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HOW ARE YOUR EYES?

2 JOHN 8

“Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.”

If you have read many of my blogs, then you know my love for hunting and fishing. It’s hunting season now, and I’m actually on a hunt in Mississippi as I write this. One thing I brought with me on this hunt was a pair of binoculars. Why do you think I did that? Because I might be in a place where I need a little extra vision to see what might be coming. I don’t want to miss a shot because I didn’t see something and prepare for it.

John tells us in verse 8 to “watch ourselves.” The Greek word for “watch” means to see something physical, with spiritual results. The verb is written as a command also. So, John is telling us to look closely with spiritual eyes. Why? To guard ourselves. To keep from losing what we’ve worked for. And by doing so, we will receive a reward. Who doesn’t want that?

APPLICATION

Children love rewards, don’t they? And there is nothing wrong with giving them rewards. When our kids do something good or right, we should praise them. Little rewards when they are young can give them the incentive to continue doing good. But all those rewards come only when they do what is good. That’s the hard part. Some kids want to be rewarded for breathing, lol.

So, how do you teach them to watch themselves? Most kids, left to watch themselves, will make a mess. We teach them to use the only guide, the only source that will help them. They must know how to use God’s Word. They must know where to turn to find the answers. I can’t stress this enough. This book has the answer to every question, if we will just take the time to look. Will you teach your children that?

How about you? How are you watching yourself? We adults are quick to point out our children’s failures and mistakes, but we overlook our own. Has your child ever pointed out something you’ve done that wasn’t right? How did that make you feel? I say it a lot but we have to model what we teach to our kids. They learn best by watching us. So, watch yourself today!

O Lord, thank You for giving me spiritual eyes to watch myself.  Do want to receive my reward, but only because I have pleased You. 

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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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WALKING IN TRUTH

2 JOHN 4

“I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father.”

When I was growing up I attended church and even sang in the youth choir and ensemble. Honestly, I went to church just to be with friends and meet girls. You see, at eight-years-old I was baptized but just got wet. It wasn’t until age sixteen that I was saved. All those previous years I faked it. I wasn’t walking in truth. I was walking in falsehood, just like many are doing every day.

John expresses his joy that his friend’s children are walking in truth. The Greek there actually says “rejoice exceedingly.” He was thrilled. Because he loved her, he loved her children. Hearing that “some” of her children were being obedient to the Lord’s command made his heart glad. We don’t know how many children she had, but at least these were living for Jesus.

APPLICATION

There is nothing we want more for our children than to live for the Lord. When they make that decision to follow Him, our hearts are like John’s heart. We are thrilled. We rejoice exceedingly. I had the privilege to baptize both of my children. I still remember getting choked up trying to speak while doing that. I pray daily for their walk with Him.

But we can’t let our guard down just because they have accepted Christ as their Savior. We have to continue to disciple and instruct them in the things of the Lord. And listen – that never stops. My children are 34 and 30. I still try to lead them as they allow me to. Their walk with Christ and their families’ walks with Christ are still at the top of my prayer list daily. Never stop discipling your children because they never stop needing it.

How are you doing with that? Are you offering godly counsel to your children? Some of our adult kids ask for it. Some don’t. But we still have a responsibility to them for the sake of the Lord. Today, on Christmas day, you may be spending some time with your adult kids and their families. Don’t forget to ask them how their walk is. You will be glad you did.

O Father God, You have blessed me with children who know You. Help me continue to guide and disciple them in their walk  with Christ.

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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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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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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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LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE

1 JOHN 4:20

“If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

Have you ever heard that saying “Liar, Liar, pants on fire”? We would say it as kids, right? When we knew someone was lying, we would call them out. No one likes to be called a liar. There is one sure fire way of not – don’t lie. Just tell the truth. Easy peasy, problem solved. Lol

John calls us out in today’s verse. If we say we love God and hate our brother, we don’t love God. John says we are a liar. John doesn’t beat around the bush. He calls them like he sees them. Notice he says “brother.” Now, who is that referring to? Just our saved brothers? How about our sisters? How about the lost? I believe John is referring to all people. After all, God has created them all in His image. How could we not love them?

