Friday, April 22, 2011


Good Friday Thoughts and Hymns

Today is Good Friday, and Thomas Road Baptist Church hosted a prayer and communion event in which folks could come, pray, and participate in communion as we meditated on the events that transpired on this day some 2000 years ago. As I thought back to that horrible day we like to call "Good Friday," two songs came to my mind. I spoke them as prayers or meditations to Jesus as I sat with the cup and the bread and thought of his sacrifice. I looked with shame and pity on his wounds, I cried at the thought of my sin causing such destruction, and I marveled at the idea that the offended party would take the place of the offender in dealing with human sin! What a Savior! What a God!

As you prepare for Easter this weekend and the glorious celebration of our Lord's resurrection. Take a few minutes today to think about all that transpired on this "Good Friday." Remember that on this day, Jesus shed his blood so that we may be God's sons and daughters. Read the words below, and thank God for his amazing gift and grace!

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

1. O sacred Head, now wounded,
with grief and shame weighed down,
now scornfully surrounded
with thorns, thine only crown:
how pale thou art with anguish,
with sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish
which once was bright as morn!

2. What thou, my Lord, has suffered
was all for sinners' gain;
mine, mine was the transgression,
but thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior!
'Tis I deserve thy place;
look on me with thy favor,
bestow to me thy grace.

3. What language shall I borrow
to thank thee, dearest friend,
for this thy dying sorrow,
thy pity without end?
O make me thine forever;
and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
outlive my love for thee.

It Was My Sin

1. See the God of Glory giving up His Son
See the awesome depth of love in all that He has done
See the tiny baby on the hay so still
See Him take the cross and climb up Calvary’s lonely hill
That hill

It was my sin that nailed him there
It was my cross He had to bear
It was His blood that washed me clean
It was the greatest love this world has seen
He died for me
He washed me clean
I am redeemed
Worship the King

2. Hear the groaning thunder, feel the falling rain
See the King of Glory bear unbearable pain
Dying brokenhearted, Himself He would not save
See the King who died for me now risen from the grave
My grave

It was my sin that nailed You there
It was my cross You had to bear
Your precious blood has washed me clean
No greater love has this world ever seen
You died for meYou washed me clean
I am redeemed
Worship the King

Thanks for reading!

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Saturday, April 16, 2011


God's Abiding Presence, 1 John 4:13-16, Theology Matters Series

Hello all:

I teach an Adult Bible Community at Thomas Road Baptist Church called the G.A.P. (for Graduates and Professionals), and each week I post the outlines and discussion questions from my lessons on the G.A.P. page on Facebook. A while back I started posting these notes on the blog too. So, here is the outline for our meetings on April 10-17, 2011. A while back we started a new series on 1 John entitled "Theology Matters." This lesson looks at 1 John 4:13-16 and discusses the idea that Christians abide in God while God abides in them. This abiding reveals itself in three ways: knowledge, confession, and love. By the presence of God's Spirit, the Christian knows and has assurance of God's abiding presence. That same Spirit enables us to confess the truth about God and His Son. God gave His Son as Savior, and as we experience salvation we abide in God's love. As we abide in God's love, we need to be aware of and to share the love that God has given to us in Christ. When we love others, we give a living example of the love Jesus showed in the cross. If you have any questions or would like to add a comment or two, that would be great!

God’s Abiding Presence
1 John 4:13-16
Theology Matters Series

My childhood
When I was a kid, we lived on a road named “Doris Circle”
It was a typical rural small town neighborhood, but all of the children defined themselves and their neighbors by their house and yard
We had the “rich” family with the big house, the family with the yard perfect for football, the yard with trees perfect for climbing
We also understood that our family background in many ways defined us

No doubt many of you have similar experiences
You remember the “messy” neighbor or the folks from the “wrong side of the tracks” or the ones who were dependable
Maybe your family was defined by your dwelling place

