Heavens Beauty By: Patricia Burnette Dedicated To Our Lord Jesus Christ

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Welcome to Heaven's Beauty / Wisdom Of Our Lord Jesus

Welcome to "How We Are To Act"† / Mark 2:12

Show Jesus Love For Others

When we seem to be in a rush or nothing seems to be going like we planned, but yet we are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, and sometimes we get all upset, and tensed and we tend to loose our grip of how we should act, to "Show Jesus ' Love" around other's and for our own sake. It is important to Jesus and even ourselves that we show every bit of Love, Mercy, Grace, Kindness to other's.

You never know, just who sees, you acting like Christians are to, you just may lead someone to Jesus, that really needed that kindness, or that smile, or just a word of hope. I made this list several years ago, when I was doing Bible Research for a book I was going to write, but never got that far. So look at the list below, and see how we should act! They all are not in alphabetical Order, so bare with me :)

How to Act

Meaning of the Statement

Verse's

Acceptance

WE ARE ACCEPTED BY A GOD WHO DOES NOT CHANGE

Godís two ďunchangeable thingsĒ are his nature and his promise. God embodies all truth, and he therefore cannot lie. Because God is truth, you can be secure in his promises; you donít need to wonder if he will change his plans.

To the true seeker who comes to God in belief, God gives an unconditional promise of acceptance. When you ask God with openness, honesty, and sincerity to save you from your sins, he will do it. This assurance should give you courage and hope.

  • Romans 5:1-11

  • Romans 5:1-2

  • Hebrews 6:13-20†

  • Hebrews 6:17-18

  • Luke 2:8-20

  • Luke 2:8-9

  • John 1:1-18

  • John 1:10-11

  • Luke 4:16-30

Appreciation

Then I will tell everyone of your justice and goodness, and I will praise you all day long.†Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. I always pray for you, and I make my requests with a heart full of joy.†No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is Godís will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Each morning and evening they stood before the Lord to sing songs of thanks and praise to him. Cultivate an appreciative heart by giving thanks regularly, consistently and spontaneously for God and others. Cultivate the habit of appreciation.

PROMISE FROM GOD:†It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High. It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening.

  • Psalm 35:28

  • Philippians 1:3-4

  • Colossians 3:15

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:18

  • 1 Chronicles 23:30

  • Psalm 92:1-2

Assurance

FALSE ASSURANCE HOW DO WE KNOW WHEN WE ARE BASING OUR SECURITY ON THE WRONG THINGS?

FALSE ASSURANCE LEADS US AWAY FROM DEPENDENCE ON GOD

FIRM ASSURANCE IN WHAT WAYS DOES GOD GIVE US ASSURANCE?

FIRM ASSURANCE IS DEPENDENCE ON GODíS PROMISES

FIRM ASSURANCE IS BASED ON GODíS WORD

FIRM ASSURANCE IS BASED ON GODíS CARE FOR US

FIRM ASSURANCE IS BASED ON CHRISTíS RESURRECTION

God is in control of heaven and earth. Because his word is true, we can have assurance of eternal life and victory over sin. By faith we can be certain of our eternal destiny with him. Importance: Assurance of our relationship with God is a promise, but it is also a way of life. We build our confidence by trusting in Godís Word and in Christís provision for our sin.

Jesus watched him go and then said to his disciples, ďHow hard it is for rich people to get into the Kingdom of God!Ē †This manís wealth smoothed his life and gave him power and prestige. When Jesus told him to sell everything he owned, he was touching the manís very basis for security and identity. The man did not understand that he would be even more secure if he followed Jesus than he was with all his wealth. Jesus does not ask all believers to sell everything they have, although this may be his will for some. He does ask us all, however, to get rid of anything that has become more important to us than God.

If your basis for security has shifted from God to what you own, it would be better for you to get rid of those possessions.† And be sure to take your shepherdís staff along so you can perform the miraculous signs I have shown you. Moses clung tightly to the shepherdís staff as he left for Egypt to face the greatest challenge of his life.

The staff was his assurance of Godís presence and power. When feeling uncertain, some people need something to stabilize and reassure them. For assurance when facing great trials, God has given promises from his Word and examples from great heroes of faith. Any Christian may cling tightly to these. The LORD guided them by a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. That way they could travel whether it was day or night. God gave the Hebrews a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire so they would know day and night that God was with them on their journey to the Promised Land. What has he given us so that we can have the same assurance? The Bible-something the Israelites did not have. Look to Godís Word for reassurance of his presence. As the Hebrews looked to the pillars of cloud and fire, we can look to Godís Word day and night to know he is with us, helping us on our journey.†

Donít worry about how to answer the charges against you, for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply! Jesus warned his followers of coming persecutions in which they would be betrayed by their family members and friends. Christians of every age have had to face this possibility. It is reassuring to know that even when we feel completely abandoned, the Holy Spirit stays with us. He will comfort us, protect us, and give us the words we need. This assurance can give us the courage and hope to stand firm for Christ no matter how difficult the situation. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also share his new life.†

Because of Christís death and resurrection, his followers need never fear death. This frees us to fellowship with him and do his will. This will affect all our activities-work and worship, play and Bible study, quiet times and times of caring for others. When you know you need not fear death, you will experience renewed vigor in life.

  • Romans 6:1-14

  • Luke 18:18-30

  • Luke 18:24

  • Exodus 4:1-17

  • Exodus 4:17

  • Exodus 13:17-22

  • Exodus 13:21

  • Luke 21:5-19

  • Luke 21:14-15

  • Romans 6:8

Being Meek

HOW DO I EXERCISE MEEKNESS IN MY LIFE?

David, the powerful warrior and king, was truly meek, as demonstrated by his response to criticism. It is better to be patient than powerful; it is better to have self-control than to conquer a city. Patience and self-control-elements of meekness-demonstrate true inner strength. A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger. Answer anger with gentleness. Pray for the happiness of those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other cheek. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.

Praying for our enemies and doing good for them will help us learn meekness.

PROMISES FROM GOD: Those who are gentle and lowly will possess the land; they will live in prosperous security.† God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them.

