you are not alone

“God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.  In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like Him.  There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:16b-18).

There’s a lot that has brought the Apostle John to this point in his first letter.  There are those who feel as if they have the market cornered on God and who readily belittle others who they consider as “less spiritual.” John writes to encourage those who are taking criticism and who are truly seeking to have high view of God and humble view of themselves.

The theme of “love” is a thread that runs throughout John’s literature.  John assures that the very nature of God is love.  The Apostle affirms that love is not only the foundation of our relationship with the Father, but is foundational in our relationship with others.  With both those whom we agree and those we do not.

Everything of course is encompassed within Jesus’ beautiful message: “God so loved…” (John 3:16).

But here in 1 John, the Apostle moves from “love” to “fear.”  “There is no fear in love.”  “Perfect love drives out fear.”  The connection to love (and context of John’s message) is enveloped in relationship.  Relationship with God.  And relationship with others.  And what I believe our Father through His servant John hopes to communicate with us in this is that for those who are in a right relationship with God fear is not a part of the equation.  The perfect love of God revealed in the Gospel of Jesus drives it away.  However, if we were to be honest, we each, very often, have our fears.  And even though John is speaking of eternity and how there is no fear (“condemnation” to use Paul’s word – cf. Romans 8:1) for those who are in Christ Jesus, I wonder what might be weighing on your heart and mind right now?

I wonder: What is it that you’re afraid of?  What is it that is causing you concern right now?  What is it that is weighing you down?  What is it that is keeping you up at night?  What is it that is dividing your attention?  What are your fears?

Because the message of Jesus can be summed up in these words: “You are not alone.”

Jon Walker in his book, Costly Grace, writes: “Fear whispers in our ear that we face danger alone, that God is unaware of our plight and that Jesus is unavailable in our time of need” (p217).

You are not alone.  You can trust God.  You can trust our Father.  You can trust Him.

You are not alone.

Glory to God!

Jason

you are not alone

Angel Sculpture Christian Stock Image

“God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.  In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like Him.  There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:16b-18).

There’s a lot that has brought the Apostle John to this point in his first letter.  There are those who feel as if they have the market cornered on God and who readily belittle others who they consider as “less spiritual.” John writes to encourage those who are taking criticism and who are truly seeking to have high view of God and humble view of themselves.

The theme of “love” is a thread that runs throughout John’s literature.  John assures that the very nature of God is love.  The Apostle affirms that love is not only the foundation of our relationship with the Father, but is foundational in our relationship with others.  With both those whom we agree and those we do not.

Everything of course is encompassed within Jesus’ beautiful message: “God so loved…” (John 3:16).

But here in 1 John, the Apostle moves from “love” to “fear.”  “There is no fear in love.”  “Perfect love drives out fear.”  The connection to love (and context of John’s message) is enveloped in relationship.  Relationship with God.  And relationship with others.  And what I believe our Father through His servant John hopes to communicate with us in this is that for those who are in a right relationship with God fear is not a part of the equation.  The perfect love of God revealed in the Gospel of Jesus drives it away.  However, if we were to be honest, we each, very often, have our fears.  And even though John is speaking of eternity and how there is no fear (“condemnation” to use Paul’s word – cf. Romans 8:1) for those who are in Christ Jesus, I wonder what might be weighing on your heart and mind right now?

I wonder: What is it that you’re afraid of?  What is it that is causing you concern right now?  What is it that is weighing you down?  What is it that is keeping you up at night?  What is it that is dividing your attention?  What are your fears?

Because the message of Jesus can be summed up in these words: “You are not alone.”

Jon Walker in his book, Costly Grace, writes: “Fear whispers in our ear that we face danger alone, that God is unaware of our plight and that Jesus is unavailable in our time of need” (p217).

You are not alone.  You can trust God.  You can trust our Father.  You can trust Him.

You are not alone.

Glory to God!

Jason

darkness scatters

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.  And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.  God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness He called ‘night.’  And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day” (Genesis 1:1-5).

“God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.”

From the beginning of time.  From Creation.  From the word “go” (literally).  Light is separated from darkness.  They are opposed to one another.  Where one is present the other is not.

The Apostle John proclaims, “God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5b).  Christ boldly declares, “I AM the Light of the World” (John 8:12).  And in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls us to be spiritual light in a spiritually dark world: “You are the light of the world!” (Matthew 5:14).

