Tuesday, December 20, 2016

"Fellowship with God and other believers ..."

Day #356

Scripture Reading:  I John 1 - 3 ...

The Apostle John is writing a special message for a special people ... special not because of what we have done or who we are in ourselves, but because of what GOD has done and who we are in Christ!  You can feel John's passion as he begins his letter and talks about his own personal experience in seeing and touching Jesus, "the Word of Life" (1:1).  Then he says, "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” (1:3).  "Fellowship" is "koinonia," the community of believers, the Church that Jesus came to build ... His BODY!  

That's why it is so important that we live out this special relationship by the power of His Spirit living within us.  This is the "light" John is talking about.  "God is light" is another way of saying there is nothing bad, nothing wrong, nothing evil in God ... NOTHING!  And through fellowship, communion, oneness with God, we become like Him.  When you are born again by the Spirit of God your fellowship with God is restored and you now have HIS power within you.  John says in Chapter 4, verse 4:  "... the One who is IN you is greater than the one who is in the world."

"If we walk in the light ... we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.  If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His Word has no place in our lives" (1:7-10).

Believers still sin, so John writes, " ... if anybody does sin, we have One who speaks to the Father in our defense - Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world" (2:1-2).  Jesus paid our debt on the cross and those who place their faith in Him, who confess their sin and trust in Christ, receive forgiveness and cleansing.  It is we who believe who are empowered and enabled to love God because He first loved us and to love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.  

God is saying through John that if you don't love those who are brothers and sisters in Christ from your heart, you don't know or love God ... you are still walking in the darkness.  "Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness" (2:9).  We have "an anointing from the Holy One, and ... know the truth" (2:20).  He promised us eternal life and He now calls us to "remain in Him" (2:27).  We have received God's grace so that the truth would set us free!  We are alive to please God.  Every day is an opportunity to be an instrument in God's hand to share His love.

All these things and more God has promised to those who believe in Jesus! "How great is the love the Father has lavished on US, that we should be called children of God!  (This is NOT everybody!)  And that is what WE are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.  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" (3:1-3).

We who believe are in the process of being transformed by the power of the living God!  And He will not stop until we are actually LIKE HIM!  Now John writes, "in Him is no sin.  No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning.  No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him" (3:5-6).  “Continuing in sin” means sinning without confessing or repentance or any desire to turn from it.  We who believe cannot and will not live that way because the Spirit of God is within us.

And the evidence of that is love for your fellow believers!  You will enjoy fellowship with God's people more than fellowship with the world, with those who don't know Christ or confess Him as Savior and Lord.  While still being a witness to those who are not part of God's people, your friendships and your community will revolve around the Church, the Body of Christ. "Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.  We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers" (3:13-14).  "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" (4:16).  John then explains that this means giving to those in the Body who have needs.  "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth" (3:18).

THIS is His command:  "to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us.  Those who obey His commands live 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" (3:24).  You and I need to continually remember that it is by the power of the Spirit that we live in fellowship with the Father and with each other.  Not one of us can or will accomplish this by our own strength.  Those who fall away, those who leave, never had the Spirit in the first place.  "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" (2:19).

We who believe will persevere, not by our strength, but by His.  His grace is His empowering presence, giving us all we need to be what He wants us to be and to do what he wants us to do.  May you rejoice in His grace today and in the fellowship we share, and may His Spirit help you this very day to believe in Jesus and to love one another!

"Father, I thank You for Your promise that as I keep on confessing my sin, You will keep on forgiving me and cleansing me from the unrighteousness that remains.  I praise You, Father, that through faith in Christ You already see me as righteous, for His righteousness has been credited to my account.  Continue Your work in me, that in all things I may glorify You as You purify me through the blood of Your Son.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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