Putting God's Word into Practice…

1 John 3:11-15 ~ Hate

John continues the purpose of his letter–keeping fellowship with God and unity with others (1:3), having complete joy (1:4), and preventing sinful practices (2:1)– in these verses.

For this is the message that you have heard FROM THE BEGINNING, that we should LOVE ONE ANOTHER (11)

God’s standard never changes.  His command is constant.  God has been loving since the beginning, and we are called to love from the moment we become His followers, for we are to be like Him!  We are to love others sacrificially, continuously, and completely.

We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother.  And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.  Do not be surprised that THE WORLD HATES you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because WE LOVE the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. EVERYONE WHO HATES his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him (12-15).  

Hate is never from God–hate is part of this world system that we live in which is under the control of Satan.  Therefore, it is impossible for a true Christian to hate people.  If anyone hates another human being, they are not in fellowship with God.  Hate equals murder in God’s eyes.  Those who hate are murderers.  They take life from others…and take their own lives as well.

It is obvious that hate prevents love, but evil in our hearts also prevents love.  In Genesis 4 the history of Cain and Abel is recorded for our profit as readers to clearly see what type of evil deeds prevent love.  Self-righteousness, pride, jealousy, bitterness, envy, anger, lack of self-control, unforgiving, impatience, etc…  ALL SIN INTERFERES WITH TRUE LOVE!

When we don’t feel connected to God sometimes it is because we have evil in our hearts  towards someone.  Being out of fellowship with others, puts us out of fellowship with the Lord.  Today is the day to release sinful attitudes and actions towards others and let the love of God fill us afresh.  Nothing feels better than a clean heart!

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I Feel So Alive!

God is amazing!  He is patient, He is forgiving, He is love!  He is a seeking God–constantly pursuing us!  He longs to capture our hearts with His greatness and grace, but we push Him away–at least I have been.

During the month of January, I was unable to attend church because of having a newborn and living in the “polar vortex” area.  God used this time to strip back all the layers I had built up over months, maybe years, of doing full-time ministry.  He wrapped me in His love–reminding me afresh that first and foremost I am His–before being a wife, mother, pastor’s wife, blogger, women’s ministry leader, school teacher, etc…I am His daughter!  Nothing matters except resting in His grace and love and seeking daily His purpose for my life.

This past Wednesday, our women’s Bible study started watching the True Woman 2012 conference videos.  We started off with a message by Nancy Leigh DeMoss entitled, Seeking Him Together for Spiritual Awakening.  Although I was at the conference 17 months ago, and that message impacted by heart, I think it was more impacting this time.  Last time it led me to gratefulness that God never stops seeking me, this time it led me to brokenness that I so quickly give up on seeking Him.

There were several points of conviction.  One is that we are to seek the Lord intentionally. This means to clear out all distractions and CHOOSE to spend time with Jesus.  According to Jesus this is the only thing that is necessary! (1 Chronicles 22:19, Luke 10:42)  Seek Him first and everything will fall into place (Matthew 6:33).  Sometimes I get so busy serving the Lord that I am kept from seeking Him!  I think I’m seeking Him by reading my Bible every day but seeking is a matter of the heart, not a habit!

Link to message:  http://www.truewoman.com/?id=2204

Then yesterday I listened to a message also by Nancy Leigh DeMoss about pride and humility.  She offered a checklist to examine our lives for pride.  Ouch…how can I be so prideful and not even realize it!  Full disclosure: I was so convicted that I tuned out the last 10 minutes because I couldn’t take any more proofs of my pride.

Last night I heard a great message by Crawford Loritts at Moody Founder’s Week on 1 John 1:5-10, which I have just recently studied in my personal Bible reading.  Basically he talked about our response to seeing the holiness of God.  This morning as I spent time in prayer, and started responding to some discussion questions about the True Woman message for our meeting next week.  I was again overcome with conviction, and God used Pastor Loritts’ teaching last night to lead me to true repentance by confessing my sins and turning my life to walk in the Light of Christ.

At the risk of being completely vulnerable, I would like to share the conviction that led to repentance, and to freedom and joy. 1 Chronicles 16:11 says, “Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually!”

