Sun, 13 September 2020
If linking from the Twitter feed, click the little POD icon right below the date to listen
Subscribe at iTunes, search Istrouma
Istrouma Baptist Church
Istrouma Baptist Church – Jeff Williams, Interim Pastor
9:30 AM Sermon September 13, 2020
1 John 1:1-10
That just kind of makes it feel good. I don't know why it is just does. I mean, just makes me feel good, but if you have your Bibles to turn to First, John, First John is where we are going to be for the next several weeks. And a, before we jump into reading a chapter one, I want you to just know a little bit about a what's happening here is we study this book chronologically First John was the last book that was written a that we find in the new Testament. We know that revelation comes after that in terms of what we see in our Bible, but First John was actually the first, second and third John with actually the last books that were written.
Ah, and it was written by John who is described as the disciples that Jesus loved. And it’s interesting too, to think about it. I don’t know about you, but a growing up in church I've heard about John and he was obviously a close to Jesus. If you knew there was 12 disciples, but then there was three Peter James and John that were kind of like in the inner circle, they spent more time with Jesus. And I believe that Jesus knew just that the impact that they were going to have a in terms of just a, the early church, and so there was this extra time there was spent with them and John was one of those and he's often described as the disciple that Jesus loved.
And so from that, you get this impression of this really meek and this really just warmhearted and compassionate person, a but really when you look at all of the Gospel in history combined with that, that when John first comes onto the scene, him and his brother, James were known as the Sons of Thunder. All right. So, they were a little rough around the edges. They were fishermen. That's what they did for living. And so they, they weren't the polished a theologian that we all are often think about it.
When we think about John he was at a rough guy. And in fact, if you looked at parts of the Gospel, now there were times when things are going on a that James and John, they're answer to everything we'll say, well, let's just blow someone or something up. That's basically that was their mindset. And Jesus throughout his ministry to them. He taught them what it really meant to love God and to level one another. So we see it at the end of John's life. He was the last of disciples in terms of, he lived longer than the rest of them and when This book was written, John was probably about a hundred years old, a in history tells us that in his last days John died, that he would travel to the different cities where the churches had been planted and he would come there to speak. And a because of who he was, his relationship with Jesus, there would be large crowds that would gather in the John. He was so a week and feeble at that time moment. At that time of his life, a that they would actually have to carry him from city to city. You couldn't even walk. He wasn't even strong at the whole of himself up like riding an animal. So they would have to literally carry him from city to city. And they said that most of the time that his message, it was simply this, that when he would go into a church or he would go into an area where people would gather together to hear his message, that his message, which is just simply this, love one another. Now that wasn't a title of his message. No, that wasn't a theme of his message. And those three words were really all he would say. And then, you know, some of you are thinking, well, I wish your message is where that at short, but they're not. But anyway, that's, that's all he would say, and people would ask him, why is that all you say, isn't there more of that? He said, well, there's a lot more that I could say, but if people could just do that, it would literally change the world. You love one another, right? So it goes from the Son of Thunder that wants to destroy people and to blow things up to becoming someone who recognizes that the idea or the all that matters in life is loving one another. And the way that that happened was is that through his journey with Jesus, through the investment that Jesus made in his life, through seeing all the things that happened through the life of Jesus, the death and the resurrection, and then beyond that seen all that God did to the early church that when John came to realize if there was something that mattered much more than what his original mindset was about the way they should function, the way that they should act, God did a work in his heart. God did a work in his life, that literally transformed him. And so as we look at chapter one today, we are going to look at what I believe is the key component of what John understood. And then really, if we're going to enjoy our faith, we need to understand what it means to have fellowship with God.
