Have you ever eaten something and as you savor the deliciousness you ask yourself, “Why am I just now tasting this!? Where has this been my whole life?” That is how I feel about this week.
My schedule is very full—it has to be because of the demands of my day job. But too often, the demands of my day job get in the way of me actually doing my job. Maybe you know how I feel. I get behind with the requests of others and I miss the goals I have for myself.
A few months ago I told my assistant that I needed a vacation from meetings just to get caught up. She said, “Let’s do it!” So we picked a day in the future (it was probably 60 days or more into the future) and we cancelled everything that week. It was far enough in the future that it didn’t freak me out; I knew it was coming and could prepare for it.
This is what I called “A vacation from meetings.” I had no idea how great it would be until I did it. While I had taken a vacation from meetings before for key projects (or because everyone else was gone), I had never done it so far in advance without knowing how I would use it. Knowing that it was coming and could be used for anything was refreshing.
Here is why I loved it:
- It gave me a break from the routine of life. I need change—it energizes me. A week that was totally different, even where I sat, what I ate, where I worked, was all very refreshing to me.
- It allowed me to work on my personal system. I did a lot of work on my email and task management this week. I did a video training on Omnifocus, read a book on email management, and just refined my systems.
- I got ahead on my sermons. This is golden in my world! I was so sick of being behind; it affects others in my life and even my outlook on life and my preaching. It is good to be ahead. I feel like I can breathe.
- I got ready to launch a new ministry site. I will write more about this later, but I am working to release what I call “Passive Ministry” sites (ministries that don’t need my ongoing attention). We are almost ready for this cool product.
- I wrote and recorded two podcasts. Getting ahead here is also golden.
- Three new videos were recorded for my blog. I am trying to do more of these for easier consumption. That felt good – even though I hate watching myself on video.
- Many other little pesky tasks found their death this week because I was able to work without having to run to a meeting.
So maybe it is your time to take a vacation from meetings. I bet the people you lead or work with would be grateful to have the break anyway, so go for it. I think you’ll be amazed at what you can get done. Here is a text one of my friends and co-workers sent me last night that made me laugh:
A vacation from meetings will be a quarterly or bi-monthly thing for me now. I can’t wait for the next one!
Sermon on 1 John 3:1-10
Authentic love for others starts when we understand that we have been deeply loved by God. By being God’s Children, we are given a love the world cannot match. God’s seed of love and Christlikeness is forever planted in us, and we will become increasingly like Jesus and able others without limitation.
Have hope of being like Jesus in order to be with Jesus (vv. 2-3)
Our second reason for hope: to be like Him spiritually.
Have discipline to seek righteousness and avoid practicing sin (vv. 4-10)
Watch the message here:
More sermons and info on GraceChapel.org
Prayer and Introduction: Snow won’t stop us | Frozen Chosen | Warmed by Word
 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
In verse 1, the tense of this phrase — “Has given” is in the perfect indicative, meaning that it has fully been done. There is no question in John’s mind if and when this will be done; rather, He is giving us assurance that we have already been given the love of God, without question.
The outcome of that love is that we have been called the Children of God. He didn’t have an attitude of “well, you are my kid, so I have to love you.” Rather, his love was a choice that then led us to be called children. This is the picture of adoption and why I love how adoption tells the story of the Gospel. If two parents chose to adopt, they are choosing to love a child that is not their own. By that choice to love, they are now calling that little one their “Child” and welcoming it into the family without discrimination—he or she is fully in, first by a conscience choice to love and then by a title change to “Child” and accepted as part of the family.
This is what God did for us! The adoption papers were signed; he chose to love us. By His love we are now considered “Children of God.” Romans 8:17 says, “And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory”(NLT).
The sweet promise is then that we can Have confidence in being called a child of God, because that is what we are. There is no tiers of sanctification or second class citizens in God’s kingdom. We are invited into the family as coheirs of the estate with Jesus Christ.
John’s point here is to say, you have been so deeply loved, so live fully right. The NIV translates verse 1 as saying, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us!” As if we’ve been given a bath in His love. Or like a lover lavishes gifts on the one they love, so he lavished—covered, heaped, bestowed, smothered—us with love. Therefore, we see Christ’s lavished love [as the means to] leads to virtuous living.
Though the world rejected him, he gave the love. Though we were sinners, enemies of God, he gave us love. When we awaken to that, we can’t help but want to live for Him.
At the end of verse 1, John was quick to remind us that the world has rejected Christ since the very beginning. Nothing has changed. He told us in His Gospel that “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1:11). He has always been rejected and so have those who follow Him. So when he states “the world does not know us” That should not be a surprise to us because he points out at the end of that sentence, “they did not know him” either. The reject Jesus, they reject us.
Our glorious hope is end with our rejection of God or His rejection of us, but it ends with acceptance. Look a how John continues to explain that hope in verse 2:
 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
Our hope is confident expectation about our future with Jesus. Christians are not just optimistic people or optimism’s sake. We have faith to believe that there is something greater coming than what this world has to offer. So knowing that we are God’s Children now gives us a certainty that when Jesus comes back we will be made like Him.
John gives a basis for our future hope with two things here: First, he says that we should be like Him. This means that we will have resurrected bodies where will no longer suffer, experience illness or pain or grow old (that sounds good, huh?). Jesus was what Paul called “The first fruits of the resurrection”—meaning that his coming back from the dead in physical form is an example of what we too will experience someday.
Our first reason for hope: to be like Him physically. Around Easter, we talked about the joy that comes from knowing we will physically be with JC some day. His resurrection was not just some spiritual vision, but it was a physical reality. That means that we too have the hope of being resurrected and with Him if our faith is in him. Paul wrote:
“ But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,  who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21 ESV)
John already wrote in verse 18 of chapter 2 that we are living in “the last days,” meaning the days before Christ comes again. We are certain that He will come again, and we he does, we don’t want to shrink in shame bur rather have confidence and excitement to meet our savior again and be given new life physically and spiritually. So our first basis of hope is that literal future recreation of ourselves, done by God, not our own doing. And though the physical resurrection is great – we will be made whole physically (no more sickness, sadness, fear, sorrow, suffering, etc.). Our second reason for hope, and maybe the main reason is that we will be like Him spiritually.
The second basis of our hope goes beyond the physical suffering being lifted and has to do with our spiritual suffering being lifted. No more guilt or shame, but he says, we have home in purifying ourselves, as He is pure there in verse 3. In eternity, Christians will be morally without sin, intellectually without falsehood or error, physically without weakness or imperfections, and filled continually with the Holy Spirit.[i]
Can a man be pure?
The Barna group did a survey of both Christians and non-Christians to see if they thought what John was saying here – that we can be pure – could actually happen. Can a person actually be considered “Holy” in this life? The first survey of non-Christians resulted in 3 out of 4 saying “No” you cannot have purity or holiness in God’s eyes or at all in this life. So they asked the same question of Christians and guess what they said? With passages like 1 John 3:3 and others, Christians know that Christ makes us holy and we can be forgiven, we know that, the Bible tells us that… and the Christian results were – the exact same. 3 out of 4 said we cannot have purity or holiness. That is wrong (sad).
The truth is that we Have hope of being like Jesus in order to be with Jesus. “I have made you a “New creation” the Bible says. Jesus told Nicodemus, “whoever believes in me… will be born again” and have new life. We don’t have to stay in sin, but can be forgiven and fight a winning battle with the desires of our flesh. Based on the power of Christ, John goes on to tell us to fight in verse 4— Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.
