“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Dec. 1, 2021 – Hosea 007

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Hosea+007

 

Hosea 7 (ESV)

Ephraim mixes himself with the peoples;
Ephraim is a cake not turned.
Strangers devour his strength,
and he knows it not;
gray hairs are sprinkled upon him,
and he knows it not.
10 The pride of Israel testifies to his face;
yet they do not return to the Lord their God,
nor seek him, for all this.

11 Ephraim is like a dove,
silly and without sense,
calling to Egypt, going to Assyria.
12 As they go, I will spread over them my net;
I will bring them down like birds of the heavens;
I will discipline them according to the report made to their congregation.
13 Woe to them, for they have strayed from me!
Destruction to them, for they have rebelled against me!
I would redeem them,
but they speak lies against me.

14 They do not cry to me from the heart,
but they wail upon their beds;
for grain and wine they gash themselves;
they rebel against me.
15 Although I trained and strengthened their arms,
yet they devise evil against me.
16 They return, but not upward;
they are like a treacherous bow;
their princes shall fall by the sword
because of the insolence of their tongue.
This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.

 

REFLECTION:

  • Chapter 7 continues to reveal the evils of Israel. There are internal and external troubles facing the country at that time. Verses 8-16 aimed at Israel’s international foreign policy. Ephraim is called “a cake not turned” (8). It is mixed and is only baked on one side. It is not suitable for eating, so it is of no value. Ephraim was described as “likea dove, silly and without sense” (11). When he encountered difficulties, he only knew that he would move closer to the big international forces, begging Egypt or defecting to Assyria, but their path would not be prosperous.
  • Israel’s pride is to think that it can take on the overall situation and rely on outside help without turning to the Lord. This kind of self-sufficiency is self-deception and self-reliant mentality, how pitiful it is. God intended to redeem them (13), but the Israelites forsook, disobeyed, lied, rebelled, and resisted. Are we also like the people of Israel, praying without sincerity, but only ask God for “grain and wine” (14)?

 

PRAYER:

Ask God to see if you have forsaken, disobeyed, lied, rebelled, and resisted God like the Israelites. Are your prayers come from sincerity, or are you just asking God to give you wealth or physical benefits in the world?

 

HYMN:

 

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Nov. 30, 2021 – Hosea 006

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Hosea+006

 

Hosea 6 (ESV)

1 “Come, let us return to the Lord;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
3 Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.”

4 What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
What shall I do with you, O Judah?
Your love is like a morning cloud,
like the dew that goes early away.
5 Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets;
I have slain them by the words of my mouth,
and my judgment goes forth as the light.
6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

 

REFLECTION:

  • Chapter 6 verses 1 to 3 is the author’s record of the saying among the people. It is an assumption of the Israelites, not a true confession. The people didn’t understand the seriousness of the sins they had committed. They did not stay away from their idols, nor did they confess their sins and change their past. They thought that the wrath of God would pass for a few days (2), but they did not expect that the Israelites would be taken into captivity soon. Israel is only interested in the material benefits provided by God, but does not value the eternal benefits that come from worshiping the true God. However, before criticizing Israel, please take a look at our own attitude. What do you hope to get from your faith? Do you confess lightly but never seriously think about the changes you need in your life?
  • God replied to His people, pointing out that their confession of allegiance is like a cloud and dew, which disappears in a blink of an eye hence meaningless (4). Superficial faithfulness without genuine commitment to God’s is easy. If you want to take an oath of loyalty to God, use your actions to support your declaration!
  • Religious ceremonies can help people understand God and promote their relationship with God. This is why God established the ritual of circumcision and sacrifice in the Old Testament, and the baptism and Holy Communion in the New Testament. However, only with a heart of love and obedience to God can this religious ritual be helpful to people; if one’s heart is far away from God, fulfilling this ritual is also empty and futile (6). What God wants is not the rituals of the Israelites, but their hearts. Why do you worship? What is the motivation behind your “sacrifice” and “burnt offering”?

 

PRAYER:

Examine before God whether your confession is sincere. Is there is any change in behavior after confession, or you repent but sin against God again? Ask God to let you know that He loves your goodness more than your sacrifices; He loves you to know Him more than your burnt offerings.

 

HYMN:

 

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Nov. 29, 2021 – Hosea 005

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Hosea+005

 

Hosea 5 (ESV)

1 Hear this, O priests!

Pay attention, O house of Israel!

