1 John 1:3

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1 John 1:3

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.

John is continuing his prior thought by telling us the reason for his writing. He again uses the word horaó for seen, and akouó for heard. The order is reversed compared to verse one, which may or may not have significance. I believe that God is intentional in not only what is said as scripture declares, but how it is said. In Romans 10: 17 Paul makes the statement “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” The apostles first heard of Jesus, then they saw Him. Now John states this is what and who we saw, as well as what we heard. Their experience with God, as well as their understanding of Him, which came from Him not from someone else. The reason for this book is now given, and it is so that we may have. May have is the word echo, which means to have to hold or to possess. Fellowship is what is being given. The word here is koinonia –  HELPS states that in its proper meaning, it is what is shared in common as the basis of fellowship (partnership, community). These men who are sharing these words with us had fellowship with Christ. They heard His claims, they saw His works, they followed in His footsteps even to death. John reiterates that because of Jesus they are indeed in fellowship with the Father. The word indeed is kai which is a definitive article. This isn’t an alternative, it joins the statements together. In John 10 there is the words of Christ in which he makes his claims of equality with the Father.

I and the Father Are One

22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me,26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.30 I and the Father are one.”

31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken—36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 39 Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.

These very claims were the thing that infuriated the Jews, and now these men who witnessed what happened were sharing the account of Jesus, so that we may be part of the fellowship with them, and ultimately with the Father and His Son, Jesus.

Observation: I wonder how many of us today would be willing to not only grab hold of something so definitive and not only “believe” it, but risk your life to proclaim it? I myself wonder to what lengths would I go? I believe the words of Christ and His claims. They are not exclusive to the New Testament. In the Old Testament God delivered His people over and over, from the first account in the Genesis to the last book of the Tanach in Chronicles. God is with His people. Jesus spoke from the Old Testament as these books spoke of Him. His claims were things the Jews of the day were very familiar with and that was what infuriated them. God gave them laws which were intended to separate His people from the gentiles. In the New Testament it is a person, who is the Word come to flesh that causes division. That is the name of the one in whom we are to believe, Jesus. God has not changed His way, He has simply made it clear. And it making it clear it sets His people apart. They are different from the unbelieving world and this was His design for us from the beginning. Some would say God is unfair to have only one way. But should we not be thankful that He gave us a way? He gave the way in the garden and continued to give a way through the Old Testament. In the New Testament that way was first paved by the apostles and the early church who believed in God’s word and saw it manifested in the Son of God. They became His followers and lived in community with God. We can be part of the community of God and have fellowship with Him because of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and what was accomplished on our behalf.

Father, thank You that You have so patiently and mercifully dealt with us, as we in our rebellion, can be saved. These are Your words Lord, and if we seek the truth, You will give it to us. It has been revealed to us in scripture and the Holy Spirit confirms it within us. I thank you personally Lord, for You have been faithful to me, a sinner, who denied You over and over again. I praise You that in Your mercy You showed me the path to redemption from my fallen place. Thank You. In Jesus name, amen.

God bless you,

Steadfast

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1 John 1:2

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1 John 1:2

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—

The life here is the physical being and the spiritual being, our present and future existence. It was made manifest, or to be made visible, make clear. This is Greek word  phaneroó, which has its origin in another Greek word phós. Phós is a light or source pf light, properly phaneroó also can mean to illuminate, or become apparent (graspable). John says we, referring to the apostles have seen it – this life. This is more than physical seeing, it is metaphorically to see with the mind or to perceive with spiritual perception. These words that were written by the apostles are the testimony or witness and this is there report. It is an announcement as well as a declaration of the eternal, unending physical and spiritual existence. This existence which was with, or towards the Father. With speaks of extension toward a goal, with implied interaction or reciprocity, with “presumed contact and reaction” It is the word (prós) and naturally suggests the cycle of initiation and response. It can also mean “in view of,” or “in light of, but never “against,” except where the context indicates an active exchange (interface) done in opposition. Father is the one who imparts life and is committed to it. It is also the one in whom we have the potential for likeness. In this case our Heavenly Father. John uses the phrase made manifest again, reminding us that there was a revealing. It was again not just physical sight, but spiritual illumination.

