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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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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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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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YOU DO OR YOU DON’T

1 JOHN 2:23

“Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.”

Have you ever thought you had something but couldn’t find it? I mean, you were sure you had it. You can see where you put it, but you just can’t lay your hands on it. Believe me, after several cycles of chemotherapy and two stem cell transplants, my memory ain’t what it used to be, lol. I misplace things all the time. Just ask my wife.

John isn’t talking about misplacing something. He’s saying you either have the Father or not. That all depends on your surrender to Jesus. It doesn’t matter what you think you have. Joining church doesn’t mean anything. Attending a hundred bible studies won’t save you. Only confessing Jesus as your Lord and Savior puts you in a relationship with the Father.

APPLICATION

Your children understand relationships. From their earliest days you started building that relationship with them. When you held them and fed them, you were bonding. They never had to confess you were their mom or dad. They were born into that relationship. Nothing will ever change that fact. Sure, there will be challenges to that relationship, but family is family.

However, they need to understand that your faith is not their faith. They don’t get to heaven on your shirt tails. They have to come to a saving knowledge of Christ on their own. You can’t do it for them. You can’t pray them into heaven (although you need to be praying for that). Teach them this truth. And when they do hear His voice calling their name, teach them to respond and confess Jesus as Lord.

Have you confessed Jesus as Lord? I pray you have. You may think you know God without doing that, but you have no idea. You may know about God, but you will never know the Father until you know the Son. The Father wants to show you more of Himself every day.

Father, I am so grateful that I know You. I am Your child because of Your Son. Thank You for sending Him to rescue me.

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ANOINTED

1 JOHN 2:20

“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.”

Okay, before you get all anxious about talking about “anointing,” hear me out. I am not going to talk about some extreme, cultic behavior. John doesn’t either in today’s verse. He had experienced this anointing in the upper room at Pentecost and had never forgotten it.

Neither should you. The Greek word for “anointing” refers to how the Holy Spirit teaches us and guides us to receive God’s will. Boy, isn’t that something everyone desires – to know and understand God’s will? It’s possible through the Holy Spirit. How? Because the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, lives within us.

APPLICATION

Explain this to your child this way. Stephen Curry is a great basketball player. Your son or daughter could watch every game he has ever played and never fully understand how he does all he does on the court. But if Stephen Curry somehow got into their body and played for them, then they would experience first-hand his skill and ability.

The Holy Spirit does that for us. He climbs inside us at salvation and is just waiting for us to surrender our will to His. He won’t force us to follow God’s will. Nope! But He knows it completely. We just have to let Him show us. Easy? Nope again! But is it worth it? You better believe it.

Are you struggling with your anointing? Why? Let go and allow the Holy Spirit of God to direct you. All those huge problems that bother you will be understood. They may not all go away, but you will understand. God is not playing hide-and-seek with His will. He really does want you to know it.

Lord, show me Your will. I surrender my stubbornness and rebellion. I want to be guided by Your Spirit.

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ARE YOU A HATER?

1 JOHN 2:9

“The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now.”

People can say anything. They can claim to love others but just watch how they treat them. The word “hate” seems to imply a horrible action. But did you know the Greek word here can actually mean to love less. Now wait a minute, Carl. That seems a little harsh. Oh really? Do you think Jesus loves them less than you? He loves them all.

John tells us that if we hate, we are still in the darkness. We are walking in the darkness. We are stumbling. What happens when you stumble in the darkness? You hurt yourself. You could break your toe or leg or worse. It’s the same when we hate. We hurt ourselves.

APPLICATION

If your child hasn’t said it yet, they will. They will come home saying they hate someone for something they have done. I am sure you correct them for that. Try sharing this verse with them. Let them see what God says about hate. Ask them if they want to be in the darkness. I bet they don’t.

There are going to be people we don’t like in life. That’s just the truth. So, what do we do? We pray for those individuals. We ask the Lord to give us His love for them. Is that easy? No! It’s impossible by ourselves. But with Christ in us, we can do anything, including loving those we do not like.

Are you tired of stubbing your toe in the darkness because you refuse to stop hating? Come to the light. Stay in the light. Let Jesus direct your path, especially when others are trying to block it. Love them anyway. Jesus does.

Oh Father, I fall so short in this area. I can always justify my hate, but Your Word convicts me. Thank You.

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NOTHING NEW

1 JOHN 2:7

“Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.”

One thing I hate is when someone changes the rules in the middle of the game. Don’t you? I mean, if you have rules, just stick with them. It’s really not fair to make adjustments based on someone’s lack of following the rules. Nor is it okay to lower the standard just because someone has trouble measuring up.

John is telling us that is exactly what God is NOT doing. These words John is writing, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, agree with everything else God has written. He isn’t changing the rules. He still demands holiness. He still requires obedience. He still expects us to walk in a manner that is pleasing to Him. Nothing has changed.

APPLICATION

Try this with your kids. Get out their favorite card or board game and start playing. Every few minutes change a rule. Make up new ones. Talk about confusing! It won’t take long for your children to get very frustrated and stop playing. Why? Because they knew the old rules. They knew what to expect.

