Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Commitment, Death, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Heaven, Inspirational, Life, Love, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture, Surrender

CHANGING SEATS

1 JOHN 3:14

“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.”

Have you ever asked to change seats on a plane so you could have the window seat? I used to like to sit by the window so I could look out. Over the years that interest faded. I just want to sit somewhere now where I can rest or read and not be bothered by others getting up and crawling across my lap. Lol

But sometimes a change of scenery is good. We’ve been given that in Christ. Our previous view was death. We were doomed to an eternal damnation with no way to get out on our own. But then Christ came and shed His blood for us. That changed everything. We now have life, and it shows in our love for each other.

APPLICATION

I often am told by parents that they can tell when their young child has committed themselves to Christ. Their heart gets tender. They start asking for forgiveness for wrongs done. Their very nature has changed. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? We should look different on the outside. People should be able to tell we have life now.

Once you see your child striving to live like Jesus, you can waste no time discipling them. They are going to need your guidance in how to study the Word and how to pray. You can’t leave this up to chance. No matter how young or old your child is when they come to that saving knowledge of Jesus, they are going to need you to walk with them.

Aren’t you glad you no longer walk in death? You now can walk in newness of life every day. Jesus walks with you as you learn to love others as He does. He can teach you the joys that come in life. The fear of death is gone. You only have glory to look forward to one day. Hallelujah!

I do walk in life! You are the reason, Lord. Help me introduce others as well.

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Accountability, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Hatred, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, The World

SURPRISE – NOT

1 JOHN 3:13

“Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you.”

I don’t exactly remember the first time I realized the world hated me because of my beliefs. I mean, I know my walk with Christ does not exactly measure up to the world’s walk. My exposure to hatred has been more from some individuals who wanted to argue about abortion, same sex marriage or another strongly held belief. My refusal to argue with them only seemed to make them want to fight more. Have you experienced that?

John is warning us to not be surprised. In fact, that is a command – DO NOT be surprised. He is essentially telling us we are going to face this. But we are not to hate back. Jesus warned us of this Himself. John heard Him say that. John watch how He responded to their hatred, all the way to the cross. He heard Him say those words on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

APPLICATION

Here we go again. How do you teach your children this truth? You live it out before them. Every time someone treats you with hatred, you respond with love. When they continue to hate you, you continue to love. You invite your children to pray with you for that person. You ask the Lord to break down that hatred they have in their heart because we know it is not of God.

Children learn from that. They are watching. They will imitate those actions much quicker than just repeat your words. And when you see them imitate that love, make sure you praise them for it. Let them know how proud you are of them for choosing love over hatred.

Is there someone you need to love more today who has shown you nothing but scorn and hatred? I didn’t say it was easy. Hatred towards us, if we are living for Christ, is really hatred towards Him. He received it. Why shouldn’t we? Allow Jesus to love through you. Don’t return the hate. Return love.

I choose love over hate, even when I know it will be difficult. Help me, Lord, to surrender to you daily.

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Accountability, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, Following, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Protection, Scripture, Self-control, Testimony

WHAT A STORY

1 JOHN 3:12

“not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.”

Have you ever heard a story told over and over? My brother-in-law, Dr. Wayne Barber, was a master storyteller. He just had a way of bringing you right into the story. He famously told his beaver dam story more times than I can count, but each time he told it, I was sucked right in. Some stories are just that memorable.

John is reminding us of a story we have all heard before. Cain killed his brother. Wow! He was jealous of his brother. And when he was confronted by God after he killed him, what did he say? Am I my brother’s keeper? Why yes, Cain, you are. That’s John’s point. We are all our brother’s keeper.

APPLICATION

If you have more than one child, don’t you teach your older children to keep an eye on the younger ones? I don’t mean they should be responsible for them. But they do have an obligation to watch over them, to help protect them. It’s just the right thing for siblings to do.

