Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Giving, Inspirational, Kindness, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Service, Testimony, Witnessing

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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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, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Direction, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, Mentoring, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Testimony

YOUR TESTIMONY

3 JOHN 3

“For I was very glad when brethren came and testified to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth.”

Years ago I used to do some consulting with other children’s homes in the area of accreditation. During those years, accreditation was getting more and more attention, and many states were starting to require it from licensed facilities. My reputation as a consultant began to be known, and I was contacted by a lot of agencies that were unknown to me. Others had talked about me which led to new contacts for me. Your reputation matters.

John is telling Gaius that very thing. Other brethren had come to John and told him how awesome Gaius was representing Christ. He was walking in truth. Now listen, that was not always easy, especially for a first century Christian. Persecution was real. However, Gaius was standing for truth. What a testimony! Don’t you know John was proud to be known as his friend.

APPLICATION

Our children need to learn early that their reputation, their testimony matters. It takes years to earn a good reputation, but one stupid mistake can erase all of that. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. I am not talking about making mistakes. I am talking about deliberately choosing evil over good. I am talking about walking down the wrong path, knowing you have taken the wrong path.

So, how do they keep their testimony pure and pointing others toward Christ? By relying solely on Him daily. By surrounding themselves with godly friends who will help them in their walk. By reading God’s Word daily and making application of it in their lives. By spending time in prayer daily. You see, all of these things point them to Jesus and away from the world. Taking their eyes off of Jesus will only cause them to stumble.

How is your testimony? If those brethren had visited you and gone back to John to report on you, what would they have said? Hmmm. I pray they would have given the same report they gave about Gaius. Are you walking in truth today? Follow Jesus and truth is your path.

Truth is my goal each day, Father. I want to be known as someone who walks in truth.

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Accountability, Affection, Asking, Bible, Blessing, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Friends, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Prayer, Scripture

LIVE LONG AND PROSPER

3 JOHN 2

“Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.”

How many Trekies do I have out there? If you ever watched the original Star Trek series, you are probably familiar with Spock’s typical farewell. He would hold up his right hand, form a V with his fingers by holding apart his second and third fingers and then say these words Live long and prosper. I do that often with friends just as a joke. If you’re not a Trekie, you don’t get it.

John wasn’t holding up his fingers and quoting Spock, lol. He was praying for Gaius to prosper. And he wasn’t asking for a one-time prospering. The verbs “may prosper” and “prospers” are both in the Present tense which conveys continuous action. John was praying that Gaius would prosper and prosper and prosper. The word “prosper” implies real success.

APPLICATION

I bet you want your children to prosper. Am I right? Of course, you do. All parents want to see their children do well. They want them to succeed in life. But I want you to look back at the verse for second. Look at the last part of the verse. John wants Gaius’ soul to prosper as well. It’s not just about succeeding in life. We should be praying that our children prosper spiritually.

How do they do that? Well, it’s not possible to prosper spiritually unless you spend time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer. That’s your role as a parent – to teach them to how to read and study God’s Word and how to pray. By doing that, you are laying the groundwork for them to prosper spiritually. You are preparing them for success in their faith. You do want them to “live long and prosper” don’t you?

Are you doing that? Are you more concerned about prospering financially than spiritually? How much is enough for you? So many believers get bogged down in achieving material wealth that they neglect their spiritual health. Prospering with God is not about things. It’s about faith. It’s about walking with Him daily. It’s about sharing the good news with others. So, are you prospering? Really?

Lord God, help me to prosper according to You. I want to be seen as a spiritually wealthy man.

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Advice, Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Elders, Encouragement, Friends, Mentoring, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Truth

YOUR NAME IS KNOWN

3 JOHN 1

“The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.”

I have a lot of friends. I say that, not to brag, but to make a point. A lot of people know me by my name. If my name is mentioned to them, they can say they know me. If they see my name in the paper, they would recognize it. In other words, a lot of people truly know me. I am glad for that and try to make a good impression.

I bet you Gaius never thought that his name would be known by people in 2021. We really don’t know who this Gaius was. There are three men named Gaius mentioned in the Scriptures (Acts 19:29, Acts 20:4 and Romans 16:23/1 Corinthians 1:15). It could possibly be the Gaius mentioned in Acts 20:4. Who he was isn’t as important as that he was. He was a kind Christian friend of John. That we know.

APPLICATION

Ask your child how they want to be known. Do they want others to remember them? For what should they be known? Our kids might want to be known for their athletic prowess. Perhaps they want to be known for their good grades. Most everyone wants to be known by others for something. No one wants to be forgettable.

