Daniel 11:36-12:13, 1 John 4:1-21, Psalms 123:1-4, Proverbs 29:2-4
Today is the 4th day of December. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I’m Brian. It’s great to be here with you today as we come around the global campfire. And if you’re in the northern hemisphere, the campfire sounds pretty good to keep us warm now that it’s getting cold. But those of you in the southern hemisphere even though it’s nice and warm a campfire’s always a good thing. So, let’s dive in and take the next step forward. We’re reading from the God’s Word Translation this week. Daniel chapter 11 verse 36 through 12 verse 13.
Okay. So, we had a small conversation yesterday about the love of God and our role in that love and we continued with that theme today as we reached the climax of John’s first letter and implications are pretty far-reaching because they reveal the role that we each have to play in making God’s love known. So, this is basically the theme that we’ve been talking about in the letter of first John. So, that’s the context, but inside that context, we encountered a couple of very famous passages of Scripture. And, so, let’s look at them in their context because John was trying to lay groundwork and he was trying to tell his readers to be a people of discernment first so that the implications of God’s love could explode into vivid color. So, as we’ve been moving our way through first John it’s become apparent that many were being deceived and abandoning faith in Christ and some began to follow new teachings, while others, they didn’t start following like, yeah know, some sort of side bunny trail theologically, they became antagonistic, and even anti-Christ. One of these teachings that we’re going around and deceiving people claimed that Jesus was a spiritual apparition, kind of like a ghost that you can see, rather than a flesh and blood human being, which means that the question was ultimately whether or not Jesus was the divine made visible or whether He was the divine made flesh. And, so, this teaching would later be called Docetism and John addressed this issue specifically in discerning the spirit of God. And this was an important thing - to discern the spirit of God in order to reveal the implications of God’s love. So, here’s how John said it, “this is how you can recognize God’s Spirit. Every person who declares that Jesus Christ has come as a human as the Spirit that is from God, but every person who doesn’t declare that Jesus Christ is come as a human has a Spirit that isn’t from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist that you have heard is coming. That spirit is already in the world.” So, we might wonder, like, why is it so important for John to clarify Jesus humanity, and what that has to do with God’s love. But we’ll see this as it all comes together. According John, the people who abandoned what they’d first been taught in favor of a false teaching, they didn’t have God’s Spirit. Instead they were embracing the antichrist spirit. And in that context John said something that became very famous, that became first John 4:4, “dear children, you belong to God so, you have won the victory over these people because the one is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” So, basically in the context, John is telling his readers that the Spirit of God isn’t this distant, veiled, ghostly, esoteric thing as some of the false teachings were suggesting. Instead the Spirit of God resides within those who believe and is greater than any deception from the world. So, I mean, if we just want to go theological we could say, okay, there we go, John has made his theological point clear, but his point was like a lot more, a lot deeper than theology. John wanted his readers to comprehend the reality, and even as I say this, like, I’m wanting us to comprehend this same reality because it’s mind blowing. So, the reality John wanted his readers to understand was that the Spirit of God was within them. In other words, because of Jesus, the human and the divine could be in collaboration, intertwined like Jesus was. And what would be the evidence of that? What is it that will be the evidence that the Spirit of God is within each and every one of us, living within us and we are living within him? Love. Here’s how John said it, “Friends we must love each other because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God. The person who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, because God is love. God has shown us His love by sending His only son into the world so that we could have life through Him. This is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His son to be the payment for our sins. Dear friends, if this is the way God loves us, we must also love each other. No one has ever seen God. If we love each other. God lives in us and His love is perfected in us.” So, this is the point where the implications of John’s message that we’ve been leaning toward since the beginning of the letter begin to have the impact that was desired. We’re being told that Jesus was the physical human embodiment of God’s love for us, right? Let that sink in for a second. Jesus was the physical human embodiment of God’s love for us, a love we could see in action. It wasn’t demonstrated by a ghost or an apparition. It was offered by God in the flesh. He came in person to make this so. And when we love each other, we’re making the same love visible in the flesh, our flesh, just like Jesus did, Christ-like. Here’s how John said it, “We have known and believed that God loves us. God is love. Those who live in God’s love live in God and God lives in them. God’s love has reached its goal in us. So, we look ahead with confidence to the day of judgment. While we are in this world we are exactly like him with regard to love. No fear exists where His love is. Rather perfect love gets rid of fear, because fear involves punishment. The person who lives in fear doesn’t have perfect love.” So, again that’s a very famous passage of Scripture and it’s been quoted, you know, for a long, long time, but in its context we’re starting to see that this is, like, colossal, what John is saying. So, he tells we can’t see God but we can see each other. And when we live within the reality that the Spirit of God lives within us, we begin to understand that being the body of Christ is not a metaphor, it’s a reality. We can physically bring the love of God to the world just like Jesus did, right? Again, Christ-like. I mean to be Christ-like means to be like Christ. And, so, we’re supposed to be moving in that direction because it’s the same Spirit. It’s the same Spirit animating and guiding our lives. It’s the Spirit of God. And God’s love is made perfect in us as we open ourselves to not become a stagnant pond like we were talking about yesterday, as we become a reservoir, an oasis. And as we do that our love is perfected, and perfect love casts out all fear. So, we talked about love a lot when we were in Paul’s writings, right? So, we’ll remember, like, first Corinthians chapter 13, the love chapter, giving us such a beautiful description of what love is. But if there were ever a case to be made about why we must live in love, it’s here in the chapter of 1st John. When we love we’re are assured of God’s Spirit within us. It’s the evidence. And when we love we’re physically demonstrating God’s love. Like, it’s reflecting it, we’re being that oasis, it’s flowing through us to the world. And while this is going on we’re being perfected. And when we love we’re being Christ-like. So, how we respond to this today, how we respond to this in the waning weeks of the year, that’s gonna have to be contextualized into our own stories, but it’s the same Spirit of God. And we can invite that Holy Spirit to lead us and heed what the apostle John said today, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, because love comes from God.”
