Tuesday, October 23, 2018

1 John 5

Today's reading...
1 John 5:1–21 (NLT)
1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too.
2We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments.
3Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.
4For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.
5And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
6And 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.
7So we have these three witnesses—
8the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and all three agree.
9Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the greater testimony that comes from God. And God has testified about his Son.
10All 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.
11And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.
13I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.
14And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.
15And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.
16If you see a fellow believer sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life. But there is a sin that leads to death, and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it.
17All wicked actions are sin, but not every sin leads to death.
18We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them.
19We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.
20And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.
21Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.


Thoughts...
When you are born of God, you are born to love (vv. 1–3). You will love the Father who gave you life and the Son who gave His life for you. You will also love His children, for you all belong to the same family.

When you are born of God, you are born to win (vv. 4–5). Your first birth made you a sinner and a loser, but your second birth makes you a conqueror. The world wants to entice you (2:15–17) and the devil wants to seduce you (Gen. 3:6), but Christ will give you the victory you need if you trust Him.

When you are born of God, you are born to assurance (vv. 6–13), and you can know that you have eternal life. You are also born to talk to your Father in prayer and receive from Him what you need (vv. 14–17).

When you are born of God, you are born secure, and the evil one cannot harm you (vv. 18–21). You do not keep yourself saved, for the Father does that (John 10:27–30); but you keep yourself from the clutches of the wicked one. As you abide in Christ, you experience His love and care.

--With the Word

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Monday, October 22, 2018

1 John 4

Today's reading...
1 John 4:1–21 (NLT)
1Dear 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.
2This 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.
3But 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.
4But 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.
5Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them.
6But 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.
7Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.
8But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
9God 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.
10This 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.
11Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.
12No 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.
13And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us.
14Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
15All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God.
16We 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.
17And 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.
18Such 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.
19We love each other because he loved us first.
20If 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?

21And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.


Thoughts...
Love is evidence of salvation. If you are born of God through faith in Jesus Christ, you have His nature within (2 Pet. 1:4). Since “God is love” (vv. 8, 16), His children who have His nature should also manifest His love. The children should be like the Father!

Our love for others makes God’s love real and visible to them (v. 12) so we can better witness to them about Christ. It also makes God real and personal to us. Merely reading in the Bible about God’s love is not enough. Seek to experience that love in your heart by sharing it with others.

Just as truth is victorious over lies (vv. 1–6), love is victorious over fear (vv. 17–19). As you mature in your love for God, you realize that you have nothing to fear, for your Father has everything under control. You trust those you love, and faith and love will give victory over fear.
--With the Word

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Saturday, October 20, 2018

1 John 3

Today's reading...
1 John 3 (NLT)
1See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him.
2Dear 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.
3And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.
4Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God.
5And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him.
6Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.
7Dear 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.
8But 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.
9Those 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.
10So 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.
11This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another.
12We 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.
13So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.
14If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead.
15Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.
16We 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.
17If 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?
18Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.
19Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.
20Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.
21Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence.
22And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.
23And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us.
24Those 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.


Thoughts...
Deliberate sin is a serious thing. When you deliberately sin, you grieve the heart of the Father who loves you and has a wonderful future planned for you (vv. 1–3). You grieve the Savior who died for you and delivered you from the power of Satan (vv. 4–8).

Deliberate sin grieves the Holy Spirit who lives in you and gave you new birth (vv. 9–15). You have a new nature and a new Father; therefore, you should live a new life. To John, lack of love is the same as hatred; and hatred is the moral equivalent of murder (Matt. 5:21–26).

Deliberate sin also grieves God’s people (vv. 16–24) because we cannot minister to them as we should if we are not walking in love and in the light. Strive to have a heart that is right before God and men (Acts 24:16). Ask God to use you to be an encouragement and help to others (James 2). Love is more than a matter of words (v. 18).

--With the Word

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Friday, October 19, 2018

1 John 2

Today's reading...
1 John 2:1–29 (NLT)
1My 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.
2He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.
3And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments.
4If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth.
5But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him.
6Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.
7Dear 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.
8Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.
9If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness.
10Anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble.
11But anyone who hates a fellow believer is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.
12I am writing to you who are God’s children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus.
13I 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.
14I 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.
15Do 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.
16For 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.
17And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
18Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared. From this we know that the last hour has come.
19These 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.
20But you are not like that, for the Holy One has given you his Spirit, and all of you know the truth.
21So I am writing to you not because you don’t know the truth but because you know the difference between truth and lies.
22And who is a liar? Anyone who says that Jesus is not the Christ. Anyone who denies the Father and the Son is an antichrist.
23Anyone who denies the Son doesn’t have the Father, either. But anyone who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
24So 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.
25And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life he promised us.
26I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray.
27But 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.
28And 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.
29Since we know that Christ is righteous, we also know that all who do what is right are God’s children.


Thoughts...
In Jesus Christ, you have an Advocate (vv. 1–2), representing you before God’s throne (Zech. 3). When you sin, confess it to Him, and receive His faithful forgiveness.

