Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Running the Good Race


Ran on Monday-twice! Ran at 5:30 in the morning, 3.25 miles. Then ran 2 miles with the hubby that evening. It felt pretty good. Not too hot out.

read my running journal here on this blog from last summer. Seems I am running the same mileage that I did last year at this time. That's good!

Will run only the 1/2 marathon this January. Am able to train for that and work. Marathon training takes up way too much of my time and I don't think I could do it again!

Did weight training this morning and will run 3.5 miles tonight. Decided to run in Moon Valley this year since it is shaded in the morning and evening. Nice neighborhood. Much closer to the house than Happy Valley.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The First Epistle of John: Lesson Sixty-Seven

"Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;

And attend to the voice of my supplications.

In the day of my trouble I will call upon you,

For You will answer me."

Ps 86:6


Good day! Let's seek the Lord....

"Holy Father, today as we look deeper into what prayer is for the believer, I ask that You show us more about who You are. I pray that You will speak to us through Your word. Thank You, Father, for giving us the privilege of prayer. Thank You for providing Your children a way to talk to You. Thank You for making intercession for us through Christ Jesus.

I ask forgiveness of my sins this day, Lord. I know it is against You that I have sinned. I pray that You will wash me clean, renew a steadfast spirit within me, and make me whole. Release me from the bondage of sin and fill me with Your Holy Spirit.

I pray for each lady reading this study today. You know each one and all her cares. I pray that You will go to her and be with her today. I pray that she will seek You today and yearn to know more about You. Fill her with the spirit of Your wisdom and knowledge today that she may learn from Your word.

In Jesus' name...amen."


Confidence and Compassion in Prayer

Last time we looked atthe assurance of our salvation in Scripture. John's letter was written that those who believe in the name of the Son of God may know they have eternal life and may continue in that belief.

One way we can have that assurance is through the power of prayer.

Paul tells the believer to "pray without ceasing" (I Thess 5:17)because he knows that prayer is a two-way conversation with God and it is a way to stay connected with the Lord God.

As anyone who has entered into battle knows, staying in contact with the Generals back at headquarters is essential for surviving in battle. For those Generals know the layout of the battlefield and they know the positions of the enemy. Without them, the soldiers on the ground are helpless and hopeless.

1 John 5:14-15

"Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him."

Prayer is the way believers stay in contact with their God. God knows the future and believers do not. God knows the position of the enemy on this battlefield, and we are helpless without Him. To pray is to trust the Lord.


"Now this is the confidence that we have in Him...."

John uses the word, confidence, here again as he did in 1 John 2:28. Remember the word confidence means "boldness" and in this case, "assurance".

John reiterates that we have that boldness now in Christ to come to God and pray. What a glorious gift given by our most Holy God and Father: the gift of talking with Him in such a personal way as His Son did....

Luke 11:1

How wonderful it must have been to see Jesus talking to God on such a personal level. Remember, there were no prophets of the Lord any longer. No one was there to tell the people what God was saying or to tell God what the people wanted. Silence.

Now here comes Jesus who gives them the perfect model of how to pray to God:

Luke 11:2-4

Matt 6:5-8

Notice how Jesus began: adoration and thankfulness. Only then does He continue on in that assurance and confidence that He is being heard.


"..that if we ask anything according to His will..."

Of course, John wants us to remember that God is not come cosmic jeanie in a bottle just waiting for us to bring forth our commands to Him. Not the case at all.....we serve a Holy God who cannot even look or speak to us because of our sins.

Is 6:1-8

The seraphim could not even touch the ground that God was on nor could they look into His face. Isaiah was only heard by God after his sins were purged. Then God used him. So, how is it that our prayers are heard if we are also full of sin?

Heb 7:23-

Rom 8:34

It is only because of Christ Jesus perfection that our prayers are heard at all.

But what does it mean to pray in "His will"?

John 14:13-14

John 15:16

John 16:23-24

When we pray in the name of Jesus, we are praying in His very authority. We are praying in His likeness. So when we pray for a million dollars, fame, and material wealth....are we praying in His will since Jesus did not own anything except the clothes on His back and the sandals on His feet?


To pray in His will is to pray in His like manner: in all humility.

Phil 4:6-7

Paul teaches us to pray instead of worry. He tells us not to be anxious about anything but to pray about everything. Think of all the wasted time we have spent on worrying!

I have shared here before about how I teach my son to pray about everything...from finding lost articles, to help with tests at school. I want my son to see that God is a very personal God. That is what Paul had learned through his many trials and tribulations: God cares.

2 Cor 12:7-9

But God sometimes answers, "No" and we must accept that.


"He hears us..."

What precious and hopeful words are these! John saw it with his own eyes how God heard the prayers of His Son.

John 11:41-42

The confidence that Christ had in the fact that His prayer was heard by God is the same confidence that we now have because of Christ's perfect obedience. God hears us when we pray because we have Jesus.

So, if we do not have Jesus.....does that mean our prayers cannot be heard?

Ro 3:11

Heb 11:6

Is 64:6-7

Is 1:4-6

Is 1:10-11

Nahum 1:2-3

We see in these verses that no one actively seeks after God. Sin must be dealt with before God will even hear us.

And it is not we who turn to God...but the Holy Spirit brings us to Him.