In 1 John 4, John tells his readers that they are also defined by where they dwell
Where they abide and what abides in them defines them as Christians

The past two weeks we discussed how John defines love as one measure of a Christ follower
1. We looked at love’s divine character
2. We saw that love is defined by Jesus’ sacrifice
3. We noticed that the results of love are revealed in how we love others

Verse 12 summed it up by noting that God’s love is perfected in us when we love one another
That is, by loving others we reveal God and his character

In today’s passage, 1 John 4:13-16, God continues this theme by looking at God’s abiding presence and its results in the lives of believers

In this passage, John uses “know” twice—v. 13 and v. 16
He uses “abide” five times—v. 13, v. 15, v. 16 (three times)
We find the idea of “abides in God and God in him”—3 times

Those who “dwell” in God and in whom God “dwells” have three characteristics that reveal God’s abiding presence:
1. Knowledge
2. Confession
3. Love

God’s abiding presence is revealed in us and defines us

1. Knowledge
1 John 4:13—John begins this section by offering yet another word of assurance to his readers. John describes this assurance as a matter of knowledge (a knowledge that includes an intimate and informed relationship and experience). Here are some examples of John’s use of this idea:
2:3: “By this we know that we have come to know Him….”
2:5b: “By this we know that we are in Him….”
2:13: “… you know Him who has been from the beginning.”
2:13b: “… you know the Father.”
2:20: “… you all know.”
3:10: “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious….”
3:14: “We know that we have passed out of death into life….”
3:19: “We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him….”
3:24b: “We know by this that He abides in us….”
4:2: “By this you know the Spirit of God….”
4:6b: “By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
5:2: By this we know that we love the children of God….”
5:13: These things I have written … so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Apparently John puts a high premium on assurance of salvation resulting from this kind of intimate and informed knowledge as he addresses it again here

John says, “We know we dwell with God and enjoy his presence in us because he has given us his Spirit.”
In Genesis God “walked” with his people
In Exodus God lived among them
Now God wants to make his residence in them—he dwells in them

John’s statement here says more than “we have the inner witness of God’s Spirit” (although I am sure John would agree with that statement)
Rather, John’s point here is that we know God because he has taken up residence in us
As Peter puts it, he has made us partakers of his divine nature by his divine power so that we can live the way he intends (2 Peter 1:3-4)
In other words, God makes his home in us as we make our home in him

The point is that we can know God because he has made his dwelling place in us

His Spirit in us is the evidence of his taking up residence in us
We know God because we know his Spirit

So, how do we know that we have God’s Spirit?

First, let’s define what it is not
It is not some extraordinary experience like the gift of tongues or some mystical thing

On the other hand, we know God’s Spirit is in us if we bear some resemblance to God in how we live
Are we concerned about the things that concern God?
Do we run to sin or run from sin? Do we have a sense of ourselves as sinners in comparison to God?
Do we love the things God loves?
Do we see the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) in your life?
Do we hunger for godly things

If God’s Spirit is in us, we know we are in God

God’s abiding presence is revealed in knowing God’s Spirit

2. Confession
1 John 4:14-15—Now John points out that the Christian abides in God and God abides in the Christian when we confess the truth about Jesus

John notes that “we have seen and testify” in v. 14. This takes us back to 1 John 1:1-3 where John explains that his testimony is accurate because it is an eyewitness testimony
This refers to the apostolic witness (cf. 2 Peter 1:16)
This grounds our confession in a historical reliability
This testimony, this confession is not mere myth or just good stories
John says that it is reliable and time tested—it can be trusted

The content of this confession involves two relationships
a. Jesus’ relationship to the world
b. Jesus’ relationship to God

Jesus’ relationship to the world is stated clearly here and in 1 John 2:1-2 and 4:9-10
Simply stated, Jesus is the Savior of the world
He is the atoning sacrifice for a lost and sinful world
This does not mean that all of the world is saved, rather that the means of salvation has been provided for all

