Accountability, Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, God's Will, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Praise, Scripture, Surrender

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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Abiding, Agreement, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Holy Spirit, Mentoring, Parenting, Praise, Salvation, Scripture

WHO DO YOU CONFESS?

1 JOHN 4:15

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”

You know, sometimes agreeing on something is hard. You have your ideas, and others have theirs. Often those kinds of situations end up bad. But there is always a way to come together and agree, if you really want to. The problem is we usually don’t want to. We demand to be right. It’s our way or the highway.

John, however, lays it out for us. You see, the word “confesses” means to agree, to say the same thing. If God is to abide in us and we in Him, we must agree that Jesus is the Son of God. There’s no other way. Our way doesn’t matter. What we think doesn’t matter. There’s a bumper sticker you may have seen that reads “God said, I believe it, that settles it.” Well, that’s wrong. It should read “God said it, that settles it.”

APPLICATION

How many times have you had to settle an argument between your children or your child and another child? They will argue about just about anything. Which video game is the best, what movie is the greatest, which Avenger has the best super power. Agreement is not in their vocabulary.

But I want you to take your child to this verse the next time you catch them in an argument. Talk about how many in this world disagree with John’s conclusion. Explain to them the importance of confessing Jesus as the Son of God. Belief in Him is paramount to our salvation. You can’t believe part of the truth. You have to believe and confess it all.

Have you confessed Jesus as the Son of God? I pray you have. If you have the rest of the verse is a promise to you. God abides in you. That’s incredible. Through His Holy Spirit He lives in you. And if you have Him in you, there’s nothing you can’t do because it’s Him doing it. Praise the Lord.

Father, I know Jesus is Your Son, and that You sent Him to die for me. I know You abide in me and I in You. Thank You, Lord.

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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, Bible, Blessing, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Conceit, Encouragement, Following, Gifts, Glory, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Praise, Scripture, Service

IN ALL THINGS

1 PETER 4:11

“Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

The previous verse in 1 Peter 4 states that all believers have been given a special gift. That’s wonderful. But Peter goes on in this verse to emphasize why. Look at the third part of this verse. Peter says, “so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” This is why we have our gifts – to give Him glory.

Why does Peter say this? I think it is because some people can begin to get proud of their gift. It happens quickly. Others start praising you for what you are doing. Soon you begin to think your gift is better than other gifts. You begin to see yourself as better than others. After all, God you the best gift. No! That is not how it works. Focus on Him! He is the reason for the gift.

APPLICATION

Children can get boastful pretty quickly, can’t they? As they discover their gift in Christ, make sure they understand why they have been given that gift. It is not to bring attention to themselves. It is not to gain praise from others. It is simply to bring glory to God. He will exalt the humble.

And we parents can be the guilty ones. We can brag on our kids too much. I believe in praising our children. They need that. However, too much praise can give our kids the bighead. There’s a balance needed. Always point them to Jesus. Tell them how pleased their Heavenly Father must be of them for being obedient in their gift.

Are you giving all the glory to God all the time? As He gives you the opportunities to exercise your gift, praise Him. As He uses your gift to bless others, praise Him. Whatever it is He has you to do, praise Him. Let all your praise be directed to Him and not to yourself. Praise be to God “to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

I will praise You, Father. You deserve all the glory and honor! You have gifted me with Your gift to use to glorify You. That is what I will do.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Conceit, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Godliness, Humility, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Praise, Scripture, Worship

JUST A MAN

ACTS 10:25-26

“25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter raised him up, saying, ‘Stand up; I too am just a man.’” 

I have known people who would love to be worshipped. In fact, most of those people worship themselves. They think they are God’s gift to humanity. They walk around looking down on everyone, because they know they are better than them. Or so they think.

I am not trying to rude or uncaring. It’s just a fact. Our flesh loves to be worshipped. But Peter was having none of that. The instant Cornelius fell to his feet, Peter didn’t just speak to him. He raised him up and said, “I too am just a man.” In other words, there is only one God and I am not Him. Peter knew where worship belonged.

APPLICATION

This is a great verse for our kids because they can develop heroes who they idolize. Sports figures, singers and movie stars are just some examples. None of these people have the right to be worshipped. We must direct our children to the One who is worthy.

Let me go further. We believers can put pastors or Christian leaders on a pedestal. Guess what? People on pedestals tend to fall off. I have had the privilege to know several “famous” individuals. They are just human, like us. And the ones I respect the most always pointed me back to Jesus. They knew where all the credit lies.

Are you an idol worshipper? Do you put people on pedestals? Maybe you are the one on the pedestal. You long for people’s praise. Be very careful. As I said earlier, there is only one God and you are not Him. He alone is worthy of praise and worship.

I worship You and You alone. I praise you for all You have done in my life and will continue to do. Thank You, Lord.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Conceit, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Following, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Praise

IT WASN’T ME

Acts 3:11-12


“11 While he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement. 12 But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?”

Most of the time when we say it wasn’t me, we are trying to get out of being blamed for something bad. I know I did my fair share of that growing up. There used to be a cartoon strip in the paper called “The Family Circus.” Every once in a while “I Don’t Know” would show up. Usually he appeared when something got broken or messed up. The kids in that cartoon were always blaming “I Don’t Know.”

Peter isn’t trying to get out of being blamed. He simply wanted to make sure everyone knew he wasn’t the healer of this lame one. Jesus was. Peter had no power of his own. He didn’t want the crowd to see him or John as something special. It wasn’t about them. It was about Jesus.

