Bible, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, God's Will, Gospel, Modeling, Pastors, Prayer, Relationships, Scripture, Service

NO CHARGE

3 JOHN 7

“For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.”

One of my joys in life has been going to teach national Pastors and church leaders in Uganda and Kenya. I had been making that trip every year since 2013 until health reasons and then covid stopped those trips in the Fall of 2019. I can’t wait to go back. But one thing I have never done is ask those to whom I am going to teach to support me financially. I go without cost to them.

That is what John is talking about in verse 7. Those brethren Gaius is assisting were going to share the Gospel with the Gentiles. They did not want to receive anything from the Gentiles so that they would not be seen as trying to profit off of them. Now, a teacher of the Word is worthy of “double honor” according to 1 Timothy 5:17, but they never want to be seen as financially motivated to teach.

APPLICATION

So how do we apply this verse to us today? Well, in one sense John is telling us to be aware of whom we can help go teach the lost. We can help send them on their way as they raise support. We can continue to support them once they get there. The one thing that can stop a missionary’s work quickly is the lack of funds. I wish I had the financial means to support all the missionaries I know.

We can also pray for those who will be hearing the Gospel from these missionaries. We need to pray for fertile soil. We need to pray for receptive hearts. Missionaries need to see fruit from their labors. That encourages them in their journey. We may not be able to go help them in their work there, but we can sure pray for those to whom they are ministering. If possible, get names from the missionary of people they are witnessing to. That would be a great way for our children to learn how to pray for missionaries and their work.

Make a list of missionaries you know and get them to send you a list of names of people you can pray for. Keep that list updated and celebrate with your family when someone you have been praying for comes to Christ. And I believe that will happen. God honors our prayers, and nothing thrills His heart more than to see one of His children return to Him. He wants to answer those prayers.

Father, I lift up all the missionaries who are faithfully serving today. Encourage them with a harvest of souls.  

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SEND THEM ON

3 JOHN 6

“and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.”

A few years ago, my daughter had the privilege to spend several months in Kenya serving as a Social Worker at Tenwek Hospital. It was an incredible opportunity for her. She was able to work alongside some Kenyan Social Workers and learn from them, as well as share with them her experience in Social Work that she had learned in college.

Our church commissioned her and sent her out in the same way John is referring to here in today’s verse. John had just praised Gaius for the way he had treated the brethren who had visited him. Now he tells him to send them out in a way that honors God. What does that mean? I believe John is saying send them as if you are actually dealing with God Himself. They deserved that kind of honor.

APPLICATION

A lot of churches have lost respect for those who dedicate their lives in service to the Lord. We shrug our shoulder when we hear about someone leaving for an overseas commitment. I remember as a child being in awe of those missionaries. Our children need to be taught what that kind of commitment actually means. We shouldn’t put those individuals on a pedestal, but we should show them the honor they deserve.

How can you teach your child that? How about helping your child send letters to those missionaries? I guarantee you that will bless their hearts. How about doing a fundraiser for a missionary project one of those missionaries has shared about? Sometimes those projects aren’t very costly and can be accomplished with a little help from home. And most importantly, pray for those missionaries in your home.

Is there someone you know who is raising support now to go serve in another country? What can you do to help with that? You may not be able to give financially, but there are plenty of other ways to help in the effort. May I encourage you to be a Gaius today? Send them out in a manner worthy of God.

Lord, I pray for all those who have surrendered to serve You away from home. Bless them today and meet every need they have.

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YOU’VE DONE GOOD

3 JOHN 5

“Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers;”

I have been an employee and an employer a long time. As an employee I love being told I am doing a good job. It’s nice to know others appreciate the work you do. As an employer and supervisor, I also know the importance of telling your employees they are appreciated. You can just see their faces beam when you tell them “Well done.”

John is telling Gaius the same thing. He is so proud of how Gaius is serving the brethren and not just those he knows well. He is even faithful serving strangers. The word “accomplish” here actually means “to work for.” Gaius was actively serving the brethren. He wasn’t just sending others. He was doing it himself.

APPLICATION

Have you helped your children serve others? There are all kinds of ways to show them how to directly serve someone. It’s one thing to put a few dollars in the offering plate on Sundays or to give toward a mission cause. But to put their hands into directly serving someone can cause a lifetime change.

How about taking them down to serve at the homeless shelter serving a meal? You can get them to go down the street and rake leaves for an elderly neighbor. The point is getting their hands dirty, experiencing a hands-on service project. And make sure they see the response of those they are helping. And when you get home, talk about how they felt doing this. Tell them how proud you are of them. Then read them this verse.

When is the last time you got your hands dirty? Don’t you want others to say “well done” to you? We all want that, but don’t do it for that. Do it to please the Lord. Let Him be the one to tell you “well done.” And as you are serving others, pray for the opportunity to share Jesus with them. You may be serving another believer who just needs encouraging. You may be serving someone who needs Jesus as their Savior. Just be obedient, like Gaius.

