Monday, December 14, 2009: 1 John 3
It is as we experience the eternal, infinite, measureless love of God that we are able to reflect it selflessly to others. Read John 1:12- 13 and 1 John 3:1-3. Ponder what it means to be a child of God. Scripture tells us we are sinners (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). John tells us that, as God’s children, we still sin, but we cannot continue to intentionally wallow in sin (1 John 3:4-10). Consider that sin is the fruit of self-love and glorification. True love, which is rooted in truth, seeks to love, obey, and glorify God, and to love and bless others. Read the rest of 1 John. Read 1 John 3:16-18 again. Spend time in prayer, asking the Lord how you can live into this today.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009: 1 John 4
What we believe about Jesus is of utmost importance! This Advent, embrace anew the mystery of the Incarnation: Jesus, fully God and fully human, came as God’s perfect, atoning sacrifice for our sin. Read 1 John 4:1-6. Satan is stronger than we are, but notice the assurance we have in 4:4. Read 4:7-21, noting that love is not simply an emotion; it is primarily action and choice. How does God demonstrate love for us (Romans 5:8)? Meditate on 1 John 4:8 and 4:16. Memorize 4:19, and pray that God’s love will be manifest in and through you.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009: 1 John 5
Read 1 John 5:1-5. According to John, how do faith and obedience interface with each other? Read 5:6-12. Notice that the Spirit testifies, and the Spirit is truth (5:6). Do you only hope that you have eternal life, or do you have the “blessed assurance” of knowing? Prayerfully, and with gratitude, read 5:13-15. Now read Ephesians 1:13-14; 2:8-9. Even faith is a gift (Hebrews 12:2a). Ponder God’s great, glorious, and totally sufficient love. Read 1 John 5:16-21. Anything that preempts God in our lives is an idol. In 5:18, is John saying believers don’t sin (see 1:8-10)? We are not to dwell in sin/darkness (1:5-7). Pray, “Lord, in my life, ‘thy will be done.’”
Thursday, December 17, 2009: 2 John
John writes 2 John to the “chosen” woman and her children; this might refer to a specific woman and her family or to a church. Read the epistle and note the references to truth and love. Compare John 14:15, 14:21, 14:23 and 15:10-13 with 2 John 6. How do we demonstrate our love for God? In 2 John, John warns against deceivers. In 3 John, John speaks of hospitality; why here, in 2 John, does he warn against inviting a deceiver into one’s home (see Matthew 24:24; 2 Corinthians 2:11; 11:14)? Read John 1:14, 1 John 4:8-11 and 4:19. Ponder truth and love. Pray that your life will be characterized by truth and love, and that, in this, you will glorify God.
Friday, December 18, 2009: 3 JOHN
John’s third epistle is written to a believer named Gaius, whom John commends for his hospitality and his consistent faith walk. Read 3 John, noting what John has to say about Gaius, Diotrephes, and Demetrius. What brings John joy (4)? How important is hospitality? What are John’s complaints about the church leader Demetrius? Do your words and actions make people want to know Jesus? Much of the letter is about encouraging and blessing those who are sharing the gospel with others. How will you be a blessing to those who share God’s truth? Spend time praying for your pastors, missionaries, and others who share Jesus.
Saturday, December 19, 2009: Jude
Jude, a variation of the name Judas, is thought by many to be a half-brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:55). In Jude’s epistle, he calls followers of Jesus to live godly lives, flee from temptation, persevere in the faith, witness to the truth, and pray. Jude begins his epistle by identifying himself as a servant/bondservant/slave of Jesus. Does this also describe you? Read Jude. What does it mean to “contend for the faith” (3)? Consider Jude’s warning about the perversion of grace and the danger of sin. Like Jude, we also live in a world where sin and apostasy are rampant. What does it mean to show mercy mixed with fear (23)? Read Jude 20-25 again, and pray.
Sunday, December 20, 2009: Psalm 77
Have you ever felt like God was not hearing your prayers and didn’t care about your circumstances? The writer of Psalm 77 understands. Read Psalm 77:1-9. Do you hear the Psalmist’s anguish? Now read 77:10-20. What changes beginning with 77:10? What was the focus in 77:1-9; what/who is at the center of 77:10-20? Notice how the Psalmist recalls the Lord’s greatness, holiness, power, faithfulness, and deliverance. In these, he finds hope. Recount how God has been faithful to you; express your gratitude. Read 2 Corinthians 1:20 and continue in prayer.