Friday, February 29, 2008

Character of the Son

The Love of God – Character of the Son

… and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2)

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)



(Taken from Day & Night, 2006)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Character of God the Father

The Love of God – Character of God the Father

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8)

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:16)


Based on the twice stated, “God is love,” we have

1. a negative statement: “whoever does not love does not know God

and

2. a positive statement: “whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.”


(Taken from Day & Night, 2006)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Easiest Way to Disobey

“’Go near and listen to all that the LORD our God says. Then tell us whatever the LORD our God tells you. We will listen and obey.’ The LORD heard you when you spoke to me and the LORD said to me, ‘I have heard what this people said to you. Everything they said was good. Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!’” Deuteronomy 5:27-29 (NIV)

They promised to obey, but did not obey.

The easiest way to disobey is to refuse to listen. If we stay ignorant of God’s word then we do not feel responsible for our sins. However, that does not fly with God anymore than explaining to the speed cop that we did not see the speed limit sign.

Here is what God says in Leviticus 5:17 and in 1 Corinthians 4:4:

“If a person sins and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands, even though he does not know it, he is guilty and will be held responsible.” Leviticus 5:17 (NIV)

“My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” 1 Corinthians 4:4 (NIV)

Sin is not determined by the conscience if the conscience standard is less than the absolute standard. The word of God is senior to the conscience. However, when the conscience is more strict than the absolute standard, then the conscience does determine sin.

“As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean.” Romans 14:14 (NIV)

“But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.” Romans 14:23 (NIV)


(Taken from Day & Night, 2004)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Desires and Promises

There are things in this life that we desire very much. They are legitimate desires. They are more than desires on our part; they are promises on God’s part. Desires or promises, they are listed in a beautiful way in Isaiah 58:11,

“And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your desire with good things, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.”

There is a hitch to this promise of continual guidance and spiritual refreshment. It is an “iffy” promise. Here are the “ifs”.

“IF you take away from the midst of you the yoke (Slavery), the pointing of the finger (accusation), and speaking wickedness (vanity KJV, boasting), and IF you put yourself out for the hungry, and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday” (verses 9, 10).

Earlier in the chapter we find that God will answer when we call, that our righteousness will go before us, His glory will come behind us and…

“Your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily” (verse 8).

How could we ask for more? It is a promise of exuberant life, some of that more abundance Jesus promised, light that breaks and health that springs! What are the conditions?

• Setting men free from evil
• Removing their heavy burdens
• Delivering men from oppression
• Feeding the hungry from own supply
• Bringing the poor and afflicted to our own house
• Clothing the naked
• Taking care of our own family
-verses 6 and 7

The promises are spiritual and physical but so are the conditions. If you are interested in the conditions that are not acceptable they are listed in verses 1-5.


(Taken from Day & Night, 2005)

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Price for Peace by C. Stephen David

Below is an article from a co-laborer in India. He has had “How to Be Free From Bitterness” translated into Telugu and is working on an English edition that fits into Indian English and idiom. His name is C. Stephen David.

THE PRICE FOR PEACE

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy” (Hebrews 12:14).

No one is immune from conflicts in relationships. Virtually all of us know the hurt that often causes intense pain within interpersonal relationships. Needless to say, living in unity with others is not an easy issue. Remember, there is a price to be paid to live at peace with others. Healthy relationships are not built automatically but with great effort.

The Lord once taught me a wonderful lesson regarding the price I have to pay for preserving peace in relationships. When my wife was pregnant with our first child, one day, I hurriedly got on the bed to sleep. Before going further, I must say that my wife is known for cleanliness. She usually surprises the guests with her neatest house. Because my wife was carrying the child, she could not do much of the house work as she was physically weak. That was the time I was disciplined to become a family man. So when I got on the bed, my wife requested me to do a small task. She politely told me to wash the vessels before I go to sleep (usually, in India, to wash the dishes is below the dignity of a man J).

Now it was winter season and I was feeling cold and a bit lazy to get up. I told her I will wash the dishes the next morning. She however insisted to wash before going to sleep because to leave the vessels unwashed throughout the night would create a stench in the kitchen. I argued with her that I will wash in the morning and right away went to sleep. The next day I got up to do the house work. As I was washing the vessels, the Lord brought a Scripture to my mind and it was so enlightening.

