Accountability, Belief, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Devil, Disciplemaking, Faith, Family, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Righteousness, Salvation, Sin

ARE YOU SINNING?

1 JOHN 5:18

“We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.”

I don’t know about you, but I sin. I don’t try to. It’s not my intention, but I occasionally mess up and sin. I think something about someone I shouldn’t. I say something hurtful to someone. I drive too fast (yes, that’s sin). So, today’s verse would concern me greatly, if I didn’t dig a little deeper.

When John says, “that no one who is born of God sins,” you have to look at the verb tense of “sins.” Now, hang on. You are going to want to see this. That verb tense is in the Present tense which indicates ongoing activity. John is saying if anyone practices sin, they are not saved. You can’t have a lifestyle of sin and be saved. Why? The next phrase tells us. Because if you are saved, Jesus keeps you and guards you from the devil’s influences.

APPLICATION

You can almost always tell when your child comes to Christ. Their attitude changes. They are remorseful when they have done wrong. They will respond to correction differently. They won’t argue and fight with their siblings as much. They are beginning to learn what it means to walk in the Spirit.

Now, they won’t be perfect. Don’t put that on them. Are you perfect? I am afraid not. So, don’t expect them to be. But now you have the chance to disciple them through their failures. When they mess up (and they will) show them in the Word how to overcome that. They will be more amenable to your teaching. Watch them grow as they learn these lessons.

Aren’t you glad Jesus keeps you and guards you? I sure am. There are dozens of times per day that the Spirit nudges me towards correction. He is constantly on guard to protect me from making those wrong choices. That’s how I know I am born again. I am in the family of God and am protected by His power (1 Peter 1:5). Hallelujah.

I know I am born again, Lord. I am thankful for Your power in my life which directs me towards righteous living.

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Accountability, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Death, Disciplemaking, Judgment, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Righteousness, Salvation, Scripture, Sin, Unrighteousness

WHAT IS SIN?

1 JOHN 5:17

“All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.”

The Bible talks a lot about righteousness and unrighteousness. We Christians use these terms when we are talking about God. But have you ever stopped to think what these terms mean? What use is it to talk about something we can’t define?

Righteousness has to do with abiding by God’s standards, meeting His expectations. Unrighteousness, of course, means just the opposite. It means deviating from what God expects. This results in God’s disapproval of our choices. In short, it’s sin.

APPLICATION

Your children should know your expectations, right? They can’t follow rules they aren’t clear on. Now, for children we need to keep our rules and guidelines short and to the point. Complicated rules only confuse them. When we make our expectations clear and concise, they are more likely to obey.

We are laying the groundwork for them to obey God. When they come to a saving knowledge of Jesus and accept Him as their Savior, His righteousness is bestowed on them. We teach them to pursue this and not the unrighteous deeds that are so prevalent. We hold them to His standards. We show the benefits of pursuing a godly lifestyle. This is a process that takes years. We model it for them and live our lives pursuing the very things we are teaching them.

Would you classify your lifestyle as one of righteousness or unrighteousness? I know, I know. We all say righteousness. We would never admit unrighteousness. But if we are not pursuing God’s standards in every area of our lives, it is so easy to drift into unrighteousness. If we sin in one area, it affects our entire life. Live righteously today. Pursue God wholly.

Help me, Lord, to flee from all unrighteousness. I want to pursue You. Your righteousness is all I need.    

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Abiding, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Following, God's Will, Holiness, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Righteousness, Scripture, Sin, Testimony

BORN OF GOD (TIMES 2)

1 JOHN 3:9

“No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

They say the key to getting someone to remember something is repetition. I will never forget Mrs. McCracken. She was my teacher who taught me the multiplication tables. Now back in those days you had to know them. We didn’t have many alternatives to learn them. You had to repeat them and repeat them. We had drills in class and competed against each other. It was hard, but I learned them. I can still recite most of them all these years later.

John repeats the phrase “born of God” twice in this short verse. He wants to make sure we understand what he is saying here. If we are born of God, if we have asked Jesus to come into our life through the power of the Holy Spirit, then we don’t practice sin. John is NOT saying we won’t ever sin. Accidents happen. But our birth into His family gives us a whole new spiritual DNA which draws us to Him.

