ILLUSION OR REALITY?

John – God and Love
 
We can easily be fooled by great illusionists who cause our brains to see what isn’t really there or to see it from a different perspective. An illusion, by definition, is seeing something that is or is likely to be wrongly perceived or interpreted by the senses. There are some, John says, that know of Jesus, but are only impressed with him…as an illusion.
 
1 John 5 go deeperThere are many in the world and inside God’s church who are merely impressed with Jesus, do good deeds, but do not know the realty of Jesus as Savior AND Lord of their lives. They are merely impressed with what he did a long time ago. They can even quote some of his teachings. Some confuse wives’ tales with scripture causing all kinds of confusion. What they are missing, most of all is the realty of eternal life offered by God through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. Our response is repentance of our sin. Done. We are then forgiven forever.
 
The reality is this, John writes, “that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion.”
 
DO you know beyond doubt? Good question for meditation so that we evaluate the realty of who we are in Jesus. Merely impressed? OR Deeply devoted?
 
1 John 5, The Message
Part Two
 
1 John 5 realityThe Reality, Not the Illusion
13-15 My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he’s listening. And if we’re confident that he’s listening, we know that what we’ve asked for is as good as ours.
 
16-17 For instance, if we see a Christian believer sinning (clearly I’m not talking about those who make a practice of sin in a way that is “fatal,” leading to eternal death), we ask for God’s help and he gladly gives it, gives life to the sinner whose sin is not fatal. There is such a thing as a fatal sin, and I’m not urging you to pray about that. Everything we do wrong is sin, but not all sin is fatal.
 
1 John 5 20 God is real18-21 We know that none of the God-begotten makes a practice of sin—fatal sin. The God-begotten are also the God-protected. The Evil One can’t lay a hand on them. We know that we are held firm by God; it’s only the people of the world who continue in the grip of the Evil One. And we know that the Son of God came so we could recognize and understand the truth of God—what a gift!—and we are living in the Truth itself, in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. This Jesus is both True God and Real Life. Dear children, be on guard against all clever facsimiles.
 
1 John 5 pray
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for Your Son, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit that is real and active in our lives, who clarifies all Truth. Thank you for all you have done, are doing and will do in our lives to make Your Presence known to us. You are amazing, real, steady and unchanging in Your love and actions. Yes, I believe. I am not merely impressed the more I think of the reality of You. Help us to be on guard for copies of you that the devil tries to put in front of us. Help us to only have eyes for you! You never let me down!
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.
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GOD’S TESTIMONY

John – God and Love
 
All humans want to win, to be conquers of problems, to be the heroic Superman or Supergirl (and why is she not superwoman?) who saves others from distress. We want to be on top of whatever we are climbing. We want to be thought of as “the best”. We want to also be the best mom or dad in our peer group. We want to be know as the best grandparent later in life. We basically want to be heard. Our words and actions give testimony to who are what we belong to and live for.
 
With all this, maybe what we are really after is power. Be careful. Why the urge to conquer in the world by controlling it? Why not, let God do what He does best. Trust God. He knows what He is doing. John testifies that our faith in God is the conquering power that brings the world to its knees! Wait, what? Want power? Real power that conquers the world, lies in our faith in God. So, why not trust God’s testimony above all other mere human testimonies?
 
1 John 5 believe
“This is the testimony in essence: God gave us eternal life; the life is in his Son. So whoever has the Son, has life; whoever rejects the Son, rejects life.” LIFE is in the SON! Here’s where the power to bring the world and it’s ways to its knees! FAITH in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of our lives. Jesus, King of kings and Lord of lords is our conqueror.
 
The evil one who tries to pull us to give into our own selfish needs and tries to conquer us has this great fear: Children of God on their knees praying in Jesus Name asking for God’s help, wisdom, guidance and direction in all things. This is POWER. This is the testimony of God, Himself.
 
“Whoever believes in the Son of God inwardly confirms God’s testimony. Whoever refuses to believe in effect calls God a liar, refusing to believe God’s own testimony regarding his Son.”
1 John 5, The Message
(Part One)
 
1-3 Every person who believes that Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah, is God-begotten. If we love the One who conceives the child, we’ll surely love the child who was conceived. The reality test on whether or not we love God’s children is this: Do we love God? Do we keep his commands? The proof that we love God comes when we keep his commandments and they are not at all troublesome.
The Power That Brings the World to Its Knees
4-5 Every God-begotten person conquers the world’s ways. The conquering power that brings the world to its knees is our faith. The person who wins out over the world’s ways is simply the one who believes Jesus is the Son of God.
 
