“Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” 1 John 4.15
What does it mean to you to confess that Jesus is the Son of God? Let me say that one who is not a believer in Jesus Christ cannot and will not confess that Jesus is the Son of God. They may say, “Sure, God had a son and his name is Jesus” but this is simply a declaration of an historical fact. Our world’s very calendar testifies to the birth of Christ through the use of B. C. and A. D. But that doesn’t mean that everyone who uses the calendar is confessing that Jesus is the Son of God.
So, how do WE do that? I believe you and I do that every time we declare that we have personal faith in the power of the Son of God to save us from the penalty of our sins. We acknowledge His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, and His ascension back to His Father in heaven and His return again to take His followers to heaven to be with Him for eternity. You say, “Jerry, that seems rather elaborate. Is all that necessary?” Let me suggest that as a Christ follower you already believe all these things. So, when you speak to someone about your relationship with Christ, you begin with His death on the cross, because that is where it all started. And we haven’t completed the story until we declare that He is coming back to take us to heaven in an event we call the rapture.
Once we are clear about our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus, people will have no doubt that “God dwelleth in (us), and (we) in God.” And THAT, my dear friend, is why He left us here on earth. Let’s be about our Father’s business! Just my thoughts …
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:” James 1.13
Several years ago there was a comedian named Flip Wilson whose favorite line was: “The devil made me do it.” Unfortunately, today there are some believers who make statements like this: “God made me do it” and they are talking about something they should not have done.” In this verse James is reminding us that God does not tempt any of His children to do evil. Every sinful thing we do, we are responsible for. It is our choice and we become the product of our choices. There is no need to try to blame anyone else for choices we make.
For any one of us to entertain the idea that God would ever want to tempt us to do evil is to completely misunderstand the heart of God for His children. His will for us is and has always been to seek the best for us. When temptation comes, we must recognize who is responsible for it and it is not God. Satan’s only goal for God’s children is to do everything he can to keep us from pleasing God in whatever way possible. He is going to dangle tempting situations before us on a regular basis to attempt to get us off track in our walk with God. Recognizing the SOURCE of our temptations will enable us to turn away from them and continue on our walk with God. Let’s not allow Satan to put in our minds the possibility that God would ever consider tempting His children. He loves us too much for that. Just my thoughts …
“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Galatians 1.10
I wonder if reading this verse and attempting to apply it to our lives would dramatically change the way some of us live? It seems that for so many of God’s children, our lives seem to be wrapped up in pleasing men. Paul’s questions are very direct and we each need to consider them for ourselves.
“For do I now persuade men, or God?” One translation puts it like this: “Am I now trying to win the favor and approval of men, or of God?” How would you answer that? How are you living MOST OF THE TIME? I know it is easy to want people to like us and we often do things we would not normally do just so they will like us. But our lives cannot be about getting others to like us. They must be about living for the approval of God. That means that everybody isn’t going to like what we do all the time. “do I seek to please men?” There it is again. As long as my life down here on earth is about making others happy, I am snubbing my nose at God and saying, “Take that!”
But here is our answer: “for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Ask yourself, “Am I the servant of Christ?” A servant’s responsibility is to please his master, not the other servants. The other servants can have an opinion, but they have no authority. My Master has absolute authority over my life. Therefore, my life goal must be to please Him whatever the cost. Just my thoughts …
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4.18
It’s probably a good idea to read the verse again. Why is there no fear in love? Because “perfect love casteth out fear … ” OK, so what is perfect love and how can it be so powerful? Perfect love is a love that is NOT affected by its circumstances. How is that possible? This kind of love says, “No matter what you do to me, I will seek nothing but your highest good.” In light of this definition, no circumstance has the power to change love. It is a “no matter what” kind of love! You are probably wondering, “Well, how does that kind of love cast out fear?” What is our GREATEST fear? Isn’t it the fear of NOT being loved? We think to ourselves, “If you knew the real me, you wouldn’t love me.” God knows the real you and loves you anyway. He loves you because He chooses to love you.
I think we all agree that fear produces torment. But look at this last statement: “He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” Do you understand what John just said? John is telling us that when we live with fear, our love is not mature (perfect). How does one’s love mature? It matures as we exercise it unconditionally. If the only time I ever express love toward someone is when they have done something to make me feel good, or I have been able to manipulate them into doing what I want, I have never expressed unconditional love. How about if you and I set out today to express love to someone who can give us nothing in return, or someone who isn’t making us FEEL happy at the moment? Try it! You’ll like it! Just my thoughts …
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11.1
When I was younger, I heard an older Christian say, “Everybody talkin’ ‘bout heaven ain’t going there.” I think something similar is true about faith: “Everybody talkin’ ‘bout faith ain’t necessarily got it.” That’s not good English but there is an element of truth in it.
We hear people say things like “Keep the faith!” and my first thought is this, who or what is the object of that faith. I can have great faith in a weak bridge and it may collapse under me. Or I can have little faith in a strong bridge and it will carry me across to where I need to go.
Focusing on the words of this verse: “faith is the substance of things hoped for … ” We exercise hope all the time. One translation says: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for … ” Faith is the ability to be assured that what we are hoping for it going to come to pass.
The nest phrase states: “faith is … the evidence of things not seen.” Again another translation states it like this: “Faith is … the conviction of things not seen.” What is a conviction? A conviction is a belief that binds us to an internal truth that cannot be shaken. “I have a strong conviction that I must do this!” You can’t SEE my conviction, but you can see that it is something that has the power to control me.
