Wednesday, January 10, 2018

2018 New Year's Message: Grace. Obedience. Blessing. by Sam Toh

These verses are signature verses that, growing up in UBF, I’m sure you’ve heard countless number of times. Countless number of prayers have ended with “Make America and kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” It is still the title of the yearly UBF calendar that grace the walls of our house every year. While we may be familiar with the phrase, I realized not many of us have taken the time to look at these verses in their original context in Exodus 19. So I’m thankful for God’s providence in allowing us to study Exodus this school year and bring us to this exact chapter for this winter retreat.

Since not everyone has been studying Exodus with us in Chicago, let me take a quick minute to give a very general overview of Exodus.
A Story of Deliverance: The theme of Exodus (mass departure) is that the people of God are delivered from the hand of the Egyptians to worship Him. Exodus can be divided into three parts:

1. Chap 1–18: God redeems Israel from bondage in Egypt.

2. Chap 19–24: God gives Israel the law at Mt. Sinai. (We are at the beginning of this part)

3. Chap 25–40: God prepares Israel for his holy presence by providing instructions for the tabernacle and for the priesthood.

Value of Exodus. Exodus is an important book for us as Christians to study because a Christian must know how we were delivered from bondage to sin. If we are unsure about our deliverance from sin, it may be questionable whether or not we are a Christian who has truly met God, the One who saved us out of his mercy (Tit 3:5) and grace (Tit 2:11). Exodus is a story of deliverance from bondage, and deliverance is something we all desperately need.

Significance of Exodus 19: It is also a signifant book to study because Exodus 19 is regarded by some as (one of) the most important chapters in the Bible, because without a proper understanding Exodus 19, Exodus 20--which contains the 10 Commandments--will be not be understood. When Christians (and non-Christians) misunderstand the Bible and Christianity, it is often because they misunderstand the Law--how the Law functions in their own life. The Israelites are going to spend 11 months in Sinai (Ex 19:1-Num 10:10). And what happens during these 11 months is central to the Pentateuch. It occupies 58 chapters (Ex. 19Num. 10:10).

Grace. Obedience. Blessings. For the sake of this message, we will look at these verses in three parts. And the order in which we are going to look them is crucial to not only our understanding of this passage, but crucial to our understanding of our faith as Christians.

Here is the sequence.
1. Grace (Ex 19:1-4): How God saves us.

2. Obedience (Ex 19:5): Our response to grace should obedience to the Law.

3. Blessing/Calling (Ex 19:6): The blessing and reward of obedience (and punishment for disobedience).
So lets take a moment to look at this passage more closely.

I. Grace (Ex 19:1-4): How God Saves Us
Grace is the starting point of our life with God. Some would say Grace is the keyword of Christianity. Thus, before God gives the 10 Commandments in Ex 20:2-17, he repeats in Ex 20:1 what God said in Ex 19:3-4. Why? God wants his people to know that a covenant relationship with God is based entirely on God's grace. It is a relationship that they did not earn or deserve. Ex 19:4 gives us 3 things we need to know and understand:

1. Ex 19: 4a You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt,

This shows us God’s Divine judgment. Judgment is never a pleasant subject. But no one can truly understand grace, or understand God, without truly understanding God's terrible judgment on the ungodly. God's people must always know that what God did to Egypt, God could have done to them. Just as one of our gospel key verses, 2 Cor 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ.” Just as death is in all of our futures, so is judgement. Even though God is the judge, he provides us the way to Salvation.

2. Ex 19:4b how I carried you on eagles’ wings

This shows us God’s, Divine deliverance Israel did not rally together as an army to deliver themselves. They did not work for, nor gain, nor even earn their deliverance. God carried them on eagles' wings.

3. Ex 19:4c and brought you to myself

This shows us God’s Divine initiative God did not wait for you and I to find Him. God took the initiative to bring us--who are steeped in slavery to sin, selfishness and Satan--to Himself. I did not find God. God found me. I did not choose God. God choose me (Jn 15:16).

