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Posts tagged ‘First Epistle of John’

What’s Your Story?.

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
1 John 5:11

Recommended Reading
1 John 5:1-13 [ ]

The truth that transformed your life is waiting to transform the lives of others. It’s easy to downplay one’s testimony when comparing it to the riveting testimonies of others, but the truth is that each testimony has power. Your story may reach people in a way no one else’s can.

Listen to Today’s Radio Message [ ]

As you meditate on Christ and His sacrifice for you, joy will fill your heart. You will not be able to keep your story to yourself. As you celebrate all Christ has done for you, your words may encourage a faltering Christian or plant a seed of faith in a pre-believer. When we share Christ, the Truth behind our transformation, we are offering people an opportunity to be transformed. If you’re not sure where to start, these four questions offer an outline for sharing your testimony: What was life like before you were saved? When did you believe in Jesus? What has life been like since then? How are you growing in your faith today?

Don’t wait to share your story. Your life has been transformed. Celebrate and share your story today.

You will never cease to be the most amazed person on earth at what God has done for you on the inside.
Oswald Chambers

Genesis 5-8

By David Jeremiah.

{ Day 1 }.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16

No one can come face-to-face with what God is like and ever be the same. Seeing the truth about His personality touches the depths of our emotions, which leads us to spiritual wholeness and maturity.


Lord, there is nothing I want more than to experience a growing, ever more intimate relationship with You. Let me see You as You are so that I may be transformed in my own life and walk with You. Amen.

Beholding the glory of who He is and
what He has done renews our minds,
strengthens us, and transforms us.


Enlarging the Soul’s Capacity.

For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.—Hebrews 5:13, KJV

Solid food is nourishment by which the capacity of the soul is enlarged. Sooner or later, a newborn baby must go from milk to something solid; if that does not happen, there will be a deformed child. It is the same with the analogy here.

What do I mean when I say solid food is nourishment by which the capacity of the soul is enlarged? The soul’s enlargement will mean simple trust in God, unfeigned love for one another, and the ability to understand what God is pleased to reveal. Now by simple trust in God, I would remind you of 1 John 4:16: “We know and rely on the love God has for us.” That verse has gripped me for years. But it involves simple trust, simply taking seriously that God really does love us. When one really believes it, it changes everything. The ability to digest solid food is the enlargement of the soul, where you become able, simply in a childlike way, to trust in God. Jesus said, “Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:15). Christians need to rediscover this simple trust in God, which is the soul’s enlargement.

I am referring to the ability to perceive God’s will. That has to do with aptitude to receive what God wants to say. It is understanding His Word, and it is knowing His direction for today. It is His Word and His will.

Understanding His Word is simply being able to read the Bible and know what it means, that God speaks to you. Maturity includes seeing His will. By this I mean that you know God so well that you know what He is thinking. It’s the same with my wife: I do not have to tell her or ask her what she thinks; I already know. When you know God, you know His will.

Excerpted from Are You Stone Deaf to the Spirit or Rediscovering God? (Christian Focus Publications Ltd., 1994, 1999).


Common graces….

By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“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. We write this to make our joy complete.”
1 John 1:3-4

I walk most Sunday mornings in Peter‘s Canyon not far from our home. There, I see birds flying and the sun as it rises over the mountains. The warmth of the sun comes over me and I feel the waves and waves of God‘s goodness as a gift to me, and to you, too. The music on Sunday mornings is also a gift from God being given through musicians to you and me. God wants to bless us with goodness.

In the Reformed Church, we call these common graces, the good and wonderful things that God gives to us every day, free gifts because he loves us. God has a giving posture. God is an openhanded God, a giving God, a God that hugs, a God that encourages, a God that loves.

That is the posture of God’s heart. He gave us Jesus at Christmastime…to be born and later die for us so that we will have eternal life. Through Christ, we have hope.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for giving me so much. Thank you for the common graces I receive every day. Thank you for sending Christ to us at Christmas to give us hope. Amen.

Reflection: Name some common graces that you have received this week.

Never-ending love…

By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are.”
1 John 3:1a

I want to do my best to convince you of something very simple that seems impossible for us as human beings to grasp and take deep down inside of us. It is this:

God loves you and that you belonged to him the day you were born.

The instant you were conceived, you belonged to the Lord. There is nothing you can do to separate yourself from God’s love. In fact, the gift of God’s love is something that is completely free and unearned. There is no middleman that bridges its way to you and Jesus. There is no list of rules that you can follow to get God to love you or to think good things about you because you are God’s kid and he loves you.

