We have all experienced broken relationships, that seems beyond mending. Where wounds have formed to the point where it is uncomfortable to be even near the person and all you can do is hope that they will forgive you and be willing to put the past behind.
All the disciples besides John and the Mary's had forsaken Jesus during His darkest hour and now He was gone, crucified, what they did or didn't do could not be undone. Yet as we are going to see throughout John 20 Jesus resurrected and went about reassuring the disciples of His continual love and forgiveness restoring their faith so they would be ready to be faithful to carry out His work.
This can give us hope for the broken relationships that we have endured, resurrection is possible, God loves to bring dead things back to life. We can be reassured if we hold onto faith and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit restoration will transpire. The key to seeing broken relationships becoming whole again is our intimacy with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus first reassures Peter and John by the way He left the cloth He was wrapped in so neatly in the tomb, where it suddenly dawned on them, the truth He had spoke, they now believed, "He had resurrected."
Now Jesus reveals Himself to Mary Magdalene who was overwhelmed with emotions that she thought he was just the gardner, yet when He said her name, she realized it was her "Teacher."
The other disciples besides Thomas were gathered together hiding in fear of the Jews and suddenly the risen Jesus appeared and said twice to them "Peace to you," and breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." Jesus demonstrated to them forgiveness and then released them to go and do the same for others.
The reassurance we have of our love to others is coming to them in peace no matter what wrong they have done. This is only possible by the person of the Holy Spirit who heals us first of our wounds and gives us the ministry of reconciliation.
Now the one disciple who refused to believe that Jesus was resurrected was "doubting Thomas," but Jesus filled with mercy came to Thomas and showed him wanted he needed to see, the marks of the nails in His hands and feet and the mark in His side, and now Thomas believed.
We may have loved ones who refuse to believe no matter what they have heard or witnessed the hope this gives us is that if we believe for them, we can trust that Jesus will reveal Himself, whether it be a vision, dream, creative miracle, whatever it takes, He will make Himself known. Our God is the master of erasing doubt we just got to follow His lead and trust Him.
People go through so much pain and suffering in this world our call is to be vessels that He can use to reassure others of His love. Yet, it first starts with us, ask the Father to wrap you in His arms and fill you with His love right now!
AND THE WINNER IS? ( 1 JOHN 5, 2 JOHN, 3 JOHN)11/5/2020
The title may have pulled you in thinking I am going to talk politics considering we still don't yet know the results of the election this Thursday, November 5th, 2020, two days after the election. Well, I am going to talk about something much bigger than who wins the American Presidency. It is who wins in life in light of eternity.
The death and resurrection of Jesus gave Him victory over sin and death. We who believe this have joined Him in His victory. We are victorious, we are winners both in this life and the life to come. Here in 1 John 5, it tells us how we walk out this victory through our love for God seen in our obedience to His commands. Being under command seems like being under control, but being on the winner's side means enjoying victory by trusting that the King of kings knows what's best.
We don't need to worry about our future, to see how it all plays out, hoping that in the end, we win! No, we already won! As it says in 1 John 5:4-5 we are now born of God and have conquered the world through our faith. I hope each of you prayed who to vote for but no matter how it turns out we who are in Christ are victorious. Our lives are in God's hands and He is always working on our behalf.
Winning breeds confidence! We who understand our identity in Christ are confident. We can walk with our heads up, knowing our present and future is bright no matter what is going on around us. We see in verse 14, "that the confidence we now have is that whatever we ask according to His will, He hears, and we will have it!" Our duties as the victorious ones are to know the will of the Father and to pray it forth so that the Kingdom of Heaven advances on the earth. We are not to just parade around that we won, we are to establish Christ's victory by destroying the works of Satan through our obedience to His commands.
We can expect those on the losing side, to walk-in shame, guilt, disappointment, anger, and be full of wage. The cool thing with God's mercy is that losers can join the winning team by simply believing in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Our job, therefore, is not to rub it in, but to draw them in. This is done through prayer and acts of love! We see this command in 2 John verse 6 "and this is love: that we walk according to His command. This is the command as you have heard it from the beginning: you must walk in love." The key element to obeying this command is daily spiritual renewal, we must receive God's love in order to give His love. As in says in 3 John verse 2, "I pray that you may prosper in every way and be in good health just as you are spiritually."
WHAT'S LOVE GOD TO DO WITH IT? EVERYTHING! (1 JOHN 3-4)10/28/2020
1 John 3
People get in relationships for all types of reasons and love is not always the reason. Now one may say they love the other but that word is often used as a tool to manipulate. People of the world don't even know what love truly is so they will use the word not even knowing that their motive for saying it is impure. As the Tina Turner song says "What's love got to do with it?" Well, for those in Christ; everything!
1 John 3:1-3 says "it is the great love of God that we are called His children, and we are being purified until we become like Him." It is not by works that we are transformed it is by the love of God. In this world, you have to earn someone's love by your performance in Christ we are loved simply because God is love.
