Clear explanation

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

(See what sort of love the Father has given to us: that we should be called God’s children – and indeed we are! For this reason the world does not know us: because it did not know him. (…) 1 John 3.1

Is there anything in a name? I think we would agree that there is identity in a name. So often, adopted children are forever changed when they take on the name of the family with whom they are living. They are wanted by their adoptive parents!

John wrote this letter to Christians. He looked at the love that God had for them and had given to them. That love made adoption possible. We are God’s children through adoption. That adoption comes through obedience to his word. Christians are called God’s children because that is who we are.

The world is a dark place where sin reigns on the throne. The world does not know God because it is separated from him due to sin. Since it does not know God, it does not know his children. At times, Christians are shocked by something that the world does or supports and we might ask the question of how it is possible that such things happen. The explanation is clear. The world does not know God.

#risingjoy #1-John #adoption

Incompatible

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Now this is the gospel message we have heard from him and announce to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us. 1 John 1.5-10

When all around is dark, the one thing we want most is a light. When man is at the bottom of the blackest pit, God’s light can shine forth and dispel the darkness. All one needs to do is obey the gospel message.

There is no way that light and dark can exist side by side. They are not compatible. We cannot say that we have a relationship with God and continue to practice sin. We are lying to ourselves.

When we fall into sin, confession of such is necessary to receive the forgiveness that only God provides through the blood of Jesus. Let us never say that we have not sinned. For if we do, we make God a liar. That is not an act of which we want to be guilty.

#risingjoy #1-John #light

The list does not stop

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

(See what sort of love the Father has given to us: that we should be called God’s children – and indeed we are! For this reason the world does not know us: because it did not know him. Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that whenever it is revealed we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is. And everyone who has this hope focused on him purifies himself, just as Jesus is pure). 1 John 3.1-3

God is generous! He gives us so much. He gives us life on this planet which he created. He sends the sun and the rain on the just and the unjust, Matthew 5.45. He provides food and clothing for his people, Matthew 6.33. The list does not stop here.

He gave his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. With this sacrifice we have the privilege of being called God’s children. And we are his children if we have obeyed the commandments of Jesus to place us in that relationship with God as our Father. We are his through adoption.

The world in general does not know God. People do not take the time to read the Bible where we find who God is and what he has done for us. They have their own form of god based upon their individual desires for such a being. The world did not know Jesus so we cannot expect it to be different for us.

In eternity, we will be like God. We do not yet know how that will be for us. However, we shall see God as he is which will be a first. We shall be like him. Just as Jesus is pure, I need to be pure. For without that purity in my life, I will not be able to stand before him. If my hope is focused on him, I will work to purify myself and be as blameless as possible. I will strive to imitate Jesus. Who are you striving to be like?

#risingjoy #1-John #imitation

Let God love

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has in us. God is love, and the one who resides in love resides in God, and God resides in him. 1 John 4.16

There are not many things today in which one can trust. What is promoted as true today, is completely negated tomorrow. There are many reasons why this is so, but one is self-interest. However, there is one thing in which I can trust completely. God is love. I know that this is truth. No one else of my acquaintance would send their only son to die for me when I was still rebelling against them with my fist raised in defiance. God’s love is shown in his initiative. He took the first step toward a resolution. A resolution that I would never be able to put forward on my own. There is a permanence to God’s love, but with a condition. I must continue in his love, reside in it, abide in it. For if I abide in his love, God will abide in me. The result of this is the absence of fear. I have no need to fear on the day of judgment. Love of God has replaced my fear of punishment because he lives and loves in me. Are you fearful? Let God’s love into your life by obeying his truth.

#risingjoy #1-John #resolution

I’ve never seen, I’ve never been

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God resides in us, and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we reside in God and he in us: in that he has given us of his Spirit. 1 John 4.12-13

How is it possible to believe in something that I have never seen? I believe what I have been told. I have never been to Europe, but I know that it exists. I have never seen God, but I know that he exists. I know because he has given me of his Spirit. John tells us in verse 16 of this same chapter that God is love. We see his love demonstrated through the sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of mankind. That same love is perfected, completed, matured in us. When does this happen? This love is matured in me and in you when we love one another. Not the mushy emotion of love that the world cares about. It is a love that is sacrificial and willing to put others first. It is a love that wants what is best for the other person. When we love one another, John writes that God lives in us. When God lives in us, we will love each other.

