Day 1 - 1 John 1:1-4 - Jesus is Real



1 John 1:1–4
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.

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The story of Jesus is no fairy tale.  Jesus was no ghost.  Jesus was not a figment of John's imagination.  Jesus was not a myth.  Jesus really existed and this reality gave great joy to John!  John uses several sensory terms here in the opening of his letter to assure Christians that Jesus did indeed take on flesh and live among us.  Even though God is holy, he made him accessible to you through the person of Jesus Christ and he wants to have fellowship with you even as he did with John.
 
Take just a few moments to digest that.  Jesus became a human and wants to hang out with you.  He wants to be at your side.  He wants to be your friend.  He wants to be with you through all the joys of life and through all the pains of life.

I imagine that as John wrote this letter decades after Jesus ascended back to heaven he could still feel that loving touch of the Word of life.  Feel his arm around you right now and share in the complete joy of being in fellowship with Jesus.

Day 2 - 1 John 1:5-7 - A Trustworthy Guide



1 John 1:5–7
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

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I've always loved maps and directions.  As a child I would navigate my parents on our summer road trips.  Maps make me happy; they give me joy.  There's a certain joy calculating the number of miles before the next exit and then, right on schedule, seeing the sign appear around the bend in the road.  Having a trustworthy guide brings a confidence and peace that produces joy.

As John brings us on our Joy Story he reminds us that we serve a God who is perfect light.  A God in whom there is no error, no mistakes, no impurities.  His direction, although we may at times question it, can be trusted.  He is the divine map maker and so long as we walk in that light we can be sure that someday we will see our destination appear around the bend in the road.

Day 3 - 1 John 1:8-2:2 - A Second Chance



1 John 1:8–2:2
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. 2:1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

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I really get annoyed when I get lost.  It's an unnecessary waste of time.  I especially get annoyed when I am driving or leading others.  It's a blow to my ego.  What must they be thinking of me?  But we all do it, don’t we.  We make a wrong turn.  We read the map wrong.  We lose focus and drive past the exit.  On one road trip I actually found myself going south on an interstate when I was supposed to be going north.  It took me 10-15 minutes before I figured it out!  That was annoying!

I love the GPS's we have today, and one thing I love about them is that when you make a wrong turn you get this helpful yet humbling message - recalculating.  I think it is amazing that a GPS can see I've made a wrong turn and so quickly get me back on the right road.  It gives me relief to know that not all is lost; knowing that the wrong turn is correctable.  I've wasted some time, but the destination is still in my sites.

John says we all make wrong turns (we'd be lying to deny it) and we do make our journey a little more complicated when we do, but there is always hope.  Jesus Christ reminds the Father that we're off the path but he's there recalculating so we can get back on.  That brings me joy!

Day 4 - 1 John 2:3-11 - Clear Vision

1 John 2:3–11
3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. 7 Dear friends, 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. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. 9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.

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Years ago at a retreat I was posed the question, "What physical disability do you consider the most devastating?"  A list was given and I chose being blind.  The thought of not being able to see would seem to be so depressing.

We're seeing that one of John's themes is light vs. darkness and here he makes my point - living in darkness is not a good thing.  Yet so many of us do—not physically but spiritually—and, to the extent that we do, we find ourselves devoid of the joy of believing.  This makes perfect sense and John points out that what he's about to say is not anything new, yet we so often need to be reminded.  We can and need to walk in the light and that means seeing and responding to the needs that are around us.

How often I have heard, after someone has helped someone else, the comment, "That made me feel so good!"  Now, I believe we need to be careful not to serve others just because it makes us feel good, but this feeling of joy that comes after seeing and responding to need confirms what John is saying here:  Joy is found in walking in the light.  Having our eyes open to people around us, seeing their need, and doing something.  John reminds us that this is exactly what Jesus did - lived life with eyes wide open!

Day 5 - 1 John 2:12-17 - A Lasting Treasure



1 John 2:12–17
12 I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. 13 I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father. 14 I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

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Sometimes we think that this religion stuff is just for old people.  Sometimes we reason like this:  I'm going to live it up and experience life while I'm young and then when I'm old I'll take God seriously.  No doubt there are so many exciting things in this world - things that God has  made for our enjoyment.  But John argues that none of these things are worth falling in love with.  A love (or craving or lust, as he terms it) for these things will always leave us with an emptiness.  When we have an inordinate love for the creation we seem to lose focus on the Creator.  Everything in this world will pass away, he reminds us, but there is something that has long-term value.

