Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thursday, February 28 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Leviticus 27; Psalm 43; Mark 15
Today's scripture focus is 1 John 5:1-5

My goodness, how is it the last day of February already?!?!

Whoever believes that Jesus is the [a]Christ is [b]born of God, and whoever loves the [c]Father loves the child [d]born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and [e]observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is [f]born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

To me, the first part this passage speaks about putting things in the right order.
#1 - believe that Jesus is the Christ and be born of God
#2 - love the Father
#3 - love the other children by loving and obeying God

Then it says that the victory that has overcome the world is our faith.  It's like a circle.  Love God.  Obey God.  Love each other.  Grow in faith. Love God. Obey God.  Love each other.  Grow in faith.  We all know that our attitudes feed our actions and our actions feed our attitudes.  For example, the less you do, the less you feel like doing.  And the less you feel like doing, the less you do.  It spirals downwards.  Or, doing things and getting things done provides a sense of accomplishment and makes you want to keep going and get more stuff done.  When you read your Bible and pray regularly, it gives you a desire to read more, learn more, be in companionship with God more.

The more we love God, the more willing we are to obey Him.  The more we obey Him, the more we love Him, and the more we love Him, the better we can love others.

From Mark Driscoll's sermon:

God is not an idea. He’s a person. He’s not a syllogism. He’s alive, and we come to him with our mind. We need to know whom we’re loving, but we come to him with our heart. We have to be passionate about loving him, and if we do, that’s the most loving thing that we can give to others. It goes on. How do we know we are loving the children of God? By loving God. First things first, then we will carry out his commands, and this is love for God to obey his commands. Here, John is again just echoing the Lord Jesus. He said, “If you love me, then you’ll obey me.” Some of you hear the word “obey.” You go, “Obey, I don’t like that word. I’m an indie rocker. I live in Seattle. I don’t like the word ‘obey.’ That’s a terrible word. That’s why I ran away from home and learned how to play guitar. I hate that word.”

Okay, obey is a great word providing you have the right Father. It all depends on who your Dad is as to whether or not obeying him is a duty or a delight. If you have a problem obeying God, you really have a problem knowing God. If you knew him, you would obey him. Here’s the truth. God saves us from ourselves, friends. Genesis 3, tree of life, tree of death. We choose death. Every day since, we have chosen death. We are a suicidal people. We just slaughter ourselves. We kill ourselves, and God says, “I will save you. I will love you. I will change you.” It is only a fool who looks at God and says, “No, I will do it my own way. I won’t obey you,” because God is the God of love, and God is the God of life, and if you would disobey the loving God of life, you would live in death apart from love falling, falling.

Some people say, “I love God. I just don’t listen to him.” You can’t. I always do this with my kids. I tell you this all the time, but when my kids are disobeying me, I look them right in the eye, and I say, “Do you love the Lord?” “Yes.” “Do you love your Daddy?” “Yes.” “Then, what are you gonna do because the issue is not cleaning your room. The issue is not whacking your brother. The issue is not swimming in the toilet. Those are all effects. The issue is am I going to live out of love for God or not,” and too many people are chasing, “I have an alcohol problem. I have a lust problem. I have a perversion problem. I have a sexual problem. I have a depression. I have all these problems.”

Guess what? Those are all effects. There’s one cause. You don’t know who God is. Friends, if you can study one thing for your whole life, find out who the God of the Bible is. If you know who God is, you will love him, and you will trust him, and you will obey him, and the sin in your life will go away because you will want to follow him, and you will trust him over that seed of rebellion from Adam that’s in you that wants you to think that you’re smarter than you are, getting you to choose death all the time and neglecting the loving God of life. You will obey God if you love him. You can’t love God unless you know him. If you don’t know him, you can’t love him, and you can’t obey him, and obedience is not your problem. Love of the one true God is always at the root of every sin and problem, that there are times when we love our sin and we love our flesh more than we love the Lord, and that’s what leads us into trouble.

Have a great day!