The question was posed, “How can you seek the Lord continually?”  My answer: In every circumstance, every decision, before I even start my day–humbly acknowledge that I need His direction.  (Proverbs 3:5-6)  Then it hit me like a flood–I rarely acknowledge Him.  I jump into “my” days–end up frazzled, impatient, rude, unloving, prideful, and selfish.  I waste the days He has given me by pursuing my own plans instead of seeking His, and I hurt others in the process.  God has planned every one of my days before any came to be (Psalm 139:16).  God saved me to walk in the plans He created for me (Ephesians 2:10).  Each day belongs to God and is His gift to me (Psalm 118:24).  How prideful to think otherwise!

I have wasted so many days, following my own desires and plans.  But God is a redeeming God!  And a reviving God!  In this moment I am surrendered to His will, and it feels so good! I feel so alive!  If you do nothing else today, spend some time really seeking the Lord.  He promises that He will be found by those who seek Him! (Deuteronomy 4:29, Jeremiah 29:13)

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1 John 2:28-3:10 Victory over Sin

I started studying this portion of verses sometime last week, but it wasn’t until this morning that the truths broke through the academic level into the personal areas hidden in my heart.  These verses are so rich.  I hope that you will take the time to meditate on them prayerfully yourselves–asking the Lord where you need to be purified to look more like Jesus and not just a better version of yourself.

Beloved, we are God’s children now; and what we will be has not yet appeared, but we know that WHEN he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. AND EVERYONE WHO THUS HOPES IN HIM PURIFIES HIMSELF AS HE IS PURE. (3:2-3)

Not only do we have the present blessings associated with being God’s children, but we also have a future hope.  We will see our Savior face-to-face!  While on earth, one of our purposes is to see and know Jesus more and more and grow to look more like Him.  My sons are vastly spread out in age.  The oldest one–the one who has seen, experienced, and watched his dad the longest–is the most impacted by his character and subsequently has a high regard for him, desiring to emulate his qualities.  So it should be for those of us who have been redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus’ blood shed on the cross for our sins.  The purity of Christ should be attractive to His followers–so much so that we want to be like Him.

So many Christians seem to want to be as close to the world and sin as they can instead of pursuing purity.  Jesus came and died to slay impurity.  Being pure like Christ is a heart issue.  Purity, righteousness and holiness should be the aim of a Christ-followers.  When that is the focus, all other pursuits will fall into place.

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.  YOU KNOW THAT HE APPEARED TO TAKE AWAY SIN, AND IN HIM THERE IS NO SIN. NO ONE WHO ABIDES IN HIM KEEPS ON SINNING; NO ONE WHO KEEPS ON SINNING HAS EITHER SEEN HIM OR KNOWN HIM. Little children let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.  Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.  THE REASON THE SON OF GOD APPEARED WAS TO DESTROY THE WORKS OF THE DEVIL

This text lists two very important reasons why Jesus came to earth:  to take away sins and to destroy the works of the devil.  He accomplished that purpose when he breathed out, “It is finished,” on the cross and rose from the grave three days later.  Verse two tells us that Jesus will appear again to accomplish a two-fold plan:  the full redemption of believers and ultimate destruction of the devil (Revelation 20:10).

These verses also give us some great truths to overcoming the practice of sin in our lives–you know those sins we just can’t seem to give up–anxiety, anger, addictions, people pleasing, greed, jealousy, gossip, lying, bitterness, etc… 1) Abiding in Christ–relying on Him as source of everything we need for living a godly life (2 Peter 1:3).  When He is our comfort, we won’t turn to other things.  When He satisfies we don’t need anything else.  When we realize the grace and forgiveness we have been given, we can freely give it to others in place of anger, judgment and bitterness.  When we trust Him to meet our needs, we won’t have to worry about anything.  When we truly experience His love and rest in it, it will flow out of us into a hurting and broken world. 2) See and know Jesus–the more we see His works, power, beauty and glory around us, the more prone we are to want to be like Him.  The more we know His character and ways, the more we will change into His likeness.

No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: WHOEVER DOES NOT PRACTICE RIGHTEOUSNESS IS NOT OF GOD, NOR IS THE ONE WHO DOES NOT LOVE HIS BROTHER. (3:4-10)

When I was “born again” into the family of God, He put His DNA in me so to speak.  Practicing sin is completely contrary to His intrinsic character. The same righteousness and love that defines God is the aim of His children as well.

Lord, help me never to be content with where I am spiritually–help my only aim to be more like Jesus until I see Him face-to-face.  Show me what it looks like to abide in Christ.  Make me aware of you in the world around me, and give me a desire to know You more.  Help me to love like You love–selflessly and sacrificially.  Show me all the areas of my life that need purified now…

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