‘Outworkings’ Of Grace [v241]

MARCH 2019


NOTE: There is a new animated version of “The Pilgrim’s Progress” coming to theaters nationwide, APRIL 18th and 20th. To see the trailer, and find out where it is playing in your town, visit https://pilgrims.movie/


A relatively new philosophy in business is “Servant Leadership,” which inverts the norm in that instead of the employees serving the leader, the leader ‘SERVES’ the employees.

Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy in which the main goal of the leader is to serve. This is different from traditional leadership where the leader’s main focus is the thriving of their company or organization. A “Servant Leader” shares power, puts the needs of the employees first, and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible. Business management ‘guru’, Tom Peters, termed it “C.H.R.O.”—the “Chief Hurdle Removal Officer.”

 

SERVANT LEADERSHIP
The phrase Servant Leadership was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in an essay that he first published in 1970. Larry Spears, CEO of the “Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership,” stated in an interview that, Greenleaf credited his reading of Hermann Hesse’s book, “Journey to the East,” as the personal source of inspiration in his coining of the term.

In this story, the main character, named Leo, is a servant just like all the others. They all work well together, until one day when Leo disappears. When the servants realize that things weren’t the same without Leo, they came to the realization that Leo was far more than a servant—he was actually their leader.

Greenleaf came to the realization that a leader should be someone that ‘servants’ or workers can relate to. Leo was seen as a servant, but when the other servants realized that things fell apart without him, he became far more than just a servant to them. Hence, this was Greenleaf’s idea of what a “Servant Leader” should be. Greenleaf first put his idea of “Servant Leadership” to use in an organizational sense while he was working as an executive at AT&T in the mid 1970’s. Scholar, organizational consultant, and pioneer of the contemporary field of leadership studies, Warren Bennis, called Greenleaf’s work the “most moral, original, useful writing on the topic of leadership.”

It is a tried and tested leadership approach that’s about creating a shift from managing for results to designing environments that create results—a form of leadership that replaces self-interest with service to others. Servant Leadership is about influence rather than power and control, focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses, listening rather than giving orders, and long-range benefits rather than short-term profits.

Servant leaders demonstrate a range of nine key attributes. The good news is, that all of these can be developed: listening, self-awareness, foresight, empathy, persuasion, stewardship, healing, conceptualization, and building a sense of community.

Servant leadership is about transformation and future focus. Adopting its leadership principles complements agile ways of working really well. The nature of work in the workplace has changed drastically. Our leaders need to change to. In order to continue to maximize delivery and customer value our leaders need to demonstrate an ability to adapt.

According to the “Economist Intelligence Unit,” the top three emergent leadership requirements are: ability to motivate; ability to work well across cultures and geographical boundaries; and an ability to facilitate change.

An effective servant leader would demonstrate these by role modeling collaboration accountability and demonstrating innovation—emphasizing the importance of embracing and applying new knowledge at an individual and team level, and encouraging novel approaches and ideas.

New demands are being made of leaders at all levels. The world’s leading leaner natural thinkers together articulate eight core competences that they believe will differentiate leaders of the future and these are: innovation; strategic; excitement; tactical; communication; production; consensual; and delegation.

 

SERVANT OF ‘GRACE’
Although Greenleaf first coined the phrase “Servant Leadership,” the idea was ‘hinted at’ about 2,000 years before in a religious context. In the Bible, Jesus presents this concept in His teachings to His disciples. However, He not only taught His disciples what a servant leader should be (humble), He also demonstrated its ‘characteristics’ (The Beatitudes).

Did you know that we even consider humility to be a virtue is largely due the influence of Jesus? Australian historian John Dickson led a research team at Macquarie University’s Department of Ancient History in exploring the origins of humility as a social virtue. He reports in his excellent book, “Humilitas.” He said that, “The conclusion was clear: the modern Western fondness for humility almost certainly derives from the peculiar impact on Europe of the Judeo-Christian worldview.”

Ancient cultures—including those of Jesus’ time—were honor and shame based. They prized and sought public honor, and they despised lowering oneself before an equal or lesser. Humility before a superior—God, a king, or a judge—was expected. But lowering oneself before an equal or lesser was ‘out of the question’.

In his book, Dickson shows how Jesus’ life, teachings, and ultimately His death on a Cross, completely transformed His followers’ understanding of greatness and humility. Jesus’ followers all abandoned the old hierarchical bases of honor and shame, and embraced His example of HUMBLE ‘SERVICE’. They ‘redefined’ greatness as humble service for the GOOD OF OTHERS.

It took a few centuries for this to ‘catch on’ in the Roman and Western world back then, however, today most respect those who are humble and are suspicious of those who seek their own honor and ‘glory’.

Probably the ‘greatest’ example of humble service that Jesus performed in front of His disciples, was at the “Last Supper”—the night when He was betrayed by one of His disciples, was ‘dragged through’ a kangaroo court that night, and later sentenced to death.

So, here we have “the Twelve” in the “upper room,” and they arrive for what they will find out later, their final meal with Jesus. At the door was a basin of water and a towel, but there was no servant to wash their feet.

In those days, people walked in sandals on dirt roads, so their feet got really dusty and dirty. It was a customary courtesy to wash your guests’ feet when they arrived at your home. However, foot washing was considered a very lowly task—assigned to a “servant”—and if there was no servant, it fell to the ‘lowest’ person in the group.

So, here are the disciples, with their dirty feet, staring at the basin and the towel, wondering who should wash everyone’s feet. Evidently, no one volunteered, and they all sat down to the meal with dirty feet, with the basin and towel laying unused as a testimony of their pride. They might have even discussed who should be the one to wash the others’ feet (who’s the ‘least’ of the bunch). I can just imagine each of them presenting their ‘case’ that it wasn’t them—and that the task was ‘beneath’ them.

Well, while they were bantering back and forth, Jesus quietly slips away from the table, takes off His outer garment and wraps a towel around His waist. He pours water in the basin, and kneels in front of one of the disciples to wash their feet.

Suddenly, the room got really quiet. No more defending themselves that they were not the least. Jesus slowly went from man to man, washing their dirty feet, and drying them with the towel He wore.

Jesus put an end to the discussions about who was the greatest not by saying something, but doing something. He did the thing that none of them wanted to do, the task that all of them thought was ‘beneath’ them. The ‘greatest’ Person there—or anywhere in the universe—became the ‘least’ and took the role of a ‘servant’, the person on the lowest rung of the ladder—to ‘SERVE’ them!

When Jesus had finished with Peter—explaining to him that both literally and figuratively that only his feet needed to be washed—He says: “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” [ John 13:12-17 ].

 

Now, incredibly, within an hour or so after Jesus’ intensely memorable teaching about the greatest being the servant of all—the foot washing—and after Jesus’ stunning announcement that He would be betrayed, the simmering jealousies spill out into an argument about which of them was the “greatest.” They still were ‘stuck’ in their hierarchical honor and shame culture, still vying for the top ‘spot’ and seeking glory and honor for themselves. Are you kidding me!

“A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest” [ Luke 22:24 ]. Jesus, again being patient and compassionate, said, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” [ Luke 22:25-27 ].

 

So, what’s the meaning of all this? Well, Jesus is giving His disciples an example of what ‘GREATNESS’ looks like: SERVING OTHERS. This so powerfully affected Peter, that he would write, years later after Jesus had ascended in Heaven: “In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble’” [ 1 Peter 5:5 ].

 

When one is ‘full’ of themselves, they don’t serve. So, as long as they see themselves as ‘better’ and more important than others, they won’t serve. The Apostle Paul addresses this by saying, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” [ Philippians 2:3-5 ].

Paul is saying, in humility, to value others above yourself. ‘Ditch’ the hierarchy. Empty yourself as Jesus did, and serve others the best you can. The believer should think like Jesus did: There is no person or task beneath me. ‘Clothe’ yourself with humility, SERVE OTHERS, and “have the same mindset as Christ” (Philippians 2:5-11).

Jesus knew who He was, so He served. This can be the same for ever believer—when we know who we are, it ‘frees’ us to serve. [ FYI: For more info about a believer’s “identity in Christ,” view this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post: https://markbesh.wordpress.com/new-identity-v220/ ].

A lot of our pride in sourced in our insecurity—uncertain of our own value, worth, and constantly ‘measuring’ ourselves against others, ranking ourselves higher or lower (just like the disciples did). This will ‘paralyze’ you and keep you from serving. But, when you know who you are in Christ, you can and will WANT to serve.

A believer’s value, worth, and identity is found ‘IN’ Christ. They are loved and a ‘child’ of God. They are accepted by God and ‘belong’ to Him. Knowing and believing this should ‘free’ the believer to serve others—with joy!

[ FYI: For additional details on being “in Christ” in reference to grace, read last month’s “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post (in the “Identity” section: https://markbesh.wordpress.com/growing-in-grace-v240/ ].

 

Jesus is the believer’s ‘Teacher’ and they are His students and servants. So, since Jesus washed other’s feet, then they should ‘wash one another’s feet’, too—to be freed from the ‘bondage’ of self-centeredness and given the disposition to look not only to their own interests, but also to the interests of others.

 

GOLDEN ‘RULE’
The “Golden Rule” is the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated. It is a maxim that dates back originally to ancient Egypt in the ‘negative’ affirmation, “That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another,” and in ancient India, Persia, Greece, and Rome with similar versions.

It seems that Moses—well, God’s words to him—was the first to use it in the ‘positive’ affirmation: “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD” [ Leviticus 19:18 ] and “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” [ Leviticus 19:34 ].

In Jesus’ most important ‘sermon’, the “Sermon on the Mount,” He said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). This verse is considered by many theologians to be a ‘summation’ of the entire sermon.

The mention of the “law and the prophets” implies that this is a more far reaching teaching, being most closely linked with the teaching to “love thy enemies” (Matthew 5:44). [ In Luke 6:31, it is presented just after the teaching about enemies, making the ‘link’ even more explicit ].

Theologians note that, as well as summarizing the sermon, this Rule also ‘adapts’ well to normal life—which can be reasonably attempted by everyone.

 

One of the ‘keys’ to this way of living is when the Apostle Paul emphasized this ‘principle’ to the Philippian church: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” [ Philippians 2:3-4 ].

 

Again, why do Christians ‘walk’ through life feeling a humble sense that we ‘owe’ service to people, rather than them owing us? Well, the answer is that Jesus loved us enough to forgive us, accept us, justify us, and make us His ‘heirs’ in eternity—even when He ‘owed’ us nothing! He treated us as worthy of His service when we were not worthy of His service. He took thought not only for His own interests, but for our interests. He counted us as greater than Himself (Luke 22:27). He even seems to indicate that He will still be ‘serving’ us in eternity (Luke 12:37)—as incredible as that may seem!

A believer’s humility comes from being overwhelmed by God’s grace, and are then have a ‘yearning’ for lowliness (the Beatitudes). Freely they have been served, so they freely serve!

 

Jesus came to earth because of His ‘love’ for humanity and for the ‘good’ of mankind. Believers should also take this ‘cue’ and be more compassionate and empathetic—looking to see what others need. This does not mean they give them anything they want nor allow others to ‘walk’ all over them. It means that they should try to find out their ‘true’ needs and respond to those—even if it is uncomfortable for the believer.

Putting others before ourselves is not natural nor comfortable. Yet, as Christians, we believe we are given a new ‘nature’ at salvation. Part of this nature is summed up in what the Apostle Paul said to the Galatians about putting others before oneself: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” [ Galatians 6:22-23 ].

In the Greek, the fruit of the Spirit is in the ‘singular’ because it is ‘A’ virtue—not a ‘list’ to pick from. So, the fruit of the Spirit ‘IS’ LOVE—a ‘cluster’ of nine characteristics describing the evidence of the life of Christ within us. The ‘fruit of the Spirit’ are characteristics that seem to be ‘born out’ of the attitudes of the Beatitudes.

[ FYI: For a ‘presentation’ of how the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ can be related to the “Beatitudes,” visit the “Fruits of the Beatitudes” web site: http://fruitsofthebeatitudes.org/ ].

 

SERVE OTHERS IN LOVE
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

There was a situation that a “lawyer” was trying to ‘trick’ Jesus into saying something disreputable or scandalous, and asked, “Teacher, which is the great commandment of the Law” [ Mathew 22:36 ]. Jesus responded in a way he was not fully expecting: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment” [ Matthew 22:37-38 ]. But then Jesus continued before he could respond: “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” [ Matthew 22:39-40 ].

[ FYI: Consider reading “The Parable of the Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37) for more details on who Jesus considers to be your “neighbor” ].

 

The Apostle Paul also emphasized this to the Romans by saying, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law…You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” [ Romans 13:8, 9b-10 ].

The ‘crux’ of all of this lies in the words “as yourself.” At least to some degree, most of us work to provide for ourselves. There is a strong element of self-interest in our ‘works’. First off, we know that if we don’t work, we won’t eat (and Scripture commends this motivation in 2 Thessalonians 3:10). Yet, the “as yourself” aspect of suggests that we should be equally motivated to serve others through our work. This is a very high ‘call’—to work as much to serve others as to meet our own needs.

The thing is, instead of striving to meet this high calling, some Christians ‘relax’ their understanding of “love your neighbor as yourself” into something trite like “being nice.” But being nice is often nothing more than a facade and an excuse for not want to give of oneself of one’s ‘things’.

 

All this to say, it ALL DEPENDS UPON ‘LOVE’—“agape” love—an unconditional love. Not just loving the loveable, or loving those that will love you back. No, it is a ‘no strings attached’ love. The kind of love Jesus demonstrated to us by what He did FOR the believer, and what He expects OF the believer: “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” [ 1 John 3:16 ].

[ FYI: For more info about the four kinds of love in the Greek language, see this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post: https://markbesh.wordpress.com/real-love-v216/ ].

 

This kind of love is proof that the Holy Spirit is ‘indwelling’ the believer, since this kind of love is not something a person is able to express on their own, but something that ‘flows’ out of a person when they are “born again” and submitted to God the Father’s will for their life.

 

‘OUTWORKING’ OF LOVE
As Christians and followers of Jesus Christ, the Bible tells us that the world will know us by our love. The greatest testimony a believer we ‘tell’ be is to love those around us—whether family, friends, or stranger. God puts no limits on love, and tells the believer that they should “put on love”!

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have 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 do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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 13:1-8 ].

 

Love is more than talk, and is more than just saying “I love you” or “I’ll pray for you” (although these are important). Love ‘ACTS’. Love feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, and listens to the hurting (Matthew 25:42-43). Love shows up and gets dirty when needed. Love doesn’t take the comfortable path, it takes the path of self-sacrifice—just like Jesus did.

 

Because Jesus laid down His life for us, all of God’s ‘children’ are called to pour out an abundance of brotherly love onto fellow believers—to walk the talk, and conduct ourselves in a Christlike manner as the Christian goes about their daily lives. (1 John 3:16-18).

John commends those who walk in Jesus’ footsteps with confidence, and with a cheerful heart for God. Not of our own works, but through His mercy and grace, the offerings of the obedient that are pleasing to God will be rewarded (1 John 3:21).

 

Throughout His life on earth, Jesus showed that love is the greatest characteristic of a Christian—and now He wants His followers to ‘really’ understand how important this is. He give them a new ‘commandment’: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” [ John 13:34-35 ].

When Jesus said this, He had already washed his disciples’ feet, instituted ‘communion’, and exposed Judas’s plot to betray Him. Again, these two verses are a summation of all of the commandments—that is, to love God and to love your neighbor—and although Jesus’s words are not any less than that, they certainly are much more.

Jesus is doing at least two things in these verses regarding the command to love. First, He is explaining the credibility of the command (Himself), and second, He is elevating the ‘breadth’ of it (everyone).

Love is the single greatest ‘evidence’ for being a Christian. The early 2000’s song, “They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love” had it right on. People won’t care about our doctrine, our piety, or our apologetics, if we are not loving. Theologian and pastor, Francis Schaeffer remarked about this: “We must never forget that the final apologetic which Jesus gives is the observable love of true Christians for true Christians.” There is no greater ‘defense’ of our Christian faith than our love for each other.

 

Now, for some, it might seem odd that Jesus refers to this command as a “new” one. After all, we can look back as far as Leviticus 19 to read, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” So what about this command is new? Well, Jesus is saying that the ‘standard’ for the command is new. No longer are God’s people to love their neighbors as themselves; instead, they are to love one another as Jesus has loved them. BIG difference!

Never before has the ‘standard’ been this high. By giving this new command, Jesus is forever changing the way Christians think about love. Before, love for others was ‘measured’ by love for yourself. Now, the measure for your love for others is Jesus’ love for you! A real ‘standard-raiser’ if ever there was one!

Well then, one can’t begin to love others like this until we understand what it’s all about. So, the question is, “How did Jesus love us?” Well, the Apostle John tells us, just before Jesus washed His disciples’ feet: “Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” [ John 13:1b ]. His love was so ‘INTENSE’, it ‘CAUSED’ the end of His life! And that’s the kind of love Jesus is commanding us to have!

 

Jesus’ sacrifice illustrates how much it cost to ‘save’ us. Our sin and wretchedness required He GIVE IT ALL! Nothing short of the ultimate humiliation of death on a Cross could satisfy the wrath of God. Jesus died for us—the worst of sinners—and did so out of UNIMAGINABLE love. He now ‘calls’ us to develop that same kind of ‘unconditional’ love for others!

Love, then, is lavishing yourself upon someone who is unworthy and unattractive. It’s loving to the end—that is, to death. It’s looking your fellow Christians in their sinful faces and deciding that your love is greater than their greatest sins. It’s taking Jesus’ love for you that has gripped your heart, and letting it ‘steer’ your actions, thoughts, and words toward other people, expecting nothing in return. Frankly, it’s GIVING YOURSELF UP for the sake of others, just as Christ did for every believer!

 

LOVE WITHOUT ‘WORKS’ IS DEAD
Giving ‘ourselves’ sacrificially for others (time; ‘gifts’; resources) is something we can do often and repeatedly.

As I mentioned previously, Christians should have a ‘mindset’ that is looking out for others (Philippians 2:3-5). The Apostle Paul augmented this by saying essentially, “Love does not seek its own,” “Love is not selfish,” and “Love cares more for others than for self” [ 1 Corinthians 13:5 ].

True Christian love GIVES ALL to others. The Apostle John believed that so much that he wrote, “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?” [ 1 John 3:17 ]. Living sacrificially for others is a sign that God’s love is ‘IN’ the believer.

Now, John didn’t say to give everything you have away, he just said to show people in need compassion and help them with the resources, skills and/or time you have. God’s love in us recognizes that we have things to do for ourselves, but puts the needs of others ahead of our own—it acts in THEIR best interest. “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” [ Proverbs 19:17 ].

The Apostle John finished his thought about living sacrificially like this, “Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions” [ 1 John 3:18 ]. This can mean that you would ‘actually’ give your life in the place of someone else’s, but that doesn’t happen very often—especially here in America. However, the strong message here is that, we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves.

So, the Christian is not just supposed to ‘TALK’ about God’s love—which is important—but they are to ‘DO’ something to show it. When love ‘controls’ a believer, the result is that they “no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” [ 2 Corinthians 5:15 ]. They serve others, motivated by love.

 

FAITH WITHOUT ‘WORKS’ IS DEAD
God’s love in us without action is dead—just as is our faith without works is dead: “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

“But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness’. And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only…For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” [ James 2:14-24, 26 ].

 

Now, to be clear, a believer is not saved BY good works, but FOR good works. The Apostle Paul explains:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” [ Ephesians 2:8-10 ].

St. Augustine said, “We are not saved by faith plus works, but by faith that works.”

 

Many profess to be Christians, but their lives and priorities indicate otherwise. Jesus put it this way: “By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers’” [ Matthew 7:16–23 ].

Notice that the message of Jesus is the same as the message of James. Obedience to God is the ‘mark’ of true saving faith. James uses the examples of Abraham and Rahab to illustrate the obedience that accompanies salvation. Simply saying we believe in Jesus does not save us, nor does religious service. What saves us is the Holy Spirit’s regeneration of our hearts, and that regeneration will invariably be seen in a life of faith featuring ongoing obedience to God.

Faith without works is ‘dead’ because it reveals a heart that has not been transformed by God. When we have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, our lives will demonstrate that new life. Our works will be characterized by obedience to God. Unseen faith will become seen by the production of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23). Christians belong to Christ, the Good Shepherd. As His “sheep,” we ‘hear’ His voice and follow Him (John 10:26–30).

 

Works are not meritorious. We receive salvation is a gracious gift from God. We are saved by Jesus’ “works,” not ours.

