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The Fruit of the HOLY SPIRIT
Podcast Episode: The Fruit of the HOLY SPIRIT – PEACE #1
We need to understand that love is the first characteristic of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is well placed at the head of the list, for it permeates all the rest of the attributes. Somehow, if we live a life of love, the other virtues will attend us all the days of our lives. Love is the key that unlocks the entire fruit basket of Galatians 5:22-23, as well as permeating 1 Corinthians 13.
The Benefits of A Gracious God
In Romans 16:20 NLT says, “20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.“
This language echoes Genesis 3:15, wherein God declares that the serpent’s head would be crushed by the seed of the woman. These false teachers, servants of Satan, would try to sow discord in the fellowship churches, but God is the God of peace. The false teachers will be destroyed when our Lord Jesus Christ establishes His peace upon His return (see Revelation 20:1-6).
In reference to Verses 8-21, they describe that each curse was twofold. The serpent was directly cursed; it received a physical curse and the promise that it would ultimately be crushed by the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15). God promised that He would execute His rule through the seed of the woman and our Lord Jesus Christ came as a fulfillment of that promise. The victory of our Lord Jesus Christ was a direct crushing of Satan in fulfillment of this curse, for Satan was behind the serpent in Eden (Romans 16:20; Revelation 12:9; 20:2).
The woman received the consequences of her actions, though they were not called a curse. The conflict between the man and the woman, foretold in the words “desire” and “master” in Genesis 3:16, is seen in the same Hebrew words used in Genesis 4:7. The strain that would occur between man and woman was in regard to the man’s ruling and supremacy over the woman. The world of man-woman relationships specifically and all relationships generally had fallen prey to the upside-down chaos that resulted from Adam’s sin. The consequences for women also included suffering great pain in childbirth. Thus, the only means of fulfilling God’s promise to crush the serpent’s head with the heel of someone born of a woman was through the child-bearing sufferings of a woman.
Adam also was not directly cursed, but the earth was cursed on his account, as Paul later noted in Romans 8:20-22. The curse on the earth has caused toil and frustration for humanity. Work is not a result of the curse; toil and frustration are. Another result of Adam’s sin was physical death (Genesis 3:19). Paul also noted that the root of death was in Adam’s sin (Romans 5:14-15).
Adam exercised faith and hope when he named the woman Eve (Genesis 3:20), for he looked to the life that the woman would bring forth. Adam and Eve could now only hope in the promise that someone born to Eve would undo the curses that they had caused through disobedience. The issue of Adam and Eve’s shame at their nakedness confirmed the split between man and woman. They were no longer the original and pure “one flesh” that God had created them to be. God confirmed their instincts of shame by making clothing and covering them (Genesis 3:21; cf. 3:7).
In Revelation 20:1-6 NLT is about > The Thousand Years > says, “1 Then I saw an Angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. 2 He seized the dragon – that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan – and bound him in chains for a thousand years. 3 The Angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he must be released for a little while. 4 Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about our Lord Jesus Christ and for proclaiming the Word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their forehead or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with our Lord Jesus Christ for a thousand years. 5 This is the first resurrection. (The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.) 6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ and will reign with Him a thousand years.”
The end of Chapter 19 describes the Beast, the false prophet, and all their followers thrown into the lake of fire. This vision at the beginning of Chapter 20 describes our Lord Jesus Christ’s dealings with Satan. An Angel came from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. In Revelation 9:1-12, an Angel had arrived with the key to the bottomless pit and had released the locusts as part of the fifth trumpet judgment. This may be the same Angel.
In Verses 2-3 describe that there are several names are used here for the same being – the dragon, the old serpent, the devil, and Satan (see also Revelation 12:9 for another list of these names). The Angel seized Satan, bound him, and threw him into the bottomless pit, locking the door. Satan was put away and could not get out until God would decide to let him out. God’s sovereignty is emphasized again.
This describes a different situation than that in Revelation 12:7-13. Chapter 12 describes Satan’s fall from heaven and his freedom to roam the earth (Revelation 12:17). Chapter 20 describes Satan being removed from the earth for a time in order that he could not deceive the nations anymore. God did not bind the dragon as punishment – that would occur later (Revelation 20:10) – but to stop him from deceiving the nations. But who are “the nations”? It appears that, at the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:14-16; 19:19), only the beast, the false prophets, the kings of the nations, and their armies were destroyed. The battle at Armageddon did not kill the entire population of the earth.
Therefore, some unbelievers would still be alive (the believers would be with our Lord Jesus Christ, for they had been part of His army, Revelation 19:14). Satan will be bound for a thousand years. Whether symbolic or literal, this time period of Satan’s imprisonment matches the time period of our Lord Jesus Christ’s reign (Revelation 20:4-6).
Those who propose that this Millennium time period is not limited to a thousand years (the amillennialists) and believe that it is the time between the first and second comings of our Lord Jesus Christ interpret this binding as referring to Satan being kept from working in the lives of believers and from stopping the Gospel’s advance. Others explain, however, that the word “nations” is always used in Revelation to describe unbelievers. It seems clear, therefore, that Satan will be bound and locked away from deceiving the unbelievers (still alive after Armageddon), while our Lord Jesus Christ rules during this period. The words describing how Satan is locked and sealed away indicate that his activity on earth will be completely stopped for this period of time. During this time, the unbelievers will experience true justice and God’s perfect rule over the earth.
Why is there a millennium? Why doesn’t God go straight from Armageddon to eternity? Why this interim and then another final battle – Gog and Magog?
We don’t know, but it appears that unbelievers on earth are given the opportunity to experience what the rule of God is like. However, as shown in the following verses, even though unbelievers will experience the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ, they will continue to rebel against God even without Satan’s deceptive influence. And the moment that Satan is let out of the prison, these people will flock after Satan and go to war against our Lord Jesus Christ. This will prove their absolute depravity, their true allegiance, and the necessity of the final punishment in the lake of fire.
In Verses 4-6 describe Satan has been bound and thrown into the bottomless pit so that for a thousand years he will not be able to deceive the nations. Here Revelation describes who will take part in that thousand-year reign of our Lord Jesus Christ, free from the influence of evil.
First, John saw thrones. The people sitting on the thrones had been given the authority to judge. Who are those sitting on the thrones? The Scripture does not identify them specifically. Many interpreters believe that these are those who had been martyred for their faith, but the problem with this theory is that the martyrs are not mentioned until the last part of the verse. Some suggest that this is only the twenty-four elders (Revelation 4:4) or that this forms an Angelic court of some kind.
In Matthew 19:28, the apostles are promised that they will judge from twelve thrones. First Corinthians 6:2-3 says that the saints will judge the world. What we can determine is that this is a court in heaven composed of those whom God wants to assist in judgment (see also Daniel 7:26).
Next, he saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about our Lord Jesus Christ, for proclaiming the Word of God. Then a problem arises with the translation. Between the sentence describing the martyrs and the sentence that says they had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark, the Greek includes the words “and who,” which can be taken as a further description of the martyrs, or as a description of an entirely different group. If the latter is the case, John saw the martyrs, whom he had described in Revelation 6:9-11, as well as others who were martyred during the Great Tribulation. Then he saw a separate group who had not worshiped the beast.
If “those who had not worshiped the beast” is merely a further description of the martyrs, then it appears that only the martyrs came to life again, and they reigned with our Lord Jesus Christ for a thousand years – a reward for their ultimate faithfulness to our Lord Jesus Christ by giving up their lives. This first resurrection could be a resurrection only of the martyrs. If so, then the rest of the believers along with the unbelievers are described as the rest of the dead who do not come back to life until the thousand years are over. At this point, God will separate the unbelievers from the believers, sending the former to the lake of fire and granting the latter eternal life.
However, we as Born-Again Christian believers in our fellowship churches think that all believers partake of the “first resurrection” because all believers have been freed from the second death – that is, the lake of fire. The phrase “come back to life” refers to a physical resurrection of our bodies. We as Born-Again Christian believers will have new bodies, as described in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53. Amen!
Those who do not believe in a literal thousand-year reign of our Lord Jesus Christ say that this first resurrection is spiritual (in believers’ hearts at salvation), and that the Millennium is their spiritual reign with our Lord Jesus Christ on earth between His first and second comings. During this time, believers are priests of God because our Lord Jesus Christ reigns in their hearts. In this view, the second resurrection is the bodily resurrection of all people for judgment.
We as Born-Again Christians in our fellowship churches believe that the first resurrection occurs after Satan is set aside. It is a physical resurrection of Born-Again Christian believers who then reign with our Lord Jesus Christ on the earth for a literal 1,000 years. The second resurrection will occur at the end of this Millennium when God will judge unbelievers who have died.
Again, we as Born-Again Christian believers are “blessed,” the fifth of seven beatitudes in Revelation (1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 22:7, 14).
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Do What Is Good
In Titus 3:1-11 NLT says, “1 Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. 2 They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone. 3 Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. 4 But – “When God our Savior revealed His kindness and love, 5 He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. 6 He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 Because of His grace He declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” 8 This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone. 9 Do not get involved in foolish discussions about spiritual pedigrees or in quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws. These things are useless and a waste of time. 10 If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them. 11 For people like that have turned away from the truth, and their own sins condemn them.”
In addition to teaching, encouraging, and correcting (Titus 2:15), a Christian leader must also remind his congregation to submit to the government and its officers. As the believers awaited the return of our Lord Jesus Christ and living eternally with Him in His government (Titus 2:13), they had to live under worldly authorities. So Paul explained how believers in Crete could best do that – by subjecting themselves to government rulers and authorities and by obeying civil laws. He did not want any trouble with the authorities that would bring the church under suspicion (see also Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17).
Born-Again Christians understand obedience to the government in different ways. All Born-Again Christians agree that we are to live at peace with the state as long as the state allows us to live by our religious and/or spiritual convictions. For hundreds of years, however, there have been at least three interpretations of how we are to do this:
- Some Christians believe that the state is so corrupt that Christians should have as little to do with it as possible. Although they should be good citizens as long as they can do so without compromising their beliefs, they should not work for the government, vote in elections, or serve in the military. Although this fulfills the principle of abstaining from evil, it prevents the Christian from being salt and light in the governmental, political, and military systems.
- Others believe that God has given the state authority in certain areas and the church authority in others. Christians can be loyal to both and can work for either. They should not, however, confuse the two. In this view, church and state are concerned with two totally different spheres – the spiritual and the physical. Thus they complement each other but do not work together. This view is very legitimate and supports our Lord Jesus Christ’s teaching to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s (see Matthew 22:21), but it can lead to isolation from the political world and indifference toward state leaders.
- Still others believe that Born-Again Christians have a responsibility to make the state better. They can do this politically, by electing Christian or other high-principled leaders. They can also do this morally, by serving as an influence for good in society. In this view, church and state ideally work together for the good of all. This view is preferred and seems to best portray the New Testament teaching. Nowhere does our Lord Jesus Christ call laymen to leave political or social service as a requirement for discipleship. Its inherent danger would be for the Christian to get so involved in worldly affairs that the Christian mission is lost.
Besides being obedient, Paul mentioned readiness to do what is good – in other words, a willingness to serve. No doubt Christians who obeyed the government gave a good witness for their faith among the authorities; Christians active in community service and/or government had great opportunities to witness for our Lord Jesus Christ.
These bridge-building characteristics revealed changed lives and made the Gospel message attractive to unbelievers. All Born-Again Christians should check their conduct against these traits. To not speak evil of anyone meant forbidding Christians to spread evil rumors or gossip (see James 3:9). Born-Again Christian believers were not to be caught making reports about others that would prove to be untrue. We should be like our Lord Jesus Christ, who did not retaliate when He was insulted (1 Peter 2:23).
To avoid quarreling means to be peaceable. Born-Again Christians were to be known as peacemakers in their relationships and within the church and/or fellowship. There may be disagreements, but the believers should actively avoid, not the disagreement, but quarreling about it. When disagreements degenerate into quarreling, there is little possibility of preserving peace and working toward a solution.
To be gentle and show true humility follows our Lord Jesus Christ’s example. Born-Again Christians should not be agitators but conciliators. Believers could show gentleness and humility to unbelievers in their neighborhoods by offering help without strings attached. When we help unbelievers, we open a door for the Gospel.
The Cretans had a reputation for certain vices (Titus 1:12), yet Paul well understood that all believers once were sinners and had lived far from God (see also 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 4:17-24). Paul never forgot the change that God had made in his life, beginning with his experience on the Damascus road (Acts 9:1-22). Paul included himself, Titus, the believers in Crete, and all believers across the world in the list of past rebels.
Foolish is used here as it is in Proverbs for those who arrogantly rebel against God and go their own way. Instead of being submissive, obedient, and ready to do good (Titus 3:1), they were disobedient toward God because of sin, and misled by false teachers so that they became slaves to many wicked desires and evil pleasures. Without God, all unbelievers are enslaved to their passions and desires. Left alone, human nature can only go from bad to worse. Instead of avoiding slander and quarrels, being peaceful, considerate, and humble (Titus 3:2), their lives were full of evil and envy. No matter how much “love” the world tries to create without God, the overriding power of sin produces a greater amount of hatred. Thus there is no hope for sinful humanity apart from the intervention of the holy God, our Creator.
Fortunately for us, God intervened. God’s kindness and love appeared in the human form of our Lord Jesus Christ. By His death, He saved us from our deserved punishment for disobeying God. He offered this salvation because of His mercy alone, not because we deserved it by doing good things. Paul summarized what God does for us when He saves us. God washed away our sins. As Paul explains the transaction, when believers receive this washing of rebirth, all sins, not merely some, are washed away. We gain new life with all its treasures. The process is complete. We can experience what we have in new ways, but we have received the whole package! We live a “new” life because of the Holy Spirit (see Romans 8:9-17) whom he generously poured out upon us because of what our Lord Jesus Christ our Savior did.
All three persons of the Trinity are mentioned in these verses because all three participate in the work of salvation. Based upon the redemptive work of His Son, the Father forgives and sends the Holy Spirit to wash away our sins and continually renew us.
From Adam we inherited guilt, a sinful nature (the tendency to sin), and God’s punishment. Because our Lord Jesus Christ took the punishment we deserved for sin and made us right before God, we can trade punishment for forgiveness. We have been declared not guilty. We can trade our sin for Jesus Christ’s righteousness. When we do that, we know that we will inherit eternal life. Eternal life began the moment we gave our life to Jesus Christ, but there is more to come! Our experience now is only a foretaste of what God has guaranteed to us in the future!
We as Born-Again Christian believers must show our beliefs through our conduct. We must be careful to do good deeds all the time. Sound doctrine must manifest itself in good works. Such teaching and action profits us as well as the unbelievers to whom the fellowship church witnesses.
If sound teaching and good deeds were beneficial (Titus 3:8), obviously foolish discussions were useless and a waste of time. The false teaching in Crete apparently had Jewish roots and focused on two errors: spiritual pedigrees and quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws – probably some useless speculations on the Old Testament rules and rituals, especially Jewish laws regarding what was clean and unclean. Similar to the methods used by false teachers in Ephesus and Colosse, these teachers were causing controversies, arguments, and quarrels about their own wholly imaginary ideas. The “spiritual pedigrees” may have included imaginary genealogies of Angels. These were needed, so the false teachers said, because believers had to worship Angels as well as God.
Paul warned Titus and Timothy to not get involved in the false teachers’ debates and arguments, to not even bother to answer their pretentious positions. This did not mean that the fellowship church leaders should refuse to study, discuss, and examine different interpretations of difficult Bible passages. Paul was warning against petty quarrels, not honest discussion that leads to wisdom. As foolish arguments develop, they should rebuke the false teaching (Titus 1:13) and turn the discussion back to a helpful and profitable direction. Meanwhile, the faithful minister should continue to emphasize those truths that God wants taught.
Paul gave a similar warning at the end of Romans 16:17-20 and follows our Lord Jesus Christ’s pattern in Matthew 18:15-17. Besides avoiding the false teachers’ debates, Titus needed to take specific action toward the false teachers themselves, as with anyone who is causing divisions among the believers. Even more than their doctrine, their church-wrecking behavior had to be stopped. While false teachers outside the church were to be avoided, a person inside the fellowship church must be warned not to cause division or threaten the unity of the church.
Paul allowed for two warnings before having nothing more to do with the person because they have turned away from the truth, are sinning, and condemn themselves. A person’s refusal to stop teaching false doctrine and to stop causing division in the fellowship church (even after being lovingly admonished) evidenced severe stubbornness.
A local fellowship church cannot modify its doctrine for every new idea or accommodate every person’s viewpoint. It may be better to risk having a member leave for another church that emphasizes his or her theological “hot button” than to try to be a fellowship church that caters to every conceivable theological taste. A fellowship church cannot get to the important work of evangelism and service to others if the theological base is shaky or if the church is embroiled in theological controversy.
The result of this new peace is suggested in Titus 3:-9-11. Since then, and from now on, those Born-Again Christians (including me) who once loved argument now avoid controversy and despise those foolish quarrels. Our Lord Jesus Christ’s peace counsels those who love divisive behavior to put their quarrelsome natures aside and enjoy the quiet.
So living in peace and making peace become the purpose of God in our lives. Having learned peace through our conversion, we begin to publish it as evidence of our salvation. We came upon that grace that saved us not because of righteous things we had done but because of His mercy. Now we model His grace, and in the process, others discover His salvation. Amen!
Living A New Life
In Colossians 3:12-15 NLT says, “12 Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”
The Greek words in the phrase, since you have been raised, express certainty. Once dead in their sins, these believers had been raised from death, just as our Lord Jesus Christ had been raised from the dead by God’s power. They had received new life from God through the power of the Holy Spirit. They did not need to struggle and work to attain that life, as the false teachers were trying to tell them; they already had new life! What remained was to work out its implications in daily life. Because they had been raised, they had a clear responsibility to our Lord Jesus Christ, who had raised them.
In the Bible, God’s holy people are chosen by God for a specific purpose or destiny. No one can claim to be chosen by God because of his or her heritage or good works. God freely chooses to save whomever He wills. The doctrine of election teaches that it is God’s sovereign choice to save us by His goodness and mercy and not by our own merit. To have received such incredible grace from God ought to cause all believers to gladly lay aside their sinful desires in order to clothe themselves with a nature that pleases God. In contrast to the vices listed above, Paul offered a list of virtues to be adopted as believers’ strategy to live for God day by day in the social activities of life. These include: tenderhearted mercy, love, peace, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and an attitude of gratitude, always giving thanks to all especially to our God, Lord Jesus Christ.
Clothing ourselves with the new nature affects how we treat others. Paul called the believers to make allowance for each other’s faults. To forgive implies continual, mutual forgiveness of the problems, irritations, and grievances that occur in the congregation. The church had enough enemies and troubles dealing with the outside world; they didn’t need infighting or energy wasted on grievances or grudges (either held over from pre-Christian days or arising in the church) that could be worked out with forbearing and forgiving. The key to forgiving others was for the believers to (1) remember how much the Lord forgave them, and (2) realize the presumption in refusing to forgive someone God had already forgiven. Remembering God’s infinite love and forgiveness should help the Colossian believers love and forgive one another.
All the virtues that Paul encouraged the believers in Colosse to develop were perfectly bound together by love. As they clothed themselves with these virtues, the last garment to put on was love, which, like a belt, binds all of the others in place. Love pulls together the other graces in perfect, unified action. To practice any list of virtues without practicing love will lead to distortion, fragmentation, and stagnation. In any congregation, love must be used to unify the people and build them up. Those who would desire to be mature in our Lord Jesus Christ must make love a top priority.
Putting on all the virtues, with love binding them together (Colossians 3:14), would lead to peace between individuals and among the members of the body of believers. The Colossian Christians should let the peace that comes from our Lord Jesus Christ rule in their hearts. To live in peace would not mean that suddenly all differences of opinion would be eliminated, but it would require that they work together despite their differences. This kind of tranquility and cooperation can’t come from mere human effort. It requires God’s help to arbitrate and enable people to get along.
The word rule comes from the language of athletics: Paul wanted the believers to let our Lord Jesus Christ’s peace be umpire or referee in their hearts. Peace would arbitrate, decide any argument, and thereby restrain any of the passions of the old nature that might threaten. Peace would settle any friction and strife so the believers could remain strong and unified.
When believers have an overriding attitude of thankfulness and when they have constant gratitude in their hearts for all that God has done for them in giving salvation and making them part of our Lord Jesus Christ’s body, then other virtues to which Paul called them would be much easier to live out. Being thankful would also make other relationships easier, as Paul explained in the following verses (Colossians 3:18–4:6).
When peace of our Lord Jesus Christ rules the inner life of the individual, it is freed to begin its purifying work (through the Words of God and in the power of the Holy Spirit) in the church universal.
Disputes over doctrines have often brought about the fiercest of clashes within Christianity. And why? If our Lord Jesus Christ rules from the throne of our hearts, surely we can trust each other to love all that He loves. Let us allow our Lord Jesus Christ to rule of our hearts so that unity within the church fellowship may bring others to know about Him and be changed by that peace and love. Amen!
The Priestly Blessing
In Numbers 6:22-26 NLT says, “22 Then the Lord said to Moses, 23 “Tell Aaron and his sons to bless the people of Israel with this special blessing: 24 ‘May the Lord bless you and protect you. 25 May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. 26 May the Lord show you His favor and give you His peace.’ ”
The last word of this benediction is peace. We as Born-Again Christians ought to frame this benediction and hang it in the gallery of our hearts. Such a benediction paves the way for peace in all our dealings with others.
What then is to be our service to others in the ministry of peace?
Benedictions of peace help each of us minister to others by seeking for them a life free of turmoil. It is godly to bless the turbulence out of our lives – flooding the world with peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Evangelism becomes our ministry of peace to a troubled world. Evangelism does not merely keep people out of hell. They publish peace, and by so doing they remove the hell from the here and now. If hell were only out “there” in the future, people would scarcely give it a thought. But hell is now. Hell is here. Hell is divorce, pain, cancer, family dysfunction, and job loss. Hell is neurosis, addiction, co-dependency, loss. Above all this struggle, our Lord Jesus Christ offers His benediction – and we offer our Lord Jesus Christ as the Healing Peace-Bringer. Amen!
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The Virtue of Humility
In Psalm 131:1-3 NLT says, “1 Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. 2 Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. 3 O Israel, put your hope in the Lord – now and always!”
The imagery “small child is quiet with its mother” (Psalm 131:2) suggests one who is happy and secure, having gone through the difficult weaning process. Such is the psalmist’s condition after being weaned from a desire for status.
The key to the psalmist’s personal power is that he has “stilled and quieted” his soul. The essence of arriving at a state of patience is the ability to take all our “inner noise,” all our endless chatter, and order it to be quiet. A noisy inner life is offensive to our our Lord Jesus Christ, for He has entered the throne room of our hearts and expects that our focus be on Him.
The ego ever clamors for increasing recognition. Is there an answer? How can we focus our worship on God when our tendency is to focus on self? David says, “I have stilled and quieted my soul.” How has he done this?
Like a mother weans her child, breaking the child from an infant diet, so David has broken his ego from its diet of narcissism, the constant feeding on self-importance. This is not as easy to do as one might think. The ego is like a sparrow chick. It keeps its overlarge beak turned up, crying “feed me.” “Feed you? With what?” “Feed me with all I want; for I – your ego – cannot conceive of being happy with less than all I want. Oh, yes. And did I mention I want it now? Not just enough – more than enough. Don’t feed me. Gorge me, stuff myself, be gluttonous. Don’t compliment me – flatter me. Don’t give me a glass of wine – intoxicate me.”
Ego keeps shouting at us for more. But when the Holy Spirit moves into our lives, teaching us the twin arts of temperance and patience, then ego at last is relegated to its place. Now it is finally quiet and peace. Now we can praise God freely without the ugly impediment of self-will.
Paul Final Greetings
In 2 Thessalonians 3:16 NLT says, “Now may the Lord of Peace Himself give you His peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.”
Just as Paul began his letter with “grace and peace” (2 Thessalonians 1:2), so he ended it. Paul referred to the Lord of Peace often at the end of his letters (see Romans 15:33; 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 4:9). The peace God gives does not mean absence of conflict (John 14:27; 16:33). The peace God gives is confident assurance in any circumstance. Not only did we as Born-Again Christian believers have peace, but we also had the Lord Himself, for He would give us His peace no matter what happened.
There was a word of testimonies just like this:
The Pastor had a prior speaking event not so long ago, his staff member were enjoying s meal on the West Coast. While the young waitress attended their table during the meal, he asked her: “If you could ask God for anything in your life, what would you ask Him to do for you?”
Without hesitation, she answered: “I’d ask for PEACE.”
A tear made its way down her cheek as she shared with them about her grandmother’s death a few days before.
As she shared her story, Pastor learned no one in her family believed in God – and neither did she. She’d not consciously rejected Him. All she knew was there was a deep restlessness inside, but she had no understanding about how to resolve that inner turmoil, or even what lay at the root of it. Like many people, she was living day to day, not having much purpose or meaning in her life.
This young women represents so many in our society today – going through the motions, striving to make ends meet, seeking a way where there seems to be no way, and trying to make sense of it all.
Too often, there seems to be no adequate answers to our human dilemma – especially to the question of why we feel so empty, void, and lacking peace. Furthermore, there appears to be no satisfactory reason for us to keep putting out our best efforts and still suffering life’s adversities.
The young waitress serving them explained the issue in her terms by saying, “I need PEACE.” Others would say, “I’m so lonely.” Some would say, “If my spouse would only love me as he/she should, then I’d be happy.” Different variations but all the same melody: There’s something wrong … I;m not happy. I have no PEACE.
One of my children told me, “Dad, pray for peace!:” I was crying for PEACE with GOD that I may have the PEACE of GOD. I was bombarded with lies and deceptions. What’s wrong with me?
Most who are victims of the messages of our secular society experience this void and don’t equate their problem (including me before) with God. We’re constantly bombarded with society’s claims: “If only you we’re thinner, dressed with more style, drove a Lincoln, Cadillac and/or expensive sport cars, lived in a better part of town, made more money …” the list goes on and on. But none of the aforementioned highly-prized answers to our problems or any of the hundreds of others offered to us can permanently and satisfactorily provide what we desperately crave.
The young waitress had it right: Most of us feel strongly that we need something more – and all-encompassing word that so well describes it is PEACE.
Prayer is the key that unlocks and reveals faith. Effective prayer needs both an attitude of complete dependence and the action of asking. Prayer demonstrates complete reliance on God. Thus, there is no substitute for prayer, especially in situations that seem impossible.
So, let our hearts and minds in tune with God, in the power of God, the Holy Spirit. Let’s continuously and persistently pray for God’s perfect will be done. We as Born-Again Christians have been tried and cleansed, we have moved freely into a relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ that is more powerful than it was before our trials. We are at home in the presence and fellowship of God, for we are heirs with our Lord Jesus Christ, more like Him that we could ever have dreamed possible. So, let’s continuously and persistently pray for God’s perfect will be done. Amen!
The principle is that no one has anything of value to bring to God in order to deserve salvation, mercy, justification, or even a second glance from God. The proud will be humbled, but the humble will be honored. Acceptance before God cannot be achieved by good deeds, piety, or any amount of self-proclaimed righteousness.
Let’s never get over the effect of God’s saving transformation on people’s lives. People who were lost in sin, filled with anger and bitterness, give up their hatred and become approachable as we have studied and learned last time. That is, of course, why we minister to others. Those of us who minister are not people to whom (fruit of the Holy Spirit) love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control comes naturally. We are people who have been remodeled by grace. We thankfully leave our old natures far behind as we embrace joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, the agape love of God, and in our treatment of others. Amen!
Sunday by Sunday as we come to worship, let me encourage our brothers- and sisters-in-Christ, and I want my readers and listeners to be both strong in the faith and sensitive to others’ needs. Because all, we as Born-Again Christian believers are strong in certain areas and weak in others, we constantly need to monitor the effects of our behavior on others.
In these PEACE Series of Podcast, we learned the following PURPOSES of this fruit of the HOLY SPIRIT:
- To have a truce with God to end our alienation from Him
- To know that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace
- To know and understand that in His presence we can have the evidence of confidence
- Learn to understand and accept the higher will of God
- Learn to spend time alone with the companionship of Christ
- To know and understand the reign of the Holy Spirit
On every Podcast, I always have three (3) questions we can answer from only these Sources: The Bible and Guidance of the Holy Spirit. The following are:
First is about our > Observation: What do these passages or Scriptures say to you?
Second is about our own > Interpretation: What do these passages or Scriptures mean to you?
Third is about how we can apply > Application: How do the meaning of these passages or Scriptures apply to you or to your situation?
If you are not sure that you are Born-Again Christian believer or you have relatives, loved ones, friends, neighbors, and people in your circle of influence, please take a look and/or guide them to one of our ministries, “An Invitation To Meet Our Lord Jesus Christ” at https://homefellowshipchurches.org/an-invitation-to-meet-our-lord-jesus-christ/
Let’s give an opportunity for the lost souls to experience on being Born-Again Christian as explained by our Lord Jesus Christ in the book of John 3:13 in the New Testament of the Bible.
It is as simple as A, B, & C > Admit, Believe, & Confess. All Born-Again Christian believers prayed this simple prayer we called “Sinner’s Prayer”
“Father God, I come to in the name of Jesus Christ. I acknowledge and admit that I am a sinner and I need a Savior. I believe and have faith in Jesus Christ who was born of Virgin Mary, died on the Cross for the penalty of my sins, and rose again that I may have the eternal life. I confess and declare Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and Lord of my life. Comfort, guide, and help me Holy Spirit to live and grow in my spiritual life according to Your Words, purpose, and perfect will of God, in my Lord Jesus Christ name, Amen!”
If you prayed this, “Sinner’s Prayer” sincerely in your heart, you are Born-Again Christian believer.
If you are not sure that you are Born-Again Christian believer and/or knows someone (relatives, loved ones, friends, neighbors, or in your circle of influence), please take a look of one of our ministries, “An Invitation To Meet Our Lord Jesus Christ” at https://homefellowshipchurches.org/an-invitation-to-meet-our-lord-jesus-christ/
Now, let me pray for all of you:
Father God, we come into your presence in our Lord Jesus Christ name, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thank you Lord Jesus Christ for Your agape love and forgiveness you have done on the Cross of Calvary, and continue to intercede for us in prayer. Thank you Holy Spirit as our Helper and Comforter. Thank you for the wisdom, knowledge, understanding, courage and strength. We cling, yield, plug-in and tune-in to you Holy Spirit to help us understand God’s Words, obey them, receive Your divine revelation, know the Truth that sets us free, and apply them in our lives, in our Lord Jesus Christ name, Amen!”
Let’s praise and worship God in Spirit and in Truth. Give all thanks to God for all answered prayers.
Please send your > Praise Reports (answered prayers) and New Prayer Requests via email to: TrinityBlessings@homefellowshipchurches.org. God bless you all and our families!
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A Call to Repentance and Be Blessed
In Malachi 3:7-15 AMPC says, “7 Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’ 8 “Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’ “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. 9 You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. 10 Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now by it”, says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” [Malachi 2:2.] 11 “And I will rebuke the devourer (insects and plagues) for your sakes and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground, neither shall your vine drop its fruits before the time in the field,” says the Lord of hosts. 12 “And all nations shall call you happy and blessed, for you shall be a land of delight”, says the Lord of hosts.
If the people would obey God, giving as they should, God would flood His people with blessings. There would be an overabundance of God’s blessing if He was given what He requested.
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse – See 2 Chronicles 31:11; cf. 1 Chronicles 26:20; Nehemiah 10:38; 13:5, 12. If the temple storehouses were empty, it was the people’s fault. God had already blessed them with enough to give a little back to Him.
Instead of destroying our crops (blessings), God would make them come in greater abundance than we had ever imagined possible (Amos 4:9; Haggai 2:19; Zechariah 8:12). The devourer – probably referring to locusts, though the word here is general in meaning (Baldwin). In the Near East, locust swarms are known for their ability to damage huge tracts of agricultural land (see note on Joel 1:4).
A delightsome land – All of the blessings promised to Jacob would come to pass if the people would obey God (Deuteronomy 33:29; Zechariah 8:13). Their land would be a delight to all who saw it (Daniel 8:9).
The problem in Malachi 3:7-12 was the people’s departure from God as reflected by their neglect of tithes and offerings. Two annual tithes were required according to Israelite law – one for the Levites (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:21), and one to be used in worship at the annual feasts in Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 14:22). A tithe was required every three years to provide for the needs of the poor (Deuteronomy 14:28-29). There is debate as to whether this tithe for the poor was in addition to or served as a substitute for the tithe used in worship.
The New Testament pattern for tithing is proportionate giving – a person is to give “in relation to what you have earned” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Certainly a tithe should be given proportionate to one’s wealth, but not all proportionate giving is a tithe.
The anticipation of blessing for obedience to God’s command to tithe was based on the Mosaic covenant, which promised blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience (Malachi 3:10; cf. Deuteronomy 28:15-68). Generally, God will meet the needs of His own people (Psalm 34:9-10; Philippians 4:19), but that is not an unconditional guarantee. There certainly were and are exceptions. Yet, where God chooses not to provide physically, He gives sufficient grace to go without (2 Corinthians 12:9).
The problem in Malachi 3:14-15 was that the people were guilty of arrogant words against God. They were saying, “There is no prophet who is serving God,” and “God is not concerned about justice.” God responded by showing that He did distinguish between the wicked and the righteous. The righteous would be blessed, and the wicked would be judged.
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