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Saturday, March 28, 2015


Understanding Our Purpose in Him

A Study of 1 John

Fellowshipping/Abiding/Loving/Praying



Chapter 1
“Our Intimate Reassurance”

In order to better understand (with God's spiritual wisdom that leads to the actions of our lives) our purpose in Him, there are several crucial elements we need as believers. 
  • A relationship with Jesus Christ
  • A growing life of faith and joy
  • A growing spiritual discernment of what is right and wrong
  • A strong commitment to God
  • A strong stand in knowing our tolerance level of sin and how we act on it

John, the Apostle wrote five books in the New Testament. The three epistles we are going to study before Jude, the gospel of John and the book of Revelation. He died around AD 100, shortly after writing 1, 2, and 3 John. As the ministering pastor of the church in Ephesus, a church founded by Paul, John saw that they were doing a lot of good things, but they had left their first love. (Revelation 2:4). He also saw that their relationships with God were growing cold. (DANGEROUS TREADING)

The heresy called Gnosticism was sweeping through the church at this time. This teaching denied that Jesus was actually a man (with a body). It taught that everything material is evil and everything spiritual is good regardless of what it is.  John wanted to set the record straight. He will show that he had the credentials to share this because he saw Jesus with his own eyes. That Jesus was not just a spirit or philosophy. That HE was a living person who wanted then and now to have fellowship with us.

I.                   From the Beginning
1 John 1:1-7 (Please grab your Bible and read)

The first letter of John will speak to us of all these things and more. I believe there is no one who can better teach this to us than John the Beloved.

A.     That Personal Experience
1:1-4
John wrote this letter to the church around AD 85 - 90 from Ephesus. This would be not far from the time he ended up on the island of Patmos in AD 70 which we read about in the book of Revelations (1:9)

At that time Jerusalem had been destroyed and a lot of Christians had scattered. The church had faced a lot of persecution too. Some of the persecution unfortunately caused a lot of Christians to not be as strongly committed as they should have been and as they once were.  

Many in the church were becoming too tolerant of the world's standards -- less willing to make stands for their faith and beliefs -- more tempted to compromise.

Stop and Reflect: What do you think of when you consider the word "tolerance" as a Christian woman today?  
  
False teachers and phony believers (and there had to be a great number of them for John and Paul and so many others to write in reference to them as much as they did), was part of the cause for the church to be on one fast downhill slide.

NOTE: another item to consider in this letter is how John goes out of his way to bring complete honor to the Lord and not himself. Instead of even mentioning who he is or his name, he says "WE." 

WE too have heard the Lord but with spiritual ears to hear. WE too have seen the Lord but spiritual eyes to see. We too have handled His Word and do handle His Word daily and we know how precious it is to have it with us ALWAYS. That is pure and unadulterated fellowship 


B.     That Declaration of Boldness
1:5
A bold statement is needed here. This speaks to our level of tolerance and knowing where ours truly is. How principled we are. Jesus had tolerance of disciples when they doubted. Jesus tolerated crowds who misunderstood Him. God tolerated David's ups and downs. Jesus was tolerant of our failures, if our hearts are right and we let Him turn us around.

But neither the Lord nor John were tolerant when it came to the path to salvation and we'll see that in this letter.  When it comes to a person having a relationship with God, Jesus, and later John remained bold and apologetic about what that means. The road is narrow, and the path is fixed. And there are few that will find it.

Warren Weirsbe calls it BEING REAL. Being real means an INTOLERANCE of what is fake.

The only real thing we have in God is in knowing we can ONLY reach Him by way of His Son. His life has never been hidden from us. It was revealed openly then, as it is revealed openly today through His Word. Thankfully, we've had access to His Word all our lives.

The more we know about Him the more we realize WHO HE IS, WHAT HE REQUIRES OF US, WHY HE CAME, WHEN IT'S RIGHT FOR US TO STEP OUT ON FAITH, and WHEN IT'S NOT, and WHERE WE CAN GO WITH HIM LEADING OUR LIVES.

If we are wrong about knowing who Jesus is, we'll always be wrong about knowing what we need to know about God.

