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ARE YOU A HATER?

1 JOHN 2:9

“The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now.”

People can say anything. They can claim to love others but just watch how they treat them. The word “hate” seems to imply a horrible action. But did you know the Greek word here can actually mean to love less. Now wait a minute, Carl. That seems a little harsh. Oh really? Do you think Jesus loves them less than you? He loves them all.

John tells us that if we hate, we are still in the darkness. We are walking in the darkness. We are stumbling. What happens when you stumble in the darkness? You hurt yourself. You could break your toe or leg or worse. It’s the same when we hate. We hurt ourselves.

APPLICATION

If your child hasn’t said it yet, they will. They will come home saying they hate someone for something they have done. I am sure you correct them for that. Try sharing this verse with them. Let them see what God says about hate. Ask them if they want to be in the darkness. I bet they don’t.

There are going to be people we don’t like in life. That’s just the truth. So, what do we do? We pray for those individuals. We ask the Lord to give us His love for them. Is that easy? No! It’s impossible by ourselves. But with Christ in us, we can do anything, including loving those we do not like.

Are you tired of stubbing your toe in the darkness because you refuse to stop hating? Come to the light. Stay in the light. Let Jesus direct your path, especially when others are trying to block it. Love them anyway. Jesus does.

Oh Father, I fall so short in this area. I can always justify my hate, but Your Word convicts me. Thank You.

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I SEE A LIGHT

1 JOHN 2:8

“On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining.”

If you have read many of my devotional blogs, then you know I like to hunt. In fact, today is opening day for archery season for white-tail deer. As you read this today, I am sitting in my blind in the woods waiting to harvest a deer. Now, before you judge me for being a hunter, just keep reading. Hunting is not the topic of this blog.

When I have been in the woods in the past in the early morning hours before daylight, it has been of extreme importance to have a good light. I always carry a backup light just in case the one I am using goes out as I am walking. There’s not much more of a helpless feeling than to be walking in the woods and lose your source of light. Ah hah! Here’s my point. If we are walking with Christ, we can never lose our light. Why? Because He is the source, which is eternal.

APPLICATION

Kids, for the most part, love using flashlights in the dark. It just gives a new sensation that we can’t experience in the daytime. Get some flashlights and put different strength batteries in them. (You will need to test these before you do this with your kids.) Get in a dark room and turn on these different flashlights one at a time, beginning with the weakest batteries. The room seems pretty lit up, even with the weakest batteries. But, as you go from the weakest to the strongest, they will see the difference.

Ask them which flashlight they would want to take with them into a dark room. Of course, they are going to pick the brightest one. Ask them why. We want the brightest light possible to keep us from stumbling. The same is true in our spiritual walk. We need the brightest light, which is Jesus. We can’t walk alone. We are destined to fall.

Are you trying to navigate the dark passages of life by yourself? Take up the light that is available to you right now. Let Jesus light your path. Let Him show you the right steps to take. Aren’t you tired of falling down? As John says, “the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining.”

ThankYou, Lord, for lighting my path. Thank You for being my one and only dependable source of light.

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IF-THEN

1 JOHN 1:7

“but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 

Using the “If-Then” method of child-rearing is a good way of teaching them. If your child does his chores, then he can receive his allowance. If she cleans her room as promised, then you will take her to get ice cream. Now, you may not agree with rewarding children for doing their chores, but it is one method.

John is telling us here in today’s verse that we will receive a reward if we do a certain thing (If-Then). If we walk in the light, then we will have fellowship and Jesus’ blood cleanses us. We can’t expect to have either of those if we walk in darkness. Only by walking in the light are they possible.

APPLICATION

I’ve kind of already hinted at the application for your kids. Try one of those “If-Then” situations with your child. Then take them to this verse. You see, your own “If-Then” training is preparing them for their own “If-Then” decisions with the Lord. They are going to face a lot of those moments in life.

They will face crucial decisions with peers. If I do this, then this could happen. If I do this, how will it glorify God? If-then, if-then, if-then. All through life they will have to make those decisions. They need to understand your training of them now is preparing them for later.

How about you? Do you desire fellowship and forgiveness? Then it’s simple – walk in the light. That means to come to Christ and accept Him as your Savior. You can’t walk in light if you’re lost. You may think you’re in the light, but you aren’t. You are in the darkness. Come to the light.

