Friday, November 30, 2012

God's Abundant Love (1 John 4:9-10)

Today's scripture: 1 John 4:9-10

Love is from God. Without a loving, merciful, gracious Creator, we wouldn’t know what true, selfless love is.

Think about it. God the Father loved us so much, He sent His Son—part of Himself—to wear human flesh. Jesus was a typical boy, I’m sure. He skinned His knee. He bumped His head. He may have been teased.

Then He grew to be a man. He worked as a carpenter. His muscles ached. He was drenched with sweat.

He began His earthly ministry. He walked miles and miles. He sat in the sun and taught. He healed—sometimes receiving gratitude, sometimes not.

Finally, He faced betrayal, arrest, denial, beatings, ridicule. And death in a most excruciatingly painful way.

All for us. All because of the Father’s abundant love for us. And He did this even for those who reject Him.

That’s love. And we who are God’s children can love selflessly as well. We can serve others. We can be gracious even when we’re being persecuted. We can let Christ shine through us. But we can’t love that way on our own. It’s only when we allow God’s love to permeate our very beings that we can love others.

And that’s exactly what God calls us to do.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Love One Another (1 John 4:7-8)

Today's scripture: 1 John 4:7-8

An old saying says, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Jesus said that loving our neighbor as ourselves is the second greatest commandment. But do we really obey this commandment? Do we really, truly love others? I know for me, no matter how I try, there are times when it’s really, really hard to love others. When someone cuts me off. When someone says something rude. When someone disparages those I love. When someone hurts another maliciously.

It is not easy. But we have the Giver of love as our Father. We should love as He loves. As much as we possibly can.

We will fail. It’s that flesh again. We’ll get angry or be rude ourselves. We’ll gossip. We’ll ignore.

But as with any godly attribute, we can strive to love in spite of the weaknesses or attitudes of those around us. We can turn the figurative cheek. We can be gentle and kind.

Who’s to say that our loving behavior might be the catalyst for change in someone else’s life?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Greater Is He (1 John 4:4-6)

Today's scripture: 1 John 4:4-6

One of my favorite encouragements: “… greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”

No matter what this world throws at me, no matter how the enemy tries to tempt me, I can be confident I’ll overcome anything because the Victor is in me!

I am from God. I am His child. I listen to His voice, read His word, know His truth.

And because of the confidence I have in Him, I don’t need to worry or stress about what’s happening in this world that’s rapidly winding down. One day, this world will pass away. It will be no more. And all the ugliness and perversion and corruption will become nothing.

We who are His children will live eternally praising and serving our God. In a perfect new heaven and new earth.

I can’t wait!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Confess Jesus as Lord (1 John 4:2-3)

Today's scripture: 1 John 4:2-3

When God inspired me to begin a speaking ministry eight years ago, I wrote my “statement of faith.” It’s crucial that anyone who asks me to speak understands my theological foundation:

* I believe in the triune God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

* I believe that the triune God created heavens and earth and all that’s in them; that God the Son—Jesus—died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin and rose three days later; and that God the Holy Spirit dwells within each one who accepts the free gift of salvation and eternal life.

* I believe that salvation comes only through the belief in and acceptance of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

* I believe that those who choose to follow Jesus will spend eternity with Him in heaven, and those who do not will spend eternal life separated from Him.

* I believe that God has uniquely gifted each of His children, and that we are to use those gifts to serve and glorify Him, serve each other, and ultimately grow His kingdom.

Having a ministry that shares God’s truth has made it easier to “confess that Jesus Christ has come.” People ask me what I do, and I tell them.

That’s what we’re called to do: confess Jesus as Lord. We can’t say we’re children of the one true God and not do so. To say we follow the God of the Bible, and in the next breath say Jesus isn’t the only way of salvation is, in truth, anti-Christ. We’ve talked about this before: If we’re not 100 percent for Jesus, we’re anti-Him. It just can’t be both ways.

Be for Jesus Christ. Confess Him as Lord. Tell others of the truth of His life, death, and resurrection. Share the good news of salvation boldly and joyfully.

Don’t be anti-Christ.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Beware of False Prophets (1 John 4:1)

Today's scripture: 1 John 4:1

We’ve talked about false prophets before, but it bears repeating, which is probably why John wrote about it several times.

Not only is our world full of false faiths—too many to list here—but it’s also full of false prophets. “Feel good” gospel. Make up your own version of what you believe. Pull the Bible apart and keep what allows you to live however you choose.

How God’s heart must break when He sees people who say they’re followers of His Son, who call themselves “Christians,” yet live so contrary to His word. They live in habitual sin. They more than love their neighbor, they accept and even celebrate outright sin.

I honestly don’t know how anyone can read and study the Bible, and then live with her boyfriend or maliciously gossip or abuse his wife. I know ours isn’t the first generation to do so. “Sunday Christians” have existed as long as Sunday has.

But it’s just so tragic. So heartbreaking. I know Christians aren’t perfect—I certainly am not. But we should live each moment of each day seeking the help of the Holy Spirit. We should “go and sin no more” when we revert to our fleshly ways. We should trust God’s word as the one and only truth.

Don’t get caught up with the hype. Don’t believe those who tell you Jesus isn’t the only way. Don’t trust anyone who teaches anything contrary to God’s truth.

No, Christians aren’t perfect, but we are being perfected (see Philippians 1:6). And to be that “work in progress,” we need to live by the one guidebook we have.

Have you studied your Bible—just as God inspired—today?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Believe. Love. Keep. Abide. (1 John 3:23-24)

Today's scripture: 1 John 3:23-24

John wraps up chapter three with some final admonitions:

* Believe in the name of Jesus Christ.
* Love one another.
* Keep His commandments.
* Abide in Christ.

To be part of God's family, we must believe in the name of Jesus Christ. We must believe that He came to earth to pay the penalty for our sins. That He died a horrible, painful death to provide forgiveness for us. That He rose again and now lives. When we believe in His name, when we accept the gift of salvation, we are forever sons and daughters of the King of kings.

We are to love one another. Because we are so loved, we can't help but love others. Because we have been forgiven much, we should be willing to forgive others.

In order to serve God, we need to keep His commandments. We should keep those Ten we all know about (no idols, no adultery, no coveting), but we also need to keep those commandments Jesus and His followers gave (loving others, living at peace with our brothers and sisters, manifesting the Spirit's truths).

Finally, we have the privilege of actually abiding in Christ because He abides in us. He is with us always. And because we abide in Him, we can be confident of many things:

We are loved. So very loved. We are forgiven. We are blessed. We are given grace. We are given mercy.

God is our refuge. Our stronghold. Our healer. Our rock. Our provider.

Jesus Christ walks alongside us. Carries us when we’re weary.

The Holy Spirit convicts us. Affirms us. Encourages us.

What an amazing God we serve!