Putting God's Word into Practice…

1 John 3:1-2a ~ NOW

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.  The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Beloved, WE ARE GOD’S CHILDREN NOW…

God loves me so much, He made me His daughter.  Children are under the authority of one who provides, protects, nurtures, loves, disciplines, comforts, converses with, and knows intimately   (For instance, my son is three weeks old and I can already discern his cries, know how he likes to be held, burped and swaddled.).

As I rock back and forth with my baby, it’s God who is rocking me.  When my son starts to fuss or cry, I gently whisper in his ear, “It’s ok.  I’m right here.  I’ve got you.  I’m not going anywhere.”  That’s how God responds to me when I am upset or afraid.  When my baby wakes up screaming because of hunger; I grab his bottle and say, “Mommy’s got just what you need right here.  Settle down, I’ve got it.”  God–my perfect, pure Father–is like that!

Oh, that I would trust you like a child!  That I would rely on and depend on your more instead of putting my hope in others or myself.  That I would recognize your care more often instead of taking it for granted.  I am your child now!  You are my perfect Father!

Leave a comment »

1 John 2:18-29 ~ Abiding

This passage offers four steps to starting and maintaining fellowship with God the Father.

  1. Confess the truth about Jesus Christ (2:23).  The truth about Jesus is that He is God’s Son and the Savior of the world.  He is the only way to the Father.  (“I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6)
  2. Upon confession of Jesus as Lord, we are given by God the gift of His Spirit abiding in us.  We are never alone.  We cannot make excuses that we don’t know right from wrong.  We don’t need any other teacher.  The Holy Spirit and God’s living word are sufficient to teach us all we need to know to discern lies from truth in this world.  To be in fellowship with God and live a joy-filled life, we must be surrendered to the teaching of the Holy Spirit abiding in us. (2:20, 27)
  3. Abide in Christ (2:28).  In John 15, Jesus had a lot to teach the disciples about what it means to abide in Him.  It is like a branch being attached to a vine.  When we abide in Christ, we depend on Him for life, nourishment, strength, fellowship, unity and joy.   Jesus himself said in John 15:11, “These things I have spoken to you (regarding abiding), that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”  As I wrote in my journal, a wind-blown leaf caught my attention outside of my window.  It looked so free, but it was dead because it wasn’t attached to its tree!  That leaf was only going to end up decomposing in some neighbor’s landscaping.  Life is found in abiding in Christ!
  4. Practice righteousness (2:29).  I don’t have any righteousness of my own–the only thing righteous about me is that Jesus has given His gift of righteousness to me–wrapped me in it like a robe!  Therefore, my life needs to reflect His righteousness, and that is only possible through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in me.  Practicing basketball every day doesn’t make us part of the basketball team.  Someone with authority has to declare us on the team–officially making us basketball players.   But a basketball career doesn’t stop there.  The team members must practice with the team everyday so that others know we are on the team and we better reflect the title of basketball players.  Practicing righteousness does not make us righteous, it just proves that we know Christ has declared us righteous before His Father.

And now little children, abide in Christ, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.  If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. (1 John 2:28-29)

Leave a comment »

1 John 2:7-17 ~ Love People–Not Things

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.  Whoever LOVES his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.  But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness, and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes…DO NOT LOVE the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world.  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:9-11, 15-17)

LOVE–the greatest virtue, the greatest commandment–is the key to all of the Christian’s life.  When we are LOVING God and people, it is impossible for us to be walking in sin.  When we are LOVING God and others, it is impossible to be out of fellowship with them.  LOVE brings light into the world (2:10).  LOVE dispels darkness (2:8).  LOVE prevents stumbling in life (2:10).  LOVE gives direction and purpose to life (2:11).

BUT THE WORLD…convinces us to love ourselves and our possessions and our desires instead of God and others.  Everything of this world promises physical pleasure, elevates the joy of amassing possessions, and/or enables personal pride in our achievements and accumulations.  This world’s system deceives us into spending our lives and resources on things that don’t last, don’t satisfy, and usually end in disillusionment.

