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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100


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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101


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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102


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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103


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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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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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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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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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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