This is a great little letter from the Apostle John to a dear friend named Gaius. I love the first five verses:
The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. 2 Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.3 For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth.4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 5 Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are…
Got Questions says this about the word beloved, which John uses 3 times in these verses to refer to Gaius: “In the inspired letters, beloved means “friends dearly loved by God.” In the New Testament, the use of the word beloved implies more than human affection. It suggests an esteem for others that comes from recognizing their worth as children of God. Those addressed were more than friends; they were brothers and sisters in Christ and therefore highly valued.”
Three other things strike me about these verses…
1) John prays for Gaius about mundane things – that things will go well; that his health will be good; that his soul will be refreshed. His prayer does not use flowery language or sound super spiritual. It is just a simple prayer for a dear friend.
2) John encourages Gaius because of his “walking in the truth.” I need to do more of what John does here – write an encourage note to those who are steadfast in their pursuit of God and let them know that it gives us joy to see how they are living out their faith.
3) John affirms Gaius’ faithful ministry even to those who are strangers to him. It is much easier to minister to those that we like and who are friends. But strangers are a different story. John wants Gaius to know how much he appreciates his ministry to people who will most likely not be able to reciprocate his kindness and generosity.
May this brick give you some ideas about how you can encourage those in your “beloved” circle of friends.
Perhaps you notice that I am unveiling a new picture with this epistle. Judah makes his first appearance on the banner picture and now all nine of you are accounted for – as well as your parents. As I look at this picture I can see a little bit of each of your personalities shining through in this one moment frozen in time.
So what will we remember from Sunset Beach 2021. Here are a few from my perspective.
Great weather – Not too hot. Not too cold. Good breeze off the ocean. Maybe the best weather we’ve had yet.
Lots of walks – All the early morning walks. The turtle hatchlings walk where we did not get to see turtle hatchlings. The excursion to “jellyfish” bay. Walks to Crab Island and the shops at Sunset. Lots of steps for the week.
The melted ice cream fiasco – My new love affair with Blue Bell ice cream did not turn out so well since the freezer was not keeping the ice cream frozen But the soft serve was still yummy.
Sam – If this doesn’t ring a bell, just think of Aunt Jeanne’s foot.
Boogie boarding and wave jumping – Really good waves to catch with G and to jump over with the younger cousins
Chess Games – Lots of chess games and trying to teach about the dignity of resigning honorably.
Desserts – So many great cookie varieties – especially my double chocolate pudding cookies.
Naked Man – This is the one we will probably remember most about Sunset 2021. Police cars outside our house. Christy opening the door to go downstairs to find out what was going on – only to find a naked man passed out on the top step of of the stairway. “There’s a naked man on our steps” will long be remembered as an iconic beach memory and one of those statements you just don’t expect to hear on vacation.
Christy always does such a fantastic job with a recap video – we tried to do a re-enactment of naked man but it just doesn’t have the same effect with clothes on. Enjoy and remember and…
2 John is the shortest book in the Bible – a mere 13 verses. John has two things he is trying to communicate in this succinct communique’.
Walk in Truth – John continues to be concerned, as he was in his first epistle, about deceivers who have infiltrated the ranks of the church. These are people who are teaching a false gospel and spreading untruth. This is still a concern in our world today. As a believer in the one true God and the one true gospel, make sure that you measure everything that you hear being taught against the truth of the Word of God. Not everyone who preaches or teaches in the name of God does so with a conviction that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.
Walk in Love – Warren W. Wiersbe said: “Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.”
Scott Mehl said, “Too many people have been convinced that biblical truth “doesn’t work,” not because there was a problem with the truth, but because the truth wasn’t communicated with love.”
We must speak the truth. But we must absolutely do it in a way that is accompanied by love.
May this brick help you to experience what John says in verse 3 at the beginning of this letter:
“Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.”
Today we say goodbye to Sunset Beach. Another family vacation is in the books, more memories to hold onto, and back to real life. But it only seems appropriate to remember for you what happened 20 years ago today. It was perhaps THE most culturally defining day of my lifetime. And I have lived through a lot of defining moments – a presidential assassination, Watergate, Vietnam, a moon landing, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, etc. What happened 20 years ago today dramatically changed our country and we feel the ripple effects every. single. day.
