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Pocket Sized Thoughts – Jude – Part 4

They are dangerous blemishes in your gatherings of love.” (v.12)

Jude gives three more examples to warn against corrupting influences. Cain was motivated by envy, ignored God’s warning and mortally wounded his brother. He probably did not intend to kill his brother, but the corrupting power of sin overcame him. We may not physically kill someone, but beware lest we kill a good person’s name by envious gossip. Balaam was motivated by greed. Though ‘gifted’ by God, he used the ‘gift’ for his own selfish ends. Beware of gifting and popularity lest the love of money takes root and leads to all kinds of evil. Korah was motivated by ambition. He wanted to be leader at the expense of Moses. No doubt fuelled by good ideas and seeming unfairness, he took too much upon himself and stepped outside God given boundaries. They all, like a noisy sea, promise much but they fail and are like clouds without rain and trees who bear bitter fruit. These are all dangerous blemishes which can affect our meetings. The word for ‘spots’ (KJV) actually means hidden reefs, or sunken rocks, upon which a ship, unwaringly, can easily be wrecked. Jude is warning against these invisible dangers so that Christian gatherings are kept in love and purity.

PRAYER :- “Lord, guard my heart against every corrupting influence which the enemy tries to sow and keep me pure for You.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – Jude – Part 3

The Lord rebuke you.” (v.9)

Jude goes onto warn against speaking evil of those in positions of authority, whether it be temporal upon the earth, or eternal in spiritual realms. We are never to be presumptuous. Using the example (not previously found in the Bible) of a dispute over the body of Moses, the archangel Michael does not act presumptuously but says to the devil, “The Lord rebuke thee.” By doing this, he leaves the matter in the hands of God. When we enter into the realms of the supernatural, unless we are certain that we go in the name of the Lord of hosts, we can entangle ourselves in all kinds of corrupting influence. It is better to abide in truth than to delve into things where even angels fear to tread. Be careful. There are things we don’t understand and are not meant to understand, but by remaining confident in the Lord, we shall be kept safe.

PRAYER :- “Lord, give me wisdom and humility when I am engaged in things beyond my understanding.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – Jude – Part 2

I will, therefore, remind you.” (v.5)

Jude uses several examples of the corrupting influence of those who were ‘not in the truth.’ These are serious warnings and Jude took the opportunity to remind them once more, in case, by forgetfulness, those warnings lose their sharp focus and become blurred. Jude mentions those, who through unbelief, died in the wilderness and never entered the land of promise. Their unbelief and grumbling affected a whole generation which led to nearly forty years of aimless wanderings. Then, there were the angels who left their position of bliss in the presence of the Lord, by being deceived by Satan. They were not forced out, but ‘left’, stepping outside the boundaries set for them by God. They would be judged as would the people of Sodom and Gomorrah for their sin. Notice how they influenced the cities around them (v.7) and though God destroyed them with fire, they would still face the eternal fire of judgment. All these examples show how corruption can spread. Leaders must be vigilant in the churches over which God has given them responsibility while individuals, likewise must be vigilant in their own lives, in case that which was formerly shunned, is allowed to become permissible. May the Lord help us not to compromise.

PRAYER :- “Lord, keep me ever mindful not to compromise with sin.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – Jude – Part 1

You should earnestly contend for the faith.” (v.3)

Jude is thought to be an actual brother of the Lord Jesus. But now, he describes himself as a servant of Jesus Christ. As such, one of his main concerns (and the reason for writing his letter) was that the truth of the gospel should not be compromised, diluted, or discredited in any way. He exhorted his readers to contend, or (more accurately) to distinguish, or discern the truth, from all imposters, so as to maintain the distinctiveness of it. Jude recognised that imposters ever sought to gain credibility in the church. If such error was to announce itself openly, then it could be identified and easily dealt with. But, the task is made more difficult by the fact that such error and the people who promote it are not up-front and trustworthy, but creep in, disguised, camoflaged and almost unnoticed (v.4). They gain a foothold, become credible and eventually have a voice in the church, which leads to further subverting influence. It is these things that Jude tells his readers to be aware of. The church is not to be gullible and deceived, but neither is it to be harsh and legalistic. It is to live in the truth and discern, and all to be done in a spirit of pure love.

PRAYER :- “Lord, help us to recognise error by living whole-heartedly in the truth of your word.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – 3 John – Part 2

For His Name’s sake, they went out.” (v.7)

When truth and love really get hold of a person’s life, they want to share it, so that others may know it. Truth will make someone zealous, but it is love that really presses forward and wins souls. There were such men in the days of John and were acknowledged by him. They went out. They left the comfort, the ease and the familiar as love carried them to reach out to others. They may have gone ‘out’ to someone across the street, or to someone at work. They may have gone ‘out’ crossing the boundaries of another culture, or travelling much further abroad. In all cases, they could say, along with the apostle Paul, “The love of Christ compels me” (2 Corinthians 5:14). Furthermore, they go ‘out’ seeking no reward from the nations. Love swallows all self-interest. The Spirit of Christ is within them and to know that love and the real truth of it, is all their reward they need.