Heb 13:20-21

Ro 8:26-27

John 16:7-15

It is of the Holy Spirit sent by Jesus that we are called to pray in His is not of our own will.

James 4:1-3

Is 59:1-2

Because of our sin....God does not hear our prayers. So, the prayers of unbelievers (those whom God does not know) are not heard by Him.

Matt 7:21-23

2 Tim 2:19

Prov 28:9

The prayers of the unbeliever are an abomination to God. Our prayers before we were saved were that sinful to God! Only because of the work of Christ are we heard at all. He knows those who belong to Him.

John 14:23


"..whatever we ask we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him."

John concludes the passage with the hope of Christ: now that we are His, whatever we ask is heard by God through Jesus. Now we can take all our cares, all our worries, all our hopes and dreams to Him and know that we are heard!

All because of what Jesus did.

Heb 10:19-25

"Let us draw near," Paul tells us. "With a true heart in full assurance of faith."

Praise God today for that full assurance. And if you ever struggle with your prayer life, always turn to the Psalms. They were written by great men of faith who knew how to pray to God personally because of the Holy Spirit.

Ps 86:11-13

Take time today to seek the Lord. Ask Him to teach you to pray to Him as Jesus did: humbly but with confidence. Take time to thank Him for the gift of prayer. Make prayer time an essential part of your day. Ask the Lord to enter into your day and make it His.


Life Application

I will never forget one Thursday night in Feb, 2003. I was asked to teach a Bible lesson at the prison on a new night with a new group of inmates I had never met. It was a strange time, but I felt the Lord leading me to teach about the importance of prayer. The prison ministry I was involved in wanted us to "prepare the inmates for their release into the real world". I thought, what better way to prepare them than to teach them about prayer?

So, as the 12 or 13 inmates entered into the small room, I began to talk about the importance of prayer. Some were turned away reading books and ignoring me. They were just using the class as a chance to get out of their boring cells. Some were listening to me with their Bibles open. And still others were engrossed in conversations with each other.

Still, I kept teaching about prayer and showing them the fantastic prayers of Daniel and Nehemiah I had just learned about in Sunday Bible study at our church. I could see after a few minutes how the Holy Spirit was waking these women to new and exciting things they had never heard before in the Bible. After a few minutes, I had everyone's attention! They couldn't wait to learn more about the Lord in His word.

When the lesson was over, we all gathered around holding hands in a large circle. I told them that if they attended my class, they would learn about the Bible and nothing else. They praised God. They seemed so hungry to learn scripture! They were excited to come to that Thursday class again with their Bibles!

After I prayed for them, we departed. Some hugged me and thanked me and together we praised the Lord for our time in His word. Then, I boarded the bus that took me to the parking lot and I left the prison.....and I never went back. I never saw any of those ladies again.

My heart breaks and aches for them, but the Lord removed me from the prison ministry for many reasons. One most important reason was to work on my marriage which was falling apart from sin.

As I look back on that Thursday night, I praise God that He used me to teach the ladies about prayer. I thank Him that for one night I was used by Him to teach others about their sin, prayer, and the Word of God. Even if I never am allowed to return to that ministry again....that is ok because I know those ladies, whoever they are and wherever they are.....heard the Truth that night.

They were taught about God's word.

I was told many months later that the next Thursday night, about 50 womem inmates showed up with their Bibles ready to be taught God's word again. The original ladies had told their friends about the study and they came ready to learn! But I was not there. Another teacher had come, but she was only there to teach them about being released into the real world and not about the Bible. How disappointed those inmates must have been.

My heart broke then as it breaks now. Ladies, in order to be used by God we must be purged of our sins like Isaiah was purged. That purging hurts. Especially when I look back and think about all those ladies who came with their Bibles ready to learn being disappointed again.

Sometimes I ask God, "Why?" and He always answers me with His word:

Is 1:13 God cannot endure iniquity in His workers.

That answer hurts, but it is Truth and the Truth sets us free!

Pray for them. Pray for me. Pray that the Lord will use me once again to teach His word to others in new and glorious ways!


Until next time....

"Let us learn the blessedness of bending our will to God's discovering in the process how he witholds no good thing from his children. Jesus said, 'If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?' (Matt 7:11). What assurance that brings us! We not only know that we belong to God but that God wants to bless us with goodness all the days of our lives."

-Dr. Joel Beeke (The Epistles of John, 2006, p. 205)



Thursday, July 24, 2008

The First Epistle of John: Lesson Sixty-Six

"...but these things were

written that you may believe

that Jesus is the Christ,

The Son of God, and

that believing you may have life in His name."

John 20:31


Good day again, let's begin our time with prayer...

"Our dear Lord and Father, I pray to You this morning to ask You to be with me this day and give me the words to write for this study. You alone are worthy of our prayer, worship, adoration, and love. You are our Bridegroom preparing a place for us. It is You who have died and defeated death for us. Now we have eternal life through Jesus Christ. I thank You, Father, for that gift of love and life.

I seek forgiveness of sins and pray that You will wash me from my sins. Please release me from the bondage of sin and cleanse me. Renew in me a steadfast spirit and a pure heart.

I lift up each lady reading today. I pray that she is seeking Your face this day. I pray that You will go to her and encourage her through her busy day. I pray that You will convict her of her sins and fill her with Your Holy Spirit this day so that she may hear from You. Walk with her, comfort her, give her strength to face all her many challenges today.

