Monday, September 30, 2013

Your Reasonable Service

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a LIVING SACRIFICE, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  (Romans 12:1a)

On the surface, being a Christian appears easy to do, in as much as a Christian is basically a person that trusts in Jesus Christ. No one is more worthy of our trust, and He is fully able to bring us into the Kingdom of God. But this is a mere surface observation. The truth is that being a Christian can be very difficult because the real Christian is one who, because he trusts Christ, must set his heel upon human nature within him and subject the appetites of his flesh and the desires of his mind to the aim of pleasing God.  No wishy-washy, irresolute, vacillating, lukewarm, disorderly and unrestrained Christian will please his Master and glorify our Father.

Sacrifice requires the surrender of our life and thus control of it. What impressions we allow to be made upon our senses, the indulgences we grant our appetites, the satisfactions we seek for our needs, and the activities we engage in through this fearfully and wonderfully made instrument must now be controlled according to God's standards.  Apostle Paul writes, 

"He who sows to his flesh will . . . reap corruption" (Galatians 6:8)

as well as

"I discipline my body and bring it into subjection" (I Corinthians 9:27).

When viewed carnally, self-control—especially when linked with self-denial and self-sacrifice—seems to be essentially negative. However, when confronted with a true understanding of what human nature produces, we can see that the fruit of self-control is entirely positive.

The Apostle Paul strongly exhorts us to self-control:  

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.  I Corinthians 9:24-27

Apostle Paul uses runners in the Grecian games as examples of how we are to live as Christians. The first thing to notice is the utmost tension, energy and strenuous effort pictured by athletes straining for the finish line in hope of the glory of winning. "This is the way to run," says Paul, "if we want to attain our potential."  This requires steady, intense concentration, of focus, by the runners. They cannot afford to become distracted by things off to the side of their course. If they do, their effectiveness in running will surely diminish. Keeping focused requires control—not allowing distractions to interfere with the responsibility at hand. 

Jesus says:  "

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness"  (Matthew 6:33). 

Here, the issue is single-mindedness. James writes, 

"He who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. . . . 

He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways" (James 1:6, 8). 

Controlling our focus can go a long way toward making the run successful.  Apostle 
Paul then says the victorious runner sets Christians an example of rigid self-control: 

"Everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things." (1 Corinthians 9:25)

It is not only a matter of concentrating while he is racing, but in all areas of life because his whole life impacts on the race. The runner religiously follows a rigorous program within a rigid schedule each day: He rises at a certain hour, eats a breakfast of certain foods, fills his morning with exercises and works on his technique. After a planned lunch, he continues training, eats a third planned meal and goes to bed at a specified hour. Throughout, he not only avoids sensuous indulgences, he must also abstain from many perfectly legitimate things that simply do not fit into his program. An athlete who is serious about excelling in his chosen sport must live this way, or he will not succeed except against inferior competitors. He will suffer defeat by those who do follow them.

We can learn a great deal here about self-indulgence and self-control. It is not enough for us to say, "I draw the line there, at this or that vice, and I will have nothing to do with these." We will have a very difficult time growing under such an approach, as Apostle Paul relates:  

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.  (Hebrews 12:1)

Many things that are not sinful are "weights" simply because they are so time and mind-consuming. Because we do not want to fail in accomplishing the highest purposes for which we were called, we must run light to endure the length of our course successfully.

Jesus says: 

Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it"  (Matthew 7:14) 

Apostle Paul writes: 

"You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier"  (II Timothy 2:3-4)

The Christian is exhorted to control himself and run to win.  In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul illustrates self-control in its positive aspects by showing what it produces along the way and—most importantly—in the end. Jesus makes it clear in Revelation 2 and 3 that the overcomers (conquerors, victors) will go into the Kingdom of God.

Self-control plays a major role in bringing victory through our trusting relationship with Jesus Christ. A noted commentator, wrote, "There are few things more lacking in the average Christian life of today than resolute, conscious concentration upon an aim which is clearly and always before us."

Self-control is not the only factor we need to do this, but it is a very necessary one. Its fruit, good beyond measure, is worth every effort and sacrifice we must make.

