Archive for August, 2009

Pursue Gentleness

Daily God Walk for Monday, August 31, 2009

 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith.   –  1Timothy 6:11-12

 When we come to Christ we are not automatically transformed into the exact image of Christ in the world today. Our faith has opened the door to right relationship with God, but from the point of justification forward we must passionately pursue the Lord if we are to become mature believers.

Paul addresses the fruit, or evidence, of the Spirit working in us in Galatians 5. Peter instructs us that if we are going to be productive in our walk we must add to our faith (2 Peter 1). And in this passage Paul instructs Timothy, his son in the gospel, to pursue a mature faith.

Throughout this month we have looked at three words that have similar meaning. They are gentleness, humility and meekness. Some have judged those traits to be signs of weakness, but we have learned that they are really a reflection of strength and conviction.

How do we balance gentleness with fighting the good fight? How can we be gentle yet be in a fighting posture? A key to understanding that is to realize our fight is not against flesh and blood but against principalities, and powers and spiritual forces of darkness in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). The reason we cannot fight the good fight of faith without the virtues we have discussed is because without the Holy Spirit working in us we have no power in the spirit realm.

I challenge you to seek the face of God until he reveals his heart, then continue to seek him for wisdom and direction for your faith walk. Just as Paul was instructing Timothy to pursue the virtues of righteousness we are being challenged to do the same.

Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

 Principle: We fight in the spirit realm and we are gentle in the human realm.

 Affirmation: I can be gentle yet fight the good fight of faith.

 Prayer: Lord, help me to stay focused on our enemy and not to deal with people on the human level as I would in the spirit realm. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 12 – Isaiah 57-58 – Proverbs 31

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Stephen Was A Meek Martyr

Daily God Walk for Friday, August 28, 2009

  While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”When he had said this, he fell asleep.   – Acts 7:60

 Stephen was not an apostle; he was not a prophet; he was simply a young man who was passionate about God. He was among the seven chosen to serve the body of believers so that the apostles could be free to pray and minister the word of the Lord.

The first mention of Stephen is in Acts 6:5 when he was mentioned as one of the seven. His introduction is simply, “They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.” Wouldn’t it be a good thing if when we were  mentioned it would be as a person full of faith and of the Holy Spirit?

God honored the sincere heart of this young man by confirming his preaching with “great wonders and miraculous signs” (Acts 6:8). Stephen held nothing in reserve but gave himself entirely for the gospel. When the elders of the synagogue heard of his following they questioned him and when they could not dispute what he was teaching they got false witnesses to tell lies on him.

The entire chapter seven of Acts records the message Stephen spoke and the charge he laid against the leaders of Judaism. It was his charge that they had murdered the Christ that angered them to the point that they took him outside the city and stoned him, thus Stephen became the first martyr of the faith.

It was when Stephen was being stoned that we learn just how meek he really was.  As they were stoning him he fell on his knees and prayed, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” He was not angry and he did not ask God to avenge him against these evil people. He was more concerned about how their actions would affect their relationship with God than he was about what they were doing to him.

Stephen meekly endured stoning and still had compassion for others.

 Principle: Meek people are more concerned with others than with themselves.

 Affirmation: My focus is on the needs of others rather than my own desires.

 Prayer: Lord, Stephen is a hard model to follow. Grant me the passion and conviction to proclaim your word even in the face of opposition. Amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 101   – Isaiah 51-52 – Philippians 2 – Proverbs 28

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David Knew The Secret Of Being Meek And Gentle

Daily God Walk for Thursday, August 27, 2009

  My son, who is of my own flesh, is trying to take my life. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today.   – Numbers 16:11-12

 David was certainly a rare breed. His son, Absalom, had worked a coup and had taken the throne, now he is being cursed by one of his subjects, yet he did not respond and granted grace. It is hard to believe that this is the same man who slew Goliath and led many campaigns against the Philistines, but now, he runs from his own son.

Most men would have quickly put down the rebellion, and would certainly have executed a man who would come at him throwing rocks and cursing him, but David was not most men. Rather than respond with pride and seeking vindication for his ego, he granted grace. He was truly a meek man.

What was David’s hope in this? “May be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today.” David knew that when he was following the Lord, though the circumstances would appear otherwise, God will repay faithfulness.

When we are trying to do God’s work our way it is very difficult to take the humble path. All too often we interpret our ambition as God’s purpose and allow our ego to drive us rather than to surrender to God and wait for his timing. David knew the value of allowing God to fight his battles and he was not going to fight his own son for the kingdom.

How often have we, in matters of much less consequence, insisted upon our rights only in the end to discover that the outcome would have been better if we had allowed God to take care of the issue in his own way and in his time?

David is a model for us to follow. The way we respond to being unfairly assailed with false accusations, will demonstrate what we are on the inside.

 Principle: The way we respond to unfairness shows what we are on the inside.

 Affirmation: I practice being meek and humble in my response to others.

 Prayer: Lord, I don’t think I could be as gracious as David was. I need your help  to respond to unfairness with love and grace. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 71   – Isaiah 49-50 – Philippians 1 – Proverbs 27

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God Called Moses The Meekest Man

Daily God Walk for Wednesday, August 26, 2009

 Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth. – Numbers 12:3 (KJV)

 It is hard to imagine the man who had to flee to the dessert after killing an Egyptian soldier as the meekest man on earth. Something surely transpired in the 40 years between fleeing to the dessert and the time God appeared to him in the burning bush.

Time and experience, when handled appropriately, will work patience and humility in us. Many years of herding sheep in the wilderness helped the brash young Moses mature into a meek and humble man that could be used of God to bring Israel out of Egypt.

There was more to the change in Moses than time and experience though. Something happened in him at the burning bush. There before the Lord, barefoot and spiritually naked, Moses went through a transformation.

When God spoke to him of his purpose for him Moses replied, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” God’s answer, in so many words, was that it wasn’t about Moses – it was about God and the children of Israel. God had been preparing Moses for this job since he was born and now he was revealing himself to him.

God said to Moses, “I will go with you.” Then Moses asked, “Who will I say sent me?” God replied, “I AM who I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I AM has sent me to you.” It was this meeting with the great I AM that forever changed Moses.

Humility and meekness is not measured by ability or achievement. These character traits cannot be measured by standards men use to measure success. They are shown in the life of men and women who are committed to the purposes of God. These are people who have stood before the great I AM with their own burning bush experience.

Is God calling you to take off your shoes and stand before him?

 Principle: Standing before the Great I AM will transform a person.

 Affirmation: I am humbled to stand in the presence of the great I AM.

 Prayer: Lord, I have heard your call, but I have been slow to respond. It is not easy to surrender my ambitions for your purposes. Help me to do that. Amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 41   – Isaiah 47-48 – Ephesians 6 – Proverbs 26

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The Apostles Were Gentle Among Believers

Daily God Walk for Monday, August 24, 2009

 As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. – 1 Thessalonians 2:6-7

 As we rise in position it is only human nature for our attitude to change toward those of lesser position. We tend to think of ourselves as needing to be served by others because our position demands so much of us. That is not sinister, or particularly evil, it is just human nature.

The opposite seems to have been true among the apostles. In passing, Paul makes reference to the importance of his position as an apostle. As a valued leader in the faith, he could have asked more of the people by way of personal support, but he chose not to.

We who are believers in the Christ must be careful lest we begin to think of our position in Christ as one that elevates us above others. When we begin to think that way we start to look at others differently. We look at the unbeliever as having less value and we begin to look at other believers as people who should be like we are.

Paul is giving us an example of the attitude we should have toward others. He compares the attitude of the apostles to that of a mother caring for her little children. Though a mother’s position is certainly one of greater responsibility than her children, she knows that her children come first. She nurtures and cares for her children at the expense of her own comfort, and often at the expense of her own health.

If we are to affect the world as the apostles affected the world we are going to have to adopt the same meek and gentle attitude as the apostles. We were attracted to the Lord by the Christ we saw in others and the world must see that same Christ in us if they are going to be attracted to the Lord.

Here is a challenge. Ask yourself this question, “Who do I know that would say I am a meek and gentle person?” Hint: your mother doesn’t count.

 Principle: Our life must demonstrate the same Christ that attracted us.

 Affirmation: I regularly examine my life looking for characteristics of Christ.

 Prayer: Lord, I tend to be just a bit judgmental of others. Help me to be gentle with those I am called to serve. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 130   – Isaiah 43-44 – Ephesians 4 – Proverbs 24

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The Apostles Were Gentle Among Believers

Daily God Walk for Monday, August 24, 2009

 As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. – 1 Thessalonians 2:6-7

 As we rise in position it is only human nature for our attitude to change toward those of lesser position. We tend to think of ourselves as needing to be served by others because our position demands so much of us. That is not sinister, or particularly evil, it is just human nature.

The opposite seems to have been true among the apostles. In passing, Paul makes reference to the importance of his position as an apostle. As a valued leader in the faith, he could have asked more of the people by way of personal support, but he chose not to.

We who are believers in the Christ must be careful lest we begin to think of our position in Christ as one that elevates us above others. When we begin to think that way we start to look at others differently. We look at the unbeliever as having less value and we begin to look at other believers as people who should be like we are.

Paul is giving us an example of the attitude we should have toward others. He compares the attitude of the apostles to that of a mother caring for her little children. Though a mother’s position is certainly one of greater responsibility than her children, she knows that her children come first. She nurtures and cares for her children at the expense of her own comfort, and often at the expense of her own health.

If we are to affect the world as the apostles affected the world we are going to have to adopt the same meek and gentle attitude as the apostles. We were attracted to the Lord by the Christ we saw in others and the world must see that same Christ in us if they are going to be attracted to the Lord.

Here is a challenge. Ask yourself this question, “Who do I know that would say I am a meek and gentle person?” Hint: your mother doesn’t count.

 Principle: Our life must demonstrate the same Christ that attracted us.

 Affirmation: I regularly examine my life looking for characteristics of Christ.

 Prayer: Lord, I tend to be just a bit judgmental of others. Help me to be gentle with those I am called to serve. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 130   – Isaiah 43-44 – Ephesians 4 – Proverbs 24

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Peter Was A Gentle Apostle

Daily God Walk for Saturday, August 22 2009

  When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “feed my lambs.” – John 21:15-16

 Peter is the disciple who is remembered for more things than any of the others in the original 12. It was to Peter that Jesus gave the keys to the kingdom; it was Peter who attacked the soldier who came to take Jesus; It was Peter who just a few hours later denied Christ three times; and it was Peter who was first to stand on the day of Pentecost and declare Christ to all who would listen.

It was just a few days after Peter denied Christ, not long after the resurrection, when he said to the other disciples, “I’m going fishing,” and the others followed him to the lake. They fished through the night, casting their nets first here, then there, yet the nets kept coming up empty.

Left with empty nets and troubling thoughts, Peter was weary. All at once there was a voice from the shore calling, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find [fish]” (verse 6). They did and caught so many fish that they couldn’t bring them all in.

 Squinting into the early morning Sun Peter tried to make out who it was that hailed them. Suddenly one of the disciples declared, “It is the Lord!” Peter, ever the zealous one, dropped his outer garment, jumped into the water and swam to where Jesus was.

Then Jesus challenged Peter; “Do you love me?” Not once, or twice, but three times he asks. Totally humbled Peter replies, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” All of his failures and impetuous acts flashed before his eyes as he considered the question himself – did he really love Jesus?

Peter never failed again. Beginning at Pentecost he became a voice boldly declaring the works of God and the gift of salvation through Christ. Peter had finally learned that meekness is more than bold declarations and acts, but meekness is being committed and submitted to a higher principle.

 Principle: Loving Christ means we follow him with meekly and gently.

 Affirmation: I show my love for Christ by meekly following him.

 Prayer: Lord, I, like Peter have failed you in many ways, yet, I know that I love you. Grant me grace to meekly submit my will to you. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 119:57-64   – Isaiah 39-40 – Proverbs 22

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Gentleness Is A Mark Of Spiritual Leaders

Daily God Walk for Thursday, August 20, 2009

 Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be…not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.     – 1 Timothy3:1-3

 Some have said that spiritual leaders should be held to a higher standard, and I think I know what they mean, but the statement is not accurate. The standard is the same for everyone – but the level of accountability to that standard is different according to levels of responsibility.

This passage in 1 Timothy 3 is one often used to determine qualifications to serve as pastor or some other position of authority and responsibility in the body of Christ. However, when we look at each issue that is mentioned here it can be clearly seen that this should be the norm for all believers.

Throughout the New Testament the writers encourage believers to be temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, teachable, and etc. All of these traits should be active in the life of those who claim Christ as Lord, and they should especially be reflected in the lives of those who are to be considered leaders in the body.

Gentleness is a concept that is often misunderstood and sometimes is thought to be weakness. We have all known people in the faith who felt that the most important thing for them to do was to verbally “present the gospel” and they did so in such a confrontational manner and were so argumentative that they did more damage than good. These people feel that speaking the truth in love is addressing people with the gospel in a rude and obtrusive manner.

We are called to live in such a manner that our gentle nature itself will open doors of witness. We will not convince others of the gentleness of Christ if we who claim to know him as Lord are not characteristically gentle. When Christ was dealing with the sinner he always showed his gentle side. Remember the woman taken in adultery? He simply said, “I don’t accuse you. Go and sin no more.” His gentle approach gave her hope. Do others see you as gentle?

 Principle: Gentleness is characteristic of those who recognize Christ as Lord.

 Affirmation: My purpose is to be gentle as Christ was gentle.

 Prayer: Lord, I am by nature direct and somewhat confrontational. I need your grace to give me a gentle spirit. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 40 – Isaiah 35-36 – Ephesians 2  – Proverbs 20

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The Holy One Of Israel Gives Joy To the Meek

Daily God Walk for Wednesday, August 19, 2009

 In that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness. The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.       – Isaiah 29:18-19 (KJV)

 In the book of Isaiah the Lord gives us a prophetic panorama that spans time from about 700 years before Christ all the way to a time of peace on earth in a millennial reign at the end of this age. This prophecy concerns the time when Christ, the Holy One of Israel brings light to the earth.

For many of us there was a time when we were blind to the gospel, and deaf to the message of Christ; then, something happened. It was like a light turned on and our ears were opened. We could see clearly and hear plainly the message of life and redemption.

One of my favorite old movies is Sergeant York. Gary Cooper plays Alvin York who became one of the most decorated soldiers in WW1. In the movie York as young man is a drunken terror. In one scene he shoots his initials into as tree outside the church while the service is going on. My favorite scene is his conversion.

I won’t tell the whole story, you’ll have to rent the movie, but my point is that this rowdy, drunken young man did not have regard for man or God. Then something happened. He had a “Damascus road” kind of experience and all at once his eyes were opened. From that day forward he patterned his life after the teachings of Christ.

We were all like Alvin York. We couldn’t hear the gospel or see its truth. Then the Holy One of Israel began to reveal himself to us. From that time we, who were followers of our own will found a better way. Humbly we came to him and he gave us a gentle and meek spirit. Now, filled with his meekness we have the joy of the Lord.

The Holy One of Israel increases the joy of the meek.

 Principle: Christ opens our eyes and ears to the gospel and increases our joy.

 Affirmation: My eyes and ears are opened and my joy has increased

 Prayer: Lord, grant me the gift of humility and meekness that my joy might increase. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 10   – Isaiah 33-34 – Ephesians 1 – Proverbs 19

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The Branch Justifies The Meek

Daily God Walk for Tuesday, August 18, 2009

 He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears; but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth.             – Isaiah 11:3-4 (KJV)

 

Isaiah begins this chapter with, “There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots” (KJV). Most scholars see this as a prophecy of Christ. When we look at this passage from that perspective we can see strong evidence for the grace of God.

“He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears.” Is this passage saying that God is going to look past the failures of men and see something else? Does it mean that he will not look at the sin of the people but will look at the effect of the Branch that comes from the stem of Jesse?

The Message puts this passage in modern terminology:

A green shoot will sprout from Jesse’s stump, from his roots a budding Branch. The life-giving Spirit of God will hover over him, the Spirit that brings wisdom and understanding, the Spirit that gives direction and builds strength, the Spirit that instills knowledge and Fear-of-God,

Fear-of-God will be all his joy and delight. He won’t judge by appearances, won’t decide on the basis of hearsay. He’ll judge the needy by what is right, render decisions on earth’s poor with justice. His words will bring everyone to awed attention. – The Message Isaiah 11:1-4.

The Lord seems to be telling Israel, and by extension, all who will believe on Christ, that he doesn’t care what we have done in the past, he is giving us hope for a future in Christ. In Christ he shows us mercy. In Christ he shows us the fear of the Lord. In Christ he shows us righteousness. And in Christ he justifies the meek.

We are judged not by what we have done but by how we have responded to what Christ has done. God, through Christ, the branch, justifies the meek.

 

Principle: God, through Christ, the branch, justifies the meek.

 

Affirmation: I have trusted the work of Christ and I am justified before God.

 

Prayer: Thank you father for looking past my sin and seeing Christ. Thank you for the wisdom to trust Christ. In Jesus name, amen.

 Bible Reading: Psalm 129 –Isaiah 31-32 – Galatians 6 – Proverbs 18

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Paul ”Hope Preacher” Smith

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