Sunday, March 30, 2008

The First Epistle of John: Lesson Thirty-Nine

"But he who received seed on the good

ground is he who hears

the word and understands it,

who indeed bears fruit and produces:

some a hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty."

Matt 13:23


Let's begin with prayer...

Father God, thank You so very much for the gift that is Your word. I come before You today to say how grateful I am that we are now part of Your family. That You call us children of God. Thank You that You have given us exceedingly great and precious promises and that through these we may be partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:3).

I seek the forgiveness of my sins this day because I so desperately want and need to hear from You today. I pray that You will wash me, purge me, and cleanse me with Your precious blood. I pray that You will restore me and use me.

I lift up each lady reading this study in hopes that You will reach her where she is today. I pray that as she reads about showing love for the brethren, that You will speak to her heart. I pray that You will walk alongside her and give her peace. I pray that she will call out to You and cast all her cares on You.

In Jesus' name...amen."


The Outworking of Love

As we continue our look into the outworking of our love for one another, we will take a look at how the people of God did not show their love in deed and truth, but only in their words.

1 John 3:18-19-

"My little children, let us not love in word and tongue, but in deed and truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him."

John reminds his readers that they are not to be like the people of God in the past: only loving in words and not in deeds. He reminds them that by loving one another, this assures our hearts that we truly belong to the Lord.

More assurance of our salvation! John's purpose for this entire book is that we may KNOW that we have eternal life....that we may know who is a who is NOT a Christian.

Please read:

Ez 8:1-18

Here we have in the Book of Ezekiel an excellent example of how God's people have turned aside from the things of the Lord and worshiped other things:

  • Image of jealousy

  • beasts

  • 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

Please read:

Ez 33:31

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 deeds....but also in TRUTH.

Please read:

Matt 13:22

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.

Matt 13:23

John 15:5

Phil 1:9-11

Col 1:5-6

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 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.


Life Application

"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)



Thursday, March 27, 2008

The First Epistle of John: Lesson Thirty-Eight

"If there is among you a poor man

of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land

which the LORD your God is giving you, you

shall not harden your heart nor shut

your hand from your poor brother, but you

shall open your hand wide to him

and willingly lend him

sufficient for his need, whatever he needs."

Deut. 15:7-8


Hello again, let's begin with prayer....

"Father, thank You today for considering the poor. For remembering them when we do not. Thank You that You condescended unto us when we were still sinners and saved us. Thank You that You are a benevolent God of love and mercy. Help us to fully obey Your voice and only Your voice.

I seek forgiveness of my sins. I know I often forget the poor among the brethren. I pray that You will renew a clean heart in me. Give me a heart like Yours. I pray for the Holy Spirit to fill me to overflowing.

I lift up each lady reading this study. I pray that You will meet her where she is and speak to her heart. I pray that You will remind her of who she is: a Child of God. I pray that when she reads Your word, she will find peace and comfort there. I pray that You will bless her with every spiritual blessing.

In Jesus' name....amen."


The Outworking of Love

As we continue to look at what it means to show our love to others, we read in our opening verses how the Lord, in compassion, allowed a law to care for the poor among His people....knowing that they would not help the poor without a law.

1 John 3:17-

"But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?"

God's love is revealed through us, His children.

Please read:

Ex 23:6

Lev 25:35-37

Deut 24: 12-14

The Lord tells us in His word that we will be blessed if we obey this law. "It shall be righeousness to you before the LORD your God."

How incredible is that?

Ps 9:18

God gives special attention to the cries of the oppressed.

Ps 12:5

Ps 72:4

The Bible doesn't tell us that there is merit in being poor, but instead it tells us that there is merit in considering the poor and needy.

Ps 41:1

Ps 74:21

Prov 31:9

Ez 18:12

Poor and needy is often found with the word "oppressed" in scripture. Sometimes it means literal poverty, but sometimes it is figuratively speaking.

Ps 40:17

Ps 86:1

The Lord isn't saying that all believers should strive to be poor and needy. John isn't saying that either. But what the Lord wants us to know is that when we see a brother in need and we refuse to help, then how can we say we have God's love abiding in us?

Last time we looked at what it means to lay down one's life for another. What John wants us to know is that the extreme act of dying for one another may not be the calling the Lord has chosen for us. Instead, perhaps we were called to give of ourselves to help those in need.

Material assistance is one way to help, but there are many other ways to help a brother in need. Just being there to hear someone talk is a great help, especially to those who are shut in and do not have regular visitors. Sitting with them and listening is a great comfort. Remember the Virtuous Woman of Prov 31? No matter how busy she was, she still took time to consider the poor among her town.

The Lord showed us love when we were His John reminds us to go and do the same to fellow believers. Ladies, that is how we show the love of Christ. That is how we know we are Children of God.

