It's been nearly two months since I last blogged. I am pretty sure that's a new record. I find myself blogging less for many reasons, but it's still good to share things and write things down to remember for later.
A few weeks ago we finished our Bible study for the spring semester from I, II, and III John. It was basically the same group who did Ephesians together this fall. We couldn't decide which book we wanted to study (I mean you can't go wrong studying any Scripture of course!), and one day, the Lord just put it on my heart that we should study those three together. And I'm so glad he did because I learned a lot from books that I don't recall having really studied much in depth before.
I was blown away by several things:
1. "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One." I John 2:1. I think I might have literally laughed out loud reading this verse at the beginning...because of course we all sin! "But if anybody does sin..." How wonderful to be reminded that I am already forgiven by Christ's death on the cross and his resurrection and that he is my advocate!
2. John's warnings against the antichrists. I mean these books were written probably about 60 years after Christ's ascension back into heaven, and John was already warning about them. And here we are 2000 years later without having had Christ's second coming yet, and we need to constantly be on guard. A few friends and I have talked about how do we stay open to new things God wants to teach us but making certain that they are actually from him and not something that is in actuality false but made to sound right. Does that make sense? I mean John warns that these antichrists will be coming out from the church! Oh how important it is to be rooted in God's Word!
3. There are several mentions in all three books of loving our brothers in different ways, one of which included giving of our material possessions. I was constantly reminded of how many people do that on a monthly or yearly or sporadic basis for us to be here in Hungary. It is of great significance, and it shows God's great love to us and ultimately to our God who provides for our every need. It is not something that the majority of our Hungarian friends can even understand, but it speaks volumes to them.
4. "This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome..." I John 5:3. Matthew Henry writes: "The keeping of his commandments requires a spirit inclined thereto and delighting therein...As thereby we are determined to obedience, and to keep the commandments of God, so his commandments are thereby made easy and pleasant to us." Wow. A direct correlation between loving God and the ease of following his commands. :)
5. "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him." I John 5:14-15. Between studying Ephesians and these 3 books of John, I feel that my prayers are more bold, although I still am asking it to be done if it is his will. I remember a teacher in high school who nearly always prefaced things with "Lord willing." And even though these things that I pray are things that I truly desire for myself or for others, I ultimately still want God's will to be done because I know his will is better than my own desires, no matter how good or pure I may think mine are. It is hard when he answers in the opposite way I pray sometimes, but I am called to trust that his ways are higher and better. I might not understand, but I must trust. And oh how hard that is sometimes! Thinking of and praying for many who are walking through tough times right now...
6. "And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love." II John 6. Again, as we were told in I John, his commands are not burdensome to those who love him, which means that walking in obedience to his commands should be pleasant to those who love the Lord. That extends to my love for others, "to engage one another to walk in holiness, as this is the evidence of our sincere, mutual Christian love -- that we walk after God's commands" (Matthew Henry). I think of the most meaningful relationships I have, and it is those that pursue holiness and encourage me to follow after God's holiness that are the best ones. My walk with God and my conversations with others should be managed by the Word of God, walking in obedience to his commands.
And there is so much more that I want to share, but those are some of the highlights. I know I missed a few good ones as well, but I can't possibly share it all. I read a lot of Matthew Henry's commentary on these three books, as you can see from some of my quotes up there. :) It was great to sit down every week with women this year and discuss God's Word together!