Revelation 1: 1-20 December 9th 2017

This is a book that many Christians tend to avoid. The truth is if we are in Christ there is nothing to fear, we are on the winning side. I hope that as we study this together that the fear will fade away and we can gain understanding of what the Bible really teaches about end times. No one knows the time and date of when these events will take place, but we do have some prophecies that need to take place before then. With Jerusalem now being the nation’s capital I can say with certainty that the day is drawing near. I do not know if it will be in my life time or not, but I want to be ready and I want as many others I know and love to be ready as well. This book was penned by John the apostle, the very same John who wrote the Gospel of John, the books of 1, 2, and 3 John. The book of revelation was given to him directly through Jesus Christ. John wrote this while on the Island of Patmos. The Island of Patmos was where he was exiled to after being thrown in prison for being a Christian. The book is believed to have been penned around 96 AD.  

1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.

This is the beginning of the book of revelation, or book of revealings. From the beginning John tells us it is both a book of revealing made by Jesus, and made about Jesus. We can sometimes think oh prophecy, I do not need to be concerned with prophecy. Or we can think that we will just never understand it so we shy away from it. The purpose for this being given though was for us to read it and understand it. This book is very much things that an angel of the Lord showed to John and had him write down.

3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

We who read this book are blessed. The time of the end is very much at hand. As we have been reading through the Bible we see the things that we are to take seriously. We need to keep to what we know is true of scripture, those things we have read we have heard from God on and need to put into practice in our lives. We need not be afraid of what we read here, but it should cause us to want to confirm those we love are saved.

4 John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,  5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,  6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

These seven churches were likely real seven churches. Over the next couple of days we will read the individual letters written to each of these churches. They are also types of churches that exist today. Most importantly though they also represent the different stages our hearts can be in. For our purpose that is mostly where I will focus in at, the churches representing our hearts. The  list of things mentioned after the seven churches are attributes of Christ. In talking to each individual church John will mention one of these attributes in each one specifically.

7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

Jesus is coming back the same way that He left, on a cloud. This is true in a physical sense as well as figuratively. We will be coming back with Him. Every eye will see this. You do not have to worry about missing the return of Christ, he will be making a grand entrance. The question is will you be coming back with Him, or standing in opposition to Him? His return will happen in the twinkling of an eye, so there will not be time to make the decision upon His return, it is a choice and lifestyle we need to live by now.

8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

God is rightfully claiming who He is here. The alpha, beginning and the end, Omega. He is the first and the last. He is the One who began everything, and He will be the One who remains when it is all over. He supersedes us all. He was, from time past, from before the world even began, He was. He also is, currently exist in this present moment. And He is the One who is to come, He will come in triumphant victory in the last days. He is the almighty One, He is our Rock and our Savior.

9 I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.  10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, 11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”

John is giving us some details as to what was happening and going on around Him in the midst of this revelation coming to him. John was on the island of Patmos. This was an island where they would send prisons to do manual work. John was sent here for no crime committed, except that of proclaiming Christ. He was in the Spirit. He was worshiping the Lord in the midst of all his troubles. I can we can sometimes have a lot go on in our lives, but we must never forget to worship the Lord, so be caught up in the Spirit. These are seven churches that the Lord had a message He wanted them to hear.

12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.

John knew it was the Lord that spoke to him. I wonder if he longed to see his friends face again, like he did when Jesus was alive and they would travel and Jesus would teach. John turned to see who it was that was talking with him. I am sure he was hoping to catch a glimpse of Jesus, instead He was seven golden lampstands. But Jesus was there in the midst of those seven lampstands. John describes Him as the Son of Man, referring back to how Daniel described Him. The long robe signified Jesus stature as only men who did not have to work much would wear the long robes. The Golden sash around His chest likely denoted Him as high priest, which the writer of Hebrews tell us He is out high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.

14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.

His hair was white signifying His old age and making reference to Him being the ancient of days, the One who was from the beginning. His eyes being like a flame of fire likely signify His judgment. The brass feet show one who has been through the first and has Come out purified. Brass was also the strongest metal known in the ancient world so it shows the strength of our Savior.  His voice being the sound of many waters speaks of it having as much power and might as a water fall. The seven stars represent the seven churches leaders. Jesus is safely holding all the churches in His hands. Out of His mouth came a sharp double edged sword. The idea of it proceeding from His mouth indicates that the sword is His very words.

17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. 19 Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.

Can you imagine seeing Jesus like this. I do not blame John, I would have fallen down as though dead too. Jesus laid His hand on Him and said do not be afraid. Sometimes our friends will try to comfort us with those words and it does not mean much, we know they mean well by it though. When Jesus speaks it those words ring true in our hearts. I have had situations where I was afraid and God spoke peace over my life. I had things to be afraid about and friends would try and tell me not to fear, but hearing it from Jesus made all the difference. Christ lived, He died, and the joy is that He lives again forever more and one day soon He will call us to live with Him in Heaven forevermore. John was to write those things which Christ is revealing to him, both the things that are happening and the things that are yet to come.

20 The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.

Jesus gives John an explanation as to what the seven stars and the seven lampstands means because His next instruction is going to be about the seven letter to the seven churches. That is where we will pick up tomorrow.

 

 

3 John 1:1-14 December 7th 2017

The author of this book is the same apostle John that wrote the gospel of John, 1 and 2 John and the book of Revelation. This letter is believed to have been written between 85 and 90 AD. What this book really does is give us a little glimpse into early church life. Let’s look at it together and see how it applies to our lives today.

1 The Elder,To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth:

This is again John writing and he only refers to himself as the elder here, just like in 2 John. This Gaius is believed to be a specific person. However his exact identity is unknown as Gaius was a common name in the Romans culture. Again this is someone that John loved in the truth.