Life Application
Please read:
Jer 22:15-17
Here the Lord God is reprimanding His people for not knowing the Lord. He defended the cause of the poor and needy before them and yet all the people could care about was their own houses and their own covetousness.
Sound familiar?
I remember well the last church group we used to meet with on Sundays back at our old church. We were all "yuppies" with young children, but Scott and I never really felt like we fit in because we were struggling financially and all the other couples were having huge houses built and more children all while the wives stayed home with the children.
Scott and I were really beginning to walk with the Lord back then and He gave us a heart for helping others. One day we suggested our church group pull together and collect meals to deliver to the homeless. We volunteered to collect the meals and deliver them if each family brought by a meal, like McDonalds or something.
Not one couple agreed to help out. One couple asked, "Can't we just write you a check?" because Saturdays were their busiest day with the kids in soccer and baseball. The rest of the couples did not respond or if they did, it was negatively. Now, I know helping out the homeless doesn't appeal to some people. That is why we volunteered to take the meals and deliver them ourselves. I worked downtown, so I was used to seeing the homeless all the time. But they are obnoxious to some people.
Needless to say, no meals were delivered that Saturday. And we soon left that church group. They were too deep in their covetousness to see how the Lord wanted to use them for His good.
Scott and I learned from that lesson. He has since taken Nathan to hand out meals at the homeless shelter and I have helped out women who have left prison. And we have seen how the Lord has blessed us through the hard times we have had and the good times.
It may be a sacrifice to help those in need....time, money, attention.....but it is worth it to hear the Lord say:
"Was not this knowing Me?"
Until next time....
"True love seeks what is best for the other person, which is, ultimately, eternal life. The Lord Jesus forfeited his own life so that unlovable sinners could have eternal life. He deliberately chose to love them. He wanted the best for those who were obnoxious to him."
-Dr. Joel Beeke (The Epistles of John, 2006, p. 137)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The First Epistle of John: Lesson Thirty-Seven

"For God so loved

the world that He

gave His only begotten Son,

that whosoever believes in Him

should not perish but have everlasting life."

John 3:16


Let's begin with prayer:

"Holy Father God, today as we look more into what true love is, help us to remember Your sacrifice: Your only Son. Open our hearts and our eyes to Your truths. Fill us with the knowledge of Your will for our lives as we read Your word today. Give us a passion for Your word. Help us to know more of Your love as we study today.

I seek forgiveness of my sins today, Lord. I pray that You will wash me clean, purge me with Your hyssop, and fill me with Your holy spirit this day. I pray that You will guard my tongue and keep me from causing harm to those around me.

I lift up each woman reading this study. I pray that You will walk with her today and reveal more of Your attributes to her. I pray that You will fill her with Your knowledge and understanding and most of all with Your love for her. Show her Your love manifested today through Your word that she would be encouraged. Give her hope today, Lord.

In Jesus' name....amen."


The Outworking of Love

Now that we have spent some time looking at sin and what it does to the Christian mind and heart, we will shift our focus on love because that's is what John does here in these next verses:

1 John 3:16-

"By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."

In our opening verse, we see that it is God who shows us what true love is: the giving of His Son for us that we might have eternal life. John wants his readers to be reminded of this fact, so he retells of the sacrifice of Jesus at the cross. Something that we Christians need to remember is that Jesus gave us the ultimate example of what love is and how Christians are suppose to love: selflessly and sacrificially.

Please read:

Rom 5:8

John 15:13

In the church today, we believers are to show love as the early church showed it to one another:

Acts 2:40-47

Recently, a young woman at our church needed someone to help watch her children because she had a doctors appointment. I gladly raised my hand to volunteer for this duty because I know my mother-in-law gave up her time to watch my son many many times when I needed, to show my love for the brethren, I helped out this young mother. And it was such a blessing to be with those two little ones!! I gave of my time because someone gave of their time for me.

Now I know that one day, this young mother will be older and she will gladly volunteer her time to help out a young mother as well only because she was once helped. This love for one another is passed down. Only the Holy Spirit can do this and it is powerful love manifested indeed.

I would love to say I feel this way about the brethren all the time....but I cannot. Many Christians can attest to feeling "burned out" when it comes to serving the Lord and the love they once had for the brethren is fading.

1 Pet 5:6-7

This verse reminds us that when we are feeling low and unloving....we are to take it to the cross of Jesus Christ and cast all your cares upon Him. This is when we should pray and ask the Lord to renew that passion and love for the brethren inside us once again.

Matt 7:8-12

Keep asking! The Holy Spirit will renew that love within you once again. Then take that love and manifest it in your works.


John 10:11

Remember why Jesus came: to destroy the works of the devil. He is the one who robs the sheep...but Jesus is the Good Shepherd who willingly lays down His life for the sheep. When you feel that the devil is at work and robbing you of your love, that is when God's word can bring you back to the fold.

John 10:27-30

We were given to Jesus by God. He owns us! Ladies, He is the faithful and true Shepherd. He never grows weary or tired. He conquered death for us that we might have that eternal life.

My son recently read the book, Lone Survivor, about the Navy SEAL team that lost many lives in Afghanistan a couple of years ago. It was the worst loss suffered by the SEALs in their history. The book was written by the lone survivor of the mission and in it he tells the harrowing tale of how his 4 man team held off over 200 Taliban fighters for several hours even after each SEAL team member had been wounded, some near fatal. The fight continued after the team fell down a mountain and was barricaded. Finally, one member willingly gave up his life to ensure the safety of his fellow SEAL teammates. The writer chillingly writes about the battle and the sacrifice of each man.

Another story was recently told about another Navy SEAL who saved his men's lives when a grenade was tossed into their room by an insurgent. This SEAL leader jumped on the grenade and shielded his teammates with his body.

The both these SEAL heroes were recently awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by Pres. Bush. Their sacrifices were felt by all who knew them.

In war, these sacrifices are often heard of: men laying down their lives that their friends might live. The thought is hard to ponder, but we must. For this is the example that Jesus gives us. This is the example of the love we are to have for one another. This is the message John wants us to have with us: be willing to lay down your life for the brethren.


