Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Moving With Compassion

They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness.  he Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.  The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.  Psalms 145:7-9

We know when we are not demonstrating the Christ-like character of gentleness; when we are sharp with someone because they rubbed us the wrong way, when something is not done the way we felt it should have been done.  But in these things, we should always react in the manner of our Lord and Savior Jesus.  Knowing that as believers, everyone is not at the same place we are, we should always move with mercy, grace and compassion,

And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.
  Mark 6:34

Gentleness is a distinctive trait for the Spirit of God; it is a main attribute of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and today in all believers the Holy Spirit should be seen through gentleness.

Do our words and actions express gentleness to all people, or are we gentle to some but harsh with others? Which then is our real face? Which then is our real self? Let the word of God speak to you through these verses about gentleness.

In the Old Testament God spoke to Elijah and it is remarkable to note this scene as to where God spoke from:  

"The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"  I Kings 19:11-13 

God was not in the powerful wind and was not in the earthquake, was not in the fire; no, on the contrary, the Almighty God spoke from the "gentle whisper".

Let everyone see your gentleness.  

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.  Philippians 4:5

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.  Galatians 6:1

Apostle Paul writes this to people who were probably spiritually stronger than the Corinthians were. He instructs the stronger ones within the congregation how to react to another who has not come quite up to their level of Christ-like behavior. Notice that Apostle Paul does not instruct us to fall on them like a ton of bricks: 

Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.  (Galatians 6:2)

He says to restore them with "gentleness," considering our own state, and bear with them.

Notice carefully what Paul names as the reason for making unity and peace 

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  (Ephesians 4:1-3) 

There should be value we place on our calling. If, in our heart of hearts, we consider it of small value, our conduct, especially toward our brethren, will reveal it and it will work to produce contention and disunity. Thus John writes:

 "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?"   I John 4:20

Apostle Paul next counsels us to choose to conduct ourselves humbly. Humility is pride's opposite. If pride only produces contention, it follows that humility will work to soothe, calm, heal, and unify. He advises us to cultivate gentleness; the opposite of the self-assertiveness that our contemporary culture promotes so strongly. Self-assertiveness is competitive determination to press one's will at all costs.

This approach may indeed "win" battles over other brethren, but it might be helpful to remember God's counsel:   

"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."  Proverbs 15:1

 James declares that godly wisdom is 

"gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy".  James 3:17

Apostle Paul counsels that we be patient; likewise, James counsels us to 

"let patience have its perfect work".
   James 1:4

We often want quick resolutions to the irritations between us, which is certainly understandable since we want to get rid of the burden those differences impose. But we must understand that speedy solutions are not always possible. Interestingly, in Apostle Paul's letter to the Philippians, he does not use his apostolic authority to drive the two feuding women into a forced solution:  

I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.  And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.  Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.  Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:2-7 

Some problems are deeply buried within both sides of the contention, so finally Apostle Paul admonishes us to forbear with each other in love. Essentially, he says to "put up with it" or endure it, doing nothing to bring the other party down in the eyes of others and vainly elevate the self. This is peacemaking through living by godly character. Yet another aspect to the Christian duty of peacemaking is our privilege by prayer to invoke God's mercy upon the world, the church, and individuals we know are having difficulties or whom we perceive God may be punishing. This is one of the sacrifices of righteousness mentioned:

Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.
 Psalm 4:5 

The Bible provides many examples of godly people doing this: 

     Abraham prayed for Sodom, Gomorrah, and probably Lot too, when the division between them and God was so great that He had to destroy the cities. (Genesis 18:16-33)

      Moses interceded for Israel before God following the Golden Calf incident. (Exodus 33:11-14).

     Aaron ran through the camp of Israel with a smoking censer (a symbol of the prayers of the saints) following another of Israel's rebellions that greatly disturbed the peace between them and God. (Numbers 16:44-50)

In each case, God relented to some degree. We will probably never know in this life how much our prayers affect the course of division or how much others—even the wicked—gained as a result of our intercession, but we should find comfort knowing that we have done at least this much - our prayers combined with gentleness, mercy and compassion - toward making peace.