It was a Tuesday. Sometime between 9:00 and 9:30 AM. I was in the parking lot at the Post Office down the street from my church when it was announced on the radio that a plane had crashed into the side of one of New York City’s Twin Towers. At the time it was reported as a crazy air mishap. But 30 minutes later when another plane crashed into the other Twin Tower we began to understand that this was more than accidental.
Little did we know how much more. I was meeting a friend for lunch at Elmo’s Diner in Durham when we got the news that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon and another plane (Flight 93) had crashed in Pennsylvania. We would later find out that it was targeting either the White House or The US Capitol Building. I can remember saying to my friend, “What is going on?”
As the day unfolded we learned that these four planes has been hijacked by terrorists – later to be associated with the group known as al-Qaeda and masterminded by Osama bin Laden. Almost 3000 people died that day. The attacks resulted in the largest loss of life by a foreign attack on American soil.
Your parents were in middle school and high school when 911 (as it is referred to) happened. I was planning that coming weekend to raft the Gauley River in West Virginia (and its class 5 rapids) with a buddy to celebrate his 40th birthday. That did not happen as he got grounded in Toronto when air travel was shut down. Overnight the world became a scarier place to live.
Things that we are quite familiar with today did not even exist prior to 911. The Department of Homeland Security, The US Patriot Act, The War in Afghanistan (which just ended, sort of), ISIS, the TSA, Immigration Reform, the TV show 24 and it’s hero Jack Bauer.
September 11, 2001 will rightfully get talked about and remembered a lot today. But there are other things worth remembering as well…
The God that we worship and serve was not surprised by anything that happened on that day.
A quote that bears repeating: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
A Scripture from Matthew 16:33 where Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
A reminder that when things seem out of control, God is still in control.
Our faith is built on the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus and the blessed hope that He will return one day to make all things right.
People are capable of incredibly heroic exploits – but the most heroic thing that we can do is to demonstrate love to the people around us every day.
There will no doubt be more days like 911 in our future but as a people of faith we are not to live in fear, but rather to hold out the hope of the gospel. God’s good news always trumps the world’s bad news.
The focus for this brick will be on the word “overcome”. Note what 1 John 5:4-5 says…
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
The words overcome, conquer, and victory all stem from the Greek word “nike”. Yes, like the shoe company. Got Questions says this:
The verb implies a battle. The Bible teaches Christians to recognize that the world is a battleground, not a playground. God does not leave us defenseless. Ephesians 6:11–17 describes the armor of the Lord available to all believers. Scattered throughout this narrative is the admonition to “stand firm.” Sometimes all it takes to overcome temptation is to stand firm and refuse be dragged into it. James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” An overcomer is one who resists sin no matter what lures Satan uses.
Believers in the truest sense are overcomers. So what are some of the other marks of an overcomer.
Overcomers can have peace in the midst of trouble because Jesus our King has overcomes the world. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Overcomers can stand firm against the enemy and his minions because Jesus our King dwells within us. “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
Overcomers can anticipate a great reward because Jesus our King says “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (Revelation 3:21)
Overcomers are undergirded through the troubles of this world because of the great great love of Jesus our King. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? …No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:35-37)
1 Corinthians 15:57 succinctly says it this way: “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
May this brick encourage you today to overcome whatever is keeping you from walking in the victory that belongs to those who call Jesus King.
One of the enemy’s tactics to confuse believers and to negate the effectiveness of our faith is to distort the truth. This has been true since the very first encounter with Adam and Eve. It was true in John’s day. It is true today. Specifically if the enemy can distort the truth about Jesus then he gains a win.
In the first 6 verses of 1 John 4 we see the apostle encouraging believers to know and to stand on the truths of Scripture regarding Jesus. There are “preachers” who are very skillful communicators who have used their golden tongues to turn people away from the historical Biblical truths of the gospel and of Jesus. So just what should we believe about Jesus? Here is a short list of truths – if you ever hear a preacher or anyone else call any one of these into question then you can be sure they are “not from God” (4:6) no matter how convincingly they may speak.
