- Image of jealousy
- Tammuz (a similar version of the Greek god Adonis)
- the sun
In these passages, the Lord pronounces judgment on His people for taking other gods before Him through a vision put before Ezekiel.
"...Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the room of his idols? For they say, 'The LORD does not see us, the LORD has forsaken the land.'" Ez 8:12
John wants his readers to remember the time in their history when God's people did not obey Him. They turned to other gods and did not listen to the Lord. Then, the people only showed love toward those in need with words and not with deeds.
Our actions define who we are. We can have eloquent words, but it is our actions that reveal the truth of who we are.
There is a very popular e-mail being sent around since last year about two houses: one with many rooms, bathrooms, and a lot of sq. footage that uses up alot of energy. The other is a more modest home built with great care for the environment by an evironmentalist builder.
The first house belongs to Al Gore, the so-called environmentalist with a Nobel Peace Prize and the other house belongs to Pres. Bush.
Al Gore travels the world talking up a good tale about Global Warming in which he tells people what to do.....and yet his actions reveal that he could care less about the environment and only wants to live comfortably.
Our actions reveal who we are far greater than our words.
Remember why God created: to be known because "to be is to do".
We were created in God's image, so we also do things to be known. John wants us to love in actions...in deeds....but also in TRUTH.
There are those who hear the word of God, but then the cares of the world and the strife of life causes them to forget what they have heard or even reject it. They do not produce the fruit of the Spirit.
Doing the deeds of the Lord produces fruit. The fruit of the Lord is born in truth, His truth.
Why does John want us to show love in deed and truth?
"And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him."
Again, the purpose behind this letter is that we may know that we are of the Truth. That we know for sure that we are His Children...the Children of God.
Why is it so important to John that his readers know for certain their salvation? Remember who surrounded his fellow believers: false teachers.
John knew, as we know today, how easy it is for believers to be led astray for a moment. As a good shepherd of his flock, John goes after his "little children" and brings them back to the fold in gentleness and love. His actions reveal his nature. His actions define who he is.
So should ours. We should do things for one another in love and truth. We should pray for one another always in love and truth. If we see a need, strive to fulfill that need in love and truth....as Jesus did. It is during the hard times that Christians begin to doubt. They think the Lord has forsaken them and they begin to turn to the world's gods: material things, lusts of the flesh, etc.
Many Christians tend to put down God's word during difficult times because they feel abandoned. John wants us to remember that by doing the works of the Lord, and not only saying them, we can have that assurance that will get us through those hard times. Assurance of God's presence keeps us pure. Remember how the Israelites thought the Lord had forsaken them so they did awful things in hidden rooms with other gods? But the Lord was watching them. He had not forsaken them.....and He will not forsake you.
It is during the hard times that we should believe God is who He says He is and not only in the good and plentiful times.
This is how we know we are in His fold. This is how we have that assurance of our salvation. In 1 John 3:19, the word "assure" used here translates as: "set at rest". So John is saying that by showing love for one another in deed and truth, we shall set at rest our hearts before God.
That, my friends, is what peace is all about.
"I am the vine, you are the branches, He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." John 15:5
I taught 4th grade vacation Bible school one time at our old church and at the end of one session I made a "vine" out of brown craft paper. I had each student hold onto the vine as they stood in a circle. Then I read this verse to them as they stood there to remind them that they are connected to Christ.
We are NOT the vine....He is. We are only the branches that need to be pruned from time to time. Sometimes the beautiful fruit or blooms are harshly chopped off and it seems cruel, but it only ensures more growth for the next season.
Many times we think we are the vine and Christ cannot do anything without us. We tend to see the infinite in light of the finite. We make God into our image.
But Jesus carefully puts us in our place by telling us that it is He who is the vine and we are only the branches. If we stay , remain, dwell, in Him...only then can we bear much fruit. The fruit of the Spirit that endures forever.
Take this with you today. Remain in Him and bear much fruit!
Until next time...
"All our estate of misery and sin Jesus has taken; and all that He hath He gives us as our dowry. Rejoice, believer, in your union to Him who was numbered among the transgressors; and prove that you are truly saved by being manifestly numbered with those who are new creatures in Him."
-Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) (Morning By Morning, 2005, March 30th devotion)