All Access - Day 21 - May 6

Read – 1 John 4:7-12

John’s “love” letter reaches a crescendo in these verses.

John writes a variant of the word, “love” fifteen different times in these six verses.

We are called to love one another. But how?

When someone in your small group annoys you, how do you love him?

When you co-worker cheats you out of your commission, how do you love her?

When your parents’ pressure doesn’t ever seem to stop, how do you love them?

When you’re served divorce papers on your anniversary, how do you love your spouse?

The only way you can love like that is Jesus living in you and loving through you. God demonstrates how to love. He sent his Son to show us how to love. God demonstrates his love to others. He sent his Holy Spirit to live in you. “If we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

The only way I know to love the unlovely people in my life is through Jesus living in me.

Posted on May 5, 2017 .

All Access - Day 20 - May 5

Read – 1 John 4:1-6

If you were reading this for the first time it might seem confusing. Without question, there are false prophets in our world. But this talk of testing “… them to see if they spirit they have comes from God …” the mention of “the Antichrist,” can seem perplexing. When contemporary Christians want to discern if a prophet is genuine, we simply compare his or her words to what Scripture says.

John’s readers couldn’t do that. 

The New Testament – the Gospels, Acts of the Apostles and the apostolic letters that we read had not yet been collected into the Bible. That process wouldn’t be complete until the fifth century. That left the early church open to false teaching. One particularly sinister heresy was Gnosticism. Among its philosophies was the belief that all matter was evil and everything spiritual was good. Gnostics taught that Jesus was a spirit being, but that he did not actually have a human body. No virgin birth. No actual death and resurrection. 

John gave the early church a simple test to know if the Gnostics, or any prophet, was from God: whether or not that prophet acknowledged the incarnation of God’s Son into the man, Jesus.

That’s why the declaration we make when we choose to follow Jesus – I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God – is so monumental. It means the Holy Spirit dwells within you and it ties you to the millions of Christ followers who have gone before you.

Posted on May 4, 2017 .

All Access - Day 19 - May 4

Read – 1 John 3:18-24

Talk is cheap.

Actions speak louder than words.

Don’t tell me you love me; show me!

Words are plentiful; deeds are precious.

John challenges those of us who talk a good game, but whose actions aren’t convincing. It’s easy to profess love for someone but it’s a lot harder to follow through. Actions are what really matter. They either affirm or refute our claims of love. What is more, your actions show whether or not you belong to the truth, that is, whether or not you belong to God.

If you go beyond mere words and actually (actionally?) do love others, John writes that you can have confidence as you stand before God. That confidence leads to receiving from God whatever you ask, knowing that your obedience has pleased him.

God's expectation of every Christian is summed up in this commandment: “… believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us.” When you do that, you can confidently know that you are in fellowship with God. 

Posted on May 4, 2017 .