Freedom From Jealousy

Freedom From Jealousy

Chapter Five

Freedom From Jealousy
Facing The Problem Of Jealousy 40 Rejoicing In Your God-Ordained Place 44
Destructiveness Of Jealousy 41 Enjoying The 'Smile Of God's Approval' 45
Steps Towards Deliverance From Jealousy 42 Discussion Questions 46
Re-Channeling Your Tendency Towards Comparisons 43    

Mark 10:35-45; 1 Corinthians 13:4

Facing The Problem Of Jealousy

"Oscar Wilde used to tell a fable… The Devil was once crossing the Libyan Desert when he came upon a group of small fiends who were tempting a holy hermit. They tried him with the seductions of the flesh; they sought to sow his mind with doubts and fears; they told him that all his austerities were worth nothing. 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.'" (Daily Readings; Sangster; pg. 200)

The Bible tells us to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15). Why is it that we find it sometimes harder to rejoice with the rejoicing ones than to weep with the weeping ones? Because we cannot envy people's sorrows, but it is easy to envy people's joy.

Notes William Barclay, "It may be said that envy is the last sin to die. It reared its ugly head even in the apostolic band. The other ten were envious of James and John, when these two had seemed to steal a march upon them in the matter of precedence in the coming Kingdom (Mark 10:41). Even at the last supper the disciples were disputing about who should occupy the seats of greatest honor (Luke 22:24). So long as self remains active within a man's heart there will be envy in his life. E.G. Selwyn calls envy 'the constant plague of all voluntary organizations, not least religious organizations.' C.E.B. Cranfield says that 'we do not have to be engaged in what is called 'church work' very long to discover what a perennial source of trouble envy is.' Envy can only die when self dies." (Daily Study Bible; I Peter; pg. 225)

"We may define this vice as pain, grief, or annoyance felt at the happiness, success, or fortune of another; displeasure or regret aroused by the superiority of another – plus a certain degree of malice or malignity am a desire to depreciate the person envied… It was the secret hurt you felt when somebody with whom you had matched yourself in thought or with whom others matched you, surpassed you or was considered to have surpassed you. It was the secret elation and gloating you found in your heart when he stumbled and fell. That was jealousy! It is deadly in its nature and can cast a long shadow over the whole of life." (Secret of Radiant Living; Sangster; pg. 94)

"Father, help me to rejoice with those who rejoice as well as to weep with those who weep. Enable me to take genuine pleasure in the success of others, regardless of the degree of success I am allowed to enjoy. Uproot the ugly weed of jealousy from my heart and plant in its place the beautiful flower of good will and love. In Jesus' magnanimous name. Amen"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Learning to appreciate others without envy makes my inward world peaceful and my outward world grateful!

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1 Samuel 18:1-16

Destructiveness Of Jealousy

What is the context from which jealousy arises? "The people we do not know am who completely outshine us do not provoke us to this sin. It is the people whom we do know, who move in the same circle, and who just surpass us, who unconsciously set the trap into which we fall. Let any man, therefore, eager to be on guard against this subtle vice, watch himself in his estimation of those who are doing the same work that he is doing, am doing it in the same circle. Let him mount a DOUBLE guard over himself when he hears them praised – even though the praise may honestly sound extravagant to him. Saul's jealousy of David may already have been a spark in his heart before the women shouted, but it flared into flame at the feminine cry: 'Saul has slain his thousands, but David his tens of thousands.'" (Secret of Radiant Living; Sangster; pg. 95,96)

Jealousy destroys physical health. Proverbs 14:30 says, "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones."

Envy and jealousy are destructive because they cause one to strive for places of eminence and superiority, thus causing mental stress. In his popular book 'None of These Diseases', Dr. S. McMillan notes: "Psychic turmoil, arising out of our desires to go to the moon or to attain superiority over our fellows, is very common. An outstanding psychiatrist, Dr. Alfred Adler, taught that most modern nervous and emotional disorders grow out a definite striving for power. Because the average man in his mad drive to power is in a daily race with others for earthly goals, his day is full of failures, frustrations, banged-up feelings and, often, fenders… Is it not a pity that we are cursed with an innate urge to be ever madly racing with one another like the participants in a stock car race? In our excitement to be first we become oblivious to the damage we inflict on others and ourselves. The stock cars that are battered, banged, dented, and noisy are no worse off than bruised humanity broken down with many a disease from life's competitions." (pg. 133,134)

Jealousy destroys human relationships. Envy can spoil friendships and destroy old fellowships. "Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?" (Proverbs 27:4) ''We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another." (Titus 3:3) Envy breeds hatred, resentment.

Jealousy robs one of his own just joy, because he is obsessed with the greater triumphs of others. A little boy is overcome with joy when he receives his new bike for Christmas, but returns after riding it for one hour, all disgruntled. When his parents inquire where his joy has gone, he replies, "George has been given a bicycle too. It is a better one than mine. It has a three-speed gear."

"God, don't let me go through life begrudging others of their happiness and success, am 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 am worthy.

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Matthew 20:20-28

Steps Towards Deliverance From Jealousy

Christ alone can deliver one from jealousy. Step by step, let us note how this deliverance is accomplished. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. The battle against jealousy is won in the mind.

First, see the possibility of deliverance through Christ alone who never envied another. His denunciation of the Pharisees is not a manifestation of envy. Rather, His denunciations are manifestations of fierce love – love that sought to shatter the complacent and hardened hearts of self-deceived and self-righteous hypocrites.

When Jesus stated that the foxes have holes and the birds have nests but that the Son of Man hath not a pillow to lay his head on, Jesus was not revealing self-pity or envy. Rather, the Son of Man was stating the fact of divine love – love so great that sacrifice became the norm for the Master, and such sacrifice would become the norm for His followers.

He in whom no trace of envy and jealousy can be found, is the same who is able to deliver man from the crippling disease of jealousy. The first step towards deliverance is to understand that Christ is the one who alone is able to deliver.

Secondly, honestly face your personal need for deliverance. No physician can help a man who denies his disease and thus refuses treatment. As Sangster notes, "It is humiliating to admit it, and pride rebels at the idea that I should be jealous of him. 'Jealous? Me? Of him?!"' Denial of the problem cannot solve the problem.

Third, re-channel your tendency towards comparison with others. To constantly compare yourself with others is to do yourself great harm. God accepts you just as you are and therefore you don't need to build up your ego by comparing yourself with others in a less favorable condition than you, and you don't need to plunge yourself into despair or into jealousy by comparing yourself with others who appear to be in a much more favorable condition than you.

Unfortunate1y, competition and comparison is a common way of life in America. We compare mind with mind. We compare bank account with bank account. We compare beauty with beauty. We compare achievement with achievement. We pit wit against wit to outdo our fellows. We try to prove that our city, our church, our doctrines, our political concepts, and our ball teams, etc., etc., are the best! This tendency towards power, popularity, dominance, and leadership breeds envy, strife, and jealousy. The musical expresses this spirit of comparison and strife: 'Anything you can do, I can do better!' Competition and comparison breed jealousy!

"O God, I confess that jealousy is a serious problem in my life. Help me to rest secure in your unconditional love for me, and to know that I don't have to 'prove' myself worthy of your acceptance through performance and achievement in a world of competitive striving. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: To love all and to serve all is Christ's command and my privilege!

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1 Peter 2:1-3

Re-Channeling Your Tendency Towards Comparisons

Christ calls us to humble service, not to vain striving for glory and for honor among our peers. Said Jesus, "Don't you ever be called 'Rabbi' – you have only one Teacher, and all of you are brothers… and you must not let people call you 'leaders' – you have only one leader, Christ! The only 'superior' among you is the one who serves the others. For every man who promotes himself will be humbled, and every man who learns to be humble will find promotion." (Matthew 23:8, Matthew 23:10-12) (Phillips)

Dr. McMillan tells of a young woman who wanted to go to college. "Her heart sank when she read one question on the application blank: 'Are you a leader?' Being a conscientious girl she wrote 'NO' and sent in the form with a heavy heart. To her surprise she received a letter from one of the college officials which read something like this: 'A study of the application blanks reveals that this year our college will have 1452 leaders. Therefore, we are accepting you because we feel it is imperative that they have ONE follower.'"

Dr. McMillan goes on to say: "We are living in a day when it is not difficult to find people who want to be head cook, but few are available to wash dishes. There are always several hundreds of girls who yearn to ride in the parade as the beautiful queen, but sometimes only a disgruntled half dozen will agree to decorate the float. Organizations have never lacked those who want to be boss carpenters, but they have had to search for men to drive nails and saw boards." (None of These Diseases; pg. 136,137)

'Competition for the top spot' – this too often describes the mood of our modern age. Competition breeds jealousy!

There is another movement in our day which breed-s jealousy – the striving for equality. Notes Malcolm Muggeridge, "The notion of equality has been one of the very destructive forces in our society. We're not equals, we're brothers and sisters. It's quite a different thing. And it's that Christian notion of being brothers and sisters that has been an enormous stabilizing influence on the western world. But the minute you begin to follow this fantasy of equality, you don't produce a loving relationship among people, you produce hideous rivalries and envies, which God knows our society reflects. Each person is watching out and trying to see if the other person is getting more than he is, and even whether others are getting more out of life." Comparing ourselves with others can lead to either pride or to envy, depending upon the outcome of that comparison. The spirit of pride and the spirit of envy are neither the spirit of Christ!

"Father, help me to compare myself with Christ alone, not with other people. Comparing myself with Christ alone delivers me from stress due to peer comparisons and delivers me from complacency due to easy satisfaction with personal, present attainments. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God will help me to re-channel my strong impulse towards many outward comparisons with men, to one upward comparison with Christ!

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John 21:15-23

Rejoicing In Your God-Ordained Place

We are continuing to look at the steps towards deliverance from jealousy. So far, we have looked at three: (1) See the possibility of deliverance through Christ alone who never envied another, (2) Honestly face your personal need for deliverance, and (3) Re-channel your tendency towards comparison with others.

Fourth, rejoice in the God-ordained place which Christ has for you personally. "Christ is able to convince us that each one of us has a place in the plan of God and that his plan is best. Being convinced of that, we envy no one. We can only wish them well in the working out of God's plan for them." (The Secret of Radiant Life; Sangster; pg. 98) God has a place for all in His great family. God has a work for each to do, and each work is important to God.

The Church is likened unto a human body. All members of the Body are different, but each member is dependent upon all the others. There is no need for any member to compare itself with any other member, for each member has a different function and each member is needed for the healthy functioning of the entire Body.

"The last recorded conversation between Jesus and Peter in John's Gospel finds Peter trifling with the wrong kind of comparison and unduly concerned about the destiny of John. 'What about him, Lord?", he said. 'What does that matter to you? Follow me yourself!', replied Jesus. (Ibid; pg. 98)

"To every envious soul, wanting to know why others should have things they do rot have, Jesus would say: 'What does it matter to you? Follow me yourself.'" (Ibid; pg. 98)

The strong instinct towards comparison and competition must be transformed into the instinct towards compassion, caring, and complementation. Wrote Paul, "Live together in harmony, live together in love, as though you had only one mind and one spirit between you. Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves." (Philippians 2:2-3 Phillips) 'Each for all, and all for each' – this spells harmony! If there is to be comparisons among yourselves as Christians, then "in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves." A great antidote against envy and jealousy is learning to enjoy others and learning to enjoy giving preference and honor to others. The only competition, worthy of the name of Christ, is the competition of love – seeking to outdo one another in acts of compassion and love!

"Father, your will is my peace. wanting at times to change my place with that of another, I confess that I have doubted your infinite wisdom and personal love for me. Help me not to envy another, but gladly follow you, even to death by martyrdom if necessary!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will rejoice in the God-ordained place which God has given to me and rot envy God's place for someone else!