In Jesus' name...amen."


The Certainty of God's Witness

Today, as we finish up this portion of 1 John chapter 5, we will conclude with looking at the reasons why John wrote this letter to his fellow believers.: "That you may know"

John, a loving Pastor, writes in his letter to his "little children" that they can know for sure that they have eternal life. Our loving Shepherd, Jesus, does the same for us by giving us this letter to read over and over again during good times and bad.

God wants us to know, without a doubt, that we have that life.

1 John 5:13-

"These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God."

Notice how similar this verses is to our opening verse above. Obviously, they were both written by the same author.

But it seems imperative to John that we have that complete assurance. As with Gen Eisenhower said when he toured the concentration camps after WWII, John seems to have the foresight that someday the life of Jesus Christ will be questioned or even denied and the fact that there were witnesses to His life may even be questioned.

I have sat in many court cases that depended solely on the credibility of the key witness' testimony. Lives have been forever changed on the testimony of one person. It is most important that we remember that.

John almost has a sense of urgency when writing to his fellow believers. He desperately wants us to know that those who believe in the name of the Son of God have eternal is certain.


"That you may know..."

Many Christians ask, "How can we know for sure we are saved...or if anyone is saved?"

That is a question that leads to doubts. And the Gnostics of old and modern times thrive on the doubt of a Christian.

As Christians, it is imperative that we know for sure of our salvation.

John 20:31

Luke 1:4

John 19:33-36

Notice how the Gospels do not begin with , "Once upon a time..." like many myths, fables, and stories.

Instead, our faith is well grounded in scripture that is based on historical fact. Why would these men begin their testimonies with historical figures like Herod of Judea or Caesar Augustus when the story could be easily verified or disqualified? Simple: their stories were true so they would want them to be fact checked next to the historical narrative surrounding these rulers.

As Luke wrote:

"In as much as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us..."

Our gospel is based on eyewitness accounts of the men who walked with Jesus.

Rom 9:33

Rom 5:5

The Lord promises us that those who believe on Him will not be put to shame because the hope we have in us by the Holy Spirit will not disappoint us.

Ps 37:9-11

God promises us that if we wait in the Lord shall inherit the earth...we shall delight ourselves in the abundance of peace.

It is a promise that leads to life!

2 Cor 1:19-20

And the promises are YES in Christ Jesus.

2 Cor 1:21-22

And we have been established by God and anointed by God who has also sealed us and given us the Holy Spirit...that witnesses of our hearts as a what?


Praise God!


"That you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God."

Not only does John leave us with utter assurance of our salvation, but he wants us to continue in that assurance until the end. Why?

Remember what Jesus said:

Matt 24:13

John himself suffered persecution for his beliefs in Christ and he knew full well that his fellow believers would also suffer. He was given the Revelation of Jesus Christ and shared it with us as he was commanded.

He saw the end times and how the believers would be martyred for their faith.

So, as an encouragement, he wants us to continue in our assurance of eternal life.

Matt 10:22

Luke 21:16-19

But Jesus left us with His words of comfort:

Matt 28:20

He will be with us always...even to the end of the age.


John finishes his letter with more ways of having that assurance and we will look at them further in our next lessons.

We will look at how we can have confidence in prayer as well as safeguarding that assurance in our Christian life.


Life Application

As we complete our study of the Certainty of God's Witness, we have addressed many things that pertain to assurance of our faith. The very fact that God puts in us that witness of Himself is a beautiful thing....a gift that we cannot hide nor deny.

Remember how John told us to walk as Jesus walked now that we have been changed.

Eph 5:8-13

And to manifest that light to the world. Once we have been changed by God, there is no hiding it. Once we have that assurance of our salvation, there is no longer reason to doubt.

Every challenge, every hardship, every conviction of sin is further proof of our salvation. We should rejoice when we are convicted of sin...we should rejoice when we are being chastised by a loving God....we should rejoice with every good and perfect gift knowing that all these things mean we belong to Him. We are His children.

Once again, remember to whom John was writing. The Jewish people went 400 years without a word from their God. They were being ruled by the Romans in their own land. They were being held down by the Jewish leaders with their man-made laws. They were burdened and tired.

John understood this when he wrote to his fellow believers. He used his letters to encourage them, remind them, and assure them of their eternal reward through Christ.

I pray that you will take these words written by John and treasure them because now you can truly KNOW that you have eternal life...and you can continue in that eternal life until the end.

It is truly a gift from the Lord.


"Praise God that you have not been left to the darkness and ignorance that continued prosperity might have involved, but that in the great fight of affliction, you have been capacitated for the outshinings of His glory in His wonderful dealings with you."

-Charles Spurgeon 1834-1892 (Morning By Morning, 2005, July 19 devotion)



Monday, July 21, 2008

The First Epistle of John:Lesson Sixty-Five

"He who believes in the Son

has everlasting life;

and he who does not believe

the Son shall not see life,

but the wrath of God abides

on him."

John 3:36


Hello again! Let's begin with prayer...

"Holy Father God, our Lord and Savior, I come to you today to give thanks and praise for all that You have done and all that You do. You alone are worthy of our praise and worship for You alone have given us eternal life through Jesus Christ, Your Son. I thank You, Father, for that eternal life. I thank You that You have spared me from Your wrath and now I have life everlasting because of Jesus.

