Archive for the ‘1 John’ Category

“Not yet” is an okay place to be

October 25th, 2016 by Maureen

Now we are children of God. It is not yet revealed what we shall be, and we know that we will be like Him because we shall see Him as He is. 1 Jn 3:2-3

It’s okay to live in “not yet.” It’s okay to not know. It’s okay to have unresolved questions and incomplete explanations. It’s even okay to have some questions about what “yet” looks like. What is the likelihood that how we see Him now and how He really is holds a few surprises? What is the likelihood that where we are right now the way we will end up? “Not yet” is a place we experience belief and trust and wonder.

Lord, the better I see You as You are, the more “not yet” becomes about discovery and growth instead of failure.

Love syllogisms

October 10th, 2016 by Maureen

If…The love God has for us is something we can abide in… I Jn. 4:16
Then… we are at this moment present in His love rather than striving for it.

If …God abides in us because we abide in love and that is how love is perfected in us… I Jn. 4:17
Then… we can trust the perfect love He initiates rather than struggling to attain perfection ourselves.

If …Fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love… I Jn. 4:18
Then… we can feel secure in His unconditional love for us and in His power to restore and transform us rather than fearing that our efforts are inadequate, our failures disqualify us, that God is angry with us, or that His “go-to” response is to punish us for our mistakes.

If… we love because He first loved us…I Jn. 4:19
Then… we can love (the verb) because He folds us into Love (the noun that is the defining nature of God Himself) rather than merely offering us behaviors to imitate and impulses to follow.

Lord, I want to be fully present in, and aware of, the reality of Your love as I live this life You’ve given me.

If God is love and there is no fear in love then…

October 9th, 2016 by Maureen

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear. I Jn. 4:18

Jesus conquered the most prevalent human fears at the cross: death, hell, and the grave. But living in fear is another kind of death, another kind of hell, another kind of grave. Fear keeps us from pursuing opportunities or deepening relationships. Fear may cause us to retreat into the paranoia and mediocrity of terrified compliance for fear of judgment and punishment. Fear offers the opposite of the peace, abundance, and love. If seeing Jesus means seeing the Father, the loving Father God that Jesus shows us offers transforming restoration.  The Father Jesus shows  isn’t interested in judging or punishing us, but in giving us abundant spiritual, emotional, experiential, existential, and physical good gifts out of love for us. Could an angry god who deals in fear, retribution, and conformity actually be this same god?

Father, please help those who still fear little “g’s” to experience You as big “G” full of love and grace.

Don’t be a settler

June 20th, 2016 by Maureen

Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. I Jn. 5:21

Sometimes not settling means letting go, or re-prioritizing stuff we really love. Some of this stuff can cause us cause us to hurt ourselves or other people. We may feel the need to close our hearts and minds to God in order to shut out the dissonance these desires create within us. Stuff like this obviously isn’t good for us. But some stuff we really love may seem to be healthy, profitable, even noble, yet throwing all our attention and efforts there still leaves us feeling vaguely naggingly unfulfilled. We were made for more than any of this stuff can offer us, yet we find ourselves oddly grasping for more of the same because it provides us with familiar, if temporary satisfaction. God wants to fill our hearts, minds, and lives with His eternally satisfying abundance. We need not settle for anything less than the love, joy, peace, purpose and identity that God wants to give us.

Lord, my heart is all Yours.

Fear? There’s no fear in love!

June 10th, 2016 by Maureen

There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out all fear. I Jn. 4:18

Imagine Jesus saying “There is no fear in love” in the same incredulous tone that Tom Hanks says “There is no crying in baseball,” in A League of Their Own. The power of His love makes fearlessness it not only possible, but reasonable. If we know and feel that we are deeply, personally, unconditionally loved by the most powerful force in the universe who has nothing but goodwill toward us, is it possible to stop being afraid? Is part of our fear concern that God won’t address the problem the way we want it addressed? God reveals Himself as love incarnate, establishes His covenant of grace through Christ, and proclaims us eternally reconciled to Him. As powerful and legitimate as many of our fears may seem, no fear can reasonably stand up to that.

