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Category Archives: Peter and John

Peter & John — 3 John

3 John 1:1-14 NIV
[1] The elder, To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth. [2] Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. [3] It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. [4] I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. [5] Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. [6] They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. [7] It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. [8] We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth. [9] I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. [10] So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church. [11] Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. [12] Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true. [13] I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. [14] I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name.

Dear God, there are two people described in this letter: Gaius and Diotrephes. The first is someone who loves others and is the recipient of the letter itself. The second is a man who has put himself and his own ideals before everyone else and you.

As I typed that and thought about the two men, the phrase from that old spiritual song “We are One in the Spirit” came to mind: “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes, they’ll know we are Christians be our love.”

When I look at Jesus being asked what the greatest commandment is, he replied that we should love the Lord our God… and love our neighbor as ourself. When Paul talked about the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 13, he said that faith, hope and love are what remain, but the greatest of these is love. Later, when Paul talked about the Fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22, the first fruit he lists is love. Love, love, love.

I couple of weeks ago, I was praying to you and talking about a dilemma I was having. I wasn’t sure how to respond to a hurtful situation. The word I got back from you during that prayer was, “Love, love, and love.” I told that to my wife, and we looked for a way to reach out to the people in question with that in mind and I think (I hope) we found it. We haven’t heard anything back, and I guess I didn’t really expect to. But I am hopeful that those seeds of love that we tried to sow will find some fertile soil and be ready for the harvest one day.

Father, even now I have someone in whom I love, but I feel compelled to address something that they do that is offensive to me and likely a lot of others. They don’t realize they are doing it, and I hesitate to address it with them, but remaining silent in awkwardness only allows the problem to fester. I have purposed in my heart this morning that it needs to be addressed, but I pray right now that I will be able to do it in love. Even now, typing this, I can see that there might be haughtiness in my heart about this. I don’t wan there to be any. I just feel compelled to peel back a layer of deception that might be hurtful to some.. Anyway, help me to do everything I do today in love. Help me to be more like Gaius and reject the arrogance of Diotrephes. Help me be the kind of person to whom John would have written, and not the kind he had to confront.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

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Posted by on February 24, 2019 in 3 John, Peter and John, Uncategorized

 

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Peter & John — 2 John

2 John [NLT]
1 This letter is from John, the elder.
I am writing to the chosen lady and to her children, whom I love in the truth—as does everyone else who knows the truth— 2 because the truth lives in us and will be with us forever.
3 Grace, mercy, and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ—the Son of the Father—will continue to be with us who live in truth and love.
4 How happy I was to meet some of your children and find them living according to the truth, just as the Father commanded.
5 I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning. 6 Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.
7 I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward. 9 Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son.
10 If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement. 11 Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work.
12 I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to do it with paper and ink. For I hope to visit you soon and talk with you face to face. Then our joy will be complete.
13 Greetings from the children of your sister, chosen by God.

Dear God, as I look at all of these passages the either reference Peter and/or John or were written by them, I am trying to figure out what I can learn about them and myself through who they were and how they fit into your kingdom and plan. In this case, 2 John is pretty short and has two main messages: Love others and reject deceivers. What a very succinct message. It must have been very much on his heart and important to him because he took the time to sit down and write it and send it on ahead of his visit.

One of the hard things to know is if I have been deceived or am deceiving others. Is my theology errant in any way that is material to your kingdom and your plan? Do I espouse beliefs that cause harm to your children? Are my thoughts on homosexuality, denominations, politics, or salvation in any way against your will? Do I ever cause harm to others when I share them?

Father, teach me. Help me to learn about you. I believe in you. I believe in the risen Christ. I do my best to love others, offer grace, and represent you to those around me. Raise up people/books/articles/etc. in my life that you will use to teach me your truth. Give me ears to hear. Give me eyes to see. Give me the words you want me to speak.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2019 in 2 John, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — 1 John 5:13-21

1 John 5:13-21 NIV
[13] I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. [14] This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. [15] And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. [16] If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. [17] All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death. [18] We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. [19] We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. [20] We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. [21] Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

Dear God, These are all interesting last words. If I were to bullet point this last section of 1 John, I guess I’d do it like this:

* Through Jesus you get to be saved.
* Pray according to God’s will and it’ll all be good.
* Pray for others about their sin (I want to come back to this one in a minute).
* Beware of Satan.
* Keep yourselves from idols (fascinating last words that seem to kind of come from nowhere).

Praying according to your will is an interesting thing. In a recent speech, a politician referenced the gospel verse that talks about praying for something and you granting it. But he left out the part about praying for it “in your name” or “according to your will” so the passage was used completely out of context. It can be very hard to pray according to your will because your will might call for suffering. It might call for us to go down a road down which we do not want to go, or see our friends or family go. But that’s the encouragement—that we pray according to your will.

The other thing I really want to touch on from this passage is praying for others. Every week in the Catholic Church, the penitent prayer includes asking “you my brothers and sisters to pray for me to the Lord our God.” I always try to take that moment to pray for the people around me, whether I know them or not. It’s an interesting request to put into a prayer that is said every week. I’m sure that the person who originally decided it should be inserted was thinking about this passage.

Father, one of the things I want to do today is spend a little time in worship. I was thinking about it while I was driving last night. I have been spending time in scripture. I have been spending time praying for others. I have NOT, however, spent time just worshipping you and proclaiming how great is my God. So I endeavor to do that today. You are so great and powerful. Who can possibly stand in your presence. I love you, Father.

I pray all of this in Jesus’ name and ask that you make all of the answers to my prayers according to your will,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2019 in 1 John, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — 1 John 5:6-12

1 John 5:6-12 NIV
[6] This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. [7] For there are three that testify: [8] the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. [9] We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. [10] Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. [11] And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. [12] Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Dear God, in doing this series on Peter and John it is sometimes hard to find the line between praying through what the truth is in the scripture I am reading and what it is about who John was that caused him to write what he wrote. In this case, I am trying to get at the heart of who John was at any given time and how he changed over time.

In the case of this scripture, he was taking the time to write down his truth for people. A lot of this letter is simply, “Believe. It’s real.” He was there. He was as close to Jesus during Jesus’ earthly life as anyone. He learned. He grew. He repented and changed. He sacrificed. And now he had some wisdom to share.

My wife and I were just talking over breakfast about how, as adults who have had children, we have a perspective on life that people who don’t have children don’t have. For example, if two people get married and they have different faiths like Protestant and Catholic (although I contend these aren’t as different as many think) then they can give each other space for that, but what they won’t realize until they have children is how important that faith actually is to them. She told the story of a Protestant woman who married a Catholic man and they had four children. The first three were fine to go to church with her, but the fourth really wanted to go to the Catholic Church with his dad, and that was very hard for the mom. Harder than she ever considered it would be.

In the case of this passage and this book, John is giving his truth from his experience. He was judgmental and self-righteous, and Jesus taught him to be loving and forgiving. That’s his message here. People challenge the veracity of what Jesus did and why He did it. Well, John was there, and he is ready to tell anyone who will listen that it is real and that reconciliation to you and relationship with you, even unto Heaven, is possible.

Father, help me to love others through my own weaknesses and reality. Help me to teach from a place of humility and to learn from others who have much to teach me. Make my heart open to your instruction and your voice, whether it comes to me through prayer times like this or it comes through the voice of a friend or even a stranger.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2019 in 1 John, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — 1 John 5:1-5

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.

 

Dear God, reading this letter, I can see where I have lived most of my life thinking of John as the promoter of love. I guess that’s why it caught me so off guard when I isolated the stories about him in the gospels and found that he was actually not very loving at all. There was something that Jesus saw in him that made him one of the “Big Three” in terms of the 12 disciples, but it’s never apparent what that was. Perhaps Jesus could see beyond what John was and look forward into what a redeemed John would look like.