While good works aren’t meritorious of salvation, they are a necessary ‘component’ of Christian faith. Whenever the Gospel takes ‘root’ in the believer’s life, it always produces Spirit-wrought ‘fruit’ (Galatians 5:16-26). The Spirit enables us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling to pursue Christlike lives (Ephesians 4:1-7).

The value of walking the pathway of obedience is manifold. The Westminster Confession of Faith states that there are at least six benefits of good works. First, good works manifest our gratitude to God for the gift of His Son (Colossians 2:6). Secondly, good works bolster assurance of faith (1 John 2:1-6). Thirdly, good works are a means of encouraging other Christians toward greater acts of Christ-centered love (Hebrews 10:24). Fourthly, goods works are concrete avenues for adorning the doctrine of God our Savior in life and ministry (Titus 2:7-10). Fifthly, good works silence critics who devalue the goodness of biblical Christianity (1 Peter 2:12, 15). Finally, good works glorify God by displaying His work of love in our lives (John 15:8-11).

 

Good works would include: attending worship services, praying regularly, studying Scripture, giving generously from our financial resources, joining a small group, going on mission trips, caring for the poor, working for justice for the oppressed, loving our neighbors, and so forth.

But, if we think of good works only in these terms, we MISS the extent to which God’s plan for our good works is much broader and deeper. We have been “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” [ Ephesians 2:10 ]. The Greek original reads more literally, “which God prepared in advance, so that we might walk in them.”

Good works encompass the WHOLE of the Christian, ALL that we do, in EVERYDAY life—by God’s grace and for God’s purposes.

 

Good works come from the overflow of the believer’s GRATITUDE for what Jesus did for them on the Cross. A person who is given a second chance at life sees things differently and lives differently. A person whose life is ‘rescued’ by another lives in gratitude to that person. Because they are thankful, they act differently. So, performing good works is just a natural ‘reaction’ to the glorious grace we have received through Jesus.

Good works are the ‘product’ of salvation. Jesus said to His followers, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16). How we live reveals what we believe and whether the faith we profess to have is a ‘living’ faith.

 

GRATITUDE
We were vile, godless, ‘wretched’, and on our way to Hell, when God sovereignly chose the believer for salvation! In the gift of eternal life, God has given us a greater treasure than all the accumulated wealth of the whole world! THAT should make every believer ‘ecstatic’, and willing to do ANYTHING God wants them to do! Being recipients of such AMAZING GRACE, should direct the believer’s efforts to show their gratitude to their Savior, Jesus. Theologian John Stott remarks that, “It is not by accident that in Greek one in the same noun (“Charis”) does duty for both Grace and gratitude.”

Now, we must be careful not to think of gratitude as some kind of debtors ethic, as if God showed us mercy and now expects us to make up for it with a lifetime of quid pro quo obedience. We cannot repay God for anything (Romans 11:35). But, if we understand all that God has done for us in Christ, we will be happy and eager to please Him.

“Trust the Lord and sincerely worship him; think of all the tremendous things he has done for you” [ 1 Samuel 12:24 ].

So, the believer must ask themselves DAILY if they are ‘sufficiently’ grateful for this PRICELESS GIFT! Do they take time to actually give thanks to God for the gift that cost Him so much? (His Son Jesus’ perfect life).

 

GOOD ‘WORKS’
Well, we’ve seen that love is a ‘VERB’—and the ‘fruit’ of love is “good works.” It’s expressing the Spirit of Christ that has been ‘poured’ into the believer’s hearts (Romans 5:5), and good works are the expression of His character living ‘through’ them.

So, what might this look like realistically? Should the believer literally wash each other’s feet? Well, I guess they could, but foot washing was primarily part of first century culture, and not usually part of our culture today. We don’t walk on dirt roads in sandals, but we do ride in cars on paved streets. So, what would be some modern equivalents of foot washing?

Well…I guess you could wash someone’s car (especially this time of year in Michigan, with all the melted snow and road grime, washing someone’s car might be roughly equivalent to washing their feet).

However, in general, God wants the believer to “walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” [ Colossians 1:10 ]. The Biblical definition of “good works“ is not merely “good deeds” but encompasses every aspect of our thinking and conduct before God.

The proper nature of good works is not to please ourselves, but to please Christ. Salvation in Christ is the ‘root’, good works are the ‘fruit’. They essentially constitute the believers’ sacrificial ‘love-offerings’ to God (Ephesians 5:2), being an edifying ‘example’ to their fellow believers (Titus 2:7), ‘ministering’ to fellow believers (Titus 3:14), and their ‘witness’ to the unsaved (Matthew 5:16). But, I’m thinking you are probably wanting me to be a bit more ‘SPECIFIC’.

 

Frankly, it could be as simple as preparing or serving a meal (and doing the dishes afterwards). Sticking around the house, it could be vacuuming the house, cleaning the bathroom, mowing the lawn, or doing the laundry. Going outside the home, it could be giving someone a ride somewhere, visiting an aging person at a hospital or retirement home, sharing what you have with someone who needs it, or just listening to someone’s ‘problems’. The list is endless. There are so many ways to serve others. Anytime you take the servant’s role, you are following the example of Jesus. You are becoming greater by becoming less. BUT, let’s go EVEN ‘DEEPER’.

 

‘MARKS’ OF A CHRISTIAN
The Gospel encourages the believer to ‘ACTION’ out of a sense of GRATITUDE. The Apostle Paul put it this way: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” [ Romans 12:1-2 ].

The dictionary defines sacrifice as “anything consecrated and offered to God.” As believers, how do we consecrate and offer ourselves to God as a living sacrifice?

Well, first off, we are not to be ‘conformed’ to this world. The Bible defines the ‘world’ as the lust of the flesh (everything that appeals to our appetites and involves excessive desires for food, drink, sex, and anything else that satisfies physical needs), the lust of the eyes (mostly involves materialism, coveting whatever we see that we don’t have and envying those who have what we want), and the pride of life (any ambition for that which puffs us up and puts us on the throne of our own lives) [ 1 John 2:15-16 ].

Believers are to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:2). The Word of God, ministered in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, is the only power on earth that can transform us from worldliness to true spirituality. In fact, as I mentioned previously, the believer needs to be “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16).

 

The Apostle Paul then instructs the believer to be ‘HUMBLE’ and be of ‘SERVICE’ to others: “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness” [ Romans 12:3-8 ].

 

The Apostle Paul then gets very practical and gives us a kind of “laundry list” of ‘marks’ that distinguishes an authentic Christian—the ‘fruits’ of love—what a Christian is supposed to ‘look’ like, think like, and act like.

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” [ Romans 12:9-21 ].

In this passage, Paul gives us here quick, proverbial-like statements about love in action:
– Be genuine
– Hate evil
– Cling to good
– Love one another
– Love by doing
– Show others honor
– Honor others
– Don’t be lazy
– Provide fervent service
– Rejoice in hope
– Persevere in tribulations
– Be patient
– Pray constantly
– Fill the needs of others
– Be hospitable
– Bless your persecutors
– Be sympathetic; Weep with others
– Live in harmony with others
– Be humble
– Associate with the lowly
– Others are more important than you
– Don’t be arrogant
– Don’t repay with evil, but with good
– Be peaceable
– Don’t avenge yourself
– Feed the hungry
– Give the thirsty a drink

[ Hmmm…Sounds like a ‘mash up’ of the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ and the Beatitudes! ]

Although the list is not ‘exhaustive’—and it’s not meant to be—it essentially ‘points’ to what I have been saying for this entire post: Be a ‘righteous’ person and do ‘acts’ with extravagant love!

[ FYI: The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) and the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:22-23) also provide distinguishing ‘marks’ for the Christian in ‘attitudes’ and ‘characteristics’. View these previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” posts for more details: https://markbesh.wordpress.com/the-blessed-life-v203/ | https://markbesh.wordpress.com/the-fruitful-life-v204/ ].

 

In addition to what the Apostle Paul had to say about these personal ‘out workings’ of grace—under the ‘inspiration’ of the Holy Spirit—I thought I would also present some ‘cues’ from our ‘EXAMPLE’, Jesus:

– He communicated continually with God (Matthew 11:25-26; Mark 6:46, 14:32)
– He acknowledged the significance of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, 26)
– He obeyed the will of His Heavenly Father (Luke 22:42; John 6:38-39)
– He resisted temptation by steadfastness to the Word of God (Luke 4:1-13)
– He reached out to those considered hopeless and sinners (Mark 2:15-16; Luke 19:5-9)
– He served others, humbling Himself before His Heavenly Father (John 13:3-5, 12-15)
– He persevered in faith and love (John 4:34; John 9:4; John 17:23)

 

To be a believer that has a desire for ‘outworkings’ of grace, Jesus said it is all ‘built’ on the indwelling character of God Himself. He characterized people like this as spiritual ‘beggars’ who realize the have no resources in themselves. He said they are meek rather than proud, mournful over their sin, self-sacrificing, and willing to endure persecution to reconcile men to God—the “Beatitudes” that He presented at the beginning of His largest, most comprehensive ‘sermon’, the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5:1-12).

So, to follow Jesus’ progression of thought on this, ‘true’ blessedness begins with being “poor in spirit” (v. 3). That means you have a right attitude toward sin, which leads you to “mourn” over it (v. 4). Mourning over sin produces a “meekness” that leads to “hungering and thirsting for righteousness” (vv. 5-6). That then results in “mercy,” “purity in heart,” and a “peaceable spirit” (vv. 7-9)—all ‘attitudes’ that produce true ‘happiness’.

When a believer displays these attitudes, they can expect to be “insulted,” and “persecuted,” and “unjustly accused” (vv. 10-11) because your life will be an irritating rebuke to the people of this world. However, despite the persecution, the believer can “rejoice and be glad, for your reward in Heaven is great (v. 12).

The believer is a ‘light’ to this sin-darkened world (v. 14), to show the unbeliever God’s grace.

 

‘OUTWORKINGS’ OF GRACE
Well then, Paul gives us some very good ‘personal’ characteristics and attitudes to develop and apply, but what are some of the practical ‘evidences’ of the ‘OUTWORKINGS’ or ‘expressions’ of grace in a Christian’s life?

Well, after consulting a variety of theologians and Reformed exegetical teaching pastors, I came up with these topics:

– Humility
– Contentment
– Mercy/Forgiveness
– Patience
– Giving
– Accepting Others’ Grace
– Stewardship
– Fellowship
– Evangelism
– Worship
– Prayer
– Being a ‘Channel’ of Grace

These are an awesome list of character traits to pursue, but it is indeed true that, if we are left to our own devices, we would not be able to do any of them. But, most of these traits are the ‘fruit of the Spirit’, the result of the Spirit’s work within us. This doesn’t mean that we bear no responsibility for the development of our Christian character, but rather that we for fill our responsibility under the Spirit’s direction and by His enablement.

 

HUMILITY
In all of this, probably the most important character trait the Christian can desire to ‘obtain’ is humility—the second most frequently taught trait in the New Testament, second only to love. Humility should be as much a part of the believer as the clothes they wear! Humility is ‘foundational’ to all the other traits.

Jesus not only taught humility, but He also practiced it Himself. We saw this previously when I discussed His washing of the disciples feet at the Last Supper (John 13:1-11).

God has also promised to give grace to the humble. An attitude of humility is completely contrary to the world values, but also contrary to our own sinful nature. So, we need God’s grace—that is, His Spirit-supplied enablement—to ‘clothe’ ourselves with an attitude of humility as we encounter different people in different situations throughout the day. God promises us that He will supply that grace—just when we need it—as we seek to walk in humility. “Humble yourselves therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” [ 1 Peter 5:6 ].

 

The first Beatitude, being “poor in spirit,” was uttered first because humility is the ‘foundation’ for all the other graces, and is a crucial aspect of salvation (Matthew 18:3-4).

It makes about as much sense to attempt to grow fruit apart from a tree as it does to expect the other graces of the Christian life to grow apart from humility.

Until we humble ourselves to recognize our own spiritual ‘poverty’, and our need for Jesus, we cannot see and experience His gracious, saving riches. Jesus said of the contrite tax collector, “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other [ the Pharisee ]; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” [ Luke 18:24 ].

No person can receive the Kingdom of God until they realize that they are unworthy of the Kingdom. The proud Laodicean church declared collectively: “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” but in reality, the members were “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” [ Revelation 3:17 ].

Until the proud are willing to be poor in spirit, they can’t receive the ‘King’ or His Kingdom. Pride is the primary ‘barrier’ between people and God (as it was with Satan; the reason he was ‘kicked out’ of Heaven).

 

Not only does God commend humility in His people, Jesus displayed it in His humanity. “And being found in appearance of a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a Cross!” (Philippians 2:8). Jesus exemplify humility in it’s utmost through His death for us. He also exemplified humility throughout His life. He was obedient to His earthly parents; He washed the disciples feet; He taught, “he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 2:7, 51; Matthew 11:29; Luke 22:27; John 13:5; Luke 14:11). The believer is to be imitators of how Jesus lived out His human life on earth.

Humility opens the way to all other godly character traits. It is the “soil” in which the other traits of the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ grow.

 

Though not mentioned explicitly in Galatians 5:22-23, humility is surely a ‘fruit of the Spirit’, the result of Jesus’ mastery in our ‘hearts’. But, this ministry does not occur without the deliberate, conscious effort on our part. The Spirit does not make us humble, He enables us to humble ourselves in difficult situations.

A very common occasion for showing humility is through serving one another. In this area, Jesus is our greatest teacher and ‘pacesetter’. Again, the foremost example is His washing the disciples feet on the night of His betrayal but Jesus His whole life was one of serving others. He said He did not come to be served but to serve; He went around doing good for others. He even seems to indicate that He will still be serving us in eternity (Luke 12:37), as incredible as that may seem.

Jesus indicated that true greatness in the Kingdom of God does not consist in position but in serving one another, and He promised blessing to those who follow His example in serving others.

This demonstration of humility and serving others also requires the grace of God (1 Peter 4:11).

 

We also demonstrate humility by honoring one another. The Apostle Paul says, “honor one another above yourselves,” (Romans 12:10), and “consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). The believer is to place the other person above themselves in matters of position, concerns, and needs!

If we are to experience the blessing God promises to the humble, we must work out this humility in our daily relationships with others. We must learn to submit to one another, to serve one another, and to honor or prefer one another above ourselves. Remember, the Spirit does not “make” us humble, but He “enables“ us to humble ourselves. We must learn humility, just as the Apostle Paul learned contentment, and in our efforts we are assured of the same enabling power he experienced (Philippians 4:11–13).

The word “humble” is an ‘ACTION’ VERB. We are to do something. Whatever the area of humility we need to work on, it is important we do so dependent upon the Spirit, who is at work ‘in’ us.

 

Another way that the Gospel aids the believer walk in humility is to give them opportunities to practice mercy. One can only truly appreciate the Gospel when one sees it through the lens of their own sin. As they do that, they can forgive the sins of others because they have been forgiven so much!

 

Humility is not an optional ‘add on’ for the super spiritual; it is for all believers to ‘practice’ in their daily lives.

So what does humility look like as we pursue it every day? Well,, I think it is the “Beatitudes”—they show the characteristics of a truly humble person:

-they are poor in spirit
-they mourn over their sin
-they are meek toward God and other people
-they hunger and thirst for righteousness
-they are merciful toward other people
-they are pure in heart
-they are a peacemaker
-and they consider themselves ‘blessed’ when persecuted or reviled for righteousness’ sake

This is a formidable list, one that none of us will ever perfectly attain. That is why we need the gospel every day—to motivate us to keep pursuing humility, even when we fail so often.

In our dependence on the righteousness that is in Jesus, and on the power of the Holy Spirit, may we all seek to grow and humility as we see it in the character traits of the Beatitudes.

British author and lay theologian, C.S. Lewis said it well: “True humility isn’t thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.”

Theologian Charles Hodge also so aptly said, “Christian humility does not consist in denying what there is of good in us; but in and abiding sense of ill-desert, and in the consciousness that what we have a good is due to the grace of God.” Humility, then, gives credit where credit is due, primarily to the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

 

We have been looking at humility in a vertical dimension—that is, in our relationship to God—recognizing that all the good we have in due is from Him. But, there is a horizontal dimension of humility in relationship to other people. Again—to emphasize it—others are more important than yourself. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” [ Philippians 2:3 ].

 

Jesus took the pagan meaning of humility and turned it upside down when He washed His disciples’ feet—the task of the most lowly of servants—and told them that disciples they should follow His example (John 13:1-15).

Above all, Jesus laid aside His glory, became the ultimate servant, dying for us on the Cross (Philippians 2:5-11)—the ‘ULTIMATE’ example of humility EVER!

 

CONTENTMENT
One of the first ‘things’ a believer needs to be ‘at peace’ with is being content with what God has supplied them.

We live in a time we could legitimately call “the age of discontentment.” People are striving, climbing, grabbing, and ’stepping’ on others to get more and more—all the while being ungrateful for the amazing ways God HAS blessed them, and IS blessing them.

Pastor and counselor, Paul Tautges, puts forth an acronym that might help here: “C.A.S.H.” It stands for: “Contentment; Acquisition; Stewardship; and Honor,”—and he pulls from the book of Proverbs to teach what the Bible has to say about the place material possessions should take in a Christian’s life. [ Click on this link to read his entire post: http://counselingoneanother.com/2017/03/14/c-a-s-h/ ]. Let me highlight his insights about contentment.

He says contentment pertains to the heart attitude that reflects what we really worship. If we are discontent then that reveals our longing for complete satisfaction outside of God— revealing that something else has captured our heart’s affection. If we are content then that reveals we are learning to get our identity and value and security from God. Author Randy Alcorn writes in his book, “The Treasure Principle,” “As sure as the compass needle follows north, your heart will follow your treasures.”

In Proverbs 30:8-9, Agur prayed for the Lord to keep him from both poverty and riches. His longing was to be a man of integrity who would not tempted to steal because of need, nor would he turn away from the Lord because of wealth. A comfortable ‘balance’ of needs. Therefore, what he longed for was a heart of contentment.

Though neutral in itself, money has the capacity to be used for good or evil. This all depends on the condition of the heart the person who controls it. Money becomes dangerous when it ‘captures’ our heart. When that happens, enough is never enough. “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” [ 1 Timothy 6:6-10 ].

Loving Jesus above ALL ELSE is the key to being content in life. This is the point of the oft-misused verse, Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Contentment is a ‘handmaiden’ of gratitude—and an ever-growing attitude of contentment will certainly make us have more gratitude, since we will be focusing more on what we DO HAVE, both spiritually and materially, then on what we don’t have. Focusing on the fact that all that we do have, is by the grace of God. We do not deserve anything we have, materially or spiritually. It is ALL by His grace.

We are ‘stewards’ of some things, and ‘owners’ of nothing. God owns it all and we will one day give an account to Him as to how we managed what He entrusted to us. Therefore, let us honor God by keeping Christ at the center of our relationship to material possessions.

 

MERCY/FORGIVENESS
Those who have been forgiven much, love much. Therefore, we can say that to the extent that which we realize and acknowledge our own sinfulness, and the extent to which we realize the total forgiveness and cleansing from our sins, will determine the ‘measure’ of the believer’s mercy and forgiveness for others.

The most obvious way one can show mercy is through physical ‘acts’. Jesus specifically commanded that the believer should feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned, and offer any other practical help to those who need it (Matthew 25:35-40). When the believer serves others in need, they demonstrate a ‘heart’ of mercy.

Mercy is to be shown in our ‘attitudes’. Mercy does not hold a grudge, harbor resentment, capitalize on another’s failures or weaknesses, or publicize another’s sin.

Mercy is also to be shown spiritually. First off, to is shown through pity—grieving for lost souls. Then we are to show spiritual mercy by confrontation—gently correcting those in opposition to Jesus (2 Timothy 2:25). The believer is also to show mercy by sacrificial prayer and proclaiming the saving Gospel of Jesus—the most merciful thing we can do for an unbelieving person.

 

Since God has been so merciful and forgiving to us, the Apostle Paul says we should be merciful and forgiving to others: “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you” [ Colossians 3:12-13 ].

Forgiveness differs from forbearance (patience) in that it has to do with real wrongs committed against the believer. Patience should be our response to unintentional actions due to the faults or carelessness of another. However, forgiveness should be our response to the intentional or provocative action of another, the instances when they attempt to or actually do harm us in someway.

This thought makes me think about Jesus’ parable of the “Unmerciful Servant” (Matthew 18:21-35). It says to me that the believer sees the vast contrast between his sins against God of “several million dollars,” in comparison to his neighbors’ sins against him of only a “few cents.” [ Showing the ‘germination’ of a humble attitude! ].

