Happy New Year! Micah 3:11-12

Happy New Year! Micah 3:11-12

I love the prosperity Gospel. No, really. I love it because it teaches us how NOT to go about living our lives. Well, actually the Bible tells us how to do that, but you get my point. Check out the verses for today:

Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they lean upon the Lord and say, ‘ Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.’ Therefore because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets (Micah 3:11-12).

I actually know of people who think the same way. I’ve heard many, many times that, “I am blessed, and highly favored”. In reality though, the Word of God doesn’t say that he will protect us from anything bad happening. In fact, we see the opposite. The Lord promised his children much persecution. And if you look around the world today, you see what he was talking about…except in America, of course.

And, that is just for those who are children of God. If you look closely at verse 12, because of those people who just cared about money (and not about what the Lord actually said, or wanted), Jerusalem was plowed like a field (which did actually happen, by the way). It became a heap of rubble, and the temple was destroyed. This begs the question, then, where these people true believers? I don’t claim to know the answer to this question. But, by the fruit that is shown, I can say that I don’t think their fruit is in line with the true Gospel message.

If you hear someone preaching the prosperity Gospel, run as fast as you can in the other direction.

Blessings.

1 John 2:14

1 John 2:14

I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the Word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one (1 John 2:14).

This verse is awesome in that it can be taken a few different ways. This, and the two before it, speak to different people. Children, fathers, young men, etc. But, if you think about it, these are also places that we visit within our walk with the Lord. As children, young in our faith, we know the Lord–we learn who he is. As young men (and women) we are strong because the Word of God lives in us! We have overcome the evil one with our salvation. And, when we are older in our faith (as fathers or mothers), we really come to know who God is. We don’t just know who he is as children, but who he is from the beginning–meaning that we have relationship with him because we understand his role, and ours.

On a different note, some take this verse as speaking of the Triune God. Obviously when John speaks of the Father, he means God the Father. But the reference to “him who is from the beginning” is speaking of Christ (we know this because of John’s Gospel). And the Word of God is another way of saying that the Spirit of God lives in us. Be comforted, friends, because the Word of God lives inside of you.

1 John 2:12-13

1 John 2:12-13

I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I a writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one (1 John 2:12-13).

There are only two types of people in this world. It doesn’t matter what the color of your skin is, or the shape of your body. You are either in Christ Jesus, or not. There is no in between. It is yes, or no. It is black, or white. There is no maybe. There is no gray area.

On the other hand, there are different stages of believers and being in Christ. There are children, young adults and mature adults. This signifies the truth that we are on a constant road toward maturity in Christ. This does not mean that we are working for it, because we have been given his grace freely. But, we must be on this road, nonetheless.

1 John 2:9-11

1 John 2:9-11

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them (1 John 2:9-11).

Here, John expands upon the darkness verses the light. He gives us another way to tell if we, or others, are walking in the Light (God) or the darkness (evil, world, devil). We learn that anyone who hates their brother is in darkness. They are filled with ideologies that make them stumble. Why? Because if you are in Christ, you cannot hate. If you are in Christ, you are in the Light. If you are in the Light, you love your brothers and sisters.

The word “hate” here, in the original language speaks of someone who is a habitual hater. Someone who lives in hate. Someone whose life can be seen with much hatred towards others. Truly, you cannot live this way and be born of God.

What I find interesting in these couple of verses is that those who are in darkness are blinded and don’t know where they’re going. They don’t really know Jesus. Nor do they realize what will happen to them after they die. They are likely in denial–thinking that they are saved, but in reality, they hate.

1 John 2:7-8

1 John 2:7-8

Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 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 shinning (1 John 2:7-8).

The command that John is talking about here is the command to love each other, as we will see in the next several verses. This can be confusing because on one hand John is stating that he is not writing a new command, but an old one. But, then in the next sentence, he states that he is writing a new command.

While it was an old command–to love, that was seen in the commandments, they were never able to see how God himself loved. And, when Jesus became flesh, that was made possible. This is what John means when he says that it was seen in him and in you.

I find the last phrase interesting because we believe that we live in a constantly darkening world. But, this verse tells us differently. Darkness is actually passing because the true light (Jesus) is already shinning.

 

Be blessed brothers and sisters.

1 John 2:3-6

1 John 2:3-6

We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, I know him, but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did (1 John 2:3-6).

