Posts Tagged ‘eternal life’

1 John 2:22-25

In 1 John 2:22-25 John exposes the greatest of liars – those who deny Jesus as Savior and Lord.  While we may think of the Antichrist as one individual who will lead the charge against Christ and his church, John makes it clear that anyone who denies Jesus is an antichrist.  The spirit of antichrist identifies itself by its denial of Jesus and its denial of the Father.  “And who is the greatest liar? The one who says that Jesus is not Christ. Such a person is antichrist, for he does not believe in God the Father and in his Son.” We can deny Jesus while praising Him with our words; we can deny Him by offering a substitute Jesus or by ministering in a manner that denies the character of Jesus.

Belief in Jesus is directly connected to believing in God.  You can’t have one without the other.  They are connected as part of the Trinity and there is no separating them.  “For a person who doesn’t believe in Christ, God’s Son, can’t have God the Father either. But he who has Christ, God’s Son, has God the Father also.”  If we believe in one, we have the other. There are many people who seem rather spiritual or religious, yet reject Jesus Christ. While their religion or spirituality may seem to serve them well in this life – giving them a basis for morality and good behavior – it does them nothing before God, because in rejecting Jesus they reject God.  When they stand before God at judgment day, they will come up short.

So how do we respond to this pressure to deny Christ?  John makes it simple – we need to keep on believing the Word of God and the core message of salvation through the shed blood of Jesus.  “So keep on believing what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will always be in close fellowship with both God the Father and his Son.”  Humans, by nature, are almost always attracted to something just because it is new. We almost always think of new as better. But when it comes to truth, new is not better. That which you heard from the beginning is better. We need to cling to truth and not be swayed by a different view or approach to our relationship with Jesus.

Knowing about Jesus is not enough though.  We need to live in close fellowship with Him.  This doesn’t mean just knowing it, but living in it. When we are living in the simplicity of the truth of Jesus Christ, then we will abide in the Son and in the Father. Why does it matter?  John gives us the amazing answer. “And he himself has promised us this: eternal life.” It’s pretty straight forward.  If we have a relationship with Christ, we have eternal life.  This is not mere immortality. Every human being, made in the image of God, is immortal, in the sense that our souls will live forever, either in heaven or in hell. So, eternal life doesn’t just mean a life that lasts for eternity. It describes the kind of life that God, the Eternal One, has in Himself. Spurgeon summarized it this way: “You must be in a living, loving, lasting union with the Son of God, or else you are not in a state of salvation.”  Are you sure of your eternal life?

1 John 1:1-3

We’ll continue with John’s writings as we read through his work as translated in The Living Bible (TLB).  In 1 John 1:1-3  John gives us his pedigree in the faith and reminds us that he was there with Jesus. “Christ was alive when the world began, yet I myself have seen him with my own eyes and listened to him speak.” The beginning John wrote of is not the beginning of this world; nor is it the beginning of creation. It is the beginning of it all, the beginning there was before there was anything, when all there existed was God. Jesus was there for that, and yet, John tells us that very same Jesus came to this earth and became man and John was able to experience His life with Him.

It wasn’t a viewing from afar.  John was right there. “I have touched him with my own hands. He is God’s message of life.” Jesus has been audibly heard, physically seen, intently studied and looked upon, and personally touched.  He is the real deal.  But more than being a human, God sent Him to earth with a message of hope and life for all of us.  John’s words have the weight of eyewitness evidence. He did not speak of a myth, nor was it a matter of clever story-telling. He carefully studied the eternal One, and he knew what he was talking about.  Jesus came to bring life, and He did it through relationship.

God became accessible to man in the most basic way, a way that anyone could relate to. This eternal One can be known, and He has revealed Himself to us. “This one who is life from God has been shown to us, and we guarantee that we have seen him; I am speaking of Christ, who is eternal Life.” John makes the equation very clear: Jesus=eternal life.  There isn’t any more to it than that.  Guzik writes ‘the important things in life are not things at all – they are the relationships we have. God has put a desire for relationship in every one of us, a desire He intended to be met with relationships with other people, but most of all, to be met by a relationship with Him. In this remarkable letter, John tells us the truth about relationships – and shows us how to have relationships that are real, for both now and eternity.’ He points the way to Jesus and the eternal life that a relationship with Him will bring.

John continues to testify to the reality of Jesus.  “He was with the Father and then was shown to us.” God didn’t just send a message of hope and salvation.  He sent His very own Son to this planet to bring to us the opportunity for eternal life.  It isn’t rocket science, it merely requires faith.  We can have eternal life if we meet and receive the gift of grace from God.  It’s ours for the taking, but we do have to take that step. “Again I say, we are telling you about what we ourselves have actually seen and heard, so that you may share the fellowship and the joys we have with the Father and with Jesus Christ his son.” We can share in the hope of eternity through Jesus.  Have you taken that step of faith?

