Archive for the ‘conduct’ Category
1. WHEN WE TEACH
2 Timothy 4:2 Be ready to spread the word whether or not the time is right. Point out errors, warn people, and encourage them. Be very patient when you teach. (GW)
How was Timothy to preach the word? With patience.
Any time you have the opportunity to preach the word, teach the word or be a witness to someone we need to exhibit great patience.
2. WHEN WE RUN THE RACE
Hebrews 12:1 Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us. (LB)
Each of us as Christians are in a race. Not to compete with each other but to finish. Along the track of life we’re each going to experience ruts and pit falls, be bumped or even trip and fall. The race we are in is not a 100 yard dash, it is a marathon that lasts our entire life. And because of those things we need to run with patience.
Along the way you will be tempted to drop out and give up. You’ll get tired and think you can’t finish the race. That’s why you need to run with patience.
3. WHEN WE SUFFER
2 Thessalonians 1:4 We are happy to tell other churches about your patience and complete faith in God, in spite of all the crushing troubles and hardships you are going through. (LB)
The word patience literally means “long suffering.” That means you can take it for a long time. Most Christians these days don’t know what real suffering is like. In other countries Christians are being killed for their faith in Jesus.
1 Peter 2:20 you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong; but if you do right and suffer for it, and are patient beneath the blows, God is well pleased. (LB)
Most of us can’t suffer through a commercial on TV let alone persecution for our faith in Jesus. That’s why we divorce so easily. That’s why we honk at the car in front of us. Yet, God says to be patient.
Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (NIV)
4. WHEN WE DO GOD’S WILL
When it comes to doing God’s will in your life, there are no shortcuts.
Hebrews 10:36 You need to be patient, in order to do the will of God and receive what he promises. (TEV)
When do you usually ask the Lord to answer a prayer? Now? When you believe the Lord has promised you something, where and when do you look for it? Now? We think in terms of our schedule, not God’s. But in order for God’s will to be done in your life, it is going to take patience on your part.
Because of our lack of patience we get ahead of God and His will for our life. What are some things that motivate us to get ahead of God?
• The intensity of our desire
• A feeling of need
• Wrong thinking
• Pressure from other people
• A wrong view of Who He is
As a result of getting ahead of God’s will we end up disappointed and miss out on God’s bet for our lives.
5. WHEN WE BEAR FRUIT
Luke 8:15 And the seed that fell on the good ground is like those who hear God’s teaching with good, honest hearts and obey it and patiently produce good fruit. (NCV)
Recently I planted a garden in my back yard. Some of the vegetables that I planted were starter plants and others were just seeds. After I had prepared the soil, planted the seed and watered them, I set back and waited for some results. Everyday, since I planted my garden I’ve gone through it looking it over to see if anything was growing or if any fruit was beginning to appear on my plants. Even though I know it takes anywhere between 30 to 60 days for vegetable to mature, I have been impatiently waiting for something to happen.
When producing fruit for God, we must be patient and wait for the results.
When producing fruit for God, after we have prepared the soil through prayer, and have planted the gospel seed within the hearts of those who are lost and have watered it by following up, we must patiently wait upon the Holy Spirit to convict of sin, the word of God to expose sin and God Almighty to give the increase.
How long must we as God’s people be patient?
In the Old Testament a man named Caleb waited 45 years for God to fulfill a promise he had made to him.
James 5:7-8 Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. (NIV)
James tells us to be patient until the coming of the Lord.
Do you need to become more patient? Is it a fruit that can be seen in your life?
What is the secret to becoming more patient?
It is yielding your life to Jesus. If you haven’t done that you can right now by just bowing your head and asking Him to come into your life.
Don’t you wish the world was a perfect place? Someone said that the definition of a perfect world is where: Chocolate would have no calories. Procrastination would be honored as a virtue. Teenagers would rather clean their rooms than talk on the phone. Politicians would pay us taxes. Children on trips would say, “Isn’t riding in the car fun?”. Candy would be considered a vegetable. Children would not develop vocal chords until after they move away from home. Men would go through labor.
Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world so we have to deal with the fourth key to healthy living which is patience, because we all need patience in an imperfect world.
Do you need patience? In this post we’re going to look at why I should be patient. The first reason is…
1. BECAUSE PATIENCE IS BETTER
Ecclesiastes 7:8 The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. (NIV)
When you think of the alternative of patience and the result of not having patience; patience is better! All you have to do is look at a couple of examples in the Bible of people who were impatient and see that patience is always better.
