Parenting, Child Rearing, Child Raising, Mentoring, Advice, Commands, Bible, Scripture, Satan, Devil, Exhortation, Accountability, Battles, Choices, Imitation

IMITATION

3 JOHN 11

“Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.”

Some say imitation is the best flattery. To imitate someone means you want to be like them. I can’t think of anyone I would want to imitate except Jesus. Everyone else I know has flaws that would inevitably come out. No one is perfect, right? We imitate people. We have imitation products. We even imitate voices. But there is only one original.

John is telling us to focus on imitating good. That word “imitate” only appears four times in the New Testament (three positive and one negative). It is always in the Middle voice, which means you have to choose to do it. No one is going to make you do it or do it for you. So, John is saying it is our choice whether to imitate evil or good. One choice points to God and the other points to the evil one.

APPLICATION

Man, is this a message for our kids or what? Probably no other decision is going to face them more than this. They are going to be bombarded with choices like this. The evil one wants nothing more than to confuse and bring down our children. If he can get them to choose evil rather than good, he can control their lives.

So, what do we do as parents to protect them? After all, it’s their decision, their choice. We have to fill their minds with the Word of God to help ward off these attacks from the devil. There’s nothing we can say or do. But God’s Word is living and active. It’s sharper than any two-edged sword. It lives within us. If it’s in us, we can ask anything of the Lord, and He will do it for us. That’s the secret weapon.

Are you hiding the Word in your heart to protect yourself from choosing evil? Don’t think just because you are an adult that you have the power to resist the lure of the evil one. No one is immune from his charms. But you can detect and avoid those evil choices simply by staying in the Word. Dig in today. Let it point you in the right direction.

O Father, You are the only one I wish to imitate today. Point me to Your Word so I can learn more and more about You.

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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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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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ILLUMINATED

1 JOHN 4:9

“By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.”

How many of you have a nativity scene you set up outside? We had one growing up that I loved. It was life size and was lit up with spotlights. We even had an angel hanging on wire above the manger. It was so cool. I always loved it.

But my aunt and uncle had one that was lit from the inside. It had this awesome glow. Don’t get me wrong. I loved ours more. But their nativity had this awesome look because it was glowing instead of being lit from the outside. Hmmm, that sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

APPLICATION

The word “manifested” means to illuminate, to make known, to make plain in open view. Try this with your kids. Get some candles and light them. Cover them with different things like a box, a flowerpot and a glass. Let them tell you which candle can be seen. Of course, the only one is through the glass. The others are covered up.

Talk about the verse. God’s love is illuminated through us when we accept His Son as our Savior. John even partially quotes John 3:16, which he wrote. John knew Jesus personally. He knew He had been sent by His Father to indwell us. Our kids need to understand that. Jesus was sent to save us from ourselves, from our sins, from the world, from Satan. And when He lives in us, His light will shine. Our job is to get out of the way and let it shine.

Are you shining for Him? Are you letting His light illuminate your life? He wants you to shine for Him by loving others. Why? Because He sent His Son for us. If Jesus lives in you, you have the light of the world in you. Isn’t that amazing? Why wouldn’t you let the light shine through your love for others?

Lord, I praise You for illuminating me. You have given me the ability to love others. Help me do that daily.

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OF THE DEVIL

1 JOHN 3:8

“the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.”

How do you know for sure who is of the devil and who is of God? A lot of people have bad days and can do a bad thing or two. But what constitutes being of the devil? Well, John spells it out pretty clearly here. He says, “The one who practices sin is of the devil.” That’s pretty harsh, isn’t it? Or is it?

You see, the key is the word “practices.” It means a lifestyle of sin. It means someone who only thinks of doing evil. Their motive is always self. No one else really matters to them unless they are to be used to advance their own desires. Those kind of people are not fun to be around.

APPLICATION

Our role as parents is to bring up our children to honor and obey the Lord. That’s not easy. So many things battle us along the way. The devil doesn’t want us raising kids who can recognize him. Why? Because when our kids can recognize his works they learn to flee the other way. If we are teaching them to walk with Christ, there’s a real recognition of anything that looks different.

Ask your children who they want to follow – Jesus or the devil. Most, if not all, children will say Jesus. We expect that answer. But listen, mom and dad, your children will learn how to practice holy living best by watching you. There you go again, Carl. You are always forcing us to role model. Yep. They will never forget how you live out your faith. When you practice holiness, even when the alternative is easier, they will remember that.

So, what are you doing today? Are you practicing sin and aligning yourself with the devil or are you practicing holiness and aligning yourself with Jesus. One may seem easier, but there are dire consequences. Won’t you let Him live through you today?

O God, I am thankful that I can walk with You daily and live in holiness. I want no part of the devil.

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GUARD YOURSELF

1 JOHN 3:7

“Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;”

When I was in Jr. High and High school, I played football (American football). I always loved the game. But there was one drill I didn’t care too much for. It was called “Bull in the Woods.” Let me explain it. One person would be put in the center of a ring of other players who were numbered off. The coach would then call a number and the player with that number would run toward the guy in the center and hit him. So, your job in the middle was turn and face that player and take on the hit.

The problem began when the coach would call multiple numbers, especially if they were from opposite sides of the circle. It became impossible to face every attack. They would eventually wear you down. That’s exactly what Satan does. He keeps coming at you from all directions. John is saying in today’s verse to be watchful for those attacks. Remember Jesus has your back.

APPLICATION

You can play this out with your kids. Try this twist on it. Get some pool noodles or something soft and get around one of your children. Blindfold them so they can’t see you. Give them a pool noodle to defend themselves and give everyone else one as well.  Then let the fun begin. Now, keep it safe. No head shots and no jabbing with the noodle. If someone starts hitting too hard, stop the game.

Explain to them after everyone has had a turn how Satan does the same to us. Unless we keep our eyes on Jesus and our minds focused on His Word, we are just as defenseless as they were in the game. Ask them how it felt not seeing where the next “strike” might come from. It can be scary. But praise be to God, we have no reason to fear. Jesus is the one who guards and protects us. We just have to surrender.

Are you tired of swinging your pool noodle at an invisible foe? Stop swinging and start living under Jesus. Let Him be the one who defends you. He is more than capable. We think we can handle it, but we can’t. Satan is too crafty. He can outfox any of us by ourself. But he is no match for Jesus.

Lord, I trust You in my battles. I will stand with You and trust You to defend me.

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SINLESS?

1 JOHN 3:6

“No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.”

Have you ever known anyone who didn’t make a mistake? You’ve never heard them say, I’m sorry. You’ve never seen them ask anyone for forgiveness. In fact, if you ask them, they would tell you that they are always right. Now, we know that’s not possible. We all make mistakes, sooner or later. No one is perfect.

If you read this verse without digging deeper, you might think John is saying you can’t ever sin again. If you do, it means you’re not a believer. No! That is not what John is saying. The word “sins” is in the Present tense. That means it’s an ongoing lifestyle. You make a habit of sinning. And the words “seen” and “knows” are in the Perfect tense which means it happened in the past with lasting results. Seeing Him and knowing Him changes you forever. You no longer desire those sinful behaviors.

APPLICATION

How do you teach this concept to children? Well, just ask your kids if they have ever messed up. Ask them if they have ever been disobedient to you. Explain to them that just because they disobey you, they doesn’t mean they are not your child. Nothing can change that. Their birth into your family (Perfect tense) has lasting results – they are forever in your family.

But how about that “sin” thing? Well, John said in the verse that if you “abide” in Jesus you would not sin, you would not practice sin, you would not make sin your lifestyle. I tell the kids I teach that before we are saved, we chase sin. After we are saved, sin chases us.

What are you practicing – sinful living or godly living? That will pretty much determine whose family you are in. Satan loves to keep us in his family. He will even let us think we are in God’s family. He doesn’t care if we claim to be a believer as long as we don’t live like it. Ask yourself who you are bringing glory to – Jesus or the devil.

I want to walk in holiness with You, Jesus. Order my steps so that I always bring You glory.

