Putting God's Word into Practice…

1 John 5:4-5 ~ Gold Medal Day!

For EVERYONE who has been born of God OVERCOMES THE WORLD. And this is the VICTORY that has OVERCOME THE WORLD–our faith. Who is it that OVERCOMES THE WORLD except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?  (1 John 5:4-5)

Whether over an addiction or besetting sin, over the numbers on the scale, over our children’s strong wills, over a certain fear, we all want to overcome–conquer, triumph–something!  Victory is a beautiful thing! I remember vividly the day I received a first place medal in my age group for a 5k. Even though I tied my good friend and we had to share the medal, a victory is a victory, and victory is sweet! God’s plan for His children is far greater than overcoming small things and getting victory in a competition.  In Him, we overcome the world!  (This world’s system that is dominated by Satan, sin, sickness, sadness, and death.)

Who is it that overcomes the world?  EVERYONE who is born of God.  What does it mean to be born of God?  How do we know if we are born of God?  1 John 5:1 and 5:5 say that everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ–the Savior of the world–and that He is the Son of God is born of God.  1 John 3:9 says, “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.”  Those who have been born of God, hate sin and don’t want to do it.  Finally, according to 1 John 4:7, those born of God are also people who are filled with and givers of His love.

Why would we want to overcome the world?

  • Jesus said, “Take heart I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  We want to overcome the world, because our Savior overcame the world, and we want to be like Him.
  • Galatians 1:4 says, “Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.” Our ability to overcome the world cost Jesus His life, and we should never take advantage of that sacrifice.
  • We know that the world is not our home.  Jesus said in John 17:16, “They are not of this world, just as I am not of this world.” Paul echoes that in Hebrews 13:14, “For this world is not our permanent home: we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”  This world should make us uncomfortable–like staying with a stranger in a hotel room–which should give us the desire to overcome it.
  • The world system is set up in direct opposition to God’s system and it won’t last.  Matthew Henry said about those born of God, “He must be well satisfied that this world is a vehement enemy to his soul, to his holiness, his salvation, and his blessedness.” To want to overcome the world, we must see it as our adversary, because it is run by our Adversary.  1 John 2:16-17 says, “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.”

What gives us victory over the world?  Our great strength, our good deeds, our stamina and willpower–no way!  It is only by faith in Jesus Christ and His power!  Our initial faith in Jesus gives us eternal victory over this world.  Our infinite inheritance is a pain-free, sin free, Satan free, sickness free, death free world where God alone rules and reigns. But wait, there’s more!  Our daily faith in Jesus Christ gives us daily victories over sin.  Ephesians 6:16 says, “In ALL circumstances take up the shield of FAITH, with which you can extinguish ALL the flaming darts of the evil one.”  Faith gives us victory over sin which in turn maintains our fellowship with the Lord and gives us complete joy!  Victories are worth celebrating!

I will probably never win an Olympic gold medal, or maybe never another medal at all, but by faith my life can be one victory after another until the final victory when I cross the finish line of this life and enter my eternal home!  Every day can be a “gold medal day!”

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Love Much

My family was up for the day, and I knew my time in God’s Word would be brief and riddled with potential distractions.  I sent a quick prayer out to God to speak to my heart even in the short time I would have to read and process His Word.  God heard my prayer and answered!  He is so good!

Instead of following my current journey through the New Testament, I thought it would be quicker to work on my ladies’ Bible study questions.  This past week we were supposed to read several different passages that show Jesus as a “Liberator of Women.”  I had heard the stories before, and I actually contemplated skipping the reading and just answering the questions.  But I felt the Spirit prompt my heart to read them.

I read about the “sinful” woman in Luke 7:36-50.  When I got to verse 47 and read, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven–for she loved much.  But he who is forgiven little, loves little,” it hit me like a ton of bricks!  When I forget how much I have been forgiven; my ability and desire to love is impeded. (Since I have been learning so much about love from 1 John, I think it’s super cool that God would let me keep learning about love even in Luke 7!)