I desire to stay in the light, Father. I desire fellowship with You and others. I know I am forgiven through the blood of Your Son.

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GOD IS LIGHT

1 JOHN 1:5

“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.”

I have to get a little technical to explain this verse. Do you mind? The phrase “we have heard” is in the Perfect tense. What does that mean? It means completed action with ongoing results. The word “announce” is in the Present tense which means ongoing action.

Thank you, Carl, that really blessed me. Now listen. John heard from Jesus that God is light and that He contains no darkness. That message changed his life, and he had to share it. We have heard that message ourselves. Are we sharing it?

APPLICATION

The next time you are planning a family vacation somewhere the kids are going to love (Disney World, the beach, etc), watch what happens. They are going to tell everyone. They are so excited about this message. This message has changed their lives.

Then sit the kids down and read them this verse. Explain to them that the message about vacation is awesome. But…it could change. It could get cancelled. Or it could happen and then be over. God’s message can’t be cancelled. It is never over. It won’t come and go. It’s eternal.

Are you living for the temporal or eternal? God’s message of light in a dark world is incredible. We hold the power source for the universe in our hearts. His light can shine through us, if we let it. His light can permeate the darkest heart if we will share it. Shine on.

Your light has changed my life. Thank You for shining it on me. Help me shine it on others.

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ARE YOU SINCERE?

2 PETER 3:1

“This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder,” 

Peter is winding down his second letter to the scattered believers throughout Asia Minor by “stirring up” their “sincere mind.” I read those words and wondered what he meant by that. Didn’t you? The Greek word for “stirring up” was used back in 2 Peter 1:13. It means to wake up, to rouse from sleep.

But I want to look at the Greek word for “sincere.” It means to be rightly judged in the light. Back in the days this epistle was written, you could go to the market and buy a clay pot for your home. But a smart shopper would hold that pot up to the light to make sure there were no cracks in it that had been filled by wax. If that was the case, when you poured a hot liquid in it, it would begin to leak. Our minds must have no cracks in it. It must be sincere and easily judged by The Light.

APPLICATION

This would be a fun experiment at home with your kids. Buy two identical little clay pots. Break one of them and carefully put it back together with candle wax, not glue. Once it is firm again, pour some boiling water into both pots. Let them sit and watch what happens. Over time, the one sealed with the wax will begin to leak. It may even fall apart.

What a lesson for our kids. Our minds must be sincere and pure in regards to Christ. If we allow anything else to take root, cracks begin to develop. We can try to seal those cracks with our justifications and explanations, but those cracks still remain. Leaks will happen. We will break down.

How sincere is your mind? Are there “cracks” in it? So, the question is how do you prevent those cracks from happening? By staying in the Word. By spending time in prayer. By shunning those things which draw you to your flesh. It’s not that complicated. Just surrender daily. Allow the Lord to point the way.

O God, I don’t want any cracks in my mind. I want a sincere and pure mind focused only on You.

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FALLEN ANGELS

2 PETER 2:4

“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;”

Did you ever wonder where demons come from? Well, here you have it. When Satan rebelled in heaven, he was cast out along with the angels he had convinced to follow him. Their punishment was swift and just. God could not and would not tolerate sin.

Why do you think the devil and his demons hate us? Because they know what they have lost. They know they are doomed forever to those pits of darkness. They know once we have accepted Christ as our Savior, we are destined for the place they were cast from. So, their intent is to keep as many as possible from making that choice.

APPLICATION

Pretty heavy subject for the kiddos, right? But we shouldn’t shy away from the subject of hell around our kids. We don’t hesitate to talk about heaven, do we? Of course not. Hell is just as real, so they need to know about those who dwell there. Demons are real and are still being used in the spiritual realm in which we live.

The last thing you want, however, is for your children to be looking for a demon around every corner. We have to teach them to live for Jesus and trust Him to fight for them in these battles. They are no match for Jesus. He will defend His children. Evil exists in this world. Make sure your children know no matter how dark the evil, Christ’s light shines brighter.

Are you a demon watcher or a Jesus watcher? The devil wants your attention on the demons. By doing that your eyes are off of Jesus. Keep your eyes on Jesus and demons are of no concern to you. When you are walking in the light, the demons are exposed. They can’t stand that. Stay in the light.

