The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Lent Devotional: 1 John 4:1-6

1 John 4:1-6
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Reflection
People have all sorts of ideas about Jesus… most of them are actually quite positive. Even people who hate Christianity will often express a kind of respect for Jesus.

He was a great teacher, a good man, a philosopher, a moralist, a revolutionary, a progressive, a… fill in the blank.

Many religions, sects, and cults will even reference Jesus as an influence of figure within their belief system. With all this talk about Jesus… how are we to know who is telling the truth. How are we to know who actually knows Jesus.

“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.”

The apostle John tells us that the Holy Spirit of God, who inspired him and the other authors of Scripture, confirms the confession of Scripture… that Jesus is the Christ in the flesh… fully God and fully man. In other words, we are only speaking truth about Jesus in so far as what we sign aligns with the testimony of Scripture.

I don’t have the authoritative word about Jesus… nor do you… nor does any other religions, sect or cult. Jesus has the authoritative word about himself, and he has given it through his Spirit in the written Word. To deny Christ as he has revealed himself is have a spirit that at its root is anti-Christ.

It doesn’t matter what positive things we say about Jesus… we are actually speaking against him if we deny the reality of who he is… God in the flesh. And it is this Christ who dwells within us, empowering us to overcome the very world that denies him!

We need not fear any religion, sect, cult, or even secularism. We need not fear what anyone says against Jesus. No matter how powerful the world may seem, Christ has already conquered it through his death and resurrection… and this conquering Christ dwells in you! Therefore, you have already overcome the world too!

People have all sorts of ideas about Jesus… but the only idea about him that matters is the one that is true… he is God and he lives in you!

 
*All previous devotionals may be found at www.thejoyofglory.com
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

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Lent Devotional: 1 John 2:7-14

1 John 2:7-14 (click here)
… the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.

I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:8b-10 and 14b)

Reflection
The old buildings were beautiful… almost regal. They towered in the old section of downtown, having stood the test of time and seeming like they would stand forevermore. Even their basic architecture conveyed a sense of immovable strength.

At least that was the impression my boyhood eyes got from a distance.

Yet… the closer I would draw to those beautiful old buildings, the more cracks I would see. Perhaps the ol’ downtown of my hometown wasn’t as solid as it seemed. In fact, if you walked all the way up to most of these buildings, their façade could be chipped way with a single flick of the finger.

The cracks grew bigger, revealing the truth that what looked strong from a distance was close to destruction.

I think that when we look at the darkness of our world, it can loom large like those old buildings. Corrupt institutions seem so solid and firm. Totalitarians, dictators, and authoritarian regimes seem like they are winning… never to fall. The wicked always seem to win. The darkness conveys a sense of immovable strength.

At least that is the impression our fleshly eyes get from a distance.

But take a closer look. Examine the history of dark regimes and those who pursue wicked ways. The closer you get the more cracks you’ll see. The darkness “winning” is merely a façade that chips away with the single flick of God’s finger!

“…the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.”

It shines via the love of Christ at work through you! When you love with self-sacrificial love, you chip away at the dark façade of the world. God reveals the emptiness, the darkness for what it is by shining a light on the fullness of his love.

Darkness is exposed and the evil one is overcome by the victory that Christ has already won in you! His word, his love, he himself abides in you and works through you!

Do not be discouraged by the illusion that darkness is winning! Shine the light of Christ’s love on its foundational cracks that the world may see there is only one solid rock… Jesus!
*All previous devotionals may be found at www.thejoyofglory.com
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

Lent Devotional: 1 Peter 5:6-11

1 Peter 5:6-11
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Reflection
Our lives are all too often filled with anxieties. Why? What is at the root of our anxious hearts?

Peter seems to think it is misplaced trust. The anxious heart is relying upon oneself, totally unsure of whether or not it can control or conquer what lies ahead… thus… anxiety. Peter sees this as prideful-self-reliance. Therefore, his instruction is for us to humble ourselves… how? By casting our cares upon Christ instead of on ourselves! Trust Christ with our lives! Rely on and rest in him… for we know he is for our good!

Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you!

Yet, this does not mean that we become completely passive people! Peter is not advising us to “let go, and let God.” Oh no! Right after telling us to cast all our anxieties upon God… he gives active commands. “Be sober-minded; be watchful… resist the devil!”

But Peter… won’t that be me relying upon my strength again! Won’t that just stir up all my anxieties as I worry whether or not I will be watchful enough or powerful enough to resist the schemes of the enemy! I thought I was supposed to cast these cares upon God?

I think these questions make Peter grin… because it is precisely through our faith in God that God himself empowers our being sober-minded and watchful! It is through relying upon God’s grace that we are empowered to resist!

Grace doesn’t make us passive, it provides power!

Peter says that God himself will “restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” This is why God gets the glory anytime we successfully resist the enemy! Because we couldn’t do that in our own power… only in his!

This is why God gets the glory when we are not anxious, because we are trusting in him to provide all we need, no matter what we face! We are trusting him to get us all the way through!

Oh Christian, do not trust in yourself to face the trials of life, but cast all these anxieties upon your heavenly Father who has promised to provide all you need through Christ! Therefore, you can take another step, you can be sober minded and watchful, you can resist the enemy… because you trust that your father is graciously empowering your action… for your good and his glory!

His grace does not eliminate your action… it empowers it!

 
*All previous devotionals may be found at www.thejoyofglory.com
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

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