After following Christ for so long, it is easy to forget where I was when He found me!  This forgetting how much I’ve been forgiven often interferes with how much love I think others “deserve” from me.  I had to quickly sneak off by myself to confess my self-righteousness to the Lord so that I could show His love to others more abundantly and selflessly.  Forgetting how much I’ve been forgiven also limits my love for Him–and causes me to take my salvation from sin and death for granted.  Realizing afresh what He saved me from and how low He had to reach to get ahold of my life is humbling and awakens new love for Him!

Looking back at my notes from the ladies’ Bible study, I realized I was supposed to read Luke 7:11-17!  It is so awesome that God knows me personally and intimately!  When I surrendered my heart, mind and ears to Him asking for Him to speak, His Spirit led me to the “wrong” passage because He knew I needed to hear Luke 7:47!

So in summary:  1) God hears and answers our prayers, 2) God loves us intimately, 3) God knows exactly what we need and uses His Spirit to re-route our plans, 4) God has forgiven me of so much, that I must love Him and others much!

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1 John 5:2-3 ~ No Burdens

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. AND HIS COMMANDMENTS ARE NOT BURDENSOME.

John’s goal in writing this letter was to pave the way for Christ followers to live in fellowship with God, unity with each other, have complete joy, and avoid sin.  All these are met in obedience that flows out of love!

God’s commands are not burdensome–they don’t weigh us down; they lift us up!  The times I have felt the most joy and peace have been when I did things God’s way!  For example:

  • Exercising self-control vs. losing control–of my mouth, emotions, eating, etc…
  • Being protected by peace vs. worry/anxiety
  • Speaking encouraging uplifting words vs. negative, critical words/gossip
  • Practicing patience vs. anger
  • Letting love replace bitterness
  • Forgiving and apologizing rather than holding a grudge
  • Freely offering grace vs. being judgmental and self-righteous
  • Being generous instead of greedy
  • Recognizing my children as blessings not burdens
  • Yielding to leadership instead of being a control freak

These are all mini-commandments and come under the big umbrella commandment of “love.”  When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:34-40)

Neither loving the Lord wholeheartedly nor loving others unselfishly should ever feel like a burden.  If it does, it is not love, merely duty!  I had that happen this week.  Something came up, and I knew what the loving action would be, but I didn’t want to do it.  I did the action, but underneath was a sinful heart–and guess what?  The action felt like a burden–therefore, I know it was not done out of love!

God’s commandments are unchanging, and our obedience is required.  How we choose to view His commands and our obedience is up to us.  Will we let His commands bring us fellowship, joy, and freedom?  Or will we treat them like heavy, oppressive burdens that interfere with living “our” lives?



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Thanking Henry

It was 4:12 a.m. when I heard the piercing cry that overpowered the sound of our furnace and humidifier.  I shouldn’t have been surprised.  This has been going on around the same time–give or take–for eight weeks now.  It is the desperate cry of a hungry baby.  The cry of a baby in need of care, sustenance, and nurturing.

I prepared his bottle, changed his diaper and started the feeding/burping process.  His eyes were fixed on mine, like I was the only one in the world.  I guess in his world at that moment, I was!  He almost looked grateful.  As I took in the perfection of his face and the miracle of his existence I was overwhelmed with gratitude–to him! I thanked him for waking me up in the middle of the night so I could have extra time with him. The days get so busy with taking care of my house, my husband, our other boys, homeschooling, and church responsibilities that early morning feedings become a special time between just the two of us.

When I tucked him back in and crawled into bed, I couldn’t help but to think about how God must feel when I get up early to spend time with Him–when I’m so hungry for spiritual food that nothing else matters; when I put my full trust in Him for care, nourishment and sustenance; when I fix my gaze on Him with gratitude that He would take time for me with everything else that is going on in the world.

