Devotions

Category Archives: Authentic

1 John 4 • Devotion #2: People are so Interesting

People are so interesting. We look for affirmation from other people for who we are as individuals and what we are doing. We are so concerned with whether someone “tolerates” us for our actions or lifestyles that if someone does not agree with us, we become militant and confrontational to the point of hatred for one another. It is sad and causes division amongst those created in God’s image. We have lost the ability and desire to “love one another.”

Recently on vacation, I was just sitting watching people. There is a prevailing disregard or lack of concern for other’s created in God’s image. We seem to be oblivious to other’s needs at the expense of our desire to read a text, talk on the phone, read an email, laugh at the joke of the day, or find the nearest Starbucks! We struggle with being genuinely selfless (unless it benefits us), but display every attribute of selfishness. We are so distracted by and concerned with the things of the world (that were meant to be a blessing to us) that we allow Satan to use them as the primary tool to cause separation between ourselves and God. He, Satan, is a deceiving spirit. 

In 1 John 4:4-6, the Apostle John explains it this way, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They [the deceiving spirits] are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” We are not to be like others who do not have the Spirit of truth dwelling in them. We are to be sensitive to the Spirit of God that dwells inside of us to show love and concern to those that are deceived by the spirit of deception. We, as a creation, have become deceived. What we want or perceive as a need is more important than what others want or need. Had Jesus displayed this same characteristic, none of us would be able to be possessed by the Spirit of God. We would have no hope of a relationship with God.

Later in 1 John 4, the apostle gives us the solution. Verses 20 and 21 state it plainly, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” God loved us so much that He sent His son to die for us to have a restored relationship with Him (John 3:16). Jesus loved us so much that He came to Earth not to give us a death sentence that we deserved, but to give us hope of eternal life (John 3:17).

In my mind, this is the logical conclusion. God, the Father, displayed His love by sending God the Son. He displayed love by His sacrifice and gift of God the Holy Spirit to live inside of us as the great Influencer of the divine attribute, love. We as Christians should conclude that our responsibility is to selflessly love our brothers (and sisters) as a demonstration that the Spirit of truth lives within us. This gives us the right to share the truth with them that will set them free from the spirits that deceive them.

Jesus committed the ultimate selfless love act in laying down His life for those that He considered His friends, humanity. In John 15:12-13, Jesus made this statement, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Are we willing to lay down the things of the world that distract us from showing love? It may not require us to lay down our lives, maybe just our smartphones. Maybe if we do, we will realize that people are really interesting!

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.



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