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Category Archives: 1 John

1 John 2:15-16

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.
1 John 2:15-16

Dear God, I’ve noticed something in me lately that’s disturbing and goes along these lines. I’ve found that I’ve been wanting credit for accomplishments. A few weeks ago, I saw a story in our local paper that I was actually the person who drove it behind the scenes. It was my idea and I got it going. But my name wasn’t attached to it at all. That must have bothered me a little because I was sure to point it out to my wife and tell her, in short, “I did that.”

I was talking to a coworker yesterday about my accomplishments in another organization and I was doing it very pridefully. There is obviously something in my spirit right now that is needing stroked. I’m reverting to the sinful cravings John references here.

Father, I’m grateful for this passage this morning. Thank you for speaking to me and gently reminding me that there is no satisfaction or peace at the end of this trail. If I follow it, I will not find what I’m looking for. I will only find it through worshiping you and experiencing your love and acceptance. I’m sorry for the glory I try to grab for myself that belongs only to you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2021 in 1 John

 

1 John 2:1

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.

1 John 2:1

Dear God, oh, how I need an advocate. I need your mercy. I can pursue “morality” and a philosophy of living by your code, but your can seem like nonsense to me sometimes. What do I mean by that? Well, it would be nice if I could just line up the 10 Commandments and do what I can to follow them, but I heard someone say something interesting recently: Only one of those commandments is against the law (5. killing and 7. stealing). Everything else, from worshipping you alone to not coveting is a moral guideline from our society’s perspective.

No, what my advocate told me is the most important thing to do is worship you with everything I have and then love my neighbor as myself. If I do these two things then everything else will flow from this (Matthew 22:37-40). And I can’t get them out of order. I can’t love others as myself without first worshipping you and receiving your forgiveness because I won’t be able to get myself out of my head as I try to love others as long as I am trying to justify myself as opposed to having Jesus advocate for me and justify me. It is the freedom you offer through him that gives me the ability to truly love others, even at my own expense.

Father, make me the man you need me to be today. I say this a lot, but I really, really need it today. Make me exactly who I need to be today. Help me to be patient. Help me to hear the Holy Spirit. Help me to love well and selflessly. Holy Spirit, speak to me and flow through me. Do your work today.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2021 in 1 John

 

1 John 5:12-19

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for. If you see a fellow believer sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life. But there is a sin that leads to death, and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it. All wicked actions are sin, but not every sin leads to death. We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them. We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.
1 John 5:12-19

Dear God, this is one of those passages that seems to say whatever I want it to say. Sin and lose your salvation: I can get that from this. Once saved, always saved: I can see that too. What am I to think?

I suppose, when it comes down to it, for myself, as long as I am humbly pursuing you, I don’t need to worry about my “fire insurance.” Of the three possible outcomes for my soul after death—heaven, hell, nothingness—I only need to worry about hell and of the life I’m living isn’t good enough to avoid hell them o don’t think there’s much I could do to avoid it. Even if I believe in the wrong religion and you are the God of Islam, Mormonism, Hinduism, etc. I have to believe there is room in your heart for someone who worships you, even in ignorance.

No, when I wake up in the morning and pray to you, the afterlife is not any part of my calculus or motivation. The truth is, I need you today. I need your love. I need your wisdom. I need your grace. I need your peace. I need your Holy Spirit to guide me. I need my daily bread from you. I have felt life as part of you and I have felt life apart from you. Even now, if I ever drift too far away from you and start living on my own, I miss you. I can feel the distance from your Spirit. There’s a part of me that thinks that’s the life to which John is referring that I can lose. Not necessarily eternity with you, but the life you give me while my physical body still functions.

Father, Jesus came to give me life abundantly. Help me to feel that life today as I draw near to you and your Spirit.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2021 in 1 John

 

1 John 3:16-17

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?

1 John 3:16-17

Dear God, I cannot remember if I mentioned this in a prayer the other day, but I know I was talking with a friend about it yesterday. I heard a podcast where two men and a woman were talking about having been to seminary and how they think the examples held up to pastors as those you should emulate are the wrong ones. Even as a society, we often point to those who have accomplished the most with broad influence and power and valued them more than we value the faithful volunteer whose work we never see. One person in the discussion joked that instead of holding up pictures of national leaders who are influential they should hold up a picture of one of the pastors in the conversation who was serving with a seemingly smaller sphere of influence. To the pastor’s credit, he said, “No, we need to hold up a picture of Jesus on the cross. That’s the example we need to be prepared to follow.”

