Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I John 1:5

This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.
(NIV)


That is the message, pure and simple.

Because of who he is, God cannot allow even a little bit of darkness in. He is light. So our need is stated here, in this message. Fellowship between light and darkness cannot occur. We need a saviour!

And God has provided.

Monday, January 30, 2006

I John 1:4

We write this to make our joy complete.
(NIV)


Here is the second reason for the writing of this book: complete joy.

In the NIV Bible, there is a text not that states that the word our is the word your in some manuscripts. I think that this is interesting because both seem to work.

Understanding the message of the gospel will bring complete joy for the one who hears the call and responds to it. But it can also bring joy to the bearer of the message. There is probably no greater joy than to be a carrier of God's good news.

The real question to ask though is, "Do you have complete joy?"

And if you do not, "why?"

...both important questions to ask.

Friday, January 27, 2006

I John 1:3

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.

(NIV)


Now we start to get to the motivation of this proclamation. We get to hear one of the reasons as to why John is writing this book.

He states it clearly, "so that you also may have fellowship with us." The word for fellowship, in the Greek, is the same word that was used to describe the language that they spoke. The New Testament is written in the common Greek language. And that word common is a form of the word that we see as the word fellowship.

It has the idea of a close partnership, or an intimate relationship. There is that closeness like two people walking down the same path, arm in arm.

John's desire is for fellowship. He wants us to have that same kind of closeness that he has had with Christ.

Now remember, John is the same guy that when he penned the words of his gospel, would only refer to himself as, "the disciple whom Jesus loved..." His name was forgotten, his identity was wrapped up in Christ. Their fellowship was close.

Now, he wants us to have that. He wants us to be on the mount and see Christ. He wants us to experience laying our head on Christ during the last supper. He wants us to be invited to the garden prayer. He wants us to be at the foot of the cross when others have gone astray. He wants us to be right there, with Christ, all of the time.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I John 1:2

The life appeared;

we have seen it and testify to it,
and we proclaim to you the eternal life,
which was with the Father and has appeared to us.

(NIV)


The life appeared.

In a dead world, life appeared. That life was the embodiment of God, the incarnation that we know as Jesus Christ.

So, John wants to proclaim that life. He has seen it and testifies to it, and now he wants to declare, "LIFE!" The life that was with the Father and has come to us is something worth knowing about.

I wonder sometimes how much I have strayed from that thought. The world treats Jesus like just another religious icon, and a dead one at that. But if I have seen the work of Christ in my own heart and life, how can I not want to proclaim it in this dead world?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I John 1:1

That which was from the beginning,
which we have heard,
which we have seen with our eyes,
which we have looked at and our hands have touched
-- this we proclaim concerning the Word of Life.

(NIV)


John starts his book with a little validation. The things that he will proclaim in this book, he has experienced first hand. And when I say experienced, that is exactly what I mean.

I thought that it was odd that he said, seen and then looked, just a few words later. But I think that he is trying to really get across the idea that these are things that he has intimate knowledge of.

But what is the thing that he has intimate knowledge of? It is the Word of Life.

This sounds very familiar. Sounds like another book that he has written. It starts almost the same way:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
(John 1:1 -- NASV)


So, when we talk about the Word, it isn't a what? it is a who? Jesus Christ came as the Living Word. He is the fulfillment of all that God has said. He is the embodiment of God's promises.

Therefore, if you read this book, you can know and trust that you are getting close personal knowledge of God.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Psalm 84:12

O Lord Almighty,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You.

(NIV)


Happy is the man who trusts in the Lord.

There are always situations in life that attempt to suck the joy and happiness away. But if you truly trust in God, then all of these things are there to further your joy, not take it away from you.

It isn't the situations of life that bring blessing and happiness, it is our reaction to those situations. And specifically, the reaction of trust.

Are you depressed and downcast today? If you are, you might find a lack of trust at the bottom of it. A lack of trust that God is good. A lack of trust that God is seeking your best. A lack of trust that God is not allowing you to be pushed and tried above what you can bear.

Trust Him today.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Psalm 84:11

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.

(NIV)


Here is the reason why one day in His courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. He is good. His courts are good. There is no better place that one can exist. He is a provider and a protector.

But do you really believe that? Do you really believe that God is good? Do you believe the statement, "no good thing does he withhold."

Friday, January 20, 2006

Psalm 84:10

Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

(NIV)

This verse needs no explanation.

It shows the author's view of God. And how he feels about God. Maybe he has been in the tents of the wicked, maybe he has spent a thousand days elsewhere... But now he knows where he wants to be.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Psalm 84:9

Look upon our shield, O God;
look with favor on your anointed one.

(NIV)


The word shield, can also mean sovreign.

The author is saying, "Look to those who watch over us. Take care of them. Help them in their duties. Help them to make wise decisions, in their care of us."

Pray for our leaders today. Whether they be teachers, bosses, parents, pastors, or even... politicians.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Psalm 84:8

Hear my prayer, O Lord God Almighty;
listen to me, O God of Jacob. Selah.