However, we should be teaching our children to be known for their loyalty and commitment to Christ. In this day and age, that will really stand out. Even in Christian circles that will stand out. If our children are known for standing for Christ, people will remember their name. After all, we don’t want them to be known for who they are. Jesus will give them a whole new idea behind being known. Let Jesus show them the correct way to be known.

Are you concerned about being known? Gaius wasn’t. He was only doing what Christ told him. He was being a true friend to John. We see that in today’s verse. John loved him. That speaks volumes. Will you allow the Lord to use you today to be a true friend to someone? You never know who may remember you.

Father, I pray for opportunities to come alongside others for the cause of Christ. Let me be a Gaius to a John today.

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Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Family, Greetings, Love

WE ALL SAY HI

2 JOHN 13

“The children of your chosen sister greet you.”

What a strange way to end a letter. It just kind of seems John had a last minute thought as he finished the letter and threw this in. But I am reminded that every, single word of Scripture is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore, I have to ask myself what John was saying here.

Many believe this sister mentioned here may have actually been the recipient’s sister. We don’t know for sure. But if that’s the case, John could have written “your nephews and nieces say hi.” Perhaps John was staying with this family when he wrote to their sister and aunt. I can just see them looking over his shoulder as he penned these words and saying at the last minute Tell our aunt hi for us.

APPLICATION

How do you apply this verse to you and your children? Love your family. Express your love to them in as many ways as you can. Embrace family members. Don’t become isolated to just your immediate family. Reach out to family members who need to hear about Jesus. Lead your children to pray for those cousins, aunts and uncles who are lost and in need of a Savior.

And extend that family to fellow believers. For many believers, their church family is closer to them than their biological family. Teach your children to rely on their fellow believers. Spend time with others who believe like you do. Pray for your Pastor and church leaders. We need each other in this battle we are waging each day against the forces of darkness.

Who is your family? You probably have both biological and spiritual, right? Be a good family member. Don’t harbor grudges or ill feelings. Let those go. Love each other. Be like Jesus and love them. And, by the way, take a moment and drop someone a note just to say you are praying for them. It will make their day.

Lord, I thank You for my family, both my biological and church families. You have blessed me far beyond what I deserve.

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Affection, Bible, Encouragement, Friends, Greetings, Joy, Relationships, Scripture

CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU

2 JOHN 12

“Though I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, so that your joy may be made full.”

In this day of texts and emails, we communicate a lot. I remember back when the only way to communicate in writing was by a letter or postcard. But there is still nothing like seeing someone face to face. Words just can’t express our feelings. Even using FaceTime or Zoom isn’t the same. You can’t reach out and touch the person.

John is obviously having those same feelings. He may have had plenty of paper and ink, but he wanted to see his dear friend. He had so much more to tell her and her family. I wonder what that was. I wonder if he had the chance to see her. We won’t know the answer to that question until eternity. I guarantee you one thing. They have eternity to catch up, lol.

APPLICATION

You are probably thinking Carl, how do you apply this verse to me today? Well, who do you need to catch up with? Who have you not seen in a long time? It’s the new year. Perhaps there is someone who has been on your heart for the past few months whom you have just neglected to go see. Do it. Give them a call and say you are coming to see them because you have so much to tell them.

Have you ever watched people at a family reunion? Usually, these are times when family who haven’t been around each other much gather to spend some much desired time. And what do they talk about? Everything under the sun! Let me encourage you to share what the Lord has done and is doing in your life. Let others know how you have been blessed. That is certainly something worth sharing.

I am certain that John was not anxious to talk about the weather. He had lessons from the Lord to share. He wanted to impart truth. Why? He tells us in the last phrase of the verse. “so that your joy may be made full.” Some scholars say the word “your” should be translated “our.” Even better. How about doing that today. Make yours and someone else’s joy full.

I long for others to hear the truth of the Gospel and what You are doing in my life. Give me the opportunity today to share with someone else and make our joy full.

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Advice, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Deception, Fellowship, Greetings, Holy Spirit, Mentoring, Modeling, Opponents, Parenting, Scripture

WATCH YOUR FELLOWSHIP

2 JOHN 11

“for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.”

Sometimes, when we read the English translation of a Bible verse it reads exactly the same as the original language. And other times the English just doesn’t quite get it. Today’s verse is the latter. Let me give you the literal translation of this verse. “The one telling for him to rejoice partakes in the works of him evil.” Now, I realize that doesn’t read too well. That’s why it is translated the way it is. But let’s look at it closely.