Jesus’ relationship to God is described as
God the Father sends Jesus to be Savior—this shows that Jesus and the Father have an ongoing relationship and that Jesus does what the Father wants
Jesus is the Son of God—this speaks to Jesus’ eternal divinity

John is saying that all of those who accept the apostolic testimony regarding Jesus as Savior of the world and who further confess that Jesus is God’s Son have God’s abiding presence and dwell in God
To “confess” means to agree with or to “say the same as”

This confession is not mere mental assent, it is a reliance upon Jesus that results in faithful living on our part
John is saying that confessing that Jesus is the only means of salvation, trusting in his divinity as the means of a true relationship with God, and serving him as Lord or Ruler of your life results in God making a home in you and you finding your security and dwelling in him

Romans 10:8-9—the one who trusts God and makes a public confession of his saving ability receives from him what is needed to live the life God has promised—they have eternal and abundant life (John 1:11-14; 3:16-18)

When we confess God’s truth about Jesus, we abide in God

God’s abiding presence is revealed in our confession

3. Love
1 John 4:16—John completes this section by acknowledging that true believers abide in God as they know and trust in his love

Look at the order here
a. We know and believe the love God has for us
b. God is love
c. If we abide in love, we abide in God

John is not saying that loving people (i.e., those who are loving in general) are automatically Christians
Rather he is saying that Christ followers begin with an intimate and informed relationship with God (i.e., they “know” him) and they put their trust in God and in his love for them

John here uses a perfect tense to describe our knowledge and faith in God’s love for us
That indicates that there is a past experience or action that results in ongoing results
We have known and continue to know—we have believed and continue to believe
This is a knowledge and faith based on evidence and historical reality—it is not a blind faith—faith is based on knowledge

John mentions the love God has for us and reiterates “God is love.” (cf. 1 John 4:8)

As we stated regarding the earlier section of chapter 4, the statement that “God is love” is a reference to God’s character.
God’s character is revealed in God’s acts
God loved us (and the world) by giving Jesus as our atoning sacrifice
God’s love is expressed in what he gives

When we know and trust in that love, it changes us

John notes that knowing and trusting in God’s love is evidenced by a life of love—i.e., we abide or make our dwelling in love

The idea here is that a Christ follower is changed by the love of God and begins to live a life defined by that love (cf. Gal. 2:20)

If God’s love is at work in us, then it should work through us in how we treat others

Referring back to our earlier point—if God’s love and God’s Spirit dwell in us, then how we live our lives should exhibit their presence
If I am not loving as God loves, I probably do not know God’s love
If I love as God loves, I apparently know God’s love
That is John’s point

God’s abiding presence is revealed by how we love
His presence is revealed in our love for him
His presence is revealed in our love for others

God’s abiding presence is revealed in us by our knowledge of his Spirit, by our confession of his Son, and by our experience and sharing of his love
When we as believers abide in God, we participate in his Spirit, his Truth (Jesus), and his love
Our lives then ought to show the reality of these things as we live by his abiding presence

How can we respond to these truths? What can we do this week to show that we abide in God and that he abides in us?

First, remember that John emphasizes the reciprocal, enduring relationship we have with God. The ability to live in his love is granted to us by his presence in us. Spend time with him so that you will grow in your knowledge of him. Make this a priority each day.

Since we are human, there are ebbs and flows in our relationships, even with God. What can you do to reinvigorate your relationship with God? This week look for things that will encourage a personal pursuit of God. This may include taking time to enjoy God’s love in creation. Maybe you could look for opportunities to encourage a discouraged friend. One thing you can do is to practice your confession. This week, tell someone else what you have come to know about God.

Finally, John also describes how God shows His love to us. Take some time to make notes about what a mutual love relationship with the God of the universe should look like. Read 1 John 4 again and note how God loves us. Share your findings with someone who is a believer and with someone who is not. Take some time each day this week to list one thing you have done or can do as a direct act of love back toward God. Write down one thing God has done for you, and then write down what you can do to show that love to another person (see the list from the last lesson for some ideas). If you are feeling bold, actually go out and do that thing!