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  1 John 5:6-8
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Numbers 1-2; Psalm 44; Mark 16

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wednesday, February 27th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Leviticus 25-26, Psalm 42, Mark 14
Today's scripture focus is 1 John 4:13-21

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

In yesterday's passage we saw that we are to love because love is the very essence of God and He dwells within us, therefore love dwells within us.  We were also shows that God demonstrated His love by sending His only Son to die for us in order to reconcile us to Him.  We see the love of Jesus towards God that He would obey that request, and the love of Jesus towards us that He would die for us.  And that demonstration of live gives us the ultimate example of how we are to love those around us. We also saw that we are to love because that is our testimony. Jesus no longer walks this earth physically, but we have the opportunity and responsibility to show the world the love of God in action as a testimony of His love.

Today we see a few more reasons to love.

Love is the assurance of our salvation.  We know that we abide in Him and that He abides in us because He has given us His Spirit.  How do we know we have the Spirit within us?  Because we believe the gospel - that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world and acknowledge Christ as Lord, and the Son of God, that salvation is by faith not works.  When we were unbelievers we were dead in our trangressions and simply could not believe the entirety of the gospel message apart from the Holy Spirit.  And once we believe the fullness of the gospel, the Spirit dwells within us.  And not only do we believe, but we understand that all of this was done out of love for us.  And when we are connected to Jesus Christ, we cannot help but love because love abides in us.  We have no choice but to love!  Love is the assurance of our salvation.

Love is our confidence in judgment.  When that perfect love abides in us, we can look ahead to the coming day of judgment without fear.
MacArthur puts it this way....
do you think Jesus could face the final judgment of God with confidence? You think He can? With boldness? With fearlessness? Of course. Because love is absolutely perfected in Him, obedience is absolutely perfected in Him, righteousness is absolutely perfected in Him. And how incredible is it that we can actually go to the judgment and stand there as confident as Christ, because in reality we've been covered with His righteousness. Jesus is God's beloved Son in whom He is well pleased. And so are we.
We don't need to fear the judgment.  We don't fear the return of Christ.  In fact, we long for it!  Fear is connected to punishment, and believers have no need to fear because we are made righteous in Christ and are perfected in love.  As believers, we can live in love, confidence and hope.

We love because love is only reasonable.   19 We love because he first loved us.
You can't claim to love the invisible God and not love the God that's in His people. You can't claim to love the invisible Christ and not love Christ in His people. It's absurd. So it's only reasonable then to say true believers are characterized by loving the way God loves, sacrificial, selfless love.

MacArthur summarizes.....
Listen then, love is not an emotion, it's not a feeling to which we give expression whenever we feel like it. There is that kind of love and it's a wonderful thing. It belongs in human life. But we're not talking about that here. There is the wonderful love that a husband and a wife share, that a family shares, that children share with parents, friend with friend. We're not talking about any of those human loves which are enhanced and enriched by the love of Christ in the heart of believers. We're talking about this kind of love that extends toward anybody that has a need, particularly those in the family of God. It is a perfect kind of love, a different love than the world's kind of love. It is a whole, complete love and it is the essence of God manifest in Christ. It is our testimony, it is the assurance of our salvation. It is our confidence in judgment and it is only reasonable because you could never truly have the love of God in you and not love others with that love. Perfect love is the mark of the true believer.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: 1 John 5:1-5
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Leviticus 27, Psalm 43, Mark 15

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tuesday Feb 26 2013 -- Sandy's posts

Today's scripture focus1 John 4:7-12
Today's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Leviticus 23,24 Psalm 41; Mark 13

God Is LoveBeloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

Love.  Love, love, love.  God speaks a lot of his love, does He not?
I must confess, the concept of God's love has been a huge sticking point with me in the last several months.  I have simply been unable to grasp it.  MacArthur says something important here:

We're here not talking about then a love that is attached to mystical experience. That's so important. We're not talking about a love that is attached to emotional sentimentality. We're talking about a love that's connected directly to salvation and sanctification, a love that is connected directly to knowing Christ and obeying Christ. Knowing Christ grants us that love, obeying Christ allows us to enjoy the fullness of it. That's what we're talking about when we talk about perfect love.