Hebrews 1

In Hebrews 1, the author talks to us about our Savior.  “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world”.  When is the last time you heard from God?  God is still speaking today, still ‘at many times and in many ways’.  I’m not sure we are hearing what He says though.  We cram our lives so full that if God was yelling at us through a bullhorn, we’d likely miss it because we have so much noise in our lives we can’t hear each other, let alone God.  And He often chooses to speak to us in His ‘still small voice’ which means we need to be listening…..

Hearing God means we need to learn to be quiet and wait and listen – three qualities most of us forgot how to do long ago.  Jesus came to earth and spent time talking directly to the people of His day, and even though He walked among them most didn’t hear what He said.  He came to this earth to deliver God’s message of love, and did far more than just speak it, He lived it.  “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power”.  God came and walked among us, to try and connect and show His love.

But man didn’t figure that out.  Jesus was rejected and died a cruel death on the Cross, which was part of God’s plan to save us from sinful living.  But to have that salvation become real for each of us, we have to hear the message of God’s love expressed through Christ, and then take the gift of grace and make it our own.  “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs”.  Jesus paid the price, we merely need to take that gift and make it ours.

The offer still stands – Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross that gives us victory over sin and a ticket to eternity.  “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”  God still wants us to receive His gift of mercy and grace through Jesus.  But we have to hear His call and respond.  We have to take action to accept that gift and make it our own.  That’s how we become a Christ Follower.  Not by merely knowing about Jesus, but by having a personal relationship with the only One who can set us free from sin and give us eternity!

Jeremiah 13

Jeremiah 13 has an object lesson to begin with.  Jeremiah is told by God to go buy a loincloth to put around his waste.  He did that, and then God instructed him to take it and hide it along the river Euphrates.  He did that.  A few days later God instructs him to go retrieve the loincloth, and when he does, it has spoiled where he hid it.  This was an object lesson around how God is going to treat His people.  “Thus says the Lord: Even so will I spoil the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem”. Our disobedience and stubbornness will cause us to be spoiled and put aside by God.

God is serious about obedience.  “I will not pity or spare or have compassion, that I should not destroy them”.  God loves us all, but He can’t ignore the choices we make to sin.  He can’t turn away and allow us to ‘sneak past’ being noticed.  We have a responsibility – to “Give glory to the Lord your God before he brings darkness, before your feet stumble on the twilight mountains, and while you look for light he turns it into gloom and makes it deep darkness”.  God expects our glory and praise.  He expects and demands that we walk with Him.

So what if we don’t.  It’s not good.  “But if you will not listen, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock has been taken captive”.  We’ll be destroyed.  We’ll never experience what God has in store for us.  Not because He doesn’t love us and want the best for us.  But because we have mad the choice to walk apart from His will and failed to follow His plan for our life.  God has a plan for our welfare but we have to obey Him!

And when we fail?  “I will scatter you like chaff driven by the wind from the desert. This is your lot, the portion I have measured out to you, declares the Lord, because you have forgotten me and trusted in lies”.  We’re going to be tossed around and scattered to the wind.  We’ll miss out on the blessing and glory from God.  When we chose to walk away from God, and it is a choice, not some accident we have happen, we are giving up the goodness that He has in store. Why would we do that?  Why would be walk from God and make a choice that will cause destruction?  There is no good reason!

Nahum 2

Nahum 2 starts with a warning – get ready because the enemy has come.  “The scatterer has come against you”.  What relevant information for us to consider.  We have a very real enemy.  And while he can attack us head on and cause disaster, he often causes us to be scattered and lose track of what matters in life.  He can cause chaos in our patch to the point that we lose sight of the important and get caught up in the urgent.  In fact, that’s likely his standard tactic.  Mess up our patch so we are focused on trying to regain control and balance, all the while keeping us off course in our walk with God and relationships with each other.

Nahum tells us how to do battle:

–       “Man the ramparts

–       Watch the road

–       Dress for battle

–       Collect all your strength

I love how he prepares us.  We need to recognize the attack but that requires us to have people in the watchtower looking for the enemy.  We have to man the stations and be on guard.  Too often we are oblivious to the spiritual warfare happening all around us, often even in our own life.  Let’s be clear about one thing.  Our enemy has three missions for us – to kill, steal and destroy.  No more, no less, but very focused on our demise.  So being alert and aware of that mission is important.

But Nahum goes on to tell us that beyond manning the ramparts and watching, we also need to dress for battle.  Paul wrote strong words about how to get dressed in Ephesians 6.  We need to put on the armor of God every day, and be dressed like a warrior.  The battle is happening all around us all the time.  We shouldn’t have the armor hanging in the closet until we are under attack.  By then it might be too late to get it on.  The power of God’s armor is when we wake up and get prepared each day so we can do battle as the enemy comes.  Then we are reminded to collect our strength, which is really God’s strength available to and through us.  Our only chance of victory is when we use the power of God in our lives to take on the enemy.  God wins the battle when we show up in His power.