6-8 Jesus—the Divine Christ! He experienced a life-giving birth and a death-killing death. Not only birth from the womb, but baptismal birth of his ministry and sacrificial death. And all the while the Spirit is confirming the truth, the reality of God’s presence at Jesus’ baptism and crucifixion, bringing those occasions alive for us. A triple testimony: the Spirit, the Baptism, the Crucifixion. And the three in perfect agreement.
 
9-10 If we take human testimony at face value, how much more should we be reassured when God gives testimony as he does here, testifying concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God inwardly confirms God’s testimony. Whoever refuses to believe in effect calls God a liar, refusing to believe God’s own testimony regarding his Son.
 
11-12 This is the testimony in essence: God gave us eternal life; the life is in his Son. So, whoever has the Son, has life; whoever rejects the Son, rejects life.
 
1 John 5 4
Life or death? Take time to think about it. It is a matter of real life everlasting OR eternal death and misery.
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
Hallowed and Holy is Your Name. May Your Kingdom come and reign supremely in us and all around us. May Your glory be seen in and through us. May Your Will be done on earth, in every detail of our lives, as it is in heaven. Lead us not into temptations to follow the world’s ways, but deliver us from all evil. You have all power. Our faith and trust is in you for there is NO ONE like You. To You be all glory, honor and praise! Forever and ever.
IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.
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FULLY FORMED

John – God and Love
 
1 John 4 fully formed
It is the time and season for our roses to show their stuff. Even the colorful buds are beautiful with anticipation of a gorgeous, fully formed bloom. I wonder if God looks at us with anticipation as we become more fully formed in His love. He longs for us to love Him back. His desire is for us to know how much He loves us. His love drives away all the anxiousness the world tries to heap upon us. Fear is at the top of the list. Would we fear less (and then be fearless) if we fully realized His deep, abiding love for us, a love that never fails?
 
John says, “Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life–fear of death, fear of judgment–is one not yet fully formed in love.” These words strike wonder in my heart this morning. My fears are silly and baseless in comparison to God’s love and care for me. My mind often overthinks, creating more fear. I am not yet fully formed…but on my way!
 
I woke up this morning singing to God and His love…
(Holy Spirit by Francesca Battistelli)
 
There’s nothing worth more
That could ever come close
No thing can compare
You’re our living hope
Your presence, Lord
I’ve tasted and seen
Of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free
And my shame is undone
Your presence, Lord
 
Holy Spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord
Your presence, Lord
 
There’s nothing worth more
That could ever come close
No thing can compare
You’re our living hope
Your presence, Lord
I’ve tasted and seen
Of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free
And my shame is undone
Your presence, Lord
 
Holy Spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory,…
 
After reading this last passage of 1 John 4, I realize why the song come to mind. God is so good, so very good. God is Love. Stop and realize the Holy Presence of God right now. Praise God for His Holy Spirit. Realize the depths of His love for us. “Fear not!” as is written many times throughout God’s Word to us. Be fully formed in His love.
 
1 John 4, The Message
(Final episode)
 
1 John 4 love drive out fearTo Love, to Be Loved
17-18 God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.
 
19 We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.
 
20-21 If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
I love you, too! There IS no one who compares with You, Father. There is no one on earth who could ever compare with your love for us. You are our living hope. You are the One I love and trust fully. You are God and i am not. And yet, you love me still. Thank you for Your Holy Presence in our lives that does indeed bring peace and drive out fear. Continue to help me be fully formed in your love.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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CONTINUOUSLY INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

John – God and Love
 
God and love are the same and inseparable. To know God is to know love. To know authentic, unconditional, intimate, lasting love can only be had by knowing God. John explains it well. Even though this is familiar scripture which has been sung in church camps across the world, (Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God…1 John 4, 7 and 8!), it is good for us to camp on the words and be grateful for the love God is and has shown us through the giving of His Son for us.
 
Because of Jesus, we are free to come to God unashamed, free to get to know Him while growing a continuously intimate relationship with Him.
 
“Amazing Love, HOW can it be?” Read what John says and find out how…and be blessed…
 
1 John 4, The Message
Part Two
 
1 John that you may knowGod Is Love
7-10 My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.
 
11-12 My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!
 
13-16 This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.
 