This is important.  Our humanly perception of love is so, so skewed.  Not bad, but skewed.  We are capable of acts of love, but the perfect love we are shown in Christ is so far beyond anything we can grasp, it at times, almost doesn't seem like ''love''.  Am I the only one who struggles with this?  Gosh, I hope not.   He touches on that also:

He goes on to say, "Everyone who loves is born of love." We're not talking about human love. We're not talking about temporal love. We're not talking about sexual love, or human affection. We're talking here about this transcendent love known only to those who are His, about this perfect love, love to the max which the world never, never, never knows. You are to love because He is the giver of that love. And to everyone born of God is granted that love. If you are born of God and you know God, then you have this love. God is the source, isn't He? He is the giver.

Yes. So much yes!  Humans are capable of love, in it's earthly sense.  Parental love, spousal love, sexual love.  Brotherly love.  I admit, that because the love we receive in salvation sometimes doesn't "feel" like "love", then perhaps it isn't there?  Perhaps God doesn't love me?
But He does.  I just have to let go of the idea that God's love must fit into the box I've created for love.  I have to be willing to look at God's idea of love, and far beyond my own skewed view of love.
Easier said than done.
Love is Christ.  The times I'm feeling forlorn and lost, abandoned, unloved....Christ is love.  He calls me His own.  That is the only love I need.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday, February 25 ~ by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Leviticus 15, 16; Psalm 39; Mark 11
Today's scripture focus is 1 John 4: 2-6

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.
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in youis greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

On Friday, Roxie talked about how we need to be in God's word and examining the scriptures so that we won't be swayed by false testimony and that we can be sure of what we believe.

In today's passage, we are told that we can recognize the Spirit of God....if we know what to look for. MacArthur says:

"There is the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit, and there is the spirit of error who would be Satan and his demons. Nothing is benign. All spiritual truth either comes from a divine source or a demonic source. And we know that God speaks truth and reveals truth and Satan speaks a lie and is a deceiver and so it is critical that we be able to discern the difference. God's truth must be guarded very, very carefully. It is always under attack. It is relentlessly under attack."

Unfortunately, God's truth is "relentlessly under attack". So many areas that used to be black and white have now blurred into an unrecognizable grey. The values and morals that were once upheld as good are now regarded as outdated and worthless. This is probably Satan's biggest victory in his quest to turn people from make them believe that there is no ultimate truth and that everyone can decide on his or her own version of it.

I started reading this blog awhile ago after finding a few of her ideas pinned on pinterest. I admire her parenting style and her willingness to be bold. A few days ago, she posted a letter to her kids and the backlash from her words have prompted many to comment their displeasure at teaching her children to be "so judgemental" and also that many were disappointed that she failed to tell her kids to "go live their dreams" and "figure out who they are to be the best they can be". Sarah's views expressed in her letter are extremely countercultural and very "boat rocking" indeed. Relentlessly. Under. Attack.

It is our duty to be aware of the attack on truth and to know what to do about it.

"And this duty falls heavily upon me as it does any servant of God. It requires two things to guard the truth. One, you have to know the truth. That's why Paul said to Timothy, "Hold on to sound doctrine." You can't guard what you don't understand. If a minister or a pastor does not know sound doctrine, he can't guard it. So, first of all, it requires the fulfillment of this duty requires the knowledge of sound doctrine, and secondly, it requires the recognition of error. Sound doctrine and sound discernment, essential in the church. This is our primary responsibility and it runs parallel to our teaching. How can we teach sound doctrine if we don't know it, how can we teach our people to avoid error if we don't recognize it. Sound doctrine and sound discernment go side by side and are the primary responsibility of every preacher, every elder, every shepherd and pastor in the church. And John discharges that responsibility. John knows sound doctrine and he articulates it and John also possesses sound discernment and he provides helpful warnings to aid others to do the same."

We need to know the truth and then we need to hold on to it. If we don't, it is..