2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

That is such a sweet prayer. This is someone that John loves. In the opening two verses he calls him beloved twice and talks about how he loves him in the truth. The last part of this first verse tells us that his soul prospers, that is to say he is spiritually healthy. Can the same be said about us individually? Are you spiritually well? If someone were to pray that your physical health matched your spiritual health would that be a blessing or a cursing for you? I know in my life there are spiritual exercises that I could be doing more, but overall I would say I am healthy, but always see room for growth and improvement. The common thing we as american Christians say is that we never pray enough. The other trap we can get into is thinking that what we are doing as serving the Lord counts as us spending time with Him and then we start to let that time of devotion slid with Him and it becomes all about serving. John is not promising good health and wealth to this guy. He is wishing the best for him, that is all. It is a reality that we all need to grasp that just because our soul is well and we are serving the Lord does not mean we get to escape all physical ailments. I believe that God does protect us and that when we get to heaven we may have the opportunity to see all the things that the Lord protected us from and we did not even know it. Maybe we will never get to see, but I know that the Lord does protect us. I also know that the story of Joseph and Job are true and given to us as examples. Both were men of God, and both did suffer great in this life. Please do not serve the Lord because of the good that comes your way, but because He is God.

3 For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

It is so good when we get reports back that someone we have poured into and invested in is walking this out. If you have information like this please share it with the person that has discipled them. It blesses those teachers beyond what you would think of imagine. Do we walk in the truth? Or do we just know the truth? It needs to be about walking in it. About daily living in the truth.

5 Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, 6 who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, 7 because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. 8 We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.

Can what John said of Gaius be said of me? Can it be said of you? You do faithfully whatever you do. God has grown my faithfulness beyond what i can express, but I still have days where being faithful to the duties in front of me can be a chore. On those days I know that I did not do everything 100% faithfully. As I mentioned in 2 John back in John’s days the priests and ministers would travel and teach on their way. They were completely dependent upon the hospitality and gifts of fellow believers. Gaius was someone who would take this messengers into his home and send them off on their way ready for the journey. When we do this we are fellow workers of the truth. Sometimes in today’s culture we are only faithful with the things that seem to be big and important to us. If we think it is going to matte in the long run then we are more likely to be faithful in it. Whereas if we deem it as being somehow less we do not think that we need to put as much effort into it. The truth is whether we see something as big or small a task given to us by God is very much important and demands our faithfulness and effort. One thing that we are all asked to do and John is highlighting here in this verse is to be hospitable. We are all at different stages in life and have different resources at our disposal. There is no set way in what hospitality much look like. It simply involves giving of your time and resources to go out of your way to help someone else feel at home.

9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. 10 Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.

Here John gives us an example of what not to be like. Diotrephes thought himself the be better then and higher above all the other elders. He likes to have the high seat and tell people what to do. This kind of person is not one that you want in leadership. That is why John is going to go to him when he sees him. This guy would not welcome the traveling minister into his home, was not hospitable to them, and was encouraging others to be the same way.

11 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but[ he who does evil has not seen God.

Unfortunately there will be evil examples in our lives. The good news is that there will also be examples of righteousness in our lives. We need to discern which is which and only follow the example of the righteous. It can sometimes be tricky to tell because that first example of unrighteousness that we may want to follow is likely only going to deviate from the truth slightly. The way that we are going to know righteousness apart from evil is by looking into the source that defines both. We need to be women of the Word. we need to be in it daily looking for God to tell us what is right and what is wrong. Then we need to choose to be obedient to what He reveals.

12 Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. And we also bear witness, and you know that our testimony is true.

Why Demetrius is specifically mentioned here we do not know for sure. The likely reason is the Demetrius was the one that brought the letter to Gaius. Whether it was for that reason or some other one thing we know is true, Demetrius was an example of righteousness. Those who knew him spoke well of him. The truth itself spoke well of him. That means that looking at his life and lining it up with the truth of scripture he passed. I partly wonder if both Demetrius and Diotrephes were known to Gaius and John mentions both the help Gaius negotiate righteous character versus evil character?

13 I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink; 14 but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face. Peace to you. Our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.

Again John has many more things that he wants to talk about with them, but writing them in pen and ink was not the way to go about it. There are times that face to face conversations are what is appropriate.

Caitlin Renee

2 John 1:1-13 December 6th 2017

As we did with First John let’s begin Second John with a little intro. I am not going to go through an introduction to who this John who wrote this epistle is seeing has I had just done it with the introduction to First John. That blog date was November 30th if you would like to go back and read about this disciple John. This book is thought to have been written between 85-90 AD. During this time in the early church there would be preachers that would go around town to town and teach the Good News. They were what we would call traveling preachers or evangelists. Christians would welcome these preachers into their homes, hear what they had to say, and share with them what they had. They would often have dinner with them and send them on their way with provisions. This sounds wonderful and is something that we should be doing nowadays as well. However false teachers got wind of this and began to use it as a springboard to launch their heretical teachings and thus deceive people. That is something that John warns against in this letter. Now that we have a little understanding of who wrote it and why let’s did in together.

1 The Elder, to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, 2 because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever: 3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

The Elder is John, he is the one writing this letter to the elect lady. There are some different takes on who this elect lady could be, or what is meant by it. The one that seems most reliable to me is that this is a specific lady that John is writing to, and she is the elect because we are all elect in Christ. As we go one through the subsequent verses I will explain more why I think that is the most likely interpretation. In this opener John really drives home the point of truth. He loves her in the truth. This is not some kind of weird lovers love, but instead love in the biblical sense. We know this because he loves her in the truth. It is about the truth. Is that what we make known when we talk with people? I am not saying we need to be all weird about it and give a Bible lesson explaining the truth of God’s word to everyone we meant. To handle life that way would make you ineffective in spreading the love of Christ. People would then just what to avoid us and would not hear of the good news. What I mean is more along the lines of subtle truths seasoned in what you say and how you act that lead people to want to inquire? What about with our Christian friends? Do you talk about what the Lord is doing in your lives? Do you share with them the new things you are learning? Is the truth abiding in our lives, or is it just something that we know?

