The Impact of Knowledge on Trust

No, Pack, No

If you were to walk up to my house one day and find one of my children outside wearing a cheesehead and an Aaron Rodgers jersey and chanting “Go, Pack, Go!,” you would be extremely surprised, if not shocked. Why? Well, because you know the Drake family better than that, right?

What if, though, said child proceeded to tell you, “My dad told me to do this. I’m cheering for the Packers because my dad said I had to.”? Surely, you would not believe what you just heard. You know I am a Minnesota Vikings fan and would never cheer for the Packers (unless a Packers’ victory somehow helped the Vikings), let alone ask or require my children to cheer for the Packers (or Bears or Lions).

You see, your knowledge of me would lead you to believe something just is not right with this scenario. Because you know about my unfortunate loyalty to the Vikings, you trust that I would not allow my children to chant and cheer for the Packers (or Bears or Lions) while still under my authority. Such horrendous things are forbidden in my house.

Understanding Required

Knowledge impacts trust. The more you know someone, the more you are able to trust him (or, the less you trust him if he proves unworthy of your trust). In fact, there are obviously many situations in which wisdom requires knowledge before trust. For example, you would never trust people to care for your children without knowing who they are. Trusting a random person with your children would not be wise.

While there are exceptions, many a fool has been made because of “blind faith.” Would you trust just any person with your money and investments? Of course not. “I don’t know you and realize that you don’t work for a bank or investment company, but here’s my life savings. Would you please do what you think is best with it?” said no one ever.

Understanding is required for proper trust. You cannot possibly trust with sincerity what you do not know in truth.

Knowing God

God is no exception, as He does not ask us to trust Him without understanding who He is. No, we cannot possibly understand Him fully, but we must understand Him some. He gave us His Word, so that we can gain a better understanding of who He is and who He created us to be.

He sent us His Son to reveal Himself to the world, so that we could truly know Him and have a right relationship with Him.

He gives His Spirit to all who know Him, so that we can experience His presence and continue to grow in our knowledge of Him.

Trusting God

And, the more we understand who He is, the more we naturally trust in Him. If you do not know who He is, though, according to the Truth of His Word, then your trust in Him will fail you. Your trust will be without a foundation. Your trust will prove to be illegitimate.

This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. But every spirit who does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist; you have heard that he is coming, and he is already in the world now” (1 John 4:2-3).

Do you know and believe the right things about Jesus Christ? Only then can you sincerely trust and follow Him.

Victory

And, only those who sincerely trust and follow Jesus have eternal victory, and that victory begins the moment you turn away from your sins and surrender your life to Him.

You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Are you seeking to grow in the knowledge of Him while sincerely surrendering to Him every day? Only then will your faith continue to grow.

Photo by Wendy van Zyl from Pexels
Photo by Wendy van Zyl from Pexels

Keep up with my Sunday morning sermon series through 1 John, including this coming Sunday’s message, by clicking HERE.
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Love doesn’t always feel good.

If you love someone, showing that love is easy, right? Not necessarily. If you love someone, showing that love feels good, right? Not necessarily. Love is all about how you feel, right? Not really.

As the One who created us and as the One who is the ultimate example of love, God defines love. His Word has a lot to say about love, and He does not say much about love being easy or feeling good.

When you come to know and follow God, you automatically learn more about love. When you experience His love, you are clearly changed and then desire to show that love to others.

Thankfully, we are seeing this at work in our two oldest sons, Noah and Levi. Recently, Noah had an opportunity to help with disaster relief cleanup in Jefferson City, Missouri. Then, he and Levi were blessed to head to Guatemala with a team from our church to minister to orphans and others in a needy community.

Do these mission tasks feel good? Perhaps at times they do, as there is obviously a great sense of encouragement and satisfaction when we get to serve others. But, there are certainly plenty of times when we just do not feel those things. Love – the love of God – still compels us, though.

