter of his first letter he tells us that  it all came together on Resurrection Morning when all of life came to a standstill and then moved forward at “warp speed.”  As he listened to Mary tell him that the tomb was empty and Jesus was nowhere to be found, he sat dumbfounded. How could that be? But, grabbing his cloak about him, he ran with Peter to the tomb. At first, he stood outside while Peter boldly went inside. Then John could not stand it anymore—he too stepped into the empty tomb. By his own words, he said “then I believed.” His Master Jesus had risen just as He had said.  For the next 40 days, John walked and talked with the risen Christ. And as his joy grew he began to testify about Him to others. Some would reject his words but others would listen and believe just as He did and their joy would also be beyond comparison to anything they had ever experienced.  The years passed and John would be the only disciple to not experience martyrdom because God had another purpose for him. We are reading the words and the fountain of joy that God gave him as he penned this letter we have in our possession.
As John writes this letter, his joy of those memories came flooding back. He said I am still, to this day, like a spring bubbling up and overflowing and I am so full of joy that I just can’t stop telling everyone that simple yet profound gospel message:

Jesus lived, died, and rose again so men’s sins would be forever forgiven.  

But why did John want to share this? His reason was simple;  men have been deceived to think that they are not sinners. Men try to explain bad habits away or say that they will try harder. They try to put another name on it but it sin is still sin and that is what God calls it. That is why you and I and the world needs the gospel message of Jesus.
As I sit here writing, I want to share with you what one hymn writer said: It is no secret; What He has done for others, He can do for you …He can and will transform your life— just as it did for John and for this author.
Just stop and think; the very Creator Jesus spoke the universe into existence yet He left that glory to tell us of God’s plan of redemption for our sin.  He is the Light that can penetrate our soul and open our eyes to see our sin and our need for His forgiveness just like he did for John.  It is because of that John is overflowing with the joy that salvation brings and he wants you to know it too.

Have you met Jesus? 

If you have, are you so excited and so filled with joy that you just can’t stop talking about Him? 

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“The Real Christmas…It’s More Than Just Christmas Wrappings”

gift wrapping jude 1Jude 1:1 “The Real Christmas…It’s More Than Just Christmas Wrappings”

Where did summer go? Wasn’t it just Resurrection Day? But, here we are in October and the stores are brimming with holiday trappings. It won’t be long before we purchase gifts for loved ones and wrap them with care. Just as we choose with the recipient in mind, so God, in eternity past, chose us and then called us not because we were better or more handsome or some other characteristic but purely because of His love. Just as He told the children of Israel of His reason to choose them the same principle applies to us. It isn’t because we are more numerous, smarter or have more in other ways. No God chose them and He chooses us because of His love and His faithfulness to the promise He made.

Unlike the Israelites who were in Egyptian bondage to a cruel despot we were or are in bondage to an even crueler despot, Satan. Just as God planned their redemption so He planned for ours through His Son Jesus Christ who paid our debt on the cross. He redeemed us from clutches of Satan. And then just like a gift, God wraps us up in His love and keeps us until Jesus Christ either calls us home to heaven or He returns to take us as His pure virgin to the Father.

We are wrapped waiting that special Christmas morning when we will be unwrapped and clothed in our new eternal garments.

Think about this as you begin your “Christ”-mas shopping.  

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What Would You Pay for a Pearl?

pearl of great price2aProverbs 24 “The Pearl of Great Price”

Pirates search the Caribbean looking for sunken treasure. Yet God’s treasure is not hidden but found in Jesus Christ. The pearls of great price are hidden except to those who choose to dive into the depth of God’s Word and accept His plan.

To an oyster a grain of sand is annoying; an uninvited visitor.  Unable to remove it from its shell, it works hard to cover it over with a substance that when hardened becomes a pearl. It takes great pains and a price to cover that grain of sand. So in like manner, our sin is our uninvited visitor. We can attempt to cover it by working hard or seek to buy it through many sacrifices but only the covering of Jesus’ blood will make us like the pearl. Then we will know the truth of what Isaiah the prophet said: Isa 43:4 you are precious and special in my sight, and I love you,”  When Jesus has completed his work we become His pearl of great price. Our sin is covered with His blood that He shed on the cross.

Jesus used that analogy in the parable of the kingdom of heaven: He said it is “like a merchant searching for fine pearls, when he found a pearl of great value, he went out and sold everything he had and bought it.” [Matt 13] Jesus’ point is obvious—there is no prize greater! It begins when we allow the blood of Jesus to cover that annoying grain of sand called sin. We can’t buy it or work for it but we must be willing to forsake everything to become that pearl of great price.

Jesus loves you and wants you to be His pearl.

Will you let Him cover your ‘uninvited visitor” called sin with His blood? 

 

 

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Today “is” but tomorrow is a question

vanishing smoke2aPsalm 146 “Today “is” but tomorrow is a question”

The psalmist extols his view of life and of God. He sees God as his protector, redeemer and steadfast unlike men who are untrustworthy and unreliable. As with many psalms he begins with praising God. “I will praise the Lord as long as I live” because whatever we may plan for today may not come to pass and tomorrow is even more questionable—so redeem the time you have been given. James captured this in a nutshell:

James 4: “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like [a puff of smoke/vapour] that appears for a little while, then vanishes [is snatched out of sight]. Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

Today as you go about your day, stop and give praise to God for every moment you have been given. Praise Him for all He has given and done for you. Use  today to praise God and see His plan for your day. Begin your day with asking what He would have you to do today because:

There is no guarantee of a tomorrow.

So Psa 105:4  Seek the Lord and the strength he gives!Seek his presence continually!

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The Master’s Tool is to Forge us in Fire~

forged in firesa2 Cor 13 “Forged in the Fire”

Just as in olden times weapons were made by those called “bladesmiths.” A Bladesmither on the TV show “Forged in Fire” takes a piece of steel, heats it to extreme temperatures to make the strongest weapon available. The weapon is then tested by others as to its sharpness and strength.

That analogy is like the message of the gospel. Christ was tested in the wilderness, mocked and scorned by those who saw him as weak. They sought to remove his weakness through the cross. Even though He was “crucified by reason of weakness … he lives because of God’s power.” We too, as believers, are seen by the world as weak but our inner strength comes because of the power of Christ who overcame the cross to be our strength. “Therefore, [Paul says] I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”

Are we content with our weaknesses allowing Christ to “forge us in fire” or do we strive to be strong in our own strength? Sometimes God sends us through the forging process to make us strong as Christ.Weathering the fire makes one strong just as the bladesmith makes the steel stronger in the fire. A believer is made strong in the “fire” that God allows so that we may be able to face the onslaught of the adversary and be holy for His kingdom work. In your weakness do you see the end result as more strength to face the next trial?

Don’t be fooled by the adversary’s words—let God take you to the forge; get your strength from the cross.

 

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