Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Commitment, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Godliness, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Righteousness, Scripture, Self-control, Surrender

THE PROOF’S IN THE PUDDING

1 JOHN 2:29

“If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.”

What do I mean by that title? It comes from a very old proverb. I’ve read that the original version is “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” It means you have to try out the food in order to know whether it is good. I agree with that. Something may look good, but how does it taste. Have you ever experienced that?

John knew that not everyone who said they were a Christian really were. They had to show it. They had to live righteously. That’s what he means when he says, “practices righteousness.” The Greek word for “practices” means to do, to live it. And when you do that, you show you are born again.

APPLICATION

Don’t you just hate it when you ask your children to do a chore, they promise they will do it, and then they don’t? When they say they will, you expect it, right? The next time they let their chores slide after promising to do them, take them to this verse. Let me explain.

God has expectations of us when we become His child, just like you do of your child. He expects righteous living. If we say we are His, we need to live like it. Remind your children that part of living righteously before God is obeying their parents. After all, you have to do the same thing. You have to obey your Father.

How are you living righteously? Do you find it difficult? You don’t need to struggle. Let Jesus live through you. He IS righteousness. Righteousness is not something you do. It’s who you are in Christ. He has made you righteous. Live like it.

I am righteous because of You, O Lord. Thank You for living through me.

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KNOW IT ALL

1 JOHN 2:27

“As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.”

Have you ever known someone who knew everything about everything? You couldn’t tell a story without them butting in and finishing it or trying to top it. Name any subject and they would have an opinion. You really couldn’t tell them anything. Those kinds of people are kind of annoying, aren’t they?

You could read this verse and think John is telling us to be like that. You may even think he is shunning education and teachers. I mean, at first glance it appears that way. He actually says, “you have no need for anyone to teach you.” But John is warning us to be careful of who we let influence us. Everything must be in agreement with what the Spirit tells us according to the Word of God.

APPLICATION

This is never more true than today. Our children are constantly being told how naïve and even ignorant they are if they believe in the creation story. After all, science teaches that evolution is reality, right? But what does God’s Word say? Does evolution match up to Genesis 1-3? No, it doesn’t.

Other examples of teachings that go contrary to the teachings of God are abortion and the redefinition of marriage. We have to keep pointing our children to the only true source of knowledge. Only God’s Word gives the wisdom needed to guide us through life. Only God’s Word will always point us in the right direction. There is no other truth.

Let me encourage you today to reexamine your knowledge base. Whom or what do you trust for truth? We have seen in just the past few months the vacillation of scientist on the covid-19 causes and treatments. What one holds as truth, another says is not true. Aren’t you glad that we know THE Truth – Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior?

Father, thank You for sending Your Spirit to be my teacher. I thank You also for sending others into my life to mentor and direct me.

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NOTHING NEW

1 JOHN 2:7

“Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.”

One thing I hate is when someone changes the rules in the middle of the game. Don’t you? I mean, if you have rules, just stick with them. It’s really not fair to make adjustments based on someone’s lack of following the rules. Nor is it okay to lower the standard just because someone has trouble measuring up.

John is telling us that is exactly what God is NOT doing. These words John is writing, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, agree with everything else God has written. He isn’t changing the rules. He still demands holiness. He still requires obedience. He still expects us to walk in a manner that is pleasing to Him. Nothing has changed.

APPLICATION

Try this with your kids. Get out their favorite card or board game and start playing. Every few minutes change a rule. Make up new ones. Talk about confusing! It won’t take long for your children to get very frustrated and stop playing. Why? Because they knew the old rules. They knew what to expect.

Read them today’s verse. Talk about how God does the same for us. He hasn’t changed. He is consistent with His expectations of us. The big difference is Jesus. Now, under grace, He paid the penalty for our transgressions. We are free. That is one change for which we should all be grateful.

The key question, though, is this. Do you know what God requires of you? Do you know how to please Him? It is so simple – total surrender. Yep, it’s that easy. You may say Carl, that’s not so easy. Sure, it is. You just have to die to your own selfish desires and follow Him. Can you do that? You can through Him.

Lord, thank You for not trying to confuse me with new rules for living. I know what You expect. Help me live it daily.

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IF-THEN

1 JOHN 1:7

“but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 

Using the “If-Then” method of child-rearing is a good way of teaching them. If your child does his chores, then he can receive his allowance. If she cleans her room as promised, then you will take her to get ice cream. Now, you may not agree with rewarding children for doing their chores, but it is one method.

John is telling us here in today’s verse that we will receive a reward if we do a certain thing (If-Then). If we walk in the light, then we will have fellowship and Jesus’ blood cleanses us. We can’t expect to have either of those if we walk in darkness. Only by walking in the light are they possible.