Life Application

I think John 3:16 is probably the verse that most Christians have memorized simply because it is so often quoted. But I think the best reason to memorize this verse is to remind us what love truly is.

There are so many kinds of love: love for family, friends, children, pets, ice cream, movies, etc. But how many of us have experienced true love?

When Christ claims us, we are given a glimpse into that love of the Father Jesus spoke of in the Book of John:

John 17:6-17

Jesus claims these men as His own given to Him by the Father. He lifts them up in prayer to the Father.

Then, He prays for you and I: future believers....

John 17:20-26

He asks that the glory God gave Him will be given to us! He says that God has loved us as He loved Jesus, His Son...and He loved Jesus before the foundations of the world! Jesus has asked that His Father love you as He loved Jesus. Now that's love!

Now that this love has been given to us, who are we to hide it and keep it to ourselves? We are to share it....that the world may believe that the Father sent Jesus.



Until next time....

"Christian love does not wait for others to do something for us and to us, but reaches out to others in need. Christian love offers its all for the good of those we love...if we are not showing the love of God in our homes, we are telling our children every time the Word of God is preached, 'Do not believe it.'"

-Dr. Joel Beeke (The Epistles of John, 2006, p. 138)



Monday, March 24, 2008

The First Epistle of John: Lesson Thirty-Six

"But I say to you,

love your enemies, bless those who curse you,

do good to those who hate you,

and pray for those who spitefully use you

and persecute you,

that you may be sons of your

Father in heaven;

for He makes

His sun rise on the evil and on the good,

and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."

Matt. 5: 44-45


Happy Monday! Let's seek the Lord together....

"Holy Father above...I come before You this day to give You all glory and praise. Thank You for reminding us with Your words that we are to love our enemies even though they swear against us and hate us as they hated You. I pray that You will give me a heart like Yours so that I can love my enemies as You do. Thank You that You provide the sun and rain for us even though we do not deserve it.

I seek forgiveness of my sins because I know that when I sin, I am an enemy of God. I do not want to be an enemy of Yours any longer, Lord. I pray that You will cleanse me, renew in me a clean pure heart like Yours. Help me to practice righteousness as You are righteous.

I life up to you each lady reading this study today. I pray that she will stay in Your word daily. I pray that You will go to her where she is and encourage her spiritually that anything she is dealing with today she will feel Your presence with her. I pray that she will glorify You today with her actions and her words.

In Jesus' name...amen."


As Christians, we are commanded to love one another by none other than God Himself. He willingly gave us the prime example of how to love those around us when He walked this earth for 33 years. There is no greater example for Christians to follow than Christ's.

Commanded to Love

Why do you think it is that Jesus actually had to command people to love one another? Yes, it is because we wouldn't do it otherwise!

1 John 3:14-15

"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."

The example of love Jesus gave us is in not only His words, but His deeds.

Please read:

John 4:34-38

Matt 9:35-38

Jesus not only healed people, but He had great compassion for them as He saw them. He, and He alone, could have judged them harshly for their sins....He could have judged all inhabitants of the world for ruining His creation with sin. But here we read that He was "moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered like sheep having no shepherd". How much love is there for us to live by??

But instead of feeling love, the Christian feels hatred. Why? Sin remains.

We learned from the last lesson what hatred looks like and what it does: it kills. Cain murdered his brother because he had no love for him. As Christians, we are not to immulate Cain, but Jesus instead. That is what John is telling his readers: Study how Christ loved, abide in that love, and love the brethren.

He tells us throughout this book that we can know we are Christians by our obedience to God's commands and our love for the brethren.
" murderer has eternal life abiding in him."
One thing we know from studying John's first letter is that he is not one to mince words. He comes straight to the point more often than not! Here he is being as blunt as ever: no murderer as eternal life abiding in him. So, we know that murderer begins with hatred in the heart...
Matt 5:21-22
Gal 5:19-21
That is why God has to command us to love, because it is not in our nature to love one another. How sad is that? It is only the Holy Spirit that can change our hearts and make us love one another.
Eph 2:1-5
Non-believers can know we are Christians by our love for the brethren and for them. We are partakers of life now...not others around us should be able to see that life in us, that LOVE for one another should be made manifest so it can give hope to the hopeless.
We know what love is by the example that Christ gave us: He laid down His life for us. He gave up His throne to walk among the people as a lowly servant. He walked away from Paradise to suffer a horrible gruesome death of shame on the cross.
1 John 4:10-11
Luke 23:34
Eph 5:25
We are to love the way Christ loved: wholeheartedly and without holding back. This we cannot do if we do not have Christ abiding in us.
It is not enough just to believe...
James 2:19
But we are to have love like Christ did too. Then, and only then, can we do the works of the Lord.
Life Application
In our opening verses we read how we are to love those who hate us, as Christ did, because the Lord God has grace upon even His enemies in that the sun shines on them and the rain falls on their land too.
Who are we to deny anyone love when God Himself does not? We can learn alot about the grace of God. It says so much about who He is. And if we say we love Him, and carry hatred around in our hearts....that makes us liars.
Ps 84:11-12
Zech 12:10
Luke 2:40
John 1:17
Rom 5:17
2 Cor 8:9
2 Cor 12:9
Eph 2:8
Heb 12:28
James 4:6
2 Pet 3:18
We read in God's word that Jesus is the Grace that God gives to all of us, that if we have been given that grace, then we should bestow grace on others. Who are we to withhold it?
Take time today to really study what love is....Love for your children, husband, family, friends, and fellow believers. You will see the many different kinds of love there are. Then, dwell on the love you have for Jesus and how it transcends all other loves. Meditate on His love for you today. Take it with you where ever you go today. That way others will see that you have been with Jesus....and He will be glorified.
Until next time....
"He never in any act gave so great a manifestation of love to God, and yet never so manifested His love to those who were enemies to God, as in that act. Christ never did anything whereby His love to the Father was so eminently manifested in His laying down His life under such inexpressible sufferings in obedience to God's command, and for the vindication of the honor of His authority and majesty; nor did ever any mere creature give such a testimony of love to God as that was...the greatness of Christ's love to such appears in nothing so much as in its being dying love. That blood of Christ which fell in great drops to the ground in His agony was shed from love to God's enemies and His own."
-Jonathan Edwards (1703- 1758) (Altogether Lovely, 1997, pp 35-36)