Give ear, O house of the king!

For the judgment is for you;

for you have been a snare at Mizpah

and a net spread upon Tabor.

2 And the revolters have gone deep into slaughter,

but I will discipline all of them.

 

3 I know Ephraim,

and Israel is not hidden from me;

for now, O Ephraim, you have played the whore;

Israel is defiled.

4 Their deeds do not permit them

to return to their God.

For the spirit of whoredom is within them,

and they know not the Lord.

 

5 The pride of Israel testifies to his face;

Israel and Ephraim shall stumble in his guilt;

Judah also shall stumble with them.

6 With their flocks and herds they shall go

to seek the Lord,

but they will not find him;

he has withdrawn from them.

7 They have dealt faithlessly with the Lord;

for they have borne alien children.

Now the new moon shall devour them with their fields.

 

REFLECTION:

  • Chapter 5 is the judgment that God announced to the whole family of Israel. This section repeats God’s accusation of Israel’s sins: “and they know not the Lord.” (4) Their actual actions include:
    • Gone deep into slaughter (2).
    • “Played the whore” and “spirit of whoredom” (3~4) refer to spiritual fornication ─ worshiping Baal, and moral fornication.
    • Pride, deceit, relying on outward sacrifices and other rituals (5-7).
  • Mizpah and Tabor (1) are the main places to worship the false god Baal, and leaders even abet the people to commit crimes in these places. Today, we often choose our own leaders, but we still have to pay attention to whether they are leading us closer or away from God. God requires people to be responsible for what they do, and in the same way, He also wants us to be responsible for our actions and choices.
  • Constantly sinning makes people harder and harder to repent. Deliberately choosing to confront God numbs one’s conscience. Once you commit a sin, you will be more likely to commit another sin next time. Try to stay away from sinful behaviour and avoid letting it leave a trail in you.

 

PRAYER:

Confess your sins and repent before God, admit that you have sinned against God and others, ask the Holy Spirit for help, and don’t sin again in the future.

 

HYMN:

 

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Nov. 26, 2021 – Hosea 004

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Hosea+004

 

Hosea 4 (ESV)

1 Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel,

for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land.

There is no faithfulness or steadfast love,

and no knowledge of God in the land;

2 there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery;

they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.

3 Therefore the land mourns,

and all who dwell in it languish,

and also the beasts of the field

and the birds of the heavens,

and even the fish of the sea are taken away.

 

4 Yet let no one contend,

and let none accuse,

for with you is my contention, O priest.

5 You shall stumble by day;

the prophet also shall stumble with you by night;

and I will destroy your mother.

6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;

because you have rejected knowledge,

I reject you from being a priest to me.

And since you have forgotten the law of your God,

I also will forget your children.

 

7 The more they increased,

the more they sinned against me;

I will change their glory into shame.

8 They feed on the sin of my people;

they are greedy for their iniquity.

9 And it shall be like people, like priest;

I will punish them for their ways

and repay them for their deeds.

 

REFLECTION:

  • From Chapter 4, there is no mention of Hosea’s wife, but the relationship between Israel and God. This chapter begins to describe in the manner of a court trial. “The Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land” (1). “Controversy” was a legal term at the time, meaning that the Lord accused the people of Israel. There are three charges: 1. No honesty; 1. No goodness (loving and faithful in keeping the covenant); 3. No knowledge of God. Chapter 4 mainly describes the third charge.
  • “No knowledge of God in the land” (1) refers to people’s lack of correct knowledge of God. This knowledge is not theory or information, but “the law of God” (6)—it is the revelation of God in the covenant with Israel, and the demands of His people. The sins listed in verse 2 reflect the non-observance of the Ten Commandments. Not knowing God is actually rejecting, forgetting (6), and disobeying God’s commandments (10).
  • The priests have to take a great responsibility, because they did not teach the people to understand God’s law, and only benefited from the sacrifice ceremony (8). The Israelites were also condemned by God. They worshipped idols, were drunk, and committed adultery. They were corrupt and degenerate in faith and morality. This is a testament to abandoning God, and it is also a consequence.
  • Do we know God? Does God’s word become the norm and guide in our lives? How much do we obey His commands?

