Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Giving, Inspirational, Kindness, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Service, Testimony, Witnessing

YOU’VE DONE GOOD

3 JOHN 5

“Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers;”

I have been an employee and an employer a long time. As an employee I love being told I am doing a good job. It’s nice to know others appreciate the work you do. As an employer and supervisor, I also know the importance of telling your employees they are appreciated. You can just see their faces beam when you tell them “Well done.”

John is telling Gaius the same thing. He is so proud of how Gaius is serving the brethren and not just those he knows well. He is even faithful serving strangers. The word “accomplish” here actually means “to work for.” Gaius was actively serving the brethren. He wasn’t just sending others. He was doing it himself.

APPLICATION

Have you helped your children serve others? There are all kinds of ways to show them how to directly serve someone. It’s one thing to put a few dollars in the offering plate on Sundays or to give toward a mission cause. But to put their hands into directly serving someone can cause a lifetime change.

How about taking them down to serve at the homeless shelter serving a meal? You can get them to go down the street and rake leaves for an elderly neighbor. The point is getting their hands dirty, experiencing a hands-on service project. And make sure they see the response of those they are helping. And when you get home, talk about how they felt doing this. Tell them how proud you are of them. Then read them this verse.

When is the last time you got your hands dirty? Don’t you want others to say “well done” to you? We all want that, but don’t do it for that. Do it to please the Lord. Let Him be the one to tell you “well done.” And as you are serving others, pray for the opportunity to share Jesus with them. You may be serving another believer who just needs encouraging. You may be serving someone who needs Jesus as their Savior. Just be obedient, like Gaius.

Help me Lord serve others You place in my path. I am not afraid to get my hands dirty for You.

Standard
Bible, Blessing, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Gifts, Giving, Grace, Love, Mentoring, Mercy, Parenting, Peace, Scripture

A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS GIFT

2 JOHN 3

“Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.”

Don’t you love getting exactly what you wanted for Christmas? I  can remember going through the Sears Roebuck Christmas catalog when I was little and circling all the things I wanted for Christmas. Of course, I didn’t get all those things, but my parents always managed to get me at least one of those things on my list. I can still remember some of those toys. Where they are now, no one knows. Lol

It just seems fitting that on this day, Christmas Eve, as we prepare for Christmas that we land on this verse in 2 John. I mean what else could you hope for? Grace, mercy and peace are given to us from the Father and the Son. And they give it in truth and love. I can just see the package all wrapped with their names on it as the senders. Merry Christmas from God.

APPLICATION

How long is your child’s Christmas list? Some kid’s list seems to be a mile long. Others ask for just one thing. You may be able to get them everything they want, or you may struggle to by just one. Don’t let the present buying get you down or break you. Remember that Christmas is not about buying stuff and giving presents. Your kids need to understand that.

What would happen if you told your children all they were getting for Christmas is grace, mercy and peace? I bet they would be confused and probably throw a fit. Am I right? But if their sole focus is on getting presents, you need to refocus them on what really matters. There is nothing more precious than those three gifts.

Would you be happy with those gifts from the Father and Son? Well, their yours. You just have to claim them. Those three things will give you all you need to walk with Christ in victory. In every situation you face you can apply those three things. Is that true for other gifts you might receive? Hardly. Enjoy your gifts.

Father, I am so thankful for the grace, mercy and peace You have given me. The only gift I can give You is my life. It’s Yours.

Standard
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. 

Standard
Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Encouragement, Gifts, Giving, Hugs, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Promises, Relationships, Scripture

DON’T JUST TALK ABOUT IT

1 JOHN 3:18

“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”

Have you ever promised to do something for someone and just never got around to doing it? We probably have all done that at some point. We have the best of intentions, but we get busy and forget about it. Or we just put it off because it doesn’t seem that important.

Well, it is. Our word means something, but only if we act on it. John is reminding us that our love is seen so much more by our deeds and actions. We can say we love someone, but until we show them our love by our actions, it doesn’t really hold a lot of truth. It can be the simplest sign, too. It just means so much more than words.

APPLICATION

This might be a time when we can learn from our kids. Kids show love easily. They are normally quick to run up and give a hug or kiss to express their love. They may make a special little gift for someone just because they want to. Little expressions of love from little ones mean so much. Why do we adults shy away from the simple ways?

And the biggest way we can show our love for others is by telling them about Jesus. Do you have friends whom you tell you love, but have never shared Jesus with? Do you really love them then? How can we say we love someone if we don’t share with them the most important thing in our lives? What better expression of our love?  Teach your kids to share their love of Jesus to others as well. That’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Tell someone today just how much Jesus loves them. Tell them how much you want to see them come to know Him as their Lord and Savior. Invite someone to church or to a small group. And if you have promised to do something for them in the name of Jesus, by all means, do it. Keep your word. Love in deed, my brother.

