Accountability, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Enemies, Humility, Mentoring, Opponents, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Submission, Testimony

GOT TO BE FIRST

3 JOHN 9

“I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say.”

Some people just have to be first. They push to be first in line. They insist on being recognized first in meetings. They give their opinion loudly even when no one wants to hear it. Don’t those people aggravate you? Be honest. You probably try to avoid them. Am I right?

Well, it appears Diotrephes was that kind of person. He rejected John’s counsel that was sent to the church in a previous letter. Obviously, Diotrephes wanted to be in charge and discounted John’s advice. We don’t know why he did that. Perhaps he didn’t like John. Maybe he just wanted control of the church himself. Whatever the reason, John called him out (check out verse 10).

APPLICATION

While it is good for our children to be ambitious and push themselves, it is never good for them to let their ambitions run over others. I am reminded of the story Jesus told about the wedding guests. He said it was better to sit at the lower seats of the table and be asked to move up than to sit at the best seat and be asked to move down.

This is really about humility and submission. Diotrephes refused to humble himself and submit to John. John! A disciple of Jesus Himself. The disciple Jesus loved, probably more than any other disciple. That was the person Diotrephes was rejecting. Teach your children to respect those who have walked the walk. They need to show honor to such followers of Christ.

Do you find yourself pushing for recognition or are you content to serve unnoticed? The Lord will exalt the humble, but He will also humble the exalted. If we insist on “tooting our own horn,” we may find ourselves without a horn to toot. Don’t be a Diotrephes. Submit yourself to those in authority over you. Allow them to direct you. This honors our Lord, and He will honor you.

Thank You, Lord, for placing people in my life to lead me. I want to honor You by submitting to their leadership.

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Advice, Agreement, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Enemies, Mentoring, Opponents, Parenting, Relationships, Satan, Scripture

LINKING ARMS

3 JOHN 8

“Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth.”

We have all heard the expression “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” I heard that a lot from my football coaches. I was an offensive lineman and let me tell you, you have to link arms and work together to protect your quarterback and running backs. Those guys on the line must work together to keep the opposing team out.

John uses a term in today’s verse that is similar. He uses a word which is translated as “fellow workers.” In the Greek that is actually a two-part word, sun and ergon. Sun means “with” or “together, while ergon means worker. It gives the idea of workers who are joined together and inseparable. That’s how things are accomplished.

APPLICATION

Have you ever played Red Rover with your kids? It’s an old game and is best played in large groups. But the way that game is played is a line of people link hands/arms and try to stop someone from the other team from running through their linked arms. Get some kids and play. It’s a lot of fun and can last a long time.

But then explain to your kids how this game can be applied spiritually. We, as believers, have to link arms to stay strong. We have an enemy that is trying to break through our line. He wants to take us captive. Our kids need to know that our line of defense, however, does not depend on us. Jesus has linked arms with us, and no devil can break through. Hallelujah!

Have you linked arms with the brethren? Are you a fellow worker for the cause of Christ? Find other believers with whom you can do that. We need each other. We need to come to the aid of our fellow believers. You have the strength. Well…no you don’t. It’s not your strength. It’s God, but He gives it to you when you need it. Fight in His strength.

O Strengthener of my soul, give me the strength today to fight for You. Show me whom You desire me to link arms with.

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Advice, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Deception, Fellowship, Greetings, Holy Spirit, Mentoring, Modeling, Opponents, Parenting, Scripture

WATCH YOUR FELLOWSHIP

2 JOHN 11

“for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.”

Sometimes, when we read the English translation of a Bible verse it reads exactly the same as the original language. And other times the English just doesn’t quite get it. Today’s verse is the latter. Let me give you the literal translation of this verse. “The one telling for him to rejoice partakes in the works of him evil.” Now, I realize that doesn’t read too well. That’s why it is translated the way it is. But let’s look at it closely.

John seems to imply in the Greek that we actually rejoice at seeing this person. That’s a lot different than just saying “hi.” And the Greek word for “participates” is koinóneó, which has the idea of fellowship. That’s a lot more than just participating. See what I mean by the original.

APPLICATION

Now, let’s apply this verse. We mustn’t rejoice and fellowship with anyone who speaks against our Lord. Our worldview is different. Our purpose in life is different. Our passion and focus is different. How can you agree with someone who denies or denigrates our Lord? You can’t.

