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Archive for November, 2020

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. 3 John 9 + 12


Legacy

The third book of John tells us about three people, two of which I want to discuss today: Diotrephes and Demetrius. Both considered themselves to be followers of Jesus, but yet Diotrephes emulated that which was evil. It would help us to know a little bit about what was going on when John penned this letter.

In these days there were itinerant preachers that would go from town to town sharing the Good News of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Inns were not a common sight, so these folks were often put-up by other Christians (at no cost) which aided these preacher/teachers immensely. John tells us that Diotrephes was one of these traveling teachers. However, Diotrephes was a prideful man–he thought himself to be the preeminent teacher of the day and therefore would not support any other Christian in their effort.

The truth may be that Diotrephes was an awesome teacher of God’s word, but because his pride prevented him from expressing godly love towards others, he will be forever remembered as the evil one we should not imitate (3 John, verse 11).

Good is Good

Then there is Demetrius. What does the Bible have to say about him? No very much, only that everyone who knew him only had good things to say about him. The truth is we have no clue who this man is or what this man did. However, in his humility, Demetrius will travel through eternity being known as the guy who was a good example and a good witness for the faith.

Sufficiency

Would that legacy be sufficient for you? The lesson here is that if we want our preeminence now, God will surely let us have it. Though, if we hang-back and walk as Jesus would have us walk, a much greater reward awaits us. It would serve us all well to remember this the next time we find ourselves envious of those shine in the spotlight. Oh, I am not suggesting that they (or Diotrephes for that matter) will not make it to Heaven, only that those who serve with humility and in anonymity will receive the greater reward.

How Do You Want to Be Remembered?

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Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
1 John 3:15-16

We Know

The born-again Christian knows intuitively — we might not always be able to verbally express it, but we know. And when you think about it, much of our spiritual-walk revolves around the concept of knowing Jesus better. Amazingly, as we grow spiritually, we recognize that we do not have to do much of things associated with our faith, but rather that we get to do them. Somehow the Lord plants a seed of desire to be in His Word, to be in fellowship, to share our faith, and to be in communion with Him. In so doing we learn more about ourselves as God reveals our true hearts to us.

You have heard that it was said to those of old, ’You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. Matthew 5:21-22

Jesus taught us that we can kill with our words as well as our actions. Have you ever stopped to think what actually occurs when we mockingly roll our eyes when someone else speaks? In a very real sense it’s the same as an evil word or gossip — whether it is true or not, that other person becomes whatever it is we say or gesture about them. Jesus tells us we are committing murder and Proverbs 18:21 serves to remind us that…

Death and life are in the power of the tongue

Someone’s Gotta Die

As we grow in the Word we gain a deeper understanding of what Christ did for us, and in so doing, we gain access-ability and a desire to do similarly for others. Again, all the more reason to be in the Word, in fellowship, and in prayer. However, with all this knowledge we soon learn that there is an obstacle that lies in the path of actually applying it: our flesh. With Jesus as our example we discover someone is going to have to die.

What?

I am not talking about salvation (Jesus died once for all men—this deed does not have to be repeated), but rather growth through reconciliation. In order for there to be peace (for God’s love to flow freely), the Christian needs to die to self; the selfish needs of the Christian need to be willingly (not grudgingly) put aside. In order for love to gush forth, our agendas need to be pushed off the stove, not merely shoved to a back burner. While it sounds difficult, in Christ Jesus it is not. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Nothing to Lose

But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 1 John 3:17

In a very real sense, the Christian has it all, or at least we should understand we have all that we need. When we have a dispute with another person, what is it we are really holding on to and truly, what is it we are afraid to give away. It is in these times we need to ask the Lord to examine our hearts so that we might see the silly, prideful thing we selfishly cling to. We can say we love folks all we want, but if we are unable to express this love by letting go of something that is near and dear to us (like our pride), how true is our love? Does Jesus ‘really’ abide in such a person?

My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:18

Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

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For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. 1 John 2:16

Imagine you are a football coach and you got a hold of the opposing team’s playbook discovering that they only had three plays: a run to the left, a run to the right, and a run up the middle. If you suspect that with this knowledge your team would do well, you would be correct.

Satan’s Playbook

Our coach Jesus loves us so much, He has provided us with satan’s playbook which consists of (you guessed it) only three plays. 1 John 2:16 tells us what they are: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. We see these three enticements first displayed in Genesis 3:6 when satan tempted Eve.

So when the woman (1) saw that the tree was good for food, that it was (2) pleasant to the eyes, and a tree (3) desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.

How does our Lord recognize these things? Hebrews 4:15 tells us…

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

When we realize that all temptation comes in only three basic forms, we can begin to understand how Jesus endured all that satan had to offer—everything satan throws at us, he threw at Jesus first. There are several places where the Bible records these attacks, but probably the clearest is found in Matthew 4:1-10. We see that satan first tries to appeal to our Lord’s flesh…

“If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 

Satan’s next challenge is to tempt Jesus with pride:

“If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down, ”

Then finally lust of the eyes: 

“took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.”

The temptation was real, but Jesus did not take the bait. We’re bombarded similarly. It would serve us all well to remember that, “The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”  In other words, God’s offerings are exceedingly better and they are everlasting.

Now That We Know

Knowing that every single temptation we face will fall into one of these three categories does not mean we won’t ever be duped again. However, when we know the plays beforehand, we will be better equipped to defend against them. We do that by being in the Word, being in prayer, and being in fellowship with like-minded Christians.

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