If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 1 John 1:6
Critics use the word dark to describe movies, television shows, comic books, songs, and other forms of entertainment that are troubling, evil, or depressive. In the same way, we sometimes say about someone, “He’s in a dark place right now.” That’s biblical terminology; the apostle John frequently spoke of light and darkness. The entire world—apart from God’s people—is in darkness, groping for direction and hope. But the followers of Christ have sunlight streaming onto their paths and have no need for night vision goggles.
If there’s a dark spot somewhere in your heart or habits, confess it to God and ask Him to bleach it from your system. When we get to heaven, we’ll be sinless, spotless, and blameless in all our ways. Until then, we work each day to stay on the pathway of light. The Bible says, “But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18).
If God had wanted us completely out of the world, He could have taken us home to heaven at the time of our spiritual birth….We are to shine as light in the world system’s darkness.A. W. Tozer
[Let us] not [give] up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but [encourage] one another. Hebrews 10:25
I grew up the firstborn son of a Southern Baptist preacher. Every Sunday the expectation was clear: I was to be in church. Possible exceptions? Maybe if I had a significant fever. But the truth is, I absolutely loved going, and I even went a few times feverish. But the world has changed, and the numbers for regular church attendance are not what they used to be. Of course, the quick question is why? The answers are many and varied. Author Kathleen Norris counters those answers with a response she received from a pastor to the question, “Why do we go to church?” He said, “We go to church for other people. Because someone may need you there.”
Now by no means is that the only reason we go to church, but his response does resonate with the heartbeat of the writer to the Hebrews. He urged the believers to persevere in the faith, and to achieve that goal he stressed “not giving up meeting together” (Hebrews 10:25). Why? Because something vital would be missed in our absence: “encouraging one another” (v. 25). We need that mutual encouragement to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (v. 24).
Brothers and sisters, keep meeting together, because someone may need you there. And the corresponding truth is that you may need them as well.
Obeying God’s will in our lives should not be a burden but a thrilling adventure that we walk through with Him each day.
Some Christians view obeying God only as a way to avoid the negative consequences of disobedience. But if this is our thinking, then obedience becomes a heavy burden rather than an exciting adventure motivated by love for Jesus Christ and a desire to please Him.
The reason some of us see following the Lord as a burden is because we tend to think of His will in terms of big and potentially costly decisions. But doing God’s will isn’t just about large issues; it’s also daily obedience in small matters of life. Philippians 4:6 tells us not to be anxious about anything but to pray about everything. In bringing even fairly mundane concerns to the Lord, we’re being trained to trust and obey Him in more critical matters.
The Christian life is a walk of faith—one step of obedience after another. Though we may think the situations we face are unrelated, the Lord moves us through a variety of circumstances toward His ultimate purpose. If, for the sake of safety, we back off from obeying, we’ll miss the opportunity to experience His awesome power working in and through us. Small choices may seem insignificant, but they lead to a thrilling lifelong journey with God
“For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” (1 John 3:11)
The pungent phrase “from the beginning” occurs no less than nine times in the first three chapters of the little epistle of 1 John. Thus, while in one sense Christ’s command to love one another was a new commandment, in another sense it has been with us from the very beginning of the world. “Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning” (1 John 2:7).
The first verses of John’s epistle show that this beginning is the same beginning in Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1: “That which was from the beginning,…of the Word of life;…that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us” (1 John 1:1-2). Note also 1 John 2:13: “I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning” (see also 1 John 2:14).
“Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father” (1 John 2:24). This is an eternal commandment, for “God is love” (1 John 4:16) and “love is of God” (1 John 4:7). In the upper room, Jesus prayed to the Father: “Father…thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world…And I have declared unto them thy name…that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them” (John 17:24, 26).
Love, therefore, has been at the center of God’s plan from the beginning, but a new pattern and measure of that love was given us by Christ. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34). HMM
God, if only You would kill the wicked (stay away from me, you bloodthirsty men) who invoke You deceitfully. Your enemies swear [by You] falsely. Lord, don’t I hate those who hate You, and detest those who rebel against You? I hate them with extreme hatred; I consider them my enemies. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way (Psalm 139 vv. 19-24).