The “Prince of Preachers”, Charles Spurgeon, talking about how serving is motivated by forgiveness, said, “Hence, the heir of heaven (a “born again” believer) serves his Lord simply out of gratitude; he has no salvation to gain, no heaven to lose…and now, out of love to the God who chose him, and who gave so great a price for his redemption, he desires to lay out himself entirely to his Master’s service. O you who are seeking salvation by the works of the law, what a miserable life yours must be! Why, you are haunted with the miserable foreboding that unless you do this and that, you will forfeit the good will of God, and perish! and you hope that if you diligently persevere in obedience, you may perhaps obtain eternal life, though, alas! none of you dare to pretend that you have attained it. You toil and toil and toil, but you never get that which you toil after, and you never will, for, “by the works of the law there shall no flesh living be justified”…The child of God works not for life, but from life: he does not work to be saved, he works because he is saved.”

The believer doesn’t serve God in order to be forgiven, but because they were forgiven! So, as the believer admits their total spiritual ‘bankruptcy’ (the first “Beatitude”), they can ‘drink deeply’ from the infinite grace of God, and then with that deep awareness of what they have received, can then extend that same spirit of grace, mercy and forgiveness to others!

 

PATIENCE
Patience ultimately grows out of a recognition of God’s grace in our lives. The more we are consciously living by grace, the more we will be patient with one another. Or said another way, if we are not patient with each other, we are not living by grace!

As mentioned above in the mercy ‘section’, forbearance literally means “to put up with” or to “the patient with each other.” It overlooks the faults and thoughtless acts of others (as God has to constantly put up with OUR faults and failures!). True patience also does not hold a grudge, not even a minor, momentary one!

Patient is to endure discomfort without complaint. This calls into play some other virtues, specifically, self-control, humility, and generosity. That is, patience is not a fundamental virtue so much as a complex of other virtues.

It has been said that nothing teaches like experience, and to some degree this is true of patience. We gain patience every time we overcome some difficulty, misfortune, or persevere while waiting for something to happen.

Each nuisance, affliction, body ache, and every ‘traffic jam’ in the life of the Christian raises their threshold of tolerance ever so much. Even tedious sermons and difficult readings (perhaps including what you are enduring right now!) can make you a more patient person.

As a believer, we are developing, every day, to be more Christlike. Well then, just remember all the things Jesus had to ‘put up with’: withstanding the ‘boredom’ of the many years of preparations before His formal ministry; enduring the nuisance and annoyances from His disciples; the intense suffering during His passion; and even the ‘frustration’ with His heavenly Father as He hung on the Cross.

The Apostle Peter said, “prepare your minds for action” (1 Peter 1:13a), so we must be intentional about increasing our patience.

Let us focus ever more clearly on the example of Christ in order to imitate him in all things, large and small.

 

GIVING
Jesus was ‘eminently’ rich—with the ‘mind-boggling’, beyond description wealth of Heaven at His disposal. Yet, He left all of it behind and came to this earth to ‘GIVE’ Himself for us! Why? Well, such that we, in turn, might ‘pick up’ the riches of His life and follow His example. When you give knowing that there will be no ‘gift’ in return (or so you might think at the time), you have modeled the ‘purist’ form of the grace of Jesus.

This type of giving also ‘counteracts’ selfishness and covetousness (2 Corinthians 9). Older folk will remember the Bonnie Tyler song, “He’s Got A Hold On Me”? (back in the 90’s). Well, that “he” in what I am talking about here would be “selfishness.” When grace ‘awakens’ within you, selfishness will no longer have a ‘hold on you’. “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” [ 2 Corinthians 9:6 ]. You can’t help but be generous when GRACE ‘CONSUMES’ you! Just remember that you can’t outgive God! (Proverbs 3:9-10).

 

Giving also is ‘ATTRACTIVE’. First off, it ‘individualizes’ the gift. You give to meet the needs of specific people, which will always ‘give’ you joy!

Secondly, it is ‘CHEERFUL’. In the Greek, it literally means “hilarious.” (“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” – 2 Corinthians 9:7). God LOVES a ‘hilarious’ giver! (2 Corinthians 9:1-15).

 

In his excellent article titled, “The Gift of Giving,” author Calvin Miller addresses what I’m trying to say:

“The wise men started it all, some say. Still, I like the way the Magi gave their gifts, for they presumably returned ‘to the East’ without expecting Mary and Joseph to give them anything in return.

Their gifts were meant for the baby Jesus, but there seemed to be no baby-shower obligation in their giving….

Often at Christmas, gifts become a subtle power play resulting in obligation. Such gifts may subtly say “While my gift appears free, you need to repay me in kind,” or “Enjoy this, but you owe me one now!”

Did the Wise Men expect repayment? I think not. They gave those lavish gifts and left Bethle­hem with a ‘glow’ in their hearts. Mary and Joseph understood: The gift was theirs to keep, and they were not ‘obliged’ to reimburse the Wise Men.

I cannot say what was in the hearts of the Magi as they made their way back across the des­ert, but I think their sentiment must have been what the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 9:15: “Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!” (His Son, Jesus).

 

Robert N. Rodenmayer, Professor of Pastoral Theology, the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, said it well: “There are three kinds of giving: grudge giving, duty giving, and thanksgiving. Grudge giving says, “I hate to,“ duty giving says, “I ought to,“ thanksgiving says, “I want to.“ The first comes from constraint, the second from a sense of obligation, the third from a full heart. Nothing much is conveyed in grudge giving since “the gift without the giver is bare.” Something more happens in duty giving, but there is no song in it. Thanksgiving is an open gate into the love of God.”

 

ACCEPTING OTHERS’ GRACE
The Christian life is trying to come to a ‘healthy’ BALANCE of our ‘taking in’ and our ‘giving out’. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich” [ 2 Corinthians 8:9 ].

Now, since I just emphasized that grace is all about ‘GIVING’, it’s also true that grace is also about ‘ACCEPTING’ as well! Grace not only gives with joyful generosity, it ‘receives’ with grateful ‘humility’.

When a person truly experiences what pastor and author Chuck Swindoll calls a “grace awakening,” and begins to understand the kind of ‘love’ I’ve been describing here, there is not only the desire to extend encouragement, affirmation, and reassurance to others, but there then also is an accepting attitude that allows others to reciprocate in like manner. [ As a “giver,” this is really hard for me—and it might be for you, too! ].

Now, before you reject this thought and call me a ‘heretic’, think about this realistically. For another person to be a ‘giving’ person, they need to be able to give to someone else—and that just might be YOU!

 

The Bible is replete with examples that illustrate people that accepted grace (and resisted grace, too!).

Moses fled to the Midian Desert after he murdered an Egyptian, but God’s grace would ‘catch up’ with him. Even though Moses thought he was ‘finished’ with God, God’s grace was greater. Forty years later, God ‘appears’ to Moses via a burning bush and ‘calls’ him to lead His people, the Israelites, our of Egypt (it took a while for Moses to ‘realize’ it!).

The Apostle Peter is another person that received a HUGE AMOUNT of God’s grace—specifically ‘through’ this Son, Jesus. Peter denied that he even knew Jesus three times (Matthew 26:33-35; Mark 14:29-31; Luke 22:33-34; John 13:36-38) while Jesus was being ‘judged’ by a kangaroo court. But, Jesus later gave him grace by ‘restoring’ him and giving him the responsibility to “feed His sheep” (John 21:15-17). Peter was to essentially to ‘start’ the Christian ‘Church’.

An ‘extreme’ example of God’s grace is shown to us in the story of Saul of Tarsus (later to be ‘renamed’ by God as the Apostle Paul). He was the consummate Pharisee, which, by the ‘letter’ of the Law, “he had not a flaw,” and to his zeal for persecuting “The Way” (the embryonic Christian Church), he was “found blameless.” However, on his way to Damascus to ‘arrest’ and persecute Christians, God ‘cut him down to size’ and blinded him. Later, after his conversion and being related to as “Apostle Paul,” he said essentially that he spent too many years going “full speed in the wrong direction” (Philippians 3:7-14). He realized that only by God’s grace was he redirected onto the right ‘path’. [ a la “Pilgrim’s Progress” ].

These previous stories show us another principle about receiving grace: we ‘resist’ grace when our pride is still paramount. Of all the internal ‘killers’ of grace, none is more ‘assaulting’ than pride (remember, Satan ‘fell’ from Heaven because of pride). Each time grace ‘reaches’, pride ‘resists’, and each time grace ‘offers’, pride ‘refuses’. Pride leave no ‘room’ for grace! A proud ‘heart’ and grace a cannot coexist.

 

Any person that is being ‘used’ by God is a recipient of God’s grace. No one ‘deserves’ it, and no one is ‘adequate’ for the blessings God is bestowing upon them. But, God, in His sovereign mercy has chosen to give grace to imperfect, ill-deserving, individuals—like you and me—in spite of, and in greater measure than what we deserve.

 

So, ‘allow’ grace into your life. Be ‘open’ to it. Give ‘permission’ to others to bless you, too! It will also ‘awaken’ others to its glorious freedoms, too! It is in accepting grace that we can begin to ‘model’ amazing grace—and only then do we realize how good God’s grace is!

 

STEWARDSHIP
The disciplined use of money requires that we manage it in such a way that our needs and those of our family are met. “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than a nonbeliever” [ 1 Timothy 5:8 ]. So, how we use money for ourselves, for others, and especially for the sake of God’s Kingdom is from first to last a spiritual issue.

So, why is stewardship so crucial to our growth in godliness? Well, for one thing, it’s a matter of sheer obedience. Because we invest most of our days working in exchange for money, there is a very real sense in which our money ‘represents’ us. Therefore, how we use it expresses who we are, what our priorities are, and what’s in our hearts. As we use our money and resources Christianly, we prove our growth in Christ likeness.

The thing is, God owns everything you own! “For the earth and every good thing in it belongs to the LORD, and is yours to enjoy” [ 1 Corinthians 10:26 ]. That means we are just “managers” or, to use the biblical word, “stewards” of the things God has given us.

So, the question for the believer is not, “how much of my money should I give to God?,” but rather, “how much of God’s money should I keep for myself?”

The Apostle Paul said, “I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God” [ Philippians 4:18 ].

In his book, “The Gift of Giving,“ Wayne Watts wrote, “Then God convicted me again. He seemed to say, “You do not need to keep up with the amount of cash. Give to me simply out of a heart of love, and see how much you enjoy the [worship] service.” Giving is much more than a duty or an obligation, it is an act of ‘worshiping’ God.

 

The use of your money and how you give it is one of the best ways of evaluating your relationship with Jesus and your spiritual trustworthiness. Your giving is a tangible indication of how much faith you have that God will provide for your needs. That’s why it is said that your checkbook tells more about you than anything else.

So, for the believer, how much they give of what they have should be a reflection of how much they love and trust God, and He is just like we are in that regard—He wants your giving to be an ‘expression’ of your love for Him, not of legalism. “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver’ [ 2 Corinthians 9:7 ].

 

But, even MORE IMPORTANT than the stewardship of money is the believer’s stewardship of their TIME! There are many things you can lose, but then regain. Many a person has declared bankruptcy, only two amass and even a greater fortune later. Time is different. Once it is gone, it is gone forever, and can never be regained!

[ Note: Many of the following reasons for the importance of time were made clear to me in the reading of Jonathan Edwards’s sermon on “The Preciousness of Time in the Importance of Redeeming It” ].

 

The thing is, the more scarce something is, the more valuable it is. Gold and diamonds would be worth MUCH LESS if you could pick them up like pebbles on the side of the road. Time would not be so precious if we never died. But, since we are never more than a breath away from eternity, the way we use our time has eternal significance!

But, even if you have decades of life remaining, the fact is, “you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” [ James 4:14 ]. Time is very much like the sands in an hour glass—what’s left is slipping by. “The world and its desires passed away” [ 1 John 2:17 ].

Not only is time short in passing, but we do not even know how short it actually is or how quickly it will pass. “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” [ Proverbs 27:1 ]. You remain time is uncertain!

Author and professor of Biblical Spirituality at Southern Theological Seminary, Donald S. Whitney warns, “There are thousands who entered eternity today, including thousands who were younger than you, who yesterday had no idea that today was their last day. Had they known that, their use of time would have become far more important to them.”

God has offered you this ‘precious little’ time to discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” [ John 9:4 ]. So, don’t misuse the time God offers to you— He never offers that time to you again!

 

There is hardly a more sobering statement in scripture then Romans 14:12: “So then, each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” Though believers will be saved by grace and not by works, once in Heaven our ‘reward’ will be determined on the basis of our works. The Lord will “test the quality of each man’s work,” and it will be either that “he will receive His reward” or “he will suffer a loss.” He himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames (1 Corinthians 3:13-15). So, not only will we be held accountable for our time, but our eternal reward will be directly related to our earthly use of time!

Also at the final judgment, we will have to give account for every word we have spoken (Matthew 12:36), and then be accountable for the talents we have received and how we used them for the sake of Christ (Matthew 25:14-30 – “The Parable of the Talents”).

 

Jonathan Edwards suggested giving an account daily to God of how you used your time. Except for the “fool,” no other character in the book of Proverbs draws the scorn like the slothful “sluggard” for his lazy and wasteful use of time (Proverbs 26:14-15). [ IF there are any ‘regrets’ in Heaven, they will only be that we did not use our earthly time more for the glory of God and for the growth of His grace ].

 

In Luke 16:25, the Bible portrays this anguish over a wasted lifetime in the story of a rich man who went to Hades and of a poor man named Lazarus who went to “Abraham’s Bosom” (“Paradise”). Jesus tells how the rich man, being in torment, lifted his eyes and saw Lazarus far away, living in joy with Abraham. The rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus with some water to cool his tongue, but Abraham replied, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.” This is strongly suggesting that you not ‘waste’ you life!

[ FYI: For more details on the “Rich Man and Lazarus” parable, read that section in this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/house-of-horrors-v237/ ].

The English pastor and theologian Richard Baxter asked, “Does it not tear their very hearts for ever, to think how madly they consumed their lives, and wasted the only time that was given them to prepare for their salvation? Do those in hell now think them wise that are idling or playing away their time on earth?”

 

If you suddenly realized you had no more time, would you regret how you have spent your time in the past, and how you spend it now? You may not be happy with some of the ways you used your time, but won’t you be pleased then for all the times that you spent in the Bible, prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, fasting, for the purpose of becoming more like Jesus before whom you are about to stand in judgment? (John 5:22-29) What great wisdom there is in living as Jonathan Edwards resolved to live: “Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I came to die.”

 

Do you realize that whether you experience on ending joy or eternal agony depends on what happens in the ‘moments’ of your life, just like the one now? What, then, is more precious than time? Just like a small rudder determines the direction of a great ocean liner, so that which is done in time influences eternity.

Most importantly, as author Donald S. Whitney warns, “During time [ that is, in this life ] you must prepare for eternity, for there will be no second chance to prepare once you have crossed eternity’s timeless threshold.” Why not do something about it while you still have the time?

So, ‘PREPARE’ for eternity before it’s too late! “Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” [ 2 Corinthians 6:2 ]. REPENT and BELIEVE in Jesus!

[ Note: See the “Reconciliation Prayer” below for help with this, or contact me—I’d be honored to help you! ].

 

FELLOWSHIP
A “fellowship” or as the Bible terms it, “body of Christ,” refers to a diverse group of believers. Each member of the body is uniquely gifted by God, and if one member doesn’t use his gift, the body suffers—just like the human body does. The overall concept of fellowship portrayed in the Bible is being in ‘partnership’ with others in various aspects of our Christian work and lives.

The Greek word used is koinōnia (pronounced koy no NEE ah), which express the idea of a “common participation”—association, communion, fellowship, communication, partaking, close relationship, generosity, sign of fellowship, gift, contribution, and participation. The emphasis is “in something” rather than “with someone,” as it’s more commonly used today.

We also see it used “having a share in,” and “giving a share,” as being a partner, a partaker, or a sharer in God’s work—and even in troubles as a “partner in the tribulation” and “sharing in our sufferings.” This goes much deeper than just ‘socializing’ with other Christians.

While fellowship includes gathering together with other Christians, it also goes beyond attendance at a service or activity. It includes working in some way with others who are getting out God’s message (praying for them, joining them in their mission in any way you can). It can be seen as participation in the entire ‘system’ of the Christian faith.

Specifically, spiritual fellowship includes gathering with other Christians to share hearts, to speak to one another about living our lives for God, discuss problems and solutions related to living our discipleship, pray for one another, and seek godly counsel from brothers or sisters.

Fellowship is no isolated commune or static, mutual-admiration society. It is a “partnership for the Gospel” (Philippians 1:5), among those giving their everything to “advance the Gospel” (Philippians 1:12), knit together for “progress and joy in the faith” (Philippians 1:25). It is the fellowship in which, as Paul says to the Philippians, “It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.” [ Philippians 1:7 ]. As members of the body of Christ, we should endeavor to walk in the light, as He is in the light, so that we will have fuller and deeper fellowship with one another. “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” [ Galatians 6:10 ].

The fellowship of the ‘body’ is the mutual care and concern its members have for each other. Each are to confess their sins to one another (James 5:16), build up one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11), bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), pray for one another (James 5:16), be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32), submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21), show hospitality to one another one (Peter 4:9), serve one another (Galatians 5:13), comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18), restore one another (Galatians 6:1), forgive one another (Colossians 3:13), admonish one another (Romans 15:14), teach one another (Colossians 3:16), encourage one another (Hebrews 3:13), and above all, love one another (1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 4:7, 11).

A true fellowship not only labors to win the lost, but serves to keep the saints saved. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another” [ Hebrews 10:25-25a ].

For those who have ‘fallen away’ from the faith, it’s typically not the ‘wanderer’s’ own efforts that prompt his return to the fold, but his brothers’ in Christ, being to him a priceless means of God’s grace—the invaluable ‘backstop’ (James 5:19–20).

 

Obviously, there is a lot more to biblical fellowship then just punch and stale cookies in the basement of the church Fellowship Hall! True fellowship takes place when Christians come together to minister to one another in the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

EVANGELISM
The definition of evangelism is the zealous advocacy of a cause. Related to Christianity, it essentially involves “witnessing”—what Jesus has done in their lives. A witnesses tells what they ‘personally’ see, hear, and feel—so EVERY Christian can do it!

Believers are to present Jesus Christ in the ‘power’ of the Holy Spirit to sinful people, in order that they may come to put their trust in God through Him, to receive Him as their Savior, and serve Him as their King in the fellowship of His church.

Just before leaving the earth Jesus commanded believers to witness. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” [ Matthew 28:19-20 ].

Believers are to be busy for fulfilling the “Great Commission”—to make disciples of unbelievers. This is the single most important responsibility Jesus gave to the believer.

[ FYI: To learn more about the “Great Commission” and evangelism, read this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post: https://markbesh.wordpress.com/go-tell-all-the-world-v234/ ].

 

All believers are responsible to be witnesses for Jesus—and know that you don’t have to be well-versed in all the ‘intricacies’ of theology or apologetics to be an effective witness. The blind man healed by Jesus didn’t know how to answer all the theological questions posed to him by the Pharisees, but he did say, “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see” [ John 9:25 ].

Now, to take the ‘pressure’ off the believer, know that your witness is ‘dependent’ on the Holy Spirit. People are not saved because of your testimony. They are not saved because you ‘argue’ them into silence, or because you use a clever ‘sales pitch’ to present the Gospel. No one has ever been saved, or ever will be, apart from the working of the Holy Spirit! It is the Holy Spirit who will “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” [ John 16:8 ]. Even knowledge of biblical truth, though they are important, will not save anyone, apart from the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14).

The believer is only responsible to be diligent and faithful into allow the Holy Spirit to use them. All they can do is be ‘faithful’ witnesses for Jesus, and allow the sovereign Holy Spirit to do His work. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest” [ Matthew 9:37-38 ].

 

Evangelism should be the natural ‘overflow’ of the believer’s life. Jesus said, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven” [ Matthew 5:16 ].

Know that it is the Gospel that has the ‘power’ and not our own eloquent persuasiveness. The Apostle Paul emphasized that saying, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first of the Jew, then for the Gentile” [ Romans 1:16 ].

It’s kind a like a really good barbecue restaurant. Its best ‘advertising’ is the smell of the seasoned beef and pork wafting out of the restaurant. So, people driving by—who aren’t even thinking about being hungry—become instantly interested in the ‘message’ of the restaurant because of the fragrant aroma.

The faithful believer—with the power of the Holy Spirit’s ‘attraction’—is that fragrant ‘aroma’ that God uses to ‘woo’ people to the message about His Son, Jesus (2 Corinthians 2:14-17).

