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 2" / Mark 2:12

Show Jesus Love For Others

Welcome to "Part 2" of "How We Are To Act" as Christians!

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

Law Of Love

††

We are saved by Godís gracious mercy, not by keeping the law. But Christ gave us a special command: ďLove your neighbor as yourselfĒ.

We are to love and serve those around us.

Importance: Keeping the law of love shows that our faith is vital and real. When we show love to others, we are overcoming our own selfishness. Christ commands us to love others as he loved us. This love is evidence that we are truly saved. God is the Creator of love; he cares that his children love each other.

Importance: Love means putting others first and being unselfish. Love is actionóshowing others we careónot just saying it. To show love we must give sacrificially of our time and money to meet the needs of others. Christís command is for Christians to love one another. This is the basic ingredient of true Christianity.

Importance: To obey Christ fully, we must believe his command to love others. Helping, giving, and meeting needs put love into practice.

Matthew 19:19

Loving

GODíS LOVE IS FORGIVING

LOVE BENEFITS OTHERS

LOVE IS A COMMAND

GODíS LOVE IS BEYOND MEASURE

GODíS LOVE IS ETERNAL

GODíS LOVE IS SACRIFICIAL

GODíS LOVE IS INEXHAUSTIBLE

HUMAN LOVE WHAT ARE THE BIBLICAL GUIDELINES FOR HUMAN LOVE?

LOVE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN SPIRITUAL GIFTS

†LOVE IS A CHOICE

LOVING GOD IS THE GREATEST HUMAN ACT

LOVING GOD MEANS SERVING HIM

LOVING GOD REQUIRES EVERYTHING WE HAVE AND ARE

We may be able to understand a God who would forgive sinners who come to him for mercy. But a God who tenderly searches for sinners and then joyfully forgives them must possess an extraordinary love! This is the kind of love that prompted Jesus to come to earth to search for lost people and save them. This is the kind of extraordinary love that God has for you. If you feel far from God, donít despair. He is searching for you. I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death canít, and life canít.

The angels canít, the demons canít. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell canít keep Godís love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

These words were written to a church that would soon undergo terrible persecution. In just a few years, Paulís hypothetical situations would turn into painful realities. This passage reaffirms Godís profound love for his people. No matter what happens to us, no matter where we are, we can never be lost to his love. Suffering should not drive us away from God; it should help us to identify with him further and allow his love to reach us and heal us.

These verses contain one of the most comforting promises in all Scripture. Believers have always had to face hardships in many forms: persecution, illness, imprisonment, even death. These could cause them to fear that they have been abandoned by Christ. But Paul exclaims that it is impossible to be separated from Christ.

His death for us is proof of his unconquerable love. Nothing can stop Christís constant presence with us. God tells us how great his love is so that we will feel totally secure in him. If we believe these overwhelming assurances, we will not be afraid. God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. The entire gospel comes to a focus in this verse. Godís love is not static or self-centered; it reaches out and draws others in.

Here God sets the pattern of true love, the basis for all love relationships when you love someone dearly, you are willing to pay dearly for that personís responsive love. God paid dearly with the life of his Son, the highest price he could pay. Jesus accepted our punishment, paid the price for our sins, and then offered us the new life that he had bought for us.

When we share the gospel with others, our love must be like Jesusí. We must be willing to give up our own comfort and security so that others might join us in receiving Godís love. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Repeated throughout this psalm is the phrase, ďHis faithful love endures forever.Ē This psalm may have been a responsive reading, with the congregation saying these words in unison after each sentence. The repetition made this important lesson sink in.

Godís love includes aspects of love, kindness, mercy, and faithfulness.

We never have to worry that God will run out of love, because it flows from a well that will never run dry. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Paul gave evidence of the Corinthiansí lack of love in the utilization of spiritual gifts; defines real love; and chapter 14 shows how love works.

Love is more important than all the spiritual gifts exercised in the church body.

Great faith, acts of dedication or sacrifice, and miracle-working power produce very little without love. Love makes our actions and gifts useful. Although people have different gifts, love is available to everyone. Our society confuses love and lust. Unlike lust, Godís kind of love is directed outward toward others, not inward toward ourselves. It is utterly unselfish. This kind of love goes against our natural inclinations. It is possible to practice this love only if God helps us set aside our own desires and instincts, so that we can give love while expecting nothing in return.

Thus the more we become like Christ, the more love we will show to others.† Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment, for it is an old one you have always had, right from the beginning. This commandment-to love one another-is the same message you heard before. Yet it is also new. This commandment is true in Christ and is true among you, because the darkness is disappearing and the true light is already shining.

The commandment to love others is both old and new. It is old because it comes from the Old Testament. It is new because Jesus interpreted it in a radically new way . In the Christian church, love is not only expressed by showing respect; it is also expressed through self-sacrifice and servanthood. In fact, it can be defined as ďselfless giving,Ē reaching beyond friends to enemies and persecutors. Love should be the unifying force and the identifying mark of the Christian community.

Love is the key to walking in the light, because we cannot grow spiritually while we hate others. Our growing relationship with God will result in growing relationships with others. Does this mean that if you dislike someone you arenít a Christian? These verses are not talking about disliking a disagreeable Christian brother or sister. There will always be people we will not like as well as others. Johnís words focus on the attitude that causes us to ignore or despise others, to treat them as irritants, competitors, or enemies. Christian love is not a feeling, but a choice. We can choose to be concerned with peopleís well-being and treat them with respect, whether or not we feel affection toward them. If we choose to love others, God will help us express our love. Jesus replied, ďThe most important commandment is this:

íHear, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.í The second is equally important: íLove your neighbor as yourself.í No other commandment is greater than these.Ē

Godís laws are not burdensome. They can be reduced to two simple principles: love God and love others. These commands are from the Old Testament . When you love God completely and care for others as you care for yourself, then you have fulfilled the intent of the Ten Commandments and the other Old Testament laws. According to Jesus, these two commandments summarize all of Godís laws.

Let them rule your thoughts, decisions, and actions. When you are uncertain about what to do, ask yourself which course of action best demonstrates love for God and love for others. Once more he asked him, ďSimon son of John, do you love me?Ē Peter was grieved that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, ďLord, you know everything. You know I love you.Ē Jesus said, ďThen feed my sheep.Ē Peter had disowned Jesus three times. Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved him. When Peter answered yes, Jesus told him to feed his sheep.

It is one thing to say you love Jesus, but the real test is willingness to serve him. Peter had repented, and here Jesus was asking him to commit his life. Peterís life changed when he finally realized who Jesus was. His occupation changed from fisherman to evangelist; his identity changed from impetuous to ďrock"; and his relationship to Jesus changed-he was forgiven, and he finally understood the significance of Jesusí words about his death and resurrection.

Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him. The first time Jesus said, ďDo you love [Greek agape: volitional, self-sacrificial love] me more than these?Ē The second time, Jesus still used the word translated from the Greek word agape. The third time, Jesus used the word translated from the Greek word phileo (signifying affection, affinity, or brotherly love) and asked, in effect, ďAre you even my friend?Ē Each time Peter responded with the word translated into Greek as phileo. Jesus doesnít settle for quick, superficial answers. Peter had to face his true feelings and motives when Jesus confronted him. How would you respond if Jesus asked you, ďDo you love me?Ē Are you even his friend?

  • Romans 8:28-39

  • Romans 8:38-39

  • John 3:1-21

  • John 3:16

  • Psalm 136:1-26

  • Psalm 136:1

  • 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

  • 1 John 2:1-11

  • 1 John 2:7-8

  • Leviticus 19:18

  • John 13:34-35

  • John 15:13

  • Mark 12:28-34

  • Mark 12:29-31

  • Deuteronomy 6:5

  • Leviticus 19:18

  • Matthew 5:43-48

  • John 21:15-25

  • John 21:17

Loyalty

LOYALTY IS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF TRUE FRIENDSHIP

OUR LOYALTY TO GOD CANNOT BE DIVIDED

OUR HIGHEST LOYALTY SHOULD BE TO GOD AND HIS ETERNAL VALUES

WE CAN BE COMPLETELY LOYAL TO ONLY ONE PERSON

A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.† There is a vast difference between knowing someone well and being a true friend. The greatest evidence of genuine friendship is loyalty being available to help in times of struggle. Too many people are fair-weather friends.

They stick around when the friendship helps them and leave when theyíre not getting anything out of the relationship. Think of your friends, and assess your loyalty to them. Be the kind of true friend the Bible encourages.ď No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Jesus says we can have only one master.

We live in a materialistic society where many people serve money. They spend all their lives collecting and storing it, only to die and leave it behind. Their desire for money and what it can buy far outweighs their commitment to God and spiritual matters. Whatever you store up, you will spend much of your time and energy thinking about. Donít fall into the materialistic trap, because ďthe love of money is at the root of all kinds of evilĒ .

Can you honestly say that God, and not money, is your master? One test is to ask which one occupies more of your thoughts, time, and efforts. Jesus contrasted heavenly values with earthly values when he explained that our first loyalty should be to those things that do not fade, cannot be stolen or used up, and never wear out. We should not be fascinated with our possessions, lest they possess us.

This means we may have to do some cutting back if our possessions are becoming too important to us. Jesus is calling for a decision that allows us to live contentedly with whatever we have because we have chosen what is eternal and lasting. Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to bring strife and division! In these strange and unsettling words, Jesus revealed that his coming often results in conflict.

He demands a response so intimate that groups may be torn apart when some choose to follow him and others refuse to do so. There is no middle ground with Jesus. Loyalties must be declared and commitments made, sometimes to the point of severing other relationships. Are you willing to risk your familyís approval in order to gain eternal life?

  • Proverbs 17:1-28

  • Proverbs 17:17

  • 1 Corinthians 13:7

  • Matthew 6:19-24

  • Matthew 6:24

  • 1 Timothy 6:10

  • Luke 12:49-53

  • Luke 12:51

Mercy

IN WHAT WAYS DO WE EXPERIENCE GODíS MERCY?

GOD IS MERCIFUL EVEN WHEN WE ARE NOT AWARE OF IT

IN TIMES OF DISOBEDIENCE WE EXPERIENCE GODíS MERCY

GODíS MERCY DOES NOT COME AS A RESULT OF OUR WORTHINESS

THE PROUD DO NOT EXPERIENCE GODíS MERCY

Godís compassion was at work even when the Israelites were experiencing the affliction of their Babylonian conquerors. Although the people had been unfaithful, Godís faithfulness was great. He used this affliction to bring his people back to him. Importance: God will always be faithful to his people. His merciful, refining work is evident even in affliction. At those times, we must pray for forgiveness and then turn to him for deliverance.

ďYes, I know you are innocent,Ē God replied. ďThat is why I kept you from sinning against me; I did not let you touch her.Ē Abimelech had unknowingly taken a married woman to be his wife and was about to commit adultery. But God somehow prevented him from touching Sarah and held him back from sinning. What mercy on Godís part! How many times has God done the same for us, holding us back from sin in ways we canít even detect?

We have no way of knowing-we just know from this story that he can. God works just as often in ways we canít see as in ways we can. Have compassion on me, LORD, for I am weak. Heal me, LORD, for my body is in agony. David accepted Godís punishment, but he begged God not to discipline him in anger. Jeremiah also asked God to correct him gently and not in anger.

David recognized that if God treated him with justice alone and not with mercy, he would be wiped out by Godís wrath. Often we want God to show mercy to us and justice to everyone else. God, in his kindness, forgives us instead of giving us what we deserve. Jeshuaís clothing was filthy as he stood there before the angel. So the angel said to the others standing there, ďTake off his filthy clothes.Ē

And turning to Jeshua he said, ďSee, I have taken away your sins, and now I am giving you these fine new clothes.Ē

Zechariahís vision graphically portrays how we receive Godís mercy. We do nothing ourselves. God removes our filthy clothes (sins), then provides us with new, clean, rich garments (the righteousness and holiness of God. All we need to do is repent and ask God to forgive us. When Satan tries to make you feel dirty and unworthy, remember that the clean clothes of Christís righteousness make you worthy to draw near to God.

The tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ďO God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.Ē I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For the proud will be humbled, but the humble will be honored. The Pharisee did not go to the temple to pray to God but to announce to all within earshot how good he was. The tax collector went recognizing his sin and begging for mercy.

Self-righteousness is dangerous. It leads to pride, causes a person to despise others, and prevents him or her from learning anything from God. The tax collectorís prayer should be our prayer, because we all need Godís mercy every day. Donít let pride in your achievements cut you off from God.

  • Genesis 20:1-18

  • Genesis 20:6

  • Psalm 6:1-10

  • Psalm 6:2

  • Jeremiah 10:24

  • Zechariah 3:1-10

  • Zechariah 3:3-4

  • 2 Corinthians 5:21

  • Ephesians 4:24

  • Revelation 19:8

  • Luke 18:9-14

  • Luke 18:13-14

Patience

HOW CAN I GROW IN PATIENCE?

WHY IS PATIENCE SUCH A VIRTUE?

