Devotions

1 John 4 • Devotion #1: Know the Truth

Do you believe everything you hear, or do you fact-check and consider the source? Sadly, it is sometimes more satisfying to believe a lie than the truth, that is why gossip is a favorite indoor sport! We often share or listen to information learned from someone other than the source. Consequently, the telephone game begins. The more it is shared, the more it changes and eventually becomes so twisted there is little truth left. The writer of 1 John is John, the beloved disciple of Jesus. He was a true eyewitness to the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. He learned first hand who Jesus was. He walked and talked with Him all the way through His resurrection and ascension into Heaven. In this small book, he needed to address this issue. 

In 1 John 4:1-3, John is instructing the church to test every spirit because false teachers had been sharing another gospel and another Jesus. I encourage you to read these three very important verses carefully and then read them again. What was happening thousands of years ago is happening today. There are many false teachers that are very convincing. They include just enough truth to confuse us with the lie. Does this sound familiar? John is warning us as well to test every spirit. Just because you hear or read the name Jesus, it does not always mean it is the Jesus of the Bible. There are 66 books in the Bible that reveal who the true Jesus is, yes, even in the Old Testament. We need to know the truth before we can recognize a lie.

Today, in many American churches, the true Gospel message is being changed and distorted. It is no longer about Christ alone for salvation. Teaching another gospel is not new, but for the first time in our history, it is seducing mainline denominations. Just in the past month, at least four popular Christian leaders or Pastors have denounced their faith and walked away from their ministries and Christ. Why is this happening? It is because the false gospel and false Jesus cannot deliver what is promised. It is counterfeit. Jesus said this would increase in the last days. I urge you to stay in the Word, learn the truth, and run from a false gospel. Teaching that claims to offer Christ plus something or Heaven on Earth is not the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.” 2 Corinthians 11:3-6

1 John 3 • Devotion #6: Opportunity is Knocking

I am not good at stepping out of my comfort zone. In too many instances, I have passed on an opportunity to bless someone in some way. Many times I tell myself, “it is not convenient for my schedule” or “if they are still there on my way back,” I will approach them. I like to help people, but my quiet nature wants to avoid awkwardness. Every time I pass on one of these opportunities, my heart feels heavy. God had blessed me with the means to be a helper to someone in need, but I chose to go around what God had put in front of me.

In 1 John 3:19-24, John includes a reference to Jesus’ teaching in John 15:5-6, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” This is a sobering passage. It really condenses the cause and effect of a true relationship with the Savior. Jesus said it plainly, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). 

If you ever feel guilty for missing an opportunity from God, 1 John 3:20 offers some encouraging words, “Whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” It is great that we are loved by such a powerful God. He knows our every failure, but His grace abounds. Thankfully for us all, our salvation is not based on works. 

I encourage you not to bypass any opportunity God puts in front of you.

1 John 3 • Devotion #5: “To Die For”

Is there anyone in your life you love enough that you would die for them? It may be a friend, family member, spouse, or your children. 

Would you die for someone who hurt the person you are willing to die for? That probably would be much more difficult, if not impossible, for us to say we would do. However, this is the great love that Christ has shown to us. We are the ones who sin against a holy, righteous, perfect God by even crucifying His only Son, and yet He showed His great love and mercy upon us. 

Romans 5:6-8 says, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Since we have received this great love, we are to love as He loves us. For if Christ abides in you, that same love will abide in you. This is what drives us to love others. We have received immeasurable riches of love and grace that all we can do is pour that out towards others because we are so undeserving of it. 

Ephesians 2:4-7 adds, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” 

It is impossible ever to measure or comprehend the riches of His grace. We will forever be in awe and wonder of the love that Jesus has for us. The more you try to comprehend, the greater you will realize how beautiful it is. Receiving this kind of love and grace will bring us to action to love and serve others.   

We also read in 1 John 3:16-18, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

God did not just tell us He loved us; He demonstrated it on the cross. We are to also demonstrate our love to our brothers by laying our lives down for them, putting them before ourselves, and taking care of their needs. This is the love of Christ shining through us. 