  • Psalm 37:11

  • Proverbs 15:1

  • Luke 6:28-29

  • Proverbs 16:32

  • Matthew 5:5

Confidence in Yourself & Other's

WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF CONFIDENCE?

CONFIDENCE GROWS OUT OF OUR RELIANCE UPON GOD.

CONFIDENCE IS A GIFT OF GODíS SPIRIT

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF CONFIDENCE?

CONFIDENCE FROM GOD MEANS A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON LIFEíS PROBLEMS

The LORD said to Gideon, ďYou have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength. Therefore, tell the people, íWhoever is timid or afraid may leave and go home.í Ē Twenty-two thousand of them went home, leaving only ten thousand who were willing to fight. Self-sufficiency is an enemy when it causes us to believe we can always do what needs to be done in our own strength.

To prevent this attitude among Gideonís soldiers, God reduced their number from thirty-two thousand to three hundred. With an army this small, there could be no doubt that victory was from God. The men could not take the credit. Like Gideon, we must recognize the danger of fighting in our own strength. We can be confident of victory only if we put our confidence in God and not ourselves. My message and my preaching were very plain. I did not use wise and persuasive speeches, but the Holy Spirit was powerful among you.†

Paulís confidence was not in his keen intellect or speaking ability but in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit was helping and guiding him. Paul is not denying the importance of study and preparation for preaching-he had a thorough education in the Scriptures. Effective preaching must combine studious preparation with the work of the Holy Spirit. Donít use Paulís statement as an excuse for not studying or preparing.

Donít be afraid; you are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows.

Jesus said that God is aware of everything that happens even to sparrows, and you are far more valuable to him than they are. You are so valuable that God sent his only Son to die for you. Because God places such value on you, you need never fear personal threats or difficult trials. These canít shake Godís love or dislodge his Spirit from within you. But this doesnít mean that God will take away all your troubles. The real test of value is how well something holds up under the wear, tear, and abuse of everyday life.

Those who stand up for Christ in spite of their troubles truly have lasting value and will receive great rewards . The apostles entered the Temple about daybreak and immediately began teaching. When the high priest and his officials arrived, they convened the high council, along with all the elders of Israel.

Then they sent for the apostles to be brought for trial. The apostles had power to do miracles, great boldness in preaching, and Godís presence in their lives; yet they were not free from hatred and persecution. They were arrested, put in jail, beaten, and slandered by community leaders. Faith in God does not make troubles disappear; it makes troubles appear less fearsome because it puts them in the right perspective. Donít expect everyone to react favorably when you share something as dynamic as your faith in Christ.

Some will be jealous, frightened, or threatened. Expect some negative reactions, and remember that you must be more concerned about serving God than the reactions of people.

  • Judges 7:1-25

  • Judges 7:2-3

  • 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

  • 1 Corinthians 2:4

  • Matthew 10:26-42

  • Matthew 10:31

  • John 3:16

  • Matthew 10:16

  • Matthew 5:11-12

  • Acts 5:17-26

  • Acts 5:21

  • Acts 5:29

Caring Heart & Attitude

NEGATIVE ATTITUDES HOW DO NEGATIVE ATTITUDES AFFECT OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD?

NEGATIVE ATTITUDES MAY CAUSE US TO TURN AWAY FROM GOD.

NEGATIVE ATTITUDES LEAD TO WRONG DECISIONS.

POSITIVE ATTITUDES WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A POSITIVE ATTITUDE?

POSITIVE ATTITUDES ALLOW GOD TO WORK

POSITIVE ATTITUDES CAN INFLUENCE OTHERS

POSITIVE ATTITUDES WILL HELP OVERCOME DIFFICULTIES

WHOSE ATTITUDE SHOULD WE IMITATE?

THE BEST POSITIVE ATTITUDE IS ONE LIKE CHRISTíS

The church has a responsibility to care for the needs of all its members, especially the sick, the poor, and the widowed. Caring must go beyond good intentions.

Importance: Caring for the family of believers demonstrates our Christ like attitude and exhibits genuine love to nonbelievers.

ďWhy are you so angry?Ē the LORD asked him. ďWhy do you look so dejected?Ē The Bible does not say why God rejected Cainís offering. Perhaps Cainís attitude was improper, or perhaps his offering was not up to Godís standards. God evaluates both our motives and the quality of what we offer him.

When we give to God and others, we should have a joyful heart because of what we are able to give. We should not worry about how much we are giving up, for everything belongs to God in the first place. Instead, we should joyfully give to God our best in time, money, possessions, and talents.

†ďLook,Ē they told him, ďyou are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king like all the other nations have.Ē

Israel was called to be a holy nation, separate from and unique among all others. The Israelitesí motive in asking for a king was to be like the nations around them. This was in total opposition to Godís original plan. It was not their desire for a king that was wrong but their reasons for wanting a king. Often we let othersí values and actions dictate our attitudes and behavior. Have you ever made a wrong choice because you wanted to be like everyone else?

Be careful that the values of your friends or ďheroesĒ donít pull you away from what God says is right. When Godís people want to be like unbelievers, they are heading for spiritual disaster.† After hearing his wifeís story, Potiphar was furious! He took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the kingís prisoners were held. But the LORD was with Joseph there, too, and he granted Joseph favor with the chief jailer. As a prisoner and slave, Joseph could have seen his situation as hopeless. Instead, he did his best with each small task given him. His diligence and positive attitude were soon noticed by the jail warden, who promoted him to prison administrator.

Are you facing a seemingly hopeless predicament? At work, at home, or at school, follow Josephís example by taking each small task and doing your best. Remember how God turned Josephís situation around. He will see your efforts and can reverse even overwhelming odds.

But Moses told the people, ďDonít be afraid. Just stand where you are and watch the LORD rescue you. The Egyptians that you see today will never be seen again.Ē

The people were hostile and despairing, but Moses encouraged them to watch the wonderful way God would rescue them. Moses had a positive attitude! When it looked as if they were trapped, Moses called upon God to intervene.

We may not be chased by an army, but we may still feel trapped. Instead of giving in to despair, we should adopt Mosesí attitude to ďstand firmĒ and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish.