And we have to teach our children the difference. They need to know how to deal with such people. We need to be Jesus to them without agreeing with them. Jesus would show them love, of course. So, should we. But there’s a boundary we have to teach our kids not to cross. We can love unbelievers without condoning or agreeing with their views, especially about the Lord. The sooner our children learn that, the better.

Let me ask you a question today. Is there someone in your life who fits into that category? How do you relate to them? Are you friends? That’s okay. Just be careful you don’t compromise your beliefs for the friendship. It can happen so easily. Be firm in your beliefs. Let them see Jesus in you. Perhaps your faithfulness will draw them to Him.

Lord, help me recognize when I am compromising my beliefs for the sake of someone else. Help me remain firm and strong in order to influence them. I want to be influenced by the Spirit, not man.

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Advice, Affliction, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Courage, Encouragement, Enemies, Lies, Mentoring, Opponents, Parenting, Scripture, The World

WORLD TALK

1 JOHN 4:5

They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them.”

I have had the privilege to travel some. The strange thing about traveling to other countries – they all have different accents and often different language. Of course, I don’t think I have an accent at all, lol. I have dear friends in Uganda and Kenya. We’ve known each other for years now, but when I am there, I have to change the way I talk, or they can’t understand me. They hear me, but they can’t understand what I am saying.

John is saying that those who are of the world talk different. They sound different. They speak a whole different language than us. Do you know why? Because of their world view. When we see things differently, we talk differently. I honestly cannot understand some people. Oh, I understand their words, but I do not understand what they are saying. It just doesn’t make sense.

APPLICATION

Our children are going to face this issue. Hopefully, you are teaching them to have a biblical world view. That is going to clash with others. It is just a matter of time. Adults and kids alike will challenge them. They may even face persecution in school because of their world view. That’s okay. Support them. If need be, defend them.

We have to teach our children to hold fast. The world speaks a different language. The world will not agree with your child’s language about the world and God. If our children can learn to defend their faith at an early age, they will be prepared for a lifetime.

Are you being challenged by your speech because of your world view? If you aren’t, maybe you aren’t making your view known. Why not? Are you afraid of persecution? Are you afraid for your job? Don’t you think the God of the universe is big enough to take care of you. God is the one who fights our battles. Trust Him. Will you do that?

Lord God, I confess sometimes I avoid speaking up for fear of ridicule or being shamed. Forgive me for not being more bold in Your name.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Deceit, Deception, Disciplemaking, Faithfulness, Following, Hypocrisy, Lies, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Opponents, Parenting, Praise, Scripture, Truth

WALK THE TALK

1 JOHN 2:4

“The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;”

When I was in high school, I played football. I loved the game. I loved hitting people. I know that sounds bad, but on the field it was great. One thing I learned about football. Don’t let your mouth get in front of your action. If you said you could take out the other player, then you had better do it. You had to earn the right to run your mouth.

Now, before you think I’m some awful guy, that’s just part of the game. You have to get inside your opponent’s head. John is pointing out something for us today in this verse. Those who say they are a Christian but live differently are just trying to get in our heads. They are trying to convince us their lifestyle of Christianity is okay. We have to stick to the Word. They must keep His commandments.

APPLICATION

Our children can get easily confused today by watching how the world defines their love for God. Marriage has been “redefined” contrary to biblical standards. People live one way all week but profess allegiance to Christ on Sundays. This can confuse little ones. Heck, it can confuse adults as well.

Oh, please listen to this, if you forget everything else. You, as mom and dad, have to live consistent. They have to see you living out the Christ life daily. If you say one thing and do another, you are not discipling your children well. The old saying Do as I say, not as I do, is not a good one to follow. Walk the talk.

How are you walking? Does it match your talk? Are you singing praises to the Father on Sundays and living praises to the devil? Ouch! Did that hurt? Did that offend? Well, good. It is the Father’s desire to be with you daily. He doesn’t take days off from you. You shouldn’t take days off from Him, either.

Lord, help me consistent in my walk. I never want my actions to cause someone else to stumble.

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Advice, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Courage, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Enemies, Evil, Following, Gossip, Mentoring, Opponents, Parenting, Perseverance, Scripture

MOCKERS WILL COME

2 PETER 3:3

“Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts,” 

Peter makes it plain. Mockers will come. To get technical, the verb used here in the Greek is future indicative. That means that it is a fact that they will come at some point. There is no doubt. We have seen that for decades and are seeing it today everywhere. If you believe the Word of God is THE truth, you are made fun of and ridiculed.