APPLICATION

Ask your kids how long they think they can go without sinning. Remind them that sin is not just something we do. It can be something we say or even think. Jesus told us that. The only way some kids could go a day without sinning would be to lock them in their rooms, lol. Most adults are the same way.

John wants us to value our birth. Why else would he say “born of God” twice in such a short verse. It was obviously on his mind. John had experienced the joy of that new birth and wanted all those around him to know it too. God does the birthing, not us. And if God did it, we sure can’t undo it. We are secure in His family.

Are you thankful for your new life in Christ? Have you thanked Him today? Take a minute right now and tell Him. You are born of God, not of man, not of church, not of religion. You are forever a part of His family. Doesn’t that just blow your mind? It should. It does mine every time I think about it.

I am a child of the King, born into His kingdom through His glorious Son. Thank You, Lord.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Commitment, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Godliness, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Righteousness, Scripture, Self-control, Surrender

THE PROOF’S IN THE PUDDING

1 JOHN 2:29

“If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.”

What do I mean by that title? It comes from a very old proverb. I’ve read that the original version is “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” It means you have to try out the food in order to know whether it is good. I agree with that. Something may look good, but how does it taste. Have you ever experienced that?

John knew that not everyone who said they were a Christian really were. They had to show it. They had to live righteously. That’s what he means when he says, “practices righteousness.” The Greek word for “practices” means to do, to live it. And when you do that, you show you are born again.

APPLICATION

Don’t you just hate it when you ask your children to do a chore, they promise they will do it, and then they don’t? When they say they will, you expect it, right? The next time they let their chores slide after promising to do them, take them to this verse. Let me explain.

God has expectations of us when we become His child, just like you do of your child. He expects righteous living. If we say we are His, we need to live like it. Remind your children that part of living righteously before God is obeying their parents. After all, you have to do the same thing. You have to obey your Father.

How are you living righteously? Do you find it difficult? You don’t need to struggle. Let Jesus live through you. He IS righteousness. Righteousness is not something you do. It’s who you are in Christ. He has made you righteous. Live like it.

I am righteous because of You, O Lord. Thank You for living through me.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Exhortation, Faithfulness, Following, Hypocrisy, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Righteousness, Scripture, Self-control, Shame, Testimony

ASHAMED

1 JOHN 2:28

“Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.”

Have you ever been caught red-handed doing something you knew was wrong? Don’t answer that, lol. Well, I have. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say I will never forget it. My dad caught me one night up town doing some stuff I shouldn’t have been doing. He was not a happy camper, to say the least. And it wasn’t just that I was in trouble. I could see the disappointment on his face.

That’s what John is talking about in today’s verse. We need to stay close to Christ daily and walk with Him. So, when He appears (and it could be any day), we aren’t caught off guard and feel ashamed at what He finds us doing. That doesn’t mean we have to be in a perpetual kneeling position with our hands folded in prayer. But we should be about His business.

APPLICATION

Okay, you are going to catch your children doing stuff. Our granddaughter was caught recently coloring on the walls downstairs. She thought her masterpiece was so beautiful until she found out that was a no-no. I am not sure she felt ashamed, but she soon realized this was not acceptable. Your children are going to do stuff and get caught, too.

That is a perfect time to read them this verse. Unlike you, God sees all. There is nowhere they can hide to do things He won’t know about. This is especially important as they get older and spend more and more time out of your sight. They need to know God is aware. He is not waiting to zap them, but He is watching. We want them to please Him in their actions and decisions.

What are you sneaking around doing right now? Anything? Don’t be doing those things. Stop it. You are not fooling God. He knows. He wants you to walk hand in hand with Him all the time. If you are doing that, there is no room for mischief. Right?

