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THE ERASER

1 JOHN 3:5

“You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.”

There was nothing better than a good eraser when I was in grade school. In fact, my mom used to buy us extra erasers. We loved the kind that went on the end of your pencil. You were really cool if you had some kind of cartoon figure eraser. But we also had those big, pink rectangle-shaped erasers. Those could last a long time. Erasers were essential when I was in school.

Jesus is our sin eraser. Because He knew no sin, only He was qualified to be that sin eraser. One definition of the Greek word for “take away” is to sail away. I like that. Our sins simply sail away. They have weighed anchor. They are no longer here. Jesus makes them vanish. How great is that?

APPLICATION

Get your kids to try out some different erasers with different writing instruments. Start out with a sharpie. Have them try to erase it. Then try an ink pen. Finally, give them a pencil. Some marks we make cannot be erased with a plain eraser. They are pretty much permanent.

Ask your children how they erase their own mistakes, their own sins. They may say they ask someone to forgive them. They may say they promise to never do that again. Those are like the sharpie and pen marks. Our efforts to erase our sins just don’t work. Only through Jesus can we get the forgiveness we need. Teach your kids to confess their sins daily. A clean slate is always good.

Does your slate need cleaning? Go the One who can erase all your mistakes. He can forgive you and give you the cleansing you need. All you have to do is confess. That may be a little painful, but it is the only way. Make it right with Him and experience the joy of walking in forgiveness.

Lord, I need Your eraser in my life. I confess to You today the ways I have fallen short. Cleanse me now.

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WHAT HOPE?

1 JOHN 3:3

“And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

Well, last night I went to bed with my team, the Atlanta Braves, leading in the fifth inning in game seven of the National League Championship. I tried to stay up but was just too tired. I went to bed with a hope they would hold on to win and go to the World Series. Guess what? That didn’t happen. The Dodgers came back to win, sending Atlanta home.

If you read this verse by itself, you have to ask yourself, “What hope?” That hope is not my hope in the Braves (thank goodness). You need to go back and read verses 1 and 2 of chapter 3. That hope is solely in Christ. John tells us if our hope is in Him then we should live in such a way to honor Him. We should purify ourselves by putting anything out of lives that dishonors Him.

APPLICATION

Don’t you just love bath time with the kids? Really? You don’t? It can be a challenge, especially when they get a little older. Little boys love to play outside and do not necessarily like to wash that outside off once they come in. The smells of where they have been and what they have been doing are all over them.

The next time you are discussing bath time with the kiddos, read them this verse. I know what you are thinking, but hear me out. Explain to them that just as the physical world can affect how we smell, the spiritual world can affect how we live. We have to keep ourselves cleaned up spiritually through confession and righteous living to remove the stench of sin. You may not can smell that sin, but you can sure see the results of it in your life.

How pure are you today? Jesus wants you to walk before Him purified and reflecting Him. He is not honored by our wallowing in sin and professing to be a believer. He, in fact, demands pure living. Will you confess whatever it is you need to confess today? Let Him cleanse you and help you walk in purity.

Thank You for Your cleansing power in my life. Thank You for convicting me of the impurities I carry along with me. I want to walk representing You.

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HOW WILL HE FIND YOU?

2 PETER 3:14

“Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,” 

Have you ever been caught off guard by someone or something? Boy, I have. It can be embarrassing or even dangerous. It’s always best to be prepared. When I’m hunting, I try to be prepared for any situation, but I can still be caught sometimes not looking in the right direction or moving when I shouldn’t.

Peter is telling us in this verse to be found by Jesus in peace, spotless and blameless. Well, good luck with that, lol. Listen, you can’t be found “in” peace until you are “at” peace. That only comes through Him. And you will never be found spotless and blameless unless you are covered in His blood through your salvation. You see, it is really all about Him.

APPLICATION

Have you ever found your child’s room to be spotless? I doubt it, unless you have a remarkable child who just loves cleaning. Why don’t you do this? Why don’t you surprise your child and clean their room and make it spotless? When they see it, you can explain that you wanted to bless them by doing this.

Then read them this verse and explain how Jesus makes us spotless when we come to Him. Explain that unlike their room which will get dirty again, we are made spotless in His sight for eternity. Sure, we may sin again and need to confess that, but He sees us in our glorified state already. Isn’t that cool?

Are you at peace with God? Are you spotless and blameless? That’s how He wants to find you when He returns. He doesn’t expect us to be perfect, but He does expect us to strive for it. He says so in His word. Our God demands holiness, and He gives us the ability to be holy as we surrender daily to His Spirit. Now, go “scrub” yourself.