Jesus is the eternal Son of God
Jesus was NOT created. He was “in the beginning with God”
Jesus is the incarnate Son of God – He willingly took on flesh
Jesus was born of a virgin
Jesus lived a sinless life
Jesus is the propitiation for our sins – He appeased the wrath of God by dying on the cross as a sinless substitute for sinful man
Jesus rose triumphantly fro the dead
Jesus ascended into heaven
Jesus will return again in power and glory to judge the world
May this brick help you stand firm in the faith as you encounter those who will try to distort the truth of Jesus.
I know those are a lot of strange sounding names (I even thought that as I was growing up) but I knew her best as Mama when I was little and then Mother as I got older. She was named “Adele” by her aunt who taught French. If you figure out the dates, she died when she was 69 – but I was only 40, and that felt so very young to be losing my mother. But as Pop Pop told me, I would never be ready and he was so right! This was indeed a big week for us each summer – we had 3 birthdays in 4 days (and then added Tucker’s for 4 in 5 days). We celebrated each one!
My mother grew up in Cleveland County, North Carolina. I always thought it was a very rural area and it still is today. They farmed, her dad ran a cotton gin when she was little, he helped build army and navy bases during the depression, and then he ran a hardware and grocery store (I remember his store and the candy we could pick out!) She graduated from Polkville High School (I think there were about 19 in her graduating class) and then she attended the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina (it was called WC) in Greensboro, NC. I always liked the fact that I also graduated from there (the name was changed to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNC-G). I was always very thankful that both my parents went to college – that was not common for most of my friends growing up.
Mother majored in sociology and while I was growing up she was a school social worker. She stayed home while I was young but went to work when I was in the 2nd grade – they knew college was coming soon -Jeanne was in the 6th grade). I always liked it that she worked in the same schools I attended. She was always involved in the things we did: PTA president for the elementary school, Girl Scout cookie coordinator for our troop one year, went to every event we were involved in. She also made sure she and daddy attended all the grandchildren events: even driving to Durham to see soccer & basketball games, Christy cheer in middle school, church performances whenever possible.
One of the major things about my mother was that she was born with a dislocated hip. They knew it at birth and tried to fix it but it didn’t work. She was ok as a child but began to have pain when she was a sophomore in college – 1949. She did not have surgery to replace her hip until 1974. By that last summer she could barely walk and drug her left leg with each step. I grew up being very aware that she was in pain all the time and couldn’t always do things with us. I remember visiting Washington, DC and Daddy taking us up in the Washington Monument and Mother waiting on a bench at the bottom. Joint replacement surgery was not done on younger people at that time so the doctors made her wait until she really couldn’t walk. I will never forget seeing her just after her surgery – I fainted! But she lived without pain and without a limp for the 10 years after it – then it was replaced again after part of it cracked. That second surgery left her with a slight limp but still no pain! She did amazing things though even with the pain she was in – she didn’t often complain about her leg!
My Mother was an expert gardener. Her yard was beautiful. She always had something blooming and kept flowers on our kitchen table. I never saw her go out and weed for hours like I seem to do! She would go out each morning and walk around the yard and look at her flowers – they brought her great joy! I remember her watering them a lot in the summer! Her favorite flower was an iris – and she had lots of them! We (Jeanne, Anne, and I) still have flowers that came from her yard and they are very special to us. Daddy grew a LARGE garden in the summer and she would can tomatoes and green beans, freeze corn, and make pickles. Her vegetable soup was the best I’ve ever eaten – but it was made with her home canned tomatoes.
My mother was also an expert seamstress. She made all of our clothes until I was in high school, made clothes for our dolls, learned to quilt and made all of us (3 daughters/7 grandchildren) queen-size quilts, plus made cute smocked clothes for all 7 of her grandchildren (that would include Christy, Scott, and Tucker!)