Help me Lord serve others You place in my path. I am not afraid to get my hands dirty for You.

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ETERNITY

1 JOHN 5:11

“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.”

Just how long is eternity? A longggggg time. In fact, it’s forever. Now, our finite minds cannot comprehend that. We live in twenty-four hour days. We measure things by minutes and hours. How many times have you stood by the microwave tapping your foot waiting for the food to get hot? We are so impatient.

But God’s gift to us is eternal life. Do you think you can handle that? Think about it. When we accept Christ as our Savior, God’s gift to us is spending eternity with Him. What will we do for eternity? Will we just float around on a cloud playing a harp? Hardly! Whatever we are tasked with in heaven, it will be a joy to serve our Father forever.

APPLICATION

Ask your kids how long eternity is (you may have to use the word “forever” instead). They really don’t have a clue but let them guess. Their answers can be quite humorous. Let them try to figure it out. When they give up, take them to today’s verse.

Explain to them that eternity will never end. No matter how long we are there, it will just go on and on and on. Tell them to imagine their most favorite trip they’ve ever taken. It will be like that, but it won’t end. Why? Because we are finally home – our real home. There’s no packing up and returning somewhere. We are where we should be from now on. That’s hard for little brains to comprehend. Heck, it’s hard for big brains, too. But we are promised it by God, so it’s certain.

Aren’t you excited about eternity? There’s a saying that we shouldn’t be so heavenly minded that we are not any earthly good. We long for heaven, but we are here until He calls us home. We have to be about His business until then. What has He called you to do until then? Who has He laid on your heart to share the good news with? Look forward to your gift from Him of eternal life, but don’t ignore where you are now. Let Him use you.

I am so thankful for the promise of eternal life. My future is secure because of Jesus. Help me share that today.

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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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FIRSTS

ACTS 2:14

“But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: ‘Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words.’” 

I remember the first sermon I preached. It was at Harmony Baptist Church in Pelham, GA. I was asked to preach at their annual Youth Sunday. I prepared what I thought was the perfect sermon and was sure it would last the allotted thirty minutes. Lo and behold, I was done in about seven, lol. But I found out something. No one complains about a short sermon.

Peter had been transformed by the arrival of the Holy Spirit. He was filled with the very presence of Christ now. He was no longer that disciple who had denied Jesus. He was now the leader of a new movement to evangelize the world. And here he is preaching his first sermon. What a message! What a transformation.

APPLICATION

Do you recall the first time your child performed at church or school? Perhaps their first solo or part in a play? I sure do. I was so proud of them. My shirt almost lost buttons, lol.  Tell your kids about that. Tell them how proud you still are of them. They won’t soon forget that.

Then tell them how proud the Lord is when they share Christ with someone for the first time or when they make that first gift to the church. First times can be hard and challenging, but the Lord will give them the courage to follow through. Challenge your children to take on those “firsts” just like Peter did. He was accused of being drunk when the Spirit came upon him and the other disciples. But he didn’t get mad and leave. He delivered his first sermon empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Are you fearful of stepping out on those “firsts”? Don’t be. Trust the Lord to use the Holy Spirit to strengthen you and give you the courage. He loves to encourage us. We just have to step up and trust Him. Will you do that today? Who knows, maybe your first sermon may last longer than seven minutes.

I will trust You, Lord, to empower me to step out and do what You ask, even if it is for the first time. I want to honor You with my obedience.

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TAKING LEADERSHIP

ACTS 1:15

“At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said,” 

If you notice, whenever lists of disciples are mentioned in the New Testament, Peter is almost always listed first. I wonder if that was because of his big personality or because he was seen as the leader of the bunch.

We know that Jesus put him in charge after the resurrection, but I also believe that Jesus was grooming him those three years they were together. He knew it would take a strong man to lead in the face of the coming opposition. Peter begins right here taking the leadership role. They were moved to fill the vacancy left by Judas Iscariot’s betrayal. Verses 16 through 26 tells us how they selected Matthias to fill that spot. But it was Peter who led them through this.

APPLICATION

Do your children have natural leadership skills? Many do. You can see it in their play when they take over to direct the other kids. You can even see it in their bucking of the rules sometimes. It is our job as parents to help develop those leadership skills so they can lead in a positive way.

I will never forget a young man I that I dealt with in a children’s home where I served. He was always in trouble because he was always fighting against the rules of the program. He was a natural born leader, but he wanted to lead in the wrong way. When I recognized that, I started giving him some opportunities to lead on campus in a positive way. I put him in charge of a work crew. The staff thought I was crazy, but that one little thing turned him around. He took ahold of the leadership opportunity and embraced it.