HOW DO WE DEVELOP PATIENCE?

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF IMPATIENCE?

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ďWAIT ON THE LORD?Ē

If youíve ever spent two hours stuck in rush-hour traffic or held a crying baby at 2:00 A.M., you know something about patience. According to the Bible, patience is a form of perseverance and forbearance that allows us to respond to frustrating circumstances with grace and self-control. Contrary to popular opinion, patience is not merely a personality trait but is a by-product of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in the heart and mind of the believer.

Moses went back to the Lord and protested,† ďWhy did you send me?Ē We become impatient when we focus more on our agenda than on Godís will.† I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. We must wait patiently in prayer for God to do his work in us. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. We develop patience as we learn to live from an eternal perspective.† When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience. Patience is a by-product of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in our heart.

Love is patient and kind. Patience is one of the evidences of love.

If we look forward to something we donít have yet, we must wait patiently and confidently. Patience is produced by the hope a believer has in Godís eternal glory.† May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other-each with the attitude of Christ Jesus toward the other.

When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. We also pray that you will be strengthened with his glorious power so that you will have all the patience and endurance you need. May you be filled with joy.

Patience leads to harmony with others, endurance to handle difficult circumstances, and an expectant attitude of hope that things will get better.

It demonstrates a thoughtful and careful attitude toward others feelings. Anyone can be patient, but there is a higher level of patience which comes from God through his Holy Spiritís presence and work in our lives.† Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Godís love and work in our daily lives often brings patience. 1 Love is patient and kind.

Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each otherís faults because of your love.

Patience is a characteristic of love. The more loving we become, the more we model the nature of God in our lives. God is incredibly patient.† It is better to be patient than powerful; it is better to have self-control than to conquer a city.

Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.

Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do Godís will.

Then you will receive all that he has promised. Patience is evidence of strength of character. Enduring patience flows from strong character.

Dear brothers and sisters, you must be patient as you wait for the Lordís return. Consider the farmers who eagerly look for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They patiently wait for the precious harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. And take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I will never pray to anyone but you. I will wait for the Lord to help us, though he has turned away from the people of Israel. My only hope is in him. I say to myself, ďThe Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!Ē

So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord. Patience is an aspect of faith and hope. The greater our hope, the more we patiently wait for it, and the more our faith grows that it will truly happen. Jacob spent the next seven years working to pay for Rachel.

But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days. Finally, the time came for him to marry her. ďI have fulfilled my contract,Ē Jacob said to Laban. ďNow give me my wife so we can be married.Ē But when Jacob woke up in the morning-it was Leah! ďWhat sort of trick is this?Ē Jacob raged at Laban. ďI worked seven years for Rachel. What do you mean by this trickery?Ē ďWait until the bridal week is over, and you can have Rachel, too-that is, if you promise to work another seven years for me.Ē So Jacob agreed to work seven more years. A week after Jacob had married Leah, Laban gave him Rachel, too.

Patience is the key to achieving many goals. Achieving goals is rarely done with a quantum leap, but rather by small footsteps.† We proudly tell Godís other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering.

But God will use this persecution to show his justice. For he will make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering. Patience is the key to enduring suffering. Suffering is better endured when patiently endured.† We also pray that you will be strengthened with his glorious power so that you will have all the patience and endurance you need. May you be filled with joy.† When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.

By that same mighty power, he has given us all of his rich and wonderful promises . . . So make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises to your life. Then your faith will produce a life of moral excellence. A life of moral excellence leads to knowing God better. Knowing God leads to self-control. Self-control leads to patient endurance, and patient endurance leads to godliness.

Godliness leads to love for other Christians, and finally you will grow to have genuine love for everyone.

Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. They give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for Godís promises.† When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. God develops our patience through our relationship with him.

The more we walk with him, the more we learn his patient endurance. Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. The Lordís servants must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone. They must be able to teach effectively and be patient with difficult people. People with good sense restrain their anger; they earn esteem by overlooking wrongs. Those who control their anger have great understanding; those with a hasty temper will make mistakes.

God uses our relationships to develop our patience.

Abrasive relationships teach us to patiently endure. Loving relationships teach us to patiently enjoy.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us-they help us learn to endure.

And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and always be prayerful.† God is pleased with you when, for the sake of your conscience, you patiently endure unfair treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing right and are patient beneath the blows, God is pleased with you. Samuel said, ďWhat is this you have done?Ē Saul replied, ďI saw my men scattering from me, and you didnít arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle.

So I said, ĎThe Philistines are ready to march against us, and I havenít even asked for the Lordís help!í So I felt obliged to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.Ē Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride. God uses life circumstances to develop our patience. We do not always choose the circumstances that come our way, but we do choose the way we respond to them. Sarai, Abramís wife, had no children.

So Sarai took her servant, an Egyptian woman named Hagar, and gave her to Abram so she could bear his children. ďThe Lord has kept me from having any children,Ē Sarai said to Abram. ďGo and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.Ē And Abram agreed. Impatience may cause us to rush ahead of Godís promises or try to force his promises to happen ahead of schedule. Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didnít come. Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away.

So he demanded, ďBring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!Ē And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself. Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to meet and welcome him, but Samuel said, ďWhat is this you have done?Ē Saul replied, ďI saw my men scattering from me, and you didnít arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle.

So I said, ĎThe Philistines are ready to march against us, and I havenít even asked for the Lordís help!í So I felt obliged to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.Ē

ďHow foolish!Ē Samuel exclaimed. ďYou have disobeyed the command of the Lord your God. Had you obeyed, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your dynasty must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart.

The Lord has already chosen him to be king over his people, for you have not obeyed the Lordís command.Ē Our impatience can lead to disobedience, causing us to miss Godís blessings in our lives. Then the people of Israel set out from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea to go around the land of Edom. But the people grew impatient along the way, and they began to murmur against God and Moses. ďWhy have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?Ē they complained. ďThere is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink.

And we hate this wretched manna!Ē So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among them, and many of them were bitten and died. Then the people came to Moses and cried out, ďWe have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take away the snakes.Ē

So Moses prayed for the people. Our impatience can lead to complaining and Godís punishment. Those who control their anger have great understanding; those with a hasty temper will make mistakes. When Moses failed to come back down the mountain right away, the people went to Aaron.

ďLook,Ē they said, ďmake us some gods who can lead us. This man Moses, who brought us here from Egypt, has disappeared. We donít know what has happened to him.Ē Our impatience can lead to poor life choices. Lord, be merciful to us, for we have waited for you. Be our strength each day and our salvation in times of trouble. Those who wait on the Lord will find new strength.