The word “mockers” or “mocking” comes from the word which means to play as a child. So, these mockers are actually acting like children. Just because they don’t like what the Word says, they make fun of it, just like a child will do to another child. So, keep that in mind when you encounter one of these mockers. Their childish words mean nothing.

APPLICATION

Oh, what a verse for kids, especially since we just discussed the meaning of that word “mockers.” The next time you hear your children or their friends mocking each other, pull them aside and read them this verse and explain the meaning. I didn’t mention the last phrase of the verse, but it can come into play here when you discuss it with your kids.

Mockers mock because they want to pursue their own “lusts.” They want what they want when they want it. All that matters are their own desires. Basically, they just want their own way, and if anyone gets in their way, they are going to run them over. They did it back then and are still doing it today.

Have you been mocked lately? No? Well, maybe you haven’t been living much different than the world. Ouch, that’s harsh isn’t it? I’m not trying to be mean. But if the world doesn’t see us as different, why not? We should stand out like a sore thumb in our world today. And when they ask why, we should be ready to tell them why we are different. Be willing to be mocked today. Remember, those words are just childish words. We have the real Words of life.

Thank You, Lord, for Your Word. Thank You for giving me the courage to stand up against those who would ridicule and mock You.

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Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Courage, Destruction, Encouragement, Enemies, Faithfulness, Fighting, Judgment, Modeling, Obedience, Opponents, Parenting, Scripture, Victors

DESTROYED

2 PETER 2:12

“But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed,”

When I was a boy, I used to build models. You know, model cars, trucks, boats, etc. I especially like the boats. Do you know why? Because I would build them and then destroy them. Yep, that sounds kind of dumb now, but we thought it was fun. Me and my neighbor buddy would go down to the local pond with our models, some duct tape or glue and firecrackers or M-80’s. We would light the fuses, push those models out in the lake and watch them explode. It was awesome.

My point? These “unreasoning animals” referred to by Peter are intentionally destroying themselves and others by their behaviors and teachings. They are not accidentally doing this. It is done with malice and evil. They do not understand what they are up against and will eventually be held accountable by a holy God.

APPLICATION

How do we protect our children and others from these evil influences? There is really only one way. I have said it hundreds of time and will continue to say it. We have to ground them in the Word of God. Nothing else will thwart the challenges of those who seek to destroy us. It is sharper than any two-edged sword.

Daily devotions, prayer time and application of truths learned are key. Make sure you are not just reading a passage (even though that’s good) and going about your day. Reading the Bible without applying the Bible doesn’t prepare you for these people. Make the Bible real to you. See how it affects your life each day. He gave it to us for a reason.

Are you prepared today to face whatever the Lord allows in your life? If an enemy of the cross comes across your path today, how will you respond? Spend time in prayer now to get ready for the battles that lie ahead. They are on the way. But with the Lord on your side, the outcome is sure. We are victorious.

Father, for those who battle against truth I pray. I pray they will see the error of their ways before it is too late. Help me today to face the challenges You allow with integrity and boldness.

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Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, Following, Heaven, Inspirational, Mentoring, Ministry, Opponents, Parenting, Testimony

MAKING PLANS

TITUS 3:12

“When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there.”

I don’t know about you, but I like to plan things out. I don’t like loose ends. It also hard for me to plan to travel without making sure everything is covered at home. Paul, undoubtedly, had a similar concern. We see in today’s verse that he wanted Titus to come visit him at Nicopolis where he planned to spend the winter. But he didn’t want to leave the church there in Crete without a strong leader. So, he planned to send Artemas and Tychicus to there first.

We know nothing of Artemas except he must have been a trusted companion of Paul. Otherwise, he would not have given him such an assignment. One day, when I get to heaven, I look forward to meeting all these people who are just mentioned once in Scripture. I want to ask them about their relationship with Jesus and Paul. I am curious how they felt being named in Scripture. That’s not important, but I want to know.

APPLICATION

Let’s talk about that a second. We never know how our reputation is going to be remembered. Artemas had no idea Paul’s letter to Titus would become part of the New Testament. I am sure he also had not idea his name would be recorded in it. If he had known, do you think he would have acted differently? You see, we never know who is looking at us. His friendship with Paul and his obvious trustworthiness made him a perfect choice to help guide the Cretans in Titus’ absence.