Friday, March 21, 2008

The First Epistle of John: Lesson Thirty-Five

"If the world hates you,

you know that it hated Me

before it hated you. If

you were of the world,

the world would love its own. Yet

because you were not of the world,

but I chose you out of the world,

therefore the world hates you."

John 15:18-19


Let's seek the Lord together on this Good Friday....

"Holy Father in heaven, on this special day of remembrance, I pray that You will be with us today during our study time. I pray that You will show us more about You in Your word that we may become more like Jesus. Thank You for the living hope in Christ's resurrection. Thank You for conquering death once and for all and giving us an inheritance made of the incorruptible and eternal. It is only because of You that we live today and have that eternal hope of tomorrow.

I seek the forgiveness of my sins, Lord, because I know it is my sin that put You on that cross so long ago. I pray for washing and cleansing today so that I may hear from You during my study time. I pray that You will be blessed and glorified this Resurrection weekend.

I lift up each ladyreading this study today. I pray that You will show her more about Your attributes in Your word today. I pray that You will speak to her as she reads Your word. Go to her and encourage her today, Lord. But most of all, cause her to remember who You are and what You did for her this day in time that she may know that she has eternal life.

In Jesus' name....amen."


Last lesson we looked more at how the children of God and the children of the devil are manifested: through obedience and love for the brethren.

In this lesson, we will look at what love and hatred has done to the Lord's creation....

1 John 3:12-13

"Not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother's righteous. Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you."

We have learned about sin and its origin and about love, now we will look at hatred.

Please read:

Gen 4:1-5

We are introduced to Adam's children here in these verses. Adam and Even taught their sons to honor the Lord (in the Hebrew, "offering" meant tribute) with their firstfruits.

Deut 26:1-11

1 Sam 10:27

1 Kings 4:21

Adam and Eve could have hated the Lord and resented Him for what He did to them. They were cast out of paradise, after all, and forced to till the hardened ground for food. Before, in the Garden, their bodies knew no death or decay. No blemish or defect was found on their perfect sinless bodies. Now, as they worked in the hot sun day after day bent over tilling the dry dirt making it ready for planting, just imagine how their bodies looked. They had it all in paradise. All the food they wanted was before them. They walked and spoke with the Lord!

And yet, after all they suffered and lost because of their disobedience to the Lord, they did not hate God. They could have shaken their fists at Him and cursed Him, but they did not. They could have yelled at Him for being unfair and unjust, but they did not.

Instead, they taught their sons to honor the Lord. What a humbling portrait this first couple is for us believers. We could learn alot from their example.

Now, let's take a look their two sons.....

Cain, the firstborn, was named after the word acquire because Eve said she had acquired him of the Lord.

1 Cor 11:8-12

Man came from God, woman from man...and now man comes through woman.....but all things come from God.

Being the firstborn, perhaps we can deduce that Cain had more responsibilities. His job was "tiller of the ground" and since they were now in the dry desert lands that we now call Iraq, I am sure his work was very hard and trying. He had to know the times of year and gauge the weather to make sure the harvest would survive. He had to know when to harvest so that no crops were lost or wasted. His family depended on food now for life. His job was very important.

Gen 1:26-31

The Lord had given everything to Adam and Eve so that they had dominion over all creation. But now since sin had tainted everything, that dominion would be harder to maintain.

"Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel...."

The name Abel means vapor, breath or nothing.

James 4 :13-14

Perhaps Eve had a premonition about her son's future....we'll never know. But his name does gives us a foreshadowing of what is to come.

Abel was "a keeper of sheep". The way this is phrased could imply that there were more people on the earth and Abel was just one of the keepers of the sheep. But we don't know. It is assumed there were no other people on earth at this time.

Abel, being the younger, was a shepherd. His job was a bit more noble than Cain's in that Abel would do whatever it took to protect the sheep from the beasts of the field. He would have to be out and away for hours at a time alone with the sheep as they would graze in the fields rather than helping at home. Did this cause resentment for Cain?

"And in the process of time...."

Translated, this phrase means: at the end of days. What an interesting phrase isn't it? The two young brothers brought their offerings, trubutes, to the Lord:

Gen 4:3-7

The anger shown here resembles the jealousy Satan has over Jesus.

