Who Do You Look Like? 1 John 2:1-6

In 1 John 2:1-6 (including verse 6 because it ends the sentence), there is another test to knowing whether or not you are a child of God.  I love this because John demonstrates that there are observable indicators as to whether or not our faith is real.  In a world where so many people claim Christianity (as I talked about in the last post), how can we know that there is truth behind what we say?  John tells us.

The first thing in this passage he deals with is the focus of the Believer.  He tells us that the reason he is writing is so that we will not sin.  This is  an important as indicator regarding our faith-claim because the attitude among so many (including professing Christians) is that because there is forgiveness, sinning isn’t such a big deal.  John reminds us, though, that he is writing so that we will not sin. That’s the goal! IF we do sin, there is provision for that, but don’t start with part B, look to the Word for strength from the Holy Spirit notto sin in the first place, foregoing guilt, conviction, etc., and experience the joy of standing strong.  If we are constantly entering into sin without concern because of a reliance upon forgiveness, there are heart issues going on that could indicate an illegitimate faith.

John gives us another test of how we can know our faith is real:  what are your highest priorities?  Who do you look like and who do you want to look like? 

And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.  Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.

Verse 3 gives a way that we can know we are saved: how we live our lives; if obeying Christ is our top priority. If that is not our aim, we are lying about our faith in Him and fooled into thinking we’re saved when we are not. Verse 6 is clear that our pattern of life should reflect that of Jesus in an ever-increasing way (through sanctification).

I have to, personally, evaluate what my daily priorities are.  What are the things that I schedule my life around?  What are the attitudes I work towards and what are the attitudes that dominate my life?  These are indicators of the condition of my relationship with Christ.  Do I seek to make disciples?  To love unconditionally?  To forgive without reservation?  It’s tough and yet John rightly reminds us that “whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”

PSI – Living the Challenge: 1, 2, 3 John

Yesterday, I issued a challenge at The Gathering to begin to get into Scripture.  (Audio can be accessed through our website, the Sermon Audio page of this blog, or iTunes, if interested).  Looking at the Model Prayer in Matthew 6, we have spent the last three weeks on verse 11:  Give us this day our daily bread.  This last look was at the spiritual implications of the verse.  Because we often have such difficulty actually getting into the Word, my challenge was to read five verses a day in the Epistles of John (since that’s where we’re probably going next) between now and Christmas.

I thought I would jot down any quick thoughts or brief insights I had from the passages as we go along to hopefully provoke some thoughts for those reading along.  Today kicks it off with 1 John 1:1-5:

I love this great apologetic in the first 5 verses of 1 John.  One of the greatest proofs we have for the resurrection of Christ is the apostles, themselves. The fact that they lived such transformed lives AFTER the time of the resurrection of Jesus to the point of giving up their lives for Him is very strong evidence.  It is one thing to die for what you believe to be true and what you know to be a lie.  These guys would have known without question that Jesus was still dead if that were the case.  Instead, they went from complete devastation after His death to complete and utter excitement and joy, being filled with power and action.  Something had happened and there is only one thing that could have given them such enthusiasm for preaching about Jesus.

Here we have them saying, “Look, we experienced Jesus alive!  We touched Him, experienced Him, learned from Him.  This that we testify is true!”  Further, they talk about the completion of joy through expression.  We’re made that way.  The greatest joy we experience is in telling someone else something great that has happened to us.  It completes the joyful experience.  We can experience this same joy through our following these apostles examples.

What is the message they proclaimed?  God is perfectly holy which is great news to us all.  In essence:  He is good and He is in control.  With that truth, we can trust Him and follow Him without reservation!

PSI – Renewal to Transformation

Over this past week I’ve been meditating on and dealing a lot with the implications of Romans 12:2:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

I wanted to make sure I understood what that really meant.  Think about what it is really saying for a second.  Another way to say it is, “a life can be transformed (changed from one thing to another) by a mind being made new.”  The next question, then, is who or what actually does the renewing?  Do we do it?  After all, Paul starts this instruction with the word, “Be…”.  In other words, do it.  Yet, transformation comes through Christ alone, so it doesn’t seem the implication is that I can accomplish this under my own power and that there must be an element of God’s activity in us.

So, my conclusion on that it is that it begins with trusting in the Holy Spirit to do in us what we’ll be unable to do.  Namely, to renew our minds.  We have a work in it, of course.  I must, as Oswald Chambers once said, “work out what He has worked in” [expounding on Philippians 2:12].  Since I’ve never connected the rest of the chapter with this statement in verse 2 (after all, that’s the verse that matters in the Christian’s handbook on memorization!), I missed all of the rich unpacking Paul does on this idea.