Has the Lord selected you to lead? Are you doing it? You may be fighting against it. Don’t do that. God needs strong, Christian leaders in today’s society. He wants you to step up, and like Peter, take charge. Many are depending on you to lead. But remember – the Lord is right beside you. You are not leading by yourself. In fact, you are co-leading with Jesus. Now get started.

I know You have called me to lead, Lord. Give me the courage to step out and do that. I will hold Your hand as I do it.

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QUITE A CATCH

JOHN 21:11

“Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.”

From catching nothing the night before to an overwhelming catch! One hundred fifty three, not fifty two or fifty four! This catch was so big with large fish that the disciples counted the fish. John records the number of fish. Why? Because this was an unusually large catch. This miraculous catch of fish convinced them all that it was indeed the Master on the shore.

And Jesus tells them in verse ten to bring some of the fish to Him so they can eat, even though He already had some fish on the fire. Why? Matthew Henry’s commentary says He wanted them to eat some of their labor. He wanted them to taste of the miracle that He had just performed. Aren’t we all supposed to bring to the Master anything He has done through us? Peter ran to do that.

APPLICATION

How many fish can your children catch? When we have our Family Fishing Rodeos at our church, some of the children are especially good at catching fish. Some catch stringers full of nice fish to take home and eat. Catching fish is always fun.

Ask your children what they have done if Jesus had helped them “land the big one.” Would they bring the fish to Him or run off to show their friends? This lesson isn’t about the fish. It’s about bringing to Jesus whatever He chooses to do through us. He deserves all the praise, not us. Anything we do on our own is temporal. Everything He does through us is eternal.

What has the Lord done through you lately? Did you give Him praise for using you? I have known some people who love getting attention for things they do in the church. They love the praise others pour on them. Don’t be like that. If you are being used right now by the Lord, make sure everyone knows who it is who deserves the praise.

I thank You for using me, Father. Let all the praise be given to You. I am only the net You use to gather the fish.

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YOU ARE A PROCLAIMER

1 PETER 2:9

“But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may;” proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

Many have memorized this verse. Most of us remember the first part but forget the second. Let’s take a look at that. Peter tells us we are chosen for a purpose. We are chosen to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

We tend to get stuck on the first part of the verse which makes us so special. But since we are chosen, since we are a royal priesthood and holy nation and since we are God’s own possession, He expects us to tell others. We are proclaimers of the good news of Christ.

APPLICATION

How hard would it be for your children if you asked them to keep a secret about something incredible? Suppose you have planned a fabulous vacation and you told your kids all about it but swore them to secrecy. Their little tongues would be chewed raw biting their tongues to keep from telling someone.

We should have the same excitement about what Christ has done for us. We should be busting at the seams wanting to tell everyone. But we relish in the chosen part without looking at the responsibility part. He saved us to use us to spread the good news.

Have you told someone lately how incredible Jesus is to you? Have you told them what He has done for you? Don’t miss an opportunity. Don’t simply rely on your position in Christ. Now, I don’t mean you HAVE to do anything to guarantee your salvation. What I mean is you should have a burden to share every chance you get.

Thank You for choosing me and claiming me as Your own possession. I belong to You. Help me spread the Word.

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NO NEED TO BATHE

JOHN 13:5-11

“5 Then He poured water into the basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, ‘Lord, do You wash my feet?’ 7 Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.’ 8 Peter said to Him, ‘Never shall You wash my feet!’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’ 9 Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.’ 10 Jesus said to him, ‘He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.’ 11 For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’”

Back in Jesus’ days on earth walking was the primary means of travel. If you were lucky, you may have a donkey to ride. But the roads were still pretty much dirt roads and were well…dirty. It was customary for someone to provide you water to wash your feet or have a servant to wash them for you. This was considered the lowliest job in the home.

Remember, back then they didn’t sit around a table in chairs. They reclined on the floor with their feet to the side or in front of them. No one wanted to eat with nasty feet in their face. So, when Jesus began to wash their feet, the act itself wasn’t unusual. But the thought of their master performing the act was more than Peter could handle.

APPLICATION

I bet your children would enjoy a foot washing. Act out the story we read today. Ask them how it feels to have your feet washed by someone else. Have each family member take turns washing feet. Ask them how it felt to wash someone’s feet. This is not a common practice today, so they may not get to experience elsewhere.

Explain to them what Jesus was teaching – humility and servanthood. Even He, the Son of God, came to serve. We should never think we are too good for service. God may give you the blessing of service at your church or at a mission. Never place yourself above the person God has asked you to serve.

When is the last time you humbled yourself in service? Ask the Lord to give you an opportunity today. When is the last time you have been the recipient of service? Don’t shun it. God wants to bless you and use someone else in the process. Let them bless you.

Lord, thank You for this example of humility and service to others. Give me opportunities to serve others and humble myself.

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