Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Following, Inspirational, Joy, Mentoring, Parenting, Prayer, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture, Testimony

A PARENT’S JOY

3 JOHN 4

“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.”

I have been in ministry over forty years. That’s a long time. Sometimes I feel like Moses – herding sheep for forty years or wandering in the wilderness for forty years. But sometimes I hear from someone I had the privilege to lead to the Lord, and they tell me how they are still walking with Jesus. That brings me such joy. It really warms my heart.

John was expressing the exact same feeling. He was thrilled to hear about Gaius. It is obvious from this verse that John had played some part in Gaius’ salvation experience. We don’t know exactly where or when that was, but John was a spiritual father to Gaius. As a father to Gaius, John longed to see him grow spiritually. Nothing thrilled his heart more.

APPLICATION

If you have not experienced this joy as a parent, I pray you will. Watching our children come to Christ is awesome. Praying with them to receive Christ is stupendous. But watching them walk with Christ daily thrills your soul. This is especially true as they get older and start making more and more of their own decisions. Watching them choose Christ makes all the bedtime prayer rituals worth it.

One big question we face as parents as our children get older is how do we continue to influence them spiritually. How do we help them in their walk? Our role changes from caregiver to coach to cheerleader to consultant. In this last stage we have to wait for them to come to us for advice. Advice not asked for is seldom followed. Continue to pray and be ready when asked.

Do you have a “child in the faith” whom you are praying for? Is there someone you are watching walk with Jesus whom thrills your soul? I pray you are investing in others daily. I pray you are encouraging them. I promise as you encourage them, you will be encouraged. Be obedient to Jesus as you follow His example to disciple others.

Oh Lord, nothing thrills me more than to see my children walk with You. Help me encourage them daily as they trust You.

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Accountability, Advice, Antichrist, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Deceit, Deception, Devil, Following, Lies, Mentoring, Parenting, Salvation, Scripture

DON’T BE DECEIVED

2 JOHN 7

“For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.”

Have you ever been deceived? Has anyone ever led you down the wrong path? I remember a few occasions when I was. Yep, me! I don’t need to go into any details. Just suffice it to say, it was all my fault. I can’t blame the deceiver. It was my own flesh and failure to follow God that caused it.

John warns us here that there are many deceivers out there. These deceivers have one purpose – to cause us to veer off God’s course. They want to take us out of the battle. They can’t affect our salvation, but they can certainly put us in a place of uselessness to God. Now listen closely. You can prevent that solely by staying in His Word and asking the Lord before you do anything.

APPLICATION

I know you want to prevent your children from being deceived. Am I right? As a parent, you can see it coming. You can discern that some of their friends are not good for them. What do you do? Do you ban them from spending time with those friends? Depending on the age of your child, the answer may be “yes.” As your children get older, they have to make some tough decisions about that.

However, we still have to guide and direct our children during these times. Point them to the Word. Show them how others’ actions line up with what God expects of us as Christians. Just because someone claims to be a believer, don’t believe it. See how their life lines up with Scripture. I’m not talking about perfection. But I am talking about a consistent walk with Christ.

We have so many deceivers around us trying to distract us from following the Lord. They come in many shapes and sizes. The deceptions can be so subtle. However, they are there. Don’t assume they are not. Will you guard your heart and mind today? Protect yourself by walking hand in hand with the Master. He will always point out those who seek to deceive you.

At times, Lord, I can get my eyes off of You. I know that is dangerous. Help me keep my focus on following You.

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THE DEVIL’S WORLD

1 JOHN 5:19

“We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

Look around you. The world is a mess. Poverty, disease, racism, hatred and myriad of other horrible things are global. John tells us why right here in today’s verse. He says, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” Is it any wonder why the world is in the shape it is?

So, what do we do? Hide and avoid it? No! We are of God. And if we are of God, we have so much more power. That power enables us to withstand any attack by Satan. His power is limited, and he knows it. Satan can’t stand that. He cannot destroy the world, but God has given him limited power over it. He wants to make us as miserable as possible. Don’t let him.

APPLICATION

The world, therefore, can be a scary place for our children. We can’t isolate them forever from its horrors. They will experience them through all kinds of ways. Even video games can expose them to it. Some parents try to put blinders on their kids and hide them away from the real world. Now, don’t get me wrong. We don’t need to expose them to it ourselves. But we need to prepare them.

How do we do that? By making sure they belong to the Lord. We have to spend all the time we can pouring Jesus all over them. We read them His Word. We teach them to study it for themselves. We pray with them. We teach them to pray. We live godly lives before them so they will follow our example. We teach them to live in the power of God, so the power of Satan will have no effect. That’s teaching them to walk in victory.

Are you walking that way? Or are you cringing in fear of what the devil might do? That’s no way to live. If you are a child of God, you have to live that way. God is not wringing His hands over what the devil might do. Neither should you. He has him right where He wants him. Trust God to handle the evil one. He always has.

I will walk in victory in an evil world. There is nothing that can come against me that You do not allow. It trust You in every step I take.

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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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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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HANDWRITTEN NOTES

1 JOHN 5:13 

 
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 

Handwritten notes and letters are becoming more and more uncommon. When is the last time you wrote, I mean actually wrote, a letter to someone? We text, email, tweet and post, but we seldom write. There’s just something personal about a handwritten note or card. It takes a little more time. I think people still appreciate that. 

John wrote us this letter. He didn’t write it just for his first century recipients. He wrote it for all “who believe in the name of the Son of God.” Is that you? Do you believe? If so, John says “you have eternal life.” Now, that’s a handwritten note worth receiving, isn’t it? 

APPLICATION 

Are your children learning to write? Teach them how to write a note or letter. Teach them to address an envelope and mail a letter. Help them write a letter to their grandparents or a favorite cousin or friend. I promise you when that person receives that letter, it will make their day.  