Father, the implications are truly astounding. All the sudden the purpose for our lives snaps into clear focus and all of the little circles that we keep making, they get blurry. We are here to be animated by your Spirit and to be like our Savior and to love the world like You do, to actually be Your physical hands and feet, a visual embodiment of your love. That changes everything. And, so, come Holy Spirit and begin to transform us from within. We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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It’s family Christmas time around here. And, so, the Daily Audio Bible family Christmas Box for 2018 is available and flying out the door and it’s chock full of goodies. We’ve packed as many resources as will fit in the Box to make them as available as we can. And, so, the Christmas Boxes your has the Promise Land to DVD set, which has over four hours of content, allowing you to see the land of the Bible, to allow the Bible to come alive, like, the stories that we’re so familiar with, to see where they happened and what that actually looks like. So, that’s in there. Two of my books, the two books that I’ve ever that I feel like are really about spiritual transformation. If you’re really wanting to understand what your faith is supposed to do in your life, rather than it being some kind of esoteric thing that is more about what happens after we die, th,en what happens while we’re here living on planet Earth. Yeah, then these…these are for you. My book, Reframe, and my latest, Sneezing Jesus, is in the Christmas Box as well as Going Solo a book written by my friend Robert. I actually wrote the forward to his book because I think the topic is so crucial right now. And it’s called Going Solo for a reason. It’s about the single-parent journey. And as I’ve said a few times when we’re talking about the Christmas Box, man, there are tens of thousands who are here in this community every day, who are Going Solo every day. But there’s probably no one in this community that doesn’t have someone in their lives who are Going Solo. And this is…this is the book for that person because it’s not trite, it’s not simplistic, it’s not pandering, it’s like…it’s like the friend you need who will speak to you honestly and pour into your life but not expect anything back from you. And that is rare. Not only is that rare in life, certainly rare in the solo parenting journey. So, we’ve included this resource because we want it out there. All of these, we want them out there helping people, ministering, explaining, pulling people forward because that’s what we’re here to do. Like, that’s why this community exists, that’s why this rhythm of the Scriptures every day exists, and that’s why we’re so passionate about it. It’s pulling people forward into spiritual maturity. So, these resources are in the Christmas Box as well as the annual Daily Audio Bible Christmas bulb that has the year on it, of course, and our word for the year, “Hope”. Then you also can choose from our DAB blend fresh roasted coffee at altitude in the Rocky Mountains and its being roasted fresh and sent to you. So, it’s as fresh a coffee as you’re gonna get anywhere. Or if you’re a tea drinker, you can choose. We have our honey bush and rooibos tea this year in the Box if you’re a tea drinker. And I love tea. I’m a tea drinker too and I’m a coffee snob and I love coffee. But I’m a tea drinker too. I drink tea most every day at some point. So, those are your choice…will be in the Box…as well as a pack of 20 of our Hope cards. The Christmas cards for this for this year have the word “Hope” on the front, which has been our word for the year. So, you get 20 of those along with their matching envelopes. And the Daily Audio Bible Black Wing addition, a Black Wing pencil, which is from all of our writing kits and stuff. And incidentally, check those out. Our Daily Audio Bible journals and the Black Wing pencils that I use every day to journal with. Every day of my life I’m writing with these. I fell in love with them a couple years ago when I discovered them, man, just late in my mom’s life. Really, she only had weeks. I didn’t know it, but she only had weeks with us. And it was Christmas time. It was really hard, really hard, really hard. And Jill and I were doing everything we could to try to have some sort of Christmas spirit. And we had just gone out to this gallery and we’re just looking around and I stumbled on these pencils. I’ve kind of had…I don’t want to say I’ve had love affair with them because, how do you do that with a pencil? But I’ve loved these pencils ever since and they’re my favorite thing to write with. Their just old-school, analog, you know, they’re just the best pencil you can. So, we have some fantastic writing kits, journaling kits in the Daily Audio Bible shop in the lifestyle section. Check those out. I love them, which is why we have them, but I think you’ll love them just as much as I do. So anyway, long story short we talked to black wing and they were willing to make us some pencils. They weren’t willing for us to sell them, but they were willing to make them and they’re embossed with Daily Audio Bible on them. And, so, we’ve included one in all of the Christmas Boxes this year. So, check that out. And we’re also throwing in a mystery item. 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And that’s it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.