"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" (John 8:58)

Behold The Man!

Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, "Behold the man"! (John 19:1-5 KJV)

Krystal Meyers - The Beauty of Grace



1) The Holy Spirit is one of the three Persons of the Trinity--equally God with God the Father and God the Son. (Genesis 1:1-2) (The word God in Hebrew is Elohiym--plural.) We are first introduced to the Spirit of God in Genesis 1, where He is seen hovering over the face of the earth.

2) John the Baptist prophesized a future "baptism" of the Holy Spirit (from the Greek word, "baptizo," which means to immerse, submerge or to make overwhelmed.) (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33 and see also Acts 11:16) This is not to be confused with our water baptism in which we spiritually follow Christ in His death and resurrection by water immersion. This is the fulfilled promise given by God in Joel 2:28-29.

3) The Holy Spirit gives us the words to speak before others. (Mark 13:11, Luke 12:12)

4) The Holy Spirit gives us power. (Acts 1:8)

5) The Holy Spirit is the great Revealer. (Luke 2:26)

6) The Holy Spirit is our Counselor--teaches us all things and brings all things to our memory. (John 14:26)

7) The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth, speaks only of God and Christ--not Himself. (John 16:13)

8) The Holy Spirits enables us to speak boldly of God. (Acts 4:31)

9) The Holy Spirit can be lied to. (Acts 5:3)

10) The Holy Spirit can be resisted. (Acts 7:51)

11) The Holy Spirit strenthens and encourages us. (Acts 9:31)

12) The Holy Spirit calls individuals out for service. (Acts 13:2)

13) The Holy Spirit can open or close doors. (Acts 16:6)

14) The Holy Spirit warns us and shows us things to come.(Acts 20:23; Acts 21:11; John 16:13)

15) The Holy Spirit gives us responsibility for other Christians. (Acts 20:28)

16) The Holy Spirit pours out God's love in our hearts. (Romans 5:5)

17) The Holy Spirit gives us confirmation in our conscience. (Romans 9:1)

18) Our sanctification (process of becoming holy as God is holy) comes from the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:16)

19) Our body is the dwelling place (temple) of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:19)

20) No one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the power of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:3)

21) Christian life is lived by the Holy Spirit--not by human efforts. (Galatans 3:3; Galatians 5:16-17)

22) It is by the Spirit of God that we are able to call out, "Abba, Father." (Daddy) (Galatians 4:6)

23) Fills us with the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

24) We are marked and sealed until the day of Redemption by the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 1:13)

25) The Holy Spirit can be grieved. (Ephesians 4:30)

26) Our inner joy is given by the Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 1:6)

27) The Holy Spirit renews us. (Titus 3:5)

28) The Holy Spirit performs signs, wonders and miracles as well as distributes gifts for service according to His will. (Hebrews 2:4)

29) God's word was written by human men as they were led by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21)

30) It is the God, the Holy Spirit, Who restrains and holds back the fullness of satan's evil until Christ's church is removed from the earth. (2 Thessalonians 1:7)


40 Day of CommUNITY
Discipleship—How to Help Each Other Grow

1 Corinthians 13:4-6 (Monday)
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” (NIV)
1) Love is an overflow of the heart, but, so is being envious, boastful, proud, rude, self-seeking and easily angered (Mark 7:21-23; Galatians 5:19-21)! Our love one for another pours out as the nature response to the gracious love God has shown us! Love is by its very nature and definition is self-less. So, envy, boasting, pride, etc. can be a pretty accurate barometer of our own personal love “gauge”. The more we let go of that old sin nature “self”, the more the scales tip in favor of love. Take a personal assessment. Which side is your scale tipping toward?
2) How would you define envy?
a) Envy is destructive to the soul and to the body (Job 5:2; Proverbs 14:30)
b) Envy is the driving force for “more, more, more” (Ecclesiastes 4:4)
3) Would you say that based upon the scriptures given above that envy and greed are very closely related? Why or why not?
4) Is there a connecting thread between boasting and pride? If so, what is it?
Matthew 7:3-4 (Tuesday)
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.” (NIV)
1) Boy, how quick we are to judge someone else! Someone else’s fault(s) and/or sin(s) always seem greater than our own. Jesus has a pretty funny way of illustrating a very important truth to us—our own faults and sins are always far, far worse! Planks (literally, logs)! Oh, we need to start looking into the mirror! Why is it we are so quick to point the finger at anyone but ourselves? Oh, this finger pointing started long, long ago. Please read over Genesis 3! Yep, started with Adam and Eve! Poor us!
Proverbs 16:21 (Wednesday)
“The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.” (NIV)
1) Instruction should always be motivated by love! Isaiah 50:4 reads, “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” Everything is God!
2) Godly instruction is key for building up one another in the faith. Through wisdom and love we are able to pull one another back from the “fire”! (Proverbs 16:6 and Galatians 6:12)
3) John Piper, in his October 16, 2006 daily devotional wonderfully illustrates how educating [instructing] and loving one another go hand in hand:
“So what does the Bible say about how truth and love relate to each other? There are at least four ways of talking about this relationship.1. Truth aims at love.
"The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1 Timothy 1:5). Note: instruction is not the goal, love is. Instruction is the means. It is subordinate. Truth serves love. Education serves relationships - mainly the relationship between us and God, but also between Christian and Christian, and between us and unbelievers. The "goal" of all our education is love.
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider one another how to stir up to love and good deeds, . . . encouraging one another" (Hebrews 10:23-25, literal translation). The aim of our "considering one another" and "encouraging one another" is that we stir up love. We mingle insight into "the confession of our hope" with insight into "each other," and the effect is stirring each other to love. The truth of doctrine and truth of people-watching unite to aim at love.
2. Love aims at truth.
"Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth" (1 Corinthians 13:6). Love is glad when truth is spoken. Therefore love aims at truth. It supports truth.
"Out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you" (2 Corinthians 2:4). Here is an example of how love aims at truth. Paul is filled with love and it compels him to write a letter that was hard, and caused sorrow in him and in the Corinthians. But it needed to be said. So love said it. Love speaks the truth personally and doctrinally.
3. Love shapes how to speak the truth.
"Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ" (Ephesians 4:15). There is an unloving way to speak the truth. That kind of truth-speaking we should repudiate. But there is a way to speak the truth in love, and that we should seek. It is not always a soft way to speak, or Jesus would have to be accused of lack of love in dealing with some folks in the Gospels. But it does ask about what is the most helpful thing to say when everything is considered. Sometimes what would have been a hard word to one group is a needed act of love to another group, and not a wrong to the group addressed. But in general, love shapes truth into words and ways that are patient and gentle (2 Timothy 2:24-25).
4. Truth shapes how to show love.
"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:2). It is not always obvious which acts are loving. So John tells us some truth will help us know if our acts are loving. One truth test for our love is whether we are keeping the commandments of God toward people. In other words, love cannot be cut loose from the truth of God's will. Truth shapes how to show love.
Let us pray that God will cause his love and truth to abound and mingle in us in all these ways for the glory of his truth-filled love and love-filled truth.
2) Mercy and truth are forever rooted and linked one with the other (Psalms 85:10)! Mercy, [love and compassion] does not minimize our sin or the sin or others. Rather, mercy reveals sin, but withholds judgment! Do we want fairness, justice for ourselves and others? Beloved, if God were to fairly judge us, as we are so quick to judge others, what we would get is what we deserve—death! Mercy and grace covers sin with the righteousness of Christ Jesus! Be a mercy cover for someone else!
1 Corinthians 13:5 (Thursday)
“[Love] keeps no record of wrongs.” (NIV)
1) This one is a toughie! God throws our sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19) and remembers them no more (Hebrews 8:12). Unfortunately for us, our brains and memories aren’t geared that way! Have you forgiven, but not forgotten? What do you do when the memory returns to haunt or taunt you?
a) God gives us a beautiful picture of how we are able to forgive, forget and yea, more, be fruitful even in our affliction! Forgiveness, forgetfulness and fruitfulness are not things that can be conjured up! No, God Himself gives us the gift of forgetfulness, forgiveness and fruitfulness. Please take the time to read the beautiful story of Joseph in Genesis 30:22-24; Genesis 37-50. Please don’t mess the fact that Joseph was highly favored of God! Yet, great was his sorrow! Great was his suffering—through no fault of his own— because He was greatly loved! Child of God, that’s you! Pay careful attention to the names Joseph gives his children in Genesis 41: Manasseh: For God, said he [Joseph], hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house, and Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction. Oh, like Joseph, my prayer is that God would give us all our own Manasseh and Ephraim! It was the gift of forgiveness, forgetfulness and fruitfulness that enabled Joseph to keep no record of wrong against his brothers, and so it is with us!
1 Corinthians 13:4-6 (Friday)
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” (NIV)
1) Pilate asks Jesus a very important question in John 18:37-38, “What is truth?” Throughout the four gospels, Jesus uses the term, “I tell you the truth.” 77 times! This particular phrase is found 30 times in Matthew, 13 times in Mark, 9 times in Luke and 25 times in the gospel of John! We can be sure that truth is very, very important to God! (Psalms 51:6) Oh, it should be very, very important to us, also!
2) What are the benefits of walking in truth?
a) God leads and teaches us (Psalms 25:5; 43:3; 86:11)
b) Truth preserves us (Psalms 40:11)
c) God’s truth shields us (Psalms 91:4)
d) God judges us in truth (Psalms 96:13)
e) Because of His truth, God remembers us (Psalms 98:3)
f) God hears us when we call out in truth (Psalms 145:18)
3) How do we begin to walk in truth?
a) We purposely set out to control our mouths (Psalms 15:2; 17:3c; Proverbs 10:19; James 1:19)
b) We purposely set out to please God (Psalms 19:14)
c) We purposely seek out wisdom and sound judgment (Psalms 25:5; Psalms 37:30; Proverbs 8:7-11)
d) We purposely ask the Lord to set guard over our mouths (Psalms 141:3)



