Monday, September 18, 2023

Are We There Yet?


“Are we there yet???”

Every parent has been driven insane by little voices calling out from the back of the car on a long trip.  Everybody wants to be at the destination and nobody wants to put up with the hours/days it takes to get there.   We want the smiles without the miles!


James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.


Things to think about:

·       When our four kids were young, we couldn’t afford to buy plane tickets, so we had to drive everywhere.  One of our most common destinations was back to my wife’s mom’s house in Florida, never less than 12 hours from any of the places our kids grew up.  Since I was an enlightened dad, my rule was that we didn’t have videos playing in the car, I wanted them looking out the window, taking in all that I-75 had to offer 😊

o   In all seriousness, I did want them to enjoy the journey, not just grit their teeth until we pulled into Grams’ driveway.

·       While maybe not a perfect analogy, I do think that God always has a purpose in making us wait for Him. 

·       Our verse says that we should consider it pure joy when we’re stuck in the traffic jam of life, with a flat tire, and the radiator just blew!

o   The verse says that “the testing of your faith produces perseverance”

o   Why does our faith need to be tested?  Why doesn’t He just fix all of our problems right now?

·       What good is perseverance?

o   In Romans 5:3-5 - it tells us that, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

o   We are stronger when we don’t quit.  We learn resilience, which is a muscle that gets stronger with use.

o   When we persevere, we are more like God.  He doesn’t give up on us and therefore we shouldn’t give up on Him

§  2 Peter 3:15 - bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation

·       The payoff

o   Our passage for today says that if we develop perseverance, we will be “mature and complete, not lacking in anything.”

§  Mature means fully developed

§  Complete is the whole package

§  Not lacking in anything – every need we are aware of and even those we don’t are fully met

·       When you are going through something that is unpleasant or difficult to take, try to see what good God has in it for you.  If you can’t find anything else, lean on the truth that He is teaching you to trust Him.  Despite the breakdowns and slowdowns, you will arrive just on time, mature and complete, not lacking in anything!

Monday, September 11, 2023

This is How We Know


Let’s be honest – sometimes the Bible can be a little confusing and having certainty about things can be a challenge.  Thankfully, the book of 1 John helps a mental midget like me by making it plain as day what I can know for sure.  The word “know” is found 44 times! The phrase, “this is how we know” is found seven times in just four of the chapters.  Let’s look at how we can be sure about some very important topics like salvation, love, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, peace, and Christian unity.


1 John 3:16 - This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.


Things to think about:

·       I’m so glad none of the uses of “this is how we know” is preceded by “You big dummy!”

o   Seriously, God wants us to have confidence in His love for us because many things conspire to stir up confusion including of our own doubting hearts, a world that doesn’t believe, and a powerful enemy.  


·       1 John 2:5-6 - This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

o   Do ever really wonder if you’re saved?  If you have been fully accepted by God?  There’s a very easy test – are you sincerely trying to live your life like Jesus.

§  Maybe not perfectly, but honestly


·       1 John 3:10 - 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 God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

o   We shouldn’t believe everything we hear and not everyone who claims to be a Christian really is.  Strong statement but if someone claims to be a Christian but their lifestyle is not in accordance with God’s principles and love their brother and sister cannot honestly claim to be of the faith.


·       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 and sisters.  If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

o   Tina Turner famously asked, “What’s love got to do with it?” EVERYTHING. 

o   What does love look like? It’s messy, sacrificial, and is more visible than audible.


·       1 John 3:18-20 - Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence:  If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 

o   A sensitive conscience, fuzzy theology, and a lying enemy in your ear can be very disquieting.  God knows this and has given us his comfort (a peace that passes all understanding).

Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

·       1 John 3:24 - The one who keeps God’s commands lives 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.

·       1 John 4:13 - This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.

o   When we become believers, God seals us with His Spirit.  God loves us too much to let us be comfortable in not keeping His commands and loving one another.  That small voice in your heart, that Bible verse that suddenly comes to mind, that sermon that you’re sure was written just for you, are all confirmations of the Spirit living and moving in us.

Christian Unity

·       1 John 5:2-3 - This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.  In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.

o   You can’t love God and not love His children, pure and simple.  How do we love His children, by keeping God’s commands.  It reflects poorly on the entire family of God when we disobey His ways.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Light Makes Right


We know that God is light and in Him there is no darkness. But what does it mean to walk in His light?  We’ll look at three of the qualities of His light and then what it looks like to live a life in that light. 


1 John 1:7 – 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


Things to think about:

·       How does God’s light show itself to us?

o   The light of His Word

§  Psalm 119:105 – They Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path

o   The light of His character

§  1 John 1:5 – God is light and in Him there is no darkness

o   The light of His Son

§  John 8:12 - When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

·       So how do we walk in His light?

o     Conviction & Confession, Commission, Compassion

·     Conviction & Confession

o   1 John 1:8-9 - If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

o   Confession is always the first step to getting our relationship with God on track.  It can be the very first time (salvation) or on an ongoing basis as we inevitably stumble.

§  1 John 2:1 - My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 

·       Commission

o   1 John 2:3-6 - We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys His word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did.

o   Our personal conduct matters intensely to God. We must live as Jesus did.  It is the standard but we also know that we fall short of it.  See Step 1 – Confession.

·       Compassion

o   1 John 2:9-11 - Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

o   We can’t have it both ways.  We can’t shut the grace and mercy door behind us and not offer what we have been given by God to others.

o   1 John 2:2 - He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.


·       Compassion

o   What do you need to bring into the light for cleansing and healing through confession?

·       Commission

o   What good behavior have you been neglecting, or bad habit have you been indulging that needs to be brought into the light?

·       Compassion

o   Is there anyone you are keeping in the dark through unforgiveness, inadequate love, or personal sacrifice?

 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.