Apostle Paul comes at this issue from a somewhat different angle, one that comes into play in the individual choices we make during the course of a day:  

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  (Romans 12:1-2)

By this, Apostle Paul demonstrates that Christian living is inseparably bound to belief in God's truth. Faith without works is dead, and works without the correct belief system is vanity. Wrong thinking cannot lead to right doing.   Thus, outwardly and inwardly he will be on his way toward God's will for human conduct. All the virtues produced from this change will begin to grow and manifest themselves in his life.

(Biblical Studies)



Friday, September 27, 2013

The Word on Faith

Jesus said unto him, 'If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth'. Mark 9:23

The word of God has much to be said on faith:

Matthew 17:20

"If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, 'Remove hence to yonder place;' and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."

Matthew 21:22

"And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."

Mark 9:23

"Jesus said unto him, 'If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth'."

Mark 11:24

"Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."

Romans 4:20-21

"He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith giving glory to God;"
"And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

Romans 10:17

"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

Ephesians 6:16

"Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked."

Hebrews 11:6

"Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

God's Goodness; Better Than Our Good

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
(Psalms 27:13)

God, being the standard of goodness, is unlimited in its description and its impact on the lives of everyone. The works of God are good because they reveal His attributes of wisdom and power.

And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.  Mark 10:18

Have you ever noticed the wide and sometimes even careless use we make of the word "good"? We use it so frequently that we do so almost without thinking. Yet a thing or experience you might consider good, someone else will consider only fair, poor or even bad or evil! "Good" has implications of some degree of excellence. What varies is the precise degree of excellence that lies unexpressed, hidden in the heart, when we use "good" as a sweeping generality.

The common idea in almost all of its uses is that it suggests a desirable quality, something commendable, reliable, welcome, enjoyable, beneficent, kind, noble, admirable, propitious, exemplary and very much welcome. In the word "goodness," the inner qualities of virtue, excellence of character, morality and attitude that we see in a person's behavior come to the forefront.

And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.  Romans 15:14

The commands of God are good because they express the righteousness of His character, teaching us, and helping us to grow in understanding His goodness.

God's goodness is a fearful attribute, but that fear has a positive effect on us when we obey Him because it produces good spiritual fruit. Those who yield to God's commands profit by it. Apostle Paul told Titus to remind the church to maintain good works:

This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.
 (Titus 3:8)

We do have a personal responsibility in what we do with the goodness that God sends toward us. This seems like a tall order, but God, who is faithful and true, promises to help us with it. This too is part of His wonderful goodness.

 The word of God enlightens and encourages us this way: 

Oh, how great is your goodness, which you have laid up for those who fear you, which you have prepared for those who trust in you in the presence of the sons of men!  Psalm 31:19

God's commands expresses the moral perfection of His character and shows us how to please Him, while marking out the path of blessings. In our obedience to God's commands He bestows upon us blessings while teaching us how to be good like Him. Just as He loved us first He also showed goodness to us first.

The six declarations in the account of creation week are built around the theme of what is good. Six times it records that "God saw that it was good."

The account culminates in a seventh statement  hat says:

God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.   Genesis 1:31

The apostle Paul spoke of the goodness of God in this way:

For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving  I Timothy 4:4

Because of the link between God and His creation, human life in this world is viewed in the Bible as good in principle.

God does not just create things good and then walk away from it, but He continues to maintain it throughout its existence.

Goodness is used in this context to convey the pleasant, joyful, and overwhelmingly positive effect of blessings on the people of Israel after their exile and captivity: 

"Behold, I will bring it [Israel] health and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth."
  (Jeremiah 33:6)

A peaceful and secure life is the proverbial good life, with God and people in harmony and people rejoicing in both God and the human blessings that He bestows. The goodness of God is not isolated from life but is the basis for what is good in it.

Some of the good things that are mentioned are obviously moral and spiritual phenomena:

*        Giving thanks to God, being near to God, the hand of God upon a person, 
*       God's statutes and commandments, the promise of God, the godly life, 
*       Doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God,
*       Brethren, dwelling together in unity
*       A word spoken in season 

These are all items mentioned throughout scripture as being good. The list of things keeps expanding into less obviously spiritual areas of life. A pasture can be good, for example. So can the work of building a wall and finding a spouse. Brethren, dwelling together in unity is good as is a word spoken in season. So are eating, drinking and finding enjoyment in work; wisdom and a conscience free from guilt. So, we see there that the word goodness, the adjective 'good', covers a wide spectrum of areas of life. Any area that God has an impact, which is everything, is impacted by God's goodness.

