Golden Opportunities

Title: Golden Opportunities

Bible Book: 1 John 5 : 1-21

Author: Preston A. Taylor

Subject: Opportunities; Saved, The Blessings in



In 1801 Thomas Jefferson became the third President of the U.S.A. During his administration Napoleon ruled France. That country needed more money because of the wars they were fighting. They offered the U.S.A. what was called the "Lousiana Purchase" for fifteen million dollars. Jefferson and Congress immediately said yes to that opportunity. That purchase gave the United States the territory west of the Mississippi River from New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico up north nearly to Canada, across to the Rocky Mountains, down across Colorado and parts of Texas back to the Gulf of Mexico. That purchase doubled the size of the United States.

Most of us would be happy to be a part of a "golden opportunity." We look for bargains in many places. God's Word teaches us that we have opportunities which are beyond any price that a person can name. First John chapter five states that we have the opportunity to believe on Jesus Christ. Another opportunity we have is to have victory over the evil that is in the world around us. A third opportunity is the one of having an eternal, never-ending life. A fourth wonderful opportunity is to pray and have our prayers answered. The fifth opportunity mentioned in the fifth chapter of First John is to enjoy the security which God affords. The opportunities which God gives us are far more important that the limited "chances" we have all around us. Yes, we have "golden opportunities" today. Let's consider them one by one.

I. The Opportunity to Believe In Jesus Christ

We have the opportunity of believing in Jesus Christ. The words of the text shout to us. Listen: "Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ..." (1 John 5:1). The word "believe" means to trust, to be fully persuaded, to have faith in, to receive, to have confidence in. Every person may recognize and receive Jesus as the Christ. This means that we believe He is the "anointed one" from God. He is the "Messiah." He's the long-promised Redeemer which the Old Testament proclaimed. The words from the Apostle Andrew to his brother, Simon Peter, ring out this same message, "We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ." These are the words which Simon Peter said to Jesus, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16).

When we believe in Jesus Christ we are born again. We have the "new birth" experience. The text says that we are "born of God". John uses the term "born again" or "begotten" five times in this letter called First John. The new birth gives us a new beginning. We start all over again. Life may fall apart or crumble into pieces, but the new birth lets us begin again. When we believe in Jesus, we are born again. That's the need of everyone, no matter what our background or life experience may be.

John tells the "new birth story" in the third chapter of the Gospel of John. That event was about Nicodemus who came to Jesus at night. Jesus told that religious man that he needed to be born again. Nicodemus, a Pharisee or religious leader, heard Jesus and became confused over the words he heard. Nearly three years later Nicodemus saw Jesus die on the cross. He then believed and had the "new birth" experience. The message is simple. When we believe in Jesus we are born again.

When we believe in Jesus we love God. The text declares that those who have faith in Christ will love God. He is our heavenly father. Some may not have good fathers. Some children are abandoned by their fathers or their mothers. Some fathers may be harsh and thoughtless. Many children never heard kind words from their parents. But God is good to us. He loves us. When we are believe in Jesus, we love God. He's our Creator, our Redeemer, our Lord. We have an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father. We respond to God with love because He loves us with "an everlasting love."

When we love Jesus, we will love those in God's family, our brothers in the faith. John says "we know that we love the children of God, when we love God" (5:2) The word for "love" for God and love for man is the same - - the profound, penetrating word of "agapn" or divine love. John also wrote, "He that does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen" (4:20)? The implied answer is that this can not be so. If we love God, we will love one another. God's love, if it is real in our lives, flows out to our family members. It may be that we have conflicts like Jacob and Esau. They had a twenty year separation. They finally met, fell upon each other's shoulders, and wept. Perhaps that kind of experience of brokenness needs to be relived today. If we believe in Jesus, we are born again to love God and love one another. If this truth is not realized in our lives, then a flaw is someplace in our system. We must love.

William Barclay tells an interesting story in his commentary on First John. He says that someone met a young boy carrying his crippled brother to school. The stranger said, "Your brother is too heavy a burden for you to carry to school each day, isn't he?" The boy said, "He's not a burden. He's my brother."

Any one of us may be a "burden" for our brothers. The way we dress, our speech patterns, the clothes we wear, the way one holds his or her knife or fork, the friends we have - - any of these matters and many more may be a "heavy load" for some to tolerate. And yet, because we are brothers, we love one another. When we love Jesus we will love one another, even if some aggravations have to be borne.

When we love Jesus we will keep His commandments. This kind of assignment is not a legal, harsh one. This is the desire to live within and do the will of God. The statement is given that "His commandments are not grievous." That is, they are not heavy and harsh. They do not oppress and make us slaves to a system of rules and regulations. The commandments are summed up as we've noted in 1 John 3:23. His commands are to "believe on Jesus and love one another." Everything else falls in line when we do this.