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2 Corinthians 10:12-18

Enjoying The 'Smile Of God's Approval'

The fifth step in overcoming envy and jealousy is this: Realize that Christ can take away the desire for the approval and praise of the Crowd – the source of much envy – and that Christ can replace this desire with the sole desire for the praise and approval of God.

"No man remains envious who really sets his whole heart on the approval of heaven because that secures an independence of the praise and blame of earth. The simplest servant of the kingdom, quietly confident that he is doing his best, may feel the smile of God upon him. There is no richer reward in store for anyone… Being sure of God's approval no man need envy the praise of earth.

'The Master praises; what are men?' 
(Daily Readings; Sangster; pg. 221)

Never focus on the praise of men or on the criticism of men. Rather, concentrate on living 'peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." (1 Timothy 2:2) Focusing on God rather than on men will keep one free from envy and jealousy.

Last, remember that any person "enjoying a high measure of success ought to carry it lightly and not stress his capacity to excel." (The Secret of Radiant Life; Sangster; pg. 99) Play down your successes. Emphasize long-time brotherhood. Don't magnify new differences in status or attainments or successes. Seek to live in love and harmony with all. Never deliberately provoke envy in another, either through overt remarks of conceit or through actions of pride. "Let your love be perfectly sincere… allowing one another to enjoy preference of honor." (Romans 12:9 Berkeley) Says Proverbs 27:2, "Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips." In other words, 'Don't toot your own horn!"

In considering the subject of jealousy, it is helpful for us to conduct the following spiritual check-up on ourselves.

"Have I a secret longing always to be first? or can I truly say that I don't care who is second, third or fourth, so long as Jesus is first?

"Do I want God's cause to advance, or is my chief desire that I should advance?

"Can I hear my colleagues praised and sincerely enjoy it?

"Can I hear others praised for what I have done for God and still be more glad that it was done than grieved to be neglected?

"Am I willing to take my wages in Christian service from God alone?

"Am I after anything for myself?" (Daily Readings; Sangster; pg. 31)

"Father, deliver me from boasting of work done by others and from resentment when others boast of work done by me. Help me to die, both to the praise and to the blame of men, and study only to show myself approved of God. Make me jealous only for your smile of approval on my life! In Jesus' conquering name! Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Enjoying the smile of God upon my life and work, I can always bear the scorn of men!

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Discussion Questions On 'Freedom From Jealousy'

  1. Why is it that we find it sometimes harder to rejoice with the rejoicing ones than to weep with the weeping ones (Romans 12:15)?

  2. How would you define envy or jealousy?

  3. Why is envy such a common problem among those who engage in 'Church Work'?

  4. What is the context from which jealousy often arises?

  5. In what ways is jealousy destructive of physical health, of mental health, and of loving human relationships?

  6. List six steps in overcoming the enemy of jealousy.

  7. In what ways are competition and comparison the breeding grounds for jealousy?

  8. Why is 'striving for equality' a breeding ground for jealousy?

  9. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "God has a place for all in His great family. God has a work for each to do, and each work is important to God." Do you believe that the attitude contained in this statement will help one to cope with feelings of jealousy? Why? or Why Not?

  10. In terms of observable behavior, what is the difference between living a life based on comparison and competition and a life based on compassion, caring, and complementation?

  11. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "The only competition, worth of the name of Christ, is the competition of love – seeking to outdo one another in acts of compassion and love!"

  12. How does seeking the approval of God rather than the applause of men help one in being delivered from the problem of jealousy?

  13. Behaviorally speaking, what must one do and how must one act in the presence of his peers to avoid provoking his peers to envy and jealousy?

  14. Can you share an experience in which you were wonderfully delivered from jealousy?

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Understanding the Work of the Holy Spirit

Understanding The Work Of The Holy Spirit

Part I

Experiencing The Fullness of The Spirit (Chapters 1-8)

Chapter One

Understanding The Work Of The Holy Spirit
The Convicting Work Of The Holy Spirit 1 The Counseling Work Of The Holy Spirit 5
The Convincing Work Of The Holy Spirit 2 The Communicating Work Of The Holy Spirit 6
The Cleansing Work Of The Holy Spirit 3 Discussion Questions: 7
The Comforting Work Of The Holy Spirit 4    

John 14:15-20

The Convicting Work Of The Holy Spirit

The apostle Paul one time asked certain disciples, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed"? (Acts 19:2-3, NIV) Many today are just as ignorant regarding the ministry of the Holy Spirit!

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to continue the ministry of Jesus in the world today.

In considering the work of the Holy Spirit during the next several days, consider several words, each of which describes one of the many different ministries of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit convicts, convinces, cleanses, comforts, counsels, and communicates.

The Holy Spirit convicts of sin. "When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment." (John 16:8, NIV)

The word that John uses of the work of the Spirit "is the word which is used for the cross-examination of a witness, or a man on trial, or an opponent in an argument. It always has this idea of cross-examining a man until he sees and admits his errors, or acknowledge the force of some argument which he had not yet seen… Now clearly such cross-examination can do two things–it can convict a man of the weakness of his case, and the strength of the case which, up to this time, he has opposed. In this passage we need both the meanings; we need both convict and convince". (Daily Study Bible; John, vol. 2; William Barclay)

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict a man of his sin, and to convince a man of his own weakness and of Christ's strength.

The Spirit of God, speaking through the Holy Scriptures, convicts man of inward attitudes and sinful desires against which there is no civil law. Civil laws are made against murder, but only the Spirit can convict a man for anger. Civil laws can convict a man for perjury and fraud, but only the Spirit of God can convict a man for malice and resentment. There are civil laws against adultery, but who, other than the Spirit of God, can convict one of lustful desires and impure thoughts? Laws against stealing are made by society, but only God's Spirit can convict one of the wrong in covetousness, envy, and jealousy. What passes the scrutiny of man, does not pass the scrutiny of God. Jesus said that the Spirit convicts the world of sin because the world does not believe in Him. One may not be a murderer, or an adulterer, or a thief, but if he does not truly believe in Christ, that person stands condemned. "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." (John 3:18, NIV)

"Father, I come to you with a receptive heart and an open hand to receive you gifts of divine grace. I stand convicted of my own inadequacies, and convinced of the adequacy of your grace. What passes the scrutiny of man cannot pass your scrutiny. I confess my hidden sins in order to receive your revealed mercy."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will not allow society's approval of my outward conduct to blind me to my need for God's cleansing of my inward condition!

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John 16:5-11

The Convincing Work Of The Holy Spirit

It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to convince the world of true righteousness, as it is supremely exemplified and personified in Jesus. Comparing other men with Jesus is like comparing coal dust with freshly fallen snow. All others appear unclean and unrighteous in the sight of the sinless and immaculate Son of God.

It is a strange characteristic of sin to reverse values and to change moral standards until right can be called evil, and evil goodness. It is a realistic commentary on the deceitfulness of man's heart, that the Jews who performed the most religious practices in Jesus' day were the same Jews who defamed and rejected the very Son of God! It was the Jewish religious leaders who accused Jesus of keeping bad company with publicans and sinners (Matthew 9:11). It was the religious leaders who accused Jesus of gluttony and intemperance (Matthew 11:19). It was the Jewish High Priest who accused Jesus of blasphemy (Matthew 26:65). Jesus' own family on one occasion accused Jesus of insanity (Mark 3:21). The spiritually-blinded Jewish leaders even accused Jesus of being possessed with devils (John 7:20) . The hardened, calloused Jewish legalists accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath (John 9:16). The spotless Son of God was accused of treason (John 19:12).

Who would date say to His fellowman, as Jesus said, "Which of you convinceth me of sin"? Jesus was sinless and to men he declared His sinlessness without giving any evidence of pride. Only the Son of God could do this.

Jesus' disciples spent many months with Jesus under all circumstances. They saw Jesus when He was overcome with weariness or hunger, when the crowds pressed upon Him and the diseased people thronged around him, when the repentant ones cried out to Him, and when the hypocritical challenged Him with subtle questions. The disciples saw Jesus when He was filled with sorrow, following the beheading of John the Baptist. They saw Him when He was sore pressed in His spirit and when He experienced the agony of the Garden. And yet those who knew Christ best declared that He was sinless and pure. Peter, a devout Jew who believed with all Jews in the universality of sin, declared that Christ "did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth". (1 Peter 2:22)

"The world denied Christ's claim to righteousness, disputed His profession of Messiahship, declared Him to be an execrable imposter, and finally seemed to have triumphed in its attempted demonstration of His unrighteousness, by His crucifixion … But just when it seemed that the world had triumphed, and had demonstrated the falsity of Christ's profession, thus putting an end to the religion He had sought to establish, the grandest demonstration of his holiness and of His Messiahship was given to the world by His resurrection from the dead." (The Holy Spirit, A Study, p. 173; Hogue)

"Father, your Son of righteousness shines more brightly than the noonday sun. No sooner can sinful man deny the righteousness of the Son than can man quench the flames of the sun with the waters of earth. His righteousness is from everlasting to everlasting."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Just as Christ's righteousness was demonstrated conclusively through the Resurrection, I will allow the Holy Spirit to demonstrate Christ's righteousness through my new life today!

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Ezekiel 36:24-28

The Cleansing Work Of The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit cleanses the sinner from the guilt of his sins. The Holy Spirit is the agent in resolving guilt and imparting new life. "But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love toward man appeared, he saved us in his mercy–not by virtue of any moral achievements of ours, but by the cleansing power of a new birth and the moral renewal of the Holy Spirit, which he gave us so generously through Jesus Christ our Savior. The result is that we are acquitted by his grace, and can look forward to inheriting life for evermore." (Titus 3:4-7, Phillips)

The Holy Spirit is also the agent in cleansing the believer from the pollution of sin. Man is not only a sinner in practice who needs forgiveness, but man is also a sinner by nature who needs inner cleansing. David acknowledged his need for inner cleansing. "Behold, I was brought forth in (a state of) iniquity; my mother was sinful who conceived me (and I, too, am sinful)… Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean (ceremonially), wash me, and I shall (in reality) be whiter than snow… Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me." (Psalms 51:5, Pslams 51:7, Pslams 51:10, Amplified Bible)

The fire which took the appearance of cloven tongues on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) symbolized cleansing. The disciples of Christ needed cleansing from carnal strife and selfish ambition. The Holy Spirit comes to consume the dross of sin and to purify the character of the Christian, enabling the believer to reflect the beauty of Christ's holiness. "He is like a refiner's fire and like fullers soap, and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi." (Malachi 3:2-3) "The illustration is that of a jeweler sitting before his crucible watching the fierce flame as it eliminates the dross leaving the silver so perfectly refined that at length he can see his image in the glowing metal." (To Tell The World, p. 76; Myron Boyd)

Cleansing is the work of the Holy Spirit. He works to refine Christian character and to cleanse away all defilement. "I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you." (Ezekiel 36:25-26 a, NIV) One believer who read these verses found deliverance from sin. "I began to exercise faith, by believing 'I have the blessing now'. Just at that moment a heavenly influence filled the room; and no sooner had I spoken than refining fire went 'through my heart–illuminated my soul–scattered its life through every part, and sanctified the whole'. I then received the full witness of the Spirit that the blood of Jesus Christ had cleansed me from all sin." (Entire Sanctification; Studies in Christian Holiness, p. 73)

"Wash me and I shall be clean! Purge me and I shall be whiter than snow! Renew a right spirit within me and cleanse me from every guilty stain. In Jesus' name."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God offers nothing less and I will settle for nothing less than a heart that is totally cleansed from the pollution of sin!

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John 14:15-17

The Comforting Work Of The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit gives comfort in times of sorrow and loss, but, as Comforter, He does much more than this. The Holy Spirit gives courage to the faint-hearted, strength to the weak, and assurance to the doubter.

The Holy Spirit is man's helper. The Holy Spirit enables the Christian to cope with every circumstance of life. As helper, He is the strengthening and enabling presence of Jesus.

