Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What Do You Believe? (1 John 2:22-23)

Today's scripture: 1 John 2:22-23

A couple of days ago, we read about the many “antichrists” in the world today. Today’s verses make it even more pointed. Anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ—the Messiah—is an antichrist. Anti-Christ. Against Christ.

Just as we must decide whom we serve—God or money (Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13), we must decide what we believe about Jesus. It’s not enough to say He was a wise man or a good teacher. He said He was equal with God the Father (“I and My Father are one,” John 10:30). He claimed that “no one comes to the Father but through [Jesus]” (John 14:6).

So to say He was just a good man or anything less than the Messiah is just plain wrong. And if you deny what He Himself said He was, then you’re against Him. You’re an antichrist.

I don’t know about you, but that chills me to the bone.

History—even secular history—has proven Jesus existed here on earth. And a two-millennia faith has flourished since the first disciples began sharing the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection. The gospels and Paul’s letters date to within just decades of the actual events. So closely, in fact, those who disputed Christ’s followers could have easily brought eye-witnesses to deny believers' claims.

But they didn’t. They couldn’t. Because everything happened exactly as the Bible said it did. Jesus did come to earth. He did die for the sins of mankind. He did rise again. He is Messiah, Savior.

Don’t deny truth. Don’t deny Christ as Messiah. Don’t be anti-Christ.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Learning God's Truth (1 John 2:20-21)

Today's scripture: 1 John 2:20-21

When we committed our lives to God the Son, we received not only an anointing from the God the Father, but also God the Holy Spirit indwelt us. He is in us. And He helps reveal the truth of God’s word. As we study and meditate on God’s word, we know the truth.

Time in God’s word is the only way to really know God and His will. And it takes time. Every day. I know I write about this a lot, but it’s true. Until I spent time with God—every day—my walk with Him was, well, up and down, back and forth. It was too easy to neglect God. To neglect my faith. And fall into old fleshly ways.

When I made it a point (literally an appointment) to spend time with God each day, my life changed. For the better. As I learned more about Him and His love, grace, and mercy, my faith grew stronger. I had more peace. More joy. And As I trusted my life to Him, I became more content with whatever He sent my way.

Now, my day isn’t complete without spending time with God. Sometimes it’s only a few minutes. Other times, it’s much longer. The important thing? Keeping Him first and foremost in my heart and mind. Learning more about Him and His will.

Every day. What will you do this day to know your God more deeply?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Today's Antichrists (1 John 2:18-19)

Today's scripture: 1 John 2:18-19

In the end times, there will be an Antichrist, who will deceive the world and usher in the tribulation (which, I believe, will happen after the rapture of the church). But even in these days, there are many, many antichrists. Anyone who is against Jesus Christ is an antichrist.

Atheists. Agnostics. Followers of other “faiths” that deny Jesus as God. And sadly, so-called Christians who say Jesus may not have been sinless or that He isn’t necessarily the only way to salvation and eternal life with God.

Everyone must make a choice. Is Jesus who the Bible says He is? God the Son who came to earth to pay our penalty for sin and to reconcile us with God the Father? Or was He just another wise teacher? Or maybe a myth?

You can either be a Christ-follower—heart, soul, mind, and strength—or an antichrist. One or the other.

Which are you? Your decision has eternal ramifications. And as I wrote on Friday, you must make a choice. So again, choose wisely.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Where Is Your Focus? (1 John 2:15-17)

Today’s scripture: 1 John 2:15-17

Our world offers many enticements. Things that appeal to our flesh, that catch our eyes. Wear this, and you’ll look like her. Use this make-up, and you’ll defy age. Drive this car, and you’ll be popular. Ads and commercials depict beautiful, carefree people living just for today.

And sometimes even we Christ-followers get caught up in the hype. But the Bible makes it very, very clear. We cannot love the world and God. Whichever is our primary focus becomes either our God (capital “g”) or our god (lower case “g”).

The Bible makes something else very, very clear: This world and everything in it is temporary. It will “pass away.” In fact, it’s in the very act as I write this. Even many secular scientists say the world is winding down, and we who follow Christ know that, one day, He will return. This world and its lusts will be destroyed, and we’ll live eternally in the new heaven and earth God has planned for us.

So … where is your focus? Are you running after the temporary things of this world? Or are you looking toward eternity? Are you living to serve God? Or the gods of this world?

You have to make a choice. Choose wisely.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Attributes of Believers (1 John 2:13-14)

Today’s scripture: 1 John 2:13-14

These verses describe four attributes of believers. Let’s look at them one by one:

We know God. We serve a personal God, One who wants to be known by His children. Many belief systems (in fact, most other than Christianity) believe their god to be far off somewhere, not interested in the day-to-day of us humans. Our God, on the other hand, is with us at all times. He never leaves us. We can come to Him at any time—and He’s here. Right now.

We have overcome the evil one. When we become followers of Jesus Christ, we join the winning side! Satan may try his best to tempt us or try to pull us away from the truth, but he knows he’s going to lose the war.

We are strong. With Jesus at our side, we can accomplish anything, according to the Father’s will. Yes, we may have pain or tragedy or crisis, but we are assured that we “can do all things” through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ (see Philippians 4:13).

