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ANOTHER BROTHER

3 JOHN 12

“Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself; and we add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true.”

Do you have people in your life you can trust? I mean people whom you can tell anything and know they will hold that in confidence. We all need those kinds of people in our circle. I don’t care how grounded you are in the Word, there are times when we just need to talk about stuff. I have a couple of guys like that. They could be my Demetrius.

John mentions Demetrius and really brags on him. Now understand something. John could only brag on him because he was proven. John says he had a good testimony. Actually, John says he “has received” a good testimony. That verb is in the Perfect tense which means it happened with lasting results. Demetrius’ testimony was proven. And it was based on “the truth itself.” John really believed in him.

APPLICATION

Our children need to build reputations like that. Those don’t come quickly and can be lost so easily. We can help our children build those kinds of testimonies by holding them accountable and teaching them the truth. Their word needs to be trustworthy. Their actions need to be honorable. When we continue to point them to the Word, they learn to incorporate that into their lives.

When our children mess up, and they will, we point them back to the Word. We make sure they apologize and make things right if necessary. We model this behavior in front of them when we have wronged someone. We show them examples from Scripture of individuals who messed up but made things right with God.

Are you a Demetrius to someone? Do you have a Demetrius in your life? Wouldn’t that be great? Demetrius (at least this Demetrius) is only mentioned right here in the New Testament. But his name was important enough for John to put in this letter to Gaius. His name has been read through the centuries by millions of believers probably without a second thought. Think about him today and thank God for his testimony to John, Gaius and others.

Father, help me be a Demetrius to others. Let my testimony point to Jesus in all I do.

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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.

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WHO IS THIS LADY?

2 JOHN 1

“The elder to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth,”

There are a lot of speculations about who this lady is John is writing this letter to. No one really knows, but it is pretty much agreed that this was someone John knew well. He calls her “chosen lady” and someone “whom I love in truth.” You don’t talk about someone like that unless you know them well and care for them.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a letter addressed to you like that? I wonder what she had done for John to care so much. Let me ask you a question. Can someone write these words about you? Truth seems to be an important word in this relationship. Are you truthful? Are you trustworthy? Good questions, huh?

APPLICATION

Why don’t you get your children to write a letter to someone they really care about? Help them choose some descriptive words for the person they are writing. And I bet the person they write would like a picture that shows their relationship. Getting a letter like that would be special.

Now, just like John, the words need to be truthful. You don’t want them to just say nice things to say nice things. Whomever they are writing will appreciate knowing those words are true. And I bet when they get that letter they will write back or call your child to thank them. What a lesson that will be for your child!

Truth! It’s what our relationship with Christ is all about. It’s also what builds our relationships with others. I have heard said that trust is the glue that holds relationships together. Well, that trust is founded upon truth. Live that way.

I want to be known as a trustworthy person, Lord. Let me reflect Your truth so it will flow out of me.

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HOW GREAT A LOVE

1 JOHN 3:1


“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”

How much do you love your children or grandchildren? Can you put it in words? I have two children and four grandchildren, and I can’t find the words to adequately describe my love for them. I have often joked that if I had known how great grandchildren were, I would have had them first. Lol

John can’t find the words to express God’s love for us. In fact, the Greek word for “how great” is used in Matthew 8:27 when Jesus stilled the wind and waves when He was in the boat with His disciples. Remember that story? The disciples were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this…?” “What kind” is the same word used here. They couldn’t figure Him out. Neither can we concerning His love for us.

APPLICATION

Now, here’s a hard one. The next time you are with your children or grandchildren, take them up in your arms and hug them tightly and say, “I can’t tell you how much I love you.” I know – that’s too hard, right?  Lol. I am sure you can muster through it.

And then read them this verse. Explain to them that as much as you love them (so much you can’t put it into words), God loves them so much more. He calls us His children. That should mean something. He invites us into His family, His kingdom, His heaven. Wow! That’s a lot of love.

If God loves us that much, how should we respond? Simple – we should love Him back. We should behave like His children. We should be telling everyone about His love. We should be sharing His love. And when someone shuns us, love them anyway. It won’t be easy, be love them. That will please your Heavenly Father.

I love You, Father, because You first loved me. I can never love You enough to repay You for all You have done in me. Help me be a more loving person to others.

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GREETINGS

1 PETER 5:13

“She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark.”

