2749. 1 John 4

October 31, 2019

Another John! John Milton (1608-1674) is generally regarded as one of the greatest thinkers and writers in the world. By his mid-twenties he had read everything published in English, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, and Italian! His most famous work is “Paradise Lost,” an epic poem with this assigned purpose:  to “justify the ways of God to man.” It was composed when Milton was blind.

1 John 4 (New Living Translation)

Discerning False Prophets

1 Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. 2 This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. 3 But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.

True prophecy, and true teaching, will present a true Jesus. In John’s day, the issue was about if Jesus had truly come in a real body of flesh and blood. Many Gnostic-influenced teachers said that Jesus, being God, could not have actually become a flesh and blood human being, because God could have no partnership with “impure” material stuff.

Today, some groups deny that Jesus is really God (such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Muslims). But way back in John’s day, in this time closest to the actual life and ministry of Jesus on this earth, people didn’t have a hard time believing Jesus was God. They had a hard time believing that he was a real man. This false teaching said Jesus was truly God (which is correct), but really a “make-believe” man.

We are passionate about saying, “Jesus is God,” and we should be. But it is no less important to say, “Jesus is a man,” because both the deity and humanity of Jesus are essential to our salvation.

–David Guzik

4 But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.

Oh, read verse 4 again and take assurance! Take courage! Take peace!

5 Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. 6 But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.

He that has light within his own clear breast
May sit in the centre, and enjoy bright day:
But he that hides a dark soul and foul thoughts
Benighted walks under the mid-day sun;
Himself his own dungeon.

–John Milton

Loving One Another

7 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. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

“God is love.”  This little sentence brought St. John more sweetness, even in the time he was writing it, than the whole world can bring. God is often styled holy, righteous, wise; but not holiness, righteousness, or wisdom in the abstract, as he is said to be love; intimating that this is his darling, his reigning attribute, the attribute that sheds an amiable glory on all his other perfections.

–John Wesley

9 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. 10 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.

11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.


12
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.

The love John speaks of comes from the ancient Greek word agape; it is the concept of a self-giving love that gives without demanding or expecting re-payment. It is the God-kind of love.

13 And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. 14 Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

John has just given us a beautiful picture of the Trinity at work.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 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.

18 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. 19 We love each other because he loved us first.

20 If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 21 And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.

Love regulated by the other person’s response is no love at all.

–Moishe Rosen, founder of Jews for Jesus

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “The Love of God”  by Mercy Me.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
John Milton.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/john-milton1.jpg
God is love.   https://stmikes1.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/love.jpg
lemonade stand.    http://www.hrcoc.com/htm/desk/images/1john4_11.jpg
God is love.    http://churchfun.com/images/wp/God-is-love.jpg
God loves you this much.    http://deafchristians.blogspot.com/2012/12/plan-for-salvation.html

 


2748.) 1 John 3

October 30, 2019

Another John! Pope John XXIII (1881-1963) called the Second Vatican Council which brought sweeping reformation to the Catholic church — changes that, among other things, placed a stronger emphasis on ecumenism and fidelity to the Gospel.

1 John 3 (New Living Translation)

1 See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!

John 1:12   (NKJV)

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.

Who calls us the children of God?

  • The Father does (“I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty,” 2 Corinthians 6:18)
  • The Son does (He is not ashamed to call them brethren, Hebrews 2:11)
  • The Spirit does (The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, Romans 8:16)

–David Guzik

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “(We Are) The Children of God”  by Steven Curtis Chapman.

_________________________

But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. 2 Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.

What will we see when we see Jesus? John describes a vision he had of Jesus in heaven:

Revelation 1:13-16   (The Living Bible)

And standing among them was one who looked like Jesus, who called himself the Son of Man, wearing a long robe circled with a golden band across his chest. His hair was white as wool or snow, and his eyes penetrated like flames of fire. His feet gleamed like burnished bronze, and his voice thundered like the waves against the shore. He held seven stars in his right hand and a sharp, double-bladed sword in his mouth, and his face shone like the power of the sun in unclouded brilliance.

3 And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.

4 Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. 5 And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. 6 Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.

