Love Devotional

Daily Reading: (1 John 2:3):

“We know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commands.”

1 John 2:3 has brought some to a place of fear instead of receiving God’s love. “If we keep his commands”, but what if I don’t? Reading this in this way will draw a person into law-based dos and don’ts living in fear life.

“We have come to know Him”, the fruit reveals the tree, and those who know Him are the ones who are enabled to follow His Word.

Genuine obedience “keeping His commands” follows trust, which is always based on love. If you trust Jesus but are still worried about your obedience to His commands found in 1 John 2:3 then don’t stop with this single verse, simply keep reading more. In the preceding verses, John will lay a sure and secure foundation of God’s love for you. It is wonderful when we look at the context of 1 John 2:3 because it will not leave you in fear but will bring such peace to your heart. 

In the New Covenant, obedience follows trust, and we trust Him because we know Him, or another way to say this is we have experienced and received His love for us through Christ. However, someone with an Old Covenant mindset reverses the order: “If you wish to know him, you must keep his commandments.” Perversely, this mindset will have the very opposite effect as it will cause you to trust in yourself while alienating you from Christ (Galatians 5:4).

As we move to the next verse, we can struggle even a little more.

“The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4).

The insecure believer will read this verse as a threat. An incorrect Old Covenant view will think, “I better do what Jesus commands or else I am not really a Christian. The Gospel truth is that Christianity is not about impersonating Jesus. Christianity is Christ in us (Galatians 2:20).  What John is telling us in verse 4 is that if you don’t have Christ, you can’t reveal Christ.

Your salvation is not based on what you do or don’t do for God. It’s based on whether He knows you. To better understand this truth, take a minute to read the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23. God wants you not your works.

“But whoever obeys His word, truly in this person the love of God has been perfected. By this we know that we are in him. The one who says he resides in God ought Himself to walk just as Jesus walked (1 John 2:5-6 NET).

What we learn from John in verses five and six is that obedience is a fruit not a root. It’s a natural by-product of being connected to Jesus the Vine and allowing Him to live his life through you. Since Jesus is the Word of God (1 John 2:14), to keep His Word is to keep trusting Jesus (Revelation 3:8).

Let’s look even closer at 1 John 2:5 to focus on two verbs:

1.  Our word-keeping (also known as obedience)
2.  God’s love perfecting

Which comes first? Is it our word-keeping that brings God’s love perfecting us or is it the other way around that God’s perfect love perfects us to obedience?

“This is how we know God’s love has done its perfect work in us – we keep His word.” God’s love always comes first. John will say it again in 1 John 4:19: “We love, and walk, and keep His commands, and do everything, because he first loved us.”

The question to ask is, “Who abides in Jesus?” The answer is everyone who confesses Jesus as the Son of God abides in Him (1 John 4:15). You have a union life with Jesus and nothing can change that. If you remain unsure of your position in Christ, you will be anxious and unsettled. You’ll be tempted to pursue dead works in a futile attempt to improve your situation. What John’s desire for us is that we know that Jesus holds us securely in His hand (John 10:28). When we know this, we’ll be able to relax and “live deeply in Christ” (1 John 2:24). Receiving and abiding in God’s love is the foundation for everything in our Christian walk.

Let’s progress to our next verses in 1 John 2:7-8:

“Beloved, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:7-8).

Your primary identity is not “lover of God” but that you are “beloved of God” You cannot be a lover of God unless you know you beloved by God.

The new commandment John writes is sometimes referred to as the law of Christ by Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:21, Galatians 6:2.

What is the law of Christ? 5 words break it down for us, “as I have loved you.”

John heard the message from Jesus. He called it “His commandment” (1 John 3:23) or a “new commandment” (1 John 2:8). We don’t love one another to become the children of God; we love because we are the children of the God-who-is-love (1 John 4:8). As we receive our Father’s unqualified love, we are able to love as Jesus has loved us.

What is the law of Christ? The law of Christ is the power of God that brings healing and restoration to all who receive His love. It is the grace to be loved and to love others in return.

The switch comes in the audience John is addressing in verse nine through eleven.

“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them” (1 John 2:9-11).

John is not talking about Christians at all. He is describing sinners apart from Christ whose minds have been darkened with hatred (1 John 2:9).

When we place what we have read and learned together this is the summary of John’s writing to this point: “When we allow the love of God to take root in our hearts, we find it easy to trust and obey Jesus (verses 3 and 5). As we allow Jesus to express His life through us, we begin to walk and talk like Jesus (verse 6) and we overflow with love for our brothers and sisters (verse 10).


Did Jesus Come to Turn People Against Each Other?

Did Jesus Come to Turn People Against Each Other

Daily Reading: (Matthew 10:35):

“For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

There is an old saying that if you want to have peace at Thanksgiving Dinner never talk about what…? Politics and religion. This verse when it is isolated by itself sounds a lot different from what many have thought about Jesus, did He really come to turn people against one another?

