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

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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Advice, Agreement, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Enemies, Mentoring, Opponents, Parenting, Relationships, Satan, Scripture

LINKING ARMS

3 JOHN 8

“Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth.”

We have all heard the expression “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” I heard that a lot from my football coaches. I was an offensive lineman and let me tell you, you have to link arms and work together to protect your quarterback and running backs. Those guys on the line must work together to keep the opposing team out.

John uses a term in today’s verse that is similar. He uses a word which is translated as “fellow workers.” In the Greek that is actually a two-part word, sun and ergon. Sun means “with” or “together, while ergon means worker. It gives the idea of workers who are joined together and inseparable. That’s how things are accomplished.

APPLICATION

Have you ever played Red Rover with your kids? It’s an old game and is best played in large groups. But the way that game is played is a line of people link hands/arms and try to stop someone from the other team from running through their linked arms. Get some kids and play. It’s a lot of fun and can last a long time.

But then explain to your kids how this game can be applied spiritually. We, as believers, have to link arms to stay strong. We have an enemy that is trying to break through our line. He wants to take us captive. Our kids need to know that our line of defense, however, does not depend on us. Jesus has linked arms with us, and no devil can break through. Hallelujah!

Have you linked arms with the brethren? Are you a fellow worker for the cause of Christ? Find other believers with whom you can do that. We need each other. We need to come to the aid of our fellow believers. You have the strength. Well…no you don’t. It’s not your strength. It’s God, but He gives it to you when you need it. Fight in His strength.

O Strengthener of my soul, give me the strength today to fight for You. Show me whom You desire me to link arms with.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Courage, Deceit, Deception, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Mentoring, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Testimony

BY INVITATION ONLY

2 JOHN 10

“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting;”

I have, on occasion, received invitations to exclusive events. These events had limited seating and only certain people were invited to attend. Those decisions to limit the number of people may have been due to the venue size or the budget of the event. Whatever the reason, I always feel honored to be invited.

However, John is talking about something we should do to limit our audience. He is basically telling us to not invite anyone into our home who does not agree with God’s teachings. Wow! I thought we were supposed to reach out to the lost. We are. John is guarding us against false teachers. They should not be invited. Others should be so we can teach them the truth. We have to be so careful who we listen to, especially today.

APPLICATION

I pray your children invite their lost friends to your home. What better way for them to hear truth than to be welcomed into your home. Now, we should not let our children sit under anyone who teaches anything contrary to Scripture. But we should welcome any of their lost friends to hear the Gospel in our home. We want our children to be the influencer, not the influenced.

Does that make sense to you? I hope so. Don’t assume that every teacher or small group leader at church is teaching correctly either. Check them out. Make sure you have the right to sit in on a class or small group to find out. Any leader who doesn’t allow that is not open to accountability. Talk to your child’s Children’s Pastor or Student Pastor to find out who will be leading your child. It is, after all, your responsibility to disciple your child spiritually.

Have you opened yourself up to wrong teaching? Sometimes we do that without knowing. We hear about this great Bible Study available on dvd or online, so we dig into it. Always check out any study before you begin. Check out the author. Check out the publisher. And as you start the study, be aware of any inconsistencies with Scripture. As John says, “Do not give him a greeting.”

O Lord, keep my eyes open to falsehood. I want to honor You in all my relationships. Guard my heart.

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Accountability, Advice, Battles, Bible, Blessing, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Inheritance, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Reward, Scripture

HOW ARE YOUR EYES?

2 JOHN 8

“Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.”

If you have read many of my blogs, then you know my love for hunting and fishing. It’s hunting season now, and I’m actually on a hunt in Mississippi as I write this. One thing I brought with me on this hunt was a pair of binoculars. Why do you think I did that? Because I might be in a place where I need a little extra vision to see what might be coming. I don’t want to miss a shot because I didn’t see something and prepare for it.

John tells us in verse 8 to “watch ourselves.” The Greek word for “watch” means to see something physical, with spiritual results. The verb is written as a command also. So, John is telling us to look closely with spiritual eyes. Why? To guard ourselves. To keep from losing what we’ve worked for. And by doing so, we will receive a reward. Who doesn’t want that?

