This week, the news and blog looks a little different. We are stepping away from our normal prayer routine to focus on the International Mission Board's week of prayer for International Missions. This will last until Sunday. Please join us in praying for these missionaries and areas of the world!
We will continue our study of 1 John this week as well, so don't forget to read, meditate on, and share those devotions as you can this week.
Thanks for your willingness to pray for the nations and dig into God's Word with us!
Pray for the Jones' in Japan.
The Jones Family's Story
Jared and Tara Jones knew that God could do a lot with something little. But they never imagined just how many doors He would open through their infant son, whose adoption people had told them was almost impossible in Japan.
In the East Asian country, 40,000 children live in orphanages, but parents rarely give up their rights so that a child can be adopted.
In the East Asian country, 40,000 children live in orphanages, but parents rarely give up their rights so that a child can be adopted. But the Joneses knew God had placed a baby on their hearts, and they prayed. “We serve a God who makes doors where doors don’t exist,” Jared said. “And this little guy gives us multiple opportunities to talk about the Lord.”
Fast-forward a few months from when their son Ezra was placed in their arms, and his pediatrician was the key to another door—a church plant they had been praying about for years.
One day, the doctor told Tara out of the blue that she wanted to start a church at her office and asked if Jared could lead it. Tara described it as a divine appointment. The first Sunday 70 people came. They’ve seen hearts changed and people keep coming.
- PRAY for the church to continue to be a lighthouse to the community and for hearts to continue to be changed.
- PRAY for Jared and Tara to continue to step out boldly in faith on behalf of the Japanese people.
Devotion 1 on 1 John 2:12-14
This week will be our last week of 2017 looking at 1 John. We will spend some time considering Christmas and New Years before returning to 1 John in 2018. As we come to 1 John 2:12-14 it is almost as though John allows us to take a breath in these next few verses as He address 3 distinct segments of the congregation.
1 John 2:12-14 says, “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”
We see a clear progression of maturity here in these few verses. Little children are identified in verse 12 and the latter part of verse 13. Young men are identified in the middle of verse 13 and the end of verse 14. Fathers are identified in verse 13 and 14. The natural progression of spiritual maturity is from little children, to young men, to fathers. Please note that this has nothing to do with age…though, in most cases, it should. It has little to do with how long you have been a Christian…though it should. It has little to do with how long you have gone to church…though it should.
Maturity is not based on these things. Maturity is based on obedience.
Consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:18-20: “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Jesus tells His followers to teach their followers to obey…to observe. The Great Commission is not just to teach them. That is what we often do in the church today. We teach and teach and teach and teach. The Great Commission is to go beyond teaching them information, to teaching them to obey and observe. Someone who knows 90% of the information while only observing 10% of what they know is LESS mature than someone who knows only 10% of the information while observing 90% of what they know. Observation is the litmus test to maturity. Maturity is based on obedience.
With that said, we see in 1 John 2:12-14 three tiers of Christian maturity that we will be spending the week considering. First, little children.
I. Little Children
Verse 12 reads, “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake.” In the latter part of verse 13 we read again, “I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.” These little children are beginning Christians. They don’t know too much, but they know that their sins are forgiven for His sake. They are so little…so helpless…so insignificant, there was nothing in them that merited this forgiveness. They were forgiven for His sake. This is grace! This is a gift rooted in Christ, for His sake.
These little children not only know that they are forgiven. They know God as their Father. They may not know anything else, but they know Him as Father. They may not grasp many of his incommunicable or communicable attributes, but they grasp the simple truth that he is a good good father to them.
Jesus said in Matthew 18:3, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” You don’t get in as a young man or a father, but as a little child…and that has nothing to do with age! Isn’t this good news? It doesn’t take a seminary degree-sized faith and repentance and knowledge to come to Jesus. Just a small childlike faith, a small childlike repentance is all that is necessary to come to Jesus. Do you have that?