"not just wrong, it is against Christ. There in the middle of verse 3, "This is the spirit of the antichrist of which you have heard that it is coming and now it is already in the world." We think of antichrist, we think of some future person, the beast of Revelation. But antichrist, he's just the final antichrist, the antichrist spirit exists in the world because demons that are espousing anything that is not a representation that is accurate concerning Christ are espousing an anti-Christ idea. So there are many antichrist teachings. All teaching that presents untruth about Christ, lies, is the spirit of antichrist which is already in the world and yet in its final form is coming....They're everywhere...everywhere... [and] I feel a necessity to appeal to you to fight earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. It is a battle. It is a battle that has to be fought with all our might to guard the truth for the next generation, as well as this one." 

It is a battle. A battle that has already been won but it is our job as Christians to stand up for this truth for this victory and to hold it and guard it and know it. The world speaks loudly and it is threatening to drown us out. May God grant us the courage to rock the boat.

Tomorrow's scripture focus1 John 4:7-12
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Leviticus 23,24 Psalm 41; Mark 13

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday, 22 February 2013 ~ Roxie

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Leviticus 15, 16; Psalm 39; Mark 11
Today's scripture focus is 1 John 4:1

1 John 4:1

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.

I definitely struggle with this. If something sounds logical or even just beautiful, tugging at my emotions, I am apt to accept it without question. I am far too trusting and even when I have a squirmy, uncomfortable sense about something, I tend to to lean towards the other’s comfort rather than my discomfort...why rock the boat?? And why make the other person feel belittled or put on the spot?

And here, John is telling us to rock the boat. Do not be lulled by a pretty face, a soft voice or an argument well spoken. Do not let your mind be clouded by a large crowd, a successful looking ministry, a professional worship band, a fancy church building. Test the spirits. Test them. And how, exactly, are we supposed to do that? 

The book of Acts talks about the visit of Paul and Silas to the Bereans, saying:

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11)

Every day. Every day!!! They examined the Scriptures...they tested the words of Paul. This was not just some random guy named Paul; this was the Paul, the apostle, Paul; a man stuck blind by the light of heaven (Acts 9) and whose ears heard aloud the voice of our Lord. Even so, they weighed his words against the ultimate authority, the Scriptures of old, God breathed and true.

So why do I, a woman living in a time where I have multiple translations of Scripture sitting on my shelf, not examine the scriptures every day? Why do I not make certain that what I am listening to and thinking about deeply intertwine with the Word of God? Pure laziness, maybe? An illusion of safety and protection? Whatever it may be, it is a choice that we must make to cover ourselves with protection that comes from closeness with God and a knowledge of His Word.

False prophets are not just a phenomenon of the past. We encounter them frequently. We need to continually work to equip ourselves through digging deeply into the scriptures, immersing ourselves in the ultimate Truth so that  we are able to recognize a false prophet from a prophet striving to turn our hearts back to our that we can stand strong in our knowledge of the Truth. 

Monday's scripture focus: 1 John 4:2-6
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Leviticus 17, 18

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thursday, February 21 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Leviticus 13-14; Psalm 38; Mark 10
Today's scripture focus is 1 John 3:19b-24

19 We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will [a]assure our heart before Him 20 [b]in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence [c]before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.
23 This is His commandment, that we [d]believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He[e]commanded us. 24 The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

Earlier in the chapter, John talks about how we can know that we have been saved, or brought from death unto life - by the way we love each other.  Believe in the name of Jesus Christ and love one another, and here again we find that lovely word "abide".  When we keep His commandments, we abide in Him, and he in us.  We have received the Holy Spirit, and as we abide and love and obey, we receive the fruit of the Spirit -- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control.  Anyone think it's an accident that love is the first thing on that list?  I don't.  Not a chance.

This is my latest most favourite song that I've been singing with the Sunday School kids for the last few weeks:

Love and serve - with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Because God knows we need the help!  All along, John has made it clear that if we truly love God, we abide in Him and He in us, and we will want more and more to serve and obey Him, and in doing so, love those around us.  Not to say that we'll get it right all the time - we know we won't and so does He.  But "God is greater than our heart and knows all things" and He sees our hearts and He knows when we are trying to serve Him, even when our actions do not always come out right.