How do you know if you’re a Christian? You keep Christ’s commands. Why? Not because keeping his commands is what saves us. But, because if we keep his commands, it is an outward expression of what has happened on the inside. When we obey God, we show our heart’s true condition. People that don’t know God cannot keep his commands even though they may seem to be nice people.

On the flip side, this is one of the ways we can tell the difference between a true Christian and a false teacher. If they are keeping his commands, they know Jesus. If they don’t, but say they do, they are lying. In order to be Christian, we must live as he did. How do we know how he lived? By reading his Word.

Be blessed, friends.

 

1 John 2:1-2

1 John 2:1-2

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. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:1-2).

How awesome is it that Jesus is our advocate? We learned last time that we should not sin, and if we keep sinning, we may be walking in darkness. But, we are still humans. Therefore we are going to sin from time to time. We can’t help it; it’s who we are. BUT, Jesus made a sacrifice for us that enables us to be forgiven–even if we sin after we become Christian. Is that a license to sin? Does that mean that sinning is favored? By no means!

Stay tuned for the next few verses as we expand on this concept further.

1 John 1:5-10

1 John 1:5-10

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us (1 John 1:5-10).

You can’t get clearer representation about whether you’re a Christian or not than these verses. Listen, if you walk in darkness, you don’t walk in Light. What is the Light? The Light is God. What is the darkness? It is sin. Does this mean that if we sin we aren’t Christians? Or that if we do, we are going to hell?

If we keep reading, we see that we cannot be without sin. If we say we aren’t sinners, the truth isn’t inside us. But, if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just. he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Let’s talk about what a “walk” looks like.

Picture yourself walking next to Christ. He is so awesome that you can’t take your eyes off of him. And yet, every so often, you feel as though you need to because you see something worth looking at. So, you take your eyes off of him, and suddenly you fall into a pothole. Jesus picks you back up and puts you back on the path again–and for a while, you can’t stop looking at him again.

That is what your walk will probably look like. Jesus is the Light of the world. You walk with him, and sometimes, you fall into sin (pothole). This happens when you take your eyes off the Savior. But, notice what happens when you’re in the hole, he picks you back up again and puts you back onto his path. This can only happen if you’ve confessed your sins.

What does walking in darkness look like? Just the opposite. If you’re in darkness, there is no light. You sin constantly and don’t feel bad about it. You likely commit the same sins over and over again without the fear of God’s judgement. If this is you, please contact me so we can pray for you.

 

My favorite Psalm: Psalm 40 Part 1

My favorite Psalm: Psalm 40 Part 1

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him” (Psalm 40:1-3).

Our Lord is so holy, and awesome in every way. Can you imagine the fact that he hears every cry? Every hurt that you feel, is heard by the same God that created the universe. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

To take it one step further, the psalmist tells us that God lifted him out of the slimy pit that he was in. He was dirty, and yet, Jesus pulls this man out of the pit, and sets him on the Rock. The Lord gave him a solid place to stand. Of course, we read later in Scripture that Jesus is the Rock. The Cornerstone, actually.

How bout you? Do you stand firmly on the Rock, himself? Every once in a while, I find my shoes get slippery and I lose my footing on the rock. However, I never completely fall off of it. I find myself struggling to hold on–trying to pull myself back up to be in his grace again. And then, just when I’m about to give up, I realize that the Rock is bigger than I had originally thought. I was fighting the whole time, and because I was fighting, I failed to see that the rock was still securely underneath me the whole time.

Christ never lets go.

Diminish my Pride

Diminish my Pride

Woe. Woe to me for I am prideful in my ways. I destroy my brothers because I am jealous and feel deserving of praise. And for what? What have I done? I’m not deserving of anything. All of my works are nothing compared to the Lord of Hosts. Lord Jesus please help diminish my pride so that only you remain. Father God, please help me to rely on your strength and love for me, and those who I would use my pride against.

The Lord answered:

My son, very truly I tell you: I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. If you fear me, you will do the same (Prov 8:13). Pride leads to destruction, and a haughty spirit will eventually fall (Prov 16:18). For, those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted (Matt 23:12). Who are you, child? Do you bring the winds from the farthest corners of the earth? Do you make the earth shake? Can you make the heavens open up and give rain to water the earth? If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves (Gal 6:3). The Lord your God gives you grace, for it is written: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6). If you must boast in something, my child, boast only in the Lord (1 Cor 1:29-30).