Friday, May 22, 2015
4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
Verse 4 explains why Christians may seem arrogant and self-righteous to outsiders and verses 5 and 6 tell why non-Christians just don’t “get it” and never will. Simple as that!
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Friday, May 15, 2015
1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
Boy, “testing the spirits” sound like a really difficult process, but actually it’s pretty easy. The black and white of it is this: “religions” and persons that claim Jesus, the Messiah, has come in the flesh are from God (i.e. Christianity and Christians). False prophets and false religions abound throughout the world, saying that the Messiah hasn't come yet, or that Jesus was just a prophet—a good man—but not God.
In Islam Jesus is considered one of the highest ranking prophets, but not the incarnation nor Son of God. Definitely sound like the spirit of antichrist, doesn't it?
There is (and can only be) one Truth.
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Monday, May 11, 2015
Friday, May 8, 2015
18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
Remember the saying “Actions speak louder than words?” Here’s where it came from: verse 18 above.
Sometimes it seems really hard to be a Christian. People are quick to judge us and are happy to see us stumble and fall. But as our faith grows and we are obedient to the Lord we will be confident, we will please the Lord (all that matters), and we will live in Him. Our actions will be ones of charity, kindness, service to others, and brotherhood.
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Friday, May 1, 2015
11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
What’s the message that’s been around since “the beginning?” We should love one another. It’s in the Old Testament; it’s in the New Testament. It seems like half the world is like Cain and belongs to the evil one. Oh, well, it’s our duty (right, privilege, destiny, obligation) to love our neighbor. But what is love?
Going around in my head are the lyrics to a 1984 song by the musical group Foreigner: “I want to know what love is.” Hey, guys, the answer is right here in verse 16. And how we should show that love to our neighbor is pretty clear in verse 17: help those in need.
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Friday, April 24, 2015
4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 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. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.
Pretty clear? The definition of sin is lawlessness, it says so in verse 4. If you continue substituting that word for sin as you re-read the above passage you get a new understanding of obedience and the importance of knowing/following the law (love God, love your neighbor). For example: verses 5 and 6, Jesus appeared so that he might take away our lawlessness. There is no lawlessness in him. If we live in him we won’t be lawless.
Now verse 6 may make you uncomfortable. It sounds like we should not have sin in our lives at all or else that proves we don’t know Jesus. We all sin – can’t help it. Looking at the original Greek helps to understand though, that what is meant here is that we will not make a habit of sinning. That lets us off the hook for the occasional misstep, but also makes us able to spot people who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. Verse 9 reiterates the idea of not making sin a habit.
Monday, April 20, 2015
Friday, April 17, 2015
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! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
I love the exclamation marks here. John certainly is exclaiming a great truth: God loves us so incredibly much that he calls us his children. I added another exclamation mark in the margin of my Bible just because this news is so awesome. Are we God’s playthings? No. Slaves? No. Pets? No, again. We are His children.
What will we be when we get to Eternity? Even John admits that the answer to that has not yet been made known. But he assures us of one thing: we will be like him (Jesus) and we shall see him as he is. How cool is that?
Friday, April 10, 2015
26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him. 28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.
Who is trying to lead you astray? I have heard many preachers, supposedly men of God, who have expounded on topics in a way that was contrary to God’s word; they have tried to rationalize away miracles, make exceptions for sins, and ignore certain truths that they, for whatever reason, deem inapplicable. Lucky for us when you come to knowledge and acceptance that Christ is your savior, God lets His Holy Spirit indwell you. That’s the anointing John speaks of in verse 27. The Holy Spirit will convict you of your sins, comfort you, teach you, and reveal God’s word to your understanding.
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
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By 2093 American life is a strange mix of failing technologies, psychic predictions, and radiation induced abilities. Tattoos are mandatory to differentiate two classes, privileged and slave.
Dalton Battista fears that his fading tattoo is a deadly omen. He’s either the heir of the brutal tyrant of the new capital city, Exodia or he’s its prophesied redeemer. Shy, handsome, smart and in possession of powers he doesn't yet realize, he escapes an order for his execution by fleeing the city with the help of Lydia, who quickly captures his heart. But can he escape a destiny that will force him to marry another girl and return to Exodia as its liberator?
Based loosely on the ancient story of Moses, this two book dystopian journey crosses genres, combining young adult, new adult, sci-fi, magical realism, and speculative fiction for an adventure full of symbolism, hidden codes, and thematic imagery.
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Friday, April 3, 2015
21I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and you know that no lie comes from the truth. 22Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23No one who denies the Son has the Father; everyone who confesses the Son has the Father also. 24Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father.25And this is what he has promised us, eternal life.
Whoa, this passage names all unbelievers as antichrists. Anyone who denies that Jesus is the Messiah is, quite logically, an antichrist. There are a lot of people who think they only need to believe in God, but notice what it says in verse 23: if you don’t acknowledge Jesus as Lord then you don’t have God, the Father.
I love how this passage ends with that greatest of promises—eternal life for believers.
Friday, March 27, 2015
18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
Here John talks of false teachers, those who left the early church, who didn't really belong. He calls them antichrists, not to be confused with “The Antichrist”. They were unbelievers who posed as Christians.
Have you encountered many of them? I sure have—even in the pulpit! Looks like this sort of thing has been going on from the very start of Christianity. Anyone who acts, preaches, or lives in direct opposition to Jesus’ teachings is an anti-christ.
Interesting fact: Although the word "antichrist" (Greek antikhristos) is used only in the Epistles of John, the similar word "pseudochrist" (Greek pseudokhristos, meaning "false messiah") is used by Jesus in the gospels.