God starts with a reminder of his judgment and of his grace and deliverance. This is also the start of our lives of faith. The story of God’s grace in our own lives is one we should not forget

So, what is your testimony of Grace in your life? Do you have one? My family got together as we always do for Christmas, and my youngest brother told Anna a story about how one night when he was 7 he was lying in bed and when I came into the room talking on the phone with my friend. I must have been 13. He said I thought he was asleep, because he was so shocked to hear all the swear words coming out of my mouth. I was a pretty typical jock at 13, I went on to play three sports in high school, had terrible language and loved vulgar and sexual jokes. It’s hard to even think of my teenage self now, but all these things that are unsettling from the outside weren’t the real problem of my life. The problem was, I appeared as such a perfect angel at church and to my parents. I was two completely different people at school and at home/church. This really became burdensome and tiring. It also tore me apart on the inside causing an identity crisis. I would feel such a deep disconnect and dissonance in my life that dragged me down. Then one night, God showed me that this double life I was living was not just tiring, but it hurt God deeply. God showed me this through someone I loved and trusted deeply breaking my trust and living a different life behind my back. I was 17 years old, and I remember being so hurt I started crying. And this was weird for me cause I couldn’t remember the last time I cried. My face literally hurt when tears first came out of my eyes. And the weird thing was I couldn’t stop crying all night. In my tears, I remember feeling the presence of God into my room, gently but clearly saying to me: “How you feel now, is how I feel when you life your life the way you do. Pretending to be my child, but living a double life.: And God’s word came to me through Lk 23:34, it’s almost as if I heard the audible words of Jesus that night in my room, “Father, forgive Sam, for he does not know what he was doing.” For the first time I felt God’s deliverance and forgiveness deeply in my life personally. From that night I vowed to God, and to my self, to live true to who I am. And the life I chose that night was a life as a forgiven sinner by God’s grace. After that night it took a while to kick the bad habit of my speech and attitude towards girls to change. But it was clearly the beginning of living my life as a confident, secure, and dearly loved child of God by Jesus’ grace alone.

We all need a savior. We all need to be delivered. God can and will deliver you from your bondage. Bring them to him and experience his saving grace. What is your storying of deliverance?
II. Obedience (Ex 19:5): Our Response to GraceAfter God showed his grace in verse 4, he says in 5a, "Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant." Let’s think about those two phrases. How do we "obey God fully"? God spells it out in the 10 Commandments, which Jesus sums up in 2 Great Commands: Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. Simply put, we live a life of "full obedience" when the direction, desire, delight, devotion, duty and deeds (6 D's) of our hearts are to love God and love others.

Jesus said, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching" (Jn 14:23). A Christian's motivation to obey the Bible should be love for Jesus. Obedience as taught in the Bible is not simply an act of the will or human resolve. Obedience should also involve our mind (cognition) and heart (emotion). In Ex 19:4-6, the motivation of obedience is the unconditional grace of God. However...

Ex 19:5 seems to say, "If you obey me, then I will bless you. If you obey, then you will be my people." It surely sounds like God is conditionally saying, "Obey me THEN I will save you." But in context, God first said, "I saved you (Ex 19:4). Now obey me (Ex 19:5)." Either way there is obedience. The difference is whether obedience precedes salvation or follows salvation.

This is the difference between Religion and the Gospel. Religion says, "I obey, therefore I'm saved." The Gospel says the opposite, "I'm saved, therefore I obey." This may seem inconsequential. But it makes all the difference in the world. Thinking Religion makes the Christian life heavy, burdensome and with a false sense of holiness and spirituality like that of the Pharisees. But knowing the Gospel brings a continuous revival in our soul all the days of our lives.

Still, we wonder if Moses is confused by making 2 seemingly opposite statements in Ex 19:4-5: "God saved you by grace" (Ex 19:4). "But unless you obey, God won't save you" (Ex 19:5). How do we explain the conditional "If/then" language in Ex 19:5? Before doing so, let us examine 3 wrong ideas that people, including Christians, have about salvation:

1. We are saved by obedience. If my good outweighs my bad, I will be saved and blessed.

2. We are saved by grace and obedience. Without obedience I can’t be saved.

3. We are saved by grace, so we don't need obedience. So I can do whatever I want because God will save me anyways.

The second phrase is “keep my covenant.” What helps me personally understand the obedience God expects and the covenant he expects us to keep, is to understand them in the context of a relationship. To understand obedience as a Christian, it helps to understand 2 things about responsibilities:

1. Every relationship has responsibilities. These responsibilities require self-denial, submission and obedience to certain expectations. Marriage may be the best human illustration and example. But even in friendship. A good friend is one who understands the responsibilities they have when given the trust, heart, and secrets of another person. These responsibilities are what makes friendships thrive and grow into deeper and deeper relationships.

