Saturday, July 16, 2011

It Ain't Over Yet

Intro.: Yogi Berra used to say, “It ain't over till its over.”

  1. or, “It ain't over till the fat lady sings.”

  2. or “Don't count your chickens till they're hatched.

Trans: John is coming to the end of his letter.

  1. He has said a lot.

  2. But now he is ready to close the book.

  3. His work is finished – now he does two things.

  4. The first, the topic of today's message, is to restate the most important lesson for his listeners.

  5. The second, which I will postpone for another day, is to review many of the topics which he has discussed.

Read: I John 5:11-12


T.S. In I John 5:11-12 John restates the most important lesson that his audience is to draw from this letter

  1. God gave us eternal life

    1. There are many ways to say, “I love you”

    2. Gary Chapman has written a fairly well-known book entitled, “The 5 Love Languages”. In that book he identifies five ways that we say and hear “I love you.”i:

      1. Words of affirmation – Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.

      2. Quality Time - In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.

      3. Receiving Gifts - Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.

      4. Acts of Service - Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.

      5. Physical Touch - This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.

    3. Chapman goes on to say, “There are really two questions each of us has to ask”:

      1. How do I best hear “I love you.” ? - now I don't know your answer, but I know mine, “receiving gifts”

      2. How does the one I want to say “I love you” to best hear “I love you”? We tend to use our prefered method to communicate to others. For example, I will buy Sandra flowers, I will buy you knick-knacks – why, because that is how I hear “I love you.” But if I really want to tell Sandra “I love you”, I need to know how she will best hear it. And I don't always do that as well as I should.

    4. Now the reason I said all this is to tell you, that the best way for someone to communicate to me their love is through gifts – for example the Payday candy bar Sandra brought home on Friday afternoon.

    5. And I think it is why I appreciate God's gift that allows me to experience eternal life.

  2. This life is in his son

    1. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

    2. God's gift was His Son.

    3. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

    4. There is no other way – and God gave us that way. It might be a bit harder for some to hear the message – but it is important to realize that God was showing His love when he sent His Son. It was not arbitrary, it was not unplanned, it was not a random act of kindness (as some say); but it was an act of love. It was God saying, “I love you so much that I will provide a way for you live eternally in my presence.”

  3. Whoever has the Son, has life;

  4. whoever does not have the Son of God, does not have life.

(Ill.) Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham and his wife, Ruth, was asked if those who died in the explosions of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, but had not confessed Christ as Savior would go to heaven. She replied:

In my little book Heaven: My Father’s House, I tell about people who want to visit my father’s home in western North Carolina. They drive up the long drive and come to the gate. They knock on the gate and say, “Billy Graham, let us in. We’ve read your books, we’ve watched you on TV, we’ve written to you, and we want to come to your house.”

And my father says, “Depart from me, I don’t know you. You’re not a member of my family, and you’ve not made any arrangements to come.”

But when I drive up that same driveway and knock on the gate, I say, “Daddy, this is Anne, and I’ve come home.” The gate is thrown right open, and I go inside, because I’m the father’s child.

Because heaven is God’s house, he has the right to decide who comes in and who stays out. He says he will welcome anyone inside his home, but they have to be born again into his family through faith in Jesus Christ.

That gives us a wonderful hope that when the time comes—whether death comes as a thief in the night, as it did for those in the [World Trade Center] towers, or as an angel of mercy after a long illness—we can be assured that at the end of the journey, we’ll step right into our Father’s arms. We’ll be welcomed there because we are our Father’s children.ii

    1. One of the reasons it is so difficult to share our faith is that we don't like this big thick line that separates the believer from the unbeliever -

    2. - but it is not our line. It is a line that God has put down. And it is only a line – it is not a wall. One merely needs to say “yes” and cross over that line.

(Ill.) A common expression today is to “draw a line in the sand”. According to ledgend, the phrase is most commonly associated with Texas history surrounding the Battle of the Alamo, as it is attributed to Colonel William Travis, commander of the Alamo defense forces.[1] In the waning days of the Battle (somewhere between March 3–5, 1836), with Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Annahaving the Alamo completely surrounded, Santa Anna sent a messenger to Travis demanding surrender, or else everyone in the compound would be killed. According to the legend, Travis called the Alamo defenders together, explained that defeat was almost certain, and read the letter of surrender; Travis then (having chosen to die instead of surrender) reportedly pulled his battle sword, drew a line in the sand of the Alamo, and asked for volunteers to cross over the line and join him, understanding their decision would be irreversible. The legend states that all but one of the defenders (including Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett) joined Travis on his side of the line; Moses Rose being the only holdout. Travis then responded to Santa Anna's letter with cannon fire, whereupon Santa Anna replied by playing El Degüello. iii




iiLarson, Craig Brian and Phyllis Ten Elshof. 1001 Illustrations That Connect. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2008.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Overcoming - Four Keys

Intro.: Until a few years ago, there were no laws about child safety seats and automobile restraint systems. Many young children who were not safely belted in their seats died in car accidents.

