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NO CHARGE

3 JOHN 7

“For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.”

One of my joys in life has been going to teach national Pastors and church leaders in Uganda and Kenya. I had been making that trip every year since 2013 until health reasons and then covid stopped those trips in the Fall of 2019. I can’t wait to go back. But one thing I have never done is ask those to whom I am going to teach to support me financially. I go without cost to them.

That is what John is talking about in verse 7. Those brethren Gaius is assisting were going to share the Gospel with the Gentiles. They did not want to receive anything from the Gentiles so that they would not be seen as trying to profit off of them. Now, a teacher of the Word is worthy of “double honor” according to 1 Timothy 5:17, but they never want to be seen as financially motivated to teach.

APPLICATION

So how do we apply this verse to us today? Well, in one sense John is telling us to be aware of whom we can help go teach the lost. We can help send them on their way as they raise support. We can continue to support them once they get there. The one thing that can stop a missionary’s work quickly is the lack of funds. I wish I had the financial means to support all the missionaries I know.

We can also pray for those who will be hearing the Gospel from these missionaries. We need to pray for fertile soil. We need to pray for receptive hearts. Missionaries need to see fruit from their labors. That encourages them in their journey. We may not be able to go help them in their work there, but we can sure pray for those to whom they are ministering. If possible, get names from the missionary of people they are witnessing to. That would be a great way for our children to learn how to pray for missionaries and their work.

Make a list of missionaries you know and get them to send you a list of names of people you can pray for. Keep that list updated and celebrate with your family when someone you have been praying for comes to Christ. And I believe that will happen. God honors our prayers, and nothing thrills His heart more than to see one of His children return to Him. He wants to answer those prayers.

Father, I lift up all the missionaries who are faithfully serving today. Encourage them with a harvest of souls.  

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YOU KNOW THIS STUFF

2 JOHN 5

“Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.”

How many times do you have to be told something before you get it? How long do you have to study a subject before you are considered prepared? Did you know you can be so focused on studying that you don’t apply? Yep! There comes a point when you have to start using what you’ve learned.

John focused on “love one another” in his first letter. He said it over and over. Obviously, this lady had either read that letter or had heard John talk about it. We don’t know all that was going on her life, but John must have felt she needed a reminder. Maybe it was about her other children who were not walking with the Lord. Whatever it was, the command was still the same – love one another.

APPLICATION

I’ve said it before. Children learn through repetition. That’s why we teach them the same thing over and over again. We want them to get it. Sometimes it takes longer than we want, but every child is different. So, we keep teaching and modeling the behavior we want to see in them.

But how do you teach them to love one another? By reinforcing good behavior and disciplining bad. Every time you see them showing love toward a sibling, praise them. Every time you see a “less than desirable” behavior, deal with it swiftly. And most importantly, model this behavior around them. They need to see you living what you’re teaching. Love one another.

Do you have this down? Do you love others? Do you love them the way Jesus did? Now, I know that may seem impossible. But remember, when you surrender to His Will, He loves through you. I think that is what John was telling the lady. Let Jesus love through you. Will you?

I know this, Lord. Your Word has told me over and over. I will love others today.

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THE DEVIL’S WORLD

1 JOHN 5:19

“We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

Look around you. The world is a mess. Poverty, disease, racism, hatred and myriad of other horrible things are global. John tells us why right here in today’s verse. He says, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” Is it any wonder why the world is in the shape it is?

So, what do we do? Hide and avoid it? No! We are of God. And if we are of God, we have so much more power. That power enables us to withstand any attack by Satan. His power is limited, and he knows it. Satan can’t stand that. He cannot destroy the world, but God has given him limited power over it. He wants to make us as miserable as possible. Don’t let him.

APPLICATION

The world, therefore, can be a scary place for our children. We can’t isolate them forever from its horrors. They will experience them through all kinds of ways. Even video games can expose them to it. Some parents try to put blinders on their kids and hide them away from the real world. Now, don’t get me wrong. We don’t need to expose them to it ourselves. But we need to prepare them.

How do we do that? By making sure they belong to the Lord. We have to spend all the time we can pouring Jesus all over them. We read them His Word. We teach them to study it for themselves. We pray with them. We teach them to pray. We live godly lives before them so they will follow our example. We teach them to live in the power of God, so the power of Satan will have no effect. That’s teaching them to walk in victory.

Are you walking that way? Or are you cringing in fear of what the devil might do? That’s no way to live. If you are a child of God, you have to live that way. God is not wringing His hands over what the devil might do. Neither should you. He has him right where He wants him. Trust God to handle the evil one. He always has.

I will walk in victory in an evil world. There is nothing that can come against me that You do not allow. It trust You in every step I take.

