Monthly Archives: October 2020

Happy Reformation Day

In all my readings of the Reformation, the first recovery was the Whole Bible but particularly the Greek NT instead of the Latin Vulgate, then followed the Bible’s authority, and then the gospel!

You can’t recover the gospel or hold fast the gospel unless you recover and hold fast the Scriptures!

As long as the priests were the only ones who knew Latin among all the various countries, such as Germany, they had control over what the people could know about God and the gospel. Plus there was rampant immorality among the priests of that day so you can imagine how easy it was for them to deceive the people.

I’ve watched this play out in America with the KJV only push. I’m not saying it was a bad translation but it is somewhat of a foreign language to our American and modern use of English.

I still consult it but I often must use a dictionary to do so. Some of the words used in that translation are rich with meaning but I wouldn’t know that without a dictionary.

I only say that because most people will not take the time to use a dictionary. Most of us do not know what it’s like not to have access to the Bible in a language we can read. What an amazing gift we have.

Let’s not allow a loss of the gospel because THE PEOPLE cannot read the plain text for themselves. As for those who would say that the KJV English is superior, just know the NT Greek was considered Koine/Common Greek NOT Classical Greek.

Let’s be like William Tyndale who was translating the Bible into English and ultimately died for what he sought out to do!

One of the bishops of the church argued with Tyndale, saying that it would be better for the people to have the pope’s law than God’s law. To this comment, Tyndale famously replied, “I defy the pope and his laws! If God spares my life, in a few years a plow boy shall know more of the Scriptures than you do.”

Praying Psalm 119

Image result for psalm 119:2

(Ps. 119:2) How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, Who seek Him with all their heart.

Father, to seek you with all our hearts is to know your word and ways. And not only know them but observe them. But we not only want to know them but do them gladly. What an amazing blessing to have your word by which to know you. You have revealed yourself to us in the heavens but this is insufficient for saving knowledge. O, Lord, please cause us to walk in your ways–the very promises of the new covenant! May we walk in your ways that your ways may be known in the earth and that your name is gloried among the nations! In the name of Christ, we pray, amen.

Jude Devotional

See the source image
The symbol above is a Chi-Rho. It is a combination of the first two letters of Christ (Ch-r)! The X is the “Ch” the P is the “R.” This symbol usually has the alpha and omega to mean Christ is the beginning and end, the first and the last.

The purpose of this letter is clearly stated by Jude with an infinitive–to contend for the faith! There are two groups in this letter–those kept in eternal bonds into eternal judgment and those kept in Christ into eternal life. There is no third option.

This letter is very serious. It’s not lighthearted. Eternity hangs in the balance. For those who were looking for a gentle uplifting word from Jude today, will not hear it.

A question immediately comes to mind. How are we to contend for the faith?

First, you need to know why contending for the faith is so urgent and important. Jude gives the reason: “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

In other words, they are people who seek to gratify their senses or body. Jude gives several examples of what this looks like. They are described as the unbelieving in the Exodus. Of angels, they are those who did not *keep their own domain, but *abandoned their proper abode. Of those in Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, they *indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh.

These unnoticed persons, in the same way, do this by relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and slander the glorious ones. They are further described as ungodly who do ungodly deeds which are done in ungodly ways, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Jesus.

You might ask, “How were they not noticed?” Does this not cause you to tremble? It makes me think of the Twelve who had not clue Judas was the one. The word “crept” in reveals a sneaky intent. It should be noted that our enemy Satan clothes himself in light. He doesn’t want to be noticed. The more subtle the better. It also reminds me of the image of wolves in sheeps’ clothing.

I suppose part of the problem comes from what we all seem to get used to. It’s like living near a train track to which many will get to the point of no longer hearing it rumble down the tracks. These persons are grumblers (rumblers). It always ends up being someone else’s fault. They give no thought to others but rather live for their own desires. These “magicians” enchant others with their flattery to win them over. They are marked by selfishness rather than selflessness.

Jude gives MUCH attention to these people. However, he says “but you” must be different. He gives two commands: remember and keep here at the end. Remember the words spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ and keep yourselves in the love of God.

In other words, remember that they said this would happen: “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” I think we often look like the disciples when Jesus told them things that were going to happen and when they did happen they had forgotten and seemed surprised.

Beloved, remember, people like this are in the church. They are members in good standing. Some of them teach our kids in Sunday School. They occupy committees and organize events. And yet, you have grown up with them and you do not notice the zipper on their sheep outfit. They are divisive but you find yourself wooed to their side by their flattery.