Today laws prohibit children from riding in a car without special seating facing the right direction and properly installed. New mothers must have the seat in place before taking a child home from the hospital.

A parent’s love for a child is beautiful. Yet when a child’s safety is at stake, it seems a parent’s love is not always enough. Many parents needed a seat belt law to ensure the safety of their children.

The same is true of our love and devotion for God and other people. Feelings are not enough. We needed laws and boundaries in the form of commands to help us love God and others.i Let us look at a passage that will help us understand how love and obedience fit together.

Read: I John 5:1-5


Trans:How do you know what is important when you read a book?

  1. Bold faced terms

  2. Maybe the title gives hints

  3. But part of it are those terms that are repeated.

  4. And ...

T.S. In these five verses, four important words are used three times each. These four words help us understand Johns message.

  1. Word #1: Everyone

    1. I would be deceptive if I stopped there – John is not talking about “everyone”

    2. Each of three times that John uses this word – he narrows down those who he is talking about:

      1. v. 1 – everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God

      2. v. 1 (again) – everyone who loves the father, loves his children too

      3. v. 4 – everyone born of God, overcomes the world

    3. You see, John is not talking about “everyone” - but everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, everyone who loves the Father, everyone who is born of God

    4. And note one other key fact here – John is not talking about three different groups – but they are all one and the same:

      • Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is the same everyone who loves the father is the same everyone that is born of God

(Ill.) Lou Johnson, a 1965 World Series hero for the Los Angeles Dodgers, tried for thirty years to recover the championship ring he had lost to drug dealers in 1971. Drug and alcohol abuse cost him everything from that magical season, including his uniform, glove, and the bat he used to hit the winning home run in the deciding game.

When Dodger president Bob Graziano learned that Johnson’s World Series ring was about to be auctioned on the Internet, he immediately bought the ring for $3,457 and gave it to Johnson, sixty-six, who has been drug-free for years and a Dodger community relations employee. He did for Johnson what Johnson could not do for himself.

The ball player wept when given the gold ring. “It felt like a piece of me had been reborn,” he said.

Likewise, Christians can testify to a spiritual rebirth as a result of the price that Jesus paid on the cross in their place. He did for them what they could not do for themselves.ii

    1. John is talking to everybody that has been born again.

  1. Word #2: Love

    1. I John is all about love – it seems that every chapter seems to bring up this theme in some way.

(Ill.) Always, love is a choice. You come up against scores of opportunities every day to love or not to love. You encounter hundreds of small chances to please your friends, delight your Lord, and encourage your family. That’s why love and obedience are intimately linked—you can’t have one without the other.iii

    1. And that is exactly what John does – links love and obedience.

    2. Listen to I John 5:2-3 - By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.

    3. We cannot separate our love for God or for His people from our obedience to God – the come together.

  1. Word #3: Commandments

    1. Which is the natural next word after love.

    2. Let me read it again: By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

    3. I am reminded of another verse, one of my favorites. Maybe you will remember Jesus' words: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

    4. In most contexts the words commandment and love don't seem to go together. Yet in Christ it is exactly what we need to do – allow our love of God to bring us to a place where we joyfully obey Him.

(Ill). Hazel Simon understood this connection:

Love makes obedience a thing of joy!

To do the will of one we like to please

Is never hardship, though it tax our strength;

Each privilege of service love will seize!

Love makes us loyal, glad to do or go,

And eager to defend a name or cause;

Love takes the drudgery from common work,

And asks no rich reward or great applause.

Love gives us satisfaction in our task,

And wealth in learning lessons of the heart;

Love sheds a light of glory on our toil

And makes us humbly glad to have a part.

Love makes us choose to do the will of God,

To run His errands and proclaim His truth;

It gives our hearts an eager, lilting song;

Our feet are shod with tireless wings of youth!iv

  1. Word #4: Overcome

    1. Ovecome, Victory, Conquer, Prevail, Vanquish, Outstrip, Excel

    2. Strong words that describe the believers relationship to the world: everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

    3. What allows us to overcome life's most difficult circumstances is not good behavior, it is not good thoughts, it is not good food – what allows me to overcome whatever this world throws at me is my faith.

    4. Perhaps I need to reword this verse: And this is the victory that has overcome the world—my faith.



iTroy Dean, Fullerton, California. Quoted in Larson, C. B., & Ten Elshof, P. (2008). 1001 illustrations that connect (304). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

iiRick Kauffman, “Team President Redeems Athlete,” located in Larson, C. B., & Ten Elshof, P. (2008). 1001 illustrations that connect (427). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

iiiJoni Eareckson Tada, Diamonds in the Dust quoted in Larson, C. B., & Lowery, B. (2009). 1001 quotations that connect: Timeless wisdom for preaching, teaching, and writing (301). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

ivHazel Hartwell Simon in Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.