Just look at some of the statements he makes following this idea:

3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”

9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. [8] Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

These are counter-cultural ideas, aren’t they?  When I’m confronted with situations like these that are mentioned, my mind tells me to look after Number 1!  Yet Paul is saying to think differently, and by thinking differently enough, actions follow.  What I will find is that, as I think on these things and my actions begin to follow, my life will experience the transformation from a life conformed to the ways and things of the world to a life conformed to that of Christ.  That is Romans 12:2.

I am Mephibosheth.

My name could easily be Mephibosheth, could yours?  Strange name, but an amazing story.

This morning, Spurgeon pointed me to the account of King David seeking to find any living descendants of Saul’s house that he may show them the kindness of the Lord for Jonathan’s sake (2 Samuel 9).  It is amazing because Mephibosheth was Jonathan’s son…you remember Jonathan, right?  David’s best friend and Saul’s son.  Anyway, Mephibosheth  was crippled in both legs (it actually reminds us in the last sentence of the chapter: “Now he was lame in both his feet”).

When David learned of his existence, he called for him to be brought to him.  When he arrived, David said the following:

Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.

I love Mephibosheth’s response.  He said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?”  Isn’t that crazy?  Because of his condition, he referred to himself as a dead dog.  It didn’t matter to him that he was the grandson of a king…one who should have been in line for royalty himself.  Yet he understood that because of his condition, he was considered by most an outcast.

Man, I am Mephibosheth.  One who is crippled because of sin, yet has been picked up from the dunghill in order to eat at the table of the King.  In Christ, there is such a restoration that, just as David looked at Mephibosheth and saw his beloved friend, Jonathan, so the Father looks at me (and hopefully you, too!) and sees His beloved son, Jesus.  What did Meph. do to deserve such grace from David?  Nothing.  He was simply in the likeness of his father and was accepted in, crippled legs and all, and given a seat at the table of the king.  What have I done to deserve such grace?  Nothing…I’m just created in the image and likeness of God.  I am crippled and broken, but God is making me complete.  What grace!

I am Mephibosheth.  Who are you?

What Will I Do With My Inheritance?

I’ve been meditating on Psalm 119:57-64 this morning as the Psalmist reflects on the course of his life. He starts the section by declaring “the Lord is my portion.” I tried to really get my mind around that phrase and found it rather difficult. I’m sure a more learned scholar than I could get it more quickly, but I found it to be one of those little phrases that pops up in Scripture every now and again and we sort of miss it’s impact.

The Lord is my portion. That is to say, the Lord is my inheritance…the Lord is MINE! That’s pretty strong when you think about it. What right do I have to say that the Lord is mine? I suppose in a simple “god-servant” relationship, I don’t have much right. I could only say that I am God’s, which is true as He is maker of heaven and earth and all within it. Yet, it goes much deeper than that. Unless there is something more personal, the phrase is empty. It seems to me that the only way I can say that God is mine, is if there is an intimate relationship in which the greater (God) desires to give Himself to the lesser (me). Man, think about that…the Greater desires to give Himself to the lesser. Wow! Don’t miss that.

If we can really grasp that, it makes sense that the Psalmist then says, “I promise to keep your words.” The depth of love that leads an omnipotent and totally transcendent God to lower Himself to me should lead me to nothing more than a declaration that I will keep your words…I will do whatever You say. What an amazing God You are! What other response can there be?

Then comes a great little sentence: “When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies.” Another translation reads, “I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your laws.” I like that because it demonstrates not a blind faith, but a reasonable one. I have not followed after God because I need a hollow crutch (though the more I understand the depth of my depravity, the more I understand that I really do need a strong one!) or some fairy tale to blindly believe in. I have followed Him because I know my own inability to make good choices and navigate the choppy waters of daily decisions without wrecking the vessel that is my life and know that He, as Creator, is also the Navigator that brings me safely into port. I know that He is the one who designed this life and that by following Him, I will have the abundant life promised. Hmm…make my own choices and, while being autonomous, live in the misery my autonomy gets me or turn to follow His guidance through His Word and experience amazing life beyond measure. No brainer.

This leads me, as it does the Psalmist, to “rise at midnight to thank you for your just regulations.” How could I make it without the grace given me by God in Christ? “At midnight” is just another way of saying, “at all times I am aware of your mercy to reveal Yourself to me and to provide me with direction and I worship You in response to it.” Every moment of every day should be an experience of worship because we are ever mindful of the shear grace of a loving God to hold onto us, though He receives nothing (as He needs nothing – see Acts 17:24-25) in return. As Steven Curtis Chapman said in a recent song: “This is a moment made for worshiping, cause this is a moment I’m alive.” What a great statement. All of life, for a Christ-follower, is a worship experience because “he gives to all life and breath and everything.”

Inhale…exhale – That was a gift…now worship Him for it.

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