For example, when Saul was King of Israel he was getting ready to fight the Philistines. Samuel the prophet told him to wait for him to arrive so he could make an offering to God. Saul waited for Samuel for seven days, but decided not to wait any longer and offered the burnt offerings to God himself. As a result of his impatience he disobeyed God’s will and God sought out a man “after his own heart” and appointed him as King over Israel. That man was David.
Moses became impatient with Israel in the wilderness and struck the rock. As a result he wasn’t allowed to enter the promised land.
Psalm 27:14 Don’t be impatient. Wait for the Lord, and he will come and save you! Be brave, stouthearted, and courageous. Yes, wait and he will help you. (NIV)
There are many benefits to patience.
• Patience PRODUCES MATURITY
James 1:4 Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do. Then you will be perfect and complete and will have everything you need. (NCV)
• Patience WILL BE REWARDED
Hebrews 6:12b Be like those who through faith and patience will receive what God has promised. (NCV)
Another reason why we should be patient is…
2. BECAUSE PATIENCE IS PROOF
Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
As God’s people, we above all others ought to be the ones who exhibit patience in this world, yet many times we are the one who need patience more than anyone else.
In 1 Corinthians 13:4 Paul told us that one of the characteristics of love is patient.
How can we say that we have love, if we do not first have patience? The answer is, we can’t. So, that’s why we should be patient.
Next time we will look at the “who” of patience.
In my last post we looked at the topic of peace and the Fruit of the Spirit. We learned that we need both the peace of God and the peace with God. But what about having peace with other people. What happens when the peace between you and another person no longer exists. How do you restore it? It’s by being a peacemaker.
Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. (NIV)
Today we’re going to look at five ways to become a peacemaker.
1. THROUGH COOPERATION
Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (NIV)
Not only are we to be at peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ, but also “with everyone.” What does Paul mean by the phrase, “as far as it depends on you?” He means that it’s our responsibility as individuals to do all that we can do to live in peace with all men, and not wait upon someone else to take the first step.
Psalm 34:14 Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. (NIV)
You need to take the initiative and not wait for the other person to make the first move. In 1979 Anwar Sadat was given the Nobel peace prize. Why? Because he took the initiative. He broke through a 2000 year barrier and was the first Arab leader to fly to Israel and set down and talk. Peacemakers always take the initiative.
2 Timothy 2:22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (NIV)
One of the most basic reasons why peace does not exist between husbands and wives, church members, and churches is because someone is too proud to take the first step, and refuses to initiate peace.
Yet even when one party is willing to have peace, it takes two to make it complete. That’s why Paul begins Romans 12:18 with the words, “If it is possible”.
Even though one party might do everything in their power to bring about peace, there are still those who refuse this offer of peace.
For example, even though God has made it possible for all mankind to be at peace with Him by giving His Son, Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for our sins upon the cross of Calvary, there are still millions today who refuse to accept this offer of peace from God. While we might not be able to be at peace with everyone all the time, we can certainly try.
Romans 14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. (NIV)
While many people might be seeking ways to bring about dissension, strife and hatred, the Bible teaches us to do the things that will lead to peace. What is another way we can be peacemakers and bring about peace? Second, we can be peacemakers…
2. THROUGH FORGIVENESS
Matthew 5:23-24 So if you… remember that your brother has something against you, 24 …go at once and make peace… (TEV)
If you want to have peace you will need to set up a meeting so that you can talk about the offense. When should you do this? Jesus said, “go at once”. That means, don’t put it off. You might think things will get better over time, but actually, the longer you put off talking about them the worse things are going to get. So “go at once”.
That doesn’t mean you run headlong into an argument. It doesn’t mean you go mad. There are some things you need to do before you go. One of the things you need to do is pray.
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
Without prayer you can’t have peace in your own heart or achieve peace with others. But what do you pray about? Before you confront the person you need to pray for and seek God’s wisdom in the matter. Make sure you ask God for direction and insight so you can achieve peace.
James 3:17-18 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is… peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds. It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness. (LB)
Whatever you plant, you’re going to reap. That’s the law of the harvest. It’s a universal principle. If you plant inflexibility, dominance and insistence, you’re going to reap conflict. But if you plant the seeds of peace, you’re going to reap the blessing of peace in your life.
Something else you pray for before you go to confront someone is humility.
1 Peter 5:5b All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (NIV)
Doing these things before you go and confront the person is vitally important.
Luke 17:3 So watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.
That doesn’t mean you attack the person. Instead you need to focus on the problem that exists between you. It takes courage and boldness to confront someone.