The foreman replied, ďShe is the young woman from Moab who came back with Naomi. She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. She has been hard at work ever since, except for a few minutesí rest over there in the shelter.Ē

Ruthís task, though menial, tiring, and perhaps degrading, was done faithfully. What is your attitude when the task you have been given is not up to your true potential? The task at hand may be all you can do, or it may be the work God wants you to do. Or, as in Ruthís case, it may be a test of your character that can open up new doors of opportunity. Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had.† Often people excuse selfishness, pride, or evil by claiming their ďrights.Ē They think, I can cheat on this test; after all, I deserve to pass this class, or I can spend all this money on myself-I worked for it, or I can get an abortion; I have a right to control my own body.

But as believers, we should have a different attitude; one that enables us to lay aside our rights in order to serve others. If we say we follow Christ, we must live as he lived. We should develop his attitude of humility as we serve, even when we are not likely to get recognition for our efforts. Are you selfishly clinging to your rights, or are you willing to serve?

  • Genesis 4:1-16

  • Genesis 4:6

  • 1 Samuel 8:1-22

  • 1 Samuel 8:5

  • Exodus 14:13

  • Exodus 14:1-14

  • Genesis 39:19-21

  • Genesis 39:1-23

  • Leviticus 20:26

  • 1 Samuel 8:5

  • Ruth 2:1-13

  • Ruth 2:6-7

  • Philippians 2:5-11

  • Philippians 2:5

Compassion

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO PRACTICE COMPASSION?

JESUS DEMONSTRATED COMPASSION

JESUS RESPONDED TO COMPASSION IN OTHERS

COMPASSION GOES BEYOND WORDS

GOD IS COMPASSIONATE

As a perfect human, Jesus showed tender sympathy to the poor, the despised, the hurt, and the sinful. No one was rejected or ignored by him. Importance: Jesus is more than a good teacher; he cares for you. Because of his deep love for you, he can satisfy your needs.

Jesus ignored their comments and said to Jairus, ďDonít be afraid. Just trust me.Ē Jesus not only demonstrated great power; he also showed tremendous compassion. Jesusí power over nature, evil spirits, and death was motivated by compassion-for a demon-possessed man who lived among tombs, for a diseased woman, and for the family of a dead girl. The rabbis of the day considered such people unclean. Polite society avoided them. But Jesus reached out and helped anyone in need. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ďMy son, your sins are forgiven.Ē

The paralyticís need moved his friends to action, and they brought him to Jesus. When you recognize someoneís need, do you act? Many people have physical and spiritual needs you can meet, either by yourself or with others who are also concerned. Human need moved these four men; let it also move you to compassionate action. One should be kind to a fainting friend, but you have accused me without the slightest fear of the Almighty.† Job said that Eliphazís advice was like eating the tasteless white of an egg. When people are going through severe trials, ill-advised counsel is distasteful. They may listen politely, but inside they are upset. Be slow to give advice to those who are hurting.

They often need compassion more than they need advice. The unfailing love of the LORD never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Jeremiah saw one ray of hope in all the sin and sorrow surrounding him: ďThe unfailing love of the Lord never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction.Ē God willingly responds with help when we ask. Perhaps there is some sin in your life that you thought God would not forgive. Godís steadfast love and mercy are greater than any sin, and he promises forgiveness.

  • Lamentations 3:22

  • Lamentations 3:1-66

  • Job 6:14

  • Job 6:1-30

  • Mark 2:5

  • Mark 2:1-12

  • Mark 5:36

  • Mark 5:21-43

Dedication to God

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE DEDICATED TO GOD?

GODíS PURPOSES BECOME OUR PRIORITIES

DEDICATION TO GOD IS OUR DUTY

JESUS COMMANDS OUR DEDICATION

King Solomon offered a sacrifice of 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. And so the king and all the people dedicated the Temple of God. The temple was dedicated to God, and Solomon and the people prepared to worship him. Dedication means setting apart a place, an object, or a person for an exclusive purpose. The purpose of this dedication was to set apart the temple as a special place to worship God.

Today, our bodies are Godís temple Solomonís dedication of the temple shows us that we should dedicate ourselves to carry out Godís special purpose When you obey me you should say, ďWe are not worthy of praise. We are servants who have simply done our duty.Ē If we have obeyed God, we have only done our duty.

We should regard it as a privilege. Do you sometimes feel that you deserve extra credit for serving God? Remember, obedience is not something extra we do; it is our duty. Jesus is not saying that our service is meaningless or useless, nor is he doing away with rewards. He is attacking unwarranted self-esteem and spiritual pride. Jesus told him, ďAnyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.Ē

What does Jesus want from us? Total dedication, not halfhearted commitment. We canít pick and choose among Jesusí ideas and follow him selectively; we have to accept the cross along with the crown, judgment as well as mercy. We must count the cost and be willing to abandon everything else that has given us security. With our focus on Jesus, we should allow nothing to distract us from the manner of living that he calls good and true.

  • 2 Chronicles 7:1-22

  • 2 Chronicles 7:5

  • Ephesians 1:11-12

  • Luke 17:7-10

  • Luke 17:10

  • Luke 9:51-62

  • Luke 9:62

  • 2 Corinthians 6:16

Diligence

If our faith is real, it will be evident in our godly behavior. If people are diligent in Christian growth, they wonít backslide or be deceived by false teachers.

Importance: Growth is essential. It begins with faith and culminates in love for others. To keep growing we need to know God, keep on following him, and remember what he taught us. We must remain diligent in faithful obedience and Christian growth.

Endurance

WHY IS ENDURANCE AN IMPORTANT SPIRITUAL QUALITY?

ENDURANCE REQUIRES PREPARATION

ENDURANCE GROWS OUT OF COMMITMENT TO JESUS CHRIST

ENDURANCE IS THE MEANS TO JOY IN CHRIST

GOD WILL MAKE OUR ENDURANCE WORTHWHILE

OUR ENDURANCE IS RELATED TO THE QUALITY OF OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

Faith enables Christians to face trials. Genuine faith includes the commitment to stay true to God when we are under fire. Endurance builds character and leads to victory. Importance: We can have victory in our trials if we donít give up or turn our back on Christ. Stay true to Christ and pray for endurance.† And everyone will hate you because of your allegiance to me. But those who endure to the end will be saved. Jesus told the disciples that when arrested for preaching the gospel, they should not worry about what to say in their defense-Godís Spirit would speak through them.