As we take time to study the Bible carefully, we will come to understand more fully that this is the very purpose for our existence. THIS WORD OF GOD. We exist for the purpose of having fellowship and intimacy of God. (Chuck Smith)

Moment to Reflect: How real is the Lord to you, or are you unable to be bold enough to declare with boldness that HE is the only way to the truth?

When it comes to tolerance, we really need to see the importance of making a stand somewhere. One might stand for principle but another might not have the same standard at all.  

Think of a time when you had to make a stand that went against what others were doing. What was the final result of your situation?   HOW PRINCIPLED ARE WE REALLY?

C.     The Condition of Fellowship
1:6-7
How many people profess to know God and have fellowship with Him, and yet they are walking in darkness, contrary to the commands of God? In truth, they are only fooling themselves.  We must be walking in the light, and to what is good and holy and true and reliable to be in proper fellowship with God. Only God can guide us out of the darkness of sin.

To claim we live for Him and are in fellowship but still live for ourselves is living a hypocritical life. We can't love God and court sin at the same time. 

REAL FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD CHANGES US FROM WITHIN.
Any person can have a wonderful prayer life and FEEL very close to God, but we can still be living a lie if we do not turn away from our sins. Just because we pray does not speak to true fellowship and relationship if it isn't as it should be. 

(BE REMINDED OF DAVID WHEN HE FELL. BE REMINDED OF SAUL WHO WAS NEVER REAL WITH HIS RELATIONSHIP TO GOD. REMEMBER WHEN HE PRAYED AND EVEN PROPHESIED?)

So what are the three principles of true fellowship? Let's review 
  • To be grounded in His Word
  • To have unity with other believers who are committed to Him
  • To stay in spiritual interaction with other believers.
We show we have a living active relationship with Christ by wanting to be able to share it.

II.                A Joyful Knowledge of God
1 John 1:4 again

Question for you: How do you know you have joy, when you cannot feel it?

A.     The Happiness Factor
Joy is the natural out flowing  of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The one thing that will give us the sustained happiness we need is FULLENESS OF JOY. That word "Joy" though we don't see it a lot in this letter, runs all the way through this letter of John. 

According to what we read in God's Word, Joy is the answer to all the emptiness and the hollowness of life. Do you believe that today too? 

III.             Life is Often a Struggle
1 John 1:6-10 

Warren Weirsbe said each of us must ask ourselves honestly "Am I a true child of God, or am I a counterfeit Christian. Have I truly been born of God" and how do I know it?"  Such an important principle to grasp.
Because life truly IS often a struggle for all of us at times, we should take a moment to reflect on this:
WHAT ACTIVITIES (which may involve attitude more than action but to God is just as crucial) ARE IN MY LIFE THAT MAYBE NEED FORGIVENESS? IS THERE ANYTHING GOING ON THAT SHOULDN’T BE? AM I ALLOWING THAT WHICH I SHOULD NOT?

There is nothing more important in our lives today than this: and that means removing every sinful activity from my life that GOD knows shouldn’t be there. We may be making excuses for it, but He does not. He says back in verse one that he writes these things to us so that we may not sin.

John expects us to see that a true commitment to the Lord involves NOT to continue in sin.

A.     How am I walking?
When we look in a mirror to see ourselves and become truly honest with ourselves about how we are walking spiritually with the Lord, let's consider these things.
  • Are we willing to admit we need cleansing? Can we?
  • Do we agree our sins are truly sins when God is trying to show us they are? Or are we living in denial?
  • Are we willing to turn from those sins that have been brought to our attention? Perhaps by someone else -- or God himself.
  • Do we recognize our tendency to commit sin? (It's easier than we think)
  • Do we want to rely on HIS power to overcome that sin nature? Or are we trying to be overcomers with our own strength?

Moment to Reflect: Why do you think it's so important to continue talking about sin, even after you've been forgiven?

B.     Looking at the Difference
1:8, 9

Another thing we see in verses 6 through 9, which John wants us to be careful of, and which the Christians at that time, were NOT careful of, was why it was so important to be wary of false teachers, who not only denied that sin was the key to the breaking of pure fellowship with God, it also made it impossible to be in right fellowship with God. That would include not only false teachers, as we mentioned earlier, but also phony believers hanging around doing and saying their own thing and justifying their actions. The Bible makes it clear if we walk in darkness it is impossible to be in right fellowship.

