Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.

A note for all my readers: I've been experimenting with YouTube videos for Bible teaching, and now I'm working my way through the New Testament. I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for better coverage. I'm still writing, of course, and my written posts appear here.

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Light...

Almost at the end of the Bible, there is a marvellous little book, which is named "1John." It's different from the Gospel of John, which is toward the beginning of the New Testament (4th book), but it's like a twin.  While John's Gospel shows you why you should believe in Jesus Christ (20:31), 1John shows you how to walk, how to live once you have believed. 1John begins with a proposition about God in 1:5: "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all." Not one speck of darkness. Not a bit. None. He is all light. Light, in John's works, is typically opposed to darkness, as God is opposed to evil, to the Devil, to sin. Darkness is evil. Light is good.
It's worth noting that John uses this expression differently from, say, Isaiah, who said, "Who is the one who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the LORD..." John usually means "darkness as opposed to God," "Darkness as without God," "Darkness as hiding from God..." and so forth. Isaiah meant the word as "Don't know my path," or "confused." So always look for context when you study words. It's important.
As we move on down the chapter, we arrive at 1John 1:7, my target for today:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin

This is opposed to 1:6, which says,

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not do the truth:

So there are these two lifestyles, with two results, two paths, two internal realities. We can either walk "in the light," the light of His will and of His presence (we will always BE in His presence of course, since nobody can hide from God), or we can walk "in darkness;" that is, in evil, in sin, in avoidance--the first response of a guilty heart is to avoid God, when what we need the very most is to come clean with Him and return to Him--he will always receive us.
But if we "walk in the light, as He is in the light," in other words, following the path of truth, of right, of His will, allowing Him to direct us, guide us, speak to us, certain things happen to us:
1. We have fellowship with one another: John uses this word (which normally means "to share") in a special way here, suggesting by it that "we are friends;" we have the same goals, interests, desires, and we walk along the path of life that way, always in communication and happy with each other. This applies to our relationship with God, and also to our relationship with others who are like us: they are on the same path, have the same goals, interests, desires, and their fellowship with God unites them with us.
2. The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. This is quite a statement. It goes together with 1:9, which says, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins...and to cleanse from all unrighteousness. When we don't "walk in the light" ( we commit sins, walk away from His path), we are conscious of disrupted fellowship--God is not "angry with us," but we don't bask in His light, His presence, His glory; the way back is simple: Confess your sins, and return to the light. When we do that, God restores us, cleanses us, fills us once again with His presence, and shines His light on our path. We may not know where we go or what will happen to us, but we go with Him and with His grace wherever it is. HIs path is ours, and the light is our guide.

I hope today finds you well, and full of God's blessing.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Unseen, but beloved...

1 Peter 1:8-9:
Whom (Jesus) having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory...
Peter's words remind us of two things:
1. The Unseen is real. When someone who doesn't believe in the Lord laughs at us because we can't "prove" what we know to be true, we know we are misunderstood, and so we often move back to efforts to "prove" that the Bible is true, that God is real, that Jesus Christ did die for our sins. However, the Bible itself gives much more credence to the ministry of the Holy Spirit among those who don't believe than Christians often do: Jesus said, "When [the Holy Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment..." (John 16:8 and context). The word "convict" (or reprove, KJV) is a powerful word, because it says to us, "God's job is to convict, convince..."  the corollary is that it is your job to tell. So often people who get interested in "evidences" make the mistake of thinking that "evidences" (so-called proofs for God's existence, etc.) are going to convince folk to believe. They do not. In every testimony I have read or heard about people who have been "converted through study of evidence" for God's existence, there comes a point when the Spirit actually speaks personally to that individual in some specific way, and it is that particular touch from God that brings them into faith in Jesus Christ. The real key, as I said in my blog post of yesterday, is whether or not you are willing to do God's will. It is THEN that God actually reveals Himself to you. On the other hand, every time you tell someone about Jesus Christ, you can be sure that God is speaking to them, no matter what they say. They may reject. They may become seekers. They may believe. But no matter how they react, Jesus said, "[the Holy Spirit] will convict the world..." therefore, the unseen becomes real, if only for a moment, even to people who strongly deny its existence. Everyone has a choice. They can believe the Liar, Satan, or they can believe God. At the same moment that God is speaking to each of us, Satan also attempts to remove that information in some way (see the parable of the sower, Matthew 13). The issue, as Jesus said, is whether or not we are receptive to the message. So when you minister to people, remember that your words penetrate their hearts, if they are delivered the same way Jesus would have done (and that merits study!), and that the Spirit is with your mouth, helping you to say what needs to be said in that particular moment.
2. Believing and Loving God and His Son bring joy and pleasure to the human heart. I still marvel at people who think they are happy without God. It's like trying to explain watermelon to someone with no sense of taste, or the beauty of the mountains or the sea to someone who is blind. Many folks resist the Lord because they get the idea that God is there to take away from them (an idea, by the way, that many who try to share their faith promote) rather than to give them the best gift that can ever be given or received. God really is there, and He's there to bring you more "life" than you ever had before. He's there to fill your mind with happiness and pleasure. Yes, there are negatives in being Christian, but they are not what you think before you become a believer, and the positives outweigh the negatives by an infinite amount.
Here's how David put it, long ago:
Psalm 16:11: You will show me the path of life: in your presence is fulness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
Want to be truly happy? Turn to the Lord.
Want to know what's actually in that unseen world that provokes so much speculation and denial? Become a believer in Jesus Christ, and you WILL know.
Want to live forever? "He who believes in the Son has (eternal) life..."

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

When the Son of Man (Jesus) comes, will He find faith on the earth?

To the disciples, this was a stunning question. They lived in a society where religion was paramount--the guide for everything, and they perceived Jesus to be the Fulfiller of the ancient prophecies, not the inventor of a new religion.  In other words, they saw Him as the One who continued the faith they had.
Consequently, this question was probably pretty weird to them, but it was prophetic, because faith in Jesus Christ has always been attacked, from the birth of the church onward.
Atheists. Idol-worshippers. Spiritists. Cults. Islam. Every other religion in the world typically takes it on itself to attack Christianity. As if that were not enough, Christianity comes under attack by those who should be its greatest friends: ministers, adherents, professors at Christian universities and seminaries.
Part of the reason for these attacks, of course, is just human nature. Competition. Anger at folks who take a stand for something in which they don't believe, etc.
Part of it is much darker--the "spiritual forces of darkness" that attempt to overwhelm the light of God's truth and fail.
All in all, Jesus' question proves to be right to the point. He was exactly right. Faith in Him is under attack.
However, what all these folks don't understand, whether atheist, Muslim, "scientist," or other detractor, all of us who ARE Christians don't believe because we have some notion that it's the right thing to do; we believe because we must. Because NOT believing in Jesus Christ would be denying reality. We know Him. We love Him.
Just because YOU can't understand us or our faith doesn't mean it's not true. What it means is that if you deny Christ, and reject Him, you are not willing to do the will of God:
John 7:17: "If anyone will DO His will, He will know about the teaching, whether it is from God, or whether I speak from my own initiative."
So this is really a challenge. Decide to do His will, and you will know. I've met many people who made that decision, just like that, and to them the Lord Jesus Christ is as real as their own right hand. When people fight your faith, remember.  They don't know the reality you do. They often don't WANT the reality you have, even though you and I may know that it is the best thing in the entire universe.
We know. We are Christians.