Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Grandchildren, Hugs, Inspirational, Kindness, Love, Modeling, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture

HOW GREAT A LOVE

1 JOHN 3:1


“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”

How much do you love your children or grandchildren? Can you put it in words? I have two children and four grandchildren, and I can’t find the words to adequately describe my love for them. I have often joked that if I had known how great grandchildren were, I would have had them first. Lol

John can’t find the words to express God’s love for us. In fact, the Greek word for “how great” is used in Matthew 8:27 when Jesus stilled the wind and waves when He was in the boat with His disciples. Remember that story? The disciples were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this…?” “What kind” is the same word used here. They couldn’t figure Him out. Neither can we concerning His love for us.

APPLICATION

Now, here’s a hard one. The next time you are with your children or grandchildren, take them up in your arms and hug them tightly and say, “I can’t tell you how much I love you.” I know – that’s too hard, right?  Lol. I am sure you can muster through it.

And then read them this verse. Explain to them that as much as you love them (so much you can’t put it into words), God loves them so much more. He calls us His children. That should mean something. He invites us into His family, His kingdom, His heaven. Wow! That’s a lot of love.

If God loves us that much, how should we respond? Simple – we should love Him back. We should behave like His children. We should be telling everyone about His love. We should be sharing His love. And when someone shuns us, love them anyway. It won’t be easy, be love them. That will please your Heavenly Father.

I love You, Father, because You first loved me. I can never love You enough to repay You for all You have done in me. Help me be a more loving person to others.

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Accountability, Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, Hypocrisy, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Satan, Scripture, Testimony

DO NOT LOVE

1 JOHN 2:15


“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

We are told that we need to love everyone, right? We talk about all the things we love – apple pie, beach trips, music, etc. But John is drawing a line here on what we should not love. It is pretty simple really. Don’t love this world. But what is wrong with loving the things that bring us pleasure and enjoyment?

Anything that takes our focus off of Jesus can lead us down a slippery slope. I love hunting and fishing, but if that ever started redirecting my devotion off of Jesus, it would be sin for me. The problem for many of us is the world is so alluring. We can so easily be distracted. We have to guard our hearts and minds and stay focused on Him.

APPLICATION

Try this. The next time your children sit down to do some homework, go into the room where they are and turn on the television or radio to something you know they like. Maybe start playing their favorite video game. Watch how quickly they get off track and either start watching you or listening to what you are listening to.

When you notice this has happened, make your point. First, apologize for distracting them. Then read them this verse. Explain to them how the world does the same thing to us in our walk with Christ. Satan, the prince of this world, will use whatever he can to get our minds off of Christ, just like you did getting their minds off of their homework.

What distracts you? Where is your focus? What do you love? Jesus has to be your first love. He has to be your focus. You can’t love this world and love Him supremely. But you have to decide. Jesus won’t make you love Him. He is worthy of it, though. Don’t you think?

I will love You above all else, Lord. There is nothing or anything more deserving of my love. Thank You for loving me.

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Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Hugs, Inspirational, Joy, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture

MY DARLINGS

1 JOHN 2:12

“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake.”

In this verse and the next verses in 1 John 2, John addresses three groups of people in the church – little children, young men and fathers (older men). In fact, John addresses each group twice in these verses. But the term “little children” in today’s verse is a totally different Greek word than the one in the next verse. Interesting.

The Greek word used here means dearly loved little ones. It can also be translated “my little darlings.” Now, that’s pretty special, don’t you think? Only John uses this form of the word. To me that is also special. John was “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” He understood intimacy and closeness. I think it comes out here in this verse.

APPLICATION

What do you call your children? Do you have pet names for them? Those are usually terms of endearment. They are our special names for them. When you call them that they know you are expressing a closeness. Your love is shown by just using that name.

Intimacy is not a given. We have to teach that to our kids. It requires snuggling and cuddles. It involves holding them when they are upset. It means kissing that boo-boo when necessary, All the while you are using those names to soothe them.

John was doing that here. He was saying, “My darlings, you know Jesus loved you so much He died to forgive you of your sins. Don’t forget that.” He wasn’t just calling down the children. He was calling them to closeness, to intimacy. Isn’t that great?

Call me Your darling, Lord. I know You love me with an endearing love. You call my name.

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Advice, Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Hugs, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture

ALL WE NEED IS LOVE

2 PETER 1:7

“and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.”

I have a problem with short term memory due to my chemotherapy treatments I have received over the years. I have to make lists on paper or on my phone to remember things that in the past I could remember with no problem. If I don’t do that, I will forget to buy things or do things I should. I have to make the list and make sure it’s complete.

In today’s verse Peter finishes the list of qualities he started back in verse 5. And he finishes with love – two kinds to be exact. He says your godliness should lead to “brotherly kindness.” This is really love for the brethren. We should love our fellow believers. That love is possible only because of the last love he mentions – agape. That’s God love. It’s divine love. Let me encourage you to read that list in verses 5 through 7 backwards. If you start with God’s love, the others flow much easier.

APPLICATION

Our children need love. They need love expressed to them through hugs and kisses. They need love shown through discipline also. We also need to teach them how to love. What? Do you mean children aren’t born with that ability? Nope. The Bible teaches we are all born sinners. We are born selfish and greedy. But we can nourish our children to become loving adults.

How? By modeling Christ’s love to them and others. Our children watch us so closely. Unfortunately, our mistakes and mess ups teach them, too. We have to pray daily for the Lord to guide us as we are influencing our children. Show them how to love that disgruntled person in the check-out line. Show them how to love that relative who is always complaining. And most importantly, show them how to love Jesus.

Whom do you need to love today? Who is the most unloveable person in your life right now? Jesus loves them and died for them. We have to stop and see them through His eyes. Is that easy? No. I struggle with this. But this verse convicts me to love them with a love that I only possess through Jesus. Will you join me?

Your love is inexpressible. Help me show it to others. Point out my own selfishness and greed which prevents me from loving others like You.

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PRECIOUS FAITH

2 PETER 1:1

“Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:” 

Peter’s second epistle (letter) to the same recipients as received the first letter begins in a very unique way. Just reading it in the English translation you can miss one particular phrase. “Of the same kind as ours” could be translated “equally precious as ours.” I really like that. See, Peter is saying the Gentiles who have received Christ as their Savior are equal to the Jewish believers.

We both have received a precious faith which is through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He makes no bones about it. Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ are equal. We have the same Lord. We worship the same God. We rest in the same promises. That still holds true today. All believers (red, yellow, black and white) are equal in God’s eyes.

APPLICATION

In our crazy world right now, there is a lot of racial divide. Sadly, there are believers on both sides of this argument. We need to spend as much time as possible making sure our children understand that God does not see color. Our God, who created all the peoples of the world, is spiritually colorblind. We should be also.

There is nothing sweeter than to watch young children, who haven’t developed all those societal biases, play together. They don’t care what color the other boys and girls are. We need to foster that. In fact, we can learn from that. We need to see others as our little children see them – God’s creation who just need a Savior.

Will you join me in reaching across the racial divide to embrace a brother or sister today? Will you lose your racially sensitive glasses and become colorblind for Jesus? We cannot allow the devil to divide the Universal church along color or race. The world is watching. If we can’t link arms in love, the world will tear us apart.

Thank You, Lord, for sending Your Son to cross not only religious lines, but also racial lines. I am grateful for my friends who look different than me. I need them in my life.

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KISSY, KISSY

1 PETER 5:14

“Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace be to you all who are in Christ.”

Peter is NOT implying we need to kiss everybody. Nope, no way, nada. If you have never been around another culture group, many of them greet that way. They grab you and kiss you on the cheek, sometimes both cheeks. The first time it happened to me was when I became friends with a guy from El Salvador. I have to admit it kind of freaked me out, lol.

But Peter is talking about greeting other believers in love. He loves these people he is writing to and wants them to pass on his affection and love to everyone. Sincere affection is often expressed by a kiss without any romantic overtones. The word “love” here is the word for God’s love – agape.

APPLICATION

At your next family reunion, make it a point to greet everyone with a holy kiss (on the cheek). Kiss grandma and grandpa. Kiss Uncle Albert. Kiss everyone. You might just surprise some people. I bet they will all be talking when you leave. I bet your children will be asking you what you are doing. Tell them you are just following the Scriptures and read them this verse.

Now explain to them what Peter is really talking about and why. I wouldn’t encourage your children to go around and kiss everyone at church. You may be asked to find a new church. But we do need to teach our children to show true affection to others. We need to be accepting of them. We need to welcome them and make them feel loved.

Is there someone you need to reach out to today? Does someone need to feel loved? Maybe you aren’t the one to do it. But get someone to reach out. Your fellow believers need to know they are loved. You may be surprised how many aren’t told that regularly. Be the vessel God intends you to be.

I welcome Your affection and love today, Lord. Give me the opportunity today to show Your love to someone else.

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GREETINGS

1 PETER 5:13

“She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark.”

Who is “she” mentioned here by Peter? Most scholars agree that he is referring to a church or churches in the area of Babylon. And the Mark mentioned by Peter here is most probably John Mark who had accompanied Paul and Barnabus before he left them. This same Mark was picked up by Barnabus later. He also happens to be the author of the Gospel by his name.

But the point of this devotional today isn’t on that church or Mark. It’s on the word “greetings.” This word means to enfold in your arms. In other words, it means a hug. Now, I’m a hugger. I love to embrace with a hug. What better way to say “hi” to someone than with a big ole bear hug? Peter is sending a hug to the readers.

APPLICATION

When is the last time you hugged your child? I bet you did it today. If you haven’t, go do it now. Tell them Pastor Carl told you to. Most kids love hugs. Why? Because it’s intimate. It feels good. It’s warming. If you aren’t a hugger, ask yourself why you aren’t.

Don’t deprive your child of a good daddy or mommy hug every day. They need it. They need it especially when they have done something wrong. After you administer the discipline, hug them. This reassures them you love them, and all is forgiven. Hugs heal. I really believe that. Heal someone today.

Can I send you a virtual hug right now? ((( ))) Do you feel it? Guess what? God gives great hugs. He wants to embrace you and enfold you in His arms. You may not feel very embraceable right now, but that’s okay. God doesn’t care. He doesn’t dispense His hugs based on your value. Open your arms and feel His embrace right now.

Thank You, Father, for not withholding Your hugs from me. I need them daily. And I will pass them on to someone else.

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LOVE STRANGERS

1 PETER 4:9

“Be hospitable to one another without complaint.”

All we hear today is stranger danger and for good reason. The world is an unsafe environment. Here, however, Peter tells us to love those strangers. The Greek word for hospitable comes from two Greek words, philos, which is brotherly love, and xenos, which is stranger. We are to love strangers.

It is interesting to me that this word is only used two other times where it is listed as a qualification for an elder. But here it is expected of all believers and with a qualifier. We are to do this “without complaint.” That literally means without murmuring or grumbling. Now, that’s hard, right?

APPLICATION

What a lesson for our kids! When they observe us doing this, they can get a glimpse of what real love is all about. Loving strangers because Jesus loves them is the key. Now, we should not be foolish and abandon all common sense. God doesn’t expect us to be foolish. But when opportunities present themselves, we need to be ready to show hospitality to those strangers God has placed in our paths.

How can you safely teach your children this? How about volunteering at the local soup kitchen? Maybe you could prepare sandwiches and hand them out to the homeless. Perhaps you could do a good deed for that neighbor on your street that no one likes or really knows too well. There are all sorts of ways to be hospitable. And remember, no grumbling.

You are probably saying, Well Carl, I don’t have the gift of hospitality. That’s a cop out. We have, through the Holy Spirit, access to all the gifts. Sure, we have primary ones which the Lord has gifted us with, but all the gifts are ours through Him. If He tells you to show a stranger kindness, don’t argue with Him. Just do it. You will be blessed!

I don’t feel comfortable approaching strangers, Lord, but I will do that as You lead. I will trust You to give me the words to say and the actions to take.

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MAXIMUM POTENTIAL

1 PETER 4:8

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

Love, love, love! If we would all just love more, the world would be a better place. You have probably heard that at least once in your life. And Peter agrees, but there are a couple of qualifiers. One is it has to be God’s love. Both times in this verse the word agape is used. That’s God’s kind of love. We can’t produce that. It has to come through Him.

Secondly, Peter says to be “fervent in your love for one another.” The Greek word for “fervent” means to its maximumpotential, without slack because it is fully extended to its necessary outcome. That word is only used right here in this verse. Can you love to your maximum potential?

APPLICATION

The only way for your kids to learn to love fervently is for you to model that for them. Don’t you get tired of hearing that? But so much of parenting is role modeling. Remember, Peter isn’t telling us to fervently love our families. That is easy (well, it’s easy most of the time, lol). He is telling us to fervently love all our Christian brothers and sisters.

Now that’s a challenge. Your children will watch how you love them. They will listen how you talk about them. They will see if you are loving to your maximum potential. When they see us loving the unlovable with the love of God, then they will begin to understand this verse.

Who is causing you to struggle with this right now? Love them more. That doesn’t mean you have to condone what they do. It doesn’t mean you have to trust them. But it does mean to allow the Lord to love them through you. Be obedient to what the Lord has called you to do.

Lord, I will attempt to love fervently. I know it won’t be easy, but I will do it because You expect it and because You can empower me to do it.

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LIVING FOR WHAT

1 PETER 4:2

“so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”

We have a choice to make. Do we live to please ourselves or God? Peter states that here in today’s verse. This thought is a continuation of the previous verse which ends with “has ceased from sin.” It is impossible to please God and sin at the same time. You just can’t do it.

So, if you want to “live the rest of the time” doing the will of God, you will abandon “the lusts of men.” The Greek word for “lusts” really means passionate desire. The word can be used in a negative or positive way, depending on the context. Here it is used negatively. But don’t you think we need a passionate desire for God?

APPLICATION

What are your child’s passions? Soccer, Legos, American girl? We need to strive to give our children that passion for Jesus. I don’t mean they have to quote the Bible constantly or preach on a street corner. I mean they desire passionately to please their Heavenly Father.

The only way to do that is to immerse them in His Word and pray over them. They will choose their own way. We can’t stop that. But as we intercede for them in these ways, God is watching. He will draw them to Himself powerfully. I truly believe that. He will honor our efforts to raise our children loving Him.

Are you passionate about anything? Are you passionate about the right things? Our passions can vary. However, our priorities shouldn’t. Make knowing Jesus your top priority and your passions will follow. Get passionate for Jesus.

I love You, Lord. Make me more passionate for You. Put in me the desire to seek You first.

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