Growing Together in God's Word - Weekly Devotions

RSS Feed

Real Faith: Real Change (1 John 3:1-7)

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
1 John 3:1

Change. Nothing gets us more riled up than change! Change is hard. Change is messy. Change is uncomfortable.

But some change is good. Change means growth. Change means learning. Change means new experiences and new friends. Contrary to popular belief, change is good. To be sure, the Gospel brings change.

The love of God, the love which God has lavished upon us in Christ, brings big change to our lives. In fact, this love which God has poured out upon us changes everything. John writes in 1 John, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

At St. Mark we are in a sermon series titled “Real Faith”. Throughout this series we have continued to see that a real faith isn’t grounded in ourselves or in what we can do for God. Real Faith is grounded in Jesus. The real, historical Jesus crucified and risen from the dead. The real Jesus that brings us forgiveness of sins. The real Jesus that brings us real satisfaction, a contentment that the world cannot provide.

In the same way, real change comes through Jesus as well. For the love which God lavishes upon us through His Word and Sacraments changes forever who we are and alters our fundamental identity. No longer are we defined by our sin, our self-doubt, our inconsistencies, or our failures. Now we are defined by our relationship with God.

We are defined by the relationship that He made possible through Jesus. John says that we are ‘children of God’. That’s who we are. That’s our identity. Not the inconsistent, sinful mess we see in the mirror. But a child of God, dearly (and lavishly!) loved by our Heavenly Father. That’s it. That’s who we are. And it does change everything, doesn’t it?

Knowing that you’re a dearly loved child of the Heavenly Father changes how we approach our work, our schooling, or our play. We don’t work to earn approval or stature. We don’t work in order to prove anything to anyone. We’re already children of God (!!). So instead of working to show others how great we are, work becomes something we do for others. We can work in order to serve our neighbors. We can work in order to bring some good into the world. We can work in order to love and encourage our co-workers or employees.

Because of God’s incredible love for us we experience change. Real Change that transforms our entire life.

Want to receive devotions in your inbox each week? Click HERE and sign up! 

Real Faith: Real Satisfaction (1 John 2:12-17)

Real Satisfaction | 1 John 2:12-17

“...the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

- 1 John 2:17

 

Do you ever feel like you’re chasing your tail when it comes to finding real, lasting contentment in life? Do you have a craving that, no matter what you try, you can’t seem to satisfy? To be sure, we seek to find contentment and satisfaction in many places in this life. And to be sure, this world offers many pleasures. There is a seemingly endless supply of things that could feed our cravings and lead us to real, lasting contentment and satisfaction in life.

 

Oh, you know what these things are. They are as big as a new car or new house and as small as a candy bar at the checkout stand in the grocery store. Something new. Something comfortable. Something sweet. Something savory. All of these things are designed to bring us satisfaction.

 

Or are they?

 

Perhaps they are designed to bring us the illusion of satisfaction. Perhaps they are designed to bring us just a little taste of satisfaction. But never the real thing.

 

In our series on the book of 1 John called “Real Faith” we have been discovering what a real, genuine Christian faith looks like. Not surprisingly, what we’ve found is that it’s all about Jesus. It’s about the Real Gospel which comes to us in the flesh and blood of Christ. It’s about Real Confession that leans solely on the grace and love of God for the forgiveness of our sins.

 

This week we take up the topic of Real Satisfaction. In 1 John 2:15-17 John writes,

 

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

 

As Christians we are called to live in the world and engage with the world outside our doors. However, we are not called to find our ultimate satisfaction in the world. All that the world can offer will, ultimately, pass away.


But what can offer us Real Satisfaction? Only the love of Jesus. Only the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf. Only the resurrection of Jesus which brings us everlasting life with Him.

Real Faith: Real Confession (1 John 1:5 - 2:2)

“Real Confession”

1 John 1:5-2:2

 

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins

and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

(1 John 1:9)

 

When I was about 13 or 14 my family purchased a 1972 Volkswagen Beetle. It was bright yellow, in great shape (until that one time I tried to start it without engaging the clutch), and ran well (usually). The only bummer was that I couldn’t drive it! I could, however, wash it. I would clean it up and shine the chrome hubcaps and bumpers until they sparkled in the sunlight.

 

I worked hard to make the outside of that car clean but I never learned to work on the inside. I didn’t have a clue about how the engine worked. I never learned how the breaks worked. I didn’t even know how to change the oil. I never learned what to do if something broke on the inside.

 

Isn’t that how a lot of us work? We like to make the outside of ourselves sparkle but we rarely pay attention to what is happening on the inside. Sure, we may look good but our insides are a mess!

 

This week as we continue in our sermon series titled Real Faith we’re going to take a closer look at those insides. More specifically, we’re going to look at what 1 John has to say about Real Confession.

 

What it comes down to is this: there are many things we can do with our sin. We can let it all hang out, ignoring the consequences. We can hide it from others. We can make up excuses to justify our actions. Or we can confess it. We can bring all of our inside junk to God and ask for forgiveness. Through John, the writer of this letter, God makes us a promise. “If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins

and purify us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9).

 

Forgiveness. That’s what we have in Jesus. When we bring all of our messy insides out in confession to God, our Heavenly Father, He washes them away. We can confess privately in prayer...we can confess corporately in worship...we can confess with a trusted friend or pastor. No matter who we confess to, when we hear the words of forgiveness in the name of Jesus, we are receiving God’s forgiveness.  

 

Real Faith isn’t concerned with our outward appearance. Real Faith isn’t about pretending we have it all together. Real Faith is about receiving the gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation given to us by Christ.

 

Listen to the corresponding sermon series, Real Faith HERE!

 

Scripture Reading:

Read through 1 John this week. It’s only five chapters...you can do it!

 

Real Faith: Real Gospel (1 John 1:1-4)

Real Faith: Real Gospel

1 John 1:1-4

 

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

 

Real or fake?

 

That’s the question many people have started to ask themselves every time they turn on the TV or read a piece of news. Am I reading real news...or fake news?? Can I trust this source or should I change the channel? But how do we know? How do we know what is real and what is simply made up? How do we know which sources to turn to for real, verifiable news?

 

As our Easter celebration continues at St. Mark, we are entering into a new sermon series on 1 John titled “Real Faith”. The book of 1 John is all about distinguishing the real from the fake. When it comes to the Christian faith, how do we distinguish what is genuine and what is not?   

 

Real Faith begins with Real Gospel.

 

1 John opens with an affirmation of the truth of the Gospel based on real evidence. In no uncertain terms, John confirms that the experiences of the apostles with Jesus were true and verifiable. They actually saw him with their eyes, touched him with their hands, and heard him with their ears. No illusions, no tricks, no gimmicks.

 

Jesus, the Son of God, who has existed eternally with God the Father, was actually made manifest among us by becoming one of us. This Jesus, who was fully God, also became fully human in order to bring us new and everlasting life.

 

He walked with people, he talked with people, he ate with people, he healed people, he prayed with people. He died a very real death on a very real cross and was really and truly  resurrected and really overcame the stranglehold sin has on us. That’s the real Gospel. Jesus coming to save his people by overcoming death and transforming us into people of joy and hope.   

 

Scripture Reading:

During this devotional series, read through the book of 1 John once each week. (It’s only five chapters...you can do it!) How does John distinguish what is real from what is fake?    

 

Posts