Inspirational, Parenting, Child Rearing, Child Raising, Modeling, Mentoring, Disciplemaking, Advice, Encouragement, Bible, Scripture, Confession, Persecution, Accountability, Advocate

CLOSE CALL

1 JOHN 2:1

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;”

A couple of years ago I was leaving Chattanooga to travel to Nashville for day conference with two other staff members. On the way out of town we were almost smashed by a semi-truck and trailer that hydroplaned right next to us on a curve. I can still give you every detail of that close encounter. Our vehicle was actually trapped in the bend between the semi-tractor and trailer until the tractor smashed into the guard rail and bounced back. That was an extremely close call.

Why do I tell that story? Well, there’s a word in this verse today that actually means close call. It’s the word “advocate.” It is the Greek word parakletos which is made of two Greek words, para (close) and kaleo (call). It can mean a legal advocate qualified to make the judgment because they are close to the situation. That’s Jesus. He is close to our situation, just like He was close to me in my close encounter on the road.

APPLICATION

Who is your child’s best advocate besides Jesus? You are, of course. Well, what does that mean? It doesn’t mean you defend your child’s reckless behavior just because they are your child. It doesn’t mean you attack anyone who comes against your child. No, it means you are close enough to the situation to know what is right and what is wrong. A good lawyer would never go against the law to defend his or her client. No, they use what they know is right to do that.

One of our roles as parents is to be our child’s biggest cheerleaders. We want then to excel in all they do. We should heap tons of praise on them. But we should also call them close and give them the advice needed. Jesus is our advocate, but He won’t excuse our bad behavior anymore than you can with your children.

Aren’t you grateful for our advocate? Go to Him today. He is close. He knows your situation. He can give you the best guidance. Trust it.

I am thankful to have You in my corner. I know You always have my best in mind, no matter the situation.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Blameless, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Cleansing, Confession, Forgiveness, Lies, Modeling, Parenting, Redemption, Repentance, Scripture, Testimony

FOOLISH THINKING

1 JOHN 1:10

“If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”

Have you every denied something, but you knew there might be a possibility that you could have done it? I have. I could have forgotten about it. That happens. But there are some denials that are just absolute. I can honestly say I have never given birth to a baby. There is just no way that is possible.

There’s something you can’t see in the English translation of this verse. It’s in the little word “not.” You see, there are two Greek words for “no” or “not.” There’s the one here, ou, and there’s the other one, me. Here’s the difference. Me is a qualified negative, whereas ou is the absolute negative. John is saying if you absolutely deny you have sinned, you are calling God a liar who has said that all men sin.

APPLICATION

Unless your children are floating along on clouds with little harps like cherubs, they have probably lied about something. They have probably denied their involvement in a fight with their sibling. They may deny eating those cookies you were saving for later. Children don’t want to get caught. So, they will lie or deny to get out of it.

The next time they do, read this verse. Their actions are no different than anyone else’s who try to portray themselves as above error. Honesty is always the best policy. Admission of guilt and confession of sin leads to forgiveness. That always feels good. That always restores fellowship.

Are you guilty of denying your sins? We tend to want to blame others for our failures. It is never our fault. Just confess them to your Father. He stands ready to forgive. Remember – denying your sin makes God a liar, which you and I both know is just not true.

Forgive me, Lord, for denying my sins. Cleanse me and set me straight. I want to honor You.

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SPARKLY

1 JOHN 1:9

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 

Man, I loved my first car so much. I guess all guys do. Mine was a 1971 Buick Skylark. It was royal blue with a white vinyl top. It had key-colored mag wheels AND a Craig AM/FM eight-track Powerplay stereo. I kept that car pretty much spotless. I was relentless to remove the dirt and grime. I wanted to present a clean car to everyone.

All we have to do to present ourselves as “sparkly” is to confess our sins to the Father. When we do, He is faithful and righteous (or just) to forgive them and to clean us up. I love that the word “forgive” in the Greek means to send away. He sends our sins away. Why? Because they are cleansed by the blood. He wants us to be presentable to the lost to draw them also to Him.

APPLICATION

Bath time for kids can be a challenge. Most kids go through a time when they just really fight against it. They don’t want their hair washed or they don’t want to have their backs scrubbed. Of course, we bathe them anyway because we know we can’t leave them that way.

The next time you are bathing your child or have to remind them to get a bath, share this verse with them. They will probably think you are crazy, lol. Explain to them the importance of not only keeping their body clean, but they also need to keep their heart clean by confessing their sins to God. Unconfessed sin makes us comfortable with the grime of sin. After a while we stop smelling ourselves.

Are you all scrubbed? I mean are you confessed up? What are you waiting for? Don’t you want to feel refreshed spiritually? Of course, you. Turn to Him right now. Just say, “Father, forgive me for my sins. I confess to You my wrongdoings and failures. I want to walk in Your light. Thank You for forgiving me and cleansing me.” That’s it. You’re sparkly!