The lesson I learned that day was an unforgettable experience. The Lord reminded of the Scripture in Hebrews 12:14, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men.” Last night I went to sleep without having peace with my wife. Had I taken little effort to get up to wash the vessels I could have possessed great peace with her and prayed together before going to sleep. Paul said to the Roman saints, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Rom. 14:19).

Notice, it is not written, “Desire to live at peace with others.” There are many who desire and talk a lot about living at peace and in unity without making any effort. I learned that in living a Christian life it takes effort, pain and denial of self in order to be at peace with others. Forgiveness, patience, generosity, humility and grace signifies denial of self in our love for others. In the original Greek, “make every effort”, could also mean, "to seek after eagerly; earnestly endeavor to acquire; by implication, to suffer persecution.”

To be at peace with others requires earnest pursuance and even a will to suffer. To get into conflict is very easy, but to live at peace is extremely difficult. Relationships crumble because of casual and flippant attitude. When we take relationships seriously and make every effort to live at peace with everyone, there is scope for healthy and prosperous relationships. To the saints in Ephesus, Paul as well exhorted, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (4:3).

Genuine relationships are built on the pathway of sacrifice. We have to pay the price to cultivate good relationships. God desired our relationship so much that He restored us back at the cost of laying His life for us on the Cross. Just think, if it cost God His life to bring us back at peace with Him, how then do we expect ourselves to be at peace with others without taking pains? If we sit coolly and expect things to work out all well, that’s not possible. But those who walk in the footsteps of our Lord will see great fruit in their relationship with others. Like God, they value relationships and therefore make every effort to be at peace with others. Note this fact—No pain, No peace.


(Taken from Day & Night, 2005)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Glory in Nothing but the Cross

Paul gave this warning, and we would like to repeat it.

“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (II Corinthians 11:3).

In the Lord’s message to the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:4), He says, “But I have this against you that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”

Both of these statements say that there is a “first love”—“a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” that must not be abandoned or left behind.

This first love was a responsive love.

“We love, because He first loved us” (I John 4:19).

His love for us meant His death upon the Cross for our sins. His resurrection meant our justification in the sight of God, God’s seal of approval on the death of His Son as providing salvation from sin and eternal life to all who will believe. We must never cease loving Him for His mercy and love toward us. Therefore, we must never cease to dwell on His love shown at the Cross, for it is this that keeps our love for Him warm and alive.

There are many ways to be led astray, and we all know the immoral ways. There are a few ways that are cunning and deceitful and do not seem immoral. They may seem legitimate because they are taught in Scripture: promises of a deeper spiritual life centering on the gifts of the Spirit, the need of separation from the world, a special doctrine. These legitimate teachings must always be tested by the gospel, never divorced from the gospel.

Many false cults are based on Scriptural tangents, overemphasis of one truth to the exclusion of others. Much of the New Testament is written to counteract false emphases, e.g. the Thessalonian letters were written in part to keep the believers from letting the belief in the return of Christ keep them from daily work. The Colossian letter was written to combat Gnosticism: people claiming “deeper knowledge” but, as Paul wrote in Colossians 2:19, “not holding fast to the Head.” It was to the very gifted church at Corinth that Paul had to write his most devastating comment, “For you are still of the flesh” (I Corinthians 2:3).

Christians do not like to believe they can be led astray. It is a sobering fact that Satan opposes the believer not only as a “roaring lion” (I Peter 5:8) but also as an “angel of light” (II Corinthians 11:14). In this same chapter, Paul warns:

“For if someone comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough” (II Corinthians 11:4).

And even more strongly in Galatians 1:6-9:

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel—not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.”

Let’s join Paul in saying, “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14).


(Taken from Day & Night, 2005)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

God's Direction...

We have meditated on the way people are directed by God or how they direct themselves. Here is one way. It is not good.

“ ‘Woe to the rebellious children,’ says the Lord, ‘who carry out a plan, but not mine, who make a league, but not of my Spirit that they may add sin to sin who set out to go down to Egypt without asking for my counsel.’ ” (Isaiah 30:1, 2)

This is descriptive of the world, individuals, and nations. They have plans that they implement. The plans are not God’s. They make treaties, agreements and contracts and the Spirit of God is not present. They do not ask the Lord for advice. In our experience many Christians follow this pattern. God says, “Woe to the rebellious children.”

Joshua, in the early stages of the conquest of Canaan, was deceived by the Gibeonites and he made a treaty with them under oath. Here is a selection from Joshua 9:14, “So the men partook of their provisions, and did not ask direction from the Lord and made a covenant with them to let them live and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.”

