Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Family, Greetings, Love

WE ALL SAY HI

2 JOHN 13

“The children of your chosen sister greet you.”

What a strange way to end a letter. It just kind of seems John had a last minute thought as he finished the letter and threw this in. But I am reminded that every, single word of Scripture is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore, I have to ask myself what John was saying here.

Many believe this sister mentioned here may have actually been the recipient’s sister. We don’t know for sure. But if that’s the case, John could have written “your nephews and nieces say hi.” Perhaps John was staying with this family when he wrote to their sister and aunt. I can just see them looking over his shoulder as he penned these words and saying at the last minute Tell our aunt hi for us.

APPLICATION

How do you apply this verse to you and your children? Love your family. Express your love to them in as many ways as you can. Embrace family members. Don’t become isolated to just your immediate family. Reach out to family members who need to hear about Jesus. Lead your children to pray for those cousins, aunts and uncles who are lost and in need of a Savior.

And extend that family to fellow believers. For many believers, their church family is closer to them than their biological family. Teach your children to rely on their fellow believers. Spend time with others who believe like you do. Pray for your Pastor and church leaders. We need each other in this battle we are waging each day against the forces of darkness.

Who is your family? You probably have both biological and spiritual, right? Be a good family member. Don’t harbor grudges or ill feelings. Let those go. Love each other. Be like Jesus and love them. And, by the way, take a moment and drop someone a note just to say you are praying for them. It will make their day.

Lord, I thank You for my family, both my biological and church families. You have blessed me far beyond what I deserve.

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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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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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SEE A NEED, MEET A NEED

1 JOHN 3:17

“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?”

Have you ever been blessed by someone? Boy, I have. During this past year many of my friends have stepped up to meet some needs that my wife and I had during my extended illness. I didn’t ask for any them, but they were led of the Lord to step up and do what He said to do for us. We were blown away.

There are people all around us who are in need. Sometimes they hide it very well. We can’t see the need. But what do you do when you find out? Do you wait for them to come ask you for help? Let me encourage you to make the first step. So many are too proud to ask. They think it’s beneath them. It’s not. God wants us to come alongside each other.

APPLICATION

I love seeing children who give without even being told to do so. I have known children whom I literally had to tell to stop giving so much. They just didn’t care about stuff. They had rather see someone else’s needs met than their own. They were just bent that way. Others…well…not so much. You would have to peel the last cookie out of their hand, lol. 

Giving is a privilege and a blessing. Until your children experience the joy of giving to someone else, they will never really understand it. You have to help them to learn this joy. How about before they get anything new help them pick out a toy they can share with someone else? How about leading them to have a birthday party where all their gifts go to the Ronald McDonald house? There are all kinds of ways to teach them to give to others.

You may not be blessed with an abundance of goods, but I guarantee you have more than most. Look around and see how you can give to someone today. Perhaps you want to do it anonymously. That’s okay. It’s not about you. Jesus is the one who gets the glory, right. Just give.

Reveal to me, Lord, to whom I should be a blessing today. Help me meet the need of someone today.

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TO DIE FOR

1 JOHN 3:16

“We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

Who would you die for? Your first response is probably your children and your spouse. You would probably say your mom or dad. Maybe you would die for a sibling. But we typically save that kind of sacrifice for family. But is that what Jesus asks us to do? I think He calls us to go beyond that.

John says here we are to lay down our lives for the brethren. Who is that? Who is our brother or sister? Anyone who is in the family of God with us. I think of the people who stood up to defend their brothers and sisters in recent church shootings. They didn’t hesitate to stand between evil and their brothers and sisters. That’s true love – laying down their lives for others.

APPLICATION

Now, this isn’t something you teach your children in one sitting. How do you teach your children this kind of love for others? Well, you don’t. This kind of love only comes with maturity and growth in the Lord. Little children can’t comprehend this kind of sacrifice. As we grow and learn more about our true life in Christ, we realize that this life on earth is fleeting. The only true life is life in Him.

Allow your children to see you sacrifice for others daily. It doesn’t have to be a literally laying down your life. But you know what – sometimes that’s harder. Laying down your rights for the benefit of others can teach your children volumes. Sometimes allowing others to “have their way” may lay the groundwork for future conversations and opportunities to share about Jesus. As long as we don’t compromise on truth, it’s worth it.