I've often driven south on I35 and one landmark always stands out to me.  It's acres and acres of old junked automobiles.  They've been stripped of any worthwhile parts and crushed to a quarter of their original size.  They are rusted and useless just sitting there.  As I pass that junk yard I like to imagine that every vehicle in that graveyard was once a brand new car.  Once upon a time someone drove that vehicle off the lot.  They turned the key and felt that exhilaration of a new engine sound. They sucked in that new car smell.  They drove it home full of pride as they showed off the sparkling purchase.  Everyone one of those cars was once the pride and joy of some new car owner and now they sit in a heap of rubble.  That's the fate of all these things we so quickly fall in love with.  John is pretty blunt, "The world and its desire pass away" and when we look to these things that inevitably fail us we will always lack true, deep joy.  But, John asserts, there is an option -- "The man who does the will of God lives forever."

Day 6 - 1 John 2:18-27 - The Real Deal



1 John 2:18–27
18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 24 See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—even eternal life. 26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

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I do not like to be duped!  I got an iTunes gift card for Christmas and went to the iTunes store to buy some music.  I was looking for some of that classic music of the 70's, when music was good!!  I saw a few tunes I recognized from my high school days, but didn’t recognize the artist.  Turns out they were selling these songs performed by bands other than the original!  They were cheaper than the real deal, but I felt a sense of betrayal like someone was trying to trick me into buying something I really didn’t want.  I was being sold an inferior product.

John warns us that there will fakes, there will be imitators, and we need to beware of those while remaining confident of the unique claims of Jesus.  Our world is not so enthusiastic with the idea of the uniqueness of Jesus, but Jesus himself leaves us no viable options other than accepting him as the Son of God.   In C.S. Lewis's landmark book Mere Christianity he says this:  “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

John reminds us that this deep yet simple claim is one we cannot be tricked into discarding.  If we do, we lose all the power and all the joy Christianity has to offer.

Day 7 - 1 John 2:28-3:10 - Abide



1 John 2:28–3:10
28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. 3:1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. 4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

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I have to admit the phrase "jack of all trades, master of none" can certainly apply to me.  I have a habit, a habit most of us have, to try things out but never get too serious.  I took piano lessons for six months - I can still play parts of Beethoven's Fifth.  I took up bowling as a kid -- even had my own shoes and bowling balls!  I golf a few times a year - my goal is to score my annual birdie.  I hit a tennis ball around now and then - every once and a while I'll serve an ace.  I've tried a lot and have had some success, but I really haven't devoted myself to these pursuits.  Sometimes I approach my religion like that, and although being a duffer is acceptable, John says there is no excuse for a believer to take this thing less than seriously.

Perhaps many of us never find the joy of Christianity because we haven't invested ourselves in it.  We are weekend warriors of sorts,  being spiritual in short spurts that leave us sore and aching instead of fulfilled and satisfied.  John says we just can’t live like that and expect to experience all the joy of being God's child.  He tells us we must "continue in him."

This is another word that is one of John's favorites - continue or remain or abide.  It carries with it the idea of sticking with something, of becoming an expert, of being a dedicated student.  It means that our spiritual walk is a discipline, not a hobby.  Jesus promised joy to this disciples, but he never promised joy to those who take a half-hearted approach to discipleship.  To use a concept Kyle Idleman  turned into a book; we are not called to be fans, we are called to be followers.  Joy awaits the true follower - the one who continues, remains, and abides.

Day 8 - 1 John 3:11-24 - Live Giving

11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

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You’d think this Cain story would have run its course, but here, who knows how many years later, the brother-killer is back in the news!  The story is retold because it is a story that all of us live out to one degree or another.  Let’s try to break it down:  Cain sees his brother Abel succeed and instead of being happy for him or, at the very least, trying to learn something from the episode he acts out in hatred and kills his rival.  How we respond to our rivals and our enemies perhaps reveals more about the depth of our love than anything else.  Cain failed.  Cain lived the rest of his life in the shadow of resentment and jealousy.  John does not want that for us.  He wants us to have complete joy.


John will then paint a contrast between the brother-killing Cain and his antithesis, the life-giving Christ.  A question each one of us has to answer is whether or not we take life, like Cain, or give life, like Christ.  John contends that true joy comes from a spirit of generosity and compassion, not jealousy and rivalry.  Too many times we see people around us as rivals, as competitors.  When we do, we tend to fall into resentment when the other succeeds or we harbor feelings of jealousy when we are not acknowledged.


