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Faith in Jesus Saves
When we start living from the identity that we are a new creation in Jesus, not from anything we've done or anything we could do, that's when families, homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, and schools are transformed around us as we are personally transformed. When we live out of this identity is when the humbled are exalted and the broken are cared for and surrounded by community. It's when the person who feels alone and unseen comes to know how dearly loved they are and how purposeful their life is in the eyes of their heavenly Father and in the eyes of their brothers and sisters around them. None of this is accomplished through simple willpower or our own action. It's all through the power of Jesus and his Spirit within us that breathes life into our bodies.  We are all made in the very image of a purposefully creative and life-giving God who wants to breathe life into you over and over again, no matter what you're facing. John 1:5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Just as God spoke in the beginning and light flooded the world, and Jesus stepped into his own creation light flooded the darkness; that light will always shine through the darkness. The light wants to transform and heal. It's a light that wants to shine on you and remind you of your purpose in life.  The light will always shine through the darkness and there's coming a day when, very purposefully and intentionally, all darkness will be eradicated from God's good imperfect world as he ushers those in him into perfect new creation and a completely fulfilled life. Reflection/Discussion Question: Do you find yourself living your life in a way that indicates you know you are a new creation in Jesus?
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God's Purpose is Eternal
The verses we read in John 1 give us trust when it comes to our eternal God; that he exists not just in the past, but he's eternally in the future. God has given us a glimpse, in his word, of the end of the story, so that we don’t have to go through life with worry and dread because we know our good Father already knows how everything turns out. So how does that change the way we see things in light of eternity?  When you get the unexpected report from the doctor, do you freak out? Do you spiral into utter darkness, or do you invite people around you to pray with you and provide support? Do you recognize God is on the throne and realize your hope is not in this life?  Do you live in a constant state of anxiety, always feeling like you're going to make the wrong move with your career, or that you'll end up alone? Or instead of being frozen in fear, do you take one faithful step after the other, trusting in the One who's existed for all eternity?  When the pink slip comes, do you trust in the One who is promised not to care of your needs? Are you trusting that even when you can't see a light at the end of the tunnel, you have a God who exists eternally in the future and he's guiding you more and more into healing as you grow in deeper trust and dependency on him? That’s the beautiful and abundant life that Jesus wants to invite us to. It’s a life of living with eternity in mind. We can have the confidence that God has now and our entire future in his control and is never surprised by what happens.  Discussion/Reflection Question: Do you act and speak in a way that lets others know that you have full confidence that God will provide for all your needs?
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Jesus is Purposeful
Take a look again at verses one and two of John 1. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” If you were a first century Jew reading this, you’d know your Old Testament, and the opening verse of Genesis would instantly come to your mind when you read these verses in John 1. After all, Genesis 1:1 reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” John is wanting us to revert all the way back to the beginning to remind us of where we've come from and point us towards what's culminating in the present moment through Jesus's entrance into the world.  If you've read John's gospel before, you know that he uses “word” to describe the person of Jesus Christ. Why is John describing a person, Jesus, with the title of "word"? To his Jewish audience, there was a common understanding from biblical texts, such as Genesis, Psalms, and Proverbs, that it was through God's wisdom and his word that creation came about. God spoke, “Let there be light”, and there was light. His word comes from him and then goes out from him to bring about creation. If you weren't Jewish, and you were Greek or trained in Greek philosophy, when you saw “word”, you saw the Greek word logos. Logos was this way of explaining the cosmic impersonal force behind all of creation and the ordering of the world; the reason things exist. A Greek philosopher’s life would be dedicated to figuring out how to align their life and actions around the logic of the universe. Jesus, a person who desperately seeks a relationship with you, is the very logic and framework behind the universe. John says that Jesus is eternally with God, and at the same time eternally God. We have a deeply beautiful God who at the same time can exist as three distinct co-eternal persons of Father, Son, and Spirit. But, at the same time, one singular being, and this is a truth that is laid out all throughout the Scriptures. And so, John 1 declares that unlike any other human being in the history of the world, Jesus is God, the eternal Son, the second person of the Trinity. He has always existed. He wasn't created.  Discussion/Reflection Question: Does John's way of describing Jesus differ from the way that you have viewed Jesus previously?
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Life to the Full
For so many of us, it's tempting when we hear of eternal life just for us to only think about the place we go when we die or when Jesus comes back. But just look at this beautiful definition from Jesus of eternal life in John 17:3, which says, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” There's no mention of health, prosperity, family, occupation, or something that only kicks in when we die one day or when Jesus comes back. Instead, it's a picture of a life of full access and intimacy, and relationship with the creator God that's brought about through faith in the saving work of Jesus. Jesus’s work on the cross reconciles us and invites us into transformation. Through the work of the Spirit, we are made more and more into the men and women that we were originally created to be. We become men and women that are loving, joyful, peaceful, and patient, not through our own power, but through the work of the Spirit in us. It just so happens that those men and women live forever with God.  This life to the full with Jesus is not this life of blissful ignorance or a turning of a blind eye to the hardship and pain of this world, and it's not simply just letting pain roll off our shoulders like it's no big deal. It's an understanding that in the midst of our situation, our setbacks, and our failed expectations, we have a relationship with the one who has overcome it all. We have to remind ourselves of this beautiful, abundant life that is available for us in Jesus. Discussion/Reflection Question: How does John's definition of eternal life compare to what you typically think of?