Written So You May Know

sunrise-1756274_640 (1).jpgSeventh Sunday of Easter (May 13, 2018)

Acts 1:15-17, 21-26  •  Psalm 1  •  1 John 5:9-13  •  John 17:6-19

Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the greater testimony that comes from God. And God has testified about his Son.10 All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son.

11 And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.

13 I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.

1 John 5:9-13 New Living Translation (NLT)

We have come to the last Sunday of Easter.  Yesterday we looked at the passage for Jesus’ Ascension. Next week is Pentecost.  We will wrap up 1 John. Our passage actually picks up where we left off last week.  However, it picks up in mid-thought.  Here John is talking about testimony and witness.  John has finished the previous thought with these words, “Who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.”

Now John, who revealed to us the Christ in his gospel writings, again reveals Christ to us.  He writes how Jesus was revealed as God’s son in his baptism and by the shedding of blood on the cross.  When Jesus was baptized the Spirit came down (as a dove) and John tells us that these three witnesses agree.

In Jewish law, two witnesses who agreed were needed in order to convict for a crime.  John tells us that since we believe human testimony, Jesus’s testimony has three witnesses the water, blood, and Spirit that he came from God. We who believe that Jesus is the Son of God have this witness in our hearts.

John states the purpose of writing this letter is that they know that Jesus is the Son of God and by knowing and believing that Jesus is the Son of God, they may have eternal life.  If we have the Son, we have life…the opposite is also true…if we don’t have the Son, we don’t have life. I encourage you to seek out the Son of God – Jesus and seek his ways, so that you may have eternal life.


Revealing Jesus

religion-1976797_640 (1).jpgSixth Sunday of Easter (May 6, 2018)

Acts 10:44-48  •  Psalm 98  •  1 John 5:1-6  •  John 15:9-17

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross—not by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit, who is truth, confirms it with his testimony.

1 John 5:1-6 New Living Translation (NLT)

How do we become a child of God?  Most of us would answer to believe in Jesus.  John wouldn’t disagree here.  John says that those who believe in Jesus have become a child of God.  At McCrae Brook we have been doing a series on 1 John, called Love Illuminated.  John calls to walk in the light as God is in the light.  One of the ways that we walk in the light is through showing the characteristics of God.  Love is a characteristic of God and it should be a characteristic of the child of God.  John makes it very clear that if we love God we must love his children – our brothers and sisters in Christ.  One of the ways that we love God’s children is to obey his commandments.  To love God, means to obey his commandments, says John.

Think about the human child/parent relationship.  We have to wonder if, when the child doesn’t obey the parent, if there really is love.  I realize that there are many scenarios, but the point is this.  If we love someone – I mean – truly love – we will want to please them – we will want to do the things that they want us to do.  Yes, this gets tricky, but notice what John says next.  God’s commands are not burdensome.  The dictionary defines burdensome as difficult to carry out or fulfill; taxing or undesirably restrictive.  If God desires us to fulfill and obey his commandments, wouldn’t he give us everything we need to obey them?

God gave us Jesus, God in the flesh. Jesus came as our example. We need to follow his example. Jesus shows us that it is possible to follow God’s commands through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes we wonder why Jesus had to be baptized.

It is through Jesus baptism that he was revealed to the world.  Remember at Jesus baptism, the whole of the Trinity was revealed – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Through our baptism we reveal ourselves to the world.  Baptism in Christ – shows that God has forgiven our sins and it reveals to the world that we have confessed our sins and we are now risen in Christ.  Baptism identifies us with Christ.  It shows us that we are children of God.

Jesus was revealed to us through his baptism – the cross – and by the Holy Spirit.  Through Christ we can be children of God and we can obey God’s commandments.

Prayer for the Week

cropped-resurrection-website-banner.jpgSixth Sunday of Easter

O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we
can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Prayer for the Week

cropped-resurrection-website-banner.jpgFifth Sunday of Easter

Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his
steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Continue to Love One Another

pexels-photo-348520.jpegActs 8:26-40  •  Psalm 22:25-31  •  1 John 4:7-21  •  John 15:1-8

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us.Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God.We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.

If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.

1 John 4:7-21 New Living Translation (NLT)

As I read through this passage this morning, I don’t know that there is much that I can add.  One of the things that sticks out is the word love.  In this short section of scripture, love shows up 28 times.  This theme of love is one that John has already written about several times in this short letter.  John tells us that we must love each other, because love is from God.  Love is one of the characteristics of God. I’m going to change around John’s words here.  If we are a child of God, one of the characteristics that should exude from us is love…if we do not love (and this is scary) then we do not know God.