Thank You, Father, for sending Your Son Jesus to die for me so I can come to You for forgiveness. I know His blood has covered my sins. Help me walk in righteousness.

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SINLESS

1 JOHN 1:8

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

Have you ever met a perfect person? No, I don’t mean Jesus. I mean a regular human being. Neither have I. But I have met some people who thought they were perfect. They could never admit an error. They thought they could never do anything wrong. If something wrong happened, it was always someone else’s fault.

John has a way of hitting you right between the eyes, doesn’t he? He points out those kind of people in today’s verse. If someone has that attitude (no sin), he says they are deceiving themselves. We get our word “planet” from the Greek word for “deceiving.” It means we are off course, we are wandering. We are literally walking around as if blind, ignoring the true path.

APPLICATION

I bet more than once when your child has done something wrong or broken something they claimed they didn’t do it. Am I right? While that may appear cute when they are toddlers, it isn’t something to laugh at and excuse. Children need to be held accountable for their behavior, according to their age level. Sin is sin and left unchecked will lead to a lifestyle of denial.

I am not saying we should be the gestapo and try to catch them in every act. We do, however, need to point them to the truth each and every time they fall short (and they will). We need to, as appropriate, share with them our own struggles and failures. They need to know that mom and dad aren’t perfect. I know that’s hard to admit, lol.

When is the last time you went to the Lord confessing your sinful behavior? Are you letting them build up until you have a closet full? That’s silly. Go to Him right now. Unburden yourself. Allow His cleansing power to reveal all the sin in your life. Then you can walk in truth again. Now, doesn’t that feel better?

Cleanse me now, O Lord. I confess all my sins to You. I desire to walk in truth.

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IF-THEN

1 JOHN 1:7

“but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 

Using the “If-Then” method of child-rearing is a good way of teaching them. If your child does his chores, then he can receive his allowance. If she cleans her room as promised, then you will take her to get ice cream. Now, you may not agree with rewarding children for doing their chores, but it is one method.

John is telling us here in today’s verse that we will receive a reward if we do a certain thing (If-Then). If we walk in the light, then we will have fellowship and Jesus’ blood cleanses us. We can’t expect to have either of those if we walk in darkness. Only by walking in the light are they possible.

APPLICATION

I’ve kind of already hinted at the application for your kids. Try one of those “If-Then” situations with your child. Then take them to this verse. You see, your own “If-Then” training is preparing them for their own “If-Then” decisions with the Lord. They are going to face a lot of those moments in life.

They will face crucial decisions with peers. If I do this, then this could happen. If I do this, how will it glorify God? If-then, if-then, if-then. All through life they will have to make those decisions. They need to understand your training of them now is preparing them for later.

How about you? Do you desire fellowship and forgiveness? Then it’s simple – walk in the light. That means to come to Christ and accept Him as your Savior. You can’t walk in light if you’re lost. You may think you’re in the light, but you aren’t. You are in the darkness. Come to the light.

I desire to stay in the light, Father. I desire fellowship with You and others. I know I am forgiven through the blood of Your Son.

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DO YOU LIE?

1 JOHN 1:6

“If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;” 

Boy, John doesn’t pull any punches here. He speaks pretty plainly. If we say one thing, but do the other, we lie. Wow! That should make you examine your life. So many people in the church today are doing that. They pretend to have fellowship with God, they say all the “right” things, but their private life is in the darkness.

Those lies will come out sooner or later. We may know they are lying, but they will answer to God, not us. We do have the responsibility to confront our brothers and sisters in Christ. That is the loving thing to do, but we can’t make them correct their behavior.

APPLICATION

Now, this is a practical application for our children. They can’t say one thing and do another. We can’t allow them to get away with such behavior. Why? Because it leads to a lifestyle of wrong decisions. Accountability is important. We are not just raising children. We are raising child raisers.

So, what do we do? We teach them how to walk in light and not darkness. We do what we say. We live at home like we say we do at church. We treat our family better than we treat the Pastor. We read God’s Word daily at home and not just in church.

Are you walking in light or darkness? Are you pretending? Examine your life. Make sure you are truly having fellowship with the Father. He wants you to be truthful and consistent. Make sure your walk reflects your talk.

Oh Lord, I want my walk to be seen as truthful. Keep me in the light.

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GOD IS LIGHT

1 JOHN 1:5

“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.”

I have to get a little technical to explain this verse. Do you mind? The phrase “we have heard” is in the Perfect tense. What does that mean? It means completed action with ongoing results. The word “announce” is in the Present tense which means ongoing action.

Thank you, Carl, that really blessed me. Now listen. John heard from Jesus that God is light and that He contains no darkness. That message changed his life, and he had to share it. We have heard that message ourselves. Are we sharing it?

APPLICATION

The next time you are planning a family vacation somewhere the kids are going to love (Disney World, the beach, etc), watch what happens. They are going to tell everyone. They are so excited about this message. This message has changed their lives.

Then sit the kids down and read them this verse. Explain to them that the message about vacation is awesome. But…it could change. It could get cancelled. Or it could happen and then be over. God’s message can’t be cancelled. It is never over. It won’t come and go. It’s eternal.

Are you living for the temporal or eternal? God’s message of light in a dark world is incredible. We hold the power source for the universe in our hearts. His light can shine through us, if we let it. His light can permeate the darkest heart if we will share it. Shine on.

Your light has changed my life. Thank You for shining it on me. Help me shine it on others.

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FULL OF JOY

1 JOHN 1:4

“These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.”

There’s a difference in being joyful and being full of joy. Being joyful can be spontaneous and last for a while. Being full of joy is more about a lifestyle. Let me prove my point from the text. The Greek word for “complete” is pleroo. Any time you see a Greek word which ends in -oo the emphasis is more about the result of the word than the word itself. That word means “fill to individual capacity.

Being full of joy is a choice we make as believers that has results. We cast that joy onto others. We want to spread the joy to others because we know how great we feel because of it. We know the source of the joy is not of our own making. It comes from the Lord, so the source is bottomless.

APPLICATION

Ask your child if he/she knows what joy is. Let them define it in their own way. This could be quite hilarious. Then ask them if they would want to always feel that way. Some kids may say “no.” Why? Because they don’t know how to handle it? Maybe.

Here’s your opportunity to talk about the reason Christ gives us joy. We are not supposed to handle it. We are to pass it on. When we are full of the joy of Christ, we spread it around to all we meet. You can show your kids this by the way you treat others in your home and in the public.

But Carl, you don’t know what I’m dealing with right now. I don’t have any joy in my life. Remember, I said this is not a joy you produce. It comes from Christ through you to others. You have to surrender to Him. When you do that, the joy flows. It flows to overflowing. It becomes your lifestyle. Be full of joy!

Joyful, joyful we adore Thee. Lord, fill me to overflowing with Your joy. I want to spill out on others.

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PUNCH AND COOKIES

1 JOHN 1:3

“what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” 

What is fellowship? Is it just punch and cookies? I sure hope not. The Greek word is koinonia, which means something that is shared in common. I have to admit I have eaten many a meal with people with whom I didn’t share a whole lot in common. That is not what John is referring to here.

We have fellowship with each other only because we also have fellowship (something in common) with the Father and His Son. That common bond brings us together. We don’t need punch and cookies to do that. I have had the joy of fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ when nothing physical passed over my lips. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good potluck dinner as much as the next person. But that doesn’t make fellowship.

APPLICATION

Kids can naturally fellowship. They find common things with other boys and girls pretty quickly. Their fellowship may center around Legos or video games. It may be over American Girl dolls or a sports game. Our challenge, as parents, is to direct them to the lasting fellowship that is only possible through Jesus.

I promise you, those childhood “fellowships” are going to fade. The only eternal fellowship is a spiritual one, as John describes in the verse today. Point your child toward that fellowship. It will last forever.

With whom are you in fellowship? Do you have a group of believers with whom you share that common bond? I pray you do. We can’t do this alone. We need fellowship. This recent Covid 19 pandemic has reduced our opportunities for fellowship and people are suffering. We need each other. Will you make the effort this week to fellowship with someone?

How I desire the fellowship with other believers. I long for their spiritual “embrace.” Thank You for providing that common bond through Your Son, Jesus.

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NOT HIDDEN

1 JOHN 1:2

“and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—”

I’ll never forget one Sunday at John de la Howe School in McCormick, S.C. when I preached on this passage to a chapel full of kids and adults. Nineteen children came to Christ that day. That had nothing to do with me and everything to do with Jesus. But what I remember is that I only preached on one word of that verse – “manifested.”

The power of that word! It refers to something made clear, to be made visible. I compared it to my mama’s pressure cooker she used when I was growing up. You know, the old kind with the jiggling little weight on top that controlled the pressure. I would come home and see that pot on the stove. I knew something good was inside, but I couldn’t see it. When she took off that lid, ohhhh, the wonderful meal was revealed.

APPLICATION

Kids understand this concept of hidden and revealed. They’ve been playing hide and seek for years. How many times have you played that game with them over the years? Even infants get a joy out of playing peekaboo. Revealing what’s covered, finding the “hidden” brings us joy and excitement.

Make sure your kids understand that God did that in one way by manifesting Himself in Jesus. Jesus, of course, concealed His glory while on earth, except for on the mount of transfiguration when He was revealed to James, John (the author of this verse) and Peter. But God does not play hide and seek with us. He’s not trying to hide. He has revealed Himself through Jesus.

Have you found Him? He knows where you are. You can’t hide from Him. He wants to show Himself to you. Will you behold Him? Jesus came to show us His Father. He told His disciples if they had seen Him they had seen the Father. One day, we believers will see Him face to face. Hallelujah!

Your life has been manifested in me. Help me let it manifested through me. I want others to only see You in me.

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