They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. We depend on the Lord alone to save us. Only he can help us, protecting us like a shield. I will wait for the Lord to help us, though he has turned away from the people of Israel. My only hope is in him. I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word. Waiting on the Lord is bringing our timetable in sync with his.

We try not to rush ahead of him or linger too far behind him. I wait quietly before God, for my salvation comes from him .I wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. Waiting on the Lord is relying on him as the source of our daily strength for all situations, realizing our total dependence on him, and maintaining our hope in the promises of his Word. I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Donít worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. As for me, I look to the Lord for his help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me. Then he said to his servant, ďGo and look out toward the sea.Ē The servant went and looked, but he returned to Elijah and said, ďI didnít see anything.Ē Seven times Elijah told him to go and look, and seven times he went.

We should wait quietly, patiently, courageously, and confidently with anticipation. How quickly they forgot what he had done! They wouldnít wait for his counsel! In the wilderness, their desires ran wild, testing Godís patience in that dry land. Then God said to Noah, ďLeave the boat, all of you.Ē Since you didnít believe what I said, you wonít be able to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly come true at the proper time. Although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days and did not go to them.

Finally after two days, he said to his disciples, ďLetís go to Judea again.Ē In one of these meetings as he was eating a meal with them, he told them, ďDo not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you what he promised. Remember, I have told you about this before.Ē Donít say, ďI will get even for this wrong.Ē Wait for the Lord to handle the matter. Donít be impatient for the Lord to act! Travel steadily along his path. He will honor you, giving you the land. You will see the wicked destroyed. We should wait for his counsel, his timing, and his settling of personal and universal injustices. The Lord still waits for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for him to help them. The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for him and seek him. The Lord blesses those who wait for him.

Important Promises From God:† Those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for him and seek him. Waiting for Godís timing brings great rewards.

  • Exodus 5:22-23

  • Psalm 40:1

  • Habakkuk 2:3

  • Galatians 5:22

  • 1 Corinthians 13:4

  • Romans 8:24-25

  • Romans 15:5

  • Galatians 5:22

  • Colossians 1:11

  • Colossians 3:12

  • Corinthians 13:4-7

  • Ephesians 4:2

  • Proverbs 16:32

  • James 1:2-4

  • Hebrews 10:36

  • †James 5:7-8

  • Psalm 5:2

  • Isaiah 8:17

  • Lamentations 3:24, 26

  • Genesis 29:20-21, 25, 27-28

  • 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5

  • Colossians 1:11

  • Galatians 5:22

  • 2 Peter 1:4-7

  • Romans 15:4

  • James 1:3

  • 2 Timothy 2:24

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:14

  • Proverbs 19:11

  • Proverbs 14:29

  • Romans 5:3-4

  • Romans 12:12

  • 1 Peter 2:19-20

  • 1 Samuel 13:11-12

  • Ecclesiastes 7:8

  • 1 Samuel 13:8-14

  • Genesis 16:1-2

  • Numbers 21:4-7

  • Proverbs 14:29

  • Exodus 32:1

  • Isaiah 33:2

  • Isaiah 40:31

  • Psalm 33:20

  • Isaiah 8:17

  • Psalm 130:5

  • Psalm 62:1, 5

  • Psalm 40:1

  • Psalm 37:7

  • Psalm 27:14

  • Micah 7:7

  • 1 Kings 18:43

  • Psalm 106:13-14

  • Genesis 8:15-16

  • Luke 1:20

  • John 11:5-7

  • Acts 1:4

  • Proverbs 20:22

  • Psalm 37:34

  • Isaiah 30:18

  • Lamentations 3:25

  • Isaiah 40:31

  • Lamentations 3:25

Perseverance

WHAT DOES PERSEVERANCE SHOW?

PERSEVERANCE REVEALS GENUINE COMMITMENT

PERSEVERANCE REVEALS GENUINE BELIEVERS

PERSEVERANCE REVEALS GENUINE FAITH

Daniel served for 70 years in a foreign land that was hostile to God, yet he did not compromise his faith in God. He was truthful, persistent in prayer, and disinterested in power for personal glory. Importance: In order to fulfill your lifeís purpose, you need staying power. Donít let your Christian distinctness become blurred. Be relentless in your prayers, maintain your integrity, and be content to serve God wherever he puts you.

At last the wall was completed to half its original height around the entire city, for the people had worked very hard. The work of rebuilding the wall progressed well because the people had set their hearts and minds on accomplishing the task. They did not lose heart or give up, but persevered in the work. If God has called you to a task, determine to complete it, even if you face opposition or discouragement. The rewards of work well done will be worth the effort. Everyone will hate you because of your allegiance to me. But those who endure to the end will be saved.

To believe in Jesus and ďendure to the endĒ will take perseverance, because our faith will be challenged and opposed. Severe trials will sift true Christians from fair-weather believers. Enduring to the end does not earn salvation for us, but marks us as already saved. The assurance of our salvation will keep us going through the times of persecution.

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, 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 do 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.

  • Nehemiah 4:1-23

  • Nehemiah 4:6

  • Mark 13:1-23

  • Mark 13:13

  • Hebrews 3:1-19

  • Hebrews 3:6

  • Hebrews 3:14

Persistence

HOW DOES GOD DEMONSTRATE HIS PERSISTENCE?

CREATION IS AN EXPRESSION OF GODíS PERSISTENT GRACE

CHRIST IS AN EXPRESSION OF GODíS PERSISTENT LOVE

. OUR PERSISTENCE HOW CAN PERSISTENCE BE BOTH A STRENGTH AND A WEAKNESS?

PERSISTENCE IN DEVELOPING YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE IS A STRENGTH

PERSISTENCE THAT BECOMES MERE STUBBORNNESS IS A WEAKNESS

PERSISTENCE IN SEEKING AFTER GOD IS A STRENGTH

Because church members had quit working and become disorderly and disobedient, Paul chastised them for their idleness. He called on them to show courage and true Christian conduct. Importance: We must never get so tired of doing right that we quit. We can be persistent by making the most of our time and talents. Our endurance will be rewarded.

As long as the earth remains, there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night. Countless times throughout the Bible we see God showing his love and patience toward men and women in order to save them. Although he realizes that their hearts are evil, he continues to try to reach them. Godís love is unmistakably persistent. When we sin or fall away from God, we surely deserve to be destroyed by his judgment.

But God has promised never again to destroy everything on earth until the Judgment Day, when Christ returns to destroy evil forever. Now every change of season is a reminder of his promise. Lord, in the beginning you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. Even they will perish, but you remain forever. They will wear out like old clothing. You will roll them up like an old coat.