Beloved, keep yourself in the love of God, not the love of the world. How?

(Jude 1:20-21) by building yourselves up in your most holy faith, by praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 maintain yourselves in the love of God, while anticipating the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that brings eternal life.

This must be done together! I should repeat that a 100 times! Grow. Mature. Learn. Observe. Serve. Give. Be selfless. Make disciples that make disciples. Building, praying and expecting are the ways you keep yourself in the love of God.

What might you pray? Pray these last two verses because, though we are responsible to do these things, we cannot be kept unless he who is able to keep us from stumbling keeps us from stumbling.

(Jude 1:24-25) 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Beloved…contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

3 John Devotional

Would you like to grow along with me as I seek to grow in praying?

This morning, I heard a short devotional exhorting me to plan my prayer time. This comes and goes with me. I’m not sure how I get in such a rut, but I do. However, following Jesus is always work in progress. It is a series of starts and stops. If you find yourself in a rut, repent and start over. He who began a good work in you will complete it. I bank on this promise frequently.

So, I have decided to begin my prayer time with a plea from Psalm 119. I plan to do one verse per day and that’s 176 planned beginnings. I also want to begin my prayer time with some variation of (2 Tim. 3:16-4:1) “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Since by nature, the Scriptures are breathed out by God that makes them profitable. I want Jesus to change me and that can only happen through his word. I need to be taught, reproved, corrected, and trained in righteousness. That should result in a man of God who is complete–which means equipped for every good work.

The next step after praying a verse from Psalm 119 and the 2 Timothy text, I want to respond to the Scriptures that are planned for me to read today. This year, I am reading through the Foundations reading plan with our church family. Many of us (I hope most of us) are reading through this together. This morning, our reading was from 3 John.

This is my response to 3 John by praying the Truth of God’s Word back to Him.

“Father, thank you for the truth of this letter. Lord, I too desire to be an elder/pastor. But may Your will be done, not mine. Your will and Your way are the only way.

I ask for brothers like Gaius to walk with in the truth. What a gift to have brothers and sisters like this. What an amazing thought it is to be beloved of the Lord.

John prayed for him in all respects to prosper. Help me to know my brothers and sisters like this and pray for them. Though physical health is not primary, may our family and church family be in good health that we might serve You all the more. But most importantly, may our souls prosper.

May our souls prosper by walking in the truth. Keep us, Lord, in the truth. Your Word is the Truth. May we abide in Christ. May we be filled with the Holy Spirit. Give us joy in You…in Your truth and from Your truth. May it give us joy to see each other walking in the truth.

I ask that you would help me see how my brothers and sisters are walking in the truth and encourage them to press on in it. May our love give testimony to Your truth. You are worth walking in Your ways. May others see You in us.

Sometimes I am not sure if I am doing the right thing. Thank you for helping me see John encouraging his beloved brother by affirming that he was acting faithfully towards his brothers and especially strangers.

Would strangers testify to my love before the church? I’m afraid that I am lacking in my love of strangers. I’m not sure that they would but Father cause this word to ignite a love for strangers in my life.

May I be…may we be known for our love of sending faithful brothers out in gospel ministry. And Father, please, may I be sent out and go out for the sake of the Name, not accepting anything from the Gentiles. May I/we be fellow workers for the truth!

Please, Lord, may I never love to be first. If I do, please call attention to it through Your people and may I hear and repent. Keep me from conforming to that which is evil.

And, Lord, I hope to see You soon–face to face! In Christ…amen!

1 John 3 Devotional

An additional theme of love emerges in chapter 3. We know this by the simple observation of repetition. Nine times love is mentioned in this chapter alone while the theme of knowledge continues.

Knowledge and love are inseparable. You cannot love what you do not know. Imagine someone saying they love pizza and you ask them what their favorite is and they reply, “I’m not sure. I’ve never eaten pizza before.” That doesn’t make sense. You can’t love pizza if you do not know what it tastes like. Or someone walks up to you on your way into the office and they say, “I love you” to which you will say, “I’m sorry, do I know you?” That’s strange precisely because the person doesn’t know you. Love and knowledge are inseparable.

The word used in this chapter for love is (ἀγάπη) agape which means “especially of love as based on evaluation and choice, a matter of will and action.” This definition checks several boxes: knowledge to make an evaluation to choose to respond in a manner of one’s will (or desire) that results in some sort of action.

