Episode #234. Today we’ll read 1 John chapter 4 together: John tells us how to discern between the Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Error and shows us how we can know God through love.
Joy: You’re listening to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Episode #234. Today we’ll read 1 John chapter 4 together: John tells us how to discern between the Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Error and shows us how we can know God through love.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast. I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me as we simply read God’s word together. Some things require discipline and sometimes that’s just not easy to muster by yourself, no matter how badly you want to do it or how much you know you should. It’s just easier to do it with a friend. So refill your coffee or tea, get comfortable in your favorite chair and follow along as I read aloud. I’m so glad you’re here!
I do some of my best thinking in the warm shower. Heck, I do some of my only thinking in the shower! We’ve talked a lot recently about the burden of carrying anxieties and low-level anger. As I was breathing through a little of that, the Serenity Prayer popped into my mind.
For some reason, reciting that short prayer centers me. It helps me to pause. I’m better able to question what’s really going on in my head and parse out the reasonable from the unreasonable.
But I was equally interested in the prayer’s origin. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr is universally attributed as the author of what we know as “The Serenity Prayer.” Its dissemination was likely from a diary excerpt from Niebuhr’s student and collaborator Winnifred Crane Wygal. Wygal placed the prayer in newspaper articles as early as the 1930s and then, in a somewhat altered form, in a book of worship in 1940.
Interesting. What I didn’t remember was that the prayer was longer than the shortened version we recite today. I thought I might share it with you in hopes it helps you as it does me.
The Serenity Prayer
God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the
Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.
The important thing to remember, I think, is that prayer, whether The Serenity Prayer or words the Holy Spirit lays on your heart in the moment, is a great pause button. It should be used liberally.
Now, between you and I and the gatepost – as my dad used to say – I think the author of the article has taken a few verses out of context to fit his purpose. But for me, The Serenity Prayer is still an intimate and heart-felt request to God. What do you think?
1 John Chapter 4
The Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Error
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming; even now it is already in the world.
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. They are from the world. Therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Anyone who knows God listens to us; anyone who is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.
Knowing God through Love
Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and we testify that the Father has sent his Son as the world’s Savior. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God — God remains in him and he in God. And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.
God is Love
God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. In this, love is made complete with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because as he is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not complete in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And we have this command from him: The one who loves God must also love his brother and sister.
I’ve been teaching church curriculum to kids since the ‘80s. There was Caraway Street puppet ministry and now Bible Studies for Life and The Gospel Project. But way back in the beginning was Psalty – that’s with a silent P like Psalms. We sang a lot of verses with Psalty and I can tell you that helps even grownups memorize Scripture. This I know because I can say 1 John 4:7&8 to this day. Since you’d tune out if I sang it, I put a YouTube link in the transcript of this episode. You might want to memorize by music too! Needless to say, they are two of my favorite verses and the best reminder to love others like Jesus.
John talks a lot about love and nowhere more than in this chapter. He also gives a pretty easy to understand explanation of Spirits – the ones that are from God and the ones that are not.
And before we get too big-headed, let’s all agree again that we have only conquered, well…anything, because of Christ. He is constantly fighting for us and interceding in prayer to the Father for us. God sent Jesus to save us, and since He did that – since He loved us in that way – we are compelled to, we must – we can’t not – love one another. Let’s pray.
Father God, thank You that You loved us first. Thank You that Your perfect love drives out fear. Thank You that, because of Jesus, we can have confidence on the day of judgement. Remind us every day to tell as many people as possible about Your love for them, so that they can have that confidence too. Amen.
Thank you for joining me here today. I pray God will grow in you what has been planted and watered here. In this time of unprecedented struggle worldwide, we can look to God for guidance and comfort. Be sensitive to those in your circle of influence who need a word of encouragement and invite them to join us. If you like this show, it would be great if you give it a five-star review. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. See you right here tomorrow. Be well!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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