 

Now, the believer should be faithful about evangelism: “Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” [ Colossians 4:5–6 ]. The more the believer is like Jesus, the more they will tell others of Him, His message of forgiveness of sins, and a place with Him forever in Heaven. The Apostle Paul said, “I do all this for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share in its blessings” [ 1 Corinthians 9:23 ].

 

Again, just sharing the Gospel is ‘successful’ evangelism. Success is measured by the careful and accurate delivery of the message, not by the response of the recipient. It’s kind a like the post office. They deliver the message to the proper address regardless of if the person living there reads the message.

So, are you one of the Lord’s ‘harvesters’?

 

WORSHIP
In many churches, we have made the word worship synonymous with singing, but it is much more than that.

The English word worship comes from the Saxon word “weorthscipe” (worthiness and respect) that evolved into “worthship.” So when we speak of worshipping God, we mean responding according to His worthiness.

 

A “spiritual discipline” of the Christian life is assembling together in public, corporate worship—a gathering of believers to meet with God and give Him the honor due to His name, to give glory to God and what He has done in Jesus Christ. “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” [ Hebrews 10:24-25 ]. The believer recognizes the awesome privilege that is theirs: to be in the presence of God.

 

The Bible gives some ‘suggestions’ for the preparation that is necessary for worship:

– Reading the Word daily
– Praying to have the ‘right’ attitude
– Praying for all the aspects of worship (mental alertness, strength for the pastor, etc.)

 

The believer’s worship needs to be genuine, sincere, and heartfelt. After being ‘prepared’ to worship, they then need to listen intently to the pastor’s sermon well and develop a ‘take away’—then reflect upon it with other believers.

The believer then can also take the sermons ‘into’ their week, ‘weaving’ them into devotions (family and spouse), and for instruction of their children. The more reflection there is on the previous Sunday’s worship, the more eager they will be to learn about God and fellowship with His ‘children’.

 

Believers do not worship in isolation, but together. They commit to fellowship with God’s people—one does not ‘go it alone’. When we love the fellow saints and seek communion with them, the believer’s zeal for corporate worship will increase in desire and joyfulness.

 

PRAYER
Prayer is one of our greatest ‘privileges’, and the Bible says that, “If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” [ 1 John 5:14 ]. What a GREAT PROMISE!

When someone mentions prayer, they are usually thinking about something they do ‘with’ God—personal prayer—which is immensely important for the believer. However, since this ‘post’ is focused on the “outworkings” of the believer’s grace to OTHERS, I will focus this section on “intercessory” and “communal” prayers—praying ‘for’ others, and praying ‘with’ others.

Also, when someone mentions that they will “pray for them,” it primarily is ‘for’ something—like a sickness, finances, and the such. Now praying for those things is not ‘wrong’ and is needed, however, most of the prayers recorded in the Bible are of another type. When Jesus was praying for others, He prayed for their faith (Luke 22:32), He prayed against temptation in their lives (Luke 22:40), He prayed for their unity (John 17:11), and He prayed for their sanctification (John 17:17). Paul prayed for the salvation of the lost (Romans 10:1); he prayed that the brothers would stay on the right path (2 Corinthians 13:7); he prayed that believers would be strengthened by the Spirit, rooted and grounded in love, able to comprehend God’s love, and filled with the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14–19). These are all prayers for SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS—prayers that, which was mentioned previously, are ‘guaranteed’ to find a “Yes.” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

 

God appreciates people who pray fervently for others who are facing trials (even in the midst of His greatest trial, Jesus prayed fervently—for others! (Luke 22:41-42).

In what is called the “High Priestly Prayer,” Jesus prays for His disciples: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” [ John 17:18-21 ].

Jesus did not just focus inward, but by His words and His prayers (John 13-17) showed that He wanted love and joy and peace and patience and all the fruit of God’s Spirit for His followers—and the believer is to do the same! Jesus is the believer’s “Intercessor” (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25)—and He wants us to learn to be intercessors, too!

The Apostle Paul also encourages us to intercede for Church members and ministers, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” [ Ephesians 6:18 ].

Intercessory prayer reflects God’s own character of outgoing love and mercy. God wants us to think like He does, and praying for others helps us to think beyond ourselves and to grow in compassion for others.

Jesus even commanded that we pray for our ‘enemies’: “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” [ Matthew 5:44 ].

Now, just to be clear, intercessory prayer is not something we should do to try to ‘earn points’ with God so we can ‘collect on it’ when something bad happens to us. Our motivation must be love—outgoing, unselfish concern.

 

The Bible gives many examples of people praying for others, and we can learn a lot by studying and meditating on these examples. Here are just a few:

– Abraham interceded for the people of Sodom for the sake of his nephew Lot (Genesis 18:23-33).
– Moses pleaded for God’s mercy for the sinning people of Israel (Exodus 32:9-14; Numbers 14:11-20).
– Daniel made supplication to God for his people (Daniel 9:3-19).
– The Apostle Peter prayed for Dorcas (Acts 9:36-41).
– The Apostle Paul prayed for the people he served (Romans 1:9-10; 10:1; Ephesians 1:15-19; Philippians 1:3-11; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13).

 

Though we tend to view prayer as an individual activity, this isn’t exactly God’s design. Yes, we can and should pray on our own. But there is power in praying with other people collectively. Something unique happens as we pray together.

Some ‘communities’ might offer prayers of repentance and confession, others offer prayers of the people (or supplication), and others say the “Lord’s Prayer.”

In Tim Keller’s book “Prayer,” he applies the thoughts of C.S. Lewis on prayer to our relationship with Jesus:

“Prayer is therefore not a strictly private thing. As much as we can, we should pray with others both formally in gathered worship and informally. Why? If the substance of prayer is to continue a conversation with God, and if the purpose of it is to know God better, then this can happen best in community.

C. S. Lewis argues that it takes a community of people to get to know an individual person. Reflecting on his own friendships, he observed that some aspects of one of his friend’s personality were brought out only through interaction with a second friend. That meant if he lost the second friend, he lost the part of his first friend that was otherwise invisible. “By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets.” If it takes a community to know an ordinary human being, how much more necessary would it be to get to know Jesus alongside others? By praying with friends, you will be able to hear and see facets of Jesus that you have not yet perceived.”

If knowing Jesus makes you a better thinker, and praying in community helps you know Jesus better, then I guess you know what you need to do now!

 

In addition to praying ‘for’ others and ‘with’ others, another way to “accept others’ grace” is welcoming others to pray for us. The intimacy of prayer strengthens the body of Christ because it builds close relationships. We are all in this thing called “life” together, and God intends for us to depend upon one another as much as we depend on Him.

The Apostle Paul knew how to ask for prayer, and did so often: “I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf,” [ Romans 15:30 ]. If Paul did not mind asking fellow believers for prayer, then why should we hesitate?

Now, even when you ask others to pray for you, be sure to ask them if they need you to pray for them. Also, telling a person you are praying for them usually helps ‘encourage’ the person.

 

Effective prayer for others will bring us closer to God, because effective prayer is based on a knowledge of His will (1 John 5:14). It will also bring us closer to others, as we learn more about them and focus on their needs.

 

It’s hard to overstate the importance of this spiritual discipline for the Christian life. Prayer is simply asking God for help or strength or provision. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

 

A good ‘pattern’ for prayer is the Lord’s prayer, and one of the ‘requests’ is “Give us this day our daily bread” [ Matthew 6:11 ]. Believers should pray for our needs and the needs of others EVERY DAY.

[ FYI: For more details on the “Lord’s Prayer,” visit this previous “Life’s Depp Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/ready-for-battle-v235/ ].

 

Now, even though Jesus gave us a ‘model’ for pray, He didn’t give us any ‘specifics’. So, when praying, do not worry about how your prayer is phrased. Our communication to God should be just as you would talk to your friends or family. Pray for others whenever you think of them. Soon, praying for others will become a part of your daily life!

 

‘CHANNEL’ OF GRACE
All believers are to be ‘channels’ of grace to others. To ‘put on’ love: “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” [ Colossians 3:12-14 ]. .

The main thrust of the Apostle Paul’s teaching here is that we are to ‘clothe’ ourselves with Christlike virtues (essentially the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ – Galatians 5:22-23). He grounds his exhortation in the grace of God—and the fact that we are chosen by Him, holy in His sight, and dearly loved by Him.

So, these ‘garments’ of gracious Christian character can only be put on by those who are consciously experiencing God’s grace in their own lives—a ‘believer’.

Having experienced God’s saving grace, the believer is then called on to extend that grace to others. The evidence of whether they are living by His grace is to be found in the way that they treat other people. If they see themselves as sinners and totally unworthy in ourselves of God’s compassion, patience, and forgiveness, then they will want to be gracious to others.

The grace of God brings salvation, not only from the guilt and condemnation of sin, but also from the reign of sin in our lives. God’s grace teaches the believer to clothe themselves with “garments of grace.” (Also consider what Paul said in Colossians 3:12-14).

 

CONCLUSION
I’m OVERWHELMED!!! Yep, it’s supposed to be that way—so you don’t get ‘proud’ when you think that you did all these things by yourself!

The thing is, God knows you will need help, and He ‘sent’ those who believe in His Son, Jesus, for their salvation a “Helper”—the Holy Spirit—to ‘indwell’ the believer when they believe.

In addition to that, at the same instant that a believer ‘accepts’ Jesus, they are given at least one “spiritual gift” to also help them to be ‘successful’ in their ‘OUTWORKINGS’ OF GRACE—the ‘outward expression’ of an ‘inward influence’!

One Army sergeant, who was addressing a group of soldiers going into a foreign town on leave for the first time, wanted to impress upon them the importance of proper behavior. He said, “Men, you are the United States. These people will think either badly, or positively of our country, based on your conduct!” This is also SO TRUE of a believer’s life. What people think of Christ and Christianity is often based upon what they see in them.

 

So, the believer’s ‘works’ are VERY IMPORTANT for unbelievers to see and experience—just as Jesus’ were. However, Jesus’ deeds were ‘signs’, and His words interpreted them—as was His deed of the foot washing.

British pastor and author, John Stott, says that the foot washing was a ‘sign’ of salvation. In the ultimate act of service, Jesus would die to ‘wash away’ our sins. Stott described the foot washing as a visual ‘aid’ of imitating Jesus’ humility (Philippians 2:1-11), as did St. Augustine in the 4th century. Here’s essentially what they both said:

– Jesus rose from the table, just as He had risen from His throne in Heaven to come to earth
– Jesus laid aside His garments; Emptied Himself of His glory to become a man
– Jesus wrapped a towel around Himself; “He took the form of a servant”
– Jesus began to wash their feet; “He humbled Himself”
– Jesus sat down again, just as He sat down at the right hand of God, where He is exalted and has been given the name above every name, that of the name of Jesus, whereby every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father

Stott goes on to say that Peter’s protest (not wanting Jesus to wash his feet) is typical of every sinner that Jesus wants to ‘save’. Peter had to humble himself and let Jesus wash his feet in public—with all the others watching—and this is after Peter had been too proud to do it himself. Peter’s pride rebelled against the humility of Christ. The foot washing was a sign that pointed to Jesus washing us clean from our sin.

The thing is, there is in each of us the same sinful pride, the same unwillingness to admit that we are unclean and need to be washed, that our need for cleansing took Jesus to the Cross. We find it humiliating to admit that we are sinners and need Jesus to save us (“You shall never wash my feet!” said Peter – John 13:8). We prefer to remain in our ‘dirt’ than to humble ourselves and let Jesus cleanse us. But Jesus said to Peter (and to us now), “If I do not wash you, you have no part in me” (John 13:9). So, don’t let your pride keep you from letting Jesus wash you clean!

It’s also possible to read Peter’s protest not as an expression of pride, but shame. He was deeply embarrassed that Jesus was kneeling before him. When Jesus asked John the Baptist to baptize Him, John replied, “It is I who need to be baptized by You” (Matthew 3:14). Peter may have been feeling something like, “Jesus, you shouldn’t be washing my feet; I should be washing yours.” He might have felt ashamed about his arguments about being the greatest when the ‘Greatest’ was kneeling before him, wrapped in a towel, cradling his feet in His hands. Peter’s deep love for Jesus may have made him feel ashamed that his pride had come to this—and when Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you have no part in me,” it was Peter’s deep love for Jesus that made him respond, “Then wash all of me!”

Christians have always seen deeper meanings in the foot washing; it’s seen as a parable of our salvation, our cleansing from sin at the hands of Jesus. While that is all true, Jesus Himself gave the meaning of this sign when He had finished washing their feet and taken His seat. Peter had experienced the cleansing of salvation and did not need to be washed again in the spiritual sense. Salvation is a one-time act of justification by faith, but the lifelong process of sanctification is one of washing from the stain of sin we experience as we walk through the world. Peter and the disciples—all except Judas, who never belonged to Christ—needed only this temporal cleansing.

This truth is just one of several from this incident that Christians can apply to their own lives. First, when we come to Christ for the washing of our sins, we can be sure that is permanent and complete. No act can cleanse us further from our sin, as our sin has been exchanged for the perfect righteousness of Christ on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). But we do need continual cleansing from the effects of living in the flesh in a sin-cursed world. The continual washing of sanctification is done by the power of the Holy Spirit, who lives within us, through the “washing of water by the Word” (Ephesians 5:26), given to us to equip us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16–17).

Further, when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He told them (and us), “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15). As His followers, we are to emulate Him, serving one another in lowliness of heart and mind, seeking to build one another up in humility and love. When we seek the preeminence, we displease the Lord who promised that true greatness in His kingdom is attained by those with a servant’s heart (Mark 9:35; 10:44). When we have that servant’s heart, the Lord promised, we will be greatly blessed (John 13:17).

Jesus stooped to the lowest ‘level’ in that culture to show His disciples how He wanted them to act toward others—and He is telling you and me to do the same now, and SERVE OTHERS as He did!

 

Another unmistakable ‘sign’ that God’s love has ‘captured’ someone, is that they are growing in the attitude of ‘SERVITUDE’—adopting the same attitude of Jesus when He was here on earth: “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” [ Matthew 20:28 ]. The Apostle Paul expands this by saying, “But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” [ Galatians 5:13 ].

This bring us back to what has been termed “The Golden Rule”: “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets” [ Matthew 7:12 ].

Not that a believer serve to be ‘repaid’, but the Bible tells us that when we possess an attitude of grace, we give of ourselves selflessly, and God, in turn, gives back to us in various ‘ways’ (2 Corinthians 9:6-8; Luke 6:38) [ More about this in next month’s post ]. God will not necessarily ‘match’ your gift, but in others ways He usually goes beyond the ‘value’ of what you gave, since you gave from your ‘heart’.

 

We often hear that it is unspiritual and ‘crass’ to serve God for the sake of rewards. However, this is one of the motives God Himself gives for serving Him.

We first of all serve and obey Jesus because we love Him, just as on earth He obeyed God the Father because He loved Him. But, it was also because of the “joy set before Him” that Jesus Himself “endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2). It is neither selfish nor unscriptural to do God’s work for a motive that He Himself gives and followed.

God knows our ‘heart’. He has given us desires to develop and progress in our faith. As long as the reward we seek is more of Jesus, and to see Him known and glorified, then we should not be adverse to wanting a ‘return’ on our faithful investment!

 

Find ways to serve others. This is the best way to develop a servant’s heart. Putting others before yourself is easier when you are serving them. But just because someone is in a serving position does not mean that they are serving with the right attitude. Maybe you have met the people who are involved in the service industry who don’t enjoy serving others. Even people in compassionate sounding jobs (working at a homeless shelter or working as a nurse for example) can have the wrong attitude about the people they are serving.

A servant’s heart and attitude is the work of the Holy Spirit, and the believer has to yield to Him so that He can work in their life.

 

Albert Schweitzer was a great man who followed Jesus as closely as he could, and understood the value and importance of serving. He said, “The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” He lived what he ‘preached’—as a German then French theologian, physician, musician, and medical missionary—he received the Nobel Peace prize for his ethics work.

Now, Schweitzer was honest about it that life becomes ‘harder’ for those who live for others, but he also said that it becomes “richer and happier.”

 

So, I ask all believers: “Is your life, as Jesus commands, one in which you are not first, but last—following the example of Jesus—and using what you know and what you have to SERVE OTHERS and HELP EVERYONE around you—being a “Chief Hurdle Removal Officer”—even when it’s ‘inconvenient’?

Have you metaphorically ‘washed others’ feet’—HUMBLING YOURSELF and truly regarding others as more important than yourself?

Have you tried to follow the “GOLDEN RULE” treating your ‘neighbor’ like you would treat yourself?

Have you been trying to be a ‘CHANNEL’ of grace in your life by being diligent in the following areas of the ‘OUTWORKING’ of your faith?: Humility; Contentment; Mercy and Forgiveness; Patience; Giving; Accepting Others’ Grace; Stewardship; Fellowship; Evangelism; Worship; and Prayer. All with ‘AGAPE’ LOVE? Loving God with your whole ‘heart’ and loving others as yourself?

 

Songwriter Nicole Nordeman released a song in 2002 titled “Legacy.” She is wondering how she might “leave a legacy” after her life ends—how will people remember her. She answers her own question by saying: “Did I choose to love?” and “Did I point to You enough?” Love others and Love God. That’s it! It’s what Jesus said was MOST IMPORTANT, and essentially ALL one ‘has’ to do! It’s something I ‘try’ to do daily—do you, too?

 

The believer’s greatest desire is to please Jesus, and their fondest hope is to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your Master” [ Matthew 25:21 ].

Think you will hear Jesus say this to you?

 

 

[ Excerpts from: Wikipedia; John Tweeddale; Got Questions; Daniel St.Pierre; Dr. Paul M. Elliott; Jerry Bridges; Chris Hendrix; Paul Tautges; Brandon Hilgemann; Barclay Bank; Joe Wittwer; John MacArthur ]

 

RELATED POSTS:

‘Growing’ In Grace”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/growing-in-grace-v240/

‘House’ Of Horrors”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/house-of-horrors-v237/

Ready For ‘Battle’?”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/ready-for-battle-v235/

Go ‘Tell’ All The World”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/go-tell-all-the-world-v234/

New ‘Identity’”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/new-identity-v220/

‘Real’ Love”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/real-love-v216/

The ‘Fruitful’ Life”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/the-fruitful-life-v204/

The ‘Blessed’ Life”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/the-blessed-life-v203/

 

‘PRAYER’ OF REPENTANCE
In the Bible, there is a parable that Jesus told about a Pharisee and a tax collector praying in the Temple. He notes that the tax collector didn’t even dare to lift his eyes toward Heaven as he prayed. Instead he “beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner’”—and Jesus said that the tax collector “went home justified,” he had been “born again” and ‘reconciled’ by God. (Luke 18:9-14).

If you are ‘sensing’ something like that right now, let me strongly encourage you to HUMBLE YOURSELF, CRY OUT to God, and PLEAD for Him to mercifully ‘SAVE’ YOU! None of us have a ‘claim’ on our salvation, nor do we have any ‘works’ that would cause us to deserve it or earn it—it is purely a gift of Divine grace—and all any of us can do is ask. So, CONFESS YOUR SINS and acknowledge to God that you have no hope for Heaven apart from what He provides through Jesus.

There is no ‘formula’ or certain words for this. So just talk to God, in your own words—He knows your ‘heart’. If you are genuinely sincere, and God does respond to your plea, one will usually have a sense of joy and peace.

Jesus said, “He that comes to Me, I will not cast out” [ John 6:37 ].

[ NOTE: If you have ‘tasted the kindness of the Lord’, please e-mail me—I would love to CELEBRATE with you, and help you get started on your ‘journey’ with Jesus! ].

 

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RESOURCES:

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Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness” (25th Anniversary Edition)
By: Robert K. Greenleaf (Author), Larry C. Spears (Editor)

A classic work on leadership for business men and women, government leaders and all persons in positions of authority.

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The Power of Servant-Leadership
By: Robert K. Greenleaf (Author), Larry C. Spears (Editor)

Based on the seminal work of Robert K. Greenleaf, a former AT&T executive who coined the term almost thirty years ago, servant-leadership emphasizes an emerging approach to leadership—one which puts serving others, including employees, customers, and community, first.

The Power of Servant Leadership is a collection of eight of Greenleaf’s most compelling essays on servant-leadership. These essays, published together in one volume for the first time, contain many of Greenleaf’s best insights into the nature and practice of servant-leadership and show his continual refinement of the servant-as-leader concept. In addition, several of the essays focus on the related issues of spirit, commitment to vision, and wholeness.

