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Confidence of the Comforter

Posted on January 21, 2021 at 11:05 AM

Dear Saints;

 

I can’t think of a greater blessing from God than that which Jesus gave to his followers concerning the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I know it is incredulous to the world, but for anyone who has experienced the new birth by faith in Christ that first “taste” of their personal salvation is amazing. Wonderful as that might have been, however, it was just the beginning of what Jesus promised for our lives in this world.

 

Being a realist Jesus knew by first hand experience the troubles we would face in this ungodly world. In fact, he told his followers to expect all kinds of hassles, persecution, tribulation, etc. But in the same context he gave us the assurance that we would receive “another of the same kind of Comforter” that he was with his disciples. He referred to him as the Spirit of truth and noted that the world could not receive him because they couldn’t see him and couldn’t relate to him. In strong contrast to those of the world Jesus promised his disciples they would would recognize him because lived with them and would be in them (John 14: 17). That promise was fulfilled the night Jesus met with his disciples after his resurrection saying, “Peace be unto you: As my Father has sent me, even so send I you” (John 20: 21). John notes that after he had said that he “breathe on them” and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit”.

 

The apostle Paul describes same experience for all believers by saying, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his” (Romans 8: 9). All who are born of the Spirit have the Spirit of God living in them to fulfill the promise Jesus gave to his disciple concerning his comfort in this world. The indwelling Spirit of God comforts us by teaching us, guiding us into all truth, reminding us of what Jesus has said, and making Jesus real to us. What he produces in us is called the “fruit of the Spirit” by Paul in Galatians 5: 22 and includes love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance-the very character of Christ.

 

Followers of Christ are not left to their own devices to figure out how to live in this world. Neither are they faced with the task of trying to figure out what is right and what is wrong in any given situation. More importantly, believers are not required to try as hard as they can to make themselves do what is right and quit doing what is wrong. Jesus has not abandoned us as orphans in this world trying to survive on our own. Instead, he has given us the indwelling Spirit of God to lead us personally in all that we do or say. Learning to relying on the personal leadership and comfort of the indwelling Spirit of God is the greatest privilege we have this side of heaven.

 

No matter what we are faced with in this world, we can be assured of the leadership and comfort of the Spirit living within. We are never left on our own to flounder in confusion and suffer in sorrow and pain alone. The Comforter within is with us regardless of our circumstances in this world and will go with us to the end. It is this supernatural resource within that gives us the confidence we need to truly overcome the world.

 

John

 

God and Mammom

Posted on January 13, 2021 at 1:05 PM

Dear Saints,

 

In his sermon on the mount Jesus spoke to an issue that concerns us all, our money. After telling us to quit trying to get rich on earth and instead get rich in heaven he explains, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” He further explains that what we focus on will determine our understanding and tells us bluntly, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

 

All of us have been conditioned by this world to trust our money for not only our physical needs for food, clothing, and shelter, but also our personal needs for worth. In fact, when we ask the question concerning a man’s “net worth” we are asking how much money does he have? In reality our personal need for worth has nothing to do with our money or wealth but rather a sense of security from knowing we are loved unconditionally and a sense of significance from knowing we are important. Although money provides a false sense of security and significance in this world, it never really satisfies these deep personal needs. “Serving mammon” as Jesus put it is the slavery of relying on money for our physical and personal needs and prevents us from serving God. The two are mutually exclusive.

 

Paul gives us more insight on the subject in his first letter to his disciple Timothy. He writes, “For they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into may foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” Note that Paul said it was the love of money, not simply the money itself, that is the root of all evil. Trusting money rather than God to meet our physical and personal needs is where the danger lies. So Paul further writes, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works; ready to distribute, willing to communicate”. (1Timothy 6)

 

The present evil in our world is due to a failure to trust God to provide for our personal needs. Whether it be on a national level or a personal level the love of money and the associated power that comes with it betrays a lack of trust in the living God. Trusting mammon to meet our needs is not just a problem for those we consider to be rich in this world, but for those who we may consider poor as well. Both the rich and the poor may think they need more than what God provides for them. In his sermon Jesus went on to address the poor saying don’t worry about tomorrow, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”. And to the rich Paul says use your riches to bless others and share what you have.

