January 5, 2012 Devotion Sharing (1 John 1)

Submitted by Michelle S. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church
Write a personal response to the message of this chapter.

Any beginning consequentially has an end. That means that I have a limited time on this earth and that is it is important for me to live every beginning with the end in mind. The beginning of time tells me that I am finite and that I did not always exist. I did not will my own existence and there is a creator who willed my own beginning. Jesus was there from the beginning and it was through him that the world was made. The end of time and the one who began it tells me that I am to live my life in a certain way.

The one who set time in motion entered time and made his dwelling among us. This fact is so spectacular it almost sounds logically impossible. The disciples of Jesus witnessed this amazing historical event and it changed their lives. What they heard and saw was something worth proclaiming, to the point of death, no matter the cost. Many people can testify to all kinds of outlandish facts but the transformed lives of these disciples enabled God to make them bearers of this wonderful news of light and fellowship. This message has to be proclaimed because of its earth-shattering revelation and it takes a transformed life to harness this kind of amazing historical reality like it did for these ordinary fishermen and tax collectors. I think it is amazing that God chooses ordinary people to contain this extraordinary news. Even though we were not there during the time of Jesus, it was passed down to us because each generation obeyed the call to bear witness in their own times.

This extraordinary news is that when we receive life, we get invited into the light of God. When we are all in the light, fellowship among us is possible. Life and light and fellowship are things that we all like. We like life, we like light and we like to be a part of a fellowship. But this is not possible within ourselves and by ourselves because we are lost in darkness left to our own meager devices. We are all doomed to die and we experience the death in our bodies and in our relationships even as we live on this earth. We are like a plucked leaf with the semblance of life, but we have been cut off from the source of life. Life, light and fellowship are things that the world craves but cannot have on their own, so they try to create joy on their own by contrived means, but they don’t have the real thing. I am so thankful that I have stumbled upon the light, life and fellowship of God. There is such warmth and life here because we have something to be genuinely excited about. There is light because we keep shining light to each other, through keeping each other accountable and through confession of sins. There is fellowship here because we are guarding this culture furiously. These are precious things bought with the blood of Jesus Christ for our sake.

And this precious gospel has been passed down to us. It is our joyful responsibility to pass down this light and fellowship that came a such a tremendous cost.
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Submitted by Carol C. of Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Reflect on the passage below, and note some of the following themes, and how they relate to each other:

  • Beginning; Time
  • Witness; proclamation; testimony;
  • Life; light; fellowship
  • Father; son; disciples; me
  • Blood of Jesus; sin; confession
  • Truth; lie

1 John 1 

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.

5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

Witness, proclamation, testimony

The natural response to witnessing the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is to proclaim and testify to all that was seen and heard. Witnessing God in the flesh, descending to dwell with man, demonstrating power and authority over life and death, experiencing His compassion and desire to relate with and heal man, and seeing the blood of the blameless God being spilled for sinful, undeserving humanity elicits a response of awe and self-involvement that cannot be contained, but must be shared. It’s not just a sentiment or personal experience, but truth and facts that can be shared with others that are verifiable.

Life, light, fellowship

When Jesus comes, He brings light to the truth – the truth about who God is, who we are, how we were meant to be, how we desperately fall short of God’s intent, the grief that this brings to God as well as us as we experience the consequences of our sin. But His light also brings the good news of forgiveness through the cross which brings life as we do not have to despair, but can be restored to fellowship with God, others, and ourselves.

Write a personal response to the message of this chapter.

I’m thankful for this reminder that the gospel is about proclaiming and giving testimony to what was witnessed by people, rooted in facts, not just some unverifiable experience of one person or a handful of people. It is rooted in truth, in historical facts, as well as my personal experience of the truth of the gospel – that though sin is my greatest problem, I have been able to experience forgiveness and redemption through confession of my sin and the purification that comes through the blood of Jesus. Sharing the gospel is not about my personality and how much people like me. It’s not about how fun our group is and how it can attract people. It’s about the truth of Jesus who came to heal, to die and shed His blood on the cross so that sinners like me can live, experience freedom from the chains of my guilt and shame. I can confess that I am a sinner and not be ashamed because I am loved and covered by the righteousness of Christ. I can experience life as I am given good work and relationships in which I can fellowship with others at the foot of the cross, all admitting that we are inadequate to save ourselves, that we don’t have to prove anything or merit love, but can be loved by Him and love one another through the plain truth that I’m a helpless sinner. Before I met Christ and before experiencing the truth of the gospel, I wanted to hide and deceive myself and others of my sinfulness. But I was a liar and made God out to be a liar by justifying myself in every which way, making excuses. Even now as a Christian, when I have a hard time accepting my slowness or try to justify my passivity or laziness, I deceive myself. But it is when I simply confess my sins, I experience God’s faithfulness and forgiveness which brings such relief and reminds me again that I am dearly loved by God as His child, that He simply wants a relationship with me of truth and grace, not based on performance. He desires fellowship in the light and desires to give life to the full.