#risingjoy #1-John #love

God gives his Spirit

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

And the person who keeps his commandments resides in God, and God in him. Now by this we know that God resides in us: by the Spirit he has given us. 1 John 3.24

Obedience is important. Teaching our children obedience is important. When we teach our children obedience, we are steering them in the right direction. We are helping them to understand that it is important to obey God first and foremost. John tells us that the person who keeps his commandments resides or continues in God. God also continues in him. John also assures us that we can know that God lives in us. How can we know? God gives us his Spirit. The Spirit helps us in our relationship with God. Not in miraculous ways as in the times of the apostles, but in other ways. The fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5.22-23 is in the singular. The characteristics listed in these verses are all a part of the fruit that the Spirit produces in our lives when we remain in God. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are all a part of the fruit that the Spirit produces in our lives. 1 John 5.25 tells us that if we live by the Spirit, then we should also behave in accordance with the Spirit. We will have these characteristics if we remain in God.

#risingjoy #1-John #commandments

Remove all filth

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Everyone who has been fathered by God does not practice sin, because God’s seed resides in him, and thus he is not able to sin, because he has been fathered by God. 1 John 3.9

God is holy. If I am a child of God, he is my Father. I cannot practice sin in my life and be holy and acceptable to God. It is a law of creation that a seed produces its kind. Peter writes in 1 Peter 1.23 that we have been born anew from imperishable seed through the word of God. James tells us in his letter, 1.18, that God gave us birth through the message of truth. In verse 21 of the same chapter, James encourages us to remove all filth and evil excess from our lives and welcome the message that has been implanted within us. We hear that message through the preaching of the word, Romans 10.17. The word of God in our lives will keep us from sinning. We see the example of Jesus in Matthew 4.1-11. When he was tempted by Satan, Jesus used the word to overcome the temptations. Reading the word is of utmost importance. For like Jesus, we will want something more than living a life of sin. We will want to please the Father. We will want to obey him.

#risingjoy #1-John #seed

When I stumble and sin

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Everyone who resides in him does not sin; everyone who sins has neither seen him nor known him. 1 John 3.6

This verse is difficult for many people to understand. They have the idea that once you become a Christian, one must live a life without a single sin. They feel, rightly so, that they cannot do that. But, James wrote in 3.2 that we all stumble in many ways. John also writes in 1 John 1.7 that if we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. Then what does this verse actually mean? If I reside or remain in Jesus, I do not practice sin. I strive to live my life in obedience with his word. However, when I do stumble and sin on occasion, 1 John 1.9 says that if I confess my sin, God is faithful and righteous, forgiving me my sin and cleansing me from all unrighteousness. Righteousness is something that has to be practiced. It does not occur naturally. I cannot practice sin and call myself righteous. I deceive myself if I believe that this is possible. In the same way, everyone who lives a life of sin cannot claim to know Jesus. I cannot be in two locations at the same time. I cannot be living a life of sin and a life of righteousness at the same time. They are totally different lifestyles. I want to reside in Jesus for there I have hope.

#risingjoy #1-John #righteousness

What must remain in me?

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

As for you, what you have heard from the beginning must remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. … And now, little children, remain in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink away from him in shame when he comes back. 1 John 2.24, 28

The concept of remaining is not a popular one today. Commitment seems to be from a bygone era. We stay until the going gets tough and then we turn and walk away. We cannot treat our relationship with God in the same way. Indeed, if we walk away from Jesus, to whom will we go? Peter said much the same in John 6.68. What is it that must remain in me? What I heard from the beginning must remain. That means that I must cling to the truth that I heard and learned in the beginning. Creativity is a good thing, just not in my relationship to God. God sets the terms of agreement and I must simply obey them. If I do, I have the assurance of remaining in the Son and the Father. When Jesus comes back to claim his church, his people, what will our attitude be? Will we have confidence that we have remained in him by being steadfast and unmovable, constant? Or will we shrink in shame knowing that we had it in our grasp, but we turned and walked away. The choice is ours. What will your choice be?

#risingjoy #1-John #commitment

We will know

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

The one who says “I have come to know God” and yet does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in such a person. 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 2.4-6

Do I know God? Do I keep his commandments? My answer to these two questions has to be yes. I cannot say the first without doing the second without being called a liar. Even worse, the truth is not in such a person. Can we truly know what the truth is? Some would tell us that it is relative to the person and the perspective changes according to the individual. The Bible disagrees with this perspective. Jesus said in John 8.31-32 that we can know the truth. Furthermore, he tells us what the truth is. It is his teaching that came from God to Jesus that he passed on to his disciples. If we continue in his teachings, he tells us that we will know the truth. Better yet, that truth will set us free! It sets us free from the bondage of sin in our lives. When I obey God’s word, his love reaches maturity in my life. Can I know that I am accepted by God without a doubt? Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11.1 to be imitators of him just as he imitated Jesus. Yes, it is possible to imitate Jesus. It is not only possible but necessary. If I want to remain in God and have the certainty that I am accepted by him, I must follow in the footsteps of his son Jesus.

