Joy Made Complete

Good morning Woodland Hills! I feel truly blessed to share this week’s devotions with you. Starting each day with coffee and Jesus warms my heart in more ways than I can describe. My prayer is that as we journey through the letter of 1 John together this week, you will find comfort, encouragement, challenge, and conviction. Allow God to mold you and shape you, desiring to look a little more like Jesus every day. Every day this week will include a lesson from each one of the five chapters in the letter. I will highlight some key verses but I would challenge you to read the corresponding chapter prior to the day’s devotion. May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

1 John 1

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

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.
1 John 1:1 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”

What makes the testimony of the apostles so powerful is that they have seen Jesus with their own eyes, seeing, touching, and hearing Him. The things they had heard, seen, and touched radically changed them. After experiencing the fullness of Christ and the gift of His Spirit, they were forever altered. Most would eventually die for the story of Jesus. We all have a Jesus story, a story that tells of who we were and what Jesus has done in our lives. These stories orient our lives to faith in Jesus and point others to Him.

Our Jesus story is an unshakeable story that when shared, you know with complete confidence that Jesus is real and he has been with you in a very personal way. Some may be more “colorful” than others but we all have (at least) one. Sharing Jesus is a little different than sharing Scriptures. For those far from Jesus and without the Holy Spirit, Scripture is neither living nor active. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that animates the Word of God in such a way that it gives life. Without the breath of God, ruach Elohim, dry bones remain dry bones. In my personal experience discipling those far from Christ, sharing Jesus stories create curiosity and encourage spiritual conversations that can turn into fruitful relationships. Many resist Scripture yet will give ear to our testimony. Our stories are incredibly powerful when they point to the power of Jesus, and yet a recent Barna study revealed that only 2% of believers share their faith.

When we share the truth of Jesus, our joy is made complete. Unshared faith produces incomplete joy. The word we translate “gospel” comes from the Greek word euangellion, a word which would be used to announce the birth of a king or spread good news of a victory which had been won. The story of Jesus is both. Heralds would go out into all the towns and share what had happened with anyone who would listen. When we are born again and truly embrace the reality of what Christ accomplished on the cross, the natural response is to share the good news.

We say often in recovery that “if you want to keep it you have to give it away.” If you want to hang onto your sobriety, share it. If you want to keep your joy, strive to give it away. If you want to really ignite your faith, orient your entire life around pouring into others. In his book Gaining By Losing, JD Greear talks about a game he played when he was little called “give away checkers”. The object of the game was to let your opponent take all of your checkers. Giving away all you have brings victory. You win by losing. Make an effort today to share what has been freely given to you. Pray for an opportunity to give away some joy and share your Jesus story with someone new today. You will be supernaturally blessed when you do. If your eyes are open and your heart is willing, such people will present themselves every time.

Reflect

  1. Verses 8-10 are what we call in biblical studies a chiasm. 8 and 10 mirror one another as a way of greatly emphasizing the point of verse 9. John is telling us to PAY ATTENTION! How might an awareness of our sinfulness (8 and 10) and the assurance of our forgiveness (verse 9) shape the way you share Jesus?
  2. John writes in verse 5 that “God is light”. Is there a darkened portion of your life that could use illumination? Pray before you answer.

Pray

Holy and almighty God, I take a pause before this day to sing hallelujah and hosanna! Remind me of my redemption. Help me to recall my rescue. May I never forget my seasons of wilderness wanderings. Open my eyes today to someone who needs the hope I have found in Christ. Grant me the courage and humility needed to step out as I share my faith. May your Holy Spirit stir in others a desire for the “inexpressible and glorious joy” of Jesus. I pray in His name and for His kingdom, Amen.
 
Zac Holt, April 27, 2020
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