Nahum makes that clear as he wraps up this chapter.  The truth is that we know how the war ends.  Jesus won it on the Cross when he overcame death and arose from the grave.  But that doesn’t mean we all don’t face battles every day because although we have access to the keys to the Kingdom through Christ, we often don’t make that choice.  We often don’t put on God’s armor and claim the victory of the Cross in our own battle with the enemy.  And thus we struggle and fall and face destruction and can lose the battle for our soul.  It never has to end that way.  God has made a way.  But we have to let God be God and walk in His power and do battle His way.  Are you living in that power?

Micah 1

Micah 1 begins the prophecy of Micah.  We learn first thing that he is connected with God.  “The word of the Lord that came to Micah”.  He was on a direct connect plan with the Lord.  God was obviously speaking to Micah, and he was listening.  That really is one of the key attributes of God’s prophets and priests – they paid attention.  They listened to God, and were seeking His truth.  They did not let God’s word fall on the earth but captured it with their ears and hearts so they could share it with the people they were to serve.

Micah addresses “you people, all of you; pay attention”.  Obviously the people of that day were oblivious toward God.  They weren’t listening, they paid no attention, and they were just doing their own thing.  How true that is for many of us today as well.  We get wrapped up in our own little world and put self as the attention focus, and we just ignore or forget or even intentionally disregard what God is saying or has said to us already in His Word.  We don’t want to hear from God unless we are in trouble.  So we pay no attention, just like those Micah was speaking to.

Was the message important?  You bet it was.  Micah was warning them that God was coming to clean things up.  “The Lord is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth”.  God was coming out of His place to address the people and deal with them. Why?  “All this is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel”.  Sin, that’s why.  Because the people were living their lives in absolute neglect of God’s commandments and His word to them.  They were living in la-la land and God was coming down to jar them out of that complacency.

The visit wasn’t going to go well.  In fact, disaster was coming as the Lord came down.  There would be death and loss of everything.  Their transgressions were causing God to take action.  Sin does that.  God can’t ignore it.  Not then.  Not now.  Micah tells the people “Make yourselves bald and cut off your hair….make yourselves as bald as the eagle”.  People in these times shaved their heads when they were in distress, often at the death of someone close.  That is what was coming – and all because of self getting in the way and causing sin.  God is coming to punish their sin.

Jonah 3

Jonah 3 begins exactly the same way as the first chapter.  “The word of the Lord came to Jonah”.  God didn’t change His plan just because Jonah tried to run away.  God came right back to Jonah once He has his attention and gave him the same direction.  “Go to Ninevah”.  Last time, you’ll recall Jonah ran the other way.  He jumped on a boat and headed as far from where God wanted him to go as he could.  He was not going to go tell these people how to save their skin.  He hated them.

God’s direction was clear to Jonah.  “Call out against it the message that I tell you”.  Jonah doesn’t have to figure out how to do the task at hand.  God is going to give him the message.  All Jonah has to do is be willing and available.  All Jonah has to do is go.  That is so often how God works through us.  It isn’t that we have to figure out all the details.  He has all that in hand.  We just need to be willing to go.  What God originates, God will orchestrate.  He has it under control.  He just wanted Jonah to go in obedience.

Jonah went to Ninevah which was a big place.  “Three days journey in breadth”.  That is a large city.  The message God gave Jonah was to tell them “forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown”.  This was an evil city.  The people were not tuned into God at all.  But “the people of Nineveh believed God….called for a fast….put on sackcloth….word reached the king….he arose from his throne….removed his robe….covered himself with sackcloth”.  Jonah’s fears have happened.  This evil city is repenting and God’s message has been heeded.

The king issues a proclamation to have everyone fast and turn from their evil ways and from the violence.  This is now a city in repentance.  They heard Jonah’s simple message, one that he didn’t even want to deliver, and they are touched.  They understand God’s anger and their future if they don’t change.  So they repent.  “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it”.  The message delivered by a reluctant messenger works.  A city is saved.  God turns from destruction.

1 Kings 22

1 Kings 22 has the King of Israel seeking help from Jehoshaphat to overcome the Syrians.  They come together and Jehoshophat requests that they seek the counsel of the prophets to be sure that this battle was God’s will and that they would be successful.  Of course, the king calls together his 400 prophets and they give a big green light to engage in battle. But Jehoshophat questions that and asks “Is there not here another prophet”.  He obviously thought the counsel was one sided and not necessarily from the Lord.