APPLICATION

I’ve kind of already hinted at the application for your kids. Try one of those “If-Then” situations with your child. Then take them to this verse. You see, your own “If-Then” training is preparing them for their own “If-Then” decisions with the Lord. They are going to face a lot of those moments in life.

They will face crucial decisions with peers. If I do this, then this could happen. If I do this, how will it glorify God? If-then, if-then, if-then. All through life they will have to make those decisions. They need to understand your training of them now is preparing them for later.

How about you? Do you desire fellowship and forgiveness? Then it’s simple – walk in the light. That means to come to Christ and accept Him as your Savior. You can’t walk in light if you’re lost. You may think you’re in the light, but you aren’t. You are in the darkness. Come to the light.

I desire to stay in the light, Father. I desire fellowship with You and others. I know I am forgiven through the blood of Your Son.

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THIEVES

2 PETER 3:10

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”

Okay, you need to understand something. Peter is not calling the Lord a thief. But I guess you knew that, right. Peter is just using a thief as an example. If you knew a thief was going to rob your house, what would you do? You would get ready for him.  You would make sure all the doors and windows were locked and secured. You would make sure all your valuables were hidden away. But the problem is, thieves don’t give prior notice. They catch you just as you are.

So, the Lord Jesus isn’t going to announce that He is coming a certain day. We know, through Scripture, that He is coming. That means we have to be ready. How do you get ready? By staying in His Word and doing all we can to lead others to Him. We should have our spiritual doors open all the time waiting for Him. We should have nothing in our lives for which we are ashamed. He’s on His way.

APPLICATION

Ask your kids what they would do if they knew their favorite aunt or uncle was coming for a visit. Would they leave their room a mess? Would they put off taking a bath until after their visit. Now, some kids would love that, lol. But seriously, what would they do to prepare for them?

Explain why it is so important to prepare for the Lord’s return. The first thing, of course, is make sure their heart is right. Have they surrendered their life to Him? If that’s been done, let them know He wants them to live each day as if He’s coming back that day. We want to please Him in all we do every day.

Are you living today as if He is coming back soon? Let me encourage you to surrender fully to Him today. Let Him have full control over your life. Allow Him to use you to lead others to Him. And most of all, keep looking for Him. Know His return is close.

O God, I know many people who need You. Help me lead them to You before it is too late. I want them to know You.

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WORDS OF WISDOM

2 PETER 3:2

“that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.”

Do you remember any of your parents’ “words of wisdom”? You know, words like “Look both ways before you cross the road” and “You’ll shoot your eye out.” Of course, you can remember those. You probably have a bunch of others you can recall and have probably repeated to your children.

Peter isn’t referring to those kinds of words. He is referring to prophecies about Christ and His commands to us. In fact, the Greek word for “remember” means to actively remember. In other words, don’t forget them, keep reciting, keep remembering.

APPLICATION

Ask your children if they recall some of your “words of wisdom.” You may get a little tickled at their remembrance of your guidelines. Give them some slack but clarify your words. You will get a tickle later on when you hear those words come out of their mouths when they have children.

Most importantly, take them to the real words of wisdom. Make sure they are learning from His Word each and every day. Challenge your whole family to memorize the Word. Memorization allows you to “actively remember” those words of wisdom. Wherever you go, you will have those words with you.

Are you actively remembering the words of the prophets and Jesus? I pray you are. There is no other way to successfully navigate the world we are in today. The world’s wisdom will lead you in all the wrong directions. But God’s Word will always lead you in the RIGHT direction. Words of wisdom – listen carefully.

I am so thankful for Your words of wisdom, Lord. I cherish them each day. Help me spread to others Your words.

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THAT’S JUST GROSS

2 PETER 2:22

“It has happened to them according to the true proverb, ‘A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT,’ and, ‘A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.’”

Why in the world (or should I say in God’s name) would Peter pen this verse? What is he trying to say? Well, it’s not complicated and doesn’t require any deep research of the original languages. He is quite simply saying that these individuals he has been discussing in this chapter have never changed. Just like a dog will always be a dog and a pig will always be a pig, these people have never changed.

People can pretend to be a lot of things. They can dress up and come to church every Sunday. They can even volunteer to help in different areas of the church. But until their heart is changed, they remain the same – lost. Do you know people like that? Do you know individuals who have done that all their lives?

APPLICATION

Do your children like to dress up in superhero costumes or princess attire? A lot of kids do, but do those costumes make them those characters? Get your kids to dress up as something. Anything goes. After they have gotten all dressed up and after you have bragged about how great they look, ask them if they have become their character.