There is another way. It is not good either, but it is better. “Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with a bit and bridle, else it will not keep with you” (Psalm 32:9). It is not a pleasant thing to have a bit in your mouth, a bridle on your head, and no understanding where you are going. Sometimes, after the fact, you find that you have been guided by God into His will for you. God, in His faithfulness to us, has to jerk us around with a bit and bridle to ensure that we do not miss His will.

God has a better way still, His perfect way. “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go: I will guide you with mine eye.” Psalm 32:8. This is personal guidance based on a relationship with God which presupposes the forgiveness prayed for by the Psalmist in the early part of the psalm. Perhaps we have all glibly quoted, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.” Incidentally, “all our ways” will include business dealings, purchases, vacation plans, friendships, recreation, and numerous other areas. These, if we are honest, seldom if ever are shared with our Heavenly Father. Perhaps if we started to share the small details of our lives with Him, the joy and relief from strain would equip us for the bigger decisions that will come to us.


(Taken from Day & Night, 2005)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Love Deeply

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” I Peter 4:8 (NIV)

I’m quite sure that this is not saying that love overlooks sin. Love sees sin, and then covers it: in this case, lots of them, “a multitude of sins.” We know that this is true of the love of God, but is it true of us? The imperative is directed toward us, “love each other deeply”. I think it must be true of us. I Corinthians 13:5 tells us that “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” The opposite of covering sins may be keeping a record of them. “Love each other deeply.” “Deeply” has to do with the quality of the cover. Perhaps deep love provides deep cover as in “Thou will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). This cover is not speaking of our own sins, but of others’ sins, for two reasons:

1. “He who covers his sins shall not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13

2. “Love each other deeply.” This love is the love that forgives others. Let us love each other deeply regardless of the quantity or quality of sins committed. Love covers. Love forgives.


(Taken from Day & Night, 2005)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Living in the World on God's Terms

“I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people.” I Corinthians 5:9 (NIV)

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” II Corinthians 6:14 (NIV)


There are five rhetorical questions which give reasons why we should not be partners with unbelievers. However, we are not to avoid unbelievers. To be successful in avoiding them we would have to leave this world. No, we are to be in the world on God’s terms, not on the world’s terms.

We see Christians, while in the world, compromising with the world. This causes a reaction among other Christians to avoid the world so they, themselves, will not compromise. Both of these are wrong positions.

If we live holy, godly lives in this world, the world will be convicted of its sin. There will be two reactions to their conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit.

1. Conversions to Christ.
2. Persecution of those who want to live godly lives (II Timothy 3:12).


(Taken from Day & Night, 2005)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Guilt vs. False Guilt

Guilt is first a fact and maybe a feeling.

If a person sins and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD's commands, even though he does not know it, he is guilty and will be held responsible. Leviticus 5:17 (NIV)

The feeling may not record the real guilt.

False guilt is always a feeling and never a fact. Real guilt when confessed in repentance is always forgiven.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9 (NIV)

False guilt, when confessed, is not forgiven by God because it is not a sin. The “guilty” person keeps on confessing and receives no relief. He has believed the lie of the accuser. This is not conviction of the Holy Spirit. The sin that must be confessed is believing the lie of the devil.


(Taken from Day & Night, 2005)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Attitudes Towards Other Believers

“As for the man who is weak in faith, welcome him, not for disputes over opinions. One believes he may eat anything, while the weak man eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains pass judgement on him who eats; for God has welcomed him” (Romans 14:1-3).

This is a chapter about attitudes towards other believers. The basic premise is that a believer belongs to God and God receives him without looking down on him or condemning him and therefore we should also receive him in the same way. This is saying that there is something more important than “being right.” God allows us to think we are right; the next verse says, “Let everyone be fully convinced in his own mind.” He allows us to think differently, but He does not allow us to break fellowship because we think differently. Please read the rest of Romans 14.

You will notice that the “kingdom of God does not mean food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” God is more interested in the quality of our life than in the physical things we participate in. The first half of this chapter tells us not to dispute with one with whom we disagree. We are not to try to convince him that he is wrong and we are right. The second half of the chapter suggests that, without giving up our position, we do not participate in anything when that participation would cause a believer to stumble.


(Taken from Day & Night, 2005)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Models of Concern

There are two paragraphs in Philippians (2:19-30) which describe men who are rich in concern for others.