How do we know that God loves us?  John continues with some familiar words – words that are echoed in John 3:16.  God loves us because Jesus came so that we might have life.  Jesus came to be a sacrifice for our sins and to give us eternal life.  Remember, it’s not our love for God that brought Jesus to earth, but God’s love for us.

Over and over in this passage John tells us that we must love one another. If we love one another, then people can see who God is.  Otherwise, as John states, no one has seen God…but if we love…God lives in us and his love is brought to full expression in us.  Yes, we have a heavy responsibility to love others, because through us others can see the love of God.  If we don’t love…then others can’t see the love of God.

Wow, to think that we are responsible for people being able to see God’s love.  John goes on to tell us that we have been given the Spirit of God. John now recounts that he has been an eyewitness to Jesus incarnation.  That Jesus came to be our Savior.  If we confess that Jesus is the Son of God – we have God (through his Holy Spirit) living in us and we should exude God’s characteristics.

Look what John writes in 1 John 4:16:

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

These are important words in our day.  There are many who think of Christians as haters…For many we are more known by what we are against rather than what we are for.  God wants us to show others his love…It should be a natural fruit of our walk with God.  As John goes on to say, “And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.” We could say that as we live in God, our love grows more mature or our love grows more complete.  So many times we think of that word perfect and we don’t think it’s attainable.  But in this case and in many cases in the scripture, perfection means maturity or completion.  Who wouldn’t want to press on toward completion?  After all isn’t that our goal in life?

If we are living in God and growing in God’s love, then we have nothing to fear – even on the day of judgement. I think we could reverse this and say if we are not living in God and we are not growing in God’s love…then we have everything to fear…because we have not lived like Jesus.

Perfect love (a complete – a mature love) has no fear says John.  If we are afraid, it is because we fear punishment.  I think most of us can relate to that – especially as a child.  We love our parents, but were fearful when we did something wrong, because we knew punishment was around the corner.  But if we fear…we have not fully experienced God’s love.  Why do we love God?  Why do we love each other?  Because God has loved us first.

As we finish up this section, John tells us it is impossible to love God and hate a Christian brother or sister.  I love the logic.  If we can’t love people we can see, how can we love a God that we can’t see – because (remember from earlier), we are an expression of God’s love.  Remember it’s not a new commandment, but an old one.

Those who love God must love their Christian brothers and sisters.

Real Love

pexels-photo-949586.jpegFourth Sunday of Easter (April 22, 2018)

Acts 4:5-12  •  Psalm 23  •  1 John 3:16-24  •  John 10:11-18

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.

Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.

And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.

1 John 3:16-24 New Living Translation (NLT)

I’m preaching from another section in 1 John this weekend…our series is called “Love Illuminated.” If you think about it – love and light are the themes of 1 John.  You will also find those themes in John’s gospel.  In John 3:16, Jesus tells us this:

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

In 1 John 3:16, we have these words…”We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us.”  Now – yes – I realize that the chapter and verses were added long after these books were written, but I love the parallels.  John is encouraging us to walk in the Light as Christ is in the light.  Christ is our great example.  Here John tells us that Jesus gave up his life for us and out of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we ought to give up our lives for them.  He goes on to say, “If we see a brother or sister in need and have no compassion, how can God’s love be in us?” Wow! that is convicting stuff.

John tells us not to just say that we love each other, but that we should truly show it – it should come out in our actions.  This is real love.  It is a love that is lived out – it is not just words.  These words sound similar to James (1:22): “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourself.”  John tells us that our actions will show that we belong to the truth.

Interestingly enough, we say that love isn’t a feeling – it’s so much more than that.  Sometimes our feelings get in the way.  In some ways, love is a feeling and John reminds us that there are times that we won’t feel much like love – sometimes we may have more guilt than anything.  But we need to ask God to help us in these cases – to give us wisdom to show us the way.

So if we have real love for each other, it will show up in our actions.  John tells us that Jesus commands us to love one another and obey his commandment.  What is that? Believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as was commanded and Jesus is our great example.

If we obey his commandments – we stay in fellowship with God – and with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  And when we do that the Holy Spirit abides in us so that we can continue to live in love.