Appeasement, Belief, Bible, Comfort, Death, Encouragement, Faith, Joy, Life, Resurrection, Scripture

HE’S ALIVE

JOHN 20:8 “So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb also entered then, and he saw and believed.”

So many times we hear things we just can’t believe. Someone has done some magnificent show of strength perhaps. Or someone has invented some new creation. We hear it but don’t believe it. Then other times we actually see something we can’t believe. A magic act or a freak act of nature. But seeing is believing, they say.

Jesus had been telling the disciples He was going to die and rise again. They just couldn’t comprehend it. But when they found the empty tomb and the linen wraps lying there, they believed. Can you imagine being John or Peter or Mary that first Easter morning? Can you imagine the surge of excitement that ran through their veins?

APPLICATION

Sure you can! Look afresh at the empty tomb. It’s still empty. There are no bones of Christ to be found. He came, died and rose again! We should have just as much as excitement at Easter as Peter, John and Mary did. We should stand in awe of the miracle of the resurrection.

And the beautiful thing about the resurrection is this – He did it all for us. Jesus didn’t rise from the grave to prove how great He was. He didn’t need to do that. God is not a glory hound. He doesn’t need to lift Himself up. He is God – period.

Jesus rose from the grave to defeat death for us. When we place our faith in Him, all that He did becomes ours. His death on the cross and the blood He shed becomes our sacrifice to appease God. And His resurrection becomes our resurrection. We will defeat the sting of death because He did. We will live eternally with our Savior.

Father, I thank You for the resurrected Christ. I thank You for the power over the grave. And I thank You for the empty tomb. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

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Accountability, Affection, Bible, Choices, Condemnation, Faith, Following, God's Will, Hope, Obedience, Protection, Relationships, Scripture

YOU’RE NOT MINE

HOSEA 1:9

“And the LORD said, ‘Name him Lo-ammi, because you are not My people, and I am not your God.’”

I worked over thirty years in children’s homes ministries. Probably the saddest part of those years was when a biological mom or dad told their child they didn’t want them anymore. The hurt in the eyes of those children isn’t easy to forget. They felt thrown away and worthless. Our job at the children’s home was to love on them and bring them to Jesus. He would never leave them.

Through Hosea’s children, God was sending a message to Israel. This latest birth, a son, sent a harsh message to them. God said, “I am not your God.” Wow! After all the years of God directing them and protecting them, He had enough. He was done with their rebellion. He was no longer their Father. I wonder how the Israelites’ faces looked. Were they crushed like the children I dealt with? Or were they clueless of what they had done?

APPLICATION

As believers, we can never escape the presence of our God. He will never leave us. We have a covenant relationship with Him through Christ. We may choose to rebel and not walk as we should, but He will never leave us. Any separation between us and God is because we have moved, not Him.

Don’t you want to be closer to Him today? I do. I want to feel His embrace. I need to know He is there beside me each day. I do not want to face one second without Him. So, I spend time each day in His Word. I spend time each day talking to Him. I want to hear His voice. I want Him to hear mine. I can’t imagine hearing, “I am not your God.”

However, there are millions around us every day who don’t know our Savior. If they should die today, they would hear those words from God. How can we prevent that from happening? By taking the time to share with everyone around us. Tell others what He has done for you. Tell others of His love. Let them hear God say, “I love you. I am your God.”

Father in heaven, hear my cry today. I beg You for the lives of those around me. Send me to share with them the love You have for all.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Following, Inspirational, Joy, Mentoring, Parenting, Prayer, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture, Testimony

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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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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Advice, Belief, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confidence, Direction, Disciplemaking, Faith, Gifts, Giving, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Knowledge, Life, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture, Truth, Understanding

CRITICAL THINKING

1 JOHN 5:20

“And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

Do you ever get to thinking about something so intensely that you lose track of time? I’ve done that. The topic becomes so interesting that I could spend hours researching every side angle or story. I look at both sides of the story. I delve into opposing views. And by doing so, I come away with a better understanding of the topic and how to apply it to my life.

