Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
Holy Father, as we begin this new section of our study in first John, we will be looking at how we, as Christians, can have that confidence and boldness in the day of judgment only because of Jesus Christ and what He did for us. May we never lose sight of this. Thank You, Father, for this gracious gift and promise: that when You come again, we can and will see You.
I pray for the forgiveness of my sins this day. I pray that You will search me for the hidden sins of my heart and purge me of my selfishness and self-righteousness. I pray that You will cleanse me with Your blood and renew me. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and guard my speech this day.
I lift up to you the family of Steven Curtis Chapman today Lord as his family is dealing with a horrible tragedy: the death of his 5 year old daughter. You know this family and have seen them dedicate their lives to serving You, Lord. So I pray that You will go to them and comfort them today as they prepare to bury this little girl. We know she is with You, but for those left behind, they need to hear from You Lord. I pray that You will go to them now.
"I will bless the Lord at all times.
His praise shall continually be in my mouth." Psalm 34:1
In Jesus' name.....amen."
The Consummation of Love
As we begin this new section of chapter 4 in First John, we will look at the completion of love in us by God.
John has taken us on a journey about love through this chapter: we looked at how others may know God through our love being shown and at how others may see God through our love being revealed through our acts and our witness.
Now he wants us to know that God's perfect agape love is complete because He is complete. And the promise is that one day we will be complete too.
But as we look further into what that love is, we will learn more about who God is.
1 John 4:17- "Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world."
In this verse, John is reminding us that God's love has already been perfected in the Christian because of Jesus. His complete obedience to God's will shall be given to us at the day of His coming. When we face God in that judgment, we do not have to shy away in shame but we have that boldness now because God will see Christ in us....and we will be as He is.
We have not yet reached that perfect state of obedience, but we stand out in this world simply because of Jesus....
Jesus' wish for His disciples isn't an easy life of peace and tranquility. On the contrary, He prayed that they would not be of the world....but be separated from the world.
His desire is that God sanctify them (separate them) from the world. How? Through His word. Why?
Because God's word is truth. Nothing sanctifies like the truth.
Nathan learned that this year. He had to stand up for his beliefs in his science class and as a result, he often found himself alone in his defense of the truth. It was hard for him, but he did it. And the Lord blessed him as a result. Not in material things, but in spiritual things of God.
God's word is truth.
That is where our boldness and confidence is: His word.
That boldness or confidence in God's Word and in all that He promised comes from the Lord Himself.
If anyone knew about putting confidence in Jesus instead of the flesh, it was Paul...
That is the confidence that we now have: counting all things loss for the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord!
If we hold fast that confidence....or "boasting" in Christ.... and rejoicing until the end, then we will in Christ's house with Him.
And none of this was done by our own volition, for we would NEVER chose to come before a holy God. It was done because of what Christ did: perfect obedience.
1 Thess 1:10
We are now spared that wrath of God due to what Jesus did for us. He became the Propitiation for our sins. And now there is no eternal wrath for those in Christ.
So now, when we are face to face with God during our judgment at His coming, we can stand before a Holy God...not because of the works we did, but because of what Jesus did.
No longer enemies with God, Jesus has reconciled us to God through the shedding of His blood.
That love of God has now been perfected among us through the perfect example of Jesus Christ.
And now we are called to be as He is in this world: a perfect example of obedience.
As you can see here, we are to be obedient so that God's word will not be blasphemed and the perfect work of Christ will not be tarnished by us.
Take time today to meditate on what you learned in this study of 1 John 4:17
Really work at coming to a complete understanding of what it is that God has done for you: reconciled Himself to you.
Praise Him today.
In our Sunday worship service, our Pastor led us through Scripture pointing out what the wrath of God is and how we, God's chosen, have been spared that eternal wrath that is to come.
As I sat there and read through the verses about God's wrath and judgment, all I could think of was how I was chosen from the foundation of the world to be spared this wrath.
It was humbling.
I can often look back over my life and see how God spared me much hurt and pain since I came to know Him at such a young age. I praise Him for that. I couldn't imagine what it must have been like going through the harshness of high school without being able to call upon the Lord for help and encouragement.
