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Archive for October, 2009

Watch Out

2 John

 

From the one who urges us over and over to ‘love one another’, John does not bat an eye at warning us of the ‘many deceivers’ that ‘have gone out into the world’.  In one breath he urges us to ‘love’ some while in the next he says, ‘watch out’ for others.   

John doesn’t have as much trouble drawing the line as we do today. 

 

Here’s what John actually said, “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.  Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for.”  And then, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him.  Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.”

 

We have got to become more aware that the ‘many deceivers’ are not just preachers and teachers that teach that Christ did not come in the flesh.  A TV show, song or book that portrays and promotes a life style that is opposed to what Jesus came in the flesh to proclaim, is deceptive.  A steady diet of it desensitizes us to His truth.  John urges us in his warning to not welcome him/it into our houses.  He knows the effect it will have. 

 

I am not saying that we should throw out our TV’s, music and reading material (though John might if he were here) but I am saying we need to fill our minds through the week with His truth to sharpen our senses.  The effect would likely be that we would become more careful with what we let in.  I urge you as John did, “watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for.”

 

 

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Dimmers

1 John 5

 

According to my wife, you can’t have too many dimmers both in and outside a home.  Whether for your own enjoyment, entertaining, or trying to display a home for sale, the right lighting makes a big difference.  There was a time, early in the life of electricity, when people went from lighting lanterns to simply flipping a switch.  Back then, the simple on-off switch was enough.  But much like the rest of our lives, over time, simple is tweaked and added to until we have more options than we know what to do with. 

 

I’ve noticed in John’s first letter, the simple on-off perspective from which he writes.  He is writing to a group of people ‘who believe that Jesus is the Christ’ (on) to warn them of a group ‘who denies that Jesus is the Christ’ (off).  Those who believe, as John points out, are ‘born of God’; they have ‘overcome the world’; they are on; there is no in between.  5:12 is a good example of his simple perspective.  “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

 

There was a time, early in the life of Christianity, and at least with this group of people to whom John is writing that when people went from not having Christ to having Him, it was enough.  But over time the simple has been tweaked and added to until, again, we have more options than we know what to do with.  We still believe that Jesus is the Christ, but we believe a lot of things.  Instead of one belief being all the way on, we put all beliefs on dimmers so they can all be on a little. 

 

Yet, I believe John would still say to us today, “He who has the Son has life”.  Though your belief may be on a dimmer, you still have life.  Though it may not be as full as it could be, you have life.  And in light of all that was working against those who believed in his day, and as we too have things working against us, he would still say to us what he said to them in 5:13, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life”.

 

Aware of so many forces that try to convince us that we do not have this life, John does all he can to assure us that we do.  The fact is we’re all on dimmers.  Whether we are dialed up and our lite is bright or dialed back until there is just a flicker, there is still lite.  And while there is still lite, John encourages us to turn our dimmers up.

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1 John 4:7-21

 

“Dear friends, let us love one another.”

 

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

 

“There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

 

If we had to single out one aspect of John’s writings it would almost have to be about ‘love’.  Being convinced of the love God had for him –referring to himself as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’ – in his writings, he does his best to convince us that God loves us.  He was struck by the fact that love was “not that we loved God, but that he loved us”. 

 

Beginning with John 3:16, he penned the most familiar words in the entire Bible, “For God so loved the world”.  Similarly and ironically in 1 John 3:16, “This is how we know what love is”.  And then he turns to us.  In 1 John 4:11, “Since God so loved us” – from his perspective of how this love has impacted his life – he now appeals to us; “We also ought to love one another”.

 

What do we crave more than anything?  I referred to this in ‘Better Now in the Turns’.  More than anything, at least it is true of myself, we crave affirmation or love.  When that is what we are most focused on, there is fear that we will not get it.  In a sense it is like punishment when we don’t receive it. 

 

But turn it around.  When we are more focused on loving – giving the affirmation and love – meeting the need for others that we have for ourselves – fear is driven out.  It changes everything.  Do you want God to love you?  Try loving God.  Do you want people to love you?  Try loving people.  When we get our focus off ourselves and on others, somehow then we will be ‘made perfect in love’.

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Test the Spirits

1 John 4:1-6

 

As many times as I have read this passage over the years, I never had the thought in regard to it that I had recently.  I had always thought of it strictly in the context of presenters of the Gospel (preachers, teachers, writers, singers).  But a few days ago I saw something more. 

 

Specifically it says, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God . . .”, and then, “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God.  Every spirit that acknowledges Jesus has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.  This is the spirit of the antichrist . . .”

 

For some reason this time when I read it, television shows came to mind.  Is there not a spirit about them?  This passage tells us that we should ‘test the spirits to see whether they are from God’.  It’s almost like if there is not a disclaimer before each show, book or song, like, ‘We acknowledge that Jesus is from God’, or ‘We do not acknowledge that Jesus is from God’, then we assume we are clear to watch, read, or listen to it.

 

My wife and I were in the mood for a no-brainer movie one night and thought Bride Wars might be decent.  About half way through the movie, something struck me.  As if perfectly normal, the movie casts these two ‘to-be-brides’ in live-in situations with their boyfriends.  If you think a little outside the box, can you not see the spirit without the disclaimer?

 

John’s words, written 2000 years ago are as good for today as they were then.  We must ‘test the spirits’.  His words and others were written for our benefit; but before they can be of benefit to us, we must first be familiar with them.  Before we can recognize the spirit that is anti Christ, we must first become familiar with the Spirit that is Christ.

 

I used a Garmin for the first time on a trip recently.  Never having used one, I could not understand how they could actually be helpful.  I could not get over how accurate it was.  It is the same way with our Bibles.  It is amazingly accurate.  I challenge you to give it a try so you can be better equipped to ‘test the spirits’.

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