 

No matter whether we are rich or poor our faith in God’s provisions for our physical and personal needs will be demonstrated in a joyful confidence about our own future that frees us to love others. Our faith in God is not that he will give us more money, but that he will lead us by his Spirit to do what he wants us to do with what money we have. Rather than the normal attitude of using people and loving money, we are free to use our money to love people.

 

John

 

The Bread of Life

Posted on January 6, 2021 at 10:35 AM

Dear Saints,

 

I recently read that Americans have lost faith in our institutions. They don’t trust the various systems they once relied upon for their sense of security. They don’t trust the government at all levels. They don’t trust the media. They don’t trust the educational system. They don’t trust big corporations. They don’t trust their healthcare systems. They don’t trust law enforcement, etc., etc., etc. This lack of confidence in our institutions may be seen as a problem for many, but I tend to see it as a good start for believers. In order to exercise our faith in God, we have to quit trusting everything and everyone besides him.

 

For years I have known that the one thing that God wants from his people more than anything else is their faith in him. The writer of Hebrews makes it clear saying, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11: 6). By faith in God we are justified (declared righteous by God) and have peace, and by faith we have access into the grace of God that does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. It is our faith in God that gives us hope in this present world of darkness and allows us to love others despite our most desperate circumstances.

 

So what keeps us from trusting God? It’s the natural conditioning of this world we grew up in that teaches us to trust everything and everyone but God. From the time we are born into this world we learn to rely on everything and everyone other than God to satisfy our basic needs. Before we are old enough to develop an abstract concept of God, much less learn how he meets our needs, we naturally trust our caretakers and ourselves to satisfy both our physical and personal needs. Even when we are old enough to provide for our own physical needs we continue to trust our own performance, the approval of others, and our circumstances in life to determine our personal worth. Faith in our institutions is a natural extension of trusting everything and everyone other than God.

 

For Americans it is especially difficult to trust God to meet our needs when our wealth seems to be doing such a good job of it. Even the poorest American is rich compared to the rest of the world. It’s ironic that we print “In God We Trust” on our money when it’s really the money we are trusting. Despite having our physical needs met by our wealth our personal needs cannot be satisfied by physical things. One of the most shocking statements Jesus made occurred after he had miraculously fed the multitude to illustrate his ability to meet our needs. After announcing that he was the Bread of Life he said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” (John 6: 53-56)

 

The graphic language used by Jesus was meant to break our obsession with trusting in physical things for our security and significance as persons and focus our attention on what he offers to all who will believe. “Eating his flesh and drinking his blood” describes how we trust him for all aspects of our lives. He is the only one who can meet both our physical and personal needs. The fact that we live in him and he in us, our union with him, is the basis for our personal security and importance in this world. No other person or institution can truly satisfy our needs.

 

John

 

New Year 2021

Posted on December 29, 2020 at 10:25 AM

Dear Saints;

 

As I look forward to the New Year, I have mixed emotions. On the one hand I am ready for an exiting year of growth despite the challenges we may face, but on the other hand I am concerned about the condition of our world. Part of me, the new man that I am in Christ is rejoicing in the hope of glory in the coming year, while another part of me, the flesh, is filled with resentment, despair, and anxiety. Yes, I realize this makes me somewhat schizophrenic from a clinical perspective, but it really just means that I am a Christian fighting my own flesh while living in a sin cursed world.

 

As I face the threats of 2021, I have a choice to make within the context of God’s sovereignty. I can choose to enter 2021 in faith, or I can choose to live the natural lifestyle of fear. While this choice may not make any real difference in what is going to happen in the next year, it will dramatically affect my attitude. Exercising faith in God’s Word I can be assured of some amazing promises regardless of what lies ahead in the New Year. I can be sure that I am and will be personally secure in God’s love and significant in God’s eternal plan no matter what happens. In faith I can see the end of all trials at the beginning and know I cannot lose. Faith in who I am guarantees that all things will work together for my good in 2021!