4 I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father.

It is about walking in the truth. There is a sad reality that we can know the truth, but not be walking it in. Especially in a culture where false teachers are on the rise. The truth is what they teach sounds so inviting and sometimes we may even want it to be true. Those two things coupled with our exposure to the false teachers puts us in great danger and walking away from the truth. Therefore we need to be diligent in our understanding of the truth and purposeful in our walking out in it. When you have poured into someone’s life and have given them the truth by which they need to live and then set them out on their own it gives you great joy to know they are walking in that truth. Not being a mother yet I cannot imagine what it must be like to have raised your children up to know the Lord and them have them walk with Him. That joy must be immense. I know one lady that has done just that, raised her kids in the Lord and has watched 2 of them go out to the missions field. When she talks about her two kids and their lives now there is such joy that fills her face. I want that at some point in my life. And it is not always dependent on how well you trained them up. Children grow up to be adults and have to make their own choices in life. Sometimes, even though they were trained well as children, they take the path of a prodigal and walk away before they realize for themselves what they are missing in life. If you have a prodigal yourself right now do not beat yourself up. Take your heart before the Lord, allow Him to comfort you in the time.

5 And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. 6 This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.

Again John brings it back to loving one another. If you remember the book of First John he mentioned love and loving one another many times, it was his main point. Again this is not  a new command, we have always been called to love. It is however an important point and therefore John repeats it again and again. When Jesus was asked to sum up the law He did it with two commands. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. The second He said was like it, love your neighbor as yourself. Truth and Love. These two things should be what marks our lives. He pleads with this lady to love. This shows the importance that John places on love. What is love, but to walk in the commandment of the Lord. We show that we love God by being obedient to what He has laid out before us.

7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

There are many deceivers out in this world today. It was true in John’s days, just a few years after Christ’s ascension. How much more is it true now. Turn on the TV and listen to some mega church preacher and you will see that they do not teach Christ properly and they are all about the financial gain. It is a sad reality, but just because someone has a Bible open in front of them and seems to be teaching from it we cannot assume they are teaching truth. We need to be Bereans. The concept of being a Berean is found in Acts chapter 17:10-11. Paul and Silas were preaching through the region, and those in Berea received what was taught with readiness and they searched the scriptures daily to see if these things were true. We need to be a people like that. Do you read the Bible on your own time asking the Lord to open your understanding? We should. Do you bring your own Bible to church? We should. Some of us may go to a church that projects the Word on the screen and that is great. I personally love when a Church does that. The truth is it is good for those new church goers to be able to see the Word as it is being taught. But we should not rely on technology. I would greatly encourage you to bring a paper Bible, and actual book to church. The ones on our phones are nice and convenient and an excellent app to have downloaded, but there is nothing like having your personal Bible in front of you. I might sound a little old school now, but hear me out. When we have our own Bible and the Pastor makes a reference to another scripture we can jot it down next to the verse that it applies to. Even better, when we are sitting in Church listening to the pastor preach and the Holy Spirit high lights a verse for us that speaks directly into a current situation in our live we can underline, date, and make a small note as to what it means.

8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.

We cannot just start in the way of truth and then allow ourselves to be deceived afterwards. We must continue in truth until the end. We need to look to ourselves, check what we believe. We want to receive our full reward. God has great things planned for us, both here on earth and in heaven. He needs us walking in truth so we can point others in the direction of truth, to point others to Him. We also get to come back and rule and reign with Him during those thousand years. He has tasks and Job and things He wants us to do, but we need to be living in the truth for them to be a reality in our lives. I do not know about you, but I want to make every effort to make my call and election sure. I want to know that I am walking with Jesus by being so close to His side. I want to be in the truth and I want my life to be evident that I am in the truth.

9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.

Again John is not talking about a single act of transgression, but a lifestyle of transgression. John goes over that extensively in 1 John. He says things like if anyone says he does not sin He is a liar. Romans 3:23 agrees with John and states that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We are a bunch of sinners. But is that our lifestyle? Our aim? Our aim should be to live righteous lives. We then abide in the doctrine of Christ and have God. Since we have God we also have Christ!

10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

We do not want to entertain false teachers even for a minute. When Jehovah witnesses or any other cult comes knocking at our door we do not want to invite them into our homes. I told ya’ll that later I would tell you why I agree mostly with the idea that the elect lady John is writing this letter to is most likely a specific woman. Here is the reasoning. When satan went and deceived us as a race of people who did he go to? He went to Eve. As woman we are more likely to rely on our emotions instead of our intellect. For that reason we are easier to deceive. Think about what time of day those people come knocking on our doors giving us information about their false religions. Is it not during the day when the men are typically at work and us homemakers are home with the children? That is why it is so important for us as women to know the Word of God, so that we are not easily deceived. We need to teach our children the Word so when they go out in this lost and dark world they can distinguish between truth and lies. We do not want to share in the evil deeds of others. We do not want to be rude either. We should nicely turn them away. However if they do not listen to the nice prodding and are attempting to be forceful do not give into them for a second in the hopes of not being rude.

12 Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. 13 The children of your elect sister greet you. Amen.

This was not all that was on John’s heart to share, but he thought it best to visit in person to discuss the rest. There are just some things that are not written well. Sometimes they need to involve a conversation. We do not know what the rest of what John wanted to share was, but his hope in sharing was so that their mutual joy would be complete. Let that be our goal of sharing with others, so that our joy may be complete. Not to puff them or ourselves up, but for the sake of joy.

Caitlin Renee

 

1 John 5:1-21 December 5th 2017

Let’s look into the last chapter of first John together.

1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.

