Category Archives: 1 John

Zechariah 9-11; 1 John 5

Periodically I hear people criticize Christianity because they say it’s just a bunch of rules you have to follow. And the Apostle John sort of agrees with them in this passage. And yet in the middle of these verses you find an astounding statement. See if you can find it.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—sour faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:1-5 [ESV])

Did you find it? I think the second sentence in verse three is astounding, “And his commandments are not burdensome.” I am reminded of some of the world class athletes we know. Michael Jordan never complained about the rules in basketball. He never complained because the basket rim was at 10 feet. He never complained about the 3 second rule or the length of the court. He was world class while playing within those constraints and excelled.

The rules and commands we find in the Bible are for our good. They protect us and give us freedom. They are not there to control but to bring freedom to our lives. They are not oppressive but freeing.

How bout you? What command are you having trouble with? Have you thought about the fact that obeying that command will bring you freedom. Try it and see if it works.

Oh and by the way. By keeping these commands in no way gets us into heaven. The Apostle John addresses that later in the chapter and takes all the guess work out about the heaven thing. Read below:

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13 [ESV])

So he gives us that answer right there in the statement. We enter into an eternal relationship with God by putting our trust in Him alone for our salvation. Simple believe in what He has done for us on the cross.

So where are you in all this today? Are you believing in Jesus alone for your salvation? Do you understand that it isn’t a bunch of rule keeping that gets us there? But on the other hand do you realize how freeing it is to live by the rules and commands God has given us? Think on these things today.

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Haggai; Zechariah 1; Psalm 138; 1 John 2

I remember 2 Chronicles 7:14 so well – it’s been drilled into my life through so many different kinds of prayer meetings. What a surprise to find the same message in Haggai this morning. When God is not a priority – it matters to Him!  I find myself meditating on His challenge.

Think about what I have said! – Haggai 1:7  CEV

While I might have been challenged this morning, it matters nothing unless I heed it.  What I love about God is that His grace was extended to me like He allows does.

The Lord’s answer was kind and comforting. – Zechariah 1:13  CEV

So what does that mean in my life today.  What can I expect?  Turning to the Lord, making Him my priority, gives me amazing blessings – love, protection, safety, kindness.

I worship at your holy temple and praise you for your love and your faithfulness.  You were true to your word and made yourself more famous than ever before.  Though you are above us all, and you keep a close watch on everyone who is proud.  I am surrounded by trouble, but you protect me against my angry enemies.  With your own powerful arm you keep me safe. You, Lord, will always treat me with kindness. Your love never fails. You have made us what we are. Don’t give up on us now!  – Psalm 138: 2, 6-8  CEV

Quite a journey this morning – repentance, Lord responds with grace, embraces me with blessings – how do I respond to that kind of cherishing?  A different kind of challenge ends my morning devotion.  God has called me to love Him, to have close friends who do the same, love others and in all of this, I cannot even give a small room in my heart to love the world.

We truly love God only when we obey him as we should, and then we know that we belong to him. My dear friends, I am not writing to give you a new commandment. It is the same one that you were first given, and it is the message you heard. But if we love others, we are in the light, and we don’t cause problems for them.  Don’t love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you cannot love the Father. – 1 John 2:5,7,10,15

Lord, this morning You are speaking right into my heart. As much as You have challenged me, You have made me come alive as I realize that I feel so connected with You. I pray that the Holy Spirit will give me the courage to be the follower of You that You have called me to be.  I do not want to live the life of a bored Christian.  May those I connect with see the passion in my life that You have put there.  Thank you for challenging me to make You a priority. Amen

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

 

 

 

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Filed under 1 John, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized, Zechariah

Ezra 3-4; Psalms 92; 1 John 1

“When the builders completed the foundation of the Lord’s Temple, the priests put on their robes and took their places to blow their trumpets.  And the Levites, descendants of Asaph, clashed their cymbals to praise the Lord, just as King David had prescribed.  With praise and thanks, they sang this song to the Lord:  “He is good! His faithful love for Israel  endures forever!”  Then all the people gave a great shout, praising the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s Temple had been laid.  But many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seem the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple’s foundation.  The others, however, were shouting for joy.  The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance.”  Ezra 3:10-12 NLT

Restoration has been a theme in my life for the past few years.  I can understand the feeling of joy mixed with sorrow.  The grief over what was and the hope for what will be.