God’s abiding presence is revealed in us as we know him, confess his truth, and share his love

How are we doing? Where are we abiding?

Thanks for reading!

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Thursday, April 14, 2011


Another Song from T-Bone Burnett--The Wild Truth

I was listening to "Relentless" today when I came across this song. I had forgotten it, to be honest, but not because of the title. In fact, the title reminds me of C. S. Lewis' The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe when beaver is talking to the children about Aslan. One of the kids (Lucy, I think), says of Aslan, "But he is a tame lion, isn't he?" Beaver responds something like, "Didn't you hear what she said? Aslan isn't tame, but he is good!" I always appreciated the image of a God who is good but not tame. A God that cannot be domesticated and put into a corner like an idol. A God whose character is solid but whose actions are like the wind--a bit unpredictable. T-Bone Burnett's song "The Wild Truth" reminds me of that. Here are the lyrics. I hope you enjoy them!

"The Wild Truth"

You never said it was a bed of roses
but you never said it was a bed of nails
you never told me 'bout the rubber hoses
or how unsteady were the justice scales

i need the wild truth

on the street there are a billion people
they got no love, they got no hope
they got no youth, they got no beauty
they're looking backwards through a telescope

they need the wild truth

whatever happened to the man walking down the street
with his hands in his pockets whistling a tune?
science fiction and nostalgia have become the same thing

i don't know how to make any choices anymore i mean,
who do i vote for? i get the feeling that as soon as
something appears in the paper it ceases to be true

i want to meet the man who can crack this world of justice
like a safe. someone with the courage to allow room for
good things to run wild

into the wild truth

we don't need no voodoo stories
from no magic president
who tries to make a dream a fait accompli
by using phantoms for his evidence

we need the wild truth

i tell a hundred thousand lies that twist me
into the noise where i hide my sin
my shame and scandal pull me down and kiss me
i can't live a life that might have been

i need the wild truth

are we supposed to take all this greed and fear and hatred
seriously? it's like watching dust settle it never changes
it's too consistent

mercy is not consistent it's like the wind
it goes where it will. mercy is comic, and it's the only
thing worth taking seriously

i need the wild truth

Thanks for reading!

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011


T-Bone Burnett and God's "Relentless" love

Someone posted a status on Facebook about God's relentless love, and it sent my mind reeling back to 1987. T-Bone Burnett released an album entitled "The Talking Animals" on which he released songs co-written by several well known artists. In fact, one song was by Bono and another by Dylan. He had one song in particular that struck me as related to the idea of God's relentless love. The song is "Relentless" and was co-written with Kerry Livgren (yes, of Kansas fame). Here are the lyrics. I'd be happy to hear your thoughts!


I stand and tremble in the driving rain
while your love rages like a hurricane

i can't break the silence as you still the wind
but i can hear you breathing underneath my skin

i am defenseless almost senseless you are relentless

i reel and stagger in the blinding light
while your love flashes like a lightening strike

so i find the darkness where i grow afraid
but i cannot shake you and the blackness fades

i am defenseless almost senseless you are relentless

you are relentless
this mercy convulses my pride
you are relentless
i find you wherever i hide
you are relentless
i have got nothing to win
and so i give in

i run and stumble as the mountains shake
while your love blazes like a world in flames

to shoot all fear into the desert sky
as stars fall like water through the dead of night

i am defenseless almost senseless you are relentless

Thanks for reading!

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Thursday, April 07, 2011


What's Playng Today? Some Larry Norman

I'm in a Larry Norman kind of mood today, and I wanted to share the lyrics of a rather unusual song. I'm not going to comment except to say that this song has been running through my head all day. Guess I better watch what I'm doing, huh?

