Notes: 1 Thessalonians to Revelation

1 THESSALONIANS

1:1-2:20  -  If God is to be glorified through the preaching of His Word, there needs to be more than the ‘words’ of the preacher. There needs to be ‘the power of the Holy Spirit’ (1:5). Good preaching is not a matter of ‘plausible words of wisdom’. We must look for ‘a demonstration of the Spirit’s power’ (1 Corinthians 2:4). When the Spirit is at work, there is effective communication, leading to a life-changing encounter with God. ‘When you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as it really is, the Word of God, which is at work in you believers’ (13). Don’t let God’s Word ‘go in one ear and out the other’. The ‘message’ will do you no good if you don’t hear it ‘with faith’ - ‘Today, when you hear His voice, harden not your hearts’ (Hebrews 4:2; 3:15).

3:1-4:12  -  We need both ‘love’ and ‘holiness’ (3:12-13). Our love is to be holy. Our holiness is to be loving. Getting the right balance between love and holiness is like walking a tightrope. You can easily lose your balance and fall off. We can be too soft - all love and no holiness. We can be too hard - all holiness and no love. Love doesn’t mean ‘anything goes’ - ‘I don’t care how you live’. That’s not love. That’s indifference, a ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude. Holiness doesn’t mean looking down your nose at other people - ‘You’ve sinned and I will never let you forget it’. Don’t be like ‘the Pharisees’. They wanted to ‘stone the woman caught in adultery’. We must not ‘stone’ people with our ‘hot tongue and cold shoulder’! Be like Jesus. Show love - ‘I don’t condemn you’ - and  holiness - ‘Do not sin again’ (John 8:3-11).

4:13-5:28  -  Do you feel like giving up? God is not about to give up on you: ‘He who calls you is utterly faithful and He will finish what He set out to do’ (24). He has a great future for us: ‘God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (9). We look forward to the Return of our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘The Lord Himself will descend from heaven’ (4:16). We look forward to heavenly and eternal glory: ‘We shall always be with the Lord’ (4:17). This is the kind of encouragement we need. We are to remind one another of these things: ‘Comfort one another with these words’ (4:18). We are ‘to encourage one another’ to go on with the Lord. Let’s ‘build one another up’, encouraging each other to build on ‘the Rock’ which is ‘Christ’ (11; 1 Corinthians 10:3; Matthew 7:24-27).
______________________________________

2 THESSALONIANS

1:1-2:12 -  For ‘all those who have believed’, ‘the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’ will be a great Day, the Day of celebration, the Day of our salvation, the Day of ‘our being gathered to Him’ (2:1; 1:10). ‘When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven’, it will be a Day of judgment for ‘those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus’ (1:7-8). The Word of God is very clear about God’s purpose of salvation: ‘God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him’. ‘The Lord does not want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance’. ‘God wants all people to be saved’ (John 3:17; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4). You can say ‘No’ to Christ - and perish. Say “Yes’ to Him - ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’ (2:10; John 3:18; Acts 16:31).

2:13-3:18  -  Paul prayed for the Thessalonians and he asked them to pray for him. He prayed that God would ‘comfort their hearts and establish them in every good work and word’ (2:16-17). He prayed that they would enjoy peace: ‘Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in all ways’  (3:16). He asked them to pray for his ministry - ‘pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may speed on and triumph among you’ (1). Paul was writing to the Thessalonians, ‘You keep on praying for us and we’ll keep on praying for you’. We must not forget each other. We must remember each other - in prayer. Far too often, we forget. It becomes a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. We’re not to live in the past. We are to keep on praying for those who belong to our past. Don’t forget to remember!
_________________________

1 TIMOTHY

1:1-2:15 -  ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’. Paul has something special to say about this statement. This is what he says – ‘Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance’ (1:15). This is Paul’s message, the message of the Gospel: ‘Christ Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for all’ (2:5-6). Paul speaks of ‘the glorious Gospel of the blessed God’ (1:11). He speaks as a man with a testimony: ‘I received mercy… the grace of our Lord overflowed for me’ (1:13-14). God is still looking for people who will say, with Paul, ‘I am not ashamed of the Gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith’, ‘God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Romans 1:16; Galatians 6:14). May God help us, in our generation, to be ‘eager to preach the Gospel’ (Romans 1:15).

3:1-4:16Belief and Behaviour - Both are important. We are ‘nourished in the words of the faith’ so that we ‘may know how one ought to behave in the household of God’ (4:6; 3:15). We are not only to believe the right things. We are to behave the right way. To each of us, God says, ‘Watch your life and doctrine closely’ (4:16). What we believe is important. How we live is also important. If our faith is real, it will lead to a change in our way of life. The whole of life is to be ‘consecrated by the Word of God and prayer’ (4:5). Our God is ‘the living God’ (3:15; 4:10). He wants to be real to us in every part of our life. ‘Fill Thou our life, O Lord our God, in every part with praise… Not for the lip of praise alone nor even the praising heart, we ask, but for a life made up of praise in every part’ (Church Hymnary, 457). 

