From Our Hearts to Yours
While we live in a worldly culture that encourages self-absorption and prideful arrogance, we must be oh-so-careful not to give up the gentleness and meekness that God desires in us. The world views gentleness as a sign of weakness. But in reality, gentleness is like a two-sided coin.
One side conveys the idea of meekness, humility, or lowliness. It possesses patience, a wait-and-see attitude as it quietly and calmly looks at the facts of each situation in a cool-headed manner. Yet when we turn the coin over, we discover that gentleness requires the firmness of self-mastery, of strength under control. It demands steel-like self-discipline. Gentleness requires a reliance on God’s ways above all others. It is the powerful opposite of self-reliant arrogance or brazen assertiveness.
Jesus spent three years gently and humbly ministering to the people in and around Palestine. In time the day finally arrived when He began moving toward Jerusalem and His death. As the King of kings and Lord of lords rode into Jerusalem, Matthew wrote, “Behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey” (Matthew 21:5). Christ appeared in Jerusalem, the city of Zion, not in His glory, but in meekness. Not to conquer, but to bring about salvation for sinners.
Gentleness and outward poverty were the identifying qualities of Christ and characterized His ministry. Jesus could have asserted Himself at any point. He could have demanded respect, allegiance, and royal treatment. Yet Jesus chose to make His entrance into Jerusalem in meekness.
As you take a further look at what the Bible says about gentleness, I think you’ll agree that when you exhibit gentleness, or humility, you reflect Jesus.
Gentleness is a key to abundant living — “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
Gentleness can bring peace instead of strife — “A soft [gentle] answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs. 15:1).
Gentleness seeks restoration — “If anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1).
Gentleness is a reflection of love — “With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, [bear] with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).
Gentleness is confident yet respectful — “Be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).
Gentleness in a woman is precious to God — “your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit…is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:3-4).
No matter how those around you in society regard gentleness, it is an exquisite, powerful, and lofty Christ-like attitude. To reflect this precious-in-the-sight-of-God quality, first desire it with all your heart. Then allow every opportunity of mistreatment or misunderstanding to reflect Christ’s tranquility. Fall on your face before God and wait for His action on your behalf. In prayer, seek His wisdom for your every move. Trust in the Lord to protect you and guide you, to empower you with His grace to respond to trials with Jesus’ gentleness.
A Prayer to Pray: God, you are the source of love. When I am too tired, too agitated, or too self-focused to temper my response, allow Your Word and gentleness toward me guide me back to the priority of love.
It’s true confession time. I’m a worrywart from way back. As a woman who once worried big-time, I suffered from an ulcer, stomach pains, and a nervous rash on both my arms. Yes, I went to doctors, and yes, I took medication. There was improvement in the symptoms. But doctors and pills and salves couldn’t remedy my worry.
So I turned to God. I read my Bible and prayed for God’s help with my worry problem. Praise God, I’m now a recovering worrier, thanks to His guiding Spirit. Through it all, I have learned some shocking truths about worry.
The term worry encompasses many things:
To feel uneasy, troubled
To be overcome with a nagging concern
To be plagued with doubts
Worry is a response to something that is going on in a person’s life.
Worry is a condition produced when no solution is seen.
Worry is an action that has no legitimate basis.
Worry is a condition that affects everyone.
Worry is a reaction that produces no positive results.
Worry is the absence of peace.
Worry is a sin that denies the power of God.
In the biblical sense, worry means to have a sinful, willful distraction that pulls your trust away from God. (That’s troubling!) But, in a personal sense it means to have an anxiety that you need to unload to God. (That’s comforting.)
In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul tells believers:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
The original Greek word used here for “anxious” or worry describes being pulled in different directions. The way the apostle Paul used this phrase, “Be anxious for nothing” meant to stop a practice that had been going on habitually. Evidently his readers were worrying on a routine basis. This adds to our definitions above that worry is a bad habit that can be broken. It’s not an emotion; it’s not uncontrollable. Another conclusion to realize that when you and I worry, we are dismissing God’s presence in our life.
But, Paul gives us 5 components for the antidote to worry:
“Prayer” — speaks of adoration addressed to God as an act of worship and devotion.
“Supplication” — this comes from a word that means to humbly ask for one’s needs.
“Thanksgiving” — this refers to expressing appreciation and gratitude.
“Requests” — this emphasizes specific requests versus asking in generalities.
And finally the most important component:
“The Recipient” – God is the recipient of our prayers and the basis of our hope in all circumstances. The Lord is always present at your side. His Son’s death has provided for your sins, and you are now His child. God is watching over you, and He will never leave you. And He is always working for your best (Romans 8:28). So we have no excuses to worry in the face of these totally trustworthy promises!
We can exhale now. Peace is ours. As you are faithful to pray and cast your cares upon Jesus, He provides assuring peace. His peace is powerful, like a sentinel who stands guard and patrols in front of your heart’s door, keeping worry out. This peace does not mean the absence of trials in your life. But it does mean experiencing a quiet confidence in your spirit regardless of whatever difficult circumstances, people, or events you are facing.
Question: What other sources do you sometimes look to for peace rather than to God? Why is God a better recipient of our requests for peace than anyone or anything else?
I’m not much of a student of the laws of physics, but it doesn’t take much of a student to understand that where there is no resistance, there is no pressure. And that same law could apply to our spiritual lives as well — where there is no resistance to sin (that is, when we disobey), there is no challenge to obedience. There are no challenges…
…when you allow fear to immobilize you
…when you allow peer pressure to compromise you
…when you allow your culture to conform you
…when you allow ignorance to stupefy you
…when you allow apathy to pacify you.
But, I think better of you. I believe you are ready to accept the challenges that come with obedience. I believe you want your life to have a bold impact for God…and that you want to become a man of godly influence. With God’s help (and that’s what it will take) you are ready to be used in powerful ways by God.
Here then are a few suggestions that will definitely help you develop a life of influence and lasting impact. And forgive me if I repeat myself, but you and I can never be reminded enough of these simple steps!
Step 1: Realize that God’s Word is God’s Word to you. As an excuse for disobedience, some people say, “If God would speak to me in a vision like He did to Paul and Ananias, or like He did with Moses, then I would obey.” But friend, God has revealed Himself to us! God has revealed Himself to us in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in His Word, the Bible. Let’s stop making excuses and start obeying God’s Word.
Step 2: Realize what God’s commands are and obey them.
What kind of commands? Commands like…
“Husbands, love your wives” (Ephesians 5:25).
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23).
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1).
“Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully” (Ephesians 4:25).
“Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).
Step 3: Constantly seek God’s strength to follow through on His commands. “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6:10 nasb). What God expects you to do, He also enables you to do. The strength comes from Him. You just need a willing heart.
Step 4: Repent when you have disobeyed God’s standards. God is not asking you to be perfect, but He is asking you to progress and grow in maturity. God uses pure vessels. So…
…keep a clean slate with God,
…acknowledge your sin,
…accept the forgiveness God offers, and
…move on boldly for God.
Step 5: Rejoice in even the smallest victories. No war is ever won in one battle. And neither is your war against the challenge to obedience. Spiritual growth happens one step at a time, one victory at a time. So thank God even for the smallest of victories in Jesus Christ (Romans 7:24).
Your outcome in life doesn’t depend on your income, but on how you overcome.
As I’ve said before, it all comes down to this: An influential life for God is dependent on an obedient life to God.
Question: What challenge are you ready to embrace this week knowing that God enables you to overcome?
Have you thought much about time? The 24 hours, the 1,440 minutes of your each and every day? During the years of youth, didn’t it seemed that time couldn’t go fast enough for the next milestone you were anticipating? But, I am sure you, like me, now find that time has accelerated to warp speed. I feel like it’s whizzing by so fast that I’m breathless and wrung out just trying to hold on to all that’s taking place around me.
Now, obviously all this talk of time slowing down or speeding up is only perception. There are principles regarding the reality of time that I’ve come to realize over the years:
- Time is measured out to each person each day in the same amount.
- Time can never be stored for future use.
- Time happens only once and then is gone forever.
- Time is something that is always in short supply.
- Time, when managed and focused properly, produces significant results.
- Time is a commodity that can either be redeemed or squandered.
Time is a perishable commodity. And with this commodity, you have only two choices. You can let it slip through your fingers, wasting it. Or there is the Bible’s option: You can redeem it. This idea of redeeming time is found in Ephesians 5:15-16: “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Friend, in these few verses we are exposed to the ultimate wisdom needed to use our time for the greatest purpose and impact:
Guard your walk — Paul warns believers to “see then that you walk circumspectly” (verse 15). The word “circumspectly” is not familiar to most vocabularies, and it basically means being careful, calculated, or, as the verse says, “wise.” The secret of making the most of each day is to train yourself to have foresight about what’s ahead or around the next corner. This kind of preparation will help steer your choices throughout your day and enable you to use your time for profitable results.
Change your attitude — Paul tells us to think and act “not as fools.” A foolish woman takes off in all directions at once. She has no plan. She hasn’t thought about the day, about how God wants her to live out His will. So, she doesn’t make the most of her time. She squanders it, kills it, and has little of value to show for her day. It’s a good idea to pray each morning, “Lord, I don’t want to be a fool today. Help me to remember how important my time is today.”
Know the reason — God even supplies the reason for redeeming your time. He says it’s necessary to do this because “the days are evil.” You are to walk wisely and with care because of the evil days we live in. Many are living in sin, and the time is short. So God wants you to make full use of your time to serve as many as possible and to warn others.
When you misuse time through lost opportunities, that time can never be regained; those golden minutes with their golden opportunities are gone forever. God is cautioning you to pray, “Oh, Lord! Please help me to use my time wisely — just for today.” Then pray this again every day!
Question: Don’t forget that some activities feel like time wasters, but are actually valuable service to you family and others. But, what other time-wasters do you need to seek God’s help in removing from your day?