How would you define God’s great love from 3:1? This love was given and is seen in that He was willing to claim us as His children. The act of giving reminds me of John 3:16 where God loved the world by giving His Son. The act of calling us His children makes me think of these verses: (Jn. 1:12-13) But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

What makes this difficult for us to understand is the fact that God knew EVERYTHING about us! That’s is amazing. We were enemies of God who are now called His own children. The clearest image is that of adoption. The Father comes to the orphanage and brings you into His family. Wow!

When you are in God’s family, it is supposed to be obvious. It’s obvious whose family you are in because we begin acting like our Father. We do things like He does. We oppose things that our Father does not approve of. That means we need to know Him and to know Him is to know His ways.

Those who are in God’s family love God’s family. And this love isn’t just simply saying that you love your brothers and sisters, though that is true, but also we demonstrate action…acts of love towards them based on the truth. And John goes so far to say that if we do not love our brothers and sisters then we are not children of God.

I would admit that I can be hard to love at times (maybe all the time). And I would admit there are brothers and sisters that make it hard to love them. But, I don’t know everything there is to know about them. I think our love for each other would increase if we took the time to know each other. I mean God knows the depths of me (the worst of me) and He loves me.

Let me end with this, beloved: (1 Jn. 3:23) And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.

  • Intentionally seek to learn more about a fellow believer this week
  • Ask the Lord to help you with this
  • Bring new people into your circle of friends
  • Be genuinely interested in their life story
  • Rejoice in the gifts God has given you
    • His Son who laid down his life for you
    • and each other

1 John 2 Devotion

This letter from John is deeply concerned about knowing the truth. At least seven times, John uses the word “know” in this chapter and even more throughout the letter. Let’s make a partial list of things we should know from this chapter.

  • The letter was written “so that you may not sin.” We need to know the purpose of John’s letter.
  • We should know that if we sin we have an Advocate who made the payment for our sins.
  • John says that “we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.”
    • That assumes we know His commandments…
      • the truth
      • His Word
  • Again, “By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same manner as He walked.”
    • We need to know how Jesus walked
  • John wrote this letter to them because…
    • They know Jesus who was from the beginning
    • They know the Father
  • We know this is the last hour because “antichrists have appeared.”
  • “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have *not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth.”
    • We know the truth that Jesus is the Christ!
  • Finally, “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.”
    • Knowing Jesus results in practicing righteousness and therefore you know who have been born of Him.

I recently heard someone point out that men in particular have traded the study for a man cave. That is not a good trend.

The church is lacking in discipleship. A disciple is a learner. Discipleship is teaching all that Jesus commanded and how to walk in his ways! By God’s grace, may we make disciples that know Jesus personally and know his ways!

1 John 1 Devotion

This image doesn’t fully express what I’m after but the options are limited and I cannot paint! However, the apparent struggle on her face was the best way to make a point.

John makes use of creation language in much of what he has written. Let’s hear his introduction.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life- – 1 John 1:1

In the beginning, God created the world and He created man to inhabit the earth and walk in fellowship with Him. However, Eve encountered the serpent. What she heard…what she saw with her eyes…what she touched with her hands was NOT the Word of life but the word of death from the serpent.

You know how the story goes. Man fell into sin which resulted in broken fellowship with God. They were excluded from the Garden with a sentence of death and no way to partake of the Tree of life. Was hope vanquished?

No! A child was promised who would come and crush the head of the serpent. This was the first clue revealed in God’s plan to save His people and restore the broken fellowship. It wasn’t meant to be like this. Man was created to walk with God. But sin changed that. Therefore, God made a promise to send a child!

In 1 John, we hear about the Word of Life. We know John likes to use the Word to talk about Jesus. We know from Romans that Jesus was the second Adam. We know that through him we can be forgiven and counted righteous by faith. Indeed, we can now have fellowship with God…walk with God through this amazing salvation.

It seems like a reversal has happened. Eve heard, looked and touched the word of death but John is saying that they have heard, have seen and have touched the Word of Life! Fellowship was restored. A new creation has come. Hope is secure!

John is beckoning us to come into fellowship with God through Jesus Christ! This is real!!! He begs you to trust what he has said! Come out of the darkness. Come out of grave and walk in the Light of Life. Indeed, come have ETERNAL LIFE..eternal fellowship!

How? But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. – 1 John 1:7

How does it cleanse? He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. – 1 John 2:2

Jesus took the death sentence for you that you might have life! He made the payment for your debt. That’s propitiation. Come to Jesus and be forgiven! Repent and believe and you will be set free!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17