Let Us Love One Another



In this passage John explains what love is, the source of it and how to express it. In the previous verse, (John 4:6), He urges the church to “test the spirits.” Now He gives an infallible test of true Christianity: genuine love. He has just made it clear that it is loving to test the spirits, being intolerant toward those who depart from scripture, not genuinely confessing Jesus Christ as having come in the flesh. Now John turns to love in the church itself. This is the third time John has returned to this subject.

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Fear of God Devotional: What Should Holiness Look Like in Your Life?



What does holiness look like in the everyday life of a father or husband?

Joel Beeke explains in this video that a father demonstrates holiness when he prays with his wife, prays with his children, prays in family worship, and prays spontaneously, such that his children and his wife feel that he is constantly in prayer. He suggests that our first response to the joys and sorrows of life should be to go to God in prayer. In essence, holiness is steeped in prayer and humility.

Secondly, a husband and father also portrays holiness when he has the utmost respect for the Word of God and fears God in that he fears God more than he does man. He asks, “What would God want us to do?” instead of seeking the advice of his friends. As a father and husband, do you find that your life is bathed in prayer and that you fear and revere the Word of God more than you do the opinions of others?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV) – “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

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Fear of God Devotional: Why People Do Not Worship



What is a primary reason that people do not worship God?

Kevin Swanson answers that question by explaining that many people do not know God or of God. This is because He has not been preached and His Word has not been laid out. He has not been preached about and described by preachers. Instead, the focus has been elsewhere – on the music, the small groups, or the fellowship.

Yet, it doesn’t matter how much we sing or pray if we do not know God. Pastors need to preach about God. It is only when He is preached that we can truly understand and worship God.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NKJV) – “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,’ says the Lord.”

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Expository Preachers and Expository Fathers

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The Duties Of Parents: Part 1 – J.C. Ryle

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Fear of God Devotional: Wrong Views of Holiness – The “Carnal Christian”



Historically, what have been wrong views of sanctification and holiness?

Marcus Serven briefly describes in this video two wrong views of sanctification.

First, in the 1980’s, there was a wrong idea that a person could somehow live as a “carnal Christian.” Specifically, by making a profession of faith, an individual’s current life did not need to have even a remote connection to that profession of faith. Essentially, they could be “free” to live their life however they wished. This idea leads to antinomianism where there is no law, no sense of Christian discipleship, and no sense of government.

This is a wrong and flawed understanding of holiness. Christ said that there would be the manifestation of fruit when we abide in Christ. Holiness grows in the Christian life. It is not something that remains stagnant throughout their entire life.

Another wrong view that came about in the mid-1800’s is the idea of an instantaneous sanctification. Essentially, if you had a “second experience” or “crisis point,” you would be instantaneously “sanctified.” All of the manifestations of sin in your life would be gone. However, Scripture is clear that no individual becomes sinless instantly and completely and that sanctification is a progressive process.

John 17:17 (NKJV) – “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”

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Fear of God Devotional: A True Experience of Grace



What does a proper understanding of grace lead to?

Jeff Pollard explains in this video that if we understand grace properly, it leads us to worship, magnify, and glorify God. God saves us, not only to make us holy, but to make us worshippers. Accordingly, we worship Him both at church and throughout our daily home life.

God’s eternal purpose in salvation is to make us holy and without blame before Him. The Spirit of God through the grace of God works in our souls and makes us a holy people which leads to a desire to honor and obey and serve Christ. When we do that in daily life, we bring Him glory. When we gather together as a group of Christians, it also brings Him glory.

Similarly, we know that we know God when we keep His commandments. This is not legalism but rather, the heart of an individual who is saved and who desires to follow after God. The new life of God and the soul of man presses them onward to follow after God in obedience and submission. In fact, following God’s law is something we desire as Christians.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” – Ephesians 1:3-6 (NKJV)

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Fear of God Devotional: Denying Ungodliness Here and Now



How should the grace of God affect our lives? Does it give us the liberty to act as our flesh dictates?

Craig Houston explains in this video that all too often, there is an abuse of the grace of God in our current culture. Yet, according to Scripture, we are not to sin so that grace may abound.

Rather, we are to be set apart in a holy way so that their life may be filled with godliness, righteousness, and sobriety in the present world. The same grace that saved a believer now sets them apart for a life of holy living. In the present, the imputed righteousness of Christ should be evident. We should strive that our life demonstrates godliness and righteousness now and not wait until a later time.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (NKJV) – “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”

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Don’t Believe Everything You Hear



John has been teaching his church how to know love and how to know if you yourself love. Now he turns to clarifying a question in their minds, “so if the mark of a Christian is love, then what about people who preach another Jesus. How are we supposed to love them?”  John makes it clear that we must test the spirits by comparing their message about Christ. Do they exalt Christ? Do they think correctly about Christ? Do they diminish Him in any way?

Here John shows the church how they can identify antichrists. This is a very stabilizing instruction. He is showing them how they can evaluate what they are hearing. Here is an outline of John’s appeal:

I. He tells them to do something – Test the spirits and don’t believe everything you hear, v1

II. He tells them to know something – Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, v2-3

III. He reminds them that they have something to help them discern the spirits – His Word, v4-6

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Fear of God Devotional: What Does a Holy Man or Woman Look Like



What are characteristics of a holy man or woman?

