Thursday, December 12, 2019

"Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God." -- 3 John 5-6
Walmart had a great idea when they hired people to greet shoppers at the main entrance. The majority have a friendly smile and make me feel very welcomed. While there are some greeters who seem to be bored with their job, most are quite sincere. Even though we are strangers, a hospitable spirit goes a long way.
Along those same lines, my wife and I were visiting a church some time ago while on vacation. We were given a happy and pleasant greeting by a friendly usher. While there were very few others that said hello, we will never forget that kind usher that welcomed us upon arrival and gave a very fond farewell as we left. Even though we were strangers, a hospitable spirit went a long way.
How do you treat visitors at your church? Do you go out of your way to greet them with a warm welcome? As you reach out to new faces this Sunday, be sure your love is sincere and your spirit is worthy of the Lord. Remember, even though you are strangers, a hospitable spirit goes a long way.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

"If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work." -- 2 John 10-11
In the legal community there is conduct called "Accessory" that is considered criminal. By definition an Accessory is "a person who assists in the commission of a crime, but who does not actually participate in the commission of the crime as a joint principal". Guilt follows the action with criminal charges and legal ramifications. Basically, anyone who is an Accessory shares in the evil work.
When it comes to spiritual matters we often lose our clarity of thought. John saw the need to give instruction on this point, as unwarranted tolerance seemed to run rampant. Time has not remedied the matter, since tolerance is the way to go for many contemporary believers. While social crime is a serious matter, spiritual heresy endangers the eternal future of the soul. John made it clear with the words, "Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work."
Know what you believe my friend, and stand firm in your faith. Take notice of those who have perverted the doctrines of the faith and do not condone or encourage them. You will notice that this teaching comes in the same letter that speaks about loving the brothers. The command to love one another is well established, but do not welcome those who would lead others astray from the truth or you will share in their wicked work as an Accessory.
  

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

"This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." -- 1 John 5:3-5
The simplicity of a child's devotion is a wonder. They love their parents with all their heart and trust them implicitly. Because of this relationship they will obey at times when others might question. The process is very basic, but is soon lost as they mature. Adults have great difficulty trusting and obeying. The missing element may just be love.
So it is with our walk with God. Simplicity may be fine for children, but as adults we question and doubt far too much. Some believe that the Lord's commands are "burdensome" while others believe that victory is impossible. While faith is critical, the real issue is the focus of our faith.  The one we trust and obey can only be the one we love.
Who loves you my friend? And who do you love with all you obedience and faith? Your relationship with the Lord is far more than just trusting and obeying. It is a confidence in God's love for you and your desire to respond with a life of love. As John already said in chapter four, verse sixteen, "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us."

Monday, December 9, 2019

"We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother." -- 1 John 4:19-21
"What the World Needs Now Is Love", a song written by Hal David with music by Burt Bacharach was released on April 15, 1965. Being quite well received, it reached number 7 on the US charts in May of that year. Yet, within the next seven years 58,193 American soldiers were killed in Vietnam, and both Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated in 1968 followed by riots in 60 American cities. Why is love so elusive?
The children of God have the only hope for real and lasting love. How do I know this you may ask? The above passage says it emphatically, "We love because he first loved us." By the very transforming work of the Holy Spirit love for one another becomes a reality. On this basis we are commanded to love our brothers as we love God. For the believer, love should never be elusive.
Anger, bitterness, hatred and bigotry have marked our world throughout history. In truth, "What the World Needs Now Is Love". And you, my friend, may be the only genuine evidence of God's transforming love in your workplace, family or school. Let the world know that love doesn't need to be elusive.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

"Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure." -- 1 John 3:2-3
Our home is always orderly and clean. But when guests are coming for dinner, or even if family is coming for a few days, my dear wife works like crazy to spruce up the place. She vacuums, dusts, brings out the best dishes and stocks the kitchen with good food to eat. She hopes that our visitors will enjoy their stay and be pleased that they came.
John reminds us that we are children of God and the best days are ahead. He tells us that a day is coming when the Lord will return and we shall see him face to face. Furthermore, if we have this hope as a driving force in our hearts, we will get ready. We will "clean house" to purify ourselves just as Jesus is pure. We will want the Lord to be pleased when he arrives.
Take time on a regular basis to do an inventory my friend. How does your house look today? If the Lord returned this afternoon, would he find things in good order and a purified life? Maybe today would be a good time to get out the vacuum cleaner and dust cloth and "clean house". I'm sure that you would want the Lord to be pleased when he arrives?

Saturday, December 7, 2019

"And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming." -- 1 John 2:28
When I was in elementary school my Mom would have quite a time getting me to do my homework. She would set me down at a desk and give me time to finish the job, but when she would return, there was no progress. I had day-dreamed and wasted time, and the work wasn't completed. No matter how bad I felt, it never changed the fact that I just wasn't ready.
Procrastination is a very real problem and spiritual procrastination is an even greater one. If the believer puts off walking in the truth and growing in grace until another time, the day will come when there is no more time. Jesus will return and we will have nothing for which to be confident. No matter how bad we may feel, it will never change the fact that we just weren't ready.
John wrote this letter to believers. He knew that they fight a spiritual battle with sins that easily get the better of them. But if we confess our sins moment by moment and walk in the Spirit, there will always be confidence at the Lord's return. Don't procrastinate, "continue in him" my friend and you'll always be ready.

