Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Rearing, Conceit, Following, Humility, Inspirational, Life, Love, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture

HAVE YOU GONE TOO FAR?

2 JOHN 9

“Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.”

Some people just can’t help themselves. Well actually, they can, but they just choose not to. These people have to be out front. They have to be the ones calling the shots, even if the shots are wrong. I’ve known folks like that. It’s really hard to deal with them. Why? Because their focus is totally on themselves and not on others.

John talks about those people in verse 9 of 2 John. He even says if they go too far, they are not abiding in the teaching of Christ and they don’t have God. Now, that’s pretty harsh, isn’t it? What John doesn’t say but is implied here is there is no humility. You see, you can’t be humble and put yourself out front. And we know that humility is a characteristic Christ showed.

APPLICATION

We are always pushing our kids to excel, aren’t we? We want them to make straight A’s. We want them to be the captain of the ball team. We want… You get the picture. By doing that, we can unintentionally create a monster. We want our kids to do their best, but we don’t want them to put themselves above others in a negative way.

We have to teach our kids how to excel without getting the bighead. They need to know that any achievements they have are the result of God’s blessing in their lives. Sure, they may have worked hard for it, but God gave them the ability. With every triumph, point them back to Jesus. He is the one who gives them the strength and wisdom to achieve great things.

Have you ever gone too far? Have you put yourself over your spouse or work colleagues? If you have done that, confess that as sin and make it right with those whom you have harmed. That’s where the humility comes in. A humble leader can lead armies.

I am so thankful for the way You have gifted me, Lord. I thank You for allowing me to achieve great things for You.

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
Accountability, Affection, Asking, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Confession, Death, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Exhortation, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Life, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Prayer, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

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. 

Standard
Belief, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confession, Encouragement, Eternity, Following, Heaven, Inspirational, Life, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Salvation, Scripture

HANDWRITTEN NOTES

1 JOHN 5:13 

 
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 

Handwritten notes and letters are becoming more and more uncommon. When is the last time you wrote, I mean actually wrote, a letter to someone? We text, email, tweet and post, but we seldom write. There’s just something personal about a handwritten note or card. It takes a little more time. I think people still appreciate that. 

John wrote us this letter. He didn’t write it just for his first century recipients. He wrote it for all “who believe in the name of the Son of God.” Is that you? Do you believe? If so, John says “you have eternal life.” Now, that’s a handwritten note worth receiving, isn’t it? 

APPLICATION 

Are your children learning to write? Teach them how to write a note or letter. Teach them to address an envelope and mail a letter. Help them write a letter to their grandparents or a favorite cousin or friend. I promise you when that person receives that letter, it will make their day.  

Teach your children to journal their thoughts and prayers. They are writing those thoughts to God. They are, in effect, writing a letter to God. Do you think God likes “reading” those letters? Of course, He does. God wants to hear from us in whatever mode we choose to communicate.  

Are you “writing” to God? Are you writing to encourage someone else? Why don’t you take a moment today and write a note or letter to someone whom you know needs to hear from God. God can use you. Will you let Him? It doesn’t take long to do this. Be a John today. Remind someone of their faith walk. You will be blessed. 

Father, thank You for Your handwritten letters from Your saints like John. Help me encourage others by my own notes and letters. 

Standard
Abiding, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Christianity, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Life, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Relationships, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture, Surrender

HIS SON

1 JOHN 5:12

“He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.”

It’s neat this verse fell on today’s date because this is my son’s birthday. He’s thirty-four today. That’s interesting to me because that falls right in the middle of the ages of Christ’s ministry on earth (@32-36) to the best of our knowledge. When I think of my son at his age leading a bunch of disciples around, it kind of blows my mind. Jesus was a young man. Yes, He was and still is God, but humanly speaking He was young.

Yet, here we are, two thousand years later, looking back at this God-Man for guidance. John says here if we “have Him” we have life, and if we don’t have Him, we don’t have life. That’s so true. Think back to your days without Christ. Life was so meaningless. It had no purpose. It had no direction. I don’t care how old you were before Christ, you had no life without Him.

APPLICATION

Our children need to learn this early in life. I know you are praying they give their lives to Christ, if they haven’t already. But they need to learn what it means to surrender completely. It’s not just saying a prayer. It’s total surrender of everything to Him. That involves how they talk, how they play and how they think. Oh, that last one is hard, isn’t it? Even we adults struggle with that one.

So, how do we direct our children to do this? How do we help them learn the importance of total surrender? By modeling it ourselves. Don’t you get tired of hearing that? Sorry, but it’s true. We have to show them how to surrender. We have to exemplify total surrender ourselves in the way we talk, the way we treat people and the way we think. No, our kids can’t read out minds, but they sure can see our behaviors.

Is the Son in your life? If so, live like it. It’s the Christmas season. Act like it. Live like every day could be your last day to share Jesus with someone. Live like He is all that matters. After all, He is all that matters. When you surrender to His Will, His life becomes your life. Try that today.

I have life only because of His life, Father. Thank You for giving Him to the world. We must show others the value of living in Him.

Standard
Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Commands, Courage, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, God's Will, Life, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

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.

Standard
Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Commitment, Death, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Heaven, Inspirational, Life, Love, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture, Surrender

CHANGING SEATS

1 JOHN 3:14

“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.”

Have you ever asked to change seats on a plane so you could have the window seat? I used to like to sit by the window so I could look out. Over the years that interest faded. I just want to sit somewhere now where I can rest or read and not be bothered by others getting up and crawling across my lap. Lol

But sometimes a change of scenery is good. We’ve been given that in Christ. Our previous view was death. We were doomed to an eternal damnation with no way to get out on our own. But then Christ came and shed His blood for us. That changed everything. We now have life, and it shows in our love for each other.