Num 18:12-17

Lev 3:16

Heb 11:4

We can see here that pre-Law, the boys were taught by their parents to bring the best of what they had to the Lord. Perhaps because Cain brought only the firstfruits of the ground and Abel brought the firstborn and of their fat this caused resentment and frustration for Cain.

But we do know that the Lord knows the heart of His own creation. We do know that the Lord sees what is on the inside of a man.

1 Sam 16:7

"Now Cain talked with Abel his brother...."

It makes you wonder what they talked about, this being their last conversation.

Gen 4:8-10

"...The voice of your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground."

That verse raises the hairs on my arm everytime I read it. As a former bailiff in the courts, I saw many crime scene photos filled with blood. Color photos showing the shocking red blood spilt out on the street or floor of the murder scene were always a shock to my eyes. I remember one from a murder in Mesa in which a librarian was killed in the library. She was stabbed several times with a large knife. The photos showed a large pool of blood surrounding her still, lifeless body. That was way back in 1993 and I can still see the image in my head.

If seeing the blood spilt is shocking, I can only imagine what the voice of that blood crying out to God sounds like.

The hatred for God's own is a strong powerful hatred indeed. So powerful, that it made brother rise up against brother. After the Fall of man, hatred became the central theme of the world's history beginning with Cain and Abel. Perhaps John reminds his readers here in chapter 3 because they knew that story from their youths. He needed them to remember it because the world would now hate them as much as Cain hated his brother.

John 15: 18-19

Jesus tells us that we will be hated because the world hated Him. And why will they hate us? The same reason Cain hated Abel: his works were evil and his brother's righteous.

John 3:19

John 8:37

Jesus was hated because His works fulfilled the Law and made the works of man look futile. The Pharisees and Saducees could not have this. They survived off of their appearance before men. If that appearance was revealed to be false....then how would they survive? So they had to destroy that which was revealing their evil works. They had to turn out the Light.

Ladies, we are hated in this world if the world sees Jesus in us. If the world does not see Jesus, then they will not hate is that simple. We need to remember John's inspired words:

"Do not marvel, brethren, if the world hates you."

The time is coming when we will suffer for Jesus' sake. Are we ready for it? Could we truly stand before our enemies and not deny Christ? Could we really suffer death at the hands of our enemies for Christ's sake? What about our children? Could we stand and watch them die simply because we would not recant Jesus' name? Ladies, this is happening now to Christians as we speak. Are we ready for it? Do we truly believe Jesus is who He says He is? Is our fidelity to our King ready to be tested? The day is coming.....

1 John 2:15-17

We are called out from this world.....we have to hate this world.......we have to be ready to let it go at any time........for Jesus' sake.

Are you ready?


Life Application

This Easter season came early! I am not even prepared to make a big meal for Sunday dinner. Time can slip away from us. But I have felt the Lord preparing me all week for the worship of Him this Easter. Although we will be in the nursery instead of in church, my heart will be worshipping the Lord.

Through all the lessons this week, I have been reminded of what it means to be a Christian: obedience and love for the brethren. Convicting as it was to study this week, I found it refreshing too, to be reminded of these commandments.

I pray that the Lord will use His words this week to prepare you for worship and remembrance this Resurrection Sunday. Remember that, although our Shepherd was killed by Satan, He did not remain dead as Abel did. He rose from the dead and conquered death once and for all.

Acts 2:22

Acts 3:14-15

1 Cor 15:1-4

He is risen! Praise the Lord that He lives and we now have eternal life. There is so much to be grateful for this Easter season. Let's spend time in remembrance of what the Lord has done for us.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The First Epistle of John: Lesson Thirty-Four

"A new commandment I

give to you, that you

love one another; as I

have loved you, that you

also love one another. By this all will

know that you are My disciples, if you

have love for one another."

John 13:34-35


Hello again! Let's pray.....

Father God, I come before You today to read and study Your word. I pray that You will reveal to us in Your word more about You and what we are supposed to do as believers. Help us to meditate on Your word day and night. Help us to teach it to our children. Help us not to depart from Your judgments that we may keep Your word.

I seek forgiveness of my sins. I know I have not been in Your word nearly enough. I pray that You will wash me clean of this sin and fill me with Your Spirit. I pray that You will help me to love Your law and treasure it in my heart.

I lift up each lady reading this study today. I pray she learns more about You and Your love for her. I pray that as Resurrection Sunday approaches, that she will be filled with all Your wisdom and love as she remembers what You did for her. I pray that You walk with her and encourage her through this day.

In Jesus' name...amen."


Last time we looked more into sin and the believer. Chapter three deals with the many facets of sin because the early church was dealing with so many false teachings. John gave them a way to ensure those around them were true believers. In this lesson, we will read more about who is a child of God and who isn't....

1 John 3:10-11:

"In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another."

The Imperative Love

In these verses, John gives us a clear and precise way to know who is saved and who is not: obedience and love for one another.

Because the word "love" is repeated throughout this chapter, we can say that John wants us to know what sin is and what love is. By reading and studying this chapter, we believers can have assurance of our salvation and we can know who is and who is not a Christian by their actions and their love for the brethren.

Let's go back in history and study love that pleases the Lord. In this chapter, John brings up Cain and Abel, which we will look at more closely in the next lesson, because this is the prime example of hating a brother. But we won't begin here with Cain's evil act, but with the aftermath. Dr. RC Sproul has a great study out on man vs. God called "City of Man". In this study, Dr. Sproul tells of how in scripture man is always attempting to build an empire for himself to topple God's creation.

