Accountability, Advice, Advocate, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Friends, Inspirational, Kindness, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Relationships, Reputation, Scripture, Testimony

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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Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Family, Greetings, Love

WE ALL SAY HI

2 JOHN 13

“The children of your chosen sister greet you.”

What a strange way to end a letter. It just kind of seems John had a last minute thought as he finished the letter and threw this in. But I am reminded that every, single word of Scripture is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore, I have to ask myself what John was saying here.

Many believe this sister mentioned here may have actually been the recipient’s sister. We don’t know for sure. But if that’s the case, John could have written “your nephews and nieces say hi.” Perhaps John was staying with this family when he wrote to their sister and aunt. I can just see them looking over his shoulder as he penned these words and saying at the last minute Tell our aunt hi for us.

APPLICATION

How do you apply this verse to you and your children? Love your family. Express your love to them in as many ways as you can. Embrace family members. Don’t become isolated to just your immediate family. Reach out to family members who need to hear about Jesus. Lead your children to pray for those cousins, aunts and uncles who are lost and in need of a Savior.

And extend that family to fellow believers. For many believers, their church family is closer to them than their biological family. Teach your children to rely on their fellow believers. Spend time with others who believe like you do. Pray for your Pastor and church leaders. We need each other in this battle we are waging each day against the forces of darkness.

Who is your family? You probably have both biological and spiritual, right? Be a good family member. Don’t harbor grudges or ill feelings. Let those go. Love each other. Be like Jesus and love them. And, by the way, take a moment and drop someone a note just to say you are praying for them. It will make their day.

Lord, I thank You for my family, both my biological and church families. You have blessed me far beyond what I deserve.

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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.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Love, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Scripture

THIS IS LOVE

2 JOHN 6

“And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.”

If you ask a hundred people what love is, you’ll get a hundred different definitions. You can probably find a thousand books on the subject with just one search on the web. It’s a subject we are all enamored with. We want to be loved. We want to love others. Why is love so confusing?

Well…it really isn’t. Look what John says today in verse 6 of 2 John. He said love is walking according to the Lord’s commandments. That doesn’t sound very loving, does it? It sounds more like rules and stuff. No, listen. We walk in His commandments to show our love for all He has done for us. Walk in love. It is His commands that give us the focus on loving.

APPLICATION

We have to remind our children that we give them rules to follow because we love them. If we allowed them to do whatever they wanted, they would soon fall into troubles. They don’t believe that, of course, but it’s true. As we deal with our children and rules, remind them that we are only following the Lord’s example to us.

Take them to this verse and show them. God gives us commands to follow because He loves us and knows what is best for us. Sometimes rules may seem restrictive and overbearing, but if the rule or command is from the Lord, we can trust it’s for our good. Take a minute and ask your child which of your rules for them is the one they dislike the most. How does that rule stack up against God’s commands? They should, you know. Make sure your rules are based on God’s Word.

Are you a rule follower? That can be a good thing. But you also need to make sure your rule following is based on love. I have known too many legalists in my life who were all about the rule and not about the love. As John says, we walk in His commands because of love, not fear. Will you love that way today? Will you walk in Christ?

All this talk about commands can scare us, Lord. But I know Your Word is given to me out of love to guide me towards You. I am walking in love towards love. How great is that?

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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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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.

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NOT TOO HEAVY

1 JOHN 5:3

“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”

Have you ever lifted weights? I did that a lot in junior high and high school. I have done some of that as an adult, but not consistently. For weights to work you have to lift them, right? You can lift to build muscle, or you can lift to tone muscle. But you must lift. You push against the resistance. You must endure some uncomfortableness to gain the benefit of the weights.

How does that apply to today’s verse? John uses the word “burdensome.” That word in the Greek means weighty or heavy. The difference is the rest of the definition. It can mean pressingdown on a person with oppressive force. This kind of burden makes a person unable to function. That is NOT the purpose of God’s commandments. However, God’s commandments do require us to build spiritual muscle to follow them. They require us to push against the forces of evil. That will build muscle.