Dr. A. B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, discovered new strength to cope with life when he surrendered his life completely to the Spirit's control. His testimony is inspiring; "I shall never forget the morning that I spent in my church reading an old musty book I had discovered in my library on the subject THE HIGHER CHRISTIAN LIFE. I had struggled long and vainly with my own intense nature, my strong self-will, my peculiar temptations. My spiritual life had been a constant humiliation. I had talked to my people about the deeper things of the Spirit, but there was a hollow ring, and my heart was breaking to know the Lord Jesus as a living bright, reality. As I poured over that little volume, I saw a new light. The Lord Jesus revealed Himself as a living and all-sufficient presence, and I learned for the first time that Christ had not saved us from future peril, and left us to fight the battle of life as best we could; but He who had justified us was waiting to sanctify us, to enter into our spirit, and substitute His strength, His holiness, His life, His joy, His faith, His power, for all our worthlessness, helplessness and nothingness, and make it an actual living fact. 'I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.' Across the threshold of my spirit there passed a Being as real as the Christ who came to John on Patmos, and from that moment a new secret has been the charm and glory and strength of my life and testimony … I have learned the secret, 'I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me'." (Prayer and Life's Highest; Paul Rees, p. 83)

The Holy Spirit gives the Christian strength to accept trouble without defeat, and to accept success without pride. Take the latter idea. When life heaps honors and favors upon a man, there is the temptation to become spiritually proud. It is when one becomes esteemed in the eyes of the public that one can too easily forget that true greatness is measured in terms of service and not in terms of popularity. In a letter a few weeks before his death, the sainted F. B. Meyer wrote the following to a friend: "I am now 82, and in a nursing home. I want to tell you what the Spirit of God has been showing me lately. That I have acquired a reputation for sanctity by my books. This may grow upon me. It makes one want to creep into heaven unnoticed" . (Aldersgate Studies in Christian Holiness, p. 109) The Holy Spirit enables a believer to accept success with humility.

"Father, because of your wonderful indwelling Spirit, I am able to cope with anything that life can hand me. I can accept sorrow without bitterness, trouble without despair, success without pride. During changing circumstances, I serve a changeless God! Glory!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Through Christ's indwelling Spirit I can be what God wants me to be, and do what God wants me to do!

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John 16:12-15

The Counseling Work Of The Holy Spirit

Our Scripture reading for today indicates that the Holy Spirit guides the believer into all things. No greater or wiser Counselor can be found than the Holy Spirit. God has promised to guide the earnest seeker of Truth: "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye." (Psalms 32:8) Towards the end of George Muller's life, he said, "I never remember in all my Christian course, a period now of sixty-nine years and four months, that I ever sincerely and patiently sought to know the will of God by the teaching of the Holy Ghost, through the instrumentality of the Word of God, but I have always been directed rightly." (Prayer and Life's Highest, p. 120; Paul Rees) "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

The Christian life is not a static life; rather, it is a dynamic life with new depths to reach, new horizons to find, and new capacities to develop. It is the Holy Spirit who helps the open minded Christian to find truth, to recall truth, to understand truth, to defend truth, and to spread truth. A stubborn will and a closed mind destroy all receptive powers and make it impossible to receive God's communications.

There are several ways by which the Holy Spirit communicates God's will to the believer.

There is the counsel of others. Consulting a wise, experienced, and tested friend and counselor will oftentimes save one from many a pitfall and from many a heartache. Read Proverbs 11:14 and Proverbs 12:15.

The Holy Spirit often works through circumstances to reveal God's will to the sensitive Christian. Because God is sovereign, the Christian knows that God controls nature with its laws and history with its events. If the Christian knows that God is big enough and powerful enough to control the laws of nature and the events of history, the Christian also knows that God is loving enough and Fatherly enough to control the circumstances of life which determine personal destiny.

There is prayer. It is the Holy Spirit who enables the true believer to pray effectively. "The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." (Romans 8:26, NIV)

The Bible is another means that the Holy Spirit uses to give guidance and counsel to the Christian. The Psalmist looked to the Word for guidance, and so can every modern-day believer. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path… The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple." (Psalms 119:105, Psalms 119:130)

"Father, help me to be open-minded to receive your truth, tender-hearted to experience your love, and strong-willed to obey your commands. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Easy guidance comes to those who are easily controlled by the Holy Spirit. I will keep the reins of my life in the hands of the Holy Spirit today!.

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Acts 1:1-8

The Communicating Work Of The Holy Spirit

Jesus, just before His ascension, spoke of the Holy Spirit's ministry: "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and ye shall be my witnesses …" (Acts 1:8) The rushing mighty wind on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) symbolizes the power of the Holy Spirit–the power to witness. Throughout the Book of Acts, one can see the Holy Spirit's communication of the Gospel through the lives of the disciples.

To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with power, boldness, and greater love, enabling one to witness effectively to his fellowmen, whether that witness is in word or in deed. Says Bill Bright, "It should be made clear that to be 'filled with the Spirit' does not mean that we receive more of the Holy Spirit, but that we give Him more of ourselves. As we yield our lives to the Holy Spirit and are filled with His presence, He has greater freedom to work in and through our lives, to control us in order to better exalt and glorify Christ". (Ye shall Receive Power, p. 13)

Every Christian needs to be filled with the Holy Spirit in order to be an effective witness. Says Dr. R. A. Torrey, "I have gone through my Bible time and time again checking this subject and I make this statement without the slightest fear of successful contradiction that there is not one single passage in the Old Testament or the New Testament where the Baptism (or filling) with the Holy Spirit is spoken of where it is not connected with testimony for service". (Ibid, p. 18) Says Dr. Oswald J. Smith, "Read the biographies of God's men and you will discover that each one sought and obtained the Endowment of Power from on High. (Ibid, p. 9)

Believers are called to be dead to self-centeredness and alive to Christ (Galatians 2:20). "The Christian's body now becomes Christ's body to use as He wills; the mind becomes His to think His thoughts; the will is now controlled by His will, the total personality, time, and talents are now completely His." (Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 10; Bill Bright)

The Holy Spirit wants to communicate God's love to the world through the instrumentality of the Christian. As Barclay points out, "Jesus Christ is no longer in this world in the body; and therefore, if He wants a task done for Him within the world He has to find a man to do it. If He wants a child taught, He has to find a teacher to teach him. If He wants a sick person cured, He has to find a physician or surgeon to do His work. If he wants His story told, He has to find a man to tell it. Literally, we have to be the body of Christ, hands to do His work, feet to run upon His errands, a voice to speak for Him". (Daily Study Bible; Corinthians, p. 126)

"Father, empower me through the sanctifying work of thy Holy Spirit, that I might witness fearlessly, live peacefully, work tirelessly, give generously, fellowship warmly, and live expectantly. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will use my head (intellect), my heart (affections), and my hands (will) to serve the Lord wholeheartedly in my world today!

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Discussion Questions:

Understanding The Work Of The Holy Spirit

  1. What is the meaning of the Greek word which is translated 'Convict', as this word applies to the work of the Holy Spirit among sinners?

    Answer: To bring sin to light, make an awareness of

  2. How does the convicting work of the Holy Spirit differ from the conviction which results from the application of civil laws in society?

    Answer: The Holy Spirit convicts us of personal sin, whereas the civil laws of society are more focused on our actions.

  3. What moral realities in our world today make necessary the Convincing ministry of the Holy Spirit?

    Answer: A lukewarm approach to life. We must be either hot or cold

  4. How do the negative reactions of some of Jesus' contemporaries reveal the depth of human depravity and self-deception?

    Answer: Some of them accused him of keeping bad company with publicans and sinners, and other sins. Jesus came for all people. He had to become like them in order to show them his love. He was rejected because of the complete truth in action of his life.

  5. Why are the testimonies of the disciples of Jesus, regarding the sinlessness of Jesus, so convincing?

    Answer: The disciples were with him each day. They were with him almost always. They saw how he put his own needs aside to meet the needs of others.

  6. What is the grandest demonstration of Jesus' holiness and Messiahship?

    Answer: Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, and resurrection

  7. How does the Cleansing work of the Holy Spirit apply both to the sinner and to the Christian?

    Answer: The Holy Spirit cleanses the sinner from guilt. The Spirit cleanses the Christian each day from the pollution of sin.

  8. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Man is not only a sinner in practice who needs forgiveness, but man is also a sinner by nature who need inner cleansing". (Give Scriptural support for your answer.)

    Answer: He guides our daily walk, as states that if we give him our weaknesses, he will glorify them. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

  9. Share various ways in which the Holy Spirit accomplishes His work as Comforter.

    Answer: Gives us courage, strength, assurance, our helper, and enables us to cope with life's circumstances.

  10. From your own personal experience or from your observation of others, illustrate the truth of the following statement: "The Holy Spirit gives the Christian strength to accept trouble without defeat, and to accept success without pride".

    Answer: God has a purpose in everything that happens to us. This should keep us from defeat or pride.

  11. What relationship does the Holy Spirit have to the Word of God. as regards to the Spirit's ministry of providing guidance and counsel.

    Answer: It is the spirits instrument (instrumentality)

  12. List and describe several ways by which the Holy Spirit communicates God's will to the believer.

    Answer: Other Christian, circumstances, prayer, Reading the Bible

  13. According to Bill Bright, what does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?

    Answer: To give the spirit more of ourselves

  14. Based upon a thorough knowledge of the Bible, what does R. A. Torrey say is the manifestation or evidence of the fullness of the Holy Spirit in a believer's life?

    Answer: Testimony for service – witness

  15. Through what instrumentality does God accomplish His work in His world today?

    Answer: Through the life of a Christian.

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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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121


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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“Thy Kingdom Come” Part II

"Thy Kingdom Come" (Part II)

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


CHAPTER 5 – OUTLINE

SUBJECT: Pray this way "Thy Kingdom Come" (Part II)

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6:9-13

TEXT: "Let your kingdom come." (Matthew 6:10)

INTRODUCTION:

Why did so many Jews refuse to see their hopes and dreams fulfilled in Jesus? It was because so many Jews had relapsed back into the old and incorrect ideas regarding the Messiah and the Kingdom.

PROPOSITION:

It is the true meaning of the 'Kingdom of God' that we are concerned in trying to understand.

I. Meaning of the 'Kingdom of God'

A. King of the Kingdom

1. Miracles

2. Parables

3. Messianic Titles

4. Resurrection

B. Members of the Kingdom

1. What really is the meaning of the Kingdom of God?

2. Who really are the members of the Kingdom of God?

CONCLUSION:

"To pray for the Kingdom of Heaven is to pray that we may submit our wills entirely to the will of God." (William Barclay)

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CHAPTER 5

SUBJECT: Pray this way "Thy Kingdom Come" (Part II)

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6:9-13

TEXT: "Let your kingdom come." (Matthew 6:10)

INTRODUCTION:

We have seen how that for centuries the Jews longed and looked for a Messiah who would establish his reign of righteousness and power. At times during Israelite history, the Jews expected the coming Messiah to be a great son of David who would establish a Golden Age greater even than that which David established. At other times when the monarchy was weak or non-existent, the Jews lost confidence in the possibility of a human agent and turned to God as the only possible Agent for the establishment of the Kingdom of God. At their best, the Jews realized that the Kingdom of God was separate from the Kingdom of Israel, and at their best the Jews realized that the Agent for the establishment of that Kingdom would have to be God Himself or at least some mysterious divine being which God would appoint.

It is to the New Testament that we must turn in order to see the fulfillment of Old Testament hopes and dreams. Why did so many Jews refuse to see their hopes and dreams fulfilled in Jesus? It was because so many Jews had relapsed back into the old and incorrect ideas regarding the Messiah and the Kingdom. The old idea that the Kingdom of God was in some way inseparably connected with the Kingdom of Israel, and the old idea that the coming Messiah would be a great human heir of David, both regained popularity in Jewish thought just preceding the ministry of Jesus.