5:1-6:21 -  There is a great battle going on – between God and Satan. There have been disappointments: ‘Some have already strayed after Satan’. Lives are being ruined. Many ‘have wandered away from the faith’. They have not found happiness. They ‘have pierced their hearts with many griefs’ (5:15; 6:9-10). There is a great deal at stake in this battle. We must ‘give the enemy no opportunity to slander us’. We must take care how we live – ‘so that God’s Name… may not be slandered’ (5:14; 6:1). We are to live a life of ‘godliness’, a life that is based on ‘the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ’. We are to ‘aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness’. Let’s live for ‘the life to come, the life which is permanent’. This is ‘life indeed, the life that is truly life’ (6:3,11,19).

______________________________

2 TIMOTHY 


1:1-2:7 -  God’s Word is not to be kept to ourselves. Paul was called by God to be a ‘preacher’ of the ‘Gospel’ (11). He passed God’s Word on to Timothy, encouraging him to share the message with ‘faithful’ people who would pass it on to others’ (13; 2:2). Everyone has their part to play. Things didn’t come to a standstill when Paul wasn’t around. Timothy was to make sure that everything didn’t revolve around himself. There were others who were to carry the work of God forward. We must not make too much of certain individuals. The work of the Lord is always much more than the work done by any one person. God is always looking for more people who will take up the challenge of seeing that His work is not left undone. Serve the Lord in the ‘power’ of ‘the Holy Spirit’. Trust Him – His work is ‘safe in His hands’ (1:7,14,12).

2:8-3:9 -  ‘Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead’ (2:8). God’s servants become part of our past. Christ remains the heart of our future. He is the risen Christ, the living Lord. When God’s servants become a distant memory, we must remember Him. Keep your eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ. If we are to ‘avoid godless chatter’ and ‘stupid, senseless controversies’, we must keep Him at the very centre of our lives (16,23). If we are to be ‘lovers of God’ rather than ‘lovers of self’, we must keep on saying from the heart, ‘I must decrease. Christ must increase’ (3:4,2; John 3:30). We may face problems – from those who ‘oppose the truth’, people of ‘corrupt mind and counterfeit faith’. Don’t be afraid of such opposition – ‘they will not get very far… their folly will be plain to all’ (3:8-9). Keep your eyes on Jesus! 

3:10-4:22 -  What is the greatest thing that the Lord’s servants can pass on to the Lord’s people? – ‘The Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’ (3:15). They are to ‘preach the Word’ in the power of ‘the Holy Spirit’ (2; 1 Peter 1:12). When the preaching has ended, one thing remains – ‘the living and abiding Word of God’ (1 Peter 1:12). When all the words have been spoken, the ministry of the Spirit continues. Through the ongoing work of ‘the Spirit of the living God’, the Word of God is ‘written’ in the ‘hearts’ of those who have heard the Word preached (2 Corinthians 3:3). What kind of preaching do we need? Do we need ‘teachers who will tell us what we want to hear’ (3)? No! We need preachers who will say ‘what the Spirit says to the churches’ (Revelation 2:7,11,17, 29; 3:6,13,22).
___________________________

TITUS

1:1-2:10  -  How are we to live? We are not to be ‘empty talkers’, people who ‘profess to know God’ and ‘deny Him by their deeds’ (1:10,16). We must give no one the opportunity to ‘speak evil of God’s Word’. We must be ‘a model of good deeds’, showing ‘the beauty of the teachings about God our Saviour in everything we do’ (2:5,7,10). When we live in a Christlike way, ‘those who oppose’ Christ and His Gospel will be ‘put to shame, having nothing evil to say of us’ (2:8). This is how we are to live. How do we live? This is a question for all of us. It is a question which will make us feel uncomfortable. We don’t find it easy to look closely at the way we live our lives. We won’t get away with glossing over things. God calls us to pray, ‘Search me, O God... Cleanse me from every sin...’ (Psalm 139:23-24; Mission Praise, 587).

2:11-3:15  -  We read in 2:11,13 of Christ’s coming in grace - ‘the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all people’ - and His coming in glory - ‘we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ’. From grace to glory - This is the journey from Christ’s first coming to His Second Coming. It is also the journey of our life of faith. We begin with the forgiveness of our sins. Our final destination is glory, heavenly and eternal glory, the glory of God. We live by the grace of God. We look forward to the glory of God. God wants us to live as ‘a people of His own who are zealous for good deeds’ (2:14). If we are to be ‘zealous for good deeds’, we must first be zealous for Jesus Christ. Do good - but never forget, ‘He saved us - not because of deeds done by us...’ (3:8,4-6).
______________________________

PHILEMON

‘He was useless... now he has become useful’(11). This is the story of Onesimus (the name means ‘useful’). A runaway ‘slave’, he became ‘a beloved brother... in the Lord’(16). It appears that Onesimus had stolen from his master, Philemon (18-19). He landed up in prison - and there, he was converted! This is what Paul is telling us when he speaks of ‘Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment’(10). Why did God allow Paul, His faithful servant, to land up in prison - for the sake of the Gospel? Part of the reason was Onesimus. God wanted Paul to meet Onesimus. Paul was to lead Onesimus to Christ. Sometimes, our difficult circumstances may feel like a prison sentence. You want to get out, but you can’t - until God has fulfilled His purpose: the ‘useless’ becomes ‘useful’- in the service of God.
_______________________________

