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.


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:    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)

Family Matters

Professional door to door salesmen have a certain air about them when the front door opens.  Kind of a mixture of formality with friendliness, practiced patter in smooth tones, dosed with expectation and anxiety.  If they want success at this house, they need to perform.  On the other hand, the kids in that household come to the front door, yank it open and go blasting through, shoelaces untied, jacket half off, enroute to the kitchen for a snack.  Big difference.  When you are a part of the family, you don’t need to perform to be accepted or even loved.  You just belong, simply because of who you are.

This is especially true for those in God’s family.  Who are they?  Consider these verses:

12 Yet to all who received him, [Jesus] to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.  –  (John 1:12–13  –  NIV84)

26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.  (Galatians 3:26–29  –  NIV84)

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1a  –  NIV84)

By trusting Jesus, we are welcomed into God’s family, not by adoption, as nice as that would be, but through birth, the birth of God’s Spirit in our souls.  That’s better.  As His children there is no pecking order; race, former religion, social status – none of that matters.  We are treated alike, and have full rights as heirs.  God arranges for this through a generous act of lavish love.  Welcome home!

Taproot – Part 4

“I command you to love me!”  That’s a non-starter, isn’t it?  The greatest commandment, Jesus said, is to love God with all your heart and soul.  But, can love be commanded?  But, instead of hearing the word, command, as a strict order to do something we don’t want to do, think of it like this: This “command” is the most important thing to remember to practice so that things will go well for you. 

God’s 10 commandments were given after He first had arranged a rescue for the people from slavery. 

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”  –  (Deuteronomy 5:6)

His commands were given to protect us from falling back into any kind of slavery.  In other words, His commands were given to bless us.

Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.”

“Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you.”  –  (Deuteronomy 5:33; 6:3)

Our love for God is not grudging and forced, it is the natural response toward our Rescuer who loves us and wants the very best for us.  Our love for God is reflected in our paying attention to how He taught us to live, loving and honoring  Him by obeying.  As John said it, “We love because he first loved us.” – (1John 4:19)

The same is true of our love for Jesus, Who rescued us from spiritual slavery to live life to the fullest.

The Love Test

Do you ever wonder if you really believe in Jesus?  Are you a citizen or merely a tourist in the land of faith?  Since you cannot see faith, and since our minds deceive us (remember that romance in Jr. High?), is there a telltale sign we can look for to assess the genuineness of our faith?  Jesus said if we love one another as He loved us, others would know.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – (John 13:35)

Not Hallmark card love.  It’s the kind of love Jesus extended on the cross, dying to pay a debt we could not.  This kind of love (agape love) is an act of personal sacrifice in compassionate response to a need of someone else, with no expectation of any return.

If you find yourself increasingly moved to bless someone else in his need, not out of obligation or guilt, but out of agape love, this is a telltale sign of real faith. 

As John wrote:
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: –  (1John 3:18-19)

The connection between real faith and sacrificial love is hope.  Not wishful thinking, but confidence in the future.  When we know we cannot lose, loving sacrifice becomes logical.  They could steal from us, hate us, persecute us, sue us or even kill us and it would not change the outcome for us in eternity.  We cannot lose.  Because we have real hope, it is safe  for us to love.  Agape love is a sign of faith because it is extended in direct contrast to the “rules” of the world.

Paul was excited and thankful for the new Colossian believers…

…because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people—  the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel. – (Colossians 1:4-5)