Watch What You're Doing

mamma killed the chicken
she thought it was a duck
she put it on the table
with its legs sticking up

papa broke his glasses
when he fell down drunk
tried to drown the kitty cat
turned out to be a skunk

you gotta watch what you're doing
didn't you know
you gotta watch what you're doing
didn't you know

little joe billy
went fishing for trout
played hookey from school
'til the cops found out

didn't have a father
was an only child
and his momma never beat him
so he grew up wild

you gotta watch what you're doing

i knew a girl
sweet as could be
but she fell for men
like a chain sawed tree

she listened to their lies
was fooled by their charms
now she's sitting
with a baby in her arms

you gotta watch what you're doing
didn't you know
you gotta watch what you're doing
you oughta know that
you gotta watch out
watch out

well everything's fine
till things get bad
then you sit around thinking
of the good times you had

but it ain't no good
to lead a life of sin
if you don't shape up
you know you'll never get in

you better watch what you're doing
don't you know
you oughta know where you're going
do you know

some folks smile
they seem alright
then you later find out
they were like demons in the night

try to love everybody
but don't be blind
cause some kind of people
try to mess up your mind

you gotta watch who you know

some people say that
God is dead
that He doesn't exist
except inside your head

i wonder how many
gonna be surprised
when they look straight up
and see Him coming through the skies

you gotta watch what you're doing
cause He does, yeah
you know He watches what you're doing
yes He does
and He knows where you're going
yeah yeah yeaoooowwwww

well well well
hutz sut sut
well well well
hutz hutz a mutza

c'mon pilgrim
you know He loves you
He loves you more
than He loves this cloven earth
don't make your life bad
and start acting like and idiot

you better watch out
there's someone after you
it's the Devil
and he wants to lock you up in his zoo
he's got a nice little cage
picked out just for you
i bet it fits real nice too
you gotta watch out

watch what you're doing
watch where you're going
watch who you marry
love who you bury

i was walking down the road
just walking down the road
and i bumped into You

i had a dream which was a
nightmare. it was the last
time i saw fehrion. i was walking
backwards, picking up the pieces
and looking for the footprints
of the doctor. the butterfly had
flown and a little wooden man said
"we sleep till He arrives." but
they mad him go back five steps
which placed him right here and
also in the kitchen hanging on
to a dead phone and looking
at the chicken.

two times seven
the clock struck eleven
and them seven days at the
edge of space
and i told them, i've got to
get back to earth

i feel like dying
phase two is ensuing
be careful what you sign
you gotta watch what you're doing

Thanks for reading!

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Sunday, April 03, 2011


I Want to Know What Love Is: Love Manifested, 1 John 4:7-12, Theology Matters

Hello all:

I teach an Adult Bible Community at Thomas Road Baptist Church called the G.A.P. (for Graduates and Professionals), and each week I post the outlines and discussion questions from my lessons on the G.A.P. page on Facebook. A while back I started posting these notes on the blog too. So, here is the outline for our meetings on March 27 and April 3, 2011. A while back we started a new series on 1 John entitled "Theology Matters." This lesson looks at 1 John 4:7-12 and discusses the idea that Christians should be a people who love like God loves. We need to be aware of and to share the love that God has given to us in Christ. His gift of grace becomes visible to others when we live the love Christ has shown us. When we love others, we give a living example of the love Jesus showed in the cross. John gives us the character of love, the definition of love, and the result of love. If you have any questions or would like to add a comment or two, that would be great!

I Want to Know What Love Is
Love Manifested

1 John 4:7-12
Theology Matters Series

How many of you know the rock group Foreigner?
Yeah, I’m old, that is certain!
One of their hits was “I Want to Know What Love Is”
I liked the song, but the point I want to make is this—there are lots of people in our world who make the same statement

People want to know love, they want to experience it, they want to see it
Just look at the movies and magazines today
Many of the materials give instructions on finding love
Some movies exemplify romantic love as the goal of human existence
In fact, I would dare say that love is a dominant theme in many areas
The problem is that the love exemplified in these “sources” rarely offers real satisfaction or any sense of fulfillment

Love in the world often ends in hurt or disappointment

Can anyone here describe a time (besides your salvation experience) when you thought you experienced real love? What did it look like?