They will fade away like old clothing. But you are always the same; you will never grow old.

What does it mean that Christ is changeless ("you are always the same")? It means that Christís character will never change. He persistently shows his love to us. He is always fair, just, and merciful to us who are so undeserving.

Be thankful that Christ is changeless-he will always help you when you need it and offer forgiveness when you fall† ďYour name will no longer be Jacob,Ē the man told him. ďIt is now Israel, because you have struggled with both God and men and have won.Ē Jacob continued this wrestling match all night just to be blessed. He was persistent. God encourages persistence in every area of our life, including the spiritual. Where in your spiritual life do you need more persistence?

Strong character develops as you struggle through tough conditions. Asahel would not give up, so Abner thrust the butt end of his spear through Asahelís stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He stumbled to the ground and died there.

And everyone who came by that spot stopped and stood still when they saw Asahel lying there. Abner repeatedly warned Asahel to turn back or risk losing his life, but Asahel refused to turn from his self-imposed duty. Persistence is a good trait if it is for a worthy cause. But if the goal is only personal honor or gain, persistence may be no more than stubbornness. Asahelís stubbornness not only cost him his life, but it also spurred unfortunate disunity in Davidís army for years to come . Before you decide to pursue a goal, make sure it is worthy of your devotion.

Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks. Jesus tells us to persist in pursuing God. People often give up after a few halfhearted efforts and conclude that God cannot be found. But knowing God takes faith, focus, and follow-through, and Jesus assures us that we will be rewarded. Donít give up in your efforts to seek God.

Continue to ask him for more knowledge, patience, wisdom, love, and understanding. He will give them to you.

  • Genesis 8:1-22

  • Genesis 8:22

  • Hebrews 1:1-14

  • Hebrews 1:10-12

  • Genesis 32:22-32

  • 2 Samuel 2:1-32

  • 2 Samuel 2:23

  • 1 Kings 2:28-35

  • Matthew 7:7-12

  • Matthew 7:7-8

Read The Word

IT IS NECESSARY TO READ GODíS WORD IN ORDER TO OBEY IT

IT IS NECESSARY TO READ GODíS WORD IN ORDER TO TEACH IT TO OTHERS

IT IS NECESSARY TO READ GODíS WORD IN ORDER TO KNOW THE LORD

When he sits on the throne as king, he must copy these laws on a scroll for himself in the presence of the Levitical priests. He must always keep this copy of the law with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the LORD his God by obeying all the terms of this law. The king was to be a man of Godís Word. He was to

  • have a copy of the law made for his personal use,

  • keep it with him all the time,

  • read from it every day, and

  • obey it completely.

Through this process he would learn respect for God, keep himself from feeling more important than others, and avoid neglecting God in times of prosperity. We canít know what God wants except through his Word, and his Word wonít affect our life unless we read and think about it regularly. With the easy availability of the Bible today, it is not difficult to gain access to the source of the kingís wisdom. What is more of a challenge is following its directives.

Call them all together-men, women, children, and the foreigners living in your towns-so they may listen and learn to fear the LORD your God and carefully obey all the terms of this law.

The laws were to be read to the whole assembly so that everyone, including the children, could hear them. Every seven years the entire nation would gather together and listen as a priest read the law to them. There were no books, Bibles, or newsstands to spread Godís Word, so the people had to rely on word of mouth and an accurate memory. Memorization was an important part of worship because if everyone knew the law, ignorance would be no excuse for breaking it.

To fulfill Godís purpose and will in our life, we need the content and substance of his Word in our heart and mind. For the Hebrews, this process began in childhood. Teaching our children and new believers should be one of our top priorities.

Our finest teachers, best resources, and most careful thought should be directed toward showing young believers how to follow God in all lifeís situations.† Jesusí disciples saw him do many other miraculous signs besides the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life. To understand the life and mission of Jesus more fully, all we need to do is study the Gospels. John tells us that his Gospel records only a few of the many events in Jesusí life on earth. But it includes everything we need to know to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, through whom we receive eternal life.

  • Deuteronomy 17:14-20

  • Deuteronomy 17:18-19

  • Deuteronomy 31:9-13

  • Deuteronomy 31:12

  • John 20:24-31

  • John 20:30-31

Repentance

WHY IS REPENTANCE ESSENTIAL TO A SPIRITUAL LIFE?

REPENTANCE OPENS THE WAY FOR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

REPENTANCE DEMONSTRATES REAL FAITH

REPENTANCE MAKES INWARD CHANGE A VISIBLE REALITY

REPENTANCE BREAKS OUR BONDAGE TO SIN

Here is a sample of Johnís preaching to the crowds that came for baptism: ďYou brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee Godís coming judgment? Prove by the way you live that you have really turned from your sins and turned to God. Donít just say, íWeíre safe-weíre the descendants of Abraham.í That proves nothing. God can change these stones here into children of Abraham.Ē†

Repentance has two sides-turning away from sins and turning toward God. To be truly repentant, we must do both. We canít just say that we believe and then live any way we choose; neither can we simply live a morally correct life without a personal relationship with God, because that cannot bring forgiveness from sin. Determine to rid your life of any sins God points out, and put your trust in him alone to guide you.

Confession of sins and a changed life are inseparable. Faith without deeds is dead. Jesusí harshest words were to the respectable religious leaders who lacked the desire for real change. They wanted to be known as religious authorities, but they didnít want to change their hearts and minds. Thus their lives were unproductive. Repentance must be tied to action, or it isnít real.

Following Jesus means more than saying the right words; it means acting on what he says. In those days John the Baptist began preaching in the Judean wilderness. His message was, ďTurn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near.ĒWhen you wash dirty hands, the results are immediately visible. But repentance happens inside with a cleansing that isnít seen right away. So John used a symbolic action that people could see: baptism. The Jews used baptism to initiate converts, so Johnís audience was familiar with the rite.

Here, baptism was used as a sign of repentance and forgiveness. Repent means ďto turn,Ē implying a change in behavior. It is turning from sin toward God. Have you repented of sin in your life? Can others see the difference it makes in you? A changed life with new and different behavior makes your repentance real and visible. The leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus. The chief priestsí blindness and hardness of heart caused them to sink ever deeper into sin.

They rejected the Messiah and planned to kill him, and then plotted to murder Lazarus as well. One sin leads to another. From the Jewish leadersí point of view, they could accuse Jesus of blasphemy because he claimed equality with God. But Lazarus had done nothing of the kind. They wanted Lazarus dead simply because he was a living witness to Jesusí power. This is a warning to us to avoid sin. Sin leads to more sin, and this downward spiral can be stopped only by repentance and the power of the Holy Spirit to change behavior.

  • Luke 3:1-18

  • Luke 3:7-8

  • James 2:14-26

  • Matthew 3:1-12

  • Matthew 3:1-2

  • John 12:1-11

  • John 12:10-11

Righteousness

HOW DO WE BECOME RIGHTEOUSNESS?

WE ARE NOT RIGHTEOUS BY NATURE

WE DO NOT BECOME RIGHTEOUS BY BEING GOOD

WE BECOME RIGHTEOUS THROUGH CHRIST

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me.† Because we are born as sinners† our natural inclination is to please ourselves rather than God. David followed that inclination when he took another manís wife. We also follow it when we sin in any way. Like David, we must ask God to cleanse us from within, making room for clean thoughts and right desires. Right conduct can come only from a clean heart and spirit. Ask God to create a pure heart in you. We are all infected and impure with sin.

When we proudly display our righteous deeds, we find they are but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall. And our sins, like the wind, sweep us away. This passage can easily be misunderstood. It does not mean that God will reject us if we come to him in faith, nor does it mean that he despises our efforts to please him.

It means that if we come to him demanding acceptance on the basis of our ďgoodĒ conduct, God will point out that our righteousness is nothing compared to his infinite righteousness. Sin makes us unclean so that we cannot approach God any more than a beggar in rotten rags could dine at a kingís table. Our best efforts are still infected with sin. Our only hope, therefore, is faith in Jesus Christ, who can cleanse us and bring us into Godís presence. God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. When we trust in Christ, we make an exchange-our sin for his righteousness. Our sin was poured into Christ at his crucifixion. His righteousness is poured into us at our conversion.

This is what is meant by Christís ďatonementĒ for sin. In the world, bartering works only when two people exchange goods of relatively equal value. But God offers to trade his righteousness for our sin-something of immeasurable worth for something completely worthless. How grateful we should be for his kindness to us.

  • Psalm 51:1-19

  • Psalm 51:10 (51:5) (51:7)

  • †Isaiah 64:1-12

  • Isaiah 64:6

  • Romans 3:23

  • 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

  • 2 Corinthians 5:21

Thankfulness

THERE ARE FOUR SIGNIFICANT ASPECTS OF THANKFULNESS

THANKFULNESS OUGHT TO BE A MAJOR INGREDIENT IN ALL OUR RELATIONSHIPS

ONE OF THE FIRST MARKS OF REJECTING GOD IS FORGETTING TO THANK HIM

THANKFULNESS OUGHT TO BE THE PRIME CHARACTERISTIC IN A CHRISTIANíS LIFE

THANKFULNESS CAN TAKE ON A VARIETY OF EFFECTIVE EXPRESSIONS

We are grateful to God for his personal concern, help, and mercy. Not only does he protect, guide, and forgive us, but his creation provides everything we need.

Importance: When we realize how we benefit from knowing God, we can fully express our thanks to him. By thanking him often, we develop spontaneity in our prayer life.

Four elements of true thanksgiving are found in this song (psalm):

  • remembering what God has done,

  • telling others about it,

  • showing Godís glory to others, and

  • offering gifts of self, time, and resources.

If you are truly thankful, your life will show it.

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, During the Thanksgiving holiday, we focus on our blessings and express our gratitude to God for them. But thanks should be on our lips every day.

We can never say thank you enough to parents, friends, leaders, and especially to God. When thanksgiving becomes an integral part of your life, you will find that your attitude toward life will change.

You will become more positive, gracious, loving, and humble.

Yes, they knew God, but they wouldnít worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. The result was that their minds became dark and confused.† How could intelligent people turn to idolatry? Idolatry begins when people reject what they know about God. Instead of looking to him as the Creator and sustainer of life, they see themselves as the center of the universe.

They soon invent ďgodsĒ that are convenient projections of their own selfish plans and decrees. These gods may be wooden figures, but they may also be goals or things we pursue such as money, power, or comfort. They may even be misrepresentations of God himself-making God in our image, instead of the reverse. The common denominator is this-idolaters worship the things God or man made, rather than God himself. Isaiah there anything you feel you canít live without? Isaiah there any priority greater than God?

Do you have a dream you would sacrifice everything to realize?

Does God take first place?

Do you worship God or idols of your own making?

God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you canít take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.†When someone gives you a gift, do you say, ďThatís very nice-now how much do I owe you?Ē No, the appropriate response to a gift is ďThank you.Ē Yet how often Christians, even after they have been given the gift of salvation, feel obligated to try to work their way to God.

Because our salvation and even our faith are gifts, we should respond with gratitude, praise, and joy. We become Christians through Godís unmerited grace, not as the result of any effort, ability, intelligent choice, or act of service on our part. However, out of gratitude for this free gift, we will seek to help and serve others with kindness, love, and gentleness.

While no action or work we do can help us obtain salvation, Godís intention is that our salvation will result in acts of service. We are not saved merely for our own benefit, but to serve Christ and build up the church .

  • Psalm 92:1-15

  • Psalm 92:1-2

  • Romans 1:18-23

  • Romans 1:21

  • Ephesians 2:1-10

  • Ephesians 2:8-9

  • Ephesians 4:12

Truthfulness

Teaching that the physical body does not matter, false teachers encouraged believers to throw off moral restraints. They also taught that Christ wasnít really a man and that we must be saved by having some special mystical knowledge. The result was that people became indifferent to sin.

Importance: God is truth and light, so the more we get to know him, the better we can keep focused on the truth. Donít be led astray by any teaching that denies Christís deity or humanity. Check the message; test the claims.

TRUTH Following Godís Word, the Bible, is essential to Christian living because God is truth. Christís true followers consistently obey his truth.

Importance: To be loyal to Christís teaching, we must seek to know the Bible, but we may never twist its message to our own needs or purposes or encourage others who misuse it.

Trusting God

WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF TRUST?

TRUST ALMOST ALWAYS INVOLVES PATIENCE

TRUST OFTEN REQUIRES COURAGE

TRUST INVOLVES HEARTFELT CONFIDENCE IN GOD

TRUST INCLUDES GIVING GOD OUR FUTURE PLANS

Then God remembered Rachelís plight and answered her prayers by giving her a child. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son. ďGod has removed my shame,Ē she said. Eventually God answered Rachelís prayers and gave her a child of her own.

In the meantime, however, she had given her maidservant to Jacob. Trusting God is difficult when nothing seems to happen. But it is harder still to live with the consequences of taking matters into our own hands. Resist the temptation to think God has forgotten you. Have patience and courage to wait for God to act.

