What About ‘Speaking in Tongues’?

What About Speaking In Tongues?

Chapter Seven

What About Speaking In Tongues?
God's Call To a Holy Life 74 The Purpose Of 'Tongues' in The Book Of Acts 82
Examples Of Spirit-Filled Believers In Acts 75 The Holy Spirit Is The Sanctifying Spirit 83
The 'Acts Of The Holy Spirit' In The Book Of Acts 76 Personal And Congregational Use Of 'Tongues' 84
Knowing The Way Of God More Accurately 77 Open-Mindedness To The Use Of 'Tongues' 85
What About 'Speaking In Tongues'? 78 Maintaining a'Balanced' Attitude Towards 'Tongues' 86
What Is The Primary Evidence Of The Spirit's Fullness? 79 Discussion Questions: 87
The Spirit's Fullness And The 'Activation Of Spiritual Gifts' 80 Discussion Questions: (Continued) 88
Must Every Believer 'Speak In Tongues'? 81    

1 Peter 1:13-25

God's Call To a Holy Life

The Church's greatest need is holy preaching, holy living, and holy witnessing. Each of these depends upon the fullness of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit wishes to baptize every believe with His presence, power, purity, and love. Every Christian needs to be delivered from inbred sin and empowered for service. The Holy Spirit is the answer to these needs.

Said John the Baptist to those to whom he preached, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire". (Matthew 3:11) Jesus Himself promised the Holy Spirit to His children, as the greatest of all gifts. The gift of the Holy Spirit is given to the Christian who openly asks. Said Jesus, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:13) A short time before Jesus' death, He said, "I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you." (John 16:7)

The Bible promises cleansing to the heart of every earnest believer: "If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all … If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". (1 John 1:7, 1 John 1:9) This is reminiscent of the Old Testament passage: "Come now, and let us reason together saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool". (Isaiah 1:18) It is God's will that Christians be sanctified completely–made pure within. Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for thy shall see God". (Matthew 5:8) Paul wrote, "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification". (1 Thessalonians 4:3 a)

It is God's command that Christians be holy. "Sanctification is not the same with justification. Justification is a change of our state from guilt to pardon; sanctification is a change of nature from sin to holiness." (Binney's Theological Compend, p. 129) Peter wrote, "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (behaviour). Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:15-16)

During the next few devotionals, let us look at the Christian in light of his greatest need–his need for the fullness of the Holy Spirit. The fullness of the Holy Spirit is God's promise, God's command, and God's will.

"Father, thou art holy and thou hast called me to live a holy life. Now make me holy through the cleansing blood of Christ! Cleanse me from all carnal acts and attitudes. Enable me to have a sincere love for my fellow men. Through Jesus' empowering name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: What I need, He will supply; what I ask, He will give–holiness of heart and life! What I receive–God's love–I will share openly and gladly!

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74


Acts 2:38-39

Examples Of Spirit-Filled Believers In Acts

Recorded in the Book of Acts are several specific examples of believers who received the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus prayed to His Father for His disciples: "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth". (John 17:16-17) Jesus was not praying for their conversion or justification; He was praying for their sanctification. They were already sanctified in the sense that they were initially converted, and thus set apart for special service. They, however, were not sanctified in the deeper sense of the term. They needed the sanctification which would result in cleansing from inbred sin.

Later, just before His ascension, Christ told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem. "And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." (Acts 1:4-5)

Jesus fulfilled this promise on the Day of Pentecost. "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost." (Acts 2:1, Acts 2:4 a)

On the Day of Pentecost, Peter preached with great power. Peter's message was definite–justification and sanctification. "Then Peter said unto them (the crowd), "Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." (Acts 2:38- 39)

Another example of believers who experienced the fullness of the Holy Spirit is the Samaritan believers. In Acts 8:5-8, we have described a great revival with many turning to God and finding new joy. "Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many the were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city." (Acts 8:5-8)

However, a few verses later we read: "Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them; only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). The laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost." (Acts 8:14-17) Thus, we find that these new Christians received the fullness of God's Spirit in their hearts.

"Father, you promised to pour out your Holy Spirit upon your people in the last days. So, as in the days of old (Psalms 51:6), create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Pour out your Holy Spirit upon me today."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: He who began a good work in me–justification–will bring His work in my life to completion–sanctification!

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75


Acts 9:3-6, Acts 17:1-34

The 'Acts Of The Holy Spirit' In The Book Of Acts

We must continue to look at examples of believers who were filled with the Holy Spirit, in the Book of Acts.

Saul, who later became the great apostle Paul, was known to be a terrible persecutor of Christians in his earlier life. However, the day came, as is well known , when Saul was dramatically converted. "And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who are thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what whilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do." (Acts 9:3-6)

Later in the account we find that God sent Ananias to Paul for a specific purpose: "And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost." (Acts 9:17)

Paul became a flaming evangelist and often spoke of the Spirit's ministry to the Christian. Paul wrote the greatest of all descriptions of perfect love in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, which is in reality the essence of holiness.

In the tenth chapter of Acts we have a description of a godly Gentile Christian, Cornelius. "There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And new send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter." (Acts 10:1-5)

Cornelius was a devoutly religious man who feared and respected God. He was a man of prayer and liberality. But yet God wanted to lead Cornelius into a closer walk with Him.

God sent Peter to minister unto Cornelius. Peter spoke about Christ, His life, death, and resurrection. Says the Scripture, "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost." (Acts 10:44-45)

"O God, your ways are past finding out, and yet I see your footsteps on the sands of time as you pursue mankind with your eternal love. You pursued a hot-tempered Saul and turned him into a love-filled Paul. You pursued a devoutly religious Cornelius and turned him unto a spirit-filled believer. Act dynamically in my life to make me a tender and receptive and Spirit- controlled believer!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The Written Word (Bible) will lead me to the Living Word (Christ) whose life will be imparted to me through the Dynamic Spirit!

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76


Acts 19:1-7

Knowing The Way Of God More Accurately

In the eighteenth chapter of Acts, there is an account of a mighty preacher of God who was shown "the way of God more accurately". "Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he know only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. It is noted that Apollos knew only of "the baptism of John". This I believe means that Apollos knew only the doctrine of repentance and justification. To know the way more perfectly or accurately is to know not only the baptism of repentance (as John the Baptist taught) but also to know personally the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

There is a most interesting account of twelve Epheisan disciples learning about and experiencing the fullness of the Spirit in their lives. "While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, 'Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed'? They answered, 'No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit'. So Paul asked, 'Then what baptism did you receive'? 'John's baptism', they replied. Paul said, 'John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus'. On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all." (Acts 19:1-7, NIV) Repentance is important and essential before one is ready to receive the baptism of God's Spirit. However, a Christian must not stop short of going on to the experience of the Spirit's fullness.

As a child, I was raised in a Christian environment, for which I will always be deeply grateful. As a child of eleven, I became subject to deep conviction for sin, and in simple faith accepted Christ as Saviour at that age. That was March 12, 1956. A few months later I first became aware of my need for Spirit-filling, under the preaching of this subject. After that sermon, I went forward to an altar where my godly grandmother earnestly prayed with and for me. I felt God helped me that night, but I did not receive the witness of the Spirit's fullness until a few days later, in a cabin on the Free Methodist campground in Cannon City, where my minister talked to me and prayed with me. God seemed to flood my soul with His love, and I witnessed to others immediately following this experience. It was a glorious experience– it seemed that God opened the gates of heaven and poured out upon me a holy and tender love. I wanted to put my arms around the whole world and tell them I loved them–and that God loved them and wanted to save them!

"O thou Giver of all good and perfect gifts, I thank you for the gift of your precious Spirit, and for your love which you shed abroad in my heart through your Spirit!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of love. The more of me that the Spirit controls, the more love for people I will express!

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77


Acts 2:4, Acts 10:44-46, Acts 19:6-7

What About 'Speaking In Tongues'?

Notes John T. Seamands, in his excellent little booklet 'The Gift of The Spirit', "There is much confusion among God's people these days concerning the significance of the gift of tongues. Many insist that unless persons have received this gift, they have not received the fullness of the Holy Spirit. We need to search the Scriptures diligently for the truth.

"The Book of Acts records six instances where people were filled with the Spirit of God. (1) On the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem (2:1-4). Three outer manifestations are mentioned: a sound like wind, tongues like fire, and 'speaking in other tongues'. (2) Later in Jerusalem (4:31) . Here it is only recorded that 'the place in which they were gathered together was shaken'. (3) At Samaria (8:14-17). This time there were no external accompaniments. (4) Paul's experience at Damascus (9:17). Again there was no special manifestation, except that he regained his sight. (5) In the household of Cornelius at Caesarea (10:44-48). Here it is recorded that 'they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God'. (6) Ephesus (19:1-7). On this occasion the group 'spoke with tongues and prophesied'.

"In three instances there were outer manifestations, and in three cases there were none. When manifestations did occur, they varied in number and in type. Only on three occasions did the group speak in tongues. But in every instance the central fact was the same–'they were all filled with the Holy Spirit'." (The Gift of the Spirit, p. 41; John T. Seamands)

What is 'Tongues' all about? How should I react to this strange phenomenon? What really is the meaning and the value of tongues? Is there really any benefit derived from speaking in tongues? Is it essential, from the Scriptural viewpoint, that all believers speak in tongues? Is tongues merely a first-century phenomenon that lost its purpose long ago or is it a present day reality? Why is there so much resistance against tongues-speaking people? Why do some tongues-speaking Christians 'insist' on all Christians needing to speak in 'Tongues' if they claim to be 'baptized in the Spirit'?

During the next few days we must look at this important, but controversial, subject. Sincere Christians will probably continue for a long time to disagree on their interpretations regarding the purpose and place of Tongues, but we must nevertheless attempt to gain a clearer understanding (and hopefully a more balanced understanding) of this difficult subject. A charitable spirit among sincere believers who strongly disagree on this subject, is called for! "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. .And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:1, 1 Corinthians 1:13)

"Father, I am glad that in the end, when all persons will be judged by Jesus Christ, that all will be judged solely on the basis of the love response of the heart and not on the basis of the perfect understanding of the mind. Help me to have an open mind as I approach a controversial subject, but, above all, give me a deep love for my fellow Christians who differ from me, both in their understanding and in their practices. In Jesus' charitable Name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I must always "agree to disagree agreeably" with those fellow Christians who, like me, love the Lord deeply but who hold different convictions and interpretations than what I hold."

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78


1 Corinthians 13:1-13

What Is The Primary Evidence Of The Spirit's Fullness?

What is the primary and universal evidence of the Spirit's fullness in a believer's life? The primary evidence is increased love for God and man. Jesus made it clear that the life that the Christian is intended to live is the life of love. When asked what was the greatest commandment in the law, Jesus answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. That is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets". (Matthew 22:37-40) It is a universal expectation and even imperative that every Christian possess the gift of God's love as outlined in I Corinthians 13. Love is the "more excellent way". The importance of love is emphasized time and time again in the New Testament epistles: (1) Love is the Spirit's gift to believers–Romans 5:5, (2) Love is the Fruit of the Spirit–Galatians 5:22, (3) Love is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament Law–Romans 13:10, (4) The fullness of God is evidenced by the fullness of Love–Ephesians 3:19, (5) Holiness means abounding in love– 1 Thessalonians 3:10-13, (6) Purity of soul and sincere love exist together–1 Peter 1:22.

The Spirit's baptism is the baptism of love. This baptism of love gives inner purity, as symbolized by fire. John the Baptist predicted the Spirit's Baptism: "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire". (Matthew 3:11) On the Day of Pentecost, tongues of fire appeared to those who were Spirit-baptized, inwardly cleansing them from all sin. (Acts 2:3)

This baptism of love gives outward power to witness, as symbolized by the mighty rushing wind on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4). This is one sign that will always follow the Spirit's Baptism of love–outward expression of love in witnessing. Jesus foretold this just before he ascended: "But you shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit has come upon you". (Acts 1:8, RSV)

Said one man upon receiving the Spirit's fullness, "At the actual moment of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, there was one overwhelming impression: I was bathed in, surrounded by, washed through with love. I don't know why more hadn't been made of this in the things I had read on the subject. Perhaps because we are so concerned with the power aspect of the Holy Spirit. But the nature of that power, I am convinced, is love." This is the testimony of a man who claimed to speak in 'Tongues' following his Baptism in the Spirit. It was not 'Tongues', but love, that most described the experience of Spirit- Baptism in the life of this man. In fact, he concludes: "The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is the gift of love such as we have never known it."

"By this shall all men know that I am a true follower of thee, O God, and by this shall I personally have evidence that I am truly a Spirit-filled person– because I love Christ supremely, because I love others sincerely, because I love myself subordinately. Flood my life with your holy love!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Baptism with water is an outward sign of an inward work of God's justifying grace in. my life. Baptism in love is an inward sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, enabling me more effectively to perform outward works of compassion and service.

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79


1 Corinthians 12:7-11

The Spirit's Fullness And The 'Activation Of Spiritual Gifts'

Increased love (giving inner purity and outward power to witness) is the universal and primary sign of being filled with the Holy Spirit. What place does 'Tongues' have then in relationship to being Baptized with the Spirit? Tongues is valuable as a secondary evidence (not primary or universal evidence) of being Baptized by the Spirit. What is meant by 'Tongues' being a secondary evidence of the Spirit's fullness? To answer that question, 'Tongues' must be looked at in terms of a gift.

'Tongues' is one out of several God-given gifts to be used, as all gifts are to be used, to glorify Christ, to do a God-given task better, and to edify the Church of Jesus Christ. "Why is it that He gives us these special abilities to do certain things best? It is that God's people will be equipped to do better work for Him, building up the Church, the body of Christ, to a position of strength and maturity." (Ephesians 4:12, Living Bible)

Each gift is God-selected and God-given to individual believers, and each gift is for helping the entire Church. (Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 in the Living Bible.) Each gift is to be used as an expression of the believer's supreme love for Christ.

A study of the Book of Acts seems to show that one affect of the Spir it's Baptism is the activation of the God-given gifts. 'Tongues' is one of the gifts and therefore when the Spirit Baptizes a large group of believers at one time, those believers who possess the gift of 'Tongues' can expect that their gift will be activated. Those believers who possess some other (less spectacular) gift can expect that their particular gift will also be activated.

Does this principle of the 'activation of gifts', due to the Spirit's Baptism, appear to be valid from a study of Acts? It appears so. Several of the gifts which Paul mentions (1 Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11) were activated in the lives of those who possessed them, following the Spirit's Baptism. The gift of miracle working was activated by the Spirit's Baptism (Acts 2:43, Acts 5:12-16, Acts 6:8); the gift of healing (Acts 3:6-7); the gift of preaching (Acts 2:14, Acts 2:41); the gift of teaching doctrine (Acts 2:43); the gift of ministering or helping other in special ways (Acts 2:45, Acts 4:34-37); the gift of business administration and organization (Acts 6:3); the gift of speaking in languages that had never been learned by the speaker (Acts 2:4, Acts 10:46, Acts 19:6); The gift of discerning good and evil spirits (Acts 5:1-6, Acts 8:23).

The activation of the gift of tongues, following the Spirit's Baptism was no more a sign of being filled with the Spirit than the activation of one of the other gifts, for example, the gift of healing, or the gift of preaching, or the gift of administration. The evidence to the man who is Spirit Baptized is always an increase in love which results in inward purity and greater outward power for witnessing.

"Father, to know you fully, I must experience the Holy Spirit intimately. Because the spirit has come into the world to glorify Christ, I too, as a Spirit-filled believer, will glorify Christ–by my loving words and by my compassionate works!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will use the Spirit-wrought activation of my spiritual gifts to glorify Christ and to edify fellow believers!

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80


1 Corinthians 12:27-31

Must Every Believer 'Speak In Tongues'?

What about the viewpoint of the Pentecostals who say that the two chapters in I Corinthians (chapters 12,14) refer to 'tongues' as a gift only while the 'tongues' discussed in Acts refer to the initial sign of the baptism in the Holy Spirit? The Pentecostals "believe that everyone does speak in tongues, however briefly, at the moment of his Baptism, whether or not he is subsequently given the gift of tongues for use in his daily Christian life." (They Speak With Other Tongues, p. 76)

One thing is clear from the Corinthian passage: The gift of unknown tongues is not a universal gift and nothing is said in Corinthians that would give the idea that unknown tongues should be claimed as a sign of Spirit Baptism. Secondly, there is no conclusive evidence in the Book of Acts that all spoke in tongues at the time of the Spirit's Baptism. Consider the Samaritan believers–Acts 8:17, and Paul–Acts 9:17. Third, there is considerable evidence from studying those passages in Acts which describe people speaking in tongues following their Spirit Baptism, that the tongues refer to actual known languages (Acts 2 unquestionably means this and Acts 10:46 and Acts 19:6 may also mean literal known languages). Those who claim the necessity of Tongues as evidence for Spirit Baptism, usually refer to the Acts passages for their argument (Acts 2 especially where, say they, all 120 in the Upper Room spoke in tongues). For the sake of consistency, if the Acts passages are the 'proof' passages, should not the tongues which are given as evidence for the Spirit's Baptism be actual languages, not unknown tongues? It was definitely actual languages in Acts 2 and there is strong grounds for believing that the passage on Cornelius (Acts 10:46) refers to an actual foreign language. Phillips translates this passage 'foreign tongues', although New English Bible translates this as 'tongues of ecstasy', and the Amplified says 'foreign languages'. In each of these passages, at least one of the translators believes the passages refer to actual languages. The only thing that we can conclude from these Acts passages is that we cannot be sure what all the passages on tongues in Acts mean. It is possible that all the references to 'tongues' may mean actual languages.

If the Pentecostals choose to use the Book of Acts as the grounds for establishing their belief in tongues as evidence of Spirit Baptism, then, if they are consistent, they must conclude that the tongues which they claim as the sign for Baptism will, more times than not, be actual languages rather than 'unknown tongues'. There is no undisputed passage in Acts that definitely establishes the 'tongues' as 'unknown tongues'. The passage on tongues most referred to by the Pentecostals (Acts 2) as 'proof' that 'tongues' is a sign of Spirit Baptism, refers to actual languages.

"Father, I do not seek for some spectacular or emotional or dramatic 'sign' of your Spirit's fullness in my life. Evidence your Spirit's presence in my life by enabling me to have a deeper love for you and a greater compassion for others. To be Spirit-filled is to be love-filled!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will never 'seek' for 'Tongues'; I will seek for Christ only, and, in seeking Christ, I will discover the fullness of the Spirit with the accompanying fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

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81


Acts 2:1-12, John 10:44-48, John 19:1-7

The Purpose Of 'Tongues' In The Book Of Acts

John T. Seamands, in his booklet 'The Gift of the Spirit' has some very helpful insights on the subject of 'Tongues' in the Book of Acts. Many other scholars would basically agree with his interpretation of those Acts passages which speak of 'Tongues'. Here is what Seamands says:

"It is very clear that the nature of 'tongues' mentioned in Acts was not that of an unintelligible language, but a temporary ability to proclaim the gospel in a foreign language. Note these words carefully: 'And they were amazed and wondered, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each one of us in his own native language?'" Then Luke goes on to list fifteen different places from which the people had come for the feast at Jerusalem.

"Now why was this gift necessary? Surely not because the disciples needed to speak a foreign language in order to communicate to the people, for they all spoke a common language, Aramaic and/or Greek. When Peter preached his sermon that day, he did not need a gift of language or an interpreter; he preached in a language the people understood. The purpose of God's gift was to provide supernatural evidence that this was not a Jewish but a universal religion, cutting across all national boundaries. It verified God's promise spoken through the prophet Joel: 'And in the last days … I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh'. So this was a special miracle for a special occasion with a special purpose. And it happened, rightly so, first at Jerusalem.

"The same linguistic miracle took place again at Caesarea to Cornelius and his group who were Roman Gentiles. Finally, it occurred in Ephesus, the center of Greek and pagan culture in Asia Minor. Now every last vestige of Jewish sectarianism was broken. The Good News was truly World News! So we see that at the three great centers of culture (Jewish in Jerusalem, Roman in Caesarea, and Graeco-pagan in Ephesus) a temporary gift of speaking in a foreign language was given when people were baptized with the Holy Spirit." (The Gift of The Spirit, p. 42; John T. Seamands)

Paul never speaks of 'unknown tongues' in terms of a 'sign' of being filled with the Holy Spirit, but he does refer to unknown tongues as being a 'gift' (1 Corinthians 12:14). What about the thousands of believers who have never spoken in tongues, and yet who are living the life described in I Corinthians 13? Can one say that these persons have never been Baptized by the Spirit? If one concludes that these thousands of loving people have not been filled with the Spirit because they have not spoken in tongues, then speaking in tongues becomes the earmark of the Spirit Baptism rather than love. But Paul would be the first to refute this conclusion. Paul taught that love is the distinguishing evidence and mark of the Spirit-filled life.

"The universality of the Gospel message, and the general outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the world of all peoples of all races, are vividly demonstrated in the Book of Acts. Thank you, Father, that Jews, Romans, Greeks and pagans–all–are included in your great economy of grace and mercy! Glory!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Indiscriminately and universally the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon all people of all nations. I will personally open my life to the fullness of the Spirit!

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1 Thessalonians 2:10-12, 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13, 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

The Holy Spirit Is The Sanctifying Spirit

Paul taught that it is possible to exercise the various gifts selfishly and at a time before one is Spirit Baptized. The carnal Corinthians gloried in 'Tongues' and in other gifts–such as eloquence, knowledge, etc. Because of their preoccupation with spiritual gifts, rather than with the Giver, Paul had to write to them about the 'more excellent way' (I Corinthians 13). What the tongues-speaking, carnal Corinthians needed was a Baptism of love which would result in an inner cleansing from carnality and an outward redirecting of their particular gifts ('Tongues' being one of the several gifts) from selfish use to Christ-honoring use. Paul well knew how carnally the Corinthians were using their gifts and how futile the exercise of a gift was without love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). It is the Holy Spirit's job to saturate the heart of the believer with love (Romans 5:5). the gift-oriented Corinthians needed to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. The presence of love was in their lives by virtue of their initial conversion, but not the supremacy of love. The Holy Spirit was Resident in their lives but he was not yet President of their lives. The Corinthians were too gift-oriented and not enough Giver-oriented. They had not yet experienced the Giver–the Holy Spirit–in all His fullness.

The Holy Spirit is not only the Spirit who justifies the sinner, but the Spirit is also the one who sanctifies the believer. It was sanctification that the carnal, gift-oriented Corinthians needed, and the life of sanctification is best described in I Corinthians 13. Arthur D. Zahniser clearly distinguishes between justification and sanctification. "Justification is pardon, sanctification is purity. Justification saves from sinning; sanctification saves from sin… Justification is citizenship in the kingdom of heaven; sanctification makes us soldiers of the Cross … Justification creates a desire to service; sanctification fits and equips for proficient service. By justification the love of God is shed abroad in the heart; by sanctification the love of God is perfected in the soul … Justification saves from the wrath of God; sanctification brings into full harmony with the nature of God … Justification takes the believer out of the world; sanctification takes the world out the of the believer… Justification admits us into the family of God on earth; sanctification fits us for the society of God in heaven. Justification is witnessed to by the Spirit; sanctification is attested by the baptism of the Holy Ghost."

"Father, you are a God of grace and of gifts. The greatest of all your gifts to the world is the blessed Holy Spirit, whose ministry includes conviction of sin, conversion of the sinner, and cleansing and empowerment of the believer. Cleanse me from all carnal attitudes, perfect my motives, and activate my gifts–all for the purpose of glorifying Christ, edifying the Church, and witnessing to the world! In Jesus' precious name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit to be used in loving ways. I will allow the Spirit creatively and lovingly to use my gifts.

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1 Corinthians 14:1-40

Personal And Congregational Use Of 'Tongues'

In considering the use of tongues, let us look at the use in terms of personal use and congregational use. What about the personal use? The gift of 'Tongues' has several personal uses. The gift of tongues edifies the believer who speaks in 'tongues'. "So a person 'speaking in tongues' helps himself grow spiritually." (1 Corinthians 14:4) Speaking in tongues is one method of prayer. "For if I pray in a language I don't understand, my spirit is praying, but I don't know what I am saying. Well, then, what shall I do? I will do both. I will pray in unknown tongues and also in ordinary language that everyone understands." (1 Corinthians 14:14-14, Living Bible) Praying in tongues lets one pray, when with his own mind he has no idea what to ask for in a given situation. Paul also experienced singing in unknown tongues, for he had that particular gift. "I will sing in unknown tongues and also in ordinary language, so that I can understand the praise I am giving." (1 Corinthians 14:15 b, Living Bible) The gift of tongues is a gift of praise, as assumed in 1 Corinthians 14:16, but it is to be used in ones private devotions to God and not publicly, unless there is definitely an interpreter. "For if you praise and thank God with the spirit alone, speaking in another language, how can those who don't understand you be praising God along with you? How can they join you in giving thanks when they don't know what you are saying? You will be giving thanks very nicely, no doubt, but the other people present won't be helped." (1 Corinthians 14:16-17, Living Bible)

What about the congregational use of 'Tongues'? There are certain limitations which Paul gives for using this strange, yet wonderful, gift within a public service. The gift must not be used in the presence of unbelievers, for unbelievers would think the non-intelligible sounds were signs that the Church and the Church members were 'mad' (or 'crazy'). "If at a full Church meeting you are all speaking with 'tongues' and men come in who are both uninstructed and without faith; will they not say that you are insane?" (1 Corinthians 14:23, Phillips)

Even amidst a totally Christian congregation, there must be an interpreter present who can intelligently interpret the unknown tongue. "If the question of speaking with a 'tongue' arises, confine the speaking to two or three at the most and have someone to interpret what is said. If you have no interpreter then let the speaker with a 'tongue' keep silent in the Church and speak only to himself and God." (1 Corinthians 14:27-28, Phillips) It appears, for the sake of safeguarding public misuse of the gift, that he who has the gift of speaking in unknown tongues should also have the gift of interpretation. "He who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret." (1 Corinthians 14:13, RSV)

"Father, I thank you for those spiritual gifts which you have given to me. Help me to use these gifts appropriately and sensitively and humbly–not to gratify or to glorify myself–but to enhance myself and to edify my fellow Christians, and, most of all, to glorify you."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will carefully control the exercise of my spiritual gifts so that I might not misrepresent Christianity to an unbelieving world!

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1 Corinthians 14:26-33, 1 Corinthians 14:39-40

Open-Mindedness To The Use Of 'Tongues'

When 'Tongues' are used in a public service under the conditions specified in the last devotional (i.e., a totally Christian group with intelligent interpretation), all in the congregation must receive benefit from it. If the tongues disturb the worship atmosphere or disrupt the Christian unity, then they are being misused. "Everything should be done to make your Church strong in the faith."

Why do so many react so strongly against 'tongues' and the Pentecostal movement? There are doubtless several reasons, but the following are two main reasons.

First, because of unfamiliarity with the gift and the user. Just as pagans are first amazed and repelled by the thought of God dying on a cross, so Christians who are unacquainted with Pentecostals are first amazed and repelled by the thought of someone speaking in an "unknown tongue". Hostility comes many times because of ignorance of the real meaning and place of this strange, but wonderful gift.

Second, because of the perversion of the gift. There have been many times when the public use of tongues has repelled unbelievers and left believers cold, because of the misuse of the gift. However, misuse of a gift should not take away the desire for the open use of the gift. Notes John Wesley, in his Journal, "The danger (wrote Wesley, talking of outcries, convulsion, dancing, visions, trances, and the like) was to regard them too little; to condemn them altogether; to imagine they had nothing of God in them, and were a hindrance to His work. Whereas the truth is: (1) God suddenly and strongly convinced many that they were lost sinners, the natural consequences whereof were sudden outcries and strong bodily convulsions; (2) to strengthen and encourage them that believe, and to make His work more apparent, He favored several of them with divine dreams, others with trances and visions; (3) in some of these instances, after a time, nature mixed with grace; (4) Satan likewise mimicked this work of God in order to discredit the whole work; and yet it is not wise to give up this part any more than to give up the whole. At first it was, doubtless, wholly from God. It is partly so at this day; and He will enable us to discern how far, in every case, the work is pure, and where it mixes or degenerates. The shadow is no disparagement of the substance, nor the counterfeit of the real diamond."

