Clothe Ourselves with Virtue

<strong>Clothe Ourselves with Virtue</strong>

How can we clothe ourselves with virtue?  For that matter, how can we “put on love” as instructed in Colossians 3:14?  And note that Romans 13:14 tells us that we have “put on Christ,” as does Galatians 3:27.

And what virtues are we encouraged by God’s Word to put on?

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  (Col 3:12 NIV)

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.  (Col 3:14-15 NIV)

Your love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to each other with mutual affection. Excel at showing respect for each other.  (Rom 12:9-10 ISV)

. . . with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love . . .  (Eph 4:2 NKJV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  (Gal 5:22-23 NASB)

Wow!  This is an impressive list of virtues and good traits to pursue and to practice.

In the natural realm, when we want to be clothed, it is a conscious act of the will.  Our clothes don’t fly through the air and attach themselves to us, right?  We have to physically maneuver ourselves into the clothes, and then button or snap or zip them into place.  And we have to choose exactly what items we want to wear each and every day.

As believers and followers of Jesus, we must be just as deliberate about what virtues we choose to use in every circumstance and situation in our lives.  We must decide to be peacemakers, just as we must choose to be kind, humble, gentle, patient, peace-loving, joyful, faithful, and self-controlled. 

As we make the decision each new day to follow Jesus, we must make the decision in every circumstance and life situation about how to react to our current challenges or trials. 

In answer to our prayers to Him, the Lord will give us the grace and power that we need to weave these virtues into our lives.  The Holy Spirit will guide