Proverbs 10:10b …bold reproof leads to peace. (LB)
The question is, “What if the person keeps causing problems?” What if they say they won’t do it again, but then they… do it again?
Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (NIV)
Why do we have to forgive each other so many times? Look at what this next passage says about that.
Ephesians 4:31-32 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (NIV)
It’s because Christ has forgiven us! You’ll never have to forgive some else as many times as Christ has forgiven you! So, I can be a peacemaker through cooperation and forgiveness. A third way I can be a peacemaker is…
3. THROUGH GOD’S WORD
Psalm 119:165 Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble. (NLT)
When you’re following the Lord’s commands and doing what He wants us to do, then you’re going to be at peace. The reason why we have so many conflicts with each other is because someone isn’t listening to God’s word.
Proverbs 16:7 When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him. (NIV)
Yet, what does the Bible say about those who are wicked, and refuse to obey God?
Isaiah 48:22 “There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.” (NIV)
2 Peter 1:2 Do you want more and more of God’s kindness and peace? Then learn to know him better and better. (LB)
That means we need to ready and study the Bible. That means we need to memorize the Bible. That means we need to practice the Bible. That means you need to come to church and hear the Bible.
So, I can be a peacemaker through cooperation, through forgiveness, through God’s word and fourth…
4. THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT
Romans 8:6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. (NIV)
When you set your mind upon the things of God, and yield yourself to the Holy Spirit to be used by Him as He sees fit, then you’ll have peace. The natural result of being filled with the Holy Spirit is having peace in our lives because the fruit of the Holy Spirit consists of peace.
Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (NIV)
The key here is surrendering my life to the control of the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to fill my life each and every day.
So, I can be a peacemaker through cooperation, through forgiveness, through God’s word, through the Holy Spirit and lastly, I can have peace and be a peacemaker…
5. THROUGH JESUS CHRIST
1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace… (NIV)
This shows us that the source of all peace must come through God Almighty. The closer you get to God, the more peace you’re going to have in your life.
2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. (NIV)
Is there any circumstance where God isn’t able to give us peace? God is able to give us peace in every circumstance in life. It makes no difference how bad the circumstances are, God is able and wants to give us peace.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (NIV)
The peace that God wants you to have doesn’t come from the world or the things of this world. The peace that the world offers us is temporary, and only able to help in certain circumstances, but the peace that God offers through His Son, Jesus Christ, is eternal and able to help under any CIRCUMSTANCE.
Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV)
Jesus can take the broken pieces of your life and replace them with His unbroken peace. He’s the secret of peace. When you get Him in your life you’re going to be at peace with God and then you’re going to have more peace with other people.
God is the original peacemaker. He made peace with us through His son Jesus Christ and has given you the ministry of being a peacemaker. When you’re being a peacemaker and restoring relationships, you’re doing the work of God.
Who do you need to seek reconciliation with? A Husband? Wife? A daughter? A son? A neighbor? A church member?
Before you try to seek peace with someone else, you first need to have peace within yourself. Where do you find the peace you need in your heart in order to make peace with others? It’s through the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. You need to ask God to put His Spirit of Peace in your heart.
Your life is like a tube of toothpaste, whatever’s inside is going to come out when you’re squeezed. If you’re filled with God’s peace, His peace is going to come out when you’re being squeezed and feeling the pressures of life. But if you’re filled with yourself, ego and pride, that’s what’s going to come out when your being squeezed.
Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of heart that comes from Christ be always present in your hearts and lives… (LB)
I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to update my blog lately. Over the past month our website was under attack from viruses and then my Mom passed away. But our site is healthy again and it is time to move on.
We’ve been looking at the “Nine Secrets Of Healthy Living” based on the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:23-23.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. (NIV)
Today we’re looking at the characteristic of peace. Basically there are two aspects of peace. One aspect is called the “peace with God”. Another aspect is called the “peace of God”. Having “peace with God” means I have a spiritual relationship with God through his son Jesus Christ. Having the “peace of God” means that my life is characterized by peace.
Both of these are very important and necessary in the life of a child of God. That’s because a person who has both the “peace of God” and “peace with God” is going to live a spiritually healthy life.
Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. (NIV)
Jesus said that if you want to be blessed in your life you have to be a peacemaker. As Christians we are to be the “peacemakers” of this world. After all, we have the message of peace, and know the Prince of Peace and have experienced both the peace of God and with God.
Out of all the people in the world, we as God’s people ought to be the first ones to seek after and pursue peace, yet sad to say, we often are the last ones to do this.
Proverbs 29:8 Fools start fights everywhere while wise men try to keep peace. (LB)
It’s foolish to start arguments but it’s wise to keep the peace. Over and over in the Bible we are commanded to live in peace with each other.
Mark 9:50b Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other. (NIV)
1 Thessalonians 5:13b Live in peace with each other. (NIV)
2 Corinthians 13:11 And now, my friends, good-bye! Strive for perfection; listen to my appeals; agree with one another; live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. (TEV)
1 Corinthians 7:15c God has called us to live in peace. (NIV)
So, how can I be a peacemaker? It’s by doing five things which we will look at next time.
Doctors are always telling us how to be healthier. They say if we want to live a healthy life we need to eat the right kind of food. They also tell us that to be healthy we need to get the right amount of exercise. But something else that they talk about that is very important is that if we want to be healthier we need to be happier. That’s because being healthy has a lot to do with your mental outlook on life.
But what we’re going to talk about today is much better than happiness. Today we’re going to look at the fruit of the Spirit called, “Joy.”
There’s a big difference between happiness and joy. Happiness depends upon happenings. Happiness is external; joy is internal. Happiness is based on circumstances; joy is based on Christ. Happiness is based on chance; joy is based on your choice.
Proverbs 15:13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.
How many of you are glad to be alive? How many of you are glad to be forgiven? How many of you are glad you are a Christian? How many of you are glad to have a home up in heaven? You need to inform your face! Before joy can be expressed on some people’ faces, they’re going to have to have God give them a face lift.
As God’s people we ought to be the most joyful people on the face of the earth. Yet it seems as though many of God’s people walk around with frowns and scowls on their faces these days, rather than grins and smiles.
What are some of the things that can fill us with joy? Let’s look at five things that God does for us that can fill us with joy.
1. I CAN BE FULL OF JOY BECAUSE OF GOD’S LOVE
Psalm 31:7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. (NIV)
What is it about God’s love that should fill us with joy? Knowing that God cares about what I am going through should fill me with joy. David said that God sees my affliction and knows the anguish of my soul. God knows what you’re going through and He cares!
Job 36:5 Although God is mighty, he cares about everyone… (CEV)
1 Peter 5:7 God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to him. (CEV)
2. I CAN BE FULL OF JOY BECAUSE OF GOD’S SALVATION
Luke 10:17, 20 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” …20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (NIV)
The disciples were filled with joy because the demons were subject to them. But Jesus told them to rejoice because “your names are written in Heaven.”
Knowing that we are forgiven of our sins and have a home up in heaven should give us great joy.
1 Peter 1:8 You have not seen Christ, but still you love him. You cannot see him now, but you believe in him. So you are filled with a joy that cannot be explained, a joy full of glory. (NCV)
Some today have lost the joy that they once had in their salvation. Instead of being full of joy, they are full of grief and sadness.
Psalm 32:3, 5 There was a time when I wouldn’t admit what a sinner I was.* But my dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration… 5 until I finally admitted all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, “I will confess them to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. (LB)
Once you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior you will then experience God’s joy in your life.
3. I CAN BE FULL OF JOY BECAUSE OF GOD’S WORD
Jeremiah 15:16 When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty.
As God’s people, when we hear the Word of God taught and preached, or when we are just read it and study it on our own, it ought to fill us with joy. The very reason why the Bible was written was so we could have joy.
1 John 1:4 We write this to make our joy complete. (NIV)
When you discover the teachings, truths and promises God has made to you in His word it is going to cause you to be filled with great joy.
Matthew 13:44 The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (NIV)
4. I CAN BE FULL OF JOY BECAUSE OF GOD’S CHURCH
Psalm 122:1 I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” (NIV)
One of the things that should fill us with joy is the opportunity to go to church and worship God. Today for many people, going to church is the most boring and unhappy day of their lives, yet David was glad to be able to go to God’s house.
Psalm 118:24 This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (NIV)
I should be full of joy because when I go to church and worship God he fills me with the strength and joy I need to make it through life.
1 Chronicles 16:27 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling place. (NIV)
Isaiah 56:7a I will bring these people to my holy mountain. I will give them joy in my house of prayer. (ICB)
If you want to have joy in your life you need to come to church each week. When you come to church there will be several ways that you can express your joy.
One way we can express our joy to God when we come to church is through our SERVICE.
Psalm 100:2 Serve the Lord with joy; come before him with singing.
A lot of times instead of serving God with joy and a smile on our face, we do it with a disgruntled attitude while we gripe and complain about it. God wants us to serve Him with joy.
Another way to express your joy when you come to church is when you SING PRAISES to the Lord.
1 Samuel 18:6 When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with tambourines and lutes.
Another way in which we as God’s people can express joy is through MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.
1 Chronicles 15:16 David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brothers as singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals. (NIV)
Psalm 47:1 Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. (NIV)
Another way that you can express your joy when you come to church is through your GIVING.
2 Corinthians 8:1-2 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. (NIV)
2 Corinthians 9:7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (NIV)
5. I CAN BE FULL OF JOY BECAUSE OF PROBLEMS
James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.
One of the hardest things to do as a child God is to be full of joy even when we are having troubles and trials. Yet, we are commanded in this verse to consider it all joy, when we encounter various trials.
Even though we as individuals, or our church as a whole may have troubles, we should not allow these things to get us down, but rather we should realize that they serve a purpose in our lives and consider it a time of joy, rather than a time of sorrow and grief.
1 Peter 4:12-13 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (niv)
2 Corinthians 7:4d …in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds. (NIV)
Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Romans 5:3-4 We can be full of joy here and now, even in our trials and troubles. These very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character… (Ph)
It’s always easier to handle a hurt when you know God can use it for good in your life. That’s what this verse is saying. How does He use our hurts? He uses them to build our character, if you choose to respond in the right way.
Paul says in this passage that “We can be full of joy here and now.” He’s not talking about just having joy in the sky by and by, he’s talking about having it now, even if you’re having trails and troubles in your life.
Some people think, “When I get all my problems solved, I’ll be happy.” Fat chance! Life is a series of solving problems. As soon as you get one solved you’re going to have another one that’s probably even bigger. God allows us to go through these trials and troubles to build our character. If the only time you learn to have joy in your life is when you don’t have any problems; guess what? You’re never going to have joy in your life.
Philippians 4:4 Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice! (LB)
How is that possible? To always be joyful? When Paul wrote this verse he was in prison and about to be executed. He was writing to the Phillippian church which is the New Testament book on joy. Nineteen times in the book of Phillippians he used the word “joy” or “rejoice”. If you’re depressed, you need to read through that book. It’s only four chapters. Underline whenever the word “joy” or “rejoice” is used.
You have to learn to have joy even in the middle of problems while you’re working on them. You don’t wait for all your problems to be solved. Be joyful even in tough times. That’s where joy is learned. How do you do that? How is it possible to rejoice in the midst of difficult circumstances?
1. BECAUSE OF GOD’S PRESENCE
Isaiah 43:2-3 When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you. 3 For I am the Lord your God… (TEV)
The fact is no matter what you’re going through, you’re not going through it alone. So it doesn’t have to overwhelm you. What God wants to say to each of you today is He is with you right now.
Psalm 16:11 You make the path of life known to me. Complete joy is in your presence. Pleasures are by your side forever. (GW)
Anytime I don’t have joy it’s a warning light that I’m not spending enough time with God. It means I’ve forgotten that He’s with me. Second, I can be joyful in spite of my circumstances…
2. BECAUSE OF GOD’S PLAN
He’s not only with me, He has a plan for me. God isn’t worried about the problem you’re going through. He knew it was coming, He saw it, and He wants you to trust him.
Jeremiah 29:11 I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope. (GW)
Psalm 50:14c I want you to trust me in your times of trouble, so I can rescue you and you can give me glory. (LB)
Lastly, I can be joyful in spite of my circumstances …
3. BECAUSE OF GOD’S POWER
Psalm 62:8 …trust him all the time. Pour out your longings before him, for he can help! (LB)
God never puts more on you than He puts in you to bear it up. He will help me.
Psalm 43:5 O my soul, why be so gloomy and discouraged? Trust in God! I shall again praise him for his wondrous help; he will make me smile again, for he is my God! (LB)
Have you lost your joy? Are you discouraged? God is waiting to help you. Jesus said, “Ask, that your joy may be full.” He’s waiting for you to ask so He can help you.
The Bible says “the fruit of the Spirit is joy”. That means joy isn’t something you can manufacture on your own. You can’t just work it up. It’s the natural by-product of letting Jesus Christ live in and through you. When you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior you can experience His joy no matter what the situation is.
Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (NIV)
Some of you today need that kind of joy in your life. If you’d like to receive God’s joy, you can by simply receiving His Son Jesus Christ as your personal savior. Let me know if you made that decision.
1. LOVE IS THE GREATEST
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (NIV)
The first thing that the fruit of the spirit consists of is “love”. What does the Bible say about love?
Here in these verses Paul tells us that without love we are no better than a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal”. He tells us that without love we are nothing. And if we do not have love, everything else we do is worthless and does not benefit or profit us.
What are some of the other things that Paul says about love?
1) It is patient.
2) It is kind
3) It is not jealous.
4) It does not brag
5) It is not arrogant.
6) It does not act unbecomingly.
7) It doesn’t seek its own.
8) It is not provoked.
9) It does not take into account a wrong suffered.
10) It does not rejoice in unrighteousness.
11) It rejoices with the truth.
12) It bears all things.
13) It believes all things.
14) It hopes all things.
15) it endures all things.
16) And it never fails.
As God’s people if we are producing love in our lives, then each one of these characteristics should also be found in our lives.
While many people today emphasize the gifts of prophecy, tongues and knowledge, Paul tells us in the last verse of this chapter that, “now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
What else does the Bible say about love?
2. LOVE IS THE BOND OF UNITY
Colossians 3:14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (NIV)
What does Paul mean by the word “perfect” in this verse? He means that nothing else can substitute for love and still bring about unity.
In order for there to be unity between a husband and wife, between two friends, between church members or churches, love must exist between them. When there is an absence of unity, this shows that there is an absence of love, and visa versa.
Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs. (NIV)
How is it possible for God’s people to live together in peace and harmony even though we treat each other like “dogs” at times? The answer is, because of love.
If we truly love one another as we should, then we will not be so fast to judge one another, be vengeful towards one another, or get our feelings hurt every time someone says something to us. And if someone does sin against us, our love for that person should over ride our fleshly nature and cover that transgression.
When you cover something that means you can’t see it anymore. And if someone sins against us personally, our love should cover it so that we no longer see it or remember it any more.
If we love one another as we should, then we will not be bringing up things that someone did in the past, but rather we will forget those things as God has for us.
Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (NIV)
What else does the Bible say about love?
3. LOVE IS PROOF OF DISCIPLESHIP
John 13:34-35 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (NIV)
Here in these verses Jesus commands us as disciples to love one another just as He loved us. What will happen if we are producing love for one another. Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples…”
The early Latin writer Tertullian of Carthage, wrote that the one thing that converted him to Christianity was not the philosophical arguments they gave him, because he could always find a counterpoint for every argument presented. “But they demonstrated something I didn’t have. The thing that converted me to Christianity was the way they loved each other.”
Matthew 7:20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (NIV)
If we are producing love as we should, then those we come in contact with will recognize us as followers of Christ. That’s why we are told to do the following:
1 Corinthians 14:1 Follow the way of love… (NIV)
1 Corinthians 16:14 Do everything in love. (NIV)
Since we are commanded to produce love in our lives, how should this be done?
Romans 12:9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. (NIV)
The word “sincere” comes from the Greek word “hypokrisis” which means, “to play the part”.
Today I am afraid that to many of us go around telling people that we love them, when in reality we hate their guts. That’s being a hypocrite.
Love is not to be produced in hypocrisy, but rather in sincerity.
1 Peter 1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. (NIV)
This shows us that it takes a lot on our part to love, and therefore we must work hard to produce love in our lives.
4. LOVE IS AN ACTION
1 John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (NIV)
As God’s people we should not only produce love with our words and tongue, but also with our actions. Love isn’t just a word that comes from our lips when we say, “I love you”. It is an action that can be seen in our lives.
Love is not something you say or feel it’s something you do. It’s a behavior, an action, a way of acting. Love is a verb, it’s something you do. A guy kept telling his girlfriend, “I would die for you.” Eventually she said, “You’re always saying that, but you never do it.” Love is something you do.
One of the actions of love is telling the truth. John said we are to also “love… in truth. Healthy Christians are truthful Christians.
Ephesians 4:15 Love should always make us tell the truth. Then we will grow in every way and be more like Christ…” (CEV)
Every healthy, strong relationship is built on two legs. These two legs help the relationship to stand. If you want to have a healthy relationship, you have to learn how to confront in truth and affirm in love. If you only do one, your relationship isn’t going to be able to stand. Some people do real well when it comes to confronting in truth. But sometimes the truth hurts. So, in order to help the person you also have to affirm that you love them, and let them know that they’re important to you and that you don’t want to hurt the relationship but improve it.
In theory we think that “honesty is the best policy”, but practically, there are times when we don’t think it’s such a good idea.
For instance, you might be thinking, “If I told my husband how I really feel about our marriage, he’d blow up.” “If I told my boyfriend what I don’t like about him, he’d leave me.” “If I told my wife about my frustration with our love life, she’d accuse me of a one-track mind.” “If I told my boss that what we’re doing is unethical, I’d get fired.” “If I confronted my friend and told him he needed counseling, he’d wouldn’t like me anymore.”
Love isn’t always easy or fun. Sometimes it downright tough. That’s why it takes courage to love someone.
Matthew 24:12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. (NIV)
One of the signs of the end times is a lack of love. He says that there will come a time when, “the love of most will grow cold.”
1) Is your love for Jesus what it ought to be, or has it grown cold?
2) Is your love for one another what it ought to be, or has it grown cold?
3) Is your love for this church what it ought to be, or has it grown cold?
4) Is your love for God’s word what it ought to be, or has it grown cold?
5) And is your love for the lost what it ought to be, or has it grown cold?
Revelation 2:4-5 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (NIV)
How do you learn to love like God loves you? How can you have a healthy love?
Ephesians 5:2 Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. (MSG)
Jesus is our example and model in how to love. And the only way you’re ever going to be able to love like Him is by accepting him into your heart. When Jesus died on the cross, He stretched his arms out wide and said, “I love you this much!” That’s how much Jesus loves you! If you haven’t accepted His love for you, I invite you to do it right now.
The IMPERISHABLE crown
The crown of EXULTATION
The crown of RIGHTEOUSNESS
The crown of LIFE
The fifth and final crown that God has available for us as a reward is…
5. THE CROWN OF GLORY
1 Peter 5:2-4 Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. 4And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (NAU)
This crown is different from the others in that it is for those who serve in a pastoral position and faithfully shepherd the flock of God according to the requirements listed in verses 2 and 3. This could refer to both ordained pastors as well as lay pastors who shepherd God’s flock as helpers.
Three things can be seen in these verses concerning the ministry of a pastor or shepherd.
1) He is to feed the church – “shepherd” means “to feed”.
2) He is to exercise oversight over the church.
3) He is to be an example to the church.
Notice also four qualities that should characterize his ministry.
1) Willingness – “not under compulsion, but voluntarily.”
2) Obedience – “according to the will of God.”
3) Right Motivation – “not for sordid gain, but with eagerness.”
4) Servant’s Attitude – “nor yet lording it over those allotted to your charge.”
These are the eternal rewards that a servant of the Lord can receive.
What are we going to do with these crowns if God gives us one of them?
Revelation 4:5-11 From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. 6 Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” 9 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: 11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (NIV)
We will not show them off and brag about them to one another. But rather, we will bow in worship to God and cast our crowns before him, giving him all honor, glory, and praise.
Are you serving God?
Are you influencing those around you to serve the Lord?
Are you going to receive one of these rewards, or will you stand before God empty-handed?
1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.
An elderly missionary couple who had served God for 50 years in a remote African village returned to the United States for a well-earned retirement. When they arrived, however, no one was there to greet them because of some confusion at the mission office. They had no one to help them with their suitcases and trunks, and no one to move them into their home. The old gentleman complained to his wife, “We’ve come home after all these years and there’s no one who cares.”
The man’s bitterness grew as they settled into their new home. His wife, a bit fed up with his complaining, suggested that he take up the matter with God. So the man went to his bedroom and spent time in prayer. When he came out he had a new look on his face, which prompted his wife to ask what had happened.
“Well,” he replied, “I told God that I’ve come home and no one cares.” “And what did God say?” she asked. “He said, ‘You’re not home yet.’”
You too may serve for years in a place where no one notices you or cares what you’ve done. But God sees and cares. One day, when we reach our eternal home, “each one’s praise will come from God” (1 Corinthians 4:5). In the meantime, let’s be faithful.
The world rewards success; but God rewards faithfulness!
[buzzsprout episode='46632' player='true']
The IMPERISHABLE crown
The crown of EXULTATION
The crown of RIGHTEOUSNESS
The fourth crown that is available as a reward from God is…
4. THE CROWN OF LIFE
James 1:12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (NASB)
While every child of God has eternal life, this doesn’t mean that every child of God is going to receive the crown of life. James tells us that this is a crown will be given to those servants who persevere under trial.
Many times when people go through severe intense trials, they turn away from the Lord, His Church and His Word. Jesus tells us to be faithful until death and we shall receive the crown of life.
Revelation 2:10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (NIV)
This crown is promised not only to those who persevere under trial, but to those who persevere and love the Lord at the same time.
Sometimes when people go through trials they become so bitter and critical that they blame God and begin to hate and despise Him. One of the reasons why many people have a hard time dealing with their trials is because they don’t look at them the right way.
There is a story told about a pastor who went to comfort a woman in his church who was going through some severe trials. Unable to make her feel any better, he took some embroidery she had been working on and looked at it and said, “This sure is confusing, why waste your time on it?” The woman took the embroidery from him and turned it over and said, “Now look at it. You were looking at it from the wrong side.” The preacher said, “That’s it exactly. You’re looking at your trials from the wrong side also. Turn them over and look at them from the right side – God’s side.
It’s one thing to just make it through a trial, it’s something else to make it through with the right attitude and learn something from them. To persevere under trials doesn’t just mean to “make it through them.” It also means that your attitude perseveres, your faith perseveres, and your love and devotion for God perseveres! And those who truly persevere under trials will receive the crown of life as a reward from God.
The fifth crown we can receive as a reward from God is called… You’ll find out tomorrow!
[buzzsprout episode='46562' player='true']
For the past few days we’ve been looking at the five crowns mentioned in the Bible. The first crown available to us from God as a reward is the IMPERISHABLE crown. The second crown is the crown of EXULTATION. The third way that God can reward you is with…
3. THE CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
2 Timothy 4:7-8 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. (NAU)
Today there are some who might confuse this with the righteousness which is a gift from God.
The “crown of righteousness” however, is not a gift but a reward which the servant of the Lord can earn if, like Paul, we live each day anticipating the coming of Jesus Christ.
The reward of righteousness is based upon right living as we wait for Jesus to return.
If He should come today
And find my hands so full
Of future plans, however fair,
In which my Savior has no share,
What would He say?
If He should come today
And find my love so cold,
My faith so very weak and dim
I had not looked for Him.
What would He say?
If He should come today
And find that I had not told
One soul about my Heavenly Friend
Whose blessings all my way attend,
What would He say?
If He should come today
Would I be glad, quite glad?
Remembering that He died for all
And none through me had heard His call,
What would He say?
If Jesus should come today, what would He say about your service to Him?
Would He be happy with the way you have served Him… would you receive the crown of righteousness?
If we, as servants of Christ, look for and love the second coming of Jesus, it will affect our lives three ways as seen in verse 7:
1) We will fight the good fight.
2) We will finish the course.
3) We will keep the faith.
Have you ever received one of those sweepstakes letters in the mail? Like the one that says you are an instant millionaire! Sounds exciting doesn’t it? Yet, if you read the fine print you will discover that by law the people who sent you the letter are required to disclose that the chances of you actually winning the said amount are astronomical. One such letter says your chances are 1 in 80 million. Now that’s remote!
Contrast that with Paul’s anticipation of what awaited him in heaven: “There is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8). Note his assurance: “There is laid up for me.” Not “there might be” or “there’s a slight chance,” but rather, “there is.”
J. Oswald Sanders writes, “This crown is awarded to those who have completed the Christian race with integrity, with eyes fixed on the coming Lord. It is the reward for fulfilling the ministry entrusted to us.”
If you have welcomed Christ into your life, long for His appearing, and are faithfully running your race, then the crown of righteousness awaits you. Count on it, plan on it, anticipate it! It’s a promise from God.
The fourth crown that is available to us is.. Come back tomorrow and you will learn what it is.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Serving Jesus Christ is the most rewarding thing you can do. It not only has its temporal rewards here on earth, but also its eternal rewards in heaven.
Here in our text we find Paul speaking to the church in Corinth on the topic of eternal rewards. I would like us to notice four biblical facts about rewards that Paul mentions in this passage.
First, we are told that rewards are given on the basis of an individual’s work – (vs 13a) “each man’s work”.
Second, he says that rewards are given in heaven, not on earth – (vs 13b) “will become evident” (vs 14b) “he shall receive a reward”.
Third, rewards are given on the basis of the quality of an individual’s work, and not on the quantity. – (vs 13d) “the quality of each man’s work”.
And fourth we are told that rewards can be lost – (vs 15). Since rewards are earned on the basis of a person’s work, it only stands to reason that they can also be lost if a person does not serve Christ properly.
Revelation 3:11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. (NIV)
2 John 1:7-8 Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. (NIV)
Today we’re going to look at five eternal rewards that we as children of God can receive if we serve the Lord properly.
1. The IMPERISHABLE crown
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (NAU)
In order to receive this crown, Paul tells us that we must exercise self-control in all things.
Self-control is something that we are to add to our faith – 2 Peter 1:5-6
Self-control is also a characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit – Galatians 5:22-23
And, self-control is something that Gos gives to us – 2 Timothy 1:7
The second crown available to us is… Come back tomorrow and you will see.