Simply because there is the counterfeit in 'tongues', does not discredit the genuine and wholesome expression of 'tongues'. Paul indicates that, because 'tongues' cannot be understood without interpretation, the gift of 'prophecy' (or forth-telling the Word in preaching) is definitely a superior gift to that of speaking in 'tongues'. However, believers who don't have the gift of 'tongues' are to respect believers who do have and practice the gift of 'tongues'.

"Father, free me from judging my fellow Christians who differ from me in background, temperament, experience, and spiritual gifts. Help me never to impose my standards and convictions upon others, but instead to cultivate a spirit of love, acceptance, and understanding, recognizing always that there are a variety of gifts and a variety of manifestations of those gifts."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will seek in the Church to maintain the unity of the faith amidst the diversity of gifts and amidst the manifold variety of expressions of those gifts.

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1 Corinthians 4:1-7

Maintaining a 'Balanced' Attitude Towards 'Tongues'

After making a brief 'study' on the subject of 'Tongues', what can we conclude? (1) Tongues is one out of several gifts given to some believers by the Holy Spirit as the Spirit chooses. There is no evidence that speaking in tongues is the universal sign of the Spirits' Baptism. (2) The gift of tongues, along with all other gifts, will be activated in the lives of some believers by the Spirit, at the time of the Spirit's Baptism. The activation of individual gifts is a secondary evidence of the Spirit's Baptism. (3) The Spirit's Baptism is a Baptism of love which enables the believer to exercise his gift unselfishly, be that gift tongues or something else. Love is the universal and primary sign of the Spirit's fullness, and I Corinthians 13 shows love to be an imperative in the believer's life. (4) It is possible to exercise many or all of the gifts (including 'speaking in tongues') without being Spirit Baptized (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). (5) Specifications for the use of tongues, both publicly and congregationally, are clearly outlined and should be carefully noted. (6) Resistance to tongues is largely explained in terms of unfamiliarity with tongues or because at times there has been a misuse of tongues. People naturally react negatively to the strange or to the bizarre. Unfamiliarity is a poor excuse, however, for resistance, and simply because there is the counterfeit in tongues does not discredit the genuine and wholesome expression of tongues. Wrote Paul, "In conclusion then, my brothers, set your heart on preaching the Word of God, while not forbidding the use of 'tongues'. Let everything be done decently and in order." (1 Corinthians 14:39-40)

The following advice represents, to me, a 'balanced' attitude towards 'Tongues'. (1) Never take the hard and rigid stance which denies the validity of all tongues experience and seeks to stop it at any cost … (2) Make room for people in the Christian fellowship who express their spiritual vitality in different ways. (3) Take time for serious Biblical and historical study of the whole phenomenon of tongue-speaking. .(4) Do not allow tongue-speakers to disrupt or take over public worship services. . (5) Do not cultivate vote seeking groups who are trying to get the gift of tongues. Nothing could be more contrary to the New Testament. Nowhere are Christians urged to seek this gift or pursue tongues as a special sign of their spirituality or unusual Christian attainment. (6) Stress the New Testament doctrine of the Holy Spirit as regenerating, empowering, renewing, and sealing the Christian life. (7) Emphasize the positive note that tongues or any other spiritual experience must be evaluated ultimately by the fruit which is born in the Christian life. Does the tongue-speaker radiate the love of Christ more truly? Rejoice!" (Speaking In Tongues. Let's Talk About It, p. 150-151)

"Father, I see now that the final test to determine authentic Christians is the love test. Help me, in the spirit of charity, to allow my fellow brothers to respond to the Holy Spirit in their own unique ways. I know, O God, that you will vindicate your truth by the fruit that is borne in the lives of your people."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: By this shall all men know that I am a Spirit controlled believer–because of the fruit of Christ-like lave which is evident in my life!

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Discussion Questions:

What About 'Speaking In Tongues'?

  1. List several Scriptures that indicate that the fullness of the Holy Spirit (entire sanctification) is God's promise, God's command, and God's will for every believer.

  2. Give your interpretation of Jesus' prayer for his disciples in John 17:16-17–"They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth."

  3. For what purpose did Jesus tell His disciples to wait in Jerusalem (Acts 1:4-5)?

  4. What was the 'focus' of Peter's message on 'The Day of Pentecost' (Acts 2:38-39)?

  5. List and describe several specific examples (as recorded in the Book of Acts) of believers who received the fullness of the Holy Spirit, subsequent to their personal conversion to Christ.

  6. From a study of the Book of Acts, what can be concluded regarding the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those believers who were filled with the Holy Spirit?

  7. What is the primary and universal evidence of the Spirit's fullness in a believer's life? (Give Scriptural references to document your answer.)

  8. What does the 'mighty rushing wind' on the Day of Pentecost symbolize (Acts 2:4)?

  9. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement (made by a man who claimed wonderfully to be filled with the Holy Spirit): "The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is the gift of love such as we have never known it."

  10. What is meant by 'Tongues' being a secondary evidence of the Spirit's fullness?

  11. Is there evidence, from a study of the Book of Acts, that a believer's God-given spiritual gift/gifts will be 'activated' at the time of the believer's Baptism in the Spirit? List some of the gifts which were activated at the time of the Spirit's Baptism (in the Book of Acts).

  12. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "The activation of the gift of 'Tongues', following the Spirit's Baptism was no more a sign of being filled with the Spirit than the activation of one of the other gifts, for example, the gift of healing, or the gift of preaching, or the gift of administration".

  13. How does John T. Seaman's interpret the meaning and the significance of 'Tongues' in Acts 2:4, Acts 10:46, Acts 19:6?

  14. Is it possible to 'speak in tongues' and yet not be 'filled with the Spirit'? (Note 1 Corinthians 13:1)

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    Discussion Questions:

    What About 'Speaking In Tongues'? (Continued)

  15. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following evaluation of the problematic Corinthian believers: "The Corinthians were too gift-oriented and not enough Giver-oriented. They had not yet experienced the Giver–the Holy Spirit–in all His fullness." Is it possible yet today for believers to be too absorbed in their pursuits of spiritual gifts and manifestations, and not concerned enough in knowing and experiencing the presence and purity of the Holy Spirit in their lives?

  16. Considering the quotation by Arthur D. Zahniser, how would you distinguish between justification and sanctification? "Do you now experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit with his cleansing of heart and empowerment for service?" If not, do you have an intensified desire to know the fullness for the Spirit? Will you seek the Spirit's fullness through study, counsel, and prayer?

  17. What are some of the positive benefits to be derived from the personal use of 'Tongues' as a God-given gift? (Note 1 Corinthians 14:4, 1 Corinthians 14:14-17)

  18. What are the specific guidelines which Paul gives for the public use of the gift of 'Tongues'?

  19. Why do so many react so strongly against 'Tongues' and the Pentecostal movement?

  20. What should be the appropriate reaction by non-tongues-speaking, Spirit- filled believers who are challenged by tongues-speaking believers that claim that all Christians must speak in tongues in order to be 'filled with the Spirit'?

  21. After making a brief study of the strange and controversial phenomenon of 'Tongues' (as taught in the Book of Acts and I Corinthians), what do you believe is a 'Balanced' and 'Biblical' understanding of the place and importance of 'Tongues' in our modern-day Churches?

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How to Maintain the Spirit Filled Life

How To Maintain The Spirit Filled Life

Chapter Eight

How To Maintain The Spirit Filled Life
Learning To Live The Spirit-Filled Life 89 "Like a Mighty Army Moves The Church Of God!" 95
The Importance And Meaning Of Obedience 90 "Are You Hungry? Pull Up Your Chair And Eat!" 96
Restoring a Broken Relationship With God 91 Why The Local Church? 97
Involvement In The 'Means Of Grace' 92 Discussion Questions: 98
Maintaining Sensitivity To The Spirit's Guidance 93 Discussion Questions: (Continued) 99
'Reaching Out' In Witnessing And 'Reaching Up' In Worship 94    

Philippians 3:12-16

Learning To Live The Spirit-Filled Life

In the Bible reading for today, Paul acknowledges that he has not yet attained his goal, and that as long as life lasts, he must "press toward the mark for the prize" (verse 14). Paul acknowledges in verse 12 that he has not yet reached his goal which is resurrection perfection (i.e., glorification). However, Paul does acknowledge that, he has attained a certain type of perfection as shown in verse 15 ("Let us therefore, as many as be perfect"). The perfection which Paul had attained was the perfection of love and motive and disposition. But the main thrust of this passage is seen by the fact that the essence of spiritual health is growth. There is no state of grace that preserves a Christian for heaven unconditionally. As J. Paul Taylor says, "The experience of heart purity is maintained as long as the Holy Spirit, the personal agent in the work of cleansing, remains. The unregenerate man is not a mechanical man, and neither regeneration nor entire sanctification makes a robot of the new man in Christ Jesus. Human cooperation with the Spirit's operation was necessary to justification and cleansing, and when the heart is fully cleansed, the human cooperation is not terminated … God can, and will, keep us as we keep ourselves in His hands". (Holiness The Finished Foundation, p. 140-141)

It is common knowledge that in a marriage there must be surrender once- and-for-all, and yet day-by-day. Paul said, "I have been crucified with Christ" and yet Paul also said, "I die daily". Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life". (John 4:14) Jesus said that if a man comes to him he will never thirst, and yet he implies that moment by moment a Christian's thirst will be satisfied by the water that is continually springing up within him. It is like a rich man who adopts a poor, starving boy from off the street and says to him, "After you come to my house you will never be hungry again". The rich man obviously does not mean that the boy will never get hungry. What he means is that the boy will never be destitute again. The boy will periodically get hungry, but he will be regularly satisfied with food. When Jesus tells us that we will never hunger or thirst when we come to Him, He means that we will never be destitute or in a perpetual state of hunger. We will hunger and our hunger will always be satisfied, and in that sense we will never hunger or thirst. We come to Christ once and for all for fulfillment and yet we experience daily fulfillment.

Have you made a once-for-all surrender to Christ in order to be initially filled with the Holy Spirit? If so, are you learning daily to surrender your life to Christ, in all the details of life, in order to experience a daily filling of the Spirit?

"Father, after making a once-for-all, 'blanket' surrender to you, I wish to maintain a vital relationship to you by receiving from you a continuing cleansing and a fresh outpouring of your love."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The central and final 'Yes' to the Lord at the time of the Spirit's initial filling of my life, contains a multitude of little 'Yesses' which I intend to affirm daily, in order that the Spirit may maintain control of my life forever!

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Matthew 5:17-20, 1 John 2:3-6, Jeremiah 31:31-34

The Importance And Meaning Of Obedience

The important question to ask is this: "How can I maintain a close and meaningful walk with God?" The Spirit-filled life is maintained by obedience and daily surrender to Christ. Daily surrender is the stuff of which obedience is made. Obedience is the stabilizer of the Christian life. Lack of obedience causes shipwreck in the Christian life. The shores of time are strewn with 'King Sauls' who failed to realize that nothing can substitute for obedience–not even sacrifice. Wrote John, "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (1 John 2:3-4) There are those who strangely believe in Christ, that somehow it is not so important how they themselves live. They feel that Christ's righteousness will somehow cover their unrighteousness, and that what is changed is not their behavior necessarily but merely their relationship with God. Let us again remind such antinomian advocates who have a weak view of the atonement, that John wrote, "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither know him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil." (1 John 3:6-8 a)

On the other hand, obedience to God is not a slavish, legalistic obedience that is performed out of a mere sense of duty. The Pharisees bent over backwards to keep the Law, but the law they kept was not the Law of God. It was the man-made rules, regulations, and traditions which they strained so hard to keep. They neglected the weightier matters of God's Law and became preoccupied with their own petty ideas and opinions. Jesus said they strained at nats and swallowed camels. They focused so much attention upon externals that they forgot that the essence of godliness is internal purity and righteousness. The children of the Pharisees are still with us. Such are hard and critical of others but easy on themselves. The essence of their religion is a tediously worked out system of 'Dos and Don'ts'. Their obedience is to their own notions and conviction, not to flexible and adaptable principles.

To the Christian that is truly set free from sin and who is living by the dictates of the Spirit, his obedience to God is joyous and delightful. The commandments of God are not grievous to him, but they are his meat and drink. He says with the Psalmist, "I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word". (Psalms 119:16) In God's Law he meditates day and night. His obedience is an obedience from the heart, which issues forth in works of love, mercy and forgiveness. God's laws are written on his heart, and his actions are regulated by the spirit of the law instead of the letter of the law. (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

"Father, teach me what true obedience really means. I delight to do thy will, O my God! It is not grievous to my soul. Thy laws are nourishment to my spirit, enlightenment to my mind, and strength to my will!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Jesus did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill the law through the enabling Holy Spirit who motivates me to act and to react in love!

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1 John 1:7-2:2

Restoring a Broken Relationshop With God

We noted in the last devotional that there is a 'line' that separates the expressions of innocent human nature and the expressions of carnal human nature. We must be careful not to cross that 'line'. The Spirit-filled person, while given greater strength to resist temptation, is still vulnerable. We must never become over-confident. Jesus said, "Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation". There is no sin, in being tempted. It is yielding to temptation that constitutes sin.

Suppose a Spirit-filled Christian, caught off guard, does yield to temptation and sins. "Suppose we cross the line and do the thing the Holy Spirit rebuked. What then is our condition and what can we do about it? First of all, let us recognize our condition as sinful. It must not be covered up by reference to the wonder of our original crisis experience of surrender and cleansing or sanctification. Too many have thus accumulated a lot of unforgiven sin by assuming that since they had such a glorious experience back there, and carnality was eradicated, that surely nothing now can be wrong. Whatever eradication means–or crucifixion, or putting to death the old man–it is not a chunk of something material that is done away. Rather, it is a wrong relationship between us and God that is destroyed. But just because it is a relationship, an immaterial rather than a material something, it can as quickly be reinstated as destroyed. The cure, then, is fresh repentance and forgiveness and cleansing as we put the relationship right again. And happy is the one who has learned to make this adjustment instantly and quickly." (The Spirit of Holiness, p. 40; Cattell)

John's words are most instructive: "My little children, I am telling you this so that you will stay away from sin. But if you sin, there is someone to plead for you before the Father. His name is Jesus Christ, the one who is all that is good and who pleases God completely. He is the one who took God's wrath against our sins upon himself, and brought us into fellowship with God; and he is the forgiveness for our sins, and not only ours but all the world's." (1 John 2:1-2, Living Bible)

According to 1 John 1:9, Christ's atonement is sufficient for both your sin (sinful nature) and your sins (sinful practices). As long as you habitually pattern your life after the life of God (i.e., 'walk in the light'), you may be assured that God will continually cleanse you from all unrighteousness and keep you in close fellowship with Christ (1 John 1:7). Jesus is both our advocate and our atoning sacrifice. The believer may have his broken relationship with the Father restored quickly and completely! The blood of Jesus cleanses from all unrigh-teousness! When sin comes into your life, plead the blood of Christ immediately!

"Father, help me to guard against sin. Help me to 'watch and pray' constantly. You know, O God, where I am especially weak and vulnerable. You know also the subtleties of the devil. Give me the good sense to honestly and quickly confess when I sin, and to surrender my life anew to the 'cleansing stream' of the blood of Jesus!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: He who made me clean within–at the time of my sanctification–will keep me daily cleansed from the pollution and defilement of sin–until the day of my ultimate glorification!

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Psalms 119:129-136

Involvement In The 'Means Of Grace'

We have noted that Obedience is vitally important in order to maintain a victorious Christian life. Equally important is the believer's involvement in the 'means of grace'. Wrote Paul to Timothy, "I now remind you to stir into flame the gift of God which is within you". (2 Timothy 1:6, NEB) How do we stir up the flame of faith and love within us? We do it by attending unto the 'Means of Grace'. "The term simply means the media or channels through which God ministers grace to His children. These channels are indicated in the Scriptures, and the Christian Church has given careful instructions on how they are to be used." (Donald Bastian) A certain degree of discipline is needed if one is to involve himself in the 'means of grace'. It has been truly said that "no one ever reached any eminence, and on one having reached it ever maintained it, without discipline." (William Barclay) To maintain a meaningful Christian walk, discipline is needed. Structure and regularity in life are important.

Prayer is one of the effective means of grace to the Christian. Paul wrote, "Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus". (Philippians 4:6-7, RSV) Prayer is a means of growth. Prayer is both an attitude and an act. Prayer is a sudden and urgent utterance of the soul, and it is an agonizing and lengthy state of the soul. It is important for the Christian to pray every day. Why? "Because the Spirit-filled person can lose his relationship even as one can lose a human friendship–by avoiding his friend. Friendship with God is lost by ignoring Him. The subtle problem is just this: Friendship is lost a day at a time, and because it is lost no faster than that, we can slowly but surely be blinded to our loss of God. Therefore, prayer must be daily … Is it really necessary that the Christian commune with God everyday? Why not just occasionally? The answer is that without prayer there simply is no progress towards becoming like Christ. The more we pray–if it is truly prayer–the more we become like Jesus." (Alive To God Through Prayer, p. 23,26)

The Bible is also a 'means of grace'. There is a "story of a young man who was packing his trunk for his first long journey far from home. As a friend stood by, the young man packed one article after the other–his suits, shoes, clothes, books and finally his tennis racquet and balls. There remained a space about six inches by four inches. The rest of the trunk was full. 'What are you going to pack there?' asked the friend. 'I have reserved this corner to pack a guidebook, a lamp, a looking glass, a volume of poems, a microscope, a telescope, several fine biographies, a package of love letters, a book of songs, some histories, a hammer and a sword. I'm going to put in that little space the Bible my Mother gave me'." (Shoe-Leather Faith, no. 99; Rose 11)

"Father, I desire to maintain a loving relationship with you through prayer. Involving myself in regular prayer and study of your Word, I believe I will receive guidance in times of decision, reproof in times of mistakes, comfort in times of sorrow, strength in times of weakness, and courage in times of fear! Thank you so much!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will meditate upon the Laws of God–the Bible–and I will muse on the Love of God–Prayer–all the days of my life!

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Acts 8:26-40, Acts 9:10-19

Maintaining Sensitivity To The Spirit's Guidance

One who delightfully adheres to the spirit of the Law, does not force his personal convictions upon others. "Physically, some are allergic to certain things, good in themselves, to which others are not allergic. Presumably flowers are good for beauty and fragrance, but some persons have an allergy that makes it impossible for them to keep flowers in the house if they want to keep their health. If it hurts one's weak conscience to eat meat that was once offered in sacrifice to idols and then is sold in the open market that has no connection with the worship of idols (see Romans 14), Paul would say, 'Let him abstain', but he has no commission to try, judge, and sentence those who can eat it without even thinking of idolatry, much less practicing it." (Holiness, The Finished Foundation, p. 148) In forming personal convictions, here are four questions worth asking yourself (when in doubt about the rightness or wrongness of a questionable activity): (1) Is my own mind clear and settled? (2) Can I really do this unto the Lord? (3) How do I feel about his matter in the light of my coming appearance at the judgment seat of Christ? (4) Will this be an offense to others?" (See Donald Bastian's book, 'Belonging Adventures In Church Membership', p. 143-147)

In maintaining a God-controlled life, it is important to obey God's call in regards to life's mission. Some receive a very clear call as to what they are to do in life; others do not receive such a dramatic and definite call. In testifying of his call, Paul said to King Agrippa, "I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision." (Acts 26:19) Many a man has made shipwreck of his life because he failed to obey God's call into full-time Christian service.

Daily obedience to the "small, still voice" is also imperative. Jesus commanded His followers to take up their cross daily. Ananias immediately obeyed (in spite of personal fear and reticence) and went to the one-time persecutor Saul (Acts 9:10-19). Philip went into the desert of Gaza even when he could not understand why he must go' (Acts 8:26-40). As a result of his obedience, the Ethiopian was converted and a witness entered Africa.

Maintaining the Spirit-filled life means guarding against sin. "There is an area between that which is clearly and wholly for the glory of God and that which is clearly and wholly for the glory of the isolated self–a sort of twilight zone. As one enters it, the Spirit begins to whisper words of caution. These grow more intense is we approach the line. Crossing, there is a feeling of condemnation and guilt which intensifies the further we go. It is not simple, partly because of our dullness of hearing and perception, and partly because of the complex nature of the situation–the intertwining of the legitimate with the sinful in that shaded area … It is impossible to reduce the matter to simple rules or to define exactly the line in all cases. We are shut up to the voice of the Spirit as our only guide." (The Spirit of Holiness, p. 39-40, Everett Lewis)

"Help me, Lord, to listen carefully, understand clearly, and obey quickly. When I am in doubt regarding your will, enable me to wait patiently for further instructions. Help me to follow closely in your footsteps. Then I shall always be a blessing to you and a benefit to others!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will train my 'spiritual ears' to listen for the "small, still voice" of the Holy Spirit–and learn to obey gladly and quickly!

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Hebrews 10:19-25

'Reaching Out' In Witnessing And 'Reaching Up' In Worship

Sharing with others is another means of great spiritual growth. Expressing deepens impression. You may be greatly impressed with Christ, but the more your impression is expressed openly and verbally, the stronger will your love be for Christ, and the more mature you will become. It is said, "Salvation may come quietly, but we cannot remain quiet about it". There will be within the true Christian a desire to share his faith with others, and in sharing his faith, seeking to influence others for Christ. Wrote Matthew Henry, "I would think it a greater happiness to gain one soul to Christ, than mountains of silver and gold to myself. If God suffers me to labor in vain, though I should get hundreds a year by my labor, it would be the constant grief and trouble of my soul; and if I do not gain souls, I shall enjoy all my other gains with very little satisfaction".

"A man accosted Charles Alexander, the great singer and personal worker and said, 'I believe in leading men to accept Jesus Christ, but I don't like your method very well'. 'Neither do I like my method very well', replied Alexander. 'How do you do it?' Confused, the man stammered, 'Well. . . I do not know that I do it at all'. 'Then', said the singer, 'I like the way I do it better than the way you don't do it'." (Shoe-Leather Faith, no. 121, Rosell)

We sometimes pray for compassion for souls, but it seems that compassion mainly comes through active involvement with people. Prayer is important as a means of Christian growth, but it is insufficient without outward expression of one's faith. "A Chinaman brought a number of his friends to the mission. When asked how he succeeded in getting so many to come, he replied, 'I got on my knees and talkee, talkee, talkee. Then I got up and walkee, walkee, walkee'. Pray, and then go to work. Prayer without work is vain. Praying wi thout working, like working without praying, is dead, being alone. Let us all 'talkee and walkee'." (Ibid, no. 540)

Public worship is another great 'means of grace'. We are to 'reach out' in witnessing and to 'reach up' in worship. We are living in a day in which many professing Christians are minimizing the importance of public worship services. Some say that they worship God every day and therefore don't need a special day of worship. In their reaction against so-called 'Sunday Christians', they dismiss the importance of Church services altogether. Some feel that the Church services are too sermon-oriented and thus too impersonal, and therefore such persons are much more satisfied with Home Bible studies as substitutes for attendance at public services. Others feel that, since Sunday is the only day they do not work, that they should use Sunday for family recreation and camping. Such usually say that they can worship God in nature just as well as at Church. Do you have any excuses for not regularly attending God's house? Consider carefully Luke 4:16 and Hebrews 10:25.

"Father, enable me to live a balanced Christian life. Help me to 'reach within' myself to meditate on your Word. Help me to 'reach outside' myself to serve others and to witness. Help me to 'reach upward' to worship and to praise you."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will dwell in the 'House of the Lord' all the days of my life, in order that I might behold the beauty of the Lord!

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Psalms 23:6, Psalms 26:8, Psalms 27:4, Psalms 84:10, Psalms 122:1

"Like a Mighty Army Moves The Church Of God!"

Some of the 'means of grace' are prayer, the Bible, witnessing, and public worship. Consider further the importance of the latter. Notes Richard DeHaan, "The person who neglects regular attendance in the house of God may be revealing that he has never really been saved. It is also possible that this failure is a symptom of a low spiritual condition, and surely continued absence from services will deepen his backslidden state. We know that some people live in areas where there are no Bible-preaching Churches, and that others cannot attend due to circumstances beyond their control. God will give special grace, and the Holy Spirit will minister to their hearts. The chastening hand of God, however, may manifest itself to those who willfully neglect worship with God's people. It is certain that they will reap a harvest of spiritual loss. Moreover, meeting with other Christians in worship is not only beneficial to oneself, but also to others. You will notice that Hebrews 10: 25 says . but exhorting (encouraging) one another'. Your presence will be an encouragement to others. Your absence may disappoint some weak Christian, and help put him on the road to a spiritually cold condition. Then, too, a half-empty Church does not make for a good service. It does not present much appeal to the stranger who comes in. As a Christian, you have a solemn responsibility to the Lord in this matter of Church attendance."

"A minister asked a returned GI to speak in his pulpit. He said, 'Like a mighty army moves the Church of God. The trouble is that NOW millions know exactly how an army moves. Suppose the army accepted the lame excuses that many of you think good enough for not attending the Church. Imagine this: Revielle at 7 a.m.–squads on parade ground. Sergeant barks out. 'Count fours'. 'One, two, three', four is missing. 'Where's Private Smith'? 'Mr. Smith was too sleepy to get up. He said to tell you he would be with you in spirit' . 'That's fine', says the sergeant. 'Where's Brown?' 'He's playing golf. You know how important recreation is'. 'Sure, sure', says the sergeant cheerfully. 'Hope he has a good game. Where's Robinson?' 'He is sorry, but he is entertaining guests today. Besides he was at drill last week', 'Tell him he is welcome any time he finds it convenient to drop in for drill'. If any GI pulled that stuff he would get twenty days in the brig. Yet, you hear stuff like that every week in Church. 'Like a mighty army!' Why, if this Church moved like a mighty army, a lot of you folks would be court martialled within an hour." (Shoe-Leather Faith, no. 7; Rosell)

"Let us not neglect our Church duties and meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the Day of His coming back is drawing near." (Hebrews 10:25, Living Bible)

"Father, if your sinless Son, while on earth, attended the Jewish synagogue weekly as it was His 'custom' to do, then how much more do I, a sinful and needy creature, need regularly and faithfully to attend my local Church! Forgive me for my negligence. Help me to develop a 'holy habit' of committed Church attendance!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Just as a business can only be built by faithfulness and hard work, so a Church can only be built by faithfulness in Church attendance and hard work in outreach and visitation. I will be committed to my local Church!

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Acts 2:42-47

"Are Your Hungry? Pull Up Your Chair And Eat!"

I like the following which my wife, Venita Christian, wrote: "The analogy of the Church which I enjoy the most is that of a family. When we become a child of God we become a member of God's family. We are blessed with many privileges. One of those is that of growing up in the loving, caring atmosphere of the Family.

As a child the most special time in our day, after a big day of working in the field, was meal time. Our meals were served at regular times, the food was delicious, and the fellowship was great! We were all expected to pull up our chair to the table to be together at meal time. As a Christian, the special time with my brothers and sisters in Christ is at 'meal time'. It is at this time that I am strengthened by the Bread of Life and encouraged by the joy of the fellowship in order that I will be a better worker in the Harvest field. In our local Family of God the meal is served regularly, several times during the week. Around the Family Table is a chair bearing the name of each of our family members. A meal is served at Sunday Morning Worship, Sunday School, Sunday Evening Celebration, Christian Growth Group, etc. When we fail to 'pull up our chair' when the meal is served, we most likely will become weak spiritually and will eventually become ill. Not only do we suffer, but so also do our family members. No one can fill our chair but us. When we are not present at the 'meal', we are missed because we are loved. I think I understand more clearly now, having experienced the sorrow of some family members' chairs not being filled regularly, why my father insisted that we all be present at meal time. Our presence was a sign of health and our presence made the family complete. We needed each other after a long and hard day of work. The laughter and the joy over the meal was so satisfying and drew us even closer together. Brothers and sisters in Christ. we need the nourishment served at 'meal time' and we need each other. When we are not present at 'meal time' we become weak, our chair is vacant and other family members are concerned because they love us.