HEBREWS

1:1-2:9 -  From the heights of heaven and the depths of suffering, ‘God… has spoken to us by His Son’ (1:1-2). Jesus Christ is God’s ‘Word’ to us. He is ‘the Word’ who came from heaven: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’. He is ‘the Word’ who came to earth: ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…’ (John 1:1-14). In heaven, He is worshipped by angels: ‘Let all God’s angels worship Him’ (1:6). On earth, ‘He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone’ (2:9). We see the greatness of Christ in both His heavenly glory and His saving grace. None can compare with Him. He is our Lord. He is our Saviour. We consider all that He has done for us – ‘the nail marks in His hands…’ – and we worship Him – ‘my Lord and my God’ (John 20:19-20,24-28).

2:10-3:19 -  God invites each of us to receive a great blessing – the blessing of being His ‘children’ (2:13). We become God’s children through faith in Christ: ‘To all who received Him, who believed in His Name, He gave power to become children of God’ (John 1:12). What will you do with God’s great invitation, His invitation of love? Will you receive Christ and become a child of God? Will you miss out on the blessing ‘because of unbelief’ (19)? God is waiting for your answer – ‘Today, when you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts’ (3:7,15). Throughout life, we must guard against ‘an evil, unbelieving heart, leading us to fall away from the living God’. ‘Every day’, we must take care that we do not become ‘hardened by the deceitfulness of sin’ (3:12-13). As God’s children, let’s grow in Christ (1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18).

4:1-5:10 -  ‘Today, when you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts’. These words from 3:7,15, are repeated here in 4:7. Make sure that you don’t miss the point! These are words that we need to keep on hearing – again and again. None of us ever reaches a stage where we no longer need to hear and heed God’s words of warning. Reading God’s Word can be a very uncomfortable experience: ‘God’s Word is living and active… God’s Word judges a person’s thoughts and intentions. No creature can hide from God. Everything is uncovered and exposed for Him to see. We must answer to Him’ (4:12-13). This may not be the kind of thing we like to hear. It’s what we need to hear. We will only pray for ‘mercy’ and ‘grace’ when we see how sinful we really are. Then – and only then – will we come to Christ for ‘eternal salvation’ (4:15-16; 5:9).

5:11-6:20 -  ‘Let us… go on to maturity’ (6:1). There can be no question of ‘continuing in sin’ – ‘God forbid! How can we who died to sin still live in it?’ (Romans 6:1-2). We are to become ‘mature people, whose minds are trained by practice to know the difference between good and evil’ (5:14). We are to move on to ‘the better things that belong to salvation’ (9). It cannot be taken for granted that every believer will ‘go on to maturity’. Some start so well and then they lose their way somewhere along the line. We should read the words of  6:4-8 as a warning. We can so easily become ‘sluggish’ (6:12). When this wrong attitude sets in, things go from bad to worse. Do you want to become ‘worthless and near to being cursed’ (8)? Take care. Pray for ‘earnestness in realizing the full assurance of hope until the end’ (6:11).

7:1-28 -  ‘See how great He is!’ (4). These words refer to Melchizedek (1-3; Genesis 14:18-20). Melchizedek has ‘neither beginning of days nor end of life’. He ‘continues a priest for ever’. He ‘resembles the Son of God’. He is ‘like the Son of God’ (3). Let your thoughts move from Melchizedek to the Lord Jesus Christ – ‘See how great He is’! Jesus Christ is ‘the Beginning and the End’ (Revelation 21:6; 22:13). ‘Jesus lives for ever’ and ‘has a permanent priesthood’ (24). He is our great Saviour: ‘He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him’ (25). We look beyond Melchizedek. We look to our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. We look to Him and we say, ‘There’s no greater Name than Jesus, Name of Him who came to save us’ (Mission Praise, 684). Let Jesus be your great Saviour. Come to Him and receive His great salvation.

8:1-9:14 -  God gave His promise – ‘I will make a new covenant’ (8:8-12; Jeremiah 31:31-34). God has fulfilled His promise. There is now a ‘new covenant in Jesus’ blood’ (Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25). The old covenant cannot even begin to compare with the new covenant. It is only a ‘shadow’. The new covenant is the real thing. It is ‘much more excellent’. It is ‘a better covenant’ (8:5-6), The old covenant is ‘outdated’ (8:13). It’s seen its day. Now, it’s past its ‘sell by date’! We look at the old covenant and we say, ‘There must be more than this’. There is more – ‘much more’. Through ‘the blood of Christ’, ‘our hearts and lives’ have been ‘cleansed’. Now, we can begin ‘to serve the living God’ (9:14). ‘What a wonderful redemption!’ – ‘eternal redemption’ (Mission Praise, 765; 9:12)!