 

Entering the New Year in the natural lifestyle of fear is a radically different story. Rather than hope we might be able to muster a little wishful thinking but endure an underlying dread of the worst-case scenario. We are afraid we will lose our money and

all the satisfaction that it brings us. We are afraid we will lose our health and must face our own mortality. Such fears create a morbid dread of 2021 at best, and a pervasive sense of gloom and doom at worst. In addition to becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy our natural fears may even produce a variety of psychosomatic illnesses consuming most of our time, energy, and money.

 

The personal benefits of entering in to 2021 in faith are just the beginning…the genuine hope that comes from believing produces many more. In addition to the endurance of various trials we may face, hope gives us a sense of confidence in all that we do and speak. Having the experience of being tried and found approved we are confident in the other decisions we must make daily. From the simple choices of our everyday lives to the life altering decisions we sometimes must make; we can do so without the paralyzing anxiety so common to the natural lifestyle. Reliance upon the personal leadership of the indwelling Spirit of God we can be at peace even under extreme circumstances. We can truly know the “peace that passes all understanding”, the peace of God, himself.

 

Faith and hope free us to actually think about and love others around us. When I feel secure in God’s love and significant in his plan for my life, I have a joyful, confident expectation about my future. Knowing that my needs are and will be met frees me up to

 

be able to care about others. As we enter 2021 in faith, the hope that sustains us personally will also allow us to fulfill our high calling of God to love others like Christ. Regardless of the coming events of this New Year our purpose here remains the same…love others like Christ. Authentic faith will, in fact, always work itself out in love for others. No matter what we may face in 2021 we can be sure that we will have the opportunity to love others in a variety of ways. Despite the daily struggle with the flesh, I am going to believe who God has made me to be in Christ so that I can live and love like him in 2021. I choose to trust his indwelling Spirit to set me free each day to continue loving others. I hope you will join me.

Happy New Year!

 

John

 

Emmanuel

Posted on December 21, 2020 at 1:00 PM

Dear Saints,

 

Christmas 2020 has lost much of its glitter for many. It’s hard for people who are locked down, wearing masks, and living in fear to get excited about a holiday celebration. Those who have suffered from unemployment and are short on cash find this season anything but jovial. Celebrating with friends and family and even attending various Christmas programs is looked upon with suspicion and even forbidden in some places due to the social distancing mandated by the powers that be. The panic over the corona virus has put a real damper on our traditional Christmas celebrations this year.

 

Maybe shaking up our traditional celebrations of Christmas will help us get back to the real reason for the season. In Matthew’s account of the birth of Christ he refers to the message of the angel to Joseph as a fulfillment of an ancient prophesy of Isaiah. Naturally, Joseph was having trouble deciding what to do with his fiancée, Mary, when she showed up pregnant before they had consummated their marriage. So God spoke to him by an angel in a dream to assure him that her story was true. She was, indeed, pregnant by the Holy Spirit with the Son of God. And this whole incident fulfilled the prophesy of Isaiah 7: 14, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel. Which being interpreted is, God with us.”

 

The context of Isaiah’s prophesy reveals that it was a sign from God to a people who were fearful and helpless before their enemies. The virgin-born son is named Emmanuel meaning God with us and Isaiah further promises in 9:6-7, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” Clearly, the birth of Jesus by the virgin Mary fulfills this ancient prophesy that God is with us and that he is in charge.

 

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding our Christmas celebration this year we can be sure of Emmanuel, God with us. That same Jesus born in Bethlehem promised his disciples he would not leave us as orphans in this world, but would come to us through his Spirit, the Comforter. Through the personal leadership and power of the indwelling Spirit of God each of us can experience the love, joy, and peace to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Despite the growing darkness of the world around us we can rejoice in the fact that God is with us and he is in charge. And because he is we can have a Merry Christmas even in 2020.