It’s a little like Paul. As Saul, no one would have foreseen who he became as Paul, but your redemption turned his zealousness for you as a Jew to the truth of your oneness with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I wonder how much of our greatest strengths as Christians are the things that defined the evil part of our nature pre-Christ. That’s an interesting thesis to consider.

As for me, how do I consider who I was before your redemption and who I am now? I guess, a lot like John and less like Paul, the thing you seem to be hammering out of me is judgmentalism. Not that I don’t still judge people. But I used to really judge people for not being who I thought they should be and not acting the way I thought they should act. Now, the more I learn from you about myself the more I am willing to extend mercy and love to others instead of judging them. I am better at looking for what they see as their righteous motivations in the moment instead of judging them as having sinister motives that are meant for my detriment.

That leads to how I evaluate others. Do I see someone’s sin, or do I see a character trait that can be redeemed and used for your glory? Do I take the time to see them with your eyes, or do I just judge them and cast them off?

Father, to quote a song, give me your eyes for just one second. Give me your eyes so I can see everything that I’ve been missing. Give me your love for humanity.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2019 in 1 John, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — 1 John 4:14-21

1 John 4:14-21 [NASB]
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us.20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

Dear God, love, love, love. What does perfect love casting out fear look like? “Fear involves punishment.” “The one who fears is not perfected in love.”

Of course, the closest thing I can think of to “perfect love” from the human perspective is that of a parent and a child. I might get angry with a child. I might hate what they do. But I will ALWAYS love that child. There is something in my soul for them that keeps me coming back for more. I remember marveling at my daughter when she was on stage in different theater productions, and I also noticed how it didn’t matter what else was happening on that stage—my eyes followed her every move. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her and what she was doing. It didn’t matter if she had the smallest bit part off to the side, that is where my eyes went. Of all of the people, kids and adults on that stage, she was mine and I was completely interested in everything she did.

But I have not loved her perfectly. I have made many mistakes. There have been times when I punished too harshly and times when I didn’t discipline enough. There have been times when I gave her too much as a parent and then there were other times when I withheld too much. I took out anger on her that was meant for someone else, and I didn’t show her anger that I should have. I made many, many mistakes, and the fact that I completely love her as much as I can wasn’t perfect enough. That is frustrating to me. Why couldn’t I have been better? Why do I still do the wrong thing sometimes?

Then there are the other people around me you have called me to love perfectly. Not just my wife, but my family of origin and my in-laws. My coworkers. The clients of the place where I work. Friends and fellow church members. My community. My country. What does perfect love look like for all of them?

Father, I think a lot of it starts, even with my daughter and son and graduating up to everyone else I’ve mentioned here, with loving you, accepting your love and forgiveness, and then trying to see each person around me with your eyes. Help me to see beyond the veneer and to look deeper. Help me to be patient. I know it’s grammatically incorrect, but help me to love more perfectly.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2019 in 1 John, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — 1 John 4:7-12

1 John 4:7-12 NIV
[7] Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. [8] Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. [9] This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. [10] This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. [11] Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. [12] No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

Dear God, the first thing that comes to mind with these passages is the song that I learned around third grade in Sunday school, “Beloved, Let Us Love One Another.” I don’t know tons of scripture by heart, but I know this one thanks to a catchy little tune that goes with he words and the fact that the lyrics include the scripture reference. Good on those Sunday school teachers back in 1978 and 1979 that touched my life in this way and taught me this song.

But the big statement of this passage for me is in verse 10 when it talks about your love for us being the real definition of love. You seemingly have nothing to gain from what you/Jesus did to reconcile us to yourself except that you got to have relationship with us. THAT is love. You loved us so much that, even though we really had nothing of value to give you other than relationship, you did what you did. That’s how much you wanted relationship with us. That’s how much you love us.

So now I get to love you, I get to love my wife. I get to love my children even though the only thing they have to really offer in our relationship is the relationships themselves. That’s how much I love them—my motivation for sacrifice is simply relationship.

Father, help me to love everyone around me today in that way, and help me to accept that love from others in the best way. On this St. Valentine’s Day, help me to be about your love.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
 

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