To understand these popular Jewish beliefs regarding the Messiah and the Kingdom of God, is to better understand the difficulty Jesus had in convincing the Jews that He indeed was the fulfillment of all of the Messianic hopes and dreams.

PROPOSITION:

To the subject of the 'Kingdom of God' as it was taught by Jesus, we must now turn. It is the true meaning of the 'Kingdom of God' that we are concerned in trying to understand. To understand Jesus' teaching regarding the Kingdom, we can more intelligently pray 'Thy Kingdom Come.' The simple outline for the message is as follows: (a) King of the Kingdom, (b) Members of the Kingdom.

I. Meaning of the 'Kingdom of God'

A. King of the Kingdom

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"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


When Jesus came into Galilee he said, "The appointed time has fully come. The Kingdom of God has arrived." Jesus was really saying that the far-off Divine Event which the Jews for centuries had longed to see, was now clearly before their eyes and was being fulfilled. He was saying that He was the fulfillment of Jewish dreams and hopes. In many passages Jesus stated that the Kingdom of God had arrived. "If I by the finger of God cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you." (Luke 11:20) "The Kingdom of God is in your midst". (Luke 17:21) "The tax collectors and harlots are going into the Kingdom of God before you." (Matthew 21:31) "Blessed are the eyes which see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear and did not hear it." (Matthew 21:31) "Blessed are the eyes which see, and did not see it, and to hear what you near and did not hear it." (Luke 10:23) The queen of the south will arise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here." (Luke 11:31) It was Jesus' teaching that the Kingdom of God had arrived. Jesus claimed to be the King of the Kingdom. Jesus' Kingdom power was manifested in various ways. Let us look at the words and works that were meant to demonstrate His Messianic power.

1. Miracles.

The miracles were not for the purpose of creating a sensational response to Christ. Nevertheless, in a real way, the miracles were meant to be signs which lended evidence that Jesus truly was the Messiah. The miracles were acts of compassion, but their purpose was even greater than this. The true purpose of the miracles was to actively demonstrate that the Kingdom of God had arrived. As A.M. Huner so well puts it: "The healing of the sick, the exorcism of evil spirits, the restoration of the maimed, the deaf, the dumb and the blind, the forgiveness of sins – all these were 'works' of the Kingdom … In one phrase, the miracles were the Kingdom of God in actions."

2. Parables.

The parables which Jesus told can only properly be understood as teachings regarding the coming Kingdom of God. Each parable talks about a different aspect of that Kingdom but each relates in some way to the Messianic Rule, and the true meaning of the Kingdom. The parable of the Mustard Seed serves as one example. Hunter points out that this parable essentially is saying: "The Reign of God, now like a small seed in your midst, will one day become a tree overshadowing the earth." (Ibid; p. 30) Each parable is meant to tell its hearers that the Kingdom of God is now actively working in their midst.

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3. Messianic Titles

The title by which Jesus most liked to be called was 'the Son of Man'. There are about three dozen examples of Jesus' usage of this title in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). We have seen in the preceding message to this one, that this title – Son of Man – was a Messianic title used especially in the book of Daniel: "13 "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." (Daniel 7:13-14)

Jesus also assumed another title – the Suffering Servant – a title which is taken from Isaiah 52, 53. The suffering servant is described by Isaiah as one who really does God's will on earth. Jesus took this title to describe Himself.

Jesus did that which was unique, something which no one else had ever done – He combined the two titles of Son of Man and Suffering Servant and used these titles to perfectly summarize His ministry. To the Jew these two titles described two different concepts. 'Son of Man' described the triumphant Messiah. 'Suffering Servant' described the despised servant whose role was not earthly greatness but suffering and sacrifice. And yet Jesus used both titles when "He taught that the Son of Man must suffer." Says Father Hebert: "No one dared to think of the Messiah as suffering and dying, till He Himself did so. It is He (Jesus) who broadens out the Messianic idea, till it is seen to gather up in itself all Old Testament theology." (The Nature and Purpose of the Gospels; p. 70)

Thus, we see that Jesus' title of 'Son of Man' was a title of Messianic power. However, Jesus' combination of this title with the title of 'Suffering Servant' changed the concept of the Messiah drastically! Jesus power as the Messiah would not be in terms of military power, but quite the contrary – it would be in terms of the Power of love which would find its expression in the experience of suffering and sacrifice. Jesus came to show the true meaning of the 'Messiah'. The Messiah must suffer, not seek revenge. The Messiah must love, not hate. The Messiah must save, not conquer. The Messiah must rule by love in the hearts of men, and not rule by hate over the Jews' earthly enemies. The Messiah's Kingdom would be established on the foundation of suffering and sacrifice, not on the foundation of military force and arms. Jesus came to show the true meaning of the 'Kingdom of God'.

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4. Resurrection

Jesus' works and words and Messianic titles were all meant to be demonstrations of the King's right to reign. However, the most conclusive evidence of Jesus' Messianic power was the resurrection. Jesus conclusively demonstrated His power over Satan by His power over death. Thus the resurrection shows that Jesus is the true Messiah and that He alone has the right to reign over heaven and earth. Jesus' resurrection is the greatest demonstration of Messianic power, and spells the ultimate defeat of Satan. Jesus' resurrection has potentially put an end to death for every man, and potentially gives power to every man to become a member of the Kingdom of God.

B. Members of the Kingdom.

In our discussion thus far, we have talked extensively about the King of the Kingdom, but perhaps we have not yet satisfactorily answered the question, "What really is the meaning of the Kingdom of God?"

1. What really is the meaning of the Kingdom of God?

Let us offer a two-fold definition to the 'Kingdom of God'. First, as Hunter says, "To understand the phrase in the Gospels, we must remember that it means, linguistically, the kingly Rule of God and that it implies the Biblical idea of God, the God who acts, whose workshop is history and who is working out a great and gracious purpose in it to an appointed end." (Introducing New Testament Theology; p. 26)

The kingly Rule of God naturally results in kingly subjects; thus the Kingdom of God carries the secondary meaning of 'realm'. Those who submit to the kingly rule of God, are an intimate part of the Kingdom of God. In this connection, however, it is important to realize that "God's Reign exists, however men respond. (God's Reign) claims the obedience of men truly; but it is there before the claims are made, and it is still there if men reject them.") Ibid; pg. 26)

To better appreciate the latter definition, it would be to our advantage to ask the question: "Who really are the members of the Kingdom of God?"

2. Who really are the members of the Kingdom of God?

To answer this, let us go directly to The Lord's Prayer. Jesus taught us to pray: "Let your Kingdom come: Let your will be done, as in heaven, so also in earth."

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This portion of the Lord's Prayer is an example of parallelism. "The Hebrew tended to say everything twice. He said it in one way, and then he said it in another way which repeats or amplifies or explains the first way … We then have the perfect definition of the Kingdom of God – The Kingdom of God is a society upon earth where God's will is as perfectly done as it is in heaven." (Barclay's Matthew; pgs. 211, 212) Thus, everyone of all ages who have sought to do the will of God in their life are members of the Kingdom of God. Membership in the Kingdom of God is not limited to any certain nation, race, or age, but includes all people who have done and all people who do and all people who will do the will of God in their lives. Thus, we see how the Kingdom of God can be past, present, and future all at the same time. Membership in the Kingdom of God is dependent upon the quality of one's inner life. One becomes a member of the Kingdom when his heart is changed. Membership in the Kingdom of God was understood, at the best, in terms of keeping the covenant. It was finally realized, however, that a change of heart was essential in order to observe the covenant requirements of love and compassion. Thus Jeremiah 31:31-34, is a high mark of Old Testament thought and revelation:

31 "The time is coming," declares the LORD, 
"when I will make a new covenant 
with the house of Israel 
and with the house of Judah.

32 It will not be like the covenant 
I made with their forefathers 
when I took them by the hand 
to lead them out of Egypt, 
because they broke my covenant, 
though I was a husband to [a] them, [b]" 
declares the LORD.

33 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel 
after that time," declares the LORD. 
"I will put my law in their minds 
and write it on their hearts. 
I will be their God, 
and they will be my people.

34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, 
or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' 
because they will all know me,

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from the least of them to the greatest," 
declares the LORD. 
"For I will forgive their wickedness 
and will remember their sins no more."

The coming of Christ and the creation of the New Israel were the fulfillment of the 'New Covenant' prophesies. God sent the Holy Spirit to shed abroad His love in the human heart which is the evidence that one has entered into the New Covenant. Love then, is the ethic or standard for the new pattern of living. Christ's death and resurrection established the New Covenant and the Holy Spirit enables one to enter into the New Covenant. The standard for the New Covenant which God established through Jesus Christ is Love and because of this new standard, there is a greater emphasis upon right internal attitudes. The Sermon on the Mount which is the design for life in the Kingdom of God, demands pure motives as well as respectable acts. The standard for membership in God's Kingdom is the standard laid down in the Sermon on the Mount. The Holy Spirit enables us to reach this standard – a standard which is greater than the Old Testament Law.

CONCLUSION:

We have learned that Jesus of Nazareth was the long-awaited-for Messiah. Jesus' Messianic power was shown by his works (miracles) and words (parables). Jesus' assumption of both titles – 'Son of Man' and 'Suffering Servant' – drastically changed the concept of the Messiah from a military hero to a loving Savior. Jesus' power over death resulted in destruction of Satan's works and ultimate defeat of Satan's Kingdom.

The Kingdom of God has two related meanings – Rule and Realm. God's kingly Rule assumes the presence of kingly subjects, but the Rule exists independent of man's response to the Rule. Members of the Kingdom of God include those of all ages who have and who are and who will submit their will to God's will. Thus, as Barclay has pointed out, "To pray for the Kingdom of Heaven is to pray that we may submit our wills entirely to the will of God." (William Barclay's Matthew; pgs. 212, 213)

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“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”

"Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread"

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


CHAPTER 7 – OUTLINE

SUBJECT: Pray This Way – "Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread"

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6:9-13

TEXT: "Give us today bread/or the coming day" (Matthew 6:12)

INTRODUCTION:

"In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus teaches us to bring the whole of life to the whole of God, and to bring the whole of God to the whole of life." (William Barclay)

PROPOSITION:

We will look at both the meaning and the application of this petition.

I. Meaning of the Petition.

II. Application of the Petition

A. Man Is Dependent Upon God

1. God provides for the Present.

2. God provides for the Future.

B. God Is Dependent Upon Man

1. Man must work for provisions.

2. Man must supply provisions.

CONCLUSION:

If all people are to be provided with the basic necessities of life, we must remember that man is not only dependent upon God, but that God is also dependent upon man.

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CHAPTER 7

SUBJECT: Pray This Way – "Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread"

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6:9-13

TEXT: "Give us today bread for the coming day" (Matthew 6:12)

INTRODUCTION:

Thus far we have studied that part of the Lord's Prayer which focuses attention upon God. The first three petitions of the Lord's Prayer are:

"Our Father in heaven let your name be held holy: 
Let your Kingdom Come; 
Let your will be done, as in heaven, so upon earth."

These three petitions all contain something about God: (1) God's love, (2) God's family, (3) God's power, (4) God's holiness, (5) God's Kingdom, and (6) God's will.

The last three petitions of the Lord's Prayer are:

"Give us today bread for the coming day; 
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors; 
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One."