That’s the word “understanding” used by John in this verse. And the word “given” is in the Perfect tense which means it happened in the past with lasting results. So, Jesus gave us understanding that will last. He has given us the gift of knowing Him who is true. That truth sets us free. We are in Him, and He is in us. Praise be to God.

APPLICATION

Sometimes the hardest thing to teach our children is why we teach our children. Did I lose you there? Listen. We are so busy teaching our children things that we often forget to teach them why we are teaching them. They need to understand that we are not just teaching them stuff to make us feel better. There is a purpose behind our teaching, right? Do you know that?

We teach them so they can teach others. It’s the 2 Timothy 2:2 principle of passing our knowledge on to the next generation. Without a clear understanding of what we are teaching and why we are teaching, that won’t happen. That’s why rules without reasoning don’t work. Even our children need to experience critical thinking.

Are you doing that? Are you critically thinking about your faith and why you live it? You need to know why you believe what you believe. You need to be able to apologetically defend the faith. I don’t mean you need to be able to argue your points. I mean you need to fully understand it so if you are asked why you believe, you can explain it. Better yet, let the Spirit inside of you do that. He can speak better than any of us. Amen?

Father God, thank You for giving me understanding of You and Your Word. Help me, when asked, to explain my faith to others. Let me be bold and daring when faced with opposing views. 

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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Devil, Disciplemaking, Faith, Family, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Righteousness, Salvation, Sin

ARE YOU SINNING?

1 JOHN 5:18

“We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.”

I don’t know about you, but I sin. I don’t try to. It’s not my intention, but I occasionally mess up and sin. I think something about someone I shouldn’t. I say something hurtful to someone. I drive too fast (yes, that’s sin). So, today’s verse would concern me greatly, if I didn’t dig a little deeper.

When John says, “that no one who is born of God sins,” you have to look at the verb tense of “sins.” Now, hang on. You are going to want to see this. That verb tense is in the Present tense which indicates ongoing activity. John is saying if anyone practices sin, they are not saved. You can’t have a lifestyle of sin and be saved. Why? The next phrase tells us. Because if you are saved, Jesus keeps you and guards you from the devil’s influences.

APPLICATION

You can almost always tell when your child comes to Christ. Their attitude changes. They are remorseful when they have done wrong. They will respond to correction differently. They won’t argue and fight with their siblings as much. They are beginning to learn what it means to walk in the Spirit.

Now, they won’t be perfect. Don’t put that on them. Are you perfect? I am afraid not. So, don’t expect them to be. But now you have the chance to disciple them through their failures. When they mess up (and they will) show them in the Word how to overcome that. They will be more amenable to your teaching. Watch them grow as they learn these lessons.

Aren’t you glad Jesus keeps you and guards you? I sure am. There are dozens of times per day that the Spirit nudges me towards correction. He is constantly on guard to protect me from making those wrong choices. That’s how I know I am born again. I am in the family of God and am protected by His power (1 Peter 1:5). Hallelujah.

I know I am born again, Lord. I am thankful for Your power in my life which directs me towards righteous living.

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Asking, Belief, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confidence, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Hearing, Inspirational, Listening, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture

DID YOU HEAR THAT?

1 JOHN 5:15 

And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. 

I turned sixty this year. It’s hard to believe that. And with age comes the sure signs that my body is wearing down. One of those signs is my hearing. I have lost a lot of my hearing in my left ear and some in my right. I have to ask people to repeat what they say sometimes. That can be kind of embarrassing and aggravating. But that’s just the way it is. 

Aren’t you glad God is not hard of hearing? He hears our every cry. He hears the very tear drops that hit the ground. He is the most attentive listener ever. You will never hear God say, “Huh? I didn’t catch that.” He doesn’t have to mute the television to hear you. He is always listening. 

APPLICATION 

On the other hand, we have our children, lol. How many times have you had to repeat yourself to your kids? A dozen? A hundred? It probably seems that way. Our kids get so distracted by what they are doing that they totally tune us out. I have known children who required you to get right in their face for them to hear you. 

As important as it is for them to hear you, it is even more important for them to hear God. That can be tricky to teach, can’t it? Hearing God’s voice means you must be willing to hear it. Being tuned into the spiritual realm takes discipline. They need to be in the Word and have an active prayer life. God can speak whenever He wants, but He normally speaks when we are listening and attentive. Help your children understand that. 

