Wednesday, October 31, 2018

James 4

Today's reading...
James 4 (NLT)
1What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?
2You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.
3And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.
4You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.
5Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him.
6And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
7So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
9Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy.
10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
11Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you.
12God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?
13Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.”
14How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.
15What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.”
16Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil.

17Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.


Thoughts...
Of the early church, it was said, “Behold how they love one another!” Today, people might say, “Behold how they compete with one another!” Why is it sometimes so difficult for God’s people to get along?

Selfishness (1–3). The wars among us are caused by the wars within us. We want to please ourselves, even if it hurts somebody else. If we are not careful, even our prayers can become selfish!
Worldliness (4). Because Abraham was separated from sin, he was the friend of God (2:23); but Lot was the friend of the world (Gen. 13:1–13). Ponder 1 John 2:15–17.

Pride (5–10). Satan knows how to use pride to defeat you as he defeated Eve (Gen. 3:1–6). Are you laughing when you should be weeping over your sins? Are you resisting the devil or resisting the Lord?

Criticism (11–12). One of the easiest ways to hide our sins is to expose the sins of others. Gossip and slander grieve the Spirit and divide the family. God called us to be witnesses, not judges!

Boasting (13–17). Life is short and the future unknown, so do the will of God today. When you make plans, always say, “If the Lord wills” (Prov. 27:1).
--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. :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

James 3

Today's reading...
James 3:1–18 (NLT)
1Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.
2Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.
3We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth.
4And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong.
5In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.
6And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.
7People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish,
8but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.
9Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.
10And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!
11Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?
12Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.
13If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.
14But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying.
15For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.
16For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
17But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.

18And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.


Thoughts...
The believers James wrote to were having problems with their tongues (1:26; 2:12; 4:1, 11–12). Of course, the tongue is not the problem; it is the heart (v. 14; Matt. 12:35–37). But before you say anything, ask yourself some questions.

Who is in control (1–4)? If your tongue is under God’s control, you will take what you say seriously (v. 1), and your whole body will be under His discipline (v. 2). Just as a horse needs a rider holding the reins, and a ship needs a pilot at the rudder, so your tongue needs a master; and God is the only one who can do the job. Psalm 141:1–4 is a good prayer if you need help in this area.

What will the consequences be (5–12)? Are you starting a fire that may get out of control and do a lot of damage? Are you turning loose a dangerous beast or poisoning a refreshing spring? Once your words are spoken, you cannot take them back, so look ahead.

What are my motives (13–18)? Is there bitterness in your heart or envy? Are you speaking from God’s wisdom or the wisdom of the world? Are you a peacemaker or a troublemaker? If your heart is right before God (Heb. 4:12), He will use your words to produce the right kind of fruit.
--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. :)

Monday, October 29, 2018

James 2

Today's reading...
James 2:1–26 (NLT)
1My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?
2For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes.
3If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well,
4doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?
5Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him?
6But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court?
7Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear?
8Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
9But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.
10For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.
11For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law.
12So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free.
13There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.
14What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?
15Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing,
16and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
17So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
18Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
19You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.
20How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
21Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?
22You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete.
23And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God.
24So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.
25Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road.

26Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.


Thoughts...
If you have true saving faith, you will practice impartiality (vv. 1–13) and see people in terms of character and not clothing. You will not cater to the rich or ignore the poor, but you will love each person for the sake of Jesus Christ. Christian love simply means treating others the way the Lord treats you and doing it in the power of the Spirit.

True saving faith is also seen in activity (vv. 14–26). Faith is not something you only talk about; it is something that motivates your life so that you think of others and serve them. Abraham was saved by faith (Gen. 15:6), but he proved that faith by obeying God and offering his son (Gen. 22). Rahab was saved by trusting God (Heb. 11:31), but she showed the reality of her faith by protecting the spies (Josh. 2; 6:17–27).

