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ANOTHER BROTHER

3 JOHN 12

“Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself; and we add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true.”

Do you have people in your life you can trust? I mean people whom you can tell anything and know they will hold that in confidence. We all need those kinds of people in our circle. I don’t care how grounded you are in the Word, there are times when we just need to talk about stuff. I have a couple of guys like that. They could be my Demetrius.

John mentions Demetrius and really brags on him. Now understand something. John could only brag on him because he was proven. John says he had a good testimony. Actually, John says he “has received” a good testimony. That verb is in the Perfect tense which means it happened with lasting results. Demetrius’ testimony was proven. And it was based on “the truth itself.” John really believed in him.

APPLICATION

Our children need to build reputations like that. Those don’t come quickly and can be lost so easily. We can help our children build those kinds of testimonies by holding them accountable and teaching them the truth. Their word needs to be trustworthy. Their actions need to be honorable. When we continue to point them to the Word, they learn to incorporate that into their lives.

When our children mess up, and they will, we point them back to the Word. We make sure they apologize and make things right if necessary. We model this behavior in front of them when we have wronged someone. We show them examples from Scripture of individuals who messed up but made things right with God.

Are you a Demetrius to someone? Do you have a Demetrius in your life? Wouldn’t that be great? Demetrius (at least this Demetrius) is only mentioned right here in the New Testament. But his name was important enough for John to put in this letter to Gaius. His name has been read through the centuries by millions of believers probably without a second thought. Think about him today and thank God for his testimony to John, Gaius and others.

Father, help me be a Demetrius to others. Let my testimony point to Jesus in all I do.

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THE DEVIL’S WORLD

1 JOHN 5:19

“We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

Look around you. The world is a mess. Poverty, disease, racism, hatred and myriad of other horrible things are global. John tells us why right here in today’s verse. He says, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” Is it any wonder why the world is in the shape it is?

So, what do we do? Hide and avoid it? No! We are of God. And if we are of God, we have so much more power. That power enables us to withstand any attack by Satan. His power is limited, and he knows it. Satan can’t stand that. He cannot destroy the world, but God has given him limited power over it. He wants to make us as miserable as possible. Don’t let him.

APPLICATION

The world, therefore, can be a scary place for our children. We can’t isolate them forever from its horrors. They will experience them through all kinds of ways. Even video games can expose them to it. Some parents try to put blinders on their kids and hide them away from the real world. Now, don’t get me wrong. We don’t need to expose them to it ourselves. But we need to prepare them.

How do we do that? By making sure they belong to the Lord. We have to spend all the time we can pouring Jesus all over them. We read them His Word. We teach them to study it for themselves. We pray with them. We teach them to pray. We live godly lives before them so they will follow our example. We teach them to live in the power of God, so the power of Satan will have no effect. That’s teaching them to walk in victory.

Are you walking that way? Or are you cringing in fear of what the devil might do? That’s no way to live. If you are a child of God, you have to live that way. God is not wringing His hands over what the devil might do. Neither should you. He has him right where He wants him. Trust God to handle the evil one. He always has.

I will walk in victory in an evil world. There is nothing that can come against me that You do not allow. It trust You in every step I take.

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GOD’S TESTIMONY

1 JOHN 5:9

“If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son.”

Have you ever had to give a deposition for a trial? It’s no fun. I have done that a few times in my life. How it goes all depends on the one who is asking the questions. If they are professional and courteous, it goes well. If they are trying to trip you up and are asking confusing questions, it can be very frustrating. I have been the recipient of both. But…as long as you just tell the truth, it will be okay.

John tells us in today’s verse that God testified concerning His Son. Now, no one deposed God. Who is going to do that, lol? But He did testify for His Son. When did He do that? A few times. How about at Jesus’ baptism? He spoke from heaven. Again at the transfiguration of Christ He spoke to the disciples. God the Father had the Son’s back. He was the ultimate witness of who Christ was.

APPLICATION

Children need to be taught who to stand up for? They can get caught up with some friends who aren’t exactly dependable. Before you know it, they are defending these less than desirable actions of these friends. That is not a good thing. We don’t want our kids on the wrong side of truth, do we?

How do you teach them the right way? There’s only one way – the Word. We must show them that the Word will always point them to the truth. They can testify to it without doubt. Anything else must be measured against it. Because we know Jesus is the truth, we can testify for Him. He is trustworthy and has the backing of the Father.

Will you join the Father as a witness for Jesus? That’s pretty good company. If I had to choose who take sides with, I would definitely be on God’s side. We all like sure wins, right? Well, with God on your side you are guaranteed a win. Testify about Jesus today. Tell someone of His love.

I join with God the Father as a fellow witness on behalf of Christ. I believe He is the way, the truth and the life.

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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.

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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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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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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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ANOINTED

1 JOHN 2:20

“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.”

Okay, before you get all anxious about talking about “anointing,” hear me out. I am not going to talk about some extreme, cultic behavior. John doesn’t either in today’s verse. He had experienced this anointing in the upper room at Pentecost and had never forgotten it.

Neither should you. The Greek word for “anointing” refers to how the Holy Spirit teaches us and guides us to receive God’s will. Boy, isn’t that something everyone desires – to know and understand God’s will? It’s possible through the Holy Spirit. How? Because the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, lives within us.

APPLICATION

Explain this to your child this way. Stephen Curry is a great basketball player. Your son or daughter could watch every game he has ever played and never fully understand how he does all he does on the court. But if Stephen Curry somehow got into their body and played for them, then they would experience first-hand his skill and ability.

The Holy Spirit does that for us. He climbs inside us at salvation and is just waiting for us to surrender our will to His. He won’t force us to follow God’s will. Nope! But He knows it completely. We just have to let Him show us. Easy? Nope again! But is it worth it? You better believe it.

Are you struggling with your anointing? Why? Let go and allow the Holy Spirit of God to direct you. All those huge problems that bother you will be understood. They may not all go away, but you will understand. God is not playing hide-and-seek with His will. He really does want you to know it.

Lord, show me Your will. I surrender my stubbornness and rebellion. I want to be guided by Your Spirit.

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PERFECT

1 JOHN 2:13

“I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.” 

You may read the title of this devotion and then read the verse and wonder how I got that title. Well, you have to dig a little deeper than the English translation. You have to look at the verbs in the verse and the tenses that were used. Now, hold on. Don’t let me lose you here. Keep reading.

All three verbs John used, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in reference to his audience (fathers, young men and little children) are in the Perfect tense. That Greek verb tense means an action was taken in the past sometime with lasting results. So, that means the fathers and little children knew God and still know God. The young men overcame Satan and have still overcome him.

APPLICATION

If you think about it, a lot of our actions have lasting results. Do you want your children’s actions to have good results or bad results? Simple question with an equally simple answer. Of course, you want good results. No one wants their children to fail or leave a disaster in their wake. How do you help them accomplish those good results?

The only sure way is to teach them make every decision based on God’s Word. If they bathe their decisions in prayer and allow Him to guide them, then the results aren’t up to them. They are up to God. We know that anything He does is perfect. There you have it – perfect results. We just have to get out of the way.

Are you wrestling with a decision right now and worried about the consequences of that decision? Let the Lord have it. Ask Him what will give Him glory. If you do that, you are placing your trust in the One who manages the cosmos. I think He can handle your problem. Don’t you?

I will allow You to perfect my decisions through Your perfect Will. I know You always want what is best for me.

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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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