Your Eternity Has Been Reserved

1 John 5:13-21, “13I 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. 14This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
 16If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. 17All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.

 18We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. 19We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 20We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

 21Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”

We know that the wages of sin leads to death, however John clearly states that not all sin leads to death. Deadly sins can’t be prayed for, but the other kind can. He also adds that somebody born of God doesn’t continue to sin. Which leads us to this point, if a man is really saved, he’s going to give up sinning. The proof, they say, is in the pudding. Certainly, some newer and older Christians might struggle with sins, but they won’t sin the deadly kind. He finishes off this letter reminding us that there are two sides to this battle and we’re fighting in enemy territory. His beggining and end return to the point of this passage – eternal life.

Eternal life, life everlasting, living eternally, alive forever and ever … it’s like the one cake you can have and eat it too. There are two distinct locations where you can spend your eternity. You can life forever in Heaven in the presence of God. You can die forever in Hell in the absence of God. You will, one day, find out in which one your place has been reserved.

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Got Life?

1 John 5:1-12, “1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
 6This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7For there are three that testify: 8the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

Wake up, get everybody ready to start their day, make breakfast, do some cleaning, is it time for lunch already?, pay the bills, pick up some groceries, laundy, dishes, … With so much to do, the case can be made that our work is never done. Most people put off faith in Jesus and get on with their lives. They figure that they can get away with all of the fun stuff and make it right once they get older. This strategy is based on the presupposition that they’re going to live to see tomorrow and all the days until they’re old enough to come to faith in the son. So to say that they’re getting on with their lives is tecnically untrue. They’re getting on with dying. Perhaps a little bit each day, perhaps large chunks here and there. It is possible that some of them do make it to be old enough, but not all of them. If you have the son, you have life. If you don’t have the Son of God, you’re dead already. If you want to believe in Jesus, then believe in Jesus. You might  find yourself in a position to do good in his name at your age, be it young or old.

Loving God

1 John 4:7-21, ” 7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

 13We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
      God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

 19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

Perhaps what gives us the most trouble is loving each other as God would have us. We know the Golden Rule, but we don’t often think of it as “Love your brother as you would have him love you.” Sometimes you have to make tough choices in the name of love. It’s one thing to give a homeless man money in the hopes that he would buy a meal. It’s another thing to walk him into the nearest McDonalds and buy him a meal.

I just saw that newish movie, The Blind Side. In it, a Christian school has to make a tough decision. Do they accept Mike even though what records they do have indicate that he’d likely fail? Do they outright reject him? While in the movie, the coach makes an impassioned plea for the board to take the term Christian seriously and admit him because it’s the right thing to do, that’s not exactly what happened in real life. The real Mike was asked to work at home and was thus unable to attend school from day one that year. The comming together of God’s love to help the young man was more gradual than anything else. A little thing here, a small thing there, but overall God put people in certain places to make a difference in that young man’s life. But to see how it all turned out, you’ll have to see the movie for yourself.

The connection between God and love isn’t always an easy one to understand. Even more so when we’re asked to apply it to our lives. One thing I do know is that this world would be a little less cold if we shared the warmth of God’s love even a little more.

Three Ways to Test the Spirits

1 John 4:1-6, “1Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
 4You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”

The world’s definition of Christianity is a big umbrella that covers alot of things. God’s deffinition of a Christian is much more narrow. Between the two of them, there are some people who think they’re covered, but may actually be standing in the rain. Here we learn that not every spiritual encounter is for our benefit. Even in spiritual matters, there are still two sides to every issue. It raises the question, “What about the Christian churches whose stance on Jesus is a.) that he’s actually Gabriel, or b.) that he’s actually Satan’s brother, or c.) that he’s nothing more than a good example for when we become gods of our very own world?” This passage tells us that if they don’t acknowledge that Jesus Christ came in the flesh then they don’t have a spirit that comes from God. A second test is whether or not the world listens to them. Finally, they are challenged as to the things the Bible tells us. If they don’t listen to us, they’re not from God.

