Things You Need to Know

Last week, Zachary preached from John 21 on how we need to love Jesus more, love what He loves, and follow Him. My original plan for this week was to preach a new series on getting your life on track. But, the Lord knows what we need and He had other plans! When preparing for Sunday’s message, the Lord led me to 1 John 2. The word “know” is used 13 times in this chapter. I believe there are three things we need to know going into a new year, so that we can know God and love Him more.

A Word of Encouragement

In verses 12-14 we read of three groups of people – little children, fathers, and young men. We also read some encouraging things about them – their sins are forgiven, they know the Lord, and they have overcome the wicked one! God’s family is made up of people of all ages and stages. The three groups named in this passage have physical and spiritual meaning. They represent physical ages, yes, but these are also stages of the Christian life. We read, “Children… your sins are forgiven.” That is the starting place, but we need forgiveness daily. Fathers are those who have known God for a long time. Paul is an example. Even Paul said he wanted to know Him more!

Our strength comes from the work of Christ and the Word of God. “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10).  Whatever you are going through, it is only going to make you stronger. For many of you, God will give you the victory to be overcomers in the new year! Regardless of where you are in your walk with God, none of us have arrived. Let’s grow and go forward in our walk with the Lord this year. Let’s take our next step spiritually so that we are continually growing closer to Him.

A World of Entanglement

Verse 15 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world….” God is love and we are to love one another, but there is a love that God hates. “Love not the world….” We are not to love the gift more than the giver! Instead of giving you a list of things to avoid, I want you to understand that worldliness is anything that excludes God, or any activity or attitude that keeps you from loving God. It is not a place you go or a particular thing you do. It is a perspective on life. It is a secular attitude about living. What do you spend your time on?  What do you spend your money on? God is not against hobbies, fun, enjoyment, vacations, sports, etc., as long as HE is first in your life. The world cannot deliver what it promises and it cannot give you what you really need. What you really need is God, forgiveness, and salvation. Verse 17 says, “…the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” Don’t be like Demas in 2 Timothy 4:10, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world…” Don’t forsake Christ and His church, entangled with a love of this world.

A Weapon of Empowerment

In verse 18, John warns that it is the last hour, that the Antichrist is coming, and that many antichrists have come. Our time on this earth is limited. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. And, we know without a doubt that the spirit of the antichrist is alive and well on earth now. The goal of the devil is to keep you from growing spiritually. Satan attacks the church from without and within.  He plants people to cause confusion. “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things” (v. 20). The anointing is like a red flag in your spirit alerting you when things aren’t right.  False teaching and false teachers are everywhere. There is nothing more exciting than seeing people saved, and nothing more disturbing than to see those who have a heart for God get messed up in false religions. Believers are anointed to accomplish our assignment. The same power that raised Jesus from the grave lives in us! The Holy Spirit is our teacher.  He leads us and guides us into all truth. We must abide in Him so that we will grow stronger spiritually and not be deceived.

John 21 (Jesus Peter)

Guest Blogger: Zachary Ethridge

As we come to the end of a year, it’s a good time to reflect. How did I live? Am I closer to Jesus now than I was last year? Did I kill that pet sin? What new sins and temptations arose? What idols were torn down or constructed? Although it is uncomfortable, it is important to truly come face to face with where we are with God. Maybe at the end of 2017 you look back with regret or disappointment. This time last year, maybe you made all these grand resolutions about how you were going to live for Christ, things were going to be different, and as you reflect you feel as though you have failed.

There was a disciple in the Bible named Peter. He made some bold statements about what he definitely would and would not do, only to fall flat on his face! In, John 13 he tells Jesus, “…I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.” Sure enough, in John 18 Peter denies Jesus three times. Peter had resolved to die for Jesus and while Jesus is dying for him, Peter is denying his friend and Lord. But the resurrected Christ comes to him in John 21:15-22, and gives him another opportunity, a chance at a new beginning, a reminder that He’s not done with Peter just yet. And I believe His word to Peter is His word to you this year.

Love Jesus More 

Peter has denied Jesus 3 times, and now his gracious Savior asks him 3 times if he loves Him. If you’ve messed up big last year, if like Peter you said at the beginning of last year, “I’d never do that” and then you did or “I am definitely going to do this” only to fall short, here’s what the risen Jesus wants you to know as you go into 2018: Do you love Him? Not because he doesn’t care about what you do! Rather, He knows that if you love Him, you’ll live for Him. My hope is at the end of each year I can honestly say “I love Jesus more than I did last year.”

Love what Jesus loves

Jesus tells Peter to feed His sheep. The Shepherd has a special love for the sheep. Of all the things Jesus loves, He loves the church, His sheep, His bride, in a most special way. He says, “feed,” “tend,” and “feed.” What are those? Verbs! The problem at the beginning of a new year is not that we make resolutions; it’s that our resolutions remain intentions! We don’t follow through with action! May your love for Jesus overflow in love for His people this year in action.

Follow Jesus Wherever He leads

Jesus tells Peter that one day he will die for following Him. At first, Peter loved himself and denied Jesus, but later, Peter loved Jesus and denied himself. None of us know which year will be our last. I want to live the remainder of my years investing into a mission that will far outlive me, and into a kingdom that is eternal. Now, when Peter finds out that it will cost him his life, he immediately wonders what will become of John’s life. And Jesus offers a response that is simple and clear – that is none of your business; don’t focus on my plan for him, focus on my will for you. He says, “You follow me!” In 2018, don’t compare God’s plan for you with His plan for others. Love Him. Love the things He loves. And follow Him wherever He leads.