2. Responsibilities are a blessing. The responsibilities I have as a husband to my wife and as a father to my kids are not always light. But they are always a blessings. Because as I keep those responsibilities I grow to have a deeper relationship with my wife, I grow to have a more intimate relationship with my kids. The most miserable and unhappy Christians are those who try to have the least possible responsibilities, with maximum blessings and rewards. In our responsibilities and obedience to God, we grow in a deeper relationship with Him.

To one who knows and has tasted the sweetness of God's grace, obedience is a responsibility that is at the same time a wonderful blessing. Their obedience is simply their happy life living in gratitude and in response to the grace of God.

Let me conclude this part on obedience and covenant relationship by sharing with what many of you have heard me say many times. But first let me ask you a question. What is something you love? Is it music? Soccer? Video games? Basketball? Reading a good book? Hanging out with friends? Sleeping? What do you notice about the things that you love? You can spend endless hours doing them, without it feeling burdensome. Doing them gives you life. They excite the heart and the soul. When we’re in love, there is no limit to what we’ll do. So here’s the phrase that my dad always says, and that is that, “a lover will always out work a worker.” Sure sometimes the work we do is difficult, requires much sacrifice, and even painful. But when we’re in love, we can do it. I pray each of you may grow in obedience that flows from your relationship with God.

III. Blessings/Calling (Ex 19:6)
When we have a deep appreciation for God’s grace, our obedience pours out. This is our relationship with God. And in this relationship we have many many blessings and a calling (a purpose). Verse 6 give us a picture of what this blessing and calling looks like. But before we dive in, at first glance, these verses seem to be exclusive words for the Israelites. We know they are God’s special possession because of his calling and choosing Abraham, through whom he would send our Savior Jesus into this world. So maybe these verses are just for the Jews…? But based on 1 Peter 2:9, which you should have covered in your Bible study. We can claim this promise as our own. The blessing, and the calling in this verse, has been extended to us because of our living stone Jesus Christ. So let’s look at verse 6, phrase by phrase, and claim this blessing and this calling as our own.

These promises are expressed in how they change who we are. They change our identity. God promises to make us the following:

1. Ex 19:5b "Out of all nations you will be my treasured possession"

The first blessing is that God has made us his treasure. In response to God’s grace, our obedience brings us to a very secure relationship with God that is expressed in being his treasure. This is such a wonderful blessing, because we can live all the days of our lives in this safe and loving place as a child of God. Dearly loved. Dearly treasured.

2. "Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests”This is our calling as treasured children of God: to be a kingdom of priests. So does that mean we should all enter the priesthood, or because full time pastors? Obviously not. A very simple definition of the role of a priest is that a priest is a mediator who brings God to people, and who brings people to God. That is why we asked in our living out God’s word question “what can you do to be a “priest” to one person around you?” 1 Peter 2:9 and 10 give us a place to start. “That you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful life.” The first thing we can do as priests is to share our personal testimony of God’s deliverance to others (declare the praises). Not necessarily the big story of your conversion, but even in the small ways, like Helen shared about her car, that God delivers. But your personal testimony of finding God is the place to start. And I loved what Abraham Ahn shared in his reflection, about the opportunity to dialogue with an agnostic friend about life, and faith, and the existence of God. As we share with others our personal testimony, it will spark conversation about God and who he is. And I pray for each of you, that God would give you the Holy Spirit, and the words to share in each unique situation. Our commitment to studying the Bible deeply in UBF is to help us be effective priests, knowing God’s word, in order to bring God to people, and people to God. I pray each of you may find small and maybe even large ways to grow as “priests” in your circles of influence.