How can we tell who is a child of God and who is not? The love factor! Those who do not know God, sin, continually, for they are of the Devil. Those who do know God do not sin, for they are righteous, they don't produce evil but destroy it. To know God is to know love, to know love is to do what is right. Those who do not know God cannot know love and therefore will behave in the opposite of love which is hate, and to hate, is to steal, kill, and destroy, which is very the nature of evil.
It is Christ's love in laying down His life for us that has set the example for us to follow. Love is known through action! If we have received God's love we will be transformed and likewise, give our lives for others. As 1 John 3:18 says "we must not love in word or speech but with truth and action. Love is the force within that moves us into obedience where we step out in God's call by serving those He has put before us with compassion.
The charge, therefore, is to ask the Lord to be filled with His love, for it is the only way to come out of sin and live a righteous, God-centered life.
1 John 4
Like I said from the previous devotion, people get in a relationship for numerous reasons and love is not always at the top of the list. One may say they love you but love is more than a word it must be backed up with action. There are three forms of love, Phileo which is friendship-based love, Eros which is sensual-based love, and then Agape which is unconditional love. The world can experience the first two but without God, they cannot experience the third for that love comes from Him. The love of the world will never satisfy the longing for the complete full expression of love which includes Agape. No matter how great a man or woman you are in a relationship with if they do not know the love of God, the love they offer you is limited and will never be enough.
Here in 1 John 4 John is writing to help fellow believers discern between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. He is telling them that they need to test the spirits. Just like when someone introduces their boyfriend or girlfriend to their parents and the parents test the individual if they are worthy of their child so God wants us to test the people we are in a relationship with. Just because someone says they are a Christian and use the name of Jesus does not mean they are operating in the right spirit.
A group called the Gnostics was spreading a message that denied the humanity of Jesus and John was writing in response. The Gnostics were speaking as if they were hearing from the Holy Spirit, but they were as John says in verse 3 speaking under the influence of the spirit of the antichrist. This spirit is cunning it doesn't blatantly deny Jesus Christ we must really listen and discern or we will be deceived just like Adam and Eve with twisted truth. We who know God have been given discernment, anything that doesn't sit well in our spirit we must question, for those who know God listen to the truth and those who do not love listening to lies.
So what does love got to do with it? Everything! If Jesus did not die as a human then we are still lost in our sin. The Gnostics denied the humanity of Jesus so they had not received Him, therefore they did not know God's love, and if they were truly observed that would be clear. It is by the fruit that we shall know them. God's children are marked by love the Devil's children are marked by hate. We will see through the rest of this chapter that those who know God, know love.
We can see who is born of God as it says in verses seven and eight by love. God's nature is love so therefore anyone born from Him will have in them the nature of His love. The way God displayed His love towards us was in sending to us His only Son so that we might live through Him. Love is displayed in sacrifice and that is what God did. It is through this love that sin is defeated. Sin defined is separation from God, but by us confessing that Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, relationship with God is restored and through that relationship, sin is overcome. It is the love of God that saved us, it is the love of God that keeps us, it is through this love that we remain in Him.
How do we know we are growing in His love? The lack of fear! As it says in verse 18 "perfect love casts out fear." This year has been a reality check for the church it has been the opportunity to see the condition of our heart! Are we people of faith or people of fear? Do we truly know God or not? If we have fear then His love has not yet been perfected in us. When someone builds something that can easily fall apart they need to start over again. Some of us need to start over again with God, to make sure we truly gave Him our heart, and ask Him to help us trust Him and to grow in faith.
Another love test is how we treat others! If we have received the love of God then we love others, no excuses! If there is hate in our hearts for others no matter who they are, whether democrat or republican, black or white, rich or poor, if we lack love for them then we have not been perfected in God's love.
So fear and hate are the commonalities of those who do not know God! You can go to church all you want and serve in whatever capacity but if these works of the flesh are habitually present in your life then you need to come running to God for salvation and deliverance. So what does love got to do with it? Everything!
SEEING THROUGH (1 JOHN 2)10/15/2020
It is important to know John's audience before trying to understand what he is saying. He was writing to believers so that they would not be deceived by the Gnostic teaching that was spreading. This teaching was based on special knowledge of Jesus that denied his humanity. People that are intimate with the Lord see through the lies of the pretenders. 1 John 2 will help give us discernment so that we are not fooled by these wordsmiths.
Someone can use the name of God and say they believe all they want but if they, as it says in verse 4, do not obey His commands they are a liar. To know God is to walk with God, to walk with God is to obey Him. Christianity is based on intimacy, head knowledge will not cut it, knowing about God, and knowing God are two different worlds. If all you do is know about God and do not know God, whatever you think you know, you are deceived.
