Scripture reading for December 21st: 3rd John
“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” 3rd John 2
John opens his letter with a greeting to his personal friend, Gaius, and a short prayer for him. Prayer should shape everything we do. It is an act of love coming from a soul that is healthy and focused on God’s will and desire to love and bless others. This short prayer reveals John’s heart for his friend and blesses him and us today, as well!
“It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3rd John 3-4
Our reputation gets around in the church. If we are faithful and walk in the truth, everyone knows about it. Faithfulness brings great joy to God and to those in authority in the church. Those in authority have to give an account to the Lord for those they oversee. (Hebrews 13:17) When pastors talk to the Lord about those who are disobedient and unfaithful, it brings sorrow and painful intercession! Gaius had been walking in the truth and blessing visiting missionaries by providing for their needs. He demonstrated Christ’s love to those preaching the gospel and was commended!
“I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.” (3rd John 9-10)
Diotrephes was one of those brothers that was causing pain to the Apostle and others in the body of Christ. A bad reputation also spreads around and must be dealt with. If the person will not change and repent after confrontation, others in the church must be warned so that they are not caught up in the sins. This letter shows how John was doing this. He wanted to come personally and deal with the situation, and would soon if he could.
This short letter shows us how our personal attitudes and actions affect others and are known in the body of Christ. Leaders must have a good reputation. When you love to be first like Diotrephes, this selfishness causes troubles and indicates that you are not from God. (3rd John 11) If you are a loving servant, like Gaius and Demetrius (3rd John 12), you show by your love that Christ’s love and truth is in you! It’s pretty simple really! There’s no greater joy for a pastor than to have God’s people walking in truth and love!
Scripture reading for August 23rd: Ezekiel 24-28
Satan inhabited the body of a serpent in the Garden of Eden and enticed Eve to eat the forbidden fruit in rebellion to God’s command. God told the serpent that the Seed of woman would crush his head and he would bruise the Seed’s heel. (Genesis 3:1-6, 14-15) Job underwent a difficult trial as a result of Satan’s accusations of him before God. Satan was given permission to test Job by first taking his possessions and children and then taking Job’s health. In 1st Chronicles 21:1, Satan stood up against Israel and enticed King David to number the people and take pride in how many fighting men he had. In Zechariah 3:1-2, Satan stood before the Lord and accused Joshua, the high priest. The only other direct reference to Satan in the Old Testament is found in Psalm 109:6 where the KJV has “Satan” as the accuser.
There are two other passages that commentators think refer to Satan. One is found in Isaiah 14 and the other is in Ezekiel 28:11-19. Ezekiel wrote concerning the king of Tyre. This lament describes this ‘king’ as being the model of perfection and full of wisdom and beauty. He was in Eden, the Garden of God and covered with many precious stones. This king was anointed by God to be a guardian cherub on the holy mountain of God. There he walked among the fiery stones and was blameless from the day he was created. Then wickedness was found in him and he was filled with violence and sinned. God cast him out of heaven and down to earth.
This description seems to fit Satan and not just a man or earthly king. If it is Satan, we learn that he was created by God and was beautiful and wise. His beauty caused a selfish pride that got him evicted from Heaven and thrown down to earth. You might say Satan is the king of Pride and of all the proud of the earth. All mankind has fallen under his spell through Adam and Eve’s temptation and disobedience in the Garden of Eden. But God has provided one who has crushed his head, Jesus Christ. The end of time will see Satan cast into the Lake of Fire to endure fiery torment that lasts forever! (Revelation 20:10) Check your own heart for pride today and look to the humble Savior for grace!
Scripture reading for May 10th: Nehemiah 5-8:1
Wise and godly leaders stand firmly against injustice! Our sinful tendencies lead us relentlessly towards selfishness and taking advantage of those who are in need or in crisis or weak. Slavery in America is an example of these selfish and sinful tendencies. Slaves were bought and sold to build wealth for those they served. Slaves did jobs that their owners did not want to do themselves. Slaves were treated well by some and harshly and cruelly by others. Injustice in this system led President Lincoln to take action and a civil war resulted over this issue.
Nehemiah faced injustice in his day among his own people. Taxes were high in Jerusalem and the Jews had to pay them to the Persian king. Their brothers who had money were loaning to the Jews who had no money. Mortgages were taken on the fields, vineyards and even homes. Sons and daughters were being sold into slavery because of the usury that was going on among the Israelites. An outcry because of this injustice reached Nehemiah and he pondered this problem and the resulting enslavement. (Nehemiah 5:6-7) Calling a meeting of all those involved and commanded them to stop their selfishness and walk in the fear of God! (Nehemiah 5:9-11) They publicly agreed to do so. He charged the priests and nobles to take an oath to do what they had promised in response to his accusation. He shook out his own robe and prayed, “In this way may God shake out of his house and possessions every man who does not keep this promise. So may such a man be shaken out and emptied!” Nehemiah 5:13
God’s people must beware of injustice, even in their own house! Sin and selfishness can cause us to take advantage of others. We can abuse or neglect the poor and the weak. We must not manipulate or enslave others by our selfishness. Spiritual leaders and pastors must guard their hearts in how they encourage giving. Sometimes, manipulation and injustice takes place among God’s people through selfish leaders. Slavery can come when our sons and daughters go into captivity because of injustice in God’s house among God’s people! Righteous leaders are watchful and take direct action when they know about it! Pray today for those in authority and let them know of any injustice among God’s people!