THINK: Jesus has gotten a lot of attention in recent years from some unlikely sources - movies, television documen- taries, magazine articles, etc. And yet people still wonder - Who is Jesus? Is He for real? What is He like? And what does He have to do with me? Thankfully, Jesus has given us a completely reliable record of His character, His claims and His purpose regarding our lives. But since many people don't know or accept God's Word, how will they ever begin to comprehend the reality of Jesus? In order for people to see Jesus as more than a fabled philosopher, religious leader, or moral teacher who lived a long time ago, they need to see evidence of how He changes lives, restores hope, and provides the peace and purpose they desire. They must see Jesus' life and love through His followers.
RESPOND: What is it that was heard, seen and touched, "which was from the beginning"? (See 1:1 first note.) What is "the Word of life" that "was with the Father and has appeared to us"? Why does John describe Jesus like this? (See 1:1 second note.) What were the false teachings of Gnosticism? What is "fellowship," and how do we experience it with God and each other? (See 1:3 note.) What does it mean to "walk in darkness"? (See 1:6 note.) How does walking "in the light" free us from sin? (See 1:7 first note.) What false teaching does John challenge by pointing out how we deceive ourselves "if we claim to be without sin"? (See 1:8 note.) What does it mean to "confess our sins" (1:9), and what is God's promise if we sincerely do so? (See 1:9 note.) Is it inevitable for a follower of Jesus to sin? (See 2:1 note.) What assurance do we have if we sin? What does it mean that Jesus is "the atoning sacrifice for our sins"? (See 2:2 note.) What does it mean to "know" Jesus? (See 2:3 note.) What kind of person claims to know God but doesn't do what God commands? (See 2:4 note.) Why do some people feel they don't need to obey His commands? What must people do if they're in right relation- ship with Jesus? (See 2:6 note.) What is the "old" command in affect from the beginning? (See 2:7-8 note.) How does this command take on new perspective because of Jesus? How will truly loving others affect your behavior? (See 2:10 note.)
PRAY: Thank Jesus for becoming human and ultimately giving His life so we could be forgiven and have eternal life with Him. Thank Him for the fellowship you share with other Christians. Ask God to help you sincerely show His love to others.
ACT: If you're currently struggling or holding on to unconfessed sin, accept God's forgiveness and help in overcoming it. If you are aware of any way in which you have not obeyed God, do so without further delay. Since Jesus wants to demon- strate His love through you, make a conscious effort to be like Jesus "with skin on" to everyone around you today.
THINK: Though God Created the world, the world rejects God. Though God invites all people to be part of His family, most exercise their free will by refusing His invitation. Defying God has been the norm, ever since the first humans gave in to Satan's temptation, disobeyed God and brought the curse of sin into the world. As a result, humankind forfeited authority over creation that God originally delegated to them (Genesis 1:26-30). Satan then seized control (John 14:30; 16:11) and began to dominate the world with his evil purposes (1 John 5:19). This means that the "world" in its present condition is characterized by rebellious, wicked and immoral lifestyles, but also by a spirit of apathy toward God. This selfish attitude is inherent in all humans and human endeavors that are not submitted to Christ's leadership.
RESPOND: Why are we not to love "the world" or anything in it (vv. 15-17)? (See article on The Christian's Relationship to the World, p. 1880.) How should this affect your life? What temptations and tendencies come from "the world" (v. 16)? What will eventually happen to the world (v. 17)? When is "the last hour" and how do we know it's here? (See 2:18 note.) What does it mean that Jesus' followers "have an anointing from the Holy One"? (See 2:20 note.) Why is it impossible for a person who is "antichrist" to have a relationship with God? (See 2:22 note.) How can you remain right with God? (See 2:24 note.) What does God's "anointing" teach, and how can it keep you from being deceived? (See 2:27 note.) What does it mean to be "children of God"? (See 3:1 note.) What are the benefits of that relationship? How does the hope of being with God promote purity? (See 3:3 note.) What does it mean to live "in him [Jesus]"? (See 3:6 first note.) What does this passage reveal about "the devil"? (See 3:8 note.) Why is it impossible for someone in a right relationship to persistently sin? (See 3:6 and 3:9 notes.) What distinctions exist between "children of God" and "children of the devil"? (See 3:10 note.)
PRAY: Pray that your desires and affections won't get tangled up in worldly things. Ask God for wisdom to recognize anything that opposes Jesus and His Word. Give God thanks for making you His child through a relationship with Jesus.
ACT: Are you in any way compromising with worldly behaviors or struggling with the same sin repeatedly? With God's help, take deliberate and perhaps difficult steps to deal with the issues before they take a greater toll on you spiritually.