I John 5

Vs. 3, “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.”  We have been reminded God is love.  He commanded us to love Him and to love others.  We cannot separate the two; if we love God we will love others (vs. 1-4).  John then strongly reminds us that it is Christ and His testimony that help us live right before God (vs. 5-12).  There were many false teachers claiming their testimony was just as important or more (vs. 9).  Jesus’ water and book (vs. 6) signifies the picture of His incarnation and ministry with us.  Water is the baptism and blood is the cross.  And to add to this, John reminds us the Holy Spirit also testifies of this truth (vs. 6-8).  And if that were not enough, the testimony of the Father comes into play (vs. 9-12).  In the latter half of our chapter, John concludes his letter by affirming that which he has shared throughout the letter (vs. 13-21).  It’s important to note that John is expounding on outright deliberate sin (vs. 16-19).  A true Christian is not going to say in their heart they could care less about the actions they do.

Regarding application…God Hears Us.  Vs. 14, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”  Question: Does God hear us when we call upon Him?  There days it seems like many don’t like answering their phones.  Texting and social networking seems to be the most popular way to attempt contact.  Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but next to being face to face, I enjoy speaking with another person.  We have all had times when we tried calling someone and they don’t pick up the phone.  But when we call upon the Lord, he doesn’t send us to voicemail or command us to write out a long text message. He hears us.  Brothers and sisters, this is an amazing fact that we should never take for granted.   As 2013 is still very fresh in its beginnings, let us always call upon the Lord daily because He loves us and wants to spend time with us!

I John 4

Vs. 19, “We love because he first loved us.”  Through this love, God has given us the ability to test and know right and wrong (vs. 1-6).  Question: How can we determine false doctrine?  One of the ways is that true teachers will acknowledge and proclaim Jesus is God incarnate in the flesh (vs. 2).  Many false teachers will claim Jesus could not have been both fully human and fully God.  The Holy Spirit testifies the truth while the enemy distorts the truth (vs. 2-6).  It is so vitally important to pray for wisdom and discernment in a time where may will attempt to lead believers astray.  Question: What then should we do?  We should love one another (vs. 7-21).  This is the litmus test of life.  Whether our hearts believe it or not, God is love.  He is the epitome of love and graciously showed that to through His son Jesus Christ.

Regarding application…Are You Loving?  Vs. 12, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”  As we begin a new year, this is a poignant question to be asking ourselves.  No matter what we accomplish this year, if it is without loving others it will be in vain.  The more we know the Lord and grow, the more we will be able to love.  It is like a spiritual muscle that needs to be exercised.  But in our endeavor to love, let us not forget the objects of love (us).  So, start out this year with the love of Christ leading us onward!

I John 3

Vs. 1, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”  Impeccable timing for a timeless truth as we end the year 2012.  God the Father has lavished great love this past year.  It is love that spurred the Father to sacrifice the Son (vs. 4-8).  It was love that gave us the Holy Spirit as a deposit of His promise.  John addresses the deliberate choice to continue to sin (vs. 9-10).  We are also soberly reminded of the gravity of murder (vs. 12-15).  Instead of hatred and killing others, we should love and lay down our lives for others (vs. 11-24).  The move we love the more God gives us His peace (vs. 18-24).

Regarding application…Walk the Walk.  Vs. 18, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”  As 2013 rounds the corner, what a wonderful reminder of living in a way that shows His love.  Many of us may have New Year resolutions or commitments we are making.  Right now we are talking big.  However, it’s time to live big.  It’s time to backup our words with action and truth.  I’m convicted as I may a commitment to get in better cardio shape this 2013, I also need to ensure that I am making commitments to love more.  More love, more power, more of Christ in my life.  Let us walk by faith and in love this coming year!

I John 2

Vs. 1, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”  By God’s grace, we have an advocate in Jesus.  But don’t miss out the fact that we can choose whether we sin or not.  With the knowledge of Jesus and His light, what are we to do with it?  We are to live and love as Christ did (vs. 3-11).  Loving is not just a feel good option, it is a commandment.  John then takes the time to address all God’s people (children), father’s and young men to warn them not to love the world (vs. 12-17).  We have been reminded to walk in His light and His love.  Now John focuses realizing that we must now walk in the truth (vs. 18-27).  It is so important we know God’s word so we do not go astray from false ways.  We live in the last days (vs. 18).  The lies of the enemy and coming of the antichrist is nearing each day.  As we come nearer, how much more important is it to know and fellowship with true believers (vs. 28-29).