Conclusion: John twice reminds us in this verse, that this was not something they intellectually understood on their own, but something that was revealed to them. As I was reading this God reminded me of further in 1 John where it says there are three that testify. One of the three is the Spirit. Since these words were inspired by the Spirit, it is not just the testimony of the apostles but of God himself. The Spirit is the source of illumination, the One who brings things from more than mere knowledge of God. This revealed life, to whom they saw and bear witness. This physical yet eternal being, that John is writing about is Jesus Christ. There is so much depth to these statements, for it speaks of the physical person and experience they had with Him. But it also talks of their minds being opened or illuminated to the truth of who Jesus is.

Father, these are the words that came from You. This is the hand of men inspired by Your Spirit. You gave them the experience of walking with Jesus, and have given us the privilege to read the testimony of Jesus. We have words of truth that if we would just press in to you, you would make them known to us. Lord let Your Words be revealed to us by the Spirit of Truth, that we would have more than knowledge but rather You would illuminate it within us. That we also would see. The eternally existent Jesus, who came from heaven, died for our sin and  has returned to heaven where He lives today with You. Lord there are things which can seem to be a mystery, let us be ok with the revelation that we will not understand all things. Illuminate our hearts and our minds to know that there are things that are beyond our comprehension and give us the faith to know that just because we cannot comprehend, it does not indicate it is not true. In the name of the one who sits at your right hand, Jesus. Amen

God bless you,

Steadfast

1 John 1:1

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This is my attempt to write a commentary on 1 John. I feel the Holy Spirit has been pressing me to do so. I confess, I have neither the ability nor the skills required to do so. I however trust God that if He birthed this in me, He will work this through me. For he is exceedingly able. It is a somewhat technical approach but my prayer is truth over shines polish.

1 John 1:1

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—

Verse 1 opens with the statement That which was from the beginning. That is a reference to the subject matter and establishes its origin. From is said to be used in 2 specific ways. One is to separate from something or the other is of the sense of  origin. Beginning as an abstract is the commencement of something. As a concrete it is the chief in order, time, place or rank. It can also be said that it is the corner or in other instances the first (estate), magistrate, power, principality, principle, rule. I look at this and see it appears to not only define time, but also authority and establishes the foundation or corner. John then appeals to the senses of hearing, sight and touch. In regards to hearing, he simply says which we have heard. This can speak of the faculty of hearing or it can also speak of consideration of what is said or understanding of what is said. The next sense draws attention to sight. With John first saying we have seen with our eyes, and also which we have looked upon. The word seen can be defined as seeing with the eyes or seeing with the mind. It can also be seeing by experience or acquaintance. The word for eyes is ophthalmos which in a literal sense is our eyes, and as a metaphor our mind. The additional phrase we looked upon is used in several senses. It is to look upon intently or contemplate. It is also to meet with in the sense of visiting. And lastly it is learning by looking or to perceive. John finally appeals to the sense of touch, stating touched with our hands. This in a literal sense is simply to touch or feel but as metaphor touched is used to speak of seeking after tokens or a person. Additionally, hands beyond the physical also adds the idea of grasping or perhaps taking hold of. As I read the definition it speaks of hand in the literal sense as well as figuratively of power. Is John making reference to the hand of God here? This first sentence ends with concerning the word of life. This is what this book speaks of. John uses the word Logos, which he uses to speak of Jesus Christ as the Word of God. He set this forth in John 1:1, establishing eternal coexistence( should it be existence or coexistence), and then in John 1:14, naming this Word as the son of God. He speaks of the Word as the Word of Life. Life is the word zōē which is used of the absolute fullness of life. Life essentially, in the flesh and also ethically. This is the nature of Christ, a life devoted to God the Father in both flesh and spirit.

Conclusion. It seems to me that John is establishing the subject the book in person of Jesus Christ. He addresses the physical and eternal aspects of Jesus. Speaking of Him as being from the beginning and referencing what was built upon in the Gospel of John. He is appealing to the senses, telling his audience that they (the apostles) heard Him, saw Him and touched Him. I also see the metaphors of  understanding, perceiving and grasping. The apostles not only heard His words, beheld His life and physically touched Him, bearing witness to the reality of Jesus, but also they understood who Jesus is. They perceived the truth of Gods Word, and they grasped the depth of His reason for coming in the flesh. God gave us His Word as the bible, and in Christ, He demonstrated and fulfilled what He spoke of. He is the source of life, and the foundation on which life is meant to be lived. It is also to whom we are subjects. Jesus Christ, eternally existent. Who lived in the flesh. And to whom is our Lord.