Says Barclay about the second part of the prayer: "The second part of the prayer, the part of it which deals with our needs and our necessities, is a marvelously wrought unity. It deals with the three essential needs of man, and the three spheres of time within which man moves. First, it asks for bread, thereby asking for that which is necessary for the maintenance of life, and thereby bringing the needs of the present to the throne of God. Second, it asks for forgiveness, thereby bringing the past into the presence of God, and of God's forgiving grace. Third, it asks for help in temptation, there by committing all the future into the hands of God. In these three brief petitions, we are taught to lay the present, the past, and the future, all before the footstool of the grace of God … But not only is this carefully wrought prayer a prayer which lays the whole of life in the presence of God; it is also a prayer which brings the whole of God to our lives. When we ask for bread to sustain our earthly lives, that request immediately directs our thoughts to God the Father, the Creator and the Sustainer of all life. When we ask for forgiveness, that request immediately directs our thoughts to God the Son, Jesus Christ our Saviour and Redeemer. When we ask for help for future temptation, that request immediately directs our thoughts to God the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Strengthener, the Illuminator, the Guide and the Guardian of our way … ln the Lord's Prayer Jesus teaches us to bring the whole of life to the whole of God, and to bring the whole of God to the whole of life." (Barclay's Matthew vol. 1; p. 199)

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PROPOSITION:

It is the first petition of the second half of The Lord's Prayer which we will look at and study today: "Give us today bread for the coming day." Let us first note the real meaning of the petition, and secondly, let us see what is necessary in order for this prayer to be answered. We will look at both the meaning and the application of this petition.

I. Meaning of the Petition

In Barclay's commentary on this passage, he has noted several explanations that have been given for this petition. "(1) The bread has been identified with the bread of the Lord's Supper. (2) The bread has been identified with the spiritual food of the Word of God. (3) The bread has been taken to stand for Jesus Himself." (Barclay's Matthew; p.21S) All of these explanations have their point of truth. However, it is not a spiritual explanation which is the best explanation for the meaning of this passage.

This petition is a simple petition that God will provide food for the coming day. The practical, obvious meaning is the best meaning. As Charles Allen once said "Why try to spiritualize this petition? After all, even a saint must eat. Even our very prayers would die on our lips if we did not have food to sustain our bodies. Jesus preached to the people, He healed the sick, He forgave their sins, and He also used his marvelous power to feed them real bread. Study our Lord's life. You will see He knew something about the everyday struggle to make ends' meet. He knew the meaning of the widow's two mites, what a disaster the loss a coin might be, wearing clothes which were patched. He knew about shopping in the grocery store to try to stretch a budget to feed the family. He talks about the housewife who must buy two birds which sold for a penny … In the gray dawn of the morning we see Him on the seashore, His disciples had been fishing all night. Now they were coming in, and the Lord was prepared for them. What did He prepare? A prayer meeting. They needed prayer. A majestic and overwhelming revelation of Himself? They had lost faith in Him. No, He prepared breakfast." (God's Psychiatry; p. 111)

To us affluent Americans, it might be harder for us to understand the urgency in this petition. We have so much but some have so little. It is probably only the man who has really been hungry who can truly understand this petition. Kagawa was such a man. A Japanese Christian man who had a great love for Japanese people, could sympathize with their hunger for he himself experienced hunger pangs. Writes one about Kagawa: "When Kagawa moved into the slums of Kobo he learned that hungry, cold and sick persons need religion in action as well as religion in words. As he shared his meager food allowance with three indigent friends he knew hunger. He, like the others, could not work nor think of much else than the gnawing pangs of hunger. Later, he said that it was then that he began to understand the Lord's Prayer, 'Give us this day our daily bread.' If you have food and know no hunger you can never understand the Lord's

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prayer." (Kagawa, Japanese Prophet; by J.M. Trout; pgs. 18, 19) Kagawa testifies to this when he writes: "The wolf of poverty unceasingly pursues me – I who am harassed by the devil of disease. All too well do I know the terribleness of the tug of this wolf's tusk. Hence I am over fleeing at breakneck speed. I cannot tell how far I will make good my escape, but, having somehow succeeded until now, it seems probable that in the future, too, flight will be possible. Come on, 0 Wolf of Poverty! Come on! I will keep just one step ahead in this furious flight … If God but grants me strength to keep just one step ahead in the flight, I shall continue my present course. When one is on one's mettle it is possible to keep very near to God. And since nearness to God is for me the greatest of all blessings, despite the frightfulness of this wolf, I will flee until I fall. As regards the far future, that is in God's hand. Here, blind as I am, though driven to bay by the wolf, with faith in God's guidance I will run through the dark to the uttermost of my strength. As long as I can make good my escape, my life will be victory-crowned." (Ibid; p. 23, 24)

Hunger is a very present reality everyday to many people in many countries. The traditional Chinese greeting is, "Have you eaten today?" Writes one person about the adverse conditions in Haiti: "In 90 percent of the houses the people suffer from some kind of disease, the most prevalent being tetanus and tuberculosis (also malaria). About 60 percent of the children die at an early age due to malnutrition. It is heartbreaking to see so many people thin, hungry, and dying of malnutrition, especially children going to bed crying with empty stomachs, without hope for the next day." Conditions in India are also very bad. Says Thomas Rayner, "I can hardly take a morsel of food without thinking, 'How can I eat my bread alone'? I know that 30 percent of India goes to bed every single night of the year without one grain of rice or other food in their stomachs."

When we consider the vast starvation in the world, it is tragic to know that in the United States it is now possible to buy low calorie diets for overweight dogs! How lacking in compassion we Americans are! As Franklin Field says, "Hardening of the heart ages people more quickly than hardening of the arteries." It may be that it is hard for us to understand the relevancy of this petition in the Lord's Prayer, simply because we are so fat with our affluence.

II. Application of the Petition.

What is necessary in order for this petition to be answered? When we pray 'Give us this day our daily bread', we should be reminded of two things: (a) Man is dependent upon God, (b) God is dependent upon man.

A. Man Is Dependent Upon God

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It is hard for us to realize that man is very dependent upon God for present and future provisions. In appreciating how this petition – 'Give us this day our daily bread' – is answered, we must realize that man is dependent upon God.

1. God provides for the Present.

It is common acknowledgement that we would never have bread if man had to depend upon his own technological achievement and scientific research. It is God alone who gives life to the seed, fertility to the ground, water for the soil, and sunshine for the plant. Man can analyze life, but only God can give life. Man can harvest the crop, but only God can grow the crop. Man is dependent upon God for his basic necessities. This petition – 'Give us this day our daily bread' – has been answered for us, is being answered for us, and will be answered for us, simply because the God of all life cares and provides for man.

"Back of the loaf is the snowy flour, 
And back of the flour the mill, 
And back of the mill is the wheat and the shower, 
And the sun and the Father's will."

(God's Psychiatry; p. 113)

If God can clothe the flowers of the field in garments of unparalleled beauty, and if He cares for the animals of all creation, how much more does he care for man, the crown of His Creation. God cares for the present needs of the animals; how much more does he care for and provide for the present needs of man. God has provided for the present needs of the world. As one said, "The problem of the world is not that there is not enough to go round; there is enough and to spare." (Barclay's Matthew; p. 220)

2. God provides for the Future.

When Jesus teaches us to pray for our 'daily' bread, He is teaching us to trust Him for the future. We are meant to live one day at a time and not to worry about the future. Said Jesus, "I tell you, therefore, do not worry about your life, about what you are to eat, or what you are to drink; and do not worry about your body, about what you are to wear … So, then, do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will worry about itself. Its own troubles are quite enough for the day." (Barclay's Matthew 6:25, Matthew 6:34) Says Barclay in comment to Jesus' teachings, "Jesus is not advocating a shiftless, thriftless, reckless, thoughtless,

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improvident, attitude to life; He is forbidding a care-worn, worried fear, which takes all the joy out of life." (Barclay's Matthew; p. 258)

God will provide for the future. We can rest assured in that. Many of our worries concerning the future are useless and needless. The story is told of a London doctor who "was paralyzed and bed-ridden, but almost outrageously cheerful, and his smile so brave and radiant that everyone forgot to be sorry for him. His children adored him, and when one of his boys was leaving the nest and starting forth upon life's adventure, Dr. Greatheart gave him good advice:" 'Johnny,' he said, 'the thing to do my lad, is to hold your own end up, and to do it like a gentleman, and please remember the biggest troubles you have got to face are those that never come.'" (Barclay's Matthew; p. 262)

We are to face the future by facing each day as it comes. God will provide for the day's needs. God gave Israel manna, one day at a time. The secret to facing the future is to trust God one day at a time.

If God cares for the animals of the field and air and supplies their daily needs, how much more will God supply the needs of our future. One Jewish Rabbi said, "I have never seen a stag as a dryer of figs, or a lion as a porter, or a fox as a merchant, yet they are all nourished without worry. If they, who are created to serve me, are nourished without worry, 'how much more ought I, who am created to serve my Maker, to be nourished without worry." (Barclay's Matthew; p. 260)

When we pray 'Give us this day our daily bread,' we are acknowledging our dependence upon God who provides for our present needs and also our future needs. However, in fully appreciating how this petition is answered, we must also realize that God is dependent upon man.

B. God Is Dependent Upon Man

1. Man must work for provisions.

It would be foolish to think that this prayer will be answered by man folding his arms and waiting for God to answer it. Prayer without human co-operation and work is useless and futile. God does not answer our prayers 'for' us, but God answers our prayers 'with' us. Divine power and human initiative join together to achieve results. God gives life to a seed, but it takes a man to plant the seed. God gives growth to the crop, but it takes a man to cultivate, irrigate, and to harvest the crop. Barclay cites a story to illustrate this. "There was a man who had an

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allotment; he had with great toil reclaimed a piece of ground, clearing away the stones, eradicating the rank growth of weeds enriching and feeding the ground, until it produced the loveliest flowers and vegetables. One evening he was showing a pious friend around his allotment. The pious friend said, 'It's wonderful what God can do with a bit of ground like this, isn't it?' 'Yes,' said the man who had put in such toil, 'but you should have seen this bit of ground when God had it to Himself!' God's bounty and man's toil must combine." (Barclay's Matthew, vol. 1; p. 220)

2. Man must supply provisions.

God has provided enough food for all of the world's inhabitants, but it takes men to distribute the food to the people of the world. Before this prayer can be answered for all people, there is need for more human cooperation. There is enough food for the whole world, but instead of it being distributed, much of it is being wasted. Says Barclay about this: "In America granaries overflow with corn; in Brazil they fire locomotives with blocks of surplus coffee. The problem is not the supply of life's essentials; it is the distribution of them. This prayer teaches us never to be selfish in our prayers. It is a prayer which we can help God to answer by giving to others who are less fortunate than we are. This prayer is not only a prayer that we may receive our daily bread; it is also a prayer that we may share our daily bread with others." (Barclay's Matthew; p. 220)

"If I have eaten my morsel alone" - 
The patriarch spoke in scorn; 
What would he think of the church, 
Were he shown Heathendom, hugh, forlorn, 
Godless, Christless, with soul unfed, 
While the Church's ailment is fullness of bread, 
Eating her morel alone?...

Ever of them who have largest dower 
Shall Heaven require the more; 
Ours is affluence, knowledge, power, 
Ocean from shore to shore; 
And East and West in our oars have said, 
"Give us; give us your living Bread"; 
Yet we eat our morsel alone.

"Freely, as ye have received, so give." 
He bade, who hath given us all;

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How shall the soul in us longer live, 
Deaf to their starving call, 
For Whom the Blood of the Lord was shed, 
And His Body broken to give them Bread, 
If we eat our morsel alone?"

(Alexander, Primate of Ireland; Compassion Quote; Taken)

Said A. J. Gordon, "I have long since ceased to pray, 'Lord Jesus, have compassion on a lost world'. I remember the day and hour when I seemed to hear the Lord rebuking me for making such a prayer. He seemed to say to me: 'I have had compassion upon a lost world. Now it is time for you to have compassion. I have given my heart. Now give your heart." Said Job, "If I have withheld the poor from their desire … or have eaten my morsel myself alone … lf I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering … then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone."