I do seek the forgiveness of my sins because I know my sins keep me from You and I do not want to be far from You. I pray for Your cleansing. I pray that You wash me clean and release me from the bondage of my sins. I pray that You will fill me with Your Holy Spirit this day and guard my speech.

I lift up each lady reading this study to You, Lord. I pray that You will go to her and comfort her as she goes through the many challenges of her day. I pray that she will earnestly seek You through You word. Walk with her, come alongside her, and give her that peace that only comes through You.

In Jesus' name...amen."


The Certainty of God's Witness

In today's study, we will continue our look into what it means to have God's witness and what that witness is to us. John made it clear how important an earthly witness is since he himself was a witness to the many things Christ did in His earthly ministry. But John doesn't want us to rely solely on that earthly witness of men as the Gnostics did. He wants us to know and learn about God's witnesses: the Father, the Spirit, and the Word.

We were told in the last lesson that God puts His witness in us when He saves us. We have that eternal witness us ourselves when we become His own. It is that Spirit of God that opens our eyes to what the scriptures say about Jesus. And it is that witness that leads our paths down the right direction in life.

Now we will learn about the testimony of God, that testimony that "God has given of His Son"....

1 John 5:11-12

"And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."

John begins by telling us what that testimony is: those who believe have life, those who do not believe do not have life.

As John the Baptist said in our opening verse, he who believes has everlasting life. He who does not believe suffers the wrath of God. It is as simple as that.

It is we Christians who forget this testimony most of all, in my opinion. When I hear of a Christian suffering from depression (as I did) or suffering from alcoholism, gambling, sexual sins, etc. all this can be traced back to the Christian forgetting that he/she has life already!

Theologian Herman Bavinck wrote:

"They seek God down below and he is above. They seek him on earth and he is in heaven. They seek him in money, property, fame, power, and in passion, and he is found in the high holy places, and with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit. They seek him, and at the same time flee from him" (As cited in The Epistles of John, 2006, p.200).

As Christians, we are at our lowest point when we forget that we already have life.

John 17:3

This is the testimony of God. We already have fellowship with Him.

1 John 1:5-7



It is obvious that John is reminding the believer that there are consequences to our beliefs: to know Christ is to live, to deny Christ is death.

We were dead on our trespasses and sins.

Eph 2:1-3

We once walked according to our flesh and were in death. But it is through Christ that we now live. When we forget this and go back to walking in the flesh, then death creeps in to steal away our joy. There are many things in this world that are scary: disease, wars, famine, natural disasters.

But John wants us to remember that we should fear the Holy God who created all things more than the creation itself. Without God we die spiritually as well as physically.

And because of Christ we now have life everlasting! Death no longer should bring fear to the Christian.

Ps 23:4

Is 25:8

Rom 6:8-11

We are alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord! Praise God.


"...he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."

Notice how John writes this statement. "He who does not have the Son of God..."

To know God through Christ is taking personal possession of Him inside ourselves. It is more than an outward statement, but an inward possession. We have all seen those who raise their hands in church after the "invitation" to receive Christ as Savior is given. We have seen people walk down the aisle to pray at the nave of the church and ask God to enter their hearts.

Those people made "professions" of faith, but how many actually took possession of Christ or vice versa?

John wants us to know that if we have Christ, we have eternal life. If we do not have Christ, we are still in death and sin reigns within our mortal bodies. Remember the purpose behind this book written by John: that we may know, abide, remain, endure, have fellowship, assurance, or our salvation for those who believe in the name of Jesus Christ.

We all know those who are not believers. It hurts to see our friends or family members dying in their sins especially when we know what lies ahead for them after this life: complete and total separation from God.

As long as they walk this earth, they still have some semblance of the presence of God among them: the beauty of creation, Christians proclaiming God's truth in love, and the Church.

But once they are taken from this earth, they will no longer have any of these to rely on. Creation, Christians, and the Church have the Light of Christ. Without these there is no Light....only complete darkness. And then the Wrath of God.

When Christ comes to remove us from His creation, with us goes any semblance of morality or law.

Matt 24:9-13

During the tribulation, lawlessness will abound because all morality will be taken up with believers when Christ takes us up. Imagine the earth without laws! You think it is bad now, and yet we have laws causing some to still hesitate. When those laws are removed, no one will hesitate.

This is the wrath of God of which you have been spared. It is real. But so is God. He called you before the foundations of the world to be His. He claimed you as His own. Now you have taken possession of Him within yourself and He has taken you as His own.

This is what John wants to remind you of this day, thousands of years later, with his letter. It is the doom of every Christian when we forget!

So, take time today to meditate on all that God has spared you from today. Really think about what it is that Christ has done for you.....taken you and made you His own. Praise Him for this and truly treasure these verses of John into your heart for those days when the things of this world get you down: you are saved.


Life Application

Why is it that if we have eternal life as our inheritance that we eat with the swine?

When I studied the parable of the Prodigal Son years ago in order to teach it at the prison, I found so many truths in this one little story Christ told that it was hard to keep my lesson down to 30 minutes. John MacArthur just wrote a whole book on the parable!

