Category Archives: 1 John

In Line

A friend of mine signs autographs and sells sketches at Comic Conventions because he used to be an animator for Disney.  People line up to meet him (which continues to baffle him…).  I wonder if there will be lines in Heaven to meet various Bible celebrities.  Some of those lines would be pretty long, with all the people wanting to meet John, Peter and the rest of the boys.  Don’t even think about how long the line would be at Jesus’ booth.  Good thing we’ll have eternal life if we’ll be waiting in all those lines.

I’m not sure how that will work out, but if there are lines like that, don’t be surprised if you see Peter standing in your line.  How could that be?  Let’s ask him.  He wrote this greeting:

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:  (2 Peter 1:1)

Peter got to be one of the original apostles of Jesus and yet considered every believer to be of equal standing.  How can that be possible?  Because, as a follower of Jesus, your standing is obtained “by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”   God’s righteousness is perfect.  How much of that righteousness will He impart through Jesus to you?

Paul wrote:

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.   (Philippians 1:6)

 

And John:

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  (1 John 3:2)

I don’t know about lines to meet Bible rock stars in heaven.  But know this: as hard as it is to imagine, if you follow Jesus by faith, you are already in line to obtain perfection. The next time you pray, “Thy Kingdom come,” remember that promise is part of the deal.

20-17 Vision

Remember Y2K?  How much needless worry and panic was spilled over mostly nothing?  That’s my impression of 2016 – people got all stirred up over first one thing and then another, wasting countless hours watching “news” about what might happen and wasting a lot of energy shouting about it.  

Imagine what news channels would have done with the circumstances of Roman occupation and oppression in Jesus’ day.  Public whippings and crucifixions, unjust demands by soldiers imposed upon ordinary citizens.  And yet, Jesus largely ignored all that, focusing instead on more important aspects of reality.  Such as loving one’s neighbor.  Such as learning to see the world through His eyes, so “the truth will set your free.”  Such as learning not to worry but trusting your Heavenly Father.  What if, in 2017, we dared to follow His example?  What if we dared to stop defining reality by what the media says and instead asked God to show us what really matters?

20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.  (1 John 5:20)

18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  (2 Corinthians 4:18)

Grace and peace to you all this new year!

A Gift for You

​A tree was planted in Israel in memory of my wife.  The words get blurry as I type that…  I received a notice in the mail about that wonderful gift and stood, transfixed, as I tried to imagine what sort of tree and where it was planted.  Then, who would one day find shade beneath it.  These days my mailbox is almost entirely stuffed with junk mail.  But that gift notice was a precious exception.

Here’s a gift notice for you, if you would like to have it.  It’s for everyone who follows Jesus in faith.  It’s not very long, but warrants spending a bit of time trying to imagine all the what, when and where implications.

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.  (2 John 1:3)

Toss the envelope if you want, but hang on to the gift tag.  You’ll want to go back and reread it from time to time…

Daddy’s Shoes

Little boy comes clomping around the corner with his tiny feet in Dad’s huge shoes.  It’s an unselfconscious act, cute, but with a profound heartbeat.  It says, “One day, I want to be just like Dad; when I get big I want to fit in his shoes.”  Same thing with girls and Mom.  
This pertains to a verse of Scripture that initially makes me recoil.

And everyone who thus hopes in him [Jesus] purifies himself as he is pure.  (1 John 3:3)

The word I most readily associate with purity is “boring.”  It reminds me of being forced as a child to wear an itchy wool suit and sit at the dinner table with my hands folded and my mouth shut. Why would I want to do that to myself now, as an adult?  Give me jeans and fire up that motorcycle…

The problem is twofold: 1) we don’t have a good understanding of what purity is, and, 2) we don’t understand the right motivation for purifying ourselves.  

Jesus modeled perfect purity but, as far as I’ve been able to determine, never wore a wool suit.  He was not One to follow pointless, restrictive rules derived from other people’s inhibitions, but lived with an easy and attractive “rightness.”  When you think purity, think about how comfortable Jesus was inside His own skin, how He effortlessly lived in harmony with God’s perfect design.

The verse that preceeds the one I quoted puts the motivation for purifying ourselves in the proper perspective.  John began his thought with these words:

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.   (1 John 3:2)

We tend to think of reluctantly struggling to be pure so God won’t be angry with us.  Instead, think about happily clomping around in Daddy’s shoes, with the childlike hope and trust that says, one day, I’ll be like Him.

Eyewitness

Recant or be tortured to death.  Sound like ISIS?  Many Christians have faced that choice at their hands, but for the original disciples, it was the government who made that threat.  None of them caved.  All but John were executed.  How could they have been firm, so brave and so unwilling to change their story?  They were first-hand eyewitnesses.  They knew how outlandish their claims seemed.  But they seen, heard and touched Jesus before and after His resurrection. 

For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  (​2Pe 1:16-17)
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 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.  (1John 1:1-3)

Hardly Fair

Bambi vs. Godzilla was hardly a fair fight.  Haven’t seen it?  Here’s the link:  https://youtu.be/8s3UogfAGg0    Go ahead and check it out; we’ll see you soon…

There would be no betting on Bambi vs. Godzilla because the outcome would be absolutely certain.  Same thing if you spot a spider in your bathtub.  Stomp, splat, the end.  Cool way to start a devotional blog, eh?  

But there’s a point coming.  Keep the certainty of those outcomes in mind the next time you find yourself struggling with the devil.  Temptation seems so strong but, when you put your whole trust in Jesus, He promises to come and make His home within you. 

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  (John 14:23) 

When you remember He is there and turn Him loose, it’s not a fair fight.  

1 John 4:4

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

I heard a guy say, “Whenever Satan knocks on my door, I say, ‘Jesus, it’s for you…'”   That’s good advice, but the outcome is hardly fair.

Clean Hands, Dirty Heart

Where was this Bible verse when I was growing up?

“to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”  (Matthew 15:20b)

If I had only known.  Jesus said it; it must be true.  Gospel truth, no less.  I could have had that verse memorized and ready to quote at opportune moments.  Alas…   Of course, now I know better.  Jesus wasn’t giving hygiene instructions for little boys.  He was challenging hypocritical religious leaders, the ones who wanted to control others with nit-picky rules.  Jesus’ point was that righteousness (or the lack thereof) is determined by what is in our hearts and not by what may be smudging our hands.

“Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” (Matthew 15:17-20)

Wash all you want and you cannot cleanse corruption of the heart.  Only the Holy Spirit, living within can pull that off.  Happily, that is exactly what God promises to do.

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.

(Isaiah 1:18)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just
to forgive us our sins and
to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
 (1 John 1:9)