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Showing posts from November, 2019

“Review”

BIBLE READING: Review 2 John, 3 John, Jude, and Revelation 1-2
The chapters we are reading this week are a strong reminder for us in our Christian walk.2 John, 3 John, Jude and Revelation 1 and 2 make two strong points: 1)BE ON GUARD FOR FALSE TEACHERS Everywhere a Christian looks in today’s world, these are people misinterpreting and mis teaching the Bible.First-century Christians, most likely, were not prepared for this, so during the latter half of the first century, there is a strong emphasis on being prepared to confront false teaching.A study of church history shows us that by the second and third centuries, this was becoming a very valid concern as false teachers began to distort what Jesus originally taught.May we learn to always by on guard for false teachers. 2)GOD WINS!The comforting thought that the first-century Christians (and we, today, as well) can take away from these chapters is that if we hold firm to the teachings of the Bible, and are found faithful, God will reward …

“Seven Churches of Asia”

BIBLE READING: Revelation 2 Revelation chapter 2 begins the address to the seven churches of Asia.These seven churches were located along a well-established circular trade route.John’s writings would have touched the most amount of people by being addressed to these churches.More importantly, though, these seven churches can represent the church that Christ established in many different ways. Sometimes we may be like Ephesus.Sometimes we need a wake-up call to remind us that we have left our first love.That we need to remember the things we did when we first became Christians, and that we need to do them again.It is a reminder of God’s love for us and our need to not be sidetracked by the things of this world.It is a reminder that we need to “repent and do the first works.” (v5) Sometimes we may be like Smyrna.We may be going through trials and tribulations.We may be persecuted by the world around us for being Christians.Simply, we need encouragement.We need to be reminded to “be faithfu…

“God Wins”

BIBLE READING: Revelation 1 Revelation is the book of the Bible that seems to be the most intimidating to Christians.Remember, though, if it wasn’t important for us to understand, God would not have given it to us.In fact, it is quite important to us.Revelation is the reminder at the end of God’s Word of one thing, and one thing only…God wins! That’s it.That’s the entire theme.I could stop the devo here, but there’s a few other things to notice in chapter 1. Chapter 1 sets the scene.John addresses the seven churches of Asia (Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodices -v.11).We know who his audience is.It also tells us the main personalities in Revelation.God is the deliverer of the message being described as “Him who is and who was and who is to come,” (v4) as well as the Holy Spirit described as “the seven Spirits who are before His throne.” (v4)We’re also told that this is sent from Jesus, “the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler o…

“False Teachers”

BIBLE READING: Jude The book of Jude says a lot towards false teachers.In verse 11, it’s interesting that he makes a lot of references to Israel’s history so they must have had a strong knowledge of it.He makes three claims about false teachers: (1) they were following in Cain’s example, (2) they had chosen profit above integrity, like Balaam, and (3) like Korah, they had rebelled against God. Recall that Cain brought an offering to the Lord that was unacceptable (Genesis 4:3).Cain’s brother, Abel, brought an offering, a blood sacrifice offered in faith (Hebrews 11:4). Cain’s offering was rejected (Genesis 4:4-5).In the spirit of Cain’s example, Jude compares these false teachers in that they despised Jesus’ blood sacrifice and devised their own system of corrupt worship.It’s possible that Jude is implying some level of jealousy as well, that the false teachers may have had a level of jealousy for those who are truly following the path of the Lord. Balaam was a heathen prophet who lived …

“Imitation”

BIBLE READING: 3 John
Paul Overstreet sang a country song not too long ago that discussed how he was growing up and finding that a lot of his mannerisms were just like his father.We all have a tendency to do this because we see examples around us and imitate those people that we are around.The words of the chorus of the song went like this: “I’m seeing’ my father in me. I guess that’s how it’s meant to be And I find I’m more and more kile him each day. I notice I walk the way he walks. I notice I talk the way he talks. I’m startin’ to see my father in me.” Someone once said, “limitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”It’s clear that this concept is very prevalent in the first century church.In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul wrote,
Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.”In 3 John, John (in verse 11) says, “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good.He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.”He says this in between the contrast of Diotrephes, “who loves to…