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DO NOT LOVE

1 JOHN 2:15


“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

We are told that we need to love everyone, right? We talk about all the things we love – apple pie, beach trips, music, etc. But John is drawing a line here on what we should not love. It is pretty simple really. Don’t love this world. But what is wrong with loving the things that bring us pleasure and enjoyment?

Anything that takes our focus off of Jesus can lead us down a slippery slope. I love hunting and fishing, but if that ever started redirecting my devotion off of Jesus, it would be sin for me. The problem for many of us is the world is so alluring. We can so easily be distracted. We have to guard our hearts and minds and stay focused on Him.

APPLICATION

Try this. The next time your children sit down to do some homework, go into the room where they are and turn on the television or radio to something you know they like. Maybe start playing their favorite video game. Watch how quickly they get off track and either start watching you or listening to what you are listening to.

When you notice this has happened, make your point. First, apologize for distracting them. Then read them this verse. Explain to them how the world does the same thing to us in our walk with Christ. Satan, the prince of this world, will use whatever he can to get our minds off of Christ, just like you did getting their minds off of their homework.

What distracts you? Where is your focus? What do you love? Jesus has to be your first love. He has to be your focus. You can’t love this world and love Him supremely. But you have to decide. Jesus won’t make you love Him. He is worthy of it, though. Don’t you think?

I will love You above all else, Lord. There is nothing or anything more deserving of my love. Thank You for loving me.

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THE SECRET TO OVERCOMING

1 JOHN 2:14

“I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”

Look at this verse. What do you think the secret is to overcoming the evil one? Look closely. See it? “and the word of God abides in you.” John even said in his gospel, “apart from me you can do nothing.” Unless the Word of God is reigning supreme in our lives, we have no hope of overcoming anyone, much less the evil one.

So, how do you make sure the Word is abiding in you? Are you having your quiet time? Are you spending time daily in His Word to help guide you? You see, you can’t rely on your own strength to overcome the evil one. The devil is much smarter than you. He can outwit you and scheme against you. But with God’s Word go guide, he is no match.

APPLICATION

Your children need to know this truth. They may think they can handle it by themselves. This comes even more a danger when they get older. Teens get independent and don’t realize how deceitful the enemy is. Parents have to be diligent in teaching their older children the necessity of relying on the Word of God.

Are you teaching your children this? The bottom line is this. We can’t do it on our own. We have to be armed with the sword of the Lord. Your kids may think the Bible is outdated. We have to change that view by daily showing the applicability of it in our own lives.

Are you doing that? Are you using the Word to guide you? Do your children see you applying the Word to your daily decisions? Do they get tired of hearing you say, We need to see what God’s Word says about this? I hope they are. Don’t stop.

Lord, I will trust Your Word. I know it has the wisdom to guide me daily.

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PERFECT

1 JOHN 2:13

“I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.” 

You may read the title of this devotion and then read the verse and wonder how I got that title. Well, you have to dig a little deeper than the English translation. You have to look at the verbs in the verse and the tenses that were used. Now, hold on. Don’t let me lose you here. Keep reading.

All three verbs John used, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in reference to his audience (fathers, young men and little children) are in the Perfect tense. That Greek verb tense means an action was taken in the past sometime with lasting results. So, that means the fathers and little children knew God and still know God. The young men overcame Satan and have still overcome him.

APPLICATION

If you think about it, a lot of our actions have lasting results. Do you want your children’s actions to have good results or bad results? Simple question with an equally simple answer. Of course, you want good results. No one wants their children to fail or leave a disaster in their wake. How do you help them accomplish those good results?

The only sure way is to teach them make every decision based on God’s Word. If they bathe their decisions in prayer and allow Him to guide them, then the results aren’t up to them. They are up to God. We know that anything He does is perfect. There you have it – perfect results. We just have to get out of the way.

Are you wrestling with a decision right now and worried about the consequences of that decision? Let the Lord have it. Ask Him what will give Him glory. If you do that, you are placing your trust in the One who manages the cosmos. I think He can handle your problem. Don’t you?

I will allow You to perfect my decisions through Your perfect Will. I know You always want what is best for me.

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