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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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HANDWRITTEN NOTES

1 JOHN 5:13 

 
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 

Handwritten notes and letters are becoming more and more uncommon. When is the last time you wrote, I mean actually wrote, a letter to someone? We text, email, tweet and post, but we seldom write. There’s just something personal about a handwritten note or card. It takes a little more time. I think people still appreciate that. 

John wrote us this letter. He didn’t write it just for his first century recipients. He wrote it for all “who believe in the name of the Son of God.” Is that you? Do you believe? If so, John says “you have eternal life.” Now, that’s a handwritten note worth receiving, isn’t it? 

APPLICATION 

Are your children learning to write? Teach them how to write a note or letter. Teach them to address an envelope and mail a letter. Help them write a letter to their grandparents or a favorite cousin or friend. I promise you when that person receives that letter, it will make their day.  

Teach your children to journal their thoughts and prayers. They are writing those thoughts to God. They are, in effect, writing a letter to God. Do you think God likes “reading” those letters? Of course, He does. God wants to hear from us in whatever mode we choose to communicate.  

Are you “writing” to God? Are you writing to encourage someone else? Why don’t you take a moment today and write a note or letter to someone whom you know needs to hear from God. God can use you. Will you let Him? It doesn’t take long to do this. Be a John today. Remind someone of their faith walk. You will be blessed. 

Father, thank You for Your handwritten letters from Your saints like John. Help me encourage others by my own notes and letters. 

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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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DO YOU WANT TO WIN?

1 JOHN 5:5

“Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

The world tells us we have to believe in ourselves in order to succeed. Now, that is important. You have to have self-confidence. You need to believe you can do it. If you are part of a team, you have to believe in your teammates. That is so important to win.

But here in today’s verse, John tells us if we want to overcome the world, we have to have faith in Jesus. That’s it. No matter what the world may throw at us, if we have faith in Jesus, we will overcome. Now, listen carefully. Our overcoming may look different than what the world thinks overcoming is. That’s okay. We know how it all ends, don’t we?

APPLICATION

There is no more important thing to teach our children than this truth from today’s verse. Faith in Jesus is the only way to overcome this world. If our children give their hearts to the Lord, He gives them the faith to face whatever the world may throw at them. Will it be easy? No! But through it all, they will be victorious because of Jesus.

So, we must spend whatever time and energy necessary to teach our children what real victory is. We need to share with them every little victory we have. They will learn from that. Small victories lead to bigger victories. Spiritual victories are measured differently than earthly victories. Only in eternity will be see the actual results of these victories in our children’s lives.

Will you believe today? Will you trust Jesus with everything you have? As John tells us, faith produces victories. Faith helps you overcome. You cannot experience true victory apart from the saving knowledge of Jesus. Trust Him. Believe in Him. Experience victory.

Thank You, Lord, for the victories You give me. I know faith in Your Son, Jesus, is the key. I will overcome.

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DO YOU BELIEVE?

1 JOHN 5:1

“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.”

I guess I have always believed in Jesus. I was raised in a church-going home. We were there every Sunday. I remember going to

Sunday School, church, revivals, etc. Church was a regular part of our family life. But you have to understand something. It was all head knowledge. All that church going gave me a false sense of salvation.

It wasn’t until I was sixteen that I truly believed. When the Holy Spirit drew me towards the Father through the Son, I surrendered my life to Him. My church-going belief became true belief in Christ. I joined the family John is describing in today’s verse. I finally fully believed that Jesus was the Christ. What a change! Knowledge about something does not equal belief in something.

APPLICATION

As your children grow, I am sure you have been telling them about God and Jesus. You may even have pictures of Jesus or other Christian decorations in your house. You talk about Jesus at Christmas and celebrate His birth. You have been filling their little skulls full of mush with knowledge about Jesus. But try as you might, you can’t flip a switch and give them saving knowledge. That is truly between them and God.

So, how do you ensure your child comes to faith? No one wants to think of the alternative, right? You have to remain consistent in your teaching. You have to take every opportunity to talk about what Jesus has done for you. When a prayer is answered, make sure you share that with them. They need to see Jesus working in your life. God may just use that to draw them to Himself. And, of course, pray every day for their salvation. God hears your prayers.

