Dear Student of the Word,
This week's focus is on two short letters written by John. These two letters are only twelve verses each, but they both have some important things to say. They also give us some picture of what it was like as the early church developed and matured. The early church was not without problems and that was what John tried to address in all three of his letters, which would have been written in his latter years. This week I wrote on day six of this seven-day study (which you can download below):
v. 7 – Whoever went out to preach, teach and strengthen the churches, they did it with no help from the world, and they did it for God. Notice John’s wording: They did it for the sake of the Name. God will test your motives when you do things that are related to His work. Are you doing them for your own purposes or for the sake of His name and Word? And what’s more, He will be the One to provide for you, whether through the saints, the pagans or through some unexpected source. And He may never use the same source twice, just so your trust is always in Him.
v. 8 – What a novel idea: to work together for the truth! That should be the goal in all our churches, missions committees, youth departments, and denominations. We should not only seek to debate the truth, study the truth, and learn the truth, but we should also work for the truth! What’s more, we should work together. Where and how are you working with others for the truth of the gospel of Jesus? What more can you do?v. 9 – It is nothing short of amazing that a man named Diotrephes would have nothing to do with the apostle John who wrote this epistle. John was with Jesus and had insight into the Word and work of God like few others, yet this man felt he knew better and shunned John! Yet there were those who had no use for the apostle Paul either. My point here is that you may or may not be celebrated by those with whom you work, but stay true to who God made you to be and what He sent you to do. It is only after your work is done that people will celebrate your leadership. While you lead, they will usually criticize and complain!
v. 10 – This man shunned John, gossiped about him and refused to support and help those who were teaching the true faith. He had his own agenda and thought he had insight that was contrary and superior to John’s! If John had opponents, then be sure that you will have some as well if you seek to serve the Lord and stay true to His teaching and Word.
John promised that, if he came to that area, he would expose that pastor for who he was – someone who wanted to be first among all. He was eager to be the leader and he was putting people out of the church who were trying to do the right thing to help those who were assisting God’s workers. John, Paul, Peter and all of the men of God had to contend with false teachers and impostors as they worked in God’s vineyard. You will have to do the same; just make sure you aren’t part of the problem! Read what Paul told the Ephesian elders when he bid them farewell and you will understand the spiritual warfare that is part of all church work:
"Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears” (Acts 20:25-31).
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. For further Bible study, my website archive contains a complete collection of all my verse-by-verse Bible studies from Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1&2 Thessalonians, 1&2 Timothy, Hebrews, James, 1&2 Peter, Hebrews and Revelation, along with the unpublished volumes of The Faith Files.
OPERATION: PETTICOAT: I had a great meeting with the folks who went with me to Kenya a few weeks ago. They all shared what the Lord has been doing and saying to them since we came home. Then we talked about what we can do to keep the momentum going to provide help to our friends and family over there.
We decided to keep raising money for the Sophia Fund and we also launched Operation: Petticoat, which is a project to purchase underwear for young girls who have none, consequently missing school and living in embarrassment as they enter their teen years. I am going back to Kenya in May, so we set April 30 as our deadline to raise money to purchase underwear here and take it over there. You may not be passionate about underwear, but two separate ministries asked for help with this. And I received this email from a woman in Zimbabwe today:
Just read about operation petticoat. It is so true about the underwear issue. Most of the girls here don't wear bras and the panties are tattered. It may seem strange to you but it is a big issue and the silly things are not cheap! So little material but the price can be restrictive to kids who have little.
You can give through my website or send a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 91099, Pittsburgh, PA 15221. Just let me know if your contribution is to be used for food or underwear and I promise to apply it where you direct.