Have a great Thursday, or Friday, or whatever day you happen to read this.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: 1 John 4:1
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Leviticus 15-16; Psalm 39; Mark 11.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wednesday, February 20th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Leviticus 11-12, Psalm 37, Mark 9
Today's scripture focus is 1 John 3:19

By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him

MacArthur's accompanying sermons - The Essential Foundation of Christian Assurance and Why Christians Lack Assurance

MacArthur actually summed it up very succinctly in his commentary...
A lifestyle of love in action is the demonstrable proof of salvation.

But let's back up just a bit.

Do you ever doubt your salvation?  I know I have.  In fact, that may even be an indicator of faith!  That sounds odd, doesn't it?  Doubt indicating faith?

MacArthur explains....
Doubts and fears are related to God's glory and honor and righteousness and holiness and our dread of His judgment and our fear of His punishment. We are weak and we know it. We are imperfect and we know it. We openly acknowledge it. And God is perfect and holy and omniscient and nothing escapes Him. And that is intimidating. Yet in that very presence of God we can have assurance of our eternal glory, being calm and confident that we are of the truth, people of the truth.

Doubting our salvation is normal.

There are many people who have assurance who don't deserve it. In fact, it's been my experience that the people who battle with assurance, the people who struggle with it, who get depressed, who have fears and doubts and worries are almost always Christians because non-Christians, they don't have the battle. They claim, "Well, I'm going to heaven, God would never turn me out of His heaven, I'm a good person." Or, "Lord, Lord, we did this, we did that, we did the other thing in Your name. Here we are." You know, people...people who battle with this...inevitably are Christians and the battle comes because they're standing before God and they see His glory and His holiness and His righteousness and they're looking at themselves and they're feeling weak and unworthy and it's in the throes of that that they see in their life that fall short of the standard that intimidates them that makes them say with Isaiah, "Woe is me, I am undone, I'm a man of unclean lips."
So it's...I don't know that I've met very many people...I can't remember any who were having this struggle and were actually non-Christians. This is a struggle in the heart of a believer very often. And God does not want it to be that way.

So yes, doubting our salvation can actually be pretty strong evidence of it's authenticity.

But backing up even further.

Is salvation forever?

Once saved, always saved?

Really, when it boils down to it, what we're asking is, is eternal life eternal?  Well, when you put it that way, it seems a bit ridiculous!  Of course, eternal life is eternal!

John 5:24  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

Yes, eternal life is eternal.

John 6:35-40 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
From the point of believing all the way to the point of being raised - nobody is lost.

Salvation is forever. Once you are genuinely saved, you are saved for eternity.

I didn't always believe that.  In fact, until pretty recently I didn't.

MacArthur explains the 3 options...

If you go back and look at the history of theology, there have been really two alternatives in this discussion. There is the reformed alternative, as we typically identify it, and it kind of goes like this. The Reformed view presents the permanent nature of regeneration manifest in the reality of experience. The permanent nature of regeneration manifest in the reality of experience. In other words, you're saved, you're saved permanently and it shows up in your life.
The other view is the Arminian view, sometimes called the Wesleyan view. This is the view that affirms the temporary nature of regeneration, temporarily manifest in experience. So you have the permanent nature of regeneration, permanently manifest in experience, that's Calvinism or Reformed Theology. You have the temporary nature of regeneration manifest in temporary experience, that's the Arminian Wesleyan view that essentially says salvation is not forever, you can lose it, you're likely to lose it and therefore losing your salvation you would lose the ability to do good works and so the whole thing would disappear. And those were basically the options through history. You either believed in a permanent salvation that had permanent manifestation, or a temporary salvation that had temporary manifestation.
But today we have a third view that has come on the scene and we could call it the permanent nature of regeneration and the temporary nature of experience. That is to say you can be permanently saved but only temporarily manifest the evidence of it. This is what the No Lordship people teach, that you can be a believing unbeliever, that you can deny the faith, reject Christ, live in absolute outright sin, have no desire for holiness and still be a Christian. That really doesn't find any kind of wide adherence in the history of theology. But this is what we're dealing with today. The idea that once you're saved you're saved permanently, although there may be only a temporary manifestation, if any at all, in terms of your works. Well no self-respecting Calvinist would accept that and neither would any self-respecting Arminian accept that. The Calvinist would reject the idea that you could be permanently saved, and only temporarily manifest that salvation. And the Arminian would reject the fact that you could be permanently saved all together. The Calvinist would say you could be permanently saved but not temporarily manifest it. The Arminian would say you couldn't be permanently saved at all, that would be temporary, therefore you could manifest it only as long as salvation lasted.
But we have this new and bizarre idea that if you go through some motions at a service or pray a prayer, decide for Christ, or do whatever you're asked to do and affirm some belief in Jesus, you can have permanent salvation and it may or may not manifest itself in any kind of righteous works, any kind of holy affections not only in the moment but lifelong. The Bible says if you're justified, you're going to manifest that you've also become involved in a process the Bible calls being sanctified. Those who are justified are sanctified. So where you come to Christ genuinely, you're given a new nature, transformed, new birth, new creation, regeneration, you have ongoing manifestation of that new life.