Can you effectively share your salvation experience with someone? Can you articulate the joy you have in Christ? You may need to practice doing that. The Lord will give you the words to say each and every time He gives you the opportunity to share. You have to trust Him. Tell the world about your saving knowledge of Jesus. He is the Christ. Celebrate it.

I praise You, O Lord, for sending Your Son, Jesus, to rescue me. He is indeed the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

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WHO DO YOU CONFESS?

1 JOHN 4:15

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”

You know, sometimes agreeing on something is hard. You have your ideas, and others have theirs. Often those kinds of situations end up bad. But there is always a way to come together and agree, if you really want to. The problem is we usually don’t want to. We demand to be right. It’s our way or the highway.

John, however, lays it out for us. You see, the word “confesses” means to agree, to say the same thing. If God is to abide in us and we in Him, we must agree that Jesus is the Son of God. There’s no other way. Our way doesn’t matter. What we think doesn’t matter. There’s a bumper sticker you may have seen that reads “God said, I believe it, that settles it.” Well, that’s wrong. It should read “God said it, that settles it.”

APPLICATION

How many times have you had to settle an argument between your children or your child and another child? They will argue about just about anything. Which video game is the best, what movie is the greatest, which Avenger has the best super power. Agreement is not in their vocabulary.

But I want you to take your child to this verse the next time you catch them in an argument. Talk about how many in this world disagree with John’s conclusion. Explain to them the importance of confessing Jesus as the Son of God. Belief in Him is paramount to our salvation. You can’t believe part of the truth. You have to believe and confess it all.

Have you confessed Jesus as the Son of God? I pray you have. If you have the rest of the verse is a promise to you. God abides in you. That’s incredible. Through His Holy Spirit He lives in you. And if you have Him in you, there’s nothing you can’t do because it’s Him doing it. Praise the Lord.

Father, I know Jesus is Your Son, and that You sent Him to die for me. I know You abide in me and I in You. Thank You, Lord.

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THE ULTIMATE APPEASEMENT

1 JOHN 4:10

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Have you ever angered someone so badly that you had no clue how to make it right? I have. In the past, I have searched and searched how to seek forgiveness. Most of the time I have received that, but only after true remorse. I don’t want to ever intentionally harm someone. But it happens sometimes.

Aren’t you glad that God took the initiative to provide the means for forgiveness for us? We could have never satisfied His wrath. There is nothing we could do on our own. But…by the sacrifice of Himself, Jesus Christ provided the ultimate appeasement. He satisfied an angry God (His Father) for us. Wow!

APPLICATION

I bet your children know when you are angry at them. They can usually tell when dad or mom are about to blow. They may push it to the last straw, but most kids know when to stop pushing. But do they know how to make things right with you? What do you expect from them? Ask them that. Ask them if they know how to appease you. They will probably say Huh? Then explain.

You are seeking to train them how to seek forgiveness from the Father. Take them to today’s verse. Explain that word “propitiation.” They need to understand how important it is to our Christian faith. In fact, we would have no faith without it. Yet that word only appears twice in the Scripture. The other time is in 1 John 2.2. Christ died for them to satisfy the requirements of forgiveness God had established. Only Jesus could do it, and He did it for them.

Do you realize the depth of this? Christ died for you. He gave His life to satisfy the price of sin in your life. And all you have to do is claim that forgiveness. I pray you have, but if you haven’t, do it right now. Ask Jesus into your life to be your Savior and Lord. Confess your sins to Him. Acknowledge His death, burial and resurrection. Then welcome His Holy Spirit into your life. It’s that simple.

Lord, I praise You for sending Your Son to die for me to satisfy the price which I could never pay. I am eternally grateful.

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NOT FROM GOD

1 JOHN 4:3

“and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” 

Have you ever received a message that was anonymous? That’s getting rarer and rarer in this day of emails, tweets and texts. We usually know exactly who is sending the message. But there are ways for people to disguise their name and send messages. Usually if that is done, there’s a reason they want to hide their identity.

The spirit of the antichrist, which John is talking about in today’s verse, is not going to come right out and say Hey, it’s me, the antichrist! He is going to disguise the message. He may use someone you know who is not surrendered to the Spirit of God to “give you a message.” Listen, brother and sister, always test the spirit. Does it agree with what John says? Does it confess Jesus is from God? If it doesn’t, run!