John is not speaking here of living a perfect, sinless life. He has already reminded earlier (1:8) that “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Here he means a continued lifestyle of habitual sin. In other words, we are not to make excuses for ourselves that we are weak in this one area or prone to that fault. Rather, we are to face our sins and call them sins, ask for forgiveness, and work to fight against it with the power Jesus will give.

7 Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous.

8 But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. 9 Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. 10 So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.

Believers can live lives characterized by righteousness, not sin, because we have been given the righteousness of Jesus.

Love One Another

11 This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”

–John Wesley

12 We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous. 13 So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.

14 If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. 15 Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.

16 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. 17 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?

I have looked into your eyes with my eyes. I have put my heart near your heart.

–Pope John XXIII, calling his listeners to show Christ-like mercy

18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

from Echoings from the Bible in Literature,
by J. Ruth Stenerson

“I like not only to be loved, but also to be told that I am loved.  I am not sure that you are of the same kind.  But the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave.  This is the world of light and speech, and I shall take leave to tell you that you are very dear.”

–George Eliot, “Letter to Mrs. Burnes-Jones,” May 11, 1875

Have you noticed how often truths are found in what seem to be almost opposite statements—in dichotomies? “That artificial rose is so beautiful it almost looks real,” we say, and then are surprised to hear someone else say, “The rose on that bush is so beautiful it almost looks artificial.” There is validity in both statements.

We sometimes pose the same kind of paradox in relation to aspects of our Christian faith. There is one side of another paradox that says “our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.” But George Eliot provides the “on the other hand” as she writes, “I like . . . to be told that I am loved . . . and I shall take leave to tell you that you are very dear.” As in the instances above, both sides of the paradox have something to tell us.

Most of us find few things so repulsive as the sentimental gush of insincere avowals of affection. But many of us offend more seriously by our reluctance to speak our love to those who need to hear that they are loved. It would be interesting to know how many of our acquaintances we know have never heard anyone say to them “I love you.” I think we would be shocked to know how large the number would be. Many of those people would be shocked into shyness if before the day is done we broke out of our inhibitions and said, “You know, I really love you.”

Yet how empty those words would be if they were not accompanied by acts which reinforce them. We would not long believe those words. But why can we not give both the words and the actions? We don’t need to worry about running out of the supply of love.  You yourselves have been taught by God how you should love one another,” Paul wrote to the Thessalonian believers. “Do even more.”  Have we already been loving in word and deed? Here is Paul’s daily assignment for us in the school of life:  DO EVEN MORE.

19 Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. 20 Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.

21 Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. 22 And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.

23 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. 24 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.

John makes it simple:  fellowship with God is based on believing in Jesus and loving our neighbor. And the Holy Spirit will help us with those things.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Pope John.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/johnxxiii.jpg
Do the right thing.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/dotherightthing.gif
Good Samaritan.    https://janaburson.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/aaaagoodsam.jpg
I love you with leaf.    http://pixdaus.com/pics/12110675011ng696V.jpg

2747.) 1 John 2

October 29, 2019

Another John! John Newton (1725-1807) was an English slave-ship captain who was converted to faith during a severe storm at sea. He spent the remainder of his life as a clergyman, abolitionist, and hymn-writer. Due in part to writing the song “Amazing Grace,” Newton has been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame (headquartered in Detroit, MI).

1 John 2 (New Living Translation)

1 My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. 2 He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

Scales balance icon

“We have for our advocate, not a mean person; but him of whom it was said, “This is my beloved son.” Not a guilty person, who stands in need of pardon for himself; but Jesus Christ the righteous. Not a mere petitioner, who relies purely upon liberality; but one that has merited, fully merited, whatever he asks.”

–John Wesley

A human defense lawyer argues for the innocence of his client. But our Advocate, Jesus Christ, admits our guilt — and then enters His plea on our behalf, as the one who has made an atoning sacrifice for our sinful guilt.

–David Guzik

for the sins of all the world — “It is a patent fact that thou too are part of the whole world: so that thine heart cannot deceive itself and think, The Lord died for Peter and Paul, but not for me.”

–Martin Luther

3 And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. 4 If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. 5 But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. 6 Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

A simple, loving obedience is a natural result of fellowship with God.

A New Commandment

7 Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. 8 Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it.