Think about that word. Fellowship if you grew up Baptist, you associate that with fried chicken. I'm sure. Right. That's just what we eat. We all know we all are associated with food, right? A did. If we're going to have Fellowship, there has to be food involved. Well, and listen, there ain't nothing wrong with food ever being involved as far as I'm concerned. But that, that the key component of Fellowship is This, here's the definition of what Fellowship his Fellowship, Is an intimate connection. It's a partnership. it's being together. And I don't just mean physically, but in terms of your heart, your mind, your soul, there is a connection. And here's the next part of that, that you to understand? That's so crucial in terms of John got this. this is what Fellowship is, but Fellowship is the reason that God created us. The reason that you were created is because God desired to have fellowship with you. He desired an intimate connection with you. He desired a partnership with you. He desired for his presence in your presence to be together. Now, oftentimes we don't think about our lives in that manner. We think about that. We're supposed to obey God, which you are. We were supposed to respect God that he is his, we just sang. He is Holy, Holy, Holy. And because of that, we often have, is this mindset of being fearful of God being scared, or even sometimes to get too close to him because he might see the junk, this in our life cannot tell you something that they can. I just to take the pressure off. He already knows all the junk and your life, or whether you are close to him or not. He knows everything about you, but because the, we see ourselves as sinners and we see him as Holy, there's this mindset of fear that we have towards God, but that's not what God's desire is. We should respect him. We should be in all of him, what we should obey him, who are what we should understand that he's riding. And we need to submit to him, but really at the end of the day, that what God desires is for us to do that in the context of, of true, genuine fellowship with him. So as we look at chapter one today, we're going to see what happens when Fellowship takes place. But we're also going to see the things that cause us to really not experience that, that joy, that God desires within our relationship with him. And so, as we do that, what I want you to see and to know and understand today is there is a way for you to enjoy your faith when John, this same, John, that wrote First John what he says. And John 10, 10, the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But Jesus, he said this to John then and John understand it now. he says, I have come that you might have what life and have it abundantly or to the fullest. That's a much different than oftentimes what you. And I experience. And God wants us to see that. God wants us to understand what that looks like and what that means. So first John chapter one, and let's begin reading in verse one. All right. First John chapter one and beginning in verse one That, which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and have touched with our hands concerning the word of life. Verse two the life was made manifest, and we have seen it and we testify to it and proclaimed to you the eternal life, which was with the father. And it was made manifest to us. verse three, that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you that you 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. Don't miss this. We are writing these things so that our joy may be what's the next word say complete. It means multiplying. It means to the fullest verse five. So this is the message we have heard from him. So he says the goal was for us, for our joy to be complete. So here's the message that we've heard from him and proclaimed to you that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. So if we say that we have fellowship with him, but yet we walk in darkness, we lie, and we do not practice the truth. That sounds so harsh, right? But if we walk into the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, his son, it, it cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. And the truth is not in us., so within this section right here, he describes in verses one, through four of the fact, they have seen him in touch with the infinite, invisible, God, God, in the flesh has come to this earth. And because of that, we had the privilege to have a relationship with you. We had a fellowship with God. And because of that, we want to convey to you what we learned here is his message. And then he goes into a couple of things that are related to what Fellowship looks like and what breaks that Fellowship in our lives. So he describes that Jesus is light. There is no darkness in him at all, or is this idea a that everything is open, that everything is real, that everything is true, that everything is right. There's no darkness at all. And then he a contrast that oftentimes with those of us, that even though we say we are in the light, we say we have fellowship with him, but yet we are walking in darkness. Think for just a moment about what that means when you are walking in darkness, in essence, and in the context of this idea of Fellowship, what it literally means is that we cannot, we cannot enjoy the faith that we say we have If there is a distance between us and God, that's what it means to walk in darkness. We see that is something that is in terms of, in our minds, that is an evil a and all sin is evil. There is no question about that, but in essence, what it is just as separation and when There's a separation between you and God things just aren't right.
A couple of months ago, now we took, Hannah are a fourth child to, to college. Now that it's a different experience than anything I've had to this point, because our oldest to our boys and who cares when they leave the house, right? Get out, just go, make a living. Don't cost me any more money. That, that was the mindset. Right? And then Taylor, our oldest daughter, she still lives with us and she goes to, to BRCC. So she's with us every day. And so she's transitioning, but she still there or Hannah to decide for some God unknown reason to go to Arkansas to go to college. And that's like six hours away from me. And so that separation has been hard on dad, right? Because I've taken care of her. I've been able to protect her. I've known where she was at all times. I mean, all of those things. And so now my baby is gone in and it's been very, very difficult for me, even though I know she's okay. Even though that relationship is very, very important, obviously still, but that separation is just difficult. And in my world, there's just something this just not right. I mean, there's been a couple of times that Wendy had to talk with me off the ledge, coz I was going to get in the car and drive six hours just to have breakfast with her and turn around and come back. And she was like, you can't do that. Leave her alone. That's what she, and she's a lot smarter than I am. But anyway, that, is I want to just to be with her, that separation was difficult. And I think at times what happens