40 Days of CommUNITY
Serving Together

1 Corinthians 13:7 (Monday)
“It [love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (NIV)
1) Always, mentioned 4 times in this one verse! I don’t know about you, but that’s very difficult for me to live up to. I think one of the main reasons why that is I am always so busy trying to protect, trust, hope and persevere in what effects me! I guess that why love is referred to as the “perfect law”! One must be perfect to hold his or her self up to the light of love and all that love demands—to die to our old nature—that very self-centered part of us—that “me” in all of us!
a) There is no fear in love (1 John 4:18!)
b) Love makes us conquerors (Romans 8:37!)
c) Love is sincere (Romans 12:9!)
d) Love does no harm and fulfills God’s law (Romans 13:10!)
e) Love builds up (1 Corinthians 8:1!)
f) Obedience reflects our love for God (1 John 2:5; 1 John 5:3 and 2 John 1:6!)
g) If we love, we are known by God (1 Corinthians 8:3!)
h) And, yes, God disciplines us in love (Hebrews 12:6 and Revelation 3:19!)
i) Without love, we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2!)
j) Love is perfect because “love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8!)
k) Godly love results in knowledge and insight (Philippians 1:9; Colossians 2:2-3!)
l) Love is the greatest of God’s gifts to His children (1 Corinthians 13:13!)
m) Love compels us into action (2 Corinthians 5;14!)
n) Love reflects itself through our actions (1 John 3:18!)
o) Our faith is expressed in love (Galatians 5:6!)
p) Our love can increase and overflow (1 Thessalonians 3:12!)
q) Love comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith (1 Timothy 1:5!)
r) Love is to be pursued—learned and practiced(1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22 and 2 Peter 1:5-8!)
2) Well, if we can get away from this dead body called “self”, then, we might be able to look at various ways we can love, protect, trust, hope and persevere with others. We can best do that by looking at how Almighty God loves, protects and preserves with us:
a) God is more than able to always perfectly protect us in that He, and He alone, is our:
i) Shield
(1) Genesis 15:1
(2) Deuteronomy 33:29
(3) 2 Samuel 22:31
(4) Psalms 14:6
(5) Psalms 3:3
(6) Psalms 7:10
(7) Psalms 84:11
ii) Refuge
(1) Deuteronomy 33:27
(2) 2 Samuel 22:-23
iii) Helper
(1) Psalms 115:9-11, 3 times mentioned
iv) Rock
(1) Genesis 49:24
(2) Deuteronomy 32:4
(3) 1 Samuel 2:2
(4) 2 Samuel 22:32, 47
(5) Psalms 18:2
(6) Psalms 61:2
(7) 1 Corinthians 10:2-4
v) Fortress
(1) Psalms 28:8
(2) Psalms 31:3
(3) Psalms 46:11
(4) Psalms 59:9
(5) Zechariah 9:12
vi) Strength
(1) Psalms 31:3
(2) Psalms 46:1
(3) Psalms 59:17
(4) Psalms 62:7)
vii) Deliverer
(1) Psalm 18:2
(2) Psalm 40:17
(3) Psalms 70:5
(4) Psalm 140:7
(5) Romans 11:26
viii) Stronghold
(1) Psalms 9:9
(2) Psalms 27:1
(3) Psalms 37:39
(4) Psalms 144:2
ix) Strong Tower
(1) Psalms 61:3
(2) Proverbs 18:10
b) Since God is all those things to us and more, He is able to:
i) Protect and deliver us from our enemies (Deuteronomy 23:14)
ii) Protect us from those who would malign us (Psalms 12:5)
iii) Protect us with integrity and uprightness (Psalms 25:21)
iv) Protect us from trouble (Psalms 32:7)
v) Protect us with His mercy, love and truth (Psalms 40:11)
vi) Protect us with His love and faithfulness (Psalms 61:7)
vii) Protect us with His salvation (Psalms 69:29)
viii) Protect us because we love Him and acknowledge His name (Psalms 91:14)
ix) Protect us in our simple heartedness (Psalms 116:6)
x) Protect us by guarding our paths (Proverbs 2:8)
xi) Protect us with discretion and understanding (Proverbs 2:11)
xii) Protect us with His wisdom (Proverbs 4:6)
xiii) Protect us with His holy angels (Daniel 12:1)
xiv) Protect us by the power of His holy name (John 17:11)
xv) Protect us from the evil one (John 17:15)
xvi) Protects us from His coming wrath (2 Peter 2:4-9)
xvii)Protects us in our trials (2 Peter:4-9)
3) Admittedly, we cannot measure up to the sovereign protection of God in anyone’s life, nor are we meant to—that would rob God of His glory! But, as you go over this list of the many ways that God our Father protects and cares for us, how many ways can you think of that you can offer protection to your brothers and sisters in Christ and to others in this dark world?
a) build up the body of Christ in love (Ephesians 4:16!)
b) honoring and preferring one another (Romans 12:10!)
c) everything we do should be an act of love (1 Corinthians 16:14!)
d) serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13!)
e) love our neighbor (Galatians 5:14!)
f) bear one another in love (Ephesians 4:2; 1 Peter 1:22 and 1 Peter 4:8!)
g) speak truth in love (Ephesians 4:15!)
h) live of life of love (Ephesians 5:2!)
i) Husbands are commanded to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 3:19!
j) Wives are to love their husbands and children (Titus 2:4!)
k) We are commanded to “put on” love (Colossians 3:14!)
i) Perhaps the greatest benefit of “loving one another is this: God will not “forget” our unselfish acts of love (Hebrews 6:10!)
4) Have you ever been someone’s earthly “protector”? Please share how it affected their lives and yours!
5) Ah, trust! This is not an easy task in today’s world! Nor, do I believe, that God wants us to foolishly put trust in any individual. No, rather, Jesus says He is sending us out into the world as “…sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:1 KJV) So, in Whom do we place our trust?
6) Yes, we trust God, with and for our everything. We know that He has good plans for us and a good future. Even though we are often wounded, sometimes nearly destroyed by others lack of trustworthiness, we can always be sure that God will work everything that touches our lives, even in the negative, in a way that will eventually bless our lives! He is Faithful! He alone is completely trustworthy!
7) God does not mean for us to be na├»ve! Yes, we must learn to trust one another, but to do so will require godly discernment! To fully trust someone involves taking the time to assess of the life and habits of that individual—not in spiritual haughtiness or judgment, but in wisdom and insight! (Proverbs 8:12-14) No one would walk up to just anyone and spill out their guts! How foolish! Know this, a person who is trustworthy, proves trustworthy! Just as a friend proves him/or herself friendly! Jesus also told us not to cast our “pearls” before swine! Yes, that is mainly speaking of spiritual mysteries of Christ that the world does not understand and/or doesn’t want to understand. But, I think we can apply that same principle in spilling the precious “pearl” of our life out to those who would trample upon it! Unfortunately, there are a lot of swine out there! We must be careful in whom we place our trust!
8) So, what are some of the action of a person worthy of trust?
a) “Do not envy a violent man or choose any of his ways…” (Proverbs 3:31)
b) “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, "Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow"-- when you now have it with you. Do not plot harm against your neighbor, who lives trustfully near you. Do not accuse a man for no reason-- when he has done you no harm.” (Proverbs 3:27-30)
c) “Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.” (Proverbs 4:24)
d) “Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man's wife?” (Proverbs 5:20)
e) My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, if you have struck hands in pledge for another, if you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor's hands: Go and humble yourself; press your plea with your neighbor!” (Proverbs 6:1-3)
f) “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest-- and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man. A scoundrel and villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth, who winks with his eye, signals with his feet and motions with his fingers, who plots evil with deceit in his heart-- he always stirs up dissension.” (6:10-14)
g) “With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk.” (Proverbs 7:21)
h) “My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness.
i) “All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse.” (Proverbs 8:7)
j) “Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.” (Proverbs 9:8-9)
k) “The woman Folly is loud; she is undisciplined and without knowledge.” (Proverbs 9:13)
l) “A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother” (Proverbs 10:1)
m) “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.”
n) “The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.” (Proverbs 10:8)
o) ” Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.” (Proverbs 10:12)
p) “He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool. When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value. The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment.” (Proverbs 10:18-21)
q) “The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.” (Proverbs 10:32)
r) “With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous escape.” (Proverbs 11:9)
s) “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” (Proverbs 11:13)
t) “A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings trouble on himself.” (Proverbs 11:17)
u) “The wicked man earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.” (Proverbs 11:18)