Who is “she” mentioned here by Peter? Most scholars agree that he is referring to a church or churches in the area of Babylon. And the Mark mentioned by Peter here is most probably John Mark who had accompanied Paul and Barnabus before he left them. This same Mark was picked up by Barnabus later. He also happens to be the author of the Gospel by his name.

But the point of this devotional today isn’t on that church or Mark. It’s on the word “greetings.” This word means to enfold in your arms. In other words, it means a hug. Now, I’m a hugger. I love to embrace with a hug. What better way to say “hi” to someone than with a big ole bear hug? Peter is sending a hug to the readers.

APPLICATION

When is the last time you hugged your child? I bet you did it today. If you haven’t, go do it now. Tell them Pastor Carl told you to. Most kids love hugs. Why? Because it’s intimate. It feels good. It’s warming. If you aren’t a hugger, ask yourself why you aren’t.

Don’t deprive your child of a good daddy or mommy hug every day. They need it. They need it especially when they have done something wrong. After you administer the discipline, hug them. This reassures them you love them, and all is forgiven. Hugs heal. I really believe that. Heal someone today.

Can I send you a virtual hug right now? ((( ))) Do you feel it? Guess what? God gives great hugs. He wants to embrace you and enfold you in His arms. You may not feel very embraceable right now, but that’s okay. God doesn’t care. He doesn’t dispense His hugs based on your value. Open your arms and feel His embrace right now.

Thank You, Father, for not withholding Your hugs from me. I need them daily. And I will pass them on to someone else.

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LOVE STRANGERS

1 PETER 4:9

“Be hospitable to one another without complaint.”

All we hear today is stranger danger and for good reason. The world is an unsafe environment. Here, however, Peter tells us to love those strangers. The Greek word for hospitable comes from two Greek words, philos, which is brotherly love, and xenos, which is stranger. We are to love strangers.

It is interesting to me that this word is only used two other times where it is listed as a qualification for an elder. But here it is expected of all believers and with a qualifier. We are to do this “without complaint.” That literally means without murmuring or grumbling. Now, that’s hard, right?

APPLICATION

What a lesson for our kids! When they observe us doing this, they can get a glimpse of what real love is all about. Loving strangers because Jesus loves them is the key. Now, we should not be foolish and abandon all common sense. God doesn’t expect us to be foolish. But when opportunities present themselves, we need to be ready to show hospitality to those strangers God has placed in our paths.

How can you safely teach your children this? How about volunteering at the local soup kitchen? Maybe you could prepare sandwiches and hand them out to the homeless. Perhaps you could do a good deed for that neighbor on your street that no one likes or really knows too well. There are all sorts of ways to be hospitable. And remember, no grumbling.

You are probably saying, Well Carl, I don’t have the gift of hospitality. That’s a cop out. We have, through the Holy Spirit, access to all the gifts. Sure, we have primary ones which the Lord has gifted us with, but all the gifts are ours through Him. If He tells you to show a stranger kindness, don’t argue with Him. Just do it. You will be blessed!

I don’t feel comfortable approaching strangers, Lord, but I will do that as You lead. I will trust You to give me the words to say and the actions to take.

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UNHINDERED PRAYERS

1 PETER 3:7

“You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”

A lot of people will read this verse and think it is women bashing. Calling them weaker! That is NOT the purpose of this verse. God made men to lead and protect their wives. Their role is a protector, not a basher. And He warns the men in this verse. He says, “so that your prayers will not be hindered.”

In other words, God is telling the husbands if they mistreat their wives and don’t show them honor, their prayers will not reach Him. That’s what “hindered” means. It means blocked. Men, have you ever felt that your prayers weren’t getting past the ceiling? How are you treating your wives? Hmmm!

APPLICATION

This is another modeling verse. Husbands and dads, it’s your turn. How you treat your wife, the mother of your children, is so important. You are not just mistreating her. You are mistreating your children. Your daughters are endangered by believing that’s how women are meant to be treated. And your sons grow up believing that’s how they are supposed to treat their wives.

But…when you show honor to her, that gives your children a role model to follow. The word “show” is only used right here in this verse. It means to give what is due. God is telling you that your wife deserves honor, no matter what you think. And if you want an open line of communication with the Lord, this is required.

Are you guilty of not showing honor to someone? Let’s apply this verse to all of us, not just husbands, for a second. Is there someone you belittle and persecute? We should show honor to all of God’s people. God cannot look on sin and ignore it. And that kind of behavior is sin, dear friends.

Lord God, give me Your eyes for others. Let me show honor to all. And hear my prayers.

