Monday, August 29, 2016, 4:53 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “It Is Well.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 3 John 1:1-12 (ESV). Well with My Soul (vv. 1-4) 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. When we walk in the truth, and we do what is right, not everyone is going to love us and accept us. In fact, we will be hated and rejected as Jesus was hated and rejected. When we try to help others to come out from underneath bondage to sin, they might fight against us, and maybe even try to discredit us in order to attempt to save their own skin (to save face), or so that they can continue to hold on to their sin without interference. Yet, we need to not let this undo us or unsettle us. Satan wants to destroy all that is of God, and all that stands opposed to Satan’s work, and all which threatens his kingdom, so he will plot all kinds of wicked schemes against us in the hopes of bringing us down. Yet, we must stand strong in our faith, trust in the Lord, and believe in God’s sovereignty over our lives. We must say with the hymn writer, “It is well with my soul.” Fear should not overtake us, for God is watching over us, and he has all things under his command and control. He will see us through everything which Satan can throw at us. We just need to be still, and trust in God. All Your Efforts (vv. 5-8) Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore, we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth. When we minister to the needs of God’s saints, it is a good thing. When we encourage them in their walks of faith, and we spur them on to good deeds, that shows that we love Christ’s body, his church. When we receive those who are workers for God’s eternal kingdom into our homes, or into our lives in some way, we honor God by what we do, and we help to advance God’s kingdom work. When we help support those who are true ministers of the gospel in their work for God’s kingdom, we join with them in ministering God’s truths to the people of this world in order that they may be saved. Yet, we must be cautious and discerning about who we support in ministry for not everyone who calls himself a minister of the gospel is preaching truth. There are many wolves in sheep’s clothing out there disguising themselves as apostles of Christ and as servants of righteousness, but who, in reality, are workers of iniquity (See: 2 Co. 11:12-15). We must know the truth by careful study of the scriptures and via the witness of the Holy Spirit within us, and we must not rely on humans to tell us what God’s Word teaches. They just might be wrong! So, we must be wise and discerning. Exposing Wickedness (vv. 9-10) I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church. This could be written about many ministers within many institutional churches today here in America. So many of these institutional churches have gone the way of the world, but are marketing themselves as the true church which follows Jesus Christ. They run the “church” just like any other human-based business, and they market it in the same manner. They are partners together with the US government (via the 501c3), which is the institutional church’s true head. And, their “bible” is comprised of books written by mere men who are teaching them how to grow their businesses and how to draw in large crowds of people. Many of these leaders within these institutional churches are being trained in how to draw in certain types of people, and in how to discourage participation from other types of people. I have found that they tend to seek after the young, the naïve, and those who have little Bible knowledge so that they can mold these people after their image, according to their mission statements and stated goals for their church (business) growth. And, so they discourage participation from the more mature believers in Christ who hold to the tenets of the gospel as taught by Jesus and by his NT apostles. The reason they do this, I believe, is because so many of them are following after a false gospel, which I call a “Do Nothing” gospel, and they don’t want anyone in their congregations exposing their lies or telling people the truth, because they fear that the truth might offend the masses and that the people of the world will feel uncomfortable in the gatherings of “the church,” and thus will not want to come back. In other words, most of today’s institutional church is market-driven, not Holy Spirit inspired and driven. They appeal to the flesh of man in order to gain customers for their businesses. And we, who teach the truth, do not fit in with their marketing schemes, so they may encourage us to leave and to go someplace else where we will be a “better fit.” But, that’s ok, because God doesn’t want his true followers to be part of this Babylon anyway (See: Rev. 18, in particular vv. 4-5). We are to come out from her, so that we don’t share in her sins. Imitate Not Evil (vv. 11-12) Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself. We also add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true. There is so much evil going on now within our world, and within institutional Christianity, being disguised as good, so, again, we must be very discerning and pay attention to what the Word teaches us. We must pray for wisdom to know what is good and what is evil so that we don’t fall into the trap of the devil. The Word teaches us that Satan and his evil cohorts are out to deceive even the elect, if that were possible. And, many are deceived because they are believing whatever they hear and see without testing it against God’s Word and in prayer, asking the Lord for wisdom to discern error from truth. It often amazes me how many people who call themselves Christians and followers of Christ so easily believe the lies that Satan and his followers pass off as truth. Yet, there were times in my life when I fell prey to some of those lies, as well. And, even now I pray that I will not be deceived, but that I will have discernment and wisdom from above to discern truth from error. None of us are immune to Satan’s subtle lies and deceptions, for he knows how to get at us through our weaknesses, so be wise and discerning. We have to know here that Satan is not making the lies all that obvious, either. He often cleverly blends them in with the truth so that the unsuspecting ear will listen and will believe the lies over the truth if they hear the lies often enough. This is why, again, that we must be students of the Word of God, and sensitive to the Spirit’s voice, and why we must test everything we see and hear, and not just follow what sounds good. Satan is out to destroy us and our testimonies for Christ. Don’t let him fool you! I speak these words to myself, too. May I have much discernment in these evil days in which we now live so that I don’t fall into the devil’s trap. It Is Well with My Soul / H. G. Spafford / P. P. Bliss When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well; it is well with my soul. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let this blest assurance control, That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed his own blood for my soul. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole, Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, Even so, it is well with my soul. It is well with my soul, It is well; it is well with my soul.