v) “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:24-25)
w) “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” (Proverbs 12:1)
x) “A wife of noble character is her husband's crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.” (Proverbs 12:4)
y) “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.” (Proverbs 12:10) (CHRIS WILLIAMS – this one is for you! Love ya!
z) “A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.” (Proverbs 12:16)
aa) “A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies. Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. There is deceit in the hearts of those who plot evil, but joy for those who promote peace.” (Proverbs 12:17-20)
bb) “A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly.” (Proverbs 12:23)
cc) “A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” (Proverbs 12:26)
dd) “Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice” (Proverbs 13:10)
ee) “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” (Proverbs 13:24)
ff) “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”(Proverbs 14:1)
gg) ” A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.” (Proverbs 14:15)
hh) “A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.” (Proverbs 14:21)
ii) “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.” (Proverbs 14:29)
9) Okay, okay! This was not even an exhaustive list and I got less than half way through Proverbs! I trust you are starting to get the picture! By the way, how many times is our character, our trustworthiness determined by our tongues? Use discernment, beloved!
10) Let’s tackle always hope! (The following is from a previous lesson, “Being Holy in an Unholy World—Experience God’s Life-Changing Power—Ephesians 1, 2—October 9, 2005.)
a) Please read Ephesians 1:18-23.
1) How would you describe hope? How does this hope bring us joy in this unholy, unbelieving, God-denying world?
2) Let’s at least try to get a handle of the biblical meaning behind hope. Read Romans 4:18-21. “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed!” Now the Greek word used in both places in this Scripture is from the same primary word, “elpo” which means to anticipate, (usually with pleasure); to have an [great] expectation or confidence. We could translate these verses like this: “Abraham was literally in the position to be without any anticipation, expectation or confidence. Yet, with all anticipation, expectation and confidence in His God, Abraham believed! Confused? Well, maybe Romans 8:24-25 explains hope better!
a) What does Jeremiah 14:8; Colossians 1:27 and 1 Timothy 1:1 say is our hope?
b) What is God actually called in Romans 15:13?
c) Characteristics and certainties of our hope in God:
(a) leads us to complete trust, even if we do not understand His ways (Job 13:15!)
(b) allows us to patiently await the Lord’s justice and, by hope, we are comforted (Psalms 9:16-18!)
(c) never, ever leads to being our being made ashamed, disgraced, or disappointed (Psalms 25:1-3; Psalms 69:6; Isaiah 49:23; Romans 5:5!)
(d) assures our integrity and uprightness (Psalms 25:21!)
(e) allows us to be strong and take heart (Psalms 31:24!)
(f) frees us from fear, because we are assured of God’s unfailing love (Psalms 33:18; Psalms 130:7!)
(g) assures us that God is our help and our shield (Psalms 33:20; Psalms 146:5!)
(h) assures us that we will inherit what God has promised (Psalms 37::9!)
(i) is the answer to our desire to give up, or give in—our hopelessness, our depression (Psalms 42:5, 11; Psalms 43:5!)
(j) always leads to praise and rejoicing (Psalms 52:9; Romans 5:2!)
(k) actually results in and produces joy (Romans 12:12!)
(l) Oh, pray God soon! One day the whole earth will hope in our God (Psalms 65:5; Isaiah 42:1-4; Isaiah 51:5; Matthew 12:21 and Romans 15:12!)
(m) Our hope is God is a constant (Psalms 71:14!)
(n) brings us His blessing (Psalms 146:5!)
(o) The Lord delights in those who put their hope in Him (Psalms 147:11!)
(p) assures that we have a good future (Proverbs 23:17-18; Proverbs 11:23; Jeremiah 29:11!)
(q) “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31!”) Amen, and Amen!
(r) God Himself has promised to be good to those who hope in Him (Lamentations 3:25!)
(s) Because we know that God raised Christ from the dead, our hope in God assures us of our own resurrection (Acts 23:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Titus 2:13 and 1 Peter 1:3-5!) Blessed hope, indeed!
(t) inspires endurance (1 Thessalonians 1:3!)
(u) assures us of our salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:8!)
(v) assures us of the faithfulness and truthfulness of our God (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18!)
(2) We have established that our hope is in God alone. So, what does Psalms 119:43-49 tell us that hope will prompt us to do?
(3) We not only put our hope in God, His commands, but Psalms 119:74, 81, 114, 147; Psalms 130:5 and Romans 15:4 tells us yet another area to place our hope. See also John 1:1! Glory!
(4) Ah, oh! Where does Romans 5:3-4 tell us that we learn hope?
(5) Dear ones, hope cannot be conjured up—no, it rests in God alone, and more, it comes only from Him. In fact, we are called to hope by God (Psalms 62:5 and Ephesians 1:18!)
(6) Let me assure you, others see your hope and are drawn to it—it is Christ in you. Why does 1 Peter 3:15 tell us to be ready?
(7) Hope has many benefits! Hope keeps us ready for that day when Christ will “come like a thief in the night!” What part does hope have in keeping us ready? Read Micah 7:7! Oh, look up! Your redemption draweth nigh (Luke 21:28!) Forgive me for slipping back into my KJV!
(8) I think this one passage about hope gives me the greatest hope! Read 1 John 3:1-3! Oh, I do so hope your desire is to be pure! Believe me, I’m not, but, oh, join me in looking, longing, yearning for His re-appearing!
(9) Hang in there! Those things we hope for here, but don’t see—they’re stored up for us in heaven (Colossians 1:3-6!) God is always, always, always Faithful who promised (Hebrews 10:23!)
(10) Now, do you understand that it is not coincidental that hope is listed in 1 Corinthians 13:7 as one of the characteristics of love?
(11) At the end of the age, only three things are said to remain. What are they according to 1 Corinthians 13:13? Can you think of any reason we will continue to need hope? Perhaps, 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 can give us a glimpse! What are your thoughts on this verse and how it pertains to how life will be when Christ reigns?
(12) Well, we can’t end our discussion on hope without taking a look at what Scripture has to say about a life without hope according to Job 17:13-16! Not very pretty, is it?
(13) Oh, we must all come to place where we realize that there is no hope except in God!
(a) Job 8:11-15
(b) Job 11:20
(c) Job 27:8
(d) Psalms 39:6-8
(e) Psalms 71:5
(f) Proverbs 11:7
11) What is it about perseverance, what I call “sticking it out” or “sticking to it” that matures and completes us as followers of Christ? Scripture calls it “standing firm.” See 1 Corinthians 15:58; 1 Corinthians 16:13; 2 Corinthians 1:21; 2 Corinthians 1:24; Galatians 5:1; Ephesians 6:14; Philippians 1:27; Philippians 4:1; Colossians 4:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; James 5:8.
12) I have to tell you, perseverance only comes through our sharing in the sufferings of Christ Jesus. (Romans 5:3-5)
a) If we suffer with Christ, we also share in His glory (Romans 8:17!)
b) We learn to share in the sufferings of our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 Corinthians 12:26!)
c) As Christ’s sufferings flow over into our lives, so does His comfort (2 Corinthians 1:5!)
d) Suffering, coupled with godly comfort, produces patient endurance (2 Corinthians 1:6!)
e) In sharing in the sufferings of Christ, we become like Him in his death and resurrection (Philippians 3:10!)
f) We become imitators of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 1:6!)
g) We learn obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:8!)
h) Our faith is refined, bringing glory, honor and praise to Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:6-7!)
i) We come to the place where we entrust our lives to the only fair Judge (1 Peter 2:23!)
j) We are blessed through suffering (1 Peter 3:14!)
k) Suffering can actually help us to “die” to sin and willfully submit to God’s will for our lives (1 Peter 4:1!)
l) Our suffering will turn to joy when Christ is revealed (1 Peter 4:13!)
m) We “suffer” for :
i) Christ (Philippians 1:29!)
ii) the kingdom of God (2 Thessalonians 1:5!)
iii) the gospel of Christ (2 Timothy 1:8 and 2 Timothy 2:8-9!)
iv) for bearing Christ’s name (1 Peter 4:16!)
n) So, do we just wallow in our suffering? What are we commanded to do (1 Peter 4:19?)
o) Does it help to know that we are not alone in our suffering (1 Peter 5:9?)
p) What has God promised to do for us if we endure suffering (1 Peter 5:10?) Oh, I can testify to this one!
q) What quantifies as godly suffering?
i) Persecution/Trials
(1) Comes to try our faith (Matthew 13:20-21!)
(2) Comes to further the gospel of Christ (Acts 11:19!)
ii) From 2 Timothy 3 we learn several things about persecution:
(1) What does 2 Timothy 3:1-7 and, sadly, Luke 12:52-53 tell us the type of people who will be pitted against us!
(a) 2 Timothy 3:9 tells us their sure end!