But it is so true that once we have our blessed inheritance that came at such a great cost, we toss it aside to live among the dead of this world and act as they do. Why?

Because we forget who we are in Christ.

I can easily look back on the darkest and saddest parts of my life and see that these times happened when I was farthest away from Christ. I had put down my Bible thinking I already knew all about it and set out on my own like the Prodigal Son did. I left my First Love.

That is why I love the book of First John so much. In this letter we find ways to know that we are a child of God, assurance of our salvation, who is not a believer, and how to remain in the presence of God.

How wonderful is that? How loving is our God that He provides a way to come to Him and know Him better?

And when I finally awoke in the pig slime realizing what I had done, I stood up and returned to my Father in hopes that He would at least keep me near Him as a servant if nothing else. But when I finally came back, Jesus was there waiting for me:

Luke 15:20

"And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him, had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him."

When we remember who we are and what we already have, this world pales in comparison. When we concentrate on what lies ahead instead of dwelling on what is behind, we are filled with joy. It is easy to only see the things of this earth, but John longs for us to turn our "eyes upon Jesus...look full in His wonderful face....and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace."

Remember who you are in Christ.


"Man longs for truth and is false by nature. He yearns for rest, and throws himself from one diversion upon another. He pants for a permanent and eternal bliss, and seizes on the pleasures of the moment. He seeks for God and loses himself in the creature. He is born son of the house, and he feeds on the husks of the swine in a strange land. He is as a hungry man who dreams he is eating, and when he awakes, finds that his soul is empty. Science cannot explain this contradiction in man. Man is an enigma whose solution can be found only in God."

-Herman Bavinck 1854-1921 (as cited in The Epistles of John, Dr. Joel Beeke, 2006, pp. 200-201)



Friday, July 18, 2008

The First Epistle of John: Lesson Sixty-four

"There is another who

bears witness of Me, and I

know that the witness which

He witnesses of Me

is true."

John 5:32


Good day! Let's begin with prayer....

"Our Lord God in heaven, we praise Your Holy name this day because this day belongs to You. I glorify Your name because You alone are worthy of our praise and adoration. Thank You, Lord, for loving Your children so much so that You gave us Your word to follow that we may be transformed from this world and live.

I seek the forgiveness of my sins and pray that You will cleanse me from my unrighteousness. I pray that You will wash me clean and fill me with Your Holy Spirit this day.

I pray for the ladies reading this study, that You will go to her and lift her up. Set her high upon Your Rock and give her strength to meet each challenge she faces this day. I pray that she will earnestly seek Your face today and glean the knowledge of Your truth from Your word.

In Jesus' name...amen."


The Certainty of God's Witness

Last time we looked further into the notion that there are three witnesses here on earth that testify of the Son of God: the Spirit, the water, and the blood. We know that Jesus was not just a spirit who did not die a physical death....but that He was indeed a man who was baptized, received the Holy Spirit, and died a bloody death for our sins. Then, He miraculously conquered death by rising from the grave for us all.

John, a earthly witness to Christ here on earth, reminds us of these things because of the false teachers surrounding his fellow believers at the time. The Gnostics were spreading a false gospel about Jesus and many were falling away to this teaching.

The Epistles of John were written that we may know for sure whom we worship.

1 John 5:9-10

"If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son."

So as we read these verses, we can clearly see that John understands the importance of the witness of men: it is viable here on earth. John tells us that he was a witness to Christ. He was a mere man.

But then he tells us that the witness of God is greater. In John 5:31, Jesus tells us that He does not bear witness to Himself because then that witness would not be true. He is telling us what John is saying: The witness of God is greater.

Deut 17:6

Deut 19:15

Jesus agreed with the Mosaic law that there must be 2 or 3 witnesses in a court of law. So, Jesus is saying that man's witness is good.....but not enough.

John 5:32

But later Jesus states that because He is God in the flesh and knows all things....His witness is true:

John 8:14-18

Jesus adheres to the laws of man while still maintaining the will of the Lord. But since we are only humans, we must adhere to the will of God.

1 Pet 4:1-2

We must live for the will of God not the laws of man. For God's witness is greater than man's.


"He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself..."

Now that you are a believer in Christ as the Son of God, the Holy Spirit witnesses in your soul so that you may comprehend what is written in the Scriptures. It is no longer just a book of stories.

You have that witness in yourself.

This gift of knowledge is given to the believer. Now we are united as one in Christ by that love of God's word. It should be that most important substance that unites all believers.

Deut 8:3

Ps 119:11

Ps 119:105

Prov 30:5

John 8:51

John 17:17

1 Cor 12:7-8

Phil 2:14-16

What a blessing it is to have that precious word of life within us. It was given to us so that we are not alone in our beliefs! We have that complete assurance from God.


"He who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son."

What a condemning statement that is! John is making it perfectly clear that if one rejects the testimony of God, given through Christ, then one is calling Jesus a liar. I wouldn't want to be that person standing before a Holy God in judgment.

As I mentioned before, when we toured the Holocaust museum, I couldn't help but be overwhelmed with the notion that these poor Jews were so desperate to have a witness to what was happening to them. They wanted to make sure they would be remembered and all the evil things they endured not forgotten. Even General Eisenhower made a similar claim when he said upon entering a concentration camp:

"The things I saw beggar description...the visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations to propaganda. Ohrdruf April 15, 1945."