Now, I know kids who would probably answer “yes” to that question. If they do, ask them to perform one of their “powers.” Now the game is over. They can’t produce. Try as they may, they are still just a child. They can’t become that character. Explain to them, in the same way, we can’t just put on a Christian costume each day. We have to change internally first.

Have you been changed internally? Have you been changed eternally? I pray you have. Put all the noise of the world out of your head for just a second. Plow through all the distractions and set your mind on Christ. Only He can change who you are. He can give you a whole new heart – one that beats for Him.

I am so thankful for the assurance of my salvation and the power I have in Christ. Through Him I can be all things.

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YOU KNOW BETTER THAN THAT

2 PETER 2:21

“For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.”

Did your mom or dad ever say, “Young man (or young lady), you know better than that”? Why did they say that? Because you had obviously been taught something which you had now disobeyed. You knew the rule, but didn’t care. Peter is telling us something similar to that in this verse.

These individuals he is writing about here had heard the “way of righteousness” and “the holy commandment.” They knew the right choice to make. But they turned away. They turned their backs on the right choice. And because of that, Peter says they have no excuse. They can’t say they didn’t know.

APPLICATION

I bet your children break the rules from time to time, don’t they? I haven’t met a perfect child yet (contrary to what some grandparents think, lol). They have been taught not to steal and lie, right? If there were no rules, how do you think your children would act? I think we all know the answer to that.

Rules are given for a reason. Without rules, anarchy erupts. We’re seeing that right now on the streets throughout our country. The beautiful thing about the gospel is it writes the “rules” on our heart. Jesus fills us with the desire to obey Him. Your children need to hear that. And when they obey Him, they obey you.

So, are you hearing what the Lord would have you to do and turning the other way? Maybe you have never asked Christ to be your Savior even though You believe He is just that. Maybe you are a believer, but you live like the world. Turn to Him today. Let Him live in and through you.

Father, forgive me when I turn from You. I want to follow You each day and live for You.

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DOUBLE-MINDED

2 PETER 2:16

“but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet.”

You may wonder where I got the title for today’s verse. Well, it comes directly from the definition of the Greek word for “rebuke.” This particular word is only used right here in 2 Peter 2:16. It means the kind of conviction that rebukes the sin of double-mindedness.

So, what does “double-mindedness” mean? Maybe that is best answered by James 1:5-8. “5But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

APPLICATION

In today’s verse, Peter is referring to Balaam and how he wavered in his thinking. Do you ever waver in your thinking? Do you go back and forth? As the Bible says, let your yes be yes and your no be no (James 5:12). That’s a principle easily taught to our children by our modeling that behavior. Don’t go back and forth with a decision with your children. Make a decision and stick to it. They learn from that.

Oh, and most important – if you are married, make sure you and your spouse agree on this. Children can be masters of manipulation. They can play one of you against the other. Be of one mind. That can be difficult if you and your spouse aren’t agreeing. But for the sake of the children, you must come together.

Do you suffer from double-mindedness? Do you find it difficult to settle your decisions? You know the Lord is not the author of confusion. He does not want you going through life second guessing yourself or Him. There comes a point when you have to decide and move forward. It may be a difficult decision. Trust Him with the decision. You trust Him with your salvation, right?

Lord, I will seek Your face before making any decision and then trust You to carry me through. I do not want to be like Balaam and suffer from double-mindedness.

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DON’T RIDE A DONKEY

2 PETER 2:15

“forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;”

We all know the story of Balaam, don’t we? He was the prophet of God that Balak asked to come curse the Israelites. Remember his donkey? He spoke to Balaam. Now, I don’t know about you, but if a donkey started talking to me, I might change my direction. Not Balaam. He kept on riding that donkey straight into disobedience.

How many times have you rode your donkey into disobedience? The Greek word for “gone astray” means to get off the correct path. It is so easy, isn’t it? We compromise on a business deal or we fib a little on our taxes. Before you know it, you are way off course. Don’t you wish God would make your donkey talk?

APPLICATION

Keeping our children on the right course can be challenging. It’s hard enough when they are small, but when they become teenagers it can seem impossible. They are exposed to so many influences. Friends, media and the digital world are all clamoring for their attention. Getting off the right path can happen in a blink of an eye.

You cannot be there all the time, so you have to entrust them to Jesus. You do have the responsibility to ground them in the Word and teach them which path to follow. However, there comes a time when you have to let their hand go. Wow! That’s hard. But you must do it. There is no growth without challenges. God loves them much more than you do. Entrust them to His capable hands.

Are you riding and beating your donkey, heading in the wrong direction? Stop it! Get off that critter and turn back to Jesus. Let Him get you back on the straight and narrow. He knows exactly where you are and how to reroute you. His GPS is never wrong.

Forgive me Father for getting off course. Forgive me for straying. I need You to lead me back to Your path of righteousness.

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