Accountability, Affection, Asking, Bible, Blessing, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Friends, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Prayer, Scripture

LIVE LONG AND PROSPER

3 JOHN 2

“Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.”

How many Trekies do I have out there? If you ever watched the original Star Trek series, you are probably familiar with Spock’s typical farewell. He would hold up his right hand, form a V with his fingers by holding apart his second and third fingers and then say these words Live long and prosper. I do that often with friends just as a joke. If you’re not a Trekie, you don’t get it.

John wasn’t holding up his fingers and quoting Spock, lol. He was praying for Gaius to prosper. And he wasn’t asking for a one-time prospering. The verbs “may prosper” and “prospers” are both in the Present tense which conveys continuous action. John was praying that Gaius would prosper and prosper and prosper. The word “prosper” implies real success.

APPLICATION

I bet you want your children to prosper. Am I right? Of course, you do. All parents want to see their children do well. They want them to succeed in life. But I want you to look back at the verse for second. Look at the last part of the verse. John wants Gaius’ soul to prosper as well. It’s not just about succeeding in life. We should be praying that our children prosper spiritually.

How do they do that? Well, it’s not possible to prosper spiritually unless you spend time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer. That’s your role as a parent – to teach them to how to read and study God’s Word and how to pray. By doing that, you are laying the groundwork for them to prosper spiritually. You are preparing them for success in their faith. You do want them to “live long and prosper” don’t you?

Are you doing that? Are you more concerned about prospering financially than spiritually? How much is enough for you? So many believers get bogged down in achieving material wealth that they neglect their spiritual health. Prospering with God is not about things. It’s about faith. It’s about walking with Him daily. It’s about sharing the good news with others. So, are you prospering? Really?

Lord God, help me to prosper according to You. I want to be seen as a spiritually wealthy man.

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Advice, Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Elders, Encouragement, Friends, Mentoring, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Truth

YOUR NAME IS KNOWN

3 JOHN 1

“The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.”

I have a lot of friends. I say that, not to brag, but to make a point. A lot of people know me by my name. If my name is mentioned to them, they can say they know me. If they see my name in the paper, they would recognize it. In other words, a lot of people truly know me. I am glad for that and try to make a good impression.

I bet you Gaius never thought that his name would be known by people in 2021. We really don’t know who this Gaius was. There are three men named Gaius mentioned in the Scriptures (Acts 19:29, Acts 20:4 and Romans 16:23/1 Corinthians 1:15). It could possibly be the Gaius mentioned in Acts 20:4. Who he was isn’t as important as that he was. He was a kind Christian friend of John. That we know.

APPLICATION

Ask your child how they want to be known. Do they want others to remember them? For what should they be known? Our kids might want to be known for their athletic prowess. Perhaps they want to be known for their good grades. Most everyone wants to be known by others for something. No one wants to be forgettable.

However, we should be teaching our children to be known for their loyalty and commitment to Christ. In this day and age, that will really stand out. Even in Christian circles that will stand out. If our children are known for standing for Christ, people will remember their name. After all, we don’t want them to be known for who they are. Jesus will give them a whole new idea behind being known. Let Jesus show them the correct way to be known.

Are you concerned about being known? Gaius wasn’t. He was only doing what Christ told him. He was being a true friend to John. We see that in today’s verse. John loved him. That speaks volumes. Will you allow the Lord to use you today to be a true friend to someone? You never know who may remember you.

Father, I pray for opportunities to come alongside others for the cause of Christ. Let me be a Gaius to a John today.

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Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Family, Greetings, Love

WE ALL SAY HI

2 JOHN 13

“The children of your chosen sister greet you.”

What a strange way to end a letter. It just kind of seems John had a last minute thought as he finished the letter and threw this in. But I am reminded that every, single word of Scripture is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore, I have to ask myself what John was saying here.

Many believe this sister mentioned here may have actually been the recipient’s sister. We don’t know for sure. But if that’s the case, John could have written “your nephews and nieces say hi.” Perhaps John was staying with this family when he wrote to their sister and aunt. I can just see them looking over his shoulder as he penned these words and saying at the last minute Tell our aunt hi for us.

APPLICATION

How do you apply this verse to you and your children? Love your family. Express your love to them in as many ways as you can. Embrace family members. Don’t become isolated to just your immediate family. Reach out to family members who need to hear about Jesus. Lead your children to pray for those cousins, aunts and uncles who are lost and in need of a Savior.

And extend that family to fellow believers. For many believers, their church family is closer to them than their biological family. Teach your children to rely on their fellow believers. Spend time with others who believe like you do. Pray for your Pastor and church leaders. We need each other in this battle we are waging each day against the forces of darkness.

Who is your family? You probably have both biological and spiritual, right? Be a good family member. Don’t harbor grudges or ill feelings. Let those go. Love each other. Be like Jesus and love them. And, by the way, take a moment and drop someone a note just to say you are praying for them. It will make their day.