My mother became a Christian when she was about ten during a revival at her church. She and her brother both were baptized at the same time. Her mother had been very sick for several months and this happened when she was in the hospital (My grandmother recovered-the doctors had no explanation but she began to get better after the church gathered to pray for her) After I became a Christian at 19, I would go home on weekends during my sophomore year and share with Mother everything I had been learning that week. I know the Lord used my excitement to help my Mother grow in her relationship with the Lord and she began to read her Bible daily. I am very thankful for that memory.
My mother served us all so well. She loved her children and grandchildren and wanted the best for them. She would have loved each one of you so much and would have been so proud of you! I know as you grow up there will be times you get really frustrated with your parents – especially your moms. How I wish I had more time with mine and miss her! You all have great moms – treasure the time you have with them!
Today is my daddy’s birthday – he would be 95 today! He died at the age of 76 due to Alzheimer’s Disease. That’s actually ironic because daddy was a brilliant man (one of only 10 freshman inducted into the honor society in college) He was also a very quiet man – but your Pop Pop knew how to ask the right questions and get him talking. That’s a great memory for me. (He was called Tommie – but he didn’t like having a nickname. My sisters and I are all named so that there wouldn’t be any nicknames.)
Daddy was born in West Jefferson, NC and maybe the mountains just were always a part of him. His family moved to Winston-Salem when he was young but he spent every summer from the day school was out until the day before school started with his Grandmother Sutherland in Ashe County on the family farm. He helped his uncles and had great relationships with them. He loved to take us to the mountains and show us all the things he loved. We could all see the change in daddy the closer he got to the mountains. (His grandmother was very sweet – we all loved her!)
Daddy graduated from NC STATE in 1949 with a mechanical engineering degree. He was drafted into the army after his freshman year and was able to finish college on the GI bill. He always said he may never have been able to finish without that. (He went to Germany as WWII was ending and was an MP -military police). This began our love for NCSU – (Jeanne, Anne, John, Allison, Tucker, Danielle, and I all have NCSU degrees!)
Daddy worked for one company his entire life! He was hired just out of college by H.E.Crawford Co. in Kernersville, NC (where I grew up) and retired from there in 1990. He began as a mechanical engineer – drawing parts for the machines they made which made men’s socks and ended as vice-president in charge of production. He loved the company and the people who worked there. Jeanne, Anne and I all worked with him during the summers when we were in high school and loved getting to go eat lunch with him! He knew everything about that company and everyone just came to ask him questions – it was easier than trying to figure it out!
Daddy planted a huge garden in the summer – much more than we could eat or Mother could can. He loved to give away his vegetables – and took lots of them to the people he worked with. Daddy’s thinking was always if one of something was good, then 25 would be even better! He loved corn on the cob – he would do 4 plantings each summer so he could enjoy it for longer. We would put one ear in the water to cook for each of us and then 4-5 for daddy!
Daddy had several interests – he researched his family tree (in a day without computers). Pop Pop thought it was really funny when he would show him his tombstone etchings! He started a huge pipe collection when he was in Germany even though he never smoked. You probably have some of his pipes around your house. He loved photography and took lots of pictures over the years – we loved having family nights to look at old slides. He collected coins and he started a stamp collection with me – I loved to do it because it was something daddy and I did together. He loved sports too! I learned all about football from him watching pro football games together when I was in middle school. Of course we followed the Wolfpack too!
Daddy was quiet but we never doubted how much he loved us – and we knew he was proud of us. He would have loved you so much too. Scott carries his name (Thomas Scott) as does Haddon (Haddon Thomas), your parents’ cousin Ryan Thomas, and Tucker. We knew he was the last grandchild and we wanted the Tucker name to carry on. He came to faith in Christ in the summer of 1979 and quietly walked with God until he died. It’s been over 18 years since I’ve seen him but I know I will see him again!
It’s hard to get past the very first sentence of chapter 3.
The ESV puts it this way: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”
The KJV puts it this way: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.”
And the NIV puts it this way: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
John is inviting us to do something that I love to do – PONDER!. He is inviting us to ponder just how awesome, just how marvelous, just how how incredible the love of God is.
Some time ago I spent some time doing just that and put my pondering in the form of a poem.
