Revelation 3

Highlight:

Revelation 3:16–21 (NKJV) 

16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 

Explain:

Laodicea is the last church to which Jesus writes. I think you could sum up their problem in one word: Apathy. Here are some thoughts from this passage:

The cause of apathy is self-sufficiency – Because you say, “I am rich, have become wealthy and have need of nothing.

The problem with apathy is blindness – You cannot see your condition—That you are

         So bad that you incite pity

         So poor that you cannot afford anything

         So destitute that you do not even have clothes.

The answer for apathy is

         Recognition

That God must be our source: 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19

That God loves you – As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.

Repentance

Therefore be zealous and repent

         Surrender – 

20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, 

         Communion

I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

         Perseverance –

21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 

Apply:

So when I am apathetic, it is because I am being blinded to spiritual reality. What I need is to recognize where I am, repent, surrender, seek communion with God and to persevere in following Him.

Respond:

Revelation 2

Highlight:

Revelation 2:20–24 (ESV) 

20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. 24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. 

Explain:

Jesus is speaking this letter through John to the churches. To the church at Thyatira, He tells them that they are allowing some of their members to be led astray by “Jezebel,” probably a name given to this lady that harks back to the wife of Ahab, the king. Thyatira was a town of tradesmen and, in order to belong to the trade gild, you had to offer participate with idolatry. This woman taught that it was ok to do so and also taught that sexual immorality was no big deal. But Christ’s warning isn’t just to those who are participating, it is to the church for allowing it to go on unchallenged.

Apply:

As followers of Jesus, we have the responsibility to challenge immorality in the church and deal with it. We give offenders love and space to repent, but we cannot allow it to go unchecked. We must confront it. God help me.

Respond:

I will confront this wherever I find it.

Revelation 1

Highlight:

Revelation 1:12–16 (NKJV) 

12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. 

Explain:

Revelation 1: 1-8: Christ gives John this revelation to show what will soon happen. All who read and heed this will be blessed. This revelation is written as a letter to the seven churches in Asia. The writer wishes the readers grace and peace from God, the Spirit, and from Jesus Christ who is the first to rise from the dead and the ruler of all rulers of the world. He has made us a part of His kingdom to be priests for God. He is coming  and everyone, even those who killed Him, will see Him. He is the Alpha and Omega, the one who is, always was, and is to come. 9-20 John writes from Patmos where he has been exiled for his witness about Jesus. On the Lord’s day, while worshiping, he receives a commission to write down what he is about to see in a vision and send it to seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. He sees the exalted Christ with hair like snow, eyes of fire, and a face that shines like the sun standing amidst seven lampstands. John falls at his feet as dead, but is told not to be afraid. He says that He is alive from the dead and holds the keys of death and the grave. John is to write down the things which are now happening and will happen. The seven stars he is holding are the angels of the seven churches and the lampstands represent the churches.

Vv12-16 describe Jesus as He moves among the churches. This picture is of Jesus glorified—as He now exists. He, however, is not far removed, but is among the churches. I am reminded of the vision of God in Isa 6. Jesus is God’s expressed image, so Isaiah may be a Christophany? This image is similar. Jesus’s image is expressed  in a powerful way, ending with His countenance that shines like the Son, and this powerful presence dwells among His churches.

Apply:

His presence among us should bring:

  1. Awe: He is God! Only once before His resurrection did the disciples behold Christ’s true glory on the mount of Transfiguration. The impact of that vision put them on their knees. 
  2. Joy: We may feel persecuted and alone at times. I am quite sure the recipients of this letter did because they were under much pressure. The truth is, however, that this resurrected, powerful Christ was among them and they had nothing to fear.
  3. Soberness: Jesus is about to address the churches commending some, warning others. His presence means that our sin will be dealt with.

Respond:

God, help me to realize the risen, glorified Christ is with me today.