John tells us in a very simple and straightforward way what it means to be born of God; believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. Now this is not just an intellectual belief, but a belief that we are willing to stake our lives on. Let me explain. James 2:19 says You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble. The demons know the truth of who God is and who Jesus is. Look through Jesus ministry on earth and you will see that the demons knew who He was. The demons are not subject to the Lordship of Jesus. They know the truth and have chosen a different way. We need to believe that Jesus is the Messiah in such a way that we actually allow it to affect our lives. That should affect our lives in two main ways.First is we should love Him who begot. That means that we should love God. When we truly know who God is and what He has done we cannot help by have our hearts affected in Love towards Him. Secondly we should love those begotten of Him, fellow Christians. Again John drives home the love that we ought to have for one another.  

2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

We know that we love God when we keep His commandments. Before coming to Christ it can seem that Christianity is just a bunch of rules, of do’s and don’ts. This is not true. This is a lie that the enemy has spoon fed society to keep us from ever wanting to turn to Christ and see for ourselves if it is truth. Look at a child. They thrive in an environment where there are rules and they know what is expected of them. Same is true with us in adulthood and i our Spiritual walks. When there are rules and guidelines we thrive, we know what to expect. We know what is right and what is wrong. Guys the Lord’s commands are not burdensome. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30. This was Jesus speaking. This is a profound truth and one that you will have to jump into in order to see that it is truth. It goes so contrary to what we have been taught. We truly need to taste and see that the Lord is good. If you move ahead into that relationship with Him I promise He will not disappoint. You will not have your wish list complete and get everything you want. Truthfully living that way would make us god and God our servants. You will find that you have your needs met and in abundance.  

4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

It is our faith in God that makes us born of God and it is that same faith that makes us able to overcome the world. This is not just the yeah I believe faith, but the daily walking it out with Him faith. Us overcoming has very little to do with us. It has everything to do with the One that we place our trust and faith in, namely Jesus Christ.

6 This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.

The meaning behind came by water and blood is a little unclear. Remembering that Gnosticism was popular around the time that John wrote this helps us know a little better why John wrote this. The Gnostic believed that Jesus was just some phantom, that He was to morally pure to ever set foot on the earth. By john saying that He was born of water and blood he denounces the Gnostic teaching of Jesus being a phantom. The important take away for me personally is not to get caught up in all the reasons why John might have said water and blood, but to know that point. The point being that we need to make sure the Jesus we believe in is the Christ who is betrayed in Scripture, and not the ideas of what Christ could have or should have been. In heaven and on earth there are three that can bear witness to who Christ is. We need to believe.

9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. 10 He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.

This section makes me think back to Jesus’ resurrection. Remember how He came back and appeared to the disciples, but Thomas was missing on that occasion. Later when the disciples were telling Thomas about it he said that unless he could touch the scars and put his hand in the spear wound on His side that he could not believe. Remember how sweet Jesus was when He came in again and Thomas was there? Jesus invited him to touch His side, He was not mean or degrading to Thomas, but allowed him to have what he needed to believe. Then Jesus spoke to Thomas and said “ Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:24) We do have the testimony of men and women who are begun a walk with Christ. For 95% of us our walk with the Lord began with the testimony of someone else in our life. It is not common that we happened upon a Bible and started reading it and had our minds open to the truth therein, although that can happen. We receive that witness of men. That can only take us so far, it was only intended to take us so far. The witness of men is often where our faith journey starts, but it needs to continue into the witness of God. We need to read His word and take Him at what His word says.  

11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

Our life here on earth needs to be wrapped up in the life of Christ. The truth is life is found in Christ alone. I can testify to the fact that when I was not walking with the Lord I did not real alive. But now I have life and I know what life really is. Life is walking with Christ. It is true that every day we live we are one day closer to our physical death. When we are not walking with the Lord it is one day closer to physical death and spiritual eternal death. But check this, when we are walking with the Lord it is one day closer to death, and one day closer to life of eternal praise of our Lord. so really in the perspective of Christianity everyday we live is one day closer to life in its fullest. I personally cannot wait till God calls me home. He is the one that gets to set that date and my prayer is that until that day comes I will be useful here on earth.

14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

Ask according to His will. I know I have said this a few times, but we really do have a good good Father. He looks for ways to bless us. Matthew 7: 7-11 we see Jesus talk about how us humans, evil that we are, know how to give good gifts, how much more does our Father in heaven know how to give good gifts. We should have the confidence to go before God and ask him for things. Things that line up with His will for our lives we will receive. You might be wondering what God’s will for your life is. The simplest answer is that you are set apart, living a sanctified life. From there God does have specific plans for our lives individually. He will lead us and guide us with His spirit on what is part of the plan for our lives. The only way you will know is by asking and listening for His voice to lead as you step out and do.

16 If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.

In terms of us being a christian and still sinning there are sins that can lead to our physical death. These we do not want to participate in and we should step in a speak to our brothers on these. There are some sins that we do not need to go and speak to our brothers about because it then just becomes nitpicking. For those types of sins we need to just sit back and be in prayer for the person over and allow God to do the work on their hearts. All unrighteousness is sin, but not all sin leads to death.

18 We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.

We are born of God and do not have to go the way of sin. We can make a different choice. We can go in the way of righteousness. We will continue to sin because we live in the world, but we will not continue to choose sin. The world is under the control of the wicked one and since we do still live in the world that will affect our lives. But we are of God. Let that truth wash over your mind. We belong to God. When things start to go crazy in your life remember that simple truth, you belong to God.