C.     A Look at Our Natures
1:10

What is your  test of knowing Him?

What to you is the difference between having a godly nature and having a sin nature?



It takes humility and honesty to recognize our weaknesses when maybe most of us or some of us would rather convince ourselves that we are strong. There is also a big difference between saying and doing. 

Where do you want to be in your relationship with the Lord today?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

BEGINNING ANEW with Caree Connolly

Remaining Faithful in Every Season 
Koinonia
2 Timothy 1
Caree Connolly





Taking a look at Paul's second letter to Timothy is a great way to start a new season in Koinonia Fellowship? I hope you'll agree.

This second book of Timothy was the last letter that Paul wrote. He was back in prison, under Nero's orders. Nero, the emperor at this time was blaming Christians for the burning of Rome which happened in 64 AD. Many Christians took a lesser aggressive route in their ministry due to this. 

Timothy faced this same temptation. Paul wrote this last book to Timothy around 67 AD. Paul had already undergone a hearing, was awaiting a trial and was probably awaiting exclusion. We know this as true because he was beheaded on Appian Way outside Rome in 68 AD. 

So Paul's letter to Timothy was to encourage him to remain faithful to his calling and stand shoulder to shoulder with Paul and other believers and continue to preach the Word. This book can help teach us to do the same.
  
2 Timothy 1:1-7
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,
To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Although Paul knew that he was to die soon, he still gave Timothy an encouraging word of hope. That is that we have the promise of life in Jesus. Jesus said, in Matthew 10:28 “Don’t be afraid of those who can kill your body, and after that they don't have any power”.

John tells us, in 1 John 5:11 "This is the record, God has given to us eternal life, and that life is in the Son. And he who has the Son has life".

Paul is telling us that even with a sentence of death, we can speak of life. Not just life, but that eternal life that we have in Christ Jesus. How awesome is that.

Paul is writing these words to Timothy, who he considers his son. This verse states the emotion behind his words. In 1 Timothy, he used, 'my own son in the faith' (1:2) But here, he uses, 'my beloved son'. Paul did not love Timothy less in the first book. Paul is just expressing it more, showing just how dear Timothy is to him. And he gives some beautiful gifts of God. 'Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father'. These are All needed in order to Timothy to fulfill the ministry. 
Grace: which is God's unmerited favor. 
Mercy: is the blessing of our deliverance from sin. 
Peace: is that God is in control of our eternity. Written by Paul to Timothy. 

Important for us to remember as well.


THANKSGIVING

2 Timothy 1:3-5
I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;
Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy;
When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.

Paul first states his thanks to God who he serves with a pure conscience. 

Our conscientiousness, that internal voice, telling us right from wrong. Hebrews 13:18 says: ...we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things. 

It's listening to that still, small voice.

We also see here that Paul was such an awesome prayer warrior. So much of his ministry was about prayer. He lived a life that showed his close relationship with Jesus. And he tells Timothy that he is daily praying for him. 

We here today, know that people are praying for us. I actually can't imagine that not happening. Can You?

Paul in verse 5 speaks of Lois and Eunice. Timothy's mother and grandmother. After they were saved (converted) they immediately began to pray for Timothy. I think that can be said for a lot of families. The joy of Jesus in your life needs to be shared. Especially with people close to your heart. Like family. 

When Timothy was converted, His mother and grandmother must have been felt Joyous. You can read in Acts 16:1-3 about Paul's first meeting with Timothy. We know that the bond between Paul and Timothy grew because he calls Timothy, first 'a true son in the faith' (1 Tim. 1:2) and then 'a beloved son' (2 Tim. 1:2) Pretty great legacy to have.

APPEAL FOR LOYALTY TO THE GOSPEL

2 Timothy 1:6-7
Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

In a commentary ' Critical and Explanatory of the Whole Bible' from www.StudyLight.org we read that Timothy wasn't using his teaching as much since Paul wasn't around as much. Paul is telling Timothy to rekindle the fire of his ministry. Exercising what God had given him. 