 

John

 

 

Peace on Earth

Posted on December 9, 2020 at 11:20 AM

Dear Saints,

 

As we approach the Christmas season, I’m a little confused by the angelic message given to the shepherds on the night Jesus was born. In Luke 2: 8-15 we have the story of an angel appearing to some lowly shepherds and announcing, “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people”. The angel further explains the “good tidings” as the nearby birth of a savior he calls Christ (the Messiah) who is the Lord. After telling them they could identify this savior as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger there suddenly appeared an entire army of angels praising God with him saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”

 

The King James translation of their praise is what confuses me because it seems to imply that the birth of Jesus would glorify God in heaven and bring peace and goodwill on earth. The glory to God in heaven part I understand, but where is the peace and goodwill toward men on earth? Maybe it’s just that we have higher expectations during the Christmas season, but there seems to be more conflict, suffering, and violence during the holidays than other times of the year. The “good tidings” seems to lose some of it’s “great joy to all people” when we correlate the increase of social ills with the Christmas season.

 

A literal translation of the angelic praise, however, both lowers my expectations for the season and eliminates my confusion and disappointment. A better translation of verse 14 would be, “Glory to God in heaven and on earth peace toward men of goodwill.” The phrase “men of goodwill” can also be interpreted as men in whom God is well pleased. This translation makes more sense to me considering the historical conflicts and violence since the birth of Jesus. In fact, his birth caused an increase in conflict in the spirit realm which spilled over to the political realm as the puppet king, Herod, sought to kill the child. Jesus himself said that his coming into the world would cause conflict even in the social and family realm.

 

The miraculous birth of our savior glorified God in heaven by displaying his true character of love. For the Creator to take the form of his created beings so that he could personally demonstrate his love for them is amazing love. To so identify with fallen humanity as to be born of a woman and experience this life with all its conflicts and sorrows is a love beyond our comprehension. Truly, God was glorified in the highest heaven for all to behold. And the effect of such love on earth was not the removal of conflict and violence but the peace of God that passes all understanding when “men of goodwill” receive his love. In the midst of all the turmoil, conflicts, and sorrows the peace on earth will be within those who have received by faith the love of God through Jesus.

The only time we will see peace on earth is when the Prince of Peace establishes his kingdom as he promised he would do. That kingdom will be established by Jesus when he comes again into this world. His first coming was as a suffering savior, but his second coming will be as a conquering king. Although the complete fulfillment of that promise is yet to come, he graciously gives us inner peace here and now as we believe on him. This “peace on earth toward men of goodwill” is good news to all who live in a fallen world of conflict and violence as they trust that babe in a manger as the Lord of all.

 

John

 

Thanks Be To God

Posted on November 24, 2020 at 10:05 AM

Dear Saints,

 

There seems to be a general consensus that the year 2020 has been a bad year, at least for our country. Beginning with a shortage of toilet paper it seems like things kept get progressively worse as the year went on. The Covid-19 pandemic, the lockdowns, the economic setbacks, the call for defunding the police, violent protests in the streets of major cities, and unprecedented voter fraud during the elections all add up to make this year seem like the worst in recent history. Add to that a hidden undercurrent of frustration and rage in the average American today and I wonder what we could possibly be thankful for this year.

 

I interpret the toilet paper crisis as a sign from God that also explains all the other crazy things sweeping our country. In a nutshell our concern over a shortage of toilet paper is a literal expression of our worry about how we are going to save our own butts on many levels. The fear of not being able to get enough toilet paper is a fear of not being able to save your own butt literally, and that fear extends to how you are going to keep from getting the virus, how you are going to survive a lockdown, how you are going to pay your bills and buy groceries, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. The real problem here is our natural tendency to panic in fear rather than trust God to provide. Fear and faith are mutually exclusive.

 

Despite all the fear mongering by the media and the various threats we face as a nation, we still have many reasons to express our thanks to God in this crazy year. Above all I thank God that he has “not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” The greatest gift we have received from the Father is the indwelling Spirit of Truth, the Comforter as Jesus called him, who continually leads us, teaches us, reminds us, and guides us into all truth. Because of his work in us there is no need to scramble around trying to save our own butts on any level. Each of us have the amazing privilege to be personally led and directed in our everyday lives by the Spirit of Christ.