Piano tuning is a fine art. A piano has three strings for each tone. If the instrument is flat, the strings must be tightened; if it is sharp, the strings must be loosened. The piano tuner always has a point of reference—”A-440”— using either a tuning fork or an electronic device called a strobe tuner. But he also depends on his ear—perfect pitch or good relative pitch—and a thorough acquaintance with harmonic intervals.
After cataloging the sins of God’s enemies, who are consequently his as well, David focuses on himself. Unlike those who “misuse” the name of the Lord, David prays, voluntarily submitting himself to God’s tuning fork: “Search me’; “Test me”; “See if there is any offensive way in me” (vv. 23-24). In effect, he is saying: “Lord, let me know if my life is out of tune!”
As is true so many times in Psalms, David meets trouble with an expression of faith in the nature of God. He is both infinite and personal, transcendent and immanent—far above to watch over us yet within to guide us. He knows how it feels to be human because he came in the flesh and walked where we walk (John 1:1, 14).
David finds a deep wellspring of comfort and serenity in these harmonious attributes.
As the tuning fork is applied to my life, I can “hear” the flat keys. The Master Tuner may have to tighten the strings, thus producing temporary pain and stress. But the final result will be a beautifully voiced instrument of praise, fit for a heavenly concerto!
O Lord, let me know if my life is out of tune! Search me, test me, and check me out. I long to sing and play in perfect harmony with your plan!
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.—2 Peter 3:18
Resentment poisons the one who holds it. Think how free of resentment our Lord was. His “first word” from the cross shows how He dealt with any possible temptation to be resentful. I believe that He was as free to walk away from Calvary as he was to walk away from the cliff-edge above Nazareth. He accepted death. Sin and love were in decisive battle. Had He drawn back, sin would have won. And He who lives in us can love in us—if we let Him.
We must allow time for change. Change is more often than not a process. I want to emphasize this because many, when once they see the way out of their dilemma, want change to take place too quickly. Some changes in our lives take place quickly. The night I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ, a lot of my sinful habits left me. But some didn’t, and the process of change was long and tedious. Deep healing and supernatural change can take place in a moment, but often it takes months of struggle, trial and error, learning and unlearning.
All of us have different timetables when it comes to growing, and no one should judge another’s timetable. There is an assumption that when God is involved, then all change will be instantaneous. It can happen that way, but be prepared also for it to take place over a period of time. A gardener friend of mine says: “Slow growth is good growth.” It is the same in the garden of the soul.
Father, help me to be content with Your timetable for my spiritual growth. Sometimes I want to grow more quickly than is good for me. Help me be patient with Your patience. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The Bible is a book about peace. It contains nearly 400 references to peace—
peace of God, peace with God, peace among men both on national and individual levels. Peace is referred to 88 times in the New Testament and is found in each of its books. There is hardly an experience more sought after than peace. Paul begins each of his letters with a prayer that grace and peace may be upon the people to whom he writes.
Peace in the Bible is more than the absence of war. It is a positive experience and signifies the presence of all that is good and wonderful. The Hebrew word shalom contains in it the desire for all the goodness that God can give—a total well-being of body, mind and spirit. Peace is a creative force and a peacemaker is a person who releases this creative force to change his world.
The source of peace is God. Six times in the New Testament God the Father is referred to as the “God of peace.” Jesus is revealed as God’s peacemaker. “He Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). John 14:27 has been called the last will and testament of Jesus: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.” The source of peace is God.
The enemy of peace is sin. People are at war with each other because they are at war with themselves. They are at war with themselves because they are at war with God.
This peace involves a man’s relationship to himself. It also involves man’s relationship to his fellow man. A false peace gives the impression that the problems have been resolved when they have only been covered over. The quieting of the surface when the depths are still stormy is no lasting solution.
In the Beatitudes, the people who are blessed are not the peace lovers but the peacemakers. You may be a peaceable man without being a peacemaker. The peace of this beatitude does not come from evading issues but by facing them. Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke of “cheap grace.” There is also cheap peace.
A Chinese proverb reads: “When there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character. If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home. If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.”