As one who wants to be present at each meal served to our Church Family, I have noticed that one of the first signs of spiritual illness, is the lack of 'pulling up' to the table when the meals are served. Often we feel tired and weak after a day of working in the heat, battling the obstacles of life. The enemy of our souls, the author of spiritual illness, delights in seeing our presence at the table. Sometimes I would tell my mother 'I'm too tired to eat'. She would respond with 'Come and join us, you'll feel better'. And I did! When you feel weak and tired, I urge you as a family member, to 'pull up your chair' to the table. You'll feel better."

"Father, I am often spiritually hungry and in need of soul-nourishment. I thank you for the 'table' full of spiritual food–the local Church. Whenever the 'meal' is being served, let my God-incited hunger drive me to the table where I shall relish the Word of life with other family members!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: It is a sign of spiritual health for me to eat spiritual food with other family members at the table (the local Church services); it is a sign of spiritual sickness to 'lay in bed' and expect others to come and 'spoon feed' me (in the isolation of my own solitude away from other 'family members').

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Revelation 19:6-10

Why The Local Church?

Venita Christian concludes her article by saying, "Family members, some day we will be invited to the table where the meal of meals will be served. The Bible tells us 'Blessed are those who are invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb' (Revelation 19:9). What a thrill to pull up our chair to the grandest meal of all with Christ and the Family of God! Somehow I believe our response to the regular meals with our Family here on earth will influence whether or not we will be blessed to receive that grand invitation to the Meal of meals. My prayer daily for all my brothers and sisters in Christ and for myself is that we will have a good hearty appetite for the Bread of Life and that we will want to pull up our chairs to the table when the meal is served! See you at 'meal time'!"

Are you committed to regular attendance in your local Church? A vital relationship with God cannot long be maintained without regular attendance at the public worship services. I have noticed, after working with scores and scores of young believers during the last twenty years, that those young believers who become committed to regular Church attendance are the same ones who generally grow into spiritual maturity. The opposite is also generally true: Those young believers (or, for that matter, older believers) who 'drop out' of regular Church attendance also 'drop out' of a vital relationship with God. Such persons become luke-warm Christians and sometimes backslide completely. Church attendance alone is not sufficient to maintain a vital daily relationship with God, but it is almost impossible to enjoy a vital relationship with God without commitment to consistent Church attendance. I have never yet met a mature Christian who does not habitually attend public Church services.

Notes C. S. Lewis: "Enemy-occupied territory–that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful King has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to Church you are really listening into the secret wireless from our friends; that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going. He does it by playing on our conceit and laziness and intellectual snobbery." (The Best of C. S. Lewis, p. 429,432,435)

There are at least ten good reasons for believing in and being a part of the local Church: (1) The Bible commands it, (2) Jesus and the early Church practiced weekly attendance at Church, (3) the local Church is the center of worship, (4) it is the center of fellowship, (5) it is the center of Biblical instruction, (6) it is the center of prayer and evangelism, (7) it is the center for strategy formulating, (8) it is the center of influence for societal change, (9) it is the center for organized giving, (to) it is the center for spiritual nurture.

"Father, how can I be healed and how can I help others in the development of a vital faith, especially in light of the soon coming of Jesus? In many ways, not the least of which is faithful attendance at Church! Without the protection which the local Church affords, I am vulnerable to the terrible attacks of Satan. Thank you for this effective 'means of grace'!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: As birds flock together, fish swim together, cattle graze together, bees swarm together, so Christians are meant to worship together.

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Discussion Questions:

How To Maintain The Spirit-Filled Life

  1. From a study of Philippians 3:12-16, one can conclude that Paul spoke of two kinds of 'perfection'. What kind of 'perfection' did Paul profess to have attained, and what kind of 'perfection' did Paul acknowledge that he had not yet attained?

  2. How is the experience of 'heart purity' maintained, according to the quotation by J. Paul Taylor?

  3. What is the relationship between once-for-all surrender to Jesus Christ and daily surrender to Jesus Christ? (Note John 4:14.) Is there any state of grace that preserves a Christian for heaven unconditionally?

  4. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Daily surrender is the stuff of which obedience is made. Obedience is the stabilizer of the Christian life". (Give Scriptural support for this statement, if you agree with it.)

  5. What is the difference between gIVIng decisive obedience to the will of God and legalistic bondage to the laws of God?

  6. In forming personal convictions, what are four questions that are helpful for one to ask himself (as derived from a study of Romans 14)?

  7. List some examples from the Book of Acts that demonstrate decisive obedience to God's definite call in people's lives.

  8. Suppose a Spirit-filled believer 'crosses the line' (that separates expressions of innocent human nature and expressions of carnal human nature) and does the very thing the Holy Spirit rebuked. What then is his condition and what can he do about it? (Note 1 John 1:9 and 1 John 2:1-2.)

  9. What does the term "Means of Grace" mean?

  10. Why is it important for the Spirit-filled believer to pray every day?

  11. Why is the Bible such a vital 'means of grace'?

  12. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Salvation may come quietly, but we cannot remain quiet about it."

  13. To what extent do you, as a sincere believer, identify with the following statement by Matthew Henry: "I would think ita greater happiness to gain one soul to Christ, than mountains of silver and gold to myself. If God suffers me to labor in vain, though I should get hundreds a year by my labor, it would be the constant grief and trouble of my soul; and if I do not gain souls, I shall enjoy all my other gains with very little satisfaction". Do you feel that Matthew Henry put too much emphasis on witnessing and soul- winning to the exclusion of some other equally important areas of Christian experience and service? Why or why not?

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    Discussion Questions:

    How To Maintain The Spirit-Filled Life (Continued)

  14. Do you have a definite method (or methods) of witnessing to unbelievers? If so, share your strategy and plans.

  15. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "We sometimes pray for compassion for souls, but it seems that compassion mainly comes through active involvement with people. Prayer is important as a means of Christian growth, but it is insufficient without outward expression of one's faith."

  16. What would you say to those 'believers' who argue that they worship God every day and therefore don't need a special day of worship?

  17. What are some of the 'flimsy excuses' which you have heard, for people not regularly attending worship services?

  18. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement made by Richard DeHaan: "The person who neglects regular attendance in the house of God may be revealing that he has never really been saved. It is also possible that this failure is a symptom of a low spiritual condition, and surely continued absence from services will deepen his backslidden state".

  19. If the local Church "moves like a mighty army", what actions are basic expectations from the lives of the members in the Church?

  20. Do you believe that the analogy of the local Church as a family (with each member of the 'family' expected to 'pull up his chair' to the table to eat) is an analogy that accurately reflects the Biblical picture of the local Church? Why or why not?

  21. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "A vital relationship with God cannot long be maintained without regular attendance at the public worship services".

  22. List at least ten good reasons for believing in and being a part of the local Church.

  23. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Without the protection which the local Church affords, I am vulnerable to the terrible attacks of Satan".

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Cultivating the Fruit of Love

Cultivating The Fruit Of Love

Part II

Cultivating The Fruit Of The Spirit (Chapters 9-13)

Chapter Nine

Cultivating The Fruit Of Love
Evidence Of Genuine Christian Experience 100 Love Conquers Persecution! 109
Love–The Capstone Of The Christian Graces! 101 Returning Good For Evil 110
Not Trying Harder But Trusting More! 102 Love Finds No Pleasure In Evil-Doing 111
The Grace Of Love 103 "Love Envieth Not" 112
The Growth Of Love 104 Love's Answer To Life's Perplexities 113
The Goodness Of Love 105 Discussion Questions: 114
"All Progress Is Progress In Humility" 106 Discussion Questions: (Continued) 115
Love Conquers Pride! 107 Discussion Questions: (Continued) 116
"Love Does Not Behave Graceslessly" 108    

Galatians 5:22-24

Evidence Of Genuine Christian Experience

A fifth century Roman nobleman, a non-Christian defending Christians before the emperor Hadrian, gave a clue to the effectiveness of the Early Church: "These Christians love one another. . If a man has something, he freely gives to the man who has nothing. If they see a stranger, they take him home and are happy, as though he were a real brother. .If one is poor and there isn't enough food to go around, they fast several days to give him the food he needs … This is really a new kind of person. There is something divine in them".

When Mr. Stanley finally found the great African missionary, David Livingstone, after searching some time in Africa for him, Mr. Stanley spent some time with Livingstone, and said of Livingstone, "If I would have stayed with Livingstone much longer I would have been compelled to become a Christian, and he never said a word to me directly about it". Livingstone's life was so Christlike that his witness to Stanley was self-evident and compelling.

Someone has said, "What you are speaks so loudly that I can't hear what you are saying". Sinners may not read the Bible itself, but they are sure to read your life if you are a Christian. What is the Gospel, according to you? "You are writing a gospel, a chapter a day, by deeds that you do, by words that you say; men read what you write, whether faithless or true. Say, with is the 'gospel' according to you?"

The evidence of genuine Christian experience is seen in the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24). It may be said that all the fruits of the Spirit relate directly to love. God is love; therefore he who is possessed by God is possessed by love. All other fruits are simply descriptions of love. "Joy is the joy of love; peace is love grown quiet; long-suffering is love stretched out; kindness is love with hands outstretched; goodness is love relating itself to the moral law; faithfulness is love holding steady amid everything; gentleness is love expressing itself in relationships; self- control is love in charge within." (Christian Maturity, p. 119; E. Stanley Jones)

What God commands (love), my nature demands (love), and the Holy Spirit supplies (love). "God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (Romans 5:5, NIV) To be filled with the Holy Spirit, is to be filled with God's love. Holiness is not a mere negative experience of cleansing from sin, but holiness is a positive experience of empowerment to love!

"Father, I am beginning to see that holiness is not some eerie experience reserved for a few remote saints. Holiness in my life is best seen by my supreme love for you and by my unselfish care for others. Holiness is the passion of my life for love is the greatest need of my life. Help me to grow in love!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: To the extent that I am actively practicing love, to that same extent am I genuinely experiencing God's sanctifying power in my life!

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1 Thessalonians 3:11-13

Love–The Capstone Of The Christian Graces!

'Agape' is the Greek word which describes the highest and noblest kind of love–the kind of love which Jesus demonstrated when He died on the cross. This love is linked more with the will than it is with the emotions. This love is exercised independently of how the object of the love responds. It is the love which has been described as unconquerable benevolence and invincible goodwill, a commitment of the will to love even those who would be despiteful and hateful. "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do"–words of love from the Lover of sinners whose treatment of the Saviour was most despicable! "It is the attitude which, no matter what the other person is like, and no matter how we may feel emotionally towards him, will seek the other person's good, and which will never hate. The opposite of this Christian agape is not hate; the opposite is indifference. This Christian love is undefeatable caring." (William Barclay)

"Like their Lord, the recipients of His love where they do not like. It is impossible to think that Christ liked rotting lepers, bloated publicans, loose women or wild demoniacs; yet is undeniable that He loved them." (Daily Readings, p. 53; William Sangster)

Love is not an option for the sincere Christian; it is an absolute imperative! Jesus commanded us to love God supremely and to love our neighbors as ourselves. "And that love must include the total person– emotions, will, mind, and strength. That absolute commandment expressed in that absolute form is as inevitable as the law of gravitation, and more so. For with it life holds together; without it life goes to pieces. .This is not speculation, it is verified statement. If you don't love God totally you can't love yourself at all. For a divided self is a despised self. If you don't live with God in the harmony of love, you will have to live with yourself in the disharmony of hate. There is no alternative." (Christian Maturity, p. 102; E. Stanley Jones)

Commander Brengle, of the Salvation Army, began his little book with this startling sentence: "On January 9, 1885, at about nine O'clock in the morning, God sanctified my soul. It was a Heaven of love that came into my heart. I walked out over Boston Column before breakfast, weeping for joy and praising God. Oh, how I loved! In that hour I knew Jesus, and I loved Him till it seemed my heart would break in love. I loved the sparrows, I loved the dogs, I loved the horses, I loved the little urchins on the streets … I loved the whole world".

Love is the very essence of the Christian life and is the capstone of all the Christian graces. Said John Wesley: "Religion is the most simple thing that can be conceived. It is only humble, gentle, patient love".

"Father, I am seeing that I am made by Love and for loving. If I don't love, I perish, perhaps only gradually but surely and ultimately! Enable me to love with your kind of love–the love that loves love into the loveless, that cares for the careless, that lifts up the fallen, that soothes the sorrowing, that heals the hurting. In Jesus' loving name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: My motions today will be the motions of love because I am motivated by nothing less than the love of God!

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John 15:1-17

Not Trying Harder But Trusting More!

If love is the distinguishing mark of the true believer, how can one experience this divine love? "The fruit of the Spirit is love". Fruit does not come by trying and straining, but by abiding and receiving from the nourishment of the vine. Said Jesus, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing". (John 15:5, NIV) The believer who is vitally attached to the Vine will automatically and dynamically produce fruit. So it is not your responsibility (based on your strength), but rather it is your response to His ability (based on His exhaustless resources). You cannot by mere human effort and ability make yourself loving, joyous, peaceful, etc. God alone can do that for you, for God is the divine resource for spiritual fruitfulness. Your only responsibility is to surrender daily unto the Vine and let the power of the Vine do its work in your life. Love, Joy, Peace are divine qualities which God will produce within you as you simply abide in Christ.

God has an exhaustless resource available for you. Why should you live in poverty when all your needs can be met adequately and even abundantly? A few years ago, a 71 year old woman died of malnutrition in West Palm Beach, Florida, after wasting away to 50 pounds. Hundreds of valuable stock certificates and $800,000 in cash were found in her safe-deposit boxes two days before she died of starvation! Said one of her neighbors, "We had no indication that the woman had a dime. Her house looked like a pigpen and she got what clothes she had from the Salvation Army. She was starving to death yet she wouldn't spend any money to get something to eat".

Surrender your will to Prosperity and Power–not to poverty! God then will open the resources of the Bank of Heaven for you! "On this level you do not whip up the will, you surrender the will. Then you are relaxed and receptive, and faith becomes recuperative. Round our emptiness flows His fullness–and fills us; round our incompleteness flows His perfection–and perfects us; round our restlessness flows His rest–and rests us; round our sin flows His holiness–and invades us; round our selves flows His gracious Self–and displaces us; round our lovelessness flows His love–and loves us into loving. When we know how to take from these infinite Resources, we know how to live by Fullness not our own. Hence we live fully and over flowingly. Instead of religion being strain, hence drain, it is receptivity, hence release–release from ourselves and release to others." (Christian Maturity, p. 221; E. Stanley Jones)

"Jesus, thou art the Way–the divine resource to enable me to love you with all my soul (volitional response). Thou art the Truth–the divine resource to enable me to love you with all my mind (intellectual response). Thou art the Life–the divine resource to enable me to love you with all my heart (affectional response). What thou hast commanded from me–total love–thou hast totally provided–divine resources! Praise you! Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God is the reservoir of divine love, I am the channel of divine love, the world is the recipient of divine love.

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Philippians 1:9-11

The Grace Of Love

In the Book of Philippians, Paul breathes a special prayer of affection for his Philippian friends: "It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more". Love is the theme of Paul's prayer for his friends. In the Scripture reading for today (Philippians 1:9-11), Paul describes this Christian love in terms of four characteristics: (1) The Grace of Love, (2) The Growth of Love, (3) The Goodness of Love, (4) The Goal of Love. Let us look at each of these features of divine-like Love.

Think of the Grace of Love. When Paul prays that love may abound more and more in the lives of the Philippians, he is speaking of the highest type of love. There is an erotic love or passionate-type of love that Hollywood makes popular, a love that is widely expressed in our day. Properly expressed, erotic love between a couple who are deeply in love and married, is beautiful and God-sanctioned. But erotic love is too often degraded to sensualism and lust. And there is the love between friends, the love that is evoked because of similar interests or likes. Paul was not speaking of that kind of love in this passage, however. Paul experienced a love for the Philippian believers which was greater than mere friendship-type love. Paul was speaking of the highest kind of love called 'agape'. This love is linked with the will more than with the mere emotions. This love is exercised independent of how the object of the love responds–good or bad. It is the same kind of love which Jesus was speaking of when He said, 'Love your enemies; Do good to those who despitefully use you".

When Paul speaks to the Philippians and desires that their love may abound more and more, he did not mean to imply that this love (agape) was humanly achieved and humanly exercised, independent of God. Central to Paul's thought was the idea of God's grace. Paul clearly taught that corrupted human nature within itself is incapable of agape love. Such a love is the gift of God, thus Paul's doctrine of 'grace'. "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us." (Romans 5:5)

Because of Christ's sacrifice on the cross, God's grace is available to mankind. God's love for man is objectively proved through the death of His Son on the cross. God's love is subjectively appropriated by man through the faith of repentance and self-surrender. The God-wrought love in man enables man to love both God and his fellowmen. "God is giver; man is receiver. That makes it grace. The very love with which we relate ourselves to Him in obedience and service has been evoked by His so-great-love for us." (Proclaiming the New Testament, p. 19; Paul Rees) "In this is love, not that we love God, but that He loved us and sent his Son to the be expiation for our sins. We love, because he first loved us." (1 John 4:10, 1 John 4:19)

"Father, thou art all compassion, pure unbounded love thou art. I am made by Love and for loving. Thou Giver of all perfect gifts, give me the choicest of all gifts–the Gift of thy blessed Holy Spirit, whose power to shed abroad thy love in my heart is limitless!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God is always Giver, and I am always receiver. I will allow the Holy Spirit to 'fill my cup' to overflowing with His divine love!

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2 Peter 1:5-11

The Growth Of Love

In Philippians 1:9 Paul prayed that the love of the Philippian believers may "abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight". Paul believed that the life of God, which is the life of love, is a life of progress and growth. Through Christ, the believer not only abides in love, but the believer also abounds in love. Love is the door to knowledge and discernment and insight. Take a simple illustration from common life which shows the truth of the principle. Think of the love that one person has for another. The more one loves another, the more he will be around that person and the better he will come to know the desires, needs, goals, sensitivities, weaknesses, and strengths of that other person. Love leads to increased associations which give birth to many experiences together. Love then leads to knowledge, knowledge based upon practical experiences together. This same simple reasoning applies to the knowledge of spiritual things. God's love in us creates a desire to associate and fellowship closely with God. Such desire to know God leads to many experiences. From these experiences we learn practical knowledge and develop our powers of discernment. For example, we learn to discern what is the will of God in difficult circumstances. We learn to discern between our personal impressions and the impressions of God. We learn to discern the subtle temptations and yielding temptations. We learn to discern the subtle temptations of Satan who appears at times in the form of an angel of light. We learn to discern the difference between weaknesses of the flesh and the carnal sins of the spirit. We learn to discern the difference between pure motives and impure motives. We learn that there is a great difference between purity and maturity in the Christian life. We learn to discern the place of feelings and the place of faith in living the Christian life. The knowledge which love leads to is experimental rather than academic, practical rather than theoretical. The discernment which love leads to is discernment in the practical areas of daily living.

The growth of Christian love increasingly gives the believer, the ability to "approve what is excellent", or as Phillips translates, the ability to "recognize the highest and the best". The love of God in the human heart which gives practical knowledge and discernment, also gives the ability to discriminate between the bad, the good, and the best things in life. Love (agape) enables one to test the things in life that differ, that is, this love gives the "capacity for evaluation, ability to assess priorities". Comments Paul Rees: "The preacher needs this, else he will put ecclesiastical niceties and promotional gimmicks ahead of solid prayer and discipline of strong and relevant expository preaching. The layman needs this, else he will confuse committee work with devotedness to Christ and let himself 'off the hook' by giving the Church his money instead of giving God his heart." (Proclaiming the New Testament, p. 20)

"Father, enable me to grow daily in my capacity to love you truly, in order that I may grow in my ability to discern truth accurately. Then I shall live in the depths of understanding and wisdom! Thank you! In Jesus' wonderful name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The Growth of love is revealed in the believer's ability to increasingly discern and to discriminate in the practical affairs of life. I will open my life to God's love today!

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104


Philippians 1:9-11, 1 John 3:1-3

The Goodness Of Love

Wrote Paul, "And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God". (Philippians 1:9-11)

The goodness of love is described in terms of purity ("may be pure"). The original word can have one of two meanings, either of which is significant. The word can mean 'sun-tested'. If this is applied to a Christian, it means that the love-filled believer is able to stand the heat of man's criticism and can take the light of man's scrutiny. The original word can also mean 'sifted by revolution'. The picture is that if a sieve which whirls and whirls the ingredients to extract every impurity, only to leave the pure. If this picture is applied to the Christian it means that the love of the Christian cleanses and sifts out all impurities, only to leave pure and sincere motives. Whichever meaning you choose (' tested by sunlight' or 'sifted by revolution') the truth remains that the purpose of love is to create a sincere, strong, genuine, and pure character.

The love of God in the human heart not only perfects the motives within, but it guards and guides the actions without. It guards the actions in a negative sense, that is, it enables the believer's actions to be blameless. Blameless actions are actions that derive from a pure heart. Love has no desire to hurt others. Love respects the rights of others. Love does not pursue selfish advantage when with others. Love respects the personal convictions of all. Love seeks to live at peace with all men, but does not pursue peace at any cost. That is, love leaves no room for compromise with sin simply to gain the world's favor and peace. Love never gives birth to a cold, self-righteous type of goodness which repels rather than attracts men to Christ. The love which does not easily give offense is the love that is open, understanding, warm, and compassionate.

Positively speaking, the believer's outward life behavior is "filled with the fruits of righteousness". That is, action is linked with affection. fruit is linked with faith, doing is linked with being, demonstration is linked with doctrine. Love is not passive, but active; love is not primarily negative, but positive. Love, to be proved, must practically manifest itself. Faith as a mere profession is dead without works of love. (1 John 3:17-18) "A missionary in India needed physical assistance to get a critically sick man from his house to the hospital. She requested help from two 'holy men' who were sitting not far away, intoning their devotions. She said she would never forget the fire of resentment that blazed up in the eyes of one of them, as he replied: 'We? We are holy men. We never do anything for anybody'." (Proclaiming the New Testament, p. 21; Paul Rees)

"Father, help me to change my religious creeds into practical deeds, to transform my religious words into powerful actions, to translate my good impressions into good expressions."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The Goodness of Love is seen in love's accomplishment of internal cleansing and outward fruit-bearing. I will open my life to both!

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105


James 4:7-10, 1 Peter 5:5-7

"All Progress Is Progress In Humility"

Love conquers pride. "I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how He could love me, a sinner condemned, unclean. How marvelous! How wonderful! Is my Saviour's love for me!" This is the song of the sinner who is saved by grace. In these words there is no attitude of boasting. To realize that the Son of God condescended from the Ivory Palaces of Heaven to a sin-cursed earth to die for fallen humanity, is to realize that there is no place for boasting and glorying in self.

"All I am or ever hope to be, I owe to the Saviour"–that is the attitude of the soul set free from the bondage of sin. To experience God's mercy, is to be "lost in wonder, love, and praise". Said one perceptive soul: "The conquest of Mt. Everest is small compared to the conquest of pride, greed, selfishness, hate".

Notes William Sangster: "All progress is progress in humility, and Paul's progress may be measured by the fact that in his First Epistle to the Corinthians he says, 'I am the least of the Apostles' (1 Corinthians 15:9) and writing later to the Ephesians he says that he is 'less than least'–not now of the Apostles–but 'of all the saints' (Ephesians 3:8) (with 'saints' used here as descriptive of all believers) and writing to Timothy later still, he says 'that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief'. (1 Timothy 1:15)." (Daily Readings, p. 262; Sangster)

Sangster further says, "The saint learns that the more humility he has, the more of God he will have also. The primal sin is the assertion of self against God. Pride, therefore, heads any well-drawn category of the deadly sins and humility is its opposite. This explains why, though love is the first fruit of the Spirit and the basis of all the rest, discerning souls have often pointed to humility as the first of the graces. They do so because pride is the deadliest of the deadly sins and humility is its plain contradiction. The more humility, the less pride. The less pride, the more of God. The vision of God begets humility in the soul, and the more humility the clearer one's eyes become to see Him as He is". (Ibid, p. 279)

The question comes forcibly to the Christian, "What has thou that thou hast not received?" The Christian knows he has no cause for boasting, for all he possesses is from the hand of a benevolent God. Newton was captured by God's love, and felt compelled to write of God's grace: "Amazing Grace! how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!" The loveless one–man–is made lovely by the altogether Lovely Christ. As Barclay says, "Love is kept humble by the consciousness that it can never offer its loved one a gift which is good enough". (Daily Study Bible, Corinthians, p. 134)

"Father, deliver me from painful introversion and hurtful introspection. Enable me to be humble in my evaluation of myself, compassionate in my service to others, and bold in my witness for Christ. Through your Spirit-imparted love, help me to be spiritually-integrated, physically healthy, and mentally balanced. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Love enables me to have humility without humiliation and to have self-esteem without pride!

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106


Proverbs 16:18, Proverbs 22:4, 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Love Conquers Pride!

Love conquers all, and love is the greatest of the fruits of the Spirit! "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love". (1 Corinthians 13:13) Earlier in this devotional book we looked at a portion of the great 'Love Chapter' (1 Corinthians 13). We must now spend more time looking at the great characteristics of love, as described in this great chapter.

1 Corinthians 13:4 says that love is no braggart, that love is not arrogant. Love is not anxious to impress others, and love is never boastful or proud. George Washington Carver was the greatest Negro scientist the world has ever known. As an agricultural chemist, Carver produced about two hundred different products from the peanut, about one hundred products from the sweet potato, and over eighty products from the little pecan. Carver was born to slave parents, but by the providence of God and through discipline and industry, Carver obtained a good education. From the depths of slavery and poverty, George Washington Carver rose to the heights of success and fame. He was known by kings, presidents, and senators, as well as by multitudes of common folks. Carver's pure spirit of modesty and humility was never blemished by conceit or selfishness. He served humanity and gave God all of the credit and glory for his scientific discoveries. He refused to accept big pay for his hard labors. When someone sent him one hundred dollars, Carver sent it back, declaring, "God does not charge for His work, and neither can I in working for Him".

According to 1 Corinthians 13, love "does not cherish inflated ideas of its own importance". (Phillips) Love does not allow one to think more highly of himself than he ought to think. Love enables one to have a sober judgment of his own abilities, and forbids one to be 'flashy' in his appearance or boastful in his claims. (Note Romans 12:3) Says Phillips Brooks: "The true way to be humble is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself, but to stand at your real height against some higher nature that will show you what the real smallness of your greatness is". A sane estimate of ourselves can be received as we see the smallness of ourselves (even at our best) in light of the greatness of Almighty God. The mountains look much smaller when you are at a distance from them, but the true immensity of the mountains in contrast to your smallness is realized as you get closer to the mountains. Our own weakness and smallness is seen the closer we draw to the Almighty and Infinite God! Follow Paul's advice: "Let us have real warm affection for one another as between brothers and a willingness to let the other man have the credit". (Romans 12:10, Phillip's translation)

"Father, help me not to cherish exaggerated ideas of myself or of my importance, but instead to have a sane estimate of my capabilities by the light of the faith that you have given to me. (Romans 12:3) In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "Humility is not an abject, groveling, self- despising spirit; it is but a right estimate of ourselves as God sees us." (Tyron Edwards)

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107


Philippians 2:1-4

"Love Does Not Behave Gracelessly"

Love, according to I Corinthians 13, does not behave gracelessly. The word for grace in the Greek language is also the word for 'charm'. The behavior of a love-filled believer is not unbecoming, charmless, or blunt and harsh, but it is rather winsome, beautiful, lovely, and gracious. A man who is possessed with Christian love has a fragrance about his life that attracts others, not to himself, but to the lovely Christ whom he serves. One who spends much time in the presence of Christ, is enraptured by Christ's love, and manifests a radiance in his life.