It is new because Jesus displayed a new kind of love. The cross points in four directions to show that the love of Jesus is:

  • Wide enough to include every human being.
  • Long enough to last through all eternity.
  • Deep enough to reach the most guilty sinner.
  • High enough to take us to heaven.

This is a new love, a love the world had never really seen before the work of Jesus on the cross.

–David Guzik

For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.

Isaiah 2:5 (NIV)

Come, descendants of Jacob,
let us walk in the light of the LORD.

9 If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness. 10 Anyone who loves another brother or sister is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
–1 John 2:10

“What an emphasis gets on kindness as life goes on,” said Bishop Paget (the “architect of the Church in Central Africa” who lived from 1886 to 1971). Writing to someone in a Nursing Home, he said how he hoped the patient was “not too ill or weary to enjoy the happiness of feeling kindness all around you, and Goodness all above you.”

As we watch the lives of those who have hearts “at leisure from themselves” and live for others, we cannot help seeing that there is “none occasion of stumbling” in them. They don’t stumble people, they help them. They clear hindrances out of the path and make it much easier for those who do not know Him to find their Savior.

Let us more and more earnestly ask for this kindness of heart that shows itself in loving thoughts and deeds. Let us begin with ourselves. The Lord make us sensitive to the merest whisper of unlove in our hearts. “He that loveth . . . abideth.”

11 But anyone who hates another brother or sister is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.

John now addresses his readers according to their measure of spiritual maturity:

12 I am writing to you who are God’s children
because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus.
13 I am writing to you who are mature in the faith
because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning.
I am writing to you who are young in the faith
because you have won your battle with the evil one.
14 I have written to you who are God’s children
because you know the Father.
I have written to you who are mature in the faith
because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning.
I have written to you who are young in the faith
because you are strong.
God’s word lives in your hearts,
and you have won your battle with the evil one.

_________________________

Music:

“You are God’s children . . . your sins are forgiven . . . you know the Father . . . you know Christ . . . ” — such grace to us from the Lord!

Il Divo is a group of four male singers:  Spanish baritone Carlos Marin, Swiss tenor Urs Buhler, American tenor David Miller, and French pop singer Sebastien Izambard.  HERE  they sing (oh, so beautifully!) John Newton’s hymn “Amazing Grace.”

_________________________

Do Not Love This World

15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

“One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”

–Antoine deSaint-Exupery, in The Little Prince

Warning about Antichrists

18 Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared.

The name Antichrist is important to understand. The prefix anti can mean “the opposite of” or “instead of.” The Antichrist is the “opposite Jesus”; he is the “instead of” Jesus. Most people have focused on the idea of the “opposite Jesus.” This has made them think that the Antichrist will appear as a supremely evil person. They think that as much as Jesus went around doing good, the Antichrist will go around doing bad. As much as Jesus’ character and personality was beautiful and attractive, the Antichrist’s character and personality will be ugly and repulsive. As much as Jesus spoke only truth, the Antichrist will speak only lies. This emphasizes the idea of the “opposite Jesus” too much. The Antichrist will instead be more of an “instead of Jesus.” He will look wonderful, be charming and successful. He will be the ultimate winner, and appear as an angel of light.

–David Guzik

From this we know that the last hour has come. 19 These people left our churches, but they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.

20 But you are not like that, for the Holy One has given you his Spirit, and all of you know the truth. 21 So I am writing to you not because you don’t know the truth but because you know the difference between truth and lies. 22 And who is a liar? Anyone who says that Jesus is not the Christ.  Anyone who denies the Father and the Son is an antichrist. 23 Anyone who denies the Son doesn’t have the Father, either. But anyone who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

Often times it is said, “We all worship the same God. You have one name for Him and I have another. But that doesn’t matter. We are just talking about different roads to the same God because we all have the same God.” Here is the question to ask in response: “Was your God perfectly revealed in Jesus Christ?” If your God was, then you have the same God. If your God wasn’t perfectly revealed in Jesus, then you do not have the same God as in the Bible.

–David Guzik

24 So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father. 25 And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life he promised us.

“This is faith: a renouncing of everything we are apt to call our own and relying wholly upon the blood, righteousness and intercession of Jesus.”