This passage from 1 John 3 made me think of that this morning when I read it. You are my example. You didn’t care about government power or building the kind of power structure the world builds. That was another part of their discussion. One man described the Jesus movement of the 70s and how you had these radical Christians like Larry Norman and Keith Green who went counter-culture. Keith Green made his record label angry because he gave away his records. He bought a piece of property and started a commune for homeless people. But conventional wisdom (what I’m calling the wisdom of man) takes over and says, “Hey, we need to grow our influence and reach. We need to get this out and grow.” Then we start to focus more on strategy and infrastructure and building a kingdom.

I fall into this trap at work. I work at a nonprofit that serves people. It requires staff and money. It requires a facility. And then we meet as leadership and the question we ask ourselves is, what do we need to do to grow? What’s next? And we are certain there must be an answer. There must be something that is next to grow our numbers. But it’s likely we are asking the wrong question. Is the question, how do we add more clients, or is the answer how can we be more effective with the clients we have? How can we make a meaningful impact on a few lives as opposed to a cursory impact on thousands?

Father, I am sorry I do so many things for the wrong reasons. I’m sorry for relying so much on conventional wisdom. I’m sorry for not trying to see each and every situation with your eyes. Let my biblical hero be the widow who left her two coins in the offering. She lived a small life, but it still reverberates through history 2,000 years later.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2021 in 1 John

 

1 John 2:15-16

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.

1 John 2:15-16

Dear God, so if the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything I see, and pride in my achievements and possessions, 1.) what is the downside to that and 2.) what is it that you offer?

Of course, the answer to #1 is the emptiness that comes from those pursuits. What they lead to is the fruit of the flesh from Galatians 5:

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:19-21

It doesn’t look like there is much joy at the end of that rainbow.

So what do you offer? Well, thankfully, Paul gives us a pretty good list right after this:

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Galatians 5:22-23

Father, life is fleeting. We are all a vapor. Help me to make my time here be about pursuing you and not my own selfish cravings. Purify my heart, oh God, and create a new spirit within me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2020 in 1 John

 

1 John 1:5-10

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

1 John 1:5-10

Dear God, I’m about to get into some controversial theology here that, at the end of the day, probably doesn’t matter, but here we go anyway. I pray to you and not Jesus. Is that wrong?

When I think of the Trinity I think of it as all three of you having your roles. There is you, the Father. In my mind, your nature is the core of God. Then there is your son. He is part of the nature too, but–again, in my mind–his role was to reveal you to us, teach us about you, and then be the sacrifice for us. Perhaps he even helped you experience the human condition in a way you couldn’t have before. Finally, there is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is my counselor, comforter, supporter, convicter (if that’s a word), etc. He is here with me now as I type this to you. He is in my heart. He ministers your presence and love to me. He guides me and whispers in my ear.

Growing up Baptist, I learned some phrases and concepts that I’m not sure can be backed up scripturally.

  • “Ask Jesus into your heart.” In looking at scripture, I certainly need to accept Jesus’s sacrifice for me in order to be in relationship with you, but Jesus himself said that he was sending the Holy Spirit to be with me.
  • “Pray to Jesus.” Well, it seems to me that Jesus prayed to you. Jesus did say that we needed to ask for things in his name, but you are the father. Here is something that I think addresses all of it from John 14.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

John 14:12-21

So going back to Jesus, John tells us in these verses from 1 John (back where I started) that one of the things Jesus did was teach us about you. You are light. We cannot be that light on our own. To have fellowship with you, we need to be cleansed. We need what Jesus did. But in my mind, what Jesus did was give us the physical and intellectual pathway to get to you.

Father, surround me with your Holy Spirit. Strengthen me. Help me to repent when I need to repent. Love through me. Help me to forgive as I have been forgiven (which is to say, help me to forgive generously!). Be glorified. Help me to decrease as you increase. Bring your kingdom to earth, and let your will be done on earth. Use me however you will to accomplish your goals.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2020 in 1 John, John

 

1 John 1:1-4

We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.

1 John 1:1-4

Dear God, there are times when we just need to know there is a bedrock foundation beneath our faith. Is the “religion” I’ve chosen worth anything? When they built Baylor’s football stadium along the Brazos River, they had to drill deep before they found bedrock upon which they could build the foundation and plant the support columns. If I drill deep, will I find rock? Are my columns planted in anything real?