Lord, help me to be so aware of Your love for me and for others that my fear disappears; and help me trust You when I’m afraid Your solution will be different from mine.

The truth in the conversation

June 3rd, 2016 by Maureen

And we know that the Son of God has come and given us discernment so that we may 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. I Jn. 5:20 (Mounce)

Certainly God has provided a plethora of wise sources of information for us including the Bible, the Holy Spirit, the church, friends and mentors, speakers, authors and singers who inspire us and help us understand and relate to God. Receiving this information about God enhances relationship with God but is not personal relationship with God. He has also given us discernment so that we can internalize and process His communication to us personally and can respond as individuals who enjoy individual relationships with Him. Out of fear of getting it wrong and fear that dire consequences come with getting it wrong many followers of Christ downplay this internal awareness of Him. Does the activity to seeking out some hidden truth seems more spiritually productive than simply conversing with the God who wants to be discovered? Perhaps we miss out on the most personal kind of relationship with God by dismissing this inner voice of discernment.

Lord, I want to experience that internal back-and-forth conversation with You all the time.

 

We are family

May 20th, 2016 by Maureen

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. 1 Jn. 3:1

God has made us more than subjects of a King or citizens of a Kingdom. He is all about relationship and His love has caused us to be related to Him and to one another as children and heirs. He established a family relationship between Himself and us. Then God put together people who aren’t related and made them family. Faith communities become families. Whatever else we are to one another, whether it be friend, neighbor, teammate, boss, service provider, support staff, business associate, student, teacher, colleague, salesperson, artisan, entertainer, or any other role, we are also family. What a blessing to know that none of us are alone and that all of us are connected on a deep level because of God’s love for us.

Lord, thanks for the family y ou’ve formed for me.

Beyond perception

April 25th, 2016 by Maureen

At the present time we are children of God. It has not yet been revealed what we shall be but we do know that when He is revealed we will be like Him for we will see Him as He really is. I Jn. 3:2

God already sees us as we really are. He doesn’t see us as we perceive ourselves but as we really are because of the transforming, renewing power of the cross, as the selves He redeemed us to be. He doesn’t see others as we perceive them either. Maybe we can’t see everything right now, but as children of God, at this present time, we do get to see something. He in continuously revealing Himself to us.

Lord, give me clear vision to see You, to see myself, and to see my neighbor as we truly are because of Your love, grace, and compassion.

 

A little spiritual cinematography

March 7th, 2016 by Maureen

If we walk in the light as our Father God is in the light we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 Jn. 1:7

Cinematographers can affect the tone and mood of a scene by the way the scene is lit and the lenses they choose to use on the cameras. As an audience we are frequently unaware of how much our emotional and intellectual responses to a film are influenced by these artistic choices. In much the same way our responses to life experiences and the people around us are influenced by spiritual lenses and light. There may be lots of seemingly valid reasons to see and respond to others through lenses of fear and sadness in a dim and fading light, but if we see others as God see, through a lens of grace, lit by the love of Christ, we are going to think, feel and respond differently.

Lord, help me to continually view life through the lens of grace in the redemptive lighting You provide.

When the love you are is greater than the love you give

February 5th, 2016 by Maureen

The person who does not love does not know God because God is love. 1 Jn 4:8

God doesn’t just do love, He is love. God expresses love (the verb) in action because God is love (the noun). In other words, love does because love is. With reminders and encouragement, we Christians are pretty good at “doing love.” We are nice to people, we serve, we give, and we generally try to respond to others according to descriptions of loving behavior we find in 1 Cor. 13 and other passages in scripture. Doing love has positive results but is it possible for “the same love with which the Father loves the Son was also in us” to dwell within us and among us in such a way that we can actually experience being the love we do?

Lord, so unite us in Your love that we cannot separate the love we do from the love we are.