This promise was fulfilled in† and elsewhere. Some mistakenly think this means we donít have to prepare to present the gospel because God will take care of everything. Scripture teaches, however, that we are to make carefully prepared, thoughtful statements. Jesus is not telling us to stop preparing, but to stop worrying. Jesus predicted that his followers would be severely persecuted by those who hated what he stood for. In the midst of terrible persecutions, however, they could have hope, knowing that salvation was theirs.

Times of trial serve to sift true Christians from false or fair-weather Christians. When you are pressured to give up and turn your back on Christ, donít do it. Remember the benefits of standing firm, and continue to live for Christ. Standing firm to the end is not a way to be saved but the evidence that a person is really committed to Jesus.

Persistence is not a means to earn salvation; it is the by-product of a truly devoted life.

But Christ, the faithful Son, was in charge of the entire household. And we are Godís household, if we keep up our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ. Because Christ lives in us as believers, we can remain courageous and hopeful to the end. We are not saved by being steadfast and firm in our faith, but our courage and hope reveal that our faith is real. Without this enduring faithfulness, we could easily be blown away by the winds of temptation, false teaching, or persecution. But you should keep a clear mind in every situation.

Donít be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at bringing others to Christ. Complete the ministry God has given you. To keep cool when you are jarred and jolted by people or circumstances, donít react quickly. In any work of ministry that you undertake, keeping your head makes you morally alert to temptation, resistant to pressure, and vigilant when facing heavy responsibility. As he neared the end of his life, Paul could confidently say he had been faithful to his call. Thus he faced death calmly, knowing that he would be rewarded by Christ. Is your life preparing you for death? Do you share Paulís confident expectation of meeting Christ?

The Good News is that the heavenly reward is not just for giants of the faith, like Paul, but for all who are eagerly looking forward to Jesusí second coming. Paul gave these words to encourage Timothy, and us, to keep fighting-no matter how difficult the fight seems. When we are with Jesus Christ, we will discover that it was all worth it. Let this encourage Godís holy people to endure persecution patiently and remain firm to the end, obeying his commands and trusting in Jesus.† This news about Godís ultimate triumph should encourage Godís people to remain firm through every trial and persecution.

They can do this, God promises, by trusting in Jesus and obeying the commands in his Word. The secret to enduring, therefore, is trust and obedience. Trust God to give you patience to endure even the small trials you face daily; obey him, even when obedience is unattractive or dangerous.

  • Matthew 10:16-42

  • Matthew 10:22

  • Colossians 4:6

  • Acts 4:8-14

  • Hebrews 3:1-6

  • Hebrews 3:6

  • 2 Timothy 4:1-8

  • 2 Timothy 4:5

  • Revelation 14:1-20

  • Revelation 14:12

Forgiving Other's

REAL FORGIVENESS FOLLOWS GODíS PATTERN

GODíS FORGIVENESS HOW CAN WE EXPERIENCE GODíS FORGIVENESS?

EXPERIENCING GODíS FORGIVENESS COMES THROUGH CONFESSION AND REPENTANCE

WE CAN BE CONFIDENT THAT OUR SINS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN IN CHRIST

GOD CONSISTENTLY FORGIVES US EACH TIME WE ASK IN REPENTANCE

FORGIVENESS IS COMPLETE EVEN WHEN CONFESSION ISNíT

HONEST CONFESSION INCLUDES TURNING AWAY FROM SIN

CONFESSION REESTABLISHES RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

HUMAN FORGIVENESS WHY SHOULD WE FORGIVE ONE ANOTHER AND HOW CAN WE DO IT?

JOSEPH IS A MODEL OF GENUINE FORGIVENESS

FORGIVENESS IS A MARK OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

FORGIVENESS IS CONTRARY TO THE PATTERN OF THE WORLD.

FORGIVENESS IS AN ACT OF THE WILL

IF WE EXPECT TO BE FORGIVEN, WE NEED TO PRACTICE FORGIVENESS

REAL FORGIVENESS DOES NOT KEEP TRACK OF OFFENSES

Many psalms are intense prayers asking God for forgiveness. God forgives us when we confess our sin and turn from it.

Importance: Because God forgives us, we can pray to him honestly and directly. When we receive his forgiveness, we move from alienation to intimacy, from guilt to love. God stood ready to forgive and restore all those who would come to him and turn away from sin. God wanted to shower his people with his love and restore them to a proper relationship with him.

Importance: Forgiveness comes by turning from sin and turning toward God. It is not too late to receive Godís forgiveness. Godís greatest desire is for you to come to him. Philemon was Paulís friend and the legal owner of the slave Onesimus. Paul asked him not to punish Onesimus but to forgive and restore him as a new Christian brother.

Importance: Christian relationships must be full of forgiveness and acceptance. Can you forgive those who have wronged you?

For I recognize my shameful deeds-they haunt me day and night. This psalm was Davidís written confession to God after a particularly sinful episode in his life. David was truly sorry for his adultery with Bathsheba and for murdering her husband to cover it up. He knew that his actions had hurt many people. But because David repented of those sins, God mercifully forgave him. No sin is too great to be forgiven! Do you feel that you could never come close to God because you have done something terrible? God can and will forgive you of any sin. While God forgives us, however, he does not always erase the natural consequences of our sin-Davidís life and family were never the same as a result of what he had done.† If you forgive anyoneís sins, they are forgiven. If you refuse to forgive them, they are unforgiven.

Jesus was giving the disciples their Spirit-powered and Spirit-guided mission-to preach the Good News about Jesus so peopleís sins might be forgiven.

The disciples did not have the power to forgive sins (only God can forgive sins), but Jesus gave them the privilege of telling new believers that their sins have been forgiven because they have accepted Jesusí message. All believers have this same privilege. We can announce the forgiveness of sin with certainty when we find repentance and faith. Now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.

John describes these few moments in clear detail. We can see that Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen. He knew about Judas and about Peter, but he did not change the course of events, nor did he stop loving them. In the same way, Jesus knows exactly what you will do to hurt him.