Friday, December 6, 2019

"This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." ~ 1 John 1:5 

I own more flashlights than most. I'm not afraid of the dark, but I want to see where I'm walking and be able to read my books during a power failure. I prefer battery-operated flashlights. Some people are sold on the "shake it" or "crank it" type. The interesting fact is, whether the light is run by battery, shaking or even cranking ... the light finally goes out. You will eventually walk in darkness.
So it is with every man-made source of light for the soul. We live in darkness and we will die in darkness because our self-powered lights will always go out. The only hope for lasting light is to find the true "Eveready" or "Diehard" source of light, and it's not the Energizer Bunny!
The truth is, that the Lord is a light that never fails. He doesn't need shaking, cranking or new and better batteries. He alone will light the way of every soul that follows Him. You don't need to walk in darkness today. Come to Jesus and He will ... "light up your life" ...  forever!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

"First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." - 2 Peter 3:3-7 
Every now and again the subject of Noah's Ark comes back into the news. Since being discovered 13,000 feet up a Turkish mountain -- according to a claim by a group of Chinese and Turkish evangelical explorers, scoffers have come out of the woodwork. The comments have ranged from the flood being nothing more than a myth to the whole discovery concept being a "crock". The world is filled with more man-made theories and less belief in God than ever before.
Peter wrote about our days prophetically and spoke of those who would "deliberately forget". He reminded us that God has intervened in his world with past judgment and one day he will do so again. By the Word of the Lord, destruction will come upon scoffers and unbelievers who choose to forget God.
Christian friend, don't be troubled by scoffers and critics that deny the Lord and his marvelous works. Remember that God's timing is not ours, "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." (8)  Just stay focused on your own walk with God in this godless world and consider, "Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming." (11-12) 

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

"... and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) — if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment." - 2 Peter 2:7-9
The movie "Gone with the Wind" came out in 1939. This film brought an expletive to the silver screen before the ears of the public for the first time and with it came great distress from Christians. Seventy-five years have passed and profanity on the big screen and television has become regular fare. Sadly, Christians aren't so distressed anymore. As the world has drifted farther from moral absolutes, the Christian community has followed... not far behind. Where is our distress?
Lot was a man of mixed allegiance to God. His choice to live "near" Sodom, and eventually "in" Sodom is a story of spiritual slippage at its worst. But, Peter recorded that Lot never lost his righteous sensitivity that was tormented by the lawless deeds that he saw and heard. Lot was never disconnected from the Lord, and before judgment fell, God delivered him. Lot was surrounded by evil, but he persevered as a "righteous soul" and he was distressed.
We live in an age of great evil and unrighteousness. Our country murders children in the womb without any sense of guilt. We see the lifestyles of the first chapter of Romans surrounding us every day. We know that in time, God's judgment will fall and he will deliver his own. But while we wait for his coming, will we slowly accept and tolerate the Godlessness around us or will we remain a "a holy nation, a people belonging to God" (1 Peter 2:9) and be distressed?

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

"So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things." - 2 Peter 1:12-15 
I stood with six men that I had known for years and found myself unable to remember the name of one of my friends. My mind went totally blank. The memory is a tricky thing at times and in the best of health we can have a loss that totally frustrates us. Spiritual truth is easily forgotten was well, no matter how long we have known the truth. We all need regular reminders if we are to be firmly established.
There are times when we are tempted to seek the "new" and "unique" at the cost of leaving the old paths behind. Peter knew that the old truth was the life changing truth that is timeless. He also knew that we all need reminders and he was totally focused on the ministry of remembrance. He wanted to leave behind a solid foundation as a lasting legacy.
Why should we revisit Scripture reading year in and year out? Why should we sit under the preaching and teaching of the same Biblical truths on a weekly basis? The fact is, that we all tend to forget and we need to remember spiritual truth if we are to be firmly established. Never hesitate to remind yourself and others of spiritual truths that will change your life for the better.

Monday, December 2, 2019

 "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." - 1 Peter 5:8-9 
Elijah complained in 1 Kings 19:14, "I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” To this the Lord responded in verse 18 with, "Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him." In the face of spiritual warfare we often feel alone in the battle, but we find new courage when we are aware there are others who are fighting with us. We're strengthened by the Lord and inspired by the fellowship of suffering.
As Peter wrote to the early church under severe persecution, he charged them to resist the devil and stand firm, because there were others in the fight as well. He reminded them that they were not alone in the battle, so they would be encouraged to remain steadfast. As Elijah of old, there were others who suffered persecution but remained true to their faith. There was strength in Lord and inspiration in the fellowship of suffering.


The spiritual warfare is difficult and the pressure is great, but we are never alone in the battle. Be steadfast my friend, resist the devil and stand firm in your faith. Take time to remember, there is strength in Lord and inspiration in the fellowship of suffering.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

"The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. " - 1 Peter 4:7
Martin Luther said he had only two days on his calendar - today and "that day". The end was always on his mind. As a result, Luther was man of intense prayer, spending his best three hours a day in prayer. As the future pressed upon him, he prayed.
Peter wrote to a community of believers that were under constant persecution. Harassed on every side, Peter called their attention to the Lord's return and their need to be clear minded and self-controlled so they could pray. The best way to handle the present and the future is to pray.
While time passes far too quickly, the end of all things is nearer than ever. Shall we waste our hours on the frivolous or spend them on the eternal? If our days on this earth are coming to an end sooner than later, let us make the best use of the time that we have... let us pray.