Lord, I thank You for my family, both my biological and church families. You have blessed me far beyond what I deserve.

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Affection, Bible, Encouragement, Friends, Greetings, Joy, Relationships, Scripture

CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU

2 JOHN 12

“Though I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, so that your joy may be made full.”

In this day of texts and emails, we communicate a lot. I remember back when the only way to communicate in writing was by a letter or postcard. But there is still nothing like seeing someone face to face. Words just can’t express our feelings. Even using FaceTime or Zoom isn’t the same. You can’t reach out and touch the person.

John is obviously having those same feelings. He may have had plenty of paper and ink, but he wanted to see his dear friend. He had so much more to tell her and her family. I wonder what that was. I wonder if he had the chance to see her. We won’t know the answer to that question until eternity. I guarantee you one thing. They have eternity to catch up, lol.

APPLICATION

You are probably thinking Carl, how do you apply this verse to me today? Well, who do you need to catch up with? Who have you not seen in a long time? It’s the new year. Perhaps there is someone who has been on your heart for the past few months whom you have just neglected to go see. Do it. Give them a call and say you are coming to see them because you have so much to tell them.

Have you ever watched people at a family reunion? Usually, these are times when family who haven’t been around each other much gather to spend some much desired time. And what do they talk about? Everything under the sun! Let me encourage you to share what the Lord has done and is doing in your life. Let others know how you have been blessed. That is certainly something worth sharing.

I am certain that John was not anxious to talk about the weather. He had lessons from the Lord to share. He wanted to impart truth. Why? He tells us in the last phrase of the verse. “so that your joy may be made full.” Some scholars say the word “your” should be translated “our.” Even better. How about doing that today. Make yours and someone else’s joy full.

I long for others to hear the truth of the Gospel and what You are doing in my life. Give me the opportunity today to share with someone else and make our joy full.

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Accountability, Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, God's Will, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Praise, Scripture, Surrender

YOU KNOW THIS STUFF

2 JOHN 5

“Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.”

How many times do you have to be told something before you get it? How long do you have to study a subject before you are considered prepared? Did you know you can be so focused on studying that you don’t apply? Yep! There comes a point when you have to start using what you’ve learned.

John focused on “love one another” in his first letter. He said it over and over. Obviously, this lady had either read that letter or had heard John talk about it. We don’t know all that was going on her life, but John must have felt she needed a reminder. Maybe it was about her other children who were not walking with the Lord. Whatever it was, the command was still the same – love one another.

APPLICATION

I’ve said it before. Children learn through repetition. That’s why we teach them the same thing over and over again. We want them to get it. Sometimes it takes longer than we want, but every child is different. So, we keep teaching and modeling the behavior we want to see in them.

But how do you teach them to love one another? By reinforcing good behavior and disciplining bad. Every time you see them showing love toward a sibling, praise them. Every time you see a “less than desirable” behavior, deal with it swiftly. And most importantly, model this behavior around them. They need to see you living what you’re teaching. Love one another.

Do you have this down? Do you love others? Do you love them the way Jesus did? Now, I know that may seem impossible. But remember, when you surrender to His Will, He loves through you. I think that is what John was telling the lady. Let Jesus love through you. Will you?

I know this, Lord. Your Word has told me over and over. I will love others today.

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Abiding, Accountability, Affection, Baptism, Belief, Bible, Calling, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Faith, Family, Following, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Prayer, Rejoicing, Scripture

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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Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Friends, Inspirational, Kindness, Mentoring, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Trust, Truth

WHO IS THIS LADY?

2 JOHN 1

“The elder to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth,”

There are a lot of speculations about who this lady is John is writing this letter to. No one really knows, but it is pretty much agreed that this was someone John knew well. He calls her “chosen lady” and someone “whom I love in truth.” You don’t talk about someone like that unless you know them well and care for them.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a letter addressed to you like that? I wonder what she had done for John to care so much. Let me ask you a question. Can someone write these words about you? Truth seems to be an important word in this relationship. Are you truthful? Are you trustworthy? Good questions, huh?

APPLICATION

Why don’t you get your children to write a letter to someone they really care about? Help them choose some descriptive words for the person they are writing. And I bet the person they write would like a picture that shows their relationship. Getting a letter like that would be special.

Now, just like John, the words need to be truthful. You don’t want them to just say nice things to say nice things. Whomever they are writing will appreciate knowing those words are true. And I bet when they get that letter they will write back or call your child to thank them. What a lesson that will be for your child!

Truth! It’s what our relationship with Christ is all about. It’s also what builds our relationships with others. I have heard said that trust is the glue that holds relationships together. Well, that trust is founded upon truth. Live that way.

I want to be known as a trustworthy person, Lord. Let me reflect Your truth so it will flow out of me.

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Accountability, Affection, Asking, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Confession, Death, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Exhortation, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Life, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Prayer, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

PRAYING FOR THE LOST

1 JOHN 5:16 

If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. 

Do you pray for others? For years I have had the privilege to pray for lots of people. Some are on my daily prayer list. Others are on my weekly or monthly list. They are no less important than than those on the daily list. It’s just those on that daily list have a more pressing need or they are immediate family. Either way, I am praying for lots of people each month. 

In today’s verse John is exhorting us to pray for those who need salvation. This verse has been hotly debated for decades. Many scholars disagree on its exact meaning. But for our purposes today I have settled on the interpretation that John is asking us to pray for those who need Jesus. We must do that. He does say in the last part of the verse that there are some who have committed that unpardonable sin of refusing the drawing of the Spirit. Those people are in God’s hands.  

APPLICATION 

Do your children have a prayer list each night? I remember growing up that I had to pray through my list each night. I always prayed for my parents and siblings (except when I was mad at them, lol). And I prayed for our dogs and other things. My point is, children need to learn to pray and pray specifically. Find out some requests of relatives they may be praying for and let your child know. That way when God answers their prayers, you can celebrate with them. 

Prepare your children also for God’s “No” answers. Sometimes He does that. He always knows what is best. We may not understand it, but we have to trust it. Our children need to learn that. They have to learn to accept God’s Will, whatever it may be. 

Are you praying for the salvation of others? Who is on your list today? If you don’t have a list, make one. Invite others in your family to join you in praying for those who need the Lord. Beg God for their eternal life. And do all you can as you communicate with them to lead them to a saving knowledge of Christ. That is putting feet to your prayers. Amen? 

Father, You are an amazing God. I do not understand how You can hear all our prayers at once and answer perfectly, but I trust You. Use me to reach others with the good news of Jesus. 

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I’M FIRST

1 JOHN 4:19

“We love, because He first loved us.”

Boy, oh boy! How many times have you heard kids (maybe your own) arguing on the playground about who is going to go first down the slide? Maybe they are fighting about who gets to go first at bat. Whatever it is, kids like to be first. They somehow think that is all that matters at the moment. I am sure you can think back to when you were a kid and did the same thing.

John states it simply and succinctly. God loved us first. That is the only reason we can love. We did not have it in us. Our flesh is just too strong. We may love for a season, but without His transforming love guiding us, we will never last. It is His love that drives us. It is His love that loves others.

APPLICATION

So, how do you teach your children to love like God. Well, here we go again. You have to model it. You can preach it to them all day long every day. But until they see that kind of love in action, it will never take root. They need to see mom and dad loving like Jesus. They watch everything you do, right? What better thing for them to watch than you loving like Him.

So, the bigger question is how do you do that. How is it possible to love like Jesus? After all, He was/is God. God is love, right? So, of course He can love. The only way you can love like Him is to get out of the way and let Him love through you. When you come across that person (and you will) that is just hard to love, look at them through God’s eyes. He died for them. He loves them unconditionally. Love them like He does, not like you want to.

Who do you need to love today? Who is the most unlovable person in your life right now? Lay down your agenda and allow the Lord to love them through you. They will be amazed. When they ask you what you are doing, tell them it’s not you. It’s Jesus. And don’t do this one time. Continue to love them like Him. Who knows you may just begin to really love them.

You loved me when I did not deserve love, Lord. I want to please You by how I love others. Will you love through me today?

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NO LOVE/NO GOD

1 JOHN 4:8

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

To love someone you really have to know them, right? Would you marry someone you didn’t know? It happens in some cultures. I have heard stories of fathers selling their daughters to some man to be their wife. These young ladies enter this relationship fearful and unprotected. I don’t understand this type of arrangement, but it happens often. Love is not present because there is no knowledge of the other person.

John tells us that if we do not love (one another), we really do not know God. This word “know” is in the Aorist tense which means it happened sometime in the past. What hit me as I read this, though, is we can change that. We can get to know God, thus releasing the love that He gives us to others.

APPLICATION

Why do we want our children to know God? Well, first of all we want them know Him for their eternal security. We want them to be saved. But secondly, we want them to know God to experience the love He has for them. So, how do we get our children to know God?

Listen parents, we model the love of God for our children. When they are young, before they can really read and have their own quiet times, we have to model it for them. As they get older, we disciple them and teach them dig in the Word for themselves. We teach them to disciple others. As they grow in their knowledge of God, the love of God just oozes out. It spreads to others. They can’t hold it back.

Are you oozing God’s love? You can’t claim to know God unless you are loving others. That’s as simple as John can say it in today’s verse. Don’t pretend to love either. God knows when you are doing that. That does not please Him. Don’t love to get anything in return. That also does not please Him. Love others as He does. Love freely and fervently.

O Father God, will You pour out Your love through me. I want to love others as You do. I can’t do that on my own. I know that.

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