Yet he still loves you unconditionally and will forgive you whenever you ask for it. Judas couldnít understand this, and his life ended tragically. Peter understood, and despite his shortcomings, his life ended triumphantly because he never let go of his faith in the one who loved him.† If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.

Confession is supposed to free us to enjoy fellowship with Christ. It should ease our consciences and lighten our cares. But some Christians do not understand how it works. They feel so guilty that they confess the same sins over and over; then they wonder if they might have forgotten something. Other Christians believe that God forgives them when they confess, but if they died with unconfessed sins, they would be forever lost. These Christians do not understand that God wants to forgive us. He allowed his beloved Son to die just so he could pardon us. When we come to Christ, he forgives all the sins we have committed or will ever commit.

We donít need to confess the sins of the past all over again, and we donít need to fear that God will reject us if we donít keep our slate perfectly clean. Of course we should continue to confess our sins, but not because failure to do so will make us lose our salvation. Our relationship with Christ is secure. Instead, we should confess our sins so that we can enjoy maximum fellowship and joy with him.

True confession also involves a commitment not to continue in sin.

We wouldnít be genuinely confessing our sins to God if we planned to commit them again and just wanted temporary forgiveness. We should also pray for strength to defeat temptation the next time we face it. If God has forgiven us for our sins because of Christís death, why must we confess our sins? In admitting our sins and receiving Christís cleansing, we are:

  • agreeing with God that our sin truly was sin and that we are willing to turn from it,

  • ensuring that we donít conceal our sins from him and consequently, from ourselves, and

  • recognizing our tendency to sin and relying on his power to overcome it.

Donít be angry with yourselves that you did this to me, for God did it. He sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.

Joseph was rejected, kidnapped, enslaved, and imprisoned. Although his brothers had been unfaithful to him, he graciously forgave them and shared his prosperity. Joseph demonstrated how God forgives us and showers us with goodness even though we have sinned against him. The same forgiveness and blessings are ours if we ask for them. Donít let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.

Summarize the real core of Christian living. If we love someone the way Christ loves us, we will be willing to forgive. If we have experienced Godís grace, we will want to pass it on to others. And remember, grace is undeserved favor. By giving an enemy a drink, weíre not excusing his misdeeds.

Weíre recognizing him, forgiving him, and loving him in spite of his sins-just as Christ did for us. In this day of constant lawsuits and incessant demands for legal rights, Paulís command sounds almost impossible. When someone hurts you deeply, instead of giving him what he deserves, Paul says to befriend him. Why does Paul tell us to forgive our enemies?

  • Forgiveness may break a cycle of retaliation and lead to mutual reconciliation.

  • It may make the enemy feel ashamed and change his or her ways.

  • By contrast, returning evil for evil hurts you just as much as it hurts your enemy. Even if your enemy never repents, forgiving him or her will free you of a heavy load of bitterness.

Forgiveness involves both attitudes and actions.

If you find it difficult to feel forgiving of those who have hurt you, try responding with kind actions. If appropriate, tell such people that you would like to heal your relationships. Give them a helping hand. Send them a gift. Smile at them. Many times you will discover that right actions lead to right feelings.

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.†

Jesus gives a startling warning about forgiveness: if we refuse to forgive others, God will also refuse to forgive us. Why? Because when we donít forgive others, we are denying our common ground as sinners in need of Godís forgiveness. Godís forgiveness of sin is not the direct result of our forgiving others, but it is based on our realizing what forgiveness means .

It is easy to ask God for forgiveness, but difficult to grant it to others.

Whenever we ask God to forgive us for sin, we should ask ourselves, Have I forgiven the people who have wronged me? Peter came to him and asked, ďLord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?Ē

The rabbis taught that people should forgive those who offend them-but only three times. Peter, trying to be especially generous, asked Jesus if seven (the ďperfectĒ number) was enough times to forgive someone.

But Jesus answered, ďSeventy times seven,Ē meaning that we shouldnít even keep track of how many times we forgive someone. We should always forgive those who are truly repentant, no matter how many times they ask. Because God has forgiven all our sins, we should not withhold forgiveness from others. Realizing how completely Christ has forgiven us should produce a free and generous attitude of forgiveness toward others. When we donít forgive others, we are setting ourselves outside and above Christís law of love.

  • Psalm 51:1-19

  • Psalm 51:3

  • John 20:19-31

  • 2 Samuel 12:1-23

  • John 20:23

  • John 13:31-38

  • John 13:34

  • 1 John 1:1-10

  • 1 John 1:9

  • Genesis 45:1-28

  • Genesis 45:5

  • Romans 12:1-21

  • Romans 12:21, 17-21

  • Matthew 6:5-15

  • Ephesians 4:32

  • Matthew 18:21-35

  • Matthew 18:21

  • Matthew 6:14-15

Faithfulness

WHAT EXAMPLES OF FAITHFULNESS DO WE FIND IN THE BIBLE?

†IN THE MIDST OF DESPAIR, JEREMIAH CLUNG TO GODíS FAITHFULNESS

FAITHFULNESS SHOULD BE CHARACTERISTIC OF GODíS PEOPLE

GOD ALWAYS HAS A REMNANT OF FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS

The unfailing love of the LORD never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day. Jeremiah saw one ray of hope in all the sin and sorrow surrounding him: ďThe unfailing love of the Lord never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction.Ē Jeremiah knew from personal experience about Godís faithfulness.

God had promised that punishment would follow disobedience, and it did. But God also had promised future restoration and blessing, and Jeremiah knew that God would keep that promise also. Trusting in Godís faithfulness day by day makes us confident in his great promises for the future.

God willingly responds with help when we ask. Perhaps there is some sin in your life that you thought God would not forgive. Godís steadfast love and mercy are greater than any sin, and he promises forgiveness.

Jesus used salt to illustrate three qualities that should be found in his people:

  • We should remember Godís faithfulness, just as salt used with a sacrifice recalled Godís covenant with his people.

  • We should make a difference in the ďflavorĒ of the world we live in, just as salt changes meatís flavor.

  • We should counteract the moral decay in society, just as salt preserves food from decay. When we lose this desire to ďsaltĒ the earth with the love and message of God, we become useless to him.

Elijah replied, ďI have zealously served the LORD God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I alone am left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.Ē

Elijah thought he was the only person left who was still faithful to God. He had seen both the kingís court and the priesthood become corrupt. After experiencing great victory at Mount Carmel, he had to run for his life.

Lonely and discouraged, he forgot that others had remained faithful during the nationís wickedness. When you are tempted to think that you are the only one remaining faithful to a task, donít stop to feel sorry for yourself. Self-pity will dilute the good you are doing. Be assured that even if you donít know who they are, others are faithfully obeying God and fulfilling their duties.

Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other. We are saved from Godís judgment and penalty for sin by Godís gracious gift to us. We receive salvation by faithótrusting in himónot in anything else. Becoming a Christian is in no way based on our initiative, wise choice, or good character. We can be right with God only by believing in him.

Importance: Your acceptance with God comes by believing in Christ alone. You must never add to or twist this truth. We are saved by faith, not by the good that we do. Have you placed your whole trust and confidence in Christ? He alone can forgive you and bring you into a relationship with God. Christ was faithful to all of us in dying for our sin. Paul was a faithful minister even when he was in prison. Paul urged Timothy to maintain not only sound doctrine but also loyalty, diligence, and endurance. Importance: We can count on opposition, suffering, and hardship as we serve Christ.

But this shows that our faithfulness is having an effect on others. As we trust Christ, he counts us worthy to suffer, and he will give us the strength we need to be steadfast. Faith is confident trust in Godís promises. Godís greatest promise is that we can be saved through Jesus.

Importance: If we trust in Jesus Christ for our complete salvation, he will transform us completely. A life of obedience and complete trust is pleasing to God. James wants believers not only to hear the truth but also to put it into action. He contrasts empty faith (claims without conduct) with faith that works. Commitment to love and to serve others is evidence of true faith.

Importance: Living faith makes a difference. Make sure your faith is more than just a statement; it should also result in action. Seek ways of putting your faith to work.

  • Lamentations 3:1-66

  • Lamentations 3:22-23

  • 1 Kings 19:1-21

  • 1 Kings 19:10

  • Mark 9:42-50

  • Mark 9:50

  • Leviticus 2:13

  • Matthew 5:13

Family Unity

WHAT ACTIONS CAUSE THE MOST PROBLEMS FOR THE FAMILY?

FAVORITISM DESTROYS FAMILY UNITY

CHILDREN OFTEN BEAR THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR PARENTSí SINS

FAMILY RESPONSIBILITIES MUST BE A PRIORITY FOR CHRISTIANS

FAMILY TRIUMPHS WHAT ACTIONS MOST STRENGTHEN FAMILY UNITY?

RETELLING STORIES OF GODíS FAITHFULNESS BUILDS UP THE FAMILY

CONSISTENT LIVING MAKES THE DEEPEST IMPRESSION ON CHILDREN

FAMILY MEMBERS SHOULD HONOR ONE ANOTHER

CHRISTIAN PARENTS CAN PASS ON THEIR FAITH TO THEIR CHILDREN

GODíS COMMANDS APPLY TO BOTH PARENTS AND CHILDREN

CHILDREN HAVE IMPORTANT GOD-GIVEN RESPONSIBILITIES WITHIN THE FAMILY

PARENTS ARE NOT TO TAKE UNFAIR ADVANTAGE OF THEIR AUTHORITY

OUR SPIRITUAL FAMILY HOW DO HUMAN FAMILIES EXEMPLIFY SPIRITUAL RELATIONSHIPS?

THOSE WHO SHARE THE SAME SPIRITUAL FATHER ARE RELATED TO EACH OTHER

MEMBERSHIP IN GODíS FAMILY IS MARKED BY HEARTFELT COMMITMENT

GODíS FAMILY IS ETERNAL.

Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day he gave Joseph a special gift-a beautiful robe.. In Josephís day, everyone had a robe or cloak. Robes were used to warm oneself, to bundle up belongings for a trip, to wrap babies in, to sit on, or even to serve as security for a loan. Most robes were knee length, short sleeved, and plain. In contrast, Josephís robe was probably of the kind worn by royalty-long sleeved, ankle length, and colorful.

The robe became a symbol of Jacobís favoritism toward Joseph, and it aggravated the already strained relations between Joseph and his brothers. Favoritism in families may be unavoidable, but its divisive effects should be minimized. Parents may not be able to change their feelings toward a favorite child, but they can change their actions toward the others. I show this unfailing love to many thousands by forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. Even so I do not leave sin unpunished, but I punish the children for the sins of their parents to the third and fourth generations.†

Why would sins affect grandchildren and great-grandchildren? This is no arbitrary punishment. Children still suffer for the sins of their parents. Consider child abuse or alcoholism, for example. While these sins are obvious, sins like selfishness and greed can be passed along as well. The dire consequences of sin are not limited to the individual family member. Be careful not to treat sin casually, but repent and turn from it. The sin may cause you little pain now, but it could sting in a most tender area of your life later-your children and grandchildren. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of Godís church?

Christian workers and volunteers sometimes make the mistake of thinking their work is so important that they are justified in ignoring their families. Spiritual leadership, however, must begin at home. If a man is not willing to care for, discipline, and teach his children, he is not qualified to lead the church. Donít allow your volunteer activities to detract from your family responsibilities. You will be able to tell wonderful stories to your children and grandchildren about the marvelous things I am doing among the Egyptians to prove that I am the LORD.

God told Moses that his miraculous experiences with Pharaoh should be retold to his descendants. What stories Moses had to tell! Living out one of the greatest dramas in biblical history, he witnessed events few people would ever see. It is important to tell our children about Godís work in our past and to help them see what he is doing right now. What are the turning points in your life where God intervened?

What is God doing for you now? Your stories will form the foundations of your childrenís belief in God. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up again. This passage provides the central theme of Deuteronomy. It sets a pattern that helps us relate the Word of God to our daily lives.

We are to love God, think constantly about his commandments, teach his commandments to our children, and live each day by the guidelines in his Word. God emphasized the importance of parents teaching the Bible to their children. The church and Christian schools cannot be used to escape from this responsibility. The Bible provides so many opportunities for object lessons and practical teaching that it would be a shame to study it only one day a week. Eternal truths are most effectively learned in the loving environment of a God-fearing home. Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them; and his mother stored all these things in her heart.† This is the first time we are told that Jesus was aware that he was Godís Son.