Lawlessness here in the original language could be read as a sort of anarchy. A Conscience decision to go against the will of God and ignore what he has told us on how we are to live. The person who practices lawlessness have total disregard for what God has to say, and they chose their own way—as a lifestyle or as a momentary decision.
Notice that John moves from specifically calling out “Some people” in chapter 2 to now saying, “Everyone” in chapter 3. This is not just the antichrists or the false Christians; anyone and everyone that sins practices a total disrespect for God’s will. Let that sink in for a minute—anyone of us who sin, which we all do, are disrespecting God with our sin. He says, “Sin is lawlessness.”
But he calls out the practice of habitual sin by saying, if you make this a practice you have made lawlessness (disregard for God) your lifestyle. To live a life that ignores the will of God has grave implications.
This should cause is great pause, my friends. If you really love Christ, it should cause you to say wait, do I do that? Do I practice a lifestyle of “Lawlessness?” To I act like a rebel or instigator of anarchy against the Holy Spirit of God that I know lives within me? If we have a practice of continually sinning, especially in the same sin, over and over, to which it has become a practice, then we have this problem.
So many of us have sins that have become routines. Quite literally, we have certain circumstances that will trigger us to partake in a sin we know is wrong. We had conviction and fight against it when it first started, but now we just give in to it. The routine of practicing it is as routine as brushing our teeth. Do you have something like that? Is there a person that you get around and suddenly find yourself making decision with to do something that you know displeases the Lord? When your spouses leaves the house, do you have a routine practice of doing something that you really shouldn’t do, but you’ve done for so ling so you keep on doing? In the the quietness of your singleness have you excused certain sin because you feel like God didn’t keep up his end of the deal to give you the spouse you wanted or things didn’t go your way, so you have a tit-for-tat take on sin that moves you to make a decision you otherwise should avoid?
We are predictable people. We have patterns all over our life and we soon make excuses for why we do what we do. John is warning us—if you go on making a practice of sin, you are forsaking the very God you have fellowship with, as mentioned in chapter 1. You are forgetting the very one who came to take your sins and appease the wrath of God; a practice of sin makes grace disposable or cheap. Look how he continues in verse 5:
 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.  No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
The very Jesus who appeared to take away your sins and was sinless himself, is the reason you can and should avoid the practice of sin. If you are IN HIM (abiding) then you will do whatever you can to avoid conscious decisions to keep on sinning. The propelling reason to get rid of sin is (1) you know what Jesus did for you (2) and once you have tasted of a relationship with Him, you don’t want to go back. 1 john 1:5 told us that God is light and we are to walk in the light. By doing so, we not only have Him but we have a life that strives for continual holiness – not perfection, but holiness or “Righteousness” which is right living with God.
Proverbs has that sick but true verse in chapter 26 verse 11 that says, “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” So understanding this verse in the context of John’s writing—once you have tasted of the sweetness of Jesus and His grace, returning to the practice of sin – the same sin over and over – is like a dog returning to its vomit. It is repulsive; not good for you; so much less than what you are offered in Christ.
This passages says that Jesus appeared to take away our sins. We know this came through the Cross, but it was not a one-time “here is your get of jail free card” kind of action. Rather, he came to set us free on going of our sin. Yes, the punishment of our sin is relieved, but also the fight with our sin can be relieved. Galatians 5:1 says, “For FREEDOM he came to set us free.” Not just justification or right standing for our sins eternally, though that is true. He came to help you win the battle with in. He doesn’t want you to live in ongoing bondage.
Remember this verse, John wrote this in the Gospels, recording Jesus words, “ So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,  and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). To abide in His word is to live a life that strives to obey every known command and avoid every known sin.
The promise is this—by “Abiding” or obeying, we are considered Jesus’ disciples and the truth of Christ will set us free. We don’t have to live as a slave to sexual sin; we are not longer are in bondage of prideful pursuits or financial foolishness. When we have the truth of Christ, we have the freedom of Christ. The choice is ours if we will keep running back to our sin, like a dog’s vomit, or if we will run back to the peace, forgiveness and power of Christ.
Yeah, but how do I do that Josh? This sin seems so powerful and thick to break through, can I really be free? Let’s allow John to answer that question in verse 7:
 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.
In love, John answers, oh little children as if he sees the desires of our hearts to live righteously and then says, don’t believe a lie – trust me when I tell you that Christ is enough! You can stop the practice of sin by believing the truth of Christ.
The world will tell you that (1) either nothing is wrong with you—this is the way you made; these cravings where taught to you; you were conditioned to your preferences, so it is not your fault. The world has a way of excusing our sin and convincing us “Well, this is just the way it is going to be.”
Or, if they can’t convince you that your predetermined condition is an excuse for your on going sin, they will (2) get you to believe that it is out of your control. Perhaps you need to move, need new medicine, need a new spouse, need a new lifestyle or any other set of things that can be changed in your life, all to say, you can’t control it, so either adapt your life by doing something drastic or just accept it.
But I say with John, don’t deceive yourself—Christ is enough. There is no sin to big for His forgiveness and no addiction to powerful for Him to overcome. You may need help to overcome it by having biblical counseling, some accountability, or even some chemical rewiring to say no to the temptation, but Christ is enough. The powers of the devil can and will be overcome by Christ. Look at verse 8:
 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
Knowing Christ means becoming involved in an all-out war against the works of the devil, that is, the practice of sinning. We wage war on sin so we can be at home with Christ. There is no apathetic approach to sin if we are in a passionate relationship with Jesus Christ. Our love for Him fuels our hate for sin and the works of the devil.
Just as in war, you strive to be strategic and intentional with your fight with sin. There is no lazy approach—“man, I hope this sin doesn’t get me.” Rather, we work hard to eradicate sin from our life by avoiding patterns of repeated wrongdoing and replace them with righteous living. Write this down, we must:
Have discipline to seek righteousness and avoid practicing sin (vv. 4-10)
Jay Adams, the father of modern Biblical Counseling, wrote a book in the 70’s called “Disciplined for Godliness.” I remember coming across this book when I was on a trip to North Carolina. I couldn’t put the book down the whole flight back. It is a small book, but a profound truth, even just in the title—“Disciplined for godliness.” We can make choices that will drive us to godliness. We can work hard to godliness. We can and should be strategic to protect our sanctification (Christ in us and through us) by having disciplines and practices to be life Jesus so I can be with Jesus.
Some of you are very disciplined with you work out routine. You plan for it. You track it. You have apps for it, devises that monitor it. For some of you, it would be unimaginable to not keep a disciplined lifestyle of eating well. Some of you couldn’t imagine missing a week or two of going to the gym. You will discipline yourself in your physical life, but you are lazy in your sinning life. You don’t have routines to ensure that a lifestyle of lawlessness doesn’t exist. You have never worked as hard on your discipline for a daily time with God as you have you on your daily time in the gym.
Imagine if we took our spiritual life as seriously as took our physical life. Imagine of you were as strike to avoid sin as you are to avoid gluten. Imagine if you were as intentional to clean your life up as you are to clean your kitchen up. Imagine if your quiet time with God got the same kind of intentional care you give your car. To be disciplined for the sake of godliness is to strive to be more like Christ everyday. John wrote, in his 3rd letter:
“ Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God” (3 John 1:11).
I want to see God—forever, but also now. I want the evidence of His power in my life now. When I imitate good, I am walking like Christ and allowing the evidence of God in my life to be seen (by myself and others) as He helps me overcome sin. The reward to disciple in my godliness is better than a six-pack of abs or a feeling of healthiness. The reward is holiness and right standing with God so I can have more of Him in my life.