–John Newton

26 I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. 27 But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.

Living as Children of God

28 And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame.

29 Since we know that Christ is righteous, we also know that all who do what is right are God’s children.

I find in this chapter three petitions for daily prayer: Help me, Lord, that I know Him (1 John 2:4), that I may abide in Him (1 John 2:6), and I may be in the light (1 John 2:9). Let my relationships with others show that you, Jesus, are living your life in me.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
John Newton.    http://media.photobucket.com/image/John%20Newton/cens_1/Quotes/JohnNewton1copy.jpg
scales of justice.    https://www.internationalstudentinsurance.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/scale-balance-icon466165299.jpg
heart-shaped candle.    http://www.zastavki.com/pictures/1280×800/2008/Love_Heart_-_candle_011183_.jpg
kitten and Aesop quote.   https://meloneandbranding.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/kindness-love-cost-nothing/random-acts-of-kindness-wallpaper/
The Little Prince.    https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/56115305_2-assorted-saint-exupery-little-prince-lithographs#&gid=1&pid=1
face of Jesus.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/john-christ_face.gif

2746.) 1 John 1

October 28, 2019

Another John! Portrait by Thomas Sadler, 1684. John Bunyan (1628-1688) was an English preacher and writer, most famous for writing “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” a book which has been translated into over 200 languages. In the story, the protagonist, Christian, journeys from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City, while facing many trials and difficulties.

1 John 1 (New Living Translation)

Introduction

This week we are doing the five chapters of 1 John, one of my favorite books in the Bible. Because they are so short, I encourage you to do something more:  read all five chapters of 1 John every day this week. Let the words of this epistle sink down deep into your heart and mind. Let these ideas change the way you think and act. Let Christ make you more and more like himself. And may the Lord bless you as you seek to follow the True Word of Life!

Most people understand that the important things in life are not things at all; they are the relationships we have. God has put a desire for relationship in every one of us, a desire He intended to be met with relationships with other people, but most of all, to be met by a relationship with Him. In this remarkable letter, John tells us the truth about relationships, and shows us how to have relationships that are real, for both now and eternity.

–David Guzik

1 We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life.

John was one of the original twelve disciples; at the time of this letter, he is an older man and perhaps the last remaining apostle. He writes with authority to his “dear children” to assure them of the truth of their faith in Jesus Christ. Can you hear the resonance between this opening and the Gospel of John chapter 1?  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.” And beyond that, to Genesis 1? “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

2 This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

How is it possible for one to identify with God in such a way that one can share in the fellowship of the Trinity without actually becoming God? How is this closeness compatible with the incredible otherness between human beings and God? On Islam there is no possibility of such friendship; God is completely other and cannot have close interaction with human beings. On the other hand, in Eastern religions such as Hinduism and in New Age philosophies, human beings can so completely identify with God that they become part of the “divine soul.” The distinction between humans and God blurs until humanity is lost in divinity. Neither of these approaches is consistent with biblical thought about humanity’s relationship to God, which allows for both fellowship and distinction.

In Christianity a person can be in God but can never be God. Otherness of being is never lost. God can become human, and at one moment of history he did become human, but the process can never take place in the other direction. The basis of this is the Trinity, in which three persons maintain their total distinctiveness and yet have complete unity. It is a unity with otherness. It is a mingling without the formation of a compound.  The fellowship and unity between members of the Godhead is ontological—it is part of their essence. The fellowship between human persons is psychological and ethical.  The fellowship between human persons and the Trinity is conditional. We can have fellowship with God while he retains his otherness and we retain our personal identity. Our fellowship with God makes us more truly human than we have ever been before. It heals our humanity and completes our personhood.

4 We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.

The result of fellowship is fullness of joy. This joy is an abiding sense of optimism and cheerfulness based on God, as opposed to happiness, which is a sense of optimism and cheerfulness based on circumstances.

John clearly echoed an idea Jesus brought before His disciples the night before His crucifixion. He wanted fullness of joy for them – even knowing that the cross was directly in front of them.

  • These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:11).
  • Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full (John 16:24).
  • But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves (John 17:13).

–David Guzik

Living in the Light

5 This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.

_________________________

Music:

Written in 1987 by Graham Kendrick:  “Shine, Jesus, Shine.”  HERE.