Jude

Highlight:

Jude 20–21 (NKJV) 

20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 

Explain:

Jude 1-2: Jude writes this letter as a slave of Christ and brother of James to all who are called and kept safe by Christ. 3-4: He writes to warn them about ungodly people who teach that God’s grace allows them to live immoral lives. These people are condemned because they have denied Christ by these teachings. 5-11: He uses three examples to show that God will judge those whose lives defy Him: The nation of Israel in the desert, the angels that fell from heaven, and Sodom and Gormorrah. These people claim great authority, but defy it, even scoffing at supernatural beings. But even Michael, the archangel, did not rebuke the devil when contending for the body of Moses, but left that to the Lord. Yet these people make fun of things they do not even understand. They live by their sinful nature and will suffer the consequences just like Cain who killed Abel, Balaam who deceived Israel, and Korah who rebelled against Moses. 12-13: Jude draws six word pictures that show how these deceivers are bringing destruction: They are reefs that wreck ships, shepherds who don’t care for their sheep, clouds that have no rain, trees in autumn which are doubly dead, waves of the sea that bring foam of shameful deeds, and like wandering stars doomed to black darkness. 14-19 Enoch prophesied the coming judgment in which the Lord comes with countless angels to bring judgment, convicting the ungodly for all they have said and done. These people brag about themselves, complain, and flatter others as they selfishly live to only get what they want. The Apostles predicted this would happen. They said skeptics would come with one purpose: to satisfy themselves because they lack God’s Spirit. 20-25 But true believers should build each other up in faith, pray and wait for the eternal life that God is bringing. They should show mercy to the wavering, rescue those who are being deceived, but do so with great caution hating the sin that is deceiving their brothers. All glory and authority belongs to Jesus forever.

James writes about the danger of false teachers and how disciples can defend against them. He says specifically that disciples (v20):

  1. Build each other up in the faith.
  2. Pray in the Spirit
  3. Experience the love of God
  4. Focus on Eternity.

Apply:

The application for us flows from this: We can overcome our culture’s false influence if we:

  1. Have strong biblical community which includes Truth, accountability and encouragement, worship, and prayer.
  2. Deep personal fellowship with Christ in prayer by the Spirit. 
  3. Live your life in the context of continually experiencing the deep love of Christ.
  4. Keep your focus on what will matter for eternity.

Respond:

I am going to focus “praying in the Spirit” today.

3 John

Highlight:

3 John 9–11 (NKJV) 

9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. 10 Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church. 11 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God. 

Explain:

3 John: 1-8: John writes to Gaius, wishing him health and telling him that some traveling teachers have recently updated him on his faithfulness. He has no greater joy than to hear that his children are following the truth. He commends Gaius for taking care of traveling teachers for they are traveling for God and receive help only from believers. He encourages Gaius to continue to partner with them. 9-12: He warns them about Diotrephes who loves the prestige of his leadership position. He is making evil accusations against John and the teachers coming from him. He refuses to help John’s teachers and even puts people out of the church who help them. John urges them not to follow this evil example because doing good proves you are good and doing evil proves that you do not know God. He commends Demetrius to them. 13-15: He promises to say more when he sees them face to face. He greets all of his friends there and ends the letter.

The problem with Diotrephes:

  1. Exclusive Pride – He wants to be in charge 
  2. Malicious attack.
  3. Complete Rejection: of teachers sent from John.
  4. Authoritarian Control: Attack on others who are doing good.

Apply:

These are all qualities to reject in leadership:

  1. Pride that seeks to place yourself in the spotlight.
  2. Attacking those who may be countering your agenda.
  3. Rejecting those who are not from your “camp,” but who are still preaching truth.
  4. Seeking to over control.

Respond:

The one thing I must work on is seeking to over control. I will be conscious today of ways in which I may try to do this.

2 John

Highlight:

2 John 7–11 (NKJV) 

7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. 9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. 

Explain:

John is writing to warn these recipients that it is the identity of Jesus the Christ that is the key to their spiritual survival. Satan seeks to deceive us by giving us these “antichrist’s” to take the place of the real Christ. The essence of the identity of Christ is that He is God and He is man. He is fully both. Anything less than this is deception. This is such a critical doctrine that we must insist on it to the point of not being seen to give even tacit approval to their doctrine by any association with them. We must make it clear that what they teach is false doctrine.

Apply:

This passage brings these applications:

  1. The identity of Christ is critical. Who I believe Him to be determines whether I am saved or lost. There can be no equivocation on this point.
  2. My response to deception must be clear. I cannot try to smooth over these differences when it comes to the nature of Christ. I must be clear.
  3. My outreach to deceivers must be careful. This means
    1. I clearly outline the deception.
    1. I lovingly reach out to the deceived. (When the passage says that we should not receive them into our house not greet them, I think the context would be receiving them into your house CHURCH or greet (i.e. show approval of or favor) their doctrine. We may connect with them socially, but we may not do anything that expresses approval of what they are teaching.