Even when we mess up, God loves us and cares about us.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I’m so thankful to you for your love and care. I know that I can only come to you because of what Jesus did for me. I’m so thankful for him and his sacrifice. Now, it’s in His name that I pray. Amen.

Reflection: Do you accept God’s love as described above? Which part of his never-ending love is the hardest for you to accept and believe?

Why Did He Come?.

Why did Jesus come?  Why is His coming important to folks like you, living two thousand years after He came into the world?  I’d answer that question with one word—“life.”

My life was a shadow

All of us are looking for life.  But we don’t quite know what it is that we are looking for.  We have a sense within us that there is something more, some greater purpose, than to be born, to eat, to sleep, to learn, to work, to love, to play, and then to grow old and die.

And there is.  Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10), and “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25).  Jesus even said one time that when we hear his word and believe, we cross over from death to life (John 5:24).

That’s what happened to me.  I look back now, and I see that my life was a shadow until I began to follow Jesus, “in Him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1:4).

I always “believed” in God, then I began to “know” God

A lot of people think of eternal life as a kind of possession—as if it was a commodity that you could add to your list of assets, “I have a four-bedroom house, a great job in the city, a Lexus and eternal life.”

But eternal life is not an asset; it is a relationship.  When Jesus prayed for us the night before he died, he said,  “This is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).  I always believed in God, but when I started following Him I began to know God.

Eternal life begins when you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and start to follow Him.  Eternal life begins now for all who will come to him, “our fellowship is with the Father and the Son” (1 John 1:3).  The amazing thing about this life is that it never ends.  I followed Christ for 60 years, then the time came for me to face death.  It was like walking through a curtain, and on the other side, I was in the presence of Jesus.

Take hold of the life that is found in Christ!

I have been there for the last two thousand years of your time, though nobody is counting up there.  The joy is unspeakable.  I’m not allowed to tell you about it, and even if I was, you wouldn’t understand.

All the talk and anticipation up here is about the moment when He will come for you.  Then the whole church, in heaven and on earth, will be joined together, and we’ll be with the Lord forever, “He who has the Son has life and he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 1:12).

This is how I put it at the end of my gospel.  Its my life message, “These are written so that you may know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).

This message is adapted from a first-person message by Pastor Colin in the character of the apostle John.

This week’s Scripture:  The Word became flesh, and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory…John 1:14

You can receive our daily devotional booklet by mail by visiting and subscribing to the LifeKEYS Daily Bible Devotional Booklet.

You can also follow Colin Smith and Unlocking the Bible on Facebook and Twitter.

Colin Smith

Colin Smith is Senior Pastor of The Orchard in northwest suburban Chicago.

This LifeKey is based on the message “John’s Story,” by Pastor Colin S. Smith on December 23, 2001, from the series “christmas stories.”  Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.

Getting Rid of Guilt.

Eric C. Redmond

Getting Rid of GuiltGuilt. When everything else is quiet, it’s the disquietness within you saying, “I wish I had never done that.” “I wish I could go back and do that differently.”Older men may have guilt for failing to be present and intentional in their children’s lives when they were small. Women sometimes have it over their role in early pregnancies. Teammates have guilt for missing the winning catch or shot.

There’s no undo button in life, but we wish that our feelings of guilt could go away forever. And we need a better solution than just not talking about it, avoiding people and places that remind us of the guilt, suppressing our guilty feelings somehow, or busying ourselves to the point that we have no time to think guilt-ridden thoughts.

If we could remove the status of guilt—the objective part of being guilty, then we would go a long way in addressing the feelings—the subjective part—of being guilty. If we only address our feelings of guilt, the status of guilt still remains.

1 John 1:8-9 addresses the issue of the guilt of sin:

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

These verses are not addressing the principle of sin. One cannot confess original sin and be done with it. However, we can confess thesin that is at the root of our guilt. To say “we have no sin” was a way of covering up the guilt of sin—a way of turning off the guilt feelings by just saying, “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

The Apostle John teaches the right way to get rid of our guilty status and—along with it—many of our feelings of guilt. First, we must stop denying sin. Second, we must confess our sin.

How do we deny our sin? I see at least four ways:

1)      We can self-justify our behavior with something like, “God knows my heart,” or, “you know that’s just the way I am.”

