Year B – Trinity Sunday – Romans 8:12-17

12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “ Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

Summary – This passage is pertinent to our season after Pentecost.  Paul explains that a Christians’ righteous living can not be attained through the exercise of their personal human energy and effort, but only through the Spirit’s work through their efforts.  This fact is what makes one a Son or Child of God: the Spirit’s presence.

Insight – Being a child of God comes with more perks than just a fancy-sounding name!  Notice here that if we are “children” of God, then “heirs also . . . with Christ.”  Christ inherits a kingdom, and we as co-heirs have a share in it as well (cf. Sermon on the Mount).  The Holy Spirit is our proof that we are God’s Children, and He gives us the grace and strength to live in ways befitting of God’s Children.

Catechism – How do you know that you are God’s child?  By the Holy Spirit’s work in my life.

Prayer – Father, thank you for adopting us as sons.  Though we were born as part of Adam’s family, your grace transferred us into Christ’s family.  Give us the strength to put to death the deeds of the flesh through your Spirit.  Amen.

Year B – Trinity Sunday – John 3:1-17

John 3:1–17 NRSV –    Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 3:2 He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 3:4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 3:5 Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 3:6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 3:7 Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 3:8 The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 3:9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 3:10 Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? 3:11 “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 3:12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 3:13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 3:14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 3:15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 3:17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Summary – John 3 is the famous passage of the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, an inquiring Pharisee. It is famous because the language of being “born again” comes from this text. In this version (NRSV) this phrase is more properly translated being “born from above,” since the Greek word “anothen” can be either born “again” or “from above.” In the context Jesus is speaking about a new creation birth by the Spirit that will come from heaven, just as Jesus Himself came from heaven. The Kingdom that Nicodemus (and all the Pharisees) were looking for would be a Kingdom that must be entered through the water of Baptism and the Baptism of the Spirit. This Spiritual Cleansing of Israel is what the Prophets spoke of in the times associated with the coming of Messiah (such as last week’s reading in Ez. 37). Jesus explains that God gave His Son for the world, not in condemnation, but that the world would be saved through believing in Him.

Insight – Have you come to the place in your life where you know that you have peace with God? Have you had a spiritual change in your life? Here’s a question that may help you to discern your spiritual condition: If you died today and were standing before God the Judge of All and He asked you why you should go to heaven, what would you say? The best answer to this question is found in verse 16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” We are all responsible to trust that Jesus makes us acceptable to God the Father.

Catechism – What does John 3:16 teach? That God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.

Discussion – If  Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world then what did He come to do? How does your life fit with God’s purpose for sending Jesus?

Prayer – Almighty Father we thank you for sending Jesus our only Savior into the world so that we might be saved through Him who was lifted up on the cross, taking our sins, taking our judgment and giving us His life. We believe in Him and ask that you would grant to us the grace to continue steadfastly in that faith through out our lives, in Christ’s Name. Amen.

 

 

Year B – Trinity Sunday – Psalm 29

Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,*
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name;
worship the Lord in holy splendor.
3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord, over mighty waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
8 The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl,*
and strips the forest bare;
and in his temple all say, ‘Glory!’
10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the Lord give strength to his people!
May the Lord bless his people with peace!

Summary— Just as our minister calls us, each Sunday, to worship with angels and archangels, so may we call those angels and archangels to worship.  This psalm opens in the Throne Room with just such a call: the psalmist, energized by what is about to come, summons the heavenly beings to ascribe glory to God (v.1 and 2).  We do the same in the Doxology, when we sing, “Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts.”  The scene now shifts to an awesomely tempestuous ocean, and the roaring thunder is nothing less than the voice of Yahweh (v.3).  That thundering voice in the storm sweeps inland, breaking down cedars (v.5), making all that is impressive to man bow down to Him.  Yahweh’s lightning flashes forth (v.7), shaking the wilderness (v.8) and stripping the forest bare (v.9).  All in His temple joyfully reel at the earth-shaking surge of power and in exhilarated awe shout “Glory!” (v.9).  The storm then passes over, and the people—in the wonder of the calm—look up between the dissipating clouds to see Yahweh enthroned serenely over the situation, as He sends the trailing end of His storm toward the horizon (v.10).  May He give the strength of that storm and the peace that follows it to us (v.11)!