Our passage in 1 John 4 today addresses the issue of what love looks like

Verses 7-12 offer us John’s view of love, and in them we find three points to consider
1. The character of love
2. The definition of love
3. The result of love

As we unpack these three topics, we will see that for John
“Love resembles Jesus” in his character, action, and empowerment

1. The Character of Love
1 John 4:7-8—John likes to repeat himself. This is now the third time he has instructed his readers to “love one another.” In 1 John 2:7-11 and 3:11-12 John has already given this command, now he returns to his earlier message

John seems to repeat himself in an effort to make sure the point gets across
When John is older, church tradition/history tells us that his message becomes simply “Little children, love one another”
When asked why he repeats this message, John replies: “It is the command of our Lord, and it is enough.”

“Love one another” in John’s mind flows naturally from the basic character of love
John defines the character of love as being tied to the character of God

Notice that John says in v. 7 “love is from God”

The kind of love John to which John is encouraging us is not a mere emotion or an expression of human concern

The love mentioned in 1 John usually refers to a divine source, a heavenly origin (cf. 1 Corinthians 13)

We don’t learn this kind of love simply by attending seminars, reading books, or trying harder.  We learn to love one another in this way only as we draw closer to God through Christ

Love’s true character is divine

Notice that in v. 8 John says, “God is love”
John Stott: “"This is the most comprehensive and sublime of all the biblical affirmations of God's being."

We must not confuse this with the idea that “love is God”
We do not define God by our view of love
Rather, we define love by God’s nature (Ray Stedman)

God’s love includes his holiness—Psalm 138:2 (On Holiness see: Isaiah 6:3; 1 Peter 1:14-16)
God’s character is just and loving—the two always go together as we will see more clearly in our next verses (H. A. Ironside)

So, John tells us we should love one another because of God’s nature or character
John adds that those who know God (i.e., know his character or know him intimately) will as a direct result love others

John’s argument is simple—if the life of God is present is us, then his love should be present as well

If we know that God’s love for us, then we should love others

Jesus as the example of God’s love: 2 Timothy 1:13: John 8:42: 1 John 2:5-7

Love resembles Jesus in his character

2. The Definition of Love
1 John 4:9-10—Here John shifts from discussing the character of love to giving the supreme example of love—John now sets out to define love for his readers

John describes the manifestation of God’s love and sums it up in one historical event—Jesus’ crucifixion (cf. John 3:16-19)
a. In this one event God revealed a love that has never since been surpassed (2 Cor. 4:6-7; 9:15)
b. This love sacrifices to make things right
c. This love empowers others to do the right things

Let’s unpack these

Love is sacrifice

John says that love was manifested (i.e., made known, made visible, made clear) by God’s act of sending his only Son Jesus into the world
.The reference to Jesus as God’s “only begotten” refers to their unique relationship
Only Jesus is God’s “only begotten” Son—it refers to Jesus’ divine status
b. Please remember that this sending was not simply to tell the world what it needed to hear—(John 3:16-19)—rather God had another thing in mind
c. Jesus is sent to be the “propitiation” for our sins—1 John 2:1-2--meaning to appease or to bring reconciliation.
d. It has at its core the idea that two groups are estranged—one is angry at the other (Rom. 1:18-19)

God’s wrath was aimed at humanity because of sin. We were guilty and deserving of death (Romans 6:23)

Instead of holding us guilty for our own sins, however, God decided to appease his own wrath by his own plan. Jesus took our place and received the just punishment of our sins (Isaiah 53:4-6). Jesus became the atoning sacrifice for our sins

Do you see in this act the coming together of God’s justice and love? (Stedman) God’s justice demanded holiness and required an ultimate sacrifice for sin , while God’s love provided the only true means to atone for that sin