Are you listening to Him today? Maybe you don’t want to hear from God because you’re afraid what He might tell you. Some believers are like that. They want to pray but they don’t want to listen. Communication with the Lord is not a one way thing. As we speak, He is listening. He will respond to us if we are listening. Will you today? 

I am all ears today, Lord. Fill my heart and my mind with Your desires for my life. I want to hear Your voice. 

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Advice, Asking, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confidence, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, God's Will, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Prayer, Promises, Relationships, Scripture

ASK WITH CONFIDENCE

1 JOHN 5:14 

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 

I remember a few times in my life when I asked for a raise. Have you ever done that? It can be a scary thing, can’t it? You’re not sure how your boss is going to take it. He may get mad or irritated by you for asking. Or he may grant your request. I have found that if you ask with confidence and boldness, you are more than likely going to get some kind of raise. 

I love that John uses the word “confidence” here in reference to prayer. That is the same word that the writer of Hebrews uses in Hebrews 4:16 referring to how we approach the throne of God in prayer. We do it with boldness because of whose we are in Christ. John tells us something similar in John 14:6. “Until now you have not asked for anything in My name. Ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete.” Ask! 

APPLICATION 

Most children don’t have a problem asking for things, do they? They may bug you and bug you about something until you finally give in and get it for them. I am not talking about that. We need to teach our children how to ask with boldness, with confidence. That word “confidence” means to speak out with resolve, with sureness. That’s how we want our children to ask, not timidly and fearful. 

But what do they need to ask for? Simple. John tells us. “Anything according to His will.” If we teach our children to ask the Lord to bless them according to His will, the Lord is quick to answer. He wants His will done in our lives. He wants to see us walking with Him. He is pleased when we ask for His will to be done. Teach your children that way of asking. 

Maybe you are stuck in the old pattern of asking what pleases yourself. You are wondering why God won’t answer your prayers. Well, that’s simple, too. God is trying to direct you towards His will. He could answer your prayers the way you ask, but you would not like the results. God knows best. Ask with confidence but ask according to His will. Then watch what happens. It will amaze you. 

I come before You to ask You to give me the wisdom to walk in Your light. I want to live in such a way that others are drawn to You.  

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Bible, Blessing, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Eternity, Faith, God's Will, Heaven, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture, Service, Testimony

ETERNITY

1 JOHN 5:11

“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.”

Just how long is eternity? A longggggg time. In fact, it’s forever. Now, our finite minds cannot comprehend that. We live in twenty-four hour days. We measure things by minutes and hours. How many times have you stood by the microwave tapping your foot waiting for the food to get hot? We are so impatient.

But God’s gift to us is eternal life. Do you think you can handle that? Think about it. When we accept Christ as our Savior, God’s gift to us is spending eternity with Him. What will we do for eternity? Will we just float around on a cloud playing a harp? Hardly! Whatever we are tasked with in heaven, it will be a joy to serve our Father forever.

APPLICATION

Ask your kids how long eternity is (you may have to use the word “forever” instead). They really don’t have a clue but let them guess. Their answers can be quite humorous. Let them try to figure it out. When they give up, take them to today’s verse.

Explain to them that eternity will never end. No matter how long we are there, it will just go on and on and on. Tell them to imagine their most favorite trip they’ve ever taken. It will be like that, but it won’t end. Why? Because we are finally home – our real home. There’s no packing up and returning somewhere. We are where we should be from now on. That’s hard for little brains to comprehend. Heck, it’s hard for big brains, too. But we are promised it by God, so it’s certain.

Aren’t you excited about eternity? There’s a saying that we shouldn’t be so heavenly minded that we are not any earthly good. We long for heaven, but we are here until He calls us home. We have to be about His business until then. What has He called you to do until then? Who has He laid on your heart to share the good news with? Look forward to your gift from Him of eternal life, but don’t ignore where you are now. Let Him use you.

I am so thankful for the promise of eternal life. My future is secure because of Jesus. Help me share that today.

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