is, is that there's distance between us and God and we don't really recognize it. And here's the reason why we may recognize that with other relationships in our life. But because we can't see God, because we can't physically sit down across the table and have coffee or have a meal with him. There's something about a, the distance that we see. They're there, there's already distance in our minds because we think of God is in Heaven and we’re here. But the reality is, is that what God desires is for us to understand that, that he wants to be with us. He wants to be a part of everything we do. There needs to be that closeness and that when we walk in darkness and when we walk into sin, in essence, what we are doing is we're putting separation between us and God. There's a distance that's there. And what happens is oftentimes because that distance is there we begin to, to lean more towards those mindsets and the reality of the fear and the insignificance you know, and we're not worthy of him. And we feel guilty and shame about our sin. And so what happens is his, as opposed to just being in the darkness, we start hiding in the darkness. You know what that looks like, right? That you hide in the dark to me, anyone that's ever played the game of hide and seek, you always know that the best blood places to do that is a place where its alone quiet and dark right? That's the way you play the game. So what happens is, is if we're not careful, we start playing that game with God and we hide in the darkness. But here's reason why we do that. We hide in the darkness to avoid two things, the accountability and transparency. within that passage that we just read. He talks about the fact that we, when we deceive ourselves into thinking that everything is okay, or maybe it's not that you think everything's okay, it's just that you want everyone else around you to think that everything's okay. And so we just begin to hide. And the idea of accountability is it, listen, if there are things in your life that are causing you to have distance between you and God, we don't want to hear about it, right? It may be things that are areas of comfort for you. It may be areas of instant gratification for you. It may be something that you just so we're saying, Hey, here is something that I want to pursue. And it may not be what God wants me to pursue, but it's what I want in this moment. And so I'm going to keep my distance from God and look at this. I'm going to keep my distance from other people that will make me feel convicted about that because I don't want the accountability in my life is the reason that we oftentimes drift from Church. It’s not because we don't love God. And it's not even because we don't love the church. It's just because there's things that are happening in us. Listen to those things that are happening in you should push you towards the people of God. It should push you towards her relationship with God and not away from him. But that's our tendency is we just begin to hide. We just don't want that accountability. And then alongside that, we also, we don't want that transparent. We don't want to be in the light because if we're in the lie, what is going to do is going to expose all the areas of darkness that we've been in. Right? And so what we do is we just, sometimes it's just easier to keep our distance. but here's, what's so dangerous about that. You can be so close, but still be so far away. You see, I described to you that distance that we have with Hannah and that Fellowship has not there, but the way that, that he used to be, because there's that separation. But do you realize that you can be in the same room with someone and there are still be distance, right? Anybody that's married knows exactly what that feels. Right? Right. I mean, you could be in the same room with him and be completely just a year, your distance in terms of your emotions, your distance, in terms of maybe your perspective on whatever your fighting about. Don't look at me like that. I know Wendy and I are not the only ones that have discussions about things right. that you find yourself. have you ever been in the same room with your spouse or someone that you love may be a parent or a child and you’re in the same place, but yet you are a million miles away? And what happens with God is that we can be in the same vicinity. We can be going through all the motions. We can be doing all the right things to make everyone else around us think that everything is good and that we love God and that we're following him. But we really want to just keep our distance emotionally. And we want to keep things on the surface because the reality is it's there are things in our lives that we are struggling with and we just don't want anyone to know. We just begin to deceive ourselves. We just begin to find that is easier for us to fake it than it is to actually deal with it in all along the way Here's what happens. There are things in our lives that we struggle with. There are things in our lives. And listen, I'm telling you this from my own experience, that there are things that we hold on to then at the end of the day, they still, or are they just leave us feeling empty. Then there are things that we are a pursuing that or outside of a will have a plan of God. And that at the end of the day, when we lay our head down and no matter how much we convince ourselves and deceive ourself, that is where we want to be is what we want to pursue. That when we lay our head down a night, there's just, something is just not right. There is something that is just empty. There is something that is just missing. It, it may be something that nobody else in your life knows about it, but you recognize that it cannot tell you exactly what that is. This missing its Jesus because God created us for fellowship with him. And because he created this that way, if there's ever a point in time, when that Fellowship is not what God desires for to be when we are not a sensing that that is the priority relationships, not only in what do we say, but in a way that we live and the terms, the a, the way we spend our time. then what happens is that, that means if there is separation and when there's separation between you and God, life is never going to be what you think it should be. You're not going to experience joy. You're not going to ever enjoy the faith that you say is so important to you because you are comfortable with keeping the distance, you’re comfortable with privately hiding in the dark. Even if everyone else around you thinks that you are living in the light, you're keeping them at a distance. You're faking it and going through the motions. But inside there is something in you that is just simply dying. You know what the sad truth is, is I believe a lot of people live that way and feel that way, man. I've lived that way in the past and felt that way. And we're just not sure how to get out of it. We're not sure what to do it. If that's where you are today, some of you, you like you, are you still smiling on the outside or your, you’re thinking, I'm a getting that face like a, would you be quiet so I can go to lunch. I mean, I'll