Welcome to our third study about KINDNESS. This week we’ll be looking at King David who, out of love for his dear friend Jonathan, extended kindness to Jonathan’s crippled son.Woven into this story is also the salvation message.
“So David said to him, ‘Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake’ ” (2 Samuel 9:7 NKJV).
After King Saul and his son Jonathan were killed on the battlefield, David reigned as king over all of Israel. Although Saul was David’s enemy, Jonathan and David were the closest and dearest of friends.
Years after David had been reigning as king, he called for Ziba, a servant from Saul’s house, to ask if there were any relatives of Saul who were still alive. David’s motive wasn’t to murder anyone–which would have secured David’s title to the throne. Instead, his noble motive was to show God’s kindness for Jonathan’s sake.
Ziba informed the king that Jonathan’s crippled son named Mephibosheth lived in Lo Debar. (For the backstory on how he became crippled, click HERE.)
An unexpected gift of kindness…
So, David sent for Mephibosheth who, fearing he might be killed, prostrated himself at the king’s feet. But David assured him that he only intended to show him kindness for his father’s sake. David restored to him all of Saul’s land and instructed Ziba and his fifteen sons to be Mephibosheth’s servants.
“And the king called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, ‘I have given to your master’s son all that belonged to Saul and to all his house. You, therefore, and your sons and your servants, shall work the land for him, and you shall bring in the harvest, that your master’s son may have food to eat.”
2 Samuel 9:9-10a NKJV
David’s last instruction amazed everyone. Not only was Jonathan’s son reinstated with his family’s wealth (that now legally belonged to David), but also Mephibosheth ate every meal at the king’s table for the rest of his life.
How is this story of David and Mephibosheth reflected in the salvation story?
We are all like Mephibosheth– outcasts born into sin, living outside the kingdom of God.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Romans 3:23 NKJV
Out of David’s love for Jonathan, he sought to bless any of Jonathan’s relatives left in the land. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, goes to look for us out of His lovingkindness and brings us to Himself.
“…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Luke 19:10 NKJV
David legally restored King Saul’s lands and servants back to Saul’s grandson. God makes us joint-heirs with His Son through salvation at the cross.
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.”
Romans 8:16-17a NKJV
King David invited Mephibosheth to dine at his table for the rest of his life. God invites us to eat at His table with Christ for eternity and forever live in His presence.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
Psalm 23:5-6 NKJV
How has the kindness of God changed your life?
Dear Lord, we praise You for seeking us out, inviting us to live in Your kingdom and to eat with You at your table. Thank you for Your precious gift of salvation through Jesus’s blood, shed for us at the cross. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Welcome to our second study about KINDNESS. This week we’ll be reading about the Good Samaritan who showed kindness to aman, beaten and robbed, as he traveled down the road.We’ll also discover some deeper meanings of this parable and how it relates to our lives today.
“ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ”(Luke 10:27 NKJV)
A certain expert in the law stood up in the temple and tested Jesus by asking what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus also tested the lawyer by asking him to explain what the law said about it.
“So he answered and said, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
(Luke 10:27 NKJV)
Jesus commended him for answering correctly, but the lawyer wanted to argue in his own defense by asking, “And who is my neighbor?” (v.29) Apparently, the lawyer felt justified in choosing from an exclusive circle. That question was a springboard for Jesus to answer with a parable.
Here’s a short summary: A man traveled from Jerusalem to Jericho and encountered a band of thieves who beat and robbed him, leaving him naked and half-dead. A priest and a Levite both passed him by, but later a Samaritan stopped to help. He applied first-aid to his wounds and carried him on his animal to an inn where he cared for him. The next day the Samaritan paid the innkeeper to take care of the man in his absence and promised to pay him any additional costs upon his return.
Then Jesus questioned the lawyer. “ ‘So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?’ And he replied, ‘He who showed mercy on him.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’ ”
(Luke 10:36-37 NKJV)
“Who is my neighbor?” (v.29)
Jesus rubbed more salty truth into the lawyer’s query by choosing a Samaritan as the hero of the parable. A Samaritan was the most unlikely person to help a Jew according to the culture of that day.
Notice that right off the bat, the Lord brought in two clashing cultures who had no dealings with one another. (To understand why not, click HERE to read last week’s post.) So, right away this story must have sounded unbelievable to the ears of the scholarly lawyer.
The beaten, naked, half-dead man on life’s road is each one of us.
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.”
(John 10:10a NKJV)
2. The priest and the Levite represent the lawyer but can signify anyone who reacts to others’ needs with a cold heart.
“And He said, ‘Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.’ ”
(Luke 11:46 NKJV)
3. The Samaritan is Jesus, a kindhearted, compassionate person who doesn’t hesitate to help anyone in need, whether in or outside his cultural or religious circle. He accepts us just as we are.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
(Galatians 6:2 NKJV)
“If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin.”
(James 2:8-9 NKJV)
4. When we become saved,the Lord pours in the oil and the wine to heal all our inner and outer wounds, and he binds us up with His tender mercies.
“Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, For they are from of old.”
(Psalm 25:6 NKJV)
5. He carries us to the inn, His house of worship where we are sheltered and protected. Therewe grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ during our earthly sojourn.
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”
(Ephesians 2:19 NKJV)
6. The Innkeeper is God the Holy Spirit. Jesus paid the price to Father God for our sins by shedding His blood and dying on the cross in our place. We reside on earth with our Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to care for us until Jesus returns to take us to heaven.
“And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”
(I John 2:2 NKJV)
Jesus is our picture of true kindness…
Jesus gives us a picture of what true kindness looks like. Like Him, let’s show mercy to kindly help others in need. Let’s lead the lost to the lovingkindness of the cross.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
(Ephesians 2:4-7 NKJV)
Do you love God with all your heart, soul, strength, mind–and your neighbor as yourself?
How do you show God’s lovingkindness to your neighbor?
Dear Lord, We love and praise You for being our Good Samaritan and giving us eternal life. May we generously give Your love away to those who are hurting and always love our neighbors as ourselves. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Welcome to our final summer review lesson. This week we’ll review the theme of salvation, which is the ultimate gift of LOVE from God. Let’s travel back to the night when Nicodemus secretly visited Jesus to ask Him questions about how to be born again.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17 NKJV).
Nicodemus secretly met with the Lord one night, so he could question Him about His miraculous works. Can’t we identify with this Pharisee’s literal thinking? I know I can. Even with all his religious education and high position as a ruler of the Jews, he was baffled by Jesus’s statement that “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
God is spirit…
Jesus took the opportunity to teach Nicodemus the difference between the flesh and the Spirit. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). Jesus used the wind as an example to illustrate this principle. “‘The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit’” (John 3:8).
Spiritual birth, a mystery…
Jesus explained spiritual birth to Nicodemus, a Torah scholar and intellectual who found Jesus’s teaching incredible. As was Jesus’s custom, He used an illustration to express what salvation is like–a mystery of God that we feel and witness but cannot see with the naked eye. Perhaps that’s why intellectuals, even today, find this concept difficult to understand because it can’t be dissected and examined under a microscope. It’s a spiritual place in our heart where true salvation takes place.
The consequence of Adam and Eve’s disobedience sentenced every person to be born into spiritual death, a condition which separates us from God. But God sent His Son into the world to save mankind and reunite us with the Father. God provided His only Son as the perfect sacrificial Lamb who laid down His life on the cross. Jesus took the sins of the world on Himself so we could be saved through His shed blood. Everyone who believes in the Name of Jesus will be born again, but those who don’t believe are already condemned.
Are you saved? Or not?…
How about you? If you’ve been born-again, would you share your salvation story with us? If not, pray this prayer below and let us know so we can rejoice with you! “‘Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents’” ~ (Luke 15:10).
Dear Heavenly Father, I’m a sinner, and I want to be born again. I confess and repent of my sins. Come into my life and be my Lord and Savior. Wash my sins away in the blood of the Lamb and robe me in Your righteousness. Thank you for making me alive in Jesus and writing my name in the Lamb’s Book of Life. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Thank you for joining me this month to review some of our past posts about LOVE, JOY, PEACE, and PATIENCE. I’m looking forward to resuming our regular study in August, focusing on KINDNESS. How does the Lord show kindness to us? How can we show more kindness to others? Next week we’ll begin with the story of the Woman at the Well and learn how to win the lost to Christ. See you then!
Welcome to our fourth summer review! This week we’ll study about finding God’s patience. Today’s culture encourages prompt satisfaction of our needs and wants without any wait, so we’re out of practice when it comes to patience. Let’s explore Scripture and find the blessings that will be ours by planting and nurturing this important fruit of the Spirit.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4 NKJV).
James instructs us to respond with JOY when we encounter trials in our lives. Although we aim to avoid them, we are all dealt those unavoidable cards at some point in life. Trials come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors, and sometimes it seems as though they will never end. So, since they are inevitable, how should we handle them? Do they have a purpose?
God uses trials to test our faith. Our measure of faith may only be as small as a mustard seed, “‘but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade’” (Mark 4:32 NKJV). Our faith grows a little more through each test and has the capacity to become huge.
And the product of tested faith? Patience. James outlines the method for acquiring the precious fruit of patience as we endure trials. Here they are:
First, ask for God’s wisdom…
James tells us to first pray for God’s wisdom, which is free for the asking. “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6 NKJV). Doubt produces double-mindedness, which in turn robs us of God’s blessings. We can’t receive wisdom with one foot in the world and the other in the Spirit. Ask, believe, and rest in the assurance that you have received God’s free gift.
Wisdom will also help us when we encounter persecution. As Jesus faced persecution, so may we. The godly person prospers by enduring the noonday heat, which in turn scorches and wilts the persecutors of their faith. “Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away” (James 1:9-10 NKJV). Wisdom will stand by us through trials and help us develop patience instead of a wrong response.
Second, understand the source of temptations…
Temptations can be hard to resist, and to do so requires spiritual strength. Does God send temptations to us? No, not ever! We must never blame God for those trials because He is a good God who never tempts anyone to do evil. The true source of temptation comes from our own desires of the flesh. “Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:15 NKJV).
Last, embrace these for success…
We must control our tongues and our tempers. Learning to practice silence and good listening skills help us walk in God’s righteousness. “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20 NKJV). Here “slow” means patient.
As we humbly receive the Word that saves our souls, we must be doers of the Word and not merely hearers. “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25 NKJV).
Practice pure religion and bridle the tongue. “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:26-27 NKJV).
Merriam Webster defines patience as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
In our hurry-up, instant world, our culture encourages impatience and entitlement. We abhor trials and try to avoid them at all costs. God, on the other hand, performs a work inside each of us to give us patience, a precious fruit of the Spirit, to make us complete. However, we must slow down and learn how to wait. Learning how to develop patience may take a lifetime.
How can we develop patience in such an impatient world? James gives us an example. “See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient” (James 5:7b-8a NKJV).
What are you waiting on today? Whether it’s about finances, relationships, education, health, or something else—allow God to enlarge your faith. As you wait, you’ll be growing branches of patience inside your spirit. After all, “Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4 NKJV).
Dear Heavenly Father, help us face our trials with JOY. Grow our faith and produce the fruit of patience in our spirits. We thank you for making us perfect and complete through endurance in Jesus’s Name. Amen.
Welcome to our summer review about finding God’s peace. This week we’ll be exploring how to experience peace in our relationships with people. We’ll begin by looking at Moses and how he dealt with his huge assignment of leading the Israelites to the Promised Land–a 40-day journey that took an exhausting forty years.
“When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7 NKJV).
When God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses balked. He claimed that neither the sons of Israel nor Pharaoh would listen to him due to his poor speaking skills. How could he find peace and have success in these new relationships God had thrust upon him?
“So the Lord said to Moses: ‘See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you. And Aaron your brother shall tell Pharaoh to send the children of Israel out of his land. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them’” (Exodus 7:1-5 NKJV).
But God had a plan. He appointed Aaron, Moses’s brother, as his spokesman. He also explained His plan from beginning to end and what Moses could expect from his relationship with Pharaoh.
Each time, Moses approached Pharaoh’s throne to make his request with humility coupled with God’s reassuring strength. God had already told Moses that Pharaoh would refuse to honor his word.
So, the plagues arrived as Pharaoh refused to let God’s people go: water turned to blood, frogs, lice, flies, diseased livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness– and finally– the death of every firstborn, which pried open Pharaoh’s chains and freed the Israelites.
Isn’t it interesting that God purposefully hardened Pharaoh’s heart?He tells us why: “‘…so that My wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt’” (Exodus 11:9b NKJV). God always brings glory to His Name.
Therefore, God had a greater purpose in Moses’s relationship with Pharaoh. He also proved that He protects His children even while punishing His enemies. We witness this in two places: when Egypt was covered in darkness and when God smote the firstborn of the Egyptians. (Click HERE to read about the miracle of light and HERE to read about the miracle of Passover.)
God had forewarned Moses of His plan but also promised His peace and protection.“‘But against none of the children of Israel shall a dog move its tongue, against man or beast, that you may know that the Lord does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel’” (Exodus 11:7 NKJV).
How does this lesson about Moses help us find peace today? We’re all called to be leaders, whether it’s in ministry, our jobs, or our families. No matter our title, we all must relate to someone above us as well as to those equal and below us in rank.
Relating to those superior in rank
Just like Moses approached Pharaoh, we should approach those who rank above us with respect, patience, and humility. But, in spite of our best efforts, what if our superiors treat us badly? Moses must have dreaded the job of going before Pharaoh to continuously ask for freedom, but remembering God’s promises pushed him forward.
We, too, must go forward as God directs. If it’s God’s will, we must patiently endure harsh treatment, resting in God’s promises and the knowledge that He is in control.
Peter sums it up: “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good” (I Peter 2:13-14 NKJV).
On the other hand, God is everyone’s superior. Moses found out the hard way that the Lord has boundaries he mustn’t cross. After God instructed Moses to speak to the rock so that it would yield water, Moses struck the rock twice instead of obeying the Lord. Therefore, God refused to allow him to set foot in the Promised Land. (You can read about it HERE.)
Relating to those equal in rank
Our relationships with friends and family may be sweet one day and sour the next. These relationships may steal our peace the most. How can we learn to live without struggling against our loved ones?
Moses struggled in his relationship with his siblings, but God defended him. His older brother, Aaron, and his sister, Miriam, spoke against him because of the Ethiopian woman Moses had married. “So they said, ‘Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?’ And the Lord heard it” (Numbers 12:2 NKJV). God proceeded to give the two a dressing down for judging their brother, whom God honored as His faithful servant and with whom He spoke face to face. God’s punishment slammed Miriam by making her become leprous. After Aaron repented and appealed to Moses, Moses appealed to God for her deliverance. (Click HERE to read the story.)
Let’s heed wise advice from Peter for finding peace: “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 2:8-9 NKJV).
Relating to those below us in rank
Do you gaze at those in charge of you and dream of future leadership? It may look easy on the outside, but the responsibility is heavy. Those who lead others at work and/or children at home must learn excellent coping skills for maintaining peace.
As the Israelites roamed the desert for forty years, Moses had a plethora of duties as he cared for the people–and no peace. He dealt with everything–from their daily complaints to wars against various enemies they encountered on the way to the Promised Land. We can witness, for example, how Moses suffered over their demands for food (Click HERE) and for water:
“Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water, that we may drink.’ So Moses said to them, ‘Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the Lord?’ And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, ‘Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?’ So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!”’ (Exodus 17:2-4 NKJV).
Delegating authority is a good solution to attaining peace. As Moses experienced exhaustion and frustration from dealing with the people, God used Moses’s father-in-law to help find peace through governance. Jethro recognized that Moses couldn’t bear up under such a weight of responsibility and convinced him to get help. Read about Jethro’s advice HERE.
Peter shares the recipe for finding peace in every relationship
“For ‘He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers’” (1 Peter 3:8-12a NKJV).
Throughout our lifetimes, we’ll experience different relationships with people as varied as the stars. Let’s heed the Apostle Paul’s encouragement when he says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18 NKJV).
How do you find God’s peace in your relationships?
Dear Father, we look to You for divine guidance and wisdom as we seek peace in our relationships. With your help, may we love one another and live in peace all our days. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Welcome to Week 10 where we’ve been studying the second Fruit of the Spirit, JOY. Last week we explored how JOY comes through trials in our lives. It’s a paradox for something so wonderful to come out of difficulty or suffering. (Click HERE to read Week 9) Where does JOY originate? Deep in our salvation, placed there the moment we say YES to Jesus. This week we’ll see what happens in heaven when just one sinner repents.
When tax collectors and sinners gathered around Jesus, the Pharisees and scribes criticized Jesus for allowing such men to be near Him. That sparked Jesus to relate three parables directed at these hypocritical Pharisees.
The first one deals with a shepherd who leaves his flock of ninety-nine to seek for one that is lost. “‘And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing’” (v.5). But his JOY multiplies after returning home. He invites friends and neighbors to a party to celebrate with him over finding his one lost sheep.
The second parable tells about a woman who loses one of her ten silver coins. She lights a lamp, sweeps her house, and searches diligently until she finds it. “‘And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’” (v.9)
The third relates the story of the prodigal son. After he squanders all his money, he finds himself working in a pigsty where even the pig’s food looks appealing to his empty stomach. After he comes to himself, he makes the long journey home to appeal to his father to make him as one of his slaves.
Much to his surprise, his father runs out to meet him and welcomes him with a joyful kiss. “‘But the father said to the servant, “Bring out the best robe and put it on him and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” And they began to be merry’” (v. 22-24).
Have you ever lost something of great value? I have. The situation caused my heart to canter and my mind to swirl in panic. I retraced my steps and got on hands and knees, feeling behind furniture and shining a flashlight into dark corners. Finally, my lost treasure was discovered–usually in the last place I looked. My relief turned to JOY, and my family and friends rejoiced with me.
What do these parables have in common? Probably something that has happened to each of us–something precious is lost and later is found. And the finders’ joy overflows to a celebration.
But the meaning is far deeper…
“‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me’” (Revelation 3:20 NKJV).
The lost sheep, coin, and prodigal son represent those who are lost in their sins but who find JOYful salvation at the cross of Christ. Jesus uses these parables to show the Pharisees and scribes how God feels about one lost sinner. Each person is so special that God personally seeks out each one. Then He calls His angels in heaven together to rejoice with Him over every person who repents.
As an altar minister at my church, I have prayed with several people over the years for salvation. Through our tears, I remind them that the angels are celebrating JOYfully in heaven as well as writing their name in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
There is no sweeter time of celebration on heaven or on earth than when a lost soul repents and meets Jesus as personal Lord and Savior. “The king shall have JOY in Your strength, O Lord; and in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!” (Psalm 21:1 NKJV)
Can you share your story of JOY with us, either about your own salvation or the salvation of a friend or loved one?
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for making the salvation experience one that is full of JOY. May we feast on the JOY of our salvation and also rejoice with those whose salvation we witness. We ask You to send forth Your Spirit to draw in the Lost and use us as Your witnesses during these last days. In Your Son’s Name we pray, Amen.
Welcome to the month of July! I’m pausing our study of the Fruit of the Spirit until August. In the meantime, we’ll be reviewing some of our past posts to refresh our spirits during this hot month. Pull up a chair on the “front porch” and enjoy a cool glass of lemonade as we dive into the theme of LOVE.
Memory Verse: “He said, ‘Do not stretch out your hand against the lad and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me’” (Genesis 22:12 NKJV).
God tested Abraham by commanding him to take his only son, Isaac, to Moriah to offer him as a burnt offering to God. After a two days’ journey, he told the young men traveling with them, “’Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you’” (v.5). As they went up the mountain, Isaac asked his father, “’Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham said, ‘God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son’” (v.7-8).
The story of Abraham and Isaac parallels the future story of Jesus’s obedient sacrifice on the cross. God stopped Abraham from plunging the knife into his son’s body, and Abraham’s reward for His obedient faith was great. Read the climax of the story here.
Sacrifice is defined by Merriam-Webster as “an act of offering to a deity something precious especially, the killing of a victim on an altar.”
But in the case of Jesus, He was not a victim. He willingly laid down His life for our sins. That was the very reason He came to earth, to restore our salvation stolen by Satan in the Garden of Eden. Read about it here.
When Jesus walked the earth, He told His disciples: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35 NKJV).
Jesus added, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:12-13 NKJV).
Jesus, the supreme sacrifice…
Jesus complied with God’s request to become the supreme sacrifice for the sins of mankind. He willingly left his abode in heaven with the Father and the Holy Spirit and came into the world through the Virgin Mary. We praise and worship Jesus for His sacrifice on the cross where we are saved through His blood, and our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Choosing the assurance of eternity in God’s kingdom is an awesome gift.
Out of our overflowing love for our Savior, let’s generously demonstrate our love to one another through sacrifice. What better way for us to prove we are His disciples!
Have you ever sacrificed for someone else? Or has someone sacrificed for you? Please encourage us with your story.
Let’s conclude this week’s study with a look at the definition of LOVE as defined by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13: “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” ( v.4-8). To read the full chapter, click here.
I prayerfully leave you with Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Lord, thank you for loving us enough to come to earth and lay down your life so we can be saved. May we love one another and sacrifice for our fellow man, and so prove to be Your disciples. In Your Name, we pray. Amen.
Welcome to our last week of study about patience. This week we’ll study how to be patient as we wait on the Lord. Waiting is proactive. We should be busy in the Lord’s service and fervent prayer, not only for ourselves but for others in similar circumstances.
“But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV).
Pray earnestly and seek God through disciplined prayer.
Listen attentively to His voice by opening our spiritual ears to His leading.
Rest in God’s sovereignty, trusting Him for the ultimate answer.
Serve God while we wait by actively serving others.
And the result for waiting on the Lord?STRENGTH. (Isaiah 40:31)
Inward strength: to persevere
Upward strength: to mount up with eagles’ wings
Outwardstrength: to run and not get weary
Onwardstrength: to walk and not faint
Waiting on the Lord means being in a season where–what we’re waiting for–“IT”– hasn’t happened yet. During this time, we don’t sit back and do nothing, like waiting mindlessly in a line at the market. Instead, we proactively pray and seek God, the truest and most correct ways to wait on Him. Psalm 27 sums it up best:
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:13-14 NASB).
Pray, Trust, and Obey…
As we pray and seek the Lord, we must place all our faith in our good heavenly Father. We must trust in His sovereignty, for He alone is God. We are here to serve Him and bring Him all praise, worship, and glory through our obedience to His Word.
Here’s something I learned the hard way: we don’t have to understand everything first in order to obey God. We may still have unanswered questions, but that’s where trust comes into play.
Take Job, for example. Although he had lost everything and had lots of WHYS, he still worshiped in obedience. In the end, Job learned that God is Sovereign and can be trusted through the worst of trials. Remember…God blessed Job double for all he had lost. (Click HERE to read our study about Job during Week 23 if you missed it.)
The Parable of the Faithful Servant…
In this parable, Jesus compares waiting for the second coming of Christ to servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding. What is the parable’s advice?
“Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them (Luke 12:35-37 NKJV).
As we wait on the Lord, may we faithfully serve one another, praying and showing Christian love…
Are you waiting on physical healing? James instructs us:
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:14-16 NKJV).
Are you waiting on financial provision? Pray for those who are also in material need. Isaiah 37:25 assures us we will have our needs met. The Apostle Paul tells us:
“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NKJV).
Are you waiting on a godly mate? Pray for others who seek a husband or wife. Following are some encouraging verses from Proverbs:
“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22 NKJV).
“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband” (Proverbs 12:4 NKJV).
“Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:10-12 NKJV).
Are you waiting for a life’s situation to change? Jeremiah 29:11 is a favorite to cling to:
“‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you’, says the Lord, ‘thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.'”
All Christians are waiting on the coming of the Lord. Here are some encouraging Scriptures.
The Ascension of Christ:
“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:9-11 NKJV).
The Rapture of the Saints:
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.)
The Second Coming of Christ:
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God…And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:11-13, 16 NKJV).
How about you?
What is IT that you’re waiting for? As Christian brothers and sisters, let’s lift up one another in prayer. May you be blessed as you wait patiently on the Lord.
Dear Father in heaven, we are waiting on You. May we pray with discipline, listen with spiritual ears, rest in your sovereignty, and serve others while we wait. Strengthen us to run and not get weary, to walk and not faint. May we serve You faithfully and work diligently for Your kingdom. Thank you for growing our patience as we wait on You. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Thank you for joining me for our Fruit of the Spirit study. I’ll be taking off the month of July for summer vacation, but I’ll return in August when we’ll continue with KINDNESS. Each Monday in July, I’ll be sharing some of our past posts over Love, Joy, and Peace for you to enjoy in my absence.See yousoon!
What exactly is a parable? According to Merriam-Webster, it’s an allegory or a short fictitious story that teaches a moral or religious principle.
As an agrarian society, the people in Jesus’s day could easily identify with a story about farming. The sower in this parable scattered identical seed on four different types of soil, each yielding different results.
Same seed, different results…
Some seed fell by the wayside or the side of the road. People trampled over it, and birds devoured it before it had a chance to take root.
Some fell on the rock where plants sprang up immediately. But they withered and died just as fast due to a lack of water.
Some fell among thorns, which sprang up and choked out the new plants.
But the seed that fell on the good ground sprang up, producing a crop with a yield hundreds of times over.
“When He [Jesus] had said these things He cried, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear!’” (Luke 8:8b NKJV).
Why Jesus taught with parables…
The disciples asked Jesus why He spoke to the crowds only in parables. “And He said, ‘To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that “Seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand”’” (Luke 8:10 NKJV).
Have you ever heard unbelievers remark that if they try to read God’s Word, it makes no sense? The Word springs from a spiritual source, not from the world’s cistern. That may seem counter-productive, but God’s Word is precious, and Jesus warns not to let “your pearls be trampled by swine” (Click HERE to read Matthew 7:6).
God’s Word provides ample explanation about salvation to draw us to the cross. Accepting Jesus into our hearts as Lord and Savior opens our spiritual eyes and ears to understand His Word. As believers, we cherish, study, and hide His sacred Word in our hearts.
As Jesus explained to His believing disciples, the Word of God produces varied results in different people due to the kind of soil in each person’s heart.
Some hear, but Satan comes to immediately steal it away so that it never has a chance to take root.
Others hear and receive the Word with joy, but as soon as trials or temptations arise, they fall away.
Many bear the cares of the world, along with the pursuit of wealth and pleasures, all which prevent them from bearing mature fruit.
“But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear much fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15 NKJV).
What prevents us from bearing mature fruit…
Cares of the world: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6 NKJV).
The pursuit of wealth: “Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven” (Proverbs 23:4-5 NKJV).
Worldly pleasures: “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? … Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:1,4 NKJV).
The key to mature fruit…
And the most important ingredient? Patience. As we patiently serve the Lord, we must be steadfast while the fruit in our garden matures. Remember that a real gardener must hoe the soil and pluck weeds around the plants as he waits for the fruit and vegetables to mature to ripeness. So we must also patiently care for the Word as it grows in the good soil of our hearts.
Here are some tips that may help encourage you in your growth:
Listen to sermons often, not just once a week. The internet offers a myriad of sites where you can find a specific topic or a special minister. Many have YouTube videos you can watch online. Just type in what you wish in your search bar and see all the possibilities.
Listen to praise and worship music. There are many stations to fit your preferences on Pandora, for example, or you can download music from favorite artists to your device. Praise music lifts our spirits and lets us soar!
Too busy to sit down and read the Scriptures as often as you’d like? Download apps like BibleGateway. You can choose which translation you prefer and set it to read to you while you work or drive in your car. It’s a great way for your mind and heart to always be full of God’s Word.
Pray without ceasing. Talk to Jesus about everything because He cares about you–from your smallest to greatest concerns. He is waiting to have a conversation with you every day.
Are you growing patience in the good soil of your heart?
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the parable of the sower. May the soil of our hearts be tilled and ready to receive your seeds of patience today. Let us flourish with the sweet rain of the Holy Spirit and let us bask in Your light as we grow mature fruit. We give You all the praise and the glory. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.