_________________________

6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

“Let us gaze at the blood of Christ and recognize how precious it is to His Father, because, poured out for our salvation, it brought the grace of repentance to all the world.”

–Clement, early Church Father

8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

“If you have sinned, do not lie down without repentance; for the want of repentance after one has sinned makes the heart yet harder and harder.”

–John Bunyan

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
John Bunyan.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f9/John_Bunyan_by_Thomas_Sadler_1684.jpg
symbol of the Trinity.    https://subversiveministry.org/2017/11/20/the-trinity-and-reformation/
the blood of Jesus.   http://images2.fanpop.com/images/photos/6900000/Blood-of-Christ-the-bible-6970135-500-375.jpg

2745.) Psalms 42 and 43

October 25, 2019

Ibex drinking in En Gedi, Israel.

Psalm 42 (NIV)

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.

2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

One may go many days without food, but thirst shows an even more urgent need. 

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “As the Deer.”  Lyrics and tune by Marty Nystrom in 1984.

_________________________

3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while men say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

4 These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go with the multitude,
leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving
among the festive throng.

from Daily Readings from Luther’s Writings,
edited by Barbara Owen

And here the advantage is that when Christians thus come together their prayers are twice as strong as otherwise. One can and one really should pray in every place and every hour; but prayer is nowhere so mighty and strong as when the whole multitude prays together. Thus the dear patriarchs and matriarchs gathered with their families, and anybody else who happened to be with them, under a tree, or put up a tent, and erected an altar, and this was their temple and house of God, where they talked about Christ, the coming seed who was promised to them, sacrificed together, called upon God, and gave thanks to him. And thus they were always glad to be with the multitude whenever they could, even though they also meditated upon God’s Word and promise and prayed by themselves in private.

5 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

As if the psalmist said, “My reasons are not good enough reasons to be cast down when I think of the greatness of God and the help of His favor and presence.”

6 My  soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.

Mount Hermon is the highest point in Israel and the only place in the country to snow ski in the winter.

7 Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

F.B. Meyer thought of this as the depths of God answering to the depths of human need. “Whatever depths there are in God, they appeal to corresponding depths in us. And whatever the depths of our sorrow, desire, or necessity, there are correspondences in God from which full supplies may be obtained. 

“The deep of divine redemption calls to the deep of human need. 

“The deep of Christ’s wealth calls to the deep of the saint’s poverty. 

“The deep of the Holy Spirit’s intercession calls to the deep of the Church’s prayer.” 

–David Guzik

8 By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.

9 I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”

from Morning and Evening,
by Charles Spurgeon

“Why go I mourning?” — Psalm 42:9

Canst thou answer this, believer? Canst thou find any reason why thou art so often mourning instead of rejoicing? Why yield to gloomy anticipations? Who told thee that the night would never end in day? Who told thee that the winter of thy discontent would proceed from snow, and ice, and hail, to deeper snow, and yet more heavy tempest of despair?

Knowest thou not that day follows night, and that spring and summer succeed winter? Hope thou then! Hope thou ever! For God fails thee not. Dost thou not know that thy God loves thee in the midst of all this? Mountains, when in darkness hidden, are as real as in day, and God’s love is as true to thee now as it was in thy brightest moments. No father chastens always: thy Lord hates the rod as much as thou dost; he only cares to use it for that reason which should make thee willing to receive it, namely, that it works thy lasting good.

Thou shalt yet climb Jacob’s ladder with the angels, and behold him who sits at the top of it — thy covenant God. Come, sing in the midst of tribulation. Rejoice even while passing through the furnace.  Cause the desert to ring with thine exulting joys, for these light afflictions will soon be over, and then “forever with the Lord,” thy bliss shall never wane.

10 My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

11 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

As the oppression of the enemy continued, so the psalmist would continue to speak to himself and challenge his own sense of discouragement.

In many Hebrew manuscripts,
Psalms 42 and 43 constitute one psalm.

 

Psalm 43

1 Vindicate me, O God,
and plead my cause against an ungodly nation;
rescue me from deceitful and wicked men.

2 You are God my stronghold.
Why have you rejected me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?

3 Send forth your light and your truth,
let them guide me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to the place where you dwell.