Notice what Paul says about Timothy:

“There is no one else here like him who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”

Notice what he says about Epaphroditus:


“He is distressed because you heard he was ill” and “because he almost died for the work of Christ risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.”

And what he says of the Philippian Christians:

“Whom you sent to care for my needs” and of himself “I am confident that I will come soon” and “therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.”

This overwhelming love for others in Jesus Christ seems to be an exception now as it was then.

“For everyone looks out for his own interest, not those of Jesus Christ.”

When a person looks out for the interests of Jesus Christ, he begins meeting the physical needs of people (the money gift to Paul), their spiritual needs (the work of the Gospel), their emotional needs (cheered, longs, distressed, sorrow, anxiety, glad, and great joy).


(Taken from Day & Night, 2005)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Forgiveness from the Heart, Part II

So watch yourselves.
"If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him." (Luke 17:3-4)


Let’s look at the text in Luke 17. The fellow sins against me seven times in one day. After each time during the day he says “I repent.” After a few of these sins and the same number of “I repents” I begin to get suspicious that he is not really repentant. I have to forgive him from my heart only on his statement that he is repentant. I am not allowed to judge the sincerity of his repentance. The seven times is again not the number seven only, but a lot of times. The Luke 17 passage does not tell me to refuse to forgive him until he repents. Also in Matthew 18 (the seventy-seven or seventy times seven) the forgiveness is not dependent on his repentance. It is dependent on my prior forgiveness.

God is the only one who can forgive sins so that cleansing takes place in the sinner. When I forgive the sinner it does not cleanse him at all; it only cleanses me. If I withhold forgiveness I end up hurting myself. My not forgiving is sin in itself.

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.… For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matt. 6:12-15)

The unforgiver is in big trouble. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart (Matt. 18:35).”

How do we reconcile Ephesians 4:32-5:2 with the above?

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Paul says we are to forgive as Christ forgave us. Jesus says that He will forgive if we forgive. These texts are only contradictory if we are disobeying the text in Ephesians. If I am forgiving as Christ forgave then I can honestly pray Matthew 6:12—“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Forgive me as I forgive because I forgive like you forgave me.

God, in Jesus, forgave from the cross.

The sinner does not receive his forgiveness from God until he repents.

He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:46-47)


I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. (Acts 26:17-18)

However, the forgiveness of God is there beforehand and is a major cause of the repentance. “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance, and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance (Rom. 2:4)?” “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17).” Forgiveness and the “place among the sanctified” are the result of the turning from the power of Satan to God. The turning is the result of the kindness and preaching of Christ.


(Taken from Day & Night, 2005)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Forgiveness from the Heart

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:35).

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

“[Love] is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs” (I Corinthians 13:5).


The above verses are emotions of the heart. Earlier in Matthew 18, Peter asked Jesus for a commendation if he forgave his brother seven times. Jesus replied 77 or 70x70 or 490 times. Is there a difference between the two numbers? No! the meaning is in the conjunction of the two sevens, that is, times without number, or an infinite number of times. Jesus did not want Peter to keep count. “That’s 66 or that’s 365.” “When I get to 491 I will deck him.” Love does not keep a record of wrongs. If the brother is forgiven from the heart, the next time he sins, it will seem to the forgiver like the first time. Heart forgiveness is complete forgiveness; it has no qualifications with it.

There are several things to see in these few verses.

1. The forgiveness is unilateral. It is not dependant on the sinner being repentant or saying he is repentant. Nor does the forgiver have the requirement to judge if the sinner is really repentant before he forgives. The only requirement is that he himself has been forgiven by God an infinite number of times. “So watch yourselves. ‘If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him’” (Luke 17:3-4).

2. The forgiveness is from the heart, not just from the mouth.

3. The forgiveness is not conditional on the number of times one is sinned against or the magnitude of the sins.

4. Forgiveness from the heart means that the forgiver is no longer angry, bitter, or begrudging. The joy of his own salvation is restored.

5. Even righteous anger is not allowed to go beyond sundown. “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26).

6. The person who does not forgive from his heart is in bigger trouble with God than the one who has sinned.

7. Forgiveness has qualities to it that are seen by the forgiven and all bystanders, Christian or non-Christian.

8. The above is in contrast with the world’s justice system (official or censored by the public at large). Grace is so seldom used, never understood and thought to be unjust. If we do not wish to forgive him from the heart, nor want God, nor the church, nor the public to forgive him, then we are saying we want him destroyed. That may happen. It may be likely that God will forgive him, the church will forgive him, and he will be back in the joy of his salvation. We are the ones who end up destroyed.