This is shocking what Jesus said. It most certainly isn’t what we picture in our minds of what Jesus came to do or the way we see in which how Jesus interacted with others. A great majority of believers don’t know what to do with this verse. Context is always vital to our understanding. What did Jesus have to say before and after this shocking statement, when we look at the whole of what Jesus said, then we will understand what His words here mean to us and actually help us when people, even loved ones persecute us for our faith in Jesus.

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). I thought Jesus said He gives us His peace? “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). So, did Jesus come to bring peace or a sword? The Messiah is prophesied in the Old Testament as a Lamb that would be slain for the sins of the world. By doing so He brought peace and reconciliation with God our Father not to the world but to only those who would believe and receive His sacrifice for them. This is why Jesus said not to the world, but to His disciples, the promise that He has given us His peace. We have it always, but here He says I have not come to bring peace, but a sword and He is speaking about the world.

Jesus is not speaking of a literal sword, in Revelation 19:15 it says, “Coming out of His mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.“ When Jesus first appeared to John in a vision at Patmos, a sharp two-edged sword proceeded from Jesus’ mouth (Revelation 1:16). The returning King of kings and Lord of lords uses this sword to “strike down the nations.” Since the sword of the Lord represents His Word (Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 6:17), it is reasonable to expect Jesus to mow down His foes with just a spoken word. He brought the world into existence by His speech (Hebrews 11:3), and He can assuredly destroy His enemies with just a word from His lips.

Jesus is speaking of a sword of truth, and truth is divisive. What happens as a result of Jesus who is the truth, coming to the world? ““For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”

People divide themselves by their response to Jesus, who He is, and what He came to do. When a Jewish believer was water baptized in the first century, they would be disowned by their family. They would receive a slap on the cheek, which was the deepest insult and they were they were put out of the Synagogue- separated forever from their family and their religious community. Everyone has a decision to make and that decision about Jesus would turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

Jesus said: “a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household” (Matthew 10:36). At this part Jesus is quoting from Micah 7:6. What this means is that the spirit of Christ can have no union with the spirit of the world.

Jesus’ mission wasn’t to turn people against each other, this is a byproduct of what happens from what Jesus’ mission did which is stated clearly in Luke 4:18-19: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Jesus’ mission was to set the captives free and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and this mission will turn people against each other.

You Have Super Power

You Have Superpower Devo

Daily Reading: (Acts 1:8):

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth.”

God has given us super power (Acts 1:8). In Greek, it explains what that power is dynamis. It is where we get our English words dynamite, dynamo, and dynamic from. The first definition of dynamis is strength power and ability, but then you ask the question, “strength, power, and ability for what?” The second part of the definition says, “power for performing miracles.” 

Where I think many believers are at is that they have either forgotten or do not know the dynamite power of the Holy Spirit that is placed in them. If they did, the expectation would be, that I get to see God do miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit living in me.

James 5:14: Is anyone among you sick? James says, “Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.” Is it just the elders who have power? No, all believers have super power (Acts 1:8). If all believers have super powers, why do we need church leaders to pray for a miracle? Great question and the answer is that we don’t. What is so special about the elders, then? The elders are the most likely people to know the power they have been given from the Holy Spirit, they are fully persuaded that God wants to heal you! This is not always the case. Find someone who believes the promises of God and have them pray for you.

Those that are not fully persuaded when they pray, are not going to tap into the dynamis, dynamite power of God for healing. James writes this: “Let him ask in faith, with no doubting for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-8).

“Call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” Why is oil used? According to Commentary Critical and Explanatory of the Whole Bible, oil in the East, and especially among the Jews was a sign of the divine grace (James 5:14).[1]  

Why is bringing God’s divine grace into the equation when I pray so important? Oil reminds me as I pray who the Healer is, who we are taking this situation too, that’s the job of the Holy Spirit in me when I pray. I can use oil to remind myself, and the one I am praying for that it is not about me, it is all about the grace of Jesus Christ who bore our infirmities and by His stripes we are healed. The oil reminds us of this powerful truth. So, when the elders or church leaders who believe the promises of God pray and use oil, the oil says the healing is theirs not because the leader is so amazing with their prayers, but because Jesus has purchased for me to have this healing and it comes by the very grace of God.

Part of the reason the church spread so much was there was a group of believers who were filled with the Holy Spirit and they believed they were vessels to be used in the authority of Jesus’ name to perform miracles.

“And you will be my witnesses…” “Witnesses” is the Greek word martys.  Martys is part of the same word as martyrs, but it can simply mean witness or it can also mean those who after Jesus’ example have proved the strength and genuineness of their faith in Christ by undergoing a violent death. Christianity was real and genuine because people were willing to die for it. The point is that when you tap into the power that God has given you to do the works Jesus did you will have the opportunity to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). The trials and the tribulations that we all go through is an opportunity for the power of God to be on display.

Why would the world hate me for doing such good, for showing the love of Christ? Jesus has an answer for us in John 15:17-19. Jesus says “If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me first.” Jesus who is love- who is grace and truth- what happened to Him? He was crucified. “If you were of the world, it would love you as its own. Instead, the world hates you, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.