He was a wise man indeed, for he had the foresight to know that one day people wouldn't believe the Holocaust ever happened. So, Gen Eisenhower wanted to make sure that the testimonies of the survivors remained. This shows just how important a witness truly is to God's people.

We worship a God of remembrance.

Luke 22:19

1 Cor 11:24

Is 43:26

How blessed we are when our Holy God remembers us. He has put inside us His Spirit that we can see His invisible attributes not only in creation, but on His Scriptures. He has given us 3 witnesses in heaven and on earth that those who believe in Him will not be put to shame.

And He remembers us.....and asks that we remember Him.

Take time today to truly remember Him. Do you have memorials set up around you that help you remember all that He has done for you in good times and in bad? Sit and be still for a moment and think back on your life and picture the memorials set up to Him that glorify all the times He was there in those difficult times in the "wilderness" and those wonderful times in "paradise" with Him.

Really take time to praise Him for all that He has done.


Life Application

Our "witness" is how we can minister to other believers. When we become transparent to others, we begin to allow them to see all that God has done....not all that we are.

It can be a difficult think to allow others to know what happened in your past. But when I saw all those pictures in the Holocaust museum of how the Jews suffered, I realized how important our witness really is. It can be the difference between life and death for some.

I remember when our Pastor told the story about when he was a youth minister back in Ohio. He would often tell the students about his past: rock & roll music, drugs, fornication, etc.

He would tell them about how God called him, changed him, and used him for His glory. It is a powerful testimony of how God changes a man.

Afterwards, a young girl approached him and said how she wished she had a "testimony" like his because hers was boring. Our Pastor then told her to praise God for her "boring" testimony because He had spared her alot of pain and humiliation.

Our testimonies can be powerful weapons in bringing other to Christ when we keep the focus not on what we have done, but on what Christ has done through us.

1 Cor 7:20-21

Here Paul tells us not to worry about what we were when we were called....but rather to "use it" all for the glory of God. Use your testimony to tell others about the glory of God.


Until next time....

"The believer finds Christ so altogether lovely that he can respond, 'As the years go by and I compare Christ in the Bible, I fine that the promises are all true. Christ is even better than what can be put into words. My conscience witnesses that he is mine and I am his.' This internal witness enables believers, in turn, to be witnesses for God. As Jesus said, 'He shall testify of me; and ye also shall bear witness' (John 15:26-27). God will use your witness to reach lost sinners. Ask God to help you proclaim the truth of His Word and to be a powerful witness of his amazing Son."

-Dr. Joel Beeke (The Epistles of John, 2006, p. 199)



Monday, July 14, 2008

The First Epistle of John: Lesson Sixty-Three

"..that the God of

our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of

glory, may give to you

the spirit of wisdom and

revelation in the knowledge

of Him..."

Ephesians 1:17


Let's pray together....

"Oh Father God, as I read Your words this morning, I do pray and ask for the spirit of wisdom and revelation that I may have that knowledge of You. I thank You, Lord, for that spirit that You have given us so that we are not alone here in creation. But that we may be in Your presence and know more about You. What a precious gift that is.

I do seek the forgiveness of my sins knowing that my sins are against You. I pray that You will wash me clean and fill me with Your Holy Spirit and guard my speech.

I lift up each woman reading this lesson and ask that You speak to her through Your word today. I pray that You will give her the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that she will grow in the knowledge of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In Jesus' name...amen."


The Certainty of God's Witness

In the last lesson we looked at the three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit and how these three are one in the same.

Now we will look at how John, in hopes of convincing his readers, tells us of the three witnesses here on earth that bear witness to God as well. And we will see how these three are one in the same as well.

1 John 5:8-

"And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one."

As we looked at before, witnesses are very important. Here John reminds his readers that there are witnesses to who Christ is. He was one, but there are more physical witnesses as well.

The Spirit, the Water, and the Blood

Remember the false witnesses brought before the Sanhedrin during Christ's trial, they were liars.

Matt 26:59-68

The witnesses were false and not in agreement.....the witnesses on earth are in agreement as John reminds us, because they are one in the same.

John was there when the Spirit descended to Christ from heaven. The Gnostics taught that the Messiah came upon Jesus, the man, at that time but left Him prior to His death. They believed that death was a sign of weakness. To counter that false teaching, John reminds us that Jesus also came by blood, that is, by the cross (The Epistles of John, 2006, pp. 194-195).

Because Christ suffered and bled on the cross, He fulfilled Scripture that said the Messiah must do this to accomplish the will of God.

Luke 24:26-27

Is 53:4-6

The Prophecy of the Scriptures says that the Messiah must suffer and die. The witness of the blood fulfilled this prophecy. Next, God the Father gave signs as a witness that Jesus was the Messiah on the cross: He turned midday sunlight into darkness, he tore the temple veil in two, sent an earthquake, opened tombs and made the dead believers rise, and finally it was Jesus' resurrection from the dead that proved He was the incarnate Son of God (The Epistles of John, 2006, p. 195).

1 Cor 15:3-4

The Gnostics were twisting the Word of God around like many false teachers do today in order to make their followers deny the Gospels. They tried to make the gospel fit neatly into their human thinking just like some teachers are doing today.