9:15-10:18 -  We look back to what Christ has done for us. We look forward to what He will do for us. Looking back and looking forward: These are both found in 9:28 – ‘Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him’. We remember our Saviour. We remember what He has done for us: ‘the Son of God loved us and gave Himself for us’ (Galatians 2:20). We eat bread and drink wine, giving thanks that our Saviour went to the Cross for us – His body broken for us and His blood shed for us. We are not only looking back. We are also looking forward: ‘As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes’ (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Remember – and pray, ‘Come, Lord Jesus!’ (Revelation 22:20).

10:19-11:16 -  Are you ‘looking for a better country – a heavenly one’ (16)? ‘God has put eternity into man’s mind’ (Ecclesiastes 3:11). In every human heart, there’s ‘a God-shaped blank’. Jesus came to give us ‘life’ – ‘abundant life’, ‘eternal life’ (John 10:10; 17:3; 1 John 5:11). Without Jesus, our lives are empty. The ‘longing for a better country’ can only be satisfied by Him. He is God’s ‘foretaste of glory divine’ (Mission Praise, 59). Jesus stands at the door of every human heart. He knocks. He waits for our answer. He says, ‘Look, I’m standing at the door and knocking. If anyone listens to My voice and opens the door, I’ll come in…’ (Revelation 3:20). Don’t ‘shrink back’ (39). Invite Him into your heart now.

11:17-12:2 -  We read about many people who trusted the Lord. Their faith was real. It changed their lives. As you read of so many people who lived ‘by faith’, let God’s Word challenge you. Bring your own weak faith to Him and ask Him to give you a stronger faith: ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’ (Mark 9:24). We learn from so many different people. We read about their faith. We are inspired by their faith. We do not, however, make too much of them. We must always be ‘looking to Jesus’ (2). We must learn the lesson of the transfiguration. We look at Moses. We look at Elijah. We learn from them. There comes a point where they – together with all God’s faithful people – must step aside, leaving us to look up and see ‘Jesus only’ (Mark 9:2-8).

12:3-29 -  We are to seek ‘the holiness without which no one will see the Lord’ (14). This is not the ‘holiness’ of the Pharisee: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men…’ (Luke 18:11-12). It is the holiness that grows in the hearts and lives of those who have received ‘the grace of God’, those who have prayed, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner’ (15; Luke 18:13). We do not earn ‘the grace of God’ as a reward for our ‘holiness’. Salvation is ‘not our doing, it is the gift of God – not because of works, so that no one can boast’. There is a call to holiness. We are saved ‘for good works’. Before we think about holiness, we must get first things first: ‘By grace you have been saved through faith… for good works’ (Ephesians 2:8-10). We must answer the call to salvation before we can answer the call to holiness.

13:1-25 -  ‘Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers’ (1). If the love of Christ is to flow freely among us, there can be no place for ‘us and them’ thinking – ‘He’s not one of us. They’re not our kind of people. They’re strangers – they don’t belong here’. This kind of attitude is a contradiction of the love of Christ. We must remember: ‘Strangers are only friends we’ve never met’. We sing, ‘What a Friend we have in Jesus’ (Mission Praise, 746). Do we show His friendship to strangers? We must never underestimate the importance of a ‘friendly welcome’ (11:31). If there is no ‘friendly welcome’, word will soon get around – ‘They’re not very friendly’! This is not just a matter of saying the ‘right words’. It’s about being the right kind of people – people who care enough to be friendly!
________________________

JAMES

1:1-27 -  Even the most difficult times can have a godly effect on us – when we ask God for wisdom: ‘Lord, what are You teaching me in this?’ (2-5). Humanly speaking, we may be ‘in humble circumstances’. Spiritually speaking, we are in a ‘high position’ (9). Our position is to become even higher – ‘the crown of life’ (12). Before that happens, there will be many temptations (13-15). We can face these temptations with confidence in the God of faithfulness and His ‘Word of truth’ (16-18). God’s ‘Word’ is ‘planted in us’ so that we may become ‘doers of the Word, and not hearers only’ (21-22). Don’t let God’s Word ‘go in one ear and out the other’ – ‘like water off a duck’s back’. Let there be His controlling – ‘a tight rein on the tongue’, caring – looking after the needy, and cleansing – ‘unstained from the world’ (26-27).

2:1-26 -  The Gospel turns the world’s values upside down – the ‘poor in the world’ are ‘rich in faith’ (5). We are to live according to the Gospel. We are not to be controlled by the world’s way of thinking. If we ‘show favouritism’, we place ourselves in a dangerous position – ‘judgment without mercy’. Even where there is the threat of judgment, there is the promise of mercy – ‘mercy triumphs over judgment’ (9,13). God is calling us back from the brink. He is saying, ‘It’s not too late’. Even at ‘the eleventh hour’, God is calling us to receive His mercy (Matthew 20:6-9). He wants to change us. He wants us to put Him first. For Abraham and Rahab, God came first – not Abraham’s son, not Rahab’s country (20-26; Genesis 22:12; Joshua 2:9). Don’t let anyone or anything come before Him. He must come first – every time.

