|We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. 1 John 5:19|
|Hardly a day goes by without hearing of yet another act of evil: mass shootings, abuse of children, war waged on innocents, etc. These are not the acts of a loving God. Rather, they are the acts of, as John calls him, the “wicked one.” Lest there be any doubt, John is speaking of the enemy of God – Satan.
The existence of evil acts should not come as any surprise to the faithful. Scripture gives ample warning of their existence.
The question is not whether evil exists, the question is how to respond to it. We could physically isolate ourselves from the world so that we’re not touched by it. This solution has been tried and it failed because as long as we live in our evil flesh the problem travels with us wherever we go.
God has warned us that evil will be a part of life but He also gives us direction as to how we should handle its presence. We’re told that instead of hiding from it, we should confront it. He tells us that we are to do so by living our lives with Him at the center. When we live like this then we become witnesses to His grace and power as we go about the work of making disciples of all nations.
As is always the case, the choice is yours as to how you live your life. You can try to hide from evil, or you can confront it by living with Christ Jesus as the center, the core, of your life.
|Heavenly Father, protect me from Satan and the evil that he spreads. Guide me as I live my life as a witness to you and confront his evil. Give me the strength and courage to be bold in making disciples of all nations. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.|
|Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 1 John 3:1|
|We are known by a number of titles over our lifetime. We begin as “cute baby (insert your name here)” and go on from there. Over a lifetime we can hold a number of “titles” often overlapping one another: husband, father, wife, mother, Grandpa, President, and so forth.
Some of these titles describe what we are while others may describe who we are. The one thing that most have in common is that they are bestowed upon us by someone else; rarely can we bestow a title upon ourselves.
There are also those titles that we carried as a child that have stayed with us as adults – sometimes to our dislike. Most of the time we outgrow one title and grow into another one as we progress through life.
There is one title, however, that has been bestowed upon you and that will stay with you from birth to death, and beyond. God has endowed you with the title “a child of God.”
To be honest, it’s not always easy to live up to it as we struggle with the temptations and demands that the world makes on us. But even in our struggle, we never are stripped of the title that God has given us because His love for us never falters.
|Heavenly Father, I’m honored and humbled to be known as Your child. Help me to live up to that title in a manner that brings glory and honor to You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.|
|I write to you, little children,
Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.
1 John 2:12
|Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the activities of living that we lose sight of the guiding principles of life and of our true identity. This passage from the apostle John’s letter to the Church speaks to this.
Most, if not all, of us at times get so caught up with living that we lose sight of who and what we are. We wear so many “hats”, often at the same time, that our true identity gets lost in the shuffle.
Its easy to lose track of the one identity that should never get lost – the children of God. Of all of the roles that define who and what we are, this one is truly the most important. It is this one identity that defines all others in a manner that reflects God’s will for us.
God has bestowed this title upon you because it marks you as one unconditionally loved by Him. When you are steeped in His love you become the father, mother, husband, wife, son, daughter and everything else that you are in a manner that gives glory and honor to Him.
So, wear the “hats” that you need to wear but don’t forget that you are first before everything else, a loved child of God. One so loved that He willingly sacrificed His only begotten Son so that you could be with Him for all of eternity.
|Heavenly Father, my life is so busy at times that I sometimes lose sight of the one relationship that guides everything else; I lose sight of the fact that I am Your child. I get so busy sorting out who and what I should be now that I forget to base my actions on being Your child. When I lose my way during these times, guide me back to where I should be as Your child. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.|
|If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8|
|It should not come as any surprise that each one of us is bombarded with hundreds, if not thousands of messages every day. They range in scope from truth to which we should pay attention, to half-truths to which we should be wary, to lies that we should avoid.
Most of these come from the outside and can be easily controlled in terms of our response. The fact is that most never reach our consciousness as we’ve developed filters to keep them out.
There are another class of messages that are not easily filtered, some even argue that they cannot be. These are the messages that we send to ourselves – our “self -talk” that only we can hear. they are also the messages that have the greatest potential for harm.
They’re potentially harmful because they are often based upon outright lies, an incorrect interpretation of events, or the willful distortion of the truth. They serve to protect us from having to face the consequences of the truth.
If John is correct when he says that it is a lie to tell ourselves that we have no sin then we do harm to ourselves. He goes on to say that when we tell ourselves this lie the truth of salvation is not in us; we have turned our back on God. We’ve harmed ourselves in that we’ve closed the door to the part of salvation that is our inheritance of eternal life with God. What is left to us is an eternal life spent separated from Him with no means of undoing what we’ve done.
|Heavenly Father, help me to control my self-talk, especially when it is harmful and leads me away from You. I stray often so when I do, show me the path to return to You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.|
|And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Luke 1:28)|
|Mary – Jewish, young, a virgin, and engaged to be married. Sounds ideal doesn’t it? But wait – there’s a problem, she’s pregnant!
Mary’s pregnancy is grounds for divorce should Joseph choose to exercise his right to divorce her. Mary’s situation, however, deserves a second look.