Please read:

Gen 4:10-17

Here we see the punishment God bestowed upon Cain. But because of God's mercy, He did not strike cain dead where he stood, instead God allowed Cain to live as a marked man. How did Cain respond in comparison to his parents when they were punished?

Gen 4:1-3

Notice how Eve acknowledged the Lord when she was given a son. Notice how Adam and Eve taught their sons to give an offering to the Lord...and this was before the Law was given.....and how Abel was taught to give of the firstfruit. It is obvious here that although they were greatly punished by the God they knew personally, this couple did not curse God nor teach their children to hate God. Instead, they honored God by acknowledging gifts received from Him and they taught their sons to honor the Lord as well.

Contrast that with Cain's reaction to the Lord's grace: he built the first city. There is no love for Cain's brother in that he doesn't not even mention him nor name the city after his dead brother or his father. It is as though Cain wants to start over and begin with a new land.

Gen 4: 17-24 and Gen 5:6-32

As you read these verses, notice how the names are similar. How is this indicative to what we see between religions created by man and God's Law?

Man made religions like Mormonism and Islam also use names from the Bible or names similar in order to try and be "like God" which is what Satan used to tempt Adam and Eve...

Gen 3:3-4

I wanted you to read these verses in order to see how the devil is made manifest: by trying to create a bigger better empire to conquer the Lord's creation and by destroying God's creation through hatred.

"For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another."

As we read further into 1 John chapter 3, we see how imperative it is that we love one another and show that love outwardly so that God's word is honored.

John 3:19-21

It is important for us to love the light and to do our deeds in the light that they may be seen.

John 13:34

Eph 5:11-14

We are to love the light and hate the shameful things done in darkness. Although now days these shameful things are done in broad daylight!

I saw a blog written by a man in San Francisco who went to the Gay Parade and Carnival to expose how these people are degraded. Apparently, he knew they were allowing young children to attend this event even though many did not believe him. So, with his camera, he attended the event which was held during the day....and sure enough, there were little children present. Now, at this event, men and women were actively engaged in sexual acts that included sodomy...out in the open!

And these young children were exposed to this! So, the man sent the pictures to the newspaper and the Mayor's office...this was late last year and so far there has been no mention of this in any papers or any outcry from the public in San Francisco. So, we are in a time where these evil acts aren't even being hidden in darkness any longer....


By loving one another, John knows that we are covering a multitude of sins. By loving one another, we are showing the Lord that we obey His commandments.

Matt 22:37-40

Rom 12:9-21

Rom 13:8-10

Heb 13:1-6

Phil 2:3

1 Cor 8:1-3

1 Tim 1:5

Heb 13:1

1 Pet 2:17

1Pet 4:7-

Prov 10:12

We can easily read in these verses that the commandment of God is exact: by loving one another we are protecting ourselves from the temptation to desire to rule over God. This commandment is put before us as a way to evade idolatry and temptations to build that "city of man" that the devil used so many times to mislead people away from God.

Our love for one another forces us to put others before ourselves.....and gives God all the glory and honor.


Life Application

"Love will cover a multitude of sins..."

Our Lord loves us so much that He provided us with a way to please Him. So many times I have heard people say, "If there is a God, why doesn't He show Himself?" to which I always answer: "He did."

Not only did He reveal Himself then, but He continues to reveal Himself now through His children. How? By our love for one another.

And not only did God reveal Himself....but He gave of Himself by dying a painful death so that we do not have to fear death any longer.

This Resurrection Sunday, take time to consider all this. Our Messiah has come. And not only did He come once....He is coming again. His love for us saved us....and now He says that our love for one another will cover a multitude of sins. It can be hard to love one another. I know. To be honest, I have a hard time with this...I don't know about you.

My husband is very good at loving fellow believers. As a result, I have seen our little family be spared a lot of suffering because God sees my husband's heart. I wish I could say it was because of my love for the brethren, but I cannot. I have a hard time loving fellow believers with that unconditional love. It takes a lot of prayer and time in God's word for me to feel and show love. But I am learning through my husband what this kind of love looks like. He is so good at showing love for the brethren. And I have seen the Lord honor this sacrifice time and time again.

Now it is up to us to go and do as Christ did: give up ourselves daily, take up the cross, and follow love.


Until next time....

"...The manifestation of the love of Christ gives the soul abundant contentment. This love of Christ is exceedingly sweet and satisfying; it is better than life because it is the love of a person of such dignity and excellency. The sweetness of His love depends very much upon the greatness of His excellency; so much the more lovely the person, so much the more desireable his love. How sweet must the love of that person be who is the eternal Son of God, who is of equal dignity with the Father!

-Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) (Altogether Lovely, 1997, p. 100)



Sunday, March 16, 2008

The First Epistle of John: Lesson Thirty-Three

"Jesus answered and said

to him, 'Most assuredly, I say to you,

unless one is born again,

he cannot see the kingdom of God.'"

John 3:3


Good morning again! Let's pray....

"Holy Father God our Lord and Savior, as we come together to open Your word again this day, I ask that You will bless us with every spiritual blessing and speak to us in a new and exciting way today. I pray that You will reveal to us more of Your attributes as we learn about how we have been born of God and Your seed remains in us.

