III John 1

Gaius was obviously a very good man who opened the doors to many travelers and Christian workers.  Others were impresed by him and were encouraged by his generous heart.  But we see another person in Diotrephes, whose motto seemed to be, “I must increase!”.  He was a proud & arrogant man who challenged the authority of the church leaders.  He was a man who did not help others and even threw some people out of the church.Vs. 5, ”

Regarding application…Evil in the Church.  Vs. 11, “Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God…”  Struggles outside the church can be harmful…struggles within the church can be devastating.  Diotrephes was out of control and was losing his moral standards & biblical standards.  He definitely was not loving others and hit was hurting the church.  When was as Christians imitate the world’s standards, it not only affects us…it effects everyone.  When I first began as a youth director, there was a young man who had already graduated from high school, but he would come periodically to church.  He was (from the world’s standard)…cool.  All the boys wanted to hang out with him…he was rich, drove a nice car, physically intimidating, etc.  He found it very funny to make fun of the younger boys.  He would poke fun at their acne, or their height…and all the boys would transform themselves to his attitude and start laughing along and poking fun.  It was an interesting phenomenon because they wouldn’t do this with each other until this young man would come.  No matter what age, we are all very impressionable and if a charismatic (impressionable) person comes into the church and starts to imitate the world…it’s something we must be very careful of.  Let’s look out for each other and makes sure that we are not imitating the world…but rather, imitating God.

Introduction – II John

“Who is Jesus?”…The proverbial question of our time. This question still brings controversy & opinions to this day. False teachers of today come in many forms…whether false pastors, teachers…authors like Dan Brown (Da Vinci Code & Angles & Demons)…they all attempt to describe a false Jesus. Yet their preposterous claims are believed by the gullible, naive & ignorant Christians out there. The apostle John encouraged all believers to cling to the Truth of our Lord Jesus Christ!

II John 1

Vs. 3, “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.”  Truth must be balanced by Love….and Love must be balanced by Truth.  The truth is not something we simply study or believe…it should be a motivating force in our lives!  It is not simple enough to know it, we must live it (Vs. 4-6).  We must also protect the truth (Vs. 7-11).  We must be careful and wise in discerning what is true and what is false.  Once again, we see the strong emphasis on false teachings.  The early church made it a practice to support traveling teachers & pastors, but John was quick to admonish them not to show hospitality to those who preached a false Gospel.  While it is okay to share God’s love & truth to them, it is dangerous to have them over to your house.

Regarding application…Walking with Jesus.  Vs. 4, “It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.”  Wow…isn’t that so true?  Next to the joy in the Lord…I would have to agree with John when it comes to receiving joy when I see members of this youth group walking with our Lord Jesus!  As much joy as it gives me…we can only imagine how much more that joy is amplified up in Heaven!!!  As we soon approach the Lord each day…may we bring joy to our Lord by following Him!  When we come to church….may we come with hearts ready & minds ready to worship & learn the Living Word of our Lord!  And perhaps by doing that we can even bring each other joy when we witness the love of the Lord displayed in each others lives!  They say there is safety in numbers.  When we go strange places, it is always wise to take another to walk with you.  Spiritually, it is imperative to take the hand of Christ and let Him guide you through the dark streets of our lives.

I John 5

Vs. 5, “Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”  What a great rallying call!  Question: Who are Christians?  We are Disciples of Christ!  We are people who love & obey God’s commands (Vs. 1-5).  Most people in this world do not know who Christians are.  As Christians, we know who we are, because the Spirit testifies to it (vs. 6-13).  We have that very testimony in our hearts (Vs. 10).  How much more than should we testify who Jesus is to the world?  We can pray to God and approach Him with confidence (Vs. 14-17).  When we know God’s testimony, we can pray with boldness!  We know how Christians should live (vs. 18) and we cannot ever deny that we don’t know the truth (Vs. 20)…for God has given it to us.  We are without excuse for God has given us this wonderful knowledge!