Father, let my love to others be more than just words. Let them see my love acted out to them in simple actions.

Standard
Advice, Bible, Caregiver, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, Following, Friends, Giving, God's Will, Joy, Ministry, Modeling, Parenting

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.

Standard
Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Following, Gifts, Giving, God's Will, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture

WHAT A GIFT!

2 PETER 1:3

“seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”

Can you think of the greatest gift you ever got? Probably, as a child, it was my first gun. Now, before you judge me, it was a BB gun. I loved that gun. I spent hours outside in my backyard and in the woods behind my house with that gun. I think that may have led to my love for the outdoors and hunting I have today.

The Greek word used here for the phrase “has granted” is only used three times in the New Testament. It is used here and the next verse (2 Peter 1:4) and also in Mark 15:45 when the centurion gave Joseph the body of Jesus. The word means to be given as a gift. Peter is telling us that God has gifted us everything we need for life and godliness. Isn’t that amazing?

APPLICATION

What is the last gift you have your child? Was it expensive? I bet you gave them some instructions about how to use it properly, if it was. We don’t want to give our children expensive things and then watch them destroy them, do we? Of course, not. We have an investment in it.

The same is true with the gifts God gives us. He has made an investment in us through the death of His Son. He wants to make sure we appreciate these gifts and use them correctly. That’s why He gave us His Word. In it are all the guidelines we need to use these gifts. Read His Word to your children. Let them see there really is a user’s manual for life.

Are you using God’s gifts in the way He intended? Do you believe He has given you everything pertaining to life and godliness? What a promise. So, why do we complain about life? God has the answers. Will you listen to Him today?

Thank you, God, for giving me Your gifts. I don’t deserve them and will surely abuse them. But please forgive me and teach me to use them according to Your Will.

Standard
Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Contentment, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Eternity, Following, Giving, Heaven, Inspirational, Joy, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Scripture

HOW ABOUT ME?

MATTHEW 19:27

“Then Peter said to Him, ‘Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?’” 

Right after the rich, young ruler walks away from Jesus, Peter makes this statement. Surely, he was thinking, “That rich dude wouldn’t leave everything for You, Jesus, but we did. What do we get? Do we get to inherit the kingdom?” I don’t presume to know Peter’s motive for asking this question, but he was probably like a lot of us.

We tend to look out for ourselves. We want to make sure we are taken care of first, don’t we? Thinking unselfishly is hard. Trusting someone else to watch out for us can be difficult. But the Lord tells Peter in the following verses (28-30) that those who follow Him will inherit eternal life. What else could we ask for? We will live with Him forever in glory.

APPLICATION

Our kids are born selfish. Listen to most toddlers in a play area with other children. What word do you hear the most? Mine! Everything is “Mine.” We don’t like to share. We must teach our children to share. That is an important principle to learn. I believe if we are taught that well, we will have fewer disagreements with co-workers, neighbors and even spouses.

More importantly, if we are less concerned about ourselves and more concerned about others, we will want to share. I have been the recipient of many gifts through the years. Some of those have been large and some were small. It’s hard for me to receive sometimes. I get so much more joy in giving. That’s the joy we should want our children to experience. Teach them that by doing it yourself. Make them part of your sharing.

Stop a minute and think about what the Lord has promised you today. He was speaking to you when He said those who follow Him will inherit eternal life. Since you know your future is secure, why not give Him more of your “present”? Why not share as much of yourself as you can? I promise you He will restore everything plus more. His promises are true.

You have promised me eternal life which is more than I could ever hope for. Point my eyes to those to whom You would have me share. Turn my thoughts outward rather than inward.

Standard
Advice, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Crowns, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Giving, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Testimony

BE CAREFUL

TITUS 3:8

“This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.”

How careful are you? Paul tells believers in this verse to be careful to engage in good deeds, but what exactly does he mean? Let’s look at that word “careful.” It means to continuously connect your insight or your inner perspective to your outward behavior. In other words, to do what you know you should do. In this case, that is engaging in or setting the example in good deeds.

And we are careful to do that, not to gain favor with God, but because they “are good and profitable for men.” We don’t do good deeds to get brownie points. We do good deeds because it is the right thing to do and because we love the Lord. Our deeds should always be motivated by love, not by our desire to get something back.

APPLICATION

Are your children good deed doers? Some kids are just built that way. They love to help others. Encourage that. Find ways to help them fulfill that desire. There are plenty of opportunities around you. Perhaps you have an elderly neighbor who needs their lawn mowed or raked. Maybe your child can help cut out crafts for Sunday School. Help them to be “careful.”