John seems to imply in the Greek that we actually rejoice at seeing this person. That’s a lot different than just saying “hi.” And the Greek word for “participates” is koinóneó, which has the idea of fellowship. That’s a lot more than just participating. See what I mean by the original.

APPLICATION

Now, let’s apply this verse. We mustn’t rejoice and fellowship with anyone who speaks against our Lord. Our worldview is different. Our purpose in life is different. Our passion and focus is different. How can you agree with someone who denies or denigrates our Lord? You can’t.

And we have to teach our children the difference. They need to know how to deal with such people. We need to be Jesus to them without agreeing with them. Jesus would show them love, of course. So, should we. But there’s a boundary we have to teach our kids not to cross. We can love unbelievers without condoning or agreeing with their views, especially about the Lord. The sooner our children learn that, the better.

Let me ask you a question today. Is there someone in your life who fits into that category? How do you relate to them? Are you friends? That’s okay. Just be careful you don’t compromise your beliefs for the friendship. It can happen so easily. Be firm in your beliefs. Let them see Jesus in you. Perhaps your faithfulness will draw them to Him.

Lord, help me recognize when I am compromising my beliefs for the sake of someone else. Help me remain firm and strong in order to influence them. I want to be influenced by the Spirit, not man.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Courage, Deceit, Deception, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Mentoring, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Testimony

BY INVITATION ONLY

2 JOHN 10

“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting;”

I have, on occasion, received invitations to exclusive events. These events had limited seating and only certain people were invited to attend. Those decisions to limit the number of people may have been due to the venue size or the budget of the event. Whatever the reason, I always feel honored to be invited.

However, John is talking about something we should do to limit our audience. He is basically telling us to not invite anyone into our home who does not agree with God’s teachings. Wow! I thought we were supposed to reach out to the lost. We are. John is guarding us against false teachers. They should not be invited. Others should be so we can teach them the truth. We have to be so careful who we listen to, especially today.

APPLICATION

I pray your children invite their lost friends to your home. What better way for them to hear truth than to be welcomed into your home. Now, we should not let our children sit under anyone who teaches anything contrary to Scripture. But we should welcome any of their lost friends to hear the Gospel in our home. We want our children to be the influencer, not the influenced.

Does that make sense to you? I hope so. Don’t assume that every teacher or small group leader at church is teaching correctly either. Check them out. Make sure you have the right to sit in on a class or small group to find out. Any leader who doesn’t allow that is not open to accountability. Talk to your child’s Children’s Pastor or Student Pastor to find out who will be leading your child. It is, after all, your responsibility to disciple your child spiritually.

Have you opened yourself up to wrong teaching? Sometimes we do that without knowing. We hear about this great Bible Study available on dvd or online, so we dig into it. Always check out any study before you begin. Check out the author. Check out the publisher. And as you start the study, be aware of any inconsistencies with Scripture. As John says, “Do not give him a greeting.”

O Lord, keep my eyes open to falsehood. I want to honor You in all my relationships. Guard my heart.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Rearing, Conceit, Following, Humility, Inspirational, Life, Love, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture

HAVE YOU GONE TOO FAR?

2 JOHN 9

“Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.”

Some people just can’t help themselves. Well actually, they can, but they just choose not to. These people have to be out front. They have to be the ones calling the shots, even if the shots are wrong. I’ve known folks like that. It’s really hard to deal with them. Why? Because their focus is totally on themselves and not on others.

John talks about those people in verse 9 of 2 John. He even says if they go too far, they are not abiding in the teaching of Christ and they don’t have God. Now, that’s pretty harsh, isn’t it? What John doesn’t say but is implied here is there is no humility. You see, you can’t be humble and put yourself out front. And we know that humility is a characteristic Christ showed.

APPLICATION

We are always pushing our kids to excel, aren’t we? We want them to make straight A’s. We want them to be the captain of the ball team. We want… You get the picture. By doing that, we can unintentionally create a monster. We want our kids to do their best, but we don’t want them to put themselves above others in a negative way.

We have to teach our kids how to excel without getting the bighead. They need to know that any achievements they have are the result of God’s blessing in their lives. Sure, they may have worked hard for it, but God gave them the ability. With every triumph, point them back to Jesus. He is the one who gives them the strength and wisdom to achieve great things.

Have you ever gone too far? Have you put yourself over your spouse or work colleagues? If you have done that, confess that as sin and make it right with those whom you have harmed. That’s where the humility comes in. A humble leader can lead armies.

I am so thankful for the way You have gifted me, Lord. I thank You for allowing me to achieve great things for You.

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