William Carey, one of the greatest missionaries and linguists the world has ever known (he translated parts of the Bible into at least thirty-four languages) began life as a simple cobbler. When he first came to India, some disliked him. among whom was a snob who spoke harshly to Carey at a dinner party, with the purpose of humiliating him. Said the man to Carey, "I suppose, Mr. Carey. you once worked as a shoe-maker". Mr. Carey answered, "No, your lordship. not a shoe-maker, only a cobbler". Carey wasn't inflated with a sense of self-importance. He didn't claim to make shoes, only to mend them. Carey was a man of love, and thus a man of grace.

"Captain Maurice M. Witherspoon, Director of the Laymen's National Committee, tells this unusual story of a college friend: 'While I was a student at Washington and Jefferson, I went into the room of a classmate one day, and there, above his desk, was tacked a simple, hand-lettered sign: 'I am third'. I said to him–' Bill, I know you play baseball, but I don't understand what you mean by that sign'. But Bill wouldn't tell me what he meant. All through college that sign stayed above his desk, and he never told me why. Then, just before he graduated, I asked him again, and this is what he said: 'When I left home, my mother told me always to remember that God is first, others are second, and I am third. I was afraid I wouldn't remember, so I made that little sign and tacked it up'. I am sure Bill was the only one in college to whom that sign did apply–he always followed his teachings." (Shoe-Leather Faith, no. 174; Merv Rosell)

Philippians 2:3-4 says, "Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don't just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing". (Living Bible)

J-O-Y–these three letters spell JOY. A life of love is a life of joy, for the relationships of life are in proper order: J stands for JESUS being first, O stands for OTHERS being second, and Y stands for YOU being third.

"Father, in the name of 'justice' I have sometimes acted harshly toward others, and in the name of 'good humor' I have sometimes treated others insensitively. Forgive me for my graceless behavior. Make me sensitive to the feelings of others, delivered on one hand from that pride which makes me look down on my social 'inferiors', and delivered on the other hand from that jealousy which creeps into my life as I look up to my social 'superiors'."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God's imparted love in my life will enable me to live, an unselfconscious life, with my attention fixed on Christ's holiness and my energies invested in caring for others!

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108


1 Peter 4:12-19

Love Conquers Persecution!

Jesus taught the principles of love, and He lived the life of love. He suffered because of love, and He died with the words of love on His lips. Christ is the perfect example that all Christians are commanded to follow. Christians are to live a life of love. Love not only for friends, but also for enemies. Jesus taught, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you". Love is the answer to the problems of a loveless world. The Christian can suffer persecution with patience and kindness.

Paul says in I Corinthians 13 that "Love is patient and kind". Paul exhorted Christians to be "patient in tribulation". When the word patience is used in the New Testament, it means patience with people. Chrysostom, an early century preacher, said it was the word which is used of a man who has been wronged by another, and who has the power to avenge himself, but who refuses to avenge himself of the injustice he has suffered. Abraham Lincoln was such a person. With great contempt Stanton called Lincoln "a low cunning clown" and nicknamed him "the original gorilla". Lincoln, however, treated Stanton with great courtesy and even appointed Stanton as his war minister because Lincoln felt Stanton was the best man for the job. Years later when Lincoln lay silent in a room after he was assassinated, Stanton stood over the bed of the rugged-faced, kind-hearted Lincoln, and with tears, said, "There lies the greatest ruler of men the world has ever seen". The lovely patience of Lincoln had conquered the contempt of Stanton.

Paul further says that "Love does not insist upon its own rights, and never flies into a temper". (Barclay's translation) The love-enraptured person seeks not to see how much he can take from the world, but rather how much he can give to the world. The Christian is concerned for his fellowmen, and helps carry the burden of the world's suffering. He learns to become patient with people, for people, to him, are precious and infinitely valuable to God.

When a modern-day saint, Toyohika Kagawa, first became acquainted with Christianity, he cried out: "O God, make me like Christ!" To follow Christ's example, Kagawa went to live in the slums of Japan, although he himself had tuberculosis. He lived in a six foot by six foot hut in a Tokyo slum. Cecil Northcott tells what Kagawa did. "On his first night he was asked to share his bed with a man suffering from contagious itch. That was a test of his faith. Would he go back on his point of no return? No. He welcomed his bed-fellow. Then a beggar asked for his shirt and got it. Next day he was back for Kagawa's coat and trousers and got them too. Kagawa was left standing in a ragged old kimono. The slum dwellers of Tokyo laughed at him, but they came to respect him. He stood in the driving rain to preach, coughing all the time. 'God is love', he shouted. 'God is love. Where love is, there is God'. He often fell down exhausted, and the rough men of the slums carried him gently back to his hut."

"Father, let me never forget that love is meant to 'go down'–to go down into the valley of human needs to heal the sick, to visit the lonely, to comfort the sorrowing, to recover the wandering ones. Expand my capacity to love with your kind of love."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Love never fails–regardless of the degree of visible or immediate results from loving–for 'God is love'!

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109


Matthew 5:28-48, Romans 12:17-21

Returning Good For Evil

Paul further describes the characteristics of God-like love in I Corinthians 13. Paul says that "Love does not store up the memory of any wrong it has received". (Barclay's translation) Genuine Christians of all ages have had the ability to love their persecutors. Jesus spoke to all ages when he said, "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad; for great is your reward in heaven". (Matthew 5:11-12 a)

The love of the early-century Christians subdued the hatred and hostility of the powerful Romans. Writes Taylor, "Kind submission to the cruel hand of man and a calm committal of the spirit by faith into the hand of God, melted the heart of stone in the Roman world. Here were men, women, and children who could face any kind of death with a smile on the face and a song of praise on the lips. They considered the day of martyrdom the marriage day of the soul". (Goodly Heritage, p. 22)

Reverend Wurmbrand, a Rumanian Christian minister who suffered torture for fourteen years in Nazi and Communist prison camps, was finally released from prison in 1965 and then travelled throughout America, describing his tortures and telling of the Underground Movement of Christians in Communist lands. He experienced horrible torture because he would not renounce his faith in Christ. His body was submitted to hot irons and knives; he was beaten and brain-washed; he experienced many other unimaginable tortures. Throughout these many years, he witnessed for Christ to prison guards and saw many converted to Christ. In his book 'Tortured For Christ', he writes, "The first thing which I must say is that I have not the slightest bitterness or resentment against the Communists or their torturers. Not only this, but I love the communists with all my heart. I hate the sin, but love the sinner. Communists could kill Christians, but could not kill their love towards even those who killed them". (Tortured For Christ, p. 33)

Wurmbrand knows what it is to love his enemies. Love is always the best antidote for hate. Wrote Paul, "My dear friends, do not seek revenge, but leave a place for divine retribution; for their is a text which reads, 'Justice is mine, says the Lord, I will repay". (Romans 12:19, New English Bible)

Dr. Martin Luther King Sr. is a modern-day man whose long life and ministry were filled with love. His was not an easy life–his famous son Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by a hate-filled person, his other son died accidentally in a swimming accident, his wife of over 50 years was shot in his own Church were he pastored for several decades! But this grief-stricken, yet unembittered, saint of God continued to teach and preach love until the day he died! The impact of this man's life and that of his famous son–Martin Luther King Jr.–will doubtless be felt for many decades to come!

"O Father, make me a man of love! Hate paralyzes, but love liberates. Hate gradually corrodes away the personality of a human being, but love enhances and beautifies the life. Give me power to return good for evil, to love even my 'enemies'. In Jesus' lovely name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "I will not allow any man to make me lower myself by hating him." (Booker Washington)

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110


Romans 12:9-16

Love Finds No Pleasure In Evil-Doing

Love is the distinguishing characteristics of the Christian. The person who is engulfed in God's love, will be involved in other people's lives. Love centers attention on others. Paul describes the traits of love. In each of the descriptions Paul gives in I Corinthians 13, there is an important dimension of love revealed. Love is others-oriented and God-centered.

1 Corinthians 13:6 is interestingly translated. Says Phillips: "It does not… gloat over the wickedness of other people." The New English Bible translates this section: "Love does not gloat over other men's sins." The New International Version: "Love takes no pleasure in other people's sins". Today's English Version: "Love is not happy with Evil".

What are these different translators essentially saying? They are saying that love is never glad when another suffers or when another does wrong. Love is never glad to hear an unpleasant report about another, but instead love rejoices when another person succeeds. To gloat over another man's sin, is to smile scornfully in gladness that another person has failed. To gloat over another man's failure, is to descend to the depths of soul- meanness. There is perversion in human nature that causes some to feel built up when others are trampled down.

Love never takes pleasure in the derogatory remarks said concerning another. Says Barclay, "It is one of the queer traits of human nature that very often we prefer to hear of the misfortunes of others rather than of their good fortunes… We are much more interested in hearing a spicy story to someone's discredit than a story to someone's praise". (Daily Study Bible, I Corinthians, p. 136)

The love-filled Christian weeps with those who weep because of failure, losses, or disappointment. Such a Christian never allows himself to become calloused in his heart or calculating in his evaluations. Rather, he is sensitive to his fellowmen and has a heart pulsating with love and compassion. The love-filled believer is grateful he can help bear his brother's burdens, for he knows he is his 'brother's keeper'.

Christian love rejoices with those who rejoice because of success, advancement, and recognition. A love-filled Christian is never jealous or envious, wishing that his fellowman had not achieved so much. A love-filled Christian is never fearful that he will be 'showed up' in an inferior way, when he is compared to his successful brother. Instead he is thrilled over the success of his fellowman and is grateful that he had any part in helping his brother to reach his fuller potential. A love-filled Christian is not contemptuous or competitive, but rather cooperative and complimentary. He is glad when another gets ahead in life, and he prays for his further success.

"Father, cleanse me at the deepest depths of my human nature. Enable me genuinely to rejoice with those who rejoice, and empathetically to weep with those who weep. Never allow my heart to become calloused, and guard my heart against the perverse inward pleasure that some take when others around them falter and fail. Make me a 'man after your own heart'. In Jesus' powerful name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The Holy Spirit will enable me to distain only what God distains, and to delight in only what God delights in!

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111


Acts 2:42-47

"Love Envieth Not"

1 Corinthians 13:4 says that love does not envy others and that love is not jealous. The love-filled Church, as described in Acts 2:42-47 did almost everything together. Love brings people together; jealousy drives people apart!

It is often more difficult to rejoice with those who have found success than it is to weep with those who have met failure. To help the down-trodden often requires less humility of us than to help the success-ridden.

"Oscar Wilde used to tell a fable… The Devil was once crossing the Libyan Desert when he came upon a group of small friends who were tempting a holy hermit. They tried him the seductions of the flesh; they sought to sow his mind with doubts and fears; they told him that all his austerities were nothing worth. But it was of no avail. The holy man was impeccable. Then the Devil stepped forward. Addressing the imps he said, 'Your methods are too crude. Permit me for one moment. This is what I would recommend'. Going up to the hermit he said, 'Have you heard the news? Your brother has been made Bishop of Alexandria'. The fable says 'A scowl of malignant jealousy clouded the serene face of the holy man'. Who can cure this evil thing? How shall jealousy be done away? Who is able? Christ is able. He can uproot his rank week in human hearts and plant the lowly flower of humility in its place." (Daily Readings, p. 200; W. E. Sangster)

One of the early century preachers, Chrysostom, wrote concerning this: "It requires more of a high Christian temper to rejoice with them that do rejoice than to weep with them that weep. For this nature itself fulfills perfectly: and there is none so hard-hearted as not to weep over him that is in calamity; but the other requires a very noble soul, so as not only to keep from envying, but even to feel pleasure with the person who is in esteem". (Daily Bible Readings, Romans, p. 182; William Barclay)

Sir James Y. Simpson, the great discoverer of chloroform, came from a poor home. When James was a child, one day his mother was darning his stockings, and contemplatingly said to her son, "My Jamie, mind when your mither's awa' that she was a grand darner". James' brother, Sandy, realized the brilliant potential of James, and willingly worked in the bakeshop in order that James would have money to attend college. Sir James Simpson's discovery of chloroform was possible because of the unselfish cooperation of his simple folk. Sandy was able to rejoice in the achievement of his brother Sir James, and had a part in making James great.

Paul wrote, "Love knows no envy". Love never looks contemptuously or scornfully upon the unfortunate, but more than that, love never grudges another of what he is or what he has. Love gives help to whom help should be given, and love gives honour to whom honour is due.

"God, don't let me go through life begrudging others of their happiness and success, and at the same time losing my own joy and contentment. Deliver me from my mad pursuit for success and recognition based on a competition with others. Help me to be neither the object or the subject of jealousy, but to live at peace with all men. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Outdoing one another in showing love and in demonstrating generosity is the only kind of competition that is acceptable and worthy.

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112


Romans 8:22-28

Love's Answer To Life's Perplexities

When a person is perplexed, he is uncertain as to what to think or do. Most of life's perplexities can be solved satisfactorily, but there are some problems in life that are very baffling and complex. A person is a long time finding the answer to these kinds of problems, if indeed he ever finds a satisfying answer, in this life. It is these puzzling, tangled, confused conditions in life that are often the hardest to overcome. When sorrows 'like sea billows rol' and clouds of doubt assail, the Christian must learn to rest in this blest assurance–the Heavenly Father is in control of all circumstances and our Father will never cause His children needless tears. The Father's love assures the human heart even though it may not answer all the questions of the questing mind! When hopes are shattered, plans are altered, tears are shed, questions arise, doubts plague, Christ is the Christian's soul-anchor. His love inspires new hope, builds new plans, wipes away the tears, and restores joy and peace to life.

A man may react in one of two ways to adverse circumstances that come his way. He can either let his adversities drag him down, or he can make "music out of life's remainders".

While I was pastoring my first Church in Hillsboro, Illinois, I had the opportunity to come to know several radiant Christians, whose lives deeply impressed me. I was only 22 years old at the time, a student-pastor. Among those beautiful people was an eighty-year old man whose name was Mr. Glass. Mr. Glass taught me that it is possible for a person to overcome adversity and not let a handicap overcome a person. At the age of twenty-five, one of his hands was cut off while he was on his job. How did he respond to this terrible tragedy, a tragedy which stuck him in the beginning of his adult life? He realized that the future would not be easy, but he said he determined to meet life, and meet it head-on and get as much out of life as he could, despite this handicap. Mr. Glass told me that he worked on the railroad for about thirty years. As a one-handed man, he performed tasks in his railroad work that amazed his fellow employees. He said he developed enough skill that he was even able to lift large boxes. He learned to face life optimistically, and, when I knew him, he and his wife were coming to the closing of their lives together, still full of joy and satisfaction. His triumphant prayers and radiant friendship were evidence that he was not plagued with self-pity. Mr. Glass early learned what it was to "take life by the throat". Love makes one a conqueror over any adversity or perplexity.

Christ came not to make life easy, but He came to make men great! The great man is the Christ-possessed man. The Christ possessed man is the man who has learned to cope with life, not on the basis of his own might or ability but on the basis of strong Christian love.

"O God, when life's experiences bring doubts to my mind and sorrow to my heart, teach me to trust you. Always help me to remember that you are a God of perfect wisdom, love, and power. You know what is best for me, you want to give what is best, and you have the ability to give me the best! Knowing who you are enables me to accept life's challenges, not with dumb resignation but with triumphant victory! Thank you! Thank you!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God's unconditional love will someday answer my unsolved questions; then my question marks will be turned to exclamation marks!

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Discussion Questions:

Cultivating The Fruit Of Love

  1. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "What you are speaks so loudly that I can't hear what you are saying". Is the witness of a believer's life sufficient, or is it necessary for a believer to support his 'life' witness with a clear 'verbal' witness? Which is the stronger witness, the witness of one's 'life' or the witness of one's 'lips'?

  2. Explain how all of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24) relate directly to love, and how that all of the fruits are simply descriptions of love.

  3. Give your interpretation of the following statement: "What God commands, my nature demands, and the Holy Spirit supplies".

  4. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "To the extent that I am actively practicing love, to that same extent am I genuinely experiencing God's sanctifying power in my life!" (Give Scriptural references to document your answer.)

  5. Define and describe, in as much detail as you can, the meaning and characteristics of 'Agape' (Divine-like love).

  6. Is it possible to 'love' a person without 'liking' a person? Why or why not?

  7. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement by E. Stanley Jones: "If you don't love God totally you cant' love yourself at all. For a divided self is a despised self. If you don't live with God in the harmony of love, you will have to live with yourself in the disharmony of hate. There is no alternative."

  8. Do you feel that the following statement by John Wesley is accurate and adequate in explaining the essence of Christianity?–"Religion is the most simple thing that can be conceived. It is only humble, gentle, patient love".

  9. If love is the distinguishing mark of the true believer, how can one experience this divine love?

  10. Give your comments and interpretation of the following statement: "God is the reservoir of divine love, I am the channel of divine love, the world is the recipient of divine love".

  11. What is the difference between 'erotic' and 'agape' love? What is the result when 'erotic' love is degraded and perverted?

  12. When was God's love objectively proved to mankind? How is God's love subjectively appropriated by mankind?

  13. Give illustrations of the practical knowledge which comes to the believer as a result of the believer developing a deepening love relationship with God.

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    Discussion Questions:

    Cultivating The Fruit Of Love (Continued)

  14. The 'goodness' of love is described in terms of purity (in Philippians 1:9-11). What are two possible meanings (in terms of 'word pictures') in the concept of 'purity'?

  15. How does the love of God in the human heart affect the believer's behavior, in both a negative sense and in a positive sense?

  16. Give your interpretation of the following statement: "All progress is progress in humility".

  17. In light of I Corinthians 13, give your interpretation of the following statement by Phillips Brooks: "The true way to be humble is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself, but to stand at your real height against some higher nature that will show you what the real smallness of your greatness is".

  18. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement by Tyron Edwards: "Humility is not an abject, groveling, self-despising spirit; it is but a right estimate of ourselves as God sees us". What is the difference between 'true humility' and 'false humility'? Can one be truly motivated by God-like love ('agape' love) to manifest 'true humility', and at the same time be enabled by 'agape' love to enjoy wholesome self-love and self-esteem? How can a believer know when he is experiencing wholesome self-esteem, and when he is wrongly holding an 'inflated view of his own self-importance'? (Note Romans 12:3, 1 Corinthians 3:3-9, 1 Corinthians 3:18-23, 1 Corinthians 4:1-7.)

  19. What practically do you believe I Corinthians 13 means when it states in this great chapter that Christian love enables a believer not to behave gracelessly? Who among your personal acquaintances best exemplifies 'charm' and 'grace' in their Christlike behavior?

  20. Give your interpretation of the following description of love as found in I Corinthians 13: "Love is patient and kind".

  21. Give your insights into the following statement: "Love does not insist upon its own rights, and never flies into a temper". Is it possible to be 'angry' and at the same time be love-filled? (Note Ephesians 4:26.)

  22. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Love never fails–regardless of the degree of visible or immediate results from loving–for 'God is love'."

  23. Can the love-filled believer seek to render justice to a wrongdoer without at the same time seeking vengeance? (Note Romans 12:17-21.) How can a Christian, who has been hurt deeply and unfairly, avoid storing up the memory of the wrong he has received? Can you give examples of believers who have found victory over resentments!

  24. Describe and illustrate, as best as you can, the meaning of the following statement from 1 Corinthians 13:6 –"Love finds no pleasure in evil- doing".

  25. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "It is one of the queer traits of human nature that very often we prefer to hear of the misfortunes of others rather than of their good fortunes".

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    Discussion Questions:

    Cultivating The Fruit Of Love (Continued)

  26. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "It is often more difficult to rejoice with those who have found success than it is to weep with those who have met failure". What is the cure for the evil thing called 'jealousy' in a believer's life?

  27. Is 'competition' ever acceptable within the fellowship of believers? Do you agree with the following statement–"Out doing one another in showing love and in demonstrating generosity is the only kind of competition that is acceptable and worthy".

  28. why love is the answer to life's perplexities. Have you found, amidst the perplexities and mysteries of your personal life, that the Heavenly Father's love assures the human heart even though it has not always answered all the questions of the puzzled mind?

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Cultivating the Fruit of Joy and Peace

Cultivating The Fruit Of Joy and Peace

Chapter Ten

Cultivating The Fruit Of Joy and Peace
The Joy That Is Unspeakable! 117 Christ–The Source Of Peace! 125
The Joy Of The Perfecting Process 118 Reconciliation–The Purpose Of Peace! 126
Joy Here And Hereafter! 119 Love–The Foundation Of Peace! 127
What Happiness Is Not! 120 'Unity Amidst Diversity'–The Meaning Of Peace 128
What Is Happiness? 121 Discussion Questions: 129
Peace With God 122 Discussion Questions: (Continued) 130
Peace Of God 123 Discussion Questions: (Continued) 131
Peace For God 124    

2 Samuel 6:12-15

The Joy That Is Unspeakable!

Notes William Sangster, "The fact that there is a cross at the heart of the Christian faith, and that following Christ involves some rigorous self- denials, does not alter–and cannot alter–this central truth: the fruit of the Spirit is joy… Tertullian said 'The Christian saint is hilarious'… The summons to rejoice is sounded no less than seventy times in the New Testament. Honest men at Pentecost thought that the apostles were drunk, and, whenever the living water has burst fresh from the rock again, the same exuberant gladness has been manifest." (Daily Readings, p. 144)

The Greek meaning behind the word 'Joy' means 'to be glad to the point of madness'. The joy of the Christian in this word is so vivid and so visible that he seems to be a man who has taken leave of his senses." (William Barclay)

"When Dr. Farmer, organist at Harrow, pleaded with the Salvationist drummer not to hit the drum so hard, the beaming bandsman replied: 'Lor' bless you, sir, since I've been converted, I's so happy, I could burst the blooming drum'."

Joy is experienced, not by seeking it, but by seeking Christ and investing oneself in the interests of others.

Joy comes by the realization of what God has done for one in the past, what God is doing for one in the present, and what God will do for one in the future.

First, consider that joy comes from realizing what God has done for one in the past. It is the sins of one's past which destroy one's joy. All need forgiveness–the moral and the immoral alike–and until the sin problem is taken care of, there is no basis for joy. One medical doctor gives the following testimony: "The night I asked God, for Christ's sake, to forgive my sins, I was weighed down with a sense of guilt and fear. After a few moments of confession and forsaking of sin, the guilt and fears vanished, and a miraculous, heaven-sent joy filled my mind. Instead of long continued and expensive trips to a psychiatrists' couch to get rid of a disease-producing guilt complex, I made one trip to God's alter and got rid of guilt itself." (None of These Diseases, p. 98; S. I. McMillan)

It does no good to rationalize sin or suppress sin, or deny sin. David, who had sinned grievously against His God, confessed his sins and found joy restored. "Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities… Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation." (Psalms 51:8-9, Psalms 51:12 a)

"Father, the joy you give me is unspeakable and full of glory! Because thou art its source, my joy is completely independent of circumstances, it is constant, it is deep. What joy to know that all my sins are cast behind your back, never to be remembered against me again. In thy presence is joy forevermore!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will not seek joy, I will seek God, and in seeking God I will discover joy!

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Philippians 2:12-13, Philippians 3:12-14

The Joy Of The Perfecting Process

We saw yesterday that joy comes when one realizes that God has forgiven the sins of one's past. Joy also comes when we realize that God is actively at work in our lives, moment by moment, perfecting us and bringing us more and more into conformity to the will of God. Every day we are becoming more and more like Jesus.

God is constantly working in our lives. "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." (Philippians 2:12-13, NIV) At age 83, veteran missionary E. Stanley Jones wrote, "The best that I can say about myself is that I'm a Christian-in-the- making. Not yet 'made', but only in the making at eighty-three. And I'm glad I am not 'made', for there is joy and anticipation in 'being made'. A great philosopher said: 'If I held Truth captive in my hand, I would let it go, that I might pursue it again'. A girl, recently in the Kingdom said: 'I like the person I'm becoming'. I do too. For the 'becoming' is a part of the joy." (A Song of Ascents, p. 17-18)

God is constantly working in our lives to perfect our character. God does this in several ways: (1) The Lord disciplines us: "And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: 'My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son'. .Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it". (Hebrews 12:5-6, Hebrews 12:10-11, NIV) (2) The Lord permits life's trials to perfect our character: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything". (James 2:2-4, NIV) (3) Confession of personal mistakes and sins to God and to others results in perfecting our character: Says E. Stanley Jones: "There is always a fresh start possible. It begins by saying, 'I am wrong; I must, and will, change'. You feel cleansed by the very confession … Without that note of willingness to confess to being wrong, there is–and cannot be–any progress. People who are always right are always wrong–wrong by their very attitude of being always right. No amendment, no attainment. There is a perpetual, personal love to which I can return when I stray in thought or attitude or deed." (Song of Ascents, p. 17-18,23)

"Father, your working in me and my working with you to accomplish your life- time goal for me–Christ likeness in character–is a source of joy to me! What you begin, you always finish. What you purpose, you always perfect. Thank you for the joy of the perfecting process. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The Lord's discipline. life's trials, personal confession–these are all working for my good and for God's glory. This gives me joy!

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1 John 1:1-4, Revelation 21:1-4

Joy Here And Hereafter!

We have noted thus far that joy comes from realizing what God has done for one in the past and what God is doing for one in the present. Look daily for the Lord and enjoy the present experiences of life, be those experiences ever so common. "God is constantly seeking to meet us in the common and unexpected moments of life. He does not wait for what we are pleased to call the 'grand moments' but He will make the common place the grand. We walk about blind to the glory that is around us because we do not expect to find it there. We mortgage the joys of the present, the quiet homely joys of humdrum days, to our anticipations of some distant time of overwhelming happiness of a kind that never comes to most people. Joy is all around us if we would only learn to see it in common things." (William Sangster) Open your life anew to the God of all joy, and your life will be 'on tiptoe with joy'.

Third, joy comes from realizing what God is going to do for one in the future. Regardless of how dark the present circumstances may sometimes seem, the future for the believer is bright with joyful prospects. Jesus said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you". How heavenly to have God's constant presence! That is the source of perpetual joy–the joy that is not dependent upon circumstances. The more we entertain thoughts of Jesus and His Word throughout our daily routine, the more our lives will be filled with joy! Jesus is our joyful Companion in life. He lightens every burden, for Christ turns our burdens into blessings. In his autobiography, written when he was 83 years old, E. Stanley Jones wrote: "Life to me has not been a struggle. It has been, and is, a Song. The struggle has been only when I have departed from His Way".

Heaven is a glorious future reality for the true believer, an anticipation that brings indescribable joy! Every believer will see Jesus, face to face. All the tears will be wiped away. Each believer will receive his new resurrection body, and he will reign with Christ forever!

Of those who have reached Heaven's home, C. S. Lewis writes: "The dream is ended: this is the morning… All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before." (quote from The Last Battle as quoted in 'Christianity Today', April 11, 1975, p. 19)

If you want joy, real joy, follow Christ every step of the way! Christ gives joy here and joy hereafter!

"Father, thank you for being such a gracious God, a God whose joy is our joy, whose purpose is our salvation, whose heavenly home is our inheritance! Praise and thanksgiving forever!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "Fear not little flock, it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom of Heaven"–these words make me burst with gratitude for the God that I serve!

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2 Corinthians 11:23-33

What Happiness Is Not!

There seems to be constant talk in our modern-day concerning 'Happiness'. Nearly everyone is seeking to be happy–the best sellers today are written on the subject: 'How To Be Happy'.

The terminology today is 'personal fulfillment'. Everyone wants his rights! Everyone wants opportunity to fulfill his potential! There is great talk today about talents, gifts, abilities, individual accomplishments!

People talk about their 'right to be happy'. Happiness is the orientation of modern-day man. Is this good or bad?

Let us first say that God wants His creatures to be happy. At the heart of Christianity is Joy. Those who see Christianity as a list of demands, will be driven to negative despair, but those who see Christianity as a reservoir of limitless resources will be leaping with positive joy! We are children of the Heavenly Father who knows us well and who had declared life as positive and good! It is "ours to run out and embrace life and know with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air that the first thing about life is to enjoy it.'" "It is your Father's good pleasure', said Jesus 'to give you the Kingdom'." (Secret of Radiant Life, p. 109; Sangster)

But, while God wants his creatures to be happy, we must realize that happiness is the sequel to or the by-product of holiness. Anything that goes against holiness, goes against happiness!

