1 John 3

1j3.jpgGreetings!

3     How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

God has adopted us as children.  Some people say that everyone is a “child of God,” but as I explored here that is not the case.  We should live in joy that God has adopted us and share that with others.

4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

That is a challenging passage at first glance, because it makes it appear that if we sin we aren’t Christians.  But that can’t be reconciled with many other passages.  There is a deeper meaning that appears to distinguish between our sinful nature and our new nature in Christ, such as in Romans 7:20 – Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

Love One Another

11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.

We are often desperate to be liked, but the message of the Gospel will offend people.  We don’t want to add to the offense with ill manners and the like, but it is more important to make the truth about God known than to try to win the world’s approval.  In the end they won’t approve of you anyway.

14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

We are commanded to believe in Jesus and to love one another. 

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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1 John 2

1j2.jpgGreetings!

As always, it is important to read the context of Bible passages.  If you just take the first part of verse 1 you would have a false teaching that we might never sin again.  But reading on you see that sin is still going to be in our lives and we have Jesus in our defense when Satan accuses us. 

Also, while Jesus died for the sins of the “whole world,” one shouldn’t conclude that all are saved.  Countless other passages show that without faith in Christ we will still be accountable for our sins ourselves. 

2     My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.

We can claim to love Jesus and be in the light, but it is so easy to hate others. 

12 I write to you, dear children,

because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.

13 I write to you, fathers,

because you have known him who is from the beginning.

I write to you, young men,

because you have overcome the evil one.

I write to you, dear children,

because you have known the Father.

14 I write to you, fathers,

because you have known him who is from the beginning.

I write to you, young men,

because you are strong,

and the word of God lives in you,

and you have overcome the evil one.

Do Not Love the World

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

V. 15-16 are great to memorize.  It is a constant challenge not to get pulled into the world’s perverted system of right and wrong. 

Warning Against Antichrists

18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

People who deny Jesus are also denying God the Father.  This is one of the many passages (roughly 100) in the New Testament that demonstrate that Jesus is the only way to Salvation.

24 See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—even eternal life.

26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

Children of God

28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

1 John 1

1j1.jpgGreetings!

This is a short but powerful chapter.  John jumps right into an apologetic (a defense of the faith) by noting how they heard, saw and touched Jesus.  He was fully human and fully divine.  Some false teachers held that Jesus wasn’t really human, because they thought material things were essentially evil and needed to be abandoned.  Others taught that Jesus was not God.

John heard the message “from him,” that is, Jesus (v. 5).

Why did John write this?  To “make our joy complete,” not to pile burdens on us.  Sometimes we share the “Good News” (the Gospel) as if it were bad news that needs to be apologized for.  Not at all!  The bad news is that we are sinners before a Holy God and rightly deserve punishment.  The Good News is that Jesus died for our sins and we can have salvation by trusting in what He did for us.

John expands on the “light” imagery he used in his Gospel (John 1:4-5 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.)

 Those who claim to be without sin lie to themselves and about God.  Praise God that He is faithful and just and will not only forgive us but purify us.  But John wasn’t saying that we can’t be obedient to God.  He also says that we should walk “in the light.”  One way to look at it, which I concede could be an oversimplification, would be to say that as authentic believers we won’t be sinless but that we will sin_less.  And if we have trusted in Christ then all our sins – past, present and future, are forgiven. 

We are forgiven not because of righteous things we have done, but because God is faithful to his promises.

1 John

The Word of Life

1     That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.

Walking in the Light

5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

I John – III John introduction

1j.jpgGreetings!  The Bible includes three short letters that the Apostle John wrote (in addition to the Gospel of John).  The first has five chapters and the next two only have one chapter each.

They were written to encourage Christians everywhere in their faith and to combat false teachings.  The church wasn’t very old but was already fighting a two front battle: Externally, against the Romans and other persecutors, and internally against false teachers.  Depending on where you live in the world, those battles continue to this day.

Some people were teaching that Jesus was just a spirit.  John shows how Jesus had a real body.

John mentions love a lot, but he also teaches clear and important doctrines such as the exclusivity of Christ:

1 John 3:1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

1 John 5:11-12 And this is the testimony: 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.

Read and enjoy these wonderful books!

Proverbs 16

pr16.jpgGreetings!  Here is another major dose of wisdom from the Lord.

16     To man belong the plans of the heart,

but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue.

2 All a man’s ways seem innocent to him,

but motives are weighed by the Lord.

People are really good at rationalizing away their sins.  I know I am. 

3 Commit to the Lord whatever you do,

and your plans will succeed.

4 The Lord works out everything for his own ends—

even the wicked for a day of disaster.

God constantly makes good come out of bad.  He is permitting evil for a time, but will eventually punish it.  And He redeemed it through what Jesus did on the cross for us.

5 The Lord detests all the proud of heart.

Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;

through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil.