I think the 3rd view is a wishful thinking view.  It's what I used to use to placate myself with in regards to loved ones in my life that claim Christ but whose lives don't reflect that reality.  I would think - well, they've accept Christ as their Saviour, just not as their Lord.  Or they're not "victorious Christians".  But option 3 is really not an option.  It's not possible.

I really have become convinced that Calvinism is correct here.  Once you are genuinely saved, you are saved forever.

So, then the question is, how do you know if you are genuinely saved?

The answer is in what John's been discussing throughout the entire epistle.  We know who Christ is, we  hate sin, and we love God and each other.

By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him

Tomorrow's scripture focus: 1 John 3:19-24
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Leviticus 13-14, Psalm 38, Mark 10

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Feb 19th 2013-- Sandy's post

Today's scripture focus: Leviticus 9-10, Psalm 36, Mark 8

Today's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 John 3:11-18

Love One Another
11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers,[a]that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

1 John 3:11-18

I love what MacArthur says about these verses.  Check it out if you've time.  

This is a big command.  One that sounds simple in theory, but oh so difficult in application.  Easy, because hey, we all love right?  I love my kids, I love my husband, I love my mother-in-law.  But do I love - the verb - them?  Love as a noun, a thing, a feeling is easy most of the time.  Love the verb is a whole 'nuther animal.  
Love, the verb is hard to live.  It's hard to actively love someone who say, drives you bonkers.  Or who chooses to hurt you.  How do you verb-love a spouse who maliciously attacks God and refuses to love you as Christ loves the church?  How do you verb-love a co-worker who makes fun of you for your beliefs?  How do you verb-love someone who would gladly kill you because you claim the name of Christ?  
What does love even mean in these cases?  How do we love someone who may not love us back?  Who may in fact, hate our very being?

We love them with the Gospel.  We have no choice, for if we truly love Christ, we *must* preach Him.  we must, with every fiber of our being, exude love to those around us, not only by bringing forth the fruits of the spirit (Gal 5), but by proclaiming the truth in word and deed.  Because if we truly love our fellow man (and woman), we want them to have what we have.  Don't you want to share something glorious and wonderful with people you love? 

But it's not just non-christians obviously.  And these verses are speaking of us loving each other.  As in fellow christians.  That gets a bit stickier.  It can be incredibly hard to love our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  You wouldn't think so, but ask anyone who's been part of a church body.  There is always someone who is hard to love.  Maybe several someones.  But darnit, we must love them.  We even verb-love them in the same way we verb-love those who aren't believers, with the Gospel.  Obviously, not as simply as we'd love one who isn't a believer, but same idea.  When we verb-love our brothers and sisters in Christ, we do the hard things, like, gently call out sin.  Or spur them on to take a leap of faith.  Comfort them in pain.  Rejoice in joyful times alongside them.  We sharpen each other, like iron sharpens iron.  (Proverbs 27:17).  Our commitment and obligation to love our brothers and sisters in Christ is serious, and important.  