 

Father may we hear your word, see your word and touch your word. Understanding who You are. Perceiving who You are. Grasping who You are. You have established a foundation on which we are called to live. An existence which we resist so hard. Forgive us and give eyes to see and ears to hear and a mind to understand that are not trying to control us as much as tell us how life is meant to be lived. Some see your law as regulation on our lives. I see it as grace, a means by which you empower us. When we live in a way that is opposed to you we see the pain it not only causes us and how it affects others. May we understand that when we live opposed to you, it also grieves you. In Jesus Christ we have life for this opposition, which You call sin. In Jesus there is redemption. For your Word says the wages of sin is death. But in Jesus we are called children of  God. He who was with You in the beginning and is the Word of Life, who is the Son of God, and by Your mercy demonstrated on the cross we our now more than your creation, but Your children. That is the very reason for the Bible that we may know you and that we would be known by you. To You be the Glory. In Jesus name, amen.

God bless you,

Steadfast

Patience

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How many of us could use more patience? I for one know that is something I desire more of. It is funny though, I remember as a new Christian, the advice – One thing you don’t want to do, is pray for patience because God will give it to you. I have heard that many times over the years.

Why are we weary of patience? What is patience? The 1828 edition of Websters defines patience as:

PATIENCE, noun pa’shens. [Latin patientia, from patior, to suffer.]

1. The suffering of afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation or other evil, with a calm, unruffled temper; endurance without murmuring or fretfulness. patience may spring from constitutional fortitude, from a kind of heroic pride, or from Christian submission to the divine will.

2. A calm temper which bears evils without murmuring or discontent.

3. The act or quality of waiting long for justice or expected good without discontent.

Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Matthew 18:26.

4. Perseverance; constancy in labor or exertion.

He learnt with patience and with meekness taught.

5. The quality of bearing offenses and injuries without anger or revenge.

His rage was kindled and his patience gone.

6. Sufferance; permission. [Not used.]

7. A plant, a species of rumex of dock.

I looked at the modern definition as well and it is essentially the same:

1 : bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint
2 : manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain
3 : not hasty or impetuous
4 : steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity
5 a : able or willing to bear —used with of
   b : susceptible, admitting patient of one interpretation

The thing I find most interesting is the absence of “submission to the divine will”. It seems that todays understanding of patience comes through self-will. It is something that through our own will and determination that we can choose to endure or to avoid.

The greek word is makrothumia which takes its root from two words, makros and thumos. Makros is defined as long, distant, far; of long duration and thumos is defined as an outburst of passion, wrath.

HELPS word studies helps to shed further light:

3115 makrothymía (from 3117 /makrós, “long” and 2372 /thymós, “passion, anger”) – properly, long-passion, i.e. waiting sufficient time before expressing anger. This avoids the premature use of force (retribution) that rises out of improper anger (a personal reaction).
3115 /makrothymía (“divinely-regulated patience”) is used of God Himself (see 1 Pet 3:20; 2 Pet 3:15). Indeed, only the Lord produces 3115 /makrothymía (“true patience, longsuffering”) in us and hence is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22).
“3115 (makrothymía) embraces steadfastness and staying-power. If in English we had an adjective ‘long-tempered’ as a counterpart to ‘short-tempered,’ then makrothymia could be called the quality of being ‘long-tempered’. . . . which is a quality of God (LXX, Ex 34:6)” (F. F. Bruce, Commentary on Galatians, 253).

In society today one thing I am certain of is society’s shift from the truth that we are sinners before God to I am basically a good person. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit and as such is an attribute of God. We focus so much on God is love or God is good that we ignore, or essentially take advantage of God’s patience. Our sin is offensive to God, and yes in Christ we have forgiveness. But sin is still offensive to our Creator.

So is it God’s will that we sin? No but in His mercy, His goodness, His love, He withholds His holy wrath. Jesus paid the price for our sin, and like Passover in Egypt, God’s people will be spared. The blood over the doors has been replaced with the blood of Christ over our hearts and our lives. God is patiently waiting for His appointed time.

So why would we not desire patience in our lives? I myself prefer to avoid difficulty when ever possible. Yet we are not to avoid difficulty in this life for Christ’s sake but rather to endure.

Colossians 3:12-17 says:

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The bible teaches us that God is patient with us. Patient as he grows us into the people He created us to be: holy, beloved, with compassionate hearts, kind, humble, meek and patient. And in Christ bearing with us, forgiving us for our sin against Him. It is this love that unites us so that we can have the peace of Christ in our hearts. And God wants our gratitude. Should we not be grateful?