John was writing this letter to tell us the path to unity, fellowship, and complete joy.  LOVE! LOVING God and others more than self and stuff is that path!  LOVE is God’s will for His people!

Is there anything I love more than God?  Do I love myself more than others?  Do I love things more than people? More than God?  How can I show love today?

Leave a comment »

1 John 2:1-6 ~ “I Know Him!”

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. BUT if anyone does sin, we have an ADVOCATE with the Father, JESUS CHRIST THE RIGHTEOUS.  He is the propitiation (the “sacrifice that takes God’s wrath and turns it to favor” ESV Study Bible) for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the WHOLE WORLD!  And by this we KNOW that we have come to KNOW him, if we keep his commandments.  Whoever says, “I KNOW HIM,” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.  By this we may KNOW that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

At the risk of exposing my cheesiness–when I saw the phrase, “I know him!” all I could think of was Buddy the Elf talking about Santa Clause in Gimbel’s department store. http://youtu.be/9jyCfRHumHU No one believed that Santa was real, but Buddy actually “knew” him.  And by living out the Code of Elves in his daily life, others started to believe in the existence of Santa too.

When we “KNOW” Christ, it changes how we live, how we experience joy and love.  People often won’t believe in a God they cannot see, until they see Him in us!  He uses our lives to display His grace, love, and transforming power.

When we “KNOW” Christ, we are called to walk like Him.  The ESV Study Bible says, “walk the way that led to the cross.”  Jesus walked in power, boldness, humility, compassion, grace, truth, generosity, peace, self-sacrifice, hating evil, overcoming temptation, fellowship with the Father, with no attachment to earthly things, and in full submission to the Father’s will.

Do I desire to do what is right in God’s eyes?  Do I look like Jesus in how I live and how I treat others?  Does the way I live my life prove that I know Jesus–the Righteous One, my Advocate, my Savior who paid the penalty for my sins with His own blood?

Leave a comment »

1 John 1:5-10 ~ A Universal Solution for a Universal Problem

This is the message we have HEARD from him and PROCLAIM to you…

In verses 1-5 the words heard and proclaim are listed together three times.  As followers of Christ we have a two-part mission.  What would happen if the disciples of Jesus only heard him and didn’t proclaim him?  What would happen if we stopped proclaiming the truth we hear from God’s Word? To whom can I proclaim the truth today?

  • Psalm 96:2b says, “Each day proclaim the good news that He saves!”
  • Romans 10:13-14 says, “For EVERYONE who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”

…that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. BUT if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from ALL sin.  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. IF we confess our sins, HE IS FAITHFUL AND JUST to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

God is light!  He is radiant and pure; He exposes and extinguishes darkness; He illuminates our life’s path.  When we choose to live and move and act in the dark (in sinfulness), we break fellowship with him.  We may ask ourselves questions like: Why can’t I feel God?  Why isn’t He helping me?  Why doesn’t my life have any direction?  Why don’t I have any joy?  It may be because we are out of fellowship with God.  Choosing to walk in darkness has consequences.  Come back into the light!!

When we walk in the darkness, we deceive ourselves into thinking that our sins are hidden from God, or we rationalize that they are not really sins at all.  But sin is a universal problem–we all do it!  Sin is never hidden!  There is only one way to restore fellowship with God, our unity with others, and our complete joy–we must admit to our sins.  EVERY CONFESSED SIN RECEIVES FORGIVENESS AND REMOVAL!  God has provided a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins through the blood of His own Son!  He would never leave His created ones with a universal problem–that would be unloving.  He has provided the only universal solution to our sin–believing on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior!