say something of that, but an inside of you, there was something in some of you, but it's just screaming out. Yes, that's me to, what do I do? Well, I love the way that John describes the answer to this. it’s the verse of scripture that if you've been here very many weeks, you've probably heard me quote this passage because I think this is the heart in the key of everything that we do. But before I read it, I want you to think about here is the answer for whatever it is that we're hiding as is keeping us. And that is the gospel. The gospel is the vehicle to restore that Fellowship for some of you that are here this morning, you may not have a relationship with Jesus. You have been trying to get to God on your own. You've been trying to do the right thing. So in fact, you're a here this morning because you think, or maybe that will make me feel better about my life If I attend church, maybe God, we'll be happy with me. If I show up today and listen, God's glad you're here. We are glad that you're here, but that's not the answer to what's happening in your life. The gospel is the only answer. The gospel is the reality that Jesus Christ did for you. What you could not do for yourself. You say, God knew long before you were ever born, that you are going to have a period of time or the year we're going to hide in darkness because you were born into sin. He knew that was going to be a separation between you and him because of that sin. And so he planned to send Jesus long before you were ever born long before you ever sinned, simply so that he could have that relationship with you restored. in verse nine, gives us the key of how we do that. And whether you're not a follower of Jesus or whether you'd been a follower of Jesus for years, this is still the answer for you. If we confess our sins, think about what the word confess means. It means to not hide it anymore. It means to be transparent. Now I don't mean standing up in a room. The size of tell everybody all your junk, right? Nobody needs to hear all your stuff, right? But it starts with if you come before God and say, God, man, I confess my sins to you. And don't just say, I confess my sin. Be specific about the things that you're being convicted about. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and he is just, I love those two words. He is faithful means that you can count on him. There's nothing that you've done. That God won't forgive of. There is nothing that you've done that’s caught God by surprise. There is nothing that you've done that’s a bigger than the power of God that overcome sin. He is faithful. And you can know for sure that listen. Even if there's things in your life that you've done, that nobody else will forgive you up. God promises. He is faithful. He will forgive. He is faithful. And he is just. That's crucial because not only is he faithful in that he will do that. He has the right to do it. And the reason he is just in forgiving of your sins is not because you are worthy of that is because Jesus took your place. When Jesus died on the cross, he died willingly for the sins of all mankind. That's all of us and anyone else who ever lived. So you don't have to feel like, well, I want to confess my sins, but then I have to earn God's approval. You don't need to earn God's approval, but if you will confess your sins, he is faithful. And he has just, the fact that he is just, means that when he sees you, he sees you through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And for many of us in this room, if we could just wrap our minds around that simple fact, we went to enjoy our faith the whole a lot more, because we would recognize there, the simple reality that when Jesus forgives us, we are truly forgiven. If you ever had someone tell you, they forgave you, but then every time they got upset with you, they bring it back up.
You know what I think happens that oftentimes when we ask God to forgive us for the 475th time of the same thing, we see God through the eyes of that person that did that to us. But what I want you to see is we're not talking about a human being who is flawed and sinful and week and untrustworthy. We are talking about a Holy God who is faithful and just, we confess our sins. He is faithful. And he has just to forgive us, have our sins. And he cleanses us from all unrighteousness. We get a fresh start. We get a new beginning. The weight is lifted off. I joked earlier about Wendy and at times being in the same room but being a million miles away. And I'll just be honest with you. And outside of my relationship with Jesus, Wendy is the most important relationship that I have on the face of this earth. And when things aren't right between us, there is nothing else is right in my life. You know? I mean, work's not right kids, all right with it, not right. No, they do it anyway. Anyway, right? All the stuff is just not right. And you show your just not the same. We don't have that same life in you. but when we come to a place where whatever it is causing us to be divided. When we come back together, there is a weight that is lifted off of me. It's like new life. And even if the issue that we struggle with is still there because we are together is just as our life is unbelievable, just breath of fresh air that comes all over me. That's what God desires to do with us. And when he cleanses us from all unrighteousness, it is this idea of a fresh start. It's this idea of coming before him and saying, God, I surrender myself too. I humble myself before you. Here are the things of my life that I know or separating us. And God to the best. I know how I confess these sins. And God, I trust you. I believe what your word says. And because of that, I ask you to cleanse me of all the junk that's in my life. And here is the good news. If you will come to him in faith, he will do just that. And then it’s a process of moving your life in a way, in a direction where the goal every day is to maintain that Fellowship with you to walk in the light, to do the things that God calls us to do. And to recognize that because he created us for fellowship with him, that the things he calls us to do are the things that are the best for us. Not in terms of God just not being mad at us, but God knows your best. He knows what you need. He knows what will bring you joy. He knows what will bring you peace. He knows that what will make you come to a place where you can enjoy the faith that God has given you? Now let me just make sure you understand this. This is not pie in the sky, health and wealth. You know that, Hey, if you just, you know, if you just love Jesus, then you'll never have any problems in your life. The Bible says that, you know, calamities, the Bible says that bad things. They fall on the jest and the unjust. It was just a part of the living in a sinful world. Life's not going to be perfect. And God uses even those things as a way, a bolstering our faith and moving us closer to him. But the reality is that whether life is good, or life is bad in terms of the circumstances that if we are in fellowship with Jesus, life is still good. It's still good. And that's what he desires.