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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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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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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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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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I’M FIRST

1 JOHN 4:19

“We love, because He first loved us.”

Boy, oh boy! How many times have you heard kids (maybe your own) arguing on the playground about who is going to go first down the slide? Maybe they are fighting about who gets to go first at bat. Whatever it is, kids like to be first. They somehow think that is all that matters at the moment. I am sure you can think back to when you were a kid and did the same thing.

John states it simply and succinctly. God loved us first. That is the only reason we can love. We did not have it in us. Our flesh is just too strong. We may love for a season, but without His transforming love guiding us, we will never last. It is His love that drives us. It is His love that loves others.

APPLICATION

So, how do you teach your children to love like God. Well, here we go again. You have to model it. You can preach it to them all day long every day. But until they see that kind of love in action, it will never take root. They need to see mom and dad loving like Jesus. They watch everything you do, right? What better thing for them to watch than you loving like Him.

So, the bigger question is how do you do that. How is it possible to love like Jesus? After all, He was/is God. God is love, right? So, of course He can love. The only way you can love like Him is to get out of the way and let Him love through you. When you come across that person (and you will) that is just hard to love, look at them through God’s eyes. He died for them. He loves them unconditionally. Love them like He does, not like you want to.

Who do you need to love today? Who is the most unlovable person in your life right now? Lay down your agenda and allow the Lord to love them through you. They will be amazed. When they ask you what you are doing, tell them it’s not you. It’s Jesus. And don’t do this one time. Continue to love them like Him. Who knows you may just begin to really love them.

You loved me when I did not deserve love, Lord. I want to please You by how I love others. Will you love through me today?

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OUR PURPOSE

1 JOHN 4:14

“We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”

I bet you have wondered at one point or another what your purpose is in life. Rick Warren wrote the best seller “The Purpose Driven Life.” People want to know their purpose. They actually spend hundreds and thousands of dollars trying to figure it out.

If you are a believer, it’s so simple. John spells it out right here. You are to testify about Jesus. That’s your purpose. Now, John actually saw the Father because he had seen the Son. We may not have seen the Father, but we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. We know the truth. We are, therefore, called to testify about it.

APPLICATION

Ask your children to tell you about something they have seen. Maybe they can tell you about their trip to the zoo or the beach. Just let them talk. Let them describe every activity. Kids love to tell about what they have seen. They can go on and on about all the wonderful things they have experienced.

Now, bring them to this verse. Explain to them how we should have the same passion to tell the story of Jesus to others. Ask them to share their experience with Jesus. By doing so, they can fine tuning their testimony. They are learning to tell others of the amazing things they have seen God do in their lives. They are sharing the good news. That’s their purpose.

Are you purpose driven? Are you aware of this calling on your life? Today ask the Lord to put someone in your path to whom you can testify about the goodness of God. Maybe there is someone you need to go to today to share Jesus with. Go, do it. Don’t put it off. Remember, their eternal destiny hangs in the balance. God has purposed you to share.

Thank You, Lord, for the reminder of my calling, my purpose. Help me today to share Jesus with someone who is in need of a Savior. 

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ONE MORE TIME

1 JOHN 4:13

“By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.”

How do you learn a new task? By repetition. You have to do it over and over and over before you can master it. That skill is gone today, for the most part. Today, people can simply google a video on how to do something. But most of those videos are by people who had to learn the old-fashion way. They learned by doing.

What has that got to do with today’s verse? Well, John is repeating himself. He said these words in today’s verse back in chapter 3 and verse 24. They are not quite verbatim, but they are close. John is repeating himself so we will learn. What’s the lesson? Proof of His abiding in us is the gift of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit living in us assures us of our relationship with the Father.

APPLICATION

If your children have asked Jesus to be their Savior and Lord, they probably have moments when they doubt their relationship with Him. Usually this occurs in their teen years. Problems arise, and they immediately start doubting God. They can’t see Him working in their lives. They question His presence. After all, they can’t touch Him. They can’t see Him.

Take them to this verse. That nagging conviction they have in their mind about sin is the Holy Spirit. That reminder about godly principles is the Holy Spirit. This gift they received at salvation has not left them. It is still there. All they have to do is ask the Spirit to empower them. All they have to do is confess those things that have come in between them and the Lord. The Spirit will even speak to Him when they can’t put it into words. Remind them of their gift.

Do you need reminding today? The Spirit is put in your life as a believer as a seal of your salvation. He is that constant reminder that God is there. God abides in us! How amazing is that? Through His Holy Spirit, which is able to indwell every believer, He lives in us. Embrace that today. Thank God for His gift!

I am eternally thankful for Your gift of Your Spirit in my life. I know You have gifted Him to me to assure me of Your presence in my life every day.

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