In Him, you also have an example (vv. 3–6), and you should “walk just as He walked.” Ask the indwelling Holy Spirit to make you more like Jesus Christ, and saturate yourself with His life as you read the Gospels.

From Jesus Christ, you have a commandment (vv. 7–11) to love God’s people. The Father gave this commandment to Israel (Lev. 19:18) and the Son to His disciples (John 13:34), and the Spirit enables us to obey it (Rom. 5:5).

Because of Jesus Christ, you have a family (vv. 12–14). The members are at different stages of spiritual development, but all can receive the Word and grow. How wonderful it is when the “little children” become young men and then fathers!

You also have some enemies (vv. 15–27), the world and the false teachers. Christians who love the world lose the enjoyment of the Father’s love and the desire to do His will. We overcome the world with God’s love and the liars with God’s truth (vv. 24–27).

You have a wonderful hope (vv. 28–29), the coming of Jesus Christ. Abide in Him so you will not be ashamed when He comes.

--With the Word



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Thursday, October 18, 2018

1 John 1

Today's reading...
1 John 1:1–10 (NLT)
1We 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.
2This 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.
3We 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.
4We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.
5This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.
6So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth.
7But 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.
8If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.
9But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
10If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.


Thoughts...
God wants you to have a living fellowship (vv. 1–3) with Him and His children. In Jesus Christ, He has revealed what true life really is. Even though you cannot see Him and touch Him as the apostles did centuries ago, He can still be real to you as His Holy Spirit opens the Word to your heart.

He wants you to have a joyful fellowship (v. 4). It is not the fellowship of a slave with a master but that of a child with a parent. God delights in His children (Ps. 18:19) and longs to share His love with them (John 14:19–24). When you are happy in the will of God, you are ready to live for Him and serve Him.

He wants you to have an honest fellowship (vv. 5–10). This means “walking in the light” and dealing honestly with sin. Salvation is a matter of life or death, but fellowship is a matter of light or darkness. If you lie to God, to others, and to yourselves, you will lose your fellowship with God and your character. A godly character does not develop in the darkness.

--With the Word

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Ephesians 6

Today's reading...
Ephesians 6:1–24 (NLT)
1Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do.
2“Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise:
3If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”
4Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.
5Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.
6Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart.
7Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
8Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.
9Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites.
10A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.
12For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
13Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.
14Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.
15For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.
16In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.
17Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
19And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike.
20I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.
21To bring you up to date, Tychicus will give you a full report about what I am doing and how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper in the Lord’s work.
22I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you.
23Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness.

24May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.


Thoughts...
Spirit-filled Christians will manifest Christlikeness in the home (vv. 1–4), on the job (vv. 5–9), and on the battlefield (vv. 10–20). If we do not learn to obey at home, we are not likely to be obedient on the job or in the army of the Lord. Likewise, if we have not learned to take orders, we will not be too successful at giving orders, either as parents or as employers.

The danger in the home is parents who are authoritarian but do not exercise loving spiritual authority. The danger on the job is the employee who is a clock-watcher and does not obey from the heart, and the “boss” who forgets that he is second in command and will one day give an account to the Lord.

The danger on the battlefield is that we do not take the enemy seriously and therefore fail to put on all of the armor. By faith, you put on the armor through prayer, which must be done at the beginning of every day. Never underestimate the strategy and strength of the devil.
--With the Word

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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Ephesians 5

Today's reading...
Ephesians 5:1–33 (NLT)
1Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.
2Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
3Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people.
4Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.
5You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.
6Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him.
7Don’t participate in the things these people do.
8For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!
9For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.
10Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.
11Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them.
12It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret.
13But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them,
14for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
15So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.
16Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.
17Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.
18Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,
19singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.
20And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
21And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
23For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church.
24As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.
25For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her
26to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.
27He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.
28In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself.
29No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.
30And we are members of his body.
31As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”
32This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.

33So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.


Thoughts...
As he encourages us to live godly lives, Paul takes us to the temple (vv. 1–7) and reminds us of the sacrifice Jesus made for us. If we walk in love, our lives will be living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1–2; Phil. 2:17), fragrant to the Lord (John 12:1–8). Sin is ugly and a stench in God’s nostrils (Isa. 3:24).

Then Paul goes to the field (vv. 8–14) and reminds us that walking in the light produces spiritual fruit (Gal. 5:22–23). If we walk in the light, we cannot have fellowship with the darkness (2 Cor. 6:14–18).

He takes us to the marketplace (vv. 15–17) and exhorts us to be like good merchants who know how to buy up an opportunity. When you walk in wisdom, you use your time wisely.

Then we follow him to the banqueting hall (vv. 18–21) and learn to walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16–26) and be joyful, thankful, and submissive to one another.

Paul’s last visit is to the home (vv. 22–33) where he uses marriage as a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. Christ loved us and died for us, but today He loves us and cares for us. This intimate life is pictured in the Song of Solomon and can be a reality for all who will yield to Him.
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)