 

Although the spirit of anti-Christ has been actively working in the world since the beginning of these “latter times’, the events of this past year suggests a sudden escalation in the spiritual war between God and Satan. While much of biblical prophecy has already been fulfilled in the first coming of Christ, there remains a significant number of prophesies to be fulfilled concerning his second coming to establish his kingdom on this earth. Regardless of the various interpretations of specific events the overall picture is an intensification of spiritual battles culminating in the ultimate defeat of Satan and his forces. That tells me things are likely to get a lot worse before they get better. But it also tells me that our ultimate victory in Christ is assured and drawing near.

 

Because of the promises of God concerning his working in us as well as our world, we have much to thank him for no matter how crazy things are. Knowing that he has made us brand new persons in Christ and given us his Spirit gives us the confidence we need to face this ”present darkness” we are living in. Knowing the Father has given all power in heaven and earth unto his Son in whom we are blessed with all spiritual blessings we are assured our own ultimate victory. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15: 57-58, “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that you labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

John

 

Napping in the Storm

Posted on November 19, 2020 at 11:35 AM

Dear Saints,

 

How do you take a nap in the middle of a ragging storm? The story of Jesus being sound asleep in the boat during a mini hurricane on the lake of Galilee amazes me (Mark 4: 35-40). Just getting in a boat usually makes me nervous never mind being caught in a storm. The fact that experienced fishermen who knew how to sail were freaked tells me this was no small storm threatening to destroy their boat. In fact, the situation was so dangerous as the boat began filling up with water they thought it necessary to interrupt Jesus getting some rest to prepare for the worst. Of course, Jesus quickly dealt with the situation and rebuked them for their foolish worry.

 

Mark tells us how Jesus took care of this life-threatening situation by simply rebuking the wind and telling the sea, “Peace, be still”. Clearly Jesus, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, was not in the least bit worried about the raging storm because he knew he was in charge and “even the wind and the sea obey him”. So he asked those with him, “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” Silly disciples. There was no need to freak out over the storm when they were in the same boat as the Master. Yet Mark reports they thought they were going to die, and the Master didn’t care. That’s why they woke him from his nap in the first place. Even after Jesus calmed the sea Mark tells us they “feared exceedingly” and asked themselves what kind of man was in the same boat with them.

 

Like those early disciples we are in the same boat as Jesus in this world. Because we have been joined to him ( he in us and us in him) and he has sent us into the world just as the Father sent him, we are in the same boat with him. What happens to us happens to him. When the storms arise and threaten to destroy us they threaten him as well. The reason he can take a nap in the middle of the storm is because he, as Paul put it in Colossians 3: 15, “let the peace of God rule” in his heart. Because Jesus and the Father are one he experiences the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. And because we are in him and he in us we too can experience the peace of God in the middle of the storms of life.

 

Likewise Paul admonishes us to, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” in the same way it did for Jesus. Believing that Jesus is in the same boat as we, that we are in him and he is in us, is allowing the peace of God to govern our decisions in life. No matter how threatening the storms may seem to be, the Master is there to command, “Peace, be still”. Rather than being controlled by fear and worry about what might happen, we can live in peace having the confidence we need to make the right choices for ourselves and others.

 

I’m not sure I will ever get to the point where I can take a nap in the middle of the storm. But I can honestly say that I see the storms as an opportunity to hear the Master command, “Peace, be still”. Even in these dark days of the latter times we live in, we have a confidence and boldness in the peace of God ruling in our hearts to rebuke the wind and calm the waves. No matter how threatening the storms of life may be, Jesus remains in charge even when it seems he is taking a nap. You can trust him because he’s in the same boat with you.

 

John

 

God's Eternal Plan

Posted on November 4, 2020 at 3:30 PM

Dear Saints,

 

Before writing this message I was waiting on the outcome of the presidential election yesterday. But this morning it seems we still don’t know for sure and it occurred to me that it really doesn’t matter. The message I have is not dependent on who the president is or what the political landscape in our nation looks like. This is not to suggest political apathy or indifference, but to focus on a deeper issue concerning God’s eternal plan for humanity and his power to fulfill that plan in his own time. It finally boils down to the single question of who is really in charge of our destiny. And can we live with that?