APPLICATION

Do you have any weights in your house? Maybe some small dumbbells? If you don’t, you can use anything with any weight. Have your kids do a little workout for you. Join them. Let them lift until they get tired and then feel their muscles. They love that. Talk about how the weights cause our muscles to grow because of their heaviness. The heavier the weight and the more they lift them, the bigger the muscles.

Explain to them the same thing happens when we choose to follow God’s command rather than the world. It’s easy to follow sin. There is no resistance, no push back, if we follow our flesh. But if we seek to follow the Lord’s commands, we will have to die to self and surrender. Tell them that’s how we grow as Christians. That’s how we grow those spiritual muscles.

Some days we can flex those muscles and obey. Other times, we feel limp and weak and can barely walk the walk. Listen beloved, He is your strength. You cannot do it on your own. It’s just not possible. But if you will yield to Him and follow His commands, you will experience the love of God in ways that will make you stronger.

I will follow Your commands. I want to be able to do the heavy lifting in life knowing You are the one “spotting” me as I lift.

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HOW IS THIS CONNECTED?

1 JOHN 5:2

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.”

Sometimes we hear or read something, and it makes no sense. The pieces don’t seem to fit together. Sometimes it’s the way things are explained. Sometimes it’s because of the one explaining. And sometimes it’s because we just don’t want to hear it or believe it.

John says something in today’s verse that made no sense to me when I first read it. What does loving the children of God have to do with us loving God and observing His commandments? But then it hit me. We can only love His children by loving Him first. His commandments teach us to love.

APPLICATION

Teaching our children to follow rules has a purpose. They aren’t just rules to be rules. Rules are meant to teach behaviors. If they aren’t doing that, the rules should be changed. Remember, any rules you may have for your children should be based on the Word. In fact, I would urge you to make a list of any rules you have for your kids and find a verse to back it up. Make sure your kids know that.

God’s commands are spelled out clearly in His Word. It is imperative that you, as mom and dad, pour His Word all over your children. After all, it is your responsibility as a parent to disciple your children. We teach them to lead them to Christ. We teach them to help them grow in Christ. We teach them to follow God’s principles – no matter what.

Are you following the Lord’s commands? Are you loving others? I am not saying it is easy, but it is possible. But only if we allow the Lord to guide us. I have said this a lot in my devotionals in 1 John. John keeps saying this over and over and over, so it must be important. Do you believe that? If so, just do it.

I will love Your children, Lord. Your Word tells me to do that. I will obey.

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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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NOT A SUGGESTION

1 JOHN 4:21

“And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”

When I was growing up, I worked for Mr. Walter Pollock in my hometown of Pelham, Ga. Mr. Pollock demanded a lot. When you worked for him, you worked for him. You didn’t daddle. He expected you to work your hours each day without wasting a minute. We got a lunch break, but that was about it. His “commands” to work weren’t suggestions. He wanted you to do exactly as he said.

The same is true (to an extent) with God. I don’t mean He is a slave driver. However, when God gives a command, He expects us to follow it. He doesn’t talk just to hear Himself. He gives us His commands plainly in His Word. John tells us that in today’s verse. Here’s the command – love our brother. If we say we love God, then we must love our brother – period.

APPLICATION

Why do we give our children rules to follow? What’s the use? They are going to grow up and do what they want anyway. Some parents think like that. If you watch their children, you can see who is running the show. Rules are meant to teach our children to obey those in authority. Rules are important. Now, I do believe the fewer rules the better. But you still must have rules to teach an orderly lifestyle.

Oh come on, Carl. You sound like a gestapo. In today’s society, I probably do. But listen – we teach rules in our household to our children to teach them to listen to God’s rules. We, in fact, use His Word as the guide for any rules we may have. If our children aren’t taught to obey us, how in the world will they ever obey God? Rules matter.

I pray you are a rule follower. I don’t mean you have to be a stiff-necked follower with no flexibility, but I do mean that you consult the Word before making a decision. You consult the Word before doing that thing you aren’t quite sure about. God’s commands are here to protect us, not squash us. He wants us living in liberty which is only possible by following His commands. Just do it.

Father, I want to obey Your commands. Help me submit to Your Word and Your Spirit daily.

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