Regarding application…Light Exposes.  Vs. 8, “Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.”  The true light will expose the darkness and evil for what it is.  This reminds me of black lights.  It’s always a uncomfortable feeling when you see someone shine a black light in a hotel room.  While it looks clean from the human eye, there are all kinds of dirt and grime that is exposed by light.  Light exposes and separates the good from the bad.  Let us live in the light so we may see our sins and confess them unto the Lord.  Live in His light.  Let’s stop hiding in the darkness.

I John 1

Vs. 1, “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.”  John writes so passionately about Jesus because He experienced life with Him (vs. 1-4).  Not only did John spend time with Jesus physically, but more importantly, he experienced Him spiritually.  For there were many who saw Jesus physically, but rejected who He was.  Five times we are reminded of the word sin in the latter half of our chapter (vs. 5-10).  But more importantly, John points out that there is no darkness in the God of light.  This was important because contrary to the false teaching of Gnosticism, Jesus did not have a dualistic evil/good nature.  Additionally, there were some that had thought hey had achieved this mystical perfection.  But John eloquently addresses this misunderstanding of sin (vs. 8-10)

Regarding application…Dealing with Sin.  Vs. 9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Though we are new creations (Romans 7-8), there are going to be times that we are going to sin.  While sin can separate us from God, it doesn’t mean that by sinning we have to go through the whole salvation process again.  Christ dealt with sin on the cross.  If we don’t feel like we are sinners, perhaps the truth of Christ is not in our hearts (vs. 8).  A truly saved Christian will confess their sins.  How wonderful that we have a faithful, loving, and just God!  Pray today if there is anything that you need to bring before the Lord.

I John 5

Vs. 5, “Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”  What a great rallying call!  Question: Who are Christians?  We are Disciples of Christ!  We are people who love & obey God’s commands (Vs. 1-5).  Most people in this world do not know who Christians are.  As Christians, we know who we are, because the Spirit testifies to it (vs. 6-13).  We have that very testimony in our hearts (Vs. 10).  How much more than should we testify who Jesus is to the world?  We can pray to God and approach Him with confidence (Vs. 14-17).  When we know God’s testimony, we can pray with boldness!  We know how Christians should live (vs. 18) and we cannot ever deny that we don’t know the truth (Vs. 20)…for God has given it to us.  We are without excuse for God has given us this wonderful knowledge!

Regarding application…Burdensome.  Vs. 3, “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.”  Question: Why?  From the world’s point of view…it can be a very burdensome thing to be a Christian.  As Christians we shouldn’t do that and we shouldn’t do this (a big book of rules).  No one likes rules.  But ask a parent if working hard so their children can have a good education and wonderful opportunties…and there job is never burdensome…Why? Because they love them.  God’s laws and commands should never be burdensome.  Yet many Christians fall into the trap that Adam & Eve fell into from the very beginning.  Satan challenges us to think that God’s laws are burdensome and too hard to handle.  Therefore, we break them and not follow them because life is easier.  But a Christian who looks to God’s commands as burdensome is a person who does not know the meaning of love.  Love is not selfish, but it is selfless.  Re-read I Cor. 13 or remember that when we follow Jesus, He gives us rest from this weary world (Matthew 11:28-30).  We follow & obey God because we love Him.  That is why this world is not a burdensome place to live in.

I John 4

Vs. 19, “We love because he first loved us.”  True believers will love each other…it’s that simple folks.  John goes on to mention about testing spirits….remember that the New Testament had not yet been completeted…so these young Christians would know if someone was false by what they claimed regarding Jesus.  But the true sheep will recoginze the loving voice of their Shepherd.  John also reminds us of the fact that we should never forget…Jesus died for us (vs. 9-11).  When we remember this fact,God’s Holy Spirit can reside in us and His love fills us (Vs. 12-16).  And when we live this kind of love, we need to never fear the final day of judgment…because love drives out fear (Vs. 18-19).

Regarding application…Loving Others = Command.  Vs. 21, “And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”  This is not God pleading or hoping that we love.  God is not politely asking us to love others.  God is commanding us to love.  It is shameful to bear the name of Christ in our lives if we are discriminately choosing who we love and who we ignore or even hate in our lives.  People may say, “I tried…I just can’t love him or her because of what they did to me.”  And the key word to that comment is “I”.  When we try to love, it is impossible to love others.  But when we surrender our lives over to the Lord, His love is so powerful and great that it will overflow in our lives.  If Jesus thought the same way so many of us have…then none of us would be alive today.  Question: Who do you need to show God’s love to?  Go forth and love deeply in the name of Jesus!