To be patient is to live as God has called us in his divine will. It is not human perseverance. It’s origin is from God and we are told that whatever we do, in word or deed, to do it in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to the Father through Him. When this fruit of the Spirit grows in us, we glorify God. Not in our own ability but in response to Him, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Father, today we come to you thankful. Thankful that You have shown us the way, the truth and the life. Thankful that in love, by Your mercy, and with patience You have withheld Your holy wrath. Lord some would say that we as Christians are narrow-minded to say that Jesus is the only way. But Lord those are not our words but Yours. And I say thank You that there is a way at all. Let us live our lives in word and deed in the name of our Lord, and giving thanks to You. And as Your Word says let us put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven us, so we also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, to which indeed we were called in one body. And let us be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in our hearts to God. In Jesus name, amen.

God bless you,

Steadfast

Peace

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22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

What is peace? Not the peace that occurs when there is no war, but internal peace. Webster’s defines peace as freedom from disturbance, quiet and tranquility. Can we as a people truly obtain peace? I have moments of peace but it has never been a permanent status. The idea of peace has always been something I desired, whether I realized it or not. An inner freedom from disturbance, quiet and tranquility. The problem is things happen. So how do we obtain peace? Perhaps we simply have a misunderstanding of what peace truly is.

The Bible tells us peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit. So what does this mean? Peace in the Greek is the word eiréné. Eiréné comes from the Greek word eirō,  which means to join, tie together into a whole. Properly it refers to wholeness, i.e. when all essential parts are joined together; peace (God’s gift of wholeness). It is not a wholeness dependent on ourselves, but a wholeness as God joins us with Himself and each other.

Ephesians 2 speaks of this wholeness:

11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

and again in chapter 4:

1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

This peace that Paul wrote of was our bond in Christ. He has reconciled us to the Father. We are now one, or whole again. The sin that once separated us has been removed by Christ for those believe in Him. It is His gift to us. In Jesus we are united with our Creator once again. It also refers to our unity as a body. The church is one church. So peace in this sense is the truth of our oneness with God and our relationship with Him and each other.

James writes of peace in chapter 3:

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Once again peace is a gift from God. The peace that James is speaking of is an attribute of the wisdom of God. It is an understanding of how God desire’s us to live. It is not just knowledge of His Word but understanding of His Word. As one body we are called to live as God has called us and as He has set forth in His Word. Again this is a unity as all believers are to live as Christ our head. Christ who is the Word that became flesh. The Spirit who gives us peace also gives us understanding, and bears testimony to the Word. Since this is not unique to any one person but rather the church as whole, it fits’ right in with what Paul wrote to the church of Ephesus. Peace is living as God calls us according to His Word.

In 1 Peter 3, peace is spoken as follows:

8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Peter gives us some specific examples as to how we should relate one to another or what this calling looks like. He says to turn from evil and seek peace and pursue it. This turning away from evil and pursuing God, is the same as us turning towards God and seeking Him. When we are redeemed and no longer separate from God, we are to seek Him and to seek His righteousness. We are free and no longer bound by sin. We can trust God, by the power of the Spirit to live according to what He has called us to. This unity of mind is the mind of Christ. As Christ was also sympathetic with the needy. He loved His own like brothers. His heart was tender as the cross is a picture of the mercy of God. He humbled Himself to the Cross. Not asking anything more of us than what He has already endured. He lived sinless life and a sacrificial life.

Peace is a gift from God and it is relational. It is our unity with Him and with other believers. It is understanding the mind of Christ by the word of God as the Holy Spirit gives us the understanding. It is unity in the body, living according to the calling that God has put on us as believers. We are witnesses to the present miracles of God. These miracles are the lives transformed by Him. Once we were separated from God, lost in the darkness and living for ourselves. Now in Christ we are restored from our fallen nature, as he illuminates our hearts and our minds. We no longer live for ourselves but as a church, live as a whole for Him who is our Lord and Savior.

Father, we are so undeserving, but you have called us. You desire that we come back to You. Your Spirit works in us giving us understanding of how far from you we really are and also gives us understanding of the mercy that you extend because of your goodness. You love us and have given us a way to be whole again. To have the peace of God that passes understanding. You transform our lives and show us the way. Not only to the cross, but beyond. Illuminating our footsteps as we press on towards Your throne. You Lord have redeemed us, a fallen people who have turned from You and attempt to live on our own. You Lord redeemed us and do not turn from us. We have but to call and You are there. For those of us who know You, may our hearts cry in unison for the Lost. And for the lost give them the gift of peace, knowing that redemption is found at the cross. We praise You and pray in the name of the One who sits at Your right hand. Jesus Christ. Amen

God bless you,

Steadfast

Listening Alone

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Today I want to share the reading from my current devotional. This is taken from John: 90 Days With the Beloved Disciple by Beth Moore. The reading is from Revelation 1:4-11.