(b) Paul suffered all types of suffering for Christ’s sake. How did the Lord prove His faithfulness to Paul (see also 2 Peter 2:6-9?)
(c) Oh, take heart! Persecutions can never, no never, separate us from the love of Christ Jesus (Romans 8:33-37!)
(d) Yes, more over, we are to delight and take joy in our persecution for the sake of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 12:10 and James 1:2!) Are there any who are weak, are there any who are in the fire? Praise God, you are being refined and you will bring Christ all the glory!
(e) What does 2 Timothy 3:12 and 1 Thessalonians 3:3 tell us about choosing to follow Christ?
(f) What should be our response to facing trials, tribulations, suffering and sorrow (2 Timothy 3:14-17 and Hebrews 10:32-39!) Press on!
r) Affliction/Troubles
i) In the Old Testament, many of the instances where affliction is mention, it is the result of God’s wrath on sin and rebellion, but in bringing affliction, God’s heart is always acting out of love. God may bring afflictions as a result of:
(1) Sinfulness (Psalms 107:17!)
(a) God’s heart is to bring us to repentance (2 Chronicles 16:12; Psalms 119:67; Psalm 119:71, 75!)
(2) To “refine” us and/or “test” our faith (Isaiah 48:10!)
(a) God’s heart is to mold us into His Son’s image and likeness (Romans 8:1 and 2 Corinthians 3:18!)
(3) In ways that we cannot, yea, will not understand this side of heaven, affliction comes as a way to bring glory to our God (Job 2:1-10!)
(4) Affliction turns our focus to our need of a Savior (Psalms 10:17; Psalms 25:15-21; Psalms 31:7-8; Psalms 88!)
(5) What the apostle Paul calls our “light and momentary” (he can say that—see 2 Corinthians 11:24-28) troubles are achieving eternal glories for us (2 Corinthians 4:17!)
(6) Oh, know this, if you have ever suffered affliction, or are going through affliction, or any type of “troubles,”:
(a) The Lord comforts and has compassion on the afflicted (Isaiah 49:13!)
(i) So we, in turn, are able to comfort others with the comfort we received from Christ (2 Corinthians 1:4!)
(b) God defends and delivers the afflicted (Psalms 72:4,12!)
(c) God does not forget the afflicted (Psalms 74:19!)
(d) God saves the afflicted (Psalms 76:9!)
(e) God will multiply our days of affliction with days of gladness (Psalms 90:15!)
(f) Oh, the Lord will not cast us off forever! He will be our Portion, if we wait before Him, because it is He who brings both calamities and good things (Lamentations 3!)
(7) How are we to respond to affliction?
(a) With patience (Romans 12:12!)
s) Sorrow
i) Godly sorrow always brings repentance and salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10-11!)
(1) Note what godly sorrow produces:
(a) Earnestness
(b) Indignation
(c) Alarm
(d) Concern
(e) A readiness to see that justice is done
(i) What is the result of worldly sorrow (Matthew 27:3-5?) What is the difference?
ii) Sorrow humbles us (Psalms 107:39!)
iii) Godly sorrow leads us to cry out to the Lord (Psalms 116:3-4!))
(1) God’s Word will strengthen us in our sorrow (Psalms 119:28!)
(2) One fine day, God has promised that comfort, gladness and joy will overtake our sorrow (Isaiah 35:10 and Jeremiah 31:13!)
iv) What should be our response to sorrow (2 Corinthians 6:10?)
t) Discipline
i) If you belong to Christ, then you will be disciplined (Hebrews 12:5-8 and Revelation 3:19!)
ii) The Lord’s discipline keeps us from future condemnation (1 Corinthians 11:32!)
iii) The Lord’s discipline results in holiness (Hebrews 12:10!)
iv) We are trained by the Lord’s discipline (Hebrews 12:11!)
13) What type of suffering should we avoid 1 Peter 2:20a and 1 Peter 3:17; 1 Peter 4:15?)
14) Jesus knew first hand about suffering (Isaiah 53; Matthew 26:62-67; Matthew 27:26-50; Mark 15:17-37; Luke 23:36-39; Luke 22:41-44; John 19:2-3; 19:16-18, 23-30) and, yet, it was God’s will to crush Him for our sakes (Isaiah 53:4!)
a) Why was Jesus willing to endure suffering (Hebrews 2:9; Hebrews 12:2?)
b) What was His response?
i) Submission and obedience (Hebrews 5:-8!)
c) What was the result of Jesus’ suffering (Hebrews 5:9?)
i) In tasting death for everyone, He was able to bring many children to the Father—making us holy! He destroyed the one, (satan), who held power over death, and He has freed us from the fear of death (Hebrews 2:9-15!)
ii) Who now holds the keys to death and Hades (Revelation 1:18!) Glory!
iii) When and where will death meet its ultimate demise (Revelation 20!) Amen!
d) What was Jesus’ reward (Isaiah 53:11-12; Philippians 2:5-11?)
e) What is our reward (1 Peter 5:10; Revelation 2:10!)
15) Is it important to you that God experienced life, just like you, in a human form? Why?
16) Since this is the case, Christ indeed did come in the flesh—was tempted and tested just as we are—can anyone accuse Him of not understanding our limitations and weaknesses?
17) How is this important in Christ’s role as our High Priest before God’s holy throne (Hebrews 4:14-16!)
18) Not Jewish? If you are in Christ, you are still a descendant of Abraham, therefore, heir to all God’s promises (Romans 4:16; Galatians 3:5-9 and Galatians 3:25-29!)
19) Oh, I pray that you have come to understand that love, protection, trust, hope and perseverance is found at the feet of the cross of Jesus Christ! It is because we know that HE loves, protects, is worthy of our trust, hope and perseverance that we can step out in faith and offer and, hopefully, receive those same attributes from His children, if not this world! We place ourselves in the Master’s hands, draw on the wisdom He has revealed to us in His word, and leave our security in His control. He is in control—nothing, or no one can come against us without God’s permission! Everything we endure is God-filtered for our ultimate good and for His glory. He will not fail us!
Romans 12:9-13 (Tuesday)
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” (NIV)
1) Have you ever experienced spiritually sincere motivated love? Please share.
2) Have you ever been around a believer who has lost their zeal for the Lord? Did you notice that they also lost their joy, their hope, their patience, their belief in God’s goodness? Did that have any impact upon your own faith and zeal? Were you able to protect this sister or brother by building them up and encouraging them on the journey?
3) Perhaps, like me, you’re not the “Betty Crocker” award winner of the year! What are some other ways we can practice hospitality?
4) Perhaps you yourself are in need. Can you think of any ways you can still be available to others in need?
5) Isn’t it funny how we can cop out by promising to “pray” for someone, but offering little else to meet a need, and how at the same time “faithful prayer” can move mountains? What’s the difference?
Romans 14:19-21(Wednesday)
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.” (NIV)
1) By becoming a stumbling block to our brothers and sisters in Christ, quite often we can cause them to fall into sin and breaking their fellowship (not relationship) with God! For loves sake, we must realize that we are not all on the same spiritual level! Some are strong, free and have the blessing of a clear conscientious before the Lord! Others believers, feel condemned participating in certain activities that strike at the moral codes or standards they are spiritually comfortable with. Some would say they are weak in the faith. Perhaps, (though, personally, I think some of us would be better served if we followed their example) but still highly loved by God. God wants us to protect them! If someone is offended by partaking of an alcoholic beverage, or has a problem with overeating (whatever it may be) would it be loving to haul out the beer, wine and truck load of food in front of them? Remember, some of our brothers and sisters are recovering from sins you may not have experienced! What if they decide to go ahead and partake, but their conscientious haunts them later, or worse they are tempted to fall back into an ensnaring sin, or even develop an ensnaring sin. Remember, for all of us, anything not done in faith is sin—we have brought sin and not love into our brother’s or sister’s life!
1 Corinthians 1:10-12 (Thursday)
“I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas "; still another, "I follow Christ.” (NIV)
1) As individual believers, we will not agree with every single aspect of the particular “religious doctrines” we may follow. This was the problem in Paul’s day. Everyone was “boasting” of being a follower of a certain leader within the church body. All noble, godly men—with but, all with one main objective in mind, to bring others to a saving knowledge of the Savior, Jesus Christ! ( 1 Corinthians 3:1-11) What does 2 Timothy 2:14 tell us about quarreling?
2) What are some “undisputable matters” that we must all agree upon!
Ephesians 4:25-29 (Friday)
“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. "In your anger do not sin" : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (NIV)
1) I hope you noticed that you can be angry and sin not! What type of things should be show righteous angry over?
2) This passage gives us a very good insight as to why anger can get out of control. What are we warned of?
3) Anger festers into bitterness, resentment and, finally rage. Please read Acts 8:23; Ephesians 4:31; Hebrews 12:15
4) So we’ve come full circle—back to our conversations (tongues) and the effect it has in building or destroying others! Take heed!

40DaysofCommUNITY_ServingTogether_1Corinthians13_Romans 12_Romans14_1Corinthians1_Ephesians4_102206


40 Days of CommUNITY
Reaching Out Together

“At some point you and I must decide if we are going to impress people or influence them—you can impress from a distance—you influence close up.” (From the Chet’s Creek’s Transformation, October 15, 2006)

1 Corinthians 13:4 AND Mark 6:36:44 (Monday) “MEETING THE NEEDS OF OTHERS”
1 Corinthians 13:4 “…love is kind.” (NIV)
Mark 6:36-44 “Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat." But he answered, "You give them something to eat." They said to him, "That would take eight months of a man's wages ! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?" "How many loaves do you have?" he asked. "Go and see." When they found out, they said, "Five--and two fish." Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass.
40. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.” (NIV)
1) Remember, a couple of weeks ago when I mentioned how my friend stated that being a Christian was simply a matter of good manners? (Of course, by Christian she meant that you had accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.) I think she may have had this passage in 1 Corinthians 13:4 in mind. Do you think kindness falls into the “good manners” category, or, is there more to it?
2) Most of you will not be able to participate in our church’s current focus, “Forty Days of CommUNITY”. This is the second mission thrust for the “Purpose Drive Churches”, as lead by pastor, Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church in California. I have to share with you his insights into Mark 6:36-44: (This is paraphrased, of course!)
i) “The disciples of Christ were astute and compassionate enough to “see” the need! These people (5,000 men, but probably just as many women and children) needed substance—tangible, concrete nourishment! Probably, the disciples did, too! However, their sight was limited—earth bound! Wisely, they came to the Source of all miracles, even though they weren’t truly expecting a miracle! Oh, a miracle was going to take place, but Christ was going to move upon His disciples in such a way that they would actually participate in that miracle:
(1) God sends them out to take inventory ( take note of available resources)
(2) In faith and obedience, they offer Him what they had (Becoming available. For us that offering is our lives!)
(3) God moves the disciples to organize! (Vision, or a plan)
(a) Ah, now this is where God steps in to receive all the glory! Oh, how I pray that you realize that this is exactly what God does in each believer’s life!
(i) He take takes the loaves and fishes that the disciples gathered
(ii) He blesses the offering
(iii) He multiplies the resources and uses them to His glory—always to His glory!
3) Okay, I’m back! I like how this word, kindness, taken from the Greek, chrestotes, is defined: usefulness, i.e. moral excellence (in character or demeanor): gentleness, good(-ness). Hmm. Moral excellence!
a) Kindness motivates God in our behalf:
i) “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35-36) He breaks the bread and fish (much like He breaks us to use us for His purposes)
ii) “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.” (Acts 4:8-10)
iii) “…God's kindness leads you toward repentance.” ( Romans 2:4)
iv) “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you…” (Romans 11:22)
v) “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:4-9)
vi) “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:3-7)
b) Kindness is a fruit of God’s Holy Spirit
i) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
c) Kindness is the God-graced response of believers:
i) “Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” (2 Corinthians 6:4-10)
ii) “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)
iii) “Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14)
iv) “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” (1 Thessalonians 5:15)
v) “Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:23-26)
vi) “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” (Titus 2:3-5)
vii) “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.” (2 Peter 1:3-9)
4) I hope you noticed that while kindness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit of God, it is also developed, learned—a personal choice, even for believers! (Titus 2:3-5) According to 2 Peter 1:3-9, kindness is to be added to one’s faith! Oh, make every effort!
a) According to Titus 2:3-5, what is the greatest way a person learns a new or different behavior?
b) Who has set the greatest example of kindness for us?
5) How many times is kindness linked to love, mercy and compassion? to forgiveness?
6) According to these passages in Question 2, what are some hindrances to kindness? (Ephesians 4:31-32; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; 2 Timothy 2:23-26; Titus 2:3-5)
7) Walking in kindness, or any other of the attributes of the Holy Spirit can sometimes be very difficult, but 2 Peter 1:3-9 gives us four essential sources from which we can draw the strength to accomplish God’s will and purpose four our lives:
a) God’s divine power
b) Our own personal knowledge of God
c) Our calling by God
d) God’s very great and precious promises
James 1:22-27 (Tuesday) “DON’T JUST LISTEN…DO!”
“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does. If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (NIV)
1) What is that perfect law that we look into that gives us freedom to walk in God’s ways? (1 John 4:16-19)
2) This passage in James is very closely related to the one above in 2 Peter 1:9. Forgetfulness! Beware, dear ones! Sinners we once were and sinners we still are! Thank God, that Jesus is called the “Friend of sinners! (Matthew 11:19)
a) Have doubts about that statement, please read Romans 3:10-18! Oh, that’s where grace steps in and rescues us all through Jesus Christ our Lord!
3) When we think of love, we forget that love is not only to be extended to our brothers and sisters in Christ, or even to a lost and dying world. Love is also meant for us! Like a healing mirror, God’s Word reveals our hearts—the good and the bad! God’s Word is never used for condemnation towards the believer! No, God uses His holy Word for our cleansing and to free us from our sin; from our filthy habits, and from our own lack of love! How else can we ever hope to reach others, offering them forgiveness, hope and love if we don’t first experience that same forgiveness, hope and love for ourselves? No, as God’s sons and daughters must constantly graze into God’s holy mirror and see His truth—not what we think we look like, or how we may remember we looked from a previous time in our lives! Let God show us the ugly, dark things of our “now”! The things we don’t want to admit, or the things we want to hide from—if that were possible! Remember Adam and Eve in the garden? Oh, child of God, we so need God’s light! That’s where we find the freedom this verse is talking about! See the sin, and let God’s Word change our darkness into light! This is impossible to accomplish on our own—look back to the sources we are given in 2 Peter 1:3-9 (Monday’s Question 6). They are available for every single situation in our lives!
4) Another component of love is hearing! When God’s truth really and finally sinks in, we must listen with our hearts, agree with God that what we are saying, doing or thinking is sin, and move forward to the change(s) He is calling us to. Remember, He is the source of our strength!
5) Possibly the most important element of love is in the doing! It’s in the doing that we are promised blessing! What blessing are you looking for today? A million bucks? A fine new automobile? A palatial home? Fancy clothes? Nice. Oh, but the blessing of God is His stamp of approval on our lives! His Amen to us! We’ll be blessed in all that we do! Wow!
6) I hope you know that religion is man’s idea of reaching up to God—much like trying to build our own tower of Babel! Mercy, love, kindness, and forgiveness, and grace is God reaching down to man through His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ! One leads to death. One to eternal life! Again, a choice!
a) God the Father considers man’s attempts at “religion” as worthless! All of man’s efforts—gifts to charity, the outward appearances of “righteous” living, long-winded, pious prayers. These are mere “works”, inspired by a feeling of “I ought to”. God’s “agape” love for us inspires the heart attitude of “I want to”! Big, big difference! God laughs at such foolishness! You see, those “works” are most often for others to see and approve of. The danger lies in that man begins to fools himself with the lie called “good works”! God “sees” the source of all motivation—our hearts! That’s where the true source and proof of God’s love is—in our heart actions! When we chose to “want to”, that is a faith driven action inspired by the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit
Colossians 4:5-6 (Wednesday) “BE COURTEOUS TO UNBELIEVERS”
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (NIV)
1) This passage is speaking of our actions toward “outsiders”. Who would you consider an “outsider”?
a) What opportunities are we to make the most of?
2) What does it mean to have our conversations full of grace and seasoned with salt?
a) Grace, in Greek is charis, (sounds like care, doesn’t it) is literally translated as having a manner or acting in a manner that is concrete and/or literal! Beloved, in the most concrete, substantial and literal way possible, God’s grace renders us as accepted, justified, redeemed, righteous. Grace is God’s free gift to us—it cannot be earned! Grace is the God-influence upon the heart, and its reflection toward life, and even includes our gratitude towards God and others!
i) The first mention of grace is Psalms 45:2. In the Hebrew grace, chen, means, kindness, favor, well-favored or even, beauty. The Greek word for grace, charis. Interestingly, both chen and charis are first mentioned to describe the freely given, unearned or merited favor (grace) that God the Father bestowed upon His Son, Jesus Christ!
ii) God bestows grace (often translated favor)
(1) Psalms 84:11
(2) Jesus Christ showed His favor (grace) toward us in that He exchanged His glory and riches for our poverty and sin (2 Corinthians 8:9)
iii) God extends His loving grace to:
(1) The humble (Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6)
(2) The wicked (Isaiah 26:10)
iv) God’s grace offers:
(1) salvation, redemption and forgiveness (Psalms 69:13; Ephesians 1:7)
(2) life (Proverbs 8:35; Hebrews 2:9)
(3) our mates (Proverbs 18:22)!
(4) protection (Jonah 4:2)
(5) mercy (Micah 7:18; Hebrews 4:16)
(6) our own sense of thankfulness toward God (2 Corinthians 2:14; 8:16)
(7) abounding love (2 Corinthians 9:8)
(8) strength for adversity, suffering, sorrow (2 Corinthians 8:1; 12:9-1)
(9) kindness (Ephesians 2:7)
(10) a revelation to the mystery of the gospel of Christ (Ephesians 3:2-6)
(11) us a calling, purpose and a ministry or service (; 2 Timothy 1:9)
(12) each of us a measure of God’s grace and love (Ephesians 4:7)
(13) encouragement and comfort (2 Thessalonians 2:16)
(14) faith, love and knowing for Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 8:7; 1 Timothy 1:14)
(15) empowers us (2 Timothy 2:1)
(a) by setting our minds for action; by being self-controlled; by setting our hope on Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13)
(16) heirship with Christ (Titus 3:7)
(17) joy! (Philemon 1:7) (yes, same word, “charis”)
v) Again, we grow in grace as we:
(1) Obey and trust in God (Proverbs 3:1-8)
(2) Seek grace (Proverbs 11:27)
(3) Act wisely (Proverbs 14:35)
(4) Step into those good works and service HE has prepared for us (2 Corinthians 9:8; Hebrews 12:28)
(5) Draw close to our holy, awesome God (Hebrews 4:16)
vi) Hindrances to God’s grace:
(1) Pride (Proverbs 3:7; James 4:6)
(2) Root of bitterness (Hebrews 12:15)
(3) False teachings (Hebrews 13:9)
(4) Envy (James 4:5)
3) In the New Testament (Greek), “grace” is most often translated as “gracious loving”. In other words, for the believer, we are to extend the same grace to others that God has so freely bestowed upon us! Now, here is how you and I “grace” one another:
a) With our conversation (Colossians 4:5-6)
i) Oh, our conversation, the Greek word is logos, entails much more than our speech! No, conversation can be applied to our thoughts, our motives, our reasoning, our cause(s), our preaching, our questioning(s), our actions, and, oh, yes, our works! Oh, beloved, this word, logos, is the same word John the Beloved apostle used to describe Christ! “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. “ He is to be our Logos—our message of hope to the church and to the world! Jesus is the Supreme example of living a life of Godly conversation toward others! We show Godly conversation to others by:
(1) Bestowing the same God grace given so freely to us (mercy, love, hope, forgiveness) to others (Proverbs 22:11)
(2) Offering Godly wisdom (Ecclesiastes 10;12)
(3) Building up one another (Ephesians 4:29)
b) Grace is also sometimes translated as mercy. As children of the Living God, we are to bestow merciful grace to others! (Micah 6:8) Funny, I was just reading “Captured by Grace” by David Jeremiah and he has some wonderful insights as to how mercy finds its fullness and completion through the grace of Almighty God. He writes:

Mercy withholds the knife from the heart of Isaac.
Grace provides a ram in the thicket.

Mercy runs to forgive the prodigal son.
Graces throws a party with every extravagance.

Mercy bandages the wounds of the man beaten by robbers.
Grace covers the cost of his full recovery.

Mercy hears the cry of the thief on the cross.
Grace promises paradise that very day.

Mercy pays the penalty for our sin at the cross.
Grace substitutes the righteousness of Christ for our wickedness.

Mercy converts Paul on the road to Damascus.
Grace calls him to be an apostle.

Mercy saves John Newton from a life of rebellion and sin.
Grace makes him a pastor and author of a timeless hymn. (Amazing Grace!)

Mercy closes to door to hell.
Grace opens the door to heaven.

Mercy withholds what we have earned.
Grace provides blessing we have not earned.

c) Having a desire to honor Christ through our eagerness to help others! (2 Corinthians 8:19)
d) Joyful generosity—first to the Lord, then to others! (2 Corinthians 8:1-5)
e) Giving (2 Corinthians 8:1)
f) Our prayers (2 Corinthians 9:14)
g) Having a gracious answer ready for anyone who asks about Christ (Colossians 4:6)
i) Okay, this is where our “saltiness” comes in! We extend God’s grace to others, but our “salt” is meant to add “flavor” to our message of what they need most—God! Read Job 6:6. Are we unseasoned egg whites? Or, are our lives, our conversations (thoughts, words, and actions) favorable, appealing, even, succulent to others?
ii) So, what is “salt”? Salt comes from the Hebrew root word, malach, which literally means to pulverize! Salt is to be so applied, rubbed into everything we say, think and do that it breaks down and actually vanishes—becoming tempered, ingrained into our very beings! In other words—we, our natural selves, no longer exist! Ah, the flavor of God in us!
iii) Please read God’s words to Jerusalem in Ezekiel 16:1-14, especially verse 4. What was she, Jerusalem, not rubbed with at her birth?
(a) Salt was commanded by God to be among of the ingredients of the fragrant oil that anointed the priests of God! Remember, today, that’s you and me! (Exodus 30:30-37) I hope you noted this oil could only be used for the benefit of the priests!
(b) God commanded that salt be added to any offering(s) given to His glory (Leviticus 2:13) What does Romans 12:1 say we are to offer up to God?
(c) Salt is an everlasting covenant of God with His people (Numbers 18:19)
(d) Salt heals (2 Kings 2:19-22)
(e) Salt refreshes and gives life (Ezekiel 47:9)
(f) Salt gives peace (Mark 9:50)
(g) God gives salt without limit (Ezra 7:21-22)
(i) Beloved, we are God’s salt—a flavoring offered to the world! (Matthew 5:13) We flavor the world by offering and, yes, by displaying, God’s grace, love, mercy and forgiveness! We are born-anew to do think, say and do everything as a visual, concrete appeal—as the cry of our hearts revealing the true heart of God—not condemnation, but rather His deep desire to reconcile the world to Himself! (2 Corinthians 5:20)
iv) We must have God’s living water flowing through us in order for our saltiness to produce fruit (Ezekiel 47:1-14). In this passage I hope you noted the plenty—the abundance! Fish caught, fruit trees blossoming! That’s us! This is the abundant life God has for each and every one of us! Fishers of men, bearing much fruit for the Lord!
v) Salt, in the hands of God, Who is a consuming fire, can also be an object of His wrath:
(1) Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24)
(a) What does Deuteronomy 29:23 tell us became of those wicked cities
(2) Lot’s wife (Genesis 19:26 )
(3) Those who turn from the Living God (Jeremiah 17:5-6)
(4) Moab (Jeremiah 48:9)
(5) Hell (Mark 9:41-49)
1 Peter 4:7-11 (Thursday) “SERVE WITHOUT GRUMBLING”
“The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (NIV)
1) “Love covers a multitude of sins.” What does this statement imply?
2) Have you ever covered a sin in someone’s life? Have someone been “gracious” in covering yours?
3) Did you notice the link between being “clear-minded” and “self-controlled” and having the ability to pray—for yourself and for others? What impact do you think those two disciplines have on prayer and why?
4) Our actions, even those freely given, that are only endured through grumblings are worthless! (As Rick Warren puts it, useless noise!) Oh, this is a very natural response because sometimes we can be put upon, stressed, feel like we are being stretched at both ends, not really “wanting” to do a thing. Where does this scripture passage tell us to find the ability to be hospitable, offering our gifts and talents to administer God’s grace—not matter the situation? I can’t help but ask, “Do you think Jesus Christ ever felt these same ways?”
5) Oh, I wish that every word that came out of my mouth was a God-word! Don’t you? Do we ever pause, pray and listen before we open our mouths? Have you ever found yourself uttering words that you just KNEW God was speaking through you? Has someone ever spoken God-words over you? What was your response? How did those words make a difference—did they? Please share!
6) The reason we do not rely upon ourselves—why self-effort and/or “good works” are worthless is that the glory (if there is any) goes to us—and not to our Creator-God! Remember, it is Christ in you! We always draw from the Source! To HIM be the glory!
1 John 3:16-19b “SHOW…THEN TELL!”
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth…” (NIV)
1) We draw from the Source and we live out our lives following after the example of the Source!
a) What does John 21:25 tell us about how Jesus Christ constantly laid down His desires, His needs, His wants to help others?
b) What does John 14:12-21 reveal to us about God’s plan for His church?
c) How do we, as believers, lay down our lives from our brothers and for the world?
i) Jesus calls it “washing one another’s feet”. ( John 13:13-17) What does “washing” mean to you? Could this be one way of “covering one another’s sin?” (John 13:6-10)
ii) Jesus commanded us to “love one another”. (John 13:34)
(1) We show this love by:
(a) Being devoted to one another (Romans 12:10)
(b) Honoring, or preferring others above ourselves (Romans 12:10)
(c) Living in harmony, peace, with one another (Romans 12:16)
(d) Do not pass judgment upon one another (Romans 14:13)
(e) Accept one another (flaws and all) (Romans 15:7)
(f) Instruct one another in righteousness (Romans 15:14)
(g) Be in holy agreement with one another (1 Corinthians 1:10) No divisions!
(h) Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
(i) Be humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13)
(j) Be kind, compassionate and forgiving of one another (Ephesians 4:32:Colossians 3:13)
(k) Speak soothing balm to one another (Ephesians 5:19)
(l) Submit ourselves one to another (Ephesians 5:21)
(m) Admonish one another in wisdom (Colossians 3:16)
(n) Encourage and build up one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13)
(o) Spur one another on to love and good God-deeds (Hebrews 10:24)
(p) Regularly meeting with one another (James 4:11)
(q) Be sympathetic towards one another (1 Peter 3:8)
(r) Offer hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9) (Without grumbling!)
(s) Fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7)
d) Love one another is mentioned 10 times in the New Testament—3 times by the Savior (That’s a God number!) Love is that perfect law! We are to walk in that law—to our brothers and sisters in Christ and to the world! Why? (John 13:35)
e) People know truth! People can distinguish truth from noise, or unflavored, unsalted egg whites! The difference in words and actions? It’s in the doing!



40 Days of CommUNITY
Why We’re Better Together

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (Monday) “FIVE RADICAL STATEMENTS ABOUT LOVE”
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (NIV)
1) We need to know that what we are talking about here is God’s love—“agape” love. Agape love is love expressed or demonstrated at the highest level of care, concern and compassion! God Himself is the ultimate expression or essence of “agape” love. How does God announce Himself to Moses in Exodus 34:6?
2) Agape love is self-less, sacrificial and necessitates a relinquishing of one’s own rights, desires and even one’s own will—a deliberate choice, a deliberate action! The highest example of God’s agape love for us is best revealed in John 3:16-21 and 1 John 4:9-21.
3) Agape love is so contrary to the world’s idea of “love”! Jesus “raises the bar” with His “agape” love in Luke 6:27-38. We are commanded to:
a) love our enemies!
b) do good to those who hate us!
c) bless those who curse us!
d) pray for those who mistreat us!
e) turn the other check!
f) not only give the shirt off our back, but the coat over it!
g) give freely, not expecting a return!
h) do to others as we would have them do to us—even if and when they don’t!
i) be merciful!
j) do not judge!
k) do not condemn!
l) forgive!
4) So, how are we doing so far?
5) Apart from God, does mankind possess “agape” love? This passage in 1 Corinthians gives us several reasons why man cannot, outside of Jesus Christ, obtain to God’s level of “agape” love. Agape love:
a) is not evidenced in our eloquent or many words! (Ecclesiastes 5:3, 7; Matthew 6:6-8)
b) is not evidenced in our preaching the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:15-18)
c) is not evidenced in our worldly or spiritual knowledge! (1 Corinthians 8:1)
d) is not even evidenced in our faith! (Jonah 1-4)
e) is not evidenced in our sacrifice! (Isaiah 1:10-18)
1) Sadly, without God’s “agape” love, we have and are nothing! (1 Corinthians 16:22; 1 John 4:7-8, 11-21)
a) Whoa! We may be in some serious trouble! Remember, last week’s question? Why is it not written in 1 John 4:8 that “…love is God”, but rather, “…God is love”? Here’s my take on that one. The first statement attempts to identify God from our very limited human perceptive or concept of love. That statement attempts to put God and His “love” into our own neat little “box”! God is love, is rightly stated because here, love is identified as the very nature, or essence of God—God Who is beyond human understanding and any human capacity to love. Therefore, God’s love, “agape” love, can only be equated based upon God’s standard—which, of course, is limitless and unfailing! “Agape” love is not an attribute of God that can be “boxed” in, any more than God can be “boxed” in! God is love identifies God as both the Source of love and the evidence of His love. Naturally, it holds true that in order to experience or share God’s “agape” love, we must begin at the Source of love—God! We simply do not possess nor do we have the ability to obtain to God’s “agape” love in our own earthly sinful natures. “Agape” love cannot be humanly replicated! Oh, it can be mimicked, but any attempt to imitate God’s “love” is a lie—and therefore, profits us nothing in this life or the next! Remember, we must draw from the Source of love—God!
i) I was reading Charles Stanley’s “In Touch Daily Devotional” for today and I think it expresses the meaning behind 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 better than I ever could:
“Believers do a lot of wonderful things in the name of God. Sometimes, though, service becomes more important than the Master. Hosea 6:6 makes the Lord’s priorities clear: “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” He wants our attention more than any gifts or works.
Unfortunately, too many Christians never press beyond an occasional good work or Bible reading. They ignore the Holy Spirit’s nudges to spend time in prayer and Scripture meditation. It’s either too much work or doesn’t fit their lifestyle. Also, they tend to worship out of a sense of duty. Does this sound like your life? If so, you should know that becoming intimately acquainted with God does require time and commitment. But it is immensely rewarding.
Human beings are created to know God. He instilled in us a thirst that will not be satisfied until we reach out to Him for companionship and love. Paul wrote in Philippians 3:8 (NAS), “More than that, I count all things to be loss [words, knowledge, faith, sacrifice] in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things [words, knowledge, faith, sacrifice], and count them [words, knowledge, faith, sacrifice] but rubbish so that I may gain Christ [the greatest expression of God’s agape love].”
We were created to have an intimate, loving relationship with the Lord… and to bring Him glory. Paying respect with our gifts and good works is a natural extension of that design. But our primary responsibility is to spend time with Him.”
ii) Me, again. Oh, beloved drink in and of the Source of all love—God!
f) Okay, so how do we poor, wretched human beings even hope to somehow obtain to God’s level of love—“agape” love? Please read Romans 5:5-9. Oh, child of God, God is continually pouring out His love into our hearts! If we have accepted His Son, Jesus Christ, God has placed the Source within us, His precious Holy Spirit!
John 13:34-35; 1 Corinthians 14:1; 1 John 3:18; 4:16 (Tuesday) “WHAT IS LOVE?”
John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. “” (NIV)
1 Corinthians 14:1 “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.” (NIV) “Go after a life of love as if your life depended upon it—because it does. Give yourselves to the gifts God gives you. Most of all, try to proclaim His truth.” (Msg.)
1 John 3:18 “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (NIV )
1 John 4:16 “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” (NIV) “God is love. If we keep on loving others, we will stay one in our hearts with God, and He will stay one with us.” (CEV)
1) Love is a command! Yes, even when we don’t “feel” like it!
2) Love is action! (See a need—if it is within your power, fulfill it!) By the way, love is also looking for the need!
3) Love is a sign to unbelievers! We are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:14-21) offering His love in an effort to reconcile others to God (2 Corinthians 5:14-21)! People are so weary of “looking for love in all the wrong places”! They are drawn by the truth of God’s love being demonstrated by His children! They can’t help but see God in that love—because they know it is not natural, it is Supernatural! What drew me? Love! What drew you? Go on, look back to that moment you first believed, search deep inside your own heart. I’ll be very surprised if your answer is not the same as mine!
4) Say that you have accepted Christ. Great! Does that mean that overnight His love is suddenly going to flow from the wellsprings inside you? Well, yes, but not all at once! We can only express God’s “agape” love as we grow and begin to put into action the love that the Father has already shown in our own lives! We dare not go backwards, and we cannot afford to grow stagnate. No, we must move forward with God, abounding more and more in His love! (Philippians 1:8-11)
5) The spiritual gifts we receive from the Father are not meant to “puff” up ourselves! No, they were meant be used as an expression of God’s “agape” love for others!
6) God dwells in our hearts through His “agape” love!
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (Wednesday) “GREATEST COMMANDMENT”
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (NIV)
1) When I read this verse I think of a gong or cymbal that has been miss-struck—the sound making one’s skin crawl much like how you respond when fingernails are scratched across a chalkboard! Whiteboards, greenboards! Okay, maybe some of you will be too young to know this particular sound, but, believe me, it’s awful! Obviously, the musician has missed the intended note and the sound the instrument makes falls far short of the majestic, triumphant sound that it was designed for! Now, imagine that this occurred during a performance by one of the world’s most famous orchestras—before a very elitist audience. Finally, the moment for these instruments to resound in all their glory has finally arrived! The audience has been held spell-bound, anticipating the grand crescendo, but the only sounds that come forth are a dull thug and an ear-shattering clang! Why, if the audience doesn’t gasp in horror—the maestro certainly would! Oh, the maestro knows every single note that is to be played by every single instrument in the orchestra. He would instinctively know that these musicians had made a ghastly error! Beloved, we are those musicians, our instruments are love and God, our Maestro, knows when we step out of the realm of His “agape” love and miss our notes, too!
2) Noise! I think it’s somewhat comical that scripture would compare man’s idea of love to useless, annoying noise! The world is so full of it—noise, that is! Do you ever want to just shut everything off? I wonder how we would respond if the entire world suddenly fell into complete silence? No television, no radio, no hum of the air conditioner, or of the refrigerator, or of the endless traffic, or of the hustle and bustle, or of the useless, endless chatter? Would we be paralyzed by culture shock? Or, do you think that maybe, just maybe we might hear the still, quiet voice of God and silent pleas of those around us?
a) I think this is the point where we need to question our love for God and our love for those He bled and died for. Are we just background noise—thoughtlessly drowning out God’s pleads and the heart cries of those around us? Scary, scary thought!
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (Thursday) “WE NEED ONE ANOTHER”
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (NIV)
1) How many times to you find the word “I” or “my” in this passage? Too often, we wander away from the Source of love and walk in that dreaded place of “….having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” (2 Timothy 3:5) No man or woman is an island, and God does not expect you to fulfill everyone else’s need. That’s why we are called the “body of Christ”! Each one of us has our own particular function and purpose. (1 Corinthians 12:4-31)
2) When you are part of a conversation that is full of “I” this, or “my” that, be truthful, what thought(s) comes to your mind? Remind you of someone else? (Isaiah 14:12-17)
3) Take the time to read Romans 12. In his letter to the church in Rome, the apostle Paul gives believers several admonitions, even warnings to spur them on to sincere love. He also reminds this church body of some very practical ways to demonstrate God’s “agape” love to one another, as well as to a lost and dying world:
a) Admonitions
i) As an act of pure worship, holding nothing back—offer yourself up to God!
ii) Don’t be conformed to the world’s philosophies, desires, ambitions, distractions, lies, sin!
iii) Let God’s word transformed your earthly way of thinking and acting. Let His word guide your thoughts, decisions, and judgments, your actions and reactions—your life!
iv) Don’t think too highly of yourself—that’s being proud and conceited! Everything you have is a gift from God Almighty! Why boast?
v) Stop every once and a while to carefully consider your thoughts, motives and actions—see if they line up with God’s perfect will for your life!
vi) Love sincerely!
vii) Hate what is evil!
viii) Cling only to what is good!
ix) Never be found lacking in zeal for the Lord or in serving Him!
x) Be joyful in all hope!
xi) Be patient in affliction!
xii) Be faithful in prayer!
xiii) Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody!
b) Demonstrations of God’s love
i) Use the gift(s) God’s has given you to serve His body, the church!
ii) Be devoted to one another!
iii) Prefer others and their needs above yourself!
iv) Share with God's people who are in need!
v) Practice hospitality!
vi) Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse!
vii) Rejoice with those who rejoice!
viii) Mourn with those who mourn!
ix) Live in harmony with one another.
x) Be willing to associate with people of low position!
xi) Do not repay anyone evil for evil!
xii) If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone!
xiii) Do not take revenge, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.
xiv) If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."
xv) Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (Friday) “SHARE GOD’S LOVE”
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (NIV)
1) Oh, please don’t misunderstand! It is good that we possess the ability to speak eloquently, or the ability to preach the truth of Christ’s gospel, or to share our earthly or spiritual knowledge, or to demonstrate our faith! These are meant to be awe inspiring revelations of God’s love! These are also gifts of the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 12, 14)! However, we must be sure our motivation is love—“agape” love, and not pride or selfish ambition. It would behoove us to ask ourselves a few “gut” questions. This following list is not necessarily exhaustive, but it’s a good place to start:
a) Before I step out in word or action, have I first prayerfully inquired of the Lord?
b) What is my heart motivation?
c) Have I made sure that my own heart/life is in order before I try to set someone else straight?
d) Is there a danger that I might become entangled in someone else’s sin?
e) Who will receive the glory?
f) Am I looking to encourage, or just show how much I know?
g) Will this harm or help?
h) Am I speaking truth—in love?
i) Do I find myself often boasting of my good “deeds”?

Just another thought on love:

Love is an action that must be expressed, very much like the act of breathing. Until and unless love is expressed in action we, and the object of our love withers and perishes!

Perhaps, this is best illustrated in our relationship with God. God's word says that He loves us--that's good! But, if He had stood by and watched as we were dying in our sins--then, hearing about His love would have meant nothing to us! It would be love making that dull "thug" clanging sound!

Much to our blessing and great joy, God put His love into action, or expression by sending His very own Son, Jesus Christ to become our sin, bear our shame, to receive our death sentence, and to bring us into a right relationship with our Abba Father God! His death meant our life! Ahh, and as the song goes, "...and the pieces fit!"

May each and everyone one of you come to know and experience God's agape love in its fullest revelation--Jesus Christ!



40 Days of CommUNITY
Better Together

1 John 4:7-12 (Monday) “GOD IS LOVE”
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (NIV)
1) Oh, my goodness! We could spend eternity trying to wrap our minds around the concept of God being love! What does that mean to you?
2) Most of us are believers—what some (myself included) referred to as being born again, or born of God. This scripture says that because we are born of God—we love others, period. Love is not an option, but an evidence (perhaps the only evidence) to others that we know God and are know by Him!
3) If we say we are living by faith in Jesus Christ, then what does Galatians 5:6 will be an _expression of that faith?
4) Oh, loving one another is not limited to those in the family of God—that’s a tough nut to crack all by itself! No, this command to love embraces the entire world—believer and unbeliever alike! (Luke 6:32-38, 10:25-37)!
5) I’ve shared this story with some of you about how one thing that drew me to Christ was witnessing the evidence of His love in a Sunday morning worship service 33+ years ago. It was as if the entire building permeated with the essence of God’s love! Finally, love, acceptance, family—the family of God! Yet, from the moment I first gave my heart to Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, what I experienced most from the body of Christ was rejection! What’s up with that? Well, I have my own thoughts on that one, but what do you think might be the reason for this apparent withholding of brotherly or sisterly love? Is God cheating or robbing me?
6) Let’s say you’re the person who has been hurt, wounded or rejected—perhaps over and over again? You’re the one who has been ignored, overlooked or worse, not even seen! Oh, I think most of us have been there! What is our natural response to such hurts?
7) Oh, we can’t leave out those who whisper behind our backs, sometimes even daring to say spiteful or hateful things to our faces! Love them?
8) Are these only the actions or reactions we experience from those who are of “this world” (unbelievers), those who don’t know any better? What about those in the church body who are smug, clique-ish, holier than thou-ish?
9) Yes, it’s terrible when we suffer in this world for being Christ followers, but, oh, it is far more heart wrenching when we fail to see any real _expression(s) of love within the body of Christ! Has this ever been your experience? Why do you think this is so, or is it?
10) What was the most difficult situation you ever found yourself in that you allowed the love of God to flow in and through you? What was the outcome?
11) What was the most difficult situation you ever found yourself in that you did not experience or show the love of God? How did that experience effect you, the other person or persons involved—or did it?
12) Okay, that’s all about how others treat us. How about when others attack the ones we love? Personally, to me, that’s far worse! What about loving others then?
13) Luke 6:27-31 tells us to bless and not curse. Love and not hate. Turn the other check! Why, oh, why would God require that of us? Go back and re-read this day’s portion of scripture. How can any of us ever hope to even begin to fathom God’s kind of “agape” love?
a) I think we have all, at one time or another experienced at least one of the many hurts mentioned above—and that’s what this passage is all about! We need only to look to the example set by our big Brother, Jesus the Christ! Jesus experienced every bit of this pain, and more during His short life on this earth! The Fairest of Ten Thousands—hated! The sweet Rose of Sharon—spat upon! The Bright and Morning Star—nailed, with our sins, to the cross! The Spotless, Sinless One, loving us sinners all the way to death, the grave and beyond! No wonder He demands that we love one another! He did all those things before we even gave Him a thought! You and I are the very ones He died for—the rejected, the hated, the shunned, the despised! Psalms 34:18 tells us that God is close to the broken-hearted! So, beloved, we must love—we are compelled by the cross of Christ to show the same self-less compassion, the same laying down of our lives for one another! Remember what we spoke of last Sunday? One reason God only showed Moses His back was because He goes before us! Love can be accomplished! How? Jesus is out there in front of us, paving the way—making straight our paths! Better, what does verse 12 tell us is true?
14) God’s perfected love in me? No, haven’t reached that ideal, have you? Is that an excuse to stop trying? Or, should we view that as a challenge? Please read Philippians 3:14-16 . Perfection, never! But, we have no excuse for not walking in the light we have already been shown!
John 13:31-35 (Tuesday) “LOVE…A NEW COMMANDMENT?”
“When he was gone, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. "My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV)
1) How did Jesus bring glory to God, the Father?
2) How do we bring glory to God, the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ?
3) In Monday’s lesson, we spoke of love being perhaps the greatest evidence of Christ in us! How does this passage give credence to that thought?
4) What are some practical ways to show love to others?
5) What are some more costly examples—examples that imitate Christ’s sacrificial love?
6) Why is it important that the world “see” God’s love through our love toward one another?
Matthew 22:34-40 (Wednesday) “GREATEST COMMANDMENT”
“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (NIV)
1) Six times Jesus uses the word “your” or “yourself”! So, where does the responsibility to show love to someone else lie? Even if they don’t love back, or they don’t change?
2) What did Jesus mean that all the commandments are met in these two commandments to “Love God” and “Love your neighbor”?
Romans 12:1-5 (Thursday) “WE NEED ONE ANOTHER”
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (NIV)
1) Here we go with that sacrifice thing again! You’re DEAD if you are in Christ—start living like it! (I’m really speaking more to myself here, dear ones!)
2) A dead person doesn’t know wounds or hurts any more. So, why do we?
3) What does this passage say is a “spiritual” act of worship?
4) I pray you all realize that love and sacrifice are “learned” acts of our wills. They do not “magically” appear the moment we believe! We are all works in process, so let’s don’t be too hard on ourselves, or on others! We can’t forget about grace!
5) So, how do we begin the process of becoming what God desires for us—living sacrifices?
6) Maybe, we have stumbled upon why there is so little evidence of love in this world and in the church today—what is it?
7) Well, I just hope some of those snubs I spoke about earlier read this one—don’t think too highly of yourself! So, there! Just kidding!
8) Truly, we can’t think to highly of ourselves. Why? Besides the passage above, please read 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 and James 1:17 !
1 Peter 3:8-12 (Friday) “SHARE GOD’S LOVE”
“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (NIV) “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” (KJV)
1) Have you ever been moved to “pity” for another human being? Please share.
2) Courteous. I once had a very dear friend say to me, “Being a Christian is really all about good manners.” Based on this passage, would you agree or disagree with her statement? Why or why not?
3) In this passage, there are three or four promises given for those who chose to love—what are they?
4) Love one another, pity one another in our weaknesses, be courteous toward one another, bless one another, control our own tongues (tough one), flee from evil, do good toward one another, seek after peace with God and man! Too difficult? Christ accomplished every one and He dwells in you! No, through Jesus Christ, we are more than conquerors! Let us move boldly and swiftly to change the world through the power of God’s love in us! Amen!