Who will you die for? Anyone? Think about that today. Ask the Lord if there is someone you need to reach out to today. Is there someone who is in need of your sacrificial love. What are you willing to lie down for others? There are so many ways to sacrifice without it costing us our lives. Will you do it for Him?

I will lay down my life for others today, Lord. There is nothing I hold which is more valuable than the soul of another.

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WHAT A STORY

1 JOHN 3:12

“not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.”

Have you ever heard a story told over and over? My brother-in-law, Dr. Wayne Barber, was a master storyteller. He just had a way of bringing you right into the story. He famously told his beaver dam story more times than I can count, but each time he told it, I was sucked right in. Some stories are just that memorable.

John is reminding us of a story we have all heard before. Cain killed his brother. Wow! He was jealous of his brother. And when he was confronted by God after he killed him, what did he say? Am I my brother’s keeper? Why yes, Cain, you are. That’s John’s point. We are all our brother’s keeper.

APPLICATION

If you have more than one child, don’t you teach your older children to keep an eye on the younger ones? I don’t mean they should be responsible for them. But they do have an obligation to watch over them, to help protect them. It’s just the right thing for siblings to do.

I will never forget defending my little sister on a school playground when I was in the second grade and she was in the first grade. The class bully had decided to pick on her during recess, and I was going to have none of that. After our confrontation (let’s leave it at that), he didn’t bother her again. Now, I am not advocating fighting. Please don’t hear me say that. But I am saying we have to teach our children to look after each other.

Is there a weaker brother who could use your support? Maybe someone is going through some marriage struggles right now and needs advice. Perhaps someone is struggling with a wayward child and you’ve got some experience in that area. Don’t turn your back. Ask the Lord to use you to lighten their load.

Use me, Lord, however you wish to come to the aid of those around me. I want to honor You.

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UNPARTIAL

ACTS 10:34

“Opening his mouth, Peter said: ‘I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,’”

These words of Peter should be music to our ears. God does not show favorites. The phrase “show partiality” is one Greek word that is only used right here in this verse. It means to be a respecter of persons. Think about it. What if God only picked a few people to save because of their skin color or eye color. Unfortunately, that is what we do.

If we are to live like Christ, we must also show no partiality. They say the most segregated time of the week is Sunday mornings. Whites go to their churches. Blacks go to theirs. Hispanics go to theirs and so on. Why? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all worship together? Wouldn’t it be great if we were “color blind” on Sundays?

APPLICATION

Our children must be taught the no partiality thing early in life. In fact, we must teach them that God loves everyone – period. The world will begin to bombard them with prejudices early in life. This not only applies to skin color. It applies to any prejudice you can think of. The kid others make fun of is loved by God, so our children should too.

Let me encourage you, mom and dad, to nip this in the bud (to borrow a Barney Fife phrase). Don’t let prejudice remain in your household. God wants to use us, just like He used Peter, to reach people groups we might not normally be drawn to. You will be amazed at the response, if you will simply be obedient.

Do you battle showing partiality? Most of us do. It’s normal. It’s human. But we are called to live above that. I bet you could think of a dozen reasons God shouldn’t love you, but He does. He takes you just as you are and transforms you into something beautiful. Don’t you want to be a part of that in someone else’s life?

Father, show me my prejudices. I want to confess those to You as sin. And put those people in my life You want me to have relationships with, regardless of who they are.

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THE LAST SUPPER

LUKE 22:8-13

“8 And Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover for us, so that we may eat it.’ 9 They said to Him, ‘Where do You want us to prepare it?’ 10 And He said to them, ‘When you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house that he enters. 11 And you shall say to the owner of the house, “The Teacher says to you, ‘Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?’” 12 And he will show you a large, furnished upper room; prepare it there.’ 13 And they left and found everything just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.”

I find it a little funny that Peter and John wanted more information before they left to do what Jesus asked. They knew many homes in Jerusalem would have made rooms available to travelers who had come to town to celebrate the Passover. But I bet they didn’t expect Jesus to give them such detail. And don’t you know they were amazed it was exactly as he told them?

My mama used to give me instructions about how to help with dinner, but she knew her kitchen. She knew where everything was. In fact, she could lay her hand on every pot, pan or utensil in seconds. Jesus knew the room and the house because He was God. He had created that man. He had created the materials to build that house.