20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

We belong to God and therefore He has given us understanding. We therefore know the truth. Before coming to God we could not discern the truth. Now we belong to Him we know the truth and we have eternal life!! Now let’s keep ourselves from idols. Keep our minds stayed on Him and away from those things that would like to rise up and take the place of first in our lives. These can be good things that we allow to have the wrong place in our lives. They can also be just down right wrong things to have focus on in our lives. The Israelites turn the broken snake on the pole into an idol and would worship it. That bronze snake was what they needed to look to in order to be healed. They were suppose to keep it to remember the goodness of the Lord. Instead they turned and acted as if it was a God. Let’s purpose to set apart God as lord of our lives and to keep everything else in proper perspective.

Caitlin Renee

I John 4:1-21 December 4th 2017

John really sends home the message o loving one another today and continues to point to Christ as our example of love. Let’s continue our study.

1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

There are false prophets out there that will sound spiritual and will be convincing. We need to test the spirits and not just believe everything that comes our way. We test them by holding up what they say against the Word of God. Anything that comes from God will line up with the counsel of His word. Anything that is from a false prophet or spirit might sounds good and have some truths held within it, but it will err in some way from the truth of God’s word. Most of the time you will find the fault in what they do with Jesus. Know the truth about Jesus and filter everything you hear through that truth. We need to choose what we believe or discredit based upon what we know to be true according to the Word of God.

2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

John even gives us an idea of what a spirit of God would be. Basically they will confess the Lordship of Christ. The will speak of Jesus being fully man and fully God. That is generally the first thing that a false teacher deviates on, the earthly ministry of Christ and how He fits within the trinity. That may sound harsh, to say someone has the spirit of the antichrist that does not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. The truth is what we do with Christ has eternal consequences. It is something that we should take very serious and should protect our own thought life on as well.

4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

We will overcome! We don’t overcome because we are so great and mighty, but because the One living in us is greater. We could easily get focused on the enemy and attacks from the world and quickly take our minds off of the One that matters, our Lord and Savior. We have the Holy Spirit residing in us. I hope we, both you and me, never lose sight of how amazing that reality is. The One true and living God is intimately involved in our lives and actually takes up residency in our hearts. This should not provoke a heart of pride in us, but rather one of humility. We, people who do not deserve the love and grace shown us, are not only picked up and cleaned up, but given power. Our hearts should break over the fact that people who have access to this do not realize that they do. Because they do not realize this power to live victoriously they are locked in their sin, the are lost and fading away. Our hearts should break for them. Those of us who know the remedy, who know Christ, should be doing everything we can to make Him known. Some days my heart works like it should. And breaks for those that are lost. I pray that becomes an everyday reality for me.

5 They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.

Again in you fit right in with the world and can talk like the world then ask yourself if you are really living for God. We should be different. The world has it’s own way in which it acts, speaks, and functions  We should be separate on most of those things. The world is lost and grappling in the dark, holding onto anything that sounds good according to what they want to think in the moment. Their ultimate end is the pit of hell. If we don’t want to follow them there then we need to live differently here.

6 We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

We know God, we are of Him. How awesome is that!?! And those that are of God hear us, they get us, so to speak. The world does understand us because they do not have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. This is why we are able to tell the spirit of error and the spirit of truth. The Holy Spirit testifies within us about such things. We need to learn to recognize the moving of the Holy Spirit in our lives and learn to trust Him.

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.

We are called to a high standard, the standard of love. In a very real way we as Christians represent the Lord to those around us, especially to those who do not know the Lord themselves. We need to represent Him well, and we do that by demonstrating His love for people. Not just with words, but actions. We do this because we know His love and it is His love working in us that makes us loving people. I know that for me without the love of Christ working in my life, I am self-centered and egotistical. Without the love of Christ in my life I would be looking out only for my best interest and not for the welfare of others like I should. Because Christ came and lived and died in my place, and because it was done through the Father’s will and in perfect submission to Him I am able to know and understand what love really is. Simply put it is putting the needs of others above your own willingly, not begrudgingly or because you were told to, but because you care about the other person’s welfare. Love is not just a happy bubbly feeling but a choice we have to make, a choice that is sometimes hard to make. Love calls us to sacrifice our own wishes and desires for the welfare of others. Love means we think of everyone else’s needs above our own.

10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.

It is the love of God that shows us that God is in fact abiding in us. Do not get prideful here, it is not because we love God with some kind of awesome love that this is a reality for us. In fact its has nothing to do with us loving God. Instead it has everything to do with how He loves us. That is truly what this life is all about, what God has done for us. The only part we play in it is our response to what He has already done. As for me, my prayer is that my response affects the hearts of those around me to look and see what God has done. I am. Not sure if you have picked up on what John is laying out yet, but it is love. Remember this is the disciple that did not quite get it when Jesus was there walking and talking with them. This is the disciple that wanted to call down fire from heaven to deal with someone. Look at how God had gotten a hold of His heart and changed this man. Maybe you have read through these and are thinking to yourself this all sounds lovely, but I can never love like that. Maybe all this talk of loving others and putting their needs above your own is making you sick. Allow God to access that part of your heart. He will change you. And it will be sweet and gentle touch from Him. He changed John’s heart. He has changed my heart. I know if you allow Him access He will change your heart as well.

13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

It is about abiding in the Lord. If we abide in Him we abide in His love and if we abide in His love we abide in Him. Abiding is about dwelling and continuing with the Lord. It’s a relationship. It is more than just Sunday morning service or reading this blog. It is about having a personal relationship with Him. Do you dwell in the love of the Father, or is it just something that you know to be true? We need to move past intellectual knowledge of the Lord and develop that personal relationship with the Lord. How do you get to know someone? By spending time with them. The Lord has written us and we can get to know Him through the scriptures. Are we spending time with Him, getting to know Him like we would a friend? Even scarier, are we allowing the Lord to get to know us? Truth is He already knows everything about us, but are we entering into that relationship with Him, sharing our hearts with Him?