This starts by you doing whatever you can do to fight temptation and give into the practice of sin. I heard a story of a guy that would carry around a box of matches. Whenever he was tempted to look at a woman lustfully, he would take outa match, light it and then put it out with his fingers. The stinging burn on his flesh was to teach him to avoid sinning.
Now we may laugh at his practice, but he did whatever it took to avoid sin. There are no points for style here. We do whatever we have to do to not give into practices of sin. We will sin in this life; none of us will be perfect this side of heaven, but we can strive to break patterns that lead to lawlessness and an attitude of anarchy toward God. John emphasizes his point one more time in verse 9 and 10:
 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.  By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
Because we can’t be free from sin on our own strength—frankly we are too weak at times to fight our own desires—God gave us the Holy Spirit to help us. The Holy Spirit in the renewing and transforming presence of God within the believer. Because the Word is present in the believer’s heart through the work of the Spirit, the believer cannot keep on sinning. Thus the hearts of genuine Christians (those who are truly children of God) have been so transformed that they cannot live in a pattern of continual sin. Our promise is this, we can End the practice of sinning by relying on the power of Christ.
You can’t do this on your own. But the power of Christ in you can transform you. John reiterates this at the end of this letter, which we will look at more in a few weeks:
“ We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him” (1 John 5:18).
Augustine’s talked about stages we go through when it comes to stopping the practice of sin in our life. He said there are 3:
- Lord make me good, but not yet.
- Lord make me good, but not entirely.
- Lord make me good.
It isn’t until we are broken enough and desiring Christ enough that we will finally wave the white flag of surrender and come ot Christ and say in your power, make me good.
When we are truly born again, the devil can’t touch us. We can conquer the battle of perpetual sin through the power and presence of our God. In closing, let me say to you, as you fight the war with sin, (1) get help if you need it, (2) there are no points for style, be (3) ever prayerful to tap into the power of Christ. You can only win against sin because you have Him.
[i] ESV Study Bible
Sermon on 1 John 2:18-29
Everything Satan does is aimed at destroying your fellowship with God. Not only will he use sin, but he will also use deceit and lies to get you to believe something other than the truth. In this passage we are given practical guidance on how to stand strong against the schemes of our active enemy so we have authentic faith and love.
Authentic Love is the Fruit of Authentic Faith
1. You avoid being a fake by having authentic faith:
- Counterfeits are Satan’s way to trick you (vv. 18, 26)
- Counterfeits are never real even though they look like it (v. 19)
- Counterfeits don’t know Christ (vv. 22-23)
2. A life committed to Christ will never come back counterfeit.
- You have God’s presence (vv. 20, 25, 27)
- You have God’s knowledge (vv. 21, 24)
- have God’s power (vv. 28-29)
Watch the message here:
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Opening Prayer and Introduction:
Well, what an Easter season! We saw hundreds of new faces on Easter, over 1,100 people in attendance that day and the Gospel clearly shared. We’ve seen two new salvations in the last month! Praise be to God. We want people to know this Jesus that we know and adore. If we go on just talking about Jesus in here, but not to the world out there that desperately needs Him, we fail.
The beginning of this year we studied the first part of 1 John and the necessity for us to have authentic faith in Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus Christ is the very thing that reconciles us to God, but without love, that faith is meaningless. The man who went from Christian hater to Christian lover, the Apostle Paul, said, “If you have great faith, sermons, words of angels, but have no love, you are just an annoying person.” Our calling to faith should transform us to be people who love with our whole heart.
Authentic Love is the Fruit of Authentic Faith
True saving faith in Jesus Christ will enable us to love the unlovable and reach those who are unreachable. The love of Jesus Christ was not some fake or forced love, but it was as sincere as it comes—even when it cost His life. Our call to faith is not some call to believe a nice message that makes us feel better about ourselves; rather true faith transforms our love into a lasting love that is unmistakable to a loveless world.
Yet, we don’t always put our faith in to action. We fall flat when it comes to letting a desperate world know about the faith we have in Jesus Christ. For the next two months we are going to finish our study on 1 John in a series called Authentic love.
Some time ago an 18-year-old girl from Washington state attended a worship service. For the first time in her life she heard the gospel message. The following Tuesday the members of the church received a letter from her. It read:
Dear Church Members:
Last Sunday I attended your church and I heard your preacher. When he spoke he said everyone and sinned and turned away from God. Because we rejected God we all face eternal separation from God. But then he said that God love us so much that he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to reconnect us with God and forgive us of our sins. All we have to do is believe in Him and we will go to Heaven and live with God forever. My parents recently died. I know they did not believe in Jesus Christ. So if what your preacher said was true, they are damned to hell. After being with you, I am convinced that either you yourself don’t believe this message, or that you don’t care. We have live only three blocks from your church my whole life, and no one ever told us about your Jesus.
Sadly, that could be said of us in our homes, neighborhoods or even by the people who live across the street in these apartments. If we only have faith, but we lack love, we’ve missed the message of Christ. So how do we avoid inauthentic faith?
Let’s start our study in this series by picking up where we left off in Chapter 2 of 1 John on page ___. I want you follow along by taking notes on the back of the bulletin or in the Bible App by YouVersion in the events section where I’ve placed my notes. Write this down right off the bat:
You avoid being a fake by having authentic faith. I will give you three ways to apply this, but you have to understand that genuine love starts with genuine faith. Millennials, you know this, but if you see someone who is fake—or you enter a place that feels forced or sleek, you grimace and want to get out. Most people don’t like the used car sales men, I will tell you anything you want to hear to appease you, kind of love. We want the truth; tell me as it is. Love me for me, not for any other surface reason. So to have authentic love, you must have authentic faith in God who is love.
Truth be told: none of us will ever love perfectly, but Jesus did. He was pure in His faith and pure in His love. The goal is to be like Him in both things. There are going to be some people who try to do whatever they can do to keep us from Christ or being like Christ. John warns us of that in 1 John 2:18, let’s read:
 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore, we know that it is the last hour.
Context is important here. Remember what John was just speaking about in Chapter 2: He had told them that Christ enough for them to be sure they have a relationship with God in verses 1-6. Then in verses 7 through 14 he tells them to love one another because they had been so deeply loved by God. And in 16 and 17 he tells us all to avoid loving the world. Now he comes to verse 18 and is saying, “there are some who are going to try to get you do to the opposite of everything I just told you to do.
The message is that if you want to stray true—avoid being a fake—you must be aware that there are going to be people who are “Counterfeits.” They will present themselves as good and from God, but they are tools of the devil to pull you way from Christ. He is saying, Counterfeits are Satan’s way to trick you.
John even clearly states his purpose in writing this section in verse 26, “I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.” He loved them and didn’t what them to be deceived, tricked or pranked.
You Pranked Me, Uncle Josh
The other night I was eating burgers with my 3-year-old niece. One of my favorite things in the world is to make her laugh because she has this petite little voice but her laugh is a deep and guttural 500-pound smoker from New York. So I would do something to make her laugh and then she would say in a cute voice, “You pranked me uncle Josh.” Her 11-year-old brother corrected her every time, he didn’t prank you, he was joking with you. So then we have a deep philosophical debate with a 3, 4 6 and 11-year-old about what it meant to prank someone.
We determined that a prank was more mischievous than a joke; as the dictionary defines it, a prank is out to manipulate someone who doesn’t know they are being tricked. As we determined this I told little Mac, I will joke with you, but I will never do anything to intentionally hurt you because I love you.
Yet, John is saying, there are some who don’t love you… or God. So they prank you, manipulate you and spin you to get you to believe something other than the truth. John’s point was that time was too short to be believing a lie of the enemy.
