Reopening Sunday at 30% June 28, 2020

What to watch for: In today’s video you will get a tour of our church set up and the message continues in 1 John 5. Enjoy the worship songs as well and listen to God speak to you. Don’t forget the closing prayer.

Our worship leader Bethany Hannah and family
Visit there website: https://bethelmusic.com/

Song
God, You’re So Good (Live)
Artist
Passion
Licensed to YouTube by
UMG (on behalf of SixSteps (SIX)); Adorando Brazil, LatinAutor, BMI – Broadcast Music Inc., ASCAP, LatinAutor – UMPG, Capitol CMG Publishing, and 10 Music Rights Societies


Video Message

100 Bible Verses ~ Robert J. Morgan (page 80-81)

Copyright c 2010 by Robert J. Morgan

Published by B&H Publishing Group

Nashville, Tennessee

1 John 5:14

This verse and the next offer one of the Bible’s best definitions of prayer. It’s easy to memorize when you notice how the verses unfold and expand. The meaning and marvel of prayer grows deeper and more practical as phrase builds upon phrase. Prayer is…

  • Coming before Him.
  • Coming before Him with confidence.
  • Coming before Him with confidence and asking.
  • Coming before Him with confidence and asking according to His will.
  • Coming before Him with confidence and asking according to His will, knowing that He hears us.

Writing near the end of the Bible and at the end of the apostolic age, the apostle John wanted us to know something about the biblical promises related to prayer. They are all conditioned by God’s will. In his Gospel, for example, John quoted Jesus as saying, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:14 NIV). Anything is a huge word, and perhaps some of John’s readers had taken it a bit too literally. So in 1 John 5:14, he reminds us that the promise of answered prayer is dependent on the phrase “according to His will.”

From the perspective of infinity, our God knows what’s best from beginning to end. He sees the outcomes of every chain reaction in life. He knows how the dominoes fall and how the cookies crumble. His perfect, providential oversight makes no mistakes and always results in the best for His children.

Our vantage point is as limited as a person who’s fallen into a hole and can only see a circle of sky above him. We don’t always know the landscape, and we can’t see distant vistas. So we pray earnestly and ask God for our needs, our wants, our wishes, and our desires. But we always pray with the attitude, “if it be Your will.” In that we can have total confidence.

Personal illustration

Sometimes when I purchase roses or plants from a nursery catalog, there’s a little box on the order form saying, “If we are out of the item you want, may we substitute one of equal or greater value? I always say no, because I don’t think the workers in the warehouse know what’s best for my garden. But with the LORD we should always say, “Yes, LORD! You may substitute. You may grant an alternative answer of equal or greater value. I trust You with substitutions.”

The purpose of prayer is to get God’s will done…The greatest prayer any one can offer is “Thy will be done.” It will be offered in a thousand different forms, with a thousand details, as needs arise daily. But every true prayer comes under those four words – S. D. Gordon

Click the arrow below to hear the closing prayer.

Closing Prayer

Have a blessed Sunday with your family!

Father’s Day ~ Sunday, June 21, 2020

What to watch for below: This post is dedicated to our Gracious Father in Heaven and to our earthly fathers as we celebrate Father’s Day today. Enjoy worshiping our Good Father with the songs below. May the video message encourage you to be a witness for God’s Son. Before you go, take a moment to pray with me during the closing prayer and if you want to dig deeper the sermon manuscript is available. God bless all our fathers!

Visit Chris Tomlins website at https://www.christomlin.com/
Visit Cory Asbury’s music at https://bethelmusic.com/artists/cory-asbury/

Click the arrow below to hear the closing prayer

Sermon Manuscript: A Father’s Testimony

Text: 1 John 5:6-12

Scripture passages in this sermon are from the New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

This morning we want to honour our fathers. If there is one thing that we were created to experience in this life, it is the love of a father. It seems the love from a mother is something that is more guaranteed inherently and instinctively, but every child needs the presence of a loving father to help them be ready to face the world.  

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova on Pexels.com

This may or may not have been true for you, but for me my father was one of the greatest witnesses of my life. He was present to witness the first day of my life. He was there to see my first steps and save me from walking into danger. He witnessed and guided my first solo bicycling run without training wheels. He witnessed birthday after birthday. He was present at the most significant times of my life – my High School graduation, baptism, my lowest moments in illness, my wedding, my university graduation, witness my move out west, witnessing me hold my first child, my graduation from seminary and witness the places where I served the LORD over the years.

I am profoundly grateful for having a father who has been a faithful witness and encouragement in my life.

Was this true for you? It was true for Jesus.

In my series of sermons from the First Letter of John, today’s passage has an important message to fathers. It is this: God was a faithful support to His Son be the same for your children. Let’s explore this as we read 1 John 5:6-12, “This 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. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

S.D. Gilbert was quoted saying, “It may be hard on some fathers not to have a son, but it is so much harder on a boy not to have a father.” Source: King Me, Steve Farrar

Maybe you have noticed in this passage that there is a word that repeats itself a number of times. It is the word – “testimony.” This word comes from the original Greek word “marturia” which can also be translated to “witness.” In the Jewish religion according to Deuteronomy 19:15, “A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”

It is in this passage that the apostle John wants to establish the truth that there was enough testimony to confirm the true identity of Jesus being the incarnate Son of God. He presents three witnesses. Let us hear from these witnesses.

Three Witnesses of Jesus as the Incarnate Son of God

1. The Water testifies of Jesus’s Ministry

John brings this forward in verses 6, ““This 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.” Commentators believe the water John is referring to refers to Jesus’s baptism.

Jesus’s ministry began at the Jordan River when He came forward to be baptized by John the Baptist. He did not come to be baptized for the washing or repentance of His sins for He was sinless. He came forward so that His Heavenly Father could bless and initiate His ministry with His Spirit’s power and presence. The apostle Matthew records it this way in His gospel Matthew 3:16,17, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Three important phrases every father needs to express to His children are found in this last verse: 1) This is my son or my child – this gives foundational identity and the importance of belonging; 2) whom I love – this gives a child support, acceptance and care; and finally 3) with him (her) I am well pleased – this gives a child confidence, assurance, blessing and proper initiation into living out your life. This is what Jesus needed from His Father in heaven to empower Him in His life and ministry.

Fathers, when was the last time you empowered your child with your presence, love and blessing? Can you say to your child, “I’m proud to be your father, I love you and I bless you!” These words will do wonders for your child’s well-being and future. Jesus needed it – how much more your child?

Here is a side note: Have you been baptized? Your baptism is a beautiful time to publicly profess your faith in Jesus, but it is also a time for your Heavenly Father to say the same words over your life, “This is my child, whom I love; with him or her I am well pleased.”

2. The Blood testifies of Jesus’s Death

The second witness that testified that Jesus is the Son of God is the blood. Again, from verse 6 we read, “He did not come by water only, but by water and blood.”

The apostle John emphasizes that Jesus is not only declared the Son of God at His baptism, but He is also declared the Son of God at His death on the cross. When Jesus blood was spilled at the cross it broke the curse of sin over us.

The death and suffering of Jesus is very important for John to state here because the false teachers of his day were promoting the idea that the Spirit that descended on Jesus at His baptism left Jesus before He suffered and died. They did not believe in a substitutionary death for mankind. John is reaffirming that Jesus was fully God incarnate at His death.

Jesus had to be the perfect substitute for us. God paid for our freedom by the blood of His Son. The apostle John wrote this in the previous chapter – 1 John 4:10, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

The apostle Paul joins in this chorus of love from God the Father in Romans 6:32, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

How do we respond to this love? How do we respond to God sacrificing His Son for us? I love this quote from C.T. Studd, ““If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” Fathers, how are you leading your children in living sacrificial lives for God?

3. God the Father testifies that His Son is Life

The water and the blood (Jesus’s baptism and death) are witnesses of Jesus being the Son of God, and the third witness is God the Father Himself.  John wrote in verses 11 & 12, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

God is testifying to all mankind that Eternal Life is in His Son. If you accept Jesus as God’s Son, if you believe He is the Christ, you too will have this eternal life and God’s testimony of Jesus will be in you. John brings home this truth in verse 10, “Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony.” Jesus was revealed to be this Eternal Life when God raised Him from the dead on the third day.

Have you accepted this testimony from God about His Son? It is not enough that you accept my words about Jesus being the Son of God you need to say, “God I accept your testimony about Jesus that He is your Son and that He is eternal Life. I believe Him to be my Saviour and my LORD.”

Why is this important to accept God’s testimony about His Son? John says in verse 9, “We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.”  Do you have God’s testimony about Jesus in your heart?

Conclusion

God was present in Jesus’ life as a loving Father. Not only did God empower Jesus at His baptism, He gave Jesus the strength to endure the cross, and finally He raised His Son back to life revealing that He is eternal life and that life is in His Son. Can you see the love of God the Father for His Son? Are you now a witness for Jesus Christ?