APPLICATION

You may have the occasion to hear your child say I just hate so and so. If you hear that, nip it in the bud. I mean, deal with it quickly. Hate has no room in the vocabulary of a believer, except to say we hate sin. Our children need to be taught that early. They may not like some people as much as others. That’s natural, but hate doesn’t belong.

Teaching them to love requires time. All people deserve love. We are God’s instruments of love to others, especially the lost. When we love them, we are showing them what He has done in our lives. Our love becomes an avenue on which they can travel to find Jesus. Have you ever thought about that? Love them so they can love Him.

I grew up in South Georgia during a time when racism was the norm. I still recall the names some people used to refer to people who had a different skin color than themselves. It went both ways. And those same people would be sitting in the church pew on Sunday morning singing and talking about God’s love. God forgive us for our disobedience. Will you love like Jesus? Will you love your “brother”?

I choose to love, Father. I will see others as You see them. They are, after all, made in Your image. We are all in need of a Savior.

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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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HIS COMMANDMENT

1 JOHN 3:23

“This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.”

When is the last time you bought something with simple instructions? It seems the old way of telling you how to put something together is gone forever. Now all you get are pictures (and small ones at that). I miss the days of simple commands, ones that were easy to follow.

Well, here you go. God’s commandment is simple. John says we are to believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another. There’s all there is to it. Anyone can do it, but many refuse. Many will get the first part and forget the second. Or they will keep the second part but refuse to believe. It’s not an either or command. It involves both parts.

APPLICATION

I want you to try something with your children. Think of an impossible command and give it to them. Make sure there is no way they can do what you ask. Give them some time to try and watch their frustration. I know it will be hard not to jump in and rescue them but hold off. Don’t do that.

Once they are done trying, change the command. Make it so that they can accomplish it easily. Even give them a hand doing it. Do it together. You see, the Lord does that for us. He gives us the faith to believe in His Son. We make the smallest step towards Him, and He gives us the faith we need. And that whole loving each other? Well, that’s also done through Him. We can’t love others on our own. Believe me, I’ve tried. But the moment I allow Him to love through me, I can love anyone.

Are you obeying this command today? Are you obeying both parts? Commands demand obedience. This isn’t God’s suggestion. It’s His commandment. He expects us to follow. He expects us to be obedient. Will you today?

I do believe in Your Son, Father, and I will love others. I want to please You in my daily walk.

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ASK WHATEVER

1 JOHN 3:22

“and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.”

Can you imagine asking for whatever you want and getting it? What would you ask for? A new car? Unlimited wealth? We tend to think about material things. I have to admit there are a few things I might ask for.

But John is not talking about that. The disclaimer is in the second part of the verse. He says, “because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.” If we are doing that, then we will ask for things that bring Him glory, not satisfy our flesh. If we are obedient to His commands and seek to please Him, all that matters is Jesus.

APPLICATION

We teach our children to be content, don’t we? We don’t want them to be one of those kids in the checkout line screaming because they aren’t allowed to get the candy bar. We have to go so far beyond that, though, in our teaching. It’s not just about the physical wants. Our goal is to teach them to pursue spiritual satisfaction.

Do you realize teaching our children to obey our rules and seek to “please” us is a reflection of what we are teaching them in regards to the Lord? When they learn to obey in the small things, they will learn to obey in the bigger things. Small victories can lead to big victories. We can’t pass on the small things.

Are you struggling to keep His commands and please the Father? You don’t have to, you know. But you do have to decide to surrender. You can’t have it your way and His way. The promise is there – ask whatever we want. But we must be in unity with His Spirit. When we are, there is nothing He will withhold from us. How exciting.

I do not ask to please myself, Lord. I ask only to give You glory. I want all I ask to be in Your Will.

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