The Finish line in sight
The way that John and the Apostles viewed the world was that the Messiah has finally come. The finish line for the world was going to be crosses at any minute. God had done so much to care for and lead his people to the point of Jesus coming, that they didn’t have any thought that there would be a long time after Christ. Anytime we see the Bible use the term, “The last days” we know this refers to the time between Christ’s first and second coming.
He came. He died. He rose again… and he left to only come back to get us all soon. The apostles thought they were in the last days of earth. For that reason, John write “It is the last hour.” Their end times theology believed that the world was coming to an end and there it would not be much longer before Christ came to conquer all. The great thing that we can learn from them is a readiness for God to do his final work.
Even though there were thousands of years after the apostles, John is saying “now is the time…be ready!” Yes, two thousand some odd years has passed since then, but we don’t know the time or the hour of Christ’s return, so we live always readying ourselves. Just as they were living in the last hours so are we, yet we must have the anticipation of the apostles. Our excitement and intentionality should be heightened.
John’s warning is that there will be an enemy who tires to trick you, not later, but now. So be ready. The next logical question is, “Who” is this enemy, this someone who wants to take me out? Verse 18 says, “so now many antichrists have come…” who are they, and what do they want with me? Verse 19 starts to spells it out…
“ They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”
The point is this, Counterfeits are never real even though they look like it. There will be some who even consider themselves one of us but they are not.
No doubt that the church John is speaking to had seen people leave. People have been leaving Christ since Christ Himself was on earth. Now that the early church is being established, the cost is steep, the social pressure is brutal and some were saying they believed and but they really didn’t have any fellowship with God. We saw that in John analogy of those who ‘say they are in the light but are actually in darkness.’
There was not political correctness here; no spin or easy words. John just calls it as it is—there were some that were with us, but because they left us, it is clear they are not of us. They fact they couldn’t stay the course and follow Christ in fellowship with His church proves their fickle faith. However, if their faith was genuine, they would have continued with us. This implies that those who have genuine saving faith in Christ do not back away from that ever in their lives. Pseudo-Christians will not stay under the preaching of the Word of God. Their departure is their identification.
Perhaps there are some who joined the church and their reasons were wrong to begin with. Maybe some joined just to deceive others. Some joined because it seemed like the popular thing to do. Other saw it as a way of wielding power and popularity. Any reason we join and stay in the church other than to Love God and love others is wrong. A loyal and trustworthy follower of Christ understands that the are in the church to love God more, no matter the cost or payout.
Jesus told us about those who are antichrist and how they will come looking gentle, caring and like a sheep. But on the inside the are vicious wolves (Matthew 7:15). On a particular just over a month ago, I was in the kitchen making coffee as the Today Show was on in the family room. I heard them say something like Today we are going to talk about a woman caught in one of the fasting growing cults in the world and see how it has torn apart her family. That lead pulled me in. First, I was surprised that the Today Show said they were going to talk about a “Cult.” That didn’t seem very politically correct; nothing is a cult these days—that is too negative, we don’t call things that, but they did.
Second, I was surprised the were going to show a family being torn apart because of religious beliefs. I literally stopped what I was doing to stand by the counter and listen to the story. It was fascinating. They interviewed a set of parents who claimed their daughter had joined a cult. They explained that she was raised Christian but when she reached her twenties, she joined this cult and turned her back on her family and her faith for good.
The parents told their heart wrenching details of calling their daughter on holidays and birthday to let her know they loved her, but never receiving a word back. Then they mic’d the parents and went with hidden cameras to find this girl. When the parents found her, she would not speak to them. She didn’t even get out of the car or role down the window all the way. I was crying as the mom stood there begging for a relationship with her daughter, yet her stone-hearted daughter pushed them out and said she had given her life now to follow the new Christ—a Korean woman who, by this girl’s own words, was God now coming in the form of this woman and walking the earth just as Christ had done 2000 years ago.
I wrote to the Today Show to ask for a copy of this controversial story, but of course they would not release it and no matter how much I ask, they have ignored my request. It was never posted on their website; it was never made consumable to the public.
AS the reported told the story of the parents, and then showed the hidden camera confrontation with the girl, he then explained that he wanted to interview someone from the cult to get their perspective. The cult agreed and set up the interview, to his surprise, the women they assigned to the interview was this girl! She explained the stance of the cult to the reporter, and then he divulged that he had interviewed her parents. He asked her if she wanted to say anything to them and instructed her to look right in the camera and speak to them.
She just began weeping. She said she missed them and her eyes as she looked in that camera lens, she looked so distraught and torn apart. It was gut-wrenching.
That interview prompted me to do my own study of this cult. Everything the Today Show reported was true; it is one of the fastest growing cults in the world called the The Worldwide Mission Society Church of God. 3 Branches here in Denver.
Anything that presents itself as better than Christ is anti-Christ.
Those who have experienced the real Jesus won’t fall for a fake one. Those who have experienced the real Jesus won’t pretend to be Him. Those who are Counterfeits don’t know Christ. An authentic experience with Jesus will lead to a passionate revolt against anything that is not the real thing. John tells us who these fakes are and what they believe in verse 22 and 23:
“ Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.  No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.”
The “Antichrist” is only mentioned two times in the New Testament, both times are in today’s passage: verse 19 and 22. We know from John’s writing in Revelation that just before the world ends, there will be one great antichrist (Rev. 13; 19:20; 20:10). We may not know what this will look like exactly, but we understand the concept of a rising evil force that we must stand strong on the face of. We are not afraid if we have Christ, we are just ready and on the defense against whatever is thrown at us.
“Antichrist” is against Christ (which is to deny him as Lord) or an imitation of Christ (which is to distract from Him). A true counterfeit can be either or both. The are many.
The Bible is clear what an Antichrist is–anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ and that God is the Father. No one who denies Christ has fellowship with the Father. So if someone is to say, I don’t have a relationship with Jesus but I do know God, wrong. You can’t—Jesus and the Father are one, to deny one is to deny the other. That why any cult that denies Jesus as Lord is not a true sect of Christianity, even if they say they are. We have one God the Father and one Son, Jesus Christ and both must be embraced to receive the Holy Spirit.
(trans) I’ve quoted 2 Timothy 3:5 to many people because I believer there are counterfeit people in the church today—even in our own backyard—who should be avoided. That passage says this, that such people “[have] the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” They are fakes! And for all intents and purposes, we should avoid being such people. How? Here’s how.
A life committed to Christ will never come back counterfeit. If you are all-in had have Jesus as Lord, not just “walking with your mouth, but walking with your feet” as my friend says—putting your words and beliefs to action—then you will be fully committed to Christ. That commitment will drive you to confidence in the one true God and help you live out authentic love. What drives that commitment?
First it comes from realizing that You have God’s presence you can see that in verse 20, 25 and 27. Look at verse 20 first: But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.
To Be anointed by the holy one is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament they would anoint with oil as an outward sign of an inward transformation. King David was anointed in 1 Samuel 16 to show that he had the hand of God on His life and God’s selection of him as King. It was a sign of God’s presence which played out in God helping, supporting, loving and never leaving them.
When this passage says “You have been anointed by the Holy One” it could be read as you have been given the Holy Spirit by the Father and the Son. When a person becomes a Christian, he or she are giving the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit is our seal that God’s presence is with us; He is our help, comfort and peace; The Holy Spirit instructs us and the Holy Spirit helps us communicate to God and for God to communicate with us.
Verse 27 reaffirms God’s presence in the life of those who believe by saying, “But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.”
The anointing directs us to the truth, which is Jesus. John 14:6 says that Jesus is “The way, truth and life” without the help of the anointing or the Holy Spirit, we would struggle to find that truth. Jesus knew we needed this Spirit to do even greater things in us and to teach us what we would need to be taught over our lifetime. The Holy Spirit is willing and able to guide us each and every day, we just must be open to His leading.