This was a prayer of submission. “Lord, I don’t want You to send out Your light and truth just so I may admire them. I want to submit myself to Your light and Your truth and have them lead me. I need a leader, so lead me.”

–David Guzik

Mount Zion  is a hill in Jerusalem just outside the walls of the Old City. The term Mount Zion has been historically associated with the Temple Mount, but its meaning has shifted and it is now used as the name of ancient Jerusalem’s so-called western hill. In a wider sense, the term is also used for the entire Land of Israel.

–Wikipedia

4 Then will I go to the altar of God,
to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the harp,
O God, my God.

5 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

We see that at the end of the psalm, none of the circumstances of the psalmist had changed – only his attitude, and what a difference that made. “Not yet has the answer come. The darkness and the mystery are still about him, but the shining way is seen; and again the soul is forbidden to despair and hope is encouraged in God.”

–F. B. Morgan

Ps43 Be-Kind

So be looking for opportunities to pass on a cheerful, encouraging word!

Proverbs 12:25 (NLT)

Worry weighs a person down;
an encouraging word cheers a person up.

Psalm 94:19 (ESV)

When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.

John 16:33 (KJV)

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
42:1 and ibex at En Gedi.   http://www.bibleplaces.com/newsletter/hr/Ibex_drinking_in_Nahal_David,_tb100503600.JPG
praying together.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/42-pray-together-clip.jpg
Mount Hermon.    http://www.hermon.com/mt_hermon/16.jpg
red rose.    http://beautifulwallpapers.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/red-rose.jpg
43:3 and man on mountaintop.    http://www.4catholiceducators.com/graphics/Psalm43_3.jpg
Mount Zion.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/43-mt-zion.jpg
Be kind.     https://snegurochka83.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/be-kind.jpg

2744.) Psalm 70

October 24, 2019

Psalm 70 (King James Version)

This psalm is nearly identical to the last five verses of Psalm 40; evidently David often needed God to come quickly with help! Bible commentator Matthew Henry wrote, “Urgent trials should always awake fervent prayers.”

1MAKE HASTE, O GOD, TO DELIVER ME;
MAKE HASTE TO HELP ME, O LORD.

G. Campbell Morgan believed that such prayers were flawed in their understanding of God. “It reveals a mistaken conception of God. God never needs to be called upon to hasten. He is never tarrying uselessly or carelessly.” Still, Morgan explained that God still wants to hear such imperfect prayers. “We may use any terms in our prayers, if they are directed to Him, knowing that He will understand, and in His understanding, interpret our faulty terms by His own perfect knowledge, and give us His best answers to our deepest need.” 

He continues — “Let us take it and use it, knowing that He would far rather have in our song an expression of an honest questioning than any affectation of a confidence not possessed. Moreover, He would rather have from us such a song than silence.” 

2Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul:
let them be turned backward, and put to confusion, that desire my hurt.

3Let them be turned back for a reward of their shame that say, Aha, aha.

“The kindest thing we can pray for people who do wrong is that their plans will fail, for it may be that in their frustration they will see the folly and true end of evil and be reached for God.”

–James Montgomery Boice

4Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee:
and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified.

“Nor is there any limit as to place or persons. My heart says, ‘Let God be magnified among the Wesleyans! The Lord be magnified among the Independents! The Lord be magnified among the Episcopalians! The Lord be magnified among the Baptists!’” 

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

5But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God:
thou art my help and my deliverer; O LORD, make no tarrying.

“But God is making haste. On the wings of every hour, quicker than light leaps from world to world, He is on his way. Delays are not denials, but are necessary to the perfecting of his arrangements.”

–F. B. Meyer

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Always”  by Kristian Stanfill. “Oh, my God, He will not delay . . .”

_________________________

Images courtesy of:
Let God be magnified!   http://alittleperspective.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/psa-70-4-ww-stock-9x.jpg
Psalm 38:22.   http://dailybiblestudy.org/wp/psalm-03822/

2743.) Psalm 125

October 23, 2019

P125 mountains surround J

Psalm 125   (NIV)

A song of ascents.