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Servant Leadership in Action: How You Can Achieve Great Relationships and Results
By: Ken Blanchard and Renee Broadwell

“The only way to create great relationships and results is through
servant leadership. It’s all about putting other people first.”
– from the foreword by John Maxwell

We’ve all seen the negative impact of self-serving leaders in every sector of our society. Not infrequently, they end up bringing down their entire organization. But there is another way: servant leadership.

Servant leaders lead by serving their people, not by exalting themselves. This collection features forty-four renowned servant leadership experts and practitioners–prominent business executives, bestselling authors, and respected spiritual leaders–who offer advice and tools for implementing this proven, but for some still radical, leadership model.

Edited by legendary business author and lifelong servant leader Ken Blanchard and his longtime editor Renee Broadwell, this is the most comprehensive and wide-ranging guide ever published for what is, in every sense, a better way to lead.

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Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership: Practicing the Wisdom of Leading by Serving
By: James W. Sipe and Don M. Frick

Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership trains readers in how to evolve and implement the competencies and behaviors of servant leadership using pointed questions, stories, exercises, case studies, and research-based activities that the authors have field-tested with numerous leaders in the public and private sectors.

Seven Pillars goes beyond developing individual skills, however. Each chapter includes stories of how servant-led companies have integrated specific servant leadership principles and skills into corporate cultures and policies. The final chapter offers updated strategies and examples so that readers can begin implementing servant leadership in their own organizations. The book includes questions that are ideal for small groups, that reflect the findings of twenty years of research on the changes of human behavior that takes place in individuals and organizations.

https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Pillars-Servant-Leadership-Practicing/dp/0809149265/

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Reflections on Leadership: How Robert K. Greenleaf’s Theory of Servant-Leadership Influenced Today’s Top Management Thinkers
By: Larry C. Spears

“I believe that [Bob Greenleaf’s] essay, ‘The Servant as Leader’ is the most singular and useful statement on leadership that I have read in the last 20 years. Despite a virtual tidal wave of books on leadership during the last few years, there is something different about Bob Greenleaf’s essay, something both simpler and more profound . . . For many years, I simply told people not to waste their time reading all the other managerial leadership books. ‘If you are really serious about the deeper territory of true leadership,’ I would say, ‘read Greenleaf.’” — from Chapter 20 by Peter M. Senge, Director of the Center for Organizational Learning at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and author of The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization

“There is a building momentum for enlightened leadership in the for-profit world, the social sector, and many areas of government today . . . Good books that deal with the beliefs and convictions that nurture this movement are not easy to find. This is one. Reflections on Leadership is a worthy and worthwhile gift to all those who attach high value both to their responsibilities and to the people with whom they work.” — from the Foreword, by Max DePree, Chairman and CEO of Herman Miller Inc. and author of Leadership Is an Art and Leadership Jazz

“I could give you three examples of major businesses who have used this business of servant-leadership training . . . at times of terrible crisis and have worked themselves out of the crisis. Practicing servant-leadership . . . had absolutely enormous incredible benefits for them . . . and then they threw it away. Because, as soon as the crisis passed, they said ‘why exert ourselves?’ The great problem is not how to . . . teach servant-leadership in the first place, but to get organizations to continue to use it and embed it in part of their culture.” — from Chapter 7 by M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled

“Reflections on Leadership is fitting tribute to a man whose own sense of service has given all of us hope that at long last leaders will recognize that power of purpose is far stronger than power of position. After nearly 30 years, Robert K. Greenleaf’s work has struck a resonant chord in the minds and hearts of scholars and practitioners alike. His message lives through others, the true legacy of a servant-leader.” — Jim Kouzes, Chairman and CEO of TPG/Learning Systems and coauthor of The Leadership Challenge and Credibility

“We are each indebted to Greenleaf for bringing spirit and values into the workplace. His ideas will have enduring value for every generation of leaders.” — Peter Block, Founding Partner, Designed Learning Inc. and author of The Empowered Manager, Flawless Consulting, and Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest

In the twenty-five years since Robert K. Greenleaf first articulated his vision of “servant-leadership,” the world has seen a steady expansion in the influence of the man and his ideas. Hailed as the “grandfather” of the modern empowerment movement in business leadership, Greenleaf described true leaders as those who lead by serving others — empowering them to reach their full potential. He saw the ideal leader as one who transforms and integrates an organization; a steward with a commitment to the growth of people and the building of a community.

Reflections on Leadership demonstrates the scope of Greenleaf’s impact on contemporary management theory and offers key essays by Greenleaf and his leading business and intellectual disciples. They include such influential thinkers as M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, and Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline.

“Despite all the buzz about modern leadership techniques, no one knows better than Greenleaf what really matters.” — Working Woman magazine.

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The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership
By: James C. Hunter

With an introduction on using the principles of The Servant in your life and career, this book redefines what it means to be a leader.

In this absorbing tale, you watch the timeless principles of servant leadership unfold through the story of John Daily, a businessman whose outwardly successful life is spiraling out of control. He is failing miserably in each of his leadership roles as boss, husband, father, and coach. To get his life back on track, he reluctantly attends a weeklong leadership retreat at a remote Benedictine monastery.

To John’s surprise, the monk leading the seminar is a former business executive and Wall Street legend. Taking John under his wing, the monk guides him to a realization that is simple yet profound: The true foundation of leadership is not power, but authority, which is built upon relationships, love, service, and sacrifice.

Along with John, you will learn that the principles in this book are neither new nor complex. They don’t demand special talents; they are simply based on strengthening the bonds of respect, responsibility, and caring with the people around you. The Servant’s message can be applied by anyone, anywhere—at home or at work.

If you are tired of books that lecture instead of teach; if you are searching for ways to improve your leadership skills; if you want to understand the timeless virtues that lead to lasting and meaningful success, then this book is one you cannot afford to miss.

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Start With Humility: Lessons from America’s Quiet CEOs on How to Build Trust and Inspire Followers
By: Merwyn Hayes and Michael Comer

After working with some of the greatest leaders across the globe, authors Merwyn A. Hayes and Michael D. Comer began to notice patterns among effective leaders—and the habits of ineffective ones. Time and time again, those who failed to inspire their followers led with arrogance, poor listening skills, and a lack of respect. This prompted the authors to search for and unearth the true keys to leadership success: humility, honesty, and authenticity.

You too can become a humble—but successful—leader. Start with Humility: Lessons from America’s Quiet CEOs on How to Build Trust and Inspire Followers reveals the common traits among some of the top leaders in the world who lead through humility. For example, you’ll learn how Craig Weatherup, former CEO of Pepsi-Cola and board member at Starbucks and Macy’s, applied the concepts of accountability and simplicity to turn around Pepsi’s international business.

With the sixty techniques for more effective leadership found in this book, you’ll begin to “train your brain” using the model developed by the authors through their extensive research. Learn what humility is and how you can use it to effect transformational change.

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The Suffering Servant: The Sermon Series #1
By: John R. Hargrove

The prophecies in the Old Testament speak of two different appearances of the Messiah. So much so that rabbis have considered the possibility of two separate Messiahs. But that is not how it is. Jesus, the Jewish Messiah has two separate comings to earth. The first time He came to pay the penalty for our sins. The second time He will come as King of the universe.

The reason for the first coming is that there can be no sin in the presence of God the Father. So Jesus came to take our sin on His body and die for it. Belief in Him purifies the soul. This is best shown in Isaiah 53, which explains how religious men sought to destroy Jesus because He claimed to be the Messiah—the one who would come to take away our sins and give us His righteousness.

Bible scholar, John R. Hargrove, walks you through Isaiah 53 to show you step by step how Jesus arrived as a servant, not a king. John also includes stories about Jesus, showing that no one but Jesus could do the works of God on earth.

You are invited to read this study by the late John R. Hargrove, who loved the Bible as much as he loved life.

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The Gospel According to Isaiah 53: Encountering the Suffering Servant in Jewish and Christian Theology
By: Darrell L. Bock and Mitch Glaser

Written by eleven biblical scholars, this study explores the theology of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 and answers a number of imporant questions:

What is a Christian interpretation of Isaiah 53?
What is a Jewish interpretation of Isaiah 53?
How did the New Testament writers understand Isaiah 53?
How should forgiveness and salvation be understood in Isaiah 53?
How can Isaiah 53 be used in Jewish evangelism?
How do we preach Isaiah 53?

https://www.amazon.com/Gospel-According-Isaiah-Encountering-Suffering/dp/082542593X/

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Qualities of an Excellent Servant: 1 Timothy 4
By: Jr. John MacArthur

https://www.amazon.com/Qualities-Excellent-Servant-Timothy-MacArthurs/dp/080245352X/

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Wondrous Love: Suffering Servant, Crucified Christ, Risen Redeemer
By: Lloyd Larson (Composer)

The disciple John penned these words: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (I Jn 4:9-10). With this incomparable love as its central theme, “Wondrous Love” recounts the earthly life and ministry of Jesus, which ultimately led Him down a path of sacrifice and death on the cross. This blending of original and familiar melodies along with poignant and scripture-based narration provides a compelling rendition of the events leading to the cross. Flexibly conceived for Lent and/or Holy Week, each individual anthem may be presented during the weeks leading up to Easter, or Wondrous Love may be performed as a whole with or without the resurrection finale. Small and large choirs will equally appreciate Lloyd Larsons beautiful choral writing, and accompaniments ranging from piano only or full orchestra to professionally recorded CDs offer numerous options for your unique programming needs.

https://www.amazon.com/Wondrous-Love-Suffering-Crucified-Redeemer/dp/1429131268/

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The Normal Christian Life
By: Watchman Nee

The Normal Christian Life (now available in this new mass-market-size edition) is Watchman Nee’s great Christian classic unfolding the central theme of Christ our Life. Starting from key passages in Romans, Nee reveals the secret of spiritual vitality that should be the normal experience of every Christian. His emphasis on the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ contains fresh insights that have proven a blessing to many.

https://www.amazon.com/Normal-Christian-Life-Watchman-Nee/dp/1619582953/

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Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ
By Tony Reinke, Stephen J. Nichols, Justin Taylor, and John Piper

John Newton is famous for his legendary hymn “Amazing Grace.” Many have celebrated his dramatic conversion from a life in the slave trade to his eventual work to end it. But often overlooked are Newton’s forty years as a pastor ministering to parishioners and friends unsettled by the trials, doubts, and fears of life.

Newton is perhaps the greatest pastoral letter writer in the history of the church. He took up his pen day after day to help others fix their eyes on Christ, which, he writes, is the underlying battle of the Christian life. Through a careful study of scores of letters, Tony Reinke brings together Newton’s brilliant vision of the Christian life in one accessible place.

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The Beatitudes for Today
By: John Blanchard

The Beatitudes are widely recognized as forming a pivotal point in the life and teaching of Jesus. In this engagingly written book, John Blanchard clearly shows why their message is so relevant and up to date and his thorough treatment of their dynamic text applies their message to many areas of contemporary Christian living.

https://www.amazon.com/Beatitudes-John-Blanchard/dp/0902548980

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Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life
By: Donald S. Whitney

Drawn from a rich heritage,Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life will guide you through a carefully selected array of disciplines including:

– Scripture reading
– prayer
– worship
– Scripture meditation
– evangelism
– serving
– stewardship of time and money
– Scripture application
– fasting
– silence and solitude
– journaling
– learning

By illustrating why the disciplines are important, showing how each one will help you grow in godliness, and offering practical suggestions for cultivating them, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life will provide you with a refreshing opportunity to become more like and grow in character and maturity.

https://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Disciplines-Christian-Donald-Whitney/dp/1576830276

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Holiness Day by Day: Transformational Thoughts for Your Spiritual Journey
By: Jerry Bridges

Do you want your daily devotional to have more substance? Then you will appreciate this one-year devotional from Navigator author Jerry Bridges. Each entry has been carefully selected from his best writings, connecting with you on a deeper level and encouraging personal discovery. This quick daily read is full of inspiration, commitment, and transformation for men and women to grow in spiritual maturity.

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The Pursuit of Holiness
By: Jerry Bridges

“Be holy, for I am holy,” commands God. But holiness is something that is often missed in the Christian’s daily life. According to Navigator author Jerry Bridges, that’s because we’re not exactly sure what our part in holiness is. In The Pursuit of Holiness, he helps us see clearly just what we should rely on God to do―and what we should take responsibility for ourselves. As you deepen your relationship with God, learn more about His character, and understand the Holy Spirit’s role in holiness, your spiritual growth will mature.

—————-
Jonathan Edwards’ Resolutions: And Advice to Young Converts
By: Jonathan Edwards (Author), Stephen J. Nichols (Editor)

While completing his preparation for the ministry, Jonathan Edwards wrote seventy resolutions that guided him throughout his life. About twenty years later he wrote a letter to young Deborah Hatheway, a new convert in a nearby town, advising her concerning the Christian life. These two writings, often reprinted during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, overflow with straightforward and biblically sound advice. This advice is as current today as it was in the 1700s, and it far surpasses the “how to” books now overrunning bookstores.

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Fruits Of The Beatitudes
By: Mark Besh

My ‘resolutions’ (84 of them) are presented on a website I call “Fruits Of The Beatitudes,” and the following link will allow you download a PDF of them:
http://fruitsofthebeatitudes.org/pairings-overview-placard/

You can further investigate the details of these ‘resolutions’ by viewing the website here: http://fruitsofthebeatitudes.org/

Note: You can also receive these as ‘reminders’ three times a day for free:
http://fruitsofthebeatitudes.org/daily-reminders/

 

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THE SEARCH FOR MEANINGWEBSITE

This site presents discussions on the 12 most commonly asked questions about the Christian faith.

The 12 discussions are accessed by the “tabs” at the bottom of the page. The tabs are numbered 1-12. Roll your mouse over them and you will see the question displayed at the right. Click on the number to select that question.

Within each question (i.e. tabs 1-12), there are subtopics (or dialogues) to select that appear as smaller tabs underneath the numbered tabs. Roll your mouse over them and the title of these topics is also displayed to the right. Click on the open rectangle to select that dialogue.

For each question (1-12), a link to related resources and an optional flowchart is provided. To access this material, click on the respective words, “Related Resources” or “Options Flowchart.”

To play a more detailed discussion of the subject, between two people, select the desired dialogue and click on “Play Audio Dialogue.”

In the upper right-hand corner of the page, there is an icon that looks like binoculars looking at a question mark. Click on this icon to return to the homepage.

In the upper right-hand corner of a “Related Resources” page, there is an icon that looks like some books. Click on this icon to get to an “overview” page that has links to all of the resources for all of the questions. There also are additional “appendices” for most of the questions.

In the upper right-hand corner of a “Flowchart” page, there is an icon that looks like an Org chart. Click on this icon to get to an “overview” page that has links to all of the flowcharts.

http://4vis.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q1_d1_1of10.html

[ Content by: Bill Kraftson and Lamar Smith; Website by Mark Besh ]

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“FRUITS OF THE BEATITUDES” WEB SITE
(The ATTITUDES of Jesus that produce the CHARACTER of Jesus)

CLICK ON THE LINK to view:
http://fruitsofthebeatitudes.org/

FACEBOOK PAGE:
https://www.facebook.com/FruitsOfTheBeatitudes/

[ Mark Besh ]

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[ P.S.: If you would like to investigate further about how to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant” from God, visit the following link:
http://www.4vis.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q11_d8_1of10.html ].

 

ARTICLES:

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Center for Servant Leadership

“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.” -Robert K. Greenleaf

Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.

THE NATURAL DESIRE
“It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first”.

THE CONSCIOUS CHOICE
“Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead…”

THE BEST TEST
“The best test, and difficult to administer, is: do those served grow as persons…”

————

While servant leadership is a timeless concept, the phrase “servant leadership” was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader, an essay that he first published in 1970. In that essay, Greenleaf said:

“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.

“The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?“

A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.

https://www.greenleaf.org/what-is-servant-leadership/

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International Journal of Servant-Leadership

The International Journal of Servant-Leadership (IJSL) is published by Gonzaga University in collaboration with the Spears Center for Servant-Leadership. Full text PDFs of the entire IJSL archives are available here.

In the discipline of leadership studies, many leadership theorists view servant-leadership as the most compelling and profound answer to the fast-paced, change-oriented climate of the present age. Robert K. Greenleaf, former vice president of AT&T, was a scholar, essayist, and leader with uncommon wisdom. Greenleaf’s servant-leadership is one of the most important and influential leadership theories of our time and his definition of the servant-leader remains a significant challenge for all who pursue leadership.

The purpose of The International Journal of Servant-Leadership is to publish cutting-edge essays, theory, and research that will further the influence of servant-leadership globally, in the scientific community, in the world of business, political inquiry, and social justice, as well as across the academic disciplines. [more…]

https://www.gonzaga.edu/school-of-leadership-studies/departments/ph-d-leadership-studies/international-journal-of-servant-leadership

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Greenleaf Center: ‘What Is Servant Leadership?’

This video is a 12-minute introduction to the modern servant leadership movement, with background on Robert Greenleaf and interviews with leaders in the servant leadership movement including Jack Lowe, Isabel Lopez, Ann McGee-Cooper, Dr. Bob Liden, and Dr. Kent Keith. The interviews were conducted at the Greenleaf Conference in Indianapolis in 2012.

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GREENLEAF’S BEST TEST™: A DIFFERENT KIND OF ASSESSMENT

Background
In 1970 a steady beacon brightened the leadership landscape with the publication of an essay titled The Servant as Leader by Robert K. Greenleaf. In this and subsequent writings, Greenleaf developed the principles of servant leadership, a congruent leadership philosophy based on a simple but profound idea: Leaders whom we trust and want to follow achieve moral authority by being servants to followers and organizations, not by wielding titles or using coercive power. Moreover, entire institutions can act as servants. Every organization has a chart that shows who we are to each other, but servant leadership turns the chart upside down by focusing on how we are for each other.

Servant leadership, however, is not a shallow feel-good philosophy. It calls for radical personal and corporate accountability, deep inner work, and an effort to develop capacities like systems thinking, persuasion, intuition, foresight, and listening with presence.

Some servant leadership-based outcomes—like profits and retention—are not that difficult to measure (incidentally, research shows that both markers are improved in servant-led organizations), but others, like the growth of people and an organization’s impact on a more caring and just society, are more difficult to get a handle on. Luckily, Robert Greenleaf gave us a test for servant-leaders and servant-led organizations. He called it the Best Test:

DO THOSE SERVED GROW AS PERSONS? DO THEY, WHILE BEING SERVED, BECOME HEALTHIER, WISER, FREER, MORE AUTONOMOUS, MORE LIKELY THEMSELVES TO BECOME SERVANTS? AND, WHAT IS THE EFFECT ON THE LEAST PRIVILEGED IN SOCIETY? WILL THEY BENEFIT OR AT LEAST NOT BE FURTHER DEPRIVED?

Greenleaf’s Best Test™ is a road map of a real inner and outer journey, not a one-time evaluation of knowledge or inventory of future intentions.

The assessment follows Greenleaf’s Best Test™ from principle to practice by investigating four categories of inquiry.

– The bulk of the questions follow Greenleaf’s model by investigating the outcomes for those who are being served. Included are items that correlate support for physical and emotional health, opportunities to gain and integrate knowledge, avenues to express heightened autonomy, and opportunities to continue the cycle of service.

– Another group of questions ask how well servant leadership principles are being followed in the organization.

– The goal of servant leadership is to create a leader-full organization where everyone can serve an appropriate leadership position, but the assessment still contains a group of questions that probe the behaviors of designated leader.

– Finally, the questions that make this an unusual assessment are those that ask about matters of heart, spirit, joy, and community. These human experiences give juice and meaning to work, yet are not often discussed, much less measured. [more…].

Greenleaf’s Best Test

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Servant Leadership

Ken Blanchard discusses servant leadership, a model where leaders partner with their people to set and attain goals. If you believe leadership is all about you, where you want to go and what you want to achieve, then your leadership, by default will be more self-focused and self-centered.

On the other hand, if your leadership revolves around meeting the needs of the organisation and the people working for it, you will make different choices that will reveal a more “others-focused” approach.

London Business Forum offers a programme of fun and insightful events. Presented by some of the world’s most inspired and inspiring people, our events provide a burst of fresh thinking without taking you out of the office for too long.

[ Ken Blanchard ]

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Servant Leadership: How a jar can change the way you lead and serve | Ali Fett | TEDxFondduLac

At a TEDxFondulac talk, Alison Fett (VP of Talent at Verve Credit Union) presented that she firmly believes that servant leadership is not a destination but a journey (to true humility) , and consists of seven concepts: “Stop and pause; Value individuality; Praise and acknowledgement; Assumptions; Seek to understand; Empowerment; and Transparent.”