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching about the “Proof of Love” in the life of a Christian, looking specifically at 1 John 3:10-24. Later that day, you should be able to listen to the message HERE. In the meantime, though, I want to challenge you to consider three reasons love does not always feel good.

1) Love is unconditional.

If you read 1 John 3:10-15, you will not see any conditions on the love we are commanded and expected to have for one another. We are not told to love others if they deserve our love. We are not told to love others if they love us in return. We are not told to love others for what they can do for us. The Bible tells us to love one another. Period.

In fact, this love proves something very important: “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. The one who does not love remains in death” (1 John 3:14).

You either have eternal life, or you are headed for eternal death. Unconditional love for others is a defining characteristic for those who have experienced this new life in and through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Is your life marked by unconditional love for others?

2) Love is costly.

This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:16).

Did it “feel good” when Jesus was brutally beaten and crucified? Of course not. Love compelled Him, though. It was His love for sinners like you and me that led Him to the cross, and there was nothing more costly than the cross.

No, this does not imply that in order for you to truly love others, you must die for them, but it certainly does mean you are willing to die. And, it clearly means love is not confined to that which is easy and feels good. Love is costly.

Is your love for others costing you anything?

3) Love is exhausting.

To say, “I love you,” is really not very difficult. To show “I love you” is often exhausting. If love is unconditional and costly, then it is certainly exhausting.

Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action. This is how we will know we belong to the truth and will convince our conscience in His presence” (1 John 3:18-19).

Loving a person who has frustrated you is not easy. It is exhausting. Loving those who are hurting and unable to do anything for you in return is not easy. It is exhausting. Loving those who do not reciprocate that love is not easy. It is exhausting.

Yes, I do believe that when our hearts are set on the Lord, we can still experience a great sense of joy and contentment in the midst of this unconditional care, cost and exhaustion. Does that mean it will always feel good and be easy, though? No. Otherwise, the Bible would not have so much to say about the command to love one another and our need to love one another. Doing so takes intentional effort, regardless of how we feel at the time. Love is exhausting.

Do you ever find yourself exhausted because of your unconditional, costly love for others?

Love is transformational.

If you experience God’s love by surrendering your life to Jesus Christ, then you will not only experience this kind of transformational love; you will be transformed by this love and show this love to others. This love, after all, is an essential proof for those who have a genuine relationship with God.

Have you been transformed?

Noah and Levi are currently on a mission trip with our church to serve the children of Casa De Mi Padre orphanage in Santa Cruz del Quiche, Guatemala, as well as others in the community. To God be the glory!

What’s your birth certificate?

Look at how great a love the Father has given us, that we should be called God’s children. And we are!” (1 John 3:1) Wow! What great news of hope and assurance, huh?!

But, for whom?

Well, the answer to that question is given in the previous verse. “Everyone who does what is right has been born of Him” (1 John 2:29). A lifestyle of righteousness does not earn right standing with God but rather proves that right standing exists. What is your birth certificate, the proof of your birth? Your lifestyle is.

“What” from “Where”

The what of your birth certificate – your lifestyle proving whether or not you are “born of God” – comes from the where of your birth certificate – the standing of your relationship with God. That where then, is based on the whom of your faith? In whom or what is your faith?

You know that [Jesus] was revealed so that He might take away sins, and there is no sin in Him. Everyone who remains in Him does not sin; everyone who sins has not seen Him or known Him” (1 John 3:5-6).

Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and eternal life? If so, the “location,” the where of your eternal birth certificate is in Him. As a result, then, the what of your birth certificate (the proof of a born-again Christian relationship) is your daily life of growing faithfulness.

No, this does not mean you are perfect; not yet. What this means is that you are not living in habitual sin. Rather, there is a daily turning away from sin. There is a hatred of sin. There is a conviction that sin is evil. There is a desire to live in purity and righteousness.