2)      We can reclassify sin so that it is not sin. We conveniently call something a disorder to be treated rather than a sin rooted in lack of self-control. At the end of his trial, when Ariel Castro was allowed to speak to the three victims of his decades-plus imprisonment and abuse in Cleveland, he said, “I’m not a monster; I have an addiction, like an alcoholic.” He reclassified terrible wrongdoing as something that could not be helped. At least the funk musician, George Clinton, had the decency to add nice beats to his reclassification: “Why must I chase the cat? Nothin’ but the dog in me.”

3)      We can blame others for our guilt or constantly focus on what other make us do. Yet we make the choices that later bring the guilt:We choose to use the Lord’s name in vain and curse; we choose to sleep in on Sundays rather than being with God’s people to worship. We choose to disrespect our parents. We choose to steal because we think we have earned the right to more. We choose to hate people and to lie. No one makes us do anything.

4)      We can admit fault without taking responsibility. I’ve heard supposedly mature people say think like, “Yeah, I like to flirt with the ladies. So what?” or “Yeah, I like to drink more than a little. So what?”

What negative effects result from denying sin?

1) We fool ourselves when we deny our guilt and sin. 1John 1:8b says, “We deceive ourselves.” We might think we are over guilt, but the signs of guilt resurface in anger, a combative spirit, sheepishness around people we don’t want to find out what we did wrong, or in quickness to self-defense.

2) We fail to internalize the gospel when we deny our guilt and sin. 1John 1:8c says, “The truth is not in us.” The truth as synonymous with “the message,” mentioned in 1:1-5 that concerns the eternal life who was with the Father and manifested to us—the person of Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God. The message about him is the gospel. The proclamation of the death of Christ for sin, and his resurrection from the dead to offer life, does not allow us to deny sin when we are guilty. The gospel is the very remedy of God. He is light and has not one bit of darkness in him (cf. 1:5). Only God is without sin.

Denying the fact that we sin won’t get rid of our guilty status before God no matter how we dress it up. We must stop denying sin.

Not only do we need to stop denying sin, these verses tell us to start confessing sin. Confession is an admittance of wrongdoing. The Greek word itself is a compound made from “the same” and “to speak or say.” It is to say the same thing about what you did that God says about what you did. It is to say something specific—what you actually did—rather than something general.

John intends for us to say, “I disrespected my manger today,” and not, “Well, maybe I did something wrong at the office today.” John intends, “I grumbled, Lord,” “I am having an emotional affair and need to break it off,” or “I intentionally provoked her because I wanted revenge and I’m tired of her.” By confessing in this manner, you are calling these specific things what God calls them: Sins. As such, we must confess them, and we must turn away these specific things.

Confession gets us to the forgiving God (1:9b). Sin blocks fellowship with God. A lifestyle of denying sin means the truth of the gospel has not been internalized. But if you confess sin, you can have fellowship with God because He is faithful to His promises to forgive sin. Proverbs 28:13 says “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Jeremiah 31:34 says, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” God is just in forgiving the sin of one who acknowledges sin.

Forgiveness is actually a problem for God because He is absolutely holy and cannot overlook sin. If He did, He would be unjust. The only way for Him to be just toward sin is to make an accounting for it. Proper confession says, “I am wrong in your sight God—a wrong for which Jesus had to die!”

Confession also gets us to the cleansing God (1:9c). In 1John 1:7, John establishes that the cleansing comes through God’s application of the death of Jesus for sins to our specific sins – “the blood of Jesus His Son purifies us from all sin.” On this basis, when we confess our sins, the work the Divine Son of God did on the cross comes and takes away our objective guilt, leaving us with no reason to feel guilty.

So if you have a guilt-causing addiction, admit it! It does not matter if the addiction is to certain foods, drugs, shopping, or painkillers. Confess and then get specialized help.

It would be wise, too, to set a time to confess sin before going to bed. Reviewing your day will make a huge difference in your approach to work, church, and family the next day, because you will have confessed wrong in the office, hypocrisy at church, and that you get on people’s nerves at home too. Look through your day, asking the Lord daily to show you were you messed up so that you can become avoid behavior that is sin and keep being cleansed by the blood of Christ.

Third, review the gospel daily. The gospel for saints is the same as the gospel for sinners: Jesus Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness! There is not one sin that we can confess for which Jesus’s blood is not powerful enough to cleanse.

Recently I went to the dry cleaners to retrieve a shirt with a spot on it. There was a note attached to my shirt, which said, “Special attention was given to the spot(s) on this garment. However, [the dry cleaner] was unable to remove the spot(s) due to the risk of causing damage to the fabric or color in your garment.” So now the shirt is useless to me unless I wear it with a jacket, or put a pin over the spot like my children have taught me to do.