I want to honor You, Lord, in all my steps. Help me make the decisions daily that bring You glory. Forgive me when I fail You.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Cleansing, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, God's Will, Grace, Mentoring, Parenting, Promises, Redemption, Repentance, Righteousness, Salvation, Scripture, Testimony

SPARKLY

1 JOHN 1:9

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 

Man, I loved my first car so much. I guess all guys do. Mine was a 1971 Buick Skylark. It was royal blue with a white vinyl top. It had key-colored mag wheels AND a Craig AM/FM eight-track Powerplay stereo. I kept that car pretty much spotless. I was relentless to remove the dirt and grime. I wanted to present a clean car to everyone.

All we have to do to present ourselves as “sparkly” is to confess our sins to the Father. When we do, He is faithful and righteous (or just) to forgive them and to clean us up. I love that the word “forgive” in the Greek means to send away. He sends our sins away. Why? Because they are cleansed by the blood. He wants us to be presentable to the lost to draw them also to Him.

APPLICATION

Bath time for kids can be a challenge. Most kids go through a time when they just really fight against it. They don’t want their hair washed or they don’t want to have their backs scrubbed. Of course, we bathe them anyway because we know we can’t leave them that way.

The next time you are bathing your child or have to remind them to get a bath, share this verse with them. They will probably think you are crazy, lol. Explain to them the importance of not only keeping their body clean, but they also need to keep their heart clean by confessing their sins to God. Unconfessed sin makes us comfortable with the grime of sin. After a while we stop smelling ourselves.

Are you all scrubbed? I mean are you confessed up? What are you waiting for? Don’t you want to feel refreshed spiritually? Of course, you. Turn to Him right now. Just say, “Father, forgive me for my sins. I confess to You my wrongdoings and failures. I want to walk in Your light. Thank You for forgiving me and cleansing me.” That’s it. You’re sparkly!

Thank You, Father, for sending Your Son Jesus to die for me so I can come to You for forgiveness. I know His blood has covered my sins. Help me walk in righteousness.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Christ's Return, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Heaven, Mentoring, Parenting, Righteousness, Scripture

WHERE ARE YOU LIVING?

2 PETER 3:13

“But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? I would live in Kenya. I have been there several times and feel at home there. I love the people, the country and the opportunities to train Pastors how to study the Word. Sure, Kenya has its problems. What country doesn’t? But that is where I would live.

The Greek word for “dwells” means to feel at home. Look what Peter says in this verse. Righteousness dwells in the new heavens and the new earth. Notice he says “dwells.” Can I get technical for a second? That verb is Present Indicative Active. Do you know what that means? It means righteousness is already dwelling and has been dwelling and will continue to dwell in the new heavens and the new earth. Now that’s a place I want to live.

APPLICATION

Ask your children where they want to live. Tell them they can choose anywhere. I bet they may say Disney World or some other theme park. What child wouldn’t want that? But then ask them why. Well, Dad, it’s a cool place! Well, of course, it is. But ask them for a real reason. Ask them if they think they could live there forever.

Children don’t quite get it, do they? But then again, neither do we. Nowhere here on earth is perfect. Any place we choose to live is going to have its problem. Your children need to understand that. BUT…the new heavens and new earth will be perfect. Why? Because that’s where righteousness dwells. Whose righteousness? God’s righteousness!

So, why are you so worried about your current living situation? Why do we work so hard to perfect our physical living environment? I know we want to be comfortable, but is that the issue that really matters? No! We need to live more righteously so we will feel more at home when the new heavens and new earth arrive. Amen?

Father, prepare my heart to live righteously each and every day. I am looking for that new heaven and earth where You dwell.

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Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Faith, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Righteousness, Scripture, Testimony

PRECIOUS FAITH

2 PETER 1:1

“Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:” 

Peter’s second epistle (letter) to the same recipients as received the first letter begins in a very unique way. Just reading it in the English translation you can miss one particular phrase. “Of the same kind as ours” could be translated “equally precious as ours.” I really like that. See, Peter is saying the Gentiles who have received Christ as their Savior are equal to the Jewish believers.

We both have received a precious faith which is through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He makes no bones about it. Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ are equal. We have the same Lord. We worship the same God. We rest in the same promises. That still holds true today. All believers (red, yellow, black and white) are equal in God’s eyes.

APPLICATION

In our crazy world right now, there is a lot of racial divide. Sadly, there are believers on both sides of this argument. We need to spend as much time as possible making sure our children understand that God does not see color. Our God, who created all the peoples of the world, is spiritually colorblind. We should be also.