To recognize who really knows God we must not just listen to what they say but observe how they live. Those who walk with God reflect Him. Since God is love those who do not love but hate others are not of the light but are of darkness (vs. 9). These Gnostics who had this so-called special knowledge of God also had bad attitudes full of pride and hate. American History regarding Christians is marked by those who owned slaves, raped and murdered Native Americans, etc. We got to remember titles don't mean anything action is what should be the factor of credibility. Those who love are of God and those who hate are of the Devil. You cannot walk far with God and remain prejudice, it is impossible, the closer you get to God the more you change.
Those of the world as it describes in 1 John 2:15-17, have a lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and a pride of life, claim whatever group they want to be a part of, but it is clear to define those of the world and those of the Word by the life they live. We are to judge everything by the fruit, those who are intimate with the Lord reflect the light, those who are of the world reflect darkness. We need to be able to see through and not be deceived, the bible says in the latter days that even the elect will be deceived. God's charge to each of us today is to walk close to Him, to know and obey His Word so that we can truly see and not be spiritually blind.
EXPERIENCE (1 JOHN 1)10/9/2020
People can say whatever they want about someone but only those who really know the person is credible. John here in 1 John 1 is writing in response to certain Gnostic teaching. The word gnostic means special knowledge, nothing wrong with that, but some people believed they had special knowledge of God that conflicted with the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles.
Experiential knowledge trumps just mere head knowledge. You can talk all you want about someone but if you don't have an intimate relationship with them you don't really know them. John and the disciples knew Jesus not just mystically but personally, they had seen Him with their own eyes, touched Him, witnessed His works, and heard His teachings. If anyone could reveal Jesus it was His disciples.
There are modern-day Gnostics who act as if they have special knowledge of God that no one else has. We can encounter the Lord and have supernatural experiences but if what we see and hear does not line up with those who wrote the Word of God through their own personal experience then it is not of God. There is nothing new under the sun, there is no special knowledge that is found outside of the Word of God. We may discover something new in the Word of God that we individually have not understood before but that is not Gnosticism.
One way you can tell someone walks with Jesus is through their lifestyle. We should not just listen to what someone says or watch how gifted they may be, it is the way that someone conducts themselves that reveal who they really are. There are a lot of wordsmiths out there and we are not to be fooled by them. God is light and His children walk in the light. Not that we are yet perfect but when we mess up we do as it says in verse nine, we confess our sins, and then Jesus forgives us and washes us clean.
Some Gnostics believed that because of their secret knowledge they lived above sin. As it says here in 1 John 1, all people have sinned, and continue to sin, the difference with a believer is they don't have to stay dirty, they go to God in repentance and come out changed. We are being perfected but it is a lifelong process. Some people talk a good game as if they know God so well and are so holy but yet they have a hidden life of darkness. Those who truly know God are marked with humility when you are around them they don't make you feel less than but rather loved unconditionally.
REESTABLISHED (JOHN 21)10/1/2020
It is in our human nature to revert back to what we are accustomed too when things do not pan out the way we thought and we don't know what to do next. This is exactly what we see here in the last chapter of John. The disciples even after seeing the Resurrected Jesus went back to doing what some of them were used to doing, fish! They were supposed to be waiting in Jerusalem for what Jesus promised them, the person of the Holy Spirit to come but instead, they went back to Galilee to fish on the Sea of Tiberias.
While these disciples were out fishing and daybreak came someone called out to them "cast the net on the right side of the boat." The disciples followed suit and caught so many fish they weren't able to haul them all in, it finally dawned on them that the man who told them to do so was Jesus. Peter now plunged into the water with excitement to meet His Lord!
This demonstration should have reminded the disciples of their original call to be fishers of men but Jesus still had to break it down and reestablish the call of God so they could respond in obedience. Jesus had used fish and bread often in teaching them lessons, from the catching of fish to the feeding of the multitudes to taking communion right before His death.
The bread symbolizes the body of Christ as well as the Word of life. The fish represent the people of this world. Discipleship is the call! To reach the world, the Word is the bait, as we deliver the Word those who respond to it are now caught and we are now responsible to help them grow in their relationship with the Lord through discipleship.
Jesus asks Peter, "do you love Me more than these, then feed my sheep, He asks again but then says feed my lambs, and then a third time and He says Shepherd my sheep." Peter responded each time with yes but was hurt that Jesus had to even ask. Then Jesus reveals to Peter prophetically that he will one day be martyred for His faith.
Jesus was reestablishing the call of God on Peter's life after he had denied Him three times, this was necessary for His Healing even though it hurt. This is not just the call for Peter who is a spiritual symbol of the Church because of His confession of Jesus as Lord and Savior but also for all believers to follow the same. Love is not just a four-letter word it is a verb meaning it is to be active. So to say we love Jesus is to obey what He commanded. Our main responsibility like Peter and the disciples is to win souls and disciple them.
The question is how much love are we displaying towards Jesus through our actions?
Peter after hearing Jesus focuses now on Judas the betrayer, and what is to come of him. Jesus told him, "what is that to you?" Jesus was directing Peter and the disciples as He is directing us as His disciples, focus not on what others are doing or not doing but on what we are supposed to do, and that is to answer the call, to make disciples.