In contrast, when I take my sin-stained soul to Jesus, he has no problem washing away my sin. I can say to him, “Jesus, I was having a rough day, and I let some attitude slip out that was not right; some words I know were harmful came out of my mouth.” And because we confess rather than deny, because God is faithful and just, because He forgives and cleanses, Jesus can say, “All the guilt of your bad day, is purged by the blood I shed for you on the Cross.”

In this way, we get rid of guilt by going to Jesus.
Eric C. Redmond is Executive Pastoral Assistant and Bible Professor in Residence at New Canaan Baptist Churchin Washington, DC. Find him on Twitter @EricCRedmond.

The greatest love…

By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“Behold, what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God.” 
1 John 3:1a

There are so many misunderstandings about what the word love means.

When we hear that God loves us, it can create some problems. The love of God is the most foundational, important thing in understanding all spirituality, all theology, all doctrine. The most important concept to know and to understand is the immeasurable, limitless, and boundless love of God for His sons and daughters.

And not just the love of God for the church as a collective group, but for you – for you the son, the daughter of God, for each one of us to know that God loves us individually just as a parent with many children individually loves his or her children. That the love of God, the boundless, unending, perfect love of God is the source of all great spirituality, of all perfect doctrine, of all growth.

We must understand that God’s love surpasses everything. There’s nothing you can do, even if you hate God, there’s no sin you can commit, no filth you can have in your life, nothing you can do to ever remove God’s adoration and love for you. God’s love is the greatest love of all.

Prayer: Father in heaven, I come to you hurting, broken, wounded, lonely, and sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that you actually love me. But your love abides. Amen.

Devotion: How have you felt God’s love at work in your life?

Greater things…

By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.” 
1 John 4:9

As we enter the Christmas season, we remember that it was on the very first Christmas morning when the meaning of “Emmanuel” changed. Before that day, when the chosen people of Israel would say, “Emmanuel, God is with us,” that meant that God is on our side. But on that first Christmas when they said, “God is with us,” it meant that God was actually with us in this baby. That God put skin on and decided to dwell among us.

This baby Jesus grew up to be our Savior and the most important person in human history who also lived a perfect life – fully God, filled with God’s Spirit, and the second person of the trinity. And, he was also a regular guy who experienced real temptations, who was hungry and thirsty, who could be physically injured, and who could get his feelings hurt and feel lonely. He had to work with other people to get things done.

Jesus didn’t even start his ministry until about the age of 30. Up to that point, he was building and constructing, and in the midst of that, lived a perfect life, full, flourishing, vibrant life. Jesus set for us the perfect example of what it means to truly live. He wanted to introduce people who are living around him into this new kind of life.

In the Bible, you see that that actually happening to the apostles. Before the resurrection, the apostles, were somewhat afraid. However, after the resurrection, they’re filled with the Spirit and start to do some incredible things. They literally go around healing people, performing miracles, encouraging people, and changing the physical space around them. That’s why Jesus said to them, “Even greater things than I did, you’re going to do.’ He says the same thing to you and me. Christ says to us, even today, “You’re going to do greater things than I did.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to do those greater things that you would have me do. Help me to show your love to everyone I meet. Amen.

Reflection: How do experience God with you?

The greatest treasure…

By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”
-Isaiah 54:10

You can’t earn God’s love. You can’t wear a special suit or be successful in business, or be sinless, or do anything to earn God’s love. There’s nothing you can do, no appeal you can make to have God‘s love. It’s already there! God’s love is for you and, yes, just you, right where you are. God’s love is there for you all the time. You don’t have to earn it; you don’t have to be afraid. God’s thinking about you, God loves you, and God wants to be near you. This is the source and the root of all healthy spirituality.

God wants you just the way you are. He made you that way and he loves you. You’re the treasure of His heart. Do you believe that? You’re God’s beloved. It’s not what you do, it’s not what you have, it’s not what people say about you, it’s not how successful you are. None of these things matter to God. He simply loves you because you’re His kid.

The love of God is the greatest treasure any man can have. It is greater than any bank account, any 401k, any amount of jewels, any amount of praise. The love of God is the greatest and most wonderful treasure. It brings meaning to life. It brings a calling. It brings clarity. It brings life. The love of God is the fullness of what it means to be a human being. The love of God fills and fills again. The love of God reaches to the deepest, emptiest, totally void chasms of the human heart and fills it with life and living water and goodness.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for your unending love. It is my greatest treasure. Amen.

Reflection: When you think of God’s love as a treasure, to what would you compare it?

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