I once read a story about an 11-year-old boy who bundled up on a rainy, cold Sunday afternoon to pass out gospel tracts about salvation through Jesus. His father who was a pastor said, “Son, it is very cold outside, and it is pouring down rain. The surprised son replied, “But Dad, aren’t people still going to hell even though it is raining?” The son convinced his father to let him go out alone. After two hours of walking in the rain, he was soaking wet. With one final tract he approached the nearest house and rang the doorbell. He rang it again and again with no response. Finally, the door slowly opened, and a very sad-looking woman said, “What can I do for you son?” With a smile he said, “Ma’am, I just want to tell you that Jesus really loves you, and I want to give you my last Gospel tract that will tell you all about Jesus and His great love.” The following Sunday morning the pastor asked if anyone had a testimony to share. A woman stood up and said, “Last Sunday I no longer had any hope or will to live. So, I went to my attic and prepared to hang myself. As I stood on a chair with a rope tied around my neck, I was about to jump, but then I heard the doorbell ringing. I thought I would wait until it stopped, but it kept on ringing. Finally, I loosened the rope and went to answer the door. I could hardly believe my eyes! The most radiant, angelic boy I had ever seen stood there telling me that Jesus loved me. I accepted the tract he offered me and became a Christian.” (Lou Nicholes – Author and Missionary).

Fathers let us encourage our children to be witnesses for Jesus and do it by example. Happy Father’s Day! You are loved!

Sunday, June 14, 2020

What to watch for below: Today you will be brought into the presence of our awesome God through worship. Prepare your heart to meet the LORD Jesus as you sing the songs below, watch the video message and read His Word. Don’t forget to pray with me in the closing prayer and give thanks to God that soon we will be together in worship again!

Visit City Alight at this website http://www.cityalight.com/
AGC sings Christ Alone to encourage our AGC churches
Today’s Video Message

Click the arrow below to hear the closing prayer

Sermon Manuscript: Everyone Who Believes Jesus is the Christ

Text: 1 John 5:1-5

Scriptures used in this manuscript are from New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

I have a grandson who is learning to speak more words as he makes the quick transition from being a baby into a little toddler. One of his favorite words is “moon.” I just love the way he drags out the word – “moooon” and then he looks up in the sky hoping to see it. “Mooon!”

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In 2024 Nasa is hoping to put the next astronauts on the moon in preparation for a greater expedition to Mars. It is their hope to create a new space station that will orbit the moon from which they will then send astronauts to Mars. They are calling this new space station “Gateway.” Once the astronauts reach Gateway, they will then get into another space craft that will either take them to the moon or to Mars.

I don’t know about you, but there are days I would like to leave the pains and disappointments of this Earth and be transported to a new peaceful frontier. You may realize that we live in a broken, sinful world doomed to destruction. The root of the problem is “sin.” Sin separates us from God and from each other. Sin simply disobedience to God because the focus is on self and self-gratification.

Jesus came to save us from our sin and one day to deliver us from the presence of sin entirely. In other words, every believer in Jesus has the hope of leaving this Earth and living in God’s paradise where there will be no sin. Nasa can have the moon and Mars, but my sights are being in God’s presence a new Heaven and a new Earth as the apostle John saw in Revelation 21.

In my series of sermons, in the First Letter of John, the apostle John continually upholds the importance of faith, love and obedience as identity markers for the child of God. John does the same in today’s passage. Read this passage from 1 John 5:1-5, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”

According to this passage there are four significant changes that occur to everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ. These changes point back to an authentic faith.

Four Changes for The Believer in Christ

1. New Identity

The first change for the believer is a change in “identity.” Every believer gets a new identity. John launches this truth  in verse 1a, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God…” Jesus told a Pharisee named Nicodemus as John records it in his Gospel in John 3:5,6, “Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” This is a birth from above where the Holy Spirit, upon the believer’s confession of faith in Jesus, brings new life and forgiveness of sins.

If you have ever confessed Jesus as your Saviour from your sin and acknowledge Him as the Son of God, then you are born of God and becoming God’s new creation. Paul says this in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

Dr Neil Anderson from Freedom in Christ Ministries puts it this way, Suppose that you are a prostitute. One day you hear that the king has decreed that all prostitutes are forgiven. Since you’re a prostitute, that’s great news! But would it necessarily change your behavior or your self-perception? Probably not. You may dance in the streets for a while, but chances are you would continue in your same vocation. You would see yourself as nothing more than a forgiven prostitute.

Now suppose the king not only forgave you, but he made you his bride as well. You’re a queen. Would that change your behavior? Of course. Why would you want to live as a prostitute if you were a queen?

The church is the bride of Christ! You are far more likely to promote the kingdom if you are the queen rather than a forgiven prostitute.

As a one who is born of God, how well are you living out of your new identity? How grateful are you for being born of God?

2. New Family

The second change is a change in “family.” Every believer gets a new family. John observes this truth in verse 1b, “and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.” We are not saved from our sin to live in isolation. We are saved to live together as a family. The apostle Paul supports this truth in Romans 12:5, “so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

If we neglect the fact that we need to love our brothers and sisters in the LORD, then we are not free from our selfishness. It is like saying, “God I want you as my Heavenly Father, but I don’t want to be associated with your kids.” I want you on my terms and not on yours.

C.S. Lewis, in his book The Four Loves wrote – To love at all is to be venerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin or your selfishness. But in that casket–safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable…The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers…of love is Hell. C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1960, p.169.

How well you love God’s children is a reflection on how well you love God the Father. Is there anything preventing you from loving a brother or sister in the LORD? You may not like them. They may not be your closest friend, but you must love them because you are family and it pleases the Father to stay united as one body. Who do you need to love more in God’s family? Who do you need to forgive?

3. New House Rules

The third change is a change in “house rules.” Every believer gets new house rules that are not burdensome. John informs us of this in verses 2 and 3, “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.”

It would be marvelous if upon our profession of faith in Jesus that we would be the perfect child and perfect lover of God’s family. The truth is we need a progressive transformation from our old habits into our new holy habits. This is called “sanctification.” God wants to mature us by giving us the power of His Holy Spirit to be more like His Son Jesus. This is done by obeying God’s commands which leads to His desired character for you.  

Dr. B.J. Miller once said, “It is a great deal easier to do that which God gives us to do, no matter how hard it is, than to face the responsibilities of not doing it.” Today in The Word, November, 1989, p.11.

God’s house rules are well summed up in the “Greatest Commandments and the Golden Rule.” They are found in Mark 12:30, 31, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” And Matthew 7:12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

How well are you keeping God’s house rules? Is the world around you a better place because of it? Do people take notice?

4. New Freedom

Finally, the fourth change is a change in “freedom.” Every believer overcomes the world as they live in God’s kingdom both now and when Christ returns. John gives this breakthrough in verses 4 and 5, “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”

This new freedom is like being free of this Earth’s gravity. As long as we live on this Earth this world’s secular humanistic philosophies and postmodern viewpoints war against our Biblical, Christ-centred worldview. It is by faith that we keep resisting temptation to fall under its influence and hold on us.  Final sanctification will happen when we overcome the presence of sin. We have the victory in Jesus now, but every day we need to appropriate that victory. Every day we need to be overcomers by faith. Jesus has given us all we need to overcome by remaining focused on Him and His Word in the power of the Holy Spirit.  

One of the most tragic events during the Reagan Presidency was the Sunday morning terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, in which hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded as they slept.

Marine Corps Commandant Paul X Kelly visited some of the wounded survivors then in a Frankfurt, Germany, hospital. Among them was Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, severely wounded in the incident. Nashton had so many tubes running in and out of his body that a witness said he looked more like a machine than a man; yet he survived.

As Kelly neared him, Nashton, struggling to move and racked with pain, motioned for a piece of paper and a pen. He wrote a brief note and passed it back to the Commandant. On the slip of paper were but two words — “Semper Fi” the Latin motto of the Marines meaning “forever faithful.” With those two simple words Nashton spoke for the millions of Americans who have sacrificed body and limb and their lives for their country — those who have remained faithful. J. Dobson & Gary Bauer, Children at Risk, Word, 1990, pp. 187-188.

Are you inspired by the apostle John to remain forever faithful? Verse 5, “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” This is the person who continually entrusts their spiritual wellbeing to Christ. Is that you? Entrust your life to Jesus right now and He will help you to overcome.

Conclusion

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Do you need a break from the bad news this world offers? Do you feel like leaving it all behind? Put your faith thrusters on the truths that the apostle John gave us today and find yourself lifting off from the negativity of this world into God’s kingdom reality for you. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has a new identity, a new family, new house rules and a new freedom both now and forevermore. This news is too good to keep to yourself share it with someone this week.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

What to watch for below: We have entered another month hoping for the lifting of restrictions and anticipating meeting again. Until then may today’s video and written message be an encouragement to you. Please find a couple worship songs to magnify our great God and King followed by God’s messages as placed upon my heart and a closing prayer. Pray for the peace of our nations among all peoples which is perfectly possible in Christ alone. Come LORD Jesus and bring your everlasting Kingdom!

Visit Chris Tomlin’s website at https://www.christomlin.com/
Visit Matthew West’s website at https://www.matthewwest.com/
Video Message for today!

Click the arrow below to hear the closing prayer…

Closing Prayer

Living in God and He in Us

The Scripture used this Sermon manuscript are from New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Main points of this message were developed using Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: The Letters of John by John Stott.

Have you ever met a person in your travels and your first impression of him or her was, “I wonder if that person is a believer in Jesus?” What was the evidence that tipped you off in this direction? Was it kindness? Was it courtesy? Was it friendliness? Was it a caring nature? Many of these characteristics do point to a person being a believer in Jesus, but are they enough to make that conclusion? I have met some genuinely nice and kind people who are not Christian at all. In fact, they are of other religions or have no religion at all.

How can somebody know if a person is actually a believer in God? This is an important question to answer because just as there are many nice people in our communities who are not believers in Jesus Christ so also there are a lot of people who attend church on a regular basis who are not believers in Jesus. These unbelieving church-goers go to church because their spouse, parent or grandparent make them go. They could be coming because they want to know more about God but have yet to receive Jesus as their Saviour and LORD. They could also be going to church because they treat it like a social club.

The apostle John wanted the churches who received his letter to look for evidence of a person’s salvation.  These evidences can be revealed by answering this question, “How do we know God lives in us and we in Him?”

The apostle John answers this in 1 John 4:13-21, “This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And 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 them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There 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. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

How do we know that we have a love relationship with God where He is living in us and we in Him? John gives us two reasons in this passage.

How do we know God is living in us and we in Him?

1. God has given us His Spirit

In verse 13, John makes it quite clear, “This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. The apostle John records Jesus saying these words in his gospel, John 14:15-18, ““If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

When the Holy Spirit is given to a person, He enables faith and that person can see who Jesus really is. In 1 John 4:14 and 15, the disciples were able to recognize who Jesus really was, “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.” The presence of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life is not just about niceties and good behaviour it is about acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God. Do you acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God? Do you acknowledge Him as your Saviour and LORD? If so, then you can have the assurance that the Holy Spirit has been given to you and He lives in you and you are saved. You are a child of God!

You can also know the Holy Spirit is given to you because He enables love. In verse 16, John continues, “And 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 them.”

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The story is told about a little boy who was flying a kite. It was a windy day, and the kite kept going higher and higher. Finally, it got so high that it was out of sight. A man passed by and saw the little boy holding onto the string. The man could not see the kite, and he asked the boy, “How do you even know you have a kite up there?” The boy replied, “Because I can feel it.” Source: A Firm Foundation, Paul Chappell.

Although we cannot see the Holy Spirit, we know He is given to us because we have this compelling love, this compassion, tugging on our hearts to tell people about Jesus. Is this true for you?

This leads us to the second reason we know God lives in us and we in Him…

2. God has given us His “Perfect” Love

John speaks about our love maturing and developing for God. It is not that our love will be perfect this side of heaven, but we can experience God’s perfect love in us and through us leading us to a greater love for God and for our brothers and sisters in the LORD. We will know that we have this perfected love in two ways.

First, we will have this confidence before God. In verse 17, “This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.” The word confidence comes from the Greek word “parresia” which is an “unshrinkable boldness.”

John is making a radical statement about children of God here, “in this world we are like Jesus.” Therefore, just as Jesus the Son of God was dearly loved by His Father in Heaven, we (as the children of God) have the same love from our Heavenly Father. This means we can come boldly to our Heavenly Father and relate to Him, talk to Him and ask for what we need. We are not objects of God’s wrath which means we will not suffer on the Day of Judgment. Do you have this confidence of God’s love?

Secondly, we know that we have this perfected love because this confidence of God’s love drives out fear. John wrote in verse 18, “There 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.”

John is telling us that fear and love cannot coexist together. Love that has confidence or assurance in being a child of God does not hide from God in fear. This love is “complete” in its focus on God. This love has reached its goal in being without fear and thus has been perfected.

Pastor and Theologian John Piper says, “this perfected love is not flawless love. Perfected love is when you don’t just talk about the need to share Christ, you do it. It’s when you don’t just talk about the hungry, you feed them. It’s when you don’t just talk about floundering new believers, you disciple them. And so on. (Perfect Love Drives Out Fear – desiringgod.org)

Application – Do you have confidence in approaching God as your Heavenly Father? Is your love fearless? If not, come to God now and receive His Son Jesus as your Saviour from your sin and accept Jesus as Your LORD.

Conclusion

We know that God is living in us and we are living in Him by giving us His Holy Spirit and His perfect love to mature us in loving others.

John concludes this passage by giving us a lie detector test. We find it in verses 20 and 21, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

Have you ever been hurt by a brother or sister in the LORD? If not, you will be. As your pastor, I may have hurt you. And if I have, I am deeply sorry. Children of God are not perfect this side of Heaven. When you are hurt by a brother or sister your response should never be hatred instead it should be forgiveness. Someone has said, “we are most like God when we forgive.” Who do you need to forgive today?

How do we know God lives in us and we live in Him? God has given us His Holy Spirit, His perfect love, and in response we love and forgive our brothers and sisters when they hurt us. Perfect love drives out fear and hatred. As a child of God, make that your motto this week and live it!

Sunday, May 31, 2020

What to look for below…Today’s video presentation is centred on God’s love based on the scripture passage from the Bible – 1 John 4:7-12. It begins with worship songs followed by the video message, a closing prayer and my sermon manuscript. Today is also Pentecost Sunday where we remember the coming of the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus and the birth of the Church or Bride of Christ. Let us give thanks for the presence, the power and the gifts of the Holy Spirit that will keep us focused on Jesus until He returns! Hallelujah!

Visit Chris Tomlin music at https://www.christomlin.com/
Visit the Jesus Culture website at https://jesusculture.com/
Video Message “The Duty of Every Christian”

To hear the closing prayer below please click the arrow…

Sermon Manuscript: The Duty of Every Christian

Scriptures used in this manuscript are from New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

What was your first introduction to Christianity? If you didn’t grow up in a Christian church, I am assuming your first exposure to Christianity most likely happened through a Christian who invited you to a church service, youth group event, children’s program or some children’s camp sponsored by a church. Am I right?

I am also assuming that your decision to go was influenced by the person who invited you because they showed some genuine care and love for you.

Evangelist D.L. Moody wrote: Show me a church where there is love, and I will show you a church that is a power in the community. In Chicago, a few years ago a little boy attended a Sunday school I know of. When his parents moved to another part of the city the little fellow still attended the same Sunday school, although it meant a long, tiresome walk each way. A friend asked him why he went so far and told him that there were plenty of others just as good nearer his home.

“They may be as good for others, but not for me,” was his reply.

“Why not?” she asked.

“Because they love a fellow over there,” he replied.

How easy it is to reach people through love. Those who are successful in showing love will be successful in winning people to Christ. Source: Life and Labours of Dwight. L. Moody, Henry Davenport Northrop.

The apostle John in his first letter to the churches is making a bold pronouncement that the duty of every believer in Christ is to “love one another.” Why is it so important for believers to love one another?

The apostle John writes in 1 John 4:7-12 that love among children of God is a primary duty because of three reasons. Can you find these reasons as you read this passage below?

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

Let’s look at the three reasons believers need to do their duty in “loving one another.” I have received the help of Theologian John Stott to formulate these three reasons.

Three Reasons Christians need to Love One Another

1. God is love

The first reason children of God need to love one another is because God is love. We find this support in verse 7b, “for love comes from God;” and verses 8 and 16b, “God is love.” God is the author of love and His very nature is love which means everything He says, does, sees, commands, creates is done in love. When God disciplines His children that too He does in love. John Stott writes, “Far from condoning sin, his love has found a way to expose it without destroying the sinner, but rather saving him.”

Therefore, if God is love and love comes from Him then it only makes sense that His children must also resemble His character of love. This is what the apostle John is concluding as well. In fact, he takes a direct shot at false teachers who did not relate to God as a loving God in verse 8, “Whoever does not love does not know God.”

Love needs to define us as believers just as much as righteousness defines us. If we are sour pusses in the pews than we are no longer being proper representatives of God. If we fail to love our brothers and sisters in Jesus, then we are living out of our old nature which is at enmity with God.

A group of teenagers were enjoying a party, and someone suggested that they go to a certain restaurant for a good time. “I’d rather you took me home,” Jan said to her date. “My parents don’t approve of that place.” “Are you afraid your father will hurt you” one of the girls said sarcastically. “No,” Jan replied, “I’m afraid I might hurt my Father.” She understood the principle that a true child of God, who has experienced the love of God, has no desire to sin against that love. (Source Unknown).

Are you a child of God? If so, knowing that God is love and love comes from Him, make it your life’s pursuit to be like God in His loving nature. Is this your desire?

2. God demonstrated His love by Sending His Son

The second reason children of God need to love one another is because God demonstrated His love by sending His Son. We find this supported in verses 9 & 10, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Love is not just an emotion, but it is best defined when it is put into action. God showed His love for us by not allowing us to die in our sins, but to save us from our sins by sending His Son Jesus to be our atoning sacrifice on the cross. In the original Greek language, the word for love here is “agape” which is a benevolent love that is other-focused. It is a love shown by a person who is truly selfless and sacrificial in showing love. This is what God demonstrated by sending His Son Jesus to die for us that we might have eternal life when we accept Jesus as our Saviour. John wrote about this power of love in 1 John 3:16, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

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A certain medieval monk announced he would be preaching next Sunday evening on “The Love of God.” As the shadows fell and the light ceased to come in through the cathedral windows, the congregation gathered. In the darkness of the altar, the monk lit a candle and carried it to the crucifix. First of all, he illumined the crown of thorns, next, the two wounded hands, then the marks of the spear wound. In the hush that fell, he blew out the candle and left the chancel. There was nothing else to say.

The love God demonstrated to us cannot be earned because the apostle John highlights the truth that “He first loved us.” Therefore, when we love each other as believers we do it not gain acceptance from others, but to follow God’s example and bring praise to Him.

This week ask God to make your love more others-focused? Allow the Holy Spirit to probe your heart and see if the way you love others has strings attached?

3. God continues to love through us in perfect ways

The third reason children of God need to love one another is because God continues to love through us in perfect ways. We find this supported in verses 11 & 12, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

God’s children are a gateway for God to reveal his perfect (complete) love through us. In the Roman world, how many teachers were advocating a revolution of love in the apostle John’s lifetime? Only One!

It has always been the human ambition to divide and conquer. It is the human spirit to desire luxury and suppress the poor and marginalized. When Jesus came His message about the Kingdom began a revolution of love. In John 13:34-35, ““A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

As believers loved one another and loved the poor, sick and marginalized, word got around that these people were disciples of Jesus. This mission of love, in the power of the Holy Spirit, transformed the Roman culture. In 313 AD, under the Edict of Milan, Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity and gave Christians the freedom to worship. Ten years later it became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

When people see the way we love each other, and how we love others, they will see the invisible God of the universe in us and loving perfectly through us. They will know what true love is!

A little four-year-old African girl had been sold as a slave. She had never known what love was. Even her name, Keodi, meant “Nobody loves me!”

When she grew to be about ten years old, her body became covered with ugly sores. The natives turned her out and would have nothing to do with her. But some kind missionaries took Keodi in and cleaned her up, cared for her sores, and put clothes on her.

At first, she could not believe anyone loved her. She went about saying, “I am only Keodi; nobody loves me.” The missionaries told her that Jesus loved her and tried to teach her what love meant. Then she looked down at her dress, clean body and bandaged sores, and said, “Is this love?” They told her that it was.

Jesus showed His love for us by giving His life for us. Should we not then give Him our whole lives and love one another? (Gospel Chimes)

Application – This pandemic can simply be a lesson for us to not take loving others for granted. Are you a part of today’s love revolution? It is so easy to complain about our government, our economy, our uncertain state of affairs, but if we seriously allowed God to continue to show His love through us how would our church and our culture change?

How have you been going out of your way to love a brother or sister in the LORD lately? How about making that a goal for this week? Ask God to show you whom you should love this week.

Conclusion

It is my hope when we are able to meet in our church building again that this pandemic will have taught us some lessons on love relationships with each other and sharing that love with our world.

Right now, frontline workers and essential workers are receiving a lot praise because of the risks they are taking to care for the sick and keep our daily needs met.

How much more do we need to become front-line or essential workers with God’s love in this sin-sick world?

Let’s change people’s first impressions of Christianity and God by taking the apostles words seriously today about “loving one another” with God’s love. Do you want to be a part of a God’s love revolution?

Sunday, May 24, 2020

What to watch for below: In today’s video service we are continuing in the First Letter of John 4:1-6. I have prepared a Video Message that will challenge us to test the spirits or test the messages we hear about Jesus and test those who hear the message. Are we listening to the truth in this day and age of compromise? I conclude with an audio prayer and you can read my sermon manuscript for a deeper look at John’s passage. May you be encouraged as we get closer to the day that we will be together again! God bless you in Jesus Christ our Saviour, Redeemer and LORD!

This video was put together by Christian Worship Song Lyrics
You can visit Maranatha! Music at https://www.maranathamusic.com/
Video Message from 1 John 4:1-6

Click the arrow below to hear the closing prayer

Closing prayer for today!

Testing the Message and the Hearer

Text: 1 John 4:1-6 ~ The Scripture passages below are from New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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There are a lot of metals that on the surface look similar to gold. Centuries ago, people discovered that unscrupulous operators would take advantage of this to trick people into paying for worthless metal. In order to determine whether gold was genuine or not, scientists devised an “acid test.” The item that is supposed to be gold is rubbed on a black stone, leaving a mark behind. Gold is what is called a noble metal, meaning that it is resistant to the corrosive effects of acid. If the mark is washed away by the acid, then the metal is not real gold. If it remains unchanged, the genuine nature of the gold is proven.

In our world, where it is easy to be taken advantage of, wouldn’t it be a relief to have an “acid test” to determine the genuineness of products you are buying? How about having an app on your mobile phone that simulates a “lie detector test” so that it will indicate if the person you are speaking with is telling you the truth or not? The draw back to having these tests is that we could become overly critical and suspicious people.

However, as we will see in today’s passage of Scripture, the apostle John actually commands believers to test the “message and the receivers of the message.” This of course is in response to the false teachers who have made their way into the churches of Asia Minor and are leading believers away from God’s truth. Would it benefit us today if we heeded the apostle’s command?  Read today’s passage from 1 John 4:1-6.

1John 4:1-6, “Dear 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. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but 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. 4 You, 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. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We 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.”

In testing the message and the receivers of the message I have narrowed down John’s test to two questions. Let us look at these questions below about the message and the messenger. 

Questions to Know the Genuineness of the Message and the Hearer

1. Does the Message Centre on The True Jesus?

The first test that separates the false message from the true message is to answer this question, “Does the message centre on the true Jesus?” In verses 2 & 3 John clear indicates, “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.”

The true Jesus that must be preached is the Jesus who is not only fully God, but He is also fully man. For Jesus to come to this world as a man in the likeness of sinful flesh, but without sin, is called the “incarnation.” John highlights the incarnation in his gospel. In John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John is stating here that Jesus is the Word and is co-equal with God. Then in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  Every spirit, every teaching or message that acknowledges Jesus has come in the flesh (incarnate) is from God.

The false teachers in John’s day had an extremely low regard of the flesh. They believed that the only way to spiritual ascendency and value was through the mind which was governed by the spiritual. They believed what they did in the flesh had no consequence on their spiritual pursuits. Therefore, the sins they committed in the body did not prevent their spiritual growth and their pursuit of godlikeness. They believed Jesus had a brief encounter with the flesh but did not come in the flesh. They did not believe in the incarnation.

Theologian Charles Ryrie in His book Basic Theology writes, “Without the Incarnation we would have no Savior. Sin requires death for its payment. God does not die. So the Savior must be human in order to be able to die. But the death of an ordinary man would not pay for sin eternally, so the Savior must also be God. We must have a God-man Savior, and we do in our Lord (Hebrews 10:1-10).”

Knowing that Jesus is God-incarnate, what practical daily significance does this have on your faith and life? The key is in what John says about the spirit that denies Jesus’s true identity in verse 3b, “This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”

Everyday we need to be on guard against the spirit of the antichrist. This spirit is from Satan who opposes the message of the gospel and the true identity of Jesus. When Jesus walked this earth, his main opposition was from the religious elite called the Pharisees. In one encounter, Jesus pulls no stops in calling out the lies that the Pharisees were believing and propagating in their teachings. John records Jesus’s words addressed to the Pharisees in his gospel in John 8:44, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” We see earlier in this letter John wrote, 1 John 3:10, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.”

Billy Bray was a Cornish miner who accepted Jesus Christ as his Saviour in 1823 at the age of 29. He lived a life of drunkenness and debauchery before his salvation, but he became such an outgoing witness and testimony for God that he became known as “God’s glad man.”

One time he was digging potatoes from his garden and felt the devil oppressing him. It seemed to him that the devil said, “Billy Bray, God doesn’t love you. If He did, He wouldn’t give you such puny potatoes and so few.”

But Billy Bray didn’t listen to the devil’s temptation, he talked back to him. He said, “I served you long and true, Devil, and no better servant could a master ever have than I was to you. But when I served you, you didn’t give me any potatoes. When I served you, you didn’t give me anything good for my efforts.”

Billy Bray reminded himself that the burden he had serving Christ was lighter than the one he had had serving the devil. The yoke that he wore in partnership with and submission to Jesus was easier than the yoke he wore as one of the devil’s disciples.

Billy Bray once said, “I would rather be in Hell with Jesus than in Heaven without Jesus. For Hell with Jesus would seem just like Heaven to me and Heaven without Jesus would seem just like Hell to me.” Submitted by Dr. R. B Ouellette

Today I want to encourage you to take John’s command seriously to test the spirits and test the messages you hear about Jesus and the gospel. Do not believer every teaching you hear about Jesus. Does the message centre on the truth about Jesus that He is fully God and fully man in order to be the Saviour of the world? Also teach this truth so that the spirit of the antichrist will be thwarted from telling lies to others. Ask God to give you the boldness to be a witness about the truth of His Son Jesus so that many more people will be delivered from serving the lies of the devil. May verse 4 also give you courage, “You, 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.”

The second question that helps identify what truth is and what is false is…

2. Do the receivers of the true message of Jesus actually listen?

Look again at verses 5 and 6, “They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We 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.”

John makes it clear in this passage that there are two groups of people in this world. First there are those who are from the world speaking and listening to its viewpoint. Their viewpoint is based on human philosophy and human knowledge defining their reality and making in many cases their religion.

Someone wrote…

Appetite says, “Be sensuous, enjoy yourself.”

Education says, “Be resourceful, expand yourself.”

Materialism says, “Be satisfied, please yourself.”

Psychology says, “Be confident, fulfill yourself.”

Pride says, “Be superior, promote yourself.”

Humanism says, “Be capable believe in yourself.”

God says, “Be wise, humble yourself.”

The second group are those who are from God. These are the children of God who listen to the truth about Jesus. To listen is more than being hearers of the Word, but also doers of the Word.

John is telling the children of God do not expect those who have the viewpoint of the world to listen to you. Those who do not listen are not from God.

Today I want to encourage you by this truth – when people are not listening to the gospel of Jesus Christ, they are not rejecting you, but they are rejecting the message because the are not from God. We cannot expect people of the world to embrace the message of God unless God opens their ears to it and their hearts to receive it. This is what we need to pray for. We cannot force people to listen to the gospel.

Conclusion

In honour of Ravi Zacharias (a formidable apologist) who died this week I want to conclude with his words that sum up today’s message very well:

“Every other person who is at the heart of any religion has had his or her beginning either in fancy or in fact. But nevertheless, there is a beginning. Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem was a moment preceded by eternity. His being neither originated in time nor came about by the will of humanity. The Author of time, who lived in the eternal, was made incarnate in time that we might live with the eternal in view. In that sense, the message of Christ was not the introduction of a religion, but an introduction to truth about reality as God alone knows it. To deny Jesus’ message while pursuing spirituality is to conjure an imaginary religion in an attempt to see heaven while sight is confined to the earth. That is precisely what Jesus challenged when he said, “I have come that [you] may have life” (John 10:10). His life spells living. Your life or my life, apart from Him, spells death.” ― Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message

In our quickly changing world Jesus’s message remains the same. He loves you. He died for you and He wants you to spend eternity with Him. I invite you to accept Jesus (fully God and fully man) into your life as your Saviour from sin and become a lifelong listener and doer of His Word. This alone will keep you on the path of truth and the path of life everlasting. AMEN!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

What to watch for below: Today let us worship God for His greatness! This is the apostle John’s encouragement to the church and it is exactly what we need to focus on during this pandemic. Enjoy two worship choruses praising God for His greatness followed by my video message from 1 John 3:19-24. I conclude with a closing prayer and for further study you can read my sermon manuscript. May God give you the confidence in following Him realizing, “How Great Thou Art!”

Visit Chris Tomlin’s website at https://www.christomlin.com/
Visit Hillsong Worship at https://hillsong.com/worship/

Click the arrow below to hear the closing prayer

Sermon Manuscript: Focusing on God Brings Encouragement

Scripture passages below are from the New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

A man saw a span of horses drawing a very heavy load of logs, and as they came to a hard place they struggled and tried with all their force, strained every muscle to the highest tension, but they could not start the load. Then the driver took some of the logs off and tried to get them to start the load, but they would not. He rolled off some more, but those horses would not start. He rolled off still more, and at last took off every log, and then they started up the road. Those horses had been utterly discouraged; they had pulled with all their strength and failed, and anyone doing that, be it man or beast, is not able to accomplish half as much as a man who has not lost heart. (Source Unknown).

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There may be times in our lives, as believers in God, when we come across life challenges that may be quite deflating to our faith and confidence in the LORD. Our hearts may become downcast, depressed or uneasy and we hear that inner voice starting to question things like, “Why am I so sad? Why am I feeling so down? Where is Jesus in all of this? Did I do something wrong? Is there a sin I need to repent of?” Have you experienced any of these thoughts during our pandemic lockdown and isolation?

At the same time, you might come across people who have this incredible confidence during these same challenges. And you might be wondering, “Why don’t I have that same confidence? My faith in God really needs a boost!”

As we look at today’s passage of Scripture, the apostle John wants to encourage the believer’s hearts to have the assurance that they are saved, belonging in God’s truth which results in resting in His presence. How do we get our hearts and consciences focused on the truth and finding this rest? Look with me for the answers as your read 1 John 3:19-24.

1John 3:19-24, “This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”

Here are four ways the apostle John encourages the hearts of believers by bringing them to the right focus.

Focus Brings Encouragement

1. Focus on God’s greatness

To the heart that is battling condemnation or anxious thoughts John says in verse 20, “If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts.”

The quickest way to immobilize faith is to have people believe that they are powerless. John’s antidote for this is for believers to focus in on the greatness of God. He is greater than our condemning hearts and fears.

A young boy traveling by airplane to visit his grandparents sat beside a man who happened to be a seminary professor. The boy was reading a Sunday school take-home paper when the professor thought he would have some fun with the lad. “Young man,” said the professor, “If you can tell me something God can do, I’ll give you a big, shiny apple.” The boy thought for a moment and then replied, “Mister, if you can tell me something God can’t do, I’ll give you a whole barrel of apples!” Today in the Word, April 1989, p. 43.

 What we have to realize when our hearts are downcast is, we are believing that God is too small to handle what we are facing. As we focus on how great God’s power is, our problems will be put in the right perspective. I challenge you to focus on God’s greatness today and leave your trials and problems with Him. What a relief you will experience!

The second thing John wants believers to focus on is…

2. Focus on God’s omniscience

Not only is God’s greatness sufficient to handle what troubles our heart, John says in verse 20, “he knows everything.” God knows what is troubling you and he knows why it is troubling you because He knows you better than you know yourself. When we focus on the truth that God is all knowing or omniscient there is nothing that surprises God so it should not surprise you. Therefore, God must have a reason for allowing certain trials and troubles to come our way like this pandemic. We do not see the end of the story, but God know the end from the beginning.

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Dwight Moody was traveling by boat on one of the Great Lakes when a really bad storm developed. The other passengers on the boat cowered in fear. They even started an impromptu prayer meeting asking God to deliver them from the storm. Moody didn’t join in this prayer meeting. When asked why not, he answered with these words, “I have a sister in Chicago and one in heaven and I don’t care which I see tonight.” (Source Unknown, Lou Nicholes – Missionary/Author)

When we know that God knows everything, we can put our trust into his plan just like Moody did. When was the last time you had that confidence? Can you pray, “God I am not going to worry about this because you know best.” Do you need to ask God to forgive you for succumbing to fear or faith-deflating-worry?

John wants us to focus on God’s greatness and that He knows everything. The third thing he wants us to focus on is…

3. Focus on pleasing God

John makes a transition from the condemning, deflated heart of a believer to a believer who has confidence. This transition is based on the fact of the believer pleasing God. Here again is what he wrote in verses 21-23, “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.”

A child of God who pleases God and has confidence to come before Him and ask Him for anything according to God’s will. How is this possible? Because pleasing God involves two things: a child of God believes in God’s Son Jesus Christ and acts out that faith in love toward others.

This sums up the whole gospel and if we anchor our faith and our lives here, we will have confidence in coming to God and asking Him in prayer for that which pleases Him.

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The story is told about two wives who were doing their laundry in a laundry mat. They were both mending their husband’s pants.

One wife said, “My husband is so miserable. Nothing goes right at work, and he can’t find anything good on television. Our home is a place of despair. When we go to church, the song leader is terrible, and the pastor is an idiot.

The other wife said, “My husband is so excited.” He can’t wait to go to church. He loves the sermons. We laugh all the time and enjoy our family.

It got very quiet in the laundry room as the women continued sewing the pants. One was patching the seat of the pants, and the other was patching the knees. (Source: Unknown)

Which of these two men pleased God with the right focus and with the right heart? The man with the worn out knees knew how to please God by confidently coming to God in prayer as a faithful and obedient child. Are you pleasing God? Does it show in confidence, obedience and in your prayer life? Focus on pleasing God this week by just talking to him.

Finally, John helps the discouraged, downhearted child of God by reminding him or her to…

4. Focus on the Spirit He Gave us

Look at verse 24, “The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” One of the most important things to remember about being a child of God is that we are “born again.” This means the Holy Spirit has given us new life (eternal life that is pardoned from sin with a new nature) by coming into our lives and regenerating us at the same moment of faith. The apostle Paul explains it this way to the believers in the church of Corinth in 2 Corinthians 5:5, “Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  A few verses later he writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin [Jesus] to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Who we are in Christ and realizing that the Holy Spirit lives in us is paramount in giving us the courage to face whatever comes our way because God does not abandon Himself. There is perfect unity between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Paul writes this to the believers in Rome in Romans 8:14-16, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

“Without the Spirit of God, we can do nothing. We are as ships without the wind, branches without sap, and like coals without fire, we are useless.”—Charles Spurgeon

Photo by Mike on Pexels.com

Now take Charles Spurgeon’s quote and turn it to the positive to help you fight discouragement. “With the Spirit of God, I can do all things. I am a sailboat moved by His wind, a branch full of sap, a fire burning brightly fueled by Him and I am valuable in Him for His service.” Do you believe this? Focus on what The Holy Spirit has for your life and the work He has in bringing praise to Jesus.

Conclusion

During the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century, German pastor Paul Gerhardt and his family were forced to flee from their home. One night as they stayed in a small village inn, homeless and afraid, his wife broke down and cried openly in despair. To comfort her, Gerhardt reminded her of Scripture promises about God’s provision and keeping. Then, going out to the garden to be alone, he too broke down and wept. He felt he had come to his darkest hour. Soon afterward, Gerhardt felt the burden lifted and sensed anew the Lord’s presence. Taking his pen, he wrote a hymn that has brought comfort to many. “Give to the winds thy fears; hope and be undismayed; God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears; God shall lift up thy head. Through waves and clouds and storms He gently clears the way. Wait thou His time, so shall the night soon end in joyous day.”

It is often in our darkest times that God makes His presence known most clearly. He uses our sufferings and troubles to show us that He is our only source of strength. And when we see this truth, like Pastor Gerhardt, we receive new hope. (Our Daily Bread, May 7, 1992.)

How are you managing through this pandemic? Take heart. Be encouraged as you focus on the truths the apostle John has given us as children of God…God is greater than all our fears, He knows everything, confidence comes in pleasing Him and He has put His Spirit in us guaranteeing His presence now and forever more. Be at rest! Amen!

Mother’s Day Sunday, May 10, 2020

What to watch for below: Today we thank God for mothers! Please find below an assortment of videos for worship singing (chosen by our worship leader Anne), a video message, a closing prayer and my sermon manuscript for further reading. May the peace of our LORD Jesus be with you as we continue to wait for Him to deliver us from this pandemic and bring us back together in fellowship.

Before you enter the worship videos look at this video below as a tribute to moms

You can visit Steven Curtis Chapman’s website at https://stevencurtischapman.com/
Visit Casting Crowns at their website https://castingcrowns.com/
Read more about this band that is no longer touring at https://www.allsonsanddaughters.com/home
Vist Corey Voss’ website http://www.coreyvoss.com/
Mother’s Day Video Message

Click the arrow below to hear the closing prayer

Sermon manuscript for ~ A Mother’s Love

Text: 1 John 3:11-18

All Scripture passages below are New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

On this Mother’s Day of 2020, we are reminded to give thanks for our mothers and reflect on how they loved us and helped shape us into the people we are today. We also respect the fact that not all mothers were created equal. Some mothers had more of a traditional role in the home as domestic housewives while other mothers pursued careers. Either way, whatever role your mother gravitated toward, we take time today to be grateful for their “nurturing love.”

The apostle John focuses on loving one another in today’s passage. Every mother and father would be wise to understand the love the apostle is defining and apply it in their lives so that they can be godlier parents.

When Robert Ingersoll, the notorious skeptic, was in his heyday, two college students went to hear him lecture. As they walked down the street after the lecture, one said to the other, “Well, I guess he knocked the props out from under Christianity, didn’t he?” The other said, “No, I don’t think he did. Ingersoll did not explain my mother’s life, and until he can explain my mother’s life I will stand by my mother’s God.” James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited, Tyndale, 1972, p. 381.

What an incredible influence a godly mother has with her love. Let us look at the characteristics of love in 1 John 3:11-18,

11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

John reminds us that Cain was the first human to hate, and as a result murdered his brother Abel because he was jealous that God favoured Abel’s offering over his. Cain did not have the devote love for God as Abel did. John strongly warns that Cain’s behavior is unacceptable among believers. Believers must not hate their brothers or sisters, or their eternal security is in question. At the same time as believers live in righteousness, they should expect the world will hate them. Have you ever experienced discrimination for your devotion to God?

In the second part of this passage, verses 16-18, John provides three characteristics of love that are exemplified by a godly mother and every child of God must imitate.

Three Characteristics of a Godly Mother’s Love

1. A Godly mother’s love is sacrificial

In verse 16, we read again, “16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”  There are many types of love, but the love John is referring to here comes from the Greek word “agape” which is a charitable, affectionate love that was perfectly demonstrated by Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross. Agape love is “sacrificial love.” A godly mother makes many sacrifices for her children on a daily basis. This is a selfless love where she puts her needs and ambitions aside to provide nurturing love for her children.

Photo by Adrian Dorobantu on Pexels.com

Years ago, a young mother was making her way across the hills of South Wales, carrying her tiny baby in her arms, when she was overtaken by a blinding blizzard. She never reached her destination and when the blizzard had subsided her body was found by searchers beneath a mound of snow. But they discovered that before her death, she had taken off all her outer clothing and wrapped it about her baby. When they unwrapped the child, to their great surprise and joy, they found he was alive and well. She had mounded her body over his and given her life for her child, proving the depths of her mother love. Years later that child, David Lloyd George, grown to manhood, became prime minister of Great Britain, and, without doubt, one of England’s greatest statesman. James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited, Tyndale, 1972, p. 375.

Application Point – Where would this world be without the sacrificial love of Jesus? Where would this world be without the sacrificial love of a mother? How are we imitating the love of Jesus and our mothers today? How well are we loving sacrificially?

2. A Godly mother’s love is compassionate

In verse 17, we read, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” A godly mother has this nurturing love that expresses pity and wants to give when a child is in need. Someone said, “Love cannot be in the same room with pride or apathy.”

Jesus gives us the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) in which a priest and Levite walked past a poor, beaten, robbed countryman and brother.

It was easier for these men to be priest and Levite following the law than it was to be genuine caregivers with compassion. They carried out their roles but missed their opportunity to serve their LORD and touch the heart of God. A godly mother is always closer to the heart of God because she wants to alleviate pain and is willing to give of herself, time and effort to do so. I believe the Good Samaritan had a compassionate heart.

Photo by Garon Piceli on Pexels.com

A Christian counselor Brooks Ramsey made a marvelous discovery. He writes, “In the Hebrew language of the Old Testament the word for “compassion” comes from the root word, “womb.” The picture is of a birthing. Something new is being born. If I apply this in a human experience, it means that my compassionate acts always give the other person another chance. I do not hold past failures against them. I offer a “fresh start.” I want this for myself from others. Am I willing to give it to the other person? Such compassion will dramatically change the way we relate to each other.” Brooks Ramsey, Pastoral Counseling and Consulting Center, Memphis TN.

Application Point – During this COVID-19 pandemic, we need our love to be compassionate and moved toward giving to others. How often have we turned a blind “I” (eye) to others needs? Let us repent of this and allow God’s pure compassionate love to fill us and lead us to giving and supporting others. It can be as simple as listening to someone on the phone and offering them encouragement.

3. A Godly mother’s love is reliably active

In verse 18, John writes, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” Love is not just spoken word or emotion it must be action. A godly mother doesn’t make empty promises to her children she delivers. This is why we honour mothers because they don’t abandon their children, but follow through with reliable, active love.

Photo by VisionPic .net on Pexels.com

A young man, raised by a childless couple since he was seven years old, was leaving his adoptive parents in order to take a job in a distant city. During the emotional “Good-byes,” he grabbed his parents’ hands and said, “How can I ever repay you two for what you have done for me?” To which the father replied, “Son, there is a saying: The love of parents goes to their children, but the love of the children goes to their children.”

As the son attempted to respond, the mother broke in and said: “Son, what your father means is that a parent’s love can be paid back only by passing it on.”

Application point – How have you put your love in action lately? Have you put your loving words into action? Today, I repent of my empty promises and put on the love of Jesus. Will you join me in passing on reliable, active love to others – especially to your family?

Conclusion

Two brothers worked together on the family farm.  One was married and had a large family.  The other was single.  At the day’s end, the brothers shared everything equally, produce and profit.

Then one day the single brother said to himself, “It’s not right that we should share equally the produce and the profit. I’m alone and my needs are simple.” So, each night he took a sack of grain from his bin and crept across the field between their houses, dumping it into his brother’s bin.

Meanwhile, the married brother said to himself, “It’s not right that we should share the produce and the profit equally. After all, I’m married, and I have my wife and my children to look after me for years to come. My brother has no one, and no one to take care of his future.” So, each night he took a sack of grain and dumped it into his single brother’s bin.

Both men were puzzled for years because their supply of grain never dwindled. Then one dark night the two brothers bumped into each other. Slowly it dawned on them what was happening. They dropped their sacks and embraced one another.

These brothers lived out the love that was taught to them by their godly mother. God be praised for their godly character of love!

Today O LORD, we give thanks for mothers who love sacrificially, with compassion and in reliable action. Teach us to do the same. AMEN!

Sunday May 3, 2020

What to watch for below: I have chosen a few worship songs that I believe will help us turn our hearts to Jesus and prepare us to hear His Word in the following video message. I am taking another look at 1 John 3:2-10, but this time focusing on three reasons Jesus appeared to this world. I have included a closing prayer and my sermon manuscript for a fuller understanding of this passage. God bless you as you live as a child of God in Christ’s righteousness. When Jesus returns may He find us faithful.

Visit Tommy Walker and His Praise music at https://www.youtube.com/user/TommyWalkerDotNet
Visit Robin Mark’s Worship Music at https://robinmark.com/
Visit Hillsong Worship music at https://hillsong.com/worship/
Video Message – The Test of Being a Child of God

Press the arrow below to hear the Closing Prayer and Benediction

The Apostle Paul’s Prayer is from Ephesians 1:17-23

Sermon Manuscript ~ “The Test of Being a Child of God”

Text: 1 John 3:2-10

Jesus a World Conqueror?

How much do you value your freedom? God created us to have relationship with Him and with each other. How much are you willing to sacrifice to keep those freedoms? Will a few months of isolation and social distancing be worth the effort to destroy a virus that is trying to keep us apart? Will our efforts be worth it? What are the risks if we don’t comply? How much do you value your life and your freedoms?

For millennia, world leaders have arisen to become famous (or infamous) for their exploits in trying to improve the life and freedoms of their own people. You might have heard of some of these conquerors: Cyrus the Great 580-529 BC; Atilla the Hun 406-453 BC; Alexander the Great 356-323 BC; Roman Emperors Julius Caesar & Augustus Caesar 63 BC-14 AD; Charlemagne 742-814; Genghis Khan 1162-1227AD; British Monarchs William the Conqueror, Richard I, Edward I, Henry V; and French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte 1769-1821AD. Of course, this list is incomplete, and you may argue that some names should be added here. I believe a prominent name that is missing is that of Jesus the Christ (4 BC – 30 AD).

Many do not see Jesus as a world conqueror. He did not lead a rebellion to overthrow the Roman Empire, but for two millennia His teaching of the Kingdom of God, His life of compassion, the nature of His death, His resurrection from the grave, His ascension into Heaven, and the sending of His Holy Spirit to birth His Church has left an unalterable course for mankind which is leading to His return. This is what the apostle John saw in Revelation and what he has written in his God-inspired gospel and letters to the churches. Do you really know why Jesus appeared in this world?

Jesus Appears for Three Reasons

The apostle John reveals three reasons Jesus appeared in his first letter of John in chapter 3:2-10, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.”

1. To Take Away our Sins

The apostle John makes it clear in this passage that Jesus has appeared for three reasons. First, in verse 5a, “But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins.” Jesus came to free mankind from sin.The word “sins” comes from the Greek word “hamartia” which means “missing the mark” (used in ancient Greek archery) and leads to a disqualification. Sinning against God is missing His perfect target for your life. God’s target is having you live in His will by trusting in Him and obeying His laws.

The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome, a step by step understanding of how Jesus took away our sin. Christians call this the Roman Road of salvation or freedom from sin. Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Sin separates us from God’s perfection and holiness. Paul continues in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Here’s the good news in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Paul continues in Romans 10:9, 10, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

Have you accepted Jesus’s death on the cross for your sins? Are you saved from sin and its everlasting separation from God?  I want to encourage you to pause right here and in prayer (talking to God) ask Jesus to take away your sins in your life and accept His forgiveness by praying, “Jesus I thank you for dying on the cross for my sin. I accept you as my Saviour and LORD. Thank you for saving me from God’s wrath and making me a child of God. I ask for your Holy Spirit to give me new life and lead me to live for You. Amen.” If you prayed this prayer from your heart you are now a child of God free from the penalty of your sins. Hallelujah! Go tell, text or message someone about this right now!

2. To Destroy the Devil’s Work

Secondly, Jesus appeared not only to take away sins, but to destroy the devil’s work. We read in verse 8, “The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” What is the devil’s work? His work from the beginning has been to exalt himself above God and to disobey God’s will making himself a “god.” The devil’s work is “selfish pride.” The apostle John records Jesus’s teaching on being a Shepherd to helpless sheep and guarding against the devil in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

When we pray to receive Jesus as our Saviour, and become a child of God, He will constantly make us aware of how the devil is trying to steal, kill and destroy God’s plan for our lives. The devil will tempt a child of God to sin because sin will separate us from God’s plan and the fullness of Jesus’s life in us. Jesus will make us aware of these battles against the devil through His Holy Spirit in order to destroy any foothold or stronghold that the devil is trying to get in our hearts, souls and minds.

In the rest of our Scripture passage for today John engages in this battle against the devil and sin by imposing a test of authenticity upon the churches he is writing to. John wants the churches to know who is a true child of God and who is counterfeit. Can you tell the difference?

The American Banking Association in their training program to help tellers never look at a counterfeit bill. All they do hour after hour, day after day, is handle authentic currency until they are so familiar with the true that they cannot possibly be fooled with the false.

John’s test of authenticity is correctly stated this way by Bible commentator and preacher Robert Law from his book of sermons – “The Tests of Life: A study of the First Epistle of St. John” – “Doing is the test of being.” This is exactly what the apostle is stating in the following verses. In following verses look at the “doing” and the “being” references and how they define the authentic child of God.

Verse 4 – “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” Whoever breaks the law (does) “is (being) lawless.” We have jails for lawbreakers. Do you remember Romans 3:23? We have all sinned (done) and are “sinners.” Are you still a sinner? Look at the next verse…

Verses 5b, 6, “And in him [Jesus] is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” John reiterates the same truths in verse 9, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” These verses reveal that Jesus set the standard for being a child of God and that is to be without sin. The test is in the doing. If you continue to sin which is the opposite of who Jesus is then you are not a child of God. As theologian John R, W, Stott puts it in his commentary book The Letters of John, “to sin is to deny Christ.”  

Wait one moment! If you believe you are a child of God (which I believe I am) and you sin, does that mean you will lose your salvation? No. The key to understanding these verses is to look at the context of the letter. John wrote earlier in 1 John 1:8-10, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

The apostle John is not saying that the child of God will be without sin while living on this earth. What he is emphasizing is that “sin is no longer the defining nature of a child of God.” Again verse 9 states, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them.” John is revealing this truth: whoever claims to be a child of God, but persists (continues) in sin, and is not conscious stricken, not remorseful, not repentant and does not desire to be holy, is a heretic like the false teachers who infiltrated the churches he wrote to.

When we change our identity from being in bondage to sin (child of the devil) to being in Christ (or being born again) we are unable to sin habitually. John Stott explains it this way, “The new birth involves the acquisition of a new nature through the implanting within us of the very seed or the lifegiving power of God…It exerts a strong internal pressure towards holiness.” Therefore, Jesus will destroy the devil’s work in God’s children by constantly waring against the temptations and sins we choose so that we will not be enslaved to the devil’s traps and miss God’s best, His abundant life of freedom for us.

Do you pass the “doing test of being?” Do you desire to be like Jesus Christ – sinless? The apostle John, our general, commands us in verse 7, “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.” And verse 10, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.” 

Passing the “doing test of being” means you will desire to live a righteous life as Jesus lived. It means you will want to love others as He did. It means you will constantly be confessing your sins such as: ingratitude, lack of love to God, neglect of the Bible, unbelief, neglect of prayer, pride, envy, evil speaking and slander, lying, cheating, hypocrisy and robbing God (wasting your money). This list of sins was provided by 19th century American revivalist C.G. Finney. Do you need to confess any of them now?

3. To Conquer the Kingdoms of this World

Finally, Jesus appeared with a promise to take the children of God to be with Him and His Father forever and to conquer the kingdoms of this world. John reminds the children of God in verse 2, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Children of God will have the joy of being perfect like Jesus and see Him in His glory when He returns.God also revealed this about Jesus to the apostle John, in Revelation chapters 19 and 20. Jesus will return as the Conqueror of the world and set Himself up in the city of Jerusalem as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords for a thousand years and then forevermore in the new Jerusalem. Jesus came as Saviour and will reveal Himself as LORD. The early church sang about this in their hymn in Philippians 2:9-11, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,  to the glory of God the Father.”

Conclusion

Let me leave you with a challenge from John Stott and then a powerful prayer of hope for the children of God by the apostle Paul.

 John Stott challenges us, “If Christ appeared first both to “take away our sins” and to “destroy the devil’s work” and, when He appears the second time, “we shall see Him” and, in consequence, “we shall be like Him,” how can we possibly go on living in sin? If we are loyal, we must ‘‘purify ourselves” as he is pure (verse 3). By so doing we shall give evidence of our birth of God.”

Paul’s prayer for children of God (for you?) from his letter to the believers in Ephesus, Ephesians 1, “15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. AMEN!”

Sunday, April 26, 2020

What to watch for below: It is my hope to bring glory to God through another collage of videos and messages this beautiful spring Sunday under COVID-19 lockdown. Please find below a few worship song videos followed by my video message from 1 John 2:28 – 3:10. I have included a closing prayer and my sermon manuscript for a fuller understanding of this passage. God bless you as you live as a child of God in these important times. I miss you and love you. Keep your eyes and faith focused on Jesus!

No Longer Slaves (Official Lyric Video) – Jonathan David and Melissa Helser | We Will Not Be Shaken. Visit their site at https://www.jonathanhelser.com/
Canadian Worship Leader Matt Maher. Visit his site at https://www.mattmahermusic.com/
Sung by Stuart Townend and choir. Visit his site at https://www.stuarttownend.co.uk/biography/

CLICK THE ARROW BELOW TO HEAR THE CLOSING PRAYER

Sermon Manuscript entitled, “Do You Know Your Identity Markers?”

Text: 1 John 2:29 -3:10 and other passages are from New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

I. Introduction

Have you ever been mistaken for someone else? How do you feel when you are called by someone else’s name? If you have siblings, how did you feel being called your brother or sister’s name instead of your own? You can let it pass for the first or second time, but if the person continually calls you by a wrong name you might get a little annoyed or offended.

Think for a moment about identical twins you may know. Have you noticed that close relatives and close friends are able to tell them apart? How do they do it? They rely on certain identity markers. These identity markers could be physical like: dimples, different hairlines, moles, freckles, and birth marks. These identity markers can be character differences such as one being introverted while the other is extroverted. These identity markers could also include habits, talents, or mannerisms. Identity markers are important in telling twins apart.

Photo by malcolm garret on Pexels.com

II. Transition

Are there identity markers that set children of God apart from others? When our Canadian culture was steeped in Christian values and principles it wasn’t uncommon to hear people say, “we are all God’s children.” It was a religious assumption in our Christian nation that everyone knew God. Unfortunately, our culture has changed dramatically and many today don’t know what Christians believe in and don’t even know the significance of Christmas or Easter. In some cases, Christians can be working together for years and not know that their co-worker is a believer in Jesus. How sad is that?

In my sermon series from the First Letter of John, the apostle John is writing to warn children of God not to live by a false identity because many were being deceived by a false gospel and false doctrine. False teachers were convincing them to believe that all matter and flesh were evil. They began to believe Jesus was not fully God and fully man. These false teachers were the forefathers to what would later be called “Gnosticism” which is a knowledge cult promoting spiritual ascendency beyond human form. The apostle John held up a true standard against these falsities when he wrote this letter.

As you read today’s passage in 1 John 2:29-3:10 below, look for identity markers that set true believers in Jesus apart from these false teachers…  

“28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. Chapter 3:1, See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.”

III. Your True Identity Revealed

Let us look at John’s identity markers for true children of God. John describes them this way. They are…

1) Abiding in God – again we read in verse 28a, “And now, dear children, continue in him…”  The word “continue” comes from the Greek word “meno” which can be translated “abide or continue.”

How does it look like to abide in God or continue in Him as a child of God? Think of the happiest moment in your life. Think about the best visit you ever had with a loved one or relative. Think about the joy you saw in the faces of your children on Christmas day. Think about the time you really felt God’s presence in your life. During these incredible moments and encounters, did you ever have the feeling, “I want this moment to last forever!” This could be the feeling of two lovers. Others cherish loving company and wish, “I want to stay longer. I don’t want my kids to grow up. I want to enjoy this time a little bit longer.”  It’s like my grandson Fletcher who comes over to swing on a cheap little plastic swing and when its time to go home he wants to swing just a little bit longer. The swing is a big part of his enjoyment, but he loves our attention too.

Abiding in God is remaining in His presence where you sense and know His love, His peace and you just want to enjoy Him more and more. God wants this for you continually. Children of God who know God intimately in this way just want to abide, rest and be with Him. It leads to the next identity marker which is – they are…

2) Confident and unashamed – we find this in verse 28b – “so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.” The apostle John is telling us here that Jesus will return one day. When He does, will He find us confident in our faith and unashamed to see him? If Jesus returned right now, would your faith roll out the red carpet for Him or would you want to hide behind a rock?

Here’s a poetic monologue that rings true with unashamed confidence in identifying yourself with Christ. It is entitled, “No Turning Back.”

I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still. My past is redeemed, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, live by prayer and labor by His power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable and my mission clear. I cannot be bought, deluded or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go ‘till He comes, give ‘till I drop, preach ‘till all know and work ‘till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. Anonymous

Do you identify with this confidence as a child of God? Ask God to give it to you. Here is John’s next identity marker for children of God – they…

3) Know and Live in God’s Righteous – read verse 29, “If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.” This is one of the most distinct identity markers for children of God because in their moral behaviours, actions and good deeds they want to do what is pleasing and right in God’s sight. It is like your defining feature such as your nose or your sparkling eyes or your beautiful smile. John gives us more details of how this looks like in verses 2 to 10. It is a life where we are living like Christ. To be a Christian is to be a “little Christ.” To be a child of God is to be like God’s Son. We live by faith under the guidance of the Holy Spirit so that we make decisions and carry out actions that are sinless and blameless before our Righteous God.

A Bible commentator from https://www.gotquestions.org/imputed-righteousness.html wrote,

When we place our faith in Christ, God ascribes the perfect righteousness of Christ to our account so that we become perfect in His sight. “God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin [be a sin offering] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

By having the righteousness of Christ imputed, or attributed, to us, we can be seen as sinless, as Jesus is sinless. We are not righteous in ourselves; rather, we possess Christ’s righteousness applied to our account. It is not our perfection, but Christ’s that God sees when He brings us into fellowship with Himself. We are still sinners in practice, but the grace of God has declared us to have righteous standing before the law.

The apostle John encourages confession to purify us (children of God) from sin and unrighteousness. He wrote this earlier in chapter 1 verses 8 and 9, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

What a joy we have in knowing that God sees the righteousness of His Son Jesus in us and we are pardoned of our sin. As we wash our hands to prevent a COVID-19 virus infection, how much more should we wash our souls with daily repentance, confession and surrender to Christ’s righteous presence in us? The apostle states it well in verse 3, “All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.” Are you washing?

Finally, the last identity marker of a child of God that I want to highlight is – they…

4) Know and Live in God’s love – in chapter 3:1, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

If righteousness is a distinct feature for a child of God, like the nose on your face, then knowing God’s love and living in His love is the believer’s DNA or blood type. The love that ran through Jesus’ veins is the love that must run through ours. The love and the compassion that spurred on Jesus’ ministry is what we need for one another.

This love, in question, is well defined in this phrase from verse 1, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us.” When we look at God’s love toward us what do we see? Most definitely the apostle is telling us to look at the cross. It was at the cross that Jesus poured out His love for us. He poured out His blood for our sin, as our sin offering to God, in order that God’s wrath would be satisfied in this payment; and by faith in receiving Jesus’ love for us in His sacrifice we are freed from eternal condemnation and thus enter into an intimate love relation with God where we cry out, as His children,  “Father! Daddy!” The apostle Paul compares it to a loving adoption when we receive Jesus and are born of His Holy Spirit in Romans 8:14 and 15, “14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

I love the verb “lavished” in association with how great the Father’s love is for us. Google dictionary defines the word this way, “bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities on, and/or more literally, cover something thickly or liberally with.” The word comes from the Latin “to wash or flood.” Two images come to my mind. One is what some mothers experience at a baby shower for a newborn baby and the gifts are showered (bestowed) on the mother and her child. Another image is that of eating one of my favourite foods which is ice cream lavished in chocolate syrup and yummy treats.

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In the same way, God pours out His love in great heaps desiring to saturate us so that we will love others as He has loved us. As children of God, we are no longer under God’s wrath, but we are now under His great love. How often do we forget this?

When we sin, or when we believe in lies about our true identity like our brothers and sisters did in the Early Church, we can easily feel like we don’t measure up to God. We can start condemning ourselves, but God’s antidote is simply reminding us with open arms like a Father that He loves us with a great, unending, downpour of love even when we fall and fail Him because He has adopted us into His loving family. Isn’t this truth delicious? I just don’t want this moment of truth to be forgotten. Do you?

IV. Conclusion

As a child of God, will you allow Him to shape you into the image of His Son every day? So that you will be assured of Jesus’ identity markers in your life? Can children of God, and those who live in sin, see that you: abide in God; are unashamedly confident in your faith; know and live in God’s righteousness; and finally know and live in God’s love? If your answer is “no” – get out from underneath that rock of falsehood and repent of your self-condemnation, self-pity and sin! Stop living in fear and selfishness like the world does! You are loved! You belong to God our Abba Father! Live in your true identity in Christ Jesus!

If you are not a child of God, ask God to open your eyes to the love He demonstrated for you at the cross through His Son Jesus. I plead with you to give your life over to Him now! He is lavishing His grace and His love upon you now! Accept Jesus, His Son, by faith and God will adopt you as His child. He knows your name and is calling you into and everlasting love relationship with Him.

I leave you with this joyous encounter that will never end…But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is (verse 2b).” Hallelujah! Amen!

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