Friday, August 28, 2015

Gentleness

Gentleness is not a spiritual fruit that this world connects with very easily. We need to be tough and individualistic, strong minded. But what does God have to say about it? A soft or gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1). How about Pr. 25:15 that says that a “gentle tongue breaks a bone.” Really, I won’t get my way that way. Well Titus says, “to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.”  That just does not seem right if we want to win. Oh, is that your goal, to win? King David said in Psalm 18 that
Your gentleness has made me great, you enlarged my path under me.” Sounds like he won with God’s help.  Paul tells the Philippians to let their gentleness be known to all for the Lord is near. He says to not be anxious about anything, but thankful and then the peace of God will be with us. Gentleness, or forbearance, fair-mindedness, even forgiveness  to all is implied here. This gracious disposition is made possible by God’s grace. This does not come easily for mankind for we are naturally selfish out for ourselves.


Life is about relationships. They require trust with discernment.  God wants us to be thankful in all circumstances. This attitude brings a gentle response. Peter tells us to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us, with gentleness and respect.  We need to stand firm on the Truth and the Gospel in a world slipping quickly into a morass of darkness.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Constantly


“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly as I should.” (Ephesians 6:18-20).

Paul has just completed speaking of putting on the whole armor of God for strength to fight the wiles of the devil. He finishes with taking up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Now he turns to prayer and praying at all times for all things continuously.  This is one of the concepts, principles or commands in scripture that seems to be beyond human capability. I can’t do anything continuously.   For quite a while in my life it seemed that I could continuously complain and grumble.  Thanks be to God, I no longer do this. However, to continuously pray? Paul takes this even further in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 by saying, “Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”  Being joyful and giving thanks for all things also seem impossible without God’s help.

Paul’s teaching on God’s behalf is throughout his writings. In Romans 1:9-10 he says, “God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times…”  Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 that “we also thank God continually.”  This theme continues to the Colossians in 1:3, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you…”   Paul gives a clear indication of how important this is by teaching his protégé Timothy, “I thank God, who I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.” (2 Timothy 1:3).

So perhaps for this admonishment we need to ask the Holy Spirit for strength. This is what it means to pray in the Holy Spirit using the Scripture or the sword of the Spirit. Praying in the Scripture gives us the power of God’s Word through the Holy Spirit. So, we can praise God as the Psalmist saying, “My praise shall continually be of thee…” (Ps 71:6).  Or as Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise- the fruit of lips that confess his name.”



Friday, August 14, 2015

Expectation

    
Biblical expectation is about waiting for the Lord with anticipation of His action. It is standing firm on His promises. Expectation while waiting is not passive, but active.  Make the most of every opportunity seasoned with salt and full of grace. We should expect good things to happen for the Lord is good. That does not mean that all things that happen to us are good; however, "we know that God is working all things together for good for those who love him and are called by his name" (Romans 8:28).

James 5 reminds us of how the farmer waits for the spring rains. He waits expectantly, as sunshine and showers will bring new life. Yes, Spring is here and new life is coming into our winter-weary lives. Cold is giving way to warmth. Birds are wildly proclaiming the end of fear of starvation and protection from the storms. They are already praising God for his goodness. Should we not do the same? “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, his love endures forever.”

The Psalmist David in Psalm 62 says, “Truly my soul silently waits for God…He only is my rock and my salvation…I shall not be greatly moved…my soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.” It is hard, but waiting on the Lord is a theme of Scripture.  David waited silently and expectantly. He could not stay very still, but keep running from Saul. This is where his true contentment came from. 


What are you waiting for? What is your expectation? Is it for some worldly promotion in work or investments or prestige? None of this will last. Wait expectantly on the Lord. “I will open rivers in desolate heights, and fountains in the midst of valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land spring of water.” (Isaiah 41:18).   He brought them to the Promised Land and He will do so for us as we obediently wait in expectation. We need to continuously seek Him in prayer, His Word and everywhere while we wait. He brought me healing from darkness and He will do the same for you.

Friday, August 7, 2015

God's Names

The names of God in Scripture are very encouraging. Throughout the OT and NT we find a wide variety of ways in which we can experience him. Starting  with God Almighty in (Gen. 17:1), we continue with a Consuming fire in Deuteronomy 4 and my Salvation in Exodus. Job calls him “My Friend and my Advocate.” The Psalmists cover a lot of territory with, “My Strong Deliverer, my Rock, Strong Tower, our Guide, our Help and Hope, my Confidence, Defender of Widows, God who avenges me, God who saves me and my hiding place, My Redeemer and Stronghold, Refuge and Strength.”
Isaiah 9 brings the familiar Christmas verses of the great light in the darkness, the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace, a Sure Foundation and Immanuel, God with us.  He is our Comforter in Sorrow and Most High in Jeremiah. In the Minor Prophets, Hosea calls him the Holy One among you and in Daniel he is the Son of Man and the Ancient of Days. Zechariah calls him the BRANCH, my Companion and my Servant the Shepherd.

Throughout the New Testament where the incarnate God is Jesus Christ there are more names, but only one that is above all names. Matthew calls him, The Lord of the Harvest, Son of Man and Son of David. The Gospel of Mark calls him the Good Teacher and The King of the Jews. John calls him the true Light, the Word, the Lamb of God, the Son of God, Messiah, the Gate, the Bread of Life, Light of the World,  the Way, the Truth and the Life, I AM, the Good Shepherd, the Corner Stone, I am the Resurrection and the Life, the True Vine, Vinedresser, the Helper, Counselor, Advocate, the Holy One.

The Epistles present God as our Peace, the King of Kings, God of all Comfort, Lord of Lords, Mediator, great High Priest, Most High God, the Chief Cornerstone, and Savior.  And in Revelation, Alpha and Omega, First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Root of David, the Bright and Morning Star.

We know that God in three persons, the Trinity, is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent.  He is Sovereign and God is love. He invites us to join him on our journey through life to eternal life in his presence as we trust in him. Our purpose, the chief end of man, is to know and enjoy him as the Westminster Confession tells us.

I must add by that God the Holy Spirit and third person of the Trinity is active throughout all of Scripture and our lives. God speaks to us through his Holy Spirit his will for us. We find this through prayer, his living Word, other godly people he uses, along with circumstances. Respond, adjust your way, submit and obey as soon as you hear from God. Have you told him you need him, and trust him as your Lord and Savior?  That is how we start the journey, and there is no better time than now!