MacArthur said something very striking in his sermon on these verses.  "Indifference is evidence of the unregenerate" (My paraphrase).  Indifference is a pretty serious heart condition when it comes to our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Do you have the symptoms of that heart condition?  You'd better pay a visit to the Great Healer.  Quickly.  


Monday, February 18, 2013

February 18 - 1 John 3:9-10 - Tiffany

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Leviticus 7-8, Psalm 35, Mark 7
Today's scripture focus is 1 John 3:9-10
Those who are born of God will not continue to sin, because God's seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.  This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Those who do not do what is right are not God's children; nor are those who do not love their brothers and sisters.
When Jesus speaks to Nicodemus in John 3, Jesus tells the Pharisee he must be born again of water and the Spirit. 
When my five year old asked how babies were born, I told her this: God takes a little a bit of daddy and a little bit of mommy, and puts them together to create a seed that He then puts in Mommy.  This seed grows into a baby.
It is right, technically, and it worked for my daughter, and it is how I looked at our verses for today.  When we are born again, a little of God is put in each of us.  And since God is righteousness, that makes us righteous as well.  In the righteous there is no sin (1 John 3:5).
I believe, in a way, we can boil this down to choices.  We choose to accept God, to accept Jesus's sacrifice for us, we choose to be born again, and in that gain a righteousness that we do not have the ability to obtain on our own.
I'm a late-comer to Harry Potter.  I've never read the books, and I didn't see any of the movies until five of them had already been released for TV.  But in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledor tells Harry "It is not our abilities that make us who we are, but our choices."
And it is so.  We are human, and our ability to be righteous isn't very strong.  We can do right some of the time, but without God, we will fail.  When we chose to become a child of God, God's great grace and mercy cover over our great inability daily.  Our choice to follow Him gives us the ability to make good choices, to do what is right, and to love our brothers and sister.Our choice to follow Him marks us a child of God! 
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Leviticus 9-10, Psalm 36, Mark 8
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 John 3:11-18

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday, February 15 ~ tammi

Today's Bible In a Year reading: Leviticus 1-2; Psalm 34; Mark 6
Today's scripture focus passage: 1 John 3:7-8 ~ "Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work."

Accompanying MacArthur sermon: The Christian's Incompatibility with Sin, Part 1 and Part 2

I always struggle with verses like this because I don't always do what's right!  In fact, I don't come anywhere CLOSE to always doing what's right!!  I almost always do, think, and say things that are sinful.  That's why it's always such a relief to read the Apostle Paul's confession in Romans 7!   We're in good company when we love God and do our best to serve Him, and yet continually fall to temptation, doing the very things we know are not pleasing to God.  (not that that's an excuse, of course, but still a consolation!)

That last sentence ~ "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work." ~ is clearly a "bigger picture" claim.  The devil's eternal work has indeed been destroyed, even though his power to temporarily deceive and control us in this life has not.  He can seduce us for a time, yes, and cause us to sin in and/or with our earthly bodies, but he cannot have our souls in eternity.  Those belong to God through the work of His Son on the cross.  (Can I get a HALLELUJAH?!!)

I love how MacArthur explains it:  What was absolutely impossible to the sinner, that is righteousness ~ Romans chapter 3, "There is none righteous, no not one. There's none that does good, they're all evil," ~ what was absolutely impossible to the sinner, namely righteousness, is now the truest expression of the saints inner person. We are manifestly righteous, we who are truly regenerated.

Isn't that awesome??  I don't know about you, but I sure don't feel truly regenerated and righteous most of the time, but isn't it great to know that is who/how we are, DESPITE our feelings?

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year reading: Leviticus 3-4
Monday's scripture focus passage: 1 John 3:9-10

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thursday ♥ February 14 ♥ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 39-40; Psalm 33; Mark 5.
Today's scripture focus is 1 John 3:4-6.

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.