Teach your children to journal their thoughts and prayers. They are writing those thoughts to God. They are, in effect, writing a letter to God. Do you think God likes “reading” those letters? Of course, He does. God wants to hear from us in whatever mode we choose to communicate.  

Are you “writing” to God? Are you writing to encourage someone else? Why don’t you take a moment today and write a note or letter to someone whom you know needs to hear from God. God can use you. Will you let Him? It doesn’t take long to do this. Be a John today. Remind someone of their faith walk. You will be blessed. 

Father, thank You for Your handwritten letters from Your saints like John. Help me encourage others by my own notes and letters. 

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HIS SON

1 JOHN 5:12

“He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.”

It’s neat this verse fell on today’s date because this is my son’s birthday. He’s thirty-four today. That’s interesting to me because that falls right in the middle of the ages of Christ’s ministry on earth (@32-36) to the best of our knowledge. When I think of my son at his age leading a bunch of disciples around, it kind of blows my mind. Jesus was a young man. Yes, He was and still is God, but humanly speaking He was young.

Yet, here we are, two thousand years later, looking back at this God-Man for guidance. John says here if we “have Him” we have life, and if we don’t have Him, we don’t have life. That’s so true. Think back to your days without Christ. Life was so meaningless. It had no purpose. It had no direction. I don’t care how old you were before Christ, you had no life without Him.

APPLICATION

Our children need to learn this early in life. I know you are praying they give their lives to Christ, if they haven’t already. But they need to learn what it means to surrender completely. It’s not just saying a prayer. It’s total surrender of everything to Him. That involves how they talk, how they play and how they think. Oh, that last one is hard, isn’t it? Even we adults struggle with that one.

So, how do we direct our children to do this? How do we help them learn the importance of total surrender? By modeling it ourselves. Don’t you get tired of hearing that? Sorry, but it’s true. We have to show them how to surrender. We have to exemplify total surrender ourselves in the way we talk, the way we treat people and the way we think. No, our kids can’t read out minds, but they sure can see our behaviors.

Is the Son in your life? If so, live like it. It’s the Christmas season. Act like it. Live like every day could be your last day to share Jesus with someone. Live like He is all that matters. After all, He is all that matters. When you surrender to His Will, His life becomes your life. Try that today.

I have life only because of His life, Father. Thank You for giving Him to the world. We must show others the value of living in Him.

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WITNESSES

1 JOHN 5:6

“This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.”

In the court of law, witnesses and evidence are required to convict you of something. Heresay and opinion aren’t enough. You need proof. Aren’t you glad of that? I have been accused of stuff in the past that I didn’t do. Some were serious. Someone wanted to get me in trouble, but thankfully, the truth came out and I was proven innocent.

John is laying out the evidence here about Jesus. Now, this verse has had many different opinions by many different scholars. But the majority of them agree that John is referring to Jesus’ baptism (water) and His death on the cross (blood) in this verse. His purity and submission testify to who He was and is. The Spirit also testifies in our hearts today the truth of these words.

APPLICATION

You need to take this verse apart to explain it to your children. Take them to Matthew 3:13-17 and talk about Jesus’ baptism. You can show them there Jesus submission to His Father in this act. You can also show how the Spirit testified about Jesus through the appearance of the dove. Pretty cool! Wouldn’t it be cool if a dove came down when they got baptized, lol?

And then take them to John 19 and read the crucifixion story to them. This may be hard on tender ears so be mindful of that. But our children need to know exactly what Jesus did for them. His shed blood wasn’t a finger prick. He died for them. He gave his life for them. His blood was dripping from His pierced hands and feet. His body was ripped and bleeding from the beating. His head was bleeding from the crown of thorns that was shoved on it.

Water and blood testified to who Jesus was and is. Let me ask you a question. What testifies to your faith in Christ? Have you accepted Him as Your Savior? Have you believed upon Him? His blood still covers sins. His baptism still serves as the example for us to follow. I pray that today you will take a fresh look at just who Jesus is. He wants you to live through Him.

O God, forgive me for taking Your life for granted. All You did for me is not forgotten. Thank You for Your submission in baptism and death.

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VICTORY

1 JOHN 5:4

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”

Who doesn’t like to be victorious? We all do. No one wants to lose. It doesn’t matter what we are talking about, we want to win. It could be a ballgame, a test or a health crisis. We all want to come out on the winning side. That’s just natural. We feel better when we win. We feel better about ourselves and even life in general.

John uses a word here in today’s verse twice that means to be victorious. He uses the Greek word nikao, which comes from nike (victory). It’s interesting to me that this word nikao is used 28 times in the New Testament, but 24 times by John. John really liked this word. It must have meant something to him. He must have experienced it and wanted us to experience victory. But don’t miss the point of the last two words in the verse. It’s our faith that makes us victorious, not us.

APPLICATION

The next victory your child has should be celebrated. Even small victories need to be celebrated. You don’t have to go overboard but recognizing those small triumphs are remembered by your child. Some of those victories can have lasting impacts. Don’t miss those opportunities.

But I want you to talk about spiritual victories with them, as well. When they say no to the lure of peer pressure to do something they know is not godly, that’s a victory. When they follow the Lord in believer’s baptism, that’s a victory. When they memorize that passage of Scripture for AWANA, that’s a victory. Celebrate those, too.

What do you need to celebrate today? Maybe you failed today. That’s not the end. Pick yourself up and look towards the next challenge. Victory is within your reach. Now, this is not a name and claim it devotional. Your spiritual victories are tied directly to your faith. Stay in the Word. Pray daily. Let the Lord show you what a real victory looks like.

Victory in Jesus, my Savior forever. That the source of my victory. I know that and will live in it.

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