Thank You, Lord, that my holiness does to rely on me. You produce holiness in me through Your Holy Spirit. I want to be found worthy of You.

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TIME FOR JUDGMENT

1 PETER 4:17

“For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” 

Judgment! No one likes to be judged. However, we all will be one day. In this verse, Peter makes a distinction between Christians (the household of God) and unbelievers (those who do not obey the gospel of God). For Christians our judgment comes in the form of correction, to make us more like Him. It can be harsh. We are not in danger of losing our salvation. That was settled the moment we accepted Christ as our Savior, but we can all use correction.

Unbelievers, on the other hand, face a more severe judgment. Peter implies that in this verse. He is saying You think our judgment is bad? Just wait until you see what happens to those who don’t believe. While our judgment is correction, their judgment will be punishment. They will suffer the ultimate consequence – eternal damnation.

APPLICATION

When my children were small, we used corporal punishment (we spanked them). Now, you may not agree with that. I don’t want to argue this point here. But we only used spanking when they deliberately disobeyed. When they just messed up or got caught up in the “heat of the moment” we didn’t use spanking as discipline. In those times we corrected them, even though that might mean some type of consequence.

Our children need to know God loves them so much that He will correct them. Just as we correct them, God will also correct them to keep them close to Him. He will never force them to do anything. We can’t force them to do anything either. But correction is needed at times. We should teach them to welcome it as it guides them toward holiness.

You probably hate correction as much as I do. I have learned through the years that I need it, though. I still don’t like it, but I know I need it. God’s Word corrects me each and every day. As I read and study His Word, it points men in the direction nearer to the heart of God. Will you trust Him today as He corrects you?

Thank You, Lord, for correcting me. Thank You for showing me the error of my ways. Keep me close by whatever mean necessary.

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SAFETY IN OBEDIENCE

1 PETER 3:20

“who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.”

Noah’s family survived the flood because of their obedience to God, not because of the ark. The ark was simply the vessel God used. Peter is using this well known story to illustrate how our Heavenly Father chooses to save us. He has provided the vessel (Jesus) through which we are saved. Our obedience to His call results in being safely carried through life.

This verse mentions God’s patience. Remember, it is God’s will that all men be saved. He is patient, but He is holy. His desire is salvation for all, but He will not tolerate outright disobedience. Peter states this, not to be harsh, but to be direct.

APPLICATION

I bet you never have to deal with disobedience from your children. Right? Now that you are through laughing, let me ask you a question. Do you see how you deal with your children’s disobedience as a reflection of how God deals with ours? It should be. We should be showing a measure of grace and patience, but at the same time, showing justice.

Our children have to know that there are absolutes. The world does not exist in gray areas or situational obedience. Too many parents allow their children to “push the boundaries” without repercussions. Base your expectations on God’s Word, which never changes. Only His Word will provide the absolutes.

Do you live according to God’s absolutes or the world’s non-absolutes? It is really a choice of obedience or disobedience. Joy never precedes obedience. Let me say that again. Joy never precedes obedience. But when we obey our Lord, He fills us with joy. Don’t you want joy today?

I desire joy, Father. Lead me to obey You so You will pour Your joy on me.

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DOING GOOD REGARDLESS

1 PETER 3:17

“For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.”

This just sounds backwards, doesn’t it? You shouldn’t suffer for doing what is right. You should only suffer for doing the wrong things. At least that is what we think. But God doesn’t think like we think. Boy, I’m glad that is true, aren’t you?

So, what does this verse mean for believers? At times the Lord will call on us to suffer. Suffering is NOT punishment. Suffering is a gift. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. In the midst of suffering we discover God in a whole new way. Others see Jesus in us and are encouraged in their own faith or perhaps drawn for the first time to give their lives to Christ. We must stand up for what is right, no matter the cost.

APPLICATION

Teaching suffering to our children is no easy thing. We don’t want to see our children suffer. They may not understand why they are suffering for doing the right thing. These are teaching moments. Don’t overlook them just trying to soothe your child. You shouldn’t tell them to suck it up and get back on their feet either. It’s okay to feel hurt. That’s normal. We comfort them through God’s Word.

Suffering is a teaching time for our children. Perhaps you are going through a tough time right now. Maybe the Lord has led you into a suffering season just to model how to handle it for your children. Embrace it and live like Jesus. Your kids will never forget how you suffer for Him.

This is not a subject we want to talk about. We don’t want to suffer, especially when we are doing all the right things. We want to be blessed and be found faithful. You can be blessed through suffering also. Trust me, I know. Everyone’s suffering is different, but it is the same God who sees us through.

I will embrace the suffering You have for me, Lord. I know You know what is best for me. I trust You to teach me through the suffering.