EMBRACE God, embrace Love, heart and soul. And I’m singing…”You Are My King” (Chris Tomlin)
 
I’m forgiven because you were forsaken
I’m accepted, You were condemned
I’m alive and well
Your spirit is within me
Because you died and rose again
 
Amazing love, how can it be?
That you, my king. would die for me
Amazing love, I know it’s true
Its my joy to honor you
Amazing love how can it be?
That my king would die for me
Amazing love I know it’s true
Its my joy to honor you
In all I do
I honor you
 
You are my king
You are my king
Jesus, You are my king
Jesus, You are my king
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for Your continuously intimate love. Thank you for saving me and setting me free to love You back. Thank you for teaching to love others like you love me. I love You. I love our continuously, growing intimate relationship that challenges me to love You and others more as I realize how much you love me.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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GREATER IS HE!

John – God and Love
 
We always test it before buying it, right? I always push the buttons of a product display at the store to see if it really works, don’t you? We drive the vehicle we are interested in buying before paying good money to have it for ourselves. SO, it stands to reason that we do what John tells us in our passage this morning, “Don’t believe everything you hear!” Test what you hear with God’s Word. Examine words and actions before “buying in”. Look for those who proclaim Jesus as Savior and Lord, who talk the same language and walk as Jesus walked. Look for those who do not point the world to them but to Jesus! That is the button to push to test what you are hearing.
 
1 John 4 testing1 John 4, The Message
Part One
Don’t Believe Everything You Hear
4 My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world.
 
2-3 Here’s how you test for the genuine Spirit of God. Everyone who confesses openly his faith in Jesus Christ—the Son of God, who came as an actual flesh-and-blood person—comes from God and belongs to God. And everyone who refuses to confess faith in Jesus has nothing in common with God. This is the spirit of antichrist that you heard was coming. Well, here it is, sooner than we thought!
 
4-6 My dear children, you come from God and belong to God. You have already won a big victory over those false teachers, for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world. These people belong to the Christ-denying world. They talk the world’s language and the world eats it up. But we come from God and belong to God. Anyone who knows God understands us and listens. The person who has nothing to do with God will, of course, not listen to us. This is another test for telling the Spirit of Truth from the spirit of deception.
 
GOD’S PROMISE OF HELP….
 
Did you pick up the promise in this passage? We get help to discern God’s Truth for “the Spirit (of God) is far greater than anything in the world.” Anyone who knows God understands us and listen…they get it. Those who have nothing to do with God…won’t get it. Simple test. Push the right buttons.
 
I John 4 lionDear Heavenly Father,
You are God and we are not. You love us no matter what. You will always be with us and help us to discern who and what is Truth as you see it. Thank you! The devil is tricky but far greater are you in us. Help us to see You in others.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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SERIOUSLY, WE SHOULD LOVE EACH OTHER

John – God and Love
 
“For this is the original message we heard: We should love each other.”
1 John 3, The Message
 
1 John 3 heart of handsWhat is love? A little first grader thought she knew the answer. She innocently came up to the new teacher and began a serious conversation with, “I know how to make love…my dad taught me.” The new teacher panicked and immediately stopped the conversation to run and get her mentor across the hall, me…”I think Mrs. Callaway needs to hear this, too.”
 
1 John 3 heart you.jpgThe first year teacher told me what her student revealed. As a veteran, I calmed down the ruffled newbee and asked the girl to step into the hall. I asked her to tell us again what dad said. The little girl was so happy to relate her big news. “Dad taught me how to make love by making a heart where love goes like this, (she made a heart with her hands.) Instead of writing the word “love” you draw a heart and it still says, I (heart) love you!” Ah, now we get it. A very happy new teacher went about teaching her little students. I returned to my classroom with a giggle and a praise to God. “I (heart) you”.
 
Do we really know love? Do we know how to love like God loves us? John answers that readily and concisely. God is love. If we do not know God, then we do not know love. Anyone who knows and loves God is free to love others. If we do not love our brothers and sisters then we do not love God. It all begins and ends with God. Seriously.
 
“This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves.” Ah…this is serious.
 
John points out another serious problem we ALL have at times. Self hate and self criticism which binds up our love for God and others. Stop it! Seriously. God loves us completely, has forgiven us completely, and abides with us completely. “My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self criticism, even when there is something to it. Did you get that? LIVE GOD’S REALITY! He love us as we are and will grow us to reach higher, to think more like Him and to behave more like Jesus!
 