Happiness is not self-centered pursuits, resulting in making people into 'things' to be used. Happiness is not avoidance of pain at all costs or escape from personal responsibility. Happiness is not throwing off restraints in an attempt to find freedom. Happiness is not throwing off restraints in an attempt to find freedom. Happiness is not living a life without schedules or disciplines or requirements or accountability. Happiness is not dramatic events and escape from routine jobs which appear so mundane and tedious. Happiness is not constantly seeking personal fulfillment or personal rights. Happiness is not perpetual vacations, unlimited money, constant ease and total release from tension. Happiness is not power, prestige, an applause from one's peers. Happiness is not escape from responsible human relationships with all their accompanying challenges and complexities. Happiness is not doing what you want to do, when you want to, and in the way you want to. Happiness is not escape from difficulties, hardships, or afflictions.

The saint who perhaps more than any other spoke of joy, is the saint who suffered most. The list of Paul's sufferings and troubles fills a page. Read them in 2 Corinthians 11:23-33. And yet he could write: "In all our troubles my joy knows no bounds." (2 Corinthians 7:4)

"Father, knowing you truly is to possess within me a spring of living water, bubbling up with the joy of the Lord! Help me never to seek happiness but instead to seek holiness, and in experiencing your holiness to find that I am permeated with happiness."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will minister today out of the overflow of my life–the overflow of joy!

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Matthew 6:28-34

What Is Happiness?

Yesterday we briefly described what happiness is not; today we describe what happiness is.

Happiness is doing God's will, regardless of the pleasure or the pain which accompany that commitment. Happiness is full-surrender of one's will to God's will, one's mind to Christ's mind, one's emotions to Christ's emotions. Happiness is death to self-centeredness, with a consequent resurrection to Christ-centeredness. Happiness is living responsibly in relationships,. giving God supreme place in one's affections, will, and intellect, and giving preference to other's needs before one's own needs.

Happiness is living a holy life–a life forgiven of sins and delivered from self-centeredness. Happiness is loving yourself genuinely because you love God supremely. Happiness is living responsibly, being faithful to one's commitments to God, to the Church, and to others, regardless of the pain or afflictions which such commitments incur. Happiness is being faithful in performing the God-given tasks–daily, routinely, yearly with or without the recognition of fellow humans. Happiness is serving others and in the process finding yourself deeply fulfilled. Happiness is seeking to make others happy, comforting the sorrowing, cheering the fainting, loving the loveless. Happiness is living a God-focused life, living fully to meet human needs and living dependently to appropriate divine resources.

Happiness is being a channel–a channel to connect God's love with human lovelessness, a channel to connect God's transforming power to human impotence. Happiness is service. Delighting in creating. Implementing 'love projects' in the context of a love-hungry world. Being God's little creators- -creating new movements, new lives, new hopes. Happiness is fulfilling the purpose for which humans were created–to love God and to serve mankind. Happiness is the exciting process of 'becoming', forever 'becoming', but never fully arriving. Walking by faith here and seeing Christ face to face someday. Happiness is companionship with Christ, made nearer and dearer when death robs one of the body!

Seek holiness, and you will get happiness also. Seek happiness and you will not only lose holiness, but you will lose happiness as well. "Whoever finds his life (i.e., seeks happiness as his primary goal in life) will lose it, and whoever loses his life (i.e., seeks God's will and way–His holiness– as his primary goal in life) will find it." (Matthew 10:38-39) "The hope of good men is eternal happiness; the hopes of evil men are all in vain." (Proverbs 10:28, Living Bible)

"Father, help me not to be afraid of life with its stringent demands and responsibilities. Help me to fall in love with life with its pains and pleasures alike, because I have fallen deeply in love with you. Make my joy complete because I am completely committed to you. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Following Christ is not a 'joy ride' but it is a 'joy road'. Hallelujah!

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Romans 3:24-28, Romans 4:5

Peace With God

Peace is a fruit of the Spirit. Christ said to His disciples, just before He was arrested and crucified: "I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn't fragile like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid." (John 14:27, Living Bible) Recognizing that peace is a gift of God, we must consider, during the next few days, peace WITH God, peace OF God, and peace FOR God.

First, consider peace WITH God. Man was made to be filled with God, but sin empties one of God's inner presence and leaves one void, estranged, and lonely. Man is lost without God. The ultimate consequence of sin is hell, and hell is separation from everything that is good. Sin results in driving one away from God, away from the one that man is made for! "And they (the human couple) heard the voice of the Lord God walking the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden." (Genesis 3:8)

In one section of his poem, Francis Thompson describes the way in which sin drove him from God, and yet how God pursued him in love.

"I fled Him down the nights and down the days; 
I fled Him down the arches of the years; 
I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways 
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears 
I hid from Him, and under running laughter." 

Sin always has a way of alienating. Sin alienated the prodigal son from his father. Sin alienated the woman of Samaria from society. Sin alienated the thief from his family and friends, and nailed him to a cross. Sin alienates the spirit of man from the Spirit of God. Alienation from God destroys joy and peace and causes emptiness, misery, and loneliness.

The twentieth century might well be called the Age of Estrangement. Many today rub shoulders in large crowds, but still feel alone. Many today manifest their deep restlessness by frequent movement from one location to another or from one job to another, or from one wife to another. Many are madly pursuing pleasure, hoping to fill the void of loneliness. A fear of death plagues many.

Is there any peace, any hope for a person upon whom the wrath and condemnation of God rests? Yes, there is hope and peace in Christ! "Yet now God declares that we are good in His eyes if we trust in Jesus Christ, who freely takes away our sins. For God sent Christ Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and end all God's anger against us. He used Christ's blood and our faith to satisfy God's wrath. .For God declares sinners to be good in His sight if they have faith in Christ to save them from God's wrath". (Romans 3:24-25, Romans 4:5, Living Bible)

"O God, all attempts to find peace through human efforts have left the human heart restless. I see that peace is more than aright set of external circumstances. Lasting and true peace is an internal condition of the human heart, given as a gift from God upon entering into a new relationship with Christ!

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: In troubling circumstances I need not be troubled, for God's peace is not fragile; it is tough and endurable!

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Philippians 4:4-7, Mark 4:35-41

Peace Of God

Many times God is called the "God of all peace". Peace is a gift of God, the fruit of the Spirit. Said Jesus to His disciples, shortly before the crucifixion: "I have told you all this so that you will have peace 'of heart and mind. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows; but cheer up, for I have overcome the world". (John 16:33, Living Bible)

The gift of God's peace is enjoyed in spite of circumstances. The peace the Christian enjoys is not unlike that which Christ enjoyed when he enjoyed undisturbed calm in the midst of the raging storm on the lake (Mark 4:35-41). "A contest was once held in which a prize was to be given to the most original allegorical painting of peace. One artist brought a landscape of exquisite beauty and tranquility, the limpid lake, the softly flowing brook, the green fields with cattle and sheep feeding on rich pasture, luxuriant trees with birds singing in the branches and children playing under their shadow, wile soft fleecy clouds sailed across the blue expanse and flung their changing shadows on the mountain sides. It was without doubt a perfect picture of peace under normal conditions. But the painting that won the prize was very different. It represented a naked rock in mid-ocean with wild tempests beating around it and the surf tossing high about its base while a ship in distress was seen driving before the fierce hurricane. The clouds were black and angry with the fury of the storm. But in the center of the picture that naked rock was seen to divide near the summit, and in its cleft, a dove was calmly dropping into her nest and spreading her soft wings above her little brood, safe and quiet amid all the fury of the elements. That is the peace 'which passeth all understanding', and which only the Spirit of God can bring to our heart." (Honoring the Spirit, p. 13-14; Myron F. Boyd)

There is a song which speaks of 'a deep settled peace in my soul'. Regardless of the troubled surface waters, the waters that are deep remain calm and powerful. The current may flow fast, but it flows undisturbed and peacefully.

Peace is a gift of God which is maintained by centering ones attention on Christ and on the needs of others. "Thou dost keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusts in thee." (Isaiah 25:3, RSV) To keep peace in our hearts, we must learn daily to cultivate the presence of Christ in our lives. Also, we must give ourselves in service to others, for the more we are preoccupied with meeting the needs of others, the less occupied we will be with our own problems. As Sangster says, "Give yourself in service to others; every needy soul is an opportunity; seize every self- pitying thought in its early stages and direct it in pity to somebody else… Then the miracle will happen. Peace will come to you". (Daily Readings, p. 231)

"Peace, 'in spite of' when it cannot be 'because of' circumstances! That is the kind of peace I want in my heart, dear Father. Help me to stay my mind on You in order that you may keep me in perfect peace!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I cannot 'Make' the peace of God rule in my heart, but I can 'Let' the peace of God rule in my heart. My surrender to God shall result in my serenity from God! Glory!

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Isaiah 9:6-7, Matthew 5:9

Peace For God

If we have peace WITH God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and if we have the peace OF God in our hearts as we stay our mind on Christ, then we will seek peace FOR God, i.e., we will be peace-makers. We can be active peace- makers in many ways. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God". (Matthew 5:9) He who is a peacemaker is doing the very work of God, for God is a God of Peace.

First, express peaceful greetings. In many of Paul's letters, he expressed his greetings to his friends in these words: "Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ". To wish someone peace is to wish him every blessing which God can give, even those choice gifts which sometimes come through troubling circumstances! To wish someone peace then is not to wish him freedom from all troubles in life, but to wish him God's richest blessings which sometimes come as a result of enduring life's trials.

Second, use peaceful words. We can be peacemakers by the words we speak. Some words build up and some words tear down human relationships. Be very careful in the selection of your words! "A soft answer turneth away wrath but grievous words stir up anger." (Proverbs 15:1) "Some people like to make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise soothe and heal." (Proverbs 12:18) Blessed are those who bring good tidings, who proclaim peace! (Nahum 1:15)

Third, involve yourself in peaceful actions. "Abraham Lincoln once said: 'Die when I may I would like it to be said of me, that I always pulled up a weed and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow' … There are people who are always storm centers of trouble and bitterness and strife … There are other people in whose presence bitterness cannot live, people who bridge the gulfs, and heal the breaches, and sweeten the bitterness. Such people are doing a godlike work, for it is the great purpose of God to bring peace between man and Himself, and between man and man. The man who divides men is doing the devil's work; the man who unites men is doing God's work." (Daily Study Bible, Matthew, vol. I, p. 105; Barclay)

Fourth, pray peaceful prayers. One of the most productive activities to bring about peace is prayer. What the world needs is millions of prayer warriors who will cover the earth with a blanket of prayer. Prayer is the mightiest force in the Universe, and the only ultimate way of bringing peace to our troubled world. "I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way." (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

"Father, enable me to be an ambassador of peace, your instrument of peaceful relationships between fellow human beings. Let my greetings be peaceful greetings. my words be soothing words, my actions be reconciling actions, my prayers be world-changing prayers!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Upwardly I enjoy peace with God. Inwardly I enjoy the peace of God. I will therefore outwardly allow peace to flow from my life for God.

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Ephesians 2:14-18

Christ–The Source Of Peace!

Have you ever wished that everyone could get along with one another? Why are there racial conflicts, and why is there a 'generation gap'? There are conflicts over styles, tastes, and outlooks and philosophies. Why can't Americans and Russians get along, in spite of the various ideological differences? Why can't the various classes–rich and poor–accept each other instead of contemptuously and suspiciously looking down on each other? Why can't people whose temperaments and personalities are so different get along, accepting differences without allowing those differences to become barriers of misunderstanding?

These are the concerns which Paul dealt with in the Book of Ephesians. The gathering together of all things in Jesus Christ is the key theme of Ephesians. Unity, reconciliation, and peace are the key words of the Book. In Ephesians 2:14-18 (our devotional reading for today) we have a 'Profile of Peace'. The Profile of peace is shown in five ways: (1) Source of Peace– Christ; (2) Instrument of Peace–Blood of the Cross; (3) Purpose of Peace– Reconciliation; (4) Foundation of Peace–Love; (5) Meaning of Peace–Unity amidst Diversity.

Ephesians 2:14 says that Christ is our Peace. If Christ is the source of peace, it is the blood of the Cross which is the instrument of peace. There is no cheap peace, either between God and man or between man and man. Sin has destroyed the peaceful relationships between God and man and between man and man. It is through "the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:13), by the 'flesh' of Christ (Ephesians 2:14) that the dividing walls of hostility can be destroyed and that peace can be established! There is no easy peace. Christ is the author of peace, but not even Christ could bring peace without the suffering and the blood of the Cross! It is "through the Cross" (Ephesians 2:16) that God is able to reconcile man to Himself and to reconcile man to his fellowman.

What a message to our world! Many there are who talk about peace today! But they don't know either the source of peace (Christ), nor the costly instrument of peace (the blood of Christ's cross). They don't discern the seriousness of man's problem of estrangement! They are like the false prophets of Israel: "They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. 'Peace, peace', they say, when there is no peace." (Jeremiah 8:11)

Men look to other sources of peace outside of Christ–sources like peace treaties, councils, the United Nations, military armaments, education, etc. As earnest as man's attempts are to find peace, there is no peace outside of Christ! Christ alone is the Author of peace, and His Cross alone is the Instrument of peace between God and man and between man and man!

"O Father, I am restless until I rest in thee, and yet I cannot rest in you without coming to your Son, whose blood alone can affect a reconciliation between You and me. The blood of your Son is able to cleanse me at the deepest level of my sins, and to speak peace to my troubled soul. Hallelujah!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "I see the new creation rise, I hear the speaking blood; It speaks! polluted nature dies–Sinks 'neath the crimson flood'." ('The Cleansing Wave')

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Colossians 1:15-23

Reconciliation–The Purpose Of Peace!

Says Ephesians 2:14-15 "For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace. "The fact is this: By His Cross, Christ has destroyed the walls of hostility and has built the bridge of peace between all peoples of all races, nationalities, cultures, and ages. Christ destroys the barriers between races, nations, and individuals because Christ has demonstrated his love on the Cross! The Cross shows God's love for all, and God's love for each. "The sight of that Cross awakens in the hearts of men of all nations love for Christ, and only when they all love Christ will they love each other." (Daily Study Bible, Ephesians, p. 134; William Barclay) The Cross is God's outstretched hands, drawing all people to one another in peaceful and loving reconciliation. God is saying through the Cross to hostile humanity: "Because I love you all equally, all of you who are so different culturally, racially, and religiously must love each other deeply!" Jesus said, "But I, when I am lifted up from the earth (on a Cross), will draw all men to myself." (John 12:32) The purpose of peace is reconciliation–between man and man and between God and man. "His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross." (Ephesians 2:15 b- Ephesians 2:16)

The Cross demonstrated God's love for all mankind, which is God's giant magnet to reconcile man with man, "thus making peace" (verse 15). Also, the Cross satisfies God's justice–Christ receiving the death penalty of sin in his own body in the place of sinners–which provides the basis for God's reconciliation with sinners.

Thus, the Cross is the basis of all reconciliation. Because the Cross satisfies God's justice, the Cross is Christ's appeal to God to forgive mankind. Sin has been punished in Christ. Being the just God that He is, God will not punish twice for one crime! The innocent one (Christ) has died for the guilty ones (sinners), therefore the alienated ones can become the reconciled ones. We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of Christ's death on the cross, providing atonement for sin, Christ is our door of access to the presence of God! Further, because the cross demonstrates God's love, the Cross is Christ's appeal to man to reconcile himself with his fellowman. "The work of Jesus is to show all men that God is their friend, and because God is their friend, that they must be friends with each other." (Daily Study Bible, Ephesians, p. 137; Barclay) The Cross of Christ both satisfies God's justice, regarding sin's punishment, and demonstrates God's love in the midst of sinners' hostility to one another.

"Greater love hath no one than this–that the sinless One would lay down His life for the sinful ones. O Christ, your sacrificial life and substitutionary death provide not only inspiration for change but power for moral transformation of my life. Your blood speaks peace to my sinful heart, and draws me to make peace with my fellowman."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The love of the invisible Christ will motivate me to express love to His visible creation!

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Matthew 22:34-40, Romans 13:8-10

Love–The Foundation Of Peace!

Love, not law is the Foundation for Peace. "For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations." (Ephesians 2:14-15 a)

Law divides because it is exclusive. Love unites because it is inclusive. The 'law' (Ephesians 2:15) which Christ abolished in his flesh, refers to man-made ceremonial laws. Man-made laws and regulations divide mankind, but God's love unites mankind. "The Jews believed that only by keeping the Jewish law was a man good, and only by so doing could he attain to the friendship and the fellowship of God. Now that law had been worked out into thousands and thousands of rules and regulations and commandments and decrees… A religion which is based on all kinds of rules and regulations, about sacred rituals and customs and practices and sacrifices and days can never be a universal religion… Jesus ended legalism as a principle of religion. And what did He put in its place? He put love to God and love to men. Jesus carne to tell men that they cannot earn God's approbation by a keeping of the ceremonial law; that they must accept the love and forgiveness and fellowship which God in mercy freely offers them." (Daily Study Bible, Ephesians, p. 134; Barclay)

Love opens the door to all; Law closes the doors to most. Love destroys the barriers–the fences! "Rita Snowden tells a story of the war. In France some soldiers with their sergeant brought the body of a dead comrade to a French cemetery to have their friend buried there. The priest told them gently that it was a Roman Catholic cemetery, and he was bound to ask if their comrade had been baptized adherent of the Roman Catholic Church. They said that they did not know. The priest said that he was very sorry, but, if that was the case, he could not permit burial in his Churchyard. So the soldiers took their comrade sadly and buried him just outside the fence of the Churchyard. The next day they came back to see that the grave was all right, and to their astonishment they could not find it. They knew that it was only six feet from the fence of the burying ground, but search as they might they could find no trace of the freshly dug soil. As they were about to leave in perplexed bewilderment the priest came up. He told them that his heart had been troubled because of his refusal to allow their dead comrade to be buried in the Churchyard; so he told them that early in the morning he had risen from his bed, and with his own hands he had moved the fence to include the body of the soldier who had died for France. That is what love can do. The rules and regulations put up the fence; but love moved it. Jesus removed the fences between man and man because He abolished all religion that is founded on rules and regulations, and brought to men a religion whose foundation is love." (Ibid, p. 135)

"Father, you have destroyed the barriers which separated me from you. Now help me to tear down the 'fences' that separate me from my fellowmen. Make me a peacemaker–a 'bridge-builder', not a 'fence-constructor'! In Jesus' peaceful name. Amen!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will major on those things that bring me closer to my fellowmen; I will minimize those controversial issues that lead to division and misunderstanding with my fellowmen.

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Ephesians 4:1-13, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

'Unity Amidst Diversity'–The Meaning Of Peace

What does peace really mean? Does it mean that all individual differences between mankind are abolished? If persons are reconciled to one another, does this mean that all personal identity is lost and that all individual distinctives are sacrificed? Ephesians 2:15 says, "His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace".

Christ came into the world "to create a new quality of thing which did not exist before … Jesus brings together Jew and Gentile and from them both produces one new kind of person. . .It is not that Jesus makes all Jews into Gentiles, or all Gentiles into Jews; He produces a new kind of person out of both, although they remain Gentiles and Jews. .The unity which Jesus achieves is not achieved by blotting out all the racial and national characteristics; it is achieved by making all men of all nations into Christians. It may well be that we have something to learn here. The tendency has always been that when we send missionaries abroad we tend to produce people who wear English clothes and speak the English language and have an English education. There are indeed some missionary Churches who would have all their congregations worship with the one liturgy which is used in the Churches at home. But it is not Jesus' purpose that we should turn all men into one nation, but that there should be Christian Indians and Christian Africans, whose unity lies in their Christianity. The oneness in Christ is in Christ, and not in any external change." (Daily Study Bible, Ephesians, p. 136; Barclay)

Unity, not unison, is. the meaning of peace. For instance, a symphony is great because there is unity (harmony) amidst differences in musical instruments. Another example: The Body is one, not because the body parts are the same, but because the body parts, though very different, work together to bring a harmonious functioning to the entire body (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).

'Unity amidst diversity' is the meaning of peace. The Church is composed of many Christians, all of whom are different, but all of whom are to cooperate together for the over-all harmonious functioning of the entire Church. What does peace mean? It means unity in the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:1-13). Differences between persons in the Church is what makes unity possible! If all persons were the same, there could at best only be unison! But unity amidst diversity is the meaning of peace. Never turning differences into barriers to communication! To be one in Christ is to appreciate one another's national, racial, cultural, religious, temperamental, age differences and to allow those differences to be used by God to benefit the entire body of Christ. Christ has come, not to destroy the God-created differences, but to destroy the sin-caused differences–the barriers caused by sin.

"Heavenly Father, you are the author of life with all of its rich variety. Help me to accept my uniqueness, and enable me to use my unique personality and gifts to contribute to the growth and edification of your Church and of your wonderful world. In Jesus' uniting name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I have a distinct contribution to make to my world, because I am a unique creature, created for a specific purpose. I will use my gifts, not to compete or to compare, but to complement and to serve the Body of Christ!

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Discussion Questions:

Cultivating The Fruit Of Joy And Peace

  1. Is it accurate to say that the 'last word' in Christianity is joy, not sorrow; self-realization, not self-surrender? Does a believer have a 'right' to experience joy in his life, in light of the fact that here is a 'cross' at the heart of Christianity? (Give Scriptural references to document your answer.)

  2. What is the Greek meaning behind the word 'Joy', as it is used in the New Testament?

  3. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Joy is experienced, not by seeking it, but by seeking Christ and investing one's self in the interests of others".

  4. Tell what is meant by the statement: "Joy comes from realizing what God has done for one in the past".

  5. Is it accurate to say that one can never experience genuine joy unless and until he acknowledges the reality of real guilt in his life and openly confesses all his sins to Almighty God?

  6. Do you personally identify with E. Stanley Jones' statement: "The best that I can say about myself is that I'm a Christian-in-the-making".

  7. List ways in which God is constantly working in our lives as believers to perfect our character.

  8. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "People who are always right are always wrong–wrong by their very attitude of being always right". Has it been your personal observation that the people who are most joyous as Christians are the same ones who are most 'open', transparent, humble, and ready to confess personal mistakes or sins?

  9. Does the following statement reflect your personal testimony, as you have sought to experience genuine 'joy' in your personal life?–"The Lord's discipline, life's trials, personal confession–these are all working for my good and for God's glory. This gives me joy".

  10. Illustrate from your personal life, the truth of the following statement: "Joy is all around us if we would only learn to see it in common things".

  11. What are the spiritual realities which are the basis for the believer's sense of perpetual joy? (Note Matthew 28:20, Luke 12:32, 1 Corinthians 2:9, Revelation 21:1-7)

  12. Is Christianity basically a life controlled by moral prohibitions and demands, or is Christianity basically a life motivated by divine love and empowered with divine energy?

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    Discussion Questions:

    Cultivating The Fruit Of Joy And Peace (Continued)

  13. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "While God wants his creatures to be happy. we must realize that happiness is the sequel to or the by-product of holiness. Anything that goes against holiness, goes against happiness!"

  14. Describe the worldly conception of 'happiness' and contrast this conception of happiness with the Christian's conception of 'happiness'.

  15. After considering the apostle Paul's many sufferings and troubles (as listed in 2 Corinthians 11:23-33) why was it possible for Paul to say. "In all our troubles my joy knows no bounds" (2 Corinthians 7:4)? Is it accurate to say that the 'happiness' of the non-believer depends upon the pleasant 'happenings' in his environment. whereas the joy of the Christian depends upon his living relationship with his God, independent of external circumstances? Can you personally testify to the fact that you have experienced 'Joy amidst Sorrow', because of your personal relationship with Jesus Christ?

  16. What is happiness, according to your personal understanding and experience? Is your definition and description of happiness Biblically supportable?

  17. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statements: "Happiness is doing God's will, regardless of the pleasure or the pain which accompany that commitment. Happiness is living responsibly, being faithful to one's commitments to God, to the Church, and to others, regardless of the pain or afflictions which such commitments incur".

  18. Give your interpretation of the following statement: "Following Christ is not a 'joy ride' but is is a 'joy road'."

  19. Is there any peace, any hope for a person upon whom the wrath and condemnation of God rests? Based upon an und-erstanding of Romans 3:24-25, Romans 4: 5 do you believe the following statement is accurate?–"Lasting and true peace is an internal condition of the human heart, given as a gift from God upon entering into a new relationship with Christ!"

  20. Describe what is meant by the following statement: "The gift of God's peace is enjoyed in spite of circumstances". How does a study of Mark 4:35-41 help a believer to discover and to maintain the 'peace of God' in his life?

  21. Illustrate from your personal life, as a believer, the truth of the following statement: "Peace is a gift of God which is maintained by centering one's attention on Christ and on the needs of others". (Note Isaiah 26:3)

  22. Share several ways in which you, as a child of God, can be a true 'peace-maker' in the midst of a troubled and distressed world.

  23. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following vivid statement: "The man who divides men is doing the devil's work; the man who unites men is doing God's work".

  24. From a study of Ephesians 2:14-18, who is the Source of Peace, and what is the Instrument of Peace?

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    Discussion Questions:

    Cultivating The Fruit Of Joy And Peace (Continued)

  25. Share your understanding of the following statement: "The cross of Christ both satisfies God's justice, regarding sin's punishment, and demonstrates God's love in the midst of sinners' hostility to one another, thus motivating mankind to love one another."

  26. Explain the meaning of the following statement, as it relates to Peace: "Law divides because it is exclusive. Love unites because it is inclusive".

  27. If persons are reconciled to one another (Ephesians 2:15) does this mean that all personal identity is lost and that all individual distinctions are sacrificed? What is the difference between 'unity' and 'unison'? What does 'unity amidst diversity' mean, as this concept applies to the local Church?

  28. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "To be one in Christ is to appreciate one another's national, racial, cultural, religious, temperamental, age differences and to allow those differences to be used by God to benefit the entire body of Christ". To what extent can a single local Church include people of various cultures, races, temperaments, and classes within its fellowship? Has not experience shown that the constituency in most local Churches is very similar (i.e., homogeneous, rather than heterogeneous), and that it is almost impossible for anyone local Church to grow without a basic commonality among its constituency? Is it possible to believe in the concept of 'unity amidst diversity' and still recognize that it is almost impossible for anyone local Church to reach 'all types and temperaments'?

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Cultivating the Fruit of Patience and Kindness

Cultivating The Fruit Of Patience and Kindness

Chapter Eleven

Cultivating The Fruit Of Patience and Kindness
Patience–Never Giving In To Despair! 132 Kindness In Expectation From Others 138
Patience With People 133 Kindness In Treatment Of Others 139
Love Which Never Gives Up! 134 The Winning Way Of Kindness! 140
Love Never Gives Way To Vengeance 135 Discussion Questions: 141
Motivation For Patience 136 Discussion Questions: (Continued) 142
Kindness In Compassion Toward Others 137    

2 Timothy 3:10-17

Patience–Never Giving In To Despair!

Another fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) is Patience. Patience is one of the many rich dimensions of Love. Patience is love which can wait without despair and which can endure without resentment. We must look at both of these descriptions during the next few days.

The man of patience is the man whose spirit does not give in to despair. It is God's patience which breeds man's patience. God's patience is seen in His longsuffering with the sinful human race. Paul declared that he received mercy from God as an example of God's perfect patience (1 Timothy 1:16). "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9, NIV)

Patterned after the patience of God, the Spirit-controlled person keeps on hoping, believing, and working with people, regardless of the odds and the obstacles, and the oppositions. Patience means persistence in loving people, regardless of human obstinacy and regardless of despairing circumstances.

Growth in love is growth in patience. To love truly means to wait persistently. Patience with sinners until they respond to God's call of repentance. Patience with believers until the slow growing fruit of the Spirit is evident in their lives. Patience with the Church until God's sanctifying power removes the spots and the stains and the wrinkles in it's corporate life. Patience with God's patience with an unbelieving world which seems bent on self-destruction.

