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A Christian Obeys / a study of 1 John

1 John 2:4-6

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. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

John says Christians OBEY

Here John addresses the subject of obedience. In verse 3 John says “that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” In verse 5 John says that “we know that we are in Him” if we “keep His word.” In verse 6 John says that we must follow Jesus example by “walking just as He walked.” Three different ways of saying the same thing. It would be like saying the airplane is big; the airplane is huge; or the airplane is large. All three phrases are similar.

And so in keeping the Lord’s commandments, in keeping the Lord’s word and in following His example – we’re all saying the same thing. A Christian’s desire is to be obedient to the Lord and to His teachings.

Notice John also repeats the words ‘know’ and ‘keep.’ These are John’s favorite words – over the course of this book – he says ‘know’ almost 40 times and he says ‘keep’ about 10 times.

And then in v6 John says a Christian ‘abides’ – that means ‘not to depart from’ to ‘walk with’ to ‘continue with’ and to ‘live as one.’

You see, the principle about obedience involves following after Christ’s example; and that’s a huge task. But isn’t that how Jesus lived? Wasn’t his a life of obedience to God’s will? Was it easy? No, it cost Him his life. However, it was his goal, to fulfill God’s will. It was the goal of His life to submit to His Father’s way.

And so Jesus’ life of obedience needs to become our road to follow.

Look at 1 John 3:16-18

(what?) deed and in truth.

Listen to what John is saying, is he talking about love as a feeling? Is love an expression or is it words on paper? No. John says that love is an action – For John, love is the TEST of obedience. Christ laid down his life for us and we must do the same for others. He says, “let us not love in word or talk, but in deed….”

And then he says a little further in 1 John 3:23-24 And this is his commandment,(ok, so here it comes – this is your marching orders) … that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us…

And what’s funny is initially this looks like a commandment to love, but it’s not – when John says “by this we know that he abides in us” he’s not talking about love  he’s talking about obedience. John says, the “TEST” for Christians – to call yourself a Christian and to be known as a Christian is to be someone who loves  and by this you are “keeping God’s commandments.” (in other words, someone who obeys)

Of course we are to love one another and we’ll see that next, but we only “love one another” BECAUSE that’s what Christ told us to do – love is the TEST of obedience.

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A Christian confesses / a Study in 1 John

1 John 1:1-4

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—  that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our  joy may be complete.

First John was written by John, one of Jesus’ original 12 disciples. This letter was written between 85-90 from Ephesus. By this time, Jerusalem had been destroyed in 70, and right now Christians are scattered all throughout the Roman empire.

Which means, by the time John writes this letter, Christianity had been around for more than a generation. It had faced and survived persecution. And the main problem confronting the church at this time was the declining commitment to the faith: many believers were conforming to the world’s standards, failing to stand up for Christ, and compromising in their faith. False teachers were everywhere, and they were accelerating the church’s downward slide away from foundational truths.

You’d never believe it, but now almost a hundred years from Christ’s death, people are beginning to doubt – and questions are circulating – ‘Was Jesus really God? Did he really come to save us? Does God even know who I am?’

1 John is a beautiful letter of a Christian mentor instructing his students. John is almost a Christian Grandpa at this point, and it’s speculated that by the time he writes this he is the last living disciple – but he was an eye witness of Christ – and so his letters come with great authority. Continuing with v6…

1 John 1:6-7

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice 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 cleanses us from all sin.

Notice the word walk is used 2x here? John teaches us that a Christian will learn to walk …with God. A Christian will desire …to walk with God.

So John writes this letter to put believers back on their feet, back on track, and to show the difference between right & wrong – light & darkness, truth & error, and to encourage the church to grow in genuine love for God and for one another.

He also wrote to assure Christians of what genuine faith looked like and the promise of eternity.  But why should we listen to John?

1 John 1:5

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

1 John 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.

Paul begins by reassuring his readers, “I actually heard him. I am the real deal.” I was there – you might have heard from others, but now you’re going to hear from me.

And John also says that he writes this so that the reader can avoid sin. And lastly as we said earlier, John wants to teach you how to walk.

I John 2:4 (John says) Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him v6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

See, and for John, that’s the difference between a false teacher and a Christian. A Christian walks with God. John says, “hold it up side-by-side and do a test.”

Beginning….

1 John 1:8

v8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. v10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

And so John jumps right in with the subject of sin. He’s pulling no punches, this isn’t a superficial feel good sermon. Because at this time, false teachers would have you believe that sin doesn’t hurt anything. It doesn’t hurt your relationship with God, it doesn’t hurt your relationship with others – in fact ‘sin’ isn’t really even bad. But John says…

1 John 3:4

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

Can you imagine how teaching that ‘sin doesn’t matter’ could hurt the faith; and could hurt the church?  This is the driving thrust that compels John to write to young believers.