Regarding application…Burdensome.  Vs. 3, “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.”  Question: Why?  From the world’s point of view…it can be a very burdensome thing to be a Christian.  As Christians we shouldn’t do that and we shouldn’t do this (a big book of rules).  No one likes rules.  But ask a parent if working hard so their children can have a good education and wonderful opportunties…and there job is never burdensome…Why? Because they love them.  God’s laws and commands should never be burdensome.  Yet many Christians fall into the trap that Adam & Eve fell into from the very beginning.  Satan challenges us to think that God’s laws are burdensome and too hard to handle.  Therefore, we break them and not follow them because life is easier.  But a Christian who looks to God’s commands as burdensome is a person who does not know the meaning of love.  Love is not selfish, but it is selfless.  Re-read I Cor. 13 or remember that when we follow Jesus, He gives us rest from this weary world (Matthew 11:28-30).  We follow & obey God because we love Him.  That is why this world is not a burdensome place to live in.

I John 4

Vs. 19, “We love because he first loved us.”  True believers will love each other…it’s that simple folks.  John goes on to mention about testing spirits….remember that the New Testament had not yet been completeted…so these young Christians would know if someone was false by what they claimed regarding Jesus.  But the true sheep will recoginze the loving voice of their Shepherd.  John also reminds us of the fact that we should never forget…Jesus died for us (vs. 9-11).  When we remember this fact,God’s Holy Spirit can reside in us and His love fills us (Vs. 12-16).  And when we live this kind of love, we need to never fear the final day of judgment…because love drives out fear (Vs. 18-19).

Regarding application…Loving Others = Command.  Vs. 21, “And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”  This is not God pleading or hoping that we love.  God is not politely asking us to love others.  God is commanding us to love.  It is shameful to bear the name of Christ in our lives if we are discriminately choosing who we love and who we ignore or even hate in our lives.  People may say, “I tried…I just can’t love him or her because of what they did to me.”  And the key word to that comment is “I”.  When we try to love, it is impossible to love others.  But when we surrender our lives over to the Lord, His love is so powerful and great that it will overflow in our lives.  If Jesus thought the same way so many of us have…then none of us would be alive today.  Question: Who do you need to show God’s love to?  Go forth and love deeply in the name of Jesus!

1 John 3

Vs. 1, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are…”  What an appropriate verse to remind us of Father’s Day!   Love is indeed is one of the greatest motivations in this world!  If we love & understand God’s love for us…then we cannot help but desire to obey.  One day Jesus will return, and that is all the more reason we should live as if He will today (Vs. 2-3).  As Christans we have the “new nature”, the Holy Spirit guiding us in our lives.  Jesus set the perfect example and as He died for us, we ought to be willing to die for others too (Vs. 16)…what a powerful verse!  But our hearts and the Holy Spirit can and does condemn us (Vs. 19-20) when we have failed to love others.  We can come before God with confidence (Vs. 21), God is able to show the full extent of His love in our lives because of the Holy Spirit He gave us (Vs. 24).

Regarding application…Deliberately Sinning.  Vs. 9, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.”  When we abide in Christ, we will not consciencely make an effor to deliberately sin.  Of course we fall short of the glory of God…and we sometimes choose to willingly disobey the Lord.  But what John is getting at is this: No true Christan will continue to repeatedly time and time again deliberately sin on and on with no remorse.  This is a very serious topic and one that is not easy to discuss.  Take the prodigal son…He did repeatedly sin, but in his heart of hearts…he was still a son.  He realized he did not belong with the pigs…he belonged with his Father.  Deep down in the deepest recesses of our hearts is the desire to please the Lord.  We only have that because when the Holy Spirit came into our lives, a new nature formed in our hardened hearts.

Question: Is it possible to deliberately sin and still go to Heaven?  Yes, because perhaps you are a procrastinator and in your heart of hearts, you meant to turn back to the Lord but maybe you died before you had the chance in a car wreck.  For the prodigal son, if he had died before turning back to his father, he still would have been a part of that family.  But, sadly…it is not and should not ever be our desire to deliberately sin.  It is like saying, “God, I have no remorse about what I am doing and I don’t care if it hurts you and others.”  Many times, we as children of God will disobey Him, but we do it with guilt and remorse.  However, it is God’s will that we turn from the sinful nature and strive to live holy all the days of our lives.

