Wednesdays with Jillene: God’s Word Does Not Return Empty

Writing a blog is strange thing. Often I am writing to an “audience” that I cannot know fully… or to people I am not even sure will ever read these words…

I can track statistics on how many people read the blog, what posts they read, how they were referred to the blog (through Facebook, a Google search, from an email), but I don’t REALLY know who reads the blog.

And then, even if people do read, I don’t know that the words I type, the messages I am looking to convey, actually have the impact I intend.

Its’ odd really.

Sometimes I pour my heart out in a blog post. Before I hit “PUBLISH” I pray and ask God that the post I’m about to make public will be used to God’s GLORY and to the benefit of the reader. And sometimes, people share about the value of having read it or how the post spoke to them. Or.. they let me know they did indeed notice when I failed to write a post (see last week, or the lack thereof) 😉 I guess it is reassuring to hear back every now and again… because it lets me know my words had a purpose, that they had an impact, that it was worth doing.

I have often heard quoted a scripture from Isaiah 55 about God’s Word:

10 As the rain and the snow

come down from heaven,

and do not return to it

without watering the earth

and making it bud and flourish,

so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:

It will not return to me empty,

but will accomplish what I desire

and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Sometimes WE do not know that OUR words will accomplish what WE desire. Often it seems like our words have “fallen on deaf ears” or that what we say becomes twisted into what it was never meant to mean… but God’s word will “not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

It is reassuring to know that TRUTH. Reassuring to know that in a world where so much can seem futile, that God’s word is NOT AT ALL.

AND (as if that isn’t great enough!) God GIVES US HIS WORD. He has given us the Scriptures. We don’t have to wait to hear God speak again… we don’t have to gather to have someone read the official word from the LORD… we don’t have to wonder when we will again hear God speak. WE HAVE HIS WORD!

One of the amazing things about camp is that it is “life concentrated.” Things that take much longer to accomplish in other situations happen in the course of the week (friendships, character growth, learning new skills, spiritual growth). It is blessing to see God’s word at work in the lives of those at camp. To be able to see the seed be scattered and to watch it grow… to see how scripture has the power to transform lives… to see how God’s word is alive and at work. You, almost, can’t miss what God is doing because in the “concentrated” environment of camp, well, that is what our focus is upon! Meanwhile, in other areas of our lives, the distractions, worries, and activity make it harder for us to see God at work, unless we CHOOSE to take notice!

So let’s make that choice: How has God been at work in your life through his word? Have you been diligent in spending time in the Bible?

How about this… what if WE (not just me, and I really am hoping you’ll join me) spend the next week reading 1 John?

As you read, come back and share here how this scripture is at work. What is God teaching you about His character, about you and about what this means for your life? Sometimes we ALL (me included!!!) can benefit from reading scripture and sharing in community. And while it seems we cannot all be physically together to do this, we can come together HERE to form community, to build up one another through sharing the study of this piece of scripture TOGETHER.

So…

Will you join with me in this over the next week (or so)?

Take some time to read 1 John, pray on it, study it, allow God to work in you through this scripture. And THEN come back to the blog to share and discuss!

Hope to “see” you here often this week 😉

~Jillene

19 thoughts on “Wednesdays with Jillene: God’s Word Does Not Return Empty

  1. the other night when you said that you were going to use 1 John as your Sunday school study i was intreged as i followed along with James last year. so yesterday i started 1 John,

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  2. As I spent time today in 1 John 1, I was struck by verse 6 which states: “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.” So often I do not take enough time to reflect on my day and confess my sins…see what I could have done differently to share Jesus with someone through either my words or my actions. When I do not take time to reflect, I am walking in the darkness and not being truthful with myself. Does it hurt to look in the mirror to look at places that I need to improve? Does it take time? You bet! We are instructed to meditate on God’s word night and day. We are shown by example that it is not always the easy road, but it is what we must do if we want to live out the truth.

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  3. Here is the set of scripture I read yesterday and will read again today and reflect upon, just wanted to give a heads up in case you are reading in the book of John instead of 1 John… could be confusing. This is 1 John chapter 1:
    1 John 1

    1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our[a] joy complete.

    5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

    8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

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  4. This afternoon, as I reflect upon verse 1-4, I am struck by how REAL, how TANGIBLE, how POWERFUL the writer expresses the experience of God… you know, its not just a mental exercise of understanding the basics of the faith, not just a lesson taught but an experienced LIVED.

    “We have heard, seen, look at, touched… THIS IS WHAT WE PROCLAIM!”

    Sometimes even I forget the POWER of the presence of God. This was a good reminder to me this afternoon. I guess a good reminder of what my motivation SHOULD be for sharing with others.

    The “why” is very convicting to me now too: so you may have fellowship with us and our fellowship is with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ (verse 3).

    So our joy can be complete. (verse 4)

    I think I sometimes settle for a little joy… I wonder what complete joy will be like!

    … I’ll have to come back later for more of chapter 1!