(NIV)


Now the author shifts to himself. He cries out to God! His hope and his trust are that God will hear him. That God will listen to him.

And what a hope that is. That the almighty God will listen to us. That when we pray, we can rest assured that He hears us. We do not speak to the air in vain. We do not pray to a God who flippantly chooses whether or not He will hear us.

We pray to a God who listens. Even when He seems silent, He is listening.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Psalm 84:7

They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.

(NIV)


One day we will appear before God in Zion. One day this will happen.

What has your pilgrimage been like? Have you gone from strength to strength, continually growing, continually reaching on?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Psalm 84:6

As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.

(NIV)


This verse is full of meaning.

First of all, the Valley of Baca, is probably figurative, referring to a desert like place. The word Baca could mean weeping, giving the idea that the Valley of Baca was a place of hardship and trial.

But remember in verse 5, how these are pilgrims that are on their way to the dwelling of God? How do the pilgrims respond to this valley of hardship? They respond by making it a place of springs.

Now a pilgrim cannot make a spring, only God can do that. But it makes you wonder... were the springs already there? Do they make it a place of springs because they are seeing this valley clearly?

The word Baca can also mean palms. The Valley of Palms sounds much better than the Valley of Weeping. Maybe when some traverse this arid plain all they see is the heat and despair... the weeping. But a pilgrim sees it more clearly. No, there may not be a bubbling brook flowing through this plain, and there may not be a lake or a pond nearby, but it is full of springs.

It could be that you need to know where to look to find these springs. Maybe it is only full of springs to those who know the way.

As we are pilgrims in this world, I am wondering how much it is like this valley. So many see it as a place of weeping, because it is full of hardship and trial, and so many times it truly is full of weeping. Even Jesus, while he walked this earth was known as the man of many sorrows.

But there are also springs here, if you know where to look for them. We will never be without the waters of life. We could see this place as a place of palms.

Notice also the end of the verse. The autumn rains are also coming. Suddenly it is no longer arid at all. Just when the heat of summer seems to have conquered... the autumn rains come in, making it a place of pools.

Now, if you look at most Bibles, you might find a note next to the word pools. This word has an unclear definition. It could mean pools, as in pools of water, but it could also mean blessing. Both definitions seem to fit, and maybe that is what the author was shooting for.

How do you see your valley? Is it a place of weeping, or a place of springs?

I would like to urge you to see it clearly. The autumn rains are coming, and before you know it, we will be out of this valley anyway.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Psalm 84:5

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.

(NIV)


Once again, remembering that the word blessed can mean happy, those who recognize that they have no strength of their own, are the ones who are the recipients of God's happiness.

There have been many times in my own life that I have thought to myself, "Lord, you have given this trial to the wrong person. This is too much for me to handle. Surely there was a stonger man out there that could have handled this better. Lord, what are you doing?"

But there is no man who has strength in and of himself. Whether or not you recognize it, strength... all strength, comes from God. And those who recognize this fact, that they have no strength of their own, those are the ones who are happiest.

Trials can come, but they are ready, because the giver of the trial is also the giver of the strength.

And when we have this mentality, we have "...set our hearts on pilgrimage."

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Psalm 84:4

Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
they are ever praising you. Selah.

(NIV)


Blessed, in the Bible, can best be understood as happy. In fact, many times the hebrew word that is used here is translated as happy. Those who are dwelling with God are happy.

The question to ask is, where are you dwelling? There are many places that we can allow our minds and our hearts to dwell. Things like, in the past, or on ourselves and our needs and disappointments. We can make our dwelling place our own hurts many times, and dwell there for days on end. And when we choose these other dwelling places, we wonder to ourselves, "Where's the happiness?!?"

Choose your dwelling place today. Make it in God. Then you will be singing His praises because of how blessed you are.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Psalm 84:3

Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young --
a place near your altar,
O Lord Almighty, my King and my God.

(NIV)


Every time I read this verse, I get this picture in my mind of the author, looking with longing at the temple, praying for the day that he can be there, and while he is praying, he sees these birds, building their nests near the temple grounds.

He looks with jealousy, wishing that he could have that same freedom. The ability to be close to the temple, to the dwelling of God.

But for now, he will be content to dwell with God from a distance.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Psalm 84:2

My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.

(NIV)


As your eyes are opened, and you begin to understand who God is and what He has done for you, you will begin to love Him more.

As you start to follow in the ways of God and learn what He wants to do for you today, you will yearn and faint for his presence.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Psalm 84:1

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD Almighty!

(NIV)


The NIV Study Bible says that the author of this psalm was probably a levite (whose normal function was temple service) who had been barred from access to the temple. The notes say that it may have been when Judah was being attacked.

The dwelling place of God is a place that is longed for. It is lovely, in the sense of something that is loved. This author, though wanting to be back in the temple, is expressing his love for the nearness of God.

There is no better place to be, than where God dwells.