 

PRAYER:

Thank God for knowing you and understanding you; ask God to reveal to you so that you also know Him. Ask God to make you grow in God’s grace and knowledge.

 

HYMN:

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Nov. 25, 2021 – Hosea 003

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Hosea+003

 

Hosea 3 (ESV)

1 And the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” 2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. 3 And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.” 4 For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. 5 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.

 

REFLECTION:

  • According to the Lord’s command, Hosea redeemed the wife who had committed adultery, walked away from him, and was now degenerated into prostitution. It is not easy to love such a woman, but only such a prophet can understand the heart of God: “the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods” (1).
  • Gomer apparently lived by herself for a while. In order to earn a living, she may be sold as a slave or concubine to other men. In either case, Hosea will redeem her. The ransom is so low that Gomer is almost worthless in the eyes of others except Hosea, but Hosea still loves her as God loves Israel. No matter how deep our sinking is, God is willing to redeem and save us, so that we can be rejuvenated by Him.
  • The wife who was redeemed had to accept discipline and reform before living with the Prophet (3). In the same way, the Israelites had to go through a period of discipline, that is, exile to the Gentiles (4). God wanted to keep the Israelites away from the idolatry they were passionate about. Sacrifices and pillar are part of idol worship; the ephod here is not a vest for priests, but a symbol of false god worship; household gods are like guardians of Gentile families, for the chosen people of God, It should never be placed in the home.

 

PRAYER:

Thank the Lord that although you have fallen, forsaken Him, and made Him sad many times, the Lord still loves you and finds you back. May the love of the Lord move you to repent and return to Him in awe, and receive His grace.

 

HYMN:

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Nov. 24, 2021 – Hosea 002

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Hosea+002

 

Hosea 2 (ESV)

1 Say to your brothers, “You are my people,” and to your sisters, “You have received mercy.”

“Plead with your mother, plead—
for she is not my wife,
and I am not her husband—
that she put away her whoring from her face,
and her adultery from between her breasts;
lest I strip her naked
and make her as in the day she was born,
and make her like a wilderness,
and make her like a parched land,
and kill her with thirst.
Upon her children also I will have no mercy,
because they are children of whoredom.
For their mother has played the whore;
she who conceived them has acted shamefully.
For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers,
who give me my bread and my water,
my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’
Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns,
and I will build a wall against her,
so that she cannot find her paths.
She shall pursue her lovers
but not overtake them,
and she shall seek them
but shall not find them.
Then she shall say,
‘I will go and return to my first husband,
for it was better for me then than now.’…

The Lord’s Mercy on Israel

14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
15 And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.

16 “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ 17 For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. 18 And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. 19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.

 

REFLECTION:

  • Chapter Two talks about the relationship between the prophet and his wife on the one hand; on the other hand the relationship between God and the people of Israel. There are overlaps between the two, and sometimes it is not clear whether the prophet himself or the Lord is speaking.
  • Hosea’s wife has already committed adultery at this time, and she wants to run away from home and follow her loved ones. Verse 2 is the prophet’s speech to his children, hoping to turn their mother back and renounce adultery. When the prophet’s wife encountered difficulties and setbacks, she thought of returning to her ex-husband, just as the prodigal son thought of his loving father when he came to a dead end in his life. Frustration and setbacks in sin often drive us to repent and return to God.
  • The Israelites committed spiritual fornication. Their “lovers” are the Baal gods; they forsook the Lord and were not loyal to the covenant they made, but worshipped and served the idols of the Canaanites. Nevertheless, God spread out His hands to the Israelites and called them to return (14). On the spiritual journey, how easy we are to be attracted by all kinds of things, and shifted our focus of admiration away from God. Hope that we will not forget the Lord.

 

PRAYER:

Ask God to remind you not to forget that you have no good apart from Him. For apart from God you can do nothing. Do not attribute your achievements to people and things other than God. Ask God to keep you in His love.

 

HYMN:

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Nov. 23, 2021 – Hosea 001

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Hosea+001

 

HOSEA

INTRODUCTION

The prophet Hosea spoke to the northern kingdom of Israel in the turbulent period of the 8thcentury BC. Following the death of Jeroboam II, Israel had six different kings in just over twenty years; four were assassinated and the last was forcibly removed from the throne. The rising empire of Assyria invaded Israel, and by 722 BC had completely conquered the nation and carried off much of its population into exile.