I John 2

Vs. 15, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”  I like John’s style of explaining things…this chapter focuses now on our relationship with Christ.  There are many things that can keep us from the Love of Christ…the hatred of others, the love of the world, the false teachings of others, the denial of God in our life…  Jesus is our advocate, Jesus is our example and Jesus is our commander.  He helps us against our enemies and Jesus is the source of our hope!

Regarding application…Walking.  Vs. 6, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”  Before there were planes, trains & automobiles =)…there was walking.  It still is the main source of how we get from point “A” to point “B”.  Think of people who are in wheelchairs their whole life…we take walking for granted.  Yet, I believe we take the our Spiritual walk for granted even more.  For Christians…there is no denying it…We claim to be “In Christ!”  Yet..talking the talk vs. walking the walk are two very different things.  Why is it that Christians complain and cry out “Woe is me” when trials and tough times come?  Why is that these trials make us question God’s love?  Because…we don’t know God’s word!  If we did…we would realize that the walk Jesus took was filled with joys & trials.

Remember the movie “Forrest Gump”?  There was a time in the life of Forrest that he could not walk well…and as he got older and went back home…he decided to not only start walking but jogging across America.  It became a phenomon in the movie as many followers began to run with Forrest.  But when asked where he was going or why he was doing it…Forrest didn’t really have an answer…he just did it.  But we don’t just walk for no reason.  We walk with deliberation and conviction.  We are called to go down the path less traveled.  We must walk with Jesus.  You must walk with Jesus.  Why?  Because He lives in us!

Introduction – I John

This letter was composed sometime around 85-90 A.D. with the intent to remove doubts and resssure young Christians about who Jesus was.  John is the same author who wrote the Gospel of John…and he was older now and perhaps the only surviving apostle at this time.  This is the same John that would walk & talk with Jesus, watch Jesus die, met Jesus after He rose from the dead and saw Jesus go up to Heaven.  It’s safe to say that John knew who the Lord was…and that love would convey itself in this letter.  John also wrote this letter to counter false teachers.

1 John 1

Vs. 4, “We see John testifying of the magnificent truth about Jesus in the first section of this chapter.  Jesus was and is as real to John now just as Jesus was real when He was with John on earth.  Though our lives are filled with sorrow & trails, God also wants us to have that eternal joy in having that relationship with Him (Vs. 4).  But, John also challenges us to have a “honest” relationship with Jesus (Vs. 6)…we must confess ours sins and come humbly before the Lord.  This means “walking in the light” and dealing honestly with our failures.  Salvation is a matter of life or death, but fellowship with God is a matter of light or darkness.  If you lie to God, to others, and to yourself…you will undoubtedly lose that fellowship with the Lord.  A godly person cannot grow living in darkness.

II Peter 3

Vs. 8, “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.”  It was not an easy time for the Christians during Peter’s letter.  You can see Peter’s strong admonition to stay true to God’s Word (Vs. 2).  We should never be ignorant (not knowing) of God’s Word…we know that Jesus will return, therefore we should never forget it and live like He could return today.  I love Vs. 9 and how it reminds us that God has chosen not to come back yet because of His desire for us to make sure we are doing our job to go out and bear witness of Him!  We must be diligent in our walks & always be alert of the traps & mines that can come along our path.  We must grow both in the knowledge (His Word) & the grace (Walking with Him) of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Regarding application…Make Every Effort!  Vs.14, “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”  In other translations “dear friends” = Beloved.  Think about this…  Question: What really matters in this life?  There are many worthwhile things to pursue in this life…Godly friendships, good grades in school, good career to support a family one day, find a good church…etc.  But, the heart of the matter…what really matters is asking yourself…what is true object of my life?  My goals or God’s goals?  God’s Goals or My Goals?  You cannot choose both.  You must choose one.

I loved the child book story of the “Little Engine That Could.”  The whole premise is this little “choo choo” train having to go up this enourmous mountain.  It is a daunting task and it seem impossible by all human standards.  Yet the “little engine that could” had this mantra (saying)…rather than feels sorry for itself or say, “I can’t do it”…the “little engine that could” kept on repeating these words…”I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, etc…”  It’s a wonderful story to show not only children but all of us a illustration about life.  But for the Christian…”I think I can” should really translate to “I know God can, I know God can, I know God can….”  When we “Make Every Effort” to die to ourselves, God can do anything His will desires in our life.  Amen!