Posts tagged ‘1 John’

May 26, 2014

843 Acre: Born-Again Christianity?

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Is 27 (txt | aud, 2:09 min)
1 Jn 5 (txt | aud, 2:53 min)
Highlighted: 1 Jn 5:18-20

Born-Again: Mickey Rooney was a husband eight times over, a star by the age of 19, and—after having earned and then wasted $12 million—a “bankrupt has-been” in his 40s. Last month, in his obituary, The New York Times described him as “impulsive, recklessly extravagant, mercurial, and addicted to playing the ponies and shooting craps.” Yet his life changed in the 1970s when “he stopped drinking and became a born-again Christian.” What does it mean to become “a born-again Christian”? Does it mean that his conversion was more emotional or radical? Does it mean that, since his life had fallen apart, he was in greater need of moral authority?

Spirit-Birth: In the gospel according to John, Jesus says that being born again is normal Christianity. He tells a morally upright religious leader named Nicodemus, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” [1] Nicodemus was not emotional or radical. His life had not fallen apart. Yet Jesus says that everyone—regardless of class, gender, religion, or ethics—must be born again of the Spirit.

Marks: In his letter, John spells out three things that mark the life of someone who has been born again. First, a renewing of the mind—not just a believing or a being convinced, but an experiencing and a new spiritual understanding: “The Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true.” [2] Second, a renewing of the heart—a new identity as a child of God, not controlled by the evil one: “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” [3] Finally, a renewing of the behavior—an increasing conformity to the life of Christ that happens as a result of his protection over us: “Everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.” [4]

Prayer: Lord, Only when we are born again by the Spirit are we able to live with a renewed mind, heart, and behavior. Therefore, we pray that we would be born again. Give us a new birth that we might be our children. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] John 3:5-6 ESV | [2] 1 John 5:20 ESV | [3] 1 John 5:19 ESV | [4] 1 John 5:18 ESV

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May 23, 2014

843 Acres: Love in an Age of Loneliness

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Is 24 (txt | aud, 3:25 min)
1 Jn 2 (txt | aud, 4:02 min)
Highlighted: 1 Jn 2:10-11

Lonely:  In her 2012 TED talk (“Connected, But Alone?”)—which has over 2 million views—Sherry Turkle says, “We expect more from technology and less from each other. Why have things come to this? I believe it’s because technology appeals to us where we are most vulnerable. And we are vulnerable. We’re lonely, but we’re afraid of intimacy. From social networks to sociable robots, we’re designing technologies that will give the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship. We turn to tech to help us feel connected in ways we can comfortably control.”

Love: Jesus said that love for God is the greatest commandment and love for others is the second greatest. Together they sum up the entire law. Here, in 1 John 2, we read, “Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” [1]

Serve: In an age of social disintegration, isolation, and loneliness, we have an incredible opportunity for love—real, on-the-ground, relational, in-person, unique love. In fact, it is perhaps our greatest apologetic. At the Last Supper, after Jesus served his disciples by washing their feet, he said, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” Then he said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” That is what the love of Christ looks like—serving others, living in community with them, kneeling down, and being vulnerable. And from where do we get the power to overcome our fear of intimacy? We look to the one who washed feet, stumbled to the cross, and died to create our community—his bride, the church.

Prayer: Lord, we are selfish people, but we long for your selfless love in our hearts. Open our eyes to see the needs around us and help us to meet them. May we seek out lonely and isolated people and love them. Help us to think of ourselves less and others more so that you name might be made holy in our lives. Amen.

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M’Cheyne Weekend Readings:

Saturday, May 24: Is 25 (txt | aud, 2:12 min) & 1 Jn 3 (txt | aud, 3:17 min)
Sunday, May 25: Is 26 (txt | aud, 3:06 min) & 1 Jn 4 (txt | aud, 3:02 min)
Monday, May 26 (Memorial Day): Is 27 (txt | aud, 2:09 min) & 1 Jn 5 (txt | aud, 2:53 min)

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Footnotes

[1] 1 John 2:10-11 ESV

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May 22, 2014

843 Acres TBT: Forgiven Much, Love Much (Newton)

by Bethany

M’CheyneIs 23 (txt | aud, 2:41 min)
1 Jn 1 (txt | aud, 1:28 min)

1 John 1:5-10

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

John Newton, The Letters of John Newton (1772)

The righteous are said to be scarcely saved, not with respect to the certainty of the event, for the purpose of God in their favor cannot be disappointed—but in respect of their own apprehensions, and the great difficulties they are brought through. But when, after a long experience of their own deceitful hearts, after repeated proofs of their weakness, willfulness, ingratitude, and insensibility—they find that none of these things can separate them from the love of God in Christ; Jesus becomes more and more precious to their souls. They love much because much has been forgiven them!

They dare not ascribe anything to themselves—but are glad to acknowledge that they must have perished a thousand times over—if Jesus had not been their Savior, their Shepherd, and their Shield! When they were wandering—He brought them back. When they were fallen—He raised them. When they were wounded—He healed them. When they were fainting—He revived them. By him, out of weakness, they have been made strong. He has taught their hands to battle, and covered their heads in the day of battle. In a word, some of the clearest proofs they have had of his excellence—have been occasioned by the mortifying proofs they have had of their own vileness. They would not have known so much of him—if they had not known so much of themselves!