Israel had made the mistake of identifying the Lord with Baal, a Canaanite nature god. This identification may have begun innocently enough, since baal simply means “master.” But by the time of Hosea, the people were visiting shrine prostitutes, and had adopted the magical practices of fertility cults. Hosea repeatedly denounces this corrupted worship as spiritual prostitution. He also condemns the nation’s foolish foreign intrigues, its rejection of the moral law, and its callous greed. The people dismissed Hosea’s warnings, however, and simply mocked him.

The book is structured into two main parts. The shorter first part tells how God commanded Hosea to marry the unfaithful woman Gomer. She is symbolic of Israel’s wavering faithfulness to the Lord. The prophet’s own life thus provided a picture of God’s intentions toward wayward Israel. The longer second part contains oracles delivered during the decline after King Jeroboam, alternating hope and doom as Hosea both threatens and pleads with the kingdom of Israel in the last years before its exile.

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Hosea 1 (ESV)

1 The word of the Lord that came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.

When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.

And the Lord said to him, “Call his name Jezreel, for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. And on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”

She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the Lord said to him, “Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Lord their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.”

When she had weaned No Mercy, she conceived and bore a son. And the Lord said, “Call his name Not My People, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”

10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” 11 And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.

 

REFLECTION:

  • Chapters 1 to 3 of Hosea use the family relationship of the prophet himself to symbolize the relationship between God and Israel, and use Hosea’s experience to illustrate how God loves His people.
  • Why did God tell Hosea to marry an adulterous wife (2)? How can a holy God require a prophet in this way? The best explanation is to regard the “a wife of whoredom” as the prophet who understood God’s command when he recounted his married life. That is to say, when Hosea married Gomer, she was not an adulteress or a prostitute; but after getting married, she began to be unfaithful to her husband. The second half of verse 2 points out the symbolic meaning of Hosea’s marriage: the Israelites were chosen and loved by God, but they committed adultery, followed other gods, and deserted the Lord, just like Hosea’s wife.
  • Note that the names of the three children of Hosea have symbolic meanings. It means that God will judge the Israelites, starting from punishing them for murder and bloodshed, showing no mercy to them, and breaking the covenant relationship. God is a righteous and stern God who will by no means clear the guilty. When we commit adultery in our spiritual life, God’s judgment and punishment will also come, because He will discipline the one He loves.
  • The “yet” in verse 10 brings a turn for the better. God is a loving God; He judges but He also saves. He promised that the Israelites would be revived, their relationship with God would be restored, and they would be called children of God.

 

PRAYER:

Ask God to give you a heart of obedience. God’s guidance is sometimes difficult to understand, your situation may be special; ask God to enable you to understand and appreciate His will, and believe that the omniscient God has a good will in His requirements. Let you be willing to submit yourself to suffering in order to benefit those you serve.

 

HYMN:

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Nov. 22, 2021 – Jude 001

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Jude+001

 

JUDE

INTRODUCTION

Jesus had several brothers, two of whom were James and Jude. Much less is known about Jude than James (see James), but he was clearly a church leader, since he wrote to believers with authority in this letter that bears his name. It cannot be determined exactly who was meant to receive the letter, although the references to angels, to Israel’s history and to specific writings indicate that Jewish Christians were in view.

Jude addresses the problem of false teachers who have come and are now threatening the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. On the basis of supposedly inspired dreams, they reject authority and pollute their own bodies. Even though they claim to be bringing God’s message, they really follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. The believers must actively resist them and cleanse their community by rejecting both the teaching and the example of these ungodly men.

It seems that the apostle Peter received a copy of Jude’s letter and wrote a similar one of his own to show that it faithfully presented the teaching of the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ (see 2 Peter).

 

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Jude (ESV)

 

3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

 

8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones.