Insight— Last summer, my kids and I got stuck under a park pavilion during the most ear-splitting and torrential storm I’ve ever experienced.  Lightning was striking all around us with incredible frequency, apparently a stone’s throw away, while water rose on the concrete slab where I stood holding one child in each arm.  With each strike of lightning and immediate peal of thunder, I’d yell out above the torrent, “What does thunder say!?” and the kids would yell back, “God is awesome!”  It’s a special memory.  I understand that not everybody likes storms, but at the risk of pushing my preference onto you (mainly because it’s the psalmist’s preference) you really should learn to like them, too, if you don’t already.  They’re awesome.  Don’t worry—Yahweh’s throne is over them, and it’s His voice that thunders in them.  It’s His voice that roars in the clash of wave and rock on the jetty just before the storm rolls inland.   Don’t miss God’s self-disclosure in nature: storms say something about Him—so do trees, flowers, mountains, canyons, snowflakes, raindrops.  As we traverse this valley of longing between glory and greater glory, where faith is not yet sight, we cherish the tokens of glory which God graciously gives to stir our longing and hint at its fulfillment.  So joyfully reel at His earth-shaking surges of power and in exhilarated awe shout, “Glory!”

Child Catechism
Q: What does thunder say?
A: God is awesome!

Discussion—What are some other events or objects of God’s world which reveal Him?  What do they say?

Prayer—Yahweh, You are glorious and strong and we fall down before the splendor of Your holiness.  You are the God of glory and Your voice is powerful and full of majesty, thundering over the mighty waters.  As your voice breaks down cedars and flashes forth flames of fire and shakes the wilderness, we in Your temple say, “Glory!”  You sit enthroned over the flood as king forever.  Give us strength and bless us with the peace of Christ through whom we pray.  Amen.

Contributed by Scott Cline

Year B – Trinity Sunday – Isaiah 6:1-8

Isaiah 6:1-8:   In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. 2 Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” 6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”    (NRSV)

Summary:  Though we are always in the presence of God, we never get such a direct peek at the Almighty as Isaiah describes here.  He witnesses a vision of God’s holiness; one that we can only try to image; finding himself standing inside the throne room of the Lord (possibility while he was at the earthly temple).  Frightened and in awe, Isaiah cannot help but recognize his own impurity and imperfection before the pure the perfect King of the Universe.  Specifically, the prophet mentions the unclean lips of himself, and of his people (v5).

Insight:  It makes sense that the purity of a prophet’s words would be an important aspect to his ministry; but of all the sins that humanity has and can do, Isaiah speaks of his guilty for the things he and his people have said.  We can speak some awful and wicked things to one another.  Often times, we don’t even realize how much words can hurt.  We speak flippantly, without thinking and in ignorance; yet like everything else about our lives, our speech should also reflect the holiness and goodness of God.  We need to be speaking in truth and in love.  This means our mouths need restrain and discipline just as much as the rest of our mind and body.  And now, since Christ has purified his people, we may join that angelic chord which sings:  “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Child Catechism:  In the presence of God, what did Isaiah recognize was wrong with him and his people?   That they had misspoken, and were a people of unclean lips.

Discussion:  What did Jesus say about careless words?   (Matt. 12:36-37)

Father, cleanse our hearts and minds with your Spirit, so that what we say and do would be true and pure, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Year B – Pentecost – Ezekiel 37:1-14

Text- 1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; it was full of bones. 2 And he led me round among them; and behold, there were very many upon the valley; and lo, they were very dry. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, thou knowest.” 4 Again he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD.” 7 So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 And as I looked, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great host. 11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you home into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken, and I have done it, says the LORD.

 

Summary – This chapter is a famous telling of Ezekiel’s vision of “the valley of dry bones.” IT takes place after Babylon captured the land, and destroyed Jerusalem. The Lord takes Ezekiel into a valley that contained the bones of many decides person. The Lord commands him to prophesy, or preach, to the bones, telling them that God would give them muscles and skin and breath. The long dead bones would become alive again. This vision was God’s promise that he would restore Israel, he would bring them up from the grave, back from captivity, and they would live as God’s people in his promised land once again. 

 

Insight – This passage gives us insight into the power of God, to make the dead become alive again. An important element in this passage is the breath of God. The dry bones were put back together and covered in flesh, but it was not until the breath of God entered them that they became alive again. This points back to Genesis 2, where God took dust and turned it into a living man with his breath. It also points forward to John 20, where the resurrected Christ breathes on his disciples, and they receive the Holy Spirit. God’s breath gives us life and sustains us from moment to moment physically. But his breath also gives us spiritual life, without which, we would be little more than dead, dried bones. 

 Discussion – How do you think this passage connects with the day of Pentecost, which we are celebrating on Sunday? 

 

Catechism – Q. What gave life to the dry bones? 

A. The Breath of God

 

Prayer – Our God and Father, You are mighty to give life to even dead bones. We know you are working in us, to give us your life. We ask that you would give us eyes of faith that we would know that you are the I AM, whose breath gives life to every creature. We do not ask this on our own merit, but on the merit of our Lord Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit are one God. Amen. 