9. A few years ago in Seattle, a murderer was sentenced to die for his murder. During his time in prison, he had heard the gospel and had received Christ. On the day of his execution, three conflicting events happened, recorded on TV.

a. An anti-death penalty group was objecting outside the prison.

b. A pro-death group was demonstrating outside the prison. They wanted him dead and in hell.

c. The murderer was announcing his conversion to Christ and his anticipation of going to heaven. This made no sense to either of the other groups, and made them angry.

10. If you do not have the characteristics of heart forgiveness for someone who sinned against you yesterday or ten years ago, then you must repent today and stay on your knees until you are forgiven for your unforgiveness.

Unforgiveness is evident in Christian families and in Christian churches. It is a stench in the evangelical church.


Please download How to Be Free From Bitterness from ccmbooks.org or request a hard copy from us by calling (208)883-0997.


(Taken from Day & Night, 2005)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Love and Peace

This is an age when “Love” and “Peace”, two great words with unlimited quality in them, are used as synonyms for limited physical events such as “sexual relationships” and “no war”.

Two other words come to mind which are not as unlimited in meaning and where no attempt has been made to change their meaning. They are largely ignored, foreign to our vocabularies. This is a time of violent expression and polarization of peoples, opinions and nations. Even the Christians find themselves choosing up sides and thereby ruling out the use and practice of these words. These words are “gentle” and “kind”.

Ephesians 4:31, 32 say:

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger, and clamor and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Verse 31 speaks of wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking, motivated by malice and bitterness. It is almost a description of the world today, or at least a part of it, the student world. Verse 32 speaks of forgiveness, motivated by and expressed with kindness and tenderheartedness. This is the kind of forgiveness we received in Christ. Much that is called “forgiveness” among people is shallow, on the surface and unreal.

In our desire to witness for Jesus Christ we may sound harsh and we may argue with heat. This is in contradiction to II Timothy 2:23:

“But stay away from foolish and ignorant arguments; you know that they end up in quarrels. The Lord’s servant must not quarrel. He must be KIND toward all, a good and patient teacher, who is GENTLE as he corrects his opponents.”

As the opposition to the Gospel and to Christians becomes more violent and threatening, the temptation is to “fight fire with fire”. We must recognize the temptation for what it is, a temptation. We must not quarrel. We must be kind and gentle. When the disciples were not received in a village in Samaria and James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven to consume them, they were rebuked by Jesus with the words; “Ye know not what manner of Spirit ye are of” (Luke 9:54). Isn’t this a necessary reminder to us today? Are we as easily recognized by our manner as Christians as by our message? This is a day of confrontation and, regardless of our political views, we must recognize that violence, evil speaking (which includes sarcasm), and downgrading our opponents, are not becoming to Christians.

James wrote in his letter (3:14):

“But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”

How do we sound at the church business meeting? The PTA? The neighborhood discussion? The family dinner table?

Paul made this the basis of his entreaty to the church at Corinth when he wrote, “I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ”, (II Corinthians 10:1). To the believers at Thessalonica he could say that his actions when with them were “gentle among you, like a nurse taking care of her children” (I Thessalonians 2:7). Do we equate spiritual authority with high-handedness, riding roughshod over the opinions and rights of others?

Although much more could be said, may we remind you and ourselves that this gentleness and kindness comes from one Source alone:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30


(Taken from Day & Night, 2004)

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Holy Spirit: Power

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19


(Taken from Day & Night, 2006)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Workplace Bitterness

I received a response to my booklet, How to be Free from Bitterness. Here is a portion of that question.

Question:

“My problem is that there are several people that I work with that annoy me. I’m talking about vile language and music, crude jokes, put-downs to other co-workers and laziness that no one can, or will, do anything about. I have made my objections known in a kind way and continually try to give it up to the Lord, but I still struggle. Could you speak to workplace bitterness in one of your upcoming messages?”

Answer:

If the person who is a temptation to you IS a Christian then you have a responsibility to him to correct him.

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” Galatians 6:1 (NIV)


If you are annoyed, you are not rejoicing. You are not spiritual and you will not do it gently. Consequently, you are not qualified to correct him even if your words are kind.