APPLICATION

Wow! This is a hard one for kids. We must be so diligent to teach our kids to hear from the Lord. They must be able to distinguish His voice. Just like they know your voice so well, we want them to know when it is Jesus talking to them.

How do they learn that? By teaching them to spend time in His Word. By teaching them to spend time in prayer, not just talking to Him, but also listening. That’s the hard part. We want to talk a lot in prayer. Some of the best prayer times have few words spoken. Just teach them to listen.

Are you listening? Do you hear His voice? Well Carl, I haven’t heard Him lately. Let me ask you this. Do you want to hear Him? Do you want to hear what He has to say? Or are you content with listening to any voice? That’s dangerous and you know it. Get alone with the Lord today and listen. Just ask Him to speak to you as you read His Word. Then do what He says.

Oh Father, I know Your voice. I know when other voices try to influence me in ways that do not honor You. Thank You for the discernment You give me as I yield to Your Spirit.

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IN THE FLESH

1 JOHN 4:2

“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;” 

One of the joys of being a Children’s Pastor is going to the hospital when a baby is born. I love seeing that newborn for the first time. The whole process of conception, pregnancy and delivery amazes me. Looking at those little fingers and toes just blows my mind. I understand the biology behind the whole thing, but it is still a miracle.

Jesus came that way. We all know the story. He was born as a baby in a manger in Bethlehem. We can probably all tell the  story by heart, right? So, John tells us here in today’s verse that knowing that and confessing that shows that the Spirit of God dwells in you. You may be saying Well, everyone believes that. Not really. There are many who deny the birth of Christ, especially the virgin birth.

APPLICATION

Why don’t you lead your kids in some Christmas carols? I know it’s only November, but it’s never too soon to do that. I love “Away in a Manger” and “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.” Don’t you? Let your kids pick out a few, but keep them about Jesus. There will be plenty of time for the silly Christmas songs later.

Now, that you have done that, talk about the songs. Ask them why we celebrate Jesus coming in the flesh. Get them to thinking. How else could Jesus have come? He could have just appeared with the angels in the sky over Bethlehem. Why was it important for Him to come as a baby in the flesh? He had to be the God-Man, perfect and divine, to die for our sins on the cross. He had to shed His blood for us. That’s why His fleshly birth was important.

Do you celebrate Christmas correctly? Do you recognize the importance of His humanness? Don’t skip to the ministry years and His death. It all began in Bethlehem. Aren’t you glad? God loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son. Don’t ever forget that. Thank the Lord today for His birth. Praise Him for coming in such a humble way.

I praise You, Lord, for humbling Yourself and taking the form of man. Thank You for yielding Your Spirit to take on the form of flesh for us.

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GOD IS GREATER

1 JOHN 3:20

“in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.”

We can rationalize our sins, can’t we? We can excuse our “little” inconsistencies and insist they are not so bad. We can always point at someone else and their sins. They are so much worse, right? Guess what? Sin is sin! Period. We can’t rely on what our heart condemns. We have to rely on the One who judges all things.

John tells us God is greater than our hearts. He knows our every little thought. He knows our motives. He knows our hearts much better than we do. We cannot hide our secret sins. We have one choice – to come to Him in full confession. He does know all things, including every thought of our heart.

APPLICATION

Have you convinced your children you have eyes in the back of your head? Lol. A lot of children would swear that their parents do. They can’t seem to get away with anything. That’s a good thing, huh? Of course, we know we don’t. We just have a little more experience and can spot a lie or deceitful heart.

Our children need to learn that there is no reason to try to hide their hearts. God loves them and wants them to walk with Him in Spirit and truth. Keeping your heart confessed before Him allows you to not be condemned. If you have asked Christ to be your Lord and Savior, there is no reason to walk in condemnation. That’s the tactic of the devil. He wants to accuse us. God doesn’t. He forgives us.

So, are you feeling condemned? Get rid of that right now. God is great, not because He wants to zap you. God is great because He loved you enough to send His Son to die for you. God has no desire to condemn you. Nor does He want you to allow your heart to condemn you. He longs for you to come to Him. Won’t you do that today?

Father, I confess I am not worthy to even be called Your child, but You call me that. I bring all those sins before You now for cleansing.

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