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Gratitude Is Good For You

John Templeton Foundation helps you discover the benefits of having an attitude of gratitude and how to practice being more grateful everyday.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCV-mEsASLA

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Empty Yourself to Serve Others – Philippians 2:12–13

In this lab, Pastor John reminds us that Christian self-denial is not truly self-denial. It is saying “no” to the lesser and impermanent for the better “yes” of eternity. For the study guide, visit:
https://www.desiringgod.org/labs/empty-yourself-to-serve-others

[ John Piper ]

Chalk Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9CnPZZL0HE

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The Mind of Christ: Looking Out for the Interests of Others

Jesus calls his people to the same humble service he so beautifully displayed in his life and death.

[ John Piper ]

Sermon Snippet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1608&v=iE2F2weWrtU

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Growing In God’s Grace – 1 Peter 2:1-3

[ Bunjee Garrett ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNsSWx9fctk

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Grace and Peace

When Peter wrote his second letter, false teaching and immorality were on the rise in the Church. Peter urged his readers to return to the basics of the Gospel.

[ Alistair Begg ]

Part 1 of 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBnmzWAYhuI
Part 2 of 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYTJrT8mSe8

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Spiritual Growth Is Not Optional – 1 Peter 2:1–3, Part 1

[ John Piper ]

‘Chalk Talk’: https://www.desiringgod.org/labs/spiritual-growth-is-not-optional

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Christ-Likeness: Growing by God’s Grace

Philippians 2:12-13 and John 15:1-11

[ Andrew Faris ]

Sermon: https://vimeo.com/95187952

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Grace Liberates

[ Ligon Duncan ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G37cskFzacM

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Growing In Grace

Growth is one of the clearest signs of a healthy plant. The same is true of our spiritual health. On Truth For Life, Alistair Begg challenges us to evaluate our spiritual lives by considering whether or not we are growing in grace.

[ Alistair Begg ]

Part 1 of 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2P6SAFrt4M
Part 2 of 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bs_9PhoS8pM

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Grace Made Visible

Sermon series.

[ Matt Chandler ]

(Part 1) – Eyes to See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xYttipCuXM
(Part 2) – The Generosity of God: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbH5BIxdPGE
(Part 3) – Madness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5wBRuDygkc
(Part 4) – Stewardship: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBDiR7rqGxM
(Part 5) – Gifted and Talented: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRDSIQFVie0
(Part 6) – Eccentric and Faithful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grqkTuyMCRg

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Service

The question isn’t Are you a servant? It’s Who are you serving? There are ultimately only two options—sin and obedience.

[ Matt Chandler ]

Sermon: https://www.tvcresources.net/resource-library/sermons/service–2

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Why Good Works Are Necessary for the Christian

Anthony Burgess (d. 1644) argued that while good works should never be construed as meritorious for our justification, they were still necessary as our duty on the way to final salvation. Here are 13 reasons why:

1. “They are the fruit and end of Christ’s death” (Titus 2:14).

2. “There is an analogical relation between good works and heaven insofar as God has appointed the way (good works” to the end (heaven).”

3. “There is a promise made to them” (1 Tim. 4:7-8).

4. “They are testimonies whereby our election is made sure” (2 Peter 1:10).

5. “They are a condition, without which a man cannot be saved. So that although a man cannot by the presence of them gather a cause of his salvation; yet by the absence of them he may conclude his damnation; so that is an inexcusable speech of the Antinomian, Good works do not profit us, nor bad hinder us.”

6. “They are in their own nature a defence against sin and corruption” (Eph. 6:14-16).

7. “They are necessary by a natural connexion with faith, and the Spirit of God.”

8. “They are necessary by debt and obligation. . . . We cannot merit at God’s hand, because the more good we are enabled to do, we are the more beholding to God. Hence it is, that we are his servants.”

9. “By the command of God” (1 Thess. 4:3).

10. “They are necessary by way of comfort to ourselves. And this opposes many Antinomian passages, who forbid us to take any peace by our holiness.”

11. “They are necessary in respect of God, both in that he is hereby pleased, and also glorified.”

12. “They are necessary in regard of others” (Matt. 5:16).

13. “Holiness and godliness inherent is the end of our faith and justification.” (Quoted in Jones, Antinomianism, 68).

[ Kevin DeYoung ]

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JAMES | SAVED BY WORKS FOR WORKS SERMON JAM

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Why Should Christians Serve?

Why Should Christians Serve? We answer that question on this week’s episode of Real Truth. Real Quick.

Illustration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHjjqpvOjkE

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Grow in Love – Volunteer: Serve like Jesus

The closer you are to Jesus, the less you need to promote yourself.

[ Paul Tanchi ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fq9at-2UafQ

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Serve One Another in Love

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcvP3dXzFKY

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The Selfless Servant | Get in the Game #2

God supernaturally touches people’s lives through you as you find your unique role in serving others.

Discussion questions: https://www.pursuegod.org/the-selfless-servant-get-in-the-game-2/

Sermon Snippet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IosLyNJCZR0

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True Joy Meets Real Needs

The fight for joy in God isn’t just for us, but a battle to bring others along with us on the road to satisfaction in Jesus.

[ John Piper ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbCe_AOMV_I

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As I Have Loved You, Love One Another

Additional resource on this: https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/as-i-have-loved-you-love-one-another

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Re9lQVv3V7I

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Grace On Display

[ Charles Stanley ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gOspIzV3pk

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Don’t Waste Your Life” (Sermon Jam)

“Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.“ [ C. T. Studd ]

[ John Piper ]

Sermon Jam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Z–GMaXeiU

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Cycle of Grace

[ Trevor Hudson ]

– Acceptance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X6m_itTrsU
– Sustenance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtzH5SiZeiU
– Significance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7LRf1lvDk4
– Fruitfulness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2wK0ghuJ2k
– A Grace-filled Way to Live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9-U9drJm4s

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Understanding the Cycle of Grace

[ Dr. Emil Brunner ]

Sermon: http://lovelifegivingwater.com/identity/understanding-the-cycle-of-grace/

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The Outworking of Love – 1 John 3:16-23

Sermon: https://vimeo.com/266179450

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The Gift of Giving

The wise men started it all, some say. Still, I like the way the Magi gave their gifts, for they presumably returned “to the East” without expecting Mary and Joseph to give them anything in return.

Their gifts were meant for the baby Jesus, but there seemed to be no baby-shower obligation in their giving. We never read that Luke wrote down the value of their gifts or en­tered them in the log of people to be thanked later. And we never hear that the kings were back home, feeling bad that no one ever came “from the West” to bring them presents.

Gifts are more blessed to give than to get, says the cliché. But gifts are seldom given so freely that they don’t result in some bondage.

Often at Christmas, gifts become a subtle power play resulting in obligation. Such gifts may subtly say “While my gift appears free, repay me in kind,” or “Enjoy this, Joe, but you owe me one now.”

A simple gift from a neighbor may say, “Just remember my generosity the next time I need to borrow your lawn mower. The milkman’s gift may say “I really need to keep your busi­ness, so don’t buy any eggnog from the Borden’s man this year even though ours costs just a tad more.”

There are, in essence, only three kinds of gifts that one can give at Christmas: the gift-for-gift, the tit-for-tat gift, and the genuine grace gift.

Gift-for-Gift
A gift-for-gift present is one that’s carefully measured against what the giver expects to receive in return. A gift-for-gift giver always keeps mental track: Now let’s see. The gift I’m giving cost me $13.95. I wonder what I’ll get in return?

This approach feeds cash reg­isters all through December. It prompts the last-minute, Christmas Eve dash to the store to be sure some unexpected gift gets repaid in full.

This syndrome also gener­ates all those late Christmas cards. Some remote acquaint­ance surprises us on December 23rd with a card that we can’t possibly respond to until after Christmas.

Tit-for-Tat
The tit-for-tat gift isn’t moti­vated by a desire to receive a material gift in return. But the giver expects his present to smooth out some of the bumps of life. Such givers operate pri­marily in the arena of favors and obligation.

At Christmas, bosses often lavish employees with gifts: li­quor or expensive cheese-and-fruit wheels. They certainly don’t expect their employees to repay in kind, but they do ex­pect less back talk in the office, at least through March. Their gift says, “Don’t forget what I did for you in December, Buddy-Boy!”

Grace-Gifts
The best gift to give or re­ceive is what I call the grace gift. I’ve picked this name be­cause these gifts remind me of the lavish ways that I have re­ceived the love of God.

Biblical grace, by definition, is a gift so immense, it is unrepay­able. When you give or receive a grace gift, you are suddenly in the presence of something too immense to be repaid.

When he was only 10, my son Timothy knew my penchant for collecting Don Quixotes of ev­ery size and shape. He and his 11-year-old sister were shop­ping when they found a huge un­painted Don Quixote in a plaster shop at an amazingly affordable price. He bought it and lugged it all through the mall.

He wrapped it as well as he could and put it under the tree. In a separate little package, he wrapped the paint and brushes. On Christmas morning, he opened the package and gave it to me. I was delighted.

For the next two or three days, Timothy painted the mon­strous statuette of Don Quixote charging into life astride his cart horse steed. As long as I live, I will never forget that wondrous Christmas morning. His art proj­ect still stands on our hearth.

The uniqueness of his gift – and all grace gifts – indicates that the giver knows you very well and has put much thought and heart into the giving. You know when you are giving a grace gift, because your heart is saying, “Here I meet you at the place I know you best. You yourself are your gift to me. Nothing else is needed.

Giving With Grace
Let me suggest two ways to give a grace gift.

First, be sure it’s impossible to measure the cost of your gift. My daughter’s Italian mother-in-law has taught her to cook authentic Italian foods. So when my daughter wants to please me most, she fills a bowl with meat­balls swimming in her marvel­ous marinara sauce, and I am content through long winters. When the snow flies, one of her warm Italian sausage sand­wiches says, “Dad, you are so special to me.”

Her love produces warm grace gifts from her pantry to which I could never attach a price tag. I know it cost her something to make these dish­es, but their real value is the way they show she loves and understands me.

Second, realize that non-ma­terial gifts are the best way to say, “Don’t try to pay me back.” There are three types of non-material gifts.

One is what I like to call the koinonia or “togetherness” gift. Four years ago, my son was in the Green Berets and didn’t have the money to come home for Christmas. My wife and I could scrape together his air fare only if we didn’t buy each other material gifts. In the end, we decided our son’s airplane ticket was the grandest gift we could give. His fellowship was our present to each other.

Second is the leitourgia or “service” gift. One of our young pastors who has a large family wanted to give us a Christmas gift. While we were away, he came to our house and spent several hours polishing all our shoes. Decem­ber is a busy month and shoes get scruffy from lack of atten­tion. He had given us a real “foot-washing” kind of gift.

The third and most wondrous grace gift falls under the catego­ry of “spiritual gifts.”

One friend promised to pray for me all through the Christmas season. Another friend who knows I am fond of Shakespeare gave me a book of Shakespear­ean quotes from his personal li­brary. Still another friend loaned me his favorite Christmas CD for two weeks.

All of these gifts came with the assurance that Christ had prompted the gift and that it was given through Christ on the ba­sis of our friendship. It was mar­velous to see the Savior so involved in gifts that were not purchased, but given in the highest name of friendship.

I have most enjoyed giving spiritual gifts at Christmas. One of our older church members is like a mother to me. I could give her a material gift, or I could give her what she really enjoys. I take her to dinner, then we go back to her apartment and sit and talk and share in Scripture and prayer. No ribbons are tak­en from any package, but it is the greatest gift I could give her.

Just the other day, my daugh­ter said, “Dad, let’s not give each other presents this year. Let’s just eat together as often as we can throughout Decem­ber. I want to make December the month of our togetherness and the season when we hold the treasure of each other and not mere material things.”

I knew what she meant. So we are committed this year. These December days will be grace gifts. They cannot be paid back, for they are one-time of­ferings from four people who understand and need one other.

Did the wise men’s lavish gifts expect repayment? I think not. They gave and left Bethle­hem with a glow in their hearts. Mary and Joseph understood: The gift was theirs.

I cannot say what was in the hearts of the Magi as they made their way back across the des­ert, but I think their sentiment must have been what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 9:15: “Thanks be to God for His inde­scribable gift!”

[ Calvin Miller ]

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Fruits Of The Spirit (Galatians 5:13-26)

[ Covenant Church ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJ5MXWHQUEY

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Should Christians Do Good Works?

Bobby explains how the Christian doesn’t do good works for salvation, but from salvation.

[ Bobby Conway ]

Illustration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqaP9ES02Sw

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Working for God

Andrew Murray wrote “Working for God”, a book of daily meditations for a month, as a sequel to “Waiting on God”. The object of the book is, in Murray’s own words, to remind all Christian workers of the greatness and the glory of the work in which God gives a share. It is the work of bringing people back to God — but it must be done in God’s way and in God’s power. It is spiritual work, to be done by spiritual people. In this book we find valuable insights into the calling that all Christians have, to work for the Lord in some capacity or other. We also find how God’s grace is sufficient, and that He can and will enable us to have fruitful lives; we really can trust God to show us how we can work effectively in His kingdom, perhaps in ways and with resources that we have not yet imagined!

[ Andrew Murray ]

Created in Christ Jesus for Good Works (Chapter 9): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFI5H4PaZvs

Bearing Fruit in every Good Work (Chapter 12): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwc8jSY4gwc

Zealous of Good Works (Chapter 21): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqsYNk4cCCU

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Are Good Works Enough?

Jeff Durbin recently taught this message in which he reminded us that even the best works you have ever done are still tainted with pride and other violations of God’s law, and asks the question “Are good works enough?”

[ Jeff Durbin ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R08MWx73N7c

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Every Good Work

[ John Piper ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6r9WmFowriA

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How to Have a Fruitful Life

Christian, are you tired of being good. Here’s how to be fruitful for God and be happy. The power is in Him!

[ New Heart and Mind ]

Illustration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fgliDKDIvg

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How to Live a Successful Christian Life

[ Rick Brown ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rXh4NSIjag

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How To Live The Christian Life

[ Billy Graham ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGws5RhjOlM

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How You Can Be More Like Jesus: Romans 12:9-11

[ Mike Winger ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeSbG0Hst4w

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If Only Christians Would Act Like This! Romans 12:12-21

[ Mike Winger ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dac6NRESFZQ

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The Best Way to Provoke Good Works

[ John Bunyan ]

Sermon Audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPGrDUH9t2w

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Never Try to Earn God’s Favor

[ Todd Friel ]

Illustration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQpP74NYuU0

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Romans 12: 9-13

[ Paul Jennings ]

Study: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxzp08ZYaBA

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Romans 12:1-2, The Committed Christian

[ Gino Geraci ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmsI0k-cdHo

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Romans 12:3-8, Your Spiritual Gifts

[ Gino Geraci ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-oUHVUjgkw

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Romans 12:9-13, The Challenge To Love

[ Gino Geraci ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQNCsY8tpWI

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Romans 12:14-21, The Expression of Love

[ Gino Geraci ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faQJMV_OayI

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Romans 12:1-8 – Serving God

[ Justin Bell ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVH_C04i0FY

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Romans 12:9-21 ‘What A Real Christian Looks Like’

[ Tom Molter ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hW3mJGJUqmo

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The Outworking Of Love

[ Dennis Karp ]

Sermon Audio: https://www.sonofdavid.org/podcast/the-outworking-of-love/

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Transformed: Romans 12

[ Music City Church ]

Illustration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HP1D29LF9w

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Miracle Grow

How do you know God is really working inside you, changing you? Is it an emotional high you feel? A set of rules you keep? Do you get spiritual super powers? Or health and wealth? The Bible says it’s something else. Something better. It’s about growing in love, joy, peace, kindness, and five other qualities found in Galatians 5 – “the fruit of the Spirit”. It’s the life you’ve always wanted.

[ Twin Lakes Church – Sermon Series ]

Love: https://vimeo.com/290393610
Joy: https://vimeo.com/291398735
Peace: https://vimeo.com/292638355
Patience: https://vimeo.com/293967770
Kindness: https://vimeo.com/295104113
Goodness: https://vimeo.com/296355165
Faithfulness: https://vimeo.com/297617565
Gentleness: https://vimeo.com/299073381
Self-control: https://vimeo.com/300355231

Growing in Gratitude: https://vimeo.com/301550140

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Time To Grow

‘Fruit of the Spirit’ sermon series.

[ Dave Stone ]

Love When It’s Not Deserved: https://www.southeastchristian.org/sermons/time-to-grow/love-when-its-not-deserved

Joy When There’s No Reason: https://www.southeastchristian.org/sermons/time-to-grow/joy-when-theres-no-reason

Peace When the Pressure Is On: https://www.southeastchristian.org/sermons/time-to-grow/peace-when-the-pressure-is-on

Patience When the Day Is Long: https://www.southeastchristian.org/sermons/time-to-grow/patience-when-the-day-is-long

Kindness and Goodness When No One Notices: https://www.southeastchristian.org/sermons/time-to-grow/kindness-and-goodness-when-no-one-notices

Faithfulness When You Are Alone: https://www.southeastchristian.org/sermons/time-to-grow/faithfulness-when-you-are-alone

Gentleness When You’re Mistreated: https://www.southeastchristian.org/sermons/time-to-grow/gentleness-when-youre-mistreated

Self-Control When It Feels Unnatural: https://www.southeastchristian.org/sermons/time-to-grow/self-control-when-it-feels-unnatural

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Love

If we understand the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 as a list of character traits we must work at developing, we may quickly become discouraged. In this message, Alistair Begg explains that the growth of spiritual fruit within us is evidence of God’s transforming power in a believer’s life, not the result of effort that we expend. As we apply our hearts and minds to the means of grace He has designed, such as Bible study and prayer, we gradually and continually grow in godliness.

[ Alistair Begg ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnDvBBBHZk8

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All You Need Is Love

What is love? How do we show love? What is real love? Watch as Pastor Jack Graham answers these questions and walks through Romans 12:9-10 continuing to teach us about what it means to be all in. He takes this passage verse by verse and tells us what it means to live an all in life for The Lord. It all ends with love and love is always the answer.

[ Jack Graham ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AF2j_69WxqA

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Love Your Neighbor

Matthew 19:19 ‘honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’

Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’”

[ Charles Spurgeon ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLfaWf130fk

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Let Love Be Genuine

[ John Piper ]

Romans 12:9 ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=4T7x7y9CTW8

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Serving Others

In this video we introduce the Christian Social Justice Tradition or “The Compassionate Life.” God cares deeply about how we treat one another. Justice, compassion and peace are central to our understanding of God. Throughout the history of the church, men and women have dedicated their lives to caring for the hungry, the poor, the naked, the stranger, the sick, and the imprisoned.

But as with the other traditions, the actions we take are not the end goal. The disciplines of submission and service and simplicity are only sustainable if they are motivated by a genuine heart and a real love for our neighbour.

[ Renovaré Britain & Ireland ]

Illustration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0k7b__PvJEs

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Use your gifts to serve others” [ Sermon #5 ]

Matthew 25:14-30, 1 Peter 4:10-11

Introduction:

How many of you this week did something for someone that they didn’t want to do? Good on you!

This is part 5 of “Becoming Less”. We are studying the teaching and example of Jesus to become more like Him by becoming less—more humble, more willing to serve others. [more…].

[ Joe Wittwer ]

“Becoming Less” Sermon Series:
1: “Becoming Less”: https://lifecenter.net/sermons/2014/becoming-less-christmas-eve/
2: “The Jesus Attitude”: https://lifecenter.net/sermons/2014/the-jesus-attitude/
3: “Greatness Refined”: https://lifecenter.net/sermons/2015/greatness-redefined/
4: “Greatness Demonstrated”: https://lifecenter.net/sermons/2015/greatness-demonstrated/
5: “Use Your Gifts to Serve Others”: https://lifecenter.net/sermons/2015/use-your-gifts-to-serve-others/
6: “The Key to the Kingdom”: https://lifecenter.net/sermons/2015/the-key-to-the-kingdom/

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The Marks of the Committed Christian

Historically, Christians have displayed a number of different kinds of symbols to mark their identity as believers. Lapel pins and neck chains with gold crosses are nothing new. They have been used almost since the beginning of Christianity as marks of identification for believers. In recent years, bumper stickers, posters, tee shirts, decorated Bibles, and jackets with embroidered insignia all have been used by people trying to identify themselves as Christians. I don’t have any argument with such symbols, except that they are totally superficial—only as deep as the surface they are attached to.

As a Christian, whether you wear a button, display a bumper sticker, or use any other kind of visible symbol is of no real consequence. (In fact, the way some Christians drive, they would be well advised to take off their bumper stickers.) More important, and infinitely more definitive than all the pins and stickers and buttons, are the internal, spiritual signs of a true believer.