Like the other psalms in the series of 15 Songs of Ascent, this psalm was especially appropriate for those pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem for one of the three annual major feasts of Israel. As they sang, they remembered that from the temple on Mount Zion, the Lord provides protection for His people.

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
    which cannot be shaken but endures forever.

The pilgrim who came from afar was impressed with the stature and standing of Mount Zion, the prominent hill upon which Jerusalem is established. The one who believes and trusts in the LORD is promised the same security and he or she abides forever. Our place in His love, His new life, and His gracious purpose lasts forever and cannot be moved.

· Some people are like the sand, ever shifting and unstable (Matthew 7:26). 

· Some people are like the sea, restless and unsettled (James 1:6). 

· Some people are like the wind, uncertain and inconsistent (Ephesians 4:14). 

· “Believers are like a mountain—strong, stable, and secure.” (Spurgeon)

–David Guzik

As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
    so the Lord surrounds his people
    both now and forevermore.

“Jehovah is our rock foundation, our encompassing protection, our enthroned King. In Him is all our strength and confidence.”

–G. Campbell Morgan

The scepter of the wicked will not remain
    over the land allotted to the righteous,
for then the righteous might use
    their hands to do evil.

Lord, do good to those who are good,
    to those who are upright in heart.

The greatness of the revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that God did good for those who are not good. We remember that in due time Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6) and God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

–David Guzik

The good people here are those who have been saved by faith and who walk in obedience to the Lord. Their uprightness is not the basis of their salvation, but is the fruit of their trust and obedience.

–William MacDonald

But those who turn to crooked ways
    the Lord will banish with the evildoers.

Peace be on Israel.

Shalom, shalom!

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation,” (what a beautiful introduction to the hymn by the organist here!) a 6th century Latin hymn that was translated into English in the mid-1800’s by John Mason Neale, an Anglican priest, scholar, and hymn-writer. Neale had all the qualifications of a good translator. He was not only an excellent classical scholar in the ordinary sense of the term, but he was also positively steeped in medieval Latin. An anecdote illustrates this—

Dr. Neale was invited by Mr. Keble and the Bishop of Salisbury to assist them with their new hymnal, and for this purpose he paid a visit to Hursley Parsonage. On one occasion Mr. Keble, having to go to another room to find some papers, was detained a short time. On his return Dr. Neale said, ‘Why, Keble, I thought you told me that the “Christian Year” was entirely original.’ ‘Yes,’ he answered, ‘it certainly is.’ ‘Then how comes this?’ and Dr. Neale placed before him the Latin of one of Keble’s hymns. Keble professed himself utterly confounded. He protested that he had never seen this ‘original,’ no, not in all his life. After a few minutes Neale relieved him by owning that he had just turned it into Latin in his absence.”

–hymnary.org

Other examples of Neale’s hymn translations include “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” “All Glory, Laud, and Honor” and “Of the Father’s Love Begotten.”

1 Christ is made the sure foundation,
Christ the head and cornerstone,
chosen of the Lord, and precious,
binding all the church in one,
Holy Zion’s help for ever,
and her confidence alone.

2 All that dedicated city,
dearly loved of God on high,
in exultant jubilation
pours perpetual melody;
God the One in Three adoring
in glad hymns eternally.

3 To this temple, where we call You,
come, O Lord of Hosts, today:
with accustomed lovingkindness,
hear Your servants as they pray;
and Your fullest benediction
shed within its walls alway.

4 Lord, here grant to all Your servants
what they ask of You to gain,
what they gain from You, forever
with the blessed to retain,
and hereafter in Your glory
evermore with You to reign.

5 Praise and honor to the Father,
praise and honor to the Son,
praise and honor to the Spirit,
ever Three, and ever One,
one in might, and one in glory,
while unending ages run.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Images courtesy of:
Jerusalem surrounded by mountains.    http://courseweb.stthomas.edu/jmjoncas/LiturgicalStudiesInternetLinks/JewishWorship/JewishWorshipMusic/OTPsalms/Ps125IrvDavis.jpg
verse 2.   https://picsart.com/i/image-surrounded-just-as-the-mountains-surround-jerusalem-so-the-296646273104201
verse 4.   https://i.pinimg.com/originals/6a/44/c0/6a44c01f1c3ae8682849a95da2873f0b.jpg