So many things we teach kids (and adults) revolve around not doing things because of personal consequences to us.  But we forget that the main reason to obey is because He is God.

7 When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord,

he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.

8 Better a little with righteousness

than much gain with injustice.

9 In his heart a man plans his course,

but the Lord determines his steps.

10 The lips of a king speak as an oracle,

and his mouth should not betray justice.

11 Honest scales and balances are from the Lord;

all the weights in the bag are of his making.

12 Kings detest wrongdoing,

for a throne is established through righteousness.

13 Kings take pleasure in honest lips;

they value a man who speaks the truth.

14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,

but a wise man will appease it.

15 When a king’s face brightens, it means life;

his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.

16 How much better to get wisdom than gold,

to choose understanding rather than silver!

17 The highway of the upright avoids evil;

he who guards his way guards his life.

18 Pride goes before destruction,

a haughty spirit before a fall.

V. 18 is a famous reminder of the dangers of pride.  Pride is at the root of virtually every other sin.  When we put our interests above others we can rationalize all sorts of evil. 

19 Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed

than to share plunder with the proud.

20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,

and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.

21 The wise in heart are called discerning,

and pleasant words promote instruction.

22 Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it,

but folly brings punishment to fools.

23 A wise man’s heart guides his mouth,

and his lips promote instruction.

24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb,

sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

25 There is a way that seems right to a man,

but in the end it leads to death.

There are so many “hollow and deceptive philosphies” in the world (Colossian 2:8), but they lead to misery and Hell.

26 The laborer’s appetite works for him;

his hunger drives him on.

27 A scoundrel plots evil,

and his speech is like a scorching fire.

28 A perverse man stirs up dissension,

and a gossip separates close friends.

29 A violent man entices his neighbor

and leads him down a path that is not good.

30 He who winks with his eye is plotting perversity;

he who purses his lips is bent on evil.

31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor;

it is attained by a righteous life.

32 Better a patient man than a warrior,

a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.

33 The lot is cast into the lap,

but its every decision is from the Lord.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Psalm 42

ps42.jpgGreetings!

BOOK II

Psalms 42-72

For the director of music. A maskil of the Sons of Korah.

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,

so my soul pants for you, O God.

2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

When can I go and meet with God?

I have always liked the song As the Deer, which is based on v. 1-2.  Picture a deer thirsting for water and think about your soul desiring God like that.  The author doesn’t sense God close by but he yearns for him.

3 My tears have been my food

day and night,

while men say to me all day long,

“Where is your God?”

4 These things I remember

as I pour out my soul:

how I used to go with the multitude,

leading the procession to the house of God,

with shouts of joy and thanksgiving

among the festive throng.

5 Why are you downcast, O my soul?

Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God,

for I will yet praise him,

my Savior and 6 my God.

My soul is downcast within me;

therefore I will remember you

from the land of the Jordan,

the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.

7 Deep calls to deep

in the roar of your waterfalls;

all your waves and breakers

have swept over me.

8 By day the Lord directs his love,

at night his song is with me—

a prayer to the God of my life.

9 I say to God my Rock,

“Why have you forgotten me?

Why must I go about mourning,

oppressed by the enemy?”

10 My bones suffer mortal agony

as my foes taunt me,

saying to me all day long,

“Where is your God?”

11 Why are you downcast, O my soul?

Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God,

for I will yet praise him,

my Savior and my God.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Even though the author is downcast, he still hopes and trusts in God, and gives him praise.  May we do the same!  This is often the cure for our temporary depressions – reading God’s word, remembering who He is and what He has done, and reminding ourselves that Jesus paid our debts on the cross. 

Psalm 41

ps41.jpgGreetings!

God loves mercy and protection for the weak. 

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

1 Blessed is he who has regard for the weak;

the Lord delivers him in times of trouble.

2 The Lord will protect him and preserve his life;

he will bless him in the land

and not surrender him to the desire of his foes.

3 The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed

and restore him from his bed of illness.

4 I said, “O Lord, have mercy on me;

heal me, for I have sinned against you.”

We could pray verse 4 every day. 

5 My enemies say of me in malice,

“When will he die and his name perish?”

6 Whenever one comes to see me,

he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander;

then he goes out and spreads it abroad.

7 All my enemies whisper together against me;

they imagine the worst for me, saying,

8 “A vile disease has beset him;

he will never get up from the place where he lies.”

9 Even my close friend, whom I trusted,

he who shared my bread,

has lifted up his heel against me.

Have you ever had someone close to you betray you?  David was betrayed by Ahithophel (2 Samuel chapters 16-17), and Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot.  Jesus quoted v. 9 in John 13:18.

10 But you, O Lord, have mercy on me;

raise me up, that I may repay them.

11 I know that you are pleased with me,

for my enemy does not triumph over me.

12 In my integrity you uphold me

and set me in your presence forever.

13 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,

from everlasting to everlasting.

Amen and Amen.

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[1] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.