The Second thing that drives us to confidence in Christ and keeps us from being a counterfeit is that we have God’s knowledge.
The idea that the Holy Spirit (or the anointing) teaching us all we need to know, makes it clear that: (1) We don’t need to add anything to the truth of Christ. The Word of God is enough; no other practices, additional testaments or new prophets need to give us more than we already have. Second, (2) it means that, by the Holy Spirit, we will be able to discern doctrinal error. If something doesn’t sound right, we have the Holy Spirit who nudges our soul and says, check into that… ask for biblical backing…
Verse 24 says, “ Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.”
John wasn’t saying they knew everything. John is obviously teaching them himself, so what does he mean that they have no need that anyone should teach them? He means that there is no need for them to go find new teaching that adds to the message of the Gospel they have heard from the beginning. The Gospel is enough! Don’t chase after new things when Jesus is all you need. Jesus and the Holy Spirit is the final authority. The Holy Spirit will help us discern what is an error and what is truth.
There are moments I believe when we will be able, because of the Holy Spirit in us, to say “I think that may be unbiblical” or “I think that may be extra-biblical” and we need to be careful. This takes confidence and trust in the Spirit’s prompting. It also requires that you believe in the Gospel and God’s Word fully.
What you have head from the beginning is the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. John is making it clear that this is the same message, not a new one or something added. The fact that Jesus is the Christ is the message they must accept.
It is important that we grow in our knowledge of the truth and deepen our understanding through careful study and to teach the truth to others. No matter what we learn, we must always cling to the basic Gospel we have head since the beginning. Jesus will always be God’s son and the price that he paid for our sins will always be enough to save our soul. Any new truth we ever learn should go hand-in-hand with the Bible; it will never contradict it. If the Word does not abide in a professing Christian, he will eventually drift from the truth.
Finally, our confidence comes from knowing that we have God’s power in our life through Jesus Christ. Look how this passage ends:
“ And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.  If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.”
We have the power of God in us when we abide in Him. Abide in him to avoid shrinking shame and to increase our confidence (28). When we are in Him, we become like Him—not counterfeit, not a fake, but authentic in love and faith. Verse 29 says that the righteousness in our life is the fruit of Christ in our lives. Listen, I want to be like Jesus so I came be with Him; I want Him in my life.
In John 8:31 Jesus said, “ So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.” I want to be a true disciple, not counterfeit.
By staying true to Christ, we will not be easily swayed by false doctrine. When He comes again, we will not shrink in shame, as John says, when he comes again. Obedience and assurance make the fact that Christ is coming again a joyful anticipation. We can’t wait to see Him; we aren’t scared of that day. Our true faith is the results of right doctrine.
Verse 21 says, “You know the truth…” and verse 25 says don’t forget it, don’t miss the promise of God to you; “ And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.” Our joy, hope and pleasure is to follow Christ and avoid the antichrist. When we know our identity in Christ, then we long for purity morally, ethically and theologically.
John ends to say (v. 29) if you are truly committed to Christ, your life will tell that story. It is one thing to testify that we know Christ and are in Him; it is quite another to have a life that reveals that He is our righteousness. We recognize other believers by their lives, not their lips. Righteousness is a family characteristic, in the Father and His children.
Go, no go—Point of no return
Growing up as a pilot’s kid, I heard a lot of flying stories from my dad. He flew C-130’s for the Air Force. If you were in the cockpit of a plane with him at lift off you may have heard him call out at some point, “Go, no go” which means you’ve passed the point of no return. You have to take off or you’ll crash at the end of the run way. As the airplane accelerates, the pilot must decide if the plane is moving fast enough for a safe takeoff. Before the flight, the desired speed is calculated based on air pressure, temperature, speed of the wind, and weight of the aircraft, etc. My dad would held the throttle down to reach that predetermined speed. Only before the “Go, no go”is called. After the pilot says, “GO, no go” the plane must take off, there is no going back; it is safer to take off at that point than to try to stop it.
Listen, some of you have gotten to the “Go, no go” point in your faith but you aren’t taking off. You know what you need to know and you have the faith you need to have, buy your life looks like a counterfeit b/c you’re not living it out. Some of you are tooling around the airport, playing the game of Christianity and not realizing the necessity to take off and living life to the fullest. 1 John is a call to authentic faith so that you can have genuine love. It’s “Go, no go” time. Are you all in? Or are you acting like a fake?
I will never forget my first real office.
It took me over four weeks to make it my own and move in. I thought through every little thing, including where I would dump the espresso grounds from my in-office commercial espresso machine. As I’ve had more offices over the last decades, I’ve bee more responsible and intentional with my space.
If you have an office job, you know that you spend more time there than just about any other place on earth. Sad at times, but true. So it is important we plan the space well. In the above video, I shared about what I do to make sure my office is highly productive but also highly relational.
Being in a people-oriented profession, I want to make sure my office is welcoming but also conducive to getting things done. Here are a few things I mentioned:
- I used a standup desk. I bought an architect’s desk off of Craig’s List. I love it. I put a laminate floor on top to make it more of an office desk.
- I have a clock at every angle. Honoring time is important. We pray for wisdom when numbering our days, so that means we pay attention to time. This honors those we are meeting with in any setting.
- I used two screens. When working at my computer, at home or at the office, I use two screens. This increases my productivity and keeps me from leaning over a small laptop and getting a crick in the neck.
- I have comfortable chairs. I have a place for us to sit and do longer meetings or soul searching if needed.
- I service coffee and tea. I have always had coffee and tea in my office. It used to be an espresso machine, but now I just have pour over or Aero Press coffee. I have 12 different teas. I love to be able to give my guest a warm beverage without walking them to the employee breakroom.
I hope this is an inspiration to you. Doing your work diligently for the Lord means that you are intentional in where and how you do your work.
Go win the day!
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
(Genesis 1:26-27 ESV)
Commit to Growing in Your Confidence
- God, where in my life am I allowing your image in me to be tainted by sin or misused by selfish motives?
- God, where am I lacking confidence when I should have peace knowing that you made me this way?
- Lord, is there a place or person today you want me to reflect your image to the most?
Transform your Thinking
I never thought I was a counselor… never.
Though I love working with people, sitting with a person to “counsel” them was never on my radar. I wanted to be a preacher, pastor, even a barista, but not a counselor. Little did I know that counseling was a part of all those jobs. As long as I was a living and breathing Christian, I was also counseling.
Think about it—we counsel when we:
- Give advice to our brother
- Help our mom through pain or grief
- Tell a friend they should break up with that person, and why
- Give hope to a person we meet at the store
- Instruct our kids in the way of the Lord
Any many, many more situations like that. You see, our interaction with others is often “counseling.” As Christians, the Word of God should always be in our hearts and minds, so we are technically “Biblical Counselors.”
I know, that “C” word can cause concern. Isn’t “Counselor” an overstatement? I don’t think so.
Now, let me be clear. I am not trying to be something I am not by saying I am (or all Christians are) licensed practicing counselors. We don’t have a certificate from the state, nor have we done our 2000 (or more) hours of supervision. I am also not saying that we are all psychologist. Rather, I do believe that we all have a duty to rightly divide the Word of God and speak truth to those we love.
As we do God’s work, in our homes, churches or workplaces, we must realize there is a duty we have to be a counselor. We are God’s ambassadors to the world. At Grace Chapel we teamed with The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors to help train our people and others in the importance to counsel well. Moms, dads, husbands, wives, singles and some of our young adults are now trained and pouring into others more intentionally.
