Vs. 1, “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Having just read the Gospel of Matthew recently, we are going to get another perspective. Consider it like four friends telling you about something that they either experienced or knew. We get a richer understanding when we get all different sides of the story. Mark doesn’t waste anytime getting right to the ministry of Jesus. Of the twelve apostles, at least seven of them were fishermen and Jesus would begin by calling them to Him. We see Jesus going to the synagogues and people’s houses (Andrew & Peter). Teaching, healing and casting out demons. Notice, how Jesus instructed others to not say who He was and would not let the casted out demons proclaim who He was. Question: Why is this? Jesus wanted to be as effective in reaching out without creating a crowd that just came for a spectacle. Besides, He did not need others to testify who He was. He would do that. But after Jesus would go to heaven, then He would call us to go and make disciples!
Regarding application…Preaching. Vs. 38, “Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” These days, the word “Preaching” tends to have a negative connotation to it. We may think, “My parents are always preaching at me to do better.” “Why does the Pastor always “Preach”…at us.” Brothers & Sisters…there are times for open sharing and bible studies. There are times for intimate teaching and encouragement. But there is also a time for straight-up “Preaching!” Preaching is what Jesus did. He set the example for us and solidified what the other prophets before Him did too. We have some that look down on churches that emphasize “preaching.” I even find myself calling it “Sharing Messages” rather than “Preaching”. But let’s be thankful for the Godly reminders and people who have been called to share just like Jesus did for us! And, lastly…preaching to others isn’t just reserved to pastors….You can find opportunities to “preach” to your friends and family about God and His love!
Vs. 1, “How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave.” The magnitude of loss was immense. The destruction of God’s city and the deaths of many overwhelmed any who had witnessed such a thing. Jeremiah had been preaching for over 40 years to God’s people about repenting from their evil ways. But they would not listen. Like the apostle Paul would tell us, “We reap what we sow.” (Galatians 6:7).
Regarding application…Sin Seperates. Vs. 22, “Let all their wickedness come before you; deal with them as you have dealt with me because of all my sins. My groans are many and my heart is faint.” I think it’s safe to say none of us like to think about the topic of sin in our life. Yet, this very sin in God’s people would seperate them from Him. They hid from their sin for years and now they are receiving their consequences. By the grace of God, He would return them and all of us back to Him. But, we should let this be a very impactful reminder that nothing can come good of the hardening of our hearts. Dearest brothers & sisters, how is your heart today?
Vs. 5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Even before Jeremiah was born, God would already have His will for him. Amazing, huh? Jeremiah would begin serving God as His prophet at the tender age of 20. Though Jeremiah was young & felt inadequate, God would use him anyway! God told Jeremiah He would protect him and give him the words to speak. The almond tree signified God’s eye watching. God’s people had now forgotten him. All of God’s prophets of the past—Hosea, Joel, Amos, Micah and Nahum, all those who had been contemporaries of Isaiah—had now passed off the scene. Zephaniah and Habakkuk were still living. Ezekiel and Obadiah were also in the same time with Jeremiah, but they are not going to prophesy until the captives are actually in Babylon. Daniel, too, will be prophesying later on. But at this time, Jeremiah stands alone, and he is to proclaim these judgments that are to come upon the nation. God would warn Jeremiah that he would have an incrediblely hard task, his own people would be against him.
Regarding application…Stand Up For Something! Vs. 17, “Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them…” In the final chapter of his book Walden, Henry David Thoreau (Amercian author of the 19th century) writes: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” “If anyone desires to come after Me,” said Jesus, “let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me….For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Matt. 16:24-26. In light of that sobering question, what decision will you make? Will you conform to the crowd or carry the cross? Jeremiah was willing to Stand up in the face of opposition!
In the movie Braveheart…Mel Gibson’s character William Wallace stands up against tyranny and fights for Scotland! It’s a story of someone going against the odds…but even William Wallace would have his followers. Jeremiah would be asked by God to do something crazy from human standards….Stand up, but you must do it alone. Jeremiah’s story is one truly heartfelt and deeply moving story of a man who stood up against the odds. But did Jeremiah really do it alone? Of course, not…God was there…but it took an incredible amount of faith on Jeremiah’s part to believe & act upon it! Sometimes, we may feel alone & know one else understands what we are going through….but God does!!!! You are never alone.