Clear Difference

Little children, let no one deceive you! The one who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous. The one who commits sin is of the Devil, for the Devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the Devil’s works. Everyone who has been born of God does not sin, because His seed remains in him; he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God. 10 This is how God’s children—and the Devil’s children—are made evident” (1 John 3:7-10).

Do you see the clear difference between children of God and children of the Devil? Children of God desire righteousness and thus are unable to continuously live in sin. Children of the Devil, though, are content to continue in sin.

Is there a clear difference in your life? Is the change Jesus has made and continues to make in your life evident? If you know Him, the answer can only be “Yes!”

Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching on the “Proof of Birth” (1 John 2:28 – 3:10). If you are interested in listening to that message, it should be available Sunday afternoon HERE. More importantly, seek God through His Word and examine your daily life for proof of birth.


Unrelated to the above post, except that there is certainly some physical proof of birth amongst our extended family members, below are some pictures from our Memorial Day gathering with Marsha’s family in Windsor Valley. It was a beautiful day with great people, delicious food, and plenty of play.

When Honesty Requires Courage

If you believe something to be true and important, courage might be necessary for you to speak honestly. Sure, there are plenty of times when honesty is simple. Basic questions like, “What’s your name?”, “Where do you live?”, “Where are you from?”, etc. do not require much courage to answer with honesty.

What about when honesty is overwhelming, intimidating, or even dangerous, though?

The Example of Micaiah

When evil, ruthless Ahab was king of Israel nearly 2,900 years ago, he sent a messenger to get Micaiah, a prophet of God. The messenger demanded of Micaiah, “Look, the words of the prophets are unanimously favorable for the king. So let your words be like theirs, and speak favorably” (1 Kings 22:13).

But Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, I will say whatever the Lord says to me” (1 Kings 22:14).

While Micaiah did actually struggle initially to be truthful to the king, he quickly corrected his counsel, sharing the truth of Israel’s coming disaster, according to the word of the Lord. The result? King Ahab’s wrath and judgment: “Put this guy in prison and feed him only bread and water until I come back safely” (1 Kings 22:27).

But Micaiah said, “If you ever return safely, the Lord has not spoken through me.” Then he said, “Listen, all you people!” (1 Kings 22:28)

Talk about courageous honesty! All the other prophets were saying what the king wanted to hear – what was favorable and pleasing to him. Micaiah spoke the truth and did not waver, though, even when being sent to prison as a result.

Oh, and for the record, things did indeed happen as Micaiah said they would, or more specifically, as God promised they would.

The Call of God

Lying lips are detestable to the Lord, but faithful people are His delight” (Proverbs 12:22). The Bible never says something like, “Be honest unless it is dangerous, difficult or uncomfortable.”

Like every other call of God on our lives, there are no conditions for obedience based on our preferences, comfort levels or safety. You are either for God, or you are against Him. You are either walking in obedience, or you are living in disobedience. You either submit to Him, or you submit to the evil one.

How can you make sure you are on the right side, then?

The Source of Courageous Truth

No matter how hard we try, we can never muster up enough strength, courage and integrity to honor God on our own. There is absolutely nothing we can do to fix our problems – our problems like weakness, fear, and dishonesty, and our eternal problem of sin against our perfect Creator.

But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8)

The amazing news, then, is that if we repent of our sins and trust in what Jesus Christ did for our salvation, we not only experience eternal life; we experience His provision and power in a way that enables us to live the life He has called us to live. Only then does the courageous honesty come.

For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment” (2 Timothy 1:7). This statement of power and promise, though, is only for those who know and follow Jesus Christ. Do you? How can you be sure?

Perhaps better than any book in the Bible, 1 John tells us how we can be sure we have come to know and follow God. To listen to recent messages from 1 John in our church’s PROVE IT sermon series, click HERE.

Do you have a “Gotcha Day?”

Wednesday was Micah’s “Gotcha Day” – the anniversary of the day we adopted him as our son. It was May 15, 2017, when Micah went from being an orphan to being a son and a brother.