I encourage you to go to one of these trainings! Every Christian has a call to be a counselor.
In my sermon on the power of the resurrection of Jesus, I talked about how we are forgiven by God but we so often do not forgive ourselves. We seem to easily accept the fact that a good and gracious God forgave us of our sins, but we can’t forgive ourselves. The truth is, it is crazy that God would ever forgive us! So for us to not forgive ourselves is like saying, “Sorry God, your forgiveness isn’t good enough for me. I can’t let go of my own shame, no matter what your grace has done for me.”
I was trying to think of a way to explain guilt and shame and the best I could come up with was a sumo suit on our soul. Sadly, I think we hide in our own guilt and don’t allow the mercy of God to permeate our souls.
Psalm 86:5 says, “You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you” (NIV).
To not accept the forgiveness of God – or worse, to accept it and still not forgive ourselves – is a cheap view of grace. God grace is more valuable than our own. Forgiving ourselves should be the natural byproduct of being forgiven by God.
In this message, I talked about the value of your freedom to God and how He was willing to kill and raise His Son so you could be free. You can watch the message here.
My Sermon Transcript is below:
How many of you have taken an international flight? Many of you.
My guess is that you can identify with me on this: The worst part of an international flight is how long you’re locked in. There’s no going for a stroll around the block or running a quick errand. Once those doors are shut you’re confined in a tin can like a bunch of sardines just hoping the guy on the other side will open you the can quickly on arrival.
While there may be many things that can make an international flight miserable, one of the worst is the middle seat. No one wants that seat.
On one of my trips back from Israel, I had been given a middle seat. No matter how hard I tried to change it, I was told, “I am sorry sir, there are no other seats available.” Dreading the flight and feeling as if I would do anything to get through it, I decided to pull out a few sleeping pills a friend of mind had given me.
As the flight was getting ready to take off, after the rest of the sardines had all jammed their bags, bellies and you know whats in my personal space, I was ready to be knocked. I text my friend in the US a picture of the pills and wrote, “These are sleeping pills, right? Can I take them for my flight?” and all he wrote back was, “Yeah, be careful.”
I didn’t think too much of it. It was really the pilot that had to be careful, not me… now I realize he was saying, “Be careful with the sleeping pills.” Wish he would have written that out.
So I took the pills out of the case, yes pills and popped them in my mouth with a big swig of water.
To my right was this little elderly Israeli lady seated by the window. To my right was a business man, probably Israeli, but obviously not up for any conversation. No problem, I really wasn’t either. Especially as the pills started to take effect.
The plane hadn’t closed to the doors yet, but I thought I would just lay my head back to relax. To be honest, that was the last think I remember.
I think those pills were the same thing that Steve Martin in Father of the Bride took when the second Movie when Franck said, “Bye-Bye George, See you next Thursday.”
About eleven hours later I was woken up by a “Ding” and the captain saying, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we’ve started our initial decent…”
That’s not the worst part… I was grateful to sleep through the flight. But what I didn’t understand was where the lady went that was to my right. I don’t remember her getting out and when I woke up I realized I was not only occupying my seat, but I was occupying most of hers.
I tried to play it cool, like nothing happened. Although I did figure out that shirt was so wet from drooling all over myself. But I still wondered where the lady went. I pretended to stretch as I looked around to see if I could see her. I glanced at the lavatories to see if she was in there, but they were all “Green” and unoccupied. Now I was nervous, did she move because of me?
SO I ask the gentleman on the isle if I can get up. As I make the way to the bathroom I didn’t see the elderly lady in any seat. She was seemingly gone off of a packed flight. Or that is what I assumed, until I got back to the lavatories and saw her sleeping and strapped into the one of the crew fold down jump seats. I was so embarrassed. I snuck in the bathroom and right away figured out, she must have moved because of me.
After returning to my seat I finally got the nerve to ask the guy to my left what happened. He just laughed and said, you don’t remember? Oh man, I knew this was going to be bad. He proceeded to tell me that I had fallen asleep so hard that I kept falling on the lady to my right. They tried to prop me up, but couldn’t. Finally I was laying on top of her and she was screaming for help.
He told me that several men had to lift me up out of my seat into the exit door area so they could get her out. And as he laughed telling me the story, he said all you kept saying was “my legs don’t work, my legs don’t work.” And then a vague memory came back, that I thought was a dream and I was mortified with embarrassment.
I was caught in a scenario where I was literally helpless. There was nothing I could do to help and anything I did try to do made it worse. Can I tell you something? That is exactly what our lives are like without God: our efforts are helpless and sometimes even tragic and the only way out is for God to intervene.
Your life without God is hopeless, bondage and meaningless without the miracle of Easter. The Bible calls us “Sleepers” literally translated “out cold” when it comes to the love that God offers us. Without God sending His Son, taking His life and then raising him again, we would have no hope of being free.
Yet God believed that your freedom was worth whatever it cost to get it. At the beginning of time, God created a perfect world for humans to live in a perfect relationship with Himself. But because the first humans tied their own plan and disobey God, they messed up what God originally designed. That is when sin entered the world.
Because God is perfect and humans were sinful, he had to separate Himself from them. In fact, the Bible says that the cost for sin is death. But you and I both know that we sin all the time, and we are still here, so what does that really mean. It means that there is a spiritual death that happens because of our sin. God is the source of true meaningful life, and because of sin we are cut of from that life and we are basically “Living dead.”
But God believed that your freedom from that death (or life without God) was so worth fixing, he did whatever it cost to set you free to know Him as true life again. He even sent his own son, Jesus Christ, to come to earth to die. He was born to die. And for the last few weeks here at Grace we’ve been talking about how Jesus Christ is the one true God, because He saved us and brought us back into a relationship with His Father.
Today I want to give you 4 reasons WHY Jesus is the real God AND HOW that gives us eternal freedom. If Jesus was just some crazy middle eastern man, we would have no reason to trust him with or salvation. But if he was really God, we have every reason to believe that he can free us from the gerbil wheel of religion and effort and allow us to have a meaningful relationship with God.
You got to get this right out the gate: Jesus is the only God to ever predict his death and resurrection and actually do it. All other gods have claimed to have some stake on life or a means to make us better people. But all other gods or leaders of religions came, proclaimed and then died, and stayed dead. Not our God. I don’t know about you, but anyone that can predict their own dead and resurrection and actually do it is someone I will follow.
4 reasons why Jesus is the true God:
The first proof is that Jesus fulfilled God’s promises made before He ever came.
The books of the Old Testament contain many passages about the Messiah—all prophecies Jesus Christ fulfilled. For instance, the crucifixion of Jesus was foretold in Psalm 22:16-18 approximately 1,000 years before Christ was born, long before this method of execution was even practiced, the Bible told us this would happen.
Some Bible scholars suggest there are more than 300 prophetic Scriptures completed in the life of Jesus.
Passages of Scripture written hundreds or thousands of years before Christ tell us that God promised a Messiah, a savior would be sent to lead us to God. It was promised that he would be born to a virgin woman (that specific!) but then rejected by his own people. The old Testament told us that he would claim to be the son of God, which He did, and then be falsely accused, which he was. The Psalms told us he would be crucified with criminals and no bone would be broken in his killing, and they weren’t. Then, the Bible promised that he would rise again from the dead, proving that His sacrifice for sins was accepted. All of these things were promised and foretold by God and all of that was fulfilled by Christ.