Well, I have a few things upon which I build my faith:

  • The universe is so much bigger than I can understand. It’s most certainly not an accident.
  • If the story told to us about Jesus in the gospels was a lie, then the apostles died for absolutely nothing. It’s not like their proclamations made their lives better. They just had a story they had to share. That’s what John is saying through the first four verses in this letter: “THIS IS REAL. I WAS THERE AND I SAW IT!!”
  • The mercy that Jesus death and resurrection offers is the only thing that makes any sense in how we can possibly have relationship with you (John will get more into that just after these verses)
  • I can look at numerous examples in my own life that are beyond coincidence. Just two weeks ago today you ordained my steps against my will and provided for my wife in the process. We are burying her father’s ashes today. When I look at how you cared for every detail in his life over the last three years, I stand amazed. I could go on and on here, but it would get too personal for public consumption in some cases. Suffice it to say, I have felt you in my life over and over again.
  • You are my only source of peace. I’m not sure what to add to that except that when I am close to you and pursuing you I have peace, and when I’m not I don’t.

I’m sure there are other things, but I’m going to close here because I need to finish getting ready. I love you. I thank you. I worship you. Help me to live up to everything you need me to be today for everyone I see.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2020 in 1 John

 

1 John 4:7-21

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.

1 John 4:7-21

Dear God, because of this chapter I always had the wrong image of John and his personality. I thought he was mild and gentle. I had this image of a sweet person following Jesus, learning from him and sharing your peace.

It was only after I had a focused look at the stories in the gospels that specifically mention John that I realized he was nothing if the sort. He tried to promote himself above the other disciples. When the Samaritans refused to let Jesus stay with them on the way to Jerusalem, he was the one who wanted to call down fire from heaven and literally burn all of them alive.

Seeing what he wrote here is a reminder that you are continually working on all of us. You worked on John a few days after the Samaritan scene as he secretly followed Jesus all of the way to the cross. You worked on him as he ran to the tomb on the Sunday after the crucifixion. You worked on him in Acts as he got to be part of starting the church and he watched Peter preach and heal the man by the fountain. You worked on him as he got to know people like Nicodemus. You worked on him after his brother, James, became the first of the apostles to be martyred. You melted his heart and moved it into this beautiful place of peace and love. He got to the point where he said, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?”

Father, my heart has a long way to go. So my prayer today is a chorus I prayed last week sometime: Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. Break me, melt me, mold me, fill me. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2020 in 1 John

 

1 John 1:5-7

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1 John 1:5-7

Dear God, of course, I immediately thought of the dc Talk cover of the Charlie Peacock song “In the Light” when I read this. Since I just looked at the dc Talk version a couple of days ago, here’s a link to the Charlie Peacock version.

In terms of this passage, verse six is important:

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.

The important thing here is that one of the people we are lying to is ourself. I think one of the biggest problems in the church today is that we have no idea how to walk in the light. We think believing there is a God and believing there is a Jesus and everything the New Testament says about him means we walk in the light. But as I saw Stuart Hall day last week in his interview with Andy Stanley, we need to worship the God of our theology and not our theology.

Father, help me to legitimately walk in your light today. That means spending time with you in prayer, listening for your voice, worshipping you with all my souls, mind, and strength, and loving my neighbor as myself. It means forgiveness. It means generosity. I love you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2020 in 1 John

 

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1 John 2:15-16

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.
1 John 2:15-16

Dear God, my first thought when I read this passage this morning is that there are some totally pointless things about this world that I totally love and I give some of my resources of time and money to (e.g. college football). I really don’t want to give them up. Do I have to?

Then I thought about a Facebook post I read last night. A woman who is a little younger than me apparently has colon cancer that has spread. She said that that will operate on her colon, but she and her husband are praying and seeking your guidance on what they should do as far as treatment. I haven’t had to be part of a decision like this for myself or my wife, but I’ve always talked tough about my willingness to die and not fight with my last breath. It’s easy to say, but hard to do. The reality is that I can’t really imagine being in this couple’s situation. No one can unless they’ve been there. This verse makes me think that, if I ever am in this situation, I need to ask myself some hard questions about how much of my need to physically survive at any cost is because I love the things of this world too much.

Father, I’m not not saying there is never a time for treatment. Of course not. And I pray that this woman and her husband would find their answers from you. Give her peace and joy. Bring her healing and wholeness. I do pray that there would be a treatable path forward. And then when you are part of her healing, help them to use that gift for your glory. And if your plan is for her to be with you sooner, then please take care of those left behind. Boy this sounds like such a callous prayer. I really do want her healing. Father, be God to them, be powerful, and bring glory to yourself through this.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2019 in 1 John