So “the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil”.  The king didn’t like Micaiah because he always spoke the truth, even it if it was not what the king wanted to hear.  He served God, not man, and was not afraid.  So Micaiah did not cave when asked to agree with the first four hundred prophets.  He could have, but he didn’t.

In fact, here is what Micaiah had to say.  “As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I will speak”.  He wasn’t going to give in to pressure.  So they sent him off to another place when he refused to comply.  And the king of Israel ignored the prophesy and they go into war.  He dressed in disguise and thought he would escape, but an archer shot an arrow and killed him – not by accident – but by God’s hand.  And the kingdom of Ahab continued to “walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin”.  They followed the very bad example of their king.

God will not be mocked.  And following God’s will, can be a very lonely place to be.  Micaiah could have easily given in to the request to just validate what the king wanted.  They tried to force him to just agree, not stand firm on God’s truth.  But he didn’t.  He stood alone on God’s truth.  That is what we are called to do.  To be faithful to God and His truth and tell it like it is.  God honors that obedience.  God loves it when we walk with Him. 

1 Kings 14

1 Kings 14 has the tale of two kings.  Neither finishes well, or even lives close to where they should have.  We’ll start with Jeroboam, who took the majority of Israel under his rule when Solomon died. The kingdom he led was a gift – it was given by God to him to lead – and he totally went off on the wrong course.  Here is God’s analysis: “You have not been like my servant David, who kept my commandments and followed me with all his heart, doing only that which was right in my eyes, but you have done evil above all who were before you”.  Note the standard that is used here – it isn’t Solomon who also went off the reservation – but David who was obedient and in spite of his failings followed God with his whole heart.

So Jeroboam has a problem at home.  His son is ill and he sends his wife in disguise to a prophet to find out what will happen.  Isn’t amazing how we think we can deceive God.  The prophet Ahijah was told by God that she was coming, and he knew it when she entered his presence.  He has to deliver some very bad news. Not only is their son going to die, but God says “I will bring harm upon the house of Jeroboam and will cut off from Jeroboam every male, both bond and free in Israel, and will burn up the house of Jeroboam, as a man burns up dung until it is all gone”.  How would you like to go home with that message.  Plus the prophecy that as soon as she entered their city her son would die.  Not a good day to be the bearer of news.

Jeroboam has a bad day.  His leadership away from God not only cost him personally, it cost the kingdom.  Check out what God says: “He will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he sinned and made Israel to sin”.  Leadership matters a lot.  Jeroboam led the people away from God, or at the least allowed it.  And because he didn’t live in obedience, or lead obediently, not only did punishment fall on his family but also the kingdom.  Anyone who thinks that leadership isn’t important needs to re-read this chapter.  It is hugely important that we walk and lead obediently.

Down the road a ways Reheboam, Solomon’s son who is leading the sliver of the kingdom he was left with in the tribe of Judah, is having a similar fate.  He also does not lead well and allows the people to continue in sin and idol worship.  Enemy kings come take their treasures and God allows a continual war between these two kings.  Neither of them reigned all that long, and the result of their leadership was chaos, sin and loss.  Two great examples of how not to lead.  God holds us accountable as leaders.  There is a price to disobedience, and it rolls downhill from the top.  Lots of lessons here!

1 Kings 10

1 Kings 10 has a visit from the queen of Sheba who “heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions”.  How’s that for a test – a famous and powerful queen wants to come and see if you are as smart as everyone says you are.  That seems a bit intimidating, doesn’t it?  She came with a number of her people and a lot of gifts, and began asking questions.  She blasted him with questions and “told him all that was on her mind”.  This wasn’t just a conversation – it was an intentional quest to see if Solomon truly was the wisest man alive.

So how did the king do?  “Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king that he could not explain to her”.  Sounds like he passed with flying colors.  She didn’t give up easy, as she asked until “there was no more breath in her”.  Solomon didn’t just answer her questions though.  He did a dog and pony show of all that he had.  “When the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon”, things changed to show and tell mode.  He brought out all the assets to show her.

Here is what scripture lists were on display:

–       “the house that he had built

–       the food of his table

–       the seating of his officials

–       the attendance of his servants

–       their clothing

–       his cupbearers

–       his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord

Sounds like a pretty thorough inspection to me.  She got a full view of what the king knew, and what he owned.  So what was the reponse.

The queen was duly impressed with “your words and your wisdom…..your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report that I heard”.  He didn’t just pass the test – he blew away the grading scale.  There was much trading of gifts and riches and the queen left to go back to her kingdom convinced that Solomon was the real deal – the wisest man on earth.  Scripture says it this way: “Thus King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom”.  That’s quite a stamp of approval.  So how did it happen?  How did Solomon become that way?  By God’s grace and gift.  He didn’t learn it or earn it.  God gave it to Him.  We must never forget that truth!

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