Love can wait on God and can wait on people, and while waiting, work persistently as God's tool of redemption. Notes E. W. Sangster: "The saint never gives up. He goes on serving, loving, helping. . .He aches for souls. Neither indifference, nor slander, nor injury can stop him. He does not make a motive of gratitude. His great motive is his utter love of God". (Daily Readings, p. 134)

The Christian must cultivate the fruit of patience in his life if he is to work effectively with people. The believer need not lose hope or faith in people, for he knows that God is constantly working to perfect His good work of grace in people's lives. Because all believers are merely 'Christians in the making', progressively changing to become more like Christ, the man of God can be patient with those with whom he lives and works. 'Be patient, God is not finished with me yet' is a good motto for all believers to personalize.

Every shepherd of the flock of God is to practice patience with his people and persistence in his love, being faithful to the sheep during times of sickness as well as during times of health, during times of danger as well as during times of safety. He never grows tired in caring for his sheep, for he is patiently and lovingly dedicated to his sheep (John 10:12-13).

"Dear Lord, help me to believe in people, looking beyond what they are to what they can become in Christ! As you have suffered long with me, help me to be longsuffering with others. Help me to breathe faith into the faithless and love into the loveless."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Because God has never given up on me, I must never give up on anyone else!

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Ephesians 4:2-3, Ephesians 4:31-32

Patience With People

Patience is a distinctively Christian trait, resulting from being controlled by the Holy Spirit. We said yesterday that the man of patience is the man whose spirit does not give in to despair with people.

John Wesley spoke to this need for a steadfast spirit which will never give in to despair. "You that are diligent in this labour of love, see that you be not discouraged, although, after you have used your best endeavours, you should see no present fruit. You have need of patience, and then, 'after ye have done the will of God' herein, the harvest will come. Never be 'weary of well-doing; in due time ye shall reap, if ye faint not'. Copy after Abraham, who 'against hope, still believed in hope. Cast thy bread upon the water, and after many days thou shalt find it again'." (Twenty Centuries of Great Preaching, vol. 3, p. 34)

An old saint of God for years wrote me almost monthly, and the recurring phrase of exhortation in her letters was: "Keep on keeping on!" One can wait patiently without falling into despair, if he believes that God is faithful to His promises. Because Abraham believed in God's faithful character, he 'patiently endured'. In the end, the promise was fulfilled.

One can work patiently with people if he is committed to Christ's unchangeable love. The question has been asked of some faithful Christians, "How can you work, decade after decade, with people who are so changeable, without despairing?" In answering that honest question, let it be honestly acknowledged that the temptation to despair is a real and recurring temptation to any Christian leader who is deeply involved with helping people. Any Christian leader who works long and closely with people knows how changeable and unpredictable human nature can be. The ever-present temptation to despair is best countered through commitment to Christ's unchangeableness and integrity. Christ promised to build His Church, and therefore not even the gates of hell can prevail against His Church. Christ promised to cleanse and to perfect and to sanctify His Church, and therefore not even the faithlessness and sinfulness of man can destroy God's purpose for His Church. (Ephesians 5:25-27) Because Christ believes in the Church, and because Christ has declared that the Church will endure and grow (in spite of problems within and without), the Christian leader can remain patient with people and can work without despair to build the Kingdom of God.

To be patient with people means to like people, to make allowances for people's faults (Ephesians 4:2-3), to be tenderhearted and forgiving (Ephesians 4:31-32), and to patiently believe in imperfect people.

"Father, I confess that I desire to be known as a fruitful, successful worker in your spiritual vineyard. Cleanse me from my inordinate desires to be 'successful', and help me instead to be faithful to your divine call to love people, regardless of the visible results of such loving. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Love never fails, so when I truly love people 'in the Spirit', I am always successful, regardless of the tangible results of such loving!

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1 Corinthians 15:58, Galatians 6:9-10

Love Which Never Gives Up!

Patience is that Spirit-cultivated quality in the life of the earnest Christian which enables him never to give up in his care for people, regardless of the imperfections in saints or the outright oppositions of sinners.

"There are the 'perfectionists' who are always tense and anxious about their own imperfections and the imperfections of others. .They cannot get along with themselves or with others. They are demanding the impossible and getting the possible–with disappointment!

"Jesus was patient with and hopeful for the weak and the faltering and the sinful. And yet he did not compromise with and accommodate himself to their imperfections and sins, for he held them to victory and not defeat, perfection not imperfection–and led them to it!

"That was what I needed: someone who would accept me with all my imperfections and yet hold me to perfection. . I could be imperfect and accepted as such by my Redeemer, but I could be held to perfection by my Redeemer whose grace would be set to work at producing it. And this subsidiary note: I would treat others as Christ treats me. I would accept them as they are but expect them into expectancy, hope them into hope of being different, believe them into believing they could grow up to the crown I am holding above their heads. I would be able to live with my imperfect self without chafing and to work with imperfect colleagues without discouragement or without losing my temper." (A Song of Ascents, p. 39-40; E. S. Jones)

If there is need to accept people in spite of their imperfections, there is even a greater need patiently to love people in spite of their sins. "God gave this mighty love to Catherine Booth. Even as a girl, she said that she was willing to die for her father's salvation. .She said that the all- absorbing question of her husband's life (and it was no less true of herself) was how best to reach and save the masses. Many a time she cried, 'a! the value of souls! They are worth all the trouble and sacrifice involved–yea, a thousand times over'… Or consider the life of John Woolman, the Quaker saint. His biographer says: 'The keynote of his message was always and ever love. Love to God and love to man. This single note runs through his life and writings like a silver thread'. It was still true of him when he came to die. On his deathbed he had no pre-occupation about heaven: no mention of crowns, harps, raptures 'but the same tender and touching concern for suffering humanity, relieved only by the thought of the paternity of God, and His love and omnipotence'." (Daily Readings, p. 134; Sangster)

"Father, fill me with so much of your love that I will see the saint in every sinner, and love each sinner with the very persistence of divine like love. May love be the single note that runs through my life. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: My goal for life: To condemn no sinner, to condone no sin, to love all unconditionally and persistently!

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Matthew 5:38-48, Romans 12:17-21

Love Never Gives Way To Vengeance

Christian patience is not only the spirit which will not give in to despair with people, but further, it is the spirit which will never give way to vengeance. Christian patience has been defined as the spirit which could take revenge if it liked, but utterly refuses to do so. Patience is that spirit which will never retaliate. In Christian thought, the big man is not the man of vengeance, but the man of forgiveness. The violence of our Western culture is in direct violation to the Christian quality of patience. In secular culture, might is right. The prize goes to the strongest. The big man is defined as the man who goes all out for vengeance. The mighty man–the man of importance–is the man who tolerates no insult or injury.

The Bible says that the truly great man is the man who is possessed of love. He returns good for evil. He refuses to reap vengeance upon his persecutors, even though he could. To simply illustrate, have you ever seen a big dog harassed by a small dog? The big dog takes the harassment patiently, even though the big dog has within his power the ability to tear up the little dog.

God's loving, forbearing, forgiving, patient attitude toward sinful mankind is the attitude which every believer is to reproduce in his life. "If God had been a man He would have taken His hand and wiped out this world long ago; but God has that patience which bears with all our sinning and which will not cast us off." (Daily Study Bible, Galatians, p. 56; Barclay)

God delayed His judgment many times throughout history, providing opportunity for men to repent of their sins. God loves the loveless; He suffers long with unregenerate man. "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy." (Psalms 103:8) God waited 120 years before sending the flood, to allow Noah's generation to repent. God suffered long in giving Sodom and Gomorrah opportunity to repent. He would have saved those cities if only ten righteous souls could have been found (Genesis 18). God spared the ancient pagan city of Nineveh from destruction when the inhabitants repented of their sins under the powerful preaching of Jonah. Romans 2:4 talks about God's great patience with sinful mankind. "Don't you realize how patient he is being with you? Or don't you care? Can't you see that he has been waiting all this time without punishing you, to give you time to run from your s in? His kindness is meant to lead you to repentance." (Romans 2:4, Living Bible)

When Jesus' disciples were rejected in a certain Samaritan town, they wanted to call down fire from heaven to consume the inhabitants, but Jesus said that their spirit of vengeance was very wrong. Jesus suffered long with even those who rejected Him. Jeremiah suffered in unbelievable ways because of persecutors who rejected his prophesies. He was called the 'weeping prophet'. Are we able to weep over the lost rather than impatiently reject them?

"Help me to weep over the erring ones, to lift up the fallen, to tell them of Jesus the Mighty to save! Help me to bear with the insults of the ungrateful and to love the loveless for Jesus' sake."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: When my patience grows thin with people, I will take a closer look at the eyes of Jesus!

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2 Peter 3:1-18

Motivation For Patience

We have spent several days describing the Biblical meaning of Patience. Patience, we have said, is that steadfast spirit which will never give in to despair. Further, it is that loving spirit which will never give way to vengeance. We must now look at the motivation for practicing such patience.

First, God's longsuffering with sinful mankind is our strongest motivation to practice patience with people. One great preacher said that if God has any 'weakness', it is His great mercy. God patiently spares His wrath and extends His mercy, calling men and nations to repentance. Even with those who refuse to repent and who finally perish, the Bible says that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23, Ezekiel 18:32). Notes the great preacher Charles Finney, concerning the patience of God with sinners: "God never frets–is never impatient. His love is so deep and so great that He is always patient. Sometimes, when parents have unfortunate children–poor objects of compassion–they can bear with anything from them; but when they are very wicked, they seem to feel that they are quite excusable for being impatient. In God's case, these are not unfortunate children, but are intensely wicked–intelligently wicked. But oh, His amazing patience–so set upon their good, so desirous of their highest welfare, that however they abuse Him, He sets himself to bless them still, and weep them down, and melt them into penitence and love, by the death of His Son in their stead." (Twenty Centuries of Great Preaching, vol. 3, p. 334)

Second, the believer is motivated to remain patient with people because he is convinced that God's power is great to change human nature. Confidence in God's power to transform human nature, both instantaneously and gradually, gives a basis for patience in working with people. God is willing patiently to work with people in order to produce change, and therefore we too can learn to be patient with people while they are changing.

Third, God's ultimate triumph over all evil is our motivation to practice patience. The believer can be patient with people–both the righteous and the unrighteous–for he knows that God will have the final word at the end of time. Though wrong seems often so strong, God is Ruler yet. Though evil tries the souls of the righteous, the godly man can wait patiently upon God to bring judgment upon unchecked wrong and blessing upon unrewarded good. In the end, the wheat shall be separated from the tares. All wrong will be righted, all unrepented sin will be punished, and all the proud will be brought low. We need not fret ourselves because of evildoers (Psalms 37), for their certain end is destruction. All evil will be judged and Christ's righteousness will be vindicated. All knees shall someday bow before the Lord, and all tongues will confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord of lords (Philippians 2:10-11).

"Father, I see now that Patience is a divine enablement, not a human attainment, and yet I realize that I must cooperate with You in cultivating His spiritual grace in my life. Help me to surrender to the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to control my life. Then I –even I –will be able to work with people without despair, to experience love without resentment, and to suffer without complaint."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The fruit of patience is the fruit of holy love, produced by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I will not try harder to be patient, but I will trust more in the Holy Spirit who will produce patience with me.

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136


Matthew 25:31-45, Genesis 26:17-22

Kindness In Compassion Toward Others

"The Greeks defined this quality as the disposition of mind which thinks as much of its neighbor's affairs as it does of its own. Kindness is as concerned with the feelings of other people, as it is with its own feelings. It is as concerned with the sorrows, the struggles, the problems of other people, as it is with its own. Kindness has learned the secret of looking outwards all the time, and not inwards." (Daily Study Bible, Ephesians, p. 189; Barclay)

Notes William Sangster, "…if the professing followers of Christ are more concerned to maintain their own standard of living (four meals a day, cars, TV, etc.) than to serve a second meal a day for the hungry multitudes of the East… how hard it is for despised and suffering people to believe in Christianity at all. Talk of 'abundant' life sounds like a cruel joke, and the offer of 'salvation' smells of hypocrisy". (Daily Readings, p. 243)

Kindness always begins in the home, perhaps one of the more difficult places consistently to practice kindness. Kindness in common courtesies, kindness through a smile, kindness in a sincere compliment, kindness in a kind act or a secret prayer. Kindness can be demonstrated every day in the home.

A personal friend of mine, a godly woman in her 80' s shared with me recently a personal secret from her past life, that illustrates this selfless spirit of kindness in the home. She had the misfortune of a divorce early in her life, and consequently had to raise her children by herself, which was very difficult financially. She struggled even to have enough food to place on the table for her growing children. She shared with me that many days she herself would go without food in order to make it possible to feed her children. Her children, she said, never realized that many times she would eat only one meal a day in order to have more food for them.

Here is an illustration of motherly kindness, a kindness that involved sacrifice and love. Kindness means "the quality which thinks far more of others than of itself… the sweetness of temper which puts others at ease and shrinks from giving pain." (Daily Study Bible, II Corinthians, p. 216; Barclay)

The classic illustration of kindness is recorded in Genesis 26:17-22. Here is found the account of Isaac's willingness to give another his dug wells, rather than justly disputing over the wells which rightfully belonged to him. No spirit of fighting for personal rights, but rather a surrender of rights, allowing others the advantage. Seeking the welfare of theirs rather than one's own welfare! Seeking to live at peace with others, if at all possible, even if this means giving up personal rights! Kindness thinks more of others than it thinks of itself.

"Spirit of the Living God, I ask you to daily cultivate in me your noble fruit of kindness. Help me to be concerned with the feelings of others, and reach out a helping hand to meet the practical needs of others. Deliver me from mere sentimentality, and enable me to be concrete in expressions of love. In the compassionate name of Jesus, I make these requests. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Christianity that does not work itself out in deeds, is like a bell that is never rung and like a song that is never sung.

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Matthew 11:28-30

Kindness In Expectation Of Others

Jesus said, "My yoke is easy (chrestos–kindly) and my burden is light". (Matthew 11:30) The word translated 'easy' is the same word which can be translated 'good', 'pleasant', 'kindly'.

"The yoke was tailor-made to fit the ox. . .What Jesus says is, 'The life I give you to live is not a burden to gall you; your task, your life, is made to measure to fit you'. Whatever God sends to us is made to fit our needs and our abilities exactly; God has a task for everyone of us, which is made to measure for us." (Daily Study Bible, Matthew, vol. 2, p. 19; Barclay)

Jesus' yoke is a kind yoke, i. e., it fits us perfectly. Jesus has a yoke for everyone. It is this work–yoke–which gives dignity to each person. "No matter how despised a person or creature may be, Christ has a use for him . . . No matter how ordinary, ill-educated, disfigured, ill-born, one-talented or obscure a man or woman may be, Christ has a use for them, and He gives them dignity by that use." (Daily Readings, p. 85; Sangster)

Applying the kindness of Jesus to our own lives, the truly kind person will allow his fellowmen to be yoked by God for service, not yoked by man's ideas. Kindness is having realistic expectations for others. Kindness means allowing others the liberty to be the self which God created them to be and to do the work–i. e., wear the yoke–which God has designed for them to do, without forcing one's own preconceived molds upon others.

Apply this definition of kindness in the home of human relationships. "Joe Senior is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Yale Law School. Joe Junior is seventeen. Joe Senior's dream is that Joe Junior will work into his law firm. There's only one problem: Joe Junior has no apparent apptitude for law. In fact, he has very little inclination toward academic pursuits of any kind. Joe Senior constantly rides him, trying to motivate him to academic excellence. He has used pressure, insult, compliment, and even bribery to achieve his goal, but nothing works.

"On the other hand Joe Junior has a special talent. He can lift the hood of a car, take the engine apart, and put it back together again. He's a brilliant mechanic, but never once has Joe Senior given him recognition for his abilities. In his own way this young man is gifted–gifted by God!" (Becoming A Whole Family, p. 73; Huffman)

To be kind is not to force unrealistic expectations upon others, or to force the yoke upon others which does not fit another's aptitudes or abilities or God-given gifts. Being kind to one another means accepting each other for the unique self which God has created in each person.

"Father, help me never to impose my own convictions, notions, or expectations upon others, but instead, help me to accept each person as a unique creation, with unique contributions to make in your wonderful world."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Christ's yoke is my yearning, for I am only happy when I am wearing His yoke.

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John 8:1-11

Kindness In Treatment Of Others

There is a type of Christianity which is critical and harsh and legalistic. As in Jesus' day, there are still religious people who are adept at manifesting a rough spirit, all in the name of morality and justice. Such people would never offer a shoulder for you to weep upon!

Make no mistake about it; there are times when love must be expressed in forms of discipline, as when Jesus drove out the moneychangers with whips! However, more times than not, it is not whips, but words of tenderness and forgiveness which Jesus used to draw people to the heart of God!

We must never lose our ability to be indignant with holy love, and we must be able to whip our will into a holy campaign against sin when the occasion demands it. But too many times we find it easier to identify with the critical, self-righteous crowd who wanted to stone the condemned adulterous woman, than we do to identify with the kind-hearted Christ who spoke words of love and forgiveness to the guilty woman. The crowds' stones would have broken her body, but Jesus' love broke her heart. "Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more." Those were the kind words. Here is the sweetness of Jesus' temper which put the woman at ease and which shrank back from causing her needless pain. The pain of her shame and guilt was enough to drive her to repentance. No need for the infliction of the cruel pain of a self-righteous judgment. Jesus' kindness healed the woman! The kindness of Jesus' followers will also heal the broken-hearted today!

There are still those professed followers of Jesus–followers in name rather than in spirit–who are more concerned about the letter of the law than about the spirit of the law, more concerned about justice than about mercy, more adept in inflicting pain than in applying the salve of healing.

It is true that there is no place for compromise with sin, but it is also true that there is no place for discourtesy with sinners. While hating sin intensely, let us love sinners tenderly, and treat sinners with that courtesy which befits the Christian gentleman.

God is kind. He is not harsh. He came not to condemn, but to save. He is only severe after his mercy and love are ultimately spurned. Whenever Jesus was severe with the Pharisees, it was only a form of kindness, a kindness that sought through drastic means to awaken the complacent and to induce him to repentance. As God is kind, so must Christians be kind. "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32)

"Father, never allow me to mistake harshness for justice, or sentimentality for kindness. Help me to be kind to sinners without compromising truth, and instructive to the complacent without sacrificing kindness."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will seek to be kind without being morally soft, and disciplined without being morally rigid.

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Matthew 9:9-13

The Winning Way Of Kindness!

I once read about a devout Christian who was riding on a train, sitting in a seat next to an unbeliever who was taking one drink of alcohol after another. The unbeliever asked the Christian if he would like to have a drink. "No thanks", replied the Christian. Before the unbeliever took his second drink, he asked the Christian if he would like to have a drink. Again, the Christian replied, "No thank you". A third time the unbeliever asked the Christian if he would like to have a drink, and again the Christian replied, "No thank you". Then the unbeliever said to the Christian, "You must think I am a terrible person". The kind-hearted Christian answered, "No, I didn't think you were a terrible person. As a matter of fact, I thought you were a friendly and generous person to offer me a drink three different times!"

This Christian could have proceeded to give the non-Christian a moral lecture on the evils of alcohol. He could have condemned the poor fellow. Criticism could have poured forth from the lips of the Christian. But instead, words of love and kindness and graciousness came from the Christian. Of course the believer was not condoning the fact of drinking alcohol, but neither was he critical and condemning of the person whose habit was harmful.

Jesus loved the sinner and was called 'a friend of publicans and sinners'. He accepted them unconditionally and His kindness won their hearts to God. More people are won to God through acts of kindness than by words of criticism. To criticize a man is to drive a man into self-justification and thus away from repentance and away from God. We hinder, not help, a man by becoming his judge. By becoming his judge, we stand in the place of God, who alone is Judge. The transgressor acknowledges wrong-doing in the quietness of personal contemplation or in the presence of a non-critical friend. Healing of the troubled or sinful person takes place, not in the atmosphere of criticism or self-righteousness, but in the atmosphere of mutual caring and sharing.

The kind person seeks to put others at ease, and always avoids inflicting needless pain upon others. This does not mean that wrong in others is denied or that sin is condoned. But the kind Christian is quick to see faults and sins in himself first, before pointing out sins in others. When the Christian is willing, according to James 5:16, to engage in self-incrimination, open sharing, and humble confession, then the wrong-doer will be motivated to do the same. Confession is contagious. It is the humble and kind and open person who will win the sinner for Christ!

Never be harsh, or bitter, or critical, or condemning. Have mercy. Be sweet in your spirit, never compromising with sin but also never treating the sinner roughly or discourteously. Provide a shoulder for hurting people to weep upon!

"Father, just as your kindness led me to repentance, use my Spirit-inspired kindness to lead the careless to you. Make my kindness robust and enduring, expressed with no appetite for praise and gratitude from men, but with a desire to reveal the kind heart of God to all."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will seek to treat all persons in the same way God treats me–kindly and mercifully!

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Discussion Questions:

Cultivating The Fruit Of Patience And Kindness

  1. Define and describe the Biblical concept of 'Patience'.

  2. The believer who is seeking to cultivate the fruit of patience, is to exercise patience with whom? (List at least four different persons or groups of persons, and describe how Christlike 'patience' is expressed with each one of these four.)

  3. Is the following description (by William Sangster) of the patience of a 'saint' too idealistic or is it realistic, considering the Bible's teachings and considering the 'possibilities of grace'?–"The saint never gives up. He goes on serving, loving, helping. .He aches for souls. Neither indifference, nor slander, nor injury can stop him. He does not make a motive of gratitude. His great motive is his utter love of God."

  4. What considerations must a Christian worker keep in mind when he is working with 'fallible human beings' in order that he might not lose hope or faith in people or become embittered and cynical?

  5. List some of the noble traits in the life of a good leader ('shepherd' of men's souls). (Note John 10:12-13.)

  6. How does the example of Abraham provide motivation for a hard waking Christian to continue persistently to perform acts of loving service and witnessing, even though quick or visible results may not be forthcoming from such earnest efforts? (Note Galatians 6:9-10)

  7. How does a Christian worker's commitment to Christ's unchangeable love help enable such a worker to work, decade after decade, with people who are so changeable, without despairing?

  8. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Love never fails, so when I truly love people 'in the Spirit' I am always successful, regardless of the tangible results of such loving!"

  9. From a Biblical viewpoint, do you believe that the following statement accurately describes 'Patience'? "Patience is that Spirit-cultivated quality in the life of the earnest Christian which enables him never to give up in his care for people, regardless of the imperfections in saints or the outright oppositions of sinners."

  10. Describe and define 'Perfectionists'.

  11. With what attitude did Jesus, as a Man, relate to the weak and the faltering and the sinful person of his day? What is there about the model of Jesus, as He worked with faltering and sinful persons, that will help you, as a Christian worker, to live with your "imperfect self without chafing and to work with imperfect colleagues without discouragement or without losing your temper"?

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    Discussion Questoins:

    Cultivating The Fruit Of Patience And Kindness (Continued)

  12. Is the following a worthy and Biblically-supportable goal for a believer to strive constantly to reach?–"To condemn no sinner, to condone no sin, to love all unconditionally and persistently."

  13. What is the Christian concept, in contrast to the secular concept, of true 'Manliness', in terms of aggression, strength, and vengeance?

  14. List several Biblical examples of the manifestations of God's patience and longsuffering with sinful mankind.

  15. List several motivations for believers to practice Christian Patience.

  16. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "If the professing followers of Christ are more concerned to maintain their own standard of living (four meals a day, cars, TV, etc.) than to secure a second meal a day for the hungry multitudes of the East… how hard it is for despised and suffering people to believe in Christianity at all." Is exercise of the fruit of 'Kindness' in the life of a believer (in terms of showing compassion and practical concern for the poor) consistent with a luxurious lifestyle?

  17. What are the characteristics of 'Kindness', as illustrated in Genesis 26:17-22?

  18. Tell what is meant by the statement, "Jesus' yoke is a 'kind' yoke".

  19. What is your personal response or reaction to the following description of 'Kindness' ?–"Kindness means allowing others the liberty to be the self which God created them to be and to do the work– i. e., wear the yoke–which God has designed for them to do, without forcing one's own preconceived molds upon others."

  20. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "There are still those professed followers of Jesus–followers in name rather than in spirit–who are more concerned about the letter of the law than about the spirit of the law, more concerned about justice than about mercy, more adept in inflicting pain than in applying the salve of healing".

  21. What 'place' does the expression of Christian courtesy have in the life of a Spirit-filled, kindly-oriented believer? Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "It is true that there is no place for compromise with sin, but it is also true that there is no place for discourtesy with sinners".

  22. In counseling a troubled or sinful person, why should a Christian counselor avoid appearing critical or harsh or judgmental towards the counselee? Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "To criticize a man is to drive a man into self-justification and thus away from repentance and away from God. Healing of the troubled or sinful person takes place, not in the atmosphere of criticism, but in the atmosphere of mutual caring and sharing and confession."

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Cultivating the Fruit of Goodness and Faithfulness

Cultivating The Fruit Of Goodness and Faithfulness

Chapter Twelve

Cultivating The Fruit Of Goodness and Faithfulness
Moral Indignation In Christian Goodness 143 Fair-Weather Followers? 150
Motivation For Christian Goodness 144 Reviewing a Heritage Of Faithfulness 151
Attitude In Christian Goodness 145 Faithful In The Midst Of Persecution 152
Agenda For Christian Goodness 146 Discussion Questions: 153
The High Call To Faithfulness 147 Discussion Questions: (Continued) 154
Being 'Successful' Or Being Faithful? 148 Discussion Questions: (Continued) 155
Faithful Amidst Changing Circumstances 149    

Mark 3:1-6

Moral Indignation In Christian Goodness

The fruit of the Spirit is Goodness. Goodness, as listed among the fruits of the Spirit, is speaking of a moral quality. It is speaking of moral goodness and justice and right in contrast to moral evil.

The Spirit-controlled person, like Jesus, is to have a high regard for justice and right. Moral sensitivity in an age of moral relativism, where moral distinctives are blurred, there is a need for a declaration of moral absolutes. In an age of easy toleration, there is need for strong convictions and a rejection of the false. In an age where so many are doing that which is right in their own eyes, there is need for the prophetic voice which declares "Thus saith the Lord!" When men turn all the 'blacks' and 'whites' into pale 'grays', there is need for clear thinking and a renewed emphasis upon the morally good and the morally bad. The believer must never deny the legitimate existence of some moral relatives, personal convictions, individual preferences, and cultural tastes, but neither must the believer deny the fact of moral absolutes and universal principles, which apply to all persons, in all societies, in all ages. Adultery is just as wrong today as it was when the Ten Commandments were first given.

The person who is cultivating the fruit of Christian Goodness in his life, is the person who has a strength of moral character, a sensitivity to right and wrong. He has a strong sense of justice and righteousness. He is aware of the moral issues, and he seeks good and right solutions in the moral arena of individual and corporate relationships. He seeks to apply Christian truth to the difficult problems in society. He has a toughness of moral fiber in his character. He is not easily swayed by society's majority opinions. His awakened conscience seeks for the right, not merely for the popular, solutions to moral problems. He is morally upright, intellectually alert, decisive in moral decision-making.

The man of goodness knows that his strong sense of moral oughtness originates in the Divine Mind. What is morally right, therefore, for him, is morally right for all, for, since the Divine Mind rules all the world, what is morally right for one individual is also morally right for all individuals.

The man of Christian Goodness is a champion for righteousness and justice for all persons. The man whose goodness is being strongly exercised is the man who is seeking justice and right for all people. The man of goodness honestly faces the moral and social issues of his day. He is eager, with all good men, to see righteousness prevail in the lives and institutions of men. He is zealous of good deeds.

"Father, help me to cultivate every fruit of the Spirit in a balanced way. The goodness of kindness tempers justice with mercy and does not allow the goodness of righteousness, which seeks to destroy sinful practices, to destroy sinful men in the process. Cultivate both the fruit of tender kindness and the fruit of tough righteousness in my life. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The balanced cultivation of moral goodness with tender kindness will enable me to champion holy causes with a holy spirit.