These verses encourage me to…

Press On (the rebuilding of the new temple didn’t start until 50 years after the old one was destroyed).

Expect opposition.  Satan is a very real enemy, who wants to take me down. (“The enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were rebuilding a temple to the Lord, the God of Israel…Than the local residents tried to discourage and frighten the people of Judah to keep them from their work. ”Ezra 4:1&4 NLT)

Anticipate what God is doing.  Wait on him and be watchful. Listen to his voice.  Even when things don’t look like I thought they would, know that he can be trusted.

But the godly will flourish like palm tress and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. They will declare, “The Lord is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in him!” Psalms 92:12-15 NLT

No one can stop the work that God has begun.

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for your faithfulness.  Thank you that you are working eveything for my good.  That you forgive my sins. For your promise to always be with me. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

 

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2 Chronicles 6:12-42; 1 John 5; Habakkuk 1; Luke 20

I love Solomon’s prayer when he dedicated the temple to God once it was completed.  Full of passion, his body  language denoted humility before an almighty God.  I find myself falling on my knees and raising my hands in prayer more often these days – probably an act of surrender acknowledging to God that more and more I need Him in my life.

Solomon had made a bronze platform five cubits long, five cubits wide, and three cubits high, and had set it in the court; and he stood on it. Then he knelt on his knees in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven. – 2 Chronicles 6:13

Over the years, my “prayer batting average” is pretty low. I have prayed for the salvation of people who have not gotten saved. I have prayed for the restoration of sinning Christians, who have not repented and been restored. I have prayed for the reconciliation of many Christian marriages that have broken up.  I have prayed for physical healing for those in need and they have not been healed.  You would think that I might just give up.  I did once, when I was fourteen, and God showed up so tangibly that I will never lose my confidence that He is working everything out in His own time.

And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. – 1 John 5:14

I am still learning today the same lessons I did then as I face different situations in my life.  I still cry, still tell Him what bothers me and I have given God exactly what He needs to do to solve the problem – oops – He still is ignoring my solutions.

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen?  Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? – Habakkuk 1:1

I know there is a temptation for me to abuse prayer, to fake it and to tell everyone how pious I am in my prayer walk.  Pretty sure I have not fallen to the level of the scribes in Jesus’ time.

They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation. – Luke 20:47

Father, as I kneel before You with my outstretched arms, I do it knowing that as I come before You, it is to acknowledge that You reign in my life.  I yield my life before You and as Solomon consecrated the temple, I consecrate myself to You again this day.  As Jesus taught us to pray – I acknowledge You as my Father  –  I worship You today.  Be glorified in my life.  If that comes through answered prayer – that would be a blessing and encouragement to me – if it comes from Your hand another way, I am so thankful that You are still listening to me.  For Yours is the Kingdom, the power and the glory for ever – Amen. 

evanlaar

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2 Chronicles 5-6:11; 1 John 4; Nahum 3; Luke 19

“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. As we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:16-19 NLT

This passage brings to mind a book that I was given  years ago when I was letting fear grip my life. I flip through the pages and let the underlined words sink in… “My fear is really loneliness for God. Therefore I will claim His promise to never leave or forsake me. It’s in the secret place of our spirit that we need to receive profound love, the only lasting antidote to fear. And only God can love us as much as we need to be loved. Not just once, but daily, hour by hour, moment by moment” (Living Without Fear, Lloyd Ogilvie).

If I’m not on guard, I can let fear consume me even now…

Fear of what someone might think.
Fear of failure.
Fear of the future.
Fear of the unknown.
Fear of not being enough.
Fear of lack.

The list could go on and on.  But, when I trust in God’s perfect love for me, I have no reason to fear. Because I know that he won’t let me down. God’s love is the only one that’s perfect. He pursues me, like he did Zacchaeus. And my heart is changed.

“Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there names Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” Luke 19:1-5 NLT

I am thankful for a God who keeps his promises.

