Archives For I John

I read a quote from a Malaysian pastor who said, “Fear is not as real as God. When the time comes, we’ll find that it [fear] doesn’t matter anymore.” When we meet Jesus, we will understand how futile our fears have been. In Jesus, there is such love, such joy. There is nothing to fear in the arms of our Savior.

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When we see Him face to face we will realize this as never before. But what if we didn’t have to wait? What if we would come to understand right now, in the midst of all we’re going through, the reality of God’s love and the façade of fear?

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What scares you? Fear is the great killer of love and hope because we know perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). Each of us who have chosen to follow Christ has been called to love. We love because Christ first loved us (1 John 4:19; John 13:34). Every waking hour should be spent loving others as Christ did. The reality is we shy away from expressing such love.

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We’re afraid of what others might think or what loving others might cost us. It’s one thing to love your spouse or children; it’s quite another to love a homeless man, gang member, terrorist, or someone in prison. When the going gets tough, we are quick to hit the exit door.

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What if you were starting over in your walk with Christ? What would you do differently than you are doing right now? It’s easy and even inevitable to fall into ruts if we are not intentional in our choices. Are you living the life you know Jesus wants you to live? Why not? What’s holding you back? What fears have been getting in the way of you living your potential and becoming the person God created you to be?

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I admit it’s a lot of questions to throw at you all at once, but if we aren’t taking the time to evaluate where we are in our relationship with Jesus and how we’re doing in our walk, we will continue to drift along doing the same things we’ve always done and achieving the same results we’ve always gotten.

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We are never defenseless. God has promised to never leave our side (Deuteronomy 31:8). He will always stand with us. A.W. Tozer wrote, “If you accept the gospel of Jesus Christ, you will have all the power of God back of you to defend you; all the will of God on your side; all the justice and righteousness of God pledged to your defense, as well as all the infinite love and mercy of God to welcome and bless you.” What amazing promises!

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Too many of us spend too much of our lives living in fear. Whether it’s a fear of failure, intimacy, confrontation, inadequacy, rejection, whatever, we spend much of our lives in fear. The fear of what complete strangers will think of our appearance or actions keeps us huddled within a protective cocoon. Jesus called us to live in love, not in fear (John 13:34-35; 1 John 4:18). He didn’t call us to shrink back but to go out (Matthew 28:18-20)!

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Our life is a grand adventure. If you don’t believe it, spend some more time reading through God’s Word. We are part of the most epic adventure of all time. You should be excited by the role you are called to play at this moment in history. This is your moment in the story. Every day, we will face decisions and have to make the choice between fear or faith.

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As Christine Cain put it in her book, “Unexpected”, “…at every juncture in your journey, you will find yourself in an impossible place with a decision to make—to shrink back in fear or to rise up in faith. One will keep you where you are, and one will deliver you to your future.”

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Reading Christine Caine’s latest book, “Unexpected”, I was struck by the following phrase: “We cannot shrink back in fear and go forward in faith at the same time.” This is a truth we might know on an intellectual level, but we do not live it out well. So much of what we could do for Christ is hindered because of our fear. We’re afraid to move forward, afraid to look like a fool, afraid to be judged, afraid to lose our stuff, and at times even afraid for our physical well-being.

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Some of these fears are rational, but most are not. Ultimately none of them make sense because Jesus is bigger than all our fears. He has defeated the enemy and every evil which could come against us. Jesus is love, and He fully demonstrated this on the cross. Love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). It cannot coexist. When we trust fully in Jesus, we will know no fear.

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Whether we realize it or not, we are all suffering from a shortness of breath. Each inhale leaves us one less before we breathe our last. While this may sound morbid and depressing to some, it should not be the case for followers of Jesus. For me, the thought invokes both excitement and a sense of urgency. I have no greater desire than to be with Jesus.

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I don’t fear death and neither should you if you have placed your faith in, and pledged devotion to, Christ. Paul said to be absent from the body was to be in the presence of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:7-8). There is no fear in being surrounded by perfect love (1 John 4:18).

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I am a firm believer the key to leading people to Jesus is through building relationships with them so we might be able to demonstrate God’s love and character to them. At the same time, we must never lose the urgency caused by the reality of Hell.

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Despite the modern propensity to focus only on the more pleasant parts of Christ’s teaching – namely Heaven –we do a great disservice to the world if we don’t at least occasionally remind them Hell is real. It’s not popular, but it is necessary to talk about this. Otherwise we risk delivering only half the story and distorting the Gospel of Jesus.

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Nothing kills momentum and mission quicker than indecision. When Jesus calls you to do something, do it right away. How many times have you felt led to help someone, donate some money, or simply say a kind word but hesitated? And then the moment was lost. Indecision kills. What could have been a beautiful moment is now gone forever. You never noticed Jesus bothered with indecision.

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He knew His purpose, He knew His mission, and He let nothing interfere with them. The life of Jesus was a perfect model of consistency. Consistency is the antidote for indecision. When our default and constant reaction to any nudge of the spirit is to act, we will cut indecision off at the knees.

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How’s this for a terrifying thought? The measure of your love for God is equal to your love for the people with whom we interact daily. There are some people, my wife for example, whom I love very much and would be comfortable with God measuring my love for Him by how much I love her.

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Then there are my friends; while I have a certain degree of love for them, I definitely want to believe I love God more.  But then there are my coworkers and the people I encounter in the store or in traffic. Now the comparison of how much I love God begins to get more than a little uncomfortable.
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