I know the concept is frightening, but it’s nothing new. In the book of Revelation, one of the churches has to contend with a synagogue of satan. It looks right, but it really belongs to the enemy. If this is your church, you must test it. If this is your church, you must not believe what they say. What is true will ring through the veil of lies. Can a church that doesn’t believe God or believe in God be saved? I don’t know, but I do know it’s members can be saved by the truth.

Healing through the Hurting

At almost 6:30 a.m., there was a fatal accident that happened on the interstate in this county. A semi-trailer and a passenger van were involved. Eleven lives were lost. It’s been a few hours, but its effects are still being felt. That particular lane of the interstate has been backed up for hours. Traffic is starting to divert through another local road just by the interstate. According to news reports, the semi crossed the meredian and slamed into the church van, setting the whole works on fire. I live right by one of the least-safe interstates one could find in the country. In the half a year we have been here, three accidents have occured near that particular streatch causing it to be shut down to varrying degrees. Even though we are quite far from the scene of the accident, it’s hard not to take a moment to be silent. I could talk about faith, God’s will, but when accidents such as this one happen there seems to be fewer answers. I lived in Indiana at the time when an Anderson University van was involved in a fatal accident. Two passengers were very much alike, so much so that for a time their identities were confused. One of them died while the other lived. The parents who had grieved over the loss of their daughter were jubilant to discover she was actually alive. The other parents who had waited patiently at their daughter’s bedside were heart-broken to discover that it was their child who had died and they had even missed her funeral. It would have been easy to turn their backs on a God who could allow so many students of a Christian university to perish. It would have been easy to swear off church altogether, but that isn’t what they did. They gathered together, grieved together, built a memorial together, and they healed together. I know not the names of the eleven who perished earlier this morning, but I do know that a time of healing is in order. I’m sorry for your loss.

Irrelevant

America is in sore need of spiritual revival. We have lost our spiritual compass. As we approach Easter fewer and fewer people know its true meaning. The words spoken thousands of years ago have taken on new relevance, “My people have forgotten me, days without number. “ Jeremiah 2:32.
The following are ten things that happen when we forget God:

1.   We become moral relativists.
2.   A cheapened version of spirituality devoid of God emerges.
3.   Materialism prevails.
4.   Human and civil rights are endangered.
5.   The poor are disregarded.
6.   Life is undervalued.
7.   Man becomes consumed with self.
8.   History is rewritten and identity lost.
9.   Personal responsibility takes a back seat.
10. A generation wanders.

In our efforts to offend no one, we have stood for nothing. The church will either rise to meet the challenge or become irrelevant in its complacency. The choice is ours.

Metastasis 2

Of course, these cancers of the church are only the tip of the iceberg. It’s the ones below the surface one must be most concerned with.

Form of Godliness but Denying its Power – FGDP, for short, is probably one that does most damage. How many churches are there that look to be decent but really are as shallow as a dried-up puddle? They might be active in the community, but so long as they focus on themselves and don’t involved God in their affairs they aren’t doing anybody any favors. There’s a good reason why we’re asked to have nothing to do with such people.

Worms – Such people worm their way into homes, take control over the weak-willed. Between being loaded-down with sins and swayed by evil desires, it’s a wonder these people somehow managed to represent God. They’re always learning, but they can’t acknowledge truth because they’d be in trouble with a capital t. Another t they are opposed to is the truth. Their depraved minds can’t wrap themselves around that concept. They are rejected by the faith. As a result, everybody can see their foolishness and they won’t get any further than that.

Deception – Evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived themselves. The greatest weapon against such people is to know the truth that we don’t be pulled away from our secure position.

Paul told Timothy that there would be terrible times in the last days. None of these things belong in the church. As the hours tick away, we’ll see these things more and more. yet here we are at the beginning. However, the trick to dealing with a cancer is to catch it early. Some cancers can be cured. Make an effort to combat lovelessness with an outpouring of love. Challenged the self-focused with concern for others. Turn the tables on un-ness. Don’t allow any meanness, but encourage niceness wherever possible. Stress the importance of self-control and obedience to parents, be they earthly or our Heavenly Father. Be Godly and secure in its power. Cast out worms. Stick to the truth. Don’t be apathetic or wash your hands of it. Hasn’t it been said, the best way for bad men to thrive is for good men to do nothing?