We can sometimes neglect the gifts God gives us. They have to be used. And with faith and prayer we can. We are reminded in verse 7 not to fear. The word 'fear' in this verse refers to 'timidity'. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to witness and for service. We also receive love. The love we have for lost souls and the people of God, we can endure suffering and accomplish the work of God. Besides, we know that fear does not come from God. 1 John 4:18 says “ There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
And Here is a quote that I found which seemed to fit also:

Fear is born of Satan, and if we would only take time to think a moment we would see that everything Satan says is founded upon a falsehood.” ~ A. B. Simpson

BE COURAGOUS

2 Timothy 1:8-12
Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

Don't be ashamed. That is a key for anyone. Paul wasn't. And he encourages Timothy not be either. With Timothy's timid nature, he might be avoiding circumstances that involved suffering. Philippians 3:10 says, “ That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made comforable”.

Paul uses himself in prison to show Timothy that he was there, not because a wrong doing, but for the sake of Christ. He was suffering for a glorious cause and setting a example for others. He continues to encourage Timothy as we see in verse 9 that God called us by Grace. A holy calling. Not by our works, and not because we are worthy, but to accomplish His purpose of love and grace that was given in Christ.

Jesus was flesh here on here earth. His death and resurrection, He abolished death and brought about a light of life. 1 Corinthians 15:55 says, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”.

We have the assurance of eternal life, and the hope of heaven.

With verse 11 and 12, we see that Paul has 3 jobs God appointed him to. A preacher: bringing a unbeliever to the faith of Christ Jesus. That they might have eternal life through Christ. A teacher: teaching how to walk, how to grow, and develop a relationship with God. Teaching the Word. And an Apostle: chosen by the Holy Spirit.

Because Paul was all of these, he was imprisoned. He knew he would die, but his life was committed to Jesus. Not just to see Jesus upon his death, but even when we all see Jesus.

GUARD THE GOSPEL

2 Timothy 1: 13-14
Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

Timothy was probably at this time in Ephesus. Paul had earlier, spoken to the elders in Ephesus about false teachers coming in after he left. Acts 20:29 “ I know after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
Paul was warning them than about men coming to teach something contrary to the truth. We have those even today. I looked up to see how many verses talked about false teachings. There were about 57. Couldn't do them all, but here are a few that you can look up: 2 Peter 2:1-3, 1 John 4:1-3, Matthew 7:15-20, 1 Timothy 6:20-21, Jeremiah 5:30-31, 1 Timothy 4:1, and Mark 13:9

Paul is reminding Timothy here to hold fast the words he was taught. It had been given in faith and love. And was truly from Jesus. With all the false teachers out there, Paul in prison. That could shake up anyone. 

But with the Holy Spirit, we can come to understand the Word of God. John 16: 13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and what he will tell you what is yet to come.

A good reminder for us that He is the truth. We need to be mindful of what we hear, and if it does sound right, search the scripture. The Lord will show you.

FAITHFUL AND UNFAITHFUL SERVICE

2 Timothy 1: 15-18
This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:
But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me.
The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.

I can imagine that it was sad for Paul, having the people in Asia and Asia Minor, turn their backs on him. These two men, were fellow Christians. Had stood with Paul during his ministry. It seems though that this last time, with Nero, with his foot on the necks of all believers brought about a lot of fear. Although it is unsure fact, it's possible that these two were in Rome at Paul's arrest and trial, but did not support him in any way. That must have been heart wrenching for Paul.

But what a blessing for Paul that he had a brother, who not only supported Him throughout his ministry, but even sought him out during those times Paul was imprisoned. (verse 16 'and was not ashamed of my chain') And it wasn't just Onesiphorus himself, but his whole household.

To end a chapter with a blessing to a house, is such a neat way to show courageous enthusiasm, shameless suffering, and spiritual loyalty.

We saw in this chapter that Paul was not broken even knowing his end was near. He took this opportunity to speak to Timothy and to us about staying strong in the Word. He emphasized the importance of prayer. Praying for others. He reminds us that Christ defeated death and that we have eternal life in Him.

Now, as we go into a new season, I believe it's a great way to move forward with 
Courage
Enthusiasm
Willing to Suffer for His name sake 
Spiritual Loyalty 

Don't you agree?