3. "a holy nation" (Ex 19:6).The final thing we will think about here is what it means to be a Holy Nation. Let me first clarify the meaning of nation. In Chicago UBF we have often prayed for “North America to be a kingdom of priest and a holy nation.” And in it’s original context, God may have been talking about a specific nation, the Israelite's. But when Peter extends this calling to others in the book for 1 Peter, he is writing to “God’s elect, exiles scattered through out [many providence's], Asia and Macdeonia.” (1 Pet 1:1). So this calling transcends nations and people groups. By the blood of Jesus, all of us, no matter what our nationality or ethnicity, have become one nation, one people united as brother and sisters. And this invitation has been extended to you, to me, and to everyone.

So we are all to be one Holy Nation through the blood of Christ. So here’s my last question to ponder. What does it mean to be holy? Holy means to be set apart, to be consecrated or dedicated to God. Holiness is not optional in the Christian life. Why? God says, "Be holy, because I am holy" (1 Pet 1:16; Lev 11:45, 19:2). We should desire to be different, but not act like an elite or extra special group of people. We are to be in the world, but not of the world. We should all desire to be like Daniel who though exiled to Babylon, acted in wisdom in tact, accepted a new name, accepted the indoctrination of Babylonian history and culture, but he had resolve to be clear when he needed to be clear. And in this way God stood before the kings of Babylon declaring the praises of God. This happens as we grow in obedience to God. I pray that each of you may be a set a part person. Someone who is different, but not better. Someone who lives true to God’s will and God’s ways. And then some day, be able to stand before the figurative “kings” of your time to testify to who God is.

In this new year I pray we would each grow deeply in our faith. Specifically in these three areas: 1. Grow to know the fullness of God’s grace and deliverance from our sins. 2. Out of the overflow of knowing and appreciating this grace, I pray we’ll grow in our obedience to God. And 3. I pray that we will grow in the blessing and calling we have to be a part of God’s international kingdom of priest and holy nation people.

I want to close by coming back to the “living out to God’s word” question. Maybe you had time to think about it deeply, maybe you didn’t. Maybe the message gave you some new insights. But I want to give you each a few minutes to think about that some more. Add anything. Or just pray and lift up the decision to God. And then in a couple minutes I want you to share that decision you have with one person, and pray for each other.­­

Monday, August 28, 2017

Bible School 2017 Message: The Greatest of These is Love

by John Wang

1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
The theme of this passage is love. I’m sure, in some shape or form, that we’ve all heard stories over and over again about love, whether it’s “Love Actually” or “Crazy, Stupid, Love”, we’ve all had some experience with what story writers think love is. But how does God’s Word depict love? Love is the key. It’s the main thing. This passage defines the quality and type of love that the Holy Spirit works within us to reproduce the image of Christ. Apostle Paul discusses spiritual and miraculous gifts in the context of love. He implies that love is not simply expressed through a feeling or emotion, but that love manifests in action. This love that Paul talks about is seen, demonstrated, and experienced. IF love is an action and not an emotion, we need to study what God has to say about love. We need to understand what love is, then we can comprehend how it appears among Christian communities and relationships. To do this, this passage gives us three distinctions, three parts, about love. These three parts are 1) Love is foremost over all else, 2) Love is practical, and 3) Love is eternal.

Part 1: Love is foremost over all else
(v. 1-3) As we read these 3 verses, Paul introduces at least 5 gifts of the Holy Spirit; speaking in tongues, prophecy, knowledge, faith, and giving. All these things, collectively, are generally good and noble things. Prophecy is the ability to declare God’s truth in powerful, life-changing ways. Knowledge involves the deep understanding of the Word of God. Faith is the ability to trust God for great things and through great trials. Giving to the poor is just a good thing to do. Yet, what happens when these are practiced without love? Speaking in the tongues of earth and heaven simply becomes senseless clanging and banging. If I have the great ability to discern and detect understanding for the Scripture and all its mystery, but do not have love, I have absolutely nothing. The power to know and do is meaningless without a loving spirit. Continually, the value of these things is seen as equivalent to nothing without love as we repeatedly see. That we become loving people is valued much higher than being busy or active people. Though both are good things, a loving person is more important than all of these. Without love, all these things become quite useless. Love is the most important thing. This is what life is about. Quite simply, we were placed here to learn to love. Thus, despite any great achievements or accomplishments we may obtain, living without love is nothing more than having wasted our time and gifts. So we can see is foremost