That awkward transition phase before happily ever after

January 16th, 2016 by Maureen

If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come. 2 Cor. 5:17  What we will be has not yet been made known, but we know when Christ appears we will be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. I Jn. 3:2

In fairy tales like Beauty and the Beast a human is cursed and must be transformed back into true human form by an act of love that yields supernatural results. The fairy tales usually jump straight from transformation to happily ever after, leaving out the awkward transition phase in which the the former beast must rediscover the rhythms of being human again; ex: the same fork would feel different in human hands than in beast claws. Though Christ has restored and transformed us, most of us are still figuring out the fork. Some of us even still see the reflection of the former beast when we look in the mirror. Watching Jesus teaches us how to be what He has already made us.

Lord, I don’t always see You clearly and sometimes I’m just not watching. Show me more of You so I can see myself as that new, transformed me.

 

Being human in God’s image

December 30th, 2015 by Maureen

God created us in His own likeness and image. Gen. 1:26

I’ve heard the relationship between God and man compared to a human and an ant. None of these descriptions of what it means to be human sounds very ant-like:

He set eternity in our hearts. Ecc. 3:11

He has given us, as His disciples, all authority in heaven and earth. Matt. 28:18

Whoever believes in Jesus will do the works He did and even greater things…Jn. 14:12

His Holy Spirit to teach us all things.  Jn. 14:26  and guide us into all truth. Jn. 16:12

We can have the mind of Christ in us. Phil. 2:5

The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us. Rom. 8:11

Jesus has given us the glory the Father gave to Him that we might all be one with the Trinity together. Jn. 17:22

We are partakers in His divine nature. 2 Pet. 1:4

The full picture of our destiny is not yet clear but we know this much, when Jesus appears we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is. 1 Jn. 3:2

Certainly none of us will ever be God, nor should we aspire to be, but perhaps what He wants us to experience and to become is more profound and transcendent than ants have the capacity to envision but are within the realm of what a child can envision for him- or herself when imagining what it is to be a grown-up. Embrace all it means to be a human child of God.

Lord, I want for myself everything You want for me. I open myself to all the possibilities You offer.

Even if you catch it, you can’t hold onto it for long

November 22nd, 2015 by Maureen

The love of God is a reality for us because God sent His Son into the world so that we could find true life through Him. I Jn 4:9

Sometimes we hit on some formula for personal success that works for awhile. On our best days we might achieve one authentic connection with another human being, if just for a moment. Once in very great awhile we experience that flow that comes with the joy of channeling all our gifts and talents into creating or accomplishing something on an elite level. Then we try to figure out how that happened so we can duplicate the experience – and hopefully market it to others. Our efforts to adjust our thoughts and habits for success can be utterly exhausting and frustrating because we can’t keep forcing this flash of transcendence to steady state of being. The reality of Jesus is living in His love so that the reality we long for becomes a result of abiding in Him rather than a pursuit.

Thank you for the rest that comes when I stop chas it.

Are faith and trust the same?

October 25th, 2015 by Maureen

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. 1 Jn. 4:16

Are faith and trust the same thing? Or does faith lead to trust? What is it that sometimes clouds our prayers with reservations and concerns? What we believe to be true (faith) about God’s attitude towards us, about His power, and about the extent of His involvement in our day-to-day lives has a lot to do with what we expect from Him. Those perceptions, in turn, determine how confident and safe we feel (trust) about those day-to-day circumstances and about how much our responses to them matter to Him. It’s difficult to trust a God that we don’t think is concerned about how much we hurt.

Lord I know Your plans for me involve abundance from You and reliance on You. Help me let go of doubt and fear.