1 John 3 • Devotion #4: Ol’ Blue Eyes

Love. The word alone makes me want to burst into song. I enjoy the one by Frank Sinatra. 

“L is for the way you look at me
O is for the only one I see
V is very, very extraordinary

E is even more than anyone that you adore.”

Often, the first thought that comes to my mind regarding love is a romantic one. It is the kind where two people just adore each other and want to spend every moment together. I suppose this would come as no surprise seeing as I recently got married (insert your version of total cheeseball, giddy, girly, smile here). We know, of course, that is not the only kind of love. There are many opinions of what the word means, some self-serving, some feelings-driven, and some divine. I took a poll on Instagram, asking people what love meant to them (unashamed millennial here). Some of the responses are listed below. Please note, these are from both Christ-followers and non-believers.

“Compromise, tolerance, and patience.”

“Something or someone that you cannot stop craving.”

“When someone genuinely cares about you, and you care about them too.”

“Willingly dying to yourself for someone or something else.”

“Sacrifice and devotion.”

“Unconditional.”

“I can’t describe it, but I can feel it!”

“Serving someone where they are at without any agenda.”

“God. He is love.”

Often times, myself included, we get confused with that true love is. Good thing for us, as Christians, we do not have to guess; the Bible is full of examples of true godly love.

John writes, “For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another”(1 John 3:11 NIV).

Sometimes love means graciously giving news or guidance that others do not want to hear. Paul writes, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently” (Galatians 6:1 NIV).

Sometimes love is forgiveness when you just do not want to forgive (Ouch, this one is personal!). Paul also writes, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13 NIV).

If you are a believer and claim to follow Jesus, there will be evidence by the way you love and live! John adds, We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him” (1 John 3:14-15 NIV).

Do not live a life of death. Choose love. Lord, help us choose true, godly love, even when we do not want to.

1 John 3 • Devotion #3: Is it Evident?

Can you think of a time when you have seen a child who acts just like one of their parents? In our house, we like to joke that when our oldest is being most particular, he is acting like his mom. In a similar way, when our middle child is acting rather crazy or stubborn, he must be acting like his dad.  

The concept of nature versus nurture has been discussed and debated for many years. The question concerns whether people are born to act a certain way (nature), or whether there is more influence from outside factors on a person’s life (nurture). Ultimately, there are factors from both that seem to impact the way a person will turn out. This same concept is quite true for our Christian life. Our nature, the way we are born, is sinful. Romans 3:10 states, “None is righteous, no, not one.” Some are more familiar with Romans 3:23, which writes, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” If it were up to our nature, we would not stand a chance with coming to know Christ, but thankfully God had a different plan! We have the ability to be nurtured within the church or live differently than our nature would tell us to live. Romans 12:2 encourages us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Being part of a church body, when we seize the opportunities to learn, grow, fellowship, and challenge one another, can transform us into being more like Christ and less like the sinful nature with which we were previously destined. 

In the same way that we can see children and relate them to their parent, or look at our own children and relate them to ourselves, others should be able to look at our lives and relate us to Christ. We read in 1 John 3:10, “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil.” I hang on the words “it is evident” and question in my own life, is it truly evident to others that I am a child of God? If someone else would have to wonder, question, or pause to consider, that most likely is not pointing to whom I belong. 

How does one make sure it is evident to whom they belong? We can find this by going back one verse, 1 John 3:9 states, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” We are born again when we have professed with our mouths and believed in our hearts that Jesus is Lord. Our faith walk does not stop there. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning. This can be such a struggle! Our nature wants to continue to sin; it constantly leads us astray. This is where we must rely on the nurturing of God’s Word to lead us in the right direction. 

If I am genuinely a child of God, then I will not want to continue sinning, I will want to be and strive to be different. When we truly love God, we will not want to keep sinning but will want to make changes in our lives to better glorify Him. In these changes, it will be evident that we are children of God. This does not mean we will become perfect, but the effort we put in will not go unnoticed.



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