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

So the first thing we see is that – John says Christians CONFESS

Now, the word confess  is the word ‘homo logeo” and it means to “say the same thing.” And so to confess – means – that you agree with God.

This is a characteristic of what it means to be a Christian. If you are ‘walking with God’ then you acknowledge that you are sinful. A Christian agrees with God about their sin – that means they hate their sin – they don’t love it. They don’t accept it – they fight against it.

Romans 3:23 says For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

But I think the struggle is, sometimes, when we sin or our darkness overwhelms us – we think – ‘well, I’m a bad Christian.’ But see, John would argue that a true Christian is one who ADMITS they’re wrong – a good Christian is one who ADMITS they are bad. (does that make sense?) John is fighting the teaching that says “you’re ok – you’re fine – it’s all good – God loves you no matter what – so don’t worry about it.”

And so the “TEST” between a Christian and a false teacher is attitude. This is why John is writing. The Christian understands that sin is a problem. The believer understands that sin separates and breaks our fellowship with God. The believer understands that sin leads to hurt and pain.

The right attitude about sin means you agree with God’s assessment

 

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Seven Ways to Be Her Hero

Doug Fields has been a pastor to teenagers and ministry leader for over 30 years.  He received his MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary; and for 18 years he was the youth and teaching pastor at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. He is the author of several books, including this latest, 7 Ways To Be Her Hero.

To be fair, there have been numerous books printed on how to “date your wife” or to “rekindle the flame” in your marriage, so what’s one more, right? Why did Doug write this book?

Well, this book is a brief collection of just seven pointers that if most men could remember it would help foster a much better relationship with their wives.

For instance:

1. Don’t say everything you think

Our words tend to be biting and cutting and sometimes it’s best to have an edit button.

2. But, say what is powerful.

Reserve your words for words of affection and words that will go far.

Doug writes as one of your buddies that you’re sitting down to coffee with, he’s the smiling pastor who counsels you and listens. He has a fun voice and tells great stories, but there is an underlying tone of wisdom and truth to his words that you know will go far.

Action 4 is: Go big with small things.

You’ve always heard it’s the little things that count? Well, maybe there’s some truth to that. Doug urges his readers to look at their wives and their marriage with new and fresh eyes and to notice the “small things.”

Action 5 is: Be liberal with touch

And then Doug adds, “But not THAT way!” I think Men’s first idea is to jump straight to heavy petting, making out and sex. But Doug reminds us that women still like to have their hand held, or their forearms stroked while sitting on the couch – again…. look for little gestures.

Ultimately we are to love our wives the way Christ loved the church and that is no small feat. Remember, Jesus died for his bride and so there should be no measure or limit to the distance we as husbands should go for our wives.

Great book – highly recommended! Thank you to Book Look & Thomas Nelson for this preview copy in exchange for a fair and honest review

 

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How High Will You Climb?

If you’ve ever read a Leadership book in your life – especially if you work in the ministry – the author was probably John C Maxwell.  Maxwell is an American author, speaker, and pastor who has written more than 60 books, primarily focusing on leadership.

His latest book “How High Will You Climb?” is a look at some of the criticism and failure Leaders take “on the way up.” It’s true, each of us receives our own fair share of negativity in life – and it’s John’s argument that our attitude has something to do with it. In fact this book isn’t so much “new” as it is a more condensed version of an earlier work of John’s “The Winning Attitude.

So right off, this isn’t so much one of John’s typical “leadership books” as it is more of a locker room – pick yourself up by the bootstraps – talk. In How High Will You Climb, John is going to argue that you can only climb high, as long as you’re looking up. Through the book, John shares stories from the Bible of the men and women who took failure in the face and who went on to greatness, because their attitude was fixed on God.

This book is great because it also has a study guide in the back that would work great for small groups. Plus the book is short and so are the chapters, so it’s a quick read.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson. I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review

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How unimportant are you?

21Canoeing
Creative Commons License photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography

Luke 14:7-11

Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

You know, this is what Jesus taught, but this is how he lived. Jesus humbled himself and allowed God to exalt him. Jesus thought it was more important to follow his Father than to seek a position of glory.

Paul urged the church at Philippi to be leaders who served and he reminded them of Jesus’ life.

Philippians 2:3-6

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant

Pastor Bill Hybels calls this the most counter-cultural verse in the Bible – he says, “If you truly want to be great- the direction you must go is down. You must descend into greatness.”

And its counter cultural because humility and service are seen as a weakness. And leaders aren’t modeled to be humble or to be servants, but rather to be served – and to be aggressors.

I heard once that to lead well, one must realize how unimportant you are compared to the task.  The Pharisees though it was about pushing and shoving to the front of the line. Getting ahead and being first meant taking what you could get.

But Jesus says, no it starts with humility.

Everyone wants a corner office, everyone wants a company car and a key to the executive washroom – but all those perks are testimonies to how “important” someone is – but maybe it’s time to ask – how “unimportant are you?”

How great is your task?

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