3:1-4:12 -  So much harm can be done by a hurtful word. so much good can be done by a word of witness. An evil ‘fire’ can be turned into a godly fire: ‘It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around can warm up in its glowing. That’s how it is with God’s love, once you’ve experienced it. You spread His love to everyone. You want to pass it on (3:5; Mission Praise, 348). Use your words with wisdom – ‘the wisdom that comes from heaven’ (17-18). Don’t fight to get your own way. Ask God to show you His way (4:2). Be careful how you speak: ‘Do not slander one another…Who are you to judge your neighbour?’ (4:11-12). May God deliver us from hypocrisy – ‘out of the same mouth come praise and cursing’ (3:10). May He give us ‘more grace’ – to be ‘humble’ and not ‘proud’, submitting to God and resisting the devil (4:6-7).

4:13-5:20 -  Don’t worry about ‘what will happen tomorrow’. It’s in the Lord’s hands (4:14-15). We must not lose sight of ‘the purpose of the Lord’. We must remember that ‘the Lord is full of compassion and mercy’ (11). We look forward to ‘the Lord’s Coming’ as the great Day of our salvation (7-8). We must not, however, forget God’s words of warning: ‘The Judge is standing at the door’. God speaks to us concerning ‘the misery that is coming upon you’. What is He saying to us here? – He is warning us: Be careful how you live – Don’t trust in riches. ‘Don’t grumble against each other’ (1-3,9). The warning and the promise belong together. Those who are facing judgment can be brought to the Saviour. May God help us to speak His Word – the warning as well as the promise – , always praying that sinners will be saved (16,19-20).
____________________________

1 PETER

1:1-25 - On earth, we have ‘trials’. In ‘heaven’, we will have ‘salvation’ (3-9). In our journey from trials to salvation, from earth to heaven, we are to live a life of holiness and love. In this life of ‘obedience to the truth’, we must never forget that we have been ‘redeemed with the precious blood of Christ’ (15,22,18-19). We must never take pride in our obedience - ‘boasting is excluded’. All that can be said about ourselves is this: ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’. What makes the difference? What is it that changes us? What is it that sets us on the pathway of holiness and love? We have received ‘the redemption which is in Christ Jesus’. Our ‘faith’ is in Him (Romans 3:27,23-25). He makes the difference. He changes us. He makes us holy. He fills us with His love.

2:1-25 - Being ‘God’s own people’ is a great privilege - ‘you have received mercy’. It is also a great responsibility - ‘declare the wonderful deeds of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light’ (9-10). God’s people are described as ‘strangers in the world’ (11). We must not think of ourselves as ‘superior’ - ‘a cut above the rest’. We are not! In ourselves, we are ‘strangers’ - ‘without God in the world’. There’s nothing ‘special’ about us, There’s something very special about what God has done for us: ‘In Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ’ (Ephesians 2:12-13). As those who ‘have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls’, let’s point others to Him who ‘bore our sins...that we might die to sin and live to righteousness’ (24-25).

3:1-4:6 - The world is preoccupied with outward appearances. As Christians, we should be more concerned with our inward attitude. ‘In your hearts reverence Christ as Lord’. Pray for His ‘attitude’ - ‘a tender heart and a humble mind’ (8,15; 4:1). We believe the Gospel - ‘Christ died for our sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God’. Let’s share the Gospel - ‘Be always ready to give...a reason for the hope that is in you’. How are we to share the Gospel? - ‘with gentleness and respect’ (18,15). We must get the attitude right - ‘so that nothing will hinder our prayers’ (7). We need more than the ‘right’ prayers - words that sound good. We need the right attitude. The blessing will not come because our words sound good. It will only come when our attitude is right.

4:7-5:14 - In all the service we offer to God, there is to be the offering of worship: ‘To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever’ (4:11; 5:11). We will not learn to serve God unless we are learning to worship Him. There is a ‘form of religion’ which ‘denies the power’ of God - ‘These people honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me’ (2 Timothy 3:5; Matthew 15:8). They go through the motions - but their hearts are not in it! We must pray that God will deliver us from this kind of thing: ‘O for a heart to praise my God! A heart from sin set free; A heart that always feels Thy blood, so freely shed for me’ (Church Hymnary, 85). ‘Religion’ is about respectability. Salvation is about renewal: ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me’ (Psalm 51:10).
___________________________

2 PETER

1:1-2:10a - God ‘has given us His very great and precious promises’ (1:4). God has a great purpose for us. He is preparing for us ‘a rich welcome into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (11). The pathway to heavenly and eternal glory is not an easy one. Often, we will be tempted to settle for being ‘ineffective and unproductive in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ’. There will be many distractions, drawing our attention away from Christ. We must keep our eyes on Him if we are not to become ‘blind and short-sighted’. We can so easily forget the most important thing - we have been ‘cleansed from our old sins’. It is so important that we keep looking to Christ, remembering what He has done for us and giving thanks to Him (1:8-9). ‘The Lord’ will not fail us in our ‘trials’ (2:9). Let’s not fail Him!