So if you're here today and you never into, in a relationship with Jesus, you have been trying to do it on your own. Cannot tell you something. You cannot do it on your own. Jesus already did all the work for you. What do you need to do? You need to believe that Jesus did that work for you and you need to come, and you need to confess your sins to him. And you need to allow him to do the work in you and through you that only he can do you didn't to give your life. You're in essence, you're saying, God, I put my life in your hands and listen. If that's where you are today, if you're in this room and you've never begun a relationship with Jesus, he will not reject you. He loves you with all of his heart and wants you to experience that today. If that's where you are, it's just simple. As you pray and say in God, I know I'm a sinner. I know I've made mistakes in my life. And because of that, I'm not as good as you are. And God the best. I know how I asked you to forgive me of my sins and God I give my life to, I place my life into your hands. If you will do that today, based on the truth of God's word, he will save you. He's faithful. And he, he is just, and if that's where you are today, I encourage you that as we pray in just a moment for you to just to pray that listen, God knows your heart is not a magic prayer. You just pour your heart out to him and then you let us know how we can help you. But for others of you in this room that you have a relationship with Jesus. But if you're to be honest, you’re just enduring it right now. I mean, life is hard. Maybe you've made some mistakes or maybe others are made mistakes around you. And it's just, it's just one of those things that you're just enduring it. Can I encourage you to pray that same prayer that God I come to you? Here's the things that are separating us. God, I declare that I need you and Bible says that whatever it is separating. Whatever is, is pulling away. Don't you? That God is faithful and just, he will forgive you. He'll give you that fresh start and listen that’s nothing to be ashamed of. As we all need a fresh start. Some of us, we need it every day, right? I mean maybe every hour. I mean then all of us and we need that. It ought to be a regular routine of our life is doing whatever it takes to maintain that fellowship with him. And then let's you and I, after we pray those prayers, let's stand out from this place. Let's leave this room and let's walk in the light. Let's walk in fellowship with him. Let's spend time with him and then do the things we know to do trusts God for the rest. That's a pretty much it, right? Spin time with him, do the things he asks us to do and to trust him for the rest. If you and I will do that, our faith will begin to be something that we are excited about. And we were passionate about not just something that we endure. Let’s pray together today. And before I pray for you, just with your heads bowed and your eyes closed, I want to give you just a moment. If you don't know Jesus man, just pour your heart out to him. Pray a prayer of faith, knowing he is faithful, and he is just, he will forgive you if you do know him, but do you feel separated from him, man? And just pour your heart out to him. Come back to him today.
Lord, you are a good God. And God, sometimes I'm overwhelmed at how you can see me, see all the, the darkness, but yet you still love me. You never give up on me. God, I Thank you that there was joy in You. Thank you that there is joy that comes from a relationship with you and God. I pray right now for those within the sound of my voice, the God that they can experience what a real joy filled life looks like. Lord, I pray over the next several weeks as we study this book, that God that you will allow our joy to be complete. Thank you that you desire a relationship with us. Thank you for the Fellowship that we can experience with you. And I pray that this week we can walk and your light. Spend time with you. Do the things you'd tell us to do, and then trust you for the rest. God thank you for never giving up on us, use us this week for your glory and this in Jesus' name that I pray. Amen. Amen.