We always need to respond to any situation with the desire to give life, not take it.  And when we live like that we will find our hearts free from guilt, our consciences clean, and we will be able to focus on what God has given us rather than what he hasn’t.

Day 9 - 1 John 4:1-6 - Overcome

1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

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There are two prevalent spirits in our world today.  One denies the authority and identity of Jesus and the other denies our ability to overcome evil. 

First things first.  Fewer and fewer people see Jesus as the one and only Son of God, the final authority on all things spiritual.  John certainly knew better.  He saw Man-Jesus and God-Jesus.  Read his gospel for his recollections of this God-Man.   Jesus taught like no other; Jesus performed miracles like no other; Jesus loved like no other; Jesus made claims like no other; and Jesus verified these claims by resurrecting from the grave.  Case closed for John.  So anyone who denies Jesus’ unique position is the anti-Christ, and there are plenty of those in our world today.  It is our responsibility to carefully examine any teaching or philosophy and evaluate it in light of the reality of Jesus as the Son of God.

On to the second spirit – the spirit of fatalism.  What I mean by that is the thought that we have little if any power to control who we are and what we do.   Especially in light of the evil world that we live in, too many people succumb to the thought that given my predisposition to sin and the rottenness around me I am doomed to spiritual failure.  Too often we underestimate ourselves and overestimate evil and find ourselves powerless to make the right choices.  John will hear nothing of the sort.  He saw too many lives changed by the power of an encounter with Jesus (it’s in the gospel of John we read about the Samaritan woman, the woman caught in adultery, Nicodemus, and others who rose above both their inclinations and their environment).  When we consider human personality we often think it is a combination of nature (our genetic predispositions) and nurture (the influences we are exposed to) but John introduces another force, certainly more powerful than either – the Spirit of God!  And he declares that the spitit who lives in us is greater than the spirit of the world!

Actually, these spirits are two sides of the same coin.  If you deny that Christ is who he is then we are indeed left in a pickle.  If Jesus is just a mere man then he really has no power to transform me.  He’s only another self-help guru.  But if he is indeed the Son of God, then I have a capable ally that can help me overcome.  John urges us to always maintain our belief in the uniqueness of Jesus and in that faith we will find a power that can overcome the world!

Day 10 - 1 John 4:7-21 - God is Love

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.


13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.


God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.


19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

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I love doctrine.  I love to study doctrine.  I love all the –ologies:  theology, Christology, eschatology, ecclesiology, epistemology (all right, I must say I never really got that one).  Give me an -ology and I’m happy.  Now this is not wrong, it may seem strange to you, but it is not wrong.  However, I sometimes get the gnawing feeling that we may have made Christianity a little more complicated than it has to be.  That may be what is robbing the joy from these early Christians.  Some teachers have made Christianity a purely intellectual pursuit and if you don’t pass the test then you really aren’t a Christian.   Tests often produce fear and fear is the enemy of joy.

I suspect they are not the only ones living in fear.  Preachers may to be blame for this, but there are a lot of churchgoing folk trembling in their boots rather than dancing in their tap shoes.  A problem may be that we have made a knowledge of the –ologies a prerequisite for salvation.  John has this odd idea that Christians should have confidence on judgment day rather than test anxiety!

As we near the end of John’s brief letter, it has become clear to me that these are the things that  matter most to the beloved apostle:  faith in Jesus as the Son of God; confidence in my ability to overcome sin; a desire to live a holy life; and love for those around me expressed in actions.   Not an –ology in the bunch!

That is not to say that a deeper study of the –ologies cannot make us appreciate more who God is and provide us a better foundation upon which to build our spiritual lives (it has in my life), but, when it comes down to it, it’s not that complicated.  Even Jesus, when asked what he greatest commandment was, did not go on a theological rampage – and I’m sure he could have.  Instead Jesus boils down all the law and the prophets to loving God and loving others.  And it’s obvious, John was listening! 

Day 11 - 1 John 5:1-5 - Born of God

5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

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“All you need is love,” are lyrics made famous by the Beatles.  It is a nice thought, and certainly true, but we always must be wary of mis-defining love in fear than it becomes only an emotion and not a decision.  John has emphasized love throughout this letter but is suspicious that this could lead some to eschew action and reduce Christianity to a purely emotional experience. 

