Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Encouragement, Love, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Scripture, Testimony

HOW IS THIS CONNECTED?

1 JOHN 5:2

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.”

Sometimes we hear or read something, and it makes no sense. The pieces don’t seem to fit together. Sometimes it’s the way things are explained. Sometimes it’s because of the one explaining. And sometimes it’s because we just don’t want to hear it or believe it.

John says something in today’s verse that made no sense to me when I first read it. What does loving the children of God have to do with us loving God and observing His commandments? But then it hit me. We can only love His children by loving Him first. His commandments teach us to love.

APPLICATION

Teaching our children to follow rules has a purpose. They aren’t just rules to be rules. Rules are meant to teach behaviors. If they aren’t doing that, the rules should be changed. Remember, any rules you may have for your children should be based on the Word. In fact, I would urge you to make a list of any rules you have for your kids and find a verse to back it up. Make sure your kids know that.

God’s commands are spelled out clearly in His Word. It is imperative that you, as mom and dad, pour His Word all over your children. After all, it is your responsibility as a parent to disciple your children. We teach them to lead them to Christ. We teach them to help them grow in Christ. We teach them to follow God’s principles – no matter what.

Are you following the Lord’s commands? Are you loving others? I am not saying it is easy, but it is possible. But only if we allow the Lord to guide us. I have said this a lot in my devotionals in 1 John. John keeps saying this over and over and over, so it must be important. Do you believe that? If so, just do it.

I will love Your children, Lord. Your Word tells me to do that. I will obey.

Standard
Abiding, Bible, Born, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Christianity, Commitment, Completeness, Confession, Disciplemaking, Eternity, Following, Forgiveness, God's Will, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Joy, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Prayer, Redemption, Rescue, Scripture, Surrender

DO YOU BELIEVE?

1 JOHN 5:1

“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.”

I guess I have always believed in Jesus. I was raised in a church-going home. We were there every Sunday. I remember going to

Sunday School, church, revivals, etc. Church was a regular part of our family life. But you have to understand something. It was all head knowledge. All that church going gave me a false sense of salvation.

It wasn’t until I was sixteen that I truly believed. When the Holy Spirit drew me towards the Father through the Son, I surrendered my life to Him. My church-going belief became true belief in Christ. I joined the family John is describing in today’s verse. I finally fully believed that Jesus was the Christ. What a change! Knowledge about something does not equal belief in something.

APPLICATION

As your children grow, I am sure you have been telling them about God and Jesus. You may even have pictures of Jesus or other Christian decorations in your house. You talk about Jesus at Christmas and celebrate His birth. You have been filling their little skulls full of mush with knowledge about Jesus. But try as you might, you can’t flip a switch and give them saving knowledge. That is truly between them and God.

So, how do you ensure your child comes to faith? No one wants to think of the alternative, right? You have to remain consistent in your teaching. You have to take every opportunity to talk about what Jesus has done for you. When a prayer is answered, make sure you share that with them. They need to see Jesus working in your life. God may just use that to draw them to Himself. And, of course, pray every day for their salvation. God hears your prayers.

Can you effectively share your salvation experience with someone? Can you articulate the joy you have in Christ? You may need to practice doing that. The Lord will give you the words to say each and every time He gives you the opportunity to share. You have to trust Him. Tell the world about your saving knowledge of Jesus. He is the Christ. Celebrate it.

I praise You, O Lord, for sending Your Son, Jesus, to rescue me. He is indeed the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Standard
Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Commands, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Love, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Testimony

NOT A SUGGESTION

1 JOHN 4:21

“And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”

When I was growing up, I worked for Mr. Walter Pollock in my hometown of Pelham, Ga. Mr. Pollock demanded a lot. When you worked for him, you worked for him. You didn’t daddle. He expected you to work your hours each day without wasting a minute. We got a lunch break, but that was about it. His “commands” to work weren’t suggestions. He wanted you to do exactly as he said.

The same is true (to an extent) with God. I don’t mean He is a slave driver. However, when God gives a command, He expects us to follow it. He doesn’t talk just to hear Himself. He gives us His commands plainly in His Word. John tells us that in today’s verse. Here’s the command – love our brother. If we say we love God, then we must love our brother – period.

