Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Rearing, Conceit, Following, Humility, Inspirational, Life, Love, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture

HAVE YOU GONE TOO FAR?

2 JOHN 9

“Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.”

Some people just can’t help themselves. Well actually, they can, but they just choose not to. These people have to be out front. They have to be the ones calling the shots, even if the shots are wrong. I’ve known folks like that. It’s really hard to deal with them. Why? Because their focus is totally on themselves and not on others.

John talks about those people in verse 9 of 2 John. He even says if they go too far, they are not abiding in the teaching of Christ and they don’t have God. Now, that’s pretty harsh, isn’t it? What John doesn’t say but is implied here is there is no humility. You see, you can’t be humble and put yourself out front. And we know that humility is a characteristic Christ showed.

APPLICATION

We are always pushing our kids to excel, aren’t we? We want them to make straight A’s. We want them to be the captain of the ball team. We want… You get the picture. By doing that, we can unintentionally create a monster. We want our kids to do their best, but we don’t want them to put themselves above others in a negative way.

We have to teach our kids how to excel without getting the bighead. They need to know that any achievements they have are the result of God’s blessing in their lives. Sure, they may have worked hard for it, but God gave them the ability. With every triumph, point them back to Jesus. He is the one who gives them the strength and wisdom to achieve great things.

Have you ever gone too far? Have you put yourself over your spouse or work colleagues? If you have done that, confess that as sin and make it right with those whom you have harmed. That’s where the humility comes in. A humble leader can lead armies.

I am so thankful for the way You have gifted me, Lord. I thank You for allowing me to achieve great things for You.

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WALKING IN TRUTH

2 JOHN 4

“I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father.”

When I was growing up I attended church and even sang in the youth choir and ensemble. Honestly, I went to church just to be with friends and meet girls. You see, at eight-years-old I was baptized but just got wet. It wasn’t until age sixteen that I was saved. All those previous years I faked it. I wasn’t walking in truth. I was walking in falsehood, just like many are doing every day.

John expresses his joy that his friend’s children are walking in truth. The Greek there actually says “rejoice exceedingly.” He was thrilled. Because he loved her, he loved her children. Hearing that “some” of her children were being obedient to the Lord’s command made his heart glad. We don’t know how many children she had, but at least these were living for Jesus.

APPLICATION

There is nothing we want more for our children than to live for the Lord. When they make that decision to follow Him, our hearts are like John’s heart. We are thrilled. We rejoice exceedingly. I had the privilege to baptize both of my children. I still remember getting choked up trying to speak while doing that. I pray daily for their walk with Him.

But we can’t let our guard down just because they have accepted Christ as their Savior. We have to continue to disciple and instruct them in the things of the Lord. And listen – that never stops. My children are 34 and 30. I still try to lead them as they allow me to. Their walk with Christ and their families’ walks with Christ are still at the top of my prayer list daily. Never stop discipling your children because they never stop needing it.

How are you doing with that? Are you offering godly counsel to your children? Some of our adult kids ask for it. Some don’t. But we still have a responsibility to them for the sake of the Lord. Today, on Christmas day, you may be spending some time with your adult kids and their families. Don’t forget to ask them how their walk is. You will be glad you did.

O Father God, You have blessed me with children who know You. Help me continue to guide and disciple them in their walk  with Christ.

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FOR THE SAKE OF TRUTH

2 JOHN 2

“for the sake of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever:”

In the first three verses of 2 John, John mentions truth four times. Any time you see a word repeated like that in Scripture it is important. Why do you think truth was so important to John? Don’t forget that he literally walked with Truth for three years. He was probably the closest of all the disciples to Jesus. John knew the Truth and wanted everyone else to know Him as well.

We can’t forget that the enemy is spewing everything but the truth. He will tell everything we want to hear and even mix in a little truth to make it sound good. But as believers, we have the truth abiding in us. We have a built-in truth detector. Don’t forget that.

APPLICATION

Children don’t tell the truth all the time, do they? Sometimes, for them, lying is easier. I know that is wrong, but that’s our sin nature. It is only when Christ becomes a part of their lives that they can begin to understand the importance of truth. It is our job as parents to reinforce that. How? By being truthful ourselves.

What does it mean to your kids to have truth in them? Ask them. Ask them how it feels. Be prepared for some strange answers, lol. But they need to know that the Holy Spirit who lives in them as a Christian will always speak truth to them and direct them in the right way. That means telling the truth and living the truth.

Aren’t you grateful that the truth is with us forever? That’s what John said at the end of today’s verse. Not only does the truth abide in us, but it is with us forever. What a promise. And don’t forget that if this is in the Word, it is truth.

Thanks, Lord, for the truth. I know I can rely on You to direct me in the truth.

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HIS SON

1 JOHN 5:12

“He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.”

It’s neat this verse fell on today’s date because this is my son’s birthday. He’s thirty-four today. That’s interesting to me because that falls right in the middle of the ages of Christ’s ministry on earth (@32-36) to the best of our knowledge. When I think of my son at his age leading a bunch of disciples around, it kind of blows my mind. Jesus was a young man. Yes, He was and still is God, but humanly speaking He was young.

Yet, here we are, two thousand years later, looking back at this God-Man for guidance. John says here if we “have Him” we have life, and if we don’t have Him, we don’t have life. That’s so true. Think back to your days without Christ. Life was so meaningless. It had no purpose. It had no direction. I don’t care how old you were before Christ, you had no life without Him.

APPLICATION

Our children need to learn this early in life. I know you are praying they give their lives to Christ, if they haven’t already. But they need to learn what it means to surrender completely. It’s not just saying a prayer. It’s total surrender of everything to Him. That involves how they talk, how they play and how they think. Oh, that last one is hard, isn’t it? Even we adults struggle with that one.

So, how do we direct our children to do this? How do we help them learn the importance of total surrender? By modeling it ourselves. Don’t you get tired of hearing that? Sorry, but it’s true. We have to show them how to surrender. We have to exemplify total surrender ourselves in the way we talk, the way we treat people and the way we think. No, our kids can’t read out minds, but they sure can see our behaviors.

Is the Son in your life? If so, live like it. It’s the Christmas season. Act like it. Live like every day could be your last day to share Jesus with someone. Live like He is all that matters. After all, He is all that matters. When you surrender to His Will, His life becomes your life. Try that today.

I have life only because of His life, Father. Thank You for giving Him to the world. We must show others the value of living in Him.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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ONE MORE TIME

1 JOHN 4:13

“By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.”

How do you learn a new task? By repetition. You have to do it over and over and over before you can master it. That skill is gone today, for the most part. Today, people can simply google a video on how to do something. But most of those videos are by people who had to learn the old-fashion way. They learned by doing.

What has that got to do with today’s verse? Well, John is repeating himself. He said these words in today’s verse back in chapter 3 and verse 24. They are not quite verbatim, but they are close. John is repeating himself so we will learn. What’s the lesson? Proof of His abiding in us is the gift of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit living in us assures us of our relationship with the Father.

APPLICATION

If your children have asked Jesus to be their Savior and Lord, they probably have moments when they doubt their relationship with Him. Usually this occurs in their teen years. Problems arise, and they immediately start doubting God. They can’t see Him working in their lives. They question His presence. After all, they can’t touch Him. They can’t see Him.

Take them to this verse. That nagging conviction they have in their mind about sin is the Holy Spirit. That reminder about godly principles is the Holy Spirit. This gift they received at salvation has not left them. It is still there. All they have to do is ask the Spirit to empower them. All they have to do is confess those things that have come in between them and the Lord. The Spirit will even speak to Him when they can’t put it into words. Remind them of their gift.

Do you need reminding today? The Spirit is put in your life as a believer as a seal of your salvation. He is that constant reminder that God is there. God abides in us! How amazing is that? Through His Holy Spirit, which is able to indwell every believer, He lives in us. Embrace that today. Thank God for His gift!

I am eternally thankful for Your gift of Your Spirit in my life. I know You have gifted Him to me to assure me of Your presence in my life every day.

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IS GOD INVISIBLE?

1 JOHN 4:12

“No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.”

When I first read this verse, it seemed like the first part had nothing to do with the second part. What has God not being seen to do with God abiding in us and His love? But then it hit me. Of course, we can’t see God, but we can see God when His love, which abides in us, is shown to others.

John talks about loving one another and God abiding in us a lot. So, he is not confused in this verse. All these thoughts in this verse go together. If we want people to see God, we have to love them. We have to show them how He abides in us and how His love is perfected in us.

APPLICATION

How do your kids know you love them? Do they read about it in some book? Do you just talk about it? No, they see how you love them by how you treat them, how you talk to them, how you express that love when they are the most unloveable. We teach our kids about our love for them by expressing that love.

I’m a hugger. I love to hug people. The hardest part about this covid-19 pandemic is not being able to do that. But you can hug your own kids. Express your love. Take every opportunity you have to do that. Kids need to be touched. They need to be cuddled. Do all that in Jesus’ name. Every time you hug them, ask them if they know who loves them more than mommy and daddy. Tell them just how much God loves them.

Who do you need to show God’s love to today? Maybe you have a neighbor who is struggling right now due to isolation in this pandemic. Find a way to express God’s love to them. Maybe a coworker is going through a hard time at work. Express God’s love to them. Remember, they can’t see God, but they can sure see God in you.

I may be the only Jesus someone sees today, Lord. Help me love them as You do. I want them to see You in me.

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OH, THE SPIRIT

1 JOHN 3:24

“The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”

I tried to think of a cute introduction to today’s devotional, but I couldn’t. This verse is just too in your face. It’s all about abiding in Him and He in us. John wrote all about this in His gospel. Take a minute and read John 15 if you haven’t in a while.

But then John adds that last phrase that just blesses my heart. He says, “by the Spirit whom He has given us.” That should bless your socks off if you’re a believer. Look at that gift. Jesus gives us His Spirit. He is the one who confirms Jesus is abiding in us. You see, the Spirit is the seal of His presence. It’s His guarantee and pledge. Abiding is a sure thing with the Spirit in us.

APPLICATION

Now, teaching abiding can be tricky with kids. How do you get them to understand that the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, actually lives in them once they accept Christ as their Savior? It doesn’t make sense logically, does it? I mean, how does someone live in you?

Children are concrete thinkers, for the most part. There are some things that just can’t be explained in concrete terms. As parents, we have to rest in the knowledge that God is big enough to assure your children the Spirit is there. I have seen children change when they accept Christ. What does that? Or should I say who does that? Simply put – the Spirit. God is capable of changing them from the inside out. Let Him take care of that.

You have to nurture those around you who are believers. You are to encourage them in their walk with Christ. You are to come alongside them when they need help. That’s the Spirit working through you. That’s a sure sign of your abiding. And as you abide, the Spirit makes you aware of those who need you. Rest in Him. He will show you. Enjoy the gift.

I am so thankful for the abiding presence of Your Spirit in my life. I want to tune into Him minute by minute so I don’t miss one opportunity to be used by You.

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