To borrow another set of lyrics, love is “more than a feeling.”  John contends that love can be measured and the unit of measurement is obedience.  John will go so far to say that if you really love God then obedience should be natural.  If you love God, you’ll love his children.  If you love the things of God, you’ll naturally want to do godly things.  True love for God creates a being who by their very transformed nature follows the commands of God.  And in this way, doing good is not a burden.

Maybe John is cluing us into some sort of personal evaluation here; some test of our love.  So here it is:  If following God’s commands seem to you to be unduly burdensome then maybe you really haven’t caught on to this love that John has been describing.  The love of God for us should transform us!  We should feel victorious in our lives with God not weighed down! (Notice how John repeats the words “overcome” and “victory”.)  If it’s not that way, then is there a remedy?

There is.  John reminds us of our parentage.  He says we are born of God; God has given us life!  The image of God lives within us and although that image is sometimes tarnished and dull, John believes we all can rediscover it. 

Have you ever polished silver?  For wedding presents some people gave us silverware, the kind with real silver!  It sits in a special box that we get out every so often, but it always seems like when we get it out it’s been tarnished.   So we get the silver polish and in no time it’s as good as new – shining like silver ought to shine!  It doesn’t have to try to shine, it just does because that’s what silver does.

And that’s what Christians do, they shine.  John’s letter can in some sense be seen as the old apostle getting out the silver polish and working out the shine in these dull believers.  He reminds them of what love really is and is confident that when we recall that great love we will reflect the image of our Father!

Shine on!  

Day 12 - 1 John 5:6-12 - Witness

6 This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

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John puts on his lawyer’s cap and takes up presenting evidence that Jesus is the source of life.*

Exhibit 1:  The water, Jesus baptism.  Something extraordinary happened when Jesus was baptized – the Spirit came down in the form of a dove and a voice boomed from heaven confirming Jesus as the Son of God.  John may have been there to witness that event, and if not him, others he knew testified to it.  This at least got people to thinking that Jesus was more than just another prophet.

Exhibit #2:  The blood, Jesus’ crucifixion.  We know John was at this one and what happened that day even left a Roman centurion doubtless as to who Jesus is.  The extraordinary events surrounding his death demonstrated the enormity of his sacrifice and the uniqueness of his death.

Exhibit #3:  The Spirit, the Day of Pentecost.  Just as Jesus had promised, the apostles experienced a dose of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost unlike any before.  It seems like this event, in culmination with all the others, sealed the deal for the apostles.  With boldness and confidence they unapologetically proclaimed that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan.

There is no doubt that John was convinced of who Jesus is, and he maintains that to deny the evidence is paramount to calling God a liar.  How much more evidence would be required; how much more could God have done?  To those who accept the New Testament as historical, and there is more than enough evidence to do that, Jesus is, without doubt, the Son of God and the source of all life.  Accept no substitutes!


*There is debate on exactly what John means by water,blood, and spirit.  These are my thoughts.

Day 13 - 1 John 5:13-21 - He Hears

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.

18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. 19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

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John ends his letter on a note of concern.  He’s older now and as we get older we begin to grow more anxious for the next generation.  Will they stay faithful to the message that meant so much to the old apostle?  Will they experience the joy of fellowship with Jesus like John had?  Will they really feel as loved by Jesus as the beloved disciple felt?  Has he brought them to encounter the complete joy he set out to uncover?

He knows at the root of all these concerns is the problem of sin and doubt, so he teaches the next generation that sin may not mean that God loves you less, but it may mean that you experience His love less.  Sin has a way of chipping away at our confidence, of planting seeds of doubt in our minds, and John wants better for them.  He wants better for us.

So he ends on a note of concern, but with a fair dose of confidence as well.  Never doubt that what you have been taught is the truth.  Never doubt that God hears the prayers of his child.  Never give up praying for others.  Never doubt that forgiveness is yours as long as you continue to acknowledge that the only means of forgiveness is the grace of God.  Even though the world may be infected with evil, never become unduly discouraged knowing that you are born of God.

In the end, the only truth that really matters and the truth that ultimately will unleash complete joy is knowing that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God.  There is no one like him and seeking complete joy in anyone else will leave us wanting.  He is the true God and the eternal life.  This truth is a the heart of every Joy Story!

Thank you John for this wonderful little letter.  The message has gone on.  Jesus has not been forgotten.  There are millions of us who enjoy the complete joy of having fellowship with Jesus.  Well done friend!  We anxiously look forward to thanking you in person!