I’ve stood with Jews in Jerusalem that don’t believe Jesus was the Messiah sent by God to save us, but they believe the Bible. I always say, “How can you believe what the Bible says, especially in the Old Testament, but deny that Christ fulfilled such specific promises!?” When a statement made hundreds of years before is fulfilled specifically and in detail, I have no choice but to say, “It’s true!” This is God’s means to freedom. Jesus is the true God. There is comfort to us to know God keep His promises.
The second reason I believe Jesus is the real God is because He frees us from guilt and shame. If you have a relationship with Jesus, you know what I am talking about. He doesn’t just free us from the eternal consequences of our sin, but he frees us from the guilt and shame associated with our sin.
We’ve all got ‘em – those secret mistakes we never want anyone to know. The things we delight in when we are in private, but would die of embarrassment if they ever came public.
You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? Unless you are a superhero — or at least superhuman — you’re probably ashamed of something. There’s a past failure or present fault that is excruciatingly painful for you to acknowledge and admit. There’s something you wouldn’t want anyone to know about, something you keep buried way down deep within yourself.
Shame and guilt is a weight we carry everyday unless Christ sets us free. I think it’s like this: Shame is a sumo suit on our soul. It keeps us from feeling and experiencing the true love of Christ and the freedom He brings.
Over the years, I’ve spoken with hundreds of people who have opened up and told me their secret failings, chronic struggles, and agonizing wounds. In moments away from eavesdropping ears or in email exchanges away from prying eyes, people have expressed their sense of being weight down, constricted and constrained, and their desperation to break free.
There’s a good chance you experience the sumo suit of shame on your soul if you’ve ever thought things like what others have said to me:
- I don’t measure up to other people’s expectations, not to mention God’s expectations.
- I don’t like the real me, so why should anyone else?
- I act like I’ve got it all together, but beneath the polished surface I’m a phony and a fraud.
- I may be smiling on the outside but dying on the inside.
- I imagine God up there on his throne looking down on me with a disappointed look on his face.
In my opinion, there are two kinds of shame: The kind we deserve and the kind we inherit.
- The first kind of shame comes from the guilt we feel for the wrong we’ve done. God created feelings of guilt as internal indicator that our lives are veering off track.
For example, If I hurt someone because I was selfish – until I make that right with them and God, I am going to feel guilty.
But if I take that too far and start thinking of my self as worthless and trapped, I’ve let shame win. Jesus came so we can have freedom.
- The second kind of shame is that which is given to us – usually when we don’t deserve it.
Let’s face it, human emotions easily get tangled and twisted. If we could X-ray our feelings, they would probably look like a huge bowl of spaghetti or a fifty-car pileup on the highway.
Since our emotions are rarely neat and tidy, it’s not surprising that lots of people feel unreasonable shame. In these cases, unhealthy feelings are distorted, exaggerated, and most of all untrue.
Unjustified shame comes from many sources: our culture, our misbeliefs, our parents or past relationships.
If this has touched a painful nerve, let me give you a dose of strong anesthetic. God never intended us to stay in the sumo suit of shame for our mistakes. He sent Christ to forgive us and give us freedom.
He certainly never wants us to experience false shame, and he wants us to seek healing for our deserved shame quickly so we can move forward in abundance. The good news is that shame can be removed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
At the end of the day, shame is the insulation around life, not allowing the mercy, love and care of God to enter and make us whole. But you can be free! We must step out of your shame stand in the light of Christ.
In Bible we are told in Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” We must not let our own condemnation keep us from the freedom that can be found in Jesus. I am telling you this morning, you have to let go of your shame and cling to Christ.
Why do I think that Jesus is the real God and he can really free us? Because he came back from the dead. You have heard that he came and died for you, but I think the more powerful message is that he ROSE AGAIN from the dead for you! He didn’t stay dead. It is one think to know that a person died for, anyone can do that.
I could jump in front of a moving semi for you or take a bullet for you. Christ did more than just save our physical life when he died, but he saved our soul. But how would I know that if he stayed dead?
You see, the fact that he came back from the dead proved that what he did to die for me really worked. The fact that he died to appease God’s wrath so that I can have life is PROVEN by the fact that he didn’t stay dead. He came back to life guy God’s power to prove God accepted his payment for my sins.
There are still some who don’t believe he came back.
Ever since the first century, there have been sceptics to believe that Jesus really came back to life. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 15:12, “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?”
Paul, who was at one time Christian hater (even killer) and then his eyes were opened because he saw Jesus after he had died, was saying: If Christ did not rise from the dead, then the proclamation of the gospel is pointless. What is the Cross without victory over death? Mortality would remain the eternal vault for the soul and punishment for all mankind if there were never victory over it.
Paul made claims that if Christ had not been raise from the dead, then not only were the apostles preaching in vain, but they were just really good liars. If Jesus didn’t come back then those who claimed He was in the Bible were just blabbering fools were misrepresenting God—a fatal mistake. When we speak of the resurrection we are speaking about God and His ability to keep promises. If we error on the side of thinking it was just some theory for the growth of Christianity, but not a reality, we are making God out to be no better than a promise breaker; not the divine promises maker… and keeper.
The resurrection was about God keeping his promises and proving Himself. It is not just a made-up about rumor of a dead man walking passed down through the generations.
If there is no resurrection, then there is no payment for sins and therefore faith in the cross is futile, the belief of forgiveness is erroneous, and any hope of rising from the dead is just one big joke. However, because the resurrection is true, the empty grave yields life after sin and life after death. The living Christ is proof for our souls that we can cling to the hope of not only being forgiven and with God again, but that we reunited with those we love who also gave their faith to Christ.
Without the resurrection our hope is only in what we have during the years we are here on earth; beyond this life there is no hope if there were no resurrection of Christ. If you’ve lived any number of days, you already know that life goes fast and is full of hurts, setback, drawback, and dead-ends. If our only hope is what is right before us, then we will be nothing but live-for-the-moment kinds of people who strive appease our current craving. There would be no need to look beyond what I currently desire because everything is for the moment.
And if we are honest, when we live for the moment we are almost always left empty handed.
Which brings me to the final reason I am sure that Jesus is the true God; He offers us more than a good life, Jesus promises us eternal life.
In His life, death and resurrection, we were promised a future “Paradise” Now don’t let your Sunday School coloring book pages inform your theology here. Paradise is not just some cosmic good place with nothing but grapes, pearly gates and gold streets. Paradise is the reality of all God applied to your soul forever.
Before he even died, he said that he was “Going to my father’s house…” (John 14:2). Then, as we looked at last week, Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus did indeed go and is “Seated at the right hand of the thrown of God.” All this was to make clear that he was living after death and we can know and be known by Him again. His life proclaimed that we can know God AND THEN His resurrection made that promise a reality.
I’ve heard it said that the accountants and merchants of ancient times would write in the front of their accounting ledgers “Memento Mori,” meaning “Think of Death.” I would assume they placed this statement on the first page of their books as a consistent reminded of how fleeting life is and all that is within it.
I hardly ever think of death because I cherish this life and the people within it… and if I am really honest, I probably cherish some of the possessions that come with this life too. However, the very reason the ancients encouraged this kind of thinking was so that they didn’t get too attached to the possessions and money their ledgers were keeping on account. The strove to remember that eternality was a reality.
It is right for us to “Memento Mori” to keep a right perspective on life. But we must not JUST think of death. We must also ponder the eternal place we are propelling towards. Those of us that have faith in Christ have the promise of eternal life. Jesus promised us a life that would be divinely joined with him for now and for all of eternity. Heaven is not just be some cloud in the sky, but a place entirely center upon God and all of His amazing attributes.
There is great encouragement that come in these fleeting days when we think about the eternal goal and promise of being with God forever. Jesus sets us free forever.