#risingjoy #1-John #truth

Faith knowledge

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

By this we know that we reside in God and he in us: in that he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God resides in him and he in God. 1 John 4.13-15

We know that we reside in God and he in us. It is more that just head knowledge. It is a knowledge based upon what God has told us in his word. It is faith knowledge. In John 14.23 we read that if we love Jesus, we will obey his words and God and Jesus will come and take up residence in our lives. He comes to live within me. Acts 2.38 teaches that after we are baptized, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit becomes a part of my life. My confession cannot be in word only. It will do me no good to call Jesus Lord if I do not obey him, Matthew 7.21-23. This residence within my life does not depend upon anything other than the permanence of my life walking within the words of Jesus. Obeying his words. Following his example of obedience to God the Father. Like Father, like Son. Think about it.

#risingjoy #1-John #knowledge

Love by action

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been fathered by God and knows God. The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love. By this the love of God is revealed in us: that God has sent his one and only Son into the world so that we may live through him. I John 4.7-9

God is love. The initiative to love comes from God. He took the first step to make possible the renewing of my relationship with him. He sent Jesus, his one and only son, out of heaven, into the world. He sacrificed him upon the cross. Why? So that you and I might have hope of a renewed walk with God. The fact that I am alive spiritually through the blood of Christ shows the love of God in me. Now what do I do with that love that is shown in me? I love other Christians, not in the way the world defines love as an emotion. But in the way that God shows love, by action. If God is my father and I am like him, then I will show my love by action. To those who do not know him, I will teach them the good news about love with love. Just as God took the initiative to show love to me, I must take the initiative to show love to others, especially those who do not know him.

#risingjoy #1-John #love

The meaning of true love

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

We have come to know love by this: that Jesus laid down his life for us; thus we ought to lay down our lives for our fellow Christians. But whoever has the world’s possessions and sees his fellow Christian in need and shuts off his compassion against him, how can the love of God reside in such a person? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue but in deed and truth. 1 John 3.16-18

Love in action. That is what could describe the purpose of Jesus here on this earth. His purpose was to obey God and die for you and me. Jesus tells us that we must follow after him. I have to take up my cross and die to myself, Matthew 16.24. If I care more for my possessions than I do for a fellow Christian, then I fail to follow Jesus. If I refuse to help a fellow Christian in need, then I am denying Jesus and all that he came to do. John tells us that words alone do not get the task done. I can talk all day, but to no avail. I have to act. I have to do something to help those in need. But acting in any way I want also does not cut it. I have to act in truth. I have to act in such a way that the truth is being carried out and acted upon. Why is it so important for you and for me to read the Scriptures? Because within the Scriptures is where we will find the meaning of true love.

#risingjoy #1-John #love

Fathered by God

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been fathered by God, and everyone who loves the father loves the child fathered by him. 1 John 5.1

Have you been fathered by God? What exactly does that mean? Mark 16.16 tells us that the one that believes and is baptized will be saved. In the first part of John 3, Jesus talks about the necessity of being born from above. We must go through a second birth of water and Spirit to enter God’s kingdom. The birth of water refers to baptism by immersion in water at which point we receive the gift of the Spirit’s presence in our lives. We become adopted children of God the father. God becomes our father. We become part of a spiritual family including brothers and sisters, with Jesus being our oldest brother. If I love the Father, I will also love the ones who are fathered by him by being born from above. I have blood brothers who make up a part of my earthly family. But I do not always agree with them or even at times get along with them. My own three children often did not see eye to eye on things or get along all the time. But the effort was made. Love is not the gushy emotion that we have made it out to be. It is a decision to do what is best for the other person. I watch out for God’s family. I am not a watch dog. But I do try to encourage my spiritual family to remain faithful. And I welcome when someone helps me to remain faithful by correcting me and encouraging me when I need it. We all need help. It is good to know that I have someone who is watching my back.

#risingjoy #1-John #fathered-by-God

Knowing truth

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us insight to know him who is true, and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This one is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5.20

True. Let’s hammer it home. John uses this word three times in this verse. He states that the coming of Christ to the earth to live and die is fact. We know. There is no doubt. Of course, this apostle walked with Jesus while on this earth. He should know. Jesus helps us to understand who God is. He has given us insight to know him. God is true. When we are baptized, Galatians 3.27 says that we are baptized into Christ, so we are in him who is true. We are in Jesus Christ. 1 John 5.11 tells us we have eternal life in Jesus. He is the true God and eternal life. I have talked with people who do not believe that Jesus is the true God. They believe he was just another good man among many. But not really all that special. Most of the time I find that these same people have never read the Bible to understand who Jesus is and what he came to do. They will not experience eternal life or even truth without the correct knowledge of who Jesus is and the God that he reveals. They will live a lie basically depending upon someone or something that is false. God made himself known through Jesus and he is true. Knowing truth brings joy!

#risingjoy #1-John #truth