APPLICATION

I often am told by parents that they can tell when their young child has committed themselves to Christ. Their heart gets tender. They start asking for forgiveness for wrongs done. Their very nature has changed. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? We should look different on the outside. People should be able to tell we have life now.

Once you see your child striving to live like Jesus, you can waste no time discipling them. They are going to need your guidance in how to study the Word and how to pray. You can’t leave this up to chance. No matter how young or old your child is when they come to that saving knowledge of Jesus, they are going to need you to walk with them.

Aren’t you glad you no longer walk in death? You now can walk in newness of life every day. Jesus walks with you as you learn to love others as He does. He can teach you the joys that come in life. The fear of death is gone. You only have glory to look forward to one day. Hallelujah!

I do walk in life! You are the reason, Lord. Help me introduce others as well.

Standard
Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Encouragement, Eternity, God's Will, Heaven, Life, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture

LIVE FOREVER

1 JOHN 2:17

“The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”

My great grandmother lived to be over 100 years old. She was half Eastern Creek Indian and always used to scare me when I was little. She almost always had her hair pulled back in a bun and she wore long skirts and dipped snuff. I didn’t like the way she looked or smelled. Man, I wish I could go back now and talk to her. I know she loved Jesus and would love to hear her testimony.

Personally, I don’t want to live to be that old.  I don’t want my grandkids talking about the way I look or smell, lol. Some people will do anything to live longer. I mean life here is okay, but I am banking on my next life. I want to live forever with Jesus in heaven. There is really nothing on this earth worth living here forever.

APPLICATION

I wonder what your kids would say if you asked them how old they want to live to be. Some may say 1000 years old. Others may say 50 years old (as if that’s old, lol). More importantly, ask them what they want to do with their life. How do they want to live it?

You see, John is pretty plain about the expectations the Lord has for us. If we want to live forever, we need to do God’s will. What does that mean for a child? Do you think a child can understand God’s will for their life? Sure, they can. Teach them to obey God’s Word and glorify Him. Even little kids can do that.

How about you? Are you striving to do His will? If you do, you will live forever. Can you imagine living in His presence forever? Trading life here for life there would be incredible. No more sickness. No more tears. No more taxes (sorry, had to throw that one in). Perfect living. Paradise. But there is only one way to get there – Jesus.

Lord, I know I will live forever because I am Your child. Give me the courage and strength to obey Your will daily.

Standard
Alone, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Eternity, Fellowship, Following, Friends, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Joy, Life, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture

PUNCH AND COOKIES

1 JOHN 1:3

“what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” 

What is fellowship? Is it just punch and cookies? I sure hope not. The Greek word is koinonia, which means something that is shared in common. I have to admit I have eaten many a meal with people with whom I didn’t share a whole lot in common. That is not what John is referring to here.

We have fellowship with each other only because we also have fellowship (something in common) with the Father and His Son. That common bond brings us together. We don’t need punch and cookies to do that. I have had the joy of fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ when nothing physical passed over my lips. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good potluck dinner as much as the next person. But that doesn’t make fellowship.

APPLICATION

Kids can naturally fellowship. They find common things with other boys and girls pretty quickly. Their fellowship may center around Legos or video games. It may be over American Girl dolls or a sports game. Our challenge, as parents, is to direct them to the lasting fellowship that is only possible through Jesus.

I promise you, those childhood “fellowships” are going to fade. The only eternal fellowship is a spiritual one, as John describes in the verse today. Point your child toward that fellowship. It will last forever.

With whom are you in fellowship? Do you have a group of believers with whom you share that common bond? I pray you do. We can’t do this alone. We need fellowship. This recent Covid 19 pandemic has reduced our opportunities for fellowship and people are suffering. We need each other. Will you make the effort this week to fellowship with someone?

How I desire the fellowship with other believers. I long for their spiritual “embrace.” Thank You for providing that common bond through Your Son, Jesus.

Standard
Child Raising, Child Rearing, Contentment, Death, Encouragement, Eternity, Faith, Heaven, Life, Mentoring, Parenting, Persecution, Salvation

ARE YOU READY?

1 PETER 4:6

“For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.”

This could be a confusing verse if you don’t look at it closely. What is Peter saying here? People who have been persecuted and killed (judged in the flesh) are now alive in the spirit. You see, people may kill your body for standing for Christ, but they cannot kill your spirit.

Why do we fear death and persecution? No one wants to suffer, of course. But our mortal bodies are simply the vessels God has given us to use on this earth to advance His kingdom. When we “give up” these bodies, where do we go? Heaven! So, there is no reason to fear death, no matter how it comes.

APPLICATION

Most parents shy away from talking to their kids about death. We are afraid it will scare them. Don’t do that. Talk about what death means for a Christian. Let them know how precious our eternity is. Death is nothing to fear. Death is simply a portal from this physical life to the next.

This may seem like a morbid subject to discuss with kids. It’s only morbid if we treat it like that. Celebrate life with your kids. Celebrate death of a believer with your kids. As Peter says in today’s verse, “they may live in the spirit.” We live, after death, in the spirit. That is certainly not morbid. It’s encouraging.

Do you fear death? I certainly don’t. I have a terminal disease and have gone through two stem cell transplants. I have “beat” death twice now. But I welcome death when it comes. There is no fear of it. I know where I am going when death comes. Do you? I pray you do. Make sure of that today.

I am thankful for the assurance I have in this life for my future life in heaven. Death is embraced, when it comes, as You welcome me into Your arms.

Standard