2:10b-3:18 - ‘Grow’ in Christ and give ‘glory’ to Him. Centred on ‘our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’, our life is filled with ‘grace’ and ‘glory’. From Him, we receive ‘grace’ - ‘From the fulness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another’. From Him, we receive ‘glory’ - ‘I have given them the glory that You gave Me’ (3:18; John 1:16; 17:22). Where does this life of grace and glory begin? It begins with God. In ourselves, there is sin. In Him, there is salvation. ‘He is patient with us’. He waits for us to ‘come to repentance’. He shows us our sin so that we might learn to look to our Saviour - ‘Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation’ (3:9; 2 Corinthians 7:10). Turn to the Lord. Let it be real. Let Him lead you in His pathway - the pathway of grace and glory.
____________________

1 JOHN 

1:1-2:17 - ‘Jesus Christ’ died ‘for our sins’. This is Good News. It is not to be kept to ourselves - He died ‘for the sins of the whole world’. We have ‘fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ’. ‘We have fellowship with one another’. These blessings are not to be kept to ourselves. We must share the Good News - ‘the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin’. We must seek to bring others into ‘fellowship’ - not only ‘with us’ but, ‘with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ’ (2:1-2; 1:3,7). We are called to a life of obedience - ‘he who does the will of God lives for ever’. This obedience comes from our experience of God’s love. ‘The love of the Father’ leads to ‘love for the Father’: ‘We love’ God ‘because He first loved us’ (15-17; 4:19). Let’s love the Lord - and do His will.

2:18-3:18 - Through faith in Jesus Christ, ‘the Son of God’, we receive ‘eternal life’ (22-25; John 20:31). Our enjoyment of eternal life has already begun - ‘we are God’s children now’. Our full enjoyment of eternal life is still to come: ‘It does not yet appear what we shall be...’. We have begun to experience Christ’s victory: ‘The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil’. We look forward to our full enjoyment of His victory: ‘When He appears, we shall be like Him...’ (2,8). Some will try to ‘deceive’ us. We must keep our eyes on Christ - ‘He laid down His life for us’. We have received His ‘love’. We must show His love - ‘Let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth’ (7,16,18). Do you believe in Christ? Live the life. Be a believer - in deed’!

3:19-4:21 - ‘God is greater than our hearts’. When you are deeply aware of your sinfulness, remember - God loves you. God’s Word is brutally honest - about us: ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?’ God’s Word is wonderfully encouraging - about His love for us. He ‘knows everything’ about us - and He still loves us: ‘God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us’ (3:20; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 5:8). What a great Saviour we have. He is ‘without sin’ - yet He is the Friend of sinners. He ‘receives sinners’. He ‘came into the world to save sinners’ (Hebrews 4:15; Luke 15:2; 1 Timothy 1:15). Whenever we start getting too full of ourselves, too full of our own importance, we must remember: ‘He first loved us’ (4:19) - before we ever thought of loving Him!

5:1-21 - What a great blessing we receive through faith in Christ - ‘Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God’ (1). Our life as God’s children is not a life of tranquility. We face conflict, real conflict - a battle. In this spiritual warfare, we have God’s promise of victory. In verse 5, we have a question: ‘Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?’. The answer is contained in the question. Our victory is in Christ. We are not victorious because our faith is so strong that we couldn’t possibly fail. Many times, we fail. We take our eyes off Christ - and we are defeated. What are we to do? - when temptations seem to be so many and so powerful. When you feel so weak, let Christ be your Strength. ‘With Christ within, the fight we’ll win’.
_______________________

2 JOHN

‘Look to yourselves, that you may not lose what you have worked for, but may win a full reward’ (8). Don’t let things slip. Build on the work that has already been done. This will not be easy - ‘many deceivers have already gone out into the world’. Such people do nothing but harm. They are wreckers. They will destroy the work of God - and think nothing of it. They are ‘antichrist’. They are doing ‘wicked work’ (7,10). When God’s work and God’s glory are at stake, we dare not be too ‘easy-going’. The ‘anything goes’ attitude will undermine the work of God - if we’re not careful. ‘A charge to keep I have, a God to glorify...To serve the present age, my calling to fulfil...Arm me with jealous care, as in Thy sight to live; and O, Thy servant, Lord, prepare, a strict account to give’ (Revised Church Hymnary, 518).
________________________

3 JOHN

Some people do a lot of good. Others do a great deal of harm. Diotrephes thought he was a big ‘star’. He ‘loves to be first’. He ‘likes to put himself first’. He wasn’t a star. He was a disaster! He took ‘nothing to do with’ God’s servants. He did ‘not acknowledge’ the authority’ of Christ’s apostle. He was ‘gossiping maliciously about’ God’s servants. He did not make people feel ‘welcome’. He drove people ‘out of the church’ (9-10). Demetrius was very different. He was ‘well spoken of by everyone - and even by the truth itself’. He wasn’t just popular. He was real, genuine, true. There was a ring of truth about him. These were no empty words of flattery. God’s ‘true’ servants said, ‘We also speak well of him’ (12). What kind of person are you?
_________________________