HOW MUCH MORE
How much more could Christ have done than what He did so long ago? And yet today He fills my heart with a joy that overflows.
How much more could He have done than when He set this captive free? And yet today I taste the fruit of His awesome victory.
How much more could He have done that when He rescued me from sin? And yet today He gives me hope and helps me find my strength in Him.
How much more could He have done than save my soul eternally? And yet I find that in this world I live with joy and power and peace.
How much more, O how much more could He do in you and I If Christ alone became the greatest treasure in our lives. How much more, O how much more could He really do in us If our hearts could fully grasp the mighty power of His love. (Refrain)
How much more could He have done than break the chains of doubt and fear? And yet today when I despair I find that He is always near.
How much more could He have done than to create new life in me? And yet He fills my soul with songs that I cannot help but sing.
How much more could He have done than make things right with God again? And yet today He walks with me as if I am His greatest friend.
How much more could He have done than prove His love at Calvary? And yet today I am reminded of His faithful love for me.
How much more, O how much more could He do in you and I If Christ alone became the greatest treasure in our lives. How much more, O how much more could He really do in us If our hearts could fully grasp the mighty power of His love.
As you have time I invite you to spend some time pondering the incomparable love of God in a way that you can come back to again and again. Perhaps it too is a poem. Or a song. Or a journal entry. Whatever way you choose, the love of God is worth pondering again and again.
May this brick encourage you to ponder just how remarkable the love of God that has been expressed to you by Jesus on the cross truly is.
Lots and lots to ponder in chapter 2. Much more than could be covered in this post so I am just going to focus on one verse – verse 6:
“Whoever says he abides in Jesus ought to walk in the same way in which Jesus walked.”
The word “abide” is one of my favorite words in the Newer Testament. Maybe because it was one of the Apostle John’s favorite words. He uses it 9x in chapter 2 alone. And perhaps it was one of the Apostle John’s favorite words because Jesus liked it so much. John famously quoted Jesus in John 15 where He said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
So how do you abide. There are NOT 3 easy steps that you can take to start abiding. Abiding has to do with relationship. J. C. Ryle put it like this:
To abide in Christ means to keep up a habit of constant close communion with Him – to be always leaning on Him, resting on Him, pouring out our hearts to Him, and using Him as our Fountain of life and strength, as our chief Companion and best Friend. To have His words abiding in us, is to keep His sayings and precepts continually before our memories and minds, and to make them the guide of our actions and the rule of our daily conduct and behavior.
And Andrew Murray put it like this:
It is only into the thirst of an empty soul that the streams of living waters flow. Ever thirsting is the secret of never thirsting. A soul filled with large thoughts of the Vine will be a strong branch, and will abide confidently in Him. Be much occupied with Jesus, and believe much in Him, as the True Vine.
“Walk in the same way in which Jesus walked” – As I pondered this part of the verse I was reminded of 1 Peter 2:21 which says, “Christ suffered for you as an example that you might follow in His steps.” Back in 1896, Charles Sheldon wrote a book called In His Steps. It is the story of a pastor who, while preaching on 1 Peter 2:21, challenged his congregation to ask the question “What would Jesus do?” before they did anything. It is a great book. A classic book.
Back in 1989, a youth group up in Holland Michigan, after reading the book together, decided to embrace the challenge. To remind themselves to ask the question they created bracelets that said “What would Jesus do?” And thus was born the WWJD movement that swept the American Christian world in the 1990’s.
“What would Jesus do” is still a great question to ask. But another great question to ask to help discern the answer to “what would Jesus do” is to ask the question “what DID Jesus do”? So here is a short list of some of the things we see Jesus regularly doing as He walks through the gospels…
He spent time with the Father
He embraced the outcasts
He gave hope to the hopeless
He confronted hypocrisy
He taught the Word of God
He served others
He genuinely cared for people
He developed leaders
“Whoever says he abides in Jesus ought to walk in the same way in which Jesus walked.” The natural result of abiding is to walk in the same way that Jesus walked. Think about those quotes by Ryle and Murray and practice abiding until you get great at it.
May this brick encourage you to abide diligently so that you can walk in the same way that Jesus walked!