Respond:

I will think about the ramifications of this to ministry.

1 John 5

Highlight:

1 John 5:1–5 (NLT) 

1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. 2 We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. 3 Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. 5 And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. 

Explain:

1 John 5: 1-5Having faith that Jesus is the Messiah makes you His child and, as His child, you defeat this world through that same faith. Loving the Father means loving His children and keeping His commandments which are not burdensome to keep. 6-12: Jesus is shown to be God’s Son through His baptism in water, his death on the cross and by the Spirit which audibly confirmed His identity at His baptism. God Himself testified that Jesus was His Son so, since we often accept human testimony, can we not accept God’s? Your faith in Christ confirms that God’s testimony is true. Not believing what God has said about Jesus is calling Him a liar. This is God’s testimony: He has given us eternal life through His Son. If you have the Son you have life and if you don’t have His Son, you don’t have life. 13-15: John says he has written believers so that they could know they have eternal life. Knowing this, we also have confident that, when we pray for anything that pleases Him, we will have it. 16-21 There are sins that lead to death, don’t pray about those, but, if you see someone sinning in a way that doesn’t lead to death, pray that God will give them life. All wicked actions are sin, but some do not lead to death. God’s children do not habitually sin, for Christ holds on to them and the evil one cannot touch them. The world is under Satan’s control, but we belong to God. Jesus has come to give us understanding so that we can know the true God. We live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with the Son Who is the true God and Who is eternal life. Therefore, children, don’t allow anything or anyone to take His place in your hearts.

5:1-5

There is a direct connection between faith, love, and obedience. When I truly have faith that Jesus is God, the Holy Spirit gives me a love for God that causes me to love His family and also to obey His commands. When I have this kind of relationship with God, obedience is not easy because, in that relationship, His commands are not burdens. The consequence of this is that I begin to achieve great victories over Satan because of my faith in Christ. I win the battle against sin.

Apply:

Since the Holy Spirit gives me a love for God and His family when I trust Christ, I will focus on my relationship with Christ so my relationship with others can be on track.

Since obeying God is a privilege and not a burden, I will stop seeing it as a burden.

Since obedience leads to victory, I will focus on obeying God, regardless of the consequences.

Respond:

I will focus on staying in communion with Christ today.

1 John 4

Highlight:

1 John 4:13–19 (NLT) 

13 And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. 14 Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. 18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 19 We love each other because he loved us first. 

Explain:

John says that though no one has ever seen God, the love we have reveals He lives in us. We know this is true because He has given us His Spirit. Consequently, we witness that God sent Jesus to be our Savior and we confess that Jesus is God’s Son and that God abides in Him. All of this happens when we believe the love God has for us, so, abiding in that love, we abide in God. 17-19: The end result of this experience of love is that we will be confident even on the Judgment Day because we have become so much like Him. Fear will be banished by love because, having matured, that love will take away the torment of fear. If you fear judgment, you have not yet been perfected in love. The foundation of this love is this: We love Him because He first loved us.

Apply:

  • I want to experience God’s love because experiencing God’s love brings confidence. When we know He loves us and experience that deep down inside, we will no longer have the improper fear of His presence.
  • I want to imitate and look like Jesus in the way I act because Confidence flows from imitation. We are able to have confidence because we have become like Jesus.
  • I want to meditate on Christ’s sacrifice because doing that increases and perfects our love. 

Respond:

I will seek to experience, imitate and meditate like this today.

1 John 3

Highlight:

1 John 3:16–23 (NKJV) 

16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. 20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. 