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1 John 5:1-5

Motivatoin For Christian Goodness

Why do people attempt to live good lives, lives characterized by good deeds? There are many motivations to do good. There are those who are 'good' simply because their friends are good, or because they are afraid of the consequences of wrong-doing. Others have a higher motive; they are 'good' because of duty. "His jaw is set; his eye looks straight ahead; he has but one purpose. Up the flinty way he comes. He passes the craven and the invertebrate. He is on that path because it is right to be on the path. He doesn't claim to enjoy it. 'Enjoyment' is a word he doesn't often use. He braces himself at the thought of duty and steadily but joylessly … he passes by." (Daily Readings, p. 254; Sangster)

Duty may be a noble motivation, but it is not the highest motivation for doing good. "Duty alone may produce the type of character that is cold and unattractive, the sort of man of whom we say, 'Yes, he is a good man– undoubtedly a good man, but I don't what to be like him'." (Ibid, p. 266)

There is a higher motive than duty. It is the motivation of love. There are those who are good (in terms of moral righteousness and in terms of personal winsomeness) because they are controlled by God's love. The goodness of these persons is distinctive and attractive because, just as fruit grows by abiding on the vine, so the goodness of these persons is the effortless product of abiding in the Holy Spirit. The Psalmist said, "I delight to do Thy will, O my God." (Psalms 40:8) The believer, whose goodness is Spirit-induced, is "impelled by love, glad to serve, happy to do His will". He is "on the path (of righteousness) because he loves it. He comes along at a swinging gait. There is a spring in his step. He barely notices the paths that lead aside. His whole bearing suggests a joyous adventure and not a perilous pilgrimage". (Ibid, p. 254)

Thus, the goodness of the love-filled, Spirit-controlled believer is the goodness of delight, not the goodness of mere duty, or the goodness motivated by fear or convention or custom.

Mere human goodness–i. e., good deeds performed in the name of mere human compassion–is tainted with pride. Those who seek to work their way to heaven by keeping a moral code or by performing enough 'good turns' or by taking pride in ethical achievements, are working in vain. How easy it is for pride to take a hold on even 'good people'! Isaiah wrote, "All our righteous acts are like filthy rags". (Isaiah 64:6) We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ–to do good works (Ephesians 2:8-10) . But the good works of moral goodness are not meritorious; they are appropriate manifestations of a son's love for a Good Father." …if the path of ethical achievement is deliberately chosen, and a man comes to have pride in his achievement, we are back at the sin of Pharasaism again." (Ibid, p. 235)

"Heavenly Father, fill me with so much love for you that I will become unselfconscious in my concerns for others, and uncalculating in my work for you. Let my labors be the labors of love, not the labors of duty."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small. Love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all!"

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Matthew 21:12-17

Attitude In Christian Goodness

Goodness, as we have noted, is not anemic sentimentality. Goodness is moral sensitivity, a holy anger channeled into moral action and reform. The fruit of Christian goodness is wrought with moral strength. Christian goodness is the goodness which can love the sinner tenderly and, at the same time, hate his sin intensely. While destroying the instruments of sin, the man of moral goodness must not destroy the sinner himself. Men of goodness are concerned in moral righteousness. Therefore, they never lose their ability to be indignant with holy love. Good men must be able to whip their will into a holy campaign against sin when the occasion demands it! There are still times when love must be expressed in forms of discipline, as when Jesus drove out the moneychangers with a whip! Those priests who were shamelessly exploiting the poor and humble pilgrims raised the temperature of Jesus' wrath!

The goodness of Jesus was the goodness of both moral righteousness and tender compassion. Let us always remember that Jesus' goodness was not only morally strong, as shown by His act of driving out those who were turning the Temple into a bazaar, but that Jesus' goodness was also tender and kind, as shown by His act of healing the blind and the lame who came to the Temple (Matthew 21:14). Notes Barclay about this incident: "Only those with guilty consciences fled before the eyes of his wrath. Those who needed him stayed. Need is never sent empty away by Jesus Christ. Jesus' anger was never merely negative; it never stopped with the attack on that which was wrong; it always went on to the positive helping of those who were in need. In the truly great man anger and love go hand in hand. There is anger at those who exploit the simple and bar the seeker; there is love for those whose need is great. The destructive force of anger must always go hand in hand with the healing power of love." (Daily Study Bible, Matthew, vol. 2, p. 248) In the midst of His moral toughness, Jesus. never lost tenderness for the morally weak and the spiritually degenerate.

It is possible to be morally good and yet lack loveliness, attractiveness, and graciousness in the expression of moral righteousness. It is possible to speak out prophetically against adultery or drunkenness, for instance, and yet in the process lack tenderness and love for the fallen one. It is possible to be practically and morally good and yet not be aesthetically good. To be aesthetically good is to be attractive, winsome, and lovely in one's actions of good. The goodness of justice and righteousness seeks to destroy personal and institutional evils. The goodness of kindness and mercy, on the other hand, attracts the sinner away from his sin to the loveliness of Christ. The man of Christian goodness needs both kinds of goodness in his life.

"Father, never allow your warm love in my heart to be chilled by the rigour and coldness of my moral codes. While upholding strict moral principles, keep me tender and responsive to people who are morally broken by sin."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: It is my desire to shed a sympathizing tear for sinners without holding any sympathy in my heart for sin!

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1 Peter 3:8-17

Agenda For Christian Goodness

We have said that the performance of good deeds without the sweetness of holy love is not acceptable to God! Let us be actively involved in the good deeds of morality and work to right social wrongs and destroy the evil works of evil men. But, while we campaign for social righteousness, let us be motivated by love. In championing moral good, let us be good in our tempers– loving, attractive, winsome. The toughness of moral pronouncements always must be tempered by the sweetness of a holy temper. We must be both morally good and aesthetically good.

It is a strong moral sense of right and wrong which motivates the man of goodness to work tirelessly to right wrongs and to champion social righteousness. Truth, motivated by God's love, must find expression, as it encounters falsehood and deception and corruption. This brings us to a brief discussion of the agenda for Christian Goodness.

What determines the moral agenda of goodness? The answer to that question obviously depends upon the person and the age in which the person lives. The agenda for moral goodness changes with the temper and climate and condition of the ages, but there will always be a need for a strong expression of moral goodness. Each believer must discover where he is to express his moral goodness within the moral arena of his day. The moral issues which good men must be involved in today are many and complex. Each one must become sensitive to those issues and become involved as God leads.

Take one of many moral issues that could be discussed–that of Poverty. Notes David McKenna: "At the national level, the priority question is created by the evidence that the rising gross national product will make it possible to alleviate the conditions of poverty if we choose. As the non-violent black protesters have illustrated, the twenty-four billion dollars that was spent to put a man on the moon could also have tipped the scale in the relief of the poor during the same decade, if poverty had been the national priority.

"Actually, Christians should be leaders in the war on poverty. They have the motive of Christ who made the poor His people. They have the cultural ethic which protects against give-away programs that destroy human initiative. They have the Biblical perspective for sharing their wealth with a brother in need.

"Even skeptics would listen to the gospel according to affluent Christians who set their standard of living at the level of basic needs and gave the difference to the poor. . .Simplicity is the key. In the midst of shortages, simple needs, simple trust, and a simple life will fill our horn of plenty." (Awake, My Conscience, p. 94-95; David McKenna)

"Father, show me where you want me to become involved in applying the healing salve of the Gospel to the gaping wounds of social hurts. Give me knowledge to know, courage to fight, patience to endure, and love to suffer–all for the purpose of fulfilling your redemptive purposes for your world. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will allow the Holy Spirit to awaken my conscience to the needs of suffering persons around me today.

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Matthew 24:45-51

The High Call To Faithfulness

The fruit of the Spirit is love. What is Love? Love is joy. Love is peace. Love is patience. Love is kindness. Love is goodness. We must now look at another dimension of love. Love is faithfulness or fidelity.

That faithfulness is a description of love should come as no surprise to us. Look at the groom and bride at the marriage altar. The groom is deeply in love with the bride. But love is more than a temporary feeling. Love is a lifetime commitment to fidelity! "Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honour, and keep her in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, keep your self only unto her, so long as you both shall live?" Faithfulness, fidelity, loyalty–these are inseparably connected with true love. The person who is Spirit-controlled is the one who is faithful in his relationship and responsibilities. Faithful in obeying his Master. Faithful in serving his world. Faithful in fulfilling his personal ideals. He who loves truly is he who serves faithfully.

There are perils in life which threaten fidelity. The Spirit-controlled Christian must remain faithful to God's call regardless of apparent success, regardless of the changes and the chances of life, regardless of persecution in its many forms.

Success, or lack of success, can cause us to become unfaithful to our high call in Christ Jesus. Lack of apparent success causes some to despair, and too much success causes others to become smug and complacent and proud. Failure or success must not be our main consideration in confronting a task. Faithfulness to God's call must be our sole concern. We are not called to be successful, as the world records success; we are called to be faithful to Jesus Christ! The one who is faithful to Christ Jesus, mayor may not be considered successful in the eyes of the world, but such a person, from God's perspective, is truly successful.

By the world's standards Jesus was a failure–rejected by His own people and crucified on a shameful cross! And yet Jesus was faithful to His God- given call. Said Jesus: "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work." (John 9:4)

From God's perspective, Jesus was the most successful person who ever lived! Why? Because He fulfilled His God-given mission in life. He was faithful in obedience to God, faithful in service to His world, and faithful in reaching His God-given goals. Faithful to God, to others, and to Himself! He learned obedience and faithfulness by the things which He suffered, and He has forever been declared the greatest success in history!

In our success-oriented society, let's follow Jesus' example!

"O God, don't allow me to prostitute my divinely-given call on the altar of worldly success. Close my ears to the world's call to power, prestige, wealth, and fame, and open my ears to the voice of the Spirit who is calling me to follow in the footsteps of the Master, whose glory followed His suffering."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will repudiate the world's standards of success and accept God's. standards for success–faithfulness and obedience!

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2 Timothy 4:6-8, Philippians 4:11-13

Being 'Successful' Or Being Faithful?

In our success-oriented society, if certain tangible results are not achieved within a prescribed time, then one is pronounced as a failure. From God's perspective, tangible results are not to be despised. But if a Christian labors diligently and prays fervently, and yet there are no tangible results forthcoming, he is not to abandon His God-given task. He is to remain faithful to His Lord, with or without tangible results!

How easy it is to become discouraged and eventually 'throw in the towel' if we don't see results from our spiritual labors! On the other hand, how easy it is to grow smug, complacent, or self-sufficient if we see many tangible results from our spiritual labors! The Spirit-filled man is faithful, regardless of man's applause or man's scorn. He is faithful, regardless of his temptation to despair when seeming to fail, and regardless of his temptation to pride, when seeming to succeed.

Notes E. Stanley Jones: "A great many people go through life in bondage to success. They are in mortal dread of failure. Why should they be? Jesus cared little about success or failure .A faith that has a cross at its center cannot be a faith that worships success. I do not have to succeed; I have only to be true to the highest I know–success and failure are in the hands of God. On my way to India, I once said in England: 'The romance of missions has gone for me. I know what I'm up against. If you should say to me that I go back to India to see nothing but frustration and failure and that I would see no more fruit whatever, I would reply: "That is an incident. I have the call of God to India, and to be true to that call is my one business; success and failure are not my business–to be true is"'." (Abundant Living, p. 82)

Paul the apostle had a high sense of divine call in his life. Faithfulness to that call was all-important to Paul. He focused his attention on God, not on man's praise or on man's persecution. Both in happy times and in hard times, Paul was faithful to his divine commission to preach the Gospel regardless of life's changing circumstances. Faithful when he appeared to be successful and when he didn't appear to be successful. Faithfulness to God was the ruling motive of his life–not success! Said Paul, "I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ." (Philippians 3:8, RSV) Many missionaries have labored hard and long with little numerical or 'worldly' success, but they were faithful to God's call. They are on God's honor roll, for their faithfulness constituted their success. Love never fails, even if the one you are loving rejects you. To love, in spite of rejection, is to be truly successful!

"Father, help me not to grow weary in my labors of love, not to lose heart when my little world of achievement around me begins to crumble. Help me to keep running the race of life and fighting the fight of faith, even when my efforts seem fruitless of results. Keep my eyes on the 'finished line' and let me see the prize of God that awaits the faithful of all ages. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: To 'keep on keeping on' for Jesus when circumstances tell me to 'throw in the towel' is a great evidence of loyalty and a great demonstration of love!

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2 Timothy 4:1-5

Faithful Amidst Changing Circumstances

William Barclay notes that fidelity "is the virtue of the man who, through all the changes and the chances of life, down even to the gates of death, is loyal to God". (Daily Study Bible, Timothy, Titus, Philemon, p. 134)

God is faithful (2 Thessalonians 3:3, 2 Timothy 2:13, 1 Corinthians 10:13). God is the same yesterday, today and forever. God is the "Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning". (James 1:17)

The Conquering Christ, pictured in Revelation 19:11 is described as He who is mounted on a white horse who "is called Faithful and True". "Christ is the person on whose utter fidelity a man may literally stake his life." (Daily Study Bible, Revelation, vol. 2, p. 229; Barclay)

In the same way that God is faithful, His followers also are to be faithful. Faithful amidst the change and the flux of time and circumstances. 2 Timothy 4:2 tells us that we are to herald forth the word of God with urgency and persistency. We are to communicate the Word of God "in season and out of season", when it is popular and when it is not popular, when there is response and when there is no response. We are to take or make our opportunity to speak for God. No change in times or circumstances or localities should cause us to change our message of God's love.

The changes of time must not change the changeless Message! Both God's Word of Truth and our works of love are to be expressed faithfully and persistently. We are not to grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap if we do not faint (Galatians 6:9). Paul exhorts Christians to "be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Faithfulness to Christ throughout life's changes and chances–this is the call of every Christian! Till death us do part! The believer's faithfulness to Christ is to stand the test of time!

"The years can be cruel. They can take away our ideals and our enthusiasms and our dreams and our loyalties. They can leave us with a life that has grown smaller and not bigger. They can leave us with a heart that is shriveled instead of one expanded in the love of Christ. There can be a lost loveliness in life–God save us from that." (Daily Study Bible, John, vol. 1, p. 230; Barclay)

"In the last analysis Christianity is not a philosophy which we accept, nor a theory to which we give allegiance. It is a personal response to Jesus Christ. It is the allegiance and the love which a man gives because his heart will not allow him to do anything else." (Ibid, p. 230) Whether it means popularity or persecution, prosperity or poverty, our loyalty and faithfulness to Christ must never waver. Changing circumstances must never change our loyalty to Jesus Christ!

"With the increase of years, let my love for you grow, dear Lord. Don't allow me to grow bitter when bitter circumstances descend upon me, but let me grow sweeter in my spirit. Don't allow me to abandon my walk of faith when people become faithless to me, but let me become ever more loyal to you."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: When the storms of life assail, I will tighten my squeeze on God's strong hand!

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Revelation 2:9-11

Fair-Weather Followers?

During Jesus' earthly ministry there were those who were merely fair- weather followers! They were faithless to Jesus when times and circumstances got rough. "From this time many of the disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 'You do not want to leave too, do you?' Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God'." (John 6:66-69)

"Some saw quite clearly where Jesus was heading. It was not possible to challenge the authorities as he was doing and get away with it. He was heading for disaster and they were getting out in time. They were fair- weather followers. It has been said that the test of an army is how it fights when it is tired. Those who drifted away would have stuck by Jesus so long as his career was on the upward way, but at the first shadow of the Cross they left him.

"Some shirked the challenge of Jesus. Fundamentally their point of view was that they had come to Jesus to get something from him; when it came to suffering for him and giving to him they quit. No one can give so much as Jesus, but if we come to him solely to get and never to give we will certainly turn back. The man who would follow Jesus must remember that in following him there is always a Cross." (Daily Study Bible, John, vol. 1, p. 229; Barclay)

Life is very changeable, but our loyalty to Christ must be steadfast and unmovable. Job, who suffered unspeakably, remained faithful to God even when his suffering defied reason. When others told Job to curse God and die, Job remained faithful and true to his God. His fidelity was never questioned! Even when he wished to curse the day he was born, he never cursed God. His faithfulness to God not only stood the test of time, but it also stood the test of unexplainable sorrow and loss! Job's faithfulness is capitalized in these memorable words: "Though He slay me, yet shall I serve Him". Job was no 'fair-weather' follower of God. In both prosperity and poverty, in both health and suffering, Job remained faithful to his God. The change of circumstances did not change his loyalty and his faithfulness.

The Bible tells us that it is he who endures unto the end that shall be saved. "Loyalty. . . means that fidelity which will never waver in its utter devotion to its Master and its Lord. . The Christian must win his battle with the world by presenting to all men the steadfastness and the loyalty which will not be moved by the fear or the favour of men." (Daily Study Bible, Revelation, vol. 2, p. 127; Barclay) Amidst change, remain changeless in your devotion, loyalty and faithfulness. Said one, "There is nothing in this world which can take the place of loyalty. If all the other noble qualities of life were placed in the balance against loyalty, loyalty would outweigh them all." (Daily Study Bible, Revelation, vol. 1, p. 101; Barclay)

"Father, search my motives today. Have I followed you to see how much I can receive from you or to see how much I can give to you? Do I follow you as closely when you call me to suffer as when you promote me to success in the eyes of my fellowmen? In sunshine and in darkness alike, I want to follow you! I commit myself to be a stormy-weather follower of you!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Steadfastness and loyalty always have their rewards, if not immediately in life, always and ultimately in eternity!

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2 Timothy 1:3-7

Reviewing a Heritage Of Faithfulness

Faithfulness to God and faithfulness to God's Church is something I was taught all throughout my childhood and youth. Al though I have a humble ancestry, I am rich with a heritage of godly forefathers who were faithful to Christ and to His Church.

There is much which I value in my heritage, but nothing more than the many lessons I have learned in loyalty and faithfulness. I only pray for God's grace to help me to pass on such a heritage to my children.

As a child, I regularly went with my mother to Wednesday night prayer meetings in a little white-framed Free Methodist Church in Fountain, Colorado. My mother rarely missed attending those prayer meetings, even though she was often weary and many times plagued with headaches. She believed in faithfulness and she practiced it throughout my childhood. She was faithful to teach me the Bible and to pray with me daily in my home. My grandmother, before her, was equally faithful to her Lord and to her Church. It was her godly life, along with that of my mother, that strongly influenced me to become a Christian. My great grandmother, who died in 1950, was a faithful godly woman, seldom missing the Church services, held in the same little Church where I received my childhood training.

My great grandfather was a humble, but faithful man, I am told. I recently found his obituary in an old family album. "Joseph E. Benedict, was born at Brownville, Nebraska, May 12, 1857, and departed this life at his home at Fountain, Colorado, October 8, 1928. . .Early in life he united with the Free Methodist Church and was a very active, faithful member and sacrificed greatly for the work of God. Though for many years a cripple he was always faithful . He would hobble to Church or prayer meeting even when others thought the weather too bad or they were too weary" (written October 1928).

My great, great grandfather was born in 1821 and died in Fountain, Colorado, in 1909. His pastor, who wrote his obituary, notes, "When the Free Methodist Church was organized in Fountain he and his wife became charter members. He loved the means of grace and often, even in the last months of his life, walked with trembling steps to the house of God" (quote appeared in the Fountain Newspaper, May 1909).

My children are sixth generation Free Methodists, a fact that is important to me, but not nearly as important as the fact that they are learning to be faithful to God and to His Church.

Will you allow weather or weariness or worry to keep you from being faithful? Can you say with the little chorus, "Though no one follow, still I will follow"? Follow whom? Follow the one who declared, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24, NIV)

"Father, help me to so live every day of my life that it can someday be said of me, 'He was a very active, faithful member and sacrificed greatly for the work of God. He loved the means of grace and often, even in the last months of his life, walked with trembling steps to the house of God'."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The best gift I can give my grandchildren is a godly heritage of faithfulness and fidelity to my God and my Church.

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2 Timothy 3:10-13, Daniel 3:16-18

Faithful In The Midst Of Persecution

In His parable of the Four Soils, Jesus describes four different kinds of response to the Word of God. Says Jesus in the parable, "What was sown on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away." (Matthew 13:20-21, NIV) Persecution takes its toll, causing the shallow believer to fall away. No faithfulness! No steadfastness!

Paul says that persecution will be experienced by all true believers. "Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of." (2 Timothy 3:12-14, NIV) Notes Edith Schaeffer in her book 'Affliction': "The warning is to each of us. We are not to be surprised when persecution comes in the form of nasty remarks by neighbors. We are to be forewarned that persecution might come in the form of our Ph.D thesis being turned down. We are not to be flattened by the announcement that our expected promotion fell through. We are to be prepared for the possible scorn of unbelievers, the withdrawal of family members who are not Christians, the snubbing of friends, and unfair news reports or criticisms. We are not to forget that Satan can and will also attack us directly in areas of our health, a deluge of disasters, car accidents, our house burning down, higher-than- expected taxes, a baby born with a handicap, loss of a job, or a crippling disease. Satan will persecute us directly, as will people persecute us because they hate what we stand for despite what we believe. Yes, all who will live a 'godly life' will suffer persecution." (p. 198-199)

In spite of persecution, we are to be faithful to the Lord. The three Hebrew children who were cast into the fiery furnace were faithful to their God, regardless of the consequences. "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, 'a, Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, a king. but even if he does not, we want you to know, a king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up'." (Daniel 3:16-18, NIV)

II Corinthians 11 records many of Paul's sufferings and persecutions– being whipped, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, enduring sleepless nights, hunger, thirst, etc. and yet it was Paul who could say at the end of his life: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith". (2 Timothy 4:7)

"Father, when trouble or persecution arises, help me to be faithful and loyal to you. When the world 'kicks' me, let it kick me forward into a closer walk with you. May the fire of persecution result in consuming the dross and refining the gold of my life. My problems are your opportunities of grace. Thank you."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: When it is hardest to follow Jesus, I will follow hard after Him!

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Discussion Questions:

Cultivating The Fruit of Goodness and Faithfulness

  1. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "In an age of moral relativism, where moral distinctives are blurred, there is a need for a declaration of moral absolutes". On what basis do you personally determine in your life what is absolutely 'right' and what is absolutely 'wrong' and what is morally permissible (the 'gray' areas of personal conviction)? As you are forming your 'personal convictions', and are faced with a confusing and questionable moral dilemma, study Romans 14, and then ask yourself the following questions:

    • Is my own mind clear? (Romans 14:5, Romans 14:23)
    • Can I do this for the Lord? (Romans 14:8)
    • When I consider this matter in the light of my coming appearance at the judgment seat of Christ, how do I feel about it? (Romans 14:10, Romans 14:12)
    • Will this be an offense to others? (Romans 14:21)
  2. Where does one's moral sense of 'Oughtness' originate? Is it true to say that what is 'morally wrong' for one person is always 'morally wrong' for all people? How reliable is one's conscience in guiding one in making moral judgments and decisions? When should one contend that a moral 'course of action' is right for everyone to follow, and when should one contend that a moral 'course of action' is 'right' for him personally to follow as 'a personal conviction only–a 'conviction' that one does not seek to impose upon anyone else?

  3. Why is it necessary for a Christian person to cultivate both the fruit of Kindness and the fruit of Moral Goodness in his life, and seek to practice both Kindness and Moral Goodness simultaneously in his daily human relationships? Do you agree with the following statement?–"The balanced cultivation of moral goodness with tender kindness will enable me to champion holy causes with a charitable spirit".

  4. Does the following statement accurately describe 'kindness' and 'goodness' as complementary traits?–"The goodness of kindness tempers justice with mercy and does not allow the goodness of righteousness, which seeks to destroy sinful practices, to destroy sinful men in the process."

  5. List and describe the various motivations for the performance of 'moral good' in the lives of people. What is the highest of all motivations for doing 'good works'? What is the 'sin of Pharasaism'?

  6. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Goodness is moral sensitivity, a holy anger channeled into moral action and reform". How can you tell the difference between 'righteous indignation' and 'carnal anger'?

  7. Is there evidence, from a study of the Gospels, that Jesus perfectly possessed all the complimentary Christian virtues and that he exercised them in a most balanced way in his treatment of people? After reading Matthew 21:12-17, can you conclude that the following statement is accurate?–"The goodness of Jesus was the goodness of both moral righteousness and tender compassion.

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    Discussion Questions:

    Cultivating The Fruit of Goodness and Faithfulness (Continued)

  8. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statements: "It is possible to be morally good and yet lack loveliness, attractiveness, and graciousness in the expression of moral righteousness. It is possible to be practically and morally good and yet not be aesthetically good."

  9. Do you identify with the following statement (as a personal goal in your spiritual development)?–"It is my desire to shed a sympathizing tear for sinners without holding any sympathy in my heart for sin!"

  10. Is it possible for a person to be 'tough' in the pronouncement of moral righteousness in his campaign for social reform, and at the same time to be 'tender' and courteous in his personal mannerism while he is making such pronouncements? Does not the Bible command Christians to 'speak the truth in love'?

  11. What determines the 'moral agenda' of goodness? List some of the areas of moral concern in our modern-day in which conscientious believers ought to be deeply involved.

  12. Tell why you agree or disagree with David McKenna's guidelines for meeting the challenge of worldwide poverty: "Even skeptics would listen to the gospel according to affluent Christians who set their standards of living at the level of basic needs and gave the difference to the poor … Simplicity is the key. In the midst of shortages, simple needs, simple trust, and a simple life will fill our horn of plenty."

  13. Illustrate from your personal life or from your observations of others, the truth of the following statement: "He who loves truly is he who serves faithfully."

  14. Do you believe the following statement reflects a realistic view of life?–"Lack of apparent success causes some to despair, and too much success causes others to become smug and complacent and proud."

  15. Contrast the world's conception of 'success' with the Christian conception of 'success'. Why, from the Biblical and Christian perspective, is Jesus considered to be the most successful person who ever lived?

  16. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "The Spirit-filled man is faithful, regardless of man's applause or man's scorn. He is faithful, regardless of his temptation to despair when seeming to fail, and regardless of his temptation to pride, when seeming to succeed."

  17. Do you agree with E. Stanley Jones' following statement?–"A faith that has a cross at its center cannot be a faith that worships success." Is it possible, even within the 'Christian world', to adopt and to use the world's standards for success in striving to 'build the Church', or striving to 'become known as a speaker on TV and radio', or seeking to 'raise money for Christian causes', etc., etc.?

  18. Are you, as a Christian, personally in bondage to the world's conception of 'success', or do you personally identify with the following statement by E. Stanley Jones?–" I do not have to succeed; I have only to be true to the highest I know–success and failure are in the hands of God."

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    Discussion Questions:

    Cultivating The Fruit of Goodness and Faithfulness (Continued)

  19. In seeking to be faithful to Christ, regardless of circumstances, do you identify with the following statement?–"To 'keep on keeping on' for Jesus when circumstances tell me to 'throw in the towel' is a great evidence of loyalty and a great demonstration of love!"

  20. Cite Scriptures that show the absolute faithfulness and fidelity of Almighty God.

  21. Tell what William Barclay means when, in his discussion of Faithfulness, he states: "The years can be cruel".

  22. What is meant by the statement that some people are only 'fair-weather followers' of Jesus Christ? (Note John 6:66-69)

  23. Do you agree with the following statement?–"No one can give so much as Jesus, but if we come to him solely to get and never to give we will certainly turn back. The man who would follow Jesus must remember that in following him there is always a Cross."

  24. Why is the study of the life of Job (in the Old Testament) such a helpful study in one's attempt to understand the Biblical meaning of 'Faithfulness'?

  25. Do you agree with the following evaluation of the greatness of the virtue of 'Faithfulness' ?–" If all other noble qualities of life were placed in the balance against loyalty, loyalty would outweigh them all."

  26. Can you share from your personal experience your joy in intimately knowing a truly faithful servant of God–one who remained true to God, through all the 'changes and chances' of life until God called him 'home' to heaven?

  27. What does the Parable of the Four Soils (Matthew 13:20-21) teach us regarding one of the major causes for some Christians becoming faithless and 'barren' in their lives and in their relationship to God?