God is faithful and just to take away EVERY sin and unrighteous action we confess–EVERY SINGLE ONE!  My husband gave an illustration at church once that has always stuck with me regarding this complete forgiveness that I would like to share:

Every once in a while we miss trash day or have an exorbitant amount of garbage.  We haul it all out to the curb and almost wince as we hear the garbage truck approaching.  (My husband was a garbage man for a short while, so he is extra sensitive!) Will they take it all?  Will they be angry with us?  But every single time, the garbage is all gone.  They don’t come to the door and question us as to how we accumulated so much trash.  They don’t see us peeking out the window and flip us the bird.  They don’t leave any behind just to spite us.  No questions–complete removal!  They are garbage men–it’s what they do!  God is faithful and just to forgive all sins–it’s what He does!

Leave a comment »

1 John 1:1-4 ~ Introduction and Choices

That which was from the beginning, which we have HEARD, which we have SEEN with our eyes, which we LOOKED UPON and have TOUCHED with our hands, concerning the word of life–the life was made manifest, and we have SEEN it, and testify to it and PROCLAIM to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us–that which we have SEEN and HEARD we PROCLAIM also to you so that you too may have FELLOWSHIP WITH US; and indeed our FELLOWSHIP IS WITH THE FATHER AND WITH HIS SON JESUS CHRIST. And we are writing these things so that YOUR JOY MAY BE COMPLETE

Words like “heard,” “seen,” and “touched” in relation to experiencing real relationship with Jesus while He was on earth are used seven times in these four verses.  John witnessed Jesus’ life firsthand.  He worked with, walked with, talked with, learned from, high-fived, bro hugged (or whatever the cultural equivalent would be), etc…with the living Son of God.

This letter is a gift from John to all who are partners with the Father and the Son.  John is proclaiming the realities of Christ to those of us who have never seen, heard or touched Him. John’s aim was to bring us near so we could encounter the same fellowship with Jesus that he himself experienced.  John wanted his readers to have the fullness of joy that the disciples knew by knowing Christ personally.  This letter offers the pathway to unity with fellow followers of Jesus Christ, fellowship with the Lord and complete joy.

Recently, my mom had found success with laundry detergent by Arm and Hammer.  She encouraged me to give it a try although I’ve been using the same detergent for many years.   I chose to give it a shot, and really loved it.  I switched my laundry allegiance.  Several weeks later, she called me gushing about the movie Gravity.  Although her arguments for seeing it were persuasive, I never went to see the movie!  Whenever someone has a firsthand experience with “greatness”  that they share we have two responses.  Even in hearing John’s short firsthand experience with Jesus Christ, we are left with two choices.  Will we believe and embrace Him as the Son of God who really came to earth to live and die for the sins of the world?  Or will we read the passage and walk away unchanged?

1 Comment »

My Gentle Leader

Two weeks ago I had a baby–my first one in ten years.  The morning after he was born, I woke up at 5 a.m. and he was still sleeping.  Alone in the room, I decided to read my Bible since I didn’t know when I would have time again.  I decided to read Psalm 63–it was not the Psalm I was thinking of–but it was what I was “supposed” to read.  I had just finished praying about having a good attitude every time I was awakened in the night by my son because he is such a long awaited blessing.  These are the words that jumped off the page and into my heart…

My mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and MEDITATE ON YOU IN THE WATCHES OF THE NIGHT; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.  My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:5b-8

This reminded again of the verse that has brought me so much comfort through mothering over the past several years in Isaiah 40.  Verse 11 says, “He will feed His flock like a shepherd.  He will carry the lambs in him arms, holding them close to his heart.  He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.”

I know that we are only two weeks into this adventure, but I can honestly say with the Lord’s help, His strength and His gentle leadership, each wake up call has been a blessing–each feeding an opportunity to show my baby the love of the Savior by holding him in my arms and close to my  heart!

Lord, help me to continue to cling to you!!  Keep me singing for joy!!

Leave a comment »

2 Peter 3:11-18 How Should I Live?

Since all these things (the heavens, the earth, and the works done on the earth) are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God… (11-12a)

Since everything I see now will be destroyed, nothing really matters except how I live.  If I really believe God’s promises that He will come again and destroy the earth and create a new earth and heavens where only righteousness exists; then I must embrace the righteousness imparted to me by Jesus and live a life worthy of His sacrifice for my righteousness.