(Biblical Studies)

Monday, February 1, 2016

God's Word / Your Tongue

Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. I Corinthians 10:11

The word of God leads us and guides us throughout our lives.  It shows us the sovereignty of God manifest in many different ways.  God gave us His word for many purposes.  This was first illustrated in Exodus after the battle against the Amalekites had been won:  

And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.
 Exodus 17:14 

There are many, many powerful purposes for the inspiration of the written Word of God:   

-Is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction:
II Timothy 3:16-17
-Brings belief in the Gospel message:
Acts 4:4
John 15:3; Ephesians 5:26
-Brings eternal life, if we hear & believe it:
John 5:24
-Is the basis for eternal judgment:
John 12:48
-Is used to cast out unclean spirits:
Matthew 8:16; Luke 4:36
-Is followed by miraculous signs & convinces people of the truth of the Gospel:
Mark 16:20
-Gives assurance of salvation:
I John 1:2-6
-Brings the born again experience:
I Peter 1:23; Psalms 119:41
-Bears record of the truth of the Gospel:
I John 5:7
-Sanctifies the believer:
I Timothy 4:5
-Gives hope:
Psalms 130:5; 119:49,81
-Brings healing:
Psalms 107:20 Psalms 107:20
-Keeps us from the path of the destroyer:
Psalms 17:4
-Is spirit and life:
John 6:63
-Brings joy and rejoicing:
Jeremiah 15:16
-Increases faith:
Romans 10:17
I Thessalonians 4:18, Psalms 119:50,52
-Brings spiritual nourishment:
I Timothy 4:6
-Brings answered prayer:
John 15:7
-Is the key to success:
Joshua 1:8
-Blesses, if we hear and keep it:
Luke 11:28
Psalms 19:11
Psalms 19:8
-Makes wise the simple:
Psalms 19:7
-Converts the soul:
Psalms 19:7
-Is a weapon in the time of temptation:
Matthew 4
-Brings blessings when it is kept and curses when it is not:
Deuteronomy 28
Psalms 119:170
-Gives the simple understanding:
Psalms 119:130,104,169
-Brings delight:
Psalms 119:92
-Is the basis of His mercy:
Psalms 119:58
Psalms 119:28
Psalms 119:25 Psalms 119:25
-Makes us wiser than our enemies, teachers, and the ancients:
Psalms 119:98-104
-Brings the blessing of walking in righteousness:
Psalms 119:1-3

-Permits access to Heaven:
Revelation 22:14
-Brings great reward when kept:
Psalms 19:11

Let’s bust up the notion that the Old Testament is null and void.  Apostle Paul tells in reference to the Old Testament, 

Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.  I Corinthians 10:11

He goes on to say that we should take heed [to those words written in the old testament], lest we fall by doing the same wrong things that they did.

Because the Word of God is so powerful, believers have a responsibility to make it known to the world. The early Church assumed this responsibility for the Word of God. They went  every where preaching it (Acts 8:4; 12:24; 13:49). They asked God for boldness to speak His Word (Acts 4:29,31). The Word of God increased throughout the world because of their faithfulness (Acts 6:7; 19:20).

God confirms His Word with signs following. One cannot wait for the signs to precede the Word. You have a responsibility for spreading this powerful Word to the world.

*  God puts His Word in us so we can speak it to others
Deuteronomy 18:18-19; 
Isaiah 51:16; 
Jeremiah 1:9; 3:12; 5:14; 26:12; 
Ezekiel 2:7-8.

*  Because we are taught in God's Word, we have a responsibility to teach others: Galatians 6:6

*  We are to preach the Word throughout the world: Luke 24:47; Mark 16:15; II Timothy 4:2.

*  We are not to speak our own words, but His words: Isaiah 58:13

*  We are not to be ashamed of the Word: Mark 8:38

*  We are to teach it to our children: Deuteronomy 6:6-9

The Holy Scriptures have divine power because they are the Words of the true and living God. But your own words are also powerful, especially when you speak God's Word. You can overcome Satan through words, 

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Revelation 12:11)

Confession by your mouth is part of salvation:  

But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:8-10)

Your tongue has the power to bring spiritual death or life as you minister to others:  

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.  Proverbs 18:21)

You can snare yourself with your own words. You can get yourself into difficulties by what you say:  

Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth; thou art taken with the words of thy mouth. (Proverbs 6:2)

Your words can prevent you from acknowledging the power of God:  

Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us? (Psalms 12:4)

Satan uses the things you say to cause a breach in your spirit. A breach is an opening through which he can enter:  

A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit. (Proverbs 15:4)

What you say affects your soul:  

A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. (Proverbs 18:7) 
Whoso keep his mouth and his tongue keep his soul from troubles. (Proverbs 21:23)

Your words affect your whole body:  

And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity; so is the tongue among our members, that it defiles the whole body, and setts on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. (James 3:6)

Your words affect your whole life:  

He that keeps his mouth keeps his life; but he that opens wide his lips shall have destruction. (Proverbs 13:3)

Believers prevent the flow of God's power in their lives through their own words. They speak covetous, idol, and foolish words. They argue over commandments of men that turn people from the truth of the Gospel. They speak evil words about others, murmur, complain, boast, and lie. They speak words that cause division, words of cursing and bitterness.  Then they wonder why they are powerless.  

:  The flow of God's power in your life is not only affected by the power of HIS Word, it is affected by the power of YOUR words.

(Biblical Studies)