APPLICATION

Why do we give our children rules to follow? What’s the use? They are going to grow up and do what they want anyway. Some parents think like that. If you watch their children, you can see who is running the show. Rules are meant to teach our children to obey those in authority. Rules are important. Now, I do believe the fewer rules the better. But you still must have rules to teach an orderly lifestyle.

Oh come on, Carl. You sound like a gestapo. In today’s society, I probably do. But listen – we teach rules in our household to our children to teach them to listen to God’s rules. We, in fact, use His Word as the guide for any rules we may have. If our children aren’t taught to obey us, how in the world will they ever obey God? Rules matter.

I pray you are a rule follower. I don’t mean you have to be a stiff-necked follower with no flexibility, but I do mean that you consult the Word before making a decision. You consult the Word before doing that thing you aren’t quite sure about. God’s commands are here to protect us, not squash us. He wants us living in liberty which is only possible by following His commands. Just do it.

Father, I want to obey Your commands. Help me submit to Your Word and Your Spirit daily.

Standard
Accountability, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Hatred, Hypocrisy, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Scripture, Testimony

LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE

1 JOHN 4:20

“If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

Have you ever heard that saying “Liar, Liar, pants on fire”? We would say it as kids, right? When we knew someone was lying, we would call them out. No one likes to be called a liar. There is one sure fire way of not – don’t lie. Just tell the truth. Easy peasy, problem solved. Lol

John calls us out in today’s verse. If we say we love God and hate our brother, we don’t love God. John says we are a liar. John doesn’t beat around the bush. He calls them like he sees them. Notice he says “brother.” Now, who is that referring to? Just our saved brothers? How about our sisters? How about the lost? I believe John is referring to all people. After all, God has created them all in His image. How could we not love them?

APPLICATION

You may have the occasion to hear your child say I just hate so and so. If you hear that, nip it in the bud. I mean, deal with it quickly. Hate has no room in the vocabulary of a believer, except to say we hate sin. Our children need to be taught that early. They may not like some people as much as others. That’s natural, but hate doesn’t belong.

Teaching them to love requires time. All people deserve love. We are God’s instruments of love to others, especially the lost. When we love them, we are showing them what He has done in our lives. Our love becomes an avenue on which they can travel to find Jesus. Have you ever thought about that? Love them so they can love Him.

I grew up in South Georgia during a time when racism was the norm. I still recall the names some people used to refer to people who had a different skin color than themselves. It went both ways. And those same people would be sitting in the church pew on Sunday morning singing and talking about God’s love. God forgive us for our disobedience. Will you love like Jesus? Will you love your “brother”?

I choose to love, Father. I will see others as You see them. They are, after all, made in Your image. We are all in need of a Savior.

Standard
Advice, Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, God's Will, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Submission, Testimony

I’M FIRST

1 JOHN 4:19

“We love, because He first loved us.”

Boy, oh boy! How many times have you heard kids (maybe your own) arguing on the playground about who is going to go first down the slide? Maybe they are fighting about who gets to go first at bat. Whatever it is, kids like to be first. They somehow think that is all that matters at the moment. I am sure you can think back to when you were a kid and did the same thing.

John states it simply and succinctly. God loved us first. That is the only reason we can love. We did not have it in us. Our flesh is just too strong. We may love for a season, but without His transforming love guiding us, we will never last. It is His love that drives us. It is His love that loves others.

APPLICATION

So, how do you teach your children to love like God. Well, here we go again. You have to model it. You can preach it to them all day long every day. But until they see that kind of love in action, it will never take root. They need to see mom and dad loving like Jesus. They watch everything you do, right? What better thing for them to watch than you loving like Him.

So, the bigger question is how do you do that. How is it possible to love like Jesus? After all, He was/is God. God is love, right? So, of course He can love. The only way you can love like Him is to get out of the way and let Him love through you. When you come across that person (and you will) that is just hard to love, look at them through God’s eyes. He died for them. He loves them unconditionally. Love them like He does, not like you want to.

Who do you need to love today? Who is the most unlovable person in your life right now? Lay down your agenda and allow the Lord to love them through you. They will be amazed. When they ask you what you are doing, tell them it’s not you. It’s Jesus. And don’t do this one time. Continue to love them like Him. Who knows you may just begin to really love them.

You loved me when I did not deserve love, Lord. I want to please You by how I love others. Will you love through me today?

Standard
Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Comfort, Encouragement, Fear, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture

NO FEAR

1 JOHN 4:18

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”

What scares you? Do you have fears about things? Maybe heights scare you. Maybe it’s spiders or snakes. It’s not unusual to have some fears. Even Superman was scared of kryptonite, right? So, what is John talking about here?

Listen, if you are in Christ, you have the love of Christ dwelling within you. That love is perfect and drives out any fear of judgment from the Father. You are secure in Christ. There is no reason to be “scared” of being punished by God at the final judgment. Your sins are forgiven. You will be spending eternity with Him. That’s what John is talking about.

APPLICATION

Have your children ever feared you? Maybe they did something bad and knew they were going to be disciplined. They knew the rules but broke them anyway. They knew there could be consequences if caught but took the risk. Now, they are facing them. Fear is creeping in. They may even try to hide.

What an opportunity God has given you to teach this verse. You still have to be consistent with your discipline, but you have the chance to adjust that some for this purpose. Start out with how much you love them. Ask them if they believe that. Ask them if they think anything they can do could ever make you stop loving them. Tell them you never want them to fear you. You want them to be able to come to you with anything, good or bad. Your love is unconditional because your love is a reflection of God’s love for us. That’s your model for love, and they need to know that.

We should always be pointing our children and others to the love of God. His love is perfect and does cast out all fear. This is probably one of my favorite verses. I love knowing that I have no reason to fear God. Don’t get me wrong. I have an awe and respect of God. But I am not scared of Him. Why? Because of my security in Christ. I pray you have that as well.

Thank You for the love that casts out all fear. I am perfected through Your love.

Standard
Advocate, Bible, Confidence, Courage, Direction, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Inspirational, Judgment, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture

CONFIDENCE

1 JOHN 4:17

“By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.”

I like being around confident people. Their confidence makes me more confident. I had a football coach in Junior High School who was like that. He was always positive and upbeat. He wasn’t the greatest coach, but his confidence was infectious. It made us better players. We played hard for him because he made us more confident.

The Greek word here for “confidence” means to be bold, to speak with resolve, to be remembered. That’s it! We have boldness. We live in such a way that we will be remembered. And John says we will be confident “in the day of judgment.” I know that I know that I know I am in Christ, so I do not fear judgment. My sins are forgiven.

APPLICATION

Don’t you want confident children? A father I meet with regularly was speaking about one of his young sons recently. He was concerned that he was “too whiny.” We talked about that. We both agreed that he needs more time with him than perhaps his other kids. He needs to build more confidence in him now at an early age so he won’t be whiny and complaining as a teen or young man.

The best way to build confidence in our kids, of course, is leading them to a saving knowledge of Christ. Even before they make that decision, we need to be pouring Jesus all over them. We need to reassure them of His love for them. We need to remind them over and over that He will fight for them. We want them to have that confidence in the day of judgment knowing that their sins have been washed away and they can stand boldly before the throne of God, not because of anything they have done, but because of Jesus.

What is your confidence in? I pray it is not in your own abilities or talents. Those can be lost so quickly. I pray it’s not in your position or career. That too can be snatched away. Is your confidence in Christ? He is the only sure thing. He is always there. He will always be with you, no matter what you face. He has to be your confidence.

I am confident in You, Lord. I know in whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep me until that day.

Standard
Abiding, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture, Testimony

DONE DEAL

1 JOHN 4:16

“We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

Have you ever had to live with a decision you made in the past that was affecting you now? Maybe you got a tattoo on a whim that, shall we say, was questionable. Now, you have that tattoo the rest of your life. It’s permanent. I have a friend who went through months of laser treatment to try to remove some tattoos he got years ago. Expensive!

Why do I bring that up? Because the two verbs used in the first part of this verse (“come to know” and “have believed”) are in the Perfect tense. Now, I know that blesses your heart. Listen. The Perfect tense refers to past action that has lasting results (like the tatoo illustration). Our past action of knowing and believing results in abiding. How cool is that?

APPLICATION

Kids don’t necessarily understand this permanent situation with decisions. Has your child ever required stitches and been left with a scar? Maybe you have. Talk about that. What caused that scar? Did they make a decision to do something that resulted in that injury? Sometimes those are caused by risky behavior. Their actions caused a lasting reminder.

Then, take them to today’s verse. Ask them if they know and believe. They may quickly say “yes,” but ask them to explain how they know they know. How do they know they believe? Show them the results. God abides in them, and they love others. That’s the proof.

Do you know? Do you believe? If so, love! Don’t miss the opportunity to show others the proof of your abiding in Christ. We have to be Jesus to the world. How else are they going to hear? God still uses people. Will you allow Him to use you? And be thankful that your knowledge of God and your belief in God has lasting results. Just don’t get that tattoo, lol.

I am so grateful I know You, Lord. My belief in You is solid. And I am so thankful that You in abide in me and I abide in You.

Standard
Abiding, Agreement, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Holy Spirit, Mentoring, Parenting, Praise, Salvation, Scripture

WHO DO YOU CONFESS?

1 JOHN 4:15

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”

You know, sometimes agreeing on something is hard. You have your ideas, and others have theirs. Often those kinds of situations end up bad. But there is always a way to come together and agree, if you really want to. The problem is we usually don’t want to. We demand to be right. It’s our way or the highway.

John, however, lays it out for us. You see, the word “confesses” means to agree, to say the same thing. If God is to abide in us and we in Him, we must agree that Jesus is the Son of God. There’s no other way. Our way doesn’t matter. What we think doesn’t matter. There’s a bumper sticker you may have seen that reads “God said, I believe it, that settles it.” Well, that’s wrong. It should read “God said it, that settles it.”

APPLICATION

How many times have you had to settle an argument between your children or your child and another child? They will argue about just about anything. Which video game is the best, what movie is the greatest, which Avenger has the best super power. Agreement is not in their vocabulary.

But I want you to take your child to this verse the next time you catch them in an argument. Talk about how many in this world disagree with John’s conclusion. Explain to them the importance of confessing Jesus as the Son of God. Belief in Him is paramount to our salvation. You can’t believe part of the truth. You have to believe and confess it all.

Have you confessed Jesus as the Son of God? I pray you have. If you have the rest of the verse is a promise to you. God abides in you. That’s incredible. Through His Holy Spirit He lives in you. And if you have Him in you, there’s nothing you can’t do because it’s Him doing it. Praise the Lord.

Father, I know Jesus is Your Son, and that You sent Him to die for me. I know You abide in me and I in You. Thank You, Lord.

Standard
Bible, Calling, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Eternity, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

OUR PURPOSE

1 JOHN 4:14

“We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”

I bet you have wondered at one point or another what your purpose is in life. Rick Warren wrote the best seller “The Purpose Driven Life.” People want to know their purpose. They actually spend hundreds and thousands of dollars trying to figure it out.

If you are a believer, it’s so simple. John spells it out right here. You are to testify about Jesus. That’s your purpose. Now, John actually saw the Father because he had seen the Son. We may not have seen the Father, but we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. We know the truth. We are, therefore, called to testify about it.

APPLICATION

Ask your children to tell you about something they have seen. Maybe they can tell you about their trip to the zoo or the beach. Just let them talk. Let them describe every activity. Kids love to tell about what they have seen. They can go on and on about all the wonderful things they have experienced.

Now, bring them to this verse. Explain to them how we should have the same passion to tell the story of Jesus to others. Ask them to share their experience with Jesus. By doing so, they can fine tuning their testimony. They are learning to tell others of the amazing things they have seen God do in their lives. They are sharing the good news. That’s their purpose.

Are you purpose driven? Are you aware of this calling on your life? Today ask the Lord to put someone in your path to whom you can testify about the goodness of God. Maybe there is someone you need to go to today to share Jesus with. Go, do it. Don’t put it off. Remember, their eternal destiny hangs in the balance. God has purposed you to share.

Thank You, Lord, for the reminder of my calling, my purpose. Help me today to share Jesus with someone who is in need of a Savior. 

Standard