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  5. As I began to read 1 John 2 today, I had difficulty going beyond the first verse. So much goodness in 32 words! First of all John is writing to others so they won’t sin. In the discipiling relationships I have, I hope that for them but don’t know if I have ever outright told them that. I always say my hope is to grow them in a closer relationship with The Lord…. Decreasing their sin has a correlation to their relationship, but a new way of thinking….additional accountability.
    Second, we have an ADVOCATE in Jesus. I love that description. I have been an advocate for adult survivors of abuse, children, and teens. Giving a voice to those who can not speak for themselves. Giving them support and courage to say the words and confront the ugliness that is before them. To know that Jesus is intervening on our behalf, hearing our hearts, speaking for us….priceless.

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  6. I’ve been thinking on the verses Kate reflected on from 1 John 1 (5-10) about our need to be honest about our sin and to confess… I think for me: I know I sin, but I can’t say I am always confessing my sin. Which means I acknowledge the sin in me but without confession to God I don’t “feel” forgiven and purified. Which, now just seems silly since God knows my sin anyway, I acknowledge my sin to myself so why wouldn’t I confess it to God 😉 Such a powerful step that needs to be taken! Often my children are afraid to tell the truth of what they’ve done wrong. Afraid of the consequences. But with God we have no reason to fear the truth of confessing our sins… 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”!!!!!

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  7. Today’s Section of scripture:
    1 John 2:1-14

    New International Version (NIV)

    2 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
    Love and Hatred for Fellow Believers

    3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God[a] is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

    7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

    9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister[b] is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister[c] lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
    Reasons for Writing

    12 I am writing to you, dear children,
    because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
    13 I am writing to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
    I am writing to you, young men,
    because you have overcome the evil one.

    14 I write to you, dear children,
    because you know the Father.
    I write to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
    I write to you, young men,
    because you are strong,
    and the word of God lives in you,
    and you have overcome the evil one.

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  8. Thanks Kate for your reflection on the first verse, it is truly a powerful verse. I am struck, this morning, just like you are with Christ as our Advocate. Knowing that the desire expressed here is that none would sin, but, WHEN we do CHRIST is our ADVOCATE. What a great reminder of the heart of God for sin, AND that God made a way for us.

    I also was reflecting on the call in verse 10 to love our brothers and sisters (as the footnote in my Bible draws attention to the meaning of the original language referring to fellow believers). How important for us as we look to “live in the light:” to love our fellow believers. I’d like to say that was an easy thing to do, but I can’t honestly say that it is… what I can say that this scripture shows it is the heart of God that I love my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

    What do you think it looks like to love like these verses say?

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    • I think I avoided verse 10 because I had to pray about it before I could comment on it. It also struck me. How do we love fellow believers? What does it look like? We pray for them, encourage them, ask what God has been teaching them, walk along side them when things are good and bad. Tell them, in love, when we see them needing redirection.

      I know it is not always easy to love fellow believers, but what really got me was the following verse….11. When we do not love a fellow believer we walk in darkness and are BLINDED by the darkness. I have been trying to be positive in a difficult situation. This verse leaves me wondering am I walking blind because I am not loving others as I should?

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  9. These verses have been a life long struggle for me as it always seems that there is a someone whom I struggle to love, fellow believers or neighbors. I asked my pastor a long time ago how to handle this struggle and his reply stays with me until this day, when you can not love some one, maybe they are a reflextion of a peice of your heart, a peice of you that you do not care for and would change about yourself if you were able to identify it. He said that you need to take time and prayer to observe and access the ‘why’s’ of your not being able to love them. if you are able to pinpoint what you do not like, then you need to work toward and pray to eliminate it from yourself. There have been people in my life that this was true of, but there were just times that I walked in the darkness and prayed for them and myself.

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    • That is a really good insight from your pastor. It sure does show to be true so often that what we dislike in others are the very things we need to change in ourselves!

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  10. Here are the verses for today:
    1 John 2:15-27

    15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[a] is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
    Warnings Against Denying the Son

    18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

    20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.[b] 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

    24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life.

    26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

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  11. As I begin to reflect of these verses I am struck by the word LOVE. “Do not love the world or anything in the world.”
    The word “love” is overused and often misused. I think these verses could be VERY hard to take if we have the wrong view of what LOVE really is… so, I’ll look into that before I go too much farther. Especially since the rest of this section is a HUGE caution to not be lead astray from the truth and how easy that can be!

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  12. Verses for Sunday:
    1 John 2:28-3:24

    28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

    29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.

    3 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,[a] we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

    4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

    7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.
    11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters,[a] if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

    16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

    19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

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  13. Chapter 3 verse 1 is simply beautiful as it begins: See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
    What great love indeed that we are called God’s children, not his slaves, not his servants, not just people of his kingdom, but his Children! I am always blown away when I think about that!

    (I’ll have to come back later today, the kids are waking up and its time to get moving!)

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    • I came back to chapter 3 this morning (before I can move on to the next) what a hard hitting chapter when it comes to sin in our lives and the reality that Jesus came to “destroy the devil’s work”! There can be no complacency with sin in our lives!

      Verse 16 reminds us again of what real love is “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” It reminds me we have a God who doesn’t just tell us we are bad and then punishes us. Instead we have a God who chose to give himself for us! To be our ransom our redeemer!

      And THAT is the EXAMPLE we have for how we should love our brothers and sisters. A SACRIFICIAL love, but “with actions and in truth.”

      And now that I reread it, verses 19-20 speak volumes to me, “This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence:If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”

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  14. Monday’s Passage
    1 John 4

    Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

    4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

    7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

    13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

    God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

    19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

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