APPLICATION

Children love rewards, don’t they? And there is nothing wrong with giving them rewards. When our kids do something good or right, we should praise them. Little rewards when they are young can give them the incentive to continue doing good. But all those rewards come only when they do what is good. That’s the hard part. Some kids want to be rewarded for breathing, lol.

So, how do you teach them to watch themselves? Most kids, left to watch themselves, will make a mess. We teach them to use the only guide, the only source that will help them. They must know how to use God’s Word. They must know where to turn to find the answers. I can’t stress this enough. This book has the answer to every question, if we will just take the time to look. Will you teach your children that?

How about you? How are you watching yourself? We adults are quick to point out our children’s failures and mistakes, but we overlook our own. Has your child ever pointed out something you’ve done that wasn’t right? How did that make you feel? I say it a lot but we have to model what we teach to our kids. They learn best by watching us. So, watch yourself today!

O Lord, thank You for giving me spiritual eyes to watch myself.  Do want to receive my reward, but only because I have pleased You. 

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Love, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Scripture

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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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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Advice, Belief, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Deception, Disciplemaking, Faith, Holy Spirit, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture, Surrender

WATCH OUT

1 JOHN 5:21

“Little children, guard yourselves from idols.”

What do you value most in your life? What do you spend the most of your time doing? If your house was burning down, what would you grab first to rescue? I ask those questions of you and me because we make idols out of a lot of things. Idols can be anything. They are things in our life that we place above God.

Look what John says in today’s verse. By the way, this is the last verse of 1 John. He ends it by saying, “guard yourselves from idols.” That word “guard” really means to keep your eye on something. John is telling us to be careful what we put first place in our lives.

APPLICATION

This week, of all weeks, our children have their hopes set on getting things that they may not even need. Their eyes are bugged out for Christmas, and they truly believe that if they get that certain toy or gift, they will be happy. I’m not saying toys are idols. But we have a great opportunity to teach our children about what is truly important.

Buy them those special things this Christmas, but make sure you talk about the real meaning of Christmas. Talk about what makes Christmas special to them. Talk about family and faith. Talk about your priorities in life, what’s important to you and why. They need to hear it from you.

Jesus belongs on the top of your list – period. Anything else becomes an idol. Idols corrupt us. Idols distract us. Idols draw us away from the Lord. Keep your eyes on Jesus and nothing else. That’s John’s message for us. Will you follow his advice? After all, it is from the Holy Spirit.

Thank You, Lord, for reminding me of who is first place in my life. I will not allow anything to come before You.

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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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NOT TOO HEAVY

1 JOHN 5:3

“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”

Have you ever lifted weights? I did that a lot in junior high and high school. I have done some of that as an adult, but not consistently. For weights to work you have to lift them, right? You can lift to build muscle, or you can lift to tone muscle. But you must lift. You push against the resistance. You must endure some uncomfortableness to gain the benefit of the weights.

How does that apply to today’s verse? John uses the word “burdensome.” That word in the Greek means weighty or heavy. The difference is the rest of the definition. It can mean pressingdown on a person with oppressive force. This kind of burden makes a person unable to function. That is NOT the purpose of God’s commandments. However, God’s commandments do require us to build spiritual muscle to follow them. They require us to push against the forces of evil. That will build muscle.

APPLICATION

Do you have any weights in your house? Maybe some small dumbbells? If you don’t, you can use anything with any weight. Have your kids do a little workout for you. Join them. Let them lift until they get tired and then feel their muscles. They love that. Talk about how the weights cause our muscles to grow because of their heaviness. The heavier the weight and the more they lift them, the bigger the muscles.

Explain to them the same thing happens when we choose to follow God’s command rather than the world. It’s easy to follow sin. There is no resistance, no push back, if we follow our flesh. But if we seek to follow the Lord’s commands, we will have to die to self and surrender. Tell them that’s how we grow as Christians. That’s how we grow those spiritual muscles.

Some days we can flex those muscles and obey. Other times, we feel limp and weak and can barely walk the walk. Listen beloved, He is your strength. You cannot do it on your own. It’s just not possible. But if you will yield to Him and follow His commands, you will experience the love of God in ways that will make you stronger.

I will follow Your commands. I want to be able to do the heavy lifting in life knowing You are the one “spotting” me as I lift.

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