We are called to be light.  Light in a world of darkness.  Why is it then that we so often toy with darkness?  Why is it that we too often concede and rationalize and justify any relationship with spiritual darkness?  With that which is spiritually opposed to the God we serve?

The Apostle Paul writing of the spiritual tempo of our lives asks, “What fellowship does light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14b).  Light and darkness are enemies.  The presence of one defies the presence of the other.  How is that we can so easily walk out of spiritual light and into darkness?  Is our faith so shallow?

In Ephesians 2:8 he asserts, “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.”  He doesn’t even say, “We were once in darkness, but rather we were darkness.”  Outside of God.  Outside of His light.  But in Christ Jesus, our reality has radically changed.

Colossians 1:13 declares, “He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son He loves.”

John affirms our calling in Christ and challenges that if we “claim to have fellowship with God and yet walk (live) in darkness we lie and do not live by (in) the truth” (1 John 1:6).

The call is just that.  To accept and live into the calling that we have in this life in Christ Jesus to be light in a spiritually dark world.  A city on a hill that cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14).  A lamp on a stand that gives light to all (Matthew 5:15).

Where there is light, darkness scatters.  In our lives and in the lives of those we influence to the glory of the God we serve.

Glory to God!

Jason

victorious in our salvation

alive in christ

In Luke chapter 4 we are given insight into the human and divine nature of our Savior as Jesus is led into the desert by the Spirit. During forty days of fasting (or at the conclusion of them depending upon your understanding of the text) Jesus is tempted by Satan. “‘If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.’ Jesus answered, ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’ The devil then led Him up to a high place and showed Him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to Him, ‘I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’ The devil led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He will command His angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ Jesus answered, ‘It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:3-13).

Much could be said about this event in Jesus’ life and ministry. The fact that it occurred (when you consider Matthew’s account) immediately following the baptism of Jesus is significant. Jesus’ discipline and complete and total reliance upon God in fasting during this time powerfully speaks to us. Jesus’ response to each test while abiding in God’s Word is crucial. Certainly Satan’s distortion of Scripture in Jesus’ testing is something that should be emphasized. But what I’d like for us to consider are the reasons behind the specific ways in which Jesus is tempted/tested.

“If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Notice Satan’s condescension: “If….” Did Satan know that Jesus was God’s Son? Absolutely. Did Jesus know? You better believe it! Was there anyone else present for this conversation besides the two of them? No. So why begin with question? He’s testing Jesus’ character! And why bread? Because of Jesus’ hunger? Yes. But even more so, if ever there was going to be a moment where Jesus was susceptible and fragile in His humanity this would have been it. Our Lord, however, stood firm. And why the temptation of the kingdoms of the world? Power. Prestige. Authority. Ego. The temptation of salvation while falling from the pinnacle of the temple? Along those same lines: Pride. Arrogance. Ability. Worth. The writer of Hebrews acknowledges that Jesus was “tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). And we see this reality clearly lived out in our Lord’s life in His testing. But in doing so, do we to see our own humanness as we are tempted by Satan every day as well?

John the Apostle writes, “For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:16). Precisely the three areas in which our Savior was tempted.

We are in such dire need of salvation. So God sent us Jesus. But He sent Christ not only to save us, but to show us. To show us how to live victorious in our salvation.

Glory to God!

Jason

the cause of redemption

Bible Love

“God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Love is a quality that we develop. We learn how to love. We learn love from our parents and grandparents. We learn love from those who love us along the way. As we fall in love and marry we learn to love our spouse and learn love from our spouse. Tiersa and I have in many ways “grown up” together because we came to know one another at such a young age. As we look into our newborn children’s eyes for the first time we experience a love that gives us such insight into the love of God (although we’re certainly content to let grandma and grandpa give us a rest as often as they like!). Through life, through experience, through trial and error at times, we learn how to better love – and what it means to love.

And yet we often wonder, “How could God love us?” Or perhaps even closer to home, “How could God love me?” But I think as honest as these questions are, they don’t quite have a full grasp of God’s love. Or, the reality that the Apostle John unveils to us: “God is love” (1 John 4:8,16). Love is not a quality that God has learned. Love is who God is. God reveals love because He is love.