Love is sacrificial—it does what is necessary to set things right

But God’s love is not simply sacrificial, it does not simply “cover a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8)—rather it also gives us what is needed to live love ourselves. In other words, love empowers us to emulate Jesus

God’s love was manifested “in us”—this can mean either “on our behalf” or “in our midst”
The point is that God’s love is manifested in space and time
It is not simply theoretical—it is real—it is “in us”

In v. 9 John says that God sent Jesus into the world so that we could “live through him”
Let that sink in—we who deserved death for our sins are being given life by the one who actually died for the sins of the world
The greatest sign of love is the bloody cross—there by God’s grace and love we lost our burden, our guilt, even our inability to live as God intended—in the cross our Lord died so that we might live through him

God’s love is for our benefit—it enlivens us--it is empowering
That is the true definition of love—It sacrifices that others may gain

How does our love for others measure up?

Love resembles Jesus in his sacrifice

3. The Result of Love
1 John 4:11-12—Now that he has shown the character and definition of love, John now offers a description of the result of love

“If God so loved us” is reminiscent of the “so” in John 3:16
It probably refers to the manner in which God loved us
John seems to be saying, “If you have received love in this way, you should then love others like that”
In other words, the way we love should be sacrificial and for the benefit of others—that they may gain God

This God kind of love also has a moral imperative to it—because God has done this, we “ought” to respond in a similar manner (1 John 2:4-11)

How and when did God love us?
a. God loved us when we were sinners (Romans 5:6-8)
We cannot understand grace or the love of God until we understand the nature of sin.  We will not understand the wonder of the atoning sacrifice until we grasp the horror of that which needed atoning
b. God loved us by giving a means for us to be reconciled to him—he gave Jesus as our atoning sacrifice (Romans 3:25; 5:9-11)
As already noted, Jesus died so that we could live

God’s love is our motivation to love others

Verse 12 is incredible—here John states a well known doctrine—God is not visible to the human eye—we cannot see him

Yet John seems to claim that when we love one another, God becomes apparent
The verse claims that when we love with the love God has given us in Christ, then God abides in us and his love is “perfected” (i.e., made complete, accomplished, finished, brought to its goal) in us
Our relationships of love become the place where God and his love become visible to others
When we love, we show God

Love resembles Jesus as we make him known by loving others

This is a weighty thing—how are we to be “ambassadors of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:20-21) when we are still fallen and prone to let God down?

How can we claim to know God when we cannot love those closest to us?

How do we respond to John’s exhortation in these verses?

First, we must recognize our need to experience and live in God’s great grace and love—knowing God through Jesus Christ is the starting point. Remember that John says that loving others comes from loving God. This week make it a point to spend extra time with God. Take 15 minutes a day to look up verses that speak of God’s love (start in 1 John 2, 3, and 4, but don’t neglect John’s Gospel—chapters 3, 5, 13-15)—learn of his love and ask him to empower you to emulate it

Next, take some time to ask where you can share this love of God. Start with your brothers and sisters in Christ, but don’t neglect those outside of the household of the faith. Look for opportunities to tell others how God’s love has changed your life, just be sure to love them while you tell them. Here are some suggestions (thanks to Bruce Goettsche on-line for these):

1. Seek for ways to get beyond feelings of competition
2. Speak of other’s with honor instead of enjoying or gossiping about their shortcomings, struggles, or inconsistencies
3. Rally to the side of those who are hurt or experiencing injustice—offer them a word of encouragement or stand with them in prayer
4. Look for opportunities to help those who can’t help you back—give sacrificially into the life of one who may not pay you back
5. Extend forgiveness to those who offend
6. Be patient with someone who desperately needs it
7. Be quick to show hospitality to others
8. Be willing to pray for and with each other
9. Share the story of Jesus and your salvation with someone
10. Bake cookies for someone who is down and write them a note of encouragement

Love resembles Jesus
How are we doing?

Thanks for reading!

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