JUDE 

The wrong kind of people had come among God’s people: ‘certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you...godless men...’ (4). Such people do not like to hear the words, ‘The Lord rebuke you’. They ‘speak abusively against’ those who speak the Word of the Lord to them (9-10). God’s Word warns us against such people: ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires. These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit’ (18-19). With people like this around - life gets like a ‘minefield’. You never know where the next “explosion’ is going to come from! How can we ‘stand tall’ and not be dragged down by this kind of thing? ‘Keep yourselves in the love of God’ - He ‘is able to keep you from falling’ (21,24).
___________________________

REVELATION

1:1-20  -  This is ‘the revelation of Jesus Christ’ (1). It comes from Him and it speaks of Him. Christ ‘loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood’ (5). We rejoice in Him. Christ is ‘coming with the clouds’ (7). We must get ready for Him. ‘The revelation of Jesus Christ’ calls for our response. It is not ‘for information only’. We are to ‘pay attention to what is written in it’. We are to ‘take it to heart’. We are to ‘do what it says’ (3). Christ reveals Himself to us. Is it for our benefit only? Is it just to make us ‘feel good’? No! We are to share with others what the Lord is teaching us. Christ said to John, ‘Write what you see’ (19). Don’t keep it to yourself. Share Christ. Tell others about Him. Tell them what the Lord has done for you. Speak His words of love: ‘Come...and learn from Me’ (Matthew 11:28-30).
2:1-29  -  Every church in every nation and every generation has so much to learn from ‘what the Spirit says to the churches’ (7,11,17,29). Christ is to be our ‘first love’. We are not to ‘abandon’ Him. We are to ‘keep right on to the end of the road’ - ‘faithful until death’ (4,10). We are to ‘remain true’ to Christ, pressing on with Him to a life of real spiritual growth (13,19). Living for Christ will not be easy. There are always those who make things difficult for God’s people (14-15,20). Let your commitment to Christ be very definite: ‘I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. The world behind me, the Cross before me. No turning back. Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow. No turning back’. ‘Will you decide now to follow Jesus?’: Say ‘Yes’ - and let there be ‘no turning back’ (Mission Praise, 272).
3:1-22  -  There are some doors which the Lord must open - ‘I have placed before you an open door that no-one can shut’ (8). There is a door which we must open - ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone opens the door, I will come in...’ (20). Christ is waiting for you to open the door of your heart to Him. He waits with great patience. He keeps on knocking. He waits to hear your prayer: ‘Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Come in today. Come in to stay’. This must be your own prayer. No one else can pray this prayer for you. Open your heart to the Lord, and remember where your prayer really came from: ‘The Lord opened my heart...’ (Acts 16:14). Open your heart to the Lord. He will open new doors: ‘a great door for effective work has opened to me’ (1 Corinthians 16:19).
4:1-5:14  -  ‘In heaven’, there’s ‘an open door’ (4:1). Who has opened heaven’s door for us? - Jesus Christ: ‘He only could unlock the gate of heaven, and let us in’, ‘Jesus loves me! He who died heaven’s gate to open wide; He will wash away my sin, let His little child come in’ (Church Hymnary, 241,418). From heaven’s open door, we hear the voice of love. Jesus calls us - ‘Come up here’ (4:2). What happens when we respond to Christ’s call? - ‘At once I was in the Spirit’: ‘God sends the Spirit into our hearts’ (4:2; Galatians 4:6). The Spirit fills our hearts with worship: ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God...’. ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain...’ (4:11; 5:12). Jesus invites us   to catch a glimpse of heaven, to catch the Spirit of worship, to be filled with the ‘glory’ of God (4:8,11; 5:12-13).
6:1-7:17  -  Christ invites us to ‘come’ (6:1,3,5,7) - and look at things through His eyes. With Him, we look at earth. With Him, we look at heaven. Troubled world, tremendous worship - These are the things we see when we look through the eyes of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our world is deeply troubled. Heaven’s worship is absolutely tremendous. Of all our many ‘troubles’, the greatest is this: We are sinners, and none of us ‘can stand’ before ‘the face of Him who sits on the throne’. Our earthly ‘troubles’ are nothing compared with this! There is hope. There is a way of ‘salvation’. We can be saved through ‘the blood of the Lamb’. If, however, we turn from Him - ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ - there will be no hope. We will face ‘the wrath of the Lamb’ (4:16-17; 5:10,14; John 1:29). Will you be saved - or lost?
8:1-9:21  -  Real gold and fool’s gold - What a difference there is between the two! In 8:3, we read about real gold. In 9:7, we read about something which ‘looked like crowns of gold’. There is a difference between the real thing and the counterfeit. There is a challenge for us here - in connection with both salvation and service. In Matthew 7:21, Jesus warns us, ‘Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven’. In 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, Paul invites us to think seriously about the ‘quality’ of the ‘work’ we’re doing for Christ. Is it work which will prove to be of real, lasting value? - ‘gold, silver, costly stones’. Is our work superficial? Does it lack any real depth? - ‘wood, hay, straw’? Build on Christ: ‘Be careful how you build on Him’.