With rain pouring down in buckets, I drove my 1978 baby-poop-gold Chevrolet Suburban back to town after speaking at a conference. I had all my gear in the back—poles for my ministry booth, banners, books, handouts, and all sorts of other paraphernalia. On the passenger seat beside me sat a bag of half-eaten Fire Cheetos and a huge Mountain Dew to keep me awake.
As I drove, the old windshield wipers did little to improve visibility, and the heavy rain made it extremely to see. But I was on a mission to get home and nothing was going to stop me.
I soon found myself behind a huge eighteen-wheeler that was splashing water, making things worse. I decided to give the ol’ Suburban all it had and punch the accelerator to get around the semi. Two-thirds of the way past the truck, I started to hydroplane, swerving like a water skier on the wet roads. I lost control and became a Ping-Pong ball between the truck and the five-foot concrete wall on the left of me.
At the point, everything went into slow motion. The Mountain Dew flew across the windshield, the windows shattered, and the poles from the back of the vehicle hurtled forward like a battering ram, right into my shoulders.
What probably lasted only a tenth of a second felt like ten minutes. I couldn’t gain control of the Suburban, no matter how hard I tried, and I was at the mercy of whatever would hit me next.
Fortunately (or because God watched out for me), there was a twelve-foot rut carved in the concrete that caught my left tires, popping them and catching the rims, stopping the car abruptly. The semi kept on trucking, leaving me stranded on the highway’s center median. Cars sped by, slowing occasionally as the drivers peered at me, and then hurried on. I could see the faces of the people passing in the oncoming lanes, and I knew they could see me as their expressions seemed to exclaim, “Glad I’m not you!”
The crazy part is what happened next.
No one stopped to help. No Good Samaritan. No cop. No tow truck. The rain now came through the broken windows, shattered glass covered the seats, my shoulders felt bruised, and my adrenaline pumped like water from a busted pipe. Still, no one stopped to help. Not even the truck driver who almost certainly saw me careen off the road.
I rummaged around and found my cell phone—no signal. Of course.
After moments of feeling completely alone and helpless, I rustled through the car to find a spiral-bound notebook and a Sharpie marker. I wrote in big letters “CALL HELP!” and held it up against the shattered windshield so oncoming traffic might stop gawking and do something useful.
Finally, more than an hour later, a fire truck pulled up and the firemen pried open the back doors of the car to see if I was okay. They called a tow truck, which arrived another hour later. I hitched a ride as my Suburban was towed to a repair shop, and then I waited another hour for a friend to come retrieve me and take me home.
It was a long and harrowing ordeal, and I felt grateful to be alive. Still, I will never forget those long minutes ticking by as I sat on the side of the road in the dark, feeling so alone. I had desperately waited for someone – anyone – to help. For quite a while, it seemed like I’d be waiting forever.
There Will be a Slight Delay
In the moments when it feels like God is nowhere to be found, we grow frustrated and discouraged. No one wants to have to beg for something, especially from God. Why won’t He just answer me! Sometimes we would rather Him say something, even if it is not the answer we want. But to say nothing stings worse.
King David understood this feeling. He screamed at God in the Psalms when he said, “Answer me, O God! My spirit fails me! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit” (143:7). Done with waiting and on the edge of depression, he essentially said, “If you don’t start talking, you might as well send me to hell, because this is equivalent to the worst punishment ever.”
When God goes silent, loneliness and loss set in. We have two choices at that point: Will we allow our bitterness to deepen or will we allow our trust to deepen?
Just because God is silent doesn’t mean He is absent. He uses His quietness as a way to call us closer. He asked us to wait. We hate waiting when we don’t understand the purpose behind it. But if we know what we are waiting for, it suddenly makes sense to stay still.
Suppose you are at a restaurant waiting to order. You’re starving and can’t wait to get that delicious hamburger you’ve been craving. However, your waiter is nowhere to be found. You were seated at your table, given water and a menu, but your waiter never came to take your order. The longer you wait, the more irritated you become. Now you are both very hungry and very angry.
But imagine that you knew he was not helping you because of a valid reason. Perhaps he was helping a handicapped elderly lady to her car. Or he was getting you a new appetizer to try, on the house. Or he was giving the line-chef a hand after he just spilled a five-gallon bucket of salsa on the kitchen floor.
Waiting is never enjoyable, but when you know the reason for it, you are much more patient and willing to sit tight. People wait in line for Black Friday deals, the latest Apple Store gadget to go on sale, a doctor they trust, or the release of a blockbuster movie. We don’t mind waiting as long as we can anticipate the end result.
I know what you are thinking, Yeah, but God doesn’t always give us a reason. You are right. He may not reveal why He has you waiting, but you know enough about Him to make the waiting worth it.
God’s very character is that of a trustworthy, faithful, loving, and just Father (Ex. 34:6-7, Matt. 7:9-10, 1 Jn. 1:9). We wait on Him because we know His character to be true, His promises to be fulfilled, and His strength to be more than adequate.
As the people of Israel were in the midst of turmoil, waiting for God to save them, the prophet Isaiah said:
Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
We say the same thing as Jacob (aka Israel): “God doesn’t care about me.” We think He has bigger fish to fry in the universe, or we assume He just created us and walked away, leaving us to our own mess. But Isaiah says, “God does care! Nothing is hidden from Him.”
God never forgets His promises, never grows weary of handling details, and never shrugs off His children’s needs. He never lacks strength or desire to be involved in our lives. Never.
The human mind can’t fathom how God keeps track of all the details in the lives of all His children. With the myriad problems and disasters around the world, how does He stay involved with all of it? To put a finer point on it, how is He able to stay concerned about MY issues when the needs around the globe are so vast? Here’s how: “His understanding is unsearchable.” We could try to comprehend it, but it is a futile task. There is no way to fully understand His greatness and omnipotence, so we just trust it.
God’s character demands that I wait on Him. By waiting on God, I will have a fearless and faithful life.
What do I mean by waiting upon Him? It means we fully rest and rely on Him without any crutch outside of Him. After explaining that God has strength enough for all of us, Isaiah goes on say:
They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (v. 31)
The way we muster strength is to wait on Him, or as another translation of Scripture simply puts it, “Trust in the Lord.” This is an act of obedience with a great reward. The challenge and opportunity is to wait on God, not run ahead of Him or look beyond Him. This means we wait without worrying. We grow anxious about nothing, but trust God in everything. Whether it is how the bills will be met this week, or how you will find a job after looking for months, or how a broken relationship can be mended–in all things we trust the all-powerful God to be our strength. Waiting on God is exercising confidence in His perfect timing.
Hurry Up and Wait
We live in a “microwave society”—we want everything in two minutes or less. When you’re standing in a long line at the grocery store, someone is likely to start ranting about the lousy customer service and the lack of good help these days. If the car at the front of the intersection doesn’t start moving a second after the light turns green, horns will begin honking. Waiting causes anxiety quickly.
So when we hear that we are supposed to wait on God, it rubs us the wrong way. The ability to wait on the Lord stems from being confident and focused on who God is and in what He is doing. It means that we are confident in His very nature. It means knowing and trusting in God’s promises, purposes, and power.
In Isaiah’s poetic language, he says we will “mount up with wings like eagles.” Just as an eagle’s feathers are made new through resting and waiting, so we will be given new wings to soar with perseverance through the battering winds of life. The fresh feather of the eagle gives a picture of being renewed with strength as the direct result of waiting on God.
The prophet goes on to write in the voice of God:
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (41:10)
The power and strength of Almighty God is your fuel for life. His strength demands our trust. Sometimes the Lord calms the storm. Sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child. All the while, He merely asks that we trust Him, waiting in Him to be our strength.