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1 John 5:1 ~ SURPRISE! More About Love <3

EVERYONE who believes that Jesus is THE Christ has been born of God, 1 John 5:1a

EVERYONE who believes becomes a child of God!  That’s equality–founded by God Himself!  But, believes what???  One must believe that Jesus is THE CHRIST–the Messiah, the Savior–the ONLY ONE!  Acts 4:12 says, “And there is salvation in NO ONE ELSE, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved!”  Jesus and Jesus alone is sufficient to save EVERYONE!  God’s plan for salvation is plain and simple, but in pride many complicate or reject it all together.  To those who believe, we are given the privilege of being called a son or daughter of God!

and EVERYONE who loves the Father loves WHOEVER has been born of Him. 1 John 5:1b

Love is the numero uno qualifier for a Christian!  Because it is impossible to love like Christ and sin at the same time (Matt. 22:40, Galatians 5:14); love leads to holiness–which is to be another great attribute of the Christian’s life (1 Peter 1:15-16).  As a sidenote, we must be careful not to confuse holy living with righteousness.  Righteousness cannot be earned by behavior, but only given by Jesus when we believe in Him as our Savior (Jeremiah 23:6, Isaiah 61:10, Ephesians 2:8-9).

What keeps us from loving others is not understanding our salvation.  Pride and self-righteousness are two of the greatest hindrances to love! When we came to the cross of Jesus for forgiveness it was in humility and repentance over the weight of our sins.  When we move forward from that point, it is in the grace of God.  It is only by His mercy and grace that we can stand.  When we forget that, it changes the way we view ourselves and others.  We forget that we are equals in God’s kingdom, and our ability to love others is road-blocked.

Look around your church or Bible study group, your family, your neighborhood, your school, your workplace–there is not one believer in attendance who is not also your brother/sister in Christ, who you are not required to love.  And since it is impossible to know the hearts of people and judge their salvation–go ahead and love them all!  You might have a mansion next to them for eternity!

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1 John 4 ~ Marks of a Christian

This chapter points out three marks that characterize someone who calls themselves a Christian.  1) They have the ability to discern truth from a lie due to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. 2)  They confess that Jesus is God’s Son and the Savior of the world.  3) They love others like Jesus loves us.

Verses 1-6, 13.  Indwelling Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit affects our speech.  How we speaks shows if we are filled with the Holy Spirit or not.  People filled with the Spirit, don’t speak in a way that makes sense to the world.  The power of the Holy Spirit also gives us the ability to discern if others are speaking truth or lies.  The indwelling Spirit is more powerful than anything we face externally from the world.  He gives us victory over the lies of Satan and over worldly influences.

Verses 14-15.  Confession about Christ.  What we believe and confess about Jesus Christ shows whether or not we understand the good news and can truly be called by His name.  We must believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  He is not just a prophet, a teacher, a moral man–He is God’s perfect Son!  He is not just one way for people to believe and get to Heaven–He is the ONLY way to the Father!  God sent Jesus to be the Savior of the world.  Only Jesus can save from sin, death and hell.  If someone calls themselves a Christian and speaks anything other than these truths, they are not a Christian. And according to verse three they have the spirit of the antichrist in them, not the Holy Spirit of God.

Verses 7-12, 16-21.  Love one another.  God is love, and He is the giver of love.  He showed His love by sending Jesus to give us life (not to give us rules to follow or guilt), and to be the sacrifice to take away our sins (not take away our fun).  God loved us first.  We didn’t earn it–nor can we.  We didn’t love Him first or ask Him to love us.  He is love, and He gives love.  Therefore, it is impossible to know God and be unloving.  If God abides in us, so does His love!  It is also impossible to keep the first commandment to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength without keeping the second commandment to love others!

“And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.” (1 John 4:17)  How do we live and love like the Lord?

  • We love first!  No one should have to earn our love or behave in a lovable way to keep it!
  • We love in a way that gives life to others.
  • We sacrifice ourselves and give grace freely to others.

Christian means “little Christ.”  If we don’t love people we are not like Jesus at all and make a mockery of the title “Christian.” Christian is not merely a title–it is a way of life!

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