Joel Beeke explains in this video that a holy man or woman would start by telling you how unholy they are. He explains that holiness is like humility – the more you have of it, the less you think you have.

He shares how his mother prayed for around two hours a day. Near the end of her life, when he asked her how she’d live her life differently, she told him that she wished she would pray more.

A holy man or woman would also have a very sensitive conscience to sin, because he loves Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit. Finally, a holy man or woman is someone who realizes that because of their own weakness to sin, they need to stay in the means of grace and use them consciously every day.

2 Timothy 2:21 (NKJV) – “Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”

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Fear of God Devotional: Sanctification and the “One Another’s”



What does sanctification look like in the life of a believer?

Marcus Serven explains in this video that sanctification can occur in two different ways. One way can be through discipleship, where we’re encouraging and supporting and helping other Christians to go further in the Gospel. Additionally, sanctification can mean that we’re speaking into each other’s lives and challenging one another when a brother or sister is going astray.

In our culture, we have the idea that “every man is an island” and that we make all of our decisions on our own. Yet, in Scripture, we see multiple “one another” commandments in the Bible. This implies that we are all connected to one another. Instead of the idea of “every man is an island,” there must be accountability. No one person should be completely autonomous from other Christians. Rather, we should view ourselves as a part of a body of believers. Not only should we be willing to confess our sins to each other, but we also ought to be willing to confront a fellow believer who is living in sin.

Romans 12:4-5 (NKJV) – “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”

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Fear of God Devotional: A Cancer in the Ministry Today



What does being a pastor or elder involve? Why should an individual be motivated to become an elder or pastor?

Craig Houston explains in this video that the office of a pastor or elder is a call to live a separated life, a call to live a life that is set apart to the Lord. It is a call to live an exemplary life.

1 Timothy 4 tells us that the work of God in our life and the example that you as a pastor are setting to others is something that is going to be evident in your life. This is not because you put on a special garment, but because you put on Christ. Christ is evident in you.

There is a call to elders and pastors to set an example with your life and doctrine. You are to demonstrate a Christ-likeness or holiness. There is a sobriety that is required for those in the ministry. Being in the ministry is not a job, but a calling. It is not a 9-5 job, but rather a call that requires you giving your life to serve and follow God.

Jeremiah 3:15 (NKJV) – “And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”

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Fear of God Devotional: The Power of the Spirit in Holiness



How does the Holy Spirit work holiness in our lives?

Joel Beeke explains in this video that Jesus compared the Holy Spirit’s power in effectually calling a sinner to the wind. The Holy Spirit takes the Word, “blows down” your self-righteousness, and you are born again. The Spirit thus begins that great saving work. Then, the Holy Spirit continues this work through the process of sanctification. The Holy Spirit works holiness in us in three ways.

First, the Holy Spirit helps to shape a believer so that they are increasingly in the image of Christ.

The Holy Spirit also helps to conform us to the character of God in regards to His communicable attributes.

Finally, the Holy Spirit works holiness in us by putting His own mind in us which is found in the Word of God. He inspired Scripture and He conforms us to it.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV) – “[T]he fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

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Fear of God Devotional: Our Part in Our Own Sanctification



What is a Christian’s responsibility in sanctification?

Marcus Serven explains in this video that one of the key passages in Scripture that explains and discusses the interplay between holiness and knowing that you are complete in Christ is found in Philippians.

While it may seem as though you alone are responsible for your sanctification, Paul in the book of Philippians explains that while you do indeed make effort, God also works in you for His good pleasure. While justification is a single, monergistic effort in that only God changes you and declares that you are no longer under his judgment, sanctification is synergistic in that Holy Spirit is at work in you while you cooperate in working out your salvation in fear and trembling. Thus, you are making efforts as you are being convicted by your sin. These take human decisions and resolution, but God is also at work in you. Thus, sanctification is of a cooperative nature.

Philippians 2:12-13 (NKJV) – “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

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Friends Your Age Are Not Enough

Here is a great article by Jaquelle Crowe on desiringgod.org
http://ift.tt/2iVnMMr

She opens the article by saying:

We like people who are like us. Beginning as children, we’re corralled by different categories and compartmentalization. Age may be the biggest. From grade school to Sunday school to the workplace, we tend to intuitively gravitate to those who are the same age as us.

Many churches (surely unintentionally) feed this anti-intergenerational message: children go here for Sunday school, teens go here for youth group, separate Bible studies and classes for college, career, parents, and seniors. Quietly and subtly we come to believe that our friends should exclusively be from our generation.

Yet while having friends of the same age is normal and natural, we miss something special when we don’t have any friends who are of different ages than us, particularly in Christian community. Christians share a bond and identity that trumps everything else — job, race, and most definitely age. If there’s no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, there should be neither old nor young (Galatians 3:28).

Age should not build walls. Jesus should tear them down. When we put aside our preference for people just like us, we broadcast the beauty of our shared union with Christ.

And intergenerational friendship is not just beautiful, but necessary. We need intergenerational friendship. We need the balance, perspective, and experience of people who are walking through different stages of life than us (1 Timothy 4:125:1–2Titus 2:3–5). Teenagers, you need older Christians. Seniors, you need teenagers. Young moms, you need empty-nesters. Empty-nesters, you need twenty-somethings. We all need each other.

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