Submitted by Sieun C. of Gracepoint Berkeley Church

My personal response to this is that I too have witnessed and experienced going from someone who is in the darkness and living a deceptive life in the darkness and finally experiencing exposure about my darkness and sins, and the forgiveness and fellowship that came from being cleansed and claimed by Jesus’ blood. This is my testimony of how God found me in the darkness and became real and relatable to me, how I came to relate to Jesus and experience this kind of coming into the light and being restored in my relationships. But the reality is my sinful nature.  Satan can tempt me to think it was a one time thing and try to get me to scurry back into the darkness, lose fellowship with God and with others. So I need to constantly battle against the darkness, against living a deceptive life with lies that I’m not a sinner and that things are okay now. Witnessing and testifying is something that needs to be continual and growing. Like any close relationship and deep fellowship, it can’t be a one time thing that just happened, but needs to continue to grow in my witnessing and proclaiming and fellowshipping with God. I want to commit to this and look forward to growing in this way this upcoming year as I hold onto our key verse of the year to knowing the truth and truth setting me free.  I will not ignore God’s promptings to move me out of darkness.  When I see my sins and my lies, I would be quick to confess and come out to the light. I know one way God will do this will be in my relationship with those who are close to me and in ministry as I continue to grow into my role and will be facing against my own weakness, lameness and mistakes. I pray I will always remember what my testimony and fellowship is about – not about competence and good image, but about being known and forgiven and restored by God’s mercy.

One theme I think about as I reflect on these verses and the words – Father, son, disciples, and now me, is the depth and width of fellowship I experience through testimonies and witnesses passed down from history and my own crucial role in continuing that chain. I play an important role in not unraveling and disconnecting the fellowship God is creating through the time, place, and people I am living amidst right now. I have received fellowship and joy through the careful passing down, witnessing and testifying of people who have gone ahead of me, and I have a responsibility to pass down stories, experiences, my relationship & connections. The Gospel is all about restoration of relationships to the point that even passing it down is by relationships – even the idea of witnessing and testifying involves a passing in between people. As we talk about ministering to those placed in our care, I think about how it was all done by those who have gone ahead of me who were careful to pass down their testimonies and what they witnessed, and through that they experienced their joy being made more complete as they see me joining in and making it my own testimony and witness. My joy too will only be complete when I fulfill and carry out my own role and responsibility of properly witnessing & teaching, proclaiming & passing down. I need to do this with the highest responsibility this year, so that the people under my care will also be people who witness, proclaim and testify and all our joy. This interconnectedness is how God created us.

Personal Prayer

Lord, I just thank you because these verses so aptly describe what you have done in my life – bringing me out from a life of darkness, deception and lies, into a life where I can be free and walking in the light and in deep fellowship with You and with other believers. I think about the misery of knowing that my life was a lie and that I wasn’t happy.  I tried to hide in the darkness about my sins and guilt. But I thank you that fellowship, forgiveness, light aren’t things that are mere concepts, but you enabled them to be deeply experienced, embodied, seen and held by our own hands, and how I have experienced this concretely in my own life. I just pray for this upcoming year that I will not listen to the lies that tell me I need to uphold some image of being a good mom, a put together person, a perfect wife, but when You reveal to me my sins, my brokenness, my weakness, I will be humble and honest, I will not hide or be deluded or deceptive. I pray that I will continue to grow in deep fellowship with You and with Your people, and also that I will take my role as that witness and chain ever more seriously as I get older and there are more people to whom I need to be that link. I thank you that You show me how to live in true joy through fellowship with You and with Your people.  I pray that I can be that link to others–to the students I’m ministering to and to our staff.  May we experience our joy being made a little bit more complete this year as we strive to be the church in our community and in the circles of influence which You have placed us in.

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