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It’s Personal

The most astounding thing to me about Christianity is that it’s personal. When Jesus invaded my life, he dealt with my heart and began directing my life as an individual. I have grown to discover that my life is part of a worldwide, history-wide plan but God guides me and you specifically to fulfill our parts of the puzzle. This is why some passages in the Bible stand out and become intensely personal.
1 John 4 is one of those passages for me. As I read it again this morning, I was struck by how much of this chapter has been an intricate part of my life. Verse 4 started it all, “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.” I had been reading the Bible after seeing the movie, “The Exorcist,” when I was sixteen years old. The movie shook me up because I heard it was based on something true and I couldn’t see much difference between me and the girl on the screen. The question that haunted me was, “If anything like that could happen to her, what would keep it from happening to me?” I hoped the Bible was going to have something for me and when I read, “. . .the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world,” the light went on for me. That night I asked Jesus to live within my heart and to guide my life.
Verse 7 then opened a new world for me, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.” My mom was racked with various fears so we lived a pretty isolated life. We didn’t have family friends and there was a general distrust of people in my home. When I met Jesus and started attending a Bible study with other teenagers, I discovered a group of real friends who genuinely cared about one another and were solidly committed to each other. It was awesome.
Since meeting Jesus, I am amazed at how many times I have quoted verse 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.” I realize now this verse became important because of the fear I grew up around but it has grown to be a major theme in life. I respect God immensely but I am not afraid of Him because I know He loves me. I have had the privilege of introducing many people to my Savior as I have explained that they don’t need to be afraid of Him either. I have seen numerous individuals break through barriers in their lives as they have grasped the truth of God’s love and willingness to work on their behalf. Life is filled with the unknown for all of us but we can face it without fear when we are convinced that God loves us.
Finally, verse 19 is engraved on the inside of my wedding ring. Pam and I adopted this phrase as our motto from the earliest moments in our journey together, “We love because he first loved us.” We are both convinced we have the strength to love one another because we discovered the personal love of God in our hearts. He is bigger than our disappointments and greater than our irritations as His love renews our interest in one another year after year.
At times, I feel 1 John 4 was written for me. I know this is not entirely true because God has much bigger things going on than just my life but I am convinced He had me in mind when He led John to put these words on paper. What passage has become this personal in your journey?

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