10:1-11:19  -  ‘Take the little scroll and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey’ (10:9). We are to feed on God’s Word - the difficult parts as well as those passages which make us feel good. God’s Word speaks about judgment as well as salvation. Before we can rejoice in ‘the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ’, we must hear about His ‘wrath’: ‘The time has come for judging the dead’ (15,18). ‘Sweet and sour’: We need both for a balanced diet of God’s Word. We need the ‘sour’ - ‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’ - as well as the ‘sweet’ - ‘God so loved the world...’ (Hebrews 10:31; John 3:16). The ‘sour’ - ‘Flee from the wrath to come’ - creates a hunger for the ‘sweet’ - ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’ (Matthew 3:7; John 1:29).
12:1-13:18  -  In Genesis 3:1, we read of ‘the serpent’. Here he is again - ‘that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan’. He is a powerful enemy. He ‘leads the whole world astray’. He is a determined enemy. ‘Day and night’, he is busy, accusing God’s children. He is a defeated enemy. ‘They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb...’. This is not only Christ’s victory over Satan. This is our victory in Christ, the victory Christ has won for us. Why is Satan so busy? It’s because ‘he knows his time is short’ (12:9-12). How are we to take our stand against Satan? We must listen to the Word of God: ‘He who has an ear, let him hear’. We must obey the Word of God: ‘This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness...’ (13:9). Christ has won the victory for us. Let us claim His victory by faith.
14:1-15:8  -  With ‘patient endurance’, we are to ‘obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus’ (12), This will not be easy. Satan will do all that he can to defeat us. How can we be ‘victorious’ over him? We must rejoice in all that God has done for His people, Israel. He delivered them from their bondage in Egypt. We sing ‘the song of Moses’. Beyond the great event of the Exodus, there is something even more wonderful. We rejoice in what God has done for us - ‘In Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself’. We sing ‘the song of the Lamb’ (15:2-3; Deuteronomy 7:7-8; 2 Corinthians 5:19). we hear God’s call - ‘Fear God and give Him glory’. We consider His ‘great and marvellous deeds’. In our hearts, we say, ‘Who will not fear You, O Lord, and bring glory to Your Name’ (14:7; 15:3-4).
16:1-17:8  -  We live in an unbelieving and rebellious world - ‘they refused to repent and glorify Him’. In an increasingly hostile environment, we must seek to maintain our faithful’ testimony’. There are many who take delight in sin. They rebel against God. They take pleasure in persecuting the people of God: ‘They will make war against the Lamb’. What are we to do when we face such determined opposition? - We must remind our enemies that they will be defeated by Christ: ‘the Lamb will overcome them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings’. We must remind them that Christ has given us the victory: ‘with Him will be His called, chosen and faithful followers’. ‘We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Nothing will be able to separate us from’ His love (16:9,11; 17:5-6,14; Romans 8:37-39).
18:1-19:10  -  We read of the fall of Babylon (18:2,10,16-17,19,21). We live in a time of sinful rebellion against God. This will be followed by the time of God’s holy judgment. What is God saying to His own people at this time? - ‘Come out of her, My people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues’ (18:4). God is calling us to be ‘holy’, ‘a people belonging to Him’. Why does He call us to be holy? Does He want us to go around, feeling ‘superior’ - better than the rest? No! - He wants us to ‘declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvellous light’ (1 Peter 1:15-16; 2:9-10). We look away from ourselves. We look to the Lord, and we say, ‘Hallelujah!’ (19:1,3,4,6). ‘Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory’ (19:7).
19:11-21:8  -  Our Saviour is ‘Faithful and True’. He is ‘the Word of God’. He is our ‘Lord’ and ‘King’ (19:11,13,16). We are invited to ‘come’ to Him. The invitation - ‘Come, gather together for the great supper of God’ - is a call to come to Christ (19:17). We come to Christ so that we might ‘reign with Him’ (20:6). Coming to Christ is only the beginning. God is preparing us for something even better - reigning with Him. This is a great future - ‘no more death or mourning or crying or pain’ (21:4). There is, however, a Word of warning for those who refuse to come to Christ for salvation - ‘If anyone’s name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire’; ‘Their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur’ (20:15; 21:8). ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’ (Acts 16:31).
21:9-22:21  -  God has given us a glimpse of a future which is heavenly, eternal and glorious: ‘the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God - It shone with the glory of God’. Is this ‘eternal life’ for everyone? Will all people ‘dwell in the House of the Lord for ever’? Will everyone be saved? Is this what the Word of God teaches? ‘God wants everyone to be saved’. He wants everyone to ‘come to the knowledge of the truth’, to ‘come to repentance’. Sadly, there are many who ‘refuse to love the truth and so be saved’ (21:10-11; John 3:16; Psalm 23:6; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:10). Who will be saved? - ‘only those, whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life’. ‘Come’ to Christ - ‘Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they...may go through the gates into the city’ (27; 22:17,14).













Popular posts from this blog

2nd January: Psalm 23:1-6 - 'You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.'

3rd January: Psalm 42:1-11 - 'My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.'

4th January: Genesis 1:1-3 - Get Your Priorities Right - God, God's Word, God's Spirit.