John to the seven churches that are in Asia:

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Vision of the Son of Man

I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

We can be quite sure that John never sketched Patmos on his personal itinerary. I wonder what the old man felt as he was shipped like a criminal from his loved ones in Ephesus to a remote, unfriendly island. He had no idea what awaited him. God’s ways are so peculiar at times. Yet the greatest privilege of John’s life waited from him in these gravest of circumstances.

The most profound revelation in Revelation is the revealing of Jesus Christ himself, not only in visions but in authority. The word “revelation” (meaning “unveiling”) is translated from the Greek word apokalupsis. Thrown onto a boat transferring criminals, John had no idea what God would “unveil” to him upon the island of Patmos.

Imagine John’s frail, aging frame as he held on tight while the sea vessel tossed its long way across the Aegean. John probably pushed his gray hair out of his face to look at the few other prisoners sharing his destination. Don’t picture a bonding experience. No one would likely carry him through a small group of worshippers while he said, “Dear children, love one another.” Exile was intended not only for overwork and overexposure to the elements; it was purposed for crazing isolation. Yet the tactic would be wasted on John – just as it can be wasted on us when Satan tries to force us into isolation.

John most likely would have preferred death. His long life may have frustrated him. If forced to remain on earth, exile from ministry and isolation from those he loved was certainly not the way he envisioned spending his senior years. I can’t imagine at one point or another in the labors forced upon John didn’t slip on the jagged, rocky surface and rip his thinning skin like paper. He had no bedding for his aching body at the end of the day.

I also can’t imagine that he thought, “Finally! A little peace and quiet for writing a new book!” He couldn’t have expected to meet Jesus on that island as he did. Beloved one, how many testimonies do we need to hear before we accept that sometimes the places and seasons we expect Jesus least, we find Him most? And oddly, sometimes the places we expect Him most, we find Him least.

Yes, when Christ returns to the groaning soil in His glorious splendor, every eye will see Him. But until then, He sometimes comes with clouds. God’s glory is so inconceivably brilliant to the human eye that He often shrouds His presence in a cloud (see Exod. 16:10; 24:15-16; Lev. 16:2; 1 Kings 8:10; Luke 9:34). But one day, as Revelation 1:7 says, the clouds will roll back like a scroll and Christ will stand before us revealed.

He has much to disclose to us in the meantime, and we’ll be greatly helped when we accept that clouds are not signs of His absence. Indeed, within them we most often find His presence. In the July 29 entry of his classic devotional My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers wrote figuratively of the clouds:

In the Bible, clouds are always associated with God. Clouds are the sorrows, sufferings, or providential circumstances, within or without our personal lives, which actually seem to contradict the sovereignty of God. Yet it is through these very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were never any clouds in our lives, we would have no faith. “The clouds are the dust of His feet” (Nahum 1:3). They are a sign that God is there…. Through every cloud He brings our way, He wants us to unlearn something. His purpose in using the cloud is to simplify our beliefs until our relationship with Him is exactly like that of a child – a relationship simply between God and our own souls, and where other people are but shadows…. Until we can come face-to-face without damaging our view of God’s character, we do not yet know Him.

I’ve been on Patmos myself when the clouds that settled on the island obscured what might have otherwise have been a beautiful view. I wonder if clouds covered the island when Domitian thought he left John to the island’s harsh volcanic mercy? I wonder how the old apostle “viewed” his circumstances? I wonder if he ever imagined getting off that island? Or what he’d see while he was there?

John had a critical decision to make while exiled on the unkind island. Would he relax his walk with God at the very least and at most resist? After all, no one from his church or ministry was watching. Would he lie down and die? Goodness knows he was weary. Or would John the Beloved love Christ all the more and seek Him with his whole heart amid the rock and wasteland?

His answer rises like a fresh morning tide baptizing the jagged shore: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (1:10). And there He was: the Alpha and Omega. The first and the last Word on every life. Every trial. Every exile.

Is your life covered in dark clouds right now? Or perhaps the clouds aren’t dark. They are simply obscuring clarity and tempting you to be confused by circumstances. What will you do while waiting for the clouds to part? Is there anyone else who might need your encouragement to stand strong in such stormy conditions? How can you help them?