Explain:

1 John 3: 1-3: God shows great love to us by calling us sons. Since the world didn’t acknowledge Him, they will not acknowledge us. As sons we have the eager expectation that, even though we don’t know what we will be like, we will be made like Him when he appears. This makes us live pure lives. 4-10: Sin breaks God’s laws and Jesus, the sinless one, takes away sin. If you keep on sinning, you don’t understand Who He is. Doing right shows that you are right like Jesus. Doing wrong shows that you belong to the Devil. Since Jesus came to destroy the Devil’s work, no one who practices sin has God’s life in them. Ownership, then, is clear: If you don’t live right and love other believers, you don’t belong to God. 11-20 Love is our ancient message. Unlike Cain who was evil and killed his brother, we must love. The world will hate us for doing right, so don’t be surprised. Loving brothers in Christ proves you’re alive in Him because if you hate your brother, you’re a murderer and murderers do not go to heaven. On the other hand, real love causes us to give our lives for our brothers as Christ gave His life for us. This is practical: If you have money and don’t help your brother in need, God’s love doesn’t live in you. Your love must be reflected in action. When that happens, you show you are right with God, even if you feel guilty, because you have witnessed your love by your actions and God’s approval is more important than your guilt. He knows everything about you. 21-24: Freed from guilt, then, by this love, we can be confident in asking God whatever we need because, in obedience, we please Him. His command is this: Believe in Jesus’s name and love each other. Obedience to this shows that He lives in us and His Spirit lives in us.

Apply:

True love acts. It is possible to act without loving but it is not possible to love without acting. If there is any doubt in our minds that we are connected to God, the primary way we will be able to judge that connection will be by whether we believe in the name of Jesus and how we ACT towards those we say we love. True love acts

Respond:

I will share this with others

1 John 2

Highlight:

1 John 2:15–17 (NLT) 

15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. 

Explain:

1 John 2: 1-6: My children, the goal is not to sin, but if we do, we have someone who pleads for us with God. It is Jesus, the only perfect one. He is the sacrifice for everyone’s sins. We know Him if we obey Him. Saying you know Him without obeying Him is lying. Obeying God’s word shows you love Him and confirms to your conscience that you are living in Him. If you live in God, you live like Jesus. 7-11: The new commandment is like the old one: Love one another. That command is old, yet new. It is what Jesus lived and now we are also living it. In the light of this new command, darkness disappears and true light shines. If you claim to live in that light, but hate a fellow believer, you are still blinded by the darkness. 12-14: I am writing to spiritual children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus and you know the Father. I am writing to you who are young adults because you have gotten victory over Satan and stand strong in your faith through the Word of God living in your hearts. I am writing to those who are mature in their faith because you deeply know the eternal Christ. 15-17: Do not love this world because it only creates a craving for evil sensual, sexual pleasure, a craving for all you see, and brings an evil pride in your own achievements. These desires do not come from God but from this world. The world and all these temporary things are fading away and if you love them, you don’t have the Father’s love in you, but if you love Him and live to please Him, you will live forever. 18-23 Dear children, the last hour is here; the Antichrist is coming. Some have proven they really didn’t belong to Christ because they have followed the Antichrist, proving they never really belonged with us. Not you, however! You have received the Spirit and know the difference between truth and lies. Anyone saying that Jesus is not the Christ is a liar and an antichrist. Anyone denying the Son, also denies the Father (and vice-versa).  Again, that’s not you. You know the difference between truth and lies. If you deny the Son, you don’t have the Father; if you acknowledge the Son, you have the father. 24-29: Remain faithful to this truth and you will enjoy the fellowship with God and receive eternal life. My warnings are to keep you safe. They are backed up by the Holy Spirit living in you and teaching you the truth. Remain in fellowship with Christ through Him and, when He returns, you will be confident, not shamed. Since you know He is righteous, do right!

Apply:

Take-aways from 1 John 2:15-17:

Love for God is completely incompatible with a love for the world because

  • Loving the world creates cravings that weaken our love for Christ.  They are  cravings for all forms of physical pleasure from sex to food, etc.
  • Loving the world turns our attention to all the temptation around us through what we see with our eyes. (The cravings of the eyes). 
  • Loving the world means to focus one’s life on the means by which we obtain physical pleasures. “Pride of life” means the false pride we take in the livelihood (earning money) needed to seek the pleasure mentioned above

So John is saying that there are really two ways to live life: One way is to go after physical pleasure, the strong desire for which is stoked by my eyes and what I see, and spending every waking hour seeking the money by which I can get those physical pleasures for myself. The second way is to spend every waking hour seeking real spiritual pleasure in God, loving Him.

Respond: