Parenting, Child Rearing, Child Raising, Mentoring, Advice, Commands, Bible, Scripture, Satan, Devil, Exhortation, Accountability, Battles, Choices, Imitation

IMITATION

3 JOHN 11

“Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.”

Some say imitation is the best flattery. To imitate someone means you want to be like them. I can’t think of anyone I would want to imitate except Jesus. Everyone else I know has flaws that would inevitably come out. No one is perfect, right? We imitate people. We have imitation products. We even imitate voices. But there is only one original.

John is telling us to focus on imitating good. That word “imitate” only appears four times in the New Testament (three positive and one negative). It is always in the Middle voice, which means you have to choose to do it. No one is going to make you do it or do it for you. So, John is saying it is our choice whether to imitate evil or good. One choice points to God and the other points to the evil one.

APPLICATION

Man, is this a message for our kids or what? Probably no other decision is going to face them more than this. They are going to be bombarded with choices like this. The evil one wants nothing more than to confuse and bring down our children. If he can get them to choose evil rather than good, he can control their lives.

So, what do we do as parents to protect them? After all, it’s their decision, their choice. We have to fill their minds with the Word of God to help ward off these attacks from the devil. There’s nothing we can say or do. But God’s Word is living and active. It’s sharper than any two-edged sword. It lives within us. If it’s in us, we can ask anything of the Lord, and He will do it for us. That’s the secret weapon.

Are you hiding the Word in your heart to protect yourself from choosing evil? Don’t think just because you are an adult that you have the power to resist the lure of the evil one. No one is immune from his charms. But you can detect and avoid those evil choices simply by staying in the Word. Dig in today. Let it point you in the right direction.

O Father, You are the only one I wish to imitate today. Point me to Your Word so I can learn more and more about You.

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Accountability, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Enemies, Humility, Mentoring, Opponents, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Submission, Testimony

GOT TO BE FIRST

3 JOHN 9

“I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say.”

Some people just have to be first. They push to be first in line. They insist on being recognized first in meetings. They give their opinion loudly even when no one wants to hear it. Don’t those people aggravate you? Be honest. You probably try to avoid them. Am I right?

Well, it appears Diotrephes was that kind of person. He rejected John’s counsel that was sent to the church in a previous letter. Obviously, Diotrephes wanted to be in charge and discounted John’s advice. We don’t know why he did that. Perhaps he didn’t like John. Maybe he just wanted control of the church himself. Whatever the reason, John called him out (check out verse 10).

APPLICATION

While it is good for our children to be ambitious and push themselves, it is never good for them to let their ambitions run over others. I am reminded of the story Jesus told about the wedding guests. He said it was better to sit at the lower seats of the table and be asked to move up than to sit at the best seat and be asked to move down.

This is really about humility and submission. Diotrephes refused to humble himself and submit to John. John! A disciple of Jesus Himself. The disciple Jesus loved, probably more than any other disciple. That was the person Diotrephes was rejecting. Teach your children to respect those who have walked the walk. They need to show honor to such followers of Christ.

Do you find yourself pushing for recognition or are you content to serve unnoticed? The Lord will exalt the humble, but He will also humble the exalted. If we insist on “tooting our own horn,” we may find ourselves without a horn to toot. Don’t be a Diotrephes. Submit yourself to those in authority over you. Allow them to direct you. This honors our Lord, and He will honor you.

Thank You, Lord, for placing people in my life to lead me. I want to honor You by submitting to their leadership.

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A PARENT’S JOY

3 JOHN 4

“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.”

I have been in ministry over forty years. That’s a long time. Sometimes I feel like Moses – herding sheep for forty years or wandering in the wilderness for forty years. But sometimes I hear from someone I had the privilege to lead to the Lord, and they tell me how they are still walking with Jesus. That brings me such joy. It really warms my heart.

John was expressing the exact same feeling. He was thrilled to hear about Gaius. It is obvious from this verse that John had played some part in Gaius’ salvation experience. We don’t know exactly where or when that was, but John was a spiritual father to Gaius. As a father to Gaius, John longed to see him grow spiritually. Nothing thrilled his heart more.

APPLICATION

If you have not experienced this joy as a parent, I pray you will. Watching our children come to Christ is awesome. Praying with them to receive Christ is stupendous. But watching them walk with Christ daily thrills your soul. This is especially true as they get older and start making more and more of their own decisions. Watching them choose Christ makes all the bedtime prayer rituals worth it.

One big question we face as parents as our children get older is how do we continue to influence them spiritually. How do we help them in their walk? Our role changes from caregiver to coach to cheerleader to consultant. In this last stage we have to wait for them to come to us for advice. Advice not asked for is seldom followed. Continue to pray and be ready when asked.

Do you have a “child in the faith” whom you are praying for? Is there someone you are watching walk with Jesus whom thrills your soul? I pray you are investing in others daily. I pray you are encouraging them. I promise as you encourage them, you will be encouraged. Be obedient to Jesus as you follow His example to disciple others.

Oh Lord, nothing thrills me more than to see my children walk with You. Help me encourage them daily as they trust You.

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WATCH YOUR FELLOWSHIP

2 JOHN 11

“for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.”

Sometimes, when we read the English translation of a Bible verse it reads exactly the same as the original language. And other times the English just doesn’t quite get it. Today’s verse is the latter. Let me give you the literal translation of this verse. “The one telling for him to rejoice partakes in the works of him evil.” Now, I realize that doesn’t read too well. That’s why it is translated the way it is. But let’s look at it closely.

John seems to imply in the Greek that we actually rejoice at seeing this person. That’s a lot different than just saying “hi.” And the Greek word for “participates” is koinóneó, which has the idea of fellowship. That’s a lot more than just participating. See what I mean by the original.

APPLICATION

Now, let’s apply this verse. We mustn’t rejoice and fellowship with anyone who speaks against our Lord. Our worldview is different. Our purpose in life is different. Our passion and focus is different. How can you agree with someone who denies or denigrates our Lord? You can’t.

And we have to teach our children the difference. They need to know how to deal with such people. We need to be Jesus to them without agreeing with them. Jesus would show them love, of course. So, should we. But there’s a boundary we have to teach our kids not to cross. We can love unbelievers without condoning or agreeing with their views, especially about the Lord. The sooner our children learn that, the better.

Let me ask you a question today. Is there someone in your life who fits into that category? How do you relate to them? Are you friends? That’s okay. Just be careful you don’t compromise your beliefs for the friendship. It can happen so easily. Be firm in your beliefs. Let them see Jesus in you. Perhaps your faithfulness will draw them to Him.

Lord, help me recognize when I am compromising my beliefs for the sake of someone else. Help me remain firm and strong in order to influence them. I want to be influenced by the Spirit, not man.

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THIS IS LOVE

2 JOHN 6

“And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.”

If you ask a hundred people what love is, you’ll get a hundred different definitions. You can probably find a thousand books on the subject with just one search on the web. It’s a subject we are all enamored with. We want to be loved. We want to love others. Why is love so confusing?

Well…it really isn’t. Look what John says today in verse 6 of 2 John. He said love is walking according to the Lord’s commandments. That doesn’t sound very loving, does it? It sounds more like rules and stuff. No, listen. We walk in His commandments to show our love for all He has done for us. Walk in love. It is His commands that give us the focus on loving.

APPLICATION

We have to remind our children that we give them rules to follow because we love them. If we allowed them to do whatever they wanted, they would soon fall into troubles. They don’t believe that, of course, but it’s true. As we deal with our children and rules, remind them that we are only following the Lord’s example to us.

Take them to this verse and show them. God gives us commands to follow because He loves us and knows what is best for us. Sometimes rules may seem restrictive and overbearing, but if the rule or command is from the Lord, we can trust it’s for our good. Take a minute and ask your child which of your rules for them is the one they dislike the most. How does that rule stack up against God’s commands? They should, you know. Make sure your rules are based on God’s Word.

Are you a rule follower? That can be a good thing. But you also need to make sure your rule following is based on love. I have known too many legalists in my life who were all about the rule and not about the love. As John says, we walk in His commands because of love, not fear. Will you love that way today? Will you walk in Christ?

All this talk about commands can scare us, Lord. But I know Your Word is given to me out of love to guide me towards You. I am walking in love towards love. How great is that?

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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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CAN GOD BE A FALSE WITNESS?

1 JOHN 5:10

“The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son.”

People bear false witness all the time. It’s called lying. Some lies are little, and some are big. But they are all lies. There is no such thing as a half lie or a white lie. They are all lies. You may lie with the best of intentions, but it is still a lie. That’s just how it is.

John is continuing his thought from verse 9 in chapter 5, so if you haven’t read that verse, go back and read it. God has testified about Jesus. God cannot tell a lie, so whatever He has said must be truth. For us to say anything different is calling God a liar. That’s not exactly something I would want to do. How about you?

APPLICATION

Children are always picking on each other. They will tell lies on each other just to see the other person get in trouble. Why do we do that? Because of our sin nature. We’ve had it since Adam and Eve. Our flesh loves evil. Lies are evil. Don’t let your child get into the habit of telling them. When they do, correct them swiftly. There is no room for this in the life of a believer.

Take them to this verse. Use it to talk about telling falsehoods. Ask them to name a “little” lie and “big” lie. You will probably get tickled at some of the things they name. Then show them how some people who do not believe in Jesus call God a liar by their unbelief. That’s hard to believe, isn’t it? Remind them that if God said it, that settles it. His Word means something.

Are you calling God a liar by the way you live your life? Do you not believe what He says about you? Do you believe His Word? By our lack of belief, we call God a liar. He is trustworthy and true. There is nothing that He has said that He will not do.

I am resting in the truth of Your Word, Lord. I know You are able. You are trustworthy.

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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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NOT A SUGGESTION

1 JOHN 4:21

“And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”

When I was growing up, I worked for Mr. Walter Pollock in my hometown of Pelham, Ga. Mr. Pollock demanded a lot. When you worked for him, you worked for him. You didn’t daddle. He expected you to work your hours each day without wasting a minute. We got a lunch break, but that was about it. His “commands” to work weren’t suggestions. He wanted you to do exactly as he said.

The same is true (to an extent) with God. I don’t mean He is a slave driver. However, when God gives a command, He expects us to follow it. He doesn’t talk just to hear Himself. He gives us His commands plainly in His Word. John tells us that in today’s verse. Here’s the command – love our brother. If we say we love God, then we must love our brother – period.

APPLICATION

Why do we give our children rules to follow? What’s the use? They are going to grow up and do what they want anyway. Some parents think like that. If you watch their children, you can see who is running the show. Rules are meant to teach our children to obey those in authority. Rules are important. Now, I do believe the fewer rules the better. But you still must have rules to teach an orderly lifestyle.

Oh come on, Carl. You sound like a gestapo. In today’s society, I probably do. But listen – we teach rules in our household to our children to teach them to listen to God’s rules. We, in fact, use His Word as the guide for any rules we may have. If our children aren’t taught to obey us, how in the world will they ever obey God? Rules matter.

I pray you are a rule follower. I don’t mean you have to be a stiff-necked follower with no flexibility, but I do mean that you consult the Word before making a decision. You consult the Word before doing that thing you aren’t quite sure about. God’s commands are here to protect us, not squash us. He wants us living in liberty which is only possible by following His commands. Just do it.

Father, I want to obey Your commands. Help me submit to Your Word and Your Spirit daily.

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LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE

1 JOHN 4:20

“If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

Have you ever heard that saying “Liar, Liar, pants on fire”? We would say it as kids, right? When we knew someone was lying, we would call them out. No one likes to be called a liar. There is one sure fire way of not – don’t lie. Just tell the truth. Easy peasy, problem solved. Lol

John calls us out in today’s verse. If we say we love God and hate our brother, we don’t love God. John says we are a liar. John doesn’t beat around the bush. He calls them like he sees them. Notice he says “brother.” Now, who is that referring to? Just our saved brothers? How about our sisters? How about the lost? I believe John is referring to all people. After all, God has created them all in His image. How could we not love them?

APPLICATION

You may have the occasion to hear your child say I just hate so and so. If you hear that, nip it in the bud. I mean, deal with it quickly. Hate has no room in the vocabulary of a believer, except to say we hate sin. Our children need to be taught that early. They may not like some people as much as others. That’s natural, but hate doesn’t belong.

Teaching them to love requires time. All people deserve love. We are God’s instruments of love to others, especially the lost. When we love them, we are showing them what He has done in our lives. Our love becomes an avenue on which they can travel to find Jesus. Have you ever thought about that? Love them so they can love Him.

I grew up in South Georgia during a time when racism was the norm. I still recall the names some people used to refer to people who had a different skin color than themselves. It went both ways. And those same people would be sitting in the church pew on Sunday morning singing and talking about God’s love. God forgive us for our disobedience. Will you love like Jesus? Will you love your “brother”?

I choose to love, Father. I will see others as You see them. They are, after all, made in Your image. We are all in need of a Savior.

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