Love God – Love People, All People

LoveGodLovePeople-proof

 

We are loved – loved by God.  More deeply loved than we understand and if we lose sight of how much we are loved by God all we need to do is get a fresh glimpse of the cross. There we find how much ‘God loved the world’ (John 3:16) and each person in the world. He did not pick a certain color of skin to love or a certain part of the globe – He picked you and your neighbor and the guy half way around the world and the lady the other way around the world.

Point is: God loves people – all people and so should we! 

We cannot pick and chose who to love and we cannot run from people who are not like us. People who were nothing like Jesus liked Jesus. Jesus modeled for us that it is proper to break the molds set down by culture or by our parents or grandparents. He cared about women and spoke to them in public and yet that was forbidden in his day, He cared about Samaritans and He was a Jew and that to was forbidden in his day. He went to lepers and heard their cry and that was another mold that he broke.

And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. – Acts 10:38

Now one may respond with the fact that Jesus was with the Holy Spirit and anointed. But we can be too!  Jesus provided the call that when He left the planet to return to Heaven, that the Holy Spirit would come to us – the same Spirit that filled Him. And anointing, while sounding like a deep and mystical word, is truly nothing more than God’s hand upon a person empowering them to do what they could not do on their own.  When we go out of our way to love someone, (even if we do not understand their ideology and religious bent) God is with us – empowering us to go beyond our human capacities and add meaning and value to their life.  God wants to fill us with Himself!

We go to God to be filled with love then go to others to love them. We come from a place of love not go to others to receive love. 

When we go looking for people to love us and affirm us, we will always manipulate the conversation and the moments to receive what our heart and insecurities crave. But when we come FROM LOVE (being with God) we can go TO LOVE (loving others.)

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:19 – NLT

I encourage you to read the following verses and pray and ask God to challenge you and shape you into being more loving.  I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and help you discern where prejudice, hatred and bigotry reside inside of you. It is easy to look at others who spew hate speech or perpetrate violent acts against others and judge them, it is more difficult to discern where those same seeds and saplings live inside of your soul.   We must Love God and Love all People. It is our calling!

Love God – Love People

7 Dear friends, let us love each other, because love comes from God. Those who love are God’s children and they know God. Those who do not love do not know God because God is love. God has shown His love to us by sending His only Son into the world. God did this so we might have life through Christ. 10 This is love! It is not that we loved God but that He loved us. For God sent His Son to pay for our sins with His own blood.

11 Dear friends, if God loved us that much, then we should love each other12 No person has ever seen God at any time. If we love each other, God lives in us. His love is made perfect in us. 13 He has given us His Spirit. This is how we live by His help and He lives in us.

Love Gives Us More Faith in Christ

14 We have seen and are able to say that the Father sent His Son to save the world from the punishment of sin. 15 The person who tells of Him in front of men and says that Jesus is the Son of God, God is living in that one and that one is living by the help of God. 16 We have come to know and believe the love God has for us. God is love. If you live in love, you live by the help of God and God lives in you.

The Love of God Has Power Over Fear and Hate

17 Love is made perfect in us when we are not ashamed as we stand before Him on the day He judges. For we know that our life in this world is His life lived in us. 18 There is no fear in love. Perfect love puts fear out of our hearts. People have fear when they are afraid of being punished. The man who is afraid does not have perfect love. 19 We love Him because He loved us first. 20 If a person says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar. If a person does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God Whom he has not seen? 21 We have these words from Him. If you love God, love your brother also.  I John 4: 7 – 21 (emphasis mine)

You are loved,

Bernie

 

Advertisements

Celebrate your Faith, then Share It.

sharing-faith

 

From last Sundays message:

Ephesians 2: 11- 13

But don’t take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God’s ways had no idea of any of this, didn’t know the first thing about the way God works, hadn’t the faintest idea of Christ. You knew nothing of that rich history of God’s covenants and promises in Israel, hadn’t a clue about what God was doing in the world at large. Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything. (THE MESSAGE)

We used the story of the lepers from 2 Kings 7: 3 – 9. In this story we see a famine in the land and the lepers finding an amazing stockpile of food and clothing and silver and gold in a neighboring camp after God does a miracle and creates the sound of an enemy army coming to lay siege to the city. There was no literal army, just the amplification and shaking of the ground – special effects created by God.

They come to the moral and ethical realization that having all they have and not sharing it, would be the wrong thing to do.

2 Kings 7: 9
Then they said to each other, “We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.”  (NIV)

 

We are not doing right today, by keeping the Good News of Jesus to ourselves.  And it is just that – Good News.

Missiologist Mike Frost wrote and I credited him in my message:

Those of us who are not gifted evangelists need to foster habits in our lives that draw us out into the lives of unbelievers and invite the kinds of questions that lead to evangelistic sharing. If our only habits are going to church and attending meetings, it’s not going to connect us with unbelievers nor invite their curiosity about our faith. The trick is to develop habits that unite us together as believers, while also propelling us into the lives of others. We also need habitual practices that don’t just deplete our energy and burn us out, but which re-energize us, replenishing our reserves and connecting us more deeply to Jesus. I have seen the following habits do just that. The five habits of highly missional people are:  B.E.L.L.S.

BLESS: I will bless three people this week, at least one of whom is not a member of our church. Part of this has to do with generosity – eating.

EAT: I will eat with three people this week, at least one of whom is not a member of our church.

LISTEN: I will spend at least one period of the week listening for the Spirit’s voice.
MY NOTE:  
in my message, I used the fact that we need to listen the Holy Spirits voice, not only for our own lives, but for those we know that are far away from God. He wants them close to Himself and that no one would perish – so ask Him to show you were He is working in the lives of those you are wanting to see come to Christ. Ask Him how you might be involved with where He is already working.

LEARN: I will spend at least some period of the week learning more about Christ.

SENT: I will journal throughout the week all the ways I attempted to show people the love of Christ.

If you bless three people every week, you’re going to become a very generous person. If you eat with others, you’ll develop a greater capacity for hospitality. If you foster the habit of listening to the Holy Spirit, you’ll become an increasingly Spirit-led person. If you’re learning Christ, it’s fair to assume you’ll become more and more Christlike. And if you’re journaling the myriad ways you’ve been sent into your world, you’ll increasingly see yourself as a sent one, or a missionary in your own neighborhood. In other words, each habit shapes us around a particular missional value:

Bless Generosity
Eat Hospitality
Listen Spirit-led
Learn Christlike
Sent Missionary

My point is this: If you want to be a generous, hospitable, Spirit-led, Christlike missionary, don’t just try to learn those values. Foster these habits! Indeed, I’m pretty certain most churches have a mission or vision statement that says they are committed to something similar to this. I also suspect most members of churches read these and agree with them in theory but have very little idea of what exactly it means for them to live these out under the noses of those who have not yet been set free in Christ. To pastors and preachers I say, you don’t have to preach these values if you’re fostering the habits. The habits will in turn unleash the values naturally.

This is a great practice and habit for each of us. I challenge you to embrace B.E.L.L.S. in your life. Thank to Mike Frost for

The most effective ambassadors of the love of Christ over the long haul are people who have given themselves permission to drink in the goodness and the grace of God.

They have come to terms with just how rich they are.

When you realize salvation, forgiveness, prayer, communion, worship, God’s power and strength…..promise of Heaven. YOU see how rich you really are……SOAK IT IN.   REALIZE IT.  Let your life impact others like the ringing of B.E.L.L.S.

If you drink in these spiritual blessings fully, regularly, extravagantly, it will spill over naturally into the lives of others.  Let’s make a difference – this news of Christ and His love is too good not to share.

Serving with you,

Bernie 

 

NOTE: The 5 Habits of Highly -Missional People: Taking the BELLS Challenge to Fulfill the Mission of God By Michael Frost

 

What Make a Church Exciting?

gifts

 

LFC is exciting.  Yes it is! Servants, willing hearts, generosity, these all make a church exciting!

Humanly speaking, what makes a church great and exciting are its volunteers. When you go to a church, and there are people there, and they just serve with joyful hearts, it’s irresistible and contagious. We are working hard at Doing Church as a Team and doing all we can to recruit, train, inspire, affirm, lead, encourage (the list goes on) those that step out and find a place of service at LFC and out into our surrounding community. And we know we fall short of doing all we can to raise up leaders of teams, servants for teams and equipping others to serve – but we are pursuing ways to do this better and with greater consistency: Why? Because there is something deep in the hearts of people waiting to be unleashed to desiring to make a significant Kingdom contribution. And, it is the calling of the church:

Ephesians 4: 11 – 16
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (NIV)

Church health is missed – church growth is missed – and the building of love inside that church is missed when people are not given ways to be equipped (verse 12) for works of service and when every supporting role is not filled. A church will then grow inward and become unhealthy as reliance on a pastor or a few staff members or just a small number of volunteers carry the major load. It can even become oblivious or deny their own decline in mission, vision, heart, attendance and blinders begin to grow that cause the church to defer maintenance, lack a passion for excellence and neglect the mission field right outside their door. Each part must do its work. (verse 16).   This may sound simple, but more and more churches are forgetting this calling:

Church leaders are not only to make disciples but equip disciples who we do their work of service.

 

As I consult and coach other pastors and churches what I find most common and understandable; that some faithful volunteers week in and week out support the ministry but when life circumstances change they need to step back to rightfully care for their families or they move away from the location of the church, there is no one to fill their spot. What was missed during the time of service was the raising up of a team to move forward and lead in the future.

Every church, even ours is in need of servants. We are fortunate to have a larger percentage of servants than in most churches but we still need so many more. It is our job, my job, to make sure people know where the needs are, how to be equipped and encouraged to serve and then to raise up others. It can never be, ‘this is my spot, sorry it is filled,” but rather, I want you to come serve with me, shadow me and learn, then let me celebrate as we serve together.

If you are serving at LFC or your church, allow me to encourage you to pursue the joy of serving. And pursue others who can also find joy in serving.

Serving Others:

The saying goes that church is not to be a “spectator sport” whereby we come, watch, grab our fill, and leave.  We are called to be a part of the life of the church, not watching from the sidelines, but getting involved.  We commit to serve one another as we serve our God.  This is not done out of a mere sense of obligation, but from a love that seeks to build up others.

There is joy when we are able to utilize the gifts and talents that God has given us.

Serving our City / Region:

Serving is an incredible witness to those outside the walls of the church. We do lots of things, like Harvest Block Party, Big Game Post Game Party, partnering with our local hospital on their outreach and also our Fire Department and Police Department (open houses and car show) and more.

Serving is essentially loving our neighbor.  

It is putting others first and seeking their good over our own.  It is not just a message from the pulpit, a handout or a Facebook post – it is a tangible weighty expression of God’s love for them.  Christ saw serving through love as an indicator of one’s discipleship,

  • John 13:35
    By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (NIV)

 

As the saying goes, “preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words.” There is joy when we are able to utilize the gifts that God has given us to witness and share his love with those who may not know him.

Serving GOD:

Ultimately, we serve not for our ourselves and even for others, but to honor our Lord.

1 Peter 4:10-11
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 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. (NIV)

 

God has uniquely created us with gifts to be shared, not withheld.  Gifts to be shared that will awaken the gifts in others.

Serving is not about ourselves, though there is joy for us as we serve and it is all about honoring God and glorifying him.

Thank you to all the great volunteers who serve at LFC from the heart. YOU make our church exciting.

Find a place to serve. Find a place to tangibly impact others and to glorify God with the gifts and talents He has given you.  We are move than willing to help you discover your place of service: Please email us at the front office  Church Office

Honored and humbled to be serving with you,

Bernie

Easter 2017

Holy-Week-Meaning-and-TraditionsLast night was an amazing Good Friday service at Lompoc Foursquare. It was moving to consider deeply and to reflect upon the sacrifices Jesus made for each of us.

Easter: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Easter is here!  We have our first of four Easter services tonight at 6:00 pm with the next three tomorrow at 8, 9:30 and 10:45 am. We also have Live Stream (church online) amazing kids Hunt for Easter (more than just eggs and candy but a discovery of the Risen Jesus). Our hospitality team and greeters and those who volunteer to clean the grounds prior to arrivals…….The reason I cite this is the many amazing servants who make it all happen.  It is the heart of God at work. Thank you. I love my church!

 

Easter is here……and for some it is bunnies, chocolate, eggs, BBQs, dinners and of course peeps! For many it is the celebration of Jesus death and resurrection for the dead. Easter Sunday reminds us that God’s love and power came to our Earth, even to the point of the death of the Savior, Jesus and the power of His resurrection.

I firmly believe in the resurrection for many reasons, but here are a few:

1/ The empty tomb. The stone rolled away and the grave was empty. The women who first arrived there following the resurrection had been there just two days before. They knew the tomb and were amazed when they came to place spices on the body of Jesus that He was not there.  Later, John and Peter came and saw that Jesus was risen.

2/ The eyewitnesses. There were many who saw Jesus himself after her rose from the dead. No one was expecting a resurrection but then they saw Him. Most notable was Thomas, who refused to believe until he could touch Jesus and the marks from the cross on his hands and side. Jesus came to him, invited him to touch, and the famous response: “My Lord and my God!” Jesus was seen by over 500 people and many were still living when some of the New Testament was written.  They could have easily refuted the resurrection story if it was not true, but rather then collaborated it as each shared eyewitness accounts as they gathered to worship God in the early church. There is no way that ‘fake news’ of Jesus could have been told with that many witnesses of Jesus Himself after the resurrection.

3/ The growth of the church. Unless he was crucified and then bodily raised from the dead. How else do we account for the rapid growth of the church? Jesus said, “I will build my church” to a handful of people. Today, there are millions of churches of all shapes,m sizes and styles who believe in Jesus Christ and the story of Easter. Nearly one third of the world’s population is Christian. Many who helped build the early churches were persecuted and even martyred for their faith. Would anyone be willing to die for a hoax?

 4/ The conversion of Saul. Saul, who was renamed Paul, was of Jewish heritage, well-educated in and obedient to Jewish law, a Roman citizen, and was convinced Christianity was heresy. He was a zealot who persecuted those who followed Jesus Christ. We find him a few years later radically transformed and preaching Jesus as Messiah and proclaiming salvation only by faith and through the Cross of Christ and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  For a Jew the Cross was an object of curse, and for a Roman, the Cross was reserved for the worst of criminals. For Paul to be grateful for the death of Jesus on the cross and to proclaim its eternal value would be ridiculous, unless the crucified one rose from the dead, proving He was Messiah and Lord.

5/ Jesus’ resurrection means that death is defeated once and for all.  50 days after the first Easter, Peter proclaimed “God raised [Jesus] from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to its hold on him” (Acts 2:24) Death lost its grip on Jesus! But the resurrection means that Jesus not only defeated death for himself, but that he defeated it for us. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (I Corinthians 15: 20 – 22). Our faith in His death and resurrection guarantees ours.

What does this mean to us today? In one sense, Jesus Christ is still on trial. He’s on trial in the heart and mind of every person who has not yet acknowledged him as the Son of God, the Savior of the world.

What’s your verdict? You see, Easter really boils down to only two issues. One, is Jesus who he says he is? Is he God? Or is he a lunatic or a liar? And two, if he is who he says he is, when are you going to start following what he says to do with your life?

Today, you sit in judgment of Jesus Christ. Just as Pilate asked, “What shall I do then with Jesus who is called the Christ?” you also must decide whether he was who he said or not.

Are you willing to gamble your life that he was wrong?

He is Lord, He is Savior, He loves and desires to see you free, forgiven and alive in Him.

He is risen, risen indeed!

Bernie

 

 

Growth

“It is up to you to determine if you will grow or not.”

A few years ago, I shared that statement with a younger leader and I could see the pain in his face. While he was living in community with others, and contending for God to do some amazing things in his life, he was missing the fact that spiritual growth was a true partnership between he and God.  It was as if he was waiting on God and others to do all the ‘heavy lifting’ to recognize real and meaningful growth in his life.

Pastor and author, John Ortberg,  (The Life You’ve Always Wanted) writes of a boat when discussing spiritual growth. I used this analogy this past Sunday in my talk on Growth.

Motorboat or Ski Boat

In a motorboat I’m in charge. I have full control – punch the gas when I feel like it and power my way into grater growth or at least activity. I determine how fast we’re going to go, and in what direction. Some people approach spiritual life that way. If I’m just aggressive enough, if I have enough quiet times, I can make transformation happen on my own. Usually that results in people becoming legalistic, then pride starts to creep in, and things get all messed up.

Raft
Some people have been burned by the Motorboat approach. So they go to the opposite extreme and will say, “I’m into grace.” It’s like they’re floating on a raft. If you ask them to do anything to further their growth, they’ll say, “Hey, no. I’m not into works. I’m into grace. Just kicking back and waiting for God and others to do something and until then, I am drifting…..You’re getting legalistic with me.” So they drift. There are way too many commands in Scripture for anybody to think that we’re called to be passive and drift.

Sailboat
On a sailboat, however, I don’t move if it’s not for the wind. My only hope of movement is the wind. I can’t control the wind. I don’t manufacture the wind. Jesus talks about the Spirit blowing like the wind.

John 3:8
The wind blows wherever it pleases.
You hear its sound, but you cannot tell
where it comes from or where it is going.
So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

Jesus talks about the Spirit blowing like the wind. But there is a role for me to play, and part of it has to do with what I need to discern.
A true follower of Christ will set their sails up.  They will be ready for the wind and the growth that comes from a partnership with Jesus. If your sails are down, and you have not done all you can to grow: pray, bible reading and devotions, worship, serving, keeping your thought life pure, moving away from temptations and the sins that so easily trip you up, you will not be ready when the Spirit moves.  Just do what you can do, have your life positioned for God’s ‘wind’ to blow and have your sails up – ‘Lord, here I am, use me, touch me, allow me to grow in you.”

A good sailor will discern, Where’s the wind at work? How should I set the sails? Spiritual growth and formation is like sailing.

Wise sailors know that their main task is being able to “read” the wind – to practice discernment. An experienced sailor can simply look at a lake and tell where the wind is blowing strongest, or look at the sky and give a weather forecast. A wise sailor knows when to raise and lower which sails to catch the wind most effectively.  Get to know the voice of God, the move of the wind, the anticipation of what God is up to in your life and in your family and in your community of friends and in our church. Be ready and move with Him.

Setting my sights on growth and my sails for the wind of God,

Bernie

“The decision to grow always involves a choice between risk and comfort.
– John Ortberg

sail boat

OBEDIENCE

obedience-article-pic
“Don’t ever think spiritual growth is optional or marginal in the Christian life.”

 

The past several weeks at our church, I have been teaching a series called: “Pathways to Growth.”  Obedience is a major key to growing. Obedience is a central theme throughout Scripture. From the story of creation to the end of Revelation, it’s difficult to turn a page that doesn’t deal – directly or indirectly – with God’s call for obedience. Remember, Jesus not only said, “Believe me,” he also said, “Follow me.” God places a high premium on our obedience.

In our time, however, obeying God’s commands often is ignored, dismissed, or glossed over. Why? Because obedience slaps us in the face. It confronts our sin. It challenges our lives. It runs contrary to our unwritten mantra: Who are you to tell me what to do?

 

During my message on obedience, I used the props of a gallon of paint, a roller and paint tray and a paint brush. As I began, I lifted up color swatches and reminded people that often times the color on the swatch is not the same as the color in the can once applied to our walls, our lighting and introduced to our decor.  The key to the illustration is, the pain in the can has little value if never applied. Actually the can I had spoke of Preparation and Priming as the first step and Application as the second step. Without sounding ‘cheesy’ I simply said, our hearts need to be prepared and primed for the truth of God ( the Bible) to be applied to our lives. The teaching of Jesus and the rest of the bible have little value to us if they are only known and never applied.

Jesus taught to application and not simply to knowledge.

A read of the gospels reminds us that Jesus taught to application.

 

  • John 13:17
    You know these things, and God will bless you, if you do them.  (The Message)
  • Matthew 7: 24
    “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  (NIV)

Living out the truth found in the bible is based on two things: Trust and Love.

TRUST: When we trust God we want to obey Him since we realize He knows more than us and has our best interests in mind.  When Adam and Eve fell away from God in the Garden, it was not disobedience that moved them there first. It was that they did not trust God. They believed the serpent and themselves knew more. Their rationale may have been: “If God is really that good, how come we cannot have the last tree in the garden – why is He withholding from us?” It was a lack of trust that moved them to disobedience. After this rebellion and lack of trust, God waited until after He would deliver them from Egyptian bondage and have them miraculously cross the Red Sea in triumph before He would give them the Ten Commandments to obey. God put trust first. When we trust God we desire to obey God.

LOVE: When we love God we want to please Him by giving Him our allegiance. This love moves us to obedience.

  • 2 John 1:6
    Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning. (NLT)
  • John 14:15
    “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (NIV)

 

  • John 13:17
    You know these things, and God will bless you, if you do them.  (The Message)

 

Could you imagine how different your life would be if you could fully trust God. No matter what. You know me, you are at work. Not that you lived in denial but you knew God was with you, and for you.

  • Romans 8:31
    What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (NIV)

What if we lived like that, all the time? Imagine waking up everyday with bullet proof trust in and love for God.

In the New Testament it is God establishing a trust relationship with all mankind through Jesus Christ. Salvation is based on faith and trust. Jesus never said, if you will be good – God will become trustworthy! He did not say if you will be good God will allow you to have access to Him. An amazing faith and trust and love will impact every facet of your life – If you trust God, it will impact your worries, your finances, the way you do business, how you work, and go to school and how you treat others and how you OBEY.

 

  • John 13:17
    You know these things, and God will bless you, if you do them.  (The Message)
  • Matthew 7: 24 & 25
    “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. (NIV)

Jesus never promised that if we obey Him we would never experience storms, He promised that we would not crash!  It takes more planning and effort and discipline to build your life on the rock. It takes more dying to self and becoming alive to the Spirit of God. But when the storms come, you will be solid. Short cuts and the easy way out cause us to build our lives on the sand and for sure we will crash.

Be accountable to not just believe and not just know, but to obey.

Trust and Obey because there is not other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Bernie

Prayer: Dear God , thank you for the bible you gave us and the teachings you provide. Thank you for those who have shown us the way by how they lived and applied your teachings, Jesus give us the courage to follow your way.  May our faith intersect with your faithfulness. Let us listen , learn and then may we apply your truth. In  Jesus Name,  Amen.

 

 

 

 

Try a little Gentleness

lionandthelamb1296x945ty8

This past Sunday I had the honor of teaching on ‘Gentleness’ during our Pathway to Growth series. As I started the message I asked the following:

  • Think about a time when someone was gentle to you when they could have responded differently – how did that feel?

  • Recall a time when God was gentle to you and He could have responded with other than love and grace and mercy? – how did you live differently because of God’s gentleness?

Of all the fruit of the Spirit (or the unpacking and manifestation of love), Gentleness stands out as a key to better relationships, deeper and true worship and a growing heart for God. As time goes on, it is apparent to me that our hearts can become more and more calloused towards others. This impacts our relationships and our connection with God.

  • When was the last time you fought being hard or harsh and went for gentleness?
  • When was the last time you were open, real and raw before God in your prayer, bible reaching and worship?
  • When was the last time you were deeply gentle?  

Gentleness as a fruit of the Spirit is the result as the Holy Spirit filling and impacting you. It is not a ‘fruit of the flesh.’ The flesh is harsh, abrasive, vindictive and calloused. The Holy Spirit invites us to develop His fruits in our lives. Note the invitation to us at the end of this passage:

  • Galatians 5: 22 – 25
    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (NIV)

What do you hear God saying to you about your flesh and how you should live? 

  •  Proverbs 15:1
    A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (NIV)

A heart that responds to people in a calm and mild way defuses difficult situations, much like a fan keeps a motor from overheating.  Gentleness creates room for wise and thoughtful response to conflict and aggression.

  • James 3:17 & 18

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. (NIV)

I choose gentleness. Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle, If I raise my voice may it only be in praise. If I clench my fist, may it only be in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself. – Max Lucado in ‘God Whispers your Name’

Gentleness is a humble and meek attitude that is patiently submissive in every offense, and at the same time being free of any desire for revenge. We all need to grow in our demonstration of an attitude and heart of gentleness and meekness. Gentleness is something worth striving for. We think of climbing ladders to success, financial advancement, educational pathways, but how about growing deeper in being gentle and kind? Instead of losing, the gentle gain. Instead of being ripped off and taken advantage of, the gentle come out ahead.

We struggle with gentleness if we do not understand what it is.

In our rough and rugged individualism, we think of gentleness as weakness—being soft and virtually spineless. Not so. Gentleness includes such enviable qualities as having strength under control, being calm and peaceful when surrounded by a heated atmosphere, emitting a soothing effect on those who may be angry or otherwise beside themselves, and possessing tact and gracious courtesy that causes others to retain their self-esteem and dignity. Instead of losing, the gentle gain; instead of being ripped off and taken advantage of, they come out ahead.
– Chuck Swindoll

Definition: Gentleness is power under control

The Greek word for gentleness comes from two words—prautēs and epieikēsprautēs means humility, to consider others, meekness. It usually refers to things, objects, or people—words that are gentle, soothing medicine, soothing actions, soothing feelings.

This word might refer to tame animals (lion, horses) or charitable and generous people. prautēs is something you expect from your friends.

epieikēs is a word used to express a balanced, intelligent, decent outlook on life—a good citizen, an admired person, a trusted individual—these all fall under the heading of epieikēs.

Plato called this the cement of society. So the Greeks defined gentleness as power under control, and their word picture was that of a horse that had been tamed. You see, gentleness was to them a powerful animal whose passion and power was fully and completely under control.

A disease out of control can destroy the body and even kill the individual. The same disease under control, however, can produce a vaccine that saves lives. Power under control.

  • The Greatest Example of Gentleness: Christ’s Example: Power under control.

True gentleness and meekness is best seen in Christ. He was submissive, never resisting or disputing the will of God. His absolute trust in the Father enabled Him to show compassion, courage, and self-sacrifice even in the most hostile situation.

The spirit of gentleness and meekness is the Spirit of Christ, who defended the glory of His Father, but gave Himself in sacrifice for others. Leaving us an example to follow,

  • I Peter 2: 21 – 23
    To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (NIV)

 

Jesus did not raise a finger or give a single reply in His own defense, though at any time He could have called legions of angels to His side.

 

Indeed force and harshness may bring short term gains, but ultimately destroy relationships. Gentleness, however earns respect and builds trust. If others know you are gentle, they will be freer to relate to you honestly and openly.  They will feel safe in trusting you…..and the Holy Spirit will be able to empower you all the more and use you in more meaningful ways.

Grateful for you,

Bernie