But you also may have a child who isn’t bent that way. They tend to be more self-centered. Well, now is the time to teach them. But don’t make it burdensome or they will resent it. Find something that will interest them. I am sure they have some kind of interest which can be redirected towards someone else’s need. Perhaps someone on their ball team doesn’t have all the equipment they need because they can’t afford it. Have them share. There is always way to help them be “careful.”

And how about you? Are you putting into practice your inner perspective? Are you being careful to do good deeds? You can set the example for your children. Let your actions be profitable for men, especially your children. As they see you and perhaps help you to do good deeds, you are teaching them to be obedient to the Lord. That pleases Him. It’s a win-win-win.

I will be careful today to do good deeds. I will put my inner desires into action. Above all, Lord, I want to please You.

Standard
Child Raising, Child Rearing, Christianity, Faith, Family, Giving, God's Will, Grace, Heaven, Inspirational, Light, Love, Praise, Salvation

THE LIGHT FROM HEAVEN

TITUS 2:11

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,”   

It never ceases to amaze me how God can orchestrate the smallest of details. I began looking at the Pastoral Epistles (1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy and Titus) back on January 1st. Today is Christmas day and lo, and behold, look at the verse that comes up today – the verse in Titus that speaks of Christ coming to us. The birth of His Son which brought us salvation.

And this verse contains a Greek word that carries that story. The Greek word for “appeared” has the image of a light appearing from heaven. It means to shine. What does the Christmas story mention? A star appeared in the sky to guide the wise men. The very light of heaven appeared on earth. Why a light? To shine in the darkness. Merry Christmas!

APPLICATION

Today read the Christmas story to your family. Take a moment before all the hustle and bustle of food and presents to reflect on the reason we celebrate. I know so many people who are gathering today to celebrate Christmas who aren’t even believers. I wonder why they do it. The holiday isn’t a holy day to them. We have reason to celebrate, whether or not we have presents or food. It’s about Him.

So, take a moment. Slow down. The presents will wait. Thank the Lord for His perfect gift. Thank the Lord for His grace which appeared and brought salvation to all men. Thank the Lord for each of your family who knows Him as their personal Lord and Savior. And pray for those who have not made that decision yet. Why don’t you agree as a family to do all you can in 2020 to bring them into God’s family?

Christmas is a special time of the year, not because of the trees, mistletoe and garland. Christmas is special because it is the time to recognize what God has done. Jesus’ birth changed history. Jesus’ birth changed the calendar. But most importantly, Jesus’ birth changed the hearts of every believer. We have that light in us which appeared over two thousand years ago in manger in Bethlehem. Praise Him.

I am eternally grateful for the birth of Your Son which gave me a new birth in You. Help me shine that light on others. Let it beam across the darkness and reflect Your love.

Standard
Blameless, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Elders, Encouragement, Fighting, Gentleness, Giving, Mentoring, Modeling, Money, Obedience, Parenting, Qualifications, Righteousness, Service, Testimony

KEEP AN EYE ON YOU

TITUS 1:7

“For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain,”

The position of overseer or elder has often been misinterpreted as a position of authority or title. The Greek word for “overseer” actually means someone who intently keeps their eye on something or someone. In the church that man is watching over the church body to provide first-hand care and protection. It’s a service role more than an authority role.

Now, elders must help guide the body. But they do this from a position of service, not by brow beating. That is exactly why Paul lays out all these qualifications. In this verse he gives six more character traits (good steward, not self-willed, not quick tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain). He has further limited the pool of men who rise to the position, this ensuring their heart for service, not rule.

 APPLICATION

It is interesting that these traits Paul lists for an elder are traits we as parents want for our children. We want them to handle what God gives them well. Money management is an important skill for us to teach them. Secondly, we want them to think more of others than themselves. Self-willed children will face many more challenges. Thirdly, we definitely want them to know how to control their temper, to not be easily upset or angry.

We also want our children to know how to handle the issue of drinking. If you think they won’t face that temptation, you are fooling yourself. You have to model that. The next trait, not pugnacious, means not a fighter. Some kids are always ready for a fight. We want to teach them how to avoid that. And finally, we want them to not be greedy. In fact, we want them to share liberally.

So, you see these elder traits are really traits for us all. How are you living up to these? These are all characteristics of someone surrendered to Christ. It requires dying to self daily. Then you too can help oversee the flock. You can keep your eye on your brother or sister to help guide and protect. Aren’t we all called to do that in the family of God?

Father, remind me to live my life in such a way that I am worthy of “overseeing” my brother and sister. I want to live like Jesus so I can help guide others in the path of righteousness.

Standard