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GETTING MORE THAN YOU ASK FOR

ACTS 3:6

“But Peter said, ‘I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!’”

I love this story in Acts 3. If you read verses 1-10, you will get the full picture of what happens here. A lame beggar is lying outside the Temple asking for money from anyone entering the Temple. He sees Peter and John and asks them for some. All he is expecting is a few coins to perhaps buy some bread or other food for the day. What he gets surprises him.

Peter and John look at him as he hollers at them passing by. Peter, being led of the Spirit, offers him healing instead of money. Notice he heals him in the name of Jesus, not himself. Peter knows where the healing comes from and wanted this beggar and anyone else listening to know also. This beggar got so much more than money. He got his legs for the first time.

APPLICATION

Have you ever given your child more than they asked for? I bet you have. They asked for something simple for Christmas, but you blessed them with the newest game system. Isn’t it just as exciting for you? You can’t wait for them to open up that gift under the tree.

I bet Peter and John were just as excited to see this man jump up and walk as the man was. This is Peter’s first recorded miracle. Let your children think about that for a second. How would they have reacted to the beggar by the Temple? Ignore him? Step around him? Tell him to be quiet? Not Peter. In the boldness of his newly indwelt Spirit, he commands healing.

Do you realize that the same Spirit that indwelt Peter indwells us? We have the same power. Do you believe that? God wants to use you to do great things for Him today. God’s miracle working power is still present in today’s world. The problem is we don’t believe He can do those things today. Let God work through you as He desires.

I want to be used by You to do things that can only be explained as coming from You. I vow to give You all the credit and point others to You.

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EARLESS

JOHN 18:10-11

“10 Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus. 11So Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?’”

This story is one of the few that is told in all four gospels. It is interesting, though, that only Luke, who was a physician, tells us that Jesus touched Malchus and healed him. Of course, a doctor would record that. And only here in John are the sword bearer and the servant identified.

But my thoughts are on Malchus. Don’t you want to know what happened to him? I mean, you came with the crowd to arrest this man whom everyone claimed to be a threat to your faith. You have your ear cut off, nearly having your throat cut. Then this man named Jesus reaches out and touches the spot where your ear used to be and restores it. Malchus’ life had to be changed.

APPLICATION

Ask your children what they think about this story. Ask them how they would have felt if Jesus had basically put their ear back on. When they get hurt and need some medical attention from mom or dad, how do they feel afterwards? Grateful? Thankful?

Perhaps Malchus believed in Jesus afterwards. One day we will find out. When I get to heaven I think I will ask Jesus if Malchus is there. Then I want to meet him and hear his account of the story. If he is there, don’t you know he will have quite a story to tell.

Guess what? So do you. You may not have had your ear cut off and restored. But you have had your hard heart replaced with a soft, pliable one. Jesus performed heart surgery on you. You have been healed from a sure death sentence. Don’t you have a story to tell? You had better believe it. Start telling it.

Jesus, You are the healer of my soul. I thank You for healing my broken heart. I will share my story as You give me opportunities.

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TASTY

1 PETER 2:3

“if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”

I don’t know about you, but I know when something tastes good. Now, I will admit that people’s tastes vary greatly. For instance, my wife puts sugar on grits. God forbid. Being a southern boy, only salt and maybe some red-eye gravy, but never sugar. Yuk!

Peter is talking about tasting the kindness of the Lord. The Greek word chrestos describes what God defines is kind – and therefore also eternally useful! One scholar said we have no adjective in English that conveys this blend of being kind and good at the same time. This word describes the yoke in Matthew 11:30 when Jesus says it is easy.

APPLICATION

How do you explain this to your children? I only know one way – by living it. You have to show them through your actions what God’s kindness looks like. Once you have tasted it, you want to live it. Once you have experienced it, you want to give it to others, especially your family.

Why are we the harshest to our families? Why do we withhold the kindness of Christ? Maybe we think they can handle it. Perhaps we think it’s safe to let our hair down because they aren’t going anywhere. But does that make it right? No. Let me challenge you today to show kindness to your loved ones first. Watch what happens.

Do you need to ask someone to forgive you today? Have you tasted the kindness of the Lord and swallowed it whole without any thought of sharing? Spread it around. Be kind and good. It’s interesting that chrestos (kind, good) sounds like Christos (Christ). Just be Jesus.

I will strive today to be more kind to those around me. I want to spread the taste of Your kindness with others.

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