APPLICATION

The next time you plan a meal get your kids involved. Give them assignments. Have some set the table. Have others get the drinks. If they are old enough, have them bring the food to the table. Once you are all seated, ask them how they would feel if this was their last meal together. Shocked! Surprised! Tearful.

Now read them this passage. Explain that when Peter and John planned this meal, they had no idea this would be their last meal with Jesus before He was crucified. Jesus let them know during the meal that things were about to change, but I’m not sure it hit home until hours later.

What if your last meal was your last meal? Would you treat those with whom you shared it differently? Don’t waste your moments. We never know when the Lord will call us home. Make sure you are making memories during those meals. You can’t redo them.

I am thankful for the times I have to spend with family. Let me cherish each meal and each gathering. Most of all, let those moments revolve around You.

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IT’S NOT GOING ANYWHERE

I PETER 1:4

“to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,”

Great news! If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are an heir of the King! And that inheritance isn’t going anywhere. Peter makes a point to emphasize that in this verse. He, first of all, say it is “imperishable.” That Greek word means indestructible or immortal. Then he calls it “undefiled.” You could translate it as unstained. It’s perfect. Third, he says your inheritance “will not fade away.” That Greek word is only used here and means it won’t wither.

But then, after all these descriptions, he says, “reserved in heaven for you.” It’s being kept in the Fort Knox of Glory. No one or nothing can get to it. It’s promised and perpetual. No one can sneak in and destroy it or steal it. Why? Because He promised it and what He promises cannot change. Our inheritance in Christ is a sure thing.

APPLICATION

Do you have something right now you are planning on leaving as an inheritance to your children? It may be a piece of jewelry or maybe a house. It could be money. Guess what? That’s not a sure thing. Your life and their life could drastically change before that inheritance is claimed. And you have to die to leave that to them. You are probably not in a hurry to do that.

Things inherited can also lose their value. Your house can depreciate. That piece of jewelry can tarnish or be lost. What do you have that is really secure enough to pass on to your child? Your faith. Give them that. Make sure they have it BEFORE you die. There is no greater inheritance we can pass on to future generations than our love for Christ. This will last for eternity.

Are you hanging on to possessions just to pass them on? You might want to check with your children. They may have no desire for the things you hold precious. Ask them what they do value. I bet it won’t be stuff. I bet it will be time and love. Those things you can give freely. Make the investment in your inheritance to your children by preparing what God values most.

I am an heir of the King, and for that I am thankful. I know my future inheritance awaits me in Glory. But I also know I am already owner of all that’s Yours.

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FAMILY MAN

Matthew 8:14

“When Jesus came into Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever.”

Mark 1:29

“And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.”

We often don’t think of Peter as a family man. But from these references about Peter from Matthew and Mark, we see a few things. First, in Matthew, we see he was a homeowner, and secondly, he was married. His mother-in-law was in his home. Either she lived there or because she was sick, they had taken her in. Whatever the reason, Peter was providing a home for his family.

In Mark, we read “the house of Simon and Andrew.” This home may have been a larger home with multiple families (Peter’s and Andrew’s) or Peter also provided a place for his brother to live. We do not read anywhere that Andrew was married. Perhaps Peter was the big brother, so Andrew lived there with Peter’s family. Peter was a family man.

APPLICATION

“Big deal, Carl. How does this inspire me?” Well, think about it. Peter had all this – a fishing business, a home, a family – and left it all to follow Jesus. What are you willing to lay aside to follow Him? Ask your children if they could leave everything behind to follow.

I will never forget during one of our ministry moves our son was unusually upset. It was the first move that he was conscious of the packing and preparing for the move. When his mom asked why he was so upset he told her he didn’t want to leave his toys. Once she explained they were all going with us, he was fine. His stuff meant something to him.

Could you leave it all behind? Is there some possession or person that could hold you back? Peter laid it all aside to follow the Master. He asks us today to do the same. Now, He may not do that, but if He did… We don’t know what happened to Peter’s family during those three years he followed Jesus. I am sure he continued to provide for them. Jesus would not have allowed his family to suffer for Peter’s obedience. That’s not how Jesus works.

Thank You, Lord, for not only caring for me, but also for my family. I trust You to provide for them as I seek to follow You. Let them see You as their true source.

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