Part 2: Love is Practical
(v. 4-7) Rather, than an abstract and out there idea or definition of love, Paul informs us clearly on what love in action should look like. If I was your English teacher, I would mention the fact that he uses 15 verbs in the span of just 4 verses to describe love. This would imply that despite our own understanding of falling in love or a feeling of attraction, that love must be practical and manifests in our actions, attitudes, and behavior. Essentially, he is attempting to describe the type of love God bestows on us. As we have learned, this love is described with the Greek word agape, or the commitment of our will to cherish and uphold another person. It is the word that we used to try and describe the love God shows us. Behind this type of love is the decision to treat another person with care, concern, thoughtfulness, and a full desire to work for their interests. We can try and think of this in the context of love as action as this is the love Paul speaks about throughout the passage.
This kind of love is only obtainable to those who love God first. An attempt to express a similar type of love without first loving God presents a poor imitation, an almost fake type of love. What are the greatest commandments in the Bible? Matthew 22:37-39 say, “Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” We often mix that up. A lot of us try our best to love our neighbors, our fellow peers, our family, and our friends without first loving God, but find that it is quite impossible to do. It’s funny. If I consider some of the qualities Paul describes through his many “love is..”, especially “love is patient”, I understand I fall short of this so much. I don’t think any of us can be too comfortable after reading these expressions of love. Just through my relationship with my mother alone, I can see how much I lack in this department. She likes to, frequently, comment that I should work hard to grow taller. Now there’s nothing wrong with this, it’s her hope for me to be as happy and healthy as possible, but I often lash out in anger or impatience to hear the same comments repeatedly and often have no patience or grace in conversation. Neither of us wishes to hurt each other or be negative, but I personally struggle over and over to express my love and gratitude for her in an active way beyond just thinking it or saying it. Instead of understanding my own fault in antagonizing her or other negative acts, I focus in on her shortcomings and mistakes and grow impatient. However, as I said before, this passage truly reveals that love is the key. It is the main thing and it is alive. It is through a quality of love that moves, that is the work of the Holy Spirit within us to reproduce the spirit of Christ in us. If we have this love of God in our hearts, then we can truly be patient, we can truly be kind, we can truly be peaceful, considerate, faithful, gentle, and unlock all these other great qualities. But as Matthew 22:38 says, we must first have a love for God.
Love for God is not as difficult as it may seem. It is simply being aware of how he has loved you. His love as a part of your creation. His love in guiding you and protecting you. And greatest of all, His scandalous love in sacrificing his one and only Son for the broken sinner in all of us in order to forgive us, heal us, and redeem us. I think of his great mercy rooted in love to not only wipe away my guilt and shame, but also to wipe away all loneliness and all my inner pains. Through this, God calls us to him and welcomes us back as his prodigal children of his family. The hard part is actually taking the time to act upon this love, to prove it in a sense. It may be hard for most of us to do, including me, but I’m beginning to see more and more that when you love God, you awaken your own capacity to love people. The two great commandments are in the order we find them in for a reason. It is quite clear that love is truly a supernatural quality. I can think of countless times this past year alone when I grew resentful or bitter towards other people. Throughout the summer, it’s fair to say that my grudges did not fade and some even grew deeper. I can definitively say I had severe resentment for a number of people who I felt had wronged me for a collection of reasons, whether they were justified or not. Yet, as I began submitting more and more to God in love through daily devotionals, prayer, and service during the CBF conference, I find that I have had so many opportunities to not only forgive and reconcile but to grow in these relationships again. In an almost supernatural way, one by one, all these people would seemingly message me out of the blue and we would move forward beyond what was in the past and have began forging new relationships with each other. Just recently, I was hit with some really late night texts from a person who I had thought we had burned bridges with. It was truly an act of faith to simply open the message and find the strength to support another in love. Despite the rough times they were going through, God moved in a way that is so unbelievable. To ignore a personal grudge and essentially shove, push and kick me to love, god not only asked for my love to be active and practical but essentially demanded it from me. I find that, truly, God’s love is something I cannot begin to understand or fathom. But it is exactly what I so desperately have desired and sought my entire life. Through just one night, I realize how amazing god's love is to draw others to it and work to resolve friendships that had no business being reconciled due to my own selfishness and pride. Again, god's love is something that I can't even begin to understand but it is truly miraculous and moving.
Part 3: Love is Eternal
(v. 8-13) We see that love never fails. It persists through all things. It never falls away and disappears, it never quits, and it never runs out. Instead, love persists. It keeps on coming endlessly. As we use more and more of it, we find more of it. Paul tells us that the gifts of the Spirit will end; prophecies will cease, tongues will be stilled, knowledge will fade away. He talks about children not to diminish the gifts of those blessed by the Spirit, but to acknowledge an eternal perspective where these gifts of the Spirit will find a time when they are no longer necessary. In the end, three things will remain; faith, hope, and love. The greatest of these is love. Love is the perfect thing, and one day, it will be perfectly ours. No matter where I turn, or how long I turn from love, I find that God’s love is always there. My lowest lows and highest highs, that love continues on and on. The moment I first felt Christ’s love for me has not remained stagnant or stopped in my life. No, it continues to grow deeper and deeper to deep levels I can’t even explain or comprehend.