I will never forget defending my little sister on a school playground when I was in the second grade and she was in the first grade. The class bully had decided to pick on her during recess, and I was going to have none of that. After our confrontation (let’s leave it at that), he didn’t bother her again. Now, I am not advocating fighting. Please don’t hear me say that. But I am saying we have to teach our children to look after each other.

Is there a weaker brother who could use your support? Maybe someone is going through some marriage struggles right now and needs advice. Perhaps someone is struggling with a wayward child and you’ve got some experience in that area. Don’t turn your back. Ask the Lord to use you to lighten their load.

Use me, Lord, however you wish to come to the aid of those around me. I want to honor You.

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

SIMPLE MESSAGE

1 JOHN 3:11

“For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another;”

We are taught from birth to love one another. We teach our children to love their siblings. We role model our love for one another to our families. As believers, we try to follow Christ’s example and love one another. I think you get the picture. So, why does John even have to tell us this?

Because we are sinful, flesh-ridden creatures who naturally care only about themselves. That may sound harsh, but it’s true. We can never hear this message enough – LOVE ONE ANOTHER. But what exactly does that mean? It means to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others. It means to choose others over ourselves. It means to go that extra mile for the sake of a lost soul who needs to hear the saving message of Jesus.

APPLICATION

Kids love people. Most small children are unabashedly quick to tell someone they love them. I have been on playgrounds with kids for minutes and heard them say they loved someone. What we have to do, however, is to teach them to love like Jesus and NOT like the adults in their lives. What? Did I actually just say that? Yep. Our adult idea of loving one another doesn’t necessarily agree with Jesus’.

Jesus loved perfectly. John saw that up front and personal for over three years. He saw His selfless acts of love long before the cross. We have to point our kids to Jesus as the only true model of love for one another. We just can’t trust any other example. We have to do our best to model it for them, all the while knowing we fall woefully short.

Whom could you love better? I can name four or five individuals right now that I know I need to love better. It’s not easy, is it? Some folks are just hard to love, admit it. But Jesus died for us all. He loves us all. I have to be more like Him and less like me. I bet you’re the same.

O Lord, forgive me as I fall so short of loving others. Help me love them as You do.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Friends, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture

OBVIOUS THINGS

1 JOHN 3:10

“By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.”

Have you ever lost your glasses only to find them right where you left them – on your head? I have. It’s kind of embarrassing. You would think something that obvious would be hard to miss. I have also misplaced my cellphone only to find it in my hand. Our minds can play some tricks on us, can’t it?

John was perhaps trying to help the early believers distinguish between obvious believers and non-believers. Remember, back in John’s day the church was under persecution. I am sure some spies were sent out into the church to try to bring it down. John is attempting to help everyone recognize the brethren. Those who were not of God should stick out like a sore thumb,

Your children are going to need some good Christian friends to do life with. We need friends. Kids need kids. But sometimes the very friend they think they can count on can turn on them. That’s why it is so important to make sure they share the same biblical worldview. They may not always agree, but if they share a common view of things, that goes a long way.

APPLICATION

How do you do that? By knowing their parents. If the parents share your values, chances are they are raising their kids that way. You can feel safe with your child visiting their home. When troubles arise, you can talk it out as fellow believers. The last thing you want to do is have your child spending a lot of time in ungodly homes. That should be obvious (there’s that word again.)

Do you have a close-knit group of friends you can talk to? You need that. But be careful to pick the ones who love Jesus and will encourage your walk with Him. Anyone who pulls you off the straight and narrow will do other things eventually. That may mean you don’t have many close friends. That’s okay. Love them and let them love you. God will be honored.

Lord, I thank You for my friends who encourage me to walk with You. Help me be an encouraging friend to them as well.

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Abiding, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Following, God's Will, Holiness, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Righteousness, Scripture, Sin, Testimony

BORN OF GOD (TIMES 2)

1 JOHN 3:9

“No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

They say the key to getting someone to remember something is repetition. I will never forget Mrs. McCracken. She was my teacher who taught me the multiplication tables. Now back in those days you had to know them. We didn’t have many alternatives to learn them. You had to repeat them and repeat them. We had drills in class and competed against each other. It was hard, but I learned them. I can still recite most of them all these years later.

John repeats the phrase “born of God” twice in this short verse. He wants to make sure we understand what he is saying here. If we are born of God, if we have asked Jesus to come into our life through the power of the Holy Spirit, then we don’t practice sin. John is NOT saying we won’t ever sin. Accidents happen. But our birth into His family gives us a whole new spiritual DNA which draws us to Him.

APPLICATION

Ask your kids how long they think they can go without sinning. Remind them that sin is not just something we do. It can be something we say or even think. Jesus told us that. The only way some kids could go a day without sinning would be to lock them in their rooms, lol. Most adults are the same way.

John wants us to value our birth. Why else would he say “born of God” twice in such a short verse. It was obviously on his mind. John had experienced the joy of that new birth and wanted all those around him to know it too. God does the birthing, not us. And if God did it, we sure can’t undo it. We are secure in His family.

Are you thankful for your new life in Christ? Have you thanked Him today? Take a minute right now and tell Him. You are born of God, not of man, not of church, not of religion. You are forever a part of His family. Doesn’t that just blow your mind? It should. It does mine every time I think about it.

I am a child of the King, born into His kingdom through His glorious Son. Thank You, Lord.

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Accountability, Advice, Advocate, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Darkness, Devil, Encouragement, Following, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Satan, Scripture, Testimony

OF THE DEVIL

1 JOHN 3:8

“the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.”

How do you know for sure who is of the devil and who is of God? A lot of people have bad days and can do a bad thing or two. But what constitutes being of the devil? Well, John spells it out pretty clearly here. He says, “The one who practices sin is of the devil.” That’s pretty harsh, isn’t it? Or is it?

You see, the key is the word “practices.” It means a lifestyle of sin. It means someone who only thinks of doing evil. Their motive is always self. No one else really matters to them unless they are to be used to advance their own desires. Those kind of people are not fun to be around.

APPLICATION

Our role as parents is to bring up our children to honor and obey the Lord. That’s not easy. So many things battle us along the way. The devil doesn’t want us raising kids who can recognize him. Why? Because when our kids can recognize his works they learn to flee the other way. If we are teaching them to walk with Christ, there’s a real recognition of anything that looks different.

Ask your children who they want to follow – Jesus or the devil. Most, if not all, children will say Jesus. We expect that answer. But listen, mom and dad, your children will learn how to practice holy living best by watching you. There you go again, Carl. You are always forcing us to role model. Yep. They will never forget how you live out your faith. When you practice holiness, even when the alternative is easier, they will remember that.

So, what are you doing today? Are you practicing sin and aligning yourself with the devil or are you practicing holiness and aligning yourself with Jesus. One may seem easier, but there are dire consequences. Won’t you let Him live through you today?

O God, I am thankful that I can walk with You daily and live in holiness. I want no part of the devil.

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Advocate, Anxiety, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Devil, Encouragement, Fighting, Mentoring, Parenting, Persecution, Satan, Scripture, Surrender

GUARD YOURSELF

1 JOHN 3:7

“Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;”

When I was in Jr. High and High school, I played football (American football). I always loved the game. But there was one drill I didn’t care too much for. It was called “Bull in the Woods.” Let me explain it. One person would be put in the center of a ring of other players who were numbered off. The coach would then call a number and the player with that number would run toward the guy in the center and hit him. So, your job in the middle was turn and face that player and take on the hit.

The problem began when the coach would call multiple numbers, especially if they were from opposite sides of the circle. It became impossible to face every attack. They would eventually wear you down. That’s exactly what Satan does. He keeps coming at you from all directions. John is saying in today’s verse to be watchful for those attacks. Remember Jesus has your back.

APPLICATION

You can play this out with your kids. Try this twist on it. Get some pool noodles or something soft and get around one of your children. Blindfold them so they can’t see you. Give them a pool noodle to defend themselves and give everyone else one as well.  Then let the fun begin. Now, keep it safe. No head shots and no jabbing with the noodle. If someone starts hitting too hard, stop the game.

Explain to them after everyone has had a turn how Satan does the same to us. Unless we keep our eyes on Jesus and our minds focused on His Word, we are just as defenseless as they were in the game. Ask them how it felt not seeing where the next “strike” might come from. It can be scary. But praise be to God, we have no reason to fear. Jesus is the one who guards and protects us. We just have to surrender.

Are you tired of swinging your pool noodle at an invisible foe? Stop swinging and start living under Jesus. Let Him be the one who defends you. He is more than capable. We think we can handle it, but we can’t. Satan is too crafty. He can outfox any of us by ourself. But he is no match for Jesus.

Lord, I trust You in my battles. I will stand with You and trust You to defend me.

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SINLESS?

1 JOHN 3:6

“No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.”

Have you ever known anyone who didn’t make a mistake? You’ve never heard them say, I’m sorry. You’ve never seen them ask anyone for forgiveness. In fact, if you ask them, they would tell you that they are always right. Now, we know that’s not possible. We all make mistakes, sooner or later. No one is perfect.

If you read this verse without digging deeper, you might think John is saying you can’t ever sin again. If you do, it means you’re not a believer. No! That is not what John is saying. The word “sins” is in the Present tense. That means it’s an ongoing lifestyle. You make a habit of sinning. And the words “seen” and “knows” are in the Perfect tense which means it happened in the past with lasting results. Seeing Him and knowing Him changes you forever. You no longer desire those sinful behaviors.

APPLICATION

How do you teach this concept to children? Well, just ask your kids if they have ever messed up. Ask them if they have ever been disobedient to you. Explain to them that just because they disobey you, they doesn’t mean they are not your child. Nothing can change that. Their birth into your family (Perfect tense) has lasting results – they are forever in your family.

But how about that “sin” thing? Well, John said in the verse that if you “abide” in Jesus you would not sin, you would not practice sin, you would not make sin your lifestyle. I tell the kids I teach that before we are saved, we chase sin. After we are saved, sin chases us.

What are you practicing – sinful living or godly living? That will pretty much determine whose family you are in. Satan loves to keep us in his family. He will even let us think we are in God’s family. He doesn’t care if we claim to be a believer as long as we don’t live like it. Ask yourself who you are bringing glory to – Jesus or the devil.

I want to walk in holiness with You, Jesus. Order my steps so that I always bring You glory.

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THE ERASER

1 JOHN 3:5

“You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.”

There was nothing better than a good eraser when I was in grade school. In fact, my mom used to buy us extra erasers. We loved the kind that went on the end of your pencil. You were really cool if you had some kind of cartoon figure eraser. But we also had those big, pink rectangle-shaped erasers. Those could last a long time. Erasers were essential when I was in school.

Jesus is our sin eraser. Because He knew no sin, only He was qualified to be that sin eraser. One definition of the Greek word for “take away” is to sail away. I like that. Our sins simply sail away. They have weighed anchor. They are no longer here. Jesus makes them vanish. How great is that?

APPLICATION

Get your kids to try out some different erasers with different writing instruments. Start out with a sharpie. Have them try to erase it. Then try an ink pen. Finally, give them a pencil. Some marks we make cannot be erased with a plain eraser. They are pretty much permanent.

Ask your children how they erase their own mistakes, their own sins. They may say they ask someone to forgive them. They may say they promise to never do that again. Those are like the sharpie and pen marks. Our efforts to erase our sins just don’t work. Only through Jesus can we get the forgiveness we need. Teach your kids to confess their sins daily. A clean slate is always good.

Does your slate need cleaning? Go the One who can erase all your mistakes. He can forgive you and give you the cleansing you need. All you have to do is confess. That may be a little painful, but it is the only way. Make it right with Him and experience the joy of walking in forgiveness.

Lord, I need Your eraser in my life. I confess to You today the ways I have fallen short. Cleanse me now.

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