“Praise the Lord, God of Israel, who has kept the promise he made to my father, David. For he told my father, ‘From the day I brought my people out of the land of Egypt, I have never chosen a city among any of the tribes of Israel as the place where the Temple should be built to honor my name. Nor have I chosen a king to lead my people Israel…”And now the Lord has fulfilled the promise he made, for I have become king in my father’s place, and now I sit on the throne of Israel, just as the Lord promised. I have built this Temple to honor the name of the Lord, the God of Israel.” 2 Chronicles 6:4-10 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for loving me. I praise you for who you are. Help me to surrender my fears to you. Thank you for your faithfulness. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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2 Samuel 13; 2 Corinthians 6; Ezekiel 20; Psalms 66-67

A friend of mine said this past weekend something that stuck: “One of Satan’s tricks is to take what is abnormal and make it appear normal.” That’s sin! That’s the stunt that the he played on Eve, and then Eve on Adam: enter in the death spiral of sin.

Amnon takes what isn’t his at the expense of another. To sin, or trespass means that I cross into a place that wasn’t intended for me. Isn’t that the deadly game I try to play with God, when I sin? I end up where I don’t belong; without God’s grace calling me home, the path leads farther and farther from Him.

I am confronted with God’s question to the house of Israel, “Will you defile yourselves after the manner of your ancestors and go astray after their detestable things?” Ezekiel 20:32Am I going to turn away from God and seek those things which will never satisfy? Will I turn away from God’s view of normal to chase the abnormal and dysfunctional? Will I seek material comfort and temporary illusions of security at the expense of the one who made me to know and enjoy Him?

It’s from the Word of God that I learn what is real, true, “normal.” The Psalmist understands this. He has experienced pain and suffering but has known restoration. He has felt trapped and been without vision but learned that God is faithful:  “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid burdens on our backs; you let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.” Psalm 66:10-12.

Paul and his fellow believers have been there as well; “but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way; through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beating, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger…”2 Corinthians 6:4-5.  How did they respond? “by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech and the power of God.” 2 Corinthians 6:6Only in God’s world, his Kingdom is such a response normal, much less possible, but that is the Kingdom where my citizenship lies.

Holy Spirit, help me to keep sight of what is “normal,” and to be obedient. When I go through difficult times, by your power, work your purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness, and genuine love deep into my being. Let me speak only that which is sincere and true. Provide the faith needed to keep my eyes on you. It’s by your grace and mercy that I ask these things.  Amen.

Kathy

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Deuteronomy 1; Psalms 81-82; Isaiah 28; 3 John 1

It’s not difficult to adopt the arrogant mindset that I am master of my future and commander of my fate. I may not say it with words, but in my head, I am thinking, “Move over God and let me get things done. I know best.” I am not alone in this. God describes his relationship with the people of Israel:

I said to you, “Have no dread or fear of them. The Lord your God, who goes before you, is the one who will fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your very eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as one carries a child, all the way that you traveled until you reached this place. But in spite of this, you have no trust in the Lord your God who goes before you on the way to seek out a place fore you to camp, of fire by night, and in cloud by day, to show you the route you should take.  Deuteronomy 1:30-32

The only person I am fooling is myself. Isaiah describes this lack of trust:

Ha! You who hide a plan too deep for the Lord, whose deeds are in the dark and who say, ” Who sees us? Who knows us?’ You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay? Shall the thing made say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of the one who formed it, “He has no understanding?”  Isaiah 29: 15-16.

The disciple John, the “one whom Jesus loved” describes a different way of living. In his first letter, he uses the term “abide” (NRSV) or “live-in” (NIV) 15 times. Because of this beautiful redundancy, I am getting the message, “ABIDE. LIVE.”   I “abide” in God and he “abides” in me. I may not understand how the process works but I submit the crude clay of my being so  that his hands transform me. I can stop white knuckling my way through life and let go, for God’s will for me will win.

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. what we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.  1 John 2:2

Lord, help me let go and submit to you molding and shaping.  Forgive me for when I demand that life go my way and that other’s meet my needs. Holy Spirit, live in me and may I live in you. Amen

Klueh

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