Week 48 Saturday

That Your Joy May Be Full

Today’s scripture selection: First John 1-3

Key verses: First John 1:1-4

They are the first few sentences of a letter from the one known as the “beloved” disciple.

They are a greeting.

But more than that, they are a promise.

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of Life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write unto you, that your joy may be full.”

There it is. In the beautiful cadence of the old King James language, John says it all.

It’s been there from the beginning of everything – the Word of Life – manifested in Jesus Christ. We have seen it; touched it; experienced it; and now – we want you – to have that same, full, incomprehensible joy.

Could the gospel message be any better packaged than that?

But he doesn’t stop there. As the short letter continues; written to encourage those who are suffering and perhaps doubting – he goes on to talk about how if we confess our sins they are forgotten completely; that even if the world itself passes away the one who does the will of God will endure forever; that they can count on the truth of what he says.

And then, he says – as if it still amazes him, even at an advanced age – “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called sons (and daughters) of God.”

I know of the scholars who argue that the letter was written by someone else; perhaps a group of disciples of John. But I prefer the traditional picture of an old, but still faithful; still beloved disciple telling others about this extraordinary love and grace that he has known “from the beginning.”

I encourage you to sit down soon and read John’s letters again. It won’t take long. It’s well worth the time. And when you are done – you might find that his hope for you has been fulfilled – and “your joy has been made full.”

If so, when you can, recommend the letters to someone else. Nothing would make old John happier.

Prayer: Father, thank you for your wonderful love made manifest in Jesus – the Christ. AMEN.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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