We praise God for bringing Micah into our lives! His sonship, both lovingly and legally, is completely legitimate, as if he was our biological son. We love him the same as our other children, and he has the same legal standing as our other children. Zoe, our adopted daughter, is no different.

Micah and Zoe’s “Gotcha Days” are special in our hearts and minds because they mark the official beginning of their entrance into our family.

Gotcha Day for Christians

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you also have a “Gotcha Day.” You may or not remember a specific day, depending on your age, how long ago it was, how your journey began and continues, etc., but every single Christ-follower has a day when he or she passed from being a spiritual orphan to becoming a child of God.

God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).

Our adoption as children of God is part of the amazing news of the gospel. Like Zoe and Micah did nothing to earn their adoption as children into our family, we do nothing to earn our adoption as children into God’s family. Rather, because of His unfathomable love for us, He sent His Only Son to die on the cross for our sins and earn our salvation and adoption in and through His resurrection from the dead.

Now, everyone who repents of sin and trusts in Jesus Christ is adopted as a child of God.

And this is the promise that He Himself made to us: eternal life” (1 John 2:25). Who else can make that promise? No one. Who else can give us a “Gotcha Day” that literally impacts our eternity? No one.

Gotcha Day Proof

Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will continue my sermon series Prove It and talk about the “Proof of Truth” (1 John 2:18-27). What is the proof of Truth in your life? What is the proof of adoption?

If someone wanted, I could give them sufficient, documented proof that Zoe is our daughter, and Micah is our son, just as I could give them proof that our three biological sons are indeed our sons. In fact, we have much more documentation proving our adopted children belong to us than we do for our biological children. All five are our children, though, and that fact would not be difficult to prove.

If you have a genuine relationship with God, there is also proof. The “Gotcha Day” itself is not the proof, though. Sure, we might celebrate the “Gotcha Day” and enjoy talking about the “Gotcha Day,” but the proof of adoption is not in a day.

For Zoe and Micah, the proof is found in various legal documents, as well as in their daily lives. They live with us. We are raising them. We are providing for them. We love them because they are our children.

For Christians, the proof is also in your daily life. Christ lives in you. You remain in Him. You belong to Him and walk with Him according to His Word. You are faithful to His church, loving Him and loving His body.

Is there daily proof that you are adopted?

Zoe’s “Gotcha Day” is September 13, the day she became our daughter in 2012. If you know Zoe at all, you can probably imagine that she loves to celebrate her “Gotcha Day.” We do, too.

Priorities Proving Power

Your priorities prove what you value. Your priorities, to a large degree, prove who you are. Furthermore, I believe, your priorities prove what (or who) is inside you. They prove who (or what) sits on the throne of your heart.

Three questions draw a picture.

When it comes to your priorities and who (or what) sits on the throne of your heart, I believe three simple questions can draw a very accurate picture of your life.

  1. How do you spend your time?
    How you spend your time says a great deal about what you value and prioritize. You make time for what is important to you, so your priorities shine through in your daily life.
  2. Where do you spend your money?
    Where you spend your money also says a great deal about what you value and prioritize. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Jesus Christ, as quoted in Matthew 6:21). You are much more willing to spend money on what you value, and you are much more likely to value something in which you have invested. Where you spend your money declares what you prioritize.
  3. What do you teach your children?
    If you love your children, you want what is best for your children. You want them to be the best version of themselves they can possibly be, and so you teach them what you believe is important. What you value and prioritize are evident in and through what your children see in you. Whether intentionally or not, you are teaching your children what you prioritize. Hopefully, you are explaining yourself and using opportunities to communicate what is important, but even if you do not communicate clearly, your children (or grandchildren for those who are older) notice what your greatest commitments and priorities are. They might not fully understand yet, but they will. Beware. Be careful. Be intentional.