“Love One Another”

BIBLE READING: 2John Not too long ago, one of my sons and I were watching a YouTube video where a team of college engineering students took over a basketball gym and set up hundreds of thousands of dominoes.These dominoes would fall in a sequential order all the way to the last one without missing a one.To give you an idea of how many dominoes there were, the video took 16 minutes for all of the dominoes to fall.It was amazing! The letter of 2 John is very similar to setting up a series of dominoes.John rejoices greatly because some were walking in truth (v.4).He pleads with the elect lady to follow the commandment “that we love one another.” (v5).Why?Look at verse 6: “This is love, that we walk according to His commandments.”Then, the letter seems to pivot to discuss false teachers, and not to support them, but why?Because the dominoes fall like this:“Love one another” leads us to “walk according to His commandments” which leads us to develop a strong barrier against the teaching of er…

“God is Light…”

BIBLE READING: 1 John 1-5
This is one of the simplest, but most deeply profound, phrases in the Bible: “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” The kind of light John uses to describe God is one none of us have ever seen—pure light. John is referring to the fact that there are no degrees to God’s holiness. He is perfectly holy. And there lies the problem. How can sinful humanity ever come into contact with such a holy God? The answer can only be found in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. John says, “if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” There is an ancient Persian fable about an underground cave. After a lifetime of living in darkness, a voice called to the cave: “Come up into the light; come and see the sunshine.” The cave didn’t understand the meaning of light, as all it had ever know was darkness, but it finally went to the surface and marveled at the light. The cave s…

“That You May Know…”

BIBLE READING: 1 John 5
Several years ago, as I sat in a circle with my fellow teens at a church devotion, I was asked the following question from the devotional leader, “Matt, are you going to heaven?”In what I thought would have been the typical answer from a young teen, I replied “Well…I sure hope I am, but ultimately that choice is up to Jesus!”His response caught me off guard, “Matt, I’m surprised at you!Do you really not know if you are going to heaven or not?”Again, I replied, “I hope so…but God is the judge”.What the youth leader said next, still shakes me to my core, “Matt do you believe a person can know if they are lost?”“Of Course, they can.”, I proudly exclaimed.“Then if you know you are lost, wouldn’t you be able to know if you are saved?”.That night may very well have affected my decision to be in ministry today.You see, we know that when Christ returns, He will judge us on the deeds that we have done while in this earth.Then He will pronounce on us our final judgment of…

“Struggling with Fear?”

BIBLE READING: 1 John 4
There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. – 1 John 4:18 (Message) Fear. It’s something we all deal with from time to time. The crazy thing about fear is that it hits each of us differently. Some are afraid of the dark, others fear small spaces, while others fear speaking in front of people or being alone. There are lots of different varieties of fear, but the thing that all fears have in common is that they stop us. Fear stops you from doing more, saying more, and being more. It holds you back and if left unchecked, fear will keep you from doing the things that God is calling you to do. So, how do you go about curbing the fears that hold you back? A great way to do that is to begin to focus on God’s love. Today’s Bible verse shows us that love banishes fear. That means that the more we focus on the fact that God loves us, and that He…

“Genuine Love is One that Acts”

BIBLE READING: 1 John 3
“Love”, don’t we throw that word around fairly often?I wonder if we say the words “I love you”, more out of habit than we do heart.We must remember that those words must mean more to us than just words that roll off our tongue; they must be backed up with action.Jesus once said "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12-13).He teaches us that we need to be able to love each other, but our love for each other must have some texture to it.For instance, Jesus proves His love for us in His willingness to die for us.If we truly do love each other, we must have some sort of action to back up that love.That is what John meant when he said, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.” (I John 3.18).This is how others will know we are of God if we genuinely express our love for one another with action.So, befor…