 

Contributed by Jared McNabb

Year B – Pentecost – Romans 8:22-27

22We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now;23and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.24For in* hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes* for what is seen? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.  26Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes* with sighs too deep for words.27And God,* who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit* intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Summary—Whether the captain must go down with the ship, I don’t know; but, as far as God’s concerned, the ship must go down with the captain.  Since man was king and creation was subject, creation was subject to man’s curse.  We broke God’s Law—God broke our world.  And that world groans for its redemption as we groan for ours, and those redemptions are one and the same.  Jesus died to break the curse, and he died to break it “far as the curse is found.”  That is our hope, sure but unseen.  The day is coming when the broken will be fixed, the hurt will be healed, the painful will be pleasant, the dead will be resurrected—everything sad will become untrue. 

Insight— In the meantime—while sad things are still true things—we long for the consummation of our salvation with groaning.  Sometimes, that groaning can’t be put to words; so, the Spirit intercedes for us with groans deeper than words.  This is one of our many Pentecostal blessings: the Spirit who was poured out on the masses at Pentecost is still poured out on us in our baptisms.  He washes and renews us, sensitizes our consciences and shapes our thinking, opens eyes of faith and enflames hearts of love, prompts us to pray and intercedes when we don’t know what to pray. 

Child Catechism
Q: Who prays for you when you don’t know what to pray? 
A: The Holy Spirit.

Discussion—In light of this promise, do you think it would be appropriate to ask the Spirit to intercede for you when you can’t find words for the cries of your heart?

Prayer— O God, we long for the redemption of our bodies, and for the redemption of our world.  We hope for that which is not yet seen, and set our hearts on what You have promised; but, as we wait patiently for it, the creation groans, and we groan—often without words.  Spirit, make incense of our longings and raise it to the Throne: intercede for us with groans deeper than words, through Jesus Christ who always reigns with You and the Father, one God forever.  Amen.

Contributed by Scott Cline

Year B – Pentecost – John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

John 15:26–27 NRSV –    “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. 15:27 You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning. John 16:4–15  –  But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them.  “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 16:5 But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 16:6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 16:8 And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 16:9 about sin, because they do not believe in me; 16:10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 16:11 about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. 16:12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 16:14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 16:15 All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Summary – Jesus is in the Upper Room with the disciples at the Last Supper. He tells them that the Holy Spirit will be sent to them after He leaves following His death, resurrection and ascension. The Holy Spirit is called the Advocate who will convict the world of the sin of unbelief, of the righteousness of Jesus going to the Father and of the judgment of the ruler of this world (the devil).  The Spirit of Truth will guide them into all truth. This truth is focused on Jesus. The Spirit will testify to the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Insight – Have you ever really been confused about something, then the light turned on in your mind and you fully understood it? Sometimes we call this an “epiphany” (a sudden manifestation of understanding). With spiritual things we don’t really have access to the light switch to turn it on for ourselves. We have to await the Holy Spirit’s work of turning on the light of the knowledge of Christ. This is what Christ says to the disciples in the Upper Room. He has many things He wants to say to them, but they cannot understand now. However, when the redemptive events of Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension unfold, then the Spirit will be given to them at Pentecost to fully convey His truth. The Spirit will guide them into all truth. If you consider the disciples actions during the trial of Jesus (such as the denial of Peter) and even after the resurrection, it is clear that they did not have the Spirit’s full understanding. But then at Pentecost the light is turned on!

Catechism – What does the Holy Spirit do? Guide us into all truth about Jesus.

Discussion – What kinds of truths did the Holy Spirit teach the apostles? Can you give some examples of the differences of the behavior of the Apostles before Pentecost and then after Pentecost?

Prayer – O Father of Light, guide us into the deepest truths of Jesus through the Holy Spirit you have given to us. Grant that we may be fully receptive to the light of the knowledge of this truth and through knowing this that our lives may be transformed to be your people in the world. In Christ’s Name. Amen.

Year B – Easter – Pentecost – That Easter Day

One thing Jesus’ disciples just didn’t “get” was that He had to die and rise again.  The two men on the road to Emmaus sure didn’t get it.  Certainly then, they didn’t get the fact that Jesus would ascend into heaven, and then send the Holy Spirit to them, even though He had taught that very thing before His death.  But on the day of Pentecost, when they received the Holy Spirit, it must have all finally made sense.

One hymn we are singing this Pentecost is mainly about the Resurrection and Easter, but there are some things that may not make sense until Pentecost.  There are three phrases like that:

“O Jesus King of gentleness, do Thou Thyself our hearts possess.”

“O Lord of all, with us abide.”

“Thine own redeemed forever shield.”

These phrases come alive when we realize that it is through the Spirit of God that these things are fulfilled.  Jesus promised us that He would not leave us alone when He went into heaven but would send the Spirit to comfort us, to be present with us, to teach us, and to lead us into all truth.  Through the Spirit, Christ “possesses” our hearts.  Through the Spirit, Christ “abides” with us.  Through the Spirit He protects, defends, and “shields” us.