I believe those three questions draw an accurate picture of what you value and prioritize. Would you consider how you spend your time, where you spend your money and what you teach your children (or anyone under your influence), and ask yourself, “Am I satisfied?”

When you consider your life, do you believe you are prioritizing the right things? Look ahead to the end of your life, if you could. Do you think you will be able to look back and say that you were prioritizing the right things? If not, what needs to change? And, if changes are necessary, what needs to happen for those changes to become a reality?

You cannot fix your priorities.

Sure, you can make changes in your life. You can make adjustments and change your priorities, at least for a while. Ultimately, though, you simply cannot fix your priorities on your own. You need help. We all do.

A change made by you in your power and in your wisdom will only be a temporary change. No matter how smart you are or how much you can accomplish, permanent change requires more.

Lord willing, I will be continuing my sermon series Prove It on Sunday morning, preaching on the “Proof of Priorities” from 1 John 2:12-17. In the first few verses of that passage, John was encouraging his readers (and us) to consider the Source of that change. Then, he applies what that change will have on your life, and that change is not manufactured by our efforts and achievements.

The answer is on the inside.

What you prioritize will not make you right with God. Rather, God will make your priorities right. Thus, your priorities will prove the power that is in you – the power of God’s Spirit changing your life and thus changing your priorities.

If you recognize a need for more Christ-centered faithfulness in your priorities, I want to encourage you to cry out to Him. Do not try to fix your priorities. Ask the Lord to do the fixing.

First, make sure you have fully surrendered your life to Him, and then trust that He will do the work in and through you as you continually seek Him and rely on Him. The answer is on the inside, as your priorities prove if you have the power of God working in your life. So, if you are struggling with priorities or anything else in your life, surrender yourself to the Lord and ask for His help. Seek Him through His Word, walk with Him in prayer, be actively involved with a Bible-believing church, and talk about your faith with others.

What are you teaching and where are you leading others? Your priorities tell the story.

Who do you resemble?

While I honestly never saw it clearly myself, people often said I looked like my dad. Those who knew him, in fact, still say that. Likewise, people often say my son Noah looks like me. You can be the judge of that from the same-age picture layout of the three of us (above) and another picture layout of Noah and me (below).

The reality, though, is that children do tend to resemble their parents. This is the natural result of DNA. As children grow, they take on the physical attributes (and oftentimes the emotional, psychological and intellectual attributes) of their parents. Kids become more and more like their parents. This has always been the case and always will be.

A child resembling his parents is evidence that he belongs to them. The connection and relationship are undeniable.

A Christian resembling His Christ is evidence that he belongs to Him. The connection and relationship are undeniable.

Obedience and Transformation

The one who says he remains in God should walk just as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6). What does it mean, though, to walk just as Jesus walked? Quite simply, this means to act like Jesus acted. God the Son obeyed God the Father, and John made the case that if we claim to have a relationship with God, we too will obey God.

While DNA (and the resulting physical transformation) are the reason an earthly son resembles his earthly father, spiritual transformation is the reason a child of God resembles his Heavenly Father. And, obedience is the proof of that transformation.

This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him: by keeping His commands” (1 John 2:3).

Personal Examination

Are you sure you have come to know Him? Is there evidence of transformation and obedience in your life?

If someone wants evidence of being related to someone else, a DNA test can be done to determine if a biological relationship exists. While there is no physical DNA test to determine if someone is a genuine follower of Jesus Christ, 1 John does provide a test of sorts. His whole letter points to the evidence of a true relationship with God.

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching through 1 John 2:3-11 on the “Proof of Salvation,” talking about two ways to be sure you have come to know the Lord.

Would you consider examining your own heart today? God does not need to do a test because He does know your heart. He knows if you have truly surrendered your life to His Only Son for salvation, but do you know?

Again, what do you think? I honestly do not see the resemblance myself, but it seems people often do not notice it when looking at pictures of themselves and/or their children.