The English word "goodness" includes many pleasing qualities. It is more than an excellence of character; it is character energized, expressing itself in active good. Goodness does not spare sharpness and rebuke to produce good in others. Thus God can correct, sometimes very severely, and it is still goodness in action. Thus parents can correct their child, and it is good because it helps produce a responsible adult. 

 Apostle Paul provides a clear sense of this: 

Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. Romans 15:14 

Paul links goodness with full knowledge and admonition of each other. This gives us insight into what he knew of and expected from Christians in Rome, placing before us a target to shoot for in our relationships within the fellowship of the church. Goodness is acts of holiness or righteousness. Goodness is a quality of God:

Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually. (Psalms 52:1)
Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men.
 (Psalms 107:8,15,21,31)

My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and He in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me.
 (Psalms 144:2)

The goodness of God is shown to sinners to lead them to repentance:

Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (Romans 2:4)

King David said that he would have fainted had it not been for the goodness of God:

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalms 27:13)

David said God's goodness is laid up for us:

Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men. (Psalms 31:19)

As a believer, the goodness and mercy of God follows you:

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.   (Psalms 23:6)

Did you know knowledge combined with vanity can spew a torrent of self-righteous offense, but goodness will hold such a display in check and guide knowledge to build up rather than destroy. Biblical goodness is always, under every circumstance, beneficial. Though he had not yet been to Rome at the writing of his epistle, Apostle Paul evidently understood that he was writing to an unusually strong congregation. He was so confident that they had a strong and sincere desire to do the right thing that he wrote that they were "full of goodness [and] filled with all knowledge." They were far different from the recipients of Hebrew, whom he tells, "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God": 

For though you should in fact be teachers by this time, you need someone to teach you the beginning elements of God's utterances. You have gone back to needing milk, not solid food.
(Hebrews 5:12)

The Romans' full knowledge was an intelligent and comprehensive understanding of the faith and Christian responsibility. Strong faith is not built on weak understanding. They had given honest, serious thought to applying their faith to the sometimes bewildering tangle of life in this world. They were living it.

These two qualities—goodness and knowledge combined—presents a sound vehicle for instructing us in the best ways to "walk the walk" despite the pulls of this world. Goodness provides the right disposition and motivation, and knowledge, and the correct instruction. One devoid of the necessary knowledge cannot teach; anyone destitute of goodness will not even try because he lacks the impulse to help others in the right spirit. Even if he makes the effort, only a spirit marked by active love; another fruit of the spirit,  will win the response without which no true education in God's way is possible.

(Biblical Studies)



Wednesday, September 25, 2013

If It Walks Like A Duck . . .

For there are certain men crept in unawares , who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jude 1:4

In this day and age, if you are standing on the word of God, the enemy will try everything in his arsenal to trick you up.  But God, in his infinite wisdom, has alerted us of that which we should be savvy.  Namely, we have to know those that labor among us.  When you see these things, we have to act to dispel the enemy quickly.  

When King Solomon was anointed king, in a a conversation with God he asked for understanding that he may be able to discern between good and bad:

Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?  1 King 3:9

Those that love and fear (reverence) our Heavenly Father, who are filled with His Holy Spirit, we are given a certain measure of discernment:

Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.    Malachi 3:18

There is a seriousness to representing God and misrepresenting God:

If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.  And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death ; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.  Deuteronomy 13:1-5

The power of the Holy Spirit gives us a measure of discernment which, as we build up our most holy faith in God, we are to be able to discern between the righteous and the unrighteous or the unrighteous intentions behind the seemingly good actions.

But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
 Hebrews 5:14

As believers in Christ, we should always be on the look out and on guard for those that desire to pervert the word of God, for those that use the word of God for their own selfish needs, of apostles, pastors, prophets, evangelists and teachers who speak only of prosperity with little or no emphasis on the good news of our Lord and Savior and the plan of salvation, and for those that excuse, justify or condone actions that are contrary to the word of God.

Jude 1 tells us expressly what to look for:  

*  Their walk:

            A. Crept in unawares (verse 4).
            B. Walking after their own lusts (verse 6).
            C. Walking after their own ungodly lusts (verse 18).