A humble Scottish woman had lived for many years on porridge that she might give to missions the cost of her comforts and luxuries. One day a friend gave her a coin to 'buy a chop,' he said. She looked at it awhile, and then said, 'I have got on very well on porridge so far, and I think I'll just stick to it.' And so the coin went for missions. The minister was telling this at a missionary breakfast, and a comfortable-looking woman got up and said, 'Well, I never have done without a chop for Christ's sake, and so I shall begin today to sacrifice by giving $1,000 to missions.' Others followed suit, and before that breakfast was over, $12,000 had been contributed to missions."

A noted philanthropist, John Howard, once said, "We must learn to give up our luxuries to supply the comforts of others, our comforts to supply their necessity, and even our necessities to supply their extremities."

God wants all people of every country to have bread and He has provided enough bread to feed all mouths in the world. It is up to us to distribute that bread. How can we distribute that bread? By giving money to missions.

CONCLUSION:

This petition – 'Give us this day our daily bread' – is a petition that must not be merely spiritualized. It is a simple request that God will provide the basic necessities of life.

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If all people are to be provided with the basic necessities of life, we must remember that man is not only dependent upon God, but that God is also dependent upon man. This petition means that we are to distribute what we have received in order that the less fortunate will be provided with daily bread.

"Love is the bread that feeds the multitudes; 
Love is the healing of the hospitals; 
Love is the light that breaks through prison doors; 
Love knows not rich, nor poor, nor good nor bad..."

(George Edward Woodberry)

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Avoid ‘Drifting’ From Grace

Avoid ‘Drifting’ From Grace

Chapter One

Avoid 'Drifting' From Grace
The Perils Of The 'Drifting Life'! 17 Hold Fast 25
An Obedient And Simple Lifestyle 19 Lest We Forget – We Must Keep 'Pressing On'! 26
Spiritual 'Drowsiness' Or 'Alertness'? 21 Distractions 28
Do Not Neglect 'The Means Of Grace'! 23 Discussion Questions 30

Hebrews 2:1-4

The Perils Of The 'Drifting Life'!

Someone well said, "For everyone that definitely turns his back on Christ, there are hundreds who drift from Him. Life's ocean is full of currents, anyone of which will sweep us past the harbor – mostly even when we seem nearest to it, and carry us far out to sea." (The Way Into The Holiest; F.B. Meyer's pg. 24) Taking into consideration the Greek language of the New Testament, here is William Barclay's translation of Hebrews 2:1 "Therefore, we must the more eagerly anchor our lives to the things that we have been taught, lest the ship of life drift past the harbor and be wrecked."

This portion of scripture (Hebrews 2:1) definitely teaches that there is no such thing as 'automatic security' in the Christian life. There are "currents" in life – both externally in society and internally in man's soul – that oppose the progress of the Christian traveler, and which have the capability of causing spiritual shipwreck. In his letter to Timothy, Paul referred to two persons – one-time believers – who had failed to hold on to their faith in Christ and who had rejected the dictates of their conscience. These two persons – Hymenaeus and Alexander – had made "shipwreck" of their faith (1 Timothy 1:19-20).

Although the Scriptural portion which was our 'reading for today' does not itemize the various causes for spiritual drifting, we must scan the Scriptures and try to identify some of the main causes for such a dreadful reality – the reality of 'spiritual drifting'. During the next several days, we will look at some of those 'perils' which every earnest believer must guard against. These are serious causes of spiritual drifting.

First, procrastination because of busyness. How easy it is to become preoccupied with the concerns and the interests of time – family and friends and job and recreation – and soon lose our spiritual focus and begin to drift away from Christ and our relationship with Him! In His parable of the Four Soils, Jesus said the "thorny ground represents the hearts of people who listen to the Good News and receive it, but all too quickly the attractions of this world and the delights of wealth, and search for success and lure of nice things come in and crowd out God's message from their hearts, so that no crop is produced." (Mark 4:18-19, Living Bible) Like Martha, we can be so concerned to do a good job of serving others, that we don't take enough time to sit at the feet of Jesus to meditate and to deepen our communion with our Lord. Active church members who are rightly committed to being busy for their Lord in Christian service, must take time for regular contemplation and solitude and prayer and personal spiritual revival. On one occasion, Jesus said to His busy and over-worked disciples, "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place and rest awhile." Take time to pray, meditate, reflect, plan!

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"Blessed Christ, help me to take time to be holy, for the world rushes on. I want to spend much time in secret with You alone. By looking to You, dear Lord, like You I will become! Then, my friends in my conduct Your likeness will see!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "If my Outgo exceeds my Intake, then my Downfall will be my Upkeep!" If I am 'too busy' to pray much, then I am much 'too busy'!

– Ron Christian –

NOTES:

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1 Timothy 1:18-19; 1 Timothy 6:6-10

An Obedient And Simple Lifestyle

We saw yesterday that being too busy in one's daily life or even in one's Christian service, will cause one to drift away from the heart of God! Let us continue to look at other causes for 'spiritual drifting'. Second, ignoring the message of God because of disobedience. Whenever a believer fails to obey a command of God, his conscience become less sensitive and his spiritual ears less attuned to hear the voice of God. Such disobedience leads to an attitude of indifference to the Christian message. It is no wonder that disobedience, which is not openly confessed God, leads to drifting away from God and His wonderful salvation. Wrote Paul to Timothy, "Cling tightly to your faith in Christ and always keep your conscience clear, doing what you know is right. For some people have disobeyed their conscience and have deliberately done what they knew was wrong. It isn't surprising that soon they lost their faith in Christ after defying God like that." (1 Timothy 1:19, Living Bible) The author of Hebrews warns believers against the danger of disobedience. "Although God's promise still stands – his promise that all may enter his place of rest – we ought to tremble with fear because some of you may be on the verge of failing to get there after all For this wonderful news – the message that God wants to save us – has been given to us just as it was to those who lived in the time of Moses. But it didn't do them any good because they didn't believe it. They didn't mix it with faith… let us do our best to go into that place of rest, too, being careful not to disobey God as the children of Israel did, thus failing to get in." (Hebrews 4:1-2, Hebrews 4:11)

Third, some believers drift away from Christ and His wonderful salvation because of their lust for material wealth and "creature comforts". Paul warned against this trap! "For the love of money is the first step toward all kinds of sin. Some people have even turned away from God because of their love for it, and as a result have pierced themselves with many sorrows." (1 Timothy 6:10, Living Bible) One young Christian whom I knew, immediately following his dramatic conversion, was "on fire" for God, attending church regularly and witnessing boldly to his unsaved friends, and spending much time daily in prayer and Bible study. Then a financial crises hit him. Not knowing how he could possibly fulfill his pressing financial obligation, he accepted a 2nd job. This job involved him in driving a tourist van as many as a thousand miles each weekend. Of course, this second job kept him away from his wife and absent from Sunday services. At his own admission, he drifted away from his original life of spiritual zeal and active involvement in church and private devotions. Only after a dangerous year away from the Christian fellowship did he finally "wake up" and repent and restore himself to a close relationship with Christ. He dropped the second job and found the "fire of holy enthusiasm" as he again became a regular church attender.

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"Father, do not allow me to become so preoccupied with meeting a 'legitimate' financial obligation that I neglect the 'means of grace' and begin to spiritually drift. Help me to stay 'on fire' for Christ!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Godliness with contentment – and with a 'clear conscience' – brings 'great gain' to my life!

– Ron Christian –

NOTES:

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Romans 12:9-16

Spiritual 'Drowsiness' Or 'Alertness'?

We continue to look at the causes of spiritual drifting. Fourth, spiritual drowsiness because of a lack of alertness and zeal. We have all heard the common declaration: "Vigilance is the price of freedom!" Staying alert and active and zealous is the price of spiritual vitality! How easy it is to be lulled asleep by the routine activities of life, and find that we no longer have the mental alertness and spiritual zeal that we one time experienced. We take "for granted" the old-fashioned truths that are so familiar to us, and we no longer give heed to the warnings, and no longer give counsel to the exhortations, and no longer take daily delight in the promises of that ancient and one- time cherished message which we have long known! We have allowed ourselves to drift!

Tragically, with the passing of years, there is the fading of zeal and enthusiasm and freshness in the lives of too many believers. Seeking to live on the "spiritual capital" of the past, there is seldom any new discoveries of truth and seldom any new growth in the Christian life. Drifting can be so gradual and so slow, but it can become so destructive in our spiritual life. Like Peter, it is easy for us too to fall asleep when we should be praying. Said Jesus to his sleepy disciples in the 'Garden of Gethsemane', "Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit (of man) indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

As believers, we must not allow ourselves to drift away from the truth which we have received, because of what we consider to be over-familiarity with the message over a long period of time. We must not become lukewarm in our devotion to the Lord. We dare not lose our "first love" for the Lord and for the truth of His blessed Word (Bible). We must be "unflagging in spiritual zeal", serving the Lord enthusiastically, keeping our spiritual fervor, with heart full of devotion for the Kingdom business. We must "keep on fire" for Christ, never allowing the flames of spiritual fervor to burn out!

The author of Hebrews writes: "We are anxious that you (believers) keep right on loving others as long as life lasts, so that you will get your full reward. Then, knowing what lies ahead for you, you won't become bored with being a Christian, nor become spiritually dull and indifferent, but you will be anxious to follow the example of those who receive all that God has promised them because of their strong faith and patience." (Hebrews 6:11-12, Living Bible)

"Father, You are not only the 'changeless One' in your steadfast character of love, but you are also the 'progressive One' in your innovative works of creativity. I want both to 'rest' in your character, and to 'stand on tiptoe' with anticipation of your unfolding 'surprises'!"

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AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Because God is the 'Big Creator', I will be a 'small creator'!

– Ron Christian –

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Hebrews 10:19-25

Do Not Neglect 'The Means Of Grace'!

The fifth cause of spiritual drifting is this: neglect of the "means of grace" because of a lack of personal discipline. "It is so easy – and much more pleasant – to drift. Just to lie back, and renounce effort, and let yourself go whither the waters will, as they break musically on the sides of the rocking boat. But, ah, how ineffable the remorse, how disastrous the result!" (The Way Into The Holiest; F. B. Meyers pg. 25) Someone half jokingly said, "I am as lazy as I dare to be!" A lack of discipline, taking the "path of least resistance", giving counsel to one's fears, and giving in to one's 'flesh' – these are the ways that many drift perilously to their destruction in the spiritual life! Paul wrote about the importance of rugged personal discipline and self-control: "I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I fight to win. I'm not just shadow boxing or playing around. Like an athlete I punish my body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should, not what it wants to. Otherwise I fear that after enlisting others for the race, I myself might be declared unfit and ordered to stand aside." (1 Corinthians 9:25, Living Bible) Paul made it very clear (as every athlete knows) that "to win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best." (1 Corinthians 9:25, Living Bible)

Serious Bible reading and study is one 'means of grace' which too many believers neglect. Admittedly, "the Bible isn't all easy to understand. Picking bits at random can be dangerous. Only serious, reverent and prayerful study secures its treasures. This takes time – and we have crowded our lives with other things. So let us resolve to know this book better, to learn to live in it, to give time to it daily, to wait on the Holy Spirit before we turn a page, to let God apply it to our soul." (Daily Readings; pg. 52, William Sangster)

Regular communion with God in prayer is another 'means of grace'. Exhorts the author of Hebrews: "Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith." (10:22) "Let us come boldly to the very throne and stay there to receive his mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need." (4:16) He who regularly draws near to God in daily prayer, cannot at the same time be spiritually drifting away.

A third 'means of grace' is Christian fellowship. Exhorts the author of Hebrews: "Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near." (10:25) It is difficult, if not impossible, to stay close to God and at the same time be apart for long periods of time from God's people (church). One good way to help guard yourself against the peril of the drifting life, is to remain in warm fellowship with God's people.