In John 13:31-38, Jesus gives three distinguishing marks of a committed Christian. Remember, Jesus’ earthly ministry was coming to an end. It was the night before His death. And He was spending those last hours with His disciples to prepare them for His leaving. He had just dismissed Judas to leave His presence eternally. With Judas gone, Jesus turned to the eleven remaining disciples and gave them a valedictory address, a farewell speech. [more…].

[ John MacArthur ]

Sermon: https://www.gty.org/library/articles/P23/the-marks-of-the-committed-christian

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Religious Affections

[ Jonathan Edwards ]

Audio Book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdzQW0lcGio

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The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards

[ NOTE: The subheadings and categorization (bolded headings) are suggested by Matt Perman to increase the readability ].

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.

Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

OVERALL LIFE MISSION
1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.

3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.

4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.

62. Resolved, never to do anything but duty; and then according to Eph. 6:6-8, do it willingly and cheerfully as unto the Lord, and not to man; “knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord.” June 25 and July 13, 1723.

GOOD WORKS
11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances don’t hinder.

13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.

69. Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Aug. 11, 1723.

TIME MANAGEMENT
5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

18. Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.

19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.

37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year. Dec. 22 and 26, 1722.

40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. Jan. 7, 1723.

41. Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better. Jan. 11, 1723.

50.Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world. July 5, 1723.

51.Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned. July 8, 1723.

52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.

55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. July 8, 1723.

61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc. May 21, and July 13, 1723.

RELATIONSHIPS
14. Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.

15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.

16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.

31. Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.

33. Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining, establishing and preserving peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects. Dec. 26, 1722.

34. Resolved, in narration’s never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.

36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it. Dec. 19, 1722.

46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eve: and to be especially careful of it, with respect to any of our family.

58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity. May 27, and July 13, 1723.

59. Resolved, when I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times. May 12, July 2, and July 13.

66. Resolved, that I will endeavor always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.

70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak.

SUFFERING
9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.

10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.

67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.

57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether ~ have done my duty, and resolve to do it; and let it be just as providence orders it, I will as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin. June 9, and July 13, 1723.

CHARACTER
8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.

12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.

21. Resolved, never to do anything, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.

32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that in Prov. 20:6, “A faithful man who can find?” may not be partly fulfilled in me.

47. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented, easy, compassionate, generous, humble, meek, modest, submissive, obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable, even, patient, moderate, forgiving, sincere temper; and to do at all times what such a temper would lead me to. Examine strictly every week, whether I have done so. Sabbath morning. May 5, 1723.

54. Whenever I hear anything spoken in conversation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, Resolved to endeavor to imitate it. July 8, 1723.

63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. Jan. 14 and July 3, 1723.

27. Resolved, never willfully to omit anything, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.

39. Resolved, never to do anything that I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or no; except I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.

20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.

SPIRITUAL LIFE
Assurance

25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.

26. Resolved, to cast away such things, as I find do abate my assurance.

48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or no; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of. May 26, 1723.

49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it.

The Scriptures
28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

Prayer
29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.

64. Resolved, when I find those “groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26), of which the Apostle speaks, and those “breakings of soul for the longing it hath,” of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be wear’, of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23, and August 10, 1723.

The Lord’s Day
38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord’s day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.

Vivification of Righteousness
30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.

42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church; and which I have solemnly re-made this twelfth day of January, 1722-23.

43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God’s, agreeable to what is to be found in Saturday, January 12, 1723.

44- Resolved, that no other end but religion, shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it. Jan.12, 1723.

45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion. Jan. 12-13, 1723.

Mortification of Sin and Self Examination
23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God’s glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution.

24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.

35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. Dec. 18, 1722.

60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination. July 4 and 13, 1723.

68. Resolved, to confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help. July 23 and August 10, 1723.

56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.

Communion with God
53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723.

65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this all my life long, viz. with the greatest openness I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance; according to Dr. Manton’s 27th Sermon on Psalm 119. July 26 and Aug. 10, 1723.

Aug. 17, 1723

——————–

PDF: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-resolutions-of-jonathan-edwards

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Growing in Gratitude

No root, no fruit. Deep root, great fruit.

[ Twin Lakes Church ]

Sermon: https://vimeo.com/301550140

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Legacy

I don’t mind if you’ve got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
And you could take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all the who’s-who’s and so-and-so’s
That used to be the best at such and such,
It wouldn’t matter much.

I won’t lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights,
We all need an ‘Atta boy’ or ‘Atta girl’
But in the end I’d like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world.

I want to leave a legacy,
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to you enough?
To make a mark on things
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace
Who blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy.

I don’t have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthy list of all that I enjoy
It’s an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such
Will soon enough destroy.

I want to leave a legacy (repeat chorus)

Not well-traveled, not well-read
Not well-to-do, or well-bred.
Just want to hear instead,
Well done, good and faithful one.

I want to leave a legacy (repeat chorus)

I don’t mind if you’ve got something nice to say about me.

[ Nicole Nordeman – “Woven & Spun” album ]

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The Servant Song

Will you let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant too

We are pilgrims on the journey
We are travelers on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load

I will hold the Christ light for you
In the night time of your fear
I will hold my hand out to you
Speak the the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we’ve seen this journey through

Will you let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant too

[ David Haas, Songwriter ]

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Serving Others

If all you seek proves self, self, self,
No other heart to love,
Then God must leave you on the shelf,
As your love’s not enough…
Consider poets all alone,
No other soul in sight,
Yet by their loving words they’re known
With every verse they write…

Consider love songs and those stars
There on your TV screen,
Outstanding talents, they’re first class,
No wonder they’re so keen…
Perhaps some end up millionaires
And in their mansions live,
While starving children whisper prayers
For food that others give…

Consider actors on the stage,
Or seen in films as well,
Of such as these, who’s reached the stage
Salvation’s truths to tell?
Yet people live and people die,
Some saved and Heaven-bound,
While others ponder, asking why?
As if grace can’t be found…

And who donates in times like these
Regardless of the cost?
In answer to a billion pleas
By those both saved and lost?
And who asks God for sage advice,
For insights old and new?
I know that I seek Paradise,
But wonder if you do…

To think, that Easter comes each year
And Christ calls us to serve,
He beckons us to volunteer,
To start God’s learning curve…
For only then, when God comes first,
Can we do what we can,
To end all hunger and all thirst
And serve our fellow man…

[ Denis Martindale ]

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You Have Shown Us

You have shown us oh God what is good
You have shown us oh Lord what you require
You have heard all our songs
How we long to worship you
Yet you’ve told us the offering you desire

To do justly
To love mercy
And to walk humbly with You, God
You said to do justly
To love mercy
And to walk humbly with You, God

You have shown us the riches of Your love
You have shown us your heart for those in need
Lord, You’re opening our ears to the cries of the poor
You have called us to be Your hands and feet

To do justly
To love mercy
And to walk humbly with You, God
You said to do justly
To love mercy
And to walk humbly with You, God

To the oppressed and the broken
To the widow and the orphan
Let the river of your justice flow through us

To the oppressed and the broken
To the widow and the orphan
Let the river of your justice flow through us

To do justly
To love mercy
And to walk humbly with You, God
You said to do justly
To love mercy
And to walk humbly with You, God

To do justly
To love mercy
And to walk humbly with You, God

[ Paul Baloche; Steven Curtis Chapman; Chris Tomlin ]

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Love One Another

I had a dream that I was speaking
With a prophet from the land of wise
In a crowd of people from the land of troubled hearts
I said we’ve come here for answers
A solution to our world’s demise
He said the journey would be long
But here’s where you start

Love one another
Love one another
Work it in to work it out
There could never be enough
Love one another
Love one another
Cause you know without a doubt
You can change your world with love

It was a simple conclusion
But I thought that it was rather profound
Just a fundamental law that we should all live by
I took it in to tomorrow
Yea, I walked the earth but I never found
Any corner of the world
Where this did not apply

Love one another
Love one another
Work it in to work it out
There could never be enough
Love one another
Love one another
Cause you know without a doubt
You can change your world with love

And looking out I saw no method to the madness there
Like in a vision from the Isle of Patmos, I was scared
It was a revelation
Love is getting rare

The people of the land united
And in my dream we all agreed
That we should start again
And this would be our creed

Love one another
Love one another
Work it in to work it out
There could never be enough
Love one another
Love one another
Cause you know without a doubt
You can change your world with love

[ Michael W. Smith – “Change Your World” album ]

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Luv Is A Verb

Down with the dc Talk, d- d- down with the dc Talk
Are you down with the dc Talk, d- d- down with the dc Talk

Pullin’ out my big black book
Cause when I need a word defined that’s where I look
So I move to the L’s quick, fast, in a hurry
Threw on my specs, thought my vision was blurry
I looked again but to my dismay
It was black and white with no room for grey
Ya see, a big “V” stood beyond my word
And yo that’s when it hit me, that luv is a verb

Words come easy but don’t mean much
When the words they’re sayin’ we can’t put trust in
We’re talkin’ ’bout love in a different light
And if we all learn to love it would be just right

Hey, tell me haven’t ya heard?
Luv, is a serious word
Hey, I think it’s time ya learned
I don’t care what they say
I don’t care care what ya heard
The word luv, luv is a verb

Down with the dc Talk, d- d- down with the dc Talk
Are you down with the dc Talk, d- d- down with the dc Talk

Thinkin’ of a way to explain-o
Cause ya’ know when I’m flowin’ like a bottle of Drain-o
Simple and plain, L-O-V-E
Ain’t all that junk that ya see on TV
Put soaps on a rope cause they ain’t worth copin’ with
It’s a myth that there ain’t no hope and
Luv is enough if it’s unconditionally
Givin’ now you’re living out the Great Commission

Back in the day there was a man
Who stepped out of Heaven and he walked the land
He delivered to the people an eternal choice
With a heart full of luv and the truth in His voice
Gave up His life so that we may live
How much more luv could the Son of God give?
Here is the example that we oughtta be matchin’
Cause luv is a word that requires some action

Words come easy but don’t mean much
When the words they’re sayin’ we can’t put trust in
We’re talkin’ ’bout love in a different light
And if we all learn to love it would be just right

Hey, tell me haven’t ya heard?
Luv, is a serious word
Hey, I think it’s time ya learned
I don’t care what they say
I don’t care care what ya heard
The word luv, luv is a verb

Hey, tell me haven’t ya heard?
Luv, is a serious word
Hey, I think it’s time ya learned
I don’t care what they say
I don’t care care what ya heard
The word luv, luv is a verb

Hey, tell me haven’t ya heard?
Luv, is a serious word
Hey, I think it’s time ya learned
I don’t care what they say
I don’t care care what ya heard
The word luv, luv is a verb

Hey, tell me haven’t ya heard?
Luv, is a serious word
Hey, I think it’s time ya learned
I don’t care what they say
I don’t care care what ya heard
The word luv, luv is a verb

[ DC Talk – “Free At Last” album ]

*****************************
They Will Know We Are Christians by our Love

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

[ Jars of Clay – “Redemption Songs” album ]

*****************************
We Got The Feet
(Parody of “We Got the Beat” by The Go-Go’s”)

See how Peter squawked real loud and shrieked
‘Cause the Lord was washing all their feet
Didn’t know that when He cleansed their soles
He washed them inside

‘Cause they got their feet
Cleaned off cause Jesus
Washed their feet, yeah
He got their feet

All the Christians gettin’ out the news
Paved the way, Isaiah 52
‘Member how the Lord sent out the twelve
God sent them far and wide

‘Cause they got to be
His Gospel feet
His Gospel feet, yeah
They got to be

So go use those feet and take a stand
In the mountains, woods, or in the sand
Then let Jesus rinse them off again
He’ll send you far and wide

‘Cause we got the feet
We got the feet
We got the feet, yeah
We go!

(We got the feet)
(We got the feet)
(We got the feet) Everybody get on the street
(We got the feet) We could use some sand on our feet
(We got the feet) Somebody needs found
(We got the feet) Romans 10 shows how
Whoa!

(We got the feet)
We got the feet
(We got the feet)

We got the feet
(We got the feet)
We got the feet
(We got the feet)
We got the feet
(We got the feet, we got the feet)
We got the feet
(We got the feet, we got the feet)
We got the feet

[ ApologetiX – “Play Nice” album ]

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Servin’ The Father
(Parody of “Surfin’ Safari” by The Beach Boys)

Let’s go serve Him now
Never wanna turn Him down
Come and serve the Father with me
Come and serve the Father with me

Early in the morning till the stars come out
There’s always somethin’ comin’ along
We’re loaded up with goodies
That the Lord put inside
Let’s get ’em out and bring ’em to God

Come serve daily
Make it your creed, yeah
Or I’m gonna beg you to serve Him with me
Come on along serve daily
Make it your creed, yeah
Or I’m gonna beg you to serve Him with me

Let’s go serve Him now
Never wanna turn Him down
Come and serve the Father with me
Come and serve the Father with me

You want to use your talents you can use ’em right here
There’s big jobs right under your nose
So go and ask the Father for some guidance this year
And when it comes then get ready to go

Come serve daily
Make it your creed, yeah
Or I’m gonna beg you to serve Him with me
Come on along serve daily
Make it your creed, yeah
Or I’m gonna beg you to serve Him with me

Let’s go serve Him now
Never wanna turn Him down
Come and serve the Father with me
Come and serve the Father with me

There ain’t no way that you can miss the parable
So pick it up and don’t get confused
I tell you servin’ God is wild
He’ll give you big things if you’re faithful
In the tiny things He’s chosen for you

Come serve daily
Make it your creed, yeah
Or I’m gonna beg you to serve Him with me
Come on along serve daily
Make it your creed, yeah
Or I’m gonna beg you to serve Him with me

Let’s go serve Him now
Never wanna turn Him down
Come and serve the Father with me
Come and serve the Father with me
Yeah me (servin’ the Father)
With me (servin’ the Father)
Yeah me (servin’ the Father)
With me (servin’ the Father)
Yeah me (servin’ the Father)

[ ApologetiX – “Unconditional Releases” album ]

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Act Selfless
(Parody of “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles)

WHISPER
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
not looking to your own interests
but each of you to the interests of the others.”

As He’s sitting in the midst of the disciples
Jesus rises with a little ol’ surprise
Now He’s standin’ with a basin full of water
He doesn’t set aside till the last one’s feet are dry
It was a strange new attitude in a king
‘Cause they saw their Lord, kneeling upon the floor

Act selfless – and then give a broad smile
Act selfless – and then go another mile
A new religion where the King is on His knees
Act selfless – if you please

Unpretentious and He woos us with His meek ways
Christ likes it when the proud decide to bow
Love your neighbor – it’s a hard, rough thing to do but
Love your enemies – it’s what Christ wants in us now
When we refuse it’s just a sin, so see it through
Always striving for pleasing your humble Lord

Act selfless – and ya did the Lord proud
Act selfless – ‘cause we’re all brothers now
A new religion that’ll bring ya inner peace
Act selfless – if you please

Yeah, the Word He left His throne and He came just for you
In the flesh He was God
His actions so proved
What should you do?
LEAD

Act selfless — when that bitter world’s vile
Act selfless when your soul suffers trials
A new religion where the strength goes to the weak
Act selfless – it’s unique

Act selfless – and the risen Lord smiles
Act selfless – and then you’re the Father’s child
A new religion – in Philippians 2 verse 3
Act selfless – if you believe
If you believe

[ ApologetiX – “Play Nice” album ]

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More Than Works
(Parody of “More than Words” by Extreme)

They might tell you theres lots of works God wants to see from you
Thats not the right attitude none are saved by things that man can do
But Jesus said the deed was done on Calvary
More than works cause all the good you do aint no big deal
And it couldnt get you saved thats too costly — the Bible tells me so

What would you do if I quote Ephesians 2
No mans works can save his soul thats so nobody can boast
The Good Book says that its not by works but grace
And you couldnt make things new without faith in our Lord too

More than works

Now they might try to talk to you and make you one of them
(But) all you have to do is hope in Christ and just be born again
And trust the Holy Ghost Hell never let you go
More than works is John 6:28 and now too sure
That the good work that you need is to believe cause Christ already rose

What would you do if your heart was born anew
Your good works could show your faith, but you must first take His grace
What do you say? If you trust His Word today
Then you could still make things new just by praying why dont you?

[ ApologetiX – “Apol-acoustiX” album ]

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Eight Ways To Be
(Parody of “Eight Days a Week” by The Beatles)

You might need to know babe, Chapter 5 Matthew
Helps you see my Lord’s eight blest Beatitudes
Holy, happy, holy, happy
There’s eight God wants ya to know, babe, eight ways to be
Blessed are the humble, blest are those who mourn
Blessed are the gentle of meek and lowly form
They’ll be happy, you’ll be happy
There’s eight God wants ya to know, babe, eight ways to be
Eight ways to be in Matthew
Eight ways to be in Matthew 5: 2 go right there
Blessed are the thirsty for righteousness and truth
Blest are those with mercy — they’ll get Christ’s mercy too
Ohhh, they’ll be happy, you’ll be happy
There’s eight God wants us to know, babe, eight ways to be
Eight ways to be in Matthew
Eight ways to be — that’s why they’re called Beatitudes
Blest are the pure of heart and those who peace to make
Blest are those who suffer for righteousness’ sake
Holy, happy, holy, happy
And eight is plenty enough, babe
Eight ways to be, eight ways to be, eight ways to be

[ ApologetiX – “Apol-acoustiX” album ]

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Heaven Isn’t Like That
(Parody of “Shine” by Collective Soul)

Do some good works and lead a good life
Always go to church and try to be really nice … really nice
Say a couple prayers and finally when you die
Go to Saint Peter, tell him, “Let me come inside
“At least I tried”
Yeah?
No! Heaven isn’t like that, child! (now) (pal) (now)
Learn to play the harp, you’ll need it while you’re there
Pick yourself some wings; I’m sure you’ll get a lovely pair
A lovely pair
Reach for a halo, keep it in your hair
Lead a wimpy life eternally with nothing there
But fluffy air
CHORUS
Get in God’s word; see what you find
Only place to look to tell you how to get inside
Let me tell you now; you gotta go through Christ
Open up your heart and tell Him He can come inside
Come inside
Yeah!
Yo! Let Him in your life right now (Repeat 3X)
You know what Heaven’s like?
It hasn’t entered your mind
Heaven is the best place that’s ever been
You wanna get in? Let Him
Let Him in your life; that’s the only way
C’mon … Nowwwwwww … come on in, in
C’mon Nowwwwwww C’mon inside!

[ ApologetiX – “Ticked” album ]

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Offer Your Prayer
(Parody of “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” by Simon & Garfunkel)

Are you goin’ to offer your prayer:
“Lord, please save those near me in time”
Remember He truly wanted you there
To be someone through whom love would shine

Tell Him to make you a candle on earth
(Shinin’ bright on a hill as you speak for His grace)
“Lord, please save those near me in time”
(Straight as an arrow that points them to Christ)
That all may see your righteous good works
(Blameless and steadfast — a child of the Almighty)
Then they’ll see the true Lord behind
(Despite a world that is cloudy and cold)

Help, Lord, to find me good favor with man
(God, as I do Your will while sprinkling Your seeds)
“Lord, please save those near me in time”
(Clutching the plow while sowing in tears)
To teach them Our Father’s amnesty plan
(Our souls You cleanse, abolishing our sin)
Then they’ll see the true love of Christ

Father, send reapers with their sickles from Heaven
(Here below saving a harvest of millions)
Lord, please save those near me in time
(Send them, oh Lord, as You told us You will)
And gather them all – an abundance of brethren
(As a bride for the Christ, Your one and own begotten)
Then they’ll see the Truth and the Life

Are you goin’ to God with your prayer:
“Lord, please save those near me in time”
Remember He truly wanted you there
He wants us – His true love to shine

[ ApologetiX – “Unconditional Releases” album ]

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I’ll Prepare for You
(Parody of “I’ll Be There for You” by The Rembrandts)

So Jesus told His disciples, I’m gonna go away
But where I go you know. They all cried, Please explain.
He said, You’ve all been stuck in second grade
If you haven’t seen the Way, the Truth, the Life is here in your face … but
I’ll prepare for you … prepare a place up above
I’ll prepare for you … ’cause I’ve been there before
I’ll prepare for you … and you prepare for me, too.
I’ll send another friend to help you on your way
You’ll learn from Him, you’ll go far. Please don’t be afraid
The Father helped me do the things I did
But you even will do greater works than that if you believe — that
CHORUS
The world could never know Him — The world could not receive Him
So you’re the only ones who know what it’s like to know Him
There’ll come a place and day when He’ll come to live inside you
Soon when all of this happens you will know the words I said were true.
LEAD
Seems like you’ve all been stuck in second grade
If you haven’t seen the Way, the Truth, the Life is here in your face, but
CHORUS

[ ApologetiX – “Jesus Christ Morningstar” album ]

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Big Deal
(Parody of “Big Me” by Foo Fighters)

Well, you talk about your faith in God — read James chapter 2
Well, you talk about your faith in God — trees must all bear fruit
Big deal to talk about it — demons do that, too
They believe that there’s one God but that don’t make them good
Well, you talk about your faith in God — Jesus knows if it’s true
But it’s proved by what you do
When you talk about your faith in God — feed the destitute
When you talk about your faith in God — give them clothes and shoes
Big deal to talk about it — demons do that, too
They see that there’s one God and tremble when they do
When you talked about your faith in God, I never doubted you
But it’s proved by what you do
Well, I don’t deny that faith is all savin’ me and you
But it’s proved by what you do — by what you do — by what you do

[ ApologetiX – “Ticked” album ]

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Hit ‘Em With Your Slingshot
(Parody of “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar)

Yeah, you’re real tough looking and you’re strong as a tree
But, hey, a little bark doesn’t bother me
That’s what David said while he threw it
Could’ve been you – just let God do it

Hit ‘em with your slingshot
Why don’t you hit ‘em with your slingshot
Hit ‘em with your slingshot
Fire away!