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December 6, 2013

843 Acres Advent: O Little Town of Bethlehem

by Bethany

843 Acres Advent: O Little Town of Bethlehem

The Text

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. (Micah 5:2 ESV, later quoted by Matthew)

The Story

Phillips Brooks was a Harvard graduate with a struggling career as a teacher. Although brilliant, he was frustrated with his students’ lack of ambition. After turning to pursue a career in ministry, he graduated from seminary in 1859. Two years later, he was called to lead the congregation of Holy Trinity Church in Philadelphia, where he met Lewis Redner.

Together, Brooks and Redner became well known for their music and children’s programs. By 1863, the same year that President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, Brooks began to grow tired. In the midst of the Civil War, his congregation expected him to inspire them. They wanted peace and turned to him for assurance. As the war was drew to a close, Brooks was hopeful that things would settle down, but then the President was assassinated in April 1865. Although Brooks was not Lincoln’s pastor, he was asked to speak at the funeral because of his oratory skills.

Exhausted from the war, Brooks decided to take a sabbatical and set out for the Middle East. On Christmas Eve of 1865, he was in Jerusalem—far from his home in Philadelphia. That evening, he went to the fields outside of Bethlehem and meditated on the birth of the Messiah. He later told his family and friends that the experience was so overwhelming that it would forever be “singing in my soul.”

When he returned, he felt that he was at a loss of words to convey how meaningful his trip to the Holy Land was. He first wrote about it in his journal and then he wrote a poem in 1868. That year, on Christmas Eve, Redner composed music to accompany the poem. They shared the hymn with their friends in Philadelphia and, by 1874, it was published in The Church Porch music collection. 

The Lyrics 

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee to-night.

O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth!
And praises sing to God the King,
And peace to men on earth.
For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above,
While mortals sleep the Angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.

How silently, how silently,
The wondrous gift is given;
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His Heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

Where children pure and happy
Pray to the blessed Child,
Where misery cries out to Thee,
Son of the Mother mild;
Where Charity stands watching
And Faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks,
And Christmas comes once more.

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray!
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us to-day.
We hear the Christmas angels,
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel!

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M’Cheyne Reading As Scheduled:

Friday, December 6: 2 Chr 5-6:11 (text | audio, 3:53 min) & 1 Jn 4 (text | audio, 3:02 min)
Saturday, December 7: 2 Chr 6:12-42 (text | audio, 5:19 min) & 1 Jn 5 (text | audio, 2:53 min)
Sunday, December 8: 2 Chr 7 (text | audio, 4:52 min) & 2 Jn 1 (text | audio, 1:43 min)

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Christmas Logo 2

Special Note: As with any good music activity, we are taking requests. If you have a favorite song that you would like to see featured, email us at info@theparkforum.org.

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December 5, 2013

843 Acres Advent: Joy to the World

by Bethany

843 Acres Advent: Joy to the World

The Text

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
the world and those who dwell in it!
Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the hills sing for joy together
before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity. (Psalm 98:4-9 ESV) 

The Story 

On July 17, 1674, when Isaac Watts was born in Southampton, England, his father was in jail for having been found guilty of teaching radical ideas against the Church of England. When Watts went away to school, he followed in his father’s nonconformist ways. He questioned everything, wanting to know why he or anyone should accept the way things were.

As a young adult, Watts found church music boring and uninspired. Although many of his peers agreed with him, they kept quiet. He, however, complained to his father, who challenged him to create something better. And he did—more than six hundred hymns and hundreds of poems. While studying Psalm 98, Watts wrote “Joy to the World” and set it to the tune “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” When he shared his music with the church, however, it was not well received. At the time, few English Christians felt comfortable with him having rewritten the Psalms. By 1719, he was able to publish the hymn in his new hymnbook, The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament and Applied to the Christian State and Worship, which also included “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” “At the Cross,” and “This is the Day the Lord Has Made.”

Forty-four years later, Lowell Mason was born in Orange, New Jersey. In 1812, he moved to Macon, Georgia, to pursue a career as a banker and study Handel in his spare time. On weekends, he wrote music and arrangements. His musical creations were initially rejected, but he found a publisher in Massachusetts in 1827. He immediately left the South and moved to Boston. For the next twenty years, he was a prominent musician in New England—funding the first public school music program and writing more than six hundred hymns.

In 1836, Mason composed a new melody inspired by Handel’s Messiah. He called it “Antioch,” but he lacked words for it. Three years later, however, he linked Watts’s “Joy to the World” and his “Antioch.” Interestingly, it is unknown how “Joy to the World” became known as a Christmas carol. It is not inspired by the New Testament but the Old and it has no words that directly allude to the birth of the Messiah. In fact, “Joy to the World” could be a song for all seasons.

The Lyrics 

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
let every heart prepare him room,
and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven and nature sing.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let all their songs employ;
while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
nor thorns infest the ground;
he comes to make his blessings flow
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
and makes the nations prove
the glories of his righteousness,
and wonders of his love,
and wonders of his love,
and wonders of his love.

M’Cheyne Reading as Scheduled:
2 Chr 3-4 (text | audio, 5:28 min)
1 Jn 3 (text | audio, 3:17 min)

___________________

Christmas Logo 2

Special Note: As with any good music activity, we are taking requests. If you have a favorite song that you would like to see featured, email us at info@theparkforum.org.

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ____________________________________ 

 

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