PRAYING GOD’S WORD TODAY

God, You are our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its waters roar and foam (Ps 46:1-3). It feels like this sometimes. Stormy and chaotic. At other times, rocky and dry. How I pray that You will pour out Your Spirit from heaven on this place. Then the desert will become an orchard, and the orchard will seem like a forest. Then justice will inhabit the wilderness, and righteousness will dwell in our midst (Isa. 32:15-16). I long for Your transforming power and presence, dear Lord. I need it. I crave it.

God bless you,

Steadfast

 

Joy

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Today I am looking at joy. It is the second in the list of the fruit’s of the Spirit. I desire to know the joy of the Lord. But it is also something which I need to understand. It is one of those words where I equate joy with happiness. Is this truly what joy is?

Websters defines joy as:

1 a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight
b : the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety
2: a state of happiness or felicity : bliss
3: a source or cause of delight

One of the things I like to research is Websters 1828 edition. The intention of word’s in translation get lost over time. Meanings also change with time.  The original definition is as follows:

1. The passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; that excitement of pleasurable feelings which is caused by success, good fortune, the gratification of desire or some good possessed, or by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire; gladness; exultation; exhilaration of spirits.

JOY is a delight of the mind, from the consideration of the present or assured approaching possession of a good.

Bring heavenly balm to heal my country’s wounds,

JOY to my soul and transport to my lay.

2. Gayety; mirth; festivity.

The roofs with joy resound.

3. Happiness; felicity.

Her heavenly form beheld, all wished her joy

4. A glorious and triumphant state.

–Who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross. Hebrews 12:2.

5. The cause of joy or happiness.

For ye are our glory and joy1 Thessalonians 2:19.

6. A term of fondness; the cause of you.

JOY, verb intransitive To rejoice; to be glad; to exult.

I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:18.

JOY, verb transitive To give joy to; to congratulate; to entertain kindly.

1. To gladden; to exhilarate.

My soul was joyed in vain.

2. To enjoy; to have or possess with pleasure, or to have pleasure in the possession of. [Little used. See Enjoy.]

It amazes me to see how much was originally said about joy and today how it is reduced to an emotion or state of being. If joy is a fruit of the Spirit, as the Word of God says. Then there is a source to our joy. There is an expectation that comes with the promises of God. In Greek the word for joy is chara. Strong’s defines chara as joy, gladness, a source of joy. To dig a little further Help’s expounds on that:

Cognate: 5479xará (another feminine noun from the root xar-, “extend favor, lean towards, be favorably disposed”) – properly, the awareness (of God’s) grace, favor; joy (“grace recognized”).

Joy is not a state of being. It is a state of mind. Joy is a delight of the mind, from the consideration of the present or assured approaching possession of a good. It is not the acquisition of something that makes me happy. It is the realization of the promise God and awareness of the grace and favor He extends towards His rebellious creation.

In mans attempt to be autonomous, we seek to be the authors of these things within us. We try to be the source of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. But what happens when situations change in my life and that source is disrupted? We are not created to be autonomous, but rather to look to our Creator as the source of all things. He has given us His Word and in Christ He has shown us what these things look like.

As I was praying this morning, God gave me a verse. Hebrews 12:2 which states:

“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

If you didn’t already notice that verse was referenced in Websters original definition. Was Jesus happy about the cross set before Him? It was the assurance of the Father. It was bringing to realization God’s mercy and grace upon us. He was going back to the Father and making the way for us back to the Father as well. You see joy is a state of mind, which realizes that God loves us. That despite our attempts to remain autonomous and our repeated rebellion against Him, which He calls sin, He extends mercy to us through the cross. Why the cross? Because sin is offensive to God. And as it is an offense, their must be consequence. Justice is part of God’s nature as well.

Isn’t that what the good news of Jesus Christ is about? That God, through Christ has restored us. That is amazing grace. We look away from God and He fixes His eyes upon us. Today look to the cross. Realize the joy that can be had not from the suffering of our Lord and savior but from the awareness that we have promise to hold onto. The promises of God made available to us in our redemption found at the foot of the cross.

Father, today I simply ask for Joy. The awareness of your goodness. Show us today and let us not look upon ourselves and the reality of our filthiness, without being fully aware of Your goodness. That we, sinners in the hand’s of a just and holy God have also been redeemed by a merciful and good God. That is amazing grace, and should fill us with joy. In Jesus name, amen.

God bless you,

Steadfast