James and Paul do not contradict each other (Rom. 4:1–5; 5:1); they complement each other. We are justified (declared righteous) before God by faith, but we are justified before men by works. God can see our faith, but men can see only our works.
--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. :)

Saturday, October 27, 2018

James 1

Today's reading...
James 1:1–27 (NLT)
1This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes”—Jewish believers scattered abroad. Greetings!
2Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
3For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
4So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
5If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.
6But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.
7Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
8Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
9Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them.
10And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field.
11The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.
12God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
13And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else.
14Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.
15These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
16So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.
17Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.
18He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.
19Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
20Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.
21So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.
22But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.
23For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.
24You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.
25But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
26If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.

27Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.


Thoughts...
Note some essentials for mature living.

The wisdom of God (1–11). You need wisdom in trials so you will not waste your suffering and miss the spiritual growth that should result. When you trust God, trials work for you and not against you; but be sure your heart is wholly yielded to Him. If your heart and mind are divided, trials will tear you apart.

The goodness of God (12–20). When you realize how good God is to you, you will have no interest in the temptations the enemy puts before you. When you are tempted, count your blessings; and you will soon have strength to say no.

The Word of God (21–27). The Word gives us spiritual birth (v. 18; 1 Pet. 1:22–23). It is like seed planted in the heart that produces spiritual fruit (v. 21). It is a mirror that helps us examine ourselves (vv. 23–25) and cleanse our lives. We must do the Word of God, not just read it or study it; the blessing is in the doing.
--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. :)

Friday, October 26, 2018

Jude

Today's reading...
Jude (NLT)
1This letter is from Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and a brother of James. I am writing to all who have been called by God the Father, who loves you and keeps you safe in the care of Jesus Christ.
2May God give you more and more mercy, peace, and love.
3Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people.
4I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
5So I want to remind you, though you already know these things, that Jesus first rescued the nation of Israel from Egypt, but later he destroyed those who did not remain faithful.
6And I remind you of the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority God gave them but left the place where they belonged. God has kept them securely chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the great day of judgment.
7And don’t forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment.
8In the same way, these people—who claim authority from their dreams—live immoral lives, defy authority, and scoff at supernatural beings.
9But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (This took place when Michael was arguing with the devil about Moses’ body.)
10But these people scoff at things they do not understand. Like unthinking animals, they do whatever their instincts tell them, and so they bring about their own destruction.
11What sorrow awaits them! For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother. Like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, they perish in their rebellion.
12When these people eat with you in your fellowship meals commemorating the Lord’s love, they are like dangerous reefs that can shipwreck you. They are like shameless shepherds who care only for themselves. They are like clouds blowing over the land without giving any rain. They are like trees in autumn that are doubly dead, for they bear no fruit and have been pulled up by the roots.
13They are like wild waves of the sea, churning up the foam of their shameful deeds. They are like wandering stars, doomed forever to blackest darkness.
14Enoch, who lived in the seventh generation after Adam, prophesied about these people. He said, “Listen! The Lord is coming with countless thousands of his holy ones
15to execute judgment on the people of the world. He will convict every person of all the ungodly things they have done and for all the insults that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
16These people are grumblers and complainers, living only to satisfy their desires. They brag loudly about themselves, and they flatter others to get what they want.
17But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ predicted.
18They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires.
19These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them.
20But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit,
21and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.
22And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering.
23Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.
24Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.

25All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.


Thoughts...
Jude, like James, was a half brother of the Lord Jesus (Mark 6:3). His letter focuses on false teachers and echoes Peter’s warnings in 2 Peter 2.

Who they are (1–4). Jude wanted to write about salvation, but the Lord directed him to write about invasion instead. False teachers were creeping into the church and going undetected. These are unsaved people (v. 19), ungodly people, and unprincipled people who use grace as an excuse for sin.

What they do (5–11). Like the Jews in the wilderness, the fallen angels, and the evil cities of the plain, they reject the authority of God. Their words are defiant and defiling. Like Cain (Gen. 4), they have no saving faith, but they do have religion. Like Balaam (Num. 22–24), they use religion as a way to make money; and like Korah (Num. 16), they defy the Word of God and the authority of God’s chosen servants.