As my son enters into his life of service to the Lord by being baptized this coming Sunday, I am very grateful that the Lord has called him at an early age. He will not have to walk alone through high school or college or marriage, etc. because he knows Jesus.
We attended the 8th grade graduation of his charter school to help out and as we sat through the many speeches and awards given that night to many the bright students, I couldn't help but notice how many of them did not know Jesus at all. They were blessed with talents and intelligence, but they were about to embark on a journey without a compass or map.
I am just so grateful that my son knows Christ and His word. He will have failures and hurts coming his way, as we all do, but he will also have many blessings and much joy coming his way too because he has been given that map and compass for his journey.
That is what I praise God for everyday: Nathan knows Jesus.....and Jesus knows Nathan
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
John, ever the responsible writer, wants to remain clear that he is a qualified Apostle. He has truly seen Jesus and walked with Him. In this verse, John reiterates that he tesifies of what he has seen.
John was there. He witnessed that God had indeed sent His Son to be Savior of the world.
There were many other witnesses to Christ's ministry as well. John was one. Now, we are the witnesses as well because of the Holy Spirit given to us.
As a result, we are to take that knowledge and tell others about it, but also to show others about that love of God abiding in us. We are now one with God through Christ. To keep that a secret takes away from the Gospel message. We are commanded to take that message and make disciples of nations.
Take with you the knowledge today that the love of God abides in you. Show that love to others today.
I find it so fascinating to read this book knowing it was written by a man who walked with Christ. He ate with Jesus and witnessed all those miracles chronicled in his book....as well as many others we never even heard about!
John's letter is very encouraging to all Christians. It gives us a clear glimpse into what it is we are supposed to be doing here on earth as we await the return of our Savior. We are not to coneal our love, but to reveal it as He did and continues to do daily.
Our love for the brethren should be apparent. We should not pick and chose who we are to love, but to love all believers. God is love, says John, so we are to love as He loves us.
1 John 4:7
If you know God, then you are to love.
Take that knowledge with you today. Meditate on His love for you. Think about all the things He has done for you and all the things He has saved you from.
Then rejoice in His wisdom and love.
Until next time....
"The Bible does not allow us to rest in a merely formal relationship with God. It is possible to attend every church service and prayer meeting, to read the Bible regularly, to teach and preach the Scriptures, and yet not know God. If our lives do not manifest, even dimly, something of the love of God in Jesus Christ, then we cannot claim to be Christians."
-Dr. Joel Beeke (The Epistles of John, 2006, p. 160)
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Thursday, May 1, 2008
1 John 4:9-11
"In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him. In this love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."
Knowing God Through Love
God demonstrates....God manifests....God so loved....
It is obvious that we worship a God who is very active rather than passive. He shows, demonstrates, reveals, does things. Why?
To be known.
Remember, there is no need in God. He is eternal, He has no needs. He does not do anything to fulfill a need within Himself. He does all things to be known: to be is to do.
Saying that God needs us to worship Him is like saying the sun needs to shine on us. It is we who need the sunshine, not the other way around! God does not need us tod o anything for Him or too Him. It is we who need Him so desperately.
John writes these verses to remind us of what it was God did for us. He wants us to know the true definition of what love is....God is love and to know God is to know true eternal LOVE.
"In this the love of God was manifested toward us...."
John gives us a glimpse into how this true eternal love was revealed toward us:
At our best, we were sinners. We were dead in our trespasses. We were nothing. We were enemies of God! How incredible to think that the Lord God...creator of the universe....looked upon us and made Himself known to us in such a way as to sacrifice Himself for us that we would be reconciled to Him.
"That God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him."
By sending us His Son, God has given us a way to live again. We now have passage way to God through the death and resurrection of the Son.
John 3:16 (re-read it again...)
In this act, God manifested what true love is: God saved sinners.
1 Sam 2:2
This generous love and kindness touches all creatures upon the earth. That is how great God's love is! It is so mammoth that it cannot be constrained. It must be completely revealed to all the earth.
This fact ought to bring sinners to repentance:
But, unfortunately, it doesn't:
So, although Jesus was sent to all the world, not all the world would accept Him as their Savior and Lord.
That is why Jesus did not pray for all the world, but for those whom God had given Him:
"In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins..."