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LOOKING AT OTHERS

JOHN 21:20-23

“20 Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, ‘Lord, who is the one who betrays You?’ 21 So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what about this man?’ 22 Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!’ 23 Therefore this saying went out among the brethren that that disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?’”

Why do we compare ourselves to others? You can always find someone “lower” than you and someone “above” you. All we need to be concerned about is ourselves as far as the Lord is concerned. But Peter looks behind him and sees John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, and couldn’t help himself. He had to ask Jesus about John.

Jesus was not one to pass on a teachable moment. I love the middle part of His answer. He said, “What is that to you?” Peter, don’t worry about John. Worry about yourself. You follow Me. I’ll take care of John. We would do well to heed Jesus’ words ourselves, right? Our first concern needs to be our own personal relationship with Him.

APPLICATION

Our children are prone to worry about how someone else is being treated. They want to make sure no one is treated better than them. I remember my brother-in-law telling me how he solved the last piece of pie debate with his two kids. One would divide the piece, but the other one got to choose which piece they wanted. Boy, that was the most evenly cut piece of pie in history, lol.

But the lesson for our kids from this verse is the same lesson Jesus gave Peter. They need to concentrate on their own faith walk first. Don’t worry if others seem to be getting “more” from God. He is not a respecter of persons. He is the most fair judge  there is. No one can persuade Him to treat them more fairly than they should be. Remind your children of that.

Do you look at others and envy them? Do you feel like they are being treated better than you? This verse is for you then. If our heart is surrendered to Jesus, we won’t care if others “get more.” In fact, we will be thrilled at the blessings they are receiving. God will take care of you.

Lord, I thank You that You are fair and just. I also thank You that You are always focusing me on my walk with You, not someone else’s walk.

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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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WE ARE AT WAR

1 PETER 2:11

“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.” 

I never served in the military. I came close after completing seminary. I looked into going into the Air Force as a Chaplain. That didn’t happen though, so I missed out on serving our country in uniform. I applaud all those who have served and are serving in every branch.

But I have been in a battle my entire life. It’s the one Peter refers to here in today’s verse. He calls us aliens and strangers because this world is not our home. We are just passing through. And as we pass through it, we are battling the flesh. Only through submission to Christ can we defeat these “fleshly lusts” which seek to pull us down.

APPLICATION

Your children may have a better idea of war since they have never known a day when our country, the United States of

America, was not at war. We’ve been fighting somewhere since 2001. Talk about that with your children. Ask them what they understand about this war we are fighting.

But then talk about today’s verse. Ask them if they realize they are in a daily battle. They are soldiers fighting against the lure of the flesh. Now, you may have to explain that to them. Things like lying, cheating, being mean to their siblings or disobeying you are all good examples of “fleshly lusts.”

How are you fighting? Are you armed with the sword of truth? You cannot fight this battle alone. You do not have the strength or wisdom. Only the power of the cross can defend you and guide you. Let Jesus be your Commander in Chief and lead you into battle today.

Lord, You are my Commander in Chief. I will follow You. Help me defeat the lusts of my flesh by surrendering to You daily.

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BE HOLY

1 PETER 1:15

“but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;”

Now, wait just a minute, Peter. I may be a lot of things, but holy? How do you expect me to be holy? I am flesh. I am a sinner saved by grace. I am a long way from holy. I think it’s a little much for you to command me to be holy.

Come on, now. Don’t you feel the same way sometimes? We have to remember, though, that God never asks us to do anything He knows we can’t do. The truth is we can’t be holy. It’s Him in us that makes holy. Don’t try to do it on your own. You can’t do it. But when we surrender to Him, His holiness will thrive in you.

APPLICATION

Tell your son or daughter in the morning that you expect them to be holy today. Tell them that you will not accept anything less. You may have a child who says, “I can do that.” Seriously, they can’t, and you know it. Just let them try. I guarantee it won’t be long in the day until they do something to blow that holiness. They really don’t have a clue what being holy means.

When they blow it, read them this verse. Explain to them what being holy means. The Greek word for “holy” means having the likeness of nature with the Lord and being different from the world. Ask your child what they think that means. How can they be like Jesus and different from the world? They can tell you. Listen. You may just learn something.

How holy were you today? Did the likeness of the Father live through you? As I told you earlier, you can’t be holy. The only thing holy about us is Jesus. Our flesh loves to raise its ugly head. It wants us to be like the world. It prefers unholiness. Squash your flesh by yielding to Him today. All the Holy One to make you holy!

I know there is nothing holy in me except Your Spirit. Help me surrender today to Your Spirit so I can live holy. I want to be holy, as You are.

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