God does not love us because we are easy or difficult to love (although through relationship we oftentimes find ourselves either closer to God or distanced from Him – but this is our doing, not His!). God loves us because He is God. He is love. Love is who He is. Love is His character. His nature. The reality that God is love is as unchanging as He is. God’s love is not drawn out of Him by us, rather, it flows from Him constantly. Steadily. Why? Because God is love.

“God so loved…” (John 3:16) not because we were loveable, but because He is love. Christ did not die for the world so that God might then love us. Christ died because God loves us. He died as the ultimate revelation and realization of God’s love for us. Love is not the result of redemption, it is the cause of it….

Glory to God!

Jason

scattering darkness

light, darkness

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness He called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day” (Genesis 1:1-5).

“God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.”

From the beginning of time. From Creation. From the word “go” (literally). Light is separated from darkness. They are opposed to one another. Where one is present the other is not.

The Apostle John proclaims, “God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5b). Christ boldly declares, “I AM the Light of the World” (John 8:12). And in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls us to be spiritual light in a spiritually dark world: “You are the light of the world!” (Matthew 5:14).

We are called to be light. Light in a world of darkness. Why is it that we so often toy with darkness? Why is it that we too often concede and rationalize and justify any relationship with spiritual darkness? With that which is spiritually opposed to the God we serve?

The Apostle Paul writing of the spiritual tempo of our lives asks, “What fellowship does light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14b). Light and darkness are enemies. The presence of one defies the presence of the other. How is that we can so easily walk out of spiritual light and into darkness? Is our faith so shallow?

In Ephesians 2:8 he asserts, “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” He doesn’t even say, “We were once in darkness, but rather we were darkness.” Outside of God. Outside of His light. But in Christ Jesus, our reality has radically changed.

Colossians 1:13 declares, “He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son He loves.”

John affirms our calling in Christ and challenges that if we “claim to have fellowship with God and yet walk (live) in darkness we lie and do not live by (in) the truth” (1 John 1:6).

The call is just that. To accept and live into the calling that we have in this life in Christ Jesus to be light in a spiritually dark world. A city on a hill that cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14). A lamp on a stand that gives light to all (Matthew 5:15).

Where there is light, darkness scatters. In our lives and in the lives of those we influence to the glory of the God we serve.

Glory to God!

Jason

you are not alone

“God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.  In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like Him.  There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:16b-18).

There’s a lot that has brought the Apostle John to this point in his first letter.  There are those who feel as if they have the market cornered on God and who readily belittle others who they consider as “less spiritual.” John writes to encourage those who are taking criticism and who are truly seeking to have high view of God and humble view of themselves.

The theme of “love” is a thread that runs throughout John’s literature.  John assures that the very nature of God is love.  The Apostle affirms that love is not only the foundation of our relationship with the Father, but is foundational in our relationship with others.  With both those whom we agree and those we do not.

Everything of course is encompassed within Jesus’ beautiful message: “God so loved…” (John 3:16).

But here in 1 John, the Apostle moves from “love” to “fear.”  “There is no fear in love.”  “Perfect love drives out fear.”  The connection to love (and context of John’s message) is enveloped in relationship.  Relationship with God.  And relationship with others.  And what I believe our Father through His servant John hopes to communicate with us in this is that for those who are in a right relationship with God fear is not a part of the equation.  The perfect love of God revealed in the Gospel of Jesus drives it away.  However, if we were to be honest, we each, very often, have our fears.  And even though John is speaking of eternity and how there is no fear (“condemnation” to use Paul’s word – cf. Romans 8:1) for those who are in Christ Jesus, I wonder what might be weighing on your heart and mind right now?

I wonder: What is it that you’re afraid of?  What is it that is causing you concern right now?  What is it that is weighing you down?  What is it that is keeping you up at night?  What is it that is dividing your attention?  What are your fears?

Because the message of Jesus can be summed up in these words: “You are not alone.”

Jon Walker in his book, Costly Grace, writes: “Fear whispers in our ear that we face danger alone, that God is unaware of our plight and that Jesus is unavailable in our time of need” (p217).

You are not alone.  You can trust God.  You can trust our Father.  You can trust Him.

You are not alone.

Glory to God!