How does all of this fit together? I have great confidence in the God Who has promised to care for me in this life. I can’t see Him, but I can certainly see the effects of the things He does to make my life move forward for His glory. My conviction that this unseen God knows best for me and will do what is best for me sustains me every day. Just my thoughts …
“Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” Luke 24.25- 26
How many times does God need to say something for it to be true? We all know the correct answer is just once. As Jesus was walking with these disciples, He chides them for not believing what had already been spoken about Christ, His death, burial, and resurrection. The Old Testament had many references to these events and He knew these men already knew the Old Testament. So, what was the problem? The events that had been prophesied were no long prophecies – they were realities and these men were trying their best to put the pieces together to make sense of all that was happening. I suspect that you and I would have been experiencing the same sense of confusion these men were experiencing.
Then Jesus reminds them of the NECESSITY of all that had happened: “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” There it is in plain English … He came to die. He left His glory in heaven to come to earth. He lived a perfect life and died the perfect sacrificial death so that He could “enter into His glory.” That was God the Father’ plan and God the Son carried it out perfectly. Nothing transpired in connection with the crucifixion and resurrection that had not already been planned by God in the counsels of eternity past. And those are just my thoughts …
“Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13.10
I think sometimes we have an improper understanding of love. Most of us think we know what love is, but when pressed to give a solid definition, we get stuck. I can tell you this – love is more than the warm fuzzies. When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, here was His answer: “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matthew 22.37-39) These words raise our understanding of love to an entirely new level.
So, how is it that love works no ill to our neighbor? Genuine love is defined thusly: “No matter what you do to me, I will seek nothing but your highest good.” THAT kind of love works no ill to his neighbor. When Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” His answer was the story of the good Samaritan. Can we, should we, do we honestly treat others in the manner that Jesus describes? Is that HUMANLY possible? Probably not. But it is SUPERHUMANLY possible and that is how God wants us to live – in a manner that demonstrates the superhuman power of God that lives within us. Think about it! Then act on it! Just my thoughts …
“The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” Nahum 1.7
How many of us needed to hear this today? (1) The Lord is good. (2) The Lord is a strong hold in the day of trouble. (3) The Lord knows them that trust in Him.
If I asked you, “How good is God?” how would you answer? Would you have a difficult time making a list of the ways God is good to you, or would it come easily? For me, it would be easy. His goodness to me is only exceeded by His grace. I’m not sure we take time each day to evaluate God’s goodness to us. You may be thinking that it would take too much time. It would only take too much time if you are ungrateful for His goodness. A few minutes in prayer would allow you to enumerate to God the things you remember about His goodness. And if you are having a difficult time remember, ask the Holy Spirit for help.
God is also a strong hold in the day of trouble. That powerful truth provides an anchor for us during those times when the storms of life would blow us in a direction God does not want us to go. We ALL face storms, but we don’t all react the same way to storms. Some of us think we can handle them all by ourselves. That’s not a good choice. God has already told us that He wants to be our strong hold in the day of trouble.
Finally, He knows them that trust in Him. What does that mean? It is easy to tell someone else, “Oh, I’m trusting God to take care of this.” They don’t know if we are or not, but God knows. We can’t fool Him. When we are trusting God in the day of trouble, we release our worries to Him and wait for Him to do what only He can do. Just my thoughts …
“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Jeremiah 33.3
At the time when Jeremiah receives these words, he is in prison. Can you imagine the impact of these words to this servant of God? I’m sure most of us have been in a place in our lives when we thought, “If I could just hear a word from God.” This is the second time Jeremiah has been falsely imprisoned. God sees His servant and says, “Call unto me … ” God knows exactly WHERE His servant is. When you and I are in desperate circumstances, God knows exactly where WE are. He has not been taken by surprise by our circumstances.
Look at the promise He makes here: “ … I will answer thee … ” You don’t have to wonder if God hears. He not only hears, but promises to answer our prayer. Don’t ever look at God with the attitude that says, “You don’t care about me.” Nothing could be further from the truth. His greatest desire is to do exactly what is best for us.
Look at these words: “I will … show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” We have not exhausted God’s power or His knowledge of our needs by what has happened in our past. To the contrary, He KNOWS what is coming and He is promising us great and mighty things. You may be asking, “Well, why doesn’t He just tell me what He is going to do?” if you knew what was coming, why would you need to exercise any faith in God? The fact that the future is a mystery to US but not to Him is all the more reason for us to exercise absolute faith in Him and His wisdom and His judgment. Just my thoughts …
“For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.” Isaiah 54.10
Think about the magnitude of this promise: “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed … ” I have no idea what it takes to move a mountain or a hill, but God does. Consider this truth … even though issues larger than what it takes to move a mountain or hill come into your life, they are not enough to cause God’s kindness to depart from you. It would appear from this statement that God’s kindness is not conditioned upon what is happening around us, but rather it is a matter of His will to love us unconditionally.
Then He reminds us that “neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed … ” What a great comfort to remember that nothing – absolutely nothing – can remove God’s covenant of peace from us. You may be thinking, “But I am not experiencing God’s peace in my life right now.” But let me suggest that is not God’s fault. If you have allowed the circumstances of your life to get between you and your God, you will not experience His peace. His peace did not go anywhere, but you did.
Now look at this last phrase: “ … the Lord that hath mercy on thee.” You and I could not live one day without the mercy of God. How grateful we need to be that He willingly and continually demonstrates His mercy toward us. Let’s live our lives in such a way that those who are watching us will realize that we are AWARE of God’s mercy and are deeply grateful for it. Just my thoughts …