God’s word abides in us. As believers, followers of Christ, it is critical—and I don’t use that word lightly—to spend time in God’s word. The Bible is full of truth, wisdom, encouragement, conviction, and inspiration. We know God more and more through His word. We know more and more about what He wants from us through His word.

Do you know God? Really know Him? Do you feel confident you’ve—with Jesus in you—overcome the evil one? Do you spend time in His word so it can abide in you?

Serving our personal God with whom we can truly be in relationship is a blessing beyond measure. Don’t take it for granted.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Name of Jesus (1 John 2:12)

Today’s scripture: 1 John 2:12

Such a short verse, but so rich. When we confess our sins, God the Father will forgive. (Don’t forget 1 John 1:9!) And He forgives because of the name of Jesus, God the Son.

There’s a wonderful old song written by Bill and Gloria Gaither called, “There’s Something About That Name.” The words are so true:

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there's just something about that name.
Master, Savior, Jesus, like the fragrance after the rain.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, let all heaven and earth proclaim!

Kings and kingdoms will all pass away,

But there's something about that name.

If you listen to a recording of this wonderful song, in between the two choruses, Gloria speaks of the amazing things that happen just at the mention of Jesus’ name:

Jesus, the mere mention of His name can calm the storm, heal the broken, raise the dead. At the name of Jesus, I've seen sin-hardened men melted, derelicts transformed, the lights of hope put back into the eyes of a hopeless child.  At the name of Jesus, hatred and bitterness turn to love and forgiveness; arguments cease.

Emperors have tried to destroy it; philosophies have tried to stamp it out. Tyrants have tried to wash it from the face of the earth with the very blood of those who claimed it. Yet still it stands!
And at the name of Jesus, we are forgiven. There really is something about that name. Indeed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Forgiving Others (1 John 2:9-11)

Today’s scripture: 1 John 2:9-11

For the first part of his letter, John focused on loving and serving God. Being Christ’s light. Now he ups the ante.

Living in Christ’s light means more than loving God. It means loving others as well. And John makes it very clear: If we hate someone, we’re walking in darkness.

Hate breeds in darkness. I know. For many years, the hate I harbored for my abusers filled my heart so completely, there was no room for peace or joy … or love. Even more, that hate kept me from my relationship with God as well.

It wasn’t until I could forgive and love—yes, love—those who had hurt me that I was able to truly love God. Remember, forgiveness doesn’t mean agreement or approval. It means taking the burden off of your own shoulders. It means opening your heart to God’s love.

Is there someone you’ve yet to forgive? Someone who’s hurt you? Forgive. And even if you can’t let them in your life (and that’s okay), ask Jesus to help you love them. With His love.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A New Commandment (1 John 2:7-8)

Today’s scripture: 1 John 2:7-8

John’s readers would have been very familiar with God’s commandments: to love Him (commandments 1-4) and to love others (commandments 5-10). So he first reminded them of that very fact. The “word which you have heard” would have been embedded in their hearts.

Yet John was also “writing a new commandment.”

Before Christ’s first visit to earth, the people of Israel were to follow a laundry list of cleansing and purification rituals. Law upon law. And for them, atonement came through an annual sacrifice of a spotless lamb.

Now, however, atonement comes through the spilled blood of Jesus Christ. John’s “new commandment” was to abide in the light—the true light—of the Savior. Accept His gift of forgiveness and salvation. Joyfully live in relationship with him.

And one last promise in today’s verses: “the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining.” Yes, this world seems to be very dark—and getting darker. However, Jesus’ light is already shining through those who really, truly follow Him.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may remember the time we spent in Philippians. Remember how Paul describes true followers? To paraphrase: We are light in a dark, perverted, corrupt world (see Philippians 2:15-16).

Shine the light of Jesus today.
Be Him to someone ... today and every day.

Friday, October 19, 2012

True Followers (1 John 2:3-6)

Today’s scripture: 1 John 2:3-6

As I’ve written before, there are many people who call themselves “Christians.” There are churches that say they’re “Christian” churches. But in reality? They’re liars.

If someone says he knows God, yet he picks and chooses what he believes, he’s a liar. If someone says he knows God, yet he disregards part of God’s word and commandments, he’s a liar. Hey, it’s not me who says this; it’s God.

Those who really know God will keep His commandments. They’ll keep His word. They’ll love God and others. They’ll abide in Him. They’ll walk as Jesus walked.

So, are you a true follower of Christ? Do you believe God’s word as His inspired revelation, inerrant in its original manuscripts? Do you strive to follow His commandments—knowing, of course, that you may fail sometimes? Do you do your best to walk as Jesus walked?

If you truly want to follow Jesus, don’t compromise. Don’t “edit” God’s word. Walk the walk, and talk the talk.

Because the Bible says some will experience a very tragic meeting with God one day: They’ll stand before God, and say, “I went to church. I called myself a Christian.” And He’ll say, “Who are you? I don’t know you.” (See Matthew 7:21-23.)

Don’t let that be you. Believe with your whole heart. Meditate on His entire word, even those passages you don’t necessarily understand—or even like. Follow His commandments. Love Him and others. Serve Him.

And then one day, you’ll hear those amazing words, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” (See Matthew 25:22-23; Luke 19:17.)

I don’t know about you, but that’s my desire: to live like Christ on earth, and then to stand before my Lord, knowing I loved, honored, and served Him well.