But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness…. (Galatians 5:22-23)
“Would the gentleman from North Carolina please yield the floor?”
“The gentle lady from California makes a good point.”
The U.S. Senate may be the last place in this country where people are recognized as being gentle. It’s a nice trait. “Gentle” means you are not bombastic, not mean-spirited, not rude or unkind or harsh.
My goal is to become more gentle in this life.
Various translations make this “kindness” and “goodness.” Same difference, I suppose, although there is something about “gentleness” that weighs heavily on my mind.
Did you hear about the preacher who was protesting a “gay and lesbian pride” march winding its way through the French Quarter? According to the reports, the minister was preaching to the participants in harsh and condemning tones. At one point, a woman decided that this angry man of God (we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt) needed a hug. So, she stepped out of the crowd, walked over to him, and kissed him.
“Hence, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Hebrews 13:13).
Ministers considered “cool” by the world should be wary.
It’s a trap.
Let those outside the faith–i.e., friends and admirers with no appreciation for Scripture, no knowledge of the call of God, no gratitude for the blood of Jesus, or no concept of the direness of their own situation–compliment the preacher on his coolness, and it can be a form of quicksand.
“I’m not much of a church-goer, pastor, but I love watching you preach.” “You’re not like all those other preachers–fat and bald and loud. You’re handsome and slim and cool.”
Woe to the minister who eats up such a compliment.
“Some of the scribes were sitting here and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ When Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, ‘Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk?’” (Mark 2:6-9).
One of the most helpful courses I took in college was logic. The ability to think clearly and rationally about complex issues is a wonderful asset for anyone.
It helps me to realize our Lord Jesus Christ was nothing if not logical. Jesus clearly loved logic. (That probably provokes a “well, duh” response from readers. The Lord Jesus not only loved truth, He claimed to be Truth itself!)
Again and again in Scripture Jesus shows Himself the Master of logic as He lays the issues before His hearers in orderly fashion and asks them to think about them rationally.
“And they sang a new song, saying, ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood…” (Revelation 5:9).
John was surely fascinated by the sights and the sounds of that heavenly vision.
First, a quartet…
At first, John was treated to a heavenly quartet. The four angelic beings–were they seraphim?–of Revelation 4:7-8 burst into song, calling out, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty. Who was and is and is to come!”
Eat your heart out, Bill Gaither. No quartet ever sounded so heavenly.
And then we read, “They do not rest day or night, saying (this)” (verse 8).
Imagine that. An endless song.
Either seraphim must be amazing singers or the Lord’s patience is boundless to enjoy the same song over and over, forever.
One great evidence of the lostness of mankind is that people rarely look up from their daily lives to ask, “Where is all this headed? What is out there? Where are we going?”
I sit on my deck and watch the birds swarm around my feeders. I keep them stocked and am delighted the birds love what I provide. But never once has a bird looked up to indicate an appreciation for my efforts. They are so like people it’s not funny. We take everything for granted.
In a 1965 sermon, Billy Graham tells of the time when Robert Ingersoll, well-known atheist of the 19th century, was addressing an audience in a small town in New York. The orator forcefully laid out his doubts concerning a future judgement and the reality of hell.
At the conclusion, a drunk stood up in the back of the room, and said through slurred speech, “I sure hope you’re right, Brother Bob. I’m counting on that!”
Is this vile world a friend to grace, to lead me on to God? (Isaac Watts)
God’s children keep getting surprised.
On a state or secular college campus, the atheistic professor has complete freedom to spout his religious views without protest from the students or interference from the dean. Let a Christian instructor relate his personal story to inform the students of his worldview so they can better understand where he’s coming from, and he’s harassed and soon out of a job.
At a convocation of students on the average secular campus, freedom of speech and the First Amendment are championed. Let a student stand and own up to being a follower of Jesus Christ who attempts to live by the Bible, and he/she is hooted down.
Ironic, isn’t it, the hostility that those of a secular bent have toward belief in Jesus Christ.
It’s more than just a prejudice, however. It’s a full-blown hatred.
IN TIMES OF GREAT STRESS–AND THE PRESENT WORLDWIDE PANDEMIC IS THE VERY DEFINITION OF STRESS–WORSHIP IS THE ONE ESSENTIAL.
This week, with the assistance of a few hundred Facebook friends, I made a poster “10 things not to do in times of worldwide crises.” You can find the poster on my Facebook page, but here it what it said…
WHAT NOT TO DO IN A WORLDWIDE CRISIS–
- Do not believe everything you read on social media.
- Do not hoard. Love thy neighbor. Share with others.
- Do not watch the news 24/7. That’s a sure-fire recipe for stress and anxiety.
- Do not fall for scams and gimmicks. Con men come out of the woodwork during these times.
- Do not look for someone to blame–God, government, China. Conspiracy theorists abound.
- Do not ignore guidelines meant to stop the spread and save lives.
- Do not interpret this as the judgment of God. It might be, but you do not know.
- Do not interpret this as a sign of the end of the world. It may be, but chances are it isn’t.
- Do not stop doing the things that keep you healthy, sane, happy, interested, productive.
- Don’t forget to worship. Your soul needs this.
Originally, after the first nine, I was left with too many candidates for the tenth slot and left it blank for a time. On Facebook I posted a photo of the incomplete poster and asked, “What’s number ten?” A hundred answers came in. However, on the back deck with my morning coffee talking with the Lord, I felt Him giving me the tenth. Don’t forget to worship. Those four words came with such force and clarity, I knew this was from Him. Not only that, but…
Jesus Christ was the First. The Most. The Best. The Last. The Everything.
Scripture ransacks the human language in search of superlatives enough to give mankind some kind of idea who this Person was who was born of a virgin, lived without sin, taught us of Heaven, and died in our place. His resurrection and ascension forever secured His place in the history and thought and conversation of this small planet.
Earth has never seen another like Him. He is unique.
Christianity and the Christian life are all about Jesus.
Regardless of what they tell you, the Christian faith is not about love.
It’s not about morals and doing good.
“No one is taking my life from me; I lay it down of my own accord.” (John 10:18)
“Now is the judgement of this world; now is the ruler of this world cast out.” (John 12:31)
It was the moment Jesus had come for.
He was headed to the cross.
For Jesus, going to the cross was not Plan B.
God did not shake His head in disgust at mankind’s messing up His pretty plans and decide He would have to take drastic action. “This is not how I had planned it, but those pesky humans leave me no other choice!”
God was not blindsided by mankind’s sin nor thwarted by our human frailties. “Okay, heavenly host—engage backup plan. Everyone–Plan B!”
Did not happen.
The Lord knew from the beginning what He had and who He was dealing with.
I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous or extortioners or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. (I Corinthians 5:10)
They accuse me of stirring the pot, of introducing subjects sure to draw fire, of intentionally being controversial. Nothing I say convinces them otherwise, even when all I did was to state something God’s people hold dear.
Almost all the key doctrines of the Christian faith someone will find objectionable and some will take offense at.