But the greatest of these is love. For love is foremost over all else, love is practical, and love is eternal. Our love for others and our love for God do not even begin to cover the love God as for us. As seek to love God, we abound in his love. So how will we grow in love, specifically for others? We must pursue it, chase after it. That’s the goal. There is no use in obtaining any other quality if we lack in this one. Before we can love others, we must first be in a love relationship with God who is love himself. The love God continually pours on us is through an understanding of us, for we are fully known by him. It is through our love that the Spirit moves within us it follow his image, then we grow our knowledge of the Lord until we shall know him fully. God calls us to love as the greatest of his commandments. Truly, we are given life so that we might learn to act in love. So I ask, truly, how can you grow in love? Consider the qualities of love. Where do you measure up? Are we the compassionate, patient, kind, truthful person we are called to be? May we earnestly seek to be and clearly hold in our heads an image of this type of person. There is a true reality in these words; “for the greatest of these is love.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Bible School 2017: 1 John 3:16-18 Devotional

1 John 3:16-18 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Let’s get practical! John tells us so clearly how to love our brothers and sisters. Let’s get real! It’s not so easy to practice loving our brothers and sisters…

There nothing in this world that can compare to and show what love is like Jesus Christ showed us. It was not even easy for Christ, who struggled in prayer, to lay his life down for the world, yet we are commissioned to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters, imitating a similar love.

It is not about what you say, if you claim to love a brother or sister but do not show it in your actions, your words are empty and what you claim to be love is nothing. Look to Christ who loves you and showed you the ultimate extend of his love to learn to reflect love towards others. Loving others is something you see, it’s as straightforward as John writes it, it’s in what you do. If you see your brother or sister in need, show pity.

It’s not in a passing statement hoping someone else comes along to help, it’s deciding YOU will help them. Remember, when you were in your darkest moment, when you needed the most help, Jesus came and saved you. He didn’t speak it, he did it-- he died on the cross for you.

If you struggle to find where to start, pray, ask God where he can use you and it’ll be clear to you who he wants you to love. Start small and be meaningful in all your actions.

Food for thought:

  • Who are your brothers and sisters?
  • How can you show you love through action?

Monday, August 21, 2017

Bible School 2017: 1 John 3:1-3 Devotional

1 John 3:1-3 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,[a] we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
(KV 1 John 3:1)

In a world of 7.4 billion people there is constant feelings of insecurity, loneliness, and hatred. It is only through God’s love that we experience the fullness and wholeness of being loved. John clearly states that we are children of God; our identity is rooted in something deeper and better than anything that the world can offer. Though you may struggle to feel unaccepted or unloved by those around you, your hope is in coming savior.

These verses point us to answering the question of our identity. In being a child of God not everything may make sense in the moment or sometimes ever, but John encourages us to hold on, to purify ourselves simply because Christ is pure. When we take on our identity in Christ, we too strive to reflect his image. When Christ appears everything blurred and all the gray areas will be separated and cleared up.

Look around you at your fellow brothers and sisters, you are all greatly blessed with the great love the Father has lavished in your life, and continues to lavish on you.
Food for thought:
  • If someone walked up to you on the street how would they identify you?
  • How is your relationship with the Father? Do you seek him and hope to understand him? Is there something or someone stopping you from growing in your relationships with Him?
  • What is one way you take on the image of Christ and one way you can hope to take on the image of Christ?