John teaches in his epistles that the Gospel of Christ isn't meant to fit neatly into our ways, but it is to disturb our ways because we are evil. The Gospel divides, separates, cuts deeply, and confronts lies.

Heb 4:11-13

Matt 10:34-39

Jesus was baptized by John to fulfill Scripture that the Messiah would fulfill all righteousness.

Matt 3:13-17

By being baprized, He was fulfilling Scripture that the priests of God were sprinkled with water and ceremoniously cleansed as they were ordained into the priesthood. Jesus Christ, the eternal High Priest, also followed this ceremonial act as He was ordained into the priesthood and began His ministry.

Num 8:6-7

Christianity is a faith built on supernatural events as well as the physical world. John reminds us that there are the physical witnesses like the water and blood, but also the supernatural workings of the Spirit.

Our faith is more inward that outward. We do not rely on acts or works for our salvation, but in the working of the Holy Spirit we are given the assurance that Scripture is true, Jesus died for our sins as the Messiah promised in Scripture, and He rose again and defeated death for us as promised in the Scriptures.

1 Cor 12:3

If you understand anything written in the Bible at all it is only because of the Holy Spirit working in you. It is that gift given to you by God.

Take time today to meditate on all that you have read. Remember that Christ Jesus fulfilled all that was written of the Messiah. He is our true and faithful witness....and because of this we can rejoice always!

We had the opportunity to tour the Holocaust Museum last week. As you enter in, there is a sign carved in stone that reads, "You are My witnesses..." from Is. 43:10 as they try to convict all visitors to remember that the horrors they are about to see really happened and to never forget since some are already saying the Holocaust never happened.

But that verse is taken out of context. Ironically, that verse is one of many in Is 43 written about the Redeemer of Israel: Jesus Christ whom the Jews reject as their Messiah. I couldn't help but notice the irony.

How sad that the Jewish people rely so heavily on the witness of those who survived and all the physical evidence they have gathered there as a witness to what happened from 1933-1945. But we all know that those witnesses (humans and material things) are finite. The remaining survivors will all die one day and the material evidence will whither away. Then what will they have to testify?

We have the Spirit, the water, and the blood of Christ which is eternal and will never die nor whither away.

Praise Him for that miracle today.


Life Application

As we toured the Holocaust museum, I was so filled with sorrow and sadness not only because of the plight of the European Jews during the Nazi regime, but because it will all happen again due to the fact that they still reject Christ as their Messiah.

One thing gave me pause: we saw an old rusted out milk keg that was found in one ghetto where the Jews were taken. One man had it in mind to hide proof of what was happening to the Jews inside that milk keg in case evidence would be needed in the future. Evidence that he and the others ever existed at all.

So, he hid newspapers, letters, photos, and other artifacts of his own and those that he collected from others inside of that milk keg for safe keeping. Then, they buried it.

Sure enough, it was found years later after the Nazis surrendered. They display some of the artifacts from the keg in the museum.

It made me stop and think about what will happen to the Jews and the Gentiles left behind after we are taken up with Jesus. Will they try and preserve evidence of their existence during the Tribulation? Or will they receive the mark of the beast and survive?

All I know is that I am glad I have The Advocate. I am saved from God's wrath. I am saved from the next Holocaust because of what Jesus did for me. The Book of Revelation says that the next Holocaust will be much worse. Praise God today that He has spared you of the horrors to come.

Rev 16:1-21


Until next time.....

"There meet in Jesus Christ infinite highness and infinite condescension. Christ, as He is God, is infinitely great and high above all. He is higher than the kings of the earth for He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is higher than the heavens, and higher than the highest angles of heaven. So great is He that all men, all kings and princes, are as worms of the dust before Him; all nations are as a drop of the bucket, and the light dust of the balance..."

-Jonathan Edwards 1703-1758 (Altogether Lovely, 1997, p. 19)



Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The First Epistle of John: Lesson Sixty-Two

"Now that I am no longer in the world,

but these are

in the world,

and I come to You.

Holy Father, keep through

Your name those whom

You have given Me,

that they may be one as

We are."

John 17:11


Let's seek the Lord together....

"Holy Father in heaven above, thank You Lord for giving us Your holy word that we may know more about You. I pray and thank You for not leaving us alone, but giving us Your word. Thank You that we can have fellowship and communion with You, Lord. Thank You for giving us Your Holy Spirit and the fear of You in our hearts.

I pray and ask forgiveness of my sins. I know it is against You that I have sinned and I pray that You will wash me clean from my unholiness. I pray, Lord, that You will renew a steadfast spirit within me and give me strength.

Lord, I lift up each lady reading this study to You in prayer. I know her needs are real and they can be cumbersome. So, I pray that You will go to her and encourage her in her time of need. Show her more of who You are. Lift her up, walk alongside her and give her peace as she faces her day.

In Jesus' name....amen."


The Three Witnesses

Last time we began to look more into the Certainty of God's Witness. We learn from the Greek word for "witness" that John meant it in a forensic way. We also remember that John is a viable witness to Christ Jesus and His life here on earth.

Witnesses are important. We rely on them for many things. The testimony of a witness can either free a person or condemn them. John wants his readers to learn that God's witness is reliable and TRUTH.

Spirit, water, and blood are what we see in these verses of 1 John. But today we will look more into the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit.

1 John 5:7-

"For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one."