Fear is not Good News

August 29th, 2015 by Maureen

There is no fear in love but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. So the one who fears has not been perfected in love. 1 Jn. 4:18

Isn’t love a more compelling, stable and logical motive for relationship with God? If God is love and there is no fear in love, then why is fear ever used as a technique for inspiring people to believe in God or to follow Him after believing? (fear of hell, fear of punishment, fear of God’s rejection, fear of misrepresenting Jesus, etc?) If Jesus sacrifice, motivated by God’s love, perfected forever those sanctified by Him through faith then why would ministers of Good News spend so much time and attention creating fear over the “thou shalt nots,” sin, or failure? There doesn’t seem to be a lot of logic in fear-based ministry.

Lord, help me experience the perfect, fearless love You have for me.

Child of God

August 2nd, 2015 by Maureen

See what great love the Father has shown us that we are called “children of God.” The reason the world does not know us is that it does not know Him. 1 Jn. 3:1

We don’t figure out who we are until we figure out who He is. If we define ourselves by the limited definitions, stereotypes, and categories that the world puts on us, we sell ourselves short. Even after accepting Christ, if we only see ourselves as “redeemed sinner” or “servant of God” or “follower of Christ,” we continue to limit how we can see ourselves and see God. If we see ourselves as children of the Father, adopted to be fully functioning members of the family, the church, and the kingdom, we experience growth in how we relate to Him and one another.

Father, I love being Your child.

 

Love is and does

July 9th, 2015 by Maureen

The person who does not love (agapáō) does not know God because God is (agapé) love. 1 Jn 4:8

God doesn’t just do love, He is love. God expresses love (the verb) in action, John 3:16, for example, because God is love (the noun). In other words, love does because love is. With reminders and encouragement, we Christians are pretty good at “doing love.” We are nice to people, we serve, we give, and we generally try to respond to others according to descriptions of loving behavior we find in 1 Cor. 13 and other passages in scripture. Doing love makes us feel good and sometimes also helps us feel God’s presence, but what if the desires Jesus expresses for us in John 17 involves more than doing?  Could being “one as (Father, Son, Spirit) are one” so that “the same love with which the Father loves the Son was also in us” cause us to experience being the love we do?

Lord, I want the love I experience and express to result from unity with You.

Abiding is a state of being not a state of doing

March 12th, 2015 by Maureen

And we know and have believed the love which God has in us. God is love; and he that abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. I Jn. 4:16

God loves us. He has placed His own love in our hearts, minds, and spirits so we are not even dependent on our own ability to love in order to love. Loving people we consider “unlovable” doesn’t mean we white-knuckle it and “make nice” with the knuckleheads in our lives. Abiding is a state in which we exist rather than a thing we do. We get to experience love for others because God loves us and because He loves them. It is His love the empowers us to experience loving relationships with others that are mutually transformative.

Lord, I abide in the love you have placed in me.

Internal beatdowns are not effective

February 26th, 2015 by Maureen

Even if we feel guilty and our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our feelings or hearts, and He knows everything. 1 Jn 3:20

Most of us are well aware of our own failings. We beat up ourselves more effectively than anyone else can. Sometimes our internal beatdowns are so effective that we let our baggage define us. Sometimes we define other people by their baggage. Baggage and condemnation make us feel stuck where we are and keep us from fully embracing Christ’s redeeming, transforming forgiveness. What changes would take place in our hearts and lives if we we felt as utterly and completely forgiven as we truly are?

Lord help me be as certain of what I am with You as I am of what I am without You.

More than words and even more than deeds

February 25th, 2015 by Maureen

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 Jn. 3:18

God loves us in deed and in truth. His loving actions toward us, His loving motives toward us, His unconditional love for us has nothing to do with whether we deserve it or return it, or are even aware of it. Love is the Father’s motivation for sending Jesus, Jesus’ motivation for redeeming us, and His Spirit’s motivation for inspiring and directing. If loving one another in deed and truth encompasses and reflects the way that God loves us then not only are words not enough, actions aren’t enough either. Loving in truth includes the spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and behavioral aspects of His relationship with us humans and of our relationships with one another.

Lord, my own capacity to love is so shallow and conditional. Thank you for making me part of Your great love. Direct Your love within me to those around me.