Daniel 11:2-35, 1 John 3:7-24, Psalms 122:1-9, Proverbs 29:1
Today is December 3rd. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I’m Brian. It’s great to be here with you today as we take the next step forward in our year and take the next step forward on this path that we have been following for this year through the Bible, which will take us back into the book of Daniel in our Old Testament reading and back into the letter, the first letter of John in our New Testament reading. We’re reading from the English Standard Version this week. Daniel chapter 11 verses 2 through 35.
Alright. Let’s talk about what we read in first John today because if we can grasp what we read in first John today it’s one of the most poignant, pivotal, important…I’m trying to like think about other words, this is like bedrock stuff for how we’re supposed to live a life of faith, like what it’s supposed to actually look. So, like John…John asks a question, “if anyone has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him”, which if you think about it causes us to pause for a second and just think, “what is the purpose of God’s benevolence?” Like, “what is…why…why would He bless anybody in any way?” Like, “is He blessing us for our good behavior? Is He blessing us because He just simply loves us more and wants us to benefit more, or does He love and bless us so that He can then love and bless through us, or because of us, or in collaboration?” And before we go any further, let’s like jump out of first John and go back to the gospel of John and see that John quotes Jesus. So now from John’s Gospel I am speaking the words of Jesus. “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples”. So, all of the sudden we’re starting to see James and Peter’s point being made in John’s letter and that is fundamentally that we can’t claim a faith that does not change our actions in any way, right? Like, we can claim anything but if we’re not living that it’s not true. So, taking that further, we can’t claim to walk in the love of God if there’s no love flowing out of us into the world, right? True faith, true love compels us into action, which is…which is what John said. So, let me quote John from first John. “Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before Him. For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart and he knows everything.” So, what we’re being told here is that love is the thing, and love cannot be fully expressed in word alone or talk. It must be done in deed and in truth. So, in another words it’s offered not as a manipulation, it’s offered freely as an honest true gift and borne out in the actions of our lives. And, so, John gives us a gauge. “By this”, which is our love in action, “by our love in action, we will know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before Him.” Because if our heart is condemning us and we are loving in deed and in truth, well then we know we are on the right path and God is greater than our heart or any kind of condemnation that will come against us. We’re certain of God’s love and that His love is within us when we see Him loving through us. And we see him loving through us when we open the floodgates and let love flow out of us. This is where it gets really helpful. This is where the layers start peeling back. We started talking about what was the purpose of God’s blessing upon us in the first place. And if we look, any kind of blessing that we get we usually try to hoard. We usually live from a place of lack. We usually live as if what we have obtained is in limited supply, which then leads us to be very self-absorbed about just about everything in our lives, which according to John then reveals that God’s love is absent from the equation. So, there’s an example that I like to use…because…well…because it’s biblical. And we’ll go back and see this for ourselves in February when we go back to the land of the Bible. There’s this geographical body of water known as the Dead Sea. It’s known as the Dead Sea because it sits at…it’s the lowest point on earth, right? There’s nothing lower. So, when water flows into the Dead Sea there’s no way for it to continue its journey, it has reached the bottom, like the lowest point on earth. And, so, it stays there, becomes stagnant and there’s no life in it. Water flows into it but can’t leave. But just north of there is another very famous body of water known as the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is also below sea level. In fact, it’s the lowest freshwater lake in the world. Water comes out of the mountains and fills the Sea of Galilee, which has a tributary known as the Jordan River. And the Jordan River flows out of the Sea of Galilee bringing life all along the line and eventually dumps into the Dead Sea. So, let’s just…like if we think back to the time when Jesus walked to this earth until today water has continued to flow out of the mountains into the Sea of Galilee, out of the Sea of Galilee down the Jordan River and into the Dead Sea. We’re talking about billions and billions of gallons of melting snow and rainwater and fresh living water that has flowed out of the Sea of Galilee since Christ lived around it. It’s still full of water. Billions of gallons have flowed out of it and it’s still full of water and it’s never grown stagnant because new water is constantly flowing into it. What John’s trying to tell us here is that there is no lack, there is no shortage of God’s love, but we will only ever experience that kind of life and that kind of awareness when we’re not trying to hoard and look at everything from a sense of lack. When we throw open the floodgates and allow everything that flows in to flow back out then we do not become stagnant, then we do not become a lifeless, like the Dead Sea. So, are we living in lack spiritually, physically, in any way? Are we living in lack because we have habitually been selfish? Then what we are witnessing is ourselves becoming stagnant and we will not find life in that direction. But if our hearts actually have been overcome with the love of God then that is gonna require more than us just saying it. It’s going to propel us to love in every way that we can think. And what we’ll find is that the more we’re willing to love the more full we’re going to become. No matter how much love flows out of us we will be filled again with God’s love because there is no lack, and he’s loving the world through us and this is the only way we will ever get a sense of fullness, wholeness. When we start to hoard then that is all there is. We have…my dad used to use an example, he’d say, “get all you can. Can all you get. And sit on the lid” as an example of this kind of behavior. When we do that though, even if the can is full that is all there will ever be. When John is telling us, when the Bible, the Scriptures, are telling us, we are tapped into the author of life, and the energy that is flowing through that connection is known as love. And if we’re willing to give it away, we will never be in lack of it. So, I mean it’s hard to ignore that we’re moving full force into the holiday…into the Christmas season. This is something we need to carry with us through this season. The greatest gift we will ever be able to offer is an open heart. God can do miracles through the open hearts of his children. And yet if we’re going to be closed off and stagnant then we can say whatever we want to say, there is no life there. So, it’s a matter of which direction we want to head in from here.
Father, we want to head in the direction of love. It’s just that sometimes people are hard to love and because that’s difficult it exposes all of our brokenness and then all of a sudden we’re just wallowing in brokenness when You have come to make us full and whole and all we have to do is surrender and find ourselves in an ocean of love that is inexhaustible. Show us how to live like that because that would be becoming Christlike. That is the direction we are supposed to be heading in. We can’t get there on our own. And, so, we invite Your Holy Spirit to once again illuminate our path and lead us into all truth. And we pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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And that is it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.