I seek forgiveness of sins this day. I know I have not been in Your word everyday and this is sin. I pray, Lord, that You will search me for the hidden sins of my heart. I pray that You will wash me clean with Your blood and renew a steadfast spirit within me. I pray that You will fill me with Your Spirit and bless my home.

I pray that You will lift up each lady reading this study. I pray that Your Spirit will encourage her to keep going on even when times get hard. I pray that she will cast all her cares upon You, Lord, and that You will give her peace. I pray that she will cry out to You for help and not have fear, but love and power through Christ.

In Jesus' name....amen."


Today we will look at what it means to be born of God and to have His seed remain in us. John wanted his readers to know and have confidence that they are born of God. So, as we read, we are to have that confidence that we are born of God and are part of that covenant promise of the Lord.

1 John 3:9

"Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him, and he cannot sin because he has been born of God."

As Christians, we have been separated from the world because of one act: God chose us to be set apart. We had nothing to do with it.

Please read:

1 Pet 1:22-25

"..having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever..."

Born of God

"Whoever has been born of God does not sin...."

What does it mean to be "born again"? Let's pause here for a quick review:

Please read:

John 1:12-13

We have been born of God. As Christians, that is how we were set apart: by God Himself.

John wants us to remember this.

How did God set us apart?

"through the word of God..."

1 Thess 2:13

Mark 4:20

James 1:18

This word of God lives and abides forever, just as God does. There is great hope in that His word will never will never be affected by world events or opinions like man's words.

I recently read an article by a famous playwright named David Mamet. He has written award winning plays based on his Liberal views on life. Now he claims that he has dropped those Liberal views for a more Conservative view based on changes in the world and in his life.

Many fellow Liberals in the art world were shocked at this revelation. I suppose it would be shocking to have such a staunch supporter of Liberal causes suddenly abandon them.

This is something we Christians never have to fear when it comes to our Savior. He never changes.

Nathan and I were talking about how God is eternal and that there is great comfort in knowing that our God does not need us. He didn't create to fulfill any need in Himself: to be worshipped, etc. That would be like saying the Sun needs to shine on us...on the contrary, it is we who need the Sun to shine on us!

He created for us because He knows that to know Him is to know life. We worship a God who has no need of us. Whew, what a relief!

But non-believers of this world fear change. They may cry out for "change" but they fear it. They feel great sadness when one of their own leaves their philisophical views behind for something different or opposing.

But we Christians, although born of God, do sin. What John is saying is that if we are born of God we do not continually sin because of God.

Rom 3:9-20

Rom 5:12-21

Rom 6:1-2

"How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" Paul asks.

Rom 6:5-8

Gal 2:19-21

We cannot continue in sin if we are born of God because the Spirit of God will not let us. Before our regeneration, we had no choice but to sin. Our "free will" was to satisfy our desire. Once we are regenerated, we are given a desire to please God as well as ourselves...there lies the struggle.

Rom 7:13-20

Paul struggled with this notion as well. We sin, that is why we have the law: to show us we need a Savior.

"..for His seed remains in him..."

Please read:

Gen 21:12

Is 6:13

Is 53:10

Deut 7:6

Ps 1:1

Ps 112:1

Ps 119:1-2

The seed of Promise is what Christ Jesus is. But look what else is regarded as "the seed" in scripture:

Luke 8:11

Luke 5:1

Luke 11:28

The seed is also the Word of God!

Rom 9:29

Praise God that He left us that seed so that we may know how to worship Him and abide in Him.

Gal 3:16

Abraham and his Seed lead to the Seed: Jesus Christ.

Gal 3:19

The Seed came to us so that we may now be part of that promise to Abraham.

Gal 4:4


So we can see in scripture that those born of God have the promises...and the power of the Spirit to do God's works. So we should not let sin reign in our bodies:

Rom 6:11-12

Rom 7:4

Gal 2:20

Eph 5:2

I told you 1 John chapter 3 is the "sin" chapter because he goes into such detail about what sin is, its origins, and how it affects the Christian! It can be hard to read this chapter.

But John isn't telling us things we do not already know...nor am I. It is good to be reminded of these things that we can continually grow in the knowledge and wisdom of our Lord.

His seed remains in you and I so that we cannot and I cannot continually live in sin because God will not allow it. Praise God that He did give us His seed....His Word.


Life Application

Knowing that sin cannot live in me gives me great joy and hope....but also dread since I still sin daily.
Rom 6:1-4
I should walk in the newness of life instead of dwelling on sin. It took me awhile to come to terms with the sin of my past. Even now, when I think about it, it makes me very uncomfortable. I have no problem sharing my past with others only so that they see the glorious works of the Lord in that He saved me. But I cannot dwell on this sinful past because I know that I am new now and forgiven.
This is what I want you to take with you today: you cannot continue in sin because you have been born of God.
There is great hope in that verse because it reminds us that God is our Good Shepherd and He will only let His sheep go astray for so long.
Sisters in Christ, if there is any sin in your life today, take it to the Lord right now. Spend time with Him today in prayer with His word and really ask Him to search you and deal with your heart. Let Him know you understand that you cannot continue in sin since you have been born of God.
He will honor that prayer with forgiveness and cleansing. I want you to know that cleansing and its power. I want you to have the ability to hear God and do His good works.
Know God and live! It begins today....
Until next time.....
"If the Spirit of God detects anything in you that is wrong, He does not ask you to put it right; He asks you to accept the light, and He will put it right. A child of the light confesses instantly and stands bared before God; a child of darkness says- "Oh, I can explain that away." When once the light breaks and the conviction of wrong comes, be a child of the light, and confess, and God will deal with what is wrong."
-Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest, 1935, March 23 devotional)

Running the Good Race


I was able to run 4 miles yesterday for the first time post marathon. I had been struggling with knee pain the last month and a half.