Vs. 3, “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” Rome was now led by emporer by the name of Domitian. He was even worse than Nero and he persecuted both the Christians & the Jews. John was exiled on the Island of Patmos for this very reason. This revelation from God to John was not some thing that happened in the first century…it wasn’t just for spiritual meaning…It was for the future of all the prophecies before us! Simply look at vs. 3 again to see that this is a book with a promise of a blessing! The seven churches were literal (real) churches at the time…yet they were representative of all churches of all times (including us today). The trumpet (vs. 10) plays an important symbol. The trumpet was like the voice of Christ, it calls John to heaven, it signals the wrath of God, and the trumpet will call God’s people home! The double-edged sword is the authority & power of God’s word! And of course, the number “7–seven” plays an important symbol. For seven symbolizes perfection or more accurately “completion”.
Regarding application…World is Getting Worse. Vs. 19, “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.” The world is getting worse…but Jesus already said that it would get worse. We see all sorts of documentaries about global warming and the end of the world….we are indeed getting closer. While it seems that society is losing its morals before our very eyes…don’t be too suprised. While it may seem we are losing the war (terrorism, violence, school shootings, murderers, child abuse, etc…) know that we are one day going to win the War!!!! Why do I know this? Because of the book of Revelations! Let us not shy away from such an awesome book! I pray with all my heart that you journey with me in studying & devoting our minds & hearts to God’s revelation! Remember, to read aloud God’s word as we read each chapter a day! Revelations is not meant for casul reading…so let us reverently approach the Lord as we seek his revelation for our lives.
Vs. 3, “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” We see Jude’s humility and his desire to both shepherd and teach the church. One of the main problems of why this was happening was the lack of understanding “GRACE” – undeserved acceptance & love (The YG here’s this defnition often). These false teachers lacked a fear of God and took advantage of the fact that God’s grace covers their sins. It was reckless teaching with a selfish motive. Whether it was for financial gain, poplularity, pleasing the crowds, personal agenda…these teachers relied on their own talents rather than the strength of the Holy Spirit.
Regarding application…Build Ourselves Up. Vs. 20, “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” In the midst of such falsehood and deception, we as Christians must all the more build ourselves up. Remember, the enemy here wasn’t the pagans & unchurched…it was those in the church that were endangering the truth. There is a name for this: Apostacy = The abandoning of the faith. Even today, apostacy is rampant in the churches…especially in the faith that truly saves. Question: What is building up? Simply studying & knowing His word…we do that through QT’s! Additionally through prayer, fellowship and dependence upon the Lord…we continue to build each other up. Just as you cannot build a house without a foundation, we cannot build our lives without the foundation of Chirst.
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.
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.
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.
Vs. 3, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” The definitive word here is “knowledge”…God has given us His Word as a precious gift. We see the emphasis of growing in His knowledge from Vs. 5-11, as we possess all of these qualities we grow and are able to continue to be used powerfully by the Lord. As we look at Scripture, we see the that all of this prophecy has its roots in Jesus Christ & inspired by His Holy Spirit…there is no need to ever doubt the truth!
Regarding application…Always Remind. Vs. 12, “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.” Question: Why would Peter be stressing this so importantly? Because Peter knew his days were numbered. Perhaps if he knew he would live to a ripe old age…the urgency wouldn’t be there…but knowing his days were numbered, he was compelled to urgently remind all those who would listen how important it was to continue to grow in the Lord…even if they had it in their head knowledge, he was still going to remind them. Peter might have sounded like a broken letter, but we can never remind each other enough to love & grow in our Lord Jesus Christ. That is why we have church, that is why we turn to the Lord in our QT’s, that is why we have Christian accountability (S.A.G.)…the moment we arrogantly think we don’t need to be reminded…well…that’s a pretty powerful indicator that our heart has grown cold.
Vs. 23, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” Peter exhorts us all on how to live in this crazy world. We have hope we hold onto that literally is “living” and grows (Vs. 3)…not just a living, but also a lasting hope! This hope leads to faith…a faith that is not tested is a faith that cannot be trusted. Hope also should lead us to live a life of holiness (Vs. 13-21). Such a simple word, but so hard to live by. Holiness means to live “set apart” from the world. Remember, if we are not “set apart” from the world, that means we are putting the world first and that translates into “hatred towards God.” Let’s let God’s enduring Word change these wretched hearts of ours.\
Regarding application…How are Christians to Love? Vs. 22, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” Answer: Love deeply from the heart! Question: How do we love sincerely and deeply? Answer: Obey God’s Word/Truth! Do you see where this is going? We cannot love sincerely & deeply if we are not rooted in God’s Word! We may be able to grasp a little of what love is…but in order to live and love the church & its people…we must first walk daily with Jesus. We cannot seperate obedience & love. It’s preposterous to hear some Christians talk about modern day “Legalism” and how we should just love each other. This life is not a “free pass” to Heaven when it comes to life on earth before eternity! We are called to take up the cross of suffering & shame. Question: Are you loving your brothers & sisters deeply?