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"Father, You are the 'source' of life, and I am the 'recipient' of life, but I need 'channels' by which your life reaches me. Thank you for your 'channels' – the Bible, Prayer, Christian Fellowship, Holy Communion! Help me to open my life to these 'channels'!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: My greatest 'safeguard' against spiritual drifting is my surrendered heart which is constantly open to the cleansing blood of Jesus!

– Ron Christian –

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2 Timothy 1:1-18

Hold Fast

We live in an impatient world. We are a nation of clock watchers. If you don't believe me, listen for the beepers on Sunday mornings when the sermon goes into overtime. It's no wonder this dilemma looms on the horizon of modern life when we consider the hundreds of time choices people must make every day. The average attention span has shrunk from twenty minutes to a seven minute maximum. Distractions are everywhere. There are volumes of information to absorb daily and innumerable activities to engage in. It's so easy to leave God out of our lives.

We always assume our own generation is the busiest of all time, but I wonder as I read the letters of the Apostle Paul if he felt the same pressure points of life. He exhorted Christians to "hold fast" as if the tug of the world might wrench the faith clean out of their hearts. He encouraged Timothy to "hold fast" to sound words of faith and love. (2 Timothy 1:13) He reminded the Corinthians to "stand fast" in their faith and be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13) He cautioned the Galatians to "stand fast" in the liberty wherein Christ had made them free and not to be entangled again in the yoke of bondage. (Galatians 5:1) Paul repeated his exhortation in the same or synonymous words on many other occasions in his letters.

As I read the correspondence of Paul, it's obvious that temptations lurked behind every street corner and shouted from every mountain. Our culture today is different, but the facts penned by an apostle in a Roman prison have not changed. We still need to "hold fast" in the profession of our faith. We still need to clear personal time in our busy schedules to draw near to God. We still need to hold on to scriptural truth when false ideologies proliferate. We still need the support of Christian fellowship. We still need the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome temptation. We still need the courage and grace of The Living Christ so that we, like Paul, might keep the faith, finish the course, and receive the prize. "Hold on" and "hold fast" until you clear the finish line.

"Dear God, hold on to me as I hold on to faith. Let me cross the finish line with you."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: With heaven as my goal and Christ as my guide, victory is assured.

– Loretta Jenkins –

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Deuteronomy 4:1-9

Lest We Forget – We Must Keep 'Pressing On'!

Before my mother's death, she developed Alzheimer's disease. It was very sad and difficult for me since we lived so far away and we could not visit with her often. I called her every week but, as time passed, she gradually became worse and did not know me when I called. Sometimes when we did get to visit her in person, she would have brief times of remembrance and then another time would have little or no remembrance. Sometimes she would remember times of long ago, but not the present times. It was always good to be with her, but sometimes heartbreaking. It sometimes brought deep sadness and a feeling of great loss to me when I realized that there were things we would never be able to share again together.

During her long life, my mother sang hymns while going about her daily tasks, and she would also quote scriptures to us, her loved ones. In spite of her debilitating disease, these are the things she seemed to have retained in her mind. When I and my daughters and my sister visited her on one occasion, we all went to the nursing home chapel to sing. When we tried to remember the words to some of the hymns, my mom would remember them all and would 'fill in the gaps' for us!

I am reminded of the Scripture in Psalms 110:11 which says: "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee!" God's promise is true! He will never leave us or forsake us! Even though the disease had taken my mother's memory, her knowledge of the Lord and His words were recorded in her mind, bringing her comfort and joy even as she was struggling with her 'handicap'.

It is painful, indeed, when a loved one can no longer recognize you and has forgotten all the times you shared together throughout your whole life. I cannot help but realize how God must feel when we needlessly forget Him and the great sacrifice He paid on Calvary for us! My mother could not control her 'forgetfulness' (because of a physical disease), but you and I have no 'excuse' if we forget Christ and His Word! I'm sure He feels pain and loneliness when His dear children do not communicate with Him or share their concerns with Him in loving fellowship.

My daughter gave my husband and me a picture of a team of draft horses pulling a sleigh with a heavy load of hay in a fierce snow storm. The caption reads: "When the going gets tough; the tough get going." Tough times usually do not last, but tough people do. Sometimes when pushed to our limits we can go beyond what we thought ourselves capable of. Don't give up! Keep pressing on! Don't forget the Lord! Stay on course and work hard towards your goals! Give it your undivided attention!

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"Father, keep me mindful of the goals you would have me reach for in the center of your perfect will."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will not falter as long as I accept my Father's guidance!

– Joyce Calkins –

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1 Samuel 5:10-23; John 10:27-29

Distractions

Recently, we attended the sheep dog trials at the Rapid City stock show. The dogs were mostly border collies and well-trained. The trainers stood alongside their dog in a marked circle at one end of the arena, while the sheep were at the opposite end in pens. There was an obstacle course the dogs were to follow and herd the sheep into another pen. The trainer, when ready, would signal the keeper of the sheep and the gate would be opened to release them into the arena. At that moment the command to the dog sent him to the far end and he began very carefully to move the sheep around the barrels in the order they were to go in accordance with the commands from his trainer, which was by voice or sometimes by a whistle.

One dog in particular was easily distracted and could not seem to keep his focus on the task at hand. He did not listen closely and did not follow the command from the trainer so eventually was disqualified as he slipped under a gate to the outside. It was very obvious his goal was not to please his master and that his interest was so divided that he went in search of other things, much to the disappointment of his master.

Another of the dogs was prone to become anxious and attacked the sheep, which was against the rules. The sheep could be very obstinate, and at times would turn to face the dog and stamp their hooves in defiance. It reminded me of some small children who sometimes defy authority. Most of the time if one would go into the chutes and pens, the rest would follow. Sometimes people are easily led and then there are those who refuse to be driven. Sometimes the sheep would split up and go in different directions and a goal can be defeated because of the division among them.

It is no wonder the Lord calls us the sheep of his pasture! We can sometimes be obstinate like the sheep and also disobedient like the dogs. Yet God is so patient! Sometimes we get our eyes off the Shepherd and we are drawn away from His goal for us, by the distractions of the world. We need to always be aware of the enemy nipping at our heels and be able to turn and face him head on and stamp our feet in resistance. James 4:7 tells us to "Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Submit yourselves therefore to God!" As the dogs, we need to always be listening for the Master's voice and be ready to obey instantly. When we grow accustomed to listening carefully to our Master, we will easily recognize the commands He gives.

In Deuteronomy 11:26-28 Moses addressed the people saying, "Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; a blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day, and a curse if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day to go

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after other gods, which ye have not known." I believe this applies to us yet today.

"Lord, help me to be aware of your voice whenever You speak, and help me to keep my eyes upon You so that the things of this earth will grow dim in the light of Your glory and grace."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Prosperity is contingent on obedience.

– Joyce Calkins –

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Discussion Questions

  1. Tell if you believe the following statements describe a realistic (though tragically 'sad') understanding of the 'perils' of living in a 'Fallen World': "For everyone that definitely turns his back on Christ, there are hundreds who drift from Him. Life's ocean is full of currents, anyone of which will sweep us past the harbor – mostly even when we seem nearest to it, and carry us far out to sea."

  2. What are some of the 'truths' that you have been taught (from the Bible) which provide an 'anchor' for your life, to help you to avoid making spiritual 'shipwreck' of your life? (Note Hebrews 2:1)

  3. According to 1 Timothy 1:19, what must a Christian do to avoid 'spiritual shipwreck' in his life?

  4. Considering Jesus' Parable of the Soils (Mark 4:3-20), check which of the following has been the 'greatest threat' to the growth of the 'good seed' in your Christian life:

    • __ a. Cares (worries) of life.
    • __ b. Delights of wealth.
    • __ c. Search for success.
    • __ d. Pleasures of life.
  5. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Active church members who are rightly committed to being busy for their Lord in Christian service, must take time for regular contemplation and solitude and prayer and personal spiritual revival."

  6. Give your interpretation and application of the following statement: "If my Outgo exceeds my Intake, then my Downfall will be my Upkeep!"

  7. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "If I am 'too busy' to pray much, then I am much 'too busy'!"

  8. According to Hebrews 4:1-2, and Hebrews 4:11, what sad consequence is incurred by the person who fails to 'mix' volitional commitment (faith and belief) to his intellectual knowledge of the truth of God's Word?

  9. According to 1 Timothy 6:10, what is the 'first step toward all kinds of sin'?

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  10. From your own personal experience, tell what it means for a believer to stay 'alert' and 'active' and 'zealous' in order that spiritual vitality might be maintained.

  11. Why is it unwise (and even 'spiritually 'disastrous') for a believer to attempt to live on the "spiritual capital" of his past, rather than to use his mind to make 'new discoveries' of truth?

  12. As an earnest believer, what can you regularly (daily) do to avoid losing your 'first love' and falling into a state of 'spiritual lukewarmness'? Tell what you personally have done, throughout the years of your 'spiritual journey', to "keep on fire" for Christ, never allowing the flames of spiritual fervor to burn out. (Note Hebrews 6:11-12, Living Bible)

  13. Because God is 'progressive' and 'innovative' and 'creative', what can you as a 'God-follower' expect yourself increasingly to become, the more you become like God?

  14. Tell to what extent you agree or disagree with the following statement: "A lack of discipline, taking the 'path of least resistance', giving counsel to one's fears, and giving in to one's flesh – these are the ways that many drift perilously to their destruction in the spiritual life." (Note 1 Corinthians 9:25-27)

  15. Why is serious (systematic and regular) Bible reading and study such an important means by which Christians 'grow in grace'?

  16. Tell why you agree (or disagree) that he/she who regularly draws near to God in daily prayer, cannot at the same time be spiritually drifting away. (Note Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 10:22

  17. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "It is difficult, if not impossible, to stay close to God and at the same time be apart for long periods of time from God's people (Church)."

  18. Tell with what degree of 'conviction' you agree with the following statement: "My greatest 'safeguard' against spiritual drifting is my surrendered heart which is constantly open to the cleansing blood of Jesus."

  19. Why do you think that the Apostle Paul often exhorted believers to "hold fast"? (Note 2 Timothy 1:13; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Galatians 5:1)

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  20. Why is it important, if you intend to reach your ultimate goal of entering the 'glories of heaven', for you often to 'recall' the ancient truths of God's Word? (Note Psalms 110:11)

  21. According to John 10:27, what characterizes the 'true sheep' of Christ's pastures who enjoy the protection and security of the Good Shepherd (John 10:28-29)?

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Introduction Reaching Out in Holy Love

Introduction to Reaching Out In Holy Love

Introduction To Book Eleven – Service

By

Ron Christian, Compiler

Listen to what Jerry Cook says about Christianity. "Christianity that doesn't walk around in shoes isn't worth much. It has to walk in shoes, all kind of shoes – sandals, boots, high heels, and suedes. It has to walk. If we only teach Christians how to think Christianity and how to feel it, but not how to walk it, we are failing." (Love, Acceptance, and Forgiveness; Jerry Cook; pg. 42) "Ask these four questions of any work: Did God initiate it? Is it redemptive? Does it exist for God's glory? Does it exalt Jesus? If you can readily answer 'yes' to all questions, then you may be assured that it is a good work indeed" (God's Miraculous Plan of Economy, Jack Taylor, pg. 82)

The Importance Of Good Works

  1. Without Good Works, life is unbalanced. Sensitive Christians are not "Either – Or" persons, but "Both – And" persons.

    EMOTIONS>HEART>UPWARD IN PRAYER>WORSHIP>FAITH

    (Spirit gives assurance to heart.)

    INTELLECT>HEAD>INWARD IN THINKING>STUDY>INQUIRY

    (Spirit gives answers to the mind.)

    WILL>HAND>OUTWARD IN SERVICE>WITNESSING>WORKS

    (Spirit gives power to the will.)