  28. What lessons in 'Faithfulness' can you learn from a study of Daniel 3:16-18?

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155


Cultivating the Fruit of Gentleness and Self-Control

Cultivating The Fruit Of Gentleness and Self-Control

Chapter Thirteen

Cultivating The Fruit Of Gentleness and Self-Control
The 'Golden Mean' In Christian Gentleness 156 Mastery Over Lust 162
Misconceptions Regarding Gentleness 157 Mastery Over Money 163
Can a Gentle Man Be Angry? 158 Mastery Over Self 164
Teachable In All Good Things 159 Discussion Questions: 165
Christ-Control Leads To Self-Control 160 Discussion Questions: (Continued) 166
Secret Thoughts Give Birth To Outward Actions! 161 Discussion Questions: (Continued) 167

Matthew 5:43-44, Acts 7:59-60, Luke 6:29

The 'Golden Mean' In Christian Gentleness

"Prautes, gentleness, is an interesting word. Aristotle defined it as the correct mean between being too angry and being never angry at all. It is the quality of the man whose anger is so controlled that he is always angry at the right time and never at the wrong time. It describes the man who is never angry at any personal wrong he may receive, but who is capable of righteous anger when he sees others wronged." (Daily Study Bible, Corinthians, p. 238; Barclay)

Jesus never became angry when he was personally insulted or injured. He was a perfectly God-controlled man. "Anger you will find in Christ, but not bad temper. .He is entirely free of anger when most strong men would be choked with rage… Christ bore with sublime serenity the indignities and injustices heaped upon himself … Hate at its most venomous nails him to two pieces of wood and provokes him to nothing but prayers for his murderers' pardon. Nothing of anger, only prayer and love. Nothing that ever happened in this universe was more unrighteous than the Cross. But they did not crucify an angry man." (The Secret of Radiant Life, p. 121; Sangster)

Only the true, Spirit-controlled, love-filled man can exercise out restraint and remain free from inner resentments! John Wesley was a man of strong character who knew how to whip his will into a holy anger against social evils, but Wesley was a Spirit-controlled man. He knew when to be angry and when not to be angry. His anger was leashed by God's Spirit. As a true gentle man, he mastered his spirit, because he submitted to God's control. He did not retaliate during times of physical persecution or mental abuse. John Wesley writes that at Wednesbury the mob came "pouring down like a flood". He then writes, "To attempt speaking was vain; for the noise on every side was like the roaring of the sea. So they dragged me along till we came to the town; when, seeing the door of a large house open, I attempted to go in; but a man, catching me by the hair, pulled me back into the middle of the crowd. They made no more stop till they had carried me through the main street, from one end of the town to the other."

The man of gentleness knows when to be angry and when not to be angry. John Wesley remained loving amidst the unlovely treatment he received. The man of gentleness returns good for evil. Said Jesus, "If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic." (Luke 6:29, NIV)

"Father, make me a Spirit-controlled person, one who is gentle, keeping his anger under control. I confess that my natural reaction to mistreatment is retaliation. I surrender myself and my passions and instincts to your control, asking you to cleanse me from carnal anger and to rechannel all my anger to constructive purposes. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: My God-created emotion of anger must be cleansed and controlled by the Spirit for redemptive ends today!

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Matthew 11:25-30, Matthew 5:5

Misconceptions Regarding Gentleness

The worldly-minded man thinks that Jesus' Beatitude 'Blessed are the meek' is ridiculous. The man of the world "believes in the survival of the fittest. He believes the most fit to survive in a world like ours is the aggressive, heavy-handed, hard-fisted, self-assertive man". (Sermon On The Mount, p. 36; Clovis Chappell) "The world thinks in terms of strength and power of ability, self-assurance and aggressiveness. That is the world's idea of conquest and possession. The more you assert yourself and express yourself, the more you organize and manifest your powers and ability, the more likely you are to succeed and get on." (Studies in the Sermon On The Mount, p. 63; Lloyd-Jones)

So many "do not want to be meek. We prefer to be like the little boy whose mother kept calling him, 'my little lamb'. Finally, he said, 'Mother, I don't want to be your little lamb, I want to be your little tiger'." (God's Psychiatry, p. 137; Charles Allen)

We must eliminate all misconceptions from our thinking regarding the meaning of meekness or gentleness. Gentleness or meekness is not a natural disposition that some are born with and others are not born with. Those who are endowed with a good-natured disposition from birth are not meek or gentle in the Biblical sense of the term.

Gentleness is not a quality that only some Christians are able to possess and express. All believers, regardless of natural temperament, are to express this God-given quality. Meekness cannot be humanly achieved, independent of divine enablement. Moses had a very fiery disposition in his earlier life, but God made him meek. "Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth." (Numbers 12:3)

Gentleness or meekness is far removed from mere niceness. Niceness is a mere human quality and has nothing to do with meekness. One can be meek and yet be firm in conviction and assertive in character. There are some people who never want to disagree with anyone or about anything. They are the kind of people who stand firm for nothing and fall for anything. Meekness is not spinelessness or excessive tolerance.

Meekness is not indolence, laziness, or apathy. Those who are meek are "not those who grieve at nothing, because they know nothing; who are discomposed at the evils that occur, because they discern not evil from good. Not those who are sheltered from the shocks of life by a stupid insensibility." (Wesley's Sermons, vol. 1, p. 188)

"Father, forgive me for thinking that meekness is weakness, that gentleness is cowardice. Help me ever to remember that might is not right, but that the gentle spirit of Christ likeness is always right! I confess my hypocritical role-playing. I have often appeared peaceful on the outside while suppressing my rage of anger on the inside. Purify my inward spirit that my outward behavior may manifest a genuine gentleness. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The strength of gentleness is stronger than the might of violence!

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1 Thessalonians 2:7-16

Can a Gentle Man Be Angry?

Jesus never became angry when he was personally insulted or injured. But Jesus became very angry when injuries and injustices were done to others! When self-righteous, hypocritical leaders reacted to Jesus' healing of a man with a shriveled hand on the Sabbath Day, "Jesus looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man: 'Stretch out your hand'. He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus." (Mark 3:5-6, NIV)

When the money changers made God's Temple a center for dishonesty in business transactions, resulting in exploitation of the poor and weak, Jesus' anger blazed within him! Jesus' holy love and just anger drove the money changers from the Temple.

The gentle or meek man never exercises excessive anger or excessive anger lessness. In my early understanding of the Spirit-controlled life, I thought that a mark of the spiritual man was an absence of all anger. My deeper understanding of the Scriptures revealed to me that anger is a basic, God-created emotion which must not be denied or suppressed or carnally expressed, but which must be cleansed, controlled, and rechanneled towards God-honoring purposes. Angry, but not because of personal injuries. Angry not at sinners, but angry at sinful practices. "Be angry, but do not sin. Do not let the sin go down on your anger." (Ephesians 4:26)

There is a righteous anger and there is a carnal anger. "We shall call anger 'righteous indignation' when pure concern for the suffering of others leads a man to bold and costly action, and we shall call it something else (however natural it may be!) when their blazing indignation has been provoked by some setback to themselves." (The Secret of Radiant Life, p. 121; Sangster)

The Greek word 'praus' which is translated meek or gentle is the "regular word for an animal which has been domesticated, which has been trained to obey the word of command, which has learned to answer to the reins. It is the word for an animal which has learned to accept control." (Daily Study Bible, Matthew, vol. I, p. 91; Barclay)

The gentle man is the man who has learned self-control in every instinct, every impulse, and every passion because he has learned to submit to God's control! But, as we shall see, the man of gentleness has learned not only to submit to God's control, but he has also learned to submit to man's wise instructions. He is both God-controlled and teachable. He gives place to Christ's lordship and to his fellow Christian's instructions.

"Father, control my spirit in its expression of anger. Give me moral discernment to know those evil actions of sinful men against others which should incite my anger to defend the defenseless, and those vindictive actions of sinful men against me which should incite my compassion to return good for evil. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The Holy Spirit will make me calm in His calmness in the face of unjust evil against me, and angry in His anger in the face of unjust evil against others.

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2 Timothy 2:14-19

Teachable In All Good Things

The Spirit-controlled man is a gentle man. A gentle man is submissive to God, and also teachable in all good things.

The man of meekness or gentleness is the man who constantly is seeking to learn. He has an inquiring mind. As a student of life, he is always asking questions. He has learned to discern truth and to reject error. He has an habitual vision of God's greatness, and with this vision of the Holy One, he is motivated to seek truth and to evaluate all ideas against the standard of revealed truth.

Julia Arnold Shelhammer was long known as a humble and loving servant of God. She lived to be well over one hundred years. On her 100th birthday, she celebrated her birthday by preaching at Asbury Theological Seminary! Near the end of her talk she said, "I don't know how much longer I'm going to live but I want every moment to be crowded with successful efforts to win souls for Christ." At 100 years old, she was still on the growing edge of life! Still growing! Still learning! Still sharing! Humble and teachable!

What are the marks of a truly educated man? The truly educated man is the man of gentleness and meekness. That is, he is humble enough to learn! James 1:21 describes the teachable person as one who "in gentleness receives the inborn word which is able to save your souls." (Barclay's translation) "The teachable spirit is docile and tractable, and therefore humble enough to learn. The teachable spirit is without resentment and without anger, and is, therefore, able to face the truth, even when the truth hurts and condemns. The teachable spirit is not blinded by his own evermastering prejudices, but is clear-eyed to the truth. The teachable spirit is not seduced by laziness, but is so self-controlled that it can willingly and faithfully accept the discipline of learning. Prautes describes the perfect conquest and control of everything in a man's nature which would be a hindrance to his seeing, learning, and obeying the truth." (Daily Study Bible, James, p. 68; Barclay)

E. Stanley Jones was not a man who was highly educated formally, and yet, under the control of the Holy Spirit, he became the missionary and teacher to the highly educated persons in India and around the world. He wrote nearly 30 books in his lifetime, and was constantly learning. He gives an illustration of a mountain climber who died while climbing a mountain during a snow blizzard. To mark the place where the mountain climber died, a small marker was placed which said, "He died climbing". Stanley Jones noted that he wanted to die 'climbing'–climbing for new knowledge and understanding and wisdom from God!

"Father, give me courage to face newly revealed truth, humility to receive it into my thinking, and strength to apply it in my daily relationships. Give me an open mind, a teachable spirit, and a determined will to do your will. Help me to walk in the light as you are in the light! Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will allow the Holy Spirit to take away the scales of prejudice from my spiritual eyes in order that I may clearly see reality!

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Romans 8:1-17

Christ-Conrtol Leads To Self-Control

Notes E. Stanley Jones, "The Christian Way produces through Christ- control the self-controlled man. But note that self-control is not so much a means as an end. You do not gain Christ through self-control; you gain self- control through Christ. . If you begin with self-control, then you are the center, you are controlling yourself. And you will be anxious lest yourself slip out from beneath your control. But if you begin, as Paul does, with love, then the spring of action is love for a Person, someone outside yourself. You are released from yourself and from self-preoccupation … When you begin with love, you end in self-control. . The emphasis of the New Testament is Christ-control through love for Christ. 'Love Christ and do as you like', for you'll like what He likes." (Growing Spiritually, p. 197)

The word 'self-control' in the Greek language speaks of self-restraint, self-discipline, purity and chastity. It is the word that speaks of victory over evil desire. "It describes that strength of soul by which a man takes a hold of himself, so that he can restrain himself from every evil desire." (Flesh and Spirit, p. 123; William Barclay) A man who is self-controlled is a man "who prevents desire from being the dictator of his actions and his life." (Ibid, p. 126) The self-controlled man may have "strong desires which seek to lure and force him from the way of reason, but he has them under control". (Ibid, p. 127)

Mastery over internal instincts and mastery over external allurements is greatly needed in our society. We are living in an hedonistic age. A hedonist is one who lives by his passions and who equates happiness with pleasure. The hedonist makes no attempt to curb the desires of his flesh.

Paul warned the early Christians against pleasure-obsessed people. "For there are many, of whom I have told you before and tell you again now, even with tears, whose lives make them the enemies of the cross of Christ. These men are heading for utter destruction–their god is their own appetite, they glory in their shame, and this world is the limit of their horizon." (Philippians 3:18-19, Phillips)

Too many today live by their appetites and desires–totally undisciplined, unrestrained, unchaste. "These men mock and curse at anything they do not understand, and, like animals, they do whatever they feel like, thereby ruining their souls." (Jude 10, Living Bible)

God's call is the call to self-control, resulting from Christ-control!

"Heavenly Father, you have created me with strong desires. Help me to control these desires, channeling them for creative and redemptive purposes. Master, I want you to master my desires and bring them into conformity to the will and ways of Christ!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: A mastered man is a masterful man–if his Master is Christ!

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Matthew 5:27-30, Ephesians 4:17-24

Secret Thoughts Give Birth To Outward Actions!

What is the secret of self-control in one's life? Cultivating the mind of Christ! Learning to think Christ's thoughts! Submitting to Christ's lordship!

Remember, whatever gets your attention, gets you! "Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny!" It all starts with the way a person thinks!

As a man thinks, so is he! You are the product of your thoughts! What you imagine, you will become! "What you hold in the mind passes automatically into act, if you hold it there along enough … Your secret meditations become you, for good or ill." (Growing Spiritually, p. 201; Stanley Jones)

A moral landslide is preceded by a mental landslide. What you focus your thoughts upon, you eventually become! "If therefore you dally with sex thoughts and imaginations, that dallying will become a doing. And that doing will become you." (Ibid, p. 201)

"Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about." (Philippians 4:8, Living Bible) Meditate on God's laws day and night! If you do, you will be like a tree that is planted by the rivers of water which bringeth forth its fruit in its season. Its leaves also shall not wither and die! (See Psalms 1.) Why do people wither and die morally? Because they wither and die mentally! Ignoble thoughts lead to ignoble lives. Lustful thinking leads to lustful living! Dr. George A. Buttrick says, "We dramatize temptation in our secret thought, thus gathering gasoline for the devil's spark." Should we then wonder why we blow up?

When lust hath conceived it eventually bringeth forth death! (James 1:15) How is lust conceived? By failing to control the thought life! You cannot help it if birds fly above your head, but you are responsible if you allow birds to make nests in your hair! You cannot help it if Satan suggests evil thoughts to you, but you are responsible if you entertain evil thoughts, resulting in developing patterns of evil thinking! You are not responsible for having temptations, but you are responsible for yielding to temptations. You may not be responsible for the first look, but you. are responsible for the second look! If you can go around temptation, you cannot expect God to take you through temptation. If you put yourself in the very trap of temptation, don't be surprised if you are trapped in sin!

"Father, I acknowledge that I cannot 'play with fire' and not expect to be burned. I cannot engage in lustful thinking and not expect to become lustful in action. Help me to guard my affections, for my affections guide my life. Make me pure in thy purity, and holy in thy holiness. In the holy name of Jesus. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will focus my attention on the Holy One in order that I might become a man of holiness!

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Proverbs 4:23-27, Proverbs 7:24-27, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Mastery Over Lust

Control your thoughts if you wan t a pure mind. Control your glances, lest you begin to gaze at sin. Learn to separate yourself from sinful places and things (see 2 Corinthians 6:17).

How do you win the sex battle in a world that is saturated with licentiousness? The victory is won in the mind. The secret to sex-control is mind-control, and the secret of mind-control is focusing one's mind on Christ! We are to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV) We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. (See Romans 12:1)

Do you make your thoughts obedient to Christ? If you struggle with evil or lustful thoughts, don't try to fight these thoughts! To fight such thoughts is to give more attention to these thoughts. Rather than fighting evil thoughts, replace evil thoughts with pure thoughts! Fill your mind with the Scriptures! (Remember, an idle mind is the devil's workshop!) Fill your eyes with the beauty of nature! Fill your time with love projects! Seek and find good companions! (Remember "evil company corrupts good manners".) Turn your back on evil companions!

Wrote Paul to young Timothy, "Flee youthful lusts". Keep away from lustful thoughts! Run from evil companions! "Run from anything that gives you the evil thoughts that young men often have, but stay close to anything that makes you want to do right." (2 Timothy 2:22, Living Bible)

Christian young people (and adults, for that matter) have no business watching TV programs or movies which lead to lustful thinking! Christian young people have no business flirting with sin! Discipline of desires is the price of moral freedom!

Says William Graham Cole in one of his books, "Stolen goods can be returned, or compensated for, lies can be retracted and corrected, covetousness can be overcome. Even idolatry can be undone and forgiven. But the sex act once committed with another person cannot be undone. The inter- personal relationship has undergone a radical change, and the couple concerned can never return to where they were before. Something indelible has stamped them both." (See 1 Corinthians 6:18-20)

Mastery over lust–what is the secret? "You can expel one desire only by a higher desire. Let the love of Christ be the fire that eats up these lesser loves. All the prohibitions against the wrong use of the sex urge will not save you unless the love of Christ be at the center–then the sex urge becomes marginal and right." (Abundant Living, p. 133; Jones)

"Father, let me never despise the sex urge, for this powerful creative urge is your beautiful gift to me. My beautiful Creator, I ask you to master this urge within me, lest it end up mastering me. Help me never to abuse this sacred gift but to use if for your glory and for my good. In Jesus' precious name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will enjoy sex intensely because I will use it at the right time, at the right place, with the right person–all in the context of my marriage.

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Luke 12:13-21, 1 Timothy 6:3-10

Mastery Over Money

Surrendering to the control of Christ, you find freedom in self-control. Accepting Christ's inner restraints, you enjoy outer freedom–glorious freedom! Self-control relates not only to mastery over lust but also mastery over money.

Self-control in the use of money is one of the greatest needs in America today! Millions of dollars are spent in advertising which has one primary purpose–to motivate more people to buy more things.

The use of money determines the value of money. The Rich Man in the Gospel parable was not condemned because he had much money, but because he loved money and worshipped what money can buy. This parable teaches the folly of trusting in riches. He was called a fool because he allowed money to master him, instead of exercising mastery over his money. He did not exercise self-control in matters of his money, because he was not a God-controlled man in matters of his soul.

The Bible calls us to a simple life-style. We must pattern our lives after the King, rather than try to live like a king! "We are right to think of the kingdom of God coming on earth, as well as in heaven, but we have been wrong to associate the kingdom of God with material prosperity. Unlimited spiritual development is possible because God is infinite and we live in a vast, spiritual world. But unlimited economic expansion and exploitation in a finite, material world is finally impossible and can lead only to a giant blowout. Simple living means learning to conserve and preserve–which means living, eating, traveling as good and careful stewards of the good earth." (Light and Life Magazine, October 1979, p. 40)

In a world of shrinking resources and growing hunger, Christians must learn to discipline their acquisitive urges. The more godlike one is, the more generous he is. Someone said, "When a man begins to prosper, either the Lord gets a steward or the Devil gets a soul." "There are two ways to be wealthy–one is in the abundance of your possessions, and the other is in the fewness of your wants. Put in a stop where your needs end. After that all you make belongs to other people's needs. Keep your needs down to needs, not luxuries disguised as needs." (Abundant Living, p. 300-301; Jones)

After a long day of sight-seeing, one Christian returned to his motel and prayed, "Father, I thank you for the enjoyable day. I thank you that, of all the things which I have seen today, there is not one thing which I want!" Financial freedom! He had mastered the material world because he was mastered by spiritual priorities!

"Father, I surrender my acquisitive urge to you. Help me to learn the secret of enjoying without coveting material things. Help me to develop the 'Art of Using'–using things for God's glory and for man's good without exploiting the resources of your world."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Wastefulness or extravagance have no place in the Christian practices of stewardship.

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Galatians 2:20, Galatians 5:22-26

Mastery Over Self

There can be no mastery in life unless one has surrendered his self to the Lordship of Christ. Says E. Stanley Jones, "The self as a servant to the Kingdom of God is rhythmical and harmonious and adequate; the self as a servant to itself is halting and inharmonious and incompetent–its own slave. . . The self then must be disciplined to die. It must die as first, in order to live as second. That is why at the center of the Kingdom is a cross. You must go through spiritually what Jesus went through physically–you must die and be buried in order to experience a resurrection into freedom and fullness of life." (Abundant Living, p. 124; Jones)

Self at the center is a self that is off-center! When man makes himself his own god, then he comes to hate that god! To control the self, one must surrender the self. Surrender the self to the Creator God in order that the self may become creative. "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their lower nature with all that it loved and lusted for." (Galatians 5:24, Phillips)

What is the great secret of self-control? It is Christ-control, made possible through death to self-will and surrender to Christ's will. It was George Muller of Bristol who testified: "There was a day when I died–died to George Muller, his opinions, preferences, tastes, and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame of my brethren and friends; and since then I have studied only to show myself approved to God."

The man whose life is a message rather than a mess, is the man whose life is under the Spirit's control. 'I delight to do thy will, O God!' Christ's burden is our blessing! Christ's yoke is our yearning! But is Christ's way always easy? Is there not struggle? Is it always easy to submit to Christ's will? Not always easy, but always right! Christ suffered being tempted, but He never yielded to temptation! Christ learned obedience by the things which He suffered, but He never once disobeyed the Father! He sweat as it were 'great drops of blood' in the Garden of Gethsemane, but His final mastery over life was demonstrated when He prayed, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." (Matthew 26:39)

Mastery in life will mean that we give counsel to reason, not to passion; that we give counsel to faith, not to fear; that we give counsel to discipline, not to indulgence; that we give counsel to God's will, not to man's will!

"Father, I am slowly learning the way of true freedom. Bowing low at the feet of Jesus, I stand tall before everything else! Surrendering to the control of Christ, I find freedom in self-control. Forgive me for trying to whip my will into obeying moral laws when you call me to surrender my will to find your liberating love. Your will is my freedom! Glory!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I am never so much my own as when I am most Christ's.

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Discussion Questions:

Cultivating The Fruit Of Gentleness And Self-Control

  1. What is the world's method of 'surviving' and 'success' and 'strength'?

  2. What are some misconceptions regarding the concept of 'meekness' or 'gentleness' which need to be eliminated from our thinking?

  3. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "The strength of gentleness is stronger than the might of violence!"

  4. Define and describe the meaning of 'Gentleness' from the Biblical viewpoint.

  5. Give illustrations from the Scriptures that demonstrate the fact that Jesus was a perfectly God-controlled man (i.e., He was a Gentle man)–One who was angry only for the right reasons and at the right times.

  6. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Only the true Spirit-controlled, love-filled man can exercise outer restraint and remain free from inner resentments!"

  7. Do you agree with the following statement?–"The man of gentleness knows when to be angry and when not to be angry". From a study of the life of Jesus, can one conclude that Jesus never became angry over personal abuse which he unjustly received from others, but that He became justly and intensely angry when others were unjustly abused or when God's name and cause were being defamed? (Note Mark 11:12-18, Mark 3:5-6, Luke 23:32-34)

  8. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Anger is a basic, God-created emotion which must not be denied or suppressed or carnally expressed, but which must be cleansed, controlled, and rechanneled towards God-honoring purposes." What is your interpretation of Ephesians 4:26? How do you tell the difference between 'righteous anger' and 'carnal anger'?

  9. Do you think the following description of a 'gentle man' is both accurate and Biblical ?–"The gentle man is the man who has learned self- control in every instinct, every impulse, and every passion because he has learned to submit to God's control."

  10. What is your personal evaluation of the following description of 'Gentleness'?–"Prautes (Gentleness) describes the perfect conquest and control of everything in a man's nature which would be a hindrance to his seeing, learning, and obeying the truth."

  11. Does the following affirmation express your own determination?–" I will allow the Holy Spirit to take away the scales of prejudice from my spiritual eyes in order that I may clearly see reality!" What are some forms of prejudice from which believers need to be delivered?

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    Discussion Questions:

    Cultivating The Fruit Of Gentleness And Self-Control (Continued)

  12. In a person's attempt to become a truly 'Gentle man', what is the relationship between self-control and Christ-control? Do you agree with the following statements?–" If you begin with self-control, then you are the center, you are controlling yourself. And you will be anxious lest yourself slip out from beneath your control."

  13. What is the secret of self-control in one's life? What is God's part and what is man's part in gaining self-control? (Note Psalms 1:2, Philippians 2:5-8, Philippians 4:8)

  14. Is it true that people 'wither and die morally' because they first 'wither and die mentally'?

  15. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement by Dr. George A. Buttrick: "We dramatize temptation in our secret thought, thus gathering gasoline for the devil's spark." Do you believe, generally speaking, that most Christians should be more careful to avoid putting themselves into the 'trap of temptation' through careless watching of television and movies at theatres, and through indiscriminate listening to 'worldly' music on radio? Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "If you can 'go around' temptation, don't expect God to take you 'through' temptation!"

  16. Do you understand and agree with the following statement?– "You cannot help it if Satan suggest evil thoughts to you, but you are responsible if you entertain evil thoughts, resulting in developing patterns of evil thinking!"

  17. Does the following affirmation express your own personal determination, as you strive to become a self-controlled Christian?–"I will focus my attention on the Holy One in order that I might become a man of holiness!"

  18. What is your personal interpretation of 2 Corinthians 6:17? What attitudes or practices do you personally consider to be 'worldly' from which you, as a believer, know that you must 'separate' yourself? Is what is 'worldly' for you, necessarily 'worldly' for all other believers, or is it a matter of 'personal conviction'?

  19. How do you win the 'Sex battle' in a world that is saturated with licentiousness? How do you interpret 2 Corinthians 10:4-6, as this Scripture relates to finding victory over 'lustful thoughts'?

  20. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following strong statement: "The sex act once committed with another person cannot be undone. The inner- personal relationship has undergone a radical change, and the couple concerned can never return to where they were before. Something indelible has stamped them both." (Note 1 Corinthians 6:18-20)

  21. In a day in which 'Sex' is treated as a 'toy' to be played with, rather than as a 'gift' to be sacredly cherished and properly used, what can parents and the Church do to help young people to become self-controlled and disciplined in the handling of the God-created, strong sexual urges? How can you tell the difference between wholesome 'sexual attraction' for the opposite sex, and 'sexual lust' for the opposite sex?

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    Discussion Questions:

    Cultivating The Fruit Of Gentleness And Self-Control (Continued)

  22. What difference does 'being filled with the Holy Spirit' make in disciplining and restraining the strong sexual urges which even Christians feel? Do you agree with the following statement?–"All the prohibitions against the wrong use of the sex urge will not save you unless the love of Christ be at the center–then sex urge becomes marginal and right."

  23. Concerning the use of Money, what lessons can be learned from a study of Jesus' Parable of the Rich Man in Luke 12:13-21?

  24. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "The Bible calls us to a simple life-style. We must pattern our lives after 'The King' (Jesus), rather than try to live like a king!"

  25. If Christians are called 'children of the King', do the following statements reflect a realistic and Biblical viewpoint of life as it is to be lived as 'children in the Kingdom of God' ?–"We are right to think of the kingdom of God coming on earth, as well as in heaven, but we have been wrong to associate the kingdom of God with material prosperity. . .Unlimited spiritual development is possible because God is infinite and we live in a vast, spiritual world. But unlimited economic expansion and exploitation in a finite, material world is finally impossible and can lead only to a giant blowout."

  26. What is your response or reaction to the popular teaching among some Christians today who teach that believers can expect to be materially prosperous as a result of their strong faith in Christ? Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "In a world of shrinking resources and growing hunger, Christians must learn to discipline their acquisitive urges."

  27. In a world where millions are living in poverty, how do you, as a conscientious American believer, determine the material standard of living which best reflects your sense of stewardship and which best represents your commitment to a simple lifestyle? Do you agree with the following statements?- -"Put in a stop where your needs end. After that all you make belongs to other people's needs. Keep your needs down to needs, not luxuries disguised as needs." To what extent can Christians indulge themselves in the enjoyment of 'luxuries'?

  28. In your quest to experience 'Mastery over Self', do you believe the following statement realistically describes the means towards such mastery?– "You must go through spiritually what Jesus went through physically–you must die and be buried in order to experience a resurrection into freedom and fullness of life." (Note Galatians 2:20, Galatians 5:24)

  29. Is the following statement a good summary of the meaning of 'Mastery in life'?–"Mastery in life will mean that we give counsel to reason, not to passion; that we give counsel to faith, not to fear; that we give counsel to discipline, not to indulgence; that we give counsel to God's will, not to man's will!"

  30. Give your interpretation of the following statement: "I am never so much my own as when I am most Christ's."

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