I choose to walk in the light, Lord. May Your beams of light drive any evil away from me. Help me walk securely holding Your hand.

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PAY ATTENTION

2 PETER 1:19

So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.

Does your mind ever wander when someone is trying to tell you something? I think men have an extra gene that causes that sometimes, lol. Seriously, since my chemotherapy I find myself having to concentrate harder to accomplish some things. I either forget what I’m doing or get distracted by something else. I even go into rooms sometimes and forget why I went in there.

Peter is telling us to pay close attention to the words he has written, to the prophetic word. We have been warned. We have been taught. We have been given the truth through the Word of God to live by. What we do with that is our choice. What we can’t choose is the consequences for disobeying it. The lamp truly is shining in a dark place.

APPLICATION

Kids love flashlights and candles. There is just something about getting in a dark room with all the lights off and lighting a candle or turning on a flashlight. It’s amazing how even the smallest light in a completely dark room can chase away the darkness. Try this with your child. They will love it.

Show them this verse and explain how the light of His Word does the same thing to the darkness in our world. Satan cannot stand up to God’s Word. He has no power over it. When we feel the darkness, we need to strike the match of truth to drive it away.

How are you walking? Are you walking in light or darkness? It really is your choice. But don’t blame God when you stumble in that darkness because you refuse to use the light of His Word to guide you. And the beauty of His light is it never dims. It is always bright.

Shine Your light on me, dear Lord. Light up the path I am traveling today. 

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JUST TO MAKE SURE

1 PETER 2:6

“For this is contained in Scripture: ‘BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.’”

Peter hinted at this verse (Isaiah 28:16) a few verses earlier. Perhaps he just wanted to make sure we didn’t miss his reference to it, so he actually quotes it here. He wanted to leave no doubt. He didn’t want us to miss this point. There is something to be said for repeating ourselves.

Have you ever needed to repeat yourself to get your point across? Boy, I have. In fact, when I teach kids, I often will repeat my points two or three times. Repetition is a great way to learn something. I bet you already knew that, though.

APPLICATION

Have you ever helped your child learn a new memory? How did they learn it? I know how. They said it over and over. Repetition helps us remember. The real question isn’t if they can memorize. The question is what are they memorizing.

Challenge your kids to memorizing verses. Make it a game with real prizes. But be ready. Kids are notoriously competitive. The more verses the bigger the prizes. But don’t stop with quoting them to each other. Challenge them to share those verses with friends and strangers.

Are you memorizing any verses? Don’t use the excuse you are too old. You are never too old. Don’t use the excuse you don’t have time. You make time for everything else. Remember, repetition is the key. Make sure you share your newly memorized verse with someone also. Maybe even challenge them to memorize.

Lord, thanks for reminding me over and over again. You aren’t afraid of repeating Yourself to get Your point again. I’m glad Peter heard You and did the same thing.

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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.

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SORRY, DON’T KNOW YOU

2 TIMOTHY 2:12 

If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 

I have become more honest as I get older. Now, I am not saying I used to lie, but I wouldn’t quite be honest sometimes. Like when someone comes up to you, calls you by name and begins this long conversation, but you have no idea who this person is. In the past I would say, “Hey bud, how are you doing?” Now I say, “Hey, I’ve forgotten your name. Forgive me.” 

Jesus knows our name, whether we accept Him or not. But He promises us reigning power or powerlessnes, based on our response to Him. Paul tells us here that if we will endure with Christ, we will reign with Him. If we turn our backs and run, He will also deny us before the Father. 

APPLICATION 

Children like to be recognized. They love hearing their name called when they see you. What they don’t like is to be ignored. Try it for a day with your kids. Go through your normal routine, but each time a child calls your name, ignore them. (If they have an emergency make an exception). 

At the end of the day explain what you did and why. Read today’s verse. Ask them how they think the Lord feels when we do that. When we deny Him before men, He will deny us before the Father. And I really want to meet the Father, don’t you? Make a point to call your child by his/her name. Their name means something, and your child should know it.  

Are you being called to serve specifically in this area – the area of name calling? It’s a gift. It is so good to see the look on the other person (adult or child) when they hear their name. God loves you and has you surrounded by His love this evening. 

I know right now You are calling out my name before the Father. One day, I will see You face to face. One day, I will meet the Father. 

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