For behold, Adonai, Yahweh of Hosts, is about to remove from Jerusalem and Judah both staff and support,

the whole staff of bread and the whole staff of water . . . and the people will be oppressed.

Isaiah 3:1, 5

It belongs to the essence of sinful man that he is blind to the staff of God. As we learn from Isaiah 3, it is God who supports both men and nations with bread, water, wise spiritual leaders, capable statesmen, skillful artisans, brave soldiers, and more. All of these are His gracious gifts: in love He places them beneath our hands like a sturdy staff, so that we might walk securely with Him.

But sinful man is blind to the staffs. And when sinful man walks deeper and deeper in his native willfulness, foolishness, and ingratitude, God wisely removes the staffs one by one, so that he is oppressed, so that he may recover his sight, so that once again he may learn to lean on Him.

It is written that the aged, dying Jacob blessed his sons while worshiping God and leaning on the top of his staff. In his youth, Jacob had walked foolishly; but in his old age he had learned to lean on his God.

Brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ is the one staff of God, given to us that we may lean on Him and so have bread, water, guidance, skill, courage, victory, and everything else we need to walk securely through this wicked world. It is no shame to admit our weakness; it is no shame to lean on Him. To the contrary, it is our glory and our joy.

How I wish we did not have to experience so much weakness and so many stumblings! But if they give us eyes, and if they teach us to lean on the one all-sufficient Staff of God, then I praise the Lord for them all. And I hope you will join me in doing the same.

“If you will consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land.”

— Isaiah 1:18-20

This is not a law word. God is not saying, “If you consent to the Law and obey it in all its particulars, then you will eat the best of the land.”

No, when you read the verse in context you see that it is a Gospel word. If you will consent to the simple truths of the Gospel; if you will simply obey its simple way of salvation and sanctification; if you will simply come to Christ and abide in Him and His grace, then your sins will become like wool, and then you will indeed eat the Best of the Land–the bread, oil, wine and honey hidden in the Land Above, lodged deep within the heart of Him who is seated there as King.

This very day, may you consent, obey, and eat until you’re filled!

And now 3 John is also completed. Here is the link to it, and below is the entire text. Enjoy! d

3 JOHN

Greeting

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

Beloved, I hope1 you are in good health, and that you are prospering in every way, even as your soul is prospering. For it gave me great joy when various brothers came and testified to the truth that is in you,2 since you are indeed walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Gracious Gaius 

Beloved, you are displaying3 faithfulness in whatever you do for the brothers (especially those who are unknown to you4), who have testified about your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God, for they have gone forth on behalf of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore, we ought to support such men, so that we may become co-laborers for5 the truth.

Diotrephes and Demetrius

I wrote something to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, will not acknowledge our authority.6 10 For this reason, if I come, I will remind the people of the deeds he keeps on doing,7 slandering8 us with wicked words. Moreover, not being content with such things, he himself refuses to welcome the brothers, and he forbids it to those who would like to, throwing them out of the church!

11 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does what is good is from God; he who does what is evil has not seen God.

12 Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone—indeed, from the truth itself! And we as well so testify, and you know that our testimony is true.

Farewell 

13 I have many things to write to you, but I do not want to write you with pen and ink; 14 instead, I hope to see you shortly, and then we shall speak face to face.

Peace be with you. The friends greet you. Greet all the friends by name.

 

Notes

1. Lit. wish, pray

2. Lit. testified to the truth of you

3. Lit. doing faithfully

4. Lit. strangers, aliens

5. Or, in, with

6. Lit. receive (or pay attention to) us

7. Lit. of his works that he does

8. Or unjustly accusing

 

Here is 2 John in the NEV. Since it’s short, this time you get the whole thing, notes and all! d

 

2 JOHN

Greeting

The elder, to a chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth—and not only I, but also all who have come to know the truth—for the sake of the truth that abides in1 us, and that will be with us forever; that will be with us—in grace, mercy, and peace—from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

Walking in Love

It has given me great joy to find certain of your children walking in truth, just as the Father commanded us to do.2 And now I ask of you, beloved lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the very one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. (And this is love for the Father: that we walk according to His commandments.) This is his3 commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning; and he means that4 you should walk in it.

Beware of Deceivers

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who do not confess Jesus Christ as having come in the flesh; this is the deceiver and the antichrist. So watch over yourselves, that you might not lose the things we have labored for, but rather that you might receive a full reward.

Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God; he who abides in the teaching of Christ 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, and do not greet him as a brother; 11 for he who greets him as a brother is participating in his evil deeds.

Farewell

12 Though I had many other things to write to you, I did not want to communicate using paper and ink; instead, I hope to come to you and speak with you face to face, that our2 joy may be full.

13 The children of your chosen sister greet you.

 

Notes

1. Or among

2. Lit. just as we received a commandment from the Father

3. Lit. the

4. Lit. in order that, so that

5. Some mss your

 

 

Here is Paul’s letter to Philemon in the New Eclectic Version. And here is one of my favorite parts of the letter, in which the wiley apostle, without forcing Philemon’s will, piles on reason after reason to extend the love that he (Paul) knew was already in his heart.

A Plea for Onesimus

Therefore, though I have great liberty in Christ to order you to do the proper thing, yet for love’s sake I choose instead to appeal to you, being the kind of man people refer to as “Paul, the aged”, and now as a prisoner of Jesus Christ as well. I appeal to you, then, concerning my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while yet in my chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is useful both to you and to me. I am sending him—which is to say my very heart—back to you in person. I wanted to keep him here with me, so that on your behalf he might minister to me during my imprisonment for the cause of the gospel; but I was unwilling to do anything without your knowledge or consent, so that your good deed might not seem to be by compulsion, but rather by your own free will. For perhaps for a little while he was separated from you for this reason, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but as more than a slave: as a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord!