Posts Tagged ‘gentleness’

Our lives are like rose bushes — we have moments when our words and actions bless others’ hearts with beautiful roses in the form of sweet-smelling blessings of kindness and encouragement and intercession.

At such times, the handiwork of God manifested in the colorful compassion toward another is so inspiring.

At our worst times, though, people around us don’t feel soft petals but instead sharp thorns.

Perhaps we’re upset with them and don’t want them to enjoy something nice from us, almost as a form of punishment for offending us.

They’re punished if they try to get close to us and, in a moment of spiritual blindness, we might even think, “It serves them right for what they did to me.”

Listen, Jesus is the Rose of Sharon, not the Thorn of Nazareth.

God never calls us to be thorns, but instead to offer a sweet aroma of faithful living to Him and to those around us.

Here is a teaching by Jesus on this topic:

“Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:44-45).

The Great Commission of sharing the gospel isn’t served when people see or feel thorns in our lives. Even if there are random good deeds and kind words dangling from our life’s thorny vine here and there, the risk of being hurt is greater in the unsaved person’s eyes than the reward of a small piece of help or encouragement now and then.

Let’s each pray for humble wisdom in order to have more roses in our lives and fewer thorny branches.

More people will reach out to us, and ultimately to Jesus, if we’ll do this.

As always, I love you

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You and I had better think twice before complaining about God.

For He hears every gripe.

Whether they flow across our lips or inhabit only our hearts.

No, He probably won’t zap us dead as He did to some as described in the passage below.

But He certainly will be wounded by our ungratefulness and will set about directing circumstances to persuade a corrected attitude on our part.

Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.” (Numbers 11:1)

Let’s be grateful about our blessings and prayerful about our burdens. That way, we’ll not repeat the critical-spirit calamities experienced by those long ago who should have known better.

God loves us and will, in His time, bring better days our way for His glory and our good.

Let’s always remember this.

As always, I love you

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Of course, God sees our good deeds that serve many at church or work or school or in our neighborhood.

But He also sees our acts of faith-based kindness that are known only to one other.

And He takes note.

That’s just how He is.

He’s a loving Father and it pleases Him when His child does good for another simply because it’s the kind thing to do.

Any parent or aunt or uncle or grandparent or Sunday School teacher knows the satisfaction of seeing a beloved child do the little things of kind faith.

I was reminded of this sweet truth this morning in an indirect way while reading from the One-Year Bible. The passage below is a sad indictment of man’s capacity for darkened hearts. But it does point clearly to the fact that God sees all, even in the midst of subtle malice.

“What are worthless and wicked people like? They are constant liars, signaling their deceit with a wink of the eye, a nudge of the foot, or the wiggle of fingers.” (Proverbs 6:12-13)

The God that sees the wink of a dark-hearted person or the foot nudge of a calloused adulterer or the wiggling finger of a judgmental cynic is the same God who sees the opened wallet of a believer helping a laid-off single dad or the sacrificed sleep of a Christian retiree who will sit up all night with a terminally ill neighbor so that the neighbor’s spouse can get a night of rest.

It’s amazing when you think about it, this idea that God sees even nudging feet.

Let’s keep this in mind when Satan tempts us to think helping others privately means nothing to God and, therefore, will mean nothing to us.

As always, I love you

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Quite frequently during my high school years, my teachers would give pop quizzes just as the class session began.

And, more frequently than I wanted, I wasn’t prepared to get an A grade since I hadn’t studied the night before.

It was very satisfying on those occasions when I aced the pop quiz.

Eventually, I realized that it’s better to study consistently and do well on a surprise quiz.

That lesson served me well in my college years because some of the professors pulled the same stunt.

While others complained and anguished over the questions, I moved methodically through the quiz and usually ended up doing quite well.

The fact is that it’s always better to be prepared since we never know when the ultimate pop quiz — our standing before the Lord — will come our way.

I’m giving you a pop quiz this morning. It’s one that I have to take as well.

Passing this quiz will have eternal benefits and taking the quiz will reveal key areas in our lives that need improvement. Please check mentally each line that you’re passing the test as God would expect.

“Who may live on your holy mountain?

__ Those whose walk is blameless,

__ who do what is righteous,

__ who speak the truth from their hearts;

__ who have no slander on their tongues,

__ who do their neighbors no wrong,

__ who cast no slur on others;

__ who despise those whose ways are vile

__ but honor whoever fears the Lord;

__ who keep their oaths even when it hurts;

__ who lend money to the poor without interest

__ and do not accept bribes against the innocent.

Whoever does these things will never be shaken.” (Psalm 15:1-5)

As you and I honestly answer these questions, perhaps even asking one who knows us to grade us on these criteria, we’ll become more like the person God wants us to be.

We won’t get a perfect score but we’ll have the opportunity to become better learners and better servants as we prepared for graduation day into glory.

As always, I love you

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It’s instructive to watch somebody remain calm and focused on solutions when those around him or her are loudly complaining and accusing.

Such individuals seem to have a gift for managing crisis situations rather than causing them.

You and I aren’t the only ones who appreciate this kind of resolve. I’m sure that the Lord appreciates it as well.

After all, wasn’t He the perfect role model for self-control?

Even when His feelings of anger led Him to throw the money-changers out of the Temple courtyards, Jesus didn’t give full vent to His anger.

Had He done so, there might have been a number of burned spots on the ground where lightning bolts had zapped the greedy men exploiting worshipers.

Having feelings of anger is not a sin if we’re upset about a legitimate injustice contrary to godliness.

It’s letting that anger grab the steering wheel of our minds and hearts that becomes the problem.

Let’s face it. We all encounter circumstances that lure us toward unrestrained, accusatory and vindictive anger.

We just have to recall that emotions aren’t to determine our path. Our devotion to the Lord is to do that.

“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” (Proverbs 29:11)

Let’s do our best to remain calm no matter what happens, imitating the Lord and showing others what pleases Him.

After all, we can be sure that Jesus has chosen to remain calm toward us on countless occasions when our choices probably made Him angry.

As always, I love you

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There are a number of absolutes in life.

She’s either pregnant or she’s not.

They’re either legally married or they’re not.

He’s either enrolled in a career-training program or he’s not.

Jesus is truly sitting on the throne of my heart as King — with authority over my decisions — or He’s not.

Against this backdrop of absolutes, I John 4:17 at first appears confusing.

And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.” (I John 4:17)

Wait a minute. Something is either perfect, or it isn’t, right?

This isn’t a statement of error but instead of degree, I believe.

There is no disputing among Bible scholars that the word “perfect” in scripture often should be understood as “complete.”

And so it makes sense to read and understand the verse above in this way — “And as we live in God, our love grows more complete.”

If I’m new believer and all I can quote of the Bible is John 3:16 when people asked why I “got religion,” I do well for the Kingdom and for the unsaved people in my life who need to know that Christ can still transform lives.

If in the month after my conversion I memorize and share a couple of verses about the amazing grace of God and the call to generous compassion toward others, I become more complete — “more perfect” — in my faith and provide a living, loving example of I John 4:17.

Let’s each make a commitment to become more complete in our living and loving as God’s children.

Let’s commit to memorizing more scripture to share with others who don’t know the Bible.

It’s the perfect choice.

As always, I love you

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Nobody likes confusing instructions.

Buy something requiring assembly of many parts in a particular sequence and the potential frustration level goes way up for many people.

Particularly if some of the parts aren’t made just right and don’t fit well.

Just about every dad has encountered this at one point or another in the middle of the night before Christmas morning.

When we are given accurate instructions for something that is very well-made, however, the experience of putting together a blessing is SO much more pleasant.

And so it is with instructions that come from the Lord for a life pleasing to Him and, ultimately, to ourselves.

I love how James 3 provides simple instructions for building a blessed life.

According to verse 3, a blessed life is not something based on status or abilities inherited from parents, but instead on an honorable life assembled with good works compelled by a desire for harmony with people, an attitude of gentleness and an absolute devotion to truthfulness and humility.

This assembly of a blessed life also includes the predisposition toward sincerity, avoidance of playing favorites and a desire for peace within our relationships.

So how does this product of faith look when good works, humility, unselfishness, harmony, gentleness, truthfulness, humility, sincerity and non-favoritism are assembled?

Verse 18 says that such people “reap a harvest of righteousness.”

Now that’s a very good thing because that means such people WILL see the Lord in the next life (Hebrews 12:14),

Please follow God’s instructions for assembling a holy, righteous life rather than your opinions and hunches. I’ll try to do the same and we can look forward to that glorious day when our work at assembling and re-assembling the perfected life will stop because we’ve entered God’s presence.

As always, I love you

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