 

Each of us has a natural desire to control people, situations, and circumstances hoping to make ourselves secure and significant by our own efforts. This primal drive of self-preservation takes many forms depending on the culture we live in, but the goal remains the same. In the political process we choose to give power and control over to those we think will best achieve our basic goal of self-preservation and represent our personal interests. All politicians promise to use the power and control you give them to insure your personal security and significance through their policies and directives. All politicians fail to keep that promise. No matter how hard they try to give you a personal sense of security and significance, they simply can’t deliver.

 

What we have been trying to do for ourselves and elect others do for us can only be done by Jesus. When he miraculously fed the multitudes he proved he is more than capable to satisfy our deepest need for personal security and significance. As he explained in the synagogue of Capernaum he wasn’t just giving them a free lunch but illustrating how he could satisfy the hunger we each have for security and the thirst we have for significance. After declaring that he was the bread of life he went on to say, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” And again, “He that eats my flesh , and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him.” (John 5: 53, 56)

 

What Jesus was telling us is that our personal security and significance comes only from being one with him. Because we are in him and he is in us we have eternal life that can never be taken by people, situations, or circumstances. Our personal security and significance does not rest on our own efforts to control and neither does it depend on the control we give to others. It comes only from the fact that we are one with Jesus. The immediate response of the disciples was, “This is a hard saying, who can hear it?” because they, like us, had been conditioned all their lives to depend on their own performance, the approval of others, and everything except their union with Jesus to satisfy their need for security and significance as persons.

While it is , indeed, a “hard saying” it is the absolute truth. Only our personal relationship with Jesus can give us the security and significance we crave in this world. Only Jesus and who or what he provides for us at any given time will satisfy these deep personal needs. The very heart of the gospel message is that God has done everything necessary to make you secure in his love and significant in his eternal plan. I’m not going to trust a political candidate to meet these needs, but rather my personal savior, Jesus.

 

John

 

Knowing the Love of God

Posted on October 28, 2020 at 10:55 AM

Dear Saints,

 

The more I learn the more I realize how much I do not know! Solomon discovered the same thing and it drove him to drink (see Ecclesiastes 2). After forty-five years of studying and teaching others about God I have to say I still do not understand him. When I was young there were times I thought I had a pretty good handle on who he was, what he desired, and how he worked in the affairs of men. But the more I learned the more I realized how much I really did not know about him.

 

A significant point in my quest for knowledge about God came when I realized that knowing about God was different than knowing God. There are a lot of people I know about. I have heard of them, read about them, and seen them on the news. But I cannot say that I really know them. The same is true for God. I read about him in the Bible and a variety of other books, heard other people’s testimonies about what he has done, and even heard prophesies about what he is going to do. But that is different than actually knowing him personally.

 

The apostle John reveals this concept in his general letter when he tells us God is love. In 1 John 4: 7,8 he writes, “Beloved let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” Here he explains the reason Christians who are born of God do not always love others like Christ. While being born of God gives us the potential to love others only those who “know God” ( not knows about God) are able to love others. Note John does not say that those who do not love are not born of God. Instead he says they just do not know God.

 

Of particular importance here is that knowing God personally relates to receiving his love for us. It is impossible to truly personally know God without experiencing his love since John declares “God is love”. Our intimate knowledge of God is based on knowing how much God loves us which, in turn, allows us to truly love him. Like any other loving relationship we may experience, our relationship to God is based on a mutual desire to meet each other’s needs. Our recognition of how God satisfies our needs motivates us to satisfy his. While it seems strange to think of God having any need, the truth is he desires and is blessed by our loving relationship with him.

 

Looking for the ways that God displays his love for us in our everyday lives is the key to receiving his love and knowing him personally. Although circumstances and events may cause us to doubt God’s love we trust his promise that nothing shall ever separate us from the love he has given us in Christ. Such child-like faith in the goodness and love of God gives us the grace to, “glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience, And patience, experience, and experience hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5: 3-5)

 

Knowing God, who is love, eliminates the fear factor that the enemy uses to bring us into bondage. Living in these uncertain end times we are experiencing constant threats concerning our security and significance as persons. Our faith in the love of God for us offers the hope we need to share that love with one another. It is loving others that gives us boldness to face such times. As John put it in 1 John 4: 17, “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, so are we in this world.” Let us love one another.

 

John

 


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