*     Their talk:

            A. Speak evil of dignities (verses 8-10).
            B. Speak evil of things they know not (verses 8-10).
            C. Murmurers (verse 16).
            D. Complainers (verse 16).
            E. Mouths speak great swelling words (verse 16).
            F. Mockers (verse 18).

*    Their doctrine:

            A. Turn the grace of God into lasciviousness (verse 4).
            B. Deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ (verse 4).
            C. Have not the Spirit (verse 19).

*      Their conduct:

            A. Ungodly (verse 4).
            B. Filthy dreamers (verse 8).
            C. Defile the flesh (verse 8).
            D. Despise dominion (verses 8-10).
            E. Corrupt what they naturally know (verses 8-10).
            F. Admire people because of the benefit they receive (verse 16).
            G. Separate themselves (verse 19).
            H. Live sensually (verse 19).

Thankfully, God always makes provision and also lets us know what to do.   He lets us know through His word how we are to keep ourselves protected when we see or experience the enemy in these forms:

But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling [them] out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Hold fast to God and be fully persuaded in your faith and your relationship with God.  Jude 1: 20-23

Always remember, if it's not found, it is not sound!  If you can't find what is being expressed or taught in scripture; it is not of God.  God's word should back everything we say; should be the basis for not only what we say but also what we do.

(Biblical Studies)


The Heart of God's Nature

But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 1 Peter 3:4

The Bible sets the pattern for all kindness in the behavior of God the Father and Jesus Christ toward mankind. God gives sunshine and rain, fruitful seasons and glad hearts, food and all that is good to the just and the unjust alike.

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.  Matthew 5:45

It bodes well with us to look into God's kindness as it pertains more directly to His spiritual purpose. The inspired words of Zacharias following the loosing of his tongue are rich and profound in meaning for us:

To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:77-79)

God is love, and love is kind, but perhaps we don't see that. The Scriptures reveal that God does kindness with intensity of will and readiness of mind. He forgives with all His heart because He delights in mercy! He says,

"I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies."
 Ezekiel 18:32

God's nature works to give mercy, not punish; to create beauty, not destroy; to save, not lose. Can we not see a lesson in this? Are we anywhere near God's image in this? How many of us, fellowshipping among God's people, are hiding resentment and bearing the seeds of bitterness against a brother or sister because of some offense—or carrying a grudge, or filled with envy, or communicating gossip? Are these things acts of kindness? Does a forgiving spirit that delights in mercy enter into acts that destroy a brother's reputation and widen existing divisions?

God shows us His kind and tender nature and His determination for us in that: "He visited us." God did not merely pity us from a distance, nor did He allow His compassion for us to remain as an unresolved, inactive feeling.

Whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.   (Luke 1:78-79)

But God did just that!

"What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?" Psalm 8:4  

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. (Hebrews 2:14-18)  

God has not merely pitied us from a distance, but He has entered into life, our life, on our level. The Creator stooped from His high and pure abode as glorious God, and veiled His divinity for an abode of animated clay. He assumed our nature, was tempted in all things like us, took our sicknesses and bore our infirmities for the express purpose of being a merciful and faithful High Priest. He did not enter into our world and yet maintain a status superior to us. He truly walked in our shoes and still went about doing good.

"Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father."
Galatians 1:4

Who knows how many individual acts of kindness—from the conception of the plan to its fulfillment—are contained within this simple statement?

God generously and mercifully gives that others might benefit. This is the heart of God's nature. Now, because of what He did, this nature is growing in us. By His Spirit, He infills us with His Holy Spirit to enable us to work out our salvation, and as we yield, our lives are changing, gradually conforming to His image. He dwells in us despite all our provocations, stubbornness, neglect and rebellions. How often we must disappoint Him, and yet as our High Priest and Intercessor, He stands ever ready to serve us with yet more kindness.

Apostle Paul urges us to put on kindness. The very fact that he urges us to dress ourselves with this virtue signifies that none of us has "arrived" spiritually. All of us are flawed, deficient and weak in some respects. As we yield and develop these virtues, we must be forbearing and forgiving toward our brothers on the basis of Christ's example of forbearance and mercy toward us. The enabling power of God's Spirit is already within us, or this exhortation would be in vain.