I'm going to borrow from Mark Driscoll's sermon again.  He's talking about how some Christians hold themselves to the wrong standard, a standard of outward perfection.  There is a big difference between loving God and wanting to be like him, the way a child looks up to his or her parent(s) and wants to be just like Dad or just like Mom, but messing up along the way, and having a heart of rebellion and purposefully doing the opposite of what you know you are supposed to do.  Here is an excerpt:

God is a Dad who thinks you’re funny, especially when you take yourself seriously, and providing you don’t have a heart of lawlessness that just says, “Forget you. I disobey you. I defy you. I won’t listen.” Provided you have a heart that loves your Dad and says, “I want to be like my Dad. I want to obey my Dad. I want to be close to my Dad. I want to enjoy my Dad.” If you should make a mistake that’s not a sin, guys, calm down. It’s all right. Okay, God doesn’t want you to be, you know, perfect in that you never lose your car keys. You never spill your coffee.

He wants you to be holy, which means you obey him and love him. I’ll give you an example. My kids. They won’t go to bed. Why is that? When you’re an adult, if somebody came and said, “Go to bed,” you’d be like, “Okay.” Like if you were in your cubicle at work and your boss came and said, “You’re cranky. Go take a nap. Here’s some cookies and juice.” You’d be like, “Yes.” You know, you would never have the child – the child response is, “No, no.” You’re like, “Cookies and a juice and a nap. Praise God. This is the job I prayed for.”

You know, kids don’t want to go to bed. I don’t know why. There’s nothing going on. They’re not missing anything. So my kids the other night, I got four kids. Getting them to bed is like herding cats. They just – they won’t get in line. They won’t. They just stall and they, you know, they got to pee 75 times and, “Oh, I forgot something,” and I finally – we’re downstairs. I looked at them. I said, “That’s it. I’m done. I’m your Father. I’m gonna tell you to do something. You’re gonna do it, okay?” And I meant to say, “Brush your teeth and get your buns to bed.” What I said was, “Brush your buns and get your teeth to bed.”

So my five-year-old son literally falls on the ground, grabs his gut. He thinks this is the coolest thing. My two-year-old son gets his toothbrush, one of those electric toothbrushes and sticks it on his rear just to mock me. You know, I made a mistake. You know, you’re gonna make a mistake. What we’re talking about here is the person who ignores God, who disobeys God, who just rebels against God. We’re not talking about the person who loves God, pursues God, and is just not perfect.
Okay, I mean I’ll say this. Jesus was perfect. Does that mean he never lost his car keys? I don’t know, but if he did, would he have ceased to be God? I don’t know, but I think sometimes you get this picture of Jesus like, “My car keys are here, and it’s, oh, I got an appointment at 7:30 and” – like he never once ever like tripped like walking to school. “Oop, oh, I didn’t – oh, I tripped over a rock. Oh, I’m not God anymore.” You know, I – Jesus Christ was a perfect man. I don’t think that necessarily means that, you know, he never took a bite of his breakfast and it fell off his fork.

“Oh, now we lost God.” You know, because that is not the breaking of the law, and that’s not lawlessness. That’s humanity. You guys understand the point I’m trying to make here. Some of you are so intense. Go to bed. Take your nap. Get your juice. What God is looking for is that you would love your Dad. You would listen to your Dad. You’d obey your Dad. You’d trust your Dad. By grace, you would want to be like your Dad, and if you should cross the line by disobeying his Word, you would immediately purify yourself by bringing your sin to Jesus and getting back in relationship with your Dad.  

Jesus is the one who takes away your sin. Here’s a great thing. Everybody in the world agrees there’s sin. We’ll use different words. People say, “That’s a dysfunction. That’s a disorder. That’s bad.” You know, we’ll use different words. It’s sin. The only person who could deal with sin is Jesus because he’s the only one who has no sin in him.
Jesus, God comes, lives without sin, dies for sin. We give him our sin. He gives us his righteousness. Our sin is dealt with. (emphases mine)

Roxie talked last week about abiding.  When we abide in Him, our heart's desire is to be more and more like Him.  Our actions follow our attitudes and we actually become more and more like Him.  When we abide in Him, even though we are not perfect all the time in all things, we obey.  Or at least, we obey better more of the time.  Isn't that great?

Happy Valentine's Day!  ♥♥♥

Tomorrow's scripture focus: 1 John 3:7-8.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Leviticus 1-2; Psalm 34; Mark 6.