And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment (1 John 3:23).
Back in Nebraska I attended a Screen Writing Colony, which meant for two weeks I was sequestered with a bunch of other writers to practice and learn screen writing skills. I was the only Christian in the lot. We would write all night and the next day we’d read what we’d written to the others and they would critique it.
Of course I wanted to write a Christian screenplay and in my writing I must have used the name of Jesus in every sentence. The very first day they stopped me halfway through my reading. One of them said, “Marty, it makes me very uncomfortable to hear that name over and over. I don’t want you to continue.”
Back in my room I asked the Lord what could I do. After all, I was doing my best to present Him. He said, “Only use my name one time in the whole screenplay. There is such power in my name that one time is sufficient. They aren’t objecting to my name; they are objecting to the power that is hitting them when you use my name.” So I re-wrote and only used His name one time. To my utter amazement, they eagerly wanted to know more. They took me out to lunch so I could witness to them!”
The name of Jesus carries all the power of God. Sometimes when I don’t know how to pray for a situation, I just say the name of Jesus over and over. Somehow the problem is resolved. Yes, I believe in the name of Jesus. It has all the power I need!
And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight (1 John 3:22).
Oh, the list I have! It’s long! Everything on there is something I have asked of Him, all the way from having curlier hair to being a multi-millionaire. The Bible already told me in John 14:14 that I can have whatever I want.
“If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:14).
I believe that Scripture, but let’s be honest, if I just stop right there, I will never have what I want. Why? Because there are conditions. We receive from Him because we keep His commandments. That’s one condition, and the second is doing those things that are pleasing in His sight. So how do we know what those two things are? Let’s continue with what follows John 14:14.
“If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15).
There we are back at the first condition we found, which is keeping His commandments. Do we know what His commandments are? Yes. They’re rather simple.
37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37–40).
And yet they’re rather hard! My neighbor isn’t always very lovable and even God can seem like a cold fish at times. But these commandments don’t even mention the other guy, only “you.” It seems the recipient of our love isn’t all that important; we’re the ones God is looking at. Will we be lovers, no matter what happens, or not?
I hate it when people complain about me; it drives me mad, and mad is not exactly a loving place to be. So I’ve learned to wait, not retaliate, because God will show me a path on which I can return to being a loving person. Right after telling us to keep His commandments, He promises us help in doing that.
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever” (John 14:16).
And so I wait and before long the Holy Spirit has helped me to rise above the situation and step into joy. But then there’s that other condition, doing what is pleasing in His sight. Now really. How on earth can we know that? Well, here’s what I discovered. I am called to write. When I am writing I find that just about everything goes my way. It’s uncanny! But when I put off writing—and oh how often I find ways of doing that—I feel like I’m walking through a field of mud with army boots on! How well it all goes when I am pleasing Him! How awful it is when I’m not.
May we all spend our days pleasing the Father and being people of love. Then we’ll get what we want! It’s about time I had curlier hair and became a multi-millionaire. How about you?
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God (1 John 3:21).
A clean heart creates a condition of confidence, and with this clean heart we can freely trust God. He greatly wants us to trust Him. In fact, if we don’t have confidence in God, He is not pleased with us.
But without faith it is impossible to please Him . . . (Hebrews 11:6).
How do we clean out our hearts? I ask the Holy Spirit for help, since He knows me better than I know myself. I ask Him to show me the issues that keep me from having a clean heart. He will then remind me of something I said or did, or an attitude that I held that was not godly, and I put myself to the task of seeking freedom and/or forgiveness for this error of my ways. The word sin simply means “missing the mark,” and we can easily miss the mark of obedience or love. It usually takes a slight adjustment, and I’m back to a position of having a heart that does not condemn me. Then I can approach God with full confidence.
For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things (1 John 3:20).
Oh, how great and gracious are the ways of God! I like the fail-safe measure He puts in His Word. For instance, the Word says we will have what we say. Fortunately, it adds the safeguard that we must also believe what we say with our hearts, not our minds, but our spirits. If we believe and we speak what we believe, then the issue becomes a regulation in our lives. But if we believe and don’t speak it, or if we speak and don’t believe, then nothing happens. We don’t have to live with bad regulations.
In this verse it says that in the depths of us, we may condemn ourselves, but God doesn’t necessarily condemn us because He is greater than our hearts. He knows the root cause of that condemnation, which may have no reality in our lives at all. He knows everything, and He is the judge, not our hearts. However, it is always a good idea to clean out our hearts, to love, to give, to forgive, to share, to do something good for somebody else. It takes a clean heart to act in love.