As Pharaoh and his army approached, the people of Israel could see them in the distance, marching toward them. The people began to panic, and they cried out to the LORD for help. Then they turned against Moses and complained,

ďWhy did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Werenít there enough graves for us in Egypt?

Why did you make us leave?Ē Trapped against the sea, the Israelites faced the Egyptian army sweeping in for the kill. The Israelites thought they were doomed. After watching Godís powerful hand deliver them from Egypt, their only response was fear, whining, and despair.

Where was their trust in God? Israel had to learn from repeated experience that God was able to provide for them. God has preserved these examples in the Bible so that we can learn to trust him the first time.

By focusing on Godís faithfulness in the past, we can face crises with confidence rather than with fear and complaining. Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths. Leaning has the sense of putting your whole weight on something, resting on and trusting in that person or thing. When we have an important decision to make, we sometimes feel that we canít trust anyone-not even God. But God knows what is best for us. And he knows even better than we do what we really want.

We must trust him completely in every choice we make.

We should not omit careful thinking or belittle our God-given ability to reason; but we should not trust our own ideas to the exclusion of all others. We must not be wise in our own eyes. We should always be willing to listen to and be corrected by Godís Word and wise counselors. Bring your decisions to God in prayer, use the Bible as your guide, and follow Godís leading. He will make your paths straight by both guiding and protecting you.

To receive Godís guidance, said Solomon, we must acknowledge God in all our ways. This means turning every area of life over to him.

About a thousand years later, Jesus emphasized this same truth. Look at your values and priorities. What is important to you? In what areas have you not acknowledged him? What is his advice? In many areas of your life you may already acknowledge God, but it is the areas where you attempt to restrict or ignore his influence that will cause you grief.

Make him a vital part of everything you do; then he will guide you because you will be working to accomplish his purposes.

Now God has shown us a different way of being right in his sight-not by obeying the law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago.

We are made right in Godís sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins.

And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done. After all this bad news about our sinfulness and Godís condemnation, Paul gives the wonderful news. There is a way to be declared not guilty-by trusting Jesus Christ to take away our sins. Trusting means putting our confidence in Christ to forgive our sins, to make us right with God, and to empower us to live the way he taught us. Godís solution is available to all of us regardless of our background or past behavior.

  • Genesis 30:1-24

  • Genesis 30:22-23

  • Exodus 14:1-31

  • Exodus 14:10-11

  • Proverbs 3:1-8

  • Proverbs 3:5-6

  • Matthew 6:33

  • Romans 3:21-28

  • Romans 3:21-22

Unity

HOW DOES THE BIBLE DESCRIBE THE UNITY THAT SHOULD EXIST BETWEEN CHRISTIANS?

CHRISTIAN UNITY IS BASED ON EACH PERSONíS CONNECTION WITH CHRIST

JESUSí GREAT DESIRE FOR HIS DISCIPLES WAS THAT THEY WOULD BECOME ONE

CHRISTIANS ARE NOT INTENDED TO LIVE OUT THEIR FAITH IN ISOLATION

IN CHRIST, UNITY HAS BEEN MADE POSSIBLE, BUT IT HAS NOT YET BEEN FULLY ACHIEVED

THE LOVE COMMANDED BY CHRIST SHOULD CREATE DEEP UNITY AMONG CHRISTIANS

UNITY OUGHT TO BE A DISTINCTIVE MARK AMONG CHRISTIANS

In every church, in every generation, there are divisive influences (issues, loyalties, and conflicts). In the midst of hardships, it is easy to turn on one another. Paul encouraged the Philippians to agree with one another, stop complaining, and work together. Importance: As believers, we should not contend with one another but unite against a mutual enemy. When we are unified in love, Christís strength is most abundant. Keep before you the ideals of teamwork, consideration of others, and unselfishness.

Yes, I am the bread of life! Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. However, the bread from heaven gives eternal life to everyone who eats it. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; this bread is my flesh, offered so the world may live. How can Jesus give us his flesh as bread to eat?

To eat living bread means to accept Christ into our life and become united with him. We are united with Christ in two ways:

  • (1) by believing in his death (the sacrifice of his flesh) and resurrection and

  • (2) by devoting ourselves to living as he requires, depending on his teaching for guidance and trusting in the Holy Spirit for power.

Now I am departing the world; I am leaving them behind and coming to you. Holy Father, keep them and care for them-all those you have given me-so that they will be united just as we are. Jesus wanted his followers to be unified as a powerful witness to the reality of Godís love. Are you helping to unify the body of Christ, the church? You can pray for other Christians, avoid gossip, build others up, work together in humility, give your time and money, exalt Christ, and refuse to get sidetracked arguing over divisive matters.

Jesus prayed for unity among the believers based on the believersí unity with him and the Father.

Christians can know unity among themselves if they are living in union with God. For example, each branch living in union with the vine is united with all other branches doing the same. If the Gentiles were enriched because the Jews turned down Godís offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when the Jews finally accept it. Paul had a vision of a church where all Jews and Gentiles would be united in their love of God and in obedience to Christ. While respecting Godís law, this ideal church would look to Christ alone for salvation. A personís ethnic background and social status would be irrelevant what mattered would be faith in Christ.

But Paulís vision has not yet been realized. Many Jewish people rejected the gospel. They depended on their heritage for salvation, and they did not have the heart of obedience that was so important to the Old Testament prophets and to Paul. Once Gentiles became dominant in many of the Christian churches, they began rejecting Jews and even persecuting them. Unfortunately, this practice has recurred through the centuries.

I pray that your love for each other will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in your knowledge and understanding.

Have you ever longed to see a friend with whom you share fond memories? Paul had such a longing to see the Christians at Philippi. His love and affection for them was based not merely on past experiences, but also on the unity that comes when believers draw upon Christís love. All Christians are part of Godís family and thus share equally in the transforming power of his love.

Do you feel a deep love for fellow Christians, friends and strangers alike?

Let Christís love motivate you to love other Christians and to express that love in your actions toward them. Isaiah there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose. Many people-even Christians-live only to make a good impression on others or to please themselves. But selfishness brings discord. Paul therefore stressed spiritual unity, asking the Philippians to love one another and to be one in spirit and purpose.

When we work together, caring for the problems of others as if they were our problems, we demonstrate Christís example of putting others first, and we experience unity.

Donít be so concerned about making a good impression or meeting your own needs that you strain relationships in Godís family.

  • John 6:22-59

  • John 6:48-51

  • John 17:6-21

  • John 17:11

  • John 15:1-15

  • Romans 11:1-24

  • Romans 11:12

  • Philippians 1:3-11

  • Philippians 1:9

  • Philippians 2:1-11

  • Galatians 3:28

  • Philippians 2:1-2

Wisdom

WHAT IS WISDOM, AND HOW DO WE BECOME WISE?

WISDOM BEGINS WHEN WE ASK GOD TO BE OUR SUPPLY

WISDOM IS THINKING AND LIVING AS GOD DESIGNED US TO LIVE

WISDOM IS THE ABILITY TO APPLY KNOWLEDGE TO EVERYDAY LIFE

WE BECOME WISE BY STUDYING AND APPLYING GODíS WORD

THE WISDOM GOD OFFERS IN HIS WORD IS PRACTICAL AND MUST BE APPLIED TO LIFE

TRUST IN GOD-HE WILL MAKE YOU TRULY WISE

WISDOM IS THE ABILITY TO SEE LIFE FROM GODíS PERSPECTIVE AND THEN TO KNOW THE BEST COURSE OF ACTION TO TAKE

WE BECOME WISER AS WE BECOME MORE LIKE CHRIST

WE CAN ASK FOR GODíS WISDOM TO GUIDE OUR CHOICES

WISDOM MEANS PRACTICAL DISCERNMENT

God wants his people to be wise. Two kinds of people portray two contrasting paths of life. The fool is the wicked, stubborn person who hates or ignores God. The wise person seeks to know and love God.

Importance: When we choose Godís way, he grants us wisdom. His Word, the Bible, leads us to live right, have right relationships, and make right decisions. Human wisdom doesnít contain all the answers. Knowledge and education have their limits. To understand life and make right choices, we need the wisdom that can be found only in Godís Wordóthe Bible.

Importance: When we realize that God will evaluate all that we do, we should learn to live wisely, remembering that he is present each day, and learn to obey his guidelines for living. But in order to have Godís wisdom, we must first get to know and honor him.

Give me an understanding mind so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong.

For who by himself is able to govern this great nation of yours? When given a chance to have anything in the world, Solomon asked for wisdom-"an understanding mind"-in order to lead well and to make right decisions. We can ask God for this same wisdom . Notice that Solomon asked for discernment to carry out his job; he did not ask God to do the job for him. We should not ask God to do for us what he wants to do through us. Instead we should ask God to give us the wisdom to know what to do and the courage to follow through on it.† Solomon asked for wisdom, not wealth, but God gave him riches and long life as well. While God does not promise riches to those who follow him, he gives us what we need if we put his kingdom, his interests, and his principles first .

Setting your heart on riches will only leave you dissatisfied because even if you get the riches you crave, you will still want something more.

But if you put God and his work first, he will satisfy your deepest needs.

Solomon received wisdom from God, but it was up to Solomon to apply that wisdom to all areas of his life. Solomon was obviously wise in governing the nation, but he was foolish in running his household. Wisdom is both the ability to discern what is best and the strength of character to act upon that knowledge. While Solomon remained wise all his life, he did not always act upon his wisdom. Solomonís settlement of the dispute described in† was a classic example of his wisdom.

This wise ruling was verification that God had answered Solomonís prayer and given him a discerning heart. Discernment is the capacity to recognize truth and issues deeper than the surface appearance. We have Godís wisdom available to us as we pray and request it. But, like Solomon, we must put it into action. Oh, how I love your law! I think about it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for your commands are my constant guide.Godís Word makes us wise-wiser than our enemies and wiser than any teachers who ignore it. True wisdom goes beyond amassing knowledge; it is applying knowledge in a life-changing way. Intelligent or experienced people are not necessarily wise. Wisdom comes from applying Godís Word to our life. To walk safely in the woods at night, we need a light so we donít trip over tree roots or fall into holes. In this life, we walk through a dark forest of evil. But the Bible can be our light to show us the way ahead so we wonít stumble as we walk. It reveals the entangling roots of false values and philosophies. Study the Bible, so you will be able to see your way clearly enough to stay on the right path. Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. Only fools despise wisdom and discipline.† In this age of information, knowledge is plentiful, but wisdom is scarce. Wisdom means far more than simply knowing a lot. It is a basic attitude that affects every aspect of life. The foundation of knowledge is to fear the Lord-to honor and respect God, to live in awe of his power, and to obey his Word. Faith in God should be the controlling principle for your understanding of the world, your attitudes, and your actions. How wonderful to be wise, to be able to analyze and interpret things. Wisdom lights up a personís face, softening its hardness. Most people would agree that wisdom is a valuable asset, but how can we acquire it† teaches that the reverence and fear of the Lord (respect and honor) are basic to all wisdom. Wisdom comes from knowing and trusting God; it is not merely the way to find God. Knowing God will lead to understanding and then to sharing this knowledge with others. There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom beyond his years, and God placed his special favor upon him. Jesus was filled with wisdom, which is not surprising because he stayed in close contact with his heavenly Father. God gives wisdom generously to all who ask. Even our children need to be encouraged to seek and develop wisdom. Like Jesus, we can grow in wisdom by walking with God. If you need wisdom-if you want to know what God wants you to do-ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. By wisdom, James is talking not only about knowledge, but about the ability to make wise decisions in difficult circumstances. Whenever we need wisdom, we can pray to God, and he will generously supply what we need. Christians donít have to grope around in the dark, hoping to stumble upon answers. It begins with respect for God, leads to right living, and results in increased ability to tell right from wrong. God is willing to give us this wisdom, but we will be unable to receive it if our goals are self-centered instead of God-centered. To learn Godís will, we need to read his Word and ask him to show us how to obey it. Then we must do what he tells us.

  • 1 Kings 3:1-28

  • 1 Kings 3:9

  • James 1:5

  • Matthew 6:31-33

  • 1 Kings 3:16-28

  • Psalm 119:97-112

  • Psalm 119:97-98

  • Proverbs 1:1-7

  • Proverbs 1:7

  • Ecclesiastes 8:1-8

  • Ecclesiastes 8:1

  • Proverbs 9:10

  • Luke 2:33-40

  • Luke 2:40

  • James 1:5

  • James 1:2-8

Witnessing

Peter, John, Philip, Paul, Barnabas, and thousands more witnessed to their new faith in Christ. By personal testimony, preaching, or defense before authorities, they told the story with boldness and courage to groups of all sizes. Importance: We are Godís people, chosen to be part of his plan to reach the world. In love and by faith, we can have the Holy Spiritís help as we witness or preach. Witnessing is also beneficial to us because it strengthens our faith as we confront those who challenge it.

Go To Part 1††† Go To Part 3


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