 

REFLECTION:

  1. Chapter at a Glance: Jude wrote an urgent warning against those who were already introducing false teaching into the churches. God will punish those who turn from Christ and godliness, but preserve those who keep themselves in His love.
  2. Some things in life are relative. One prefers green, the other prefers blue. One like popcorn, the other likes potato chips. But truth is different. It is absolute, remains fixed and sure despite human preferences. Contending for truth (v3) doesn’t mean being hostile. But it does mean making sure people realize that truth isn’t a matter of preference.
  3. Jude, as did Peter and Paul, wrote two identifying marks of the false teachers: (1) they deny Jesus Christ, making Him out to be less than God, (2) they twist that grace which frees us from the grip of sin into a license for sin. God will certainly punish the false teachers who share the spiritual and moral depravity exhibited by the Exodus generation, by fallen angels, and by the depraved communities of Sodom and Gomorrah (vv5-7).
  4. What errors in faith and life do you see as subtle dangers to today’s Christians? How can you protect yourself, and other believers whose lives you touch, from falling into these errors? Pray that you and your church would be protected from false religion.

PRAYER:

Stay with God for a little longer.  Continue to converse with God and listen to what He wants to tell you.  Then write down any thought and/or prayer in your spiritual journal.

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Nov. 19, 2021 – 3 John 001

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=3John+001

 

3 JOHN

INTRODUCTION

This letter is a note of thanks and encouragement to an individual named Gaius. John had sent a letter to the church of which Gaius was a member, introducing and commending certain individuals, but a leader named Diotrephes refused to accommodate them. He opposed John’s authority to the point of actually expelling anyone who supported the people he had sent. Gaius, however, put these preachers up in his own home, enabling them to carry out their mission. John’s gratitude makes it clear that the church should provide a base of operations for traveling preachers who were walking in the truth. John also promises to come soon to set matters right.

 

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3 John (ESV)

The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.

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.For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

5Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. 6They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. 7It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. 8We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth.

 

REFLECTION:

  1. Chapter at a Glance: John wrote to Gaius to encourage him to keep on ministry, to warn against Diotrephes and to commend Demetrius.
  2. Read the passage carefully as if John is writing specifically to me.
  3. What opportunity have you had recently to show someone hospitality? Or in some way help someone who is trying to do good? How did you respond to that opportunity?  What do you notice about the motives and priorities behind your action (or non-action)?
  4. Think about some gifts you can offer to others (such as cooking, listening ear, words of encouragement.) Write them down and go through the list with God. Determine which gifts you are glad to share, and which ones you are Now think of a specific person who would be helped by your hospitality.  Ask God what He would have you offer to this person.  Be open to take this small step toward hospitality, and see how God may change your heart as you do it.

 

PRAYER:

Stay with God for a little longer.  Continue to converse with God and listen to what He wants to tell you.  Then write down any thought and/or prayer in your spiritual journal.

 

HYMN:

 

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Nov. 18, 2021 – 2 John 001

Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=2John+001

 

2 JOHN

INTRODUCTION

The same person who wrote 1 John to encourage believers also found it necessary to write to other churches where the false teachers might go to spread their ideas and practices. The letter of 2 John addresses one such gathering, referring to the church as a lady and its members as her children. The author describes the members of his own community as the children of your sister. (This was apparently typical of early followers of Jesus; there is a similar greeting at the end of 1 Peter.) He identifies himself as a church leader by using the title elder.

Apparently some people from this church had just come to visit him and he was pleased to learn that they were walking in the truth. He warns the church not to support the false teachers in any way. Despite its brevity, this letter expresses all of the themes that receive deeper development in 1 John.

 

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2 John (ESV)

The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth,because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.

I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

 

REFLECTION:

  1. Chapter at a Glance: John greeted an “elect lady” to encourage continuing to live in love and in truth warning against those who deny Christ’s deity.
  2. There are two equally extreme misconceptions many people have concerning what it means to be a Christian or to live the Christian life. One view says, “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere and loving.” The other one says, “It doesn’t matter how you live as long as you believe the truth.” Both views are just as wrong because the Word of God binds both truth and love inseparably together. Therefore we obey the truth and love God and people.
  3. Pray that God will keep you “living in truth”, and not be swayed by false teachings.
  4. Take time to read and be familiar with this Apostles’ Creed which summarizes the major doctrines which is important to Christian faith.

Apostles’ Creed

  • I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
  • And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
  • Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
  • Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:
  • The third day he rose again from the dead:
  • He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
  • From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
  • I believe in the Holy Ghost:
  • I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
  • The forgiveness of sins:
  • The resurrection of the body:
  • And the life everlasting. Amen.

 

PRAYER:

Stay with God for a little longer.  Continue to converse with God and listen to what He wants to tell you.  Then write down any thought and/or prayer in your spiritual journal.

 

HYMN: