google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html

Archive for the 'Gems in John' Category

00:0000:00
JohnsGems-1John.jpg

Gems in the Letter of 1 John

Part 115 - 1 John 4:16
God is love.


This is one of the diamonds of John’s gems! Unfortunately, the first thing I must say is to be careful and not think of it as ‘Love is God’. It isn’t! Even though many pop songs etc. would seem to suggest it is. The verses before and after this phrase stand out and we need to read them. We have:

 
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 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. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 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. 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. 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. We love because he first loved us. 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. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

How can we summarize what we have there and put it together into one idea. I would suggest that we should go back to the idea which is dominant in the first 3 Gospels but which John used very little. And that is the idea of ‘kingdom’, the kingdom of God. One of the dominant characteristics of that kingdom, if not THE dominant characteristic is ‘love’

We live in a world in which more people than ever before are changing the kingdom, or nation, within which they are going to live. There are huge numbers of displaced people and migrants all over the world. They are causing problems. Many of them want to live in a different country but without changing their culture. But the existing people of the country demand that they should change culture, accepting theirs and fitting in properly. The outcome is conflict.

Jesus followers have no choice. They are to change their culture to that of the kingdom of God. The dominant feature of it is ‘love’. They are to receive the love of God because they are born of God; they have received all the benefits of the death of the Son of God through his atoning sacrifice on the cross. That love must be reflected out from their lives. If it isn’t they are not truly born of God and have not received those benefits: the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Spirit. That reflection means that we love one another. We will also have confidence for the moment when we have to approach the throne of judgement. Fear will not be a factor on that day and should not be now.

Our task now is not to be careful not to break a long list of rules. It is to live as true citizens of the Kingdom, rejoicing in our relationship to its Lord and Ruler and in our relationships to every other member of that Kingdom. What a prospect! What a challenge! What a joy!

Click or Tap here to listen to or save this as an audio mp3 file

~

You can now purchase our Partakers books including Roger's latest - The Puzzle of Living - A fresh look at the story of Job!

Please do click or tap here to visit our Amazon site!

Click or tap on the appropriate link below to subscribe, share or download our iPhone App!
Subscribe in podnovaI heart FeedBurneritunes_logo.giffacebook.giftwitter.gifAdd to Google Reader or Homepage
Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

00:0000:00
JohnsGems-1John.jpg

Gems in the Letter of 1 John

Part 114 - 1 John 4:4
Comparative powers



This is a delightful part verse, “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world”, but extraordinary difficult to see the truth of it in our world! Of course, theoretically, it must be true. It was the Triune God, Father, Son and Spirit which created this world we live in. They have not relinquished control of it so it must be greater than any created thing or being. But does it really seem to be true in the real world as one national leader after another organises things so that tens, and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people are killed in order that they can stay in power. Surely they are all driven on by the same evil power rampant in our world. It is good to assert that the power of the Lord is in all things greater than that of any other, but is it true.

We have a real problem in understanding the reality of this assertion. It is true because we have not really thought through what ‘greater’ means. Our knowledge of God must be basically founded on Jesus. The accounts we have of his ministry are by far the most information we have about God. He did nothing that his Father would not have done. He said, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” And we can be sure that relationship was reciprocal: what we see the Son doing we know the Father could also do. If the Son mirrors the Father in what he does, then the Father mirrors the Son.

Jesus very clearly redefined many things, amongst them greatness, all the things that it is great to do. Perhaps most famously he told off James and John when they asked to have the privileged positions next to him in the kingdom they thought he was going to set up. He said; “you know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10: 41 – 45).

Also famously he took a towel and washed their feet. His explanation of his action was, “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13: 12b – 17).

If we put these sayings of Jesus alongside what John says we realise that in the world of the kingdom of God man,y things are indeed greater than they are in the outside world. The Spirit that is in us is the chief conveyor of that greatness. Our problem and difficulty is to live up to the possible potential of what has been given to us.

Click or Tap here to listen to or save this as an audio mp3 file

~

You can now purchase our Partakers books including Roger's latest - The Puzzle of Living - A fresh look at the story of Job!

Please do click or tap here to visit our Amazon site!

Click or tap on the appropriate link below to subscribe, share or download our iPhone App!
Subscribe in podnovaI heart FeedBurneritunes_logo.giffacebook.giftwitter.gifAdd to Google Reader or Homepage
Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

00:0000:00
JohnsGems-1John.jpg

Gems in the Letter of 1 John

Part 113 - 1 John 4:1
Testing the spirits.



. We do not know exactly what was happening to cause John to say, “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. 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, 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.” (1 John 4: 1 – 3). The comment about the need to acknowledge that Jesus had come in the flesh probably means that some of the folk John was addressing had come to believe that Jesus was just and only God. We don’t have that problem – if anything the opposite, folk who think he was only human. The detail doesn’t matter – there is a clear principle behind these verses which is as relevant and important today as it was then: that is that Jesus is to have the supremacy in all circumstances. In a good church nothing is to challenge that first place and clear focus on him and, sadly, there are many ways that can be done.


Sometimes it is done deliberately. Some people reckon they are too clever to accept any thing like a resurrection from the grave of a dead person, or something as difficult to work out logically as a Trinity. Very often it happens as an unrecognized result of a good intention. One common way in which this happens is when in order to attract as many people to the church as possible the gospel that is preached becomes human centred rather than Christ centred. The church can easily become not much more than a pleasant club to be a member of. There is an age-old conflict between those who want a church to be more ‘spiritual’ and those who want it to be more ‘practical’. Another set of problems arises when some, usually the leaders, think that it would be better if there were more ceremonial, more processions, more fancy clothing worn by the clergy. This tends to move the focus of thinking of the ordinary church members away from Jesus, this time to the leadership. Some churches decide that they need to emphasize more the good work that they do with the poor and disadvantaged of their community. That is a thoroughly good thing to do; much of what Jesus said would encourage it. But if, as a result, the church loses its focus on Jesus it becomes no more than a do-gooders club. Then there are churches that correctly think there should be an emphasis on the Holy Spirit and the way he can empower every member. But it is quite possible for a church that way to lose its focus on Jesus and move into a sea of often doubtful subjectivity divorced from reliance on the importance of the scriptures for determining the directions in which everyone should go.

The labelling that John applied to things in his situation, ‘the spirit of the antichrist’ can properly and correctly be applied to what happens in many of those situations and others besides. What then can we learn from this passage? Just this: we have to be careful what we are taught and the way our church is going. And those are not easy things to do. We need to analyse what we are told – which is difficult to do without becoming unduly critical and eventually a bit cynical! And if things are going wrong it is very difficult to do anything about it in most church setups. It is not good to be labelled the critic of the church – but someone must be! May the Lord be with you particularly if you have to take on such a role.

Click or Tap here to listen to or save this as an audio mp3 file

~

You can now purchase our Partakers books including Roger's latest - The Puzzle of Living - A fresh look at the story of Job!

Please do click or tap here to visit our Amazon site!

Click or tap on the appropriate link below to subscribe, share or download our iPhone App!
Subscribe in podnovaI heart FeedBurneritunes_logo.giffacebook.giftwitter.gifAdd to Google Reader or Homepage
Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

00:0000:00
JohnsGems-1John.jpg

Gems in the Letter of 1 John

Part 112 - 1 John 3:14
Dead or alive!

In a quite astonishing verse John says, “We know that we have passed from death to life, ...” John is actually suggesting that our lives before we started to follow Jesus were like those of someone dead! Death is horribly terminal. If you have ever had to pick up a dead cat or dog or rabbit, or seen a dead lamb, that pitiful scrap of fur and skin that when alive was so full of life, you will know what I mean. (I have carefully refrained from talking about dead humans!)

We thought we were full of life. We perhaps even thought we were more full of life than those called Christians who, in the mistaken thinking of many people, being unable to do some things without being told off such as getting drunk or having pre-marital sex, are less than fully alive.

But it is not so. The real difference is who our master was then and who he is now. If you look back towards the beginning of the chapter you will find that another character has been involved in what John has been talking about. And he is the devil, also called ‘the evil one’. We like to think that we are independent, having no master, but it is not so. Such is human nature that we all, always, everywhere, are slaves to someone and in the natural order of things that person is the devil. That, unfortunately, is the way things are. John goes back to very near the beginning of the human race, the descendants of Adam and Eve. He tells us not to be like Cain who was in only the second generation of their descendants. How exactly it is that the tendency to evil which started with Cain’s father and mother has come down to us through many centuries and millennia we do not know although many people like to argue about it. No matter, it is a fact, which we cannot escape however hard we try to or to argue it does not exist.

All those many people around us who seem to be so full of of life and like to look down on us as being poor deprived people missing many of the good things of life are sadly wrong. Think back to your pre-conversion days. You may have got up to many things in those days that you would not do now. You were dead then; now you are alive in Christ, there are indeed many things you would not now do but life does not consist of the number of things you can do. It never has done and it never will do. If you make the mistake of thinking that it is the number of experiences you have that will be the best thing of life you will only spend all your days in a hopeless chase to try and catch up with as many of them as possible. No, that is a dead end! Which is why John said that the people he was writing to had passed out of death to life.

They had turned aside and escaped the dead end. So have you, as you follow the Lord. But – hold on a minute – how full of life are you now? Perhaps, like me, you are rather old so you are bound not to have a great deal of life left in you and, one way and another, it has started to seep away as though you had a small hole somewhere in your system from which life is steadily leaking away. With that exception – how full of life are you, real life, spiritual life, God centred life, Jesus type life? Spend a moment to do a stock check. “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.”

Click or Tap here to listen to or save this as an audio mp3 file

~

You can now purchase our Partakers books including Roger's latest - The Puzzle of Living - A fresh look at the story of Job!

Please do click or tap here to visit our Amazon site!

Click or tap on the appropriate link below to subscribe, share or download our iPhone App!
Subscribe in podnovaI heart FeedBurneritunes_logo.giffacebook.giftwitter.gifAdd to Google Reader or Homepage
Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

00:0000:00
JohnsGems-1John.jpg

Gems in the Letter of 1 John

Part 110 - 1 John 3:11
Love

JG 111 1 John 3:11 Love! Some time ago I suggested that John was very fond of taking an idea and batting it backwards and forwards rather like a tennis player with a ball. Never is that more true than here in these chapters 3 and 4 where he talks about love. In 3: 11 he says we should ‘love one another’. At 3: 1 he talked about ‘the Father lavishing love upon us.’ Very nice – but what do they mean? Unfortunately the word ‘love’ in the English language is a very slippery word to pin down. It certainly doesn’t mean the love that hundreds and thousands of pop singers are always on about with a tinge of sexuality involved somewhere. What do they mean?

The other day I was sitting watching some small birds called sparrows enjoying some seeds we had given them. British sparrows, if you do not know them, are about the most uninteresting little birds there are. They are only brown, different shades of brown, with an odd dash of black. Their idea of a song is very quaint. They just chirp endlessly, thinking they are making an interesting noise – they aren’t, well possibly interesting to other sparrows, but no one else. And we spend good money to buy seed for them in the winter - why? I suppose we feel sorry for them and that we should do something for them, just out of the goodness of our hearts.

Much of this is what God does in the way he treats us. Why should he? He is, after all, even further above us than we are above sparrows. Yet he cares for us; he feeds us; he makes sure we have enough to eat, to keep us going. Can we say he loves us? Yes! Amazingly we can. Very fortunately for us he made us in his own image so he has an interest in us and feels a responsibility for us surpassing that for any other creatures on earth.

What does he do for us that we do not do for the sparrows? The sparrows will chirp endlessly away until they get too cold and fall over or fall prey to a hawk and that is the end of them. We are given many abilities to do something more than just chirp away. We know where there is a doctor who can give us the medicines we need to keep us well and happy. We are told, and understand, that there are different ways of living. The sparrows do not understand that we are being good to them - we understand that there is a Creator God who has been wonderfully good to us. We have the power and ability to choose a different way of life. We can commit ourselves to following him who provides many good things for us. We can understand that there is a whole great created world out there into which we can fit. We can sing and express our joy in ways far beyond a sparrows chirping though we have never done anything that has made it inevitable that we should be so wonderfully granted the gifts of grace.

Is this love? Perhaps, in some ways, what I see in our back garden is an analogy of some part of what the love is like that the Bible talks about so much. Can you think of a better analogy of how God loves us and therefore of how we are to love each other?

In some ways it is easier to think about what the love of God to us is than to think of how we are to love to each other. We are to ‘love’ all those who are loved by God, our brothers and sisters, the members of the fellowship we find ourselves in, even when they can be a difficult lot sometimes! How can we define what the Bible means when it demands that we must love them? We have to do so in a way that is reasonable, that is beyond what might be expected of us in the normal attitudes of our general culture and society and that will enable us to feel satisfied that we are obeying the repeated commands such as ‘let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth’ as it says in 3: 18? And so that we may ‘have confidence before God because we keep his commands and do what pleases him’ as we read in 3: 22.

My suggestion is that we must always act before them with positive attitudes. We must never show any hint of a negative attitude to them, both the ones we find easy to be friends to and those we do not. If we act positively always and never negatively then we shall ‘set our hearts at rest in his presence’ and ‘we will have confidence before God’ as 3: 19 and 21 say we should.

Click or Tap here to listen to or save this as an audio mp3 file

~

You can now purchase our Partakers books including Roger's latest - The Puzzle of Living - A fresh look at the story of Job!

Please do click or tap here to visit our Amazon site!

Click or tap on the appropriate link below to subscribe, share or download our iPhone App!
Subscribe in podnovaI heart FeedBurneritunes_logo.giffacebook.giftwitter.gifAdd to Google Reader or Homepage
Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

00:0000:00
JohnsGems-1John.jpg

Gems in the Letter of 1 John

Part 110 - 1 John 3:6
Sin and sinning!



At first sight it seems as though John contradicted himself. In chapter one he said, “If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us” and now he says, “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” (3: 6). How can that be? He seems to say, first that everybody sins and now that if we sin we cannot be his disciples.

The difference is largely hidden in the different Greek tenses in the original. We can see what the difference is most easily if we replace the phrase ‘keep on sinning’ with the concept of idolatry. We, particularly in the West don’t think of ourselves as idolaters because we do not have any sort of idol, picture or statue that we relate to. But what is idolatry? It is when we place anything, anyone or any idea above the Creator God who made everything, everyone and every idea! And here there all sorts of possibilities. Some people place a football team above everything in all creation, chasing it round, watching it play, wearing its costume etc. Or their family, which although a good thing in general should not be allowed to be the only and most important thing in anyone’s life. Or having lots of money, so that all of life becomes a search for more. And a moment’s thought will let you add a lot of possibilities to the list, probably some of them from your own experience, if you think about it!

Most of us find getting it right a difficult matter. To succeed in life, or even just to survive, we need to concentrate on the things that we need. We need a satisfactory amount of money; we need to give time and energy and love to the family. And so on. But where do these things stand in relation to the Lord? He is to be first, and more important than anything else in our lives.

Hopefully you have said to yourself something like – yes, that’s right. But if so that is very worrying, is it not? Sin was a much smaller and much safer thing so long as we thought of it in terms of moral behaviour, in terms of even the Ten Commandments after Jesus had extended them. Most of us, most of the time, manage not to have any other gods, misuse the name of the Lord, say anything rude to our parents, commit any form of sexual misbehaviour, or say any lies about anyone else. (I have picked out every second of the Ten Commandments for that list).

I said ‘most of the time’. That is hopefully right but there are the other times when we slip up, are there not? So John’s analysis is exactly right. We all make mistakes; we all have a very strong tendency to have idols – not least because the one that I have not yet mentioned is ‘ourselves’, ‘me’, and we all like to have ourselves up on a pedestal above all else.

This is the challenge that John throws out to each one of us: yes, most of us will have a tendency to break the moral and ethical rules, which amounts to sin. But what about the more significant thing - do not keep on sinning; do not have an idol to which the Lord has to take second place. That is both a more difficult to thing to avoid and the one that – with the continual help of the Holy Spirit – it is much easier to identify and therefore endeavour to do something about.

Have you, perhaps as a result of this analysis, identified the things that are idols in your life? If you have you have taken a good first step to doing something about them. Now the battle is on for you to resist it or them, to knock them down, to stamp on them until there is next to nothing left. May all strength be yours to succeed.

Click or Tap here to listen to or save this as an audio mp3 file

~

You can now purchase our Partakers books including Roger's latest - The Puzzle of Living - A fresh look at the story of Job!

Please do click or tap here to visit our Amazon site!

Click or tap on the appropriate link below to subscribe, share or download our iPhone App!
Subscribe in podnovaI heart FeedBurneritunes_logo.giffacebook.giftwitter.gifAdd to Google Reader or Homepage
Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »