Sunday, July 27, 2014

Chapter 4 - Kindness

   $ Galatians 5:22-26 and Colossians 3:12
Kindness: Pleasant in nature, forbearance, sympathetic, and benevolence. 
Forbearance: To be patient
Sympathy:  Harmony of interests and aims; whatever affects one person similarly affects the other person.
Benevolence: Giving

  As we go through this study, I’m sure you’ve realized by now that this study causes one to step back and analysis our genuineness toward people, in this study, and in our relationship with God.   In this study and in life for that matter, as Christians we need to be constantly keeping our hearts and minds in check.  We need to check to see if we are just going through the motions, we need to check if we are just doing things because it’s what you’ve been told is right instead of doing them because we believe they are the right things to do.  See dear readers if we don’t believe that these things are important what is the point of doing this study?  There is no point, we need to want this and desire to be Christians that are influential and life-changing.  People respond when they see the life-changing example in us and are more open when they see Christians be real.

   With that, kindness is an action that cannot be affective unless it given with genuineness, I always can tell when people are being fake-kind to me that irritates me to no end! (And I’m sure that bothers other people too!)  I have a motto, be real or go home.  People can’t take people who aren’t genuine serious, we know that it’s a facade and wonder what someone is really like underneath (or what their true intentions are), do we want to be perceived that way? I don’t think so.    Kindness also goes beyond how you treat others, but to how you act all the time.

    I know someone who is positive and kind every day.   I don’t think I’ve heard one negative thing about anyone ever come out of that person’s mouth, and whenever we talk I have always heard a positive response to everything.  At first I didn’t think this person was real, but then I never witnessed a changed behavior (and I’ve known this person for over two years) and it made me think why am I not like that? Why can’t I be positive all the time, why can’t I always respond with love, why can’t I make every day filled with sunshine? Why wouldn’t I want to be like that? Don’t I want people to be happy? Aren’t I happier when other people around me are happy?

    Kindness is going the extra mile; it’s doing something to help others even when you don’t want to.  It’s doing things strictly for someone else’s gain (and no gain for you).  It’s always respond with love, positiveness, and genuine concern for a person’s well-being even if that person totally grates your cheese.    Christ even says that it is more rewarding to give than to receive.

Acts 20:35: I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak.  And remember the words of the Lord Jesus , that He said, “ It is more blessed to give then to receive.”

  Paul goes on, calling us to do more for the edification (instruction and improvement) of others and less to please ourselves.  We see this pattern throughout scriptures us being called to build each other up and to pursue others needs over our own.  Why shouldn’t we? Didn’t Christ do that in a much greater sense?

Romans  15:1-2: We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.

Galations 6: 9-10:  And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.  

   In Ephesians it spells out for us exactly what kindness isn’t and that we are supposed to stay away from those things.  This also goes back to what we were talking about in chapter 1, what we put in our hearts we put out, and vice versa.  When we make bad habits of negative behavior we in a way create a monster.

Ephesians 4:31-32: Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

   1 Peter 3:8: Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous.

   In 1 Peter we saw the call for one mindedness, in other words work as a team, don’t work against those around you, but rather work as the waves in the ocean push together to create harmony.  It also says to be “courteous” plainly said haha use your manners, don’t be offensive, rather be polite.
I find this scripture of 1 John 3:17 to be so convicting and powerful, it’s so simple and straight forward, but I think it moves me and makes my mind pop every time I read it.

1 John 3:17: But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

   I’m not going to write out this scripture because we will be reading it when we study love in a few chapters, but I encourage you to read it on your own because it is such an important passage.  This is a true definition of what love looks like, and kindness is just a small part of what love is and how deep it goes.  (Okay,  I changed my mind…)

1 Corinthians 13:4-7: Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in inequity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

   Fun Fact: One thing that is so important in English is to understand punctuation and its significance.  A semi-colon (;) is such an important mark because it’s a symbol of something from the following sentence having the ability to stand on its own, yet still needs to be included in the previous sentence because their relationship is just that important! Did you notice how many semi-colons were included in that entire paragraph? There were five, it is so rare to see that many in such a small place. (God must have wanted us to notice something…) (I get super excited about these sort of things)

(This is Jesus talking) Matthew 25:34-41: “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’  “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed You, or thirst and give You drink? ‘When did we see You as a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  ‘Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to you?’  “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

   That right there is such an important verse as well, God wants us to treat people the same way we would treat him, isn’t that interesting? If God showed up on your doorstep today, how would you treat him?  I don’t know about you, but it would be like if the Queen of England showed up, I would want a moment to clean my house and make sure he was comfortable.  I would cook and make sure that he had my undivided attention.   So I have a question, is that how you treat everyone you come in contact with?  I know that I definitely can’t say yes, I wish I could, but I know that I would be lying.

  As you go throughout your day, week, and life think about how you treat people and ask yourself: If that person were Jesus, would that be the way I would act?  If you like kindness, I’m sure other people do as well.

 God bless you!    Lots of love from the Author:

Miah B

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Chapter 3 - Long-Suffering


    $ Galatians 5:22-26 and Colossians 3:12

Patience:  is the act of showing self-control, bearing pain or trials without complaint.
Long-Suffering: is long and patient endurance of an offense.

    Looking at these two definitions we see that these words are very similar, but have two defining features that make them very different.  Patience is like a child who waits for that toy at the end of the shopping trip and miraculously manages to wait without complaining or whining, its where someone shows that they can wait on something  perhaps sacrifice their want for next time in order to provide for someone else’s  need.  Long-suffering on the other hand is different, it does involve practicing self-control and it does involve waiting on something, but it throws something else into the mix, “endurance of an offense” this creates the picture for me of the person who is wronged by someone (in whatever way) and yet still responds with love, does nothing vengeful in response, nor does anything that will be unchrist-like they wait on the Lord’s justice and love just as we love the offender just as we love our family, friends, dog (people who we label as worthy of our love).   In all of this we can see that these two words are held together by two other elements we have already studied self-control and gentleness; it takes self-control to accomplish long-suffering and in that self-control it takes gentleness/meekness.  

   When have a Christ-like attitude, we need meekness when practicing self-control and long-suffering.  In order to be affect and successful we need to strip ourselves of our pride and love the person and respond with gentleness.  And these actions take self-control of the mind, heart, actions, and reactions.

   In Ephesians 4:1-3, the picture that is created for us is that we are to “bear” with each other in love, now that doesn’t create a picture of all rainbows, flowers, and unicorns, instead that creates the picture of solders not leaving a comrade behind even in the line of fire.  It creates the picture of the dog who always responds with love even when their owner ties it up and throws them in a dumpster.  Forgive me animal lovers, this breaks my heart too, even as I write that I shudder and give my dog a squeeze thinking that if anyone tried to do that to my baby I would take a baseball bat to their head.  However, the Bible says bear with each other in love.  I would find it very hard to forgive someone for tearing my baby from me.  However, think about it, long-suffering: enduring an offense.  As we read this scripture I want to ask you, if someone wronged you in a serious way (like hurting your dog) would you be able to forgive them and respond in love? 

Ephesians 4:1-3: I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

    In the Bible we are constantly told that Christ died so that we might live it also says in Hebrews 12:2 that “because of the joy set before him he endured the cross” so he saw us as something worth saving, but in this Christ displayed a tremendous amount of self-sacrifice (long-suffering) because he saw our potential instead of just our sin and he considered us worth it to him.  This is how I see Christ/ God’s sacrifice:   I visualize it as God reaching in and taking half his heart and putting it into the womb of a woman and watching it grow just knowing that it is going to die for the sins of others, for the world he created and loved, a world that had betrayed him and turned against him.   He knew that this sacrifice had to be made, even though his son was is completely innocent, blameless, complete perfection.   And then I see God experiencing his son’s pain as he died, because he felt it too, for his son was a part of himself.   Then I see God completely heart broken when he couldn’t even look at his son as he died because Jesus took on evil,  and because God is the complete opposite of evil  he couldn’t even look on his son… as his son took his last breath.   I can’t imagine how painful and heart breaking that would be for anyone, but especially God.   But that was the love he gave to us, that’s the love he has for us because that is how much worth he sees in this world.

  1 Peter 3: 18-21 (verse 18):  For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit…

     Along with Patience and Long-Suffering comes the word Diligence.   Christ displays a tremendous amount of diligence in everything he does and did, and right along with him we are called to do the same thing.

Diligence: Is a steady, earnest, and painstaking effort.

   It takes self-control and diligence to practice all of the fruits, especially long-suffering.  We are asked to be steadfast and to work for the glory of God, so realize my dear readers that God is calling us to be selfless and to reflect his love to his people.  Christ showed an overwhelming amount of love, now we are being called to put aside our pride, to humble ourselves and push through the hardship and love.  We are called to be genuinely kind and gentle, to push through it even when it hurts most.  Remember  dear readers that we are seeking rewards in heaven not on earth, however,  Christ does bless us in this lifetime too.

1 Corinthians 10:31: Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Colossians 3:23-25: And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.  But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done and there is no partiality. 

   So stay steadfast and be gentle, kind, and loving especially when it’s the hardest thing to do.

2 Peter 3:14-18 (14-15): Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation…

1 Corinthians 15:58: Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Chapter 2- Gentleness


$            $  Galatians 5:22-26 and Colossians 3:12

         When studying gentleness we should also take a deeper look and go further into a study on Humility.

Gentleness: Kind, amiable; not harsh, stern, or violent; the act of being refined.
Refined: courteous, generous, honorable, patient; not harsh or rough. To refine is to make something free of impurities or waste matter.
    Gentleness is one of the fruits that is the most challenging to practice and, I think, to really deeply understand.  Gentleness takes a lot of self-control, and in a world that is far from being gentle (or possessing self-control) it is hard to know what gentleness looks like.  This world is an in-your-face sorta world, it consists of people who aren’t willingto take the time to be (or who maybe don’t even know how to be) gentle.  Who don’t know how to be patient and honorable with no sternness or roughness.  This world promotes self-indulgences and demanding that you be given all that “you deserve” it promotes people who just take and not worry about themselves.  Now don’t hear me wrong it is important to take care of yourself and not be walked all over, but where do we draw the line? I think we forget to draw a line when it comes to taking care of and becoming self-indulged in a way that we live a life where we start every conversation with ‘I’ and that it is always about ‘me.’  Gentleness is the complete opposite of sternness, it is humble, yet firm.  What is the difference between firmness and sternness?

Being stern is: severe(marked by strictness and causing stress) and stout (forceful and violent).
Being firm is: Steadfast and solid, not subject to change or fluctuation.

     You see that the above words are different in this way, one is something that forces something into submission while the other is just steadfast in your own ways.  We are not called to force people into submission, but to guide people in a way that will help them understand and decide for themselves if they want to submit their lives to Christ.  We are all called to approach all people with love and gentleness (we will do a further study on love later), we are to “win” people over with love not “force” them like a terrorist forcing someone to say the lines they specially wrote for someone to get what they want.   Love cannot be achieved or transmitted without having gentleness; it is also received differently, love without gentleness receives the statement “what do you want from me” love with gentleness receives the statement “wow…you really mean that” or the question, “what can I do for you?”  This is what gentleness looks like:

Titus 3:1-8: (I am only going to write out verses 1 and 2, but please go on to read the rest it is just as important) Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.   
      Our gentleness will be shown through our submission to authority without complaint, or without our gossiping behind their back (speaking evil of someone),  being obedient, ready for what God wants us to do and what others need us to do.  Promoting peace and being humble.   The next verse describes how we are to feed our hearts as well, for as we studied in the last chapter about self-control.  What we feed our hearts is expressed through our mouths.  When reading this verse, please take a careful self evaluation and analyze.  I want you to act like you are doing spring cleaning in your heart and mind (and life) and think like this “what must go?” what is it that is holding you back from growing, what are you desperately holding onto because it is what makes you feel normal compared to everyone else or it makes you happy.  When you keep hold of something you know isn’t “completely” right, you are not giving your all to God.  Giving your all means every part of you, your life, your toys, you heart, your thoughts, your kids, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, your control! (YOUR EVERYTHING) When you let God drive that is when you give your utmost for his highest and that is when you are forever changed.  That is when your eyes are opened, wisdom is being poured into you from above, and you are bearing fruit!

Philippians 4: 8-9: Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

James 3:17: But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

Peter3:3-4 :  Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

Ephesians 4:1-3: I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling in which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.


  $ 1 Timothy 6:3-12
Humility: Not proud or haughty; meek and modest (not proud or self-seeking).  It is  Lowly.
The humble and contrite are always together in the Bible, you won’t ever find one without the other.
Contrite: Repentant, being sorrowful for sinners, one of conviction.

Humility is yielding to others, it is not letting yourself be puffed up or become full of yourself.  Its okay to be happy in our accomplishments, but not to become haughty or develop the attitude of “I’m better or more privileged than everyone else.”  We are called to be humble just as Christ was and is humble:

Philippians 2:3-8:  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also the interests of others.  Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robber to be equal to  God, but  he made himself of no reputation, taking the role of a bondservant, and coming in the  likeness of man.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even the death of the  cross.
Proverbs 27:2: Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger and not your own lips.
     It says in the Bible that the Lord recognizes the humble even in his high place, but the proud/haughty he knows from afar.  That seems to me that he is just like us, when a person is obnoxious in flaunting themselves we try to avoid them at all cost.  God sees them, but knows them from afar, he doesn’t find them to be someone who he can draw close to them…and how could he? They don’t seem to have room with all their fullness of self and pride.
Psalm 138:6: Though the Lord is on high, yet he regards the lowly; but the proud He knows from afar.
James 4:6: But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Isaiah 66:1-2: Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is My throne, and the earth My footstool.  Where is the house that you will build me?  And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist.” Says the Lord.  ‘But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.’
      We must remember too that God does not measure us the way people around us measure us, he weighs us by our hearts condition.   So not only is it important to monitor what we feed into our heart because of how it is expressed through our mouths, but  it is important too because it is what God is looking at.  I know that I don’t like to hang out with people who’s attitude reflects and ugly heart, why would God want to watch and monitor a heart that is slugging around in mud.   It’s not pleasant, but God is the God of grace, patience, and love He sticks with us anyway because He sees the potential and hopes that we will answer his calling and beckoning.
Proverbs 16: 2: All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.
Proverbs 16: 18-19: Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.  Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide up the spoils with the proud.
There are many rewards and benefits for being humble not just for those around us, but for ourselves as well.  Wisdom and honor are given to those who are humble:
Proverbs 11:2: When pride comes, then comes shame, but with the humble is wisdom.
Proverbs 29:23: A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.
      With gentleness and humility come rewards of wisdom and honor, with those we are received by other people with joy and love.  Our testimonies are heightened when we are walking in the humility of Christ.  Give your utmost for his highest and other people will follow!