1 John 2:2
Remember what "propitiation" means: a sacrifice meant to satisfactorily take away that emnity between worshiper and God.
This sacrifice had to be perfect. Remember, the sacrifices in the Old Testament were meant only to cover the sins of the people. That is why they were brought to the Lord annually.
Only the blood of a perfect sacrifice could remove the sins of the people...not merely cover them up.
The sacrifice had to be perfect because God is perfect. Nothing with blemish or stain can be in His presence. That is why the sacrifice had to be equal to God Himself otherwise it would not be perfect enough to satisfy the debt. Only God can be equal to God. So, that is why it was God Himself who had to be that sacrifice. That is why Jesus and God are equal.
Titus 2:11-14(New Geneva Study Bible, Commentary, 1995)
"Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another."
Now we see John return to his message: if we have received this love from God, then how can we not love others?
It is our nature to hate...to hate God and to hate others. It is in our nature to love ourselves above all. So John reminds us that if we have received this eternal gift of Love from God....then we have been commanded to obey His commandments and love one another.
1 John 2:5
1 John 2: 10
So, John writes that love is not that we loved God...because we would never love God. Love is God loving us and saving us while we were still His enemies filled with hatred for Him and all His creation. Now that's love!
That love ought to radiate from us...it ought to be visible to all creation! If that love remains hidden, then God's work remains unfinished. That is when we miss out on all the blessings the Lord has for us.
God had pity on us. Who are we to deny this pity, this love, on others who belong to Him? We are nothing without Him.
That is John's message throughout this chapter: knowing God through love is the greatest thing for the believer. Like the sunshine...we need that love to live!
Take all that you have learned here today and treasure it in your heart.
The love of God surpasses all other love we humans can know. The love we have for our spouses or for our children is so different. The love we have for our children is more of a protective caring love that comes from deep within us. The love we have for our spouses is more of a satisfying love that comes from showing service and receiving service. Instead of that protective stance, we usually have more of a secure stance with our spouses.
The love of God encompasses all of the "loves" described above.
Storge- this is the Greek word for love that means natural affection. It is a quiet abiding love. It is found in the New Testament.
Eros- this love is more passionate and sexual. It is based on emotions and bodily chemistry. It is not used in the New Testament at all.
Phileo- This love is more companionable. It is a love that responds out of kindness or appreciation. It is found in the New Testament.
After reading the words for love above, one can see glimpses of a type of love we humans share with others. And we can see only a tiny glimpse of the love that God has for us.
But there is a love that is more from and about God. It is "agape" love found in the New Testament:
Agape- This love is called out from the heart. It is not kindled from merit of worth, but originates in its own God-given nature. It delights in giving. This love keeps on loving even though the one receiving the love is unresponsive. Agape love desires only the good of the loved one. It is a comsuming passion for the well-being of others (Used by Permission: First John, Precept Ministries, 2001).
This love is the love of God. In this love, you can see how it is manifested in humans but only in a limited finite amount since we are limited and finite.
But in God, this love is eternal. He loves us even when we are unresponsive to Him. He delights in giving to us. He loves us faithfully even when we are unfaithful. Why? Is it because of anything we have done to deserve this?
No. As Paul wrote in Romans 5:8. God loved us while we were still sinners. He loved us even when we were His enemies.
Now, that's a love we can live with!
This Agape love is the love we are to have for one another. This is the love John wants us to show for one another. Pray today that you can make manifest this agape love for the brethren around you.
Until next time....
"Fallen man is in a state of ecxeedingly great misery, and is helpless in it. He is poor, weak creature, like an infant cast out in its blood on the day that is is born. But Christ is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He is strong, though we are weak. He has prevailed to do that for us which no other creaure could do. Fallen man is a mean, despicable creature, a contemptible worm; but Christ, who has undertaken for us, is infinitely honorable and worthy. Fallen man is polluted, but Christ is infinitely holy; fallen man is hateful, but Chist is infinitely lovely; fallen man is the object of God's indignation, but Christ is infinitely dear to Him. We have dreadfully provoked God, but Christ has performed that righteousness which is infinitely precious in God's eye's."
-Jonathan Edwards 1703-1758 (Altogether Lovely, 1997, p. 45)