It can be done if we will choose to humble ourselves and act when we become aware of the need of another or of the church itself. God calls upon us here not merely to act but to do it with affection. In all cases, we must let our heart dictate to our hand, to let our most tender feelings encounter the miseries of those in distress, just as Christ did in descending to clothe Himself in clay. We need to let our feelings be at hand and readily touched that we might open our hands wide in help.

This world has hardened us. We have seen so much arrogance and cruelty that God warns that at the end people will be "without natural affection" 

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good
 (II Timothy 3:3). 

We are this end-time generation, and we must go a long way even to start to be like Christ in kindness. But we can do it! Perhaps we can liken beginning to be like this to learning to swim by just "jumping in." Kindness is something that we must develop, and we can do it because God has already enabled us by His Spirit. This fruit is especially sweet tasting and a major factor in producing unity.

Never forget God's character, His example and this promise He has given to us: "

‘For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,' says the Lord, who has mercy on you."
 Isaiah 54:10

Kindness is the full flow of natural affection supported by benevolent action, as seen between David and Jonathan.

And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.  I Samuel 18:1

In our human relationships, we want others to sacrifice themselves for us, yet it seems so hard to reciprocate the same toward others on a continual basis. Nevertheless, self-sacrifice is the essence of true Christianity, and we can begin by the kind use of the tongue.

Apostle Paul tells us to "be kind to one another." 

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;  Romans 12:10

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.  Ephesians 4:32

Peter says to "add brotherly kindness" to the other godly virtues God is developing in us. 

And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.  2 Peter 1:7 

Living according to God's instruction, following the example of Christ and aided by the Holy Spirit, we produce the wonderful, spiritual fruit of kindness.

We can express Christian kindness in mercy, compassion and love toward others. It also includes being zealously affectionate toward God and His church. Kindness is an action not a thought. Jesus' life epitomized kindness—love in tender action.

Kindness is goodness in action, goodness of heart expressing itself in deeds 

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.  (I John 3:18). 

It is grace, tenderness, mercy, compassion—self-sacrificing tender action on behalf of others. We have very few opportunities to do "great" acts of kindness for others, but scarcely an hour passes that fails to present us a chance to perform some minor and unnoticed word or act of kindness.

Kindness - Pass It Forward

(Biblical Studies)



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Stay In The Race

My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything.
(James 1:2-4)

Say in the race, don't give up, don't act in haste, be patient . . .

In our impatient, self-centered world, one quality of character has all but perished: longsuffering. Similar to patience and forebearance, longsuffering is the quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation. 

A person who is longsuffering is not quick to retaliate or promptly punish someone who has insulted, offended or harmed him. The opposite of anger, it is intimately associated with mercy. Longsuffering is the quality of patience. It is the ability to cheerfully bear an unbearable situation and patiently endure.

King David did not act in haste when he returned to Ziklag to find that all the women and children (including his wife) had been taken captive by their first enemy as a free people.   (1 Samuel 30).  The standard of the world would be that King David would have been well wihin his right to immediately launch an attack.  But King David sought God first as the direction he should take. 

The heroes of today's culture are portrayed in the media as angry, aggressive defenders of the people who destroy without patience or forethought all opposing forces regardless of their personal qualities. But believers know that regardless of seemingly good intentions, this is not the way of God.

Longsuffering is a quality of God:  

And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,  (Exodus 34:6)

The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.  (Numbers 14:18)

But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. (Psalms 86:15)

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  (2 Peter 3:9)

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;  (2 Peter 3:15)

Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?  (Romans 2:4)

Longsuffering was a quality evident in the ministry of the Apostle Paul:  

But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, (2 Timothy 3:10)

We are told to be longsuffering with joyfulness:  

Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience, and longsuffering with joyfulness. (Colossians 1:11)

®  We are called to be longsuffering:  

With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2)

®  We are to preach the Word of God with longsuffering:  

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. (2 Timothy 4:2)

®  Believers are to "put on" longsuffering as a spiritual quality:  

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering. (Colossians 3:12)

®  Longsuffering is an attribute of God and thus a fruit of His Holy Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23

The fruit of the spirit is in direct contrast to the works of the flesh.  

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 
Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.  Galatians 5:19-21

Is it any wonder why it is critical that we adopt and put on more and more of the fruit of God?  As we allow it to encompass our entire being, it is with assurance that the works of the flesh dissipate!

(Biblical Studies)