  • I must desire to live a holy and godly life which is possible because of God’s divine power giving me all I need to do it (1:3).
  • I must earnestly long for His appearing and the fulfillment of His promises.
  • I must be diligent to maintain a pure and peaceful life.
  • I must guard the truths entrusted to me through His Word.
  • I must grow in the grace of Jesus and allow His grace to change me into His image.
  • I must grow in my knowledge of Jesus.

None of these pursuits will lose their value, can be stripped from me or destroyed.  Spending my life pursuing these things will daily testify to the power and grace of God in the life of a sinful girl like me, and prepare me to meet Christ my Righteousness face-to-face.

Leave a comment »

2 Peter 3:1-10 Knowing

This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your SINCERE MIND by way of REMINDER, that you should REMEMBER the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, KNOWING this first of all…

The Christian life is not based on feeling but on knowing!  Christians are not mindless droids or ethereal drifters.  God has made us in His image with a mind, and if we are followers of Jesus Christ several times in Scripture we are told we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16, Philippians 2:5).  The first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, MIND, and strength.  God wants us to be mentally engaged with Him and His truths.

Specifically in this portion of text, Peter is reminding his audience of the promised return of Jesus Christ.  Without being reminded of what we know to be true through the predictions of the prophets, the commandments of Christ, and the past faithfulness of God to fulfill His promises; we would be tempted to “feel” like Jesus is never coming back–like we are just drifting and living day-to-day without the promise of eternity in our hearts and minds.

Personally it is easy to forget that Jesus will return and that my purpose is to live like Him on this earth and point others to Him as long as I have breath.  Sometimes it “feels” like He will never come back and I am merely rolling towards death.

Although I don’t “deliberately overlook this fact” like “scoffers” do, it is easy to forget that an Almighty Creator set this world in motion–creating everything from the power of His command.  He is sustaining everything with the strength of His Word. And that with just one word, He will bring it all to a close.

God is the creator of time, and He holds time in His hand.  The fact is the Lord is NOT slow in keeping His promises, but He is patient.  The Lord wants all people to have an opportunity to repent and turn to Him. As long as there is breath, as long as Jesus is on His throne in Heaven–there is hope!  Time is a gift from God!

But the day of the Lord WILL COME like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (2 Peter 3:10)

Remember this my friend!  Let it give the believer and follower of Jesus Christ urgency and purpose in spreading the truth of Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation.  And let it compel the non-believer to seek the truth while there is still time.

Leave a comment »

2 Peter 2 ~ Corruption in the Church

Just as Peter was warning his audience that false teachers and false prophets would infiltrate the church and try to persuade Christ’s followers to chase after their own passions and desires, there are false teachings today in God’s church that are damaging and lead to its destruction.  People who secretly slip in and undermine the authority and validity of God’s Word.  People who teach that as long as we are happy, wealthy, and healthy then we are in God’s will.  People who promote unhealthy, immoral, and unnatural sexual desires as permissible among God’s people.  People who are only concerned with getting money from church people while promising abundance in return (“Sow a seed today.”).  And before we realize it; many of us are exploited, enticed, enslaved and entangled in deception, sensuality, lawlessness, lust, greed, and corruption.

This chapter is hemmed in with the credibility of God’s Word and the authenticity of the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the promise of His imminent return.  These are the tools we’ve been given to fight against falsehood in the church.  God has also demonstrated through Noah, that those who stay faithful and obedient to God in an immoral culture will be preserved (2:5).  He displayed through the life of Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah that those who are distressed and tormented by the godlessness surrounding them will be rescued out of corruption (2:6-8).  And there is a promise to all godly and righteous people that the Lord knows how to rescue us too (2:9).  He has planned a way of escape from the “defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2:20).”

We don’t have to be exploited, enticed, enslaved, and entangled! We can stand on truth and escape the corruption of this world by not giving in to our sinful desires, by clinging to Jesus Christ and His righteousness, by knowing His perfect Word, and by holding fast to the promise that Jesus is coming again.

Leave a comment »