    Notes William Barclay: "In the well proportioned life there must be both prayer and effort. Again it is tempting to divide men into two classes – the saints who spend life secluded on their knees in constant devotion, and the toilers who labor in the dust and the heat of the day. But it will not do. It is said that Martin Luther was close friends with another monk. The other monk was as fully persuaded of the necessity of the Reformation as Luther was. So they made an arrangement. Luther would go down into the world and fight the battle there, the other monk would remain in his cell praying all the time for the success of Luther's labors. But one night the monk had a dream. In it he saw a single reaper engaged on the impossible task of reaping an immense field unaided and alone. The lonely reaper turned his head and the monk saw his face, and it was the face of Martin Luther, and he knew that he must leave his cell and leave his prayers and go to help. It is, of course, true that there are some who, because of age or bodily weakness, can do nothing other than pray, and their prayers are indeed a strength and a support. But if any normal person thinks that prayer can be a substitute for effort, then his prayers are merely a way of escape. Prayer

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    and effort must go hand in hand." (Daily Study Bible; William Barclay; James: pg. 91)

  2. Good Works are the worthy results of genuine repentance.

    "First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds." (Acts 26: 20)

  3. Good Works are the result of a genuine saving faith.

    "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance or us to do." (Ephesians 2:10)

    "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:58)

    "In the same way, faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say. 'You have faith; I have deeds.' You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone." (James 2:17, James 2:18, James 2:24.)

    The proper results of an emotional and intellectual response to God's love is a strong volitional commitment to God's will. Jesus Christ gave Himself to us "to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds." (Titus 2:14, RSV)

    Said John Wesley: "Works do not give life to faith, but faith begets works, and then is perfected by them." Notes Bishop Leslie Ray Marston concerning Wesley's understanding of the proper relationship between faith and works: "Wesley made much of the social direction of the Christian religion, insisting that good works must be the fruit of a living faith and a condition of one's continuing in saving relationship to God, but he protested forcefully against the teaching that works can yield merit for one's salvation." (From Age To Age A Living Witness; Leslie Ray Marston; pg. 108)

    Summarizes William Barclay: "The fact is that no man can be saved by works: but equally no man can be saved without producing works." (Daily Study Bible; William Barclay; pg. 87)

    "We are not saved By deeds; we are saved FOR deeds; these are the twin truths of the Christian life." (William Barclay)

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    "No man will ever be moved to action without faith; and no man's faith is real until it moves him to action." (Ibid; pg. 92)

    Good Words do not save us, but good works are pleasing to God for they are expressions of love, loyalty, and obedience to God.

  4. Good Works are a witness to an unbelieving world.

    Notes Donald Bastian, "The verbal witness to Jesus Christ, whether spontaneous or carefully organized, goes poorly unless in the congregation there is an overflow of good works. It goes no better where good works have become a substitute for verbal witness. But where good works are supplemental to the spoken witness, the world gets a multidimensional message and the work of the Lord prospers." (Adventures In Belonging; pg. 82)

  5. Works are the result of a response of obedience to the Master.

    "What do you think? There was a man who had two SONS. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.' 'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted? 'The first,' they answered. Jesus said, 'I will tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him." (Matthew 21:28-31)

  6. Good Works is the natural evidence of a life committed to love.

    It is possible to serve another without loving the one you are serving (example of slavery), but it is not possible to love one without seeking to serve that one in some way.

    If we truly love the Master, we will seek to do those things which bring pleasure to the Master. What brings pleasure to our Master? "There is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." (Luke 15:7) Winning sinners to Christ brings great joy to the Master! Jesus said, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." (Matthew 9:37-38)

    Service is the natural outworking of love. A heart that is filled with love results in life that is filled with good deeds. A loving heart is what moves the hands to

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    action. Service that is motivated by love is service that is done in an uncalculating way, service that is done without watching the clock and without keeping track of the cost.

  7. One's eternal salvation is inseparably connected with Good Works.

    One's eternal salvation is inseparably connected with Good Works. Eternal life is gained, not just by believing, but also by doing. Intellectual faith alone is not sufficient for salvation. There must be a heart and life commitment to Christ, evidenced by a life of good works. "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder." (James 2:19, NIV)

    A life of compassion is the evidence that one is truly a believer.

    "Then he will say to those on his left. 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger and you did not invite me in. I needed clothes and you did not clothe me. I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison and did not help you?' He will reply, 'I tell you the truth whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." (Matthew 25: 41-46) "The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done." (Revelations 20:13)

  8. The Works of believers, performed in life, will be judged in eternity.

    Some people falsely reason that if they are saved by grace alone, then they can relax their own efforts in the Christian life. Such thinking is dangerous, however. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says that "We (Christians) must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."

    "What purpose, then, will the final judgment serve in the case of such believers? In the words of Paul, it will be 'the judgment seat of Christ', and the term indicates something of its purpose for believers. On that occasion, the Savior will measure the quality of the life His followers have lived. Though their salvation is by faith, authentic faith reflects itself in works, and those works must be judged." (The Mature Church Member; Donald Bastian, 99)

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    The quality of each believer's works will be tested in eternity and rewards for one's works will be given, according to one's faithfulness. (Note 1 Corinthians 3:10-15)

    "There is a story of a woman who in this world had been used to every luxury and to all respect. She died, and when she arrived in heaven an angel was sent to conduct her to her house. They passed many a lovely mansion and the woman thought that each one, as they came to it, must be the one allotted to her. When they had passed through the main streets of heaven they came to the suburbs and the outskirts where the houses were much smaller; and on the very fringe they came to a house which was little more than a hut. 'That is your house,' said the conducting angel. 'What,' said the woman, 'that! I cannot live in that.' 'I am sorry' said the angel,' but that is all that we could build for you with the materials you sent up.'" (Daily Study Bible; William Barclay; Luke; pgs. 189, 190)

    One's capacity to enjoy heaven will be largely determined by the degree of one's faithfulness in labor for the Lord on earth. Notes Leslie Ray Marston, "Man is called not merely to save his soul and insure an eternal destiny in Heaven, but to devote his energies, his talents, all his resources in laying the foundation of his eternity… We acquire here spiritual wrinkles that eternity itself can never iron out. And thus the Christian's philosophy gives significance to this life, for the work we begin here will be consummated there. This life then becomes important! More than a dressing room for eternity, it is a laboratory of the Eternal." (From Chaos to Character; pg. 164)

Hindrances To Good Works

A Christian should be a man both with a heavenly vision and an earthly concern, a man who is concerned both in personal salvation and in social redemption. Many who are very concerned about heaven seem to be very complacent about earthly suffering. Why is this so? Several reasons may be given for this perversion.

  1. Evangelical Christianity has overly reacted to so-called Liberal Christianity which has preached a social gospel with minimum concern about the hereafter. In reacting against the social utopias which the Liberals have sought to build upon earth through human reformation and human progress, Evangelicals have sought to re-emphasize regeneration and the spiritual Kingdom of God, with a consequent de-emphasis upon social problems.

  2. Evangelicals have emphasized the importance of escaping "the corruption that is in the world through lust," (2 Peter 1:4) and thus, well-meaning Christians have separated themselves from everything that might pollute

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    their pure and spotless lives. Does not the Scripture say "Come out from among them and be ye separate and I will receive you, saith the Lord"? (2 Corinthians 6:17) Such a Christian has forgotten, that while he is not to be "of" the world he is to be "in" the world. (John 17:15) In other words, a Christian is to separate himself from the world of sinful practices, but he is not to remove himself from the world of sinful men. Jesus was a man of heavenly vision, but he was also a friend of publicans, harlots, and sinners of all kinds. The Christian must be both a man of heavenly vision and a man of earthly concern.

  3. There are well-meaning Christians who have been taught that one of the "signs of the last times" is widespread lawlessness, social disorder, and intensified evil. Such Christians someway feel that this is an inevitability, and that, therefore, Christians can do nothing to bring about peace and order and a semblance of righteousness to society. Thus, any motivation for social reform is undercut, and Christians tend to "run to the hills" to escape "the destruction of Sodom." If society "in the last times" is inevitably going to "go to the dogs", why exert so much effort in trying to redeem society? Why perform "good works" if the world is under God's judgment and will be destroyed anyway?

The Importance Of Team Cooperation

It is important that believers individually perform good works, but it is also important that believers cooperate together in performing good works corporately. Believers are to develop individual ministries, but those ministries are to be a part of the total corporate ministry of the church. The context for the performance of good works is the church which is defined as a 'Force' of God's people working together to realize God's redemptive purposes in His world.

  1. Because the nature of the church (likened unto a 'Body) demands team cooperation.

    Wrote the apostle Paul: "Yes, the body has many parts, not just one part. If the foot says, 'I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand', that does not make it any less a part of the body. And what would you think if you heard an ear say 'I am not part of the body because I am only an ear, and not an eye'? Would that make it any less a part of the body? Suppose the whole body were an eye – then how would you hear? Or if your whole body were just one big ear, how could you smell anything? But that isn't the way God has made us. He has made many parts for our bodies and has put each part just where he wants it. What a strange thing a body would be if it had only one part! So he has made many parts, but still there is only one body." (1 Corinthians 12:14-20, Living Bible)

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    No one body part can do the work of another body part; each needs the other body parts, and all the body parts are under the direction of the 'Head' who is Christ.

  2. Because the 'Great Commission' (Matthew 28:19-20) can only be fulfilled as each believer is doing his part. Jesus gave this command to all believers: "Go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this – that I am with you always, even to the end of the world." (Matthew 28:19-20, Living Bible)

Someone said, "Prayer works; prayer is work; prayer leads to work."

There are no shortcuts for true success in God's Kingdom. Lots of work! God does not do the work FOR us; He does the work WITH us. We are co-laborers with God. If we trust God, He will crown our efforts with success, but there is no success in the Lord's Church without supreme effort.

What is the answer to success within the Church? Every believer working hard as if everything depended upon his faithfulness in labors, and then every believer trusting God as if everything depended alone upon God! There is no magical or mystical 'secret to success' in God's Kingdom. Faith in God and in His power is no substitute for one's own hard work. Unless the Lord builds the church, those who labor, labor in vain – true! But it is also true to say that unless believers labor to build the church, the church will not be built, regardless of the infinite power of God. It is the coupling of the believer's earnest labors and the Holy Spirit mighty power that works 'miracles' of church growth!

Somebody Else

There's a clever young gal named Somebody Else. 
There is nothing this lady can't do. 
She's busy from morning 'till way late at night, 
Just substituting for you.

You're asked to do this, or asked to do that, 
And what is your ready reply? 
Get Somebody Else, Madam Chairman, 
She'll do it much better than I.

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There's so much to be done in our services. 
So much, and the workers are few. 
And Somebody Else is getting tired and worn. 
Just substituting for you.

'Desire' and 'willingness' – not 'great talent' – is all that is necessary to be greatly used in God's service. It is not a question of 'capability', but a question of 'availability'. Not "Can You?" but "Will You?" As the song says: "Our talents may be few, these may be small, but unto Him is due our best, our all!"

"I am only one but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can do."

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Work, While It Is Day

Work, for the night is coming, 
Work through the morning hours; 
Work, while the dew is sparking, 
Work 'mid springing flowers; 
Work, when the day grows brighter, 
Work in the glowing sun; 
Work, for the night is coming, 
When man's work is done.

Work, for the night is coming, 
Work through the sunny noon; 
Fill brightest hours with labor, 
Rest comes sure and soon. 
Give every flying minute 
Something to keep in store; 
Work, for the night is coming, 
When man works no more.

Work, for the night is coming, 
Under the sunset skies; 
While their bright tints are glowing, 
Work, for the daylight flies, 
Work till the last beam fadeth, 
Fadeth to shine no more; 
Work while the night is darkening, 
When man's work is o'er.

Sidney Dyer

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