All praise, O risen Lord, we give

To Thee, who, dead, again dost live;

All praise to God the Father be

And Holy Ghost eternally.

Hallelujah!

Year B – Day of Pentecost – Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

Psalm 104:  Lord, how manifold are your works!  In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. 25 Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great. 26 There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it. 27 These all look to you to give them their food in due season; 28 when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. 29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. 30 When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground. 31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works—32 who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke. 33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. 34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.        35b  Bless the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord!  (NRSV)

Summary:  The created universe is deeply personal; it is not a reality made up of impersonal objects (as so many want to believe).  Everything in creation is dependent upon, and always in the presence of the Creator.  This entire psalm reflects upon those initial days of creation, praising and rejoicing in God’s handiwork.  These final verses particularly relates to his role as the provider of life for all creatures.

Insight:  Even as Christians, we can think of God as being far away and the creation as impersonal.  This is simply not so.  We have all seen God’s signature.  We have seen his life giving Spirit at work in our own lives and in this amazing world.  We have seen his creativity and wisdom in many ways.  And as the psalmist reminds us, even the rest of God’s creatures rely on his Spirit for life.  Now that same Spirit, the one who created and now sustains the world, has begun to recreate our broken existence.  He has brought Christ back from the dead.  And as we celebrate the Day of Pentecost, he has been poured out upon the church.

Child Catechism: Who has created the world?  The Triune God: Our Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Discussion:  What is the most interesting creature you can think of?  How might the dry bones of Ezekiel 37:1-14 relate to what Paul says in Romans 8:22-27?

Father God, Your Spirit creates life, recreate our hearts and minds, empower us by your presence, that we may truly live and serve you.  In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Contributed by M. West

Year B – Easter 7 – 1 John 5:9-13

9If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son.10Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God* have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son.11And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.12Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

Summary—If the testimony of those who may be mistaken or may even lie is good enough— if we normally just accept what we hear from others—then how much greater is God’s testimony (v.9)?  And God has testified concerning His Son (v.9): at Jesus’ baptism, God declared, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased;” in Jesus’ ministry, God empowered Him to perform miracles; at Jesus’ crucifixion, God darkened the sky and shook the ground and tore the curtain; but most astoundingly, God breathed out our Bible.  In more than one way, God the Father has publicly testified that Jesus is God the Son.  And this testimony is in our hearts (v.10); in other words, God has placed in our hearts the conviction that His testimony about His Son is true and good and wonderful.  Those who do not share this conviction call God a liar (v.10).  And God’s testimonies about His Son (which He has placed in our hearts) are summed up in this testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son (v.11).  Those who are in the Son have life, and those who aren’t, don’t (v.12), because union with Christ is the central reality of salvation—every other benefit flows through our union to Him.  And St. John says all this so that we’ll know that we have eternal life (v.13): if God’s testimony about Jesus has been placed in our hearts, then we are in the Son, where life is.

Insight— If your mother says that she’s laid out a pair of pants for you on the bed, do you squint your eyes and respond, “Hm, I’m not sure whether I ought to believe you…”?  Or even if you meet a disreputable car salesman, who mentions that his partner’s name is Fred, do you cross your arms and reply, “Nope, not buying it—your reputation has preceded you; I bet your partner’s name isn’t Fred…”?  No, we tend to assume that most of what we hear is true.  We really couldn’t function if we didn’t.  So, how much more unquestioningly should we take God at His Word?  Yet, every time we make an idol of a hobby, we’re not believing God’s testimony that His Son is all-satisfying.  Every time we’re unkind to our spouses, we’re not believing God’s testimony that His Son’s relationship to His bride is infinitely glorious and worth mirroring.  Every time we feel as though God is impressed with our performance, we’re not believing God’s testimony that His Son is our righteousness.  Every sin grows in the soil of unbelief.

Child Catechism—In whom did God give us eternal life?  God gave us eternal life in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Discussion—What kinds of growth in your life would evidence that you truly believe God’s testimony about His Son?  If you do truly believe God’s testimony about His Son—if you believe in a way that shows—then what does St. John assure you of?

Prayer— O God, if we receive man’s testimony, Your testimony is greater.  You have borne testimony concerning Your Son; and, whoever believes in Your Son has that testimony in his heart, but, whoever does not believe that testimony makes You a liar.  And this is Your testimony: that You have given us eternal life, and this life is in Your Son.  If we have Your Son, we have life; if we do not have Your Son, we do not have life.  Graciously grant that we may know that we have eternal life, as we believe in the name of Your Son, through whom we pray.  Amen.

Contributed by Scott Cline