1 John 2:12-14
The book of 1 John is a powerful declaration of what it means to be a Christian. Its statements are incisive, dividing people into those who have God the Father in them and those that do not. Its black and white statements cut to the thoughts and intentions of the heart. They challenge the reader by providing a clarity that is striking. However, in the middle of Chapter 2, the letter changes style. Logical prose gives way to poetry; John begins to affirm his Christian readers, and in doing so, reveals the foundation of their identity.
The foundational truth of the believer in Jesus is the forgiveness of sins. Because of what Jesus has done, through faith, the sins of all who believe have been completely washed away by the blood of Jesus. This has been accomplished not through our own effort, but for Jesus’ name. Through the forgiveness that has made us holy, the name of Jesus is exalted above every other name. From our reconciled relationship with God, we now know the Father, we recognize and hear His voice speaking to us. Through the passion of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross, we are born again to new life, and have overcome all the works of the devil. As we wait upon the Lord, the Holy Spirit empowers us and grants us new strength to face the day. The Holy Spirit is present to remind us of God’s word, and hides it in our hearts. It’s the word of the Lord living inside of us each day that produces new life and transforming power. This message is not given as something to strive towards, but as an affirmational truth. A description of who we are in Jesus Christ. Today may you realize who you are in Jesus, and see the overcoming power and strength of the Lord in your life, and fully realize that you have been forgiven, and made in every whole by the blood of Jesus!
2 Cor. 6:2
Throughout His ministry, Jesus chose to spend time with the outcasts of society and the religiously unacceptable. From tax collectors, who cheated the people, to Samaritans, to prostitutes, Jesus accepted people from all walks of life and with all kinds of past. In John 8, Jesus forgives a woman caught in the act of adultery. He provided a living example of the forgiveness and acceptance that God has for humanity through His Son. All who came to Jesus in humility were accepted by Him. Often coming to Jesus took great courage and faith. The prostitute who washed Jesus’ feet, or the woman with the issue of blood, had to overcome the risk of rejection and punishment to approach Jesus. To this day, coming to Jesus requires courage. Although we live in a society with less stringent norms, the pressure of other people’s opinion, especially in religious circles, can prevent people from receiving the grace of God. However, God hasn’t changed. When Jesus’ died on the cross and rose again, He ushered in a new age of acceptance. Grace has been dispensed to the world for all who receive Jesus. Fear of rejection, fear of not measuring up, has been overcome by the blood of Jesus. Through Christ, we are made sons and daughters of God. We are accepted as children by the grace of God. The ingredients are the same as for those who boldly came to Jesus. They simply believed in Him, and believed by faith that He would accept and reward them for seeking Him out. The only ingredient that we must bring is belief. “We must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.” Once you are accepted by the heavenly Father, the rejection of others dissolves. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Today, may God wash away all of the pain, fear, and doubt from rejection, and may it all be replaced with a knowledge of the acceptance of God through Jesus Christ!
The end of Luke chapter seven details one of the most moving stories of passion and forgiveness in the bible. In the midst of dinner with religious leaders, a woman from the city quietly approaches Jesus. The bible characterizes this woman as a sinner; she was recognized the Pharisee. Her wrongdoing and reputation preceded her. She was unacceptable. She enters the house of this religious leader, risking disapproval and shame, and brings with her an expensive flask of perfume.
In an act of pure emotion, she stands behind Jesus as He reclines eating, and begins to weep. Her tears fall onto His feet. She then wipes them away with her hair and kisses His feet and anoints them with the perfume she was carrying. It was an uncomfortable, socially unacceptable, embarrassing, and completely unfiltered act of love, adoration and worship. In the midst of the Pharisee’s judgement, Jesus gives an illustration to illuminate what had just occurred. Two debtors have their debts completely cancelled. One of the debtors owed fifty, the other five hundred. Jesus asks the Pharisee, “Which will love [the moneylender] more?” Jesus then explains that the Pharisee had forgotten the customs of hospitality and affection when Jesus entered his home, but that this woman had come in and provided these acts of hospitality and affection in a deeply personal way. Jesus concludes, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”
It is easy to compare ourselves to others. We can look around and find someone in worse shape, someone who has a worse reputation, and use them to justify and rationalize our own behavior. As we build ourselves up in our own mind, we can adopt an attitude that believes we only need Jesus to forgive us for tiny indiscretions. This is a falsehood. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and the penalty for sin is death. Humanity’s circumstances are the same. None were righteous; all need a savior. Our love and devotion to Jesus is directly related to our understanding of what He has done for us. We have all been forgiven and received life-saving grace. He has made us righteous before God. When we understand where we came from, and how we have been freed from sin and death, our love for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords wells up from within us, producing acts of worship, adoration and devotion. Today may you fully realize what Jesus has done, and may a new love for God spring up from your heart, producing acts of love and worship to our savior.
1 Samuel 2:21, 1 Samuel 2:26
Samuel was dedicated to the Lord. He lived in the temple, ministering to the Lord under the priest, Eli. Eli’s sons also were priests, but they were wicked, worthless men. They abused their position to take advantage of people and commit sinful acts. They didn’t know the Lord, and had no fear of Him. Samuel’s path was different.
The Bible says “Samuel grew in the presence of the Lord.” He aspired to know God. The only way to truly get to know someone is to spend time with them. In our time in the secret place, where we worship, adore, and seek the Lord, we begin to know the Lord more deeply. In His presence is where we “taste and see that the Lord is good.” As we spend time in God’s presence, we experience His love, and our love for Him grows. Obeying His commandments is no longer a burden.
As we seek the presence of the Lord and minister to Him in all that we do, we begin to grow in God’s favor. It is a continual process. The Lord begins to cut things out of our life, and grant us a deeper understanding of Him and His nature. It is in seeking the Lord with all of our heart that He grants us the ability to find Him, and to know Him in a powerful way. His favor grants us the power to carry His love, holiness and His word in a real and tangible way. The anointing of the royal priesthood becomes more evident in our lives. Today as you seek the Lord, may He grant you favor, and may His love and glory flow from your life out to the world.