Read them today’s verse. Talk about how God does the same for us. He hasn’t changed. He is consistent with His expectations of us. The big difference is Jesus. Now, under grace, He paid the penalty for our transgressions. We are free. That is one change for which we should all be grateful.

The key question, though, is this. Do you know what God requires of you? Do you know how to please Him? It is so simple – total surrender. Yep, it’s that easy. You may say Carl, that’s not so easy. Sure, it is. You just have to die to your own selfish desires and follow Him. Can you do that? You can through Him.

Lord, thank You for not trying to confuse me with new rules for living. I know what You expect. Help me live it daily.

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SPIRITUAL SHOES

1 JOHN 2:6

“the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”

Have you ever said I ought to get around to that or I ought to do that? What does “ought” mean? Have you ever stopped to ask yourself that? The Greek word here for “ought” actually came from a legal term. It means not just someone’s legal and economic obligations but also their moral obligations to something.

So, look at this verse again. If someone says he abides or remains in Christ, he is obligated to walk as He walked. “Ought” is also in the Present tense, which means he needs to be doing it constantly. Well, Carl, that sounds good, but it’s not possible. Sure it is, if you let Him do the walking. Let Him walk through you.

APPLICATION

Have your children gotten your shoes out and tried to walk in them? Well, here is a perfect way to illustrate this verse. Ask them to get a pair of your shoes and walk across the floor. Then ask them to run across the floor. Not so easy for them, is it. Even if your kids are a little older, the shoes just don’t fit.

Now, you put on the shoes and walk and run across the floor. Why is it easier for you? Because the shoes fit. Explain to them how we can only walk like Jesus if we are wearing the right size shoes spiritually. We have to wear His shoes. We have to walk like He walked. We can’t rely on our own spiritual shoes. They just don’t fit.

I bet you have tried to walk in your own spiritual shoes, haven’t you? I bet you have tried to live the Christian life based on your own strength and wisdom. How has that worked for you? Stumbled a bit? I bet. I sure do. I think I can run on my own and fall flat on my face. Just walk with Him. In fact, you “ought” to.

Lord, I know if I remain in You, You will help me walk. Hold my hand, hold me up as we walk this life together.

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HOW DO YOU KNOW?

1 JOHN 2:3

“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.”

I get asked a lot by people how they can be sure they are saved. They want a firm reassurance that they can rest on. Well, here is one way. John states it pretty clearly. He says, “By this we know that we have come to know Him.” Both times that word “know” is used it refers to a knowledge gained through experience. You know it because you have experienced it.

Then John goes on to say how we will know – by keeping God’s commandments. Simple enough, right? If you have given your heart to Jesus and are following His commands, you know the Lord. You obey out of love. You don’t obey to be loved. Keeping God’s commandments is just a natural result of knowing Him.

APPLICATION

Do your children obey you? Now, come on. Be honest. Do they obey you all the time? Probably not. Do they trust that what you ask them to do is for their good? Most children do. But why? Because they know you. They have grown up with you. You have been there through all their challenges. You have been there in the good times and bad times. You know them and they know you.

Explain this to your son or daughter the next time you have to discuss a “rule” with them. It is just like obeying the Father. He has known them even before they were born. He knows them completely. He has fashioned His plan for their lives for their good. He has written His Word to guide them towards perfection. They simply have to believe and follow Him.

Doesn’t that all sound easy? Well, we both know it isn’t. In fact, it’s impossible – by ourselves. But when we surrender to the Lord and bow before Him, all those challenges become opportunities to trust Him. All those hard times become times for growth.

Lord, I’m thankful You have given me Your commandments to follow. I know I can trust them to lead me where You want me to go. I trust Your Word.

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IF-THEN

1 JOHN 1:7

“but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 

Using the “If-Then” method of child-rearing is a good way of teaching them. If your child does his chores, then he can receive his allowance. If she cleans her room as promised, then you will take her to get ice cream. Now, you may not agree with rewarding children for doing their chores, but it is one method.

John is telling us here in today’s verse that we will receive a reward if we do a certain thing (If-Then). If we walk in the light, then we will have fellowship and Jesus’ blood cleanses us. We can’t expect to have either of those if we walk in darkness. Only by walking in the light are they possible.

APPLICATION

I’ve kind of already hinted at the application for your kids. Try one of those “If-Then” situations with your child. Then take them to this verse. You see, your own “If-Then” training is preparing them for their own “If-Then” decisions with the Lord. They are going to face a lot of those moments in life.

They will face crucial decisions with peers. If I do this, then this could happen. If I do this, how will it glorify God? If-then, if-then, if-then. All through life they will have to make those decisions. They need to understand your training of them now is preparing them for later.

How about you? Do you desire fellowship and forgiveness? Then it’s simple – walk in the light. That means to come to Christ and accept Him as your Savior. You can’t walk in light if you’re lost. You may think you’re in the light, but you aren’t. You are in the darkness. Come to the light.

I desire to stay in the light, Father. I desire fellowship with You and others. I know I am forgiven through the blood of Your Son.

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