Couldn't you just imagine what it would be like to have John, the one Jesus loved, as our pastor. We might be a problem free church. Yeah, right!!! John had a hand in the church he was addressing and look at those people. There was a lot of good tainted by one bad apple.
Gaius-the intended recipient of this letter-is commended for his goodness, for the way he walks out his faith, and for the welcoming environment he creates for others. Likewise, Demetrius is commended for setting an example of faith that's worth following. These two men are amazing servants who encourage and build up those around them. Salt and light, ladies. Salt and light.
And then there's Diotrephes who is a disrupting, discouraging, self-serving leader who doesn't seem to care who he climbs on or stomps down as he claws his way to the top. Bad as he appears to the community around him, news of his ways have traveled all the way to Ephesus where John was staying when he wrote this letter.
I'm going to enjoy meeting John when I get to Heaven. When I picture him in my head he's meek, soft spoken, gentle even. That's why I enjoy seeing this side of him. He's promising his friend that he's heard the concerns of his heart, knows the trouble in his community and has a plan to address the trouble maker face to face.
So often we shy away from confrontation. Have you ever hidden a receipt from your husband because you spent more than you wanted to explain? Have you told a friend her hideous new hair color " brought out her eyes" because you just couldn't share her joy over her new look? Ever put your kids in time out " until your dad gets home" because you're tired of being mean mommy? Have you considered that God gives you little ways to practice confrontation and perfect diplomacy so you'll be prepared to confront your own Diotrephes? Even Jesus who embodies every spiritual fruit overturned coin filled tables and spoke truth to white washed tomb-type leaders.
If we are to be salt and light, we have to accept that sometimes salt stings and light can hurt the eyes. But I trust that God will give us the right balance of truth and love if we only ask.
Love, as always, Renée
Now on to this week's lesson
Memory verse Jude 1:20-21 " but you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life"
1. How does Jude identify himself?
2. Why do you think he claims brotherhood with James but not with Jesus?
3. What does Jude originally want to speak about when he started this letter?
4. What does he address instead?
5. Have you ever experienced false teaching in a church you attended?
6. What was your response then and how might you have a different response today?
7. Vs 17-23 fall under the heading " A Call to Perservere". Another translation reads " A Call to Remain Faithful". What tools does Jude offer to help us faithfully persevere?
8. In verse 22 he invites us to be merciful to those who doubt. Who are the doubters in your life and how well do you convey mercy to them?
For personal growth:
Here's yet another book addressing false teaching. What is your response when the truth of God is under attack? How often do you take advantage of the spiritual weapons at your disposal? When was the last time you even read Ephesians 6 where Paul lists the assorted pieces of God's armor? How willing are you to stand against false teaching? How might God be preparing you today to confront false teaching tomorrow? How prepared do you feel right now?
For the good of the group: How has God kept you from stumbling
Last Week’s Study
I almost forgot this week's lesson. Sorry about that. Time got away from me. I've been thinking a lot about last week's lesson. I don't think we can be told often enough to watch out for false teaching. It's so destructive the way people twist God's words. Here's just one example of how this happens in today's world.
Deuteronomy 12:23 says " But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life so you must not eat the life with the meat" This is sound advice for a number of reasons, the first of which is that humans lack the ability to digest blood. It curdles in your stomach and makes you throw up. Add to that the fact that when Moses was writing down dietary laws there was no form of refrigeration available. You had to drain the blood out of an animal or the meat would spoil faster and become unsafe to eat.
I've never found a place in Scripture where God prohibits blood transfusions and yet this is the verse Jehovah Witnesses point to as the basis of their ban on receiving any type of blood products. Let's be clear here. If there ever comes a day when I'm shot in the chest I want as many pints of blood as I can get and I'm pretty sure God will be OK with that. If I were not familiar with God's word I might be led astray by other's beliefs or strong opinions. Fortunately we have a great resource available to us between the front and back covers of our bibles. It's easier now more than ever to find the truth in God's Word. There's bible apps, concordances, and Google. We attend a church where God's truth is held in high esteem and pastors willing to preach it. More importantly we have the presence of the Holy Spirit to convince and convict us.
"My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me". Jesus promises that when we follow He will never lead us astray. All we have to do is ask Him if we're hearing truth spoken. And if we're not we have John's words to fall back on "If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. " Hospitality ends where lies begin, and that's OK.
Now on to this week's lesson
Read 3 John
Memory verse 3 John 1:4 "I have no greater joy than to hear my children are walking in the truth"
1. Which 3 men are mentioned in 3 John and how does John describe them?
2. John mentions the condition of his friend's soul. How likely is it that you would take notice of your own friend's soul?
3. Based on what we read in the first 8 verses what spiritual gifts does Gaius possess?
4. Which of these would you most like to see developed in yourself?
5. How does hospitality tie in with spreading the gospel?
6. Where does Diotrephes fall short?
7. Have you ever been in a position where you had to confront a friend, neighbor or co-worker about their unacceptable attitude or actions? Describe what that was like.
8. What do you think Demetrius does especially well? ( there's no right or wrong answer to this-use your imagination)
For personal growth:
So much of 3 John revolves around the theme of hospitality. How hospitable are you? Is your home a welcoming place? Does that depend on who's knocking on the door? Does your heart have room for strangers or are you only willing to entertain family and friends? Have you ever opened your house to a total stranger? How were you blessed by that? Perhaps you've been on the receiving end of some truly exceptional hospitality. How did that make you feel? Be assured that not all of us have been given this gift. What spiritual gift have you been given and how are you using that gift?
For the good of the group:
How would you like to be described?