There is nothing sweeter than to watch young children, who haven’t developed all those societal biases, play together. They don’t care what color the other boys and girls are. We need to foster that. In fact, we can learn from that. We need to see others as our little children see them – God’s creation who just need a Savior.

Will you join me in reaching across the racial divide to embrace a brother or sister today? Will you lose your racially sensitive glasses and become colorblind for Jesus? We cannot allow the devil to divide the Universal church along color or race. The world is watching. If we can’t link arms in love, the world will tear us apart.

Thank You, Lord, for sending Your Son to cross not only religious lines, but also racial lines. I am grateful for my friends who look different than me. I need them in my life.

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Advice, Bible, Blessing, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Promises, Righteousness, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

BLESSED IN SUFFERING

1 PETER 3:14

“But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED,” 

You are probably thinking right now, Carl, you are crazy! Blessed in suffering? Really? Well, that’s what the verse says. Don’t get mad at me, lol. It’s interesting that you don’t hear that preached much. Why? Because people don’t want to suffer. I don’t. No one welcomes suffering. It’s just not in our nature.

But let me tell you, as one who has gone through some suffering, when you are in the midst of it, you feel the blessing. I don’t want to give the impression that I enjoyed it. Not for a minute. But the blessing you feel can only come from one source – Jesus Christ. He seems to come closer when you are suffering. When you are chosen to suffer for righteousness, you will feel the blessings.

APPLICATION

Okay, let’s be real. How do you teach your children about suffering? We sure don’t want to see them suffer, even if it is for righteousness. The best way to show them this is by our faithfulness in suffering when it is brought upon us. Or when you see fellow believers suffering, make sure you talk to your kids about it. They can learn a lot by you doing that.

As we watch others suffer righteously, we are encouraged in our own faith. As we see the Lord working in the lives of other believers, we see just how He can work. God seldom works in the same way time and time again. He “customizes” His approach to the individual. Show your children that. He will customize their blessings as well.

Are you suffering right now? Give God the glory for allowing you the privilege to suffer for Him. That may sound strange to you, but I promise He is with you. Allow Him to use you in the lives of others. That’s part of the blessing you will receive. Be that blessing.

I will praise You for the suffering You allow in my life. I am not grateful for the suffering itself, but for the results of it in my life and the lives of others.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Freedom, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Promises, Righteousness, Salvation, Scripture, Traditions

CLEAN OR UNCLEAN

ACTS 10:15

“Again a voice came to him a second time, ‘What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.’”

Acts 10:10-16 tells the story of Peter’s vision of the sheet lowered from heaven with all kinds of animals. He is told to kill and eat, but many of the animals were unclean according to the Mosaic Law. What was Peter to do? He replied he had never eaten anything unclean. I love God’s response in verse 15. God says He has made them clean, so eat.

The New Covenant had come through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Peter was just learning that. He knew things were different, but he didn’t realize how different. He was still learning. God used this vision to open Peter’s eyes to a new theology, one which included Gentiles as well as Jews. His journey was about to begin.

APPLICATION

I bet your children think some foods are unclean, lol. Foods like brussels sprouts or broccoli turn some children’s noses up. They had rather have ice cream and cookies, right? The next time this happens at dinner time, read them this story about Peter’s vision. Explain to them that Peter had a wrong idea about these foods.

Now, of course, the lesson here is not about the food. The lesson here is about sharing the Good News with everyone. It’s not just for our friends. It’s for the homeless person on the street corner. It’s for the prisoner serving a life sentence for murder. It’s for everyone! Period! Our job is to spread what God has declared as good to the world.

Are you faithful to share the Gospel with those around you? Maybe you aren’t living in such a way that your testimony is believable. You have a responsibility to be God’s missionary to those you come into contact with daily. He wants to use you to reach them for Christ. Will you do that? Will you share what He’s done in and through you to someone today?

Lord, what you have declared clean I will no longer call unholy. I want to be used by you to take the Gospel to those who are shunned by the world. Give me opportunities to do that today.

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