1 John 3

Vs. 1, “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…”  What an appropriate verse to remind us of Father’s Day!   Love is indeed is one of the greatest motivations in this world!  If we love & understand God’s love for us…then we cannot help but desire to obey.  One day Jesus will return, and that is all the more reason we should live as if He will today (Vs. 2-3).  As Christans we have the “new nature”, the Holy Spirit guiding us in our lives.  Jesus set the perfect example and as He died for us, we ought to be willing to die for others too (Vs. 16)…what a powerful verse!  But our hearts and the Holy Spirit can and does condemn us (Vs. 19-20) when we have failed to love others.  We can come before God with confidence (Vs. 21), God is able to show the full extent of His love in our lives because of the Holy Spirit He gave us (Vs. 24).

Regarding application…Deliberately Sinning.  Vs. 9, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.”  When we abide in Christ, we will not consciencely make an effor to deliberately sin.  Of course we fall short of the glory of God…and we sometimes choose to willingly disobey the Lord.  But what John is getting at is this: No true Christan will continue to repeatedly time and time again deliberately sin on and on with no remorse.  This is a very serious topic and one that is not easy to discuss.  Take the prodigal son…He did repeatedly sin, but in his heart of hearts…he was still a son.  He realized he did not belong with the pigs…he belonged with his Father.  Deep down in the deepest recesses of our hearts is the desire to please the Lord.  We only have that because when the Holy Spirit came into our lives, a new nature formed in our hardened hearts.

Question: Is it possible to deliberately sin and still go to Heaven?  Yes, because perhaps you are a procrastinator and in your heart of hearts, you meant to turn back to the Lord but maybe you died before you had the chance in a car wreck.  For the prodigal son, if he had died before turning back to his father, he still would have been a part of that family.  But, sadly…it is not and should not ever be our desire to deliberately sin.  It is like saying, “God, I have no remorse about what I am doing and I don’t care if it hurts you and others.”  Many times, we as children of God will disobey Him, but we do it with guilt and remorse.  However, it is God’s will that we turn from the sinful nature and strive to live holy all the days of our lives.

I John 2

Vs. 15, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”  I like John’s style of explaining things…this chapter focuses now on our relationship with Christ.  There are many things that can keep us from the Love of Christ…the hatred of others, the love of the world, the false teachings of others, the denial of God in our life…  Jesus is our advocate, Jesus is our example and Jesus is our commander.  He helps us against our enemies and Jesus is the source of our hope!

Regarding application…Walking.  Vs. 6, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”  Before there were planes, trains & automobiles =)…there was walking.  It still is the main source of how we get from point “A” to point “B”.  Think of people who are in wheelchairs their whole life…we take walking for granted.  Yet, I believe we take the our Spiritual walk for granted even more.  For Christians…there is no denying it…We claim to be “In Christ!”  Yet..talking the talk vs. walking the walk are two very different things.  Why is it that Christians complain and cry out “Woe is me” when trials and tough times come?  Why is that these trials make us question God’s love?  Because…we don’t know God’s word!  If we did…we would realize that the walk Jesus took was filled with joys & trials.

Remember the movie “Forrest Gump”?  There was a time in the life of Forrest that he could not walk well…and as he got older and went back home…he decided to not only start walking but jogging across America.  It became a phenomon in the movie as many followers began to run with Forrest.  But when asked where he was going or why he was doing it…Forrest didn’t really have an answer…he just did it.  But we don’t just walk for no reason.  We walk with deliberation and conviction.  We are called to go down the path less traveled.  We must walk with Jesus.  You must walk with Jesus.  Why?  Because He lives in us!

Introduction – I John

This letter was composed sometime around 85-90 A.D. with the intent to remove doubts and resssure young Christians about who Jesus was.  John is the same author who wrote the Gospel of John…and he was older now and perhaps the only surviving apostle at this time.  This is the same John that would walk & talk with Jesus, watch Jesus die, met Jesus after He rose from the dead and saw Jesus go up to Heaven.  It’s safe to say that John knew who the Lord was…and that love would convey itself in this letter.  John also wrote this letter to counter false teachers.