For reasons known only to Him, God chose Mary to be the mother of the Messiah, the Savior that He had promised His children so long ago. From her flesh, sinful as it may have been for no one is without sin, Mary was chosen to bring into the world the greatest gift that mankind has ever received.
It is her child who will eventually hang on the cross in your place. It is her child who will suffer the wrath of an angry God on your behalf. Her child took upon Himself our sin so that we could stand before our Creator just as if we were without sin.
So, after all of the gifts have been unwrapped, the trash bagged and taken to storage, take time to give thanks for the one gift that didn’t need to be unwrapped – the gift of your salvation, a gift freely given to you by your Heavenly Father.
His is a beautiful gift, the most precious one that you will ever receive. Treasure it.
|Heavenly Father, like Mary, I’m humbled by Your gift to me of Your Son Jesus, my Lord and my Savior. I know Father that I will stumble so when I do, please guide me back to a right path with You for there is where I want to be – in communion with You for all of eternity. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.|
Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ the He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ (Matthew 25:44-45)
It’s easy to get seduced into thinking that God only sees the “big” things that are done in His name. The truth is that while “big” acts are important and do get noticed it is often the little actions that we do in serving one another that carry the most weight.
In this passage from Matthew, Jesus is speaking to each one of us about just this idea. Nowhere in the list of acts that He mentions is there anything that could be called “big.” The things that He mentions are the little acts of ministry that are one-on-one. These are the acts that allow us to touch the soul of another as we meet their need.
These small, individual acts that He lists in this passage are important. However, the true weight of this list is not in the list itself, but in His response when He is asked when one of the actions was done for Him. Jesus puts the lesson clearly in front of us when He says, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.”
Do the little things that we do in serving others get noticed and are they important? Absolutely they do and they are! Your words of comfort, that loving touch, your quiet presence – they are acts that serve Him by serving another.
So, the next time the opportunity to serve the need of another presents itself, don’t pass it up. You may just be touching Jesus and not even know it.
Heavenly Father, help me to see and respond to the little acts of service when they are before me. Guide me so that my hands, my touch, and my words are Yours. Act through me, Father as I serve my brother or sister. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.
|For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10)|
|It seems that there are those times when it feels like the wrath of the entire world is being directed solely at us. Someone in the world is angry at us and they are not the least bit shy in letting us know about it.
There are other times, however, when instead of being the recipient of the wrath of others we are the issuers of it. We lose sight of the fact that we are a child of God and unleash the wrath of our anger on someone else; knowing full well that this is not how God wants us to behave.
Life is not always fair and as such, we cannot control how others behave toward us. We are often the receivers of someone else’s anger just because we are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
We can control how we behave, however. When we live with Christ at the center of our life our words are those that bring comfort and peace to others, not anguish, more anger, and anything but peace. It’s when we forget (ignore) His presence in our life that we all-too-often find ourselves spewing wrath on another when we should be doing just the opposite.
Until that day when Jesus comes again, how do you want to live? Do you want to be known by Him for your words of wrath or your words of comfort to others? Your choice.
|Heavenly Father, help me to live with Jesus at the center of my life. Guard me against the wrath of the world that I be calm in my response and that I not return wrath for wrath. Guide me so that my words are not those of wrath but of comfort that build up rather than tear down. In Jesus’ name, AMEN|
|But I don’t want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have not hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13)|
|Over a lifetime, most of us will attend far too many funerals. We will gather with family, or friends, to pay our respects; trying to come up with words of comfort that while politely received are generally not really heard by the survivors that remain behind.
In spite of the slide show of the deceased’s life that plays over and over in the background, we’ll wonder what kind of life the deceased really had. We wonder whether he, or she, was satisfied with life or not, happy or not, surrounded by friends or lonely, or something altogether different.
In our own way each of us will feel the sorrow in our heart that comes from the passing of a beloved family member or friend. Yet, Paul in his letter to the Christians in Thessalonica tells us to be careful of the type of sorrow that we feel. He tells these Christians not to sorrow as one without hope.
He reminds us that for the world, the non-believers, death is the final act; there is nothing beyond but the decay of the body. The person is gone never to be seen again. Death just leaves a loneliness that can never be satisfied.
He is reminding them, and us, that death is not the final act of life. Rather, it is the gateway into an eternal life filled with peace and joy that comes when we collect on the promise that God made to His children. No longer is the departed one beset with the problems that were a part of living on this side of death. Suffering is no more; replaced by the peace and joy of being with the Father and the Son.
For the Christian who has lost a fellow brother or sister we will see the one called home again. Yes, we will know grief but it will one day be replaced by the love that we will experience when we are once again united with our brother or sister.
|Father, I do grieve the loss of my family members, my friends, my brothers and sisters. Guide me through my grief to come to know peace that only You can provide. I look forward to the day when we will be reunited in Your presence. Until then, comfort me so that I can comfort others who are also grieving. In the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus, AMEN.|