But even though he knew his real Father, he did not reject his earthly parents. He went back to Nazareth with them and lived under their authority for another eighteen years. Godís people should not despise human relationships or family responsibilities. If the Son of God obeyed his human parents, how much more should we honor our family members! Donít use commitment to Godís work to justify neglecting your family. Paul and Silas went first to Derbe and then on to Lystra. There they met Timothy, a young disciple whose mother was a Jewish believer, but whose father was a Greek.

Timothy is the first second-generation Christian mentioned in the New Testament. His mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois , had become believers and had faithfully influenced him for the Lord. Although Timothyís father apparently was not a Christian, the faithfulness of his mother and grandmother prevailed. Never underestimate the far-reaching consequences of raising one small child to love the Lord. ďHonor your father and mother.Ē This is the first of the Ten Commandments that ends with a promise.

If our faith in Christ is real, it will usually prove itself at home, in our relationships with those who know us best.

Children and parents have a responsibility to each other. Children should honor their parents even if the parents are demanding and unfair. Parents should gently care for their children, even if the children are disobedient and unpleasant. Ideally, of course, Christian parents and Christian children will relate to each other with thoughtfulness and love. This will happen if both parents and children put the othersí interests above their own-that is, if they submit to one another.

There is a difference between obeying and honoring. To obey means to do as one is told; to honor means to respect and love. Children are not commanded to disobey God in obeying their parents. Adult children are not asked to be subservient to domineering parents.

Children are to obey while under their parentsí care, but the responsibility to honor parents is for life. Some societies honor their elders. They respect their wisdom, defer to their authority, and pay attention to their comfort and happiness.

This is how Christians should act. Where elders are respected, long life is a blessing, not a burden to them. The purpose of parental discipline is to help children grow, not to exasperate and provoke them to anger or discouragement . Parenting is not easy-it takes lots of patience to raise children in a loving,† Christ-honoring manner.

But frustration and anger should not be causes for discipline. Instead, parents should act in love, treating their children as Jesus treats the people he loves. This is vital to childrenís development and to their understanding of what Christ is like. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother! Jesus was not denying his responsibility to his earthly family. On the contrary, he criticized the religious leaders for not following the Old Testament command to honor their parents . He provided for his motherís security as he hung on the cross. His mother and brothers were present in the upper room at Pentecost .

Instead,† Jesus was pointing out that spiritual relationships are as binding as physical ones, and he was paving the way for a new community of believers (the universal church), our spiritual family. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not a cutting of the body but a change of heart produced by Godís Spirit. Whoever has that kind of change seeks praise from God, not from people. To be a Jew meant you were in Godís family, an heir to all his promises. Yet Paul made it clear that membership in Godís family is based on internal, not external, qualities. All whose hearts are right with God are real Jews-that is, part of Godís family .

Attending church or being baptized, confirmed, or accepted for membership are not enough, just as circumcision was not enough for the Jews. God desires our devotion and obedience† ďcircumcising the heart."† When I think of the wisdom and scope of Godís plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.

The family of God includes all who have believed in him in the past, all who believe in the present, and all who will believe in the future. We are all a family because we have the same Father. He is the source of all creation, the rightful owner of everything.

God promises his love and power to his family, the church.

If we want to receive Godís blessings, it is important that we stay in contact with other believers in the body of Christ. Those who isolate themselves from Godís family and try to go it alone cut themselves off from Godís power.

  • Genesis 37:1-11

  • Genesis 37:3

  • Exodus 34:1-35

  • Exodus 34:7

  • 1 Timothy 3:5

  • 1 Timothy 3:1-16

  • Exodus 10:1-29

  • Exodus 10:2

  • Deuteronomy 6:1-25

  • Deuteronomy 6:6-7

  • Luke 2:41-52

  • Luke 2:51

  • Acts 16:1-5

  • Acts 16:1

  • 2 Timothy 1:5

  • Ephesians 6:1-4

  • Ephesians 6:2

  • Colossians 3:21

  • Matthew 12:46-50

  • Matthew 12:50 (15:1-9)

  • John 19:25-27

  • Romans 2:17-29

  • Acts 1:14

  • Romans 2:29

  • Galatians 3:7

  • Deuteronomy 10:16

  • Jeremiah 4:4

  • Ephesians 3:14-21

  • Ephesians 3:14-15

Generosity

WHAT ARE THE BIBLICAL GUIDELINES FOR GENEROSITY?

GENEROSITY MEANS GIVING ENTHUSIASTICALLY

GENEROSITY MEANS GIVING CHEERFULLY

GENEROSITY FLOWS OUT OF A CONCERN FOR THOSE IN NEED.

GENEROSITY TAKES PREPARATION.

Moses gave the command, and this message was sent throughout the camp: ďBring no more materials! You have already given more than enough.Ē So the people stopped bringing their offerings. Their contributions were more than enough to complete the whole project.† God did not require these special offerings, but he appealed to people with generous hearts. Only those who were willing to give were invited to participate. God loves cheerful givers . Our giving should be from love and generosity, not from a guilty conscience.

Those whose hearts were stirred gave cheerfully to the tabernacle. With great enthusiasm they gave because they knew how important their giving was to the completion of Godís house. Airline pilots and computer operators can push test buttons to see if their equipment is functioning properly. God has a quick test button he can push to measure the level of our commitment-our pocketbooks. Generous people arenít necessarily faithful to God. But faithful people are always generous. The believers in Antioch decided to send relief to the brothers and sisters in Judea, everyone giving as much as they could.

There were serious food shortages during the reign of the Roman emperor Claudius (A.D. 41-54) because of a drought that had extended across much of the Roman Empire for many years. It is significant that the church in Antioch assisted the church in Jerusalem. The daughter church had grown enough to be able to help the established church. The people of Antioch were motivated to give generously because they cared about the needs of others.

This is ďcheerfulĒ giving that the Bible commends . Reluctant giving reflects a lack of concern for people. Focus your concern on the needy, and you will be motivated to give. When you harvest your crops, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. It is the same with your grape crop-do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners who live among you, for I, the LORD, am your God.† This law was a protection for the poor and the foreigner and a reminder that God owned the land; the people were only caretakers. Laws such as this showed Godís generosity and liberality.

As people of God, the Israelites were to reflect his nature and characteristics in their attitudes and actions. Ruth and Naomi were two people who benefited from this merciful law . God instructed the Hebrews to provide for those in need. He required that the people leave the edges of their fields un-harvested, providing food for travelers and the poor. It is easy to ignore the poor or forget about those who have less than we do. But God desires generosity. In what ways can you leave the ďedges of your fieldĒ for those in need?

  • Exodus 35:4-36:7

  • Exodus 36:6-7

  • 2 Corinthians 9:7

  • Acts 11:19-30

  • Acts 11:29

  • 2 Corinthians 9:7

  • Leviticus 19:1-37

  • Leviticus 19:9-10

  • Ruth 2:2

Giving Comfort

Giving Remorse

Giving of Yourself

Paul organized a collection of funds for the poor in the Jerusalem church. Many of the Asian churches gave money. Paul explains and defends his beliefs about giving, and he urges the Corinthians to follow through on their previous commitment.

Importance: Like the Corinthians, we should follow through on our financial commitments. Our giving must be generous, sacrificial, well planned, and based on need. Our generosity not only helps those in need but enables them to thank God.

Honesty in ,On the Word

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF HONESTY?

HONESTY PRESERVES SOCIETY

HONESTY PRESERVES THE FAMILY

REJECTED HONESTY IS BETTER THAN ACCEPTED DISHONESTY

They go about their evil deeds with both hands. How skilled they are at using them! Officials and judges alike demand bribes. The people with money and influence pay them off, and together they scheme to twist justice. Micah could not find an upright person anywhere in the land. Even today, uprightness (honesty, integrity) is difficult to find. Society rationalizes sin, and even Christians sometimes compromise Christian principles in order to do what they want.

It is easy to convince ourselves that we deserve a few breaks, especially when ďeveryone elseĒ is doing it. But the standards for honesty come from God, not society. We are honest because God is truth, and we are to be like him. . Sin had affected the government leaders and society in general. Deceit and dishonesty had even ruined the family, the core of society.

A family is only as strong as the level of honesty between its members. As a result, the only way left to purify the people was Godís judgment. This would draw the nation back to God and restore them from the inside out. You can see that we were not preaching with any deceit or impure purposes or trickery. . Itís disgusting to hear a person ďbutter upĒ someone. Flattery is phony, and it is a cover-up for a personís real intentions. Christians should not be flatterers. Those who proclaim Godís truth have a special responsibility to be honest. Are you honest and straightforward in your words and actions? Or do you tell people what they want to hear in order to get what you want or to get ahead?† Most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned for it.

HONESTY BREEDS TRUST. People with a reputation for exaggeration or lying often canít get anyone to believe them on their word alone. Christians should never become like that. Always be honest so that others will believe your simple yes or no. By avoiding lies, half-truths, and omissions of the truth, you will become known as a trustworthy person.

  • Micah 7:1-20

  • Micah 7:3

  • 1 Thessalonians 2:1-20

  • 1 Thessalonians 2:3

  • James 5:1-12

  • James 5:12

Joy

HOW CAN JOY BECOME CHARACTERISTIC OF OUR LIFE?

JOY GROWS OUT OF REAL WORSHIP

JOY COMES FROM BEING IN GODíS PRESENCE

JOY COMES FROM HAVING THE HOLY SPIRIT

WE CAN BE JOYFUL IN SPITE OF OUR CIRCUMSTANCES

Believers can have profound contentment, serenity, and peace no matter what happens. This joy comes from knowing Christ personally and from depending on his strength rather than our own.

Importance: We can have joy, even in hardship. Joy does not come from outward circumstances but from inward strength. As Christians, we must not rely on what we have or what we experience to give us joy but on Christ within us.

The LORD said to Moses, ďGive the Israelites instructions regarding the LORDís appointed festivals, the days when all of you will be summoned to worship me.Ē† Worship involves both celebration and confession. But in Israelís national holidays, the balance seems heavily tipped in favor of celebration-five joyous occasions to two solemn ones. The God of the Bible encourages joy! God does not intend for religion to be only meditation and introspection. He also wants us to celebrate. Serious reflection and immediate confession of sin are essential, of course. But these should be balanced by celebrating who God is and what he has done for his people.

I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is filled with joy, and my mouth shouts his praises! My body rests in safety. Davidís heart was glad-he had found the secret to joy.

True joy is far deeper than happiness; we can feel joy in spite of our deepest troubles. Happiness is temporary because it is based on external circumstances, but joy is lasting because it is based on Godís presence within us.

As we contemplate his daily presence, we will find contentment. As we understand the future he has for us, we will experience joy. Donít base your life on circumstances, but on God.

When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Here there is no conflict with the law. The fruit of the Spirit is the spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit in us. The Spirit produces these character traits that are found in Christ. They are the by-products of Christís control-we canít obtain them by trying to get them without his help. If we want the fruit of the Spirit to grow in us, we must join our life to his .

We must know him, love him, remember him, and imitate him. As a result, we will fulfill the intended purpose of the law-to love God and our neighbors. Which of these qualities do you want the Spirit to produce in you? Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again-rejoice! It seems strange that a man in prison would be telling a church to rejoice. But Paulís attitude teaches us an important lesson: our inner attitudes do not have to reflect our outward circumstances.

Paul was full of joy because he knew that no matter what happened to him, Jesus Christ was with him. Several times in this letter, Paul urged the Philippians to be joyful, probably because they needed to hear this.

Itís easy to get discouraged about unpleasant circumstances or to take unimportant events too seriously. If you havenít been joyful lately, you may not be looking at life from the right perspective. Ultimate joy comes from Christ dwelling within us. Christ is near, and at his second coming we will fully realize this ultimate joy. He who lives within us will fulfill his final purposes for us.

  • Leviticus 23:1-44

  • Leviticus 23:1-2

  • Psalm 16:1-11

  • Psalm 16:8-9

  • Galatians 5:16-26

  • Galatians 5:22-23

  • John 15:4-5

  • Philippians 4:1-23

  • Philippians 4:4

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