I grew up on a farm. The work most of the time was anything but easy. The most troubling time for me was when my dad left me in a big field of cotton to hoe by myself. He and two older brothers often would be in another field. And then I had a taste of work that was "grievous." But Jesus never leaves us alone. He is with us in our assignment as we do the Father's will. We want to carry out His orders for they are from the Lord and they are for our own well being. To believe in Jesus is a "golden opportunity.

II. The Opportunity to Have Victory Over Evil

We have the opportunity of having victory over the evil that is around us. The message of verse two in the text is: "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world."

We know that we live in the world. God has us here for a reason. Jesus want us to serve Him while we live. He said in the prayer in John 17, "Father, I pray that you will not take them out of the world, but that You will keep them from the evil that is in the world" (John 17:15). Even, so we are not "of the world' even as Jesus was not of this world (v. 16). James 4:4 alarms us with the words, "Whoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." And yet, John 3:16 states that "God so love the world..." What does all of this talk of the world really mean?

The "world system" or the people who leave God out of life and set up their own standards are not to be our model, our example. John has already reminded us in 1 John 2:15-17 that "all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."

Think about the "lust of the flesh" for a moment. This idea relates to selfish, personal indulgence that is spent on self without regarding God's will or the well-being of others. The "lust of the flesh" habits lead to ruin. For instance, think of the Aids epidemic that casts a dark shadow in many places. Some of the countries of Africa are ravaged by this disease. In fact, about one-half of the population in some of the African countries suffers from Aids. Some of those lands are on "death row" and their nations are in dreadful agony without much hope. I've held the hands of those dying from aids in hospitals and homes. Most of those illnesses have come about because of drugs or immoral living. The world controls these people.

Think about the "lust of the eyes." To some the message is, "If it looks good, grab it." That's what happened to Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden. That's what happened to Aachan when Jericho had been captured. He looked upon the forbidden goods of those who had lived in Jericho and stole those goods. He and his family paid a terrible price for his sin.

Think of the "pride of life." Pride shows its ugly head all around us. The book of Proverbs states (16:18) , "Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall." Sometimes we want to feel independent. We think we can get along without God or without His people. The shocking truth is that a person who is filled with selfish pride comes to a fall, a big calamity.

The shortest book in the Old Testament is Obadiah. He told about the fall of Edom, the small country south of the Holy Land. Those "sons of Esau" lived in the "Red Rock" country with its high mountains with a narrow passageway leading into the capital city. They felt impregnable. And yet, God said that the small, well-protected county would be conquered because their pride had lifted them up and made them feel self-sufficient.

The world system has not changed across the years. The story for the Christian and "the world" is that God's people may be "overcomers." We can conquer. We are the true conquerors or "conquistadores" as the Hispanics say. Christians don't have to be conquered. We can win the battle against evil. The victory is won through our faith in Christ. 1 John 4:4 states, "Greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world." The living Christ within us gives us the victory. A Christian does not need to succumb. We don't have to lie mortally wounded upon the field of battle. Jesus sees us through!

III. The Opportunity of Never-Ending Eternal Life

We have the opportunity of having eternal, never-ending life. 1 John 5:11-12 state that "God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God does not have life." That life that is unending is a certain, priceless possession. We need to grasp something of this rich idea. We try to "patch up" our bodies and live a little longer. We would like to live as long as Moses. We would love to live a good life and keep alive until we're 175 years of age as Abraham did live. Some people would pay millions of dollars to live 969 years as Methusaleh did. God says He offers an unending life to everyone.

The testimony of eternal life is related to Jesus. John states that Jesus is the one who "came by water and blood" (v. 6). The water refers to the time when John the Baptist baptized Jesus. At that time as Jesus began His ministry, the Spirit came upon Him like a dove. The a voice of God from heaven was heard, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). He was that promised Messiah that God sent to be the Savior.

The text speaks of "the blood of Jesus" (v. 6). When soldiers took a sword and pierced the side of Jesus, blood and water flowed out of His body (John 19:34-35). Jesus died for you and me. He gave His life for us. He not only began His ministry with the Holy Spirit coming upon Him, but Jesus ended His earthly ministry by dying on the cross for our sins. The central truth about Jesus is His death for us. The cross of Calvary is central and irreplaceable in our faith. Jesus is eternal and He gave His life for us. God testifies clearly and abundantly about Jesus through whom we have life eternal.

This eternal life which is a gift of God to the believer does not leave us in doubt. We know that we have been saved. First John 5:13 states that we "may know that we have eternal life." That life which comes from God and to which God testifies has rich meaning. Life eternal in Jesus Christ means endurance and quality. Eternal speaks of that which is "unto the ages of the ages." That's endless! This life is one of peace, holiness, joy, power, and endless blessings. Everlasting life means life not infected with that which disrupts or destroys. God's eternal life is given to us through Jesus Christ.