APPLICATION

The next time your child tries to blame “I Don’t Know,” read them this verse. Tell them it’s okay to deny responsibility for something if they really didn’t do it or someone else deserves the credit. That latter one is so important. Giving someone else the credit is a good thing. Just don’t blame others for bad stuff if you know they didn’t do it.

And it is so important to teach them to give Jesus praise for all the good stuff He does through them. When they lend a hand to an older neighbor, that’s Jesus. When they give their allowance to the mission offering instead of buying something for themselves, that’s Jesus. When people try to brag on them, teach them to just point to Jesus.

Are you a glory hound or do you give credit where credit is due? Our Heavenly Father exalts the humble and humbles the exalted. On which side do you want to be? Let Him exalt you when it’s time. Don’t run toward the limelight. It doesn’t last. His exaltation of you will.

I humbly bow before You, Lord. I desire all the praise to go to You. Let me serve faithfully whether anyone notices or not.

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Advice, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Praise, Punishment, Sanctification, Scripture, Submission, Testimony

PUNISHMENT OR PRAISE

1 PETER 2:14

“or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.”

I don’t know about you, but I had much rather be praised than punished. It just feels better, doesn’t it? Working with people as I have for over 40 years in ministry, I have tried to practice the sandwich principle. If I had to discipline a staff member or a child, I always tried to begin and end with some kind of praise and put the hard part in the middle. That wasn’t always possible, but I tried to.

Peter is continuing the command he began in verse 13 (there weren’t verses numbered in his letter, by the way). If you do what’s right, you are subject to praise. If you insist on doing evil, well…punishment is your reward. Your choice. What do you choose today?

APPLICATION

Children especially need praise. I used to tell my staff at the children’s homes, say yes if you can. Some of us automatically say no to children’s request. Let me encourage you today to say yes, unless there is a very good reason to say no. You may be surprised at your child’s response to you in other areas.

Praise your children or grandchildren for making their bed. Praise them for taking out the trash. Praise them for being kind to their sister or brother. And when you must punish or discipline, make sure you pay special attention to praise before and after. Let the last words out of your mouth be praise.

Are you a “praiser” or a “punisher”? Some of us relish the latter. We think it gives us power. Real power comes from the Lord. He had much rather praise you than punish you. He isn’t waiting to zap you every time you fail (and we fail a lot). Jesus was a praiser. He saw the potential in people and tried to draw that out. He took Peter, a crude, uneducated fisherman, and turned him into the leader of The Way. He can change you too.

O Father, I am thankful I can praise people rather than punish them. You give me that power. Let my words encourage rather than discourage those I meet.

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CURIOUS ANGELS

1 PETER 1:12

“It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.”

Did you catch that last phrase? “things into which angels long to look.” What does that mean? What are angels longing to look on? Do you understand that they are amazed at our salvation? God’s pardon of our sins blows them away. Why? Because they know the holiness of God. They have seen His majesty for centuries. How could such a holy God forgive such wicked sinners?

Why aren’t we as blown away? Why aren’t we amazed? We come to God for our salvation and almost immediately begin to take it for granted. We forget how wicked we were and how much He forgave. We should look on with the same longing as the angels and give thanks every day for His grace.

APPLICATION

What have your children taken for granted? Their clothes? Their toys? The food on the table? Have you ever reminded them how blessed they are? I bet you have. The next time your child takes a blessing for granted, read them this verse.

This is when you confess your guilt of taking things for granted from God. When they hear you confess, perhaps they will be convicted themselves. Now, you are not the Holy Spirit. He will do the convicting.

Aren’t you thankful today for the grace He has shown you time and time again? Thank Him today. Live for Him today. Give Him the praise He deserves for the salvation He so freely bestows on you. Lead your children to do the same. Angels are watching and scratching their heads. Show them what it looks like to live for Jesus.

Lord, I am amazed! Your gift of salvation is beyond anything I deserve. Thank You for saving me.

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Advice, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Completeness, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Following, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Parenting, Praise, Salvation, Surrender

WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?

MATTHEW 16:16-19

“16 Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ 17 And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.’” 

Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi could be seen as a pivotal point in the life of Peter. Here he is, a fisherman. But he is realizing this man he is following is more than just a rabbi. He makes this declaration and Jesus commends him. He, in a sense, empowers him right there to lead the church that is to come.

Do you understand that the moment you declare Jesus as Christ, He empowers you to lead also? Once you are His child, He comes to live in you through the Holy Spirit and wants to use you to expand His kingdom on earth. Jesus could save everyone immediately, but He still chooses us to do His work. Just like Peter, we have to answer that question, “Who do you say that I am?”

APPLICATION

Kids love knock knock jokes, don’t they? They can come up with some silly ones. We laugh and go along with them. Jesus doesn’t use these, however, to reveal Himself. He doesn’t play games with identifying Himself. He wants to disclose Himself fully to each of us. I believe He wants to do that as early as possible in a child’s life. He doesn’t expect them to fully understand everything about Him before accepting Him as Lord.

Many parents want to make sure their child is totally clear and knowledgeable before making their decision public and getting baptized. Do you think Peter fully understood Jesus when he made that confession? Hardly. He still had much to learn. Yet Christ confirmed his belief at the level it was then.

Who do you say Jesus is? Do you fully understand who He is? No one does. We won’t know Him fully until eternity, but we have the opportunity to learn more each day we surrender. As we do that, Jesus shows us more. Oh, the joy of learning more.

Praise You, Lord, for revealing Yourself to me. Help me grasp who You are. And then let me share with others.

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Child Raising, Child Rearing, Christianity, Faith, Family, Giving, God's Will, Grace, Heaven, Inspirational, Light, Love, Praise, Salvation

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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