17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

The love of the Lord is not something to fear. We are told to fear the Lord, but that does not mean to be afraid of Him. Fear in that sense refers to the reverence we should have for the Lord. I know personally I have spent too much time living in fear with anxiety and panic attacks. It was when I finally really understood the love that God has for me that the anxiety began to change in my life. It did not just stop over night. The truth is I had learned to respond in fear and anxiety for a very long time. I had to learn how to respond in a new way and choose to respond differently. Get to know the love of the Father, seeing Him as your heavenly Father.

19 We love Him because He first loved us.

Again, it is nothing great that we have done, but what Has been done for us.

20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

We need to be people of love. If we cannot love the tangible we are not able to love the intangible. If we love God that love should be evident in how we treat our fellow man. Jesus tells us that what we have done to the least of these we have done unto the father. That can be found in Matthew 25: 31-46. What we do with those around us matters. First it shows where our hearts are truly at. Second it ca have eternal consequences both from them and for us. Our aim should be to get as many people in heaven with us as possible. In order for that to happen we need to share the love of the Savior with those around us. Come, let us love one another today and everyday.

Caitlin Renee

 

1 John 3:7-24 December 3rd 2017

Let’s continue our journey through the third chapter of 1 John.

7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.

Again John here is not talking about single acts of righteousness and in the next verse single acts of sin. It is about what our life is marked by. If we practice righteousness, if that is what our life is about, then we are righteous. Now let’s define a little further what John is actually talking about when he says righteousness. We live in a culture that is all about promoting self righteousness, that is not what John is talking about here. Here is what God says through the prophet Isaiah concerning our righteous acts. But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is like filthy rags; Isaiah 64: 6a. If we want to try to compare ourselves amongst ourselves some may be able to claim some righteous acts. But God’s measuring stick is not those around us but Him Himself. When we compare ourselves to God’s righteousness there is no comparison, indeed those acts appear as filthy rags. But that is okay, because God imputes His righteousness on our accounts. Because of this relationship we have with Jesus and His righteousness on our behalf we have what we need to live a righteous life, we have His spirit dwelling inside of us.

8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

Again we do all sin, John is talking about a lifestyle of sin here. We can be victorious over sin in our lives, and in fact we are called to live victorious lives.  The one who sins, and sins habitually is not had by God, but by the devil. If you are sitting there reading this today thinking I love God I know His word, I want to live for Him, but I just cannot seems to stop this one sin, I get it, but the devil has you. I know because I lived it. I grow up in the church and had much of scripture memorized and could pull them out in times of trouble, but I still had this deep hidden sin, a sin I could not seem to get on top of. A big part of that was because I was so ashamed of my sin that I would not let people in, and it was one of those sins that I could keep hidden. So I did. I thought it was what was best at the time, but God cannot heal something that you do not bring before Him. and often He will ask you to let other safe people in who will hold you accountable and love you with the love of Christ. A big part of the issue was my pride as well. I would save face, so to speak, in front of people, but I would not truly heed the advice of the godly counsel I was receiving. When we truly encounter God, and see Him for who He truly is, He comes in and takes up residency and when we go in the way of sin it does not settle with us like it once did. Things we were comfortable with before we suddenly cannot do. This is a good thing. Do not block this uncomfortability, but allow it to change your actions. This is the working of the Holy Spirit in your life directing your steps towards righteousness.

10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.  11 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.

John reiterates the things that he just told us and brings a new depth to what He is saying as well. Our lives should be marked by both righteousness and the love we have for one another. Have you ever heard the old hymn “They’ll know we are Christians by our love?” It is so true and is scripture. It is found in John 13:35. If the love of God is in us it should overflow out to others. Our lives should be marked by the love we show one another. If we are not loving our brother that means we are harboring bitterness and ill will (hatred) towards others. We could end up like Cain, who murdered his brother Abel out of envy. Abel came to God on God’s terms and his sacrifice was righteous and accepted by God. Cain came to God with his personal best and presented himself before God and was not accepted because it was his self-righteousness that was presented. This angered Cain to the point where he went out and killed his own brother. Guys are lives need to be marked by the love that we have for each other. We uplift and encourage and point each other towards Christ. We have a choice to make. I know I am not perfect in my choosing of love every time, but I am setting my mind to choose love. We are in control over what comes out of our mouths. I want to have love and encouragement be what overflows from me.

13 Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.

If the world does hate us that is a sign that we are doing things right. Being hated and despised by the world can be a hard pill to swallow. The thing that I ask myself is do I want to be accepted by the world or accepted by God. As hard as it is to by rejected by the world how much harder would it be to be rejected by God. I definitely want to be accepted by God. It really does come down to that. I may sound like I am being extreme but scripture says friendship with the world is enmity with God. It can be hard to accept that but it is a truth, we need to find our acceptance in God alone and not the world or those around us.

14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

We were dead in our trespasses and anger. We know that we have life with Christ. The way life in Christ is shown in our lives is through the love that we have for our brothers. Love is so important and John really drives home the point of having love and the love of Christ.

16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

This is such a beautiful exchange. His death for our life. None of us were deserving of it, but He choose to die for our gain. Christ gave us the perfect example of what love is to look like. The truth is to love like Christ did is a costly love. Often we will be called to love those who are not capable of loving us back. The good news is we get our fill from God. The other thing is He loves us enough to shower us with love in many ways, especially as we are pouring out. He will use others to show us love, it may not always come from those we are pouring into, but we will be filled. We need to love like Christ did, not just the people that it is easy for us to love. Do you have a sandpaper kind of person in your life? Praise God! Show them the love of Christ even when it is hard. This person will be the very person God uses to grow you, allow Him to do that work in your heart and life.

17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

We need to practically love those around us. If we have what people are needing and we have it in abundance but are not willing to share how is that showing the love of Christ to those around us.And what is it that people need the most of all but to know that love their Savior has for them. As well as the basic essentials of life, food, water, clothing, and shelter. We live in a very blessed country where we do have more than what we need. We should be willing to share with those in need.  If the love of God is abiding in us we should be practically showing that to those around us.