IV. The Opportunity of Having our Prayers Answered

We have the opportunity of having our prayers answered. Right in the middle of the last chapter of First John a prayer promise jumps off the page at us. 1 John 5:14-15 has words that every one needs to memorize. You can put this passage in your mind and heart to use any moment or any day. John wrote that prayer is so real that we have confidence or boldness in speaking about it. He wrote, "And this is the confidence that we have in Him." This reference speaks of confidence in God. Look further at some amazing words, "If we ask anything according to His will He hears us." That simple word "anything" takes in the entire range of life. We can talk to God about anything and everything. That boundless word means our health, our jobs, our family or marriage, our Church, our friends - - everything!

A restriction comes on the "everything" word. We must stay within God's will. He wants the best for us and for His kingdom cause. We move in the area of what God wants from us and we have "the ear of God." Anything else outside His will, of course, would not be good for us nor for God's cause. But the word is that God hears and we get an answer to our requests.

My daughter had a plumbing problem in her house. She came in from school teaching one day. The next door neighbors met her and said, "Marsha, we couldn't get inside your house. We want you to know that water is running beneath your door. A pipe has broken inside your house and it's probably flooding everything."

When the family walked inside, they saw a big mess. Water was everywhere! The ceiling was water soaked. Two or three inches of water covered the bottom floor of the house. A little later after everything had been cleaned up, Marsha's ten year old daughter said to her Mother, "Mom, I prayed that my brother would come home and get a friend and get all this mess cleaned up." James did come in, he did get a friend, and they did do a miraculous work. The fact that James cooperated with his Mom's wishes was a miracle all by itself! Seventeen year old boys sometimes can be rebellious. One ten young girl knows that God answers prayer.

The text in 1 John 5:16 states that we can pray for a brother that goes astray. The list of those "who sin that does not lead to death" is a long one in every Church! If we spend our days praying for each other, then the day is going to be occupied with prayer for others. We remember about Moses in Exodus 32 as he prayed for Israel who had broken the ten commandments. God heard that great man's prayer. We need to pray for those who disregards God's Word. We can pray for those who don't assemble themselves with God's people for worship (Hebrews 10:25). The people who don't read the Bible need our prayers. That's a long list of people. We know that God hears us when we pray.

A shocking word is given in the text about doubtful praying. The words read, "The brother who sins a sin unto death, I do not say that we should pray about that (1 John 5:16). Perhaps that type of person may be like Aachan who came under condemnation. This may have reference to those in Corinth "who slept" or died because of their sins. This is a warning for every Christian not to treat the grace of God lightly. At the same time, let's not forget the big issue. We have the golden opportunity to pray!

V. The Opportunity of Having Life's Greatest Security

We have the opportunity of having the greatest security ever known to man. The world in which we live is now a dangerous world. Nations can destroy other countries with their war machinery. Terrorists have the capability of destroying large buildings. People live inside homes that have bars on windows or glass on walls surrounding their houses. Some officials have security agents who travel with them for protection. God lets us know that He affords security for His family. God has a "security force" for us.

God protects us from the habit of sin. 1 John 5:18 states that the one who is born of God has the sin habit broken. We can not keep on sinning. We do sin (1 John 1:8, 10). And yet, the practice of sin and the sin habit is broken. We can not keep on sinning without coming back to God and confessing. 1 John 3:9 states that "God's seed" is in the Christian and he can't keep on sinning. The Holy Spirit makes God's people conscious of sin and they have to repent. Their habits of life are new in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is the difference between a pig and a sheep. A pig goes to the mud. A sheep gets out of the mud when that animal falls in or gets stained. God's sheep want a better life, even though everyone admits falling or stumbling. But we get up again!

God protects us from Satan. 1 John 5:18 states, "The one born of God is kept by God, and the devil does not claim him." We're kept by the awesome, all-powerful God. That's the message of John 10:27-30 also. The devil may cause us to stumble. The devil bothered Simon Peter. He "sifted him as wheat." The devil gave Job a life full of trouble and heartache and misunderstanding. At the same time, the devil has his limits when it comes to God's children. God says, "Stop, Satan, you can't go any further!" Even though the whole world is under the control of Satan, we live in the world, we witness in the world, but we are not dominated by the devil's wishes for us in the world.

The Christian is "in Jesus who is true." 1 John 5:20 gives us a refreshing word about our security. We are in Christ and He is in us!

We are told that we have a big responsibility in the world. Christians need to remember 1 John 5:21, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." We "keep ourselves" because God keeps us. We take heed lest we fall. We want life devoted to God. We're equipped by the Holy Spirit to live for God.

If a person had invested one thousand dollars in some company twenty five years ago, that investment would pay off in millions today. Some investments in stocks lose. God gives us "golden opportunities" with eternal benefits. Let's make those eternal investments now. Will we do it? ( Why not share these messages with a few pastor friends or others?)


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