Jason

victorious in our salvation

In Luke chapter 4 we are given insight into the human and divine nature of our Savior as Jesus is led into the desert by the Spirit.  During forty days of fasting (or at the conclusion of them depending upon your understanding of the text) Jesus is tempted by Satan.  “‘If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.’  Jesus answered, ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’  The devil then led Him up to a high place and showed Him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.  And he said to Him, ‘I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.  So if you worship me, it will all be yours.’  Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’  The devil led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the highest point of the temple.  ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down from here.  For it is written: ‘He will command His angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’  Jesus answered, ‘It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’  When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:3-13).

Much could be said about this event in Jesus’ life and ministry.  The fact that it occurred (when you consider Matthew’s account) immediately following the baptism of Jesus is significant.  Jesus’ discipline and complete and total reliance upon God in fasting during this time powerfully speaks to us.  Jesus’ response to each test while abiding in God’s Word is crucial.  Certainly Satan’s distortion of Scripture in Jesus’ testing is something that should be emphasized.  But what I’d like for us to consider are the reasons behind the specific ways in which Jesus is tempted/tested.

“If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”  Notice Satan’s condescension: “If….”  Did Satan know that Jesus was God’s Son?  Absolutely.  Did Jesus know?  You better believe it!  Was there anyone else present for this conversation besides the two of them?  No.  So why begin with question?  He’s testing Jesus’ character!  And why bread?  Because of Jesus’ hunger?  Yes.  But even more so, if ever there was going to be a moment where Jesus was susceptible and fragile in His humanity this would have been it.  Our Lord, however, stood firm.  And why the temptation of the kingdoms of the world?  Power.  Prestige.  Authority.  Ego.  The temptation of salvation while falling from the pinnacle of the temple?  Along those same lines: Pride.  Arrogance.  Ability.  Worth.  The writer of Hebrews acknowledges that Jesus was “tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).  And we see this reality clearly lived out in our Lord’s life in His testing.  But in doing so, do we to see our own humanness as we are tempted by Satan every day as well?

John the Apostle writes, “For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:16).  Precisely the three areas in which our Savior was tempted.

We are in such dire need of salvation.  So God sent us Jesus.  But He sent Christ not only to save us, but to show us.  To show us how to live victorious in our salvation.

Glory to God!

Jason

nothing less

Our Wednesday evening class has been studying 1st John for the last couple of months.  Although I certainly didn’t want to restrict us, I at first had in mind that we’d just spend one quarter with the text.  However as the “disciple that Jesus loved” has taught us during our time together, some things are better savored rather than rushed (The same could be said about good coffee…).

I love preaching.  Don’t get me wrong.  But one of the things that I love, love, love about facilitating a class like our Wednesday night group is that so often I’m the one who is taught.  I can study and prepare and plan for weeks and then by asking a single, solitary question as the class begins, the interaction and response and spirit of those who are present begins to teach and strengthen me.  Those of you who are a part of our class know exactly what I’m talking about it.  It’s a special group.  And one that I’m very glad to be a part of.  The Spirit is so very present when we discuss and share as people, the things of God.  Our task is to remain open and willing and submissive to Him at work within us.

One of the places our conversations have taken us over the course of our time together has been the perspective of John as he writes the letter.  He writes from his experience.  He writes out of his belief and certainty of who Jesus was and who Jesus is.  “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of Life.  The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.  We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.  We write this to make our joy complete” (1 John 1:1-4).

John is writing as an older man.  One who has lived a life of faithfulness to the Savior who called him as a young man from his father’s nets.  He’s lived a life transformed by the Messiah in every way.  He writes some fifty years beyond the cross and resurrection of Jesus.  And now at the close of a valiant life he shares with those he desires to pass on the faith that has carried him through all these years.  John’s message is simple and yet profound: Live for Christ.  Live out of relationship with Christ.  Live changed by Christ.  For there is no other life worth living.

Whether you’ve been a Christian for decades or only for a short amount of time, maturity in Christ is revealed in our answering of the calling that we’ve received in the Gospel message.  And not simply a one time answering of our calling, but day in and day out as we live life.  His call is to faith and to faithfulness.  To a way of life that is just that, a way of life.  Too often we relegate faith to one hour a week as if that’s a biblical concept or what God ever had in mind.  Christianity is a radical call to a way of life that is characterized by Jesus.  Nothing less.

Glory to God!

Jason