You are to restore him for his good, not because you are annoyed.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

The following are reasons the Christian needs corrected:

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” Ephesians 5:3, 4 (NIV)

“And I urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (NIV)


(Taken from Day & Night, 2001)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Holy Spirit: Quality of Life

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:22-24

The Holy Spirit gives us a new character. It is just like the character of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


(Taken from Day & Night, 2006)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Bible Reading

Many years ago I was speaking at a men’s conference from an evangelical church. At the first session I gave each man a 3 x 5 card and asked them to put three numbers on their card, but not their name.

The first number was answering the question, “How many years have you been a Christian?”

The second number was answering the question, “How many times have you read the Old Testament in its entirety?

The third number answered the question, “How many times have you read the New Testament?”

After collecting the cards I added up all of the years and all of the times and then divided the total times into the total years.

If my memory is correct the Old Testament was read once every 27 years and the New Testament once every 17 years. However, since then I have gotten averages of 7 ½ years OT, and 2 ½ years NT. If a person is a very slow reader the whole Bible can be read in less than 80 hours. How do I know? An audio Bible can be purchased on 48 cassette tapes or on a CD.

The first time I read the Bible through I had been a Christian about three years. I have now been a Christian 60 years. In recent years I followed a YWAM schedule for two years and the last two, one put out by African Enterprise called Light on the Way. This schedule goes through four different parts of the Bible every day for a total of four or five chapters. The result, the Old Testament is read once, the New Testament twice, and the Psalms twice in one year. If you would like a copy of Light on the Way, please send me your mailing address.

In the meantime, below is a schedule for reading the New Testament in 67 days.

Matthew- 28 chapters, 7 days
Mark- 16 chapters, 4 days
Luke- 24 chapters, 6 days
John- 21 chapters, 5 days
Acts- 28 chapters, 7 days
Romans- 16 chapters, 4 days
1 Corinthians- 16 chapters, 4 days
2 Corinthians- 13 chapters, 3 days
Galatians- 6 chapters, 1.5 days
Ephesians- 6 chapters, 1.5 days
Philippians- 4 chapters, 1 day
Colossians- 4 chapters, 1 day
1 Thessalonians- 5 chapters, 1 day
2 Thessalonians- 3 chapters, 1 day
1 Timothy- 6 chapters, 1.5 days
2 Timothy- 4 chapters, 1 day
Titus- 3 chapters, 1 day
Philemon- 1 chapter, 1 day
Hebrews- 13 chapters, 3 days
James- 5 chapters, 1 day
1 Peter- 5 chapters, 1 day
2 Peter- 3 chapters, 1 day
1 John- 5 chapters, 1 day
2 John- 1 chapter, 1 day
3 John- 1 chapter, 1 day
Jude- 1 chapter, 1 day
Revelation- 22 chapters, 5.5 days

Total Days to finish New Testament, 67

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Holy Spirit: Assurance

“Set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 2 Corinthians 1:22

“He” anointed us, 2. Set His seal of ownership on us, and 3. Put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” Maybe this is saying the same thing three times. Or it may be three different acts of the Holy Spirit.

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13, 14

“Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Romans 8:14


“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:16-17

First and foremost the Holy Spirit assures us of our present and future salvation.


(Taken from Day & Night, 2006)

Friday, February 01, 2008

Unity

You will receive in the next few weeks, the Lord willing, several thoughts on the unity and disunity of the churches. In any given community, the body of believers is made up of all saved people and no one who is unsaved.

“And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:47 (NIV)

The church was made up of people of both sexes.

“They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” Acts 1:14 (NIV)

“Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.” Acts 5:14 (NIV)

The church included Jewish priests.

“So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” Acts 6:7 (NIV)

The church included other races, cultures and nations.

“And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.” Acts 8:38 (NIV)

“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.” Acts10:44-45 (NIV)

“The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the brothers very glad . . . No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are . . . It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” Acts 15: 3, 11, 19 (NIV)


These people who believed, were saved, born again, and instantly members of the one body of Christ, the church. We also see the church included Jews, Greeks, slaves and free people.

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” 1 Cor 12:12-13 (NIV)

These people became members of the LOCAL church at the same instant that they became members of the body of Christ.

There was an instant unity.

This unity is described in Ephesians 4:4-6.

“There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (NIV)

We start with unity. The unity is to be kept.

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3 (NIV)

(Taken from Day & Night, 2001)