October Article

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith1 John 5:4

Got life?

The assurance that John speaks from is knowledge acquired first-hand. He has walked with the Lord, listened to His teaching, seen the miracles, and experienced the power. He has viewed His transfiguration, death, burial and resurrection. He has seen Him going into heaven, and experienced the coming of the Holy Spirit.

John does not want us settling for less, missing eternal life. So here, he rehearses “the basics” that we cannot ignore or rewrite. This will be our guide, to discern true and false teachers as well.

Jesus, the Son of God, has come in the flesh. He is, was, and always has been God. He has paid for our sin debt through His very real death on the cross. New life is offered to us, as we believe the truth of the Gospel and put our faith/trust in Him alone.

New life here and now is a life of faith. This faith-walk helps us to overcome the obstacles that the enemy challenges us with, in this fallen world. Overcomers have victory by reliance on Christ; not on our own merits, strengths or efforts.

Thankfully, His commands are far from awful, unbearable, harsh or joyless. Instead, a life of faith demonstrated by keeping His commands actually protects us and leads us to the greatest joy—that of knowing Him and being pleasing to Him. This is not “happiness” that comes only when circumstances are “good,” but peace in assurance that regardless of the test, pain, or loss, all is well for those who have forever been saved and set free by the finished work of Christ.

One day, faith will rest, being forever exchanged for sight.

September Article

We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16 

I shared a simple summation of the Word of God with my Middle School class a couple of Sundays ago: The story of a Father fighting to get His children back. God has had us in His heart from eternity past, and not even our fall in sin changed His heart of love toward us. This chapter in First John recounts God’s venture to redeem us. He sent His Son, loving us so much He was willing to die to free us from the curse of sin. When we were not looking for Him, He came looking for us.

Because of the love of God bestowed upon us, we now have through the power of His Spirit within us the supernatural capacity to love others purely and truly. The world apart from Christ can only flounder with “love” in poor imitation, or defiantly rebel in gross distortions of “love.” It seems to prefer the later.

And I would note that not only is biblical love in our capacity, but it is also commanded. There lies the litmus test of Christ-in-us. Simply put, we cannot speak of loving God if we are actively hating any of His children. Ask any parent how that basic truth exists in their world—if you’re against my child, you’re against me, plain and simple.

It is humbling to experience God’s love, and humbling to be perfected by loving others. After all, we all are imperfect and unlovely in many ways. Remember what the songwriter said: “Saved a wretch like me.”

Then remember what John said: “We love, because He first loved us.”

August Article

You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
1 John 4:4

“Can you hear me now?”

That ad campaign to win your ear, loyalty and dollar is memorable. Cell reception is needful for clarity with our hearing. More needful is our inner reception of God’s Spirit, heard above the competing din on this planet.

The passage in 4:1-6 reveals that the evil one has his voices babbling away here. Many spirits parade as religious tongues; their doctrine is to diminish Christ and their religion demonic in origin and directive.

But see, John tells his hearers that they have overcome. Not could, or might, but have!  We must see how they overcame, for we too can be victors and not victims.  The important key to their spiritual victory was in their discernment of God’s voice among the competition. Taking from another ages-old ad campaign, “Do you know your Master’s voice?”

Thankfully we too have God’s Spirit within us, from the moment we receive Christ. We have God’s Word, but the Word must have us. His Spirit will superintend the Word in our lives, but we must get it in. Know the Truth through disciplined, prayerful study and submission to His commands. His foundational truth is there for testing the words of leaders, teachers, and other influencers. Allow His Spirit to guide you, in whom you give ear to.

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.
Proverbs 18:10

Passing a cell tower, you may imagine the conversations swirling around that hub. Use that frequent sight as a reminder of who your strong tower is, and strive through His Spirit within you, to listen only to Him.