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.

July Article

Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.
1 John 3:18

By a radical move, your life was saved. You are to live by the same radical move.

The radical move? Open heart.

In our day it is a somewhat common phrase: a procedure that can save one’s physical life, otherwise in jeopardy. Yet for the follower of Christ, our “open heart” is an ongoing evidence that Christ the Master Surgeon has done the miraculous within us.

John illustrates a teaching of Jesus in this section of his letter that breathes practical living. The heart-sick world is full of envy and murder. While not all commit the act, the thoughts get the deed done nicely, just short of “knocking off” our envied opponent (1 Jn. 3:11-15). This murder-by-heart attitude is warned against in our Lord’s teaching in Matthew 5:21-24. You can keep the letter of the law—“I never killed anyone”—and still be guilty of murder by harboring evil and speaking vileness. There’s no righteousness in legalism, nor any heart-evidence of salvation in hatred.

The Lord Jesus Himself exemplifies for us the right way. He taught with words (Lk. 5:31-32; Jn. 15:12-14) and then practically modelled what He taught (1 Jn. 3:16). The resultant attitude (in us) has to go beyond, “Nice job, Jesus! Thanks for dying for me, so I can live out my life without getting too involved with others!” John gives us the challenge pointedly in verse seventeen: If you’re a child of God, evidence one is your new heart being open to others’ lives. Your focus will be on practical ministering, and not on just preserving your own life.

The evidence of Christ in us: to the heart of our neighbor’s plight, through our open heart.