What do you think the Lord is preparing your children to do? Do you realize that He chose you to be the mom or dad to help prepare them? They weren’t given to you out of chance. No! They are yours for a purpose. You have been given a great responsibility to help develop them into the man or woman God wants to use to further His kingdom. What an opportunity we have!

Are you squandering this opportunity? Are you taking advantage of the years you have? Don’t waste these moments. You will reap a reward for your selfless service. You will be blessed by your kids as they grow into God-fearing, selfless servants of Jesus. Remember, you are not raising children. You are raising child raisers. So, you are impacting generations to come. Let God use you today to prepare your child to be ready to be used by God, like Artemas was.

Oh Lord, I want to be used. Having my name known is not important, but I do want the generations to come to know that I was devoted to You. Help me point them towards You so they too can be used to further Your kingdom.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confession, Disciplemaking, Fighting, Godliness, Obedience, Opponents, Parenting

DON’T GO THERE

TITUS 3:9

“But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.”

I know you’ve played tag, right. Every child has played some kind of tag game. Well, this is one tag game you don’t want to play. Paul tells us to “avoid” these things. Controversies, genealogies (really, he is talking about arguing about your pedigree), strife and disputes are all things we need to avoid. He just told us in verse 8 to be careful. You can’t be involved with these things and be careful.

Some people just like to fuss and argue. They are always looking for a fight. If we are to walk with Christ and be an effective witness, we can’t spend our time with those sorts of people. That may mean letting some relationships go. What? Yep! Some people are determined to bring you down. You should continue to pray for them, but don’t spend your time arguing and fussing with them. It will never end.

APPLICATION

This is an especially important lesson to teach our kids. They will be bombarded with people all their lives who want to drag them into endless arguments. The sooner they learn to avoid these “foolish controversies” the better. The hard part is when that person is a friend. But true friends don’t fuss and argue with us all the time, right?

That’s why your children need to have friends who share the same worldview. When you share God’s view of this world, there is normally fewer opportunities to disagree. I am not saying that will never happen, but there will less times. Why? Because you both see through God’s eyes. You both are surrendered to His will. You both are seeking to please Him. The petty things just don’t matter.

Are you an arguer? Do you seek out fights and quarrels? I know a lot of Baptist who are, lol. We need to spend our time concentrating on serving our Master instead of trying to make ourselves master. We have a God who is worth serving. Why don’t you and I both try to more diligent today in doing just that?

I confess I want my way too much. Forgive me for being argumentative and quarrelsome. I want to please You, Lord.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Faith, Friends, Gossip, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Opponents, Parenting, Persecution, Reputation, Scripture, Trust, Truth

OPPONENTS

TITUS 2:8

“sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.”

Have you ever had an opponent? I mean, someone who was just against you? The Greek phrase for “opponent” reads “he who is of the contrary.” Ever known a contrary person? It seems everything you do or say they are against. You just can’t seem to get along. Well, we are going to face those people, and Paul tells us how to deal with them.

It’s pretty simple really. We just speak truth, sound “speech which is beyond reproach.” If we do that, they have “nothing bad to say about us.” They may try, but it’s not true. In fact, then word “nothing” there means not even one. My brother-in-law used to say that means zero with the lid kicked off. I like that.

APPLICATION

Boy, oh boy, this is an application to make. Our children are going to have people, friends even, who talk about them. Kids love to talk and tease and criticize. The sooner we prepare our children how to handle those comments, the better off they will be. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That may be a cute phrase, but words can hurt if you don’t know how to handle them.

Here are some tips to handle these opponents:

  1. Know the truth about you – Teach your kids who they are in Christ. No words from others can change that.
  2. Know that your opponents are actually Christ’s opponent – He will fight for you. If you stand for Christ, He promises to defend you.
  3. Know those opponents need Jesus – Just like you before Christ, they are operating out of the flesh and need a Savior.
  4. Know that truth will prevail – Trust that “the truth will make you free.

There you have it. A few tips for dealing with those contrary folks. It won’t be easy, but they can keep you focused. Perhaps you have a tendency to be contrary. If that is you, listen to the truth of His Word. Let it transform your thinking. There is no victory in opposing Christ. You just can’t win. Submit to Him today and experience of true freedom and rest.

Guard my tongue, O Lord, and let me speak only sound words. Allow the truth spoken through me draw all opponents to You. Protect me as You have promised.

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