I bought new shoes and started doing my hamstring exercises. I had been lazy these last few weeks and stopped doing the exercises....and my knees got weak.

But now I feel they are stronger again and I can enjoy longer runs.

My next race is April 12th... a Saturday morning 5k race. It should be fun. Now I need to train for that race and the one on April 26th which is a 10k.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The First Epistle of John: Lesson Thirty-Two

"I speak what I have

seen with My Father,

and you do what

you have seen with

your father."

John 8:38


Good morning! Let's pray....

"Father God in heaven, today in our lesson, Lord, we will look more into what sin is and what it does to Christians. Lord, I pray that You will speak to our hearts and teach us more about Your precepts. Your precepts are pure and right and just. Teach us to love Your law and treasure it in our hearts that we might not sin against You. You are gracious and full of compassion, ever mindful of Your covenant with Your children. Make us remember our covenant with You.

Lors, I pray that You will search me for the hidden sins of my heart. Forgive me for my sins that I have committed against You. I agree with You that they are sins and they separate me from You. I pray that You will wask me clean and renew me. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that others will see You in me.

I lift up each lady reading this study. I pray that You will teach her more about Your attributes today and convict her of sin in her life so that she might be cleansed. I pray that You will fill her with Your Holy Spirit and encourage her. I pray that she will see that Your law is perfect, converting the soul; and that the statutes of the Lord are right. May she rejoice in her heart today!

In Jesus' name....amen."


In our last lesson, we looked at righteousness and those who practice righteousness. Today we will look again at who sins and the origin of sin.

1 John 3:8-

"He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil."

As we read in previous lessons, sin began with Satan. His pride and lust for power led to his downfall as he and others were cast out of heaven. The earth became his domain and his works are to destroy the creation of the soul at a time if need be.

Please read:

Gen 3:13-15

Is 65:25

We see in these verses that the curse of God upon Satan caused great opposition between Satan and God's Son. As soon as Adam and Eve were cast out of paradise, Satan began to slowly and methodicaly destroy God's creation...

Gen 4:1-15

God's punishment on Cain was a curse.

What did Cain do after receiving this mark, or curse?

Gen 4:16-17

Cain went out and built the first city. Did he name it after God? No, he named it after his son, Enoch. Satan had already caused Cain to murder, now he was moving Cain to be proud and boastful. As civilizations advanced, so did violence. But, as usual, God had a remnant: the godly Enoch.

So, we see in early world history that as Satan tried to destroy, God always provided a remnant...someone who still followed the Lord:

Gen 5:21-24

Heb 11:5

As hard as Satan tries throughout history, it is the Lord who ultimately allows a remnant to remain.

One of my favorite history subjects is World War II. It is exciting to read about the heroism shown by so many young men who fought for country and for friendship. But reading and studying the Holocaust became frightening to me for I saw the wrath of God bestowed upon His people. We read about the wrath of God in scripture.....but WWII gave us photographs of what God's wrath can look like.

The Lord warned His people in Deuteronomy:

Deut 28:15-68

Read these verses in light of the Holocaust that happened from 1939-1945 and then read them in light of the Holocaust to come.

God did reduce His people to dust and it rained down upon them as their ashes scattered upon the land. He took their homes and lands away and gave them to the Nazis. He made His people servants of a foreign people. He made them cursed upon the land and scattered them to every nation.

But He did spare a remnant....and He will spare some again in the next Holocaust. As we see Israel still reject Him as their Messiah, we must pray for Jerusalem and the remnant there among the disobedient.

Satan almost destroyed all of God's people, but God only let him go so far. God is sovereign over all.


"For this purpose the Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil."

We know that God created to be known, but why did Jesus come to this world and reveal Himself? Here in this verse, John answers that question emphatically: to destroy.

So many people say that Jesus came in love and that He is about peace....but what did Jesus say about Himself?

Please read:

Matt 10:34

Luke 12:49-53

Christ Jesus came to divide us from the dominion of Satan. Satan will fight hard to keep us under his rule, sometimes tearing about families in order to do it. But we know that Satan is conquered already through Christ.

Heb 2:14-15

Col 2:15

2 Tim 1:10

Jesus came to take away our sins, but He also came to destroy the works of the devil. On the cross, Jesus took on the powers of death and He destroyed those powers once and for all. Of course Satan still roams the earth, but now he has no power over the Children of God. He is a conquered foe thanks to the Lord Jesus's triumph over death.

We were once slaves of unrighteousness, but now we are heirs to the kingdom of God through Christ!

It is important to reflect on this at this time of year when we celebrate the Resurrection. Imagine what it was like inside that tomb where Christ lay wrapped from head to toe. Satan, thinking he was triumphant, must have screamed in agony when he saw Jesus move and unwrapped the cloths from His body. As the stone was moved to release Jesus, death's powers were removed from His Children.

Praise God indeed!

I love this song by Carman. I was in high school when he released it and it still sends shivers down my back! Jesus is alive forevermore...just imagine how He looked when He defeated death for you and me.

Take this with you today and truly meditate on what Christ Jesus did for you.