Thursday, December 12, 2019

"Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God." -- 3 John 5-6
Walmart had a great idea when they hired people to greet shoppers at the main entrance. The majority have a friendly smile and make me feel very welcomed. While there are some greeters who seem to be bored with their job, most are quite sincere. Even though we are strangers, a hospitable spirit goes a long way.
Along those same lines, my wife and I were visiting a church some time ago while on vacation. We were given a happy and pleasant greeting by a friendly usher. While there were very few others that said hello, we will never forget that kind usher that welcomed us upon arrival and gave a very fond farewell as we left. Even though we were strangers, a hospitable spirit went a long way.
How do you treat visitors at your church? Do you go out of your way to greet them with a warm welcome? As you reach out to new faces this Sunday, be sure your love is sincere and your spirit is worthy of the Lord. Remember, even though you are strangers, a hospitable spirit goes a long way.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

"If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work." -- 2 John 10-11
In the legal community there is conduct called "Accessory" that is considered criminal. By definition an Accessory is "a person who assists in the commission of a crime, but who does not actually participate in the commission of the crime as a joint principal". Guilt follows the action with criminal charges and legal ramifications. Basically, anyone who is an Accessory shares in the evil work.
When it comes to spiritual matters we often lose our clarity of thought. John saw the need to give instruction on this point, as unwarranted tolerance seemed to run rampant. Time has not remedied the matter, since tolerance is the way to go for many contemporary believers. While social crime is a serious matter, spiritual heresy endangers the eternal future of the soul. John made it clear with the words, "Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work."
Know what you believe my friend, and stand firm in your faith. Take notice of those who have perverted the doctrines of the faith and do not condone or encourage them. You will notice that this teaching comes in the same letter that speaks about loving the brothers. The command to love one another is well established, but do not welcome those who would lead others astray from the truth or you will share in their wicked work as an Accessory.
  

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

"This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." -- 1 John 5:3-5
The simplicity of a child's devotion is a wonder. They love their parents with all their heart and trust them implicitly. Because of this relationship they will obey at times when others might question. The process is very basic, but is soon lost as they mature. Adults have great difficulty trusting and obeying. The missing element may just be love.
So it is with our walk with God. Simplicity may be fine for children, but as adults we question and doubt far too much. Some believe that the Lord's commands are "burdensome" while others believe that victory is impossible. While faith is critical, the real issue is the focus of our faith.  The one we trust and obey can only be the one we love.
Who loves you my friend? And who do you love with all you obedience and faith? Your relationship with the Lord is far more than just trusting and obeying. It is a confidence in God's love for you and your desire to respond with a life of love. As John already said in chapter four, verse sixteen, "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us."

Monday, December 9, 2019

"We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother." -- 1 John 4:19-21
"What the World Needs Now Is Love", a song written by Hal David with music by Burt Bacharach was released on April 15, 1965. Being quite well received, it reached number 7 on the US charts in May of that year. Yet, within the next seven years 58,193 American soldiers were killed in Vietnam, and both Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated in 1968 followed by riots in 60 American cities. Why is love so elusive?
The children of God have the only hope for real and lasting love. How do I know this you may ask? The above passage says it emphatically, "We love because he first loved us." By the very transforming work of the Holy Spirit love for one another becomes a reality. On this basis we are commanded to love our brothers as we love God. For the believer, love should never be elusive.
Anger, bitterness, hatred and bigotry have marked our world throughout history. In truth, "What the World Needs Now Is Love". And you, my friend, may be the only genuine evidence of God's transforming love in your workplace, family or school. Let the world know that love doesn't need to be elusive.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

"Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure." -- 1 John 3:2-3
Our home is always orderly and clean. But when guests are coming for dinner, or even if family is coming for a few days, my dear wife works like crazy to spruce up the place. She vacuums, dusts, brings out the best dishes and stocks the kitchen with good food to eat. She hopes that our visitors will enjoy their stay and be pleased that they came.
John reminds us that we are children of God and the best days are ahead. He tells us that a day is coming when the Lord will return and we shall see him face to face. Furthermore, if we have this hope as a driving force in our hearts, we will get ready. We will "clean house" to purify ourselves just as Jesus is pure. We will want the Lord to be pleased when he arrives.
Take time on a regular basis to do an inventory my friend. How does your house look today? If the Lord returned this afternoon, would he find things in good order and a purified life? Maybe today would be a good time to get out the vacuum cleaner and dust cloth and "clean house". I'm sure that you would want the Lord to be pleased when he arrives?

Saturday, December 7, 2019

"And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming." -- 1 John 2:28
When I was in elementary school my Mom would have quite a time getting me to do my homework. She would set me down at a desk and give me time to finish the job, but when she would return, there was no progress. I had day-dreamed and wasted time, and the work wasn't completed. No matter how bad I felt, it never changed the fact that I just wasn't ready.
Procrastination is a very real problem and spiritual procrastination is an even greater one. If the believer puts off walking in the truth and growing in grace until another time, the day will come when there is no more time. Jesus will return and we will have nothing for which to be confident. No matter how bad we may feel, it will never change the fact that we just weren't ready.
John wrote this letter to believers. He knew that they fight a spiritual battle with sins that easily get the better of them. But if we confess our sins moment by moment and walk in the Spirit, there will always be confidence at the Lord's return. Don't procrastinate, "continue in him" my friend and you'll always be ready.

Friday, December 6, 2019

"This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." ~ 1 John 1:5 

I own more flashlights than most. I'm not afraid of the dark, but I want to see where I'm walking and be able to read my books during a power failure. I prefer battery-operated flashlights. Some people are sold on the "shake it" or "crank it" type. The interesting fact is, whether the light is run by battery, shaking or even cranking ... the light finally goes out. You will eventually walk in darkness.
So it is with every man-made source of light for the soul. We live in darkness and we will die in darkness because our self-powered lights will always go out. The only hope for lasting light is to find the true "Eveready" or "Diehard" source of light, and it's not the Energizer Bunny!
The truth is, that the Lord is a light that never fails. He doesn't need shaking, cranking or new and better batteries. He alone will light the way of every soul that follows Him. You don't need to walk in darkness today. Come to Jesus and He will ... "light up your life" ...  forever!