July 10, 2018
“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (1 John 4:20)
Tradition tells us that the Apostle John escaped from the Isle of Patmos by swimming out to a ship that was bound for the city of Ephesus where he lived to a very old age and was buried. With white hair and a long white beard he was so feeble they had to carry him to the meetings. While at the meetings he would bless those who attended and would cry:
“Little children, love one another, little children, love one another!”
As we see in chapter four of First John, John gives us ten reasons why we must love one another. One reason is that God is love and if we plug into the love God is we make contact with God. As we become a conduit of God’s love, God makes contact with us. John gives us a second reason that if we say we love God and we hate our brother, we are liars.
Because if we do not love the brother we can see how can we love God Whom we cannot see?
His point is that it’s not easy to love God, because we cannot hug a Spirit. There is an inseparable vertical and horizontal dimension of this love that God is.
These two dimensions form a cross.
We cannot say we love God if we do not love one another.
Dick Woodward, 09 July 2010
February 13, 2015
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another…” (1John 4:11)
The Apostle John points to Jesus dying on the cross and writes: “This is love… that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10). He follows that with the words quoted above – that if God SO loved us we ought also to love one another.
Hours before He was arrested and crucified, Jesus challenged the men He apprenticed 24/7 for three years to love one another as He had loved them. He then prophesied that by this the whole world would know they were His disciples. Peter wrote that by His death on the cross He gave us an example and a calling that we should follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21).
The Apostle John is in alignment with Jesus and Peter when he gives us yet another reason we are to love one another. In principle Jesus was instructing the apostles that the best way to reach out is to reach in. Essentially, Jesus was saying that we have a message of love to communicate to the world. The best way to do that is to love one another and show the world a community of love.
If our churches were the colonies of love Jesus desires them to be, the love-starved people of this world would beat our doors down to be part of our spiritual communities because everyone has a need to be loved and to belong. The love John is profiling is the greatest evangelistic tool our Lord has given to His Church.
Are you willing to reach in that you might reach out for His glory?
Dick Woodward, 20 July 2010
September 16, 2014
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant…” Matthew 20: 25-26
The incident recorded in Matthew 20 (verses 20-28), precipitated by Mrs. Zebedee and her two sons, James and John, sets the stage for one the great teachings of Jesus Christ. We can assume these two ‘sons of thunder’ (the nickname the Lord game them), who were partners with Simon Peter in the ‘Zebedee Seafood Corporation,’ were obviously the instigators of their mother’s request that they be seated on the right and the left of their Lord when He was crowned King. When the other apostles griped about this, Jesus called them together. In so many words, He told them the world plays the game of “Over-Under!” This is a world of credentials and status symbols that often say, “I am better than you,” or “I am over and above you.”
Acknowledging that the secular world is like that, Jesus tells them not to play the world’s little games. To paraphrase, Jesus says, “this is not to happen among you. If you want to be great in the Kingdom of God, you should join the ‘Order of the Towel’ – get a towel and basin, assume the position of a slave, and start washing feet.” He uses Himself as an example when He says, “Even as the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28) Think of how He spent His last hours before He went to the cross, literally washing the feet of His disciples. There is no place in the church and body of Christ for the “Over-Under” philosophy of this world.
If you want to be great in the fellowship of Christ, you must improve your serve!
Dick Woodward, MBC New Testament Handbook, p.86
February 8, 2013
“For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” (1 John 3: 20)
The apostle of love gives spiritual people a beautiful definition of depression. In the Bible the heart is related to our emotions and feelings. When we feel condemned John tells us some very good news: God is greater than our feelings. Our faith is not based on something as fickle as how we feel. He goes on in this passage to tell us that our faith is based on the fact that we keep our Lord’s commandment that we should love one another.
Throughout the history of the Church of Jesus Christ devout people have struggled with bouts of depression. Some extraordinary spiritual leaders have battled depression. This battle frequently takes place in isolation because it is thought to be inconsistent with faith. People of faith are ashamed of their depression.
While medical professionals are often pharmacologists who medicate depression rather than determine its cause, the Apostle John gives some devotional and practical counsel to a depressed believer. As a busy pastor when I had feelings that condemned me I went on a people binge. I often found that when I became a conduit of the love of Christ for others I affirmed this wise counsel of John.
The Holy Spirit lives in believing people. Although your depression wants you to isolate yourself, when you love other believers the Spirit passes back and forth between you with a healing effect on both of you. That’s why James prescribed that we confess our sins to one another and pray for one another that we may be healed (James 5:16).
John is prescribing something very similar when he tells us to treat our depression with loving one another.
March 6, 2012
“When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’” (John 5:6)
The Apostle John describes a pathetic scene that confronted those who approached the Temple as they entered the city of Jerusalem in Jesus’ day. There was by the Sheep Gate the Pool of Bethesda. A great multitude of weak and sick people lay in the porches surrounding that pool given the superstition that when the waters in that pool rippled the first one to get into the pool would be healed.
When Jesus came upon that pool He moved among these weak people until he found one man who had been there for 38 years. He was paralyzed and Jesus asked him the remarkable question quoted above. The man might have thought that question ridiculous since he had been faithfully lying beside the pool for 38 years.
We may well ask the question “Why did Jesus heal just this one man?” It may be that Jesus healed this man because he had given up on the Pool of Bethesda.
Today there are millions of people who are sitting beside “Pools of Bethesda” that cannot heal them. Like Solomon, some people try money, knowledge, painting the town red and not withholding from their eyes anything they see that they want. People try success, power, social status and everything but the spiritual for their healing.
Do you want to be made well inside your heart? Give up your “Pools of Bethesda” and ask the risen, living Christ to lead you to your healing. Get into His Word and become His disciple indeed.
Go beyond the sacred page and meet the Living Word and He will heal you.