18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

We want to be loving in action as well as with what we are saying. If we talk a good game of love and our speech is all about love, but we are not showing love to others they are going to believe us? We need to have our actions match our words. The old saying talk is cheap is so true. We could say many things, but our actions carry the weight of what we say.

19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. 20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.

We know we are in the truth when love is what is evident in our lives. Listen, our hearts try to condemn us everyday. Our feelings come up and tell us big lies often. We need to be women who are governed by the word of God and not by our feelings. The good news is God is greater than our hearts. We can choose to live lives that are in submission to Him and then our hearts will be subjected to Him. They will still try to speak up and condemn, but God will tell us something different. It is up to us who we want to believe. Whose voice are you listening to today?

22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.

When we ask of Jesus with pure hearts He loves to give. We need to remember that He is our good good Father. That he knows how to give good gifts to His children and delights in doing so. He does this because we keep His commandments. And really His commandments are so simple and John breaks it down for us so well. First we need to Believe on Jesus, believe He died and rose again for us, that His death in the cross paid for all sins, past, present and future. And second, understanding His great love for us, we need to love those that God has placed in our lives with a biblical love. Biblical love is different then the world’s idea of loving everyone. The world says we just accept everyone and let them live however they want. Biblical love holds believers to a standard. Biblical love does cover sins. But Matthew 18 tells us to go to a sinning brother and tell them their sins in a hope to bring them back, told truthfully but with love and grace in the approach. And it goes on from there. My point is just that what the world calls love and what is truly love according to the Bible does not always line up and we need to choose the way of the Bible every time. The way we Biblically cover sins is by not gossiping and spreading someone else’s business and wrong doings around. We still go to that person and lovingly show them their fault. If they hear us great, we have won our brother back. If they do not hear and the sin continues we are then to go with someone else who is a first hand witness to the sin and lovingly go to them. If that still does not work you go get church leadership involved. We should only bring the sin of someone else to two maybe three people and that should only be to people who are going to be part of the help in going to that person Biblically and helping them see their faults.

24 Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

God gives us His spirit to reside inside of us and He shows us how to live and love. He shows us with gentle pulls and pokes of direction within our spirit that we can choose to listen to or deny. We need to hold fast to what the Word of God says. Especially in a world that lives so contrary to sound teaching and who is so sly, cunning, and even convincing in its lies. If we don’t study His Word and stand steadfast by what we learn in it we could easily be deceived and led astray. I don’t want to be one of those who are led astray. I want to be the one on the sidelines pulling people back from the pit and setting their feet in the right direction. I desire to live for God and honor Him with my life.

Caitlin Renee

1 John 2:18- 3:6 December 2nd 2017

Let’s continue our study through 1 John

18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.

John saw Jesus die and resurrect and then ascend into heaven.  He was not disillusioned into thinking he had all kinds of time left to just do what he wanted. He knew that the time was at hand and that Jesus could return at any moment. Do we live like that today? Or do we believe that it has been 2,000 years and He has not returned yet so we have the time to live like we want to and we will just get right with Him later? Jesus tells us that He is coming like a thief in the night to ransom His church back to him. In Corinthians Paul tells us it will be in the twinkling of an eye. We need to live for Christ now and make the most of every opportunity.

There is also this idea that the Antichrist is going to be pure evil and the exact opposite of Christ. And that is true in a sense, but how Hollywood has played that out has warped our sense of scripture. The Antichrist is going to be cunning and sly. Yes his ultimate goal is an all out war with Christ in which he thinks he can win. But in order to do that he is going to need troops and armies on his side. He is going to deceive many into thinking that they are doing the right thing, when in reality they are joining his side. He will fight for unity and peace and even help the Jews rebuild the temple. He will want one world money and what he says will seem to fix all the world’s problems, but the truth is it will only exasperate them.

I urge you to know the scriptures, to know them well and to apply them to your life, so that you will not be counted among the deceived.

This verse might be a little confusing because it talks about the Antichrist, but then also mentions many antichrists. The truth is the spirit of Antichrist is already on the move, but the actually singular Antichrist as a person is yet to be revealed. The many antichrists are those false teachers who swoop in and try to preach another version of Christ that is not Christ. They preach another way to heaven, a way that is often expressed as easier and for the people. Often these antichrists will take enough of the truth to get you hooked and then add a bunch of things that are not Christ and it is wicked and, sadly, deceives many.

Knowing these truths should impact us as Christians. We should want to make the Lord known and the truth that He reveals in scripture to all people. We should care about the direction that the world is going in and do whatever God tells us  is our part to do. For some of us He will call us out of our comfort zone and into the crowds to proclaim His goodness. Some of us it will be those one on one conversations we have with friends, family, and co-workers that will be our part to do. And there is a whole range of in between that God could ask you to do. No one job is better than another, each is of utmost importance and we are each individually called to do whatever it is the Lord requires of us. He is orchestrating all things together and lovingly asks us to participate. Will you ask God what part He wants you to play, then be obedient to whatever he asks?