1 John 3 worried heartsLet us pray for opened eyes to God’s reality for all of us. Let us love like God loves us. AND here is the greatest bonus of all…“God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.” AND He still loves us!! Seriously.
 
“And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God!” We are also more confident to love others like God loves us! Here’s a thought that goes deeper still…The more we realize the reality of God’s love for us, the more deeply we love others. Seriously.
 
And now here’s John with all the words that explain this message. Read and be blessed. Seriously love each other because of our love for God, knowing God loved us first and still does. That’s God’s reality.
 
1 John 3, The Message
 
11 For this is the original message we heard: We should love each other.
 
12-13 We must not be like Cain, who joined the Evil One and then killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because he was deep in the practice of evil, while the acts of his brother were righteous. So don’t be surprised, friends, when the world hates you. This has been going on a long time.
 
14-15 The way we know we’ve been transferred from death to life is that we love our brothers and sisters. Anyone who doesn’t love is as good as dead. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know very well that eternal life and murder don’t go together.
 
16-17 This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.
 
When We Practice Real Love
18-20 My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.
 
1 John 3 truth21-24 And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for teaching us love through knowing You. You are God and we are not. You loved us first. You love us still. Thank you for also teaching us how to love each other sacrificially through the example of our Lord and Savior. Thank you for calming our worried hearts and restoring the joy of Your salvation in us. May our love go deeper still.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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FOCUS

John – God and Love
 
When I want to do quick once over to household chores, I don’t wear glasses. What I don’t see well, I don’t clean, therefore the work is done in no time! BUT, if I am expecting company or family, it’s a different story. I wear my glasses to really see the dirt I need to clean well. I will know if I have done it by putting on my glasses and focusing on the filth that has been there all along.
 
1 John 3 children of GodSometimes we live our lives without the aid of clear focus on Christ. We get frustrated at people who do not agree with us or hurt us with their words and we shut them out of our lives. Love becomes focused only on the hurt. We become more unfocused on God’s love. Since God IS love, we lose focus of who God is. We lose focus of God. God and love are the same. We are his “kids” if we love God, accept His love for us and then love others the way He loves us. It is a “simple test” to see the difference between God’s children and the Devil’s children. It takes focus. Need help? Ask God. He will help us see others through the lens of God and His love.
 
1 John 3, The Message
Part One
 
What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he’s up to.
 
2-3 But friends, that’s exactly who we are: children of God. And that’s only the beginning. Who knows how we’ll end up! What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see him—and in seeing him, become like him. All of us who look forward to his Coming stay ready, with the glistening purity of Jesus’ life as a model for our own.
 
4-6 All who indulge in a sinful life are dangerously lawless, for sin is a major disruption of God’s order. Surely you know that Christ showed up in order to get rid of sin. There is no sin in him, and sin is not part of his program. No one who lives deeply in Christ makes a practice of sin. None of those who do practice sin have taken a good look at Christ. They’ve got him all backward.
 
7-8 So, my dear children, don’t let anyone divert you from the truth. It’s the person who acts right who is right, just as we see it lived out in our righteous Messiah. Those who make a practice of sin are straight from the Devil, the pioneer in the practice of sin. The Son of God entered the scene to abolish the Devil’s ways.
 
9-10 People conceived and brought into life by God don’t make a practice of sin. How could they? God’s seed is deep within them, making them who they are. It’s not in the nature of the God-begotten to practice and parade sin. Here’s how you tell the difference between God’s children and the Devil’s children: The one who won’t practice righteous ways isn’t from God, nor is the one who won’t love brother or sister. A simple test.
 
11 For this is the original message we heard: We should love each other.
 
12-13 We must not be like Cain, who joined the Evil One and then killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because he was deep in the practice of evil, while the acts of his brother were righteous. So don’t be surprised, friends, when the world hates you. This has been going on a long time.
 
14-15 The way we know we’ve been transferred from death to life is that we love our brothers and sisters. Anyone who doesn’t love is as good as dead. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know very well that eternal life and murder don’t go together.
 
1 John 3 love well16-17 This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.
 
 
“What marvelous love the Father has extended to us!” Do we extend marvelous love to others…all of them…even the ones who hurt, shame or disagree with us? Simple test.
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
Your love is truly amazing, marvelous, unconditional, unrelenting and sometimes unimaginable. Thank you for loving us enough to save us from sin and ourselves. Continue to open our eyes to see each other they way you see us and love like you love. Thank you, Lord for loving us.
In Jesus Name,
Amen
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