PRAYER :- “Lord, thank you that your love is inexpressible. Help me to live in the fullness of it and share it with others.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – 3 John – Part 1

Gaius … Diotrephes … Demetrius.” (vs. 1,9,12)

Another short letter, written by John, who was one who was in the truth to those who were also walking and living in the truth. Sadly, not all were doing so. There are three men mentioned. Gaius, probably one of the leaders, lived and walked in the truth. He was hospitable to all, which he did from a heart of love. For this, he was greatly respected and loved by others. He was a joy to have around. In sharp contrast, there was Diotrephes. He assumed leadership; not from love of the truth, but from a position of ambition. Like Satan, he would tolerate no rival. It is tragic when such men gain prominence in the church. That which is pure, loving and of true fellowship is destroyed under their influence. But, all is not lost, because there is another whose influence is good. Demetrius was a lover of truth and was well known as such. The truth of the gospel will always be opposed and contended. But, truth will prevail because there will also be those in whom truth dwells and they will be greatly loved. Let us aspire after the examples of Gaius and Demetrius.

PRAYER :- “Lord, even though there be opposition, thank You that you want your love and truth to be in us and to overcome.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – 2 John – Part 2

I trust to some to you and speak face to face.” (v.12)

One of the problems that John faced was that of distance. He longed to be with his ‘children’ but length of travel, or other limitations prevented him. This is why he wrote to them. It was the way of expressing his love and care toward them. He had many things to write but they were best explained by face to face meetings. There is no substitute for seeing someone and talking face to face. It is the same with the Lord Himself. He has many things to say, which cannot be all covered in a letter. But, here His desire is expressed. He trusts to come to us and speak with His beloved children. It is a wonderful thing for Him to communicate to us, but how much more wonderful when He is there in Person. His Presence explains all and His Presence calms all. And, when He is really present with us, our joy is complete. Thankfully, with Him, there are no imposed restrictions. He is free to come at any time. Like little children eagerly awaiting the return of their father, let us also anticipate His Presence by His Spirit with great joy.

PRAYER :- “Lord, thank you that you not only speak to us, but long to be with us Yourself, so that mutual joy may be full.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – 2 John – Part 1

I rejoiced greatly that I found your children walking in truth.” (v.4)

The thing that brought John real joy was when he heard that the spiritual children he was responsible for were ‘walking in the truth.’ Truth is not an abstract thing; it is something to be known and experienced. They did not only just know the truth; they were practicing and living it. Receiving and obeying commands from the Father is one of the seals that we are His children. One of the greatest commands is that we love another (v.5). This was something that John had laboured upon and was anxious that it should not be lost (v.8). To hear that they were living in the good of it, brought him great joy. There were others who did not live as they professed. John calls them deceivers and they did not belong to God. They and their pernicious words were not to be received, neither given any ‘house room’ in our lives. This will keep us and our teaching pure. This way, it shall be alive within us, even forever (v.2).

PRAYER :- “Lord, keep us in the simplicity of these wonderful truths.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – 1 John – Part 23

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (5:21)

This is a most unusual way to finish a letter. There is no greeting, no commending them to the grace of God (as often seen in the Apostle Paul’s letters), but just a simple caution. Why does John say this to his ‘little children.’? When John speaks of idols in this verse, I do not think he is speaking about images of wood, metal, or stone. There are also the materialistic idols of money, property, career, ambition and the like. It can mean all of these, but in this context, I believe he is talking about the idols that Christians can make. They can idolise a ministry, or even a minister, a name; they can exalt him and refuse to listen to anyone else. They can idolise a church, falling in love with the architecture, the location, or even the history of the place. They can idolise a ‘work’, holding onto the past and not letting go. We don’t want any past movements to just become monuments. Christians can even idolise the ‘truth’, proudly thinking they have it and that no-one else does. John warns against all these traps, of exalting anything above the Person of Jesus Christ and which can so easily replace the simplicity of the life of Christ. We are to remain in a living fellowship with Him, obeying His commands and loving one another with a pure, fervent love, always. This way, we shall avoid the error of things becoming cold and lifeless.

PRAYER :- “Lord, help me to stay in the freshness of your life and love, seeking you daily and not just relying upon the things of the past.”

Pocket Sized Thoughts – 1 John – Part 22

If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us: and if we know that hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired from Him.” (5:14,15)

Prayer is a wonderful thing. To have confidence that our prayers will be answered is even better. That confidence comes from two things. The first is that we must ask according to His will and not ours. We must know that the thing we are asking for is what He wants and not according to our own desires. The second thing is to have that assurance that we have been heard. How can we know that? It is simply by being in absolute close fellowship with Him. When we have that relationship, we know that when we speak, He will hear us. Likewise, in that same relationship, when He speaks, we listen. When we listen like that, we will know what is His will regarding a matter. Too often, we speak, we ask, we talk, but we don’t really listen. As we listen to Him, we shall know that He is listening to us. Then, we shall pray in that sweet unity with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and only pray for things which are in the compass of His will. And, because we know that they are His will, when we ask, He hears and graciously grants the request.

PRAYER :- “Lord, teach me more about having intimacy with you when I pray.”