May 27
Today's Bible Readings
     Numbers 36
     Psalms 80
     Isaiah 28
     II John 1

''And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: 'that we love one another '."  (II John 5)

       All the evidence that has come to me in my study is that this epistle is written by the same John who wrote I John, but that it is a very different treatise. It is obviously a letter. The best Bible scholars have a strong feeling that this was obviously written to a well-known Christian lady who was prominent in the Christian community. This word ''lady'' appears only one time in the New Testament, and that is right here in II John. The main thrust in this one chapter letter is that we who are the elect of God continue to love one another and to stand together against the deceptions that come from the   world.
       As believers, we share a common ground that the world has never experienced. As a beginning driver, I was privileged to own one of the first VolkswagenBugs. I remember I paid less than $1500 for a brand new automobile, including the one and only option, a radio. Even in those days, there were a lot of jokes about the VolkswagenBug, but one of the things I recall was the kindred spirit that existed between the owners of these automobiles. We became instant friends with them, signaled to one another with a flash of the lights and a beep of the horn when we met on the highway.
       Those of us who are in the elect of God have a kindred spirit. It is the love that exists among Christians. That is what John is writing about here.  He loved the truth and all persons who loved the truth.
       I remember using our memory verse for today as a reference in a love letter I wrote to my wife before we were married. I remember I had to take the verse out of context because he is talking about a different kind of love here. Among believers, there is a common love for the Lord Jesus and for one another.  If it is missing, there is no real salvation. We are living in an age of change, a time of unbelievable progress and it is easy, unless we are very careful, to be lured away from some of the unchanging absolutes of the Gospel. Some things do not change regardless of what you have heard. The sun always rises in the East and sets in the West. That is an absolute.
       John begins this epistle reminding us of certain things that are immutable. One of them is in verse 5 - ''we are to love one another." That is absolute in the Christian sphere. This is not lust or brotherly affection - this is agape love, which was defined in blood­ stained garments on a skull-shaped hill called Calvary. That never changes. There will never be a time when it is not required of Christians.
       This is how we fortify families in our churches against the perils of the 21st Century. John has the answer. It is an absolute - it is love. It is an inevitable aspect of the Christian life. This kind of love will motivate us to an obsession to share the love of Jesus with a lost world and with fellow believers. It is not a request or a suggestion. It is a command of God, and inherent to the true Christian life. May it be expressed in your walk and your talk today.

       I've had the wonderful experience of touring Italytwice. I've discovered the people to be very friendly and highly educated. The official language is Italian, but there are 33 different languages spoken in Italy. The literacy rate is 98%, which is very high. I also find the people to be very proud of their history and, of course, the very majority of them are Roman Catholic; 95% of them are Catholic.
       The majority of Italians, therefore, are Christian in name only. This has resulted in the rapid growth of Islam, and a great growth of the drug culture and the crime rate. I did some jogging a few years ago through the city of Milan, and got lost. The truth is that I was very frightened because of the type area most of Milanhas become, and particularly at night.
Only 1,500 of Italy's 33,500 communities have any established evangelical witness. The need is great and the resistance is harsh. We are privileged to pray today for many small Christian groups that are faithful in their witness for Christ in the country of Italy.

''The errors of faith are better than the best thoughts of unbelief."
Thomas Russell