Someone is a comin’ who don’t fight fair
That’s O.K. – we have got prayer
God brings down the tall and vain
I get my facts from First Pete and James

Hit ‘em with your slingshot
Why don’t you hit ‘em with your slingshot
Hit ‘em with your slingshot
Fire away!

Yeah, you’re real tough looking and you’re strong as a tree
But, hey, a little bark doesn’t bother me
Before I couldn’t ever watch when a big stiff raged
But now I make sure I look him in the face

Hit ‘em with your slingshot
C’mon! Hit ‘em with your slingshot
Hit ‘em with your slingshot
Fire away!

Hit ‘em with your slingshot
Why don’t you hit ‘em with your slingshot
Hit ‘em with your slingshot
Fire away!

[ ApologetiX – “Loaded 45s” album ]

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Corinthians
(Parody of “In the End” by Linkin Park)

It starts with love
Young thing — I don’t know why
You didn’t read the letter our Lord supplied
With that in mind, I revised this rhyme to explain to you guys
All… I… know
Love is… a powerful thing
Watch the fly guys with the Benjamins sing
Watch the countdown that the MTV plays
I got ticked by the way
It’s so unreal — Britney and Jennifer Lo
Watch the wardrobe — looks like a window
Tryin’ to hold on to itty bitty clothes
You pasted them on — this is not true love
I guess everything’s a hybrid breeding love and pride
In small jealous hearts
What it gets to be is essentially just a parody
Like this rhyme is of Linkin Park

You tried so hard, but love’s so far
Corinthians — it doesn’t even matter
If love’s too small — you lose it all
Corinthians — first letter, thirteenth chapter

Love waits — it’s also kind
It doesn’t envy, brag, or grow hard with pride
Keeps things polite, doesn’t like to fight
It denies itself, while it tries no harm
If I have the faith and philosophy
Acting like I was smarter than Socrates
And every language and tongue and prophecy
I could die and not go far
If at the stake they burned me or
I could’ve given every dime to many poor
If love’s lackin’ throw me back then
Buddy, Paul wrote that to Corinthians…
It bears everything, besides, believes and hopes, abides
That Paul fella’s smart
Love he said to me will essentially keep no memory
Of you crimes ’cause it finds no fault

You tried so hard — but love’s so far
Corinthians — it doesn’t even matter
If love’s too small — you lose it all
Corinthians — First letter, Thirteenth chapter

It likes what’s just and true
Dislikes what’s unrighteous though
Failure is the only one thing it can’t know
The things that last are few
Things like faith and love and hope
From all these, there’s only one thing you need most

[ ApologetiX – “Grace Period” album ]

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Love (Ain’t Nothin’)
(Parody of “Long Train Runnin’” by Doobie Brothers)

Down in First Corinthians
Chapter 13:1
Paul says it don’t matter
If I speak with tongues
Without love … I’m nothin’ at all
And if I have the gift of prophecy
And know all mysteries
And I have all knowledge and a mountain-moving faith
Without love … I’m nothin’ at all
Without love
I’ll give you the essentials
That’s love and hope and faith
Now these three things abideth, but
Love is the most great
Without love … I’m nothin’ at all
Without love
It’s patient, kind — not jealous
Not proud, nor arrogant
It doesn’t act unbecomingly
Doesn’t seek its own, and yet
Without love … I’m nothin’ at all
Without love
It’s not provoked and doesn’t
Take wrongs into account
Does not rejoice in unrighteousness
But when the truth comes out
Without love … I’m nothin’ at all
Without love
Oooh … what would you be now?
Nothin’!
Oooh …
Bears, believes, hopes and endures all things and never fails
I said it never fails
Without love you ain’t nothin’
Without love you ain’t nothin’

[ ApologetiX – “Isn’t Wasn’t Ain’t” album ]

 

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DEEP THOUGHTS:

“And grow in God’s grace. More verb than noun, more present tense than past tense, grace didn’t just happen; it happens. Grace happens here. The same work God did through Christ long ago on a cross is the work God does throughout Christ right now in you.”
[ Max Lucado ]

“I asked her what was so scary about unmerited free grace? She replied something like this: “If I was saved by my good works — then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be like a taxpayer with rights. I would have done my duty and now I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if it is really true that I am a sinner saved by sheer grace — at God’s infinite cost — then there’s nothing he cannot ask of me.”
[ Timothy Keller ]

“Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing!”
[ John Wesley ]

“We shall be judged according to our works – this is why we are exhorted to do good works. The Bible assuredly knows nothing of those qualms about good works, by which we only try to excuse ourselves and justify our evil works. The Bible never draws the antithesis between faith and good works so sharply as to maintain that good works undermine faith. No, it is evil works rather than good works which hinder and destroy faith. Grace and active obedience are complementary. There is no faith without good works, and no good works apart from faith.”
[ Dietrich Bonhoeffer ]

“God doesn’t need your good works, but your neighbor does.”
[ Martin Luther ]

“If a better society is to be built, one that is more just and more loving, one that provides greater creative opportunity for its people, then the most open course is to raise both the capacity to serve and the very performance as servant of existing major institutions by new regenerative forces operating within them.”
[ Robert Greenleaf ]

“The servant-leader is servant first…It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.”
[  Robert Greenleaf ]

“Church is what you do. Church is who you are. Church is the human outworking of the person of Jesus Christ. Let’s not go to Church only, let’s be the Church.”
[ Bill Hybels ]

“Good works is giving to the poor and the helpless, but divine works is showing them their worth to the One who matters.”
[ Criss Jami ]

“The child of God works not for life, but from life: he does not work to be saved, he works because he is saved. More zealously than the most earnest work-truster will the believer serve, and so he will prove that no power in all world is more mighty than the force of love. Not selfishly nor because of fear, but gratefully, joyfully, heartily, out of true affection the true servant of the Lord waits at his Master’s doors.”
[ Charles Spurgeon ]

“Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing!”
[ John Wesley ]

“To accomplish great things, we must dream as well as act.”
[ Anatole France ]

“We shall be judged according to our works – this is why we are exhorted to do good works. The Bible assuredly knows nothing of those qualms about good works, by which we only try to excuse ourselves and justify our evil works. The Bible never draws the antithesis between faith and good works so sharply as to maintain that good works undermine faith. No, it is evil works rather than good works which hinder and destroy faith. Grace and active obedience are complementary. There is no faith without good works, and no good works apart from faith.”
[ Dietrich Bonhoeffer ]

“Without Christ a people may always have the freedom to do, but never the power to complete.”
[ Criss Jami ]

“Who doesn’t enjoy a little gardening? As we plant the seeds and remove the weeds we reap a wonderful harvest of blessings. What are the weeds? Anyone or anything that sucks the nutrients from the seeds we have planted. The seeds are our goals, desires, good thoughts and feelings. good works and deeds anything that uplifts us. If we don’t keep up on our weeding then our garden will die.”
[ Lindsey Rietzsch ]

“Grace abounds for a greater work.”
[ Lailah Gifty Akita ]

“‘Good works’ are those works that have their origin in Jesus Christ–whose activity is released through your body, presented to Him as a living sacrifice by a faith that expresses total dependence, as opposed to the Adamic independence.”
[ Major W. Ian Thomas ]

“Abhor all idea of being saved by good works, but O, be as full of good works as if you were to be saved by them!”
[ Charles Spurgeon ]

“The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.”
[ Saint Augustine ]

“Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.”
[ Peter Marshall ]

“The measure of a man’s greatness is not the number of servants he has, but the number of people he serves.”
[ John Hagee ]

“In matters of equity between man and man, our Savior has taught us to put my neighbor in place of myself, and myself in place of my neighbor.”
[ Isaac Watts ]

“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
[ Martin Luther King Jr. ]

“Our best performances are so stained with sin, that it is hard to know whether they are good works or bad works.”
[ Charles Spurgeon ]

“We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.”
[ Mother Teresa ]

“You can always give without loving, but you can never love without giving.”
[ Amy Carmichael ]

“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
[ Henry Drummond ]

“Faith and works are bound up in the same bundle. He that obeys God trusts God; and he that trusts God obeys God. He that is without faith is without works; and he that is without works is without faith.”
[ Charles Spurgeon ]

“One of the principal rules of religion is, to lose no occasion of serving God. And, since he is invisible to our eyes, we are to serve him in our neighbor; which he receives as if done to himself in person, standing visibly before us.”
[ John Wesley ]

“Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another’s pain, life is not in vain.”
[ Helen Keller ]

“The best way to do ourselves good is to be doing good to others; the best way to gather is to scatter.”
[ Thomas Brooks ]

“Good works are not the root of faith, but they are its fruit.”
[ Charles Spurgeon ]

 

RELATED SCRIPTURE VERSES:

GOOD WORKS

“Now therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel concerning this city of which you say, ‘It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine and by pestilence.’ “Behold, I will gather them out of all the lands to which I have driven them in My anger, in My wrath and in great indignation; and I will bring them back to this place and make them dwell in safety. “They shall be My people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them. “I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.”
[ Jeremiah 32:36-40 ]

“Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word.”
[ Psalm 119:17 ]

“Those who trust in the LORD Are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, So the LORD surrounds His people From this time forth and forever. For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest upon the land of the righteous, So that the righteous will not put forth their hands to do wrong.read more. Do good, O LORD, to those who are good And to those who are upright in their hearts.”
[ Psalm 125:1-4 ]

“I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul.”
[ Jeremiah 32:41 ]

“Is it being said, O house of Jacob: ‘Is the Spirit of the LORD impatient? Are these His doings?’ Do not My words do good To the one walking uprightly?”
[ Micah 2:7 ]

“For thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Just as I purposed to do harm to you when your fathers provoked Me to wrath,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘and I have not relented, so I have again purposed in these days to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah Do not fear!”
[ Zechariah 8:14-15 ]

“you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”
[ Acts 10:37-38 ]

“Can the Ethiopian change his skin Or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good Who are accustomed to doing evil.”
[ Jeremiah 13:23 ]

“There is nothing reliable in what they say; Their inward part is destruction itself Their throat is an open grave; They flatter with their tongue.”
[ Psalm 5:9 ]

“His mouth is full of curses and deceit and oppression; Under his tongue is mischief and wickedness.”
[ Psalm 10:7 ]

“The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God ” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good. The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.”
[ Psalm 14:1-3 ]

“The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God,” They are corrupt, and have committed abominable injustice; There is no one who does good. God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there is anyone who understands, Who seeks after God. Every one of them has turned aside; together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.”
[ Psalm 53:1-3 ]

“Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart; There is no fear of God before his eyes. For it flatters him in his own eyes Concerning the discovery of his iniquity and the hatred of it. The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit; He has ceased to be wise and to do good.”
[ Psalm 36:1-4 ]

“They sharpen their tongues as a serpent; Poison of a viper is under their lips. Selah.”
[ Psalm 140:3 ]

“Their feet run to evil, And they hasten to shed innocent blood; Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, Devastation and destruction are in their highways. They do not know the way of peace, And there is no justice in their tracks; They have made their paths crooked, Whoever treads on them does not know peace.”
[ Isaiah 59:7-8 ]

“For My people are foolish, They know Me not; They are stupid children And have no understanding They are shrewd to do evil, But to do good they do not know.”
[ Jeremiah 4:22 ]

“What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, ‘THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD.’”
[ Romans 3:9-18 ]

“Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful. For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.”
[ Romans 7:13-23 ]

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”
[ Galatians 6:9-10 ]

“Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.”
[ Psalm 37:3 ]

“You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.”
[ Matthew 5:38-48 ]

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. “Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.” [ Luke 6:27-36 ]

“To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?”
[ 1 Peter 3:8-13 ]

“Who is the man who desires life And loves length of days that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit. The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry.read more.
The face of the LORD is against evildoers, To cut off the memory of them from the earth.”
[ Psalm 34:12-16 ]

“Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.”
[ Psalm 34:14 ]

“Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”
[ 1 Peter 4:19 ]

“And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
[ Hebrews 13:16 ]

“For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.”
[ 1 Peter 2:20 ]

“For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.”
[ 1 Peter 3:17 ]

“Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”[ John 5:28-29 ]

“But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.”
[ Romans 2:5-11 ]

“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.”
[ 1 Timothy 6:17-19 ]

“Depart from evil and do good, So you will abide forever.”
[ Psalm 37:27 ]

“Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor.”
[ 2 Timothy 2:20-21 ]

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.”
[ 2 Timothy 2:21 ]

“What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?read more.”
[ James 2:14-21 ]

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.”
[ James 3:13 ]

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;”
[ 2 Corinthians 9:8 ]

“Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did.”
[ Acts 9:36 ]

“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
[ Philippians 2:12-13 ]

“so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.”
[ Colossians 1:10-12 ]

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
[ Ephesians 2:10 ]

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
[ 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ]

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.”
[ 1 Peter 2:13-15 ]

“Departing from there, He went into their synagogue. And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”–so that they might accuse Him. And He said to them, “What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.”
[ Matthew 12:9-14 ]

“He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward! And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.”
[ Mark 3:1-6 ]

“On another Sabbath He entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely to see if He healed on the Sabbath, so that they might find reason to accuse Him. But He knew what they were thinking, and He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” And he got up and came forward.read more. And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to destroy it?” After looking around at them all, He said to him, “Stretch out your hand!” And he did so; and his hand was restored. But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.”
[ Luke 6:6-11 ]

“And He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And there was a woman who for eighteen years had had a sickness caused by a spirit; and she was bent double, and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your sickness.”read more. And He laid His hands on her; and immediately she was made erect again and began glorifying God. But the synagogue official, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, began saying to the crowd in response, “There are six days in which work should be done; so come during them and get healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the stall and lead him away to water him? “And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?” As He said this, all His opponents were being humiliated; and the entire crowd was rejoicing over all the glorious things being done by Him.”
[ Luke 13:10-17 ]

 

SERVING ONE ANOTHER

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:”
[ 1 Peter 4:10 ]

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
[ Galatians 5:13 ]

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
[ 1 Thessalonians 5:11 ]

“And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
[ Mark 10:42-45 ]

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”
[ 1 John 4:7 ]

“Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
[ Ephesians 5:21 ]

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
[ Romans 12:10 ]

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,”
[ Hebrews 10:24 ]

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
[ Galatians 6:2 ]

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
[ Ephesians 4:32 ]

“I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.”
[ Romans 15:14 ]

“Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
[ Colossians 3:13 ]

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
[ Philippians 2:3 ]

“That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.”
[ 1 Corinthians 12:25 ]

“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.”
[ Romans 12:16 ]

“Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
[ Hebrews 10:25 ]

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,”
[ Ephesians 5:25 ]

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
[ Galatians 6:10 ]

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
[ John 13:14 ]

“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
[ 1 Peter 5:5 ]

“For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.”
[ Hebrews 6:10 ]

“But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”
[ Luke 22:26-27 ]

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;”
[ 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 ]

“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”
[ Romans 14:19 ]

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
[ Galatians 6:1 ]

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
[ Mark 10:45 ]

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”
[ 1 Peter 2:21 ]

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
[ Colossians 3:23-24 ]

“But made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
[ Philippians 2:7 ]

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”
[ Romans 12:1-21 ]

“Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch.”
[ Acts 6:1-15 ]

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”
[ Ephesians 5:1-33 ]

“From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
[ Ephesians 4:16 ]

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism,”
[ Ephesians 4:1-32 ]

“Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”
[ 2 Corinthians 13:11 ]

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
[ John 15:12 ]

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
[ John 13:34 ]

“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
[ Luke 6:38 ]

:And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
[ Matthew 25:40 ]

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
[ Matthew 6:24 ]

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
[ 1 Peter 4:8 ]

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
[ James 2:14-17 ]

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
[ Hebrews 13:17 ]

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
[ Hebrews 13:16 ]

“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
[ 1 Thessalonians 5:14 ]

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
[ Philippians 2:4 ]

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
[ Ephesians 2:10 ]

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
[ Galatians 6:9 ]

“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”
[ 2 Corinthians 4:5 ]

“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”
[ Romans 12:11 ]

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
[ Acts 20:35 ]

“If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”
[ John 12:26 ]

“And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
[ Mark 9:35 ]

“The greatest among you shall be your servant.”
[ Matthew 23:11 ]

“Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
[ Matthew 20:28 ]

“For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”
[ 1 John 3:11 ]

“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
[ 1 Peter 4:9 ]

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”
[ 1 Peter 3:8 ]

“It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.”
[ 1 Peter 1:12 ]

“How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
[ Hebrews 9:14 ]

“But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
[ Hebrews 3:13 ]

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.”
[ Titus 3:3 ]

“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
[ 1 Timothy 5:8 ]

“Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.”
[ 1 Thessalonians 5:1-28 ]

“Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
[ 1 Thessalonians 4:18 ]

“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,”
[ Ephesians 4:2 ]

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
[ Galatians 5:13-14 ]

“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
[ Romans 12:13 ]

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
[ Romans 12:9-13 ]

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
[ Romans 12:1 ]

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
[ John 15:13 ]

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
[ John 13:1-17 ]

“For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”
[ Luke 22:27 ]

“Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”
[ Matthew 5:42 ]

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
[ Matthew 5:16 ]

“Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.”
[ Proverbs 22:9 ]

“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.”
[ Proverbs 19:17 ]

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”
[ Proverbs 3:27 ]

“Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
[ Joshua 22:5 ]

“For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’”
[ Deuteronomy 15:11 ]

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,”
[ Revelation 1:1 ]

“If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
[ 1 John 4:20 ]

“We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
[ 1 John 4:19-20 ]

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
[ 1 John 4:11 ]

“And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.”
[ 1 John 3:23 ]

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
[ 1 John 3:18 ]

“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”
[ 1 John 3:17 ]

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;”
[ 1 John 3:16-19 ]

“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.”
[ 1 John 3:14 ]

“By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.”
[ 1 Peter 5:12 ]

“Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
[ 1 Peter 4:11 ]

“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”
[ 1 Peter 4:1-19

“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.”
[ 1 Peter 2:16 ]

“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,”
[ 1 Peter 1:22 ]

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
[ James 5:16 ]

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
[ James 1:27 ]

“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
[ James 1:1-27 ]

“Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
[ Hebrews 13:1-25 ]

“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,”
[ Hebrews 6:1-10:39 ]

“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,”
[ Hebrews 6:1-20 ]

 

PRAYER

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”
[ 1 Timothy 2:1-2 ].

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe”
[ Ephesians 1:18-19a ].

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith”
[ Ephesians 3:16-17a ].

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best”
[ Philippians 1:9-10a ].

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding”
[ Colossians 1:9 ].

“I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ”
[ Philemon 1:6 ].

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“A quick summary of the Christian “Gospel”:
JESUS’ PROPITIATION made our SINS FORGIVEN and IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS to us so that we have GOD’S ACCEPTANCE into His Heaven and ETERNAL LIFE.”
[ Mark Besh ]

 

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

 

FOCUS VERSES:

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
[ Romans 12:9-21 ]

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”
[ James 2:14-26 ]

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
[ Ephesians 2:8-10 ]

“And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
[ Matthew 5:2-12 ]

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
[ Galatians 5:22-23 ]

“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
[ 1 Peter 5:5 ]

“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”
[ Leviticus 19:18 ]

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
[ Matthew 7:12 ]

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
[ John 13:34-35 ]

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
[ 1 John 3:16-18 ]

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.”
[ 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 ]

 

Mark

 

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If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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