“Practicing Sinning Less”

BIBLE READING: 1 John 2
Could you imagine Lebron James not practicing his free throws because he knew he couldn’t make all of them?What about Tom Brady never practicing passing the ball because he knew that some of his passes would be missed?Those ideas sound facetious, but at times that is the mindset of many Christians and their stance on sin.If my goal is to be sinless like Christ, and I know that because of my sinful nature that is a goal I can never achieve, then why should I seek to change?I think Lebron James might answer like this, “I practice my free throws knowing I can’t make them all, but I still want to make the next one. I practice so that I miss less.”Tom Brady might say “I practice my passes, so that I can get better and make the next one.I will always make bad throws, but the more I practice, the less bad throws I make”.John says “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, J…

“Doubt & Criticism”

BIBLE READING: 1 John 1
If you can try to imagine the Apostle John, by now he is old and gray and not quite as agile as he once had been as a fisherman.Try to imagine what it would have been like to see Jesus as He performed His miracles.Seek to imagine what it must have been like to hear Him talk of Heaven and the Father and how much He loved us.To John, this is not some type of fairy tale or legend; this was real.He heard real lessons.He saw real authentic miracles.He had a real genuine relationship with the Son of God.Now try to understand what it would be like to have experienced all these things, only to have people deny that any of it was real.It must have been frustrating for John and the others to have not only the skeptics, but also those who made it their life mission to deny these essentials that came from Jesus.This seems to have been the basis for the first chapter of I John, That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which w…

“Love covers a multitude of sins”

BIBLE READING: 1 Peter 4- 2 Peter 3
Every day we hear stories of offenders who have tried to cover their own offenses with lies. And every day we hear (sometimes from our own lips) people repeating a matter. We call this gossip and it fuels whole media industries. All around us are shattered relationships that exploded in the “repeating.” But how many examples can you think of where a friendship was preserved because someone did not repeat — gossip about — an offense? Not many, I’ll wager. Why is this so rare? While it’s true that lovingly covering a matter is rarer in our sinful world than repeating a matter, this is not the only reason we know so few examples of covering. A significant reason is that covering hides others’ offenses from our view and therefore even the covering is concealed from our view. We don’t know about offenses or their covering because loving people haven’t talked about them.The kind of love that “covers a multitude of sins” is a costly love (1 Peter 4:8). It is …

“Ready to go Home”

BIBLE READING: 2 Peter 3
One Friday afternoon a minister struggled to prepare for the weekend. The week’s hectic pace, filled with activities, left him scrambling on Friday to finish his sermon. While he hunched over his desk, unable to develop anything that resembled a sermon, the office phone rang. From the phone’s earpiece came the shaky voice of an elderly lady who lived in the nursing home, Mrs. Robinson. She wanted the preacher to visit her. The preacher looked at his unfinished sermon, then at the clock, then back at the computer screen. He grimaced. “I’ll be right over.” Mrs. Robinson served in the church for years. She had endured a difficult life. She had outlived all her family. Though she resided in a nursing home full of people, she lived alone. “I’ll just make it a short visit, then I can get back to more important things.”, he thought.As he entered her room, he sat in the recliner next to her bed, and asked Mrs. Robinson about her week. She raised her head briefly from h…

“God is not messing Around”

BIBLE READING: 2 Peter 2 God doesn’t play around!I hate to sound blunt, but seriously God is not just messing around with this world.He has given each of us one shot at life.We all have an opportunity to either obey Him by making the world a better place or contribute to the worlds downfall by living selfishly.When He is ready, and only when He is ready, He will return to this earth to judge us based on how we have lived our lives.Peter not only reminds us of that but gives us some viable examples to illustrate it to us.“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and i…

“Christian Graces”