What they are (12–16). False teachers promise much but produce little, like rainless clouds and fruitless trees. Enoch had the best word for them: ungodly.

What we must do (17–25). Remember the Word and build yourself up in your Christian faith. True believers are “preserved in Jesus Christ” (v. 1), and they prove this by keeping themselves in God’s love (v. 21). Therefore, God can keep them from falling (vv. 24–25).

--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. :)

Thursday, October 25, 2018

3 John

Today's reading...
3 John (NLT)
1This letter is from John, the elder. I am writing to Gaius, my dear friend, whom I love in the truth.
2Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.
3Some of the traveling teachers recently returned and made me very happy by telling me about your faithfulness and that you are living according to the truth.
4I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.
5Dear friend, you are being faithful to God when you care for the traveling teachers who pass through, even though they are strangers to you.
6They have told the church here of your loving friendship. Please continue providing for such teachers in a manner that pleases God.
7For they are traveling for the Lord, and they accept nothing from people who are not believers.
8So we ourselves should support them so that we can be their partners as they teach the truth.
9I wrote to the church about this, but Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader, refuses to have anything to do with us.
10When I come, I will report some of the things he is doing and the evil accusations he is making against us. Not only does he refuse to welcome the traveling teachers, he also tells others not to help them. And when they do help, he puts them out of the church.
11Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God.
12Everyone speaks highly of Demetrius, as does the truth itself. We ourselves can say the same for him, and you know we speak the truth.
13I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to write it with pen and ink.
14For I hope to see you soon, and then we will talk face to face.

15Peace be with you. Your friends here send you their greetings. Please give my personal greetings to each of our friends there.


Thoughts...
John wrote this letter to his friend Gaius to encourage him in a difficult situation in his local church. Again, he concentrated on making God’s truth a vital part of life.

Walking in truth (1–4). People could see the truth in Gaius because he loved it and walked in obedience to it, and that brought great joy to John. Every Christian parent can echo verse 4 and even make it a prayer.

Working for truth (5–8). When you assist and encourage God’s servants, you become a fellow worker with them in spreading the truth. Christian hospitality was important in those days and ought to be revived today.

Welcoming the truth (9–10). Can you imagine Diotrephes rejecting a message from the apostle John! He was so “separated” that he did not even receive John’s friends. When we welcome God’s people, we welcome God’s truth.

Witnessing for the truth (11–14). Not all church members are like Diotrephes; there are people like Demetrius who love the truth and live it. They are the ones who make the local church healthy (v. 2).

--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. :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

2 John

Today's reading...
2 John (NLT)
1This letter is from John, the elder. I am writing to the chosen lady and to her children, whom I love in the truth—as does everyone else who knows the truth—
2because the truth lives in us and will be with us forever.
3Grace, mercy, and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ—the Son of the Father—will continue to be with us who live in truth and love.
4How happy I was to meet some of your children and find them living according to the truth, just as the Father commanded.
5I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning.
6Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.
7I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist.
8Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward.
9Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son.
10If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement.
11Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work.
12I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to do it with paper and ink. For I hope to visit you soon and talk with you face to face. Then our joy will be complete.
13Greetings from the children of your sister, chosen by God.


Thoughts...
John wrote this letter to an anonymous Christian woman whose home was open for God’s people to meet for fellowship and worship. The emphasis is on truth and love, and John points out three dangers believers must avoid.

Knowing the truth but not practicing it (1–6). We must walk in truth and walk according to His commandments. The Word of God is meant for doing and not just knowing. “If we say” (1 John 1:6, 8, 10) but do not obey, we are hypocrites.

Practicing truth but not defending it (7–8, 10–11). The enemy is busy, and we must oppose him. Love must be balanced by truth (Eph. 4:15), or you will start supporting lies in the name of love (Phil. 1:9–11). It is easy to lose what you have gained by making friends with the wrong people.

Going beyond the truth (9). The word transgress means “to go beyond.” When you go beyond God’s Word, you are going too far. It is not progress but regress. Beware anybody who has something to add to your Bible.
--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. :)

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

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

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

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

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

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