20 But you have a anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.

The anointing from the Holy One is His Holy Spirit that resides within each one of us. It is because of His spirit that we do know things, that we can distinguish between a truth and a lie. John is not writing these things to the churches because they do not know the truth, but rather because they do know the truth. It is a work of the Holy Spirit in our lives that allows us to know the truth of who Jesus is and what He has done for us. Without His working in our lives we would be just as lost and confused as the world is. It is good to be reminded of the truths we know. Hard circumstances in life can come up and deceive us into thinking things that are not true. The way that satan attacks me most in that regard is by telling me that God is not good, Something hard will come up and satan capitalizes on it and begins to try and weave this lie into my life that states that God is not good and that He does not have my best interest at heart. It is easy to sit there in that situation, with my eyes looking at that situation, and believe him. We need to know how satan attacks us personally and then learn to combat it. I know when I am going through something hard it is easy to look and say God is not good. To combat this in my life I have learned to look back over my own life and see how past hard situations God has used in my life. I also look back over scripture and remember the hard situations people found themselves in and the good God worked out from them. The number one person I look back to is Joseph who was sold into slavery by his own brothers, thrown into prison for a crime he did not commit, helped others out of prison through interpreting a dream and was forgotten about. He spent over two years in prison for a crime he did not commit. I think it is far to say he was in some tough situations. But look at how God used it. Without those tough situations Joseph would not have become second in command in Egypt where he was able to provide food in the famine that saved his family. God does not place the bad in our lives, but He does allow it, and then He uses it in mighty ways. However, if we sit in it and become bitter we do not allow God to work on His end of things and make good come from it. Trust Him in the situations you find yourself in, He will prove Himself trustworthy. It is His very nature and He cannot deny His own nature.

22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

Jesus and the Father are one. Jesus spoke similar words while He was here on earth. John 14:10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. If we separate Jesus from God making Him just some teacher, not God and not part of the trinity we have removed the basis of our faith. It is crucial that we have a right understand of who Jesus is. That He is both fully man and fully God. He was a man who came and lived the perfect life that we could never live, dying the death we deserved in our place, thus ransoming us from hell and placing us in heaven with Him. He was also fully God. He did not quit being God when He came down, rather He choose to take off aspects of His deity to live among us. To understand Christ in any other way, to make Him not a God, the Holy God, the One true God, is to have another religion entirely. If we deny Jesus as who He truly is we have also denied God the Father as well. That is a truly dangerous place to be. God being three in one is something that we will never be able to fully wrap our minds around, but it is something that we must come to agree to on His terms. If the idea of Jesus being fully God and fully human is something that is messing you up I earnestly ask that you would seek God asking Him to show you, to give you understanding. Ask Him to do His work in your heart and help you understand the trinity in a way that allows you to believe it in faith.

24 Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.

That childlike faith we had when we first came to Christ is the same faith we need to approach Christ with now. We will not understand everything, but as we trust Him He does expand our understanding. As we go about our days we simply need to abide in the Father. That looks like being in the word daily and applying what we learn to our lives.

25 And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.

God makes us promises! As we read His word He will have verses jump out to us that He highlights just for us and that will speak into specific areas of our lives. These promises are great and we need to be asking God to speak directly into our lives. We need to read His word with expectancy, reading believing He wants to speak to us. But whatever He promises for here on earth is not as great as the promise He has made to all believers. He promises us eternal life. If that were the only promise He would ever speak to us it would be enough. But He loves us so much that He speaks into our here and now and blesses us! He often gives us more because He is a good Father who knows how to give good gifts and loves to bless His children. We need to realize just how deep the Father’s love for us truly is, He gives us exceedingly abundantly beyond what we could imagine. When we truly surrender to His lordship in our lives we will be blown away by what He does in us and through us. I can speak from experience, He blows my mind every day. I sit back and look at what I was and where I am now and cannot help but praise Him! He uses the broken things and calls us beautiful and useful ad goes about making it so. We truly serve a good good Father! All of the is true, but that should not be our motivation for serving God, that is just the added benefits. We do not want to approach God simply for the gifts that He will give us though He certainly will shower our lives with them. We want to approach God in relationship getting to know the One who has created us.

26 These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you.

This is why we need to know the Word of God, so that we cannot be deceived. Bank tellers do not go and study every fake bill that was ever created to figure out fraudulent bills. Instead they study the real thing. They handle them often and when a fake comes across they know something did not seem right about that bill so they will examine it more closely and find the fault in it. The same thing happens with the truth of God’s word. We need be in the truth of it so much that when someone tells us something that does not line up with Scripture we can look back a see where it is off. We do not need to go study every false teaching out there. We need only to know the truth and let everything in our life we filtered through that.

27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. 28 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.

The key is to just abide in the Lord. John is not speaking of going against teachers or not needing teachers. He is simply saying that we do not need to rely on teachers, but on the Holy Spirit that dwells in us. John is sending this letter out as a teaching, he would go to the local churches and teach. John is not against teaching. Teaching is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is good and necessary for our lives. We are told not to forsake fellowshipping with other believers. John’s point is that what is important is that we abide in Christ.

29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.

God is righteous and whoever is born of God will practice righteousness. The question that this raised in my heart and mind is do I display acts of righteousness? Is my life marked by righteousness? If not what areas of my life needs to change? God shine your light into our lives and show us area of growth that we need.  

Chapter 3

1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

We are children of God! How awesome is that? We are children of the most high God. We get to see Him as He really is. We are greatly loved. Our focus needs to be on what God has done. The world did not know Christ so it should not surprise us that the world does not get us. I can sometimes want to be liked and understood by the world and in my attempt to gain that go against something of God. the world will not understand us, or always like us. We need to find our love and acceptance through the Word and not in others. When we get to that point what others say and do will not affect our lives like it had in the past. There will be times when things still hurt because we are still human, but the affecting past that moment will be minimal.  

3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

We are pure! I don’t know about you guys but that is awesome news. I saw myself as so dirty because I saw my sins. We have hope in Christ and He washes us clean and pure.

4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.

Lawlessness is a disregard for the law. It is truly at its core a disregard for God as the law maker. That is what sin is, going against what God says.

5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him

As John has said previously we will all sin. What he is talking about here is that habitual sinning. The sin that you commit knowing exactly what you are doing and willfully choose to do it anyway living contrary to the word of God. If we are abiding in Christ our life will not be marked by sin. Yes we are human and will still have sins that we commit. But there is difference in having habitual sins. As we live before the Lord and lay our lives bear before Him He will point out those things and help us to change them.

Caitlin Renee