BIBLE READING: 2 Peter 1
Have you ever been up late at night watching television and been captivated by a new and exciting product that was going to change your life?Whether it is steak knives, an exercise program or Flex seal, all these products promise to bring you a new and more productive life.These products may have some value, but life changing, they are not. We have gotten used to the idea of products making these false promises, haven’t we?We even have a saying, “if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.”However, the Bible does make us an offer that does sound too good to be true; yet it is 100 % effective.In I Peter 1.5-7, we have the portion of Scripture that we affectionately call the “Christian Graces”.The Christian Graces are as follows: faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, brotherly kindness and love.Peter continues to tell us that when these things are active within our lives, we will be fruitful.He goes on to say, “if you practice these qu…

“Be Sober Minded and Watchful”

BIBLE READING: 1 Peter 5
In the moments before Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, He encourages the members of His inner circle (Peter, James and John) to “watch and pray”. When Jesus returns, he finds them asleep and continues to admonish them to “watch and pray”; this time He even elaborates that by reminding them that “the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak”.Maybe Jesus was speaking specifically to Peter?Just hours before, while they were in the upper room, Peter had emphatically denied that he would ever deny that Jesus was the Messiah.He boldly stated that he was willing to go both to prison and die if that is what it took. Yet every time Jesus came back from praying, He found them asleep.Over the next few hours we see that Peter does the one thing he thought he would never do, deny that he ever knew Jesus.I wonder if those words from Jesus in the garden haunted Peter over the years, “watch and pray…watch and pray”.Maybe that is what led Peter to write these l…

“Trusting in Jesus to do His thing”

BIBLE READING: 1 Peter 4
Recently, I had a friend of mine jump out of a perfectly good airplane.He wasn’t training in the military or trying to save his life due to a plane crashing, he just jumped out for fun.Can you believe that…for fun!Upon talking to him after the fact, I asked him if he was ever afraid of dying?“Of course not!” he said, “I just trusted the guy who I was strapped to, to do what he had been trained to do.”You see, when you jump out of an airplane, you must jump with a trained professional.You strap up with them in a tandem fashion and you just trust that they will do what they are supposed to do.They tell you when to jump, how to breathe and then when it is time, they pull the cord to expel the chute.If you do what you are told, things end up perfectly.It’s too bad that we can’t relate that way to living the Christian life. So many people abandon their faith when the going gets tough because they feel that they cannot do it successfully.Yet, that is where our faith …

“Seeing Jesus in Us”

BIBLE READING: James 4- 1 Peter 3
Astronaut Charles Duke is one of only twelve men who have left footprints on the moon. He was the lunar module pilot for the Apollo 16 Mission. He now lives in New Braunfels, Texas. He wasn’t a Christian when he walked on the moon. Here’s his story: "After walking on the moon, I was bored. Fame, fortune, a spot in the history books: I had it all. But if you had been a fly on the wall in my home, you would have seen that I wasn’t so hot. I was failing miserably as a husband and father. Though I had gone to church all my life, I had all of God I needed in that one hour every Sunday morning. Even the moon had not been a spiritual experience. I wasn’t looking for God. I only knew Jesus the way you know the U.S. Presidents--in name only. My business succeeded, and the money rolled in, but I was bored again. "But Dottie wasn’t. She had changed. Her depression had lifted, and she demonstrated a new, believing faith. She turned to God--not me--for answ…

“Giving Our Defense”

BIBLE READING: 1 Peter 3
There was a very capable evangelist whom God used in a significant way. But he lost his interest in spiritual things and drifted into a life of sin, for several months. Some of his sin was done in secret but ultimately, it became public knowledge and even made the headlines. At first, all he could think of was that he had been ruined for life, but, finally, he realized what a fool he had been, and he came back to God like the prodigal from the pigpen. He found the same thing the prodigal did. The Lord welcomed him with open arms and began to strengthen him and bless him. Finally, after a period of waiting, he felt pressed back into a public ministry for the Lord. He was afraid that his sin would be found out and brought up all over again, but after he felt sure it was hidden and tucked away in the past, he went back to preaching, rejoicing in the forgiveness of God. One night he was given a sealed letter. Just before the service began, he read the unsigned letter…