Remember to whom John is writing: believers struggling with doubt and false teachings among them.

John's followers lived among the Gnostics. Remember that these people believed that Jesus was Spirit only so that He did not die for our sins. They believed that you achieve salvation through knowledge and spirituality.

The Gnostics believed that you only love one another only in words and not in deeds. They beleived that spirit was good and matter (or the material world) was evil.

So, to them Jesus was not their Savior because there is no need of a savior.

John reminds his readers that he witnessed Jesus' baptism by water where he also witnessed the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus, and he witnessed Christ's death on the cross by blood. John is a most viable witness, but God has a viable witness as well: the Holy Spirit. (First John, 2001, Precept Ministries, used by permission)

The Father

Please read:

Deut 6:4-5

Deut 10:12-14

1 Cor 8:4-6

Matt 22:37

Eph 4:6

We read in scripture that God is the One and only true God in the universe. Only 3 religions on earth worship one god: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

But only 2 religions worship the God of the Old Testament: Judaism and Christianity.

Only 1 religion worships the God of the Bible: Christianity

What separates these religions? Atonement

Judaism and Islam have no atonement for their sins. The Jews used to have atonement when they had the temple and the ark of the covenant along with the priesthood, but the Lord stripped them of these things as punishment for rejecting His Son as Messiah.

Islam uses works as a means to gaining salvation.

Only Christianity has atonement for sins: Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. These alone made reconciliation with God. Now, through Him, are we reconciled.

The Word

John 1:1

1 John 1:1

Rev 19:13

John 17:5

We read here that Jesus is the Word John writes about in these verses. These verses regarding the Word reveal the deity of Jesus Christ. In Greek philosophy, the "logos" was "reason" or "logic" as an abstract force that brought unity to the universe.

But in John's writings, we see that the Logos is the very person of Christ. It is God incarnate... God coming as man. John is telling the world that Jesus (Logos) is not only reason and logic, but God here on earth, God before time began, God always. We see here the concept of Persons within the unity of the Godhead.

Col 2:8-10

The Holy Spirit

Jesus promised that He would send a "Helper" or "Paraclete" to come along side us and help us and carry on Christ's work. A paraclete is an advocate, helper, or ally and supporter.

John 14:16-17

John 14:26

John 15:26-27

John 16:7-15

Rom 8:15

Rom 5:5

1 Cor 2:13

To see how the three witnesses in heaven work together as One, read the following verses:

Rom 8:1-11

Here is an example:

"But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you."

Let's take that verse apart so we can see how all 3 persons of God are One...

The Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead= God, the Father

Jesus from the dead= Jesus Christ the Son, Logos

will give life to your mortal bodies thruogh His Spirit who dwells in you= the Holy Spirit

Here we see how all 3 work together as One: God, His Spirit, His Son.

1 Pet 1:22-25


Now we have learned little more about the 3 witnesses of God in heaven and how these 3 are One in the same. I find it wonderful how God works. He did not create and then leave us alone. He gave of Himself to us physically and also of His Spirit to come along side us and help us.

Take time today to really pray and meditate on what it is that God has showed you today in this lesson. Perhaps He revealed to you how He is 3 in one for the first time or perhaps He reminded you of who He is. Praise Him today for the way He works in us. For no other religion on earth has what we have: a holy God who came down and lived among us, died for us, and then left behind His Spirit to guide us through life.


Life Application

The Trinity is something in scripture that many Christians find hard to understand. I was a believer for many years before I came to understand that Jesus and God are one in the same along with the Holy Spirit.

Eph 1:13-14

In these verse we are blessed to read that we have been given the "word of truth" and that we have been sealed with the "Holy Spirit of promise" who is the "guarantee of our inheritance" forever. Praise God!

Sometimes it is easy to doubt and wonder if we are believing in truth or a lie. Can we really trust God that He will save us? Or will we face Him and be told we followed a lie?

John and Paul both faced such questions from their followers. That is why we have their letters of encouragement to read:

Rom 9:33

1 John 5:13

We have assurance that we will never be brought to shame for believing in Jesus because these things have been written to those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God that we may KNOW that we have eternal life.

How wonderful it is to have that complete assurance!


Until next time....

"This world is a valley of tears, a world filled with sighs and groans. One groaning under some bodily pain; another is mourning and lamenting over a dear departed friend; another is crying out by reason of the arm of the oppresor. But in heaven there is no mixure of such sounds as these; there is nothing to be heard among them but the sweet and glorious melody of God's praises. Theres is a holy cheerfulness to be seen throughout that blessed society. Rev 21:4: 'And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying.' They shall never have anything more to do with sighing and crying; but their eternal work henceforth shall be praise."

-Jonathan Edwards 1703-1758 (Altogether Lovely, 1997, p. 228)



Running the Good Race


Ran 3 miles Sat. morning at 5:30 am. It was so cool out and quiet. I prefer running at that time on Saturdays.

Rested on Sunday.

Ran up North Mountain Monday evening. A windstorm blew threw so it wasn't as hot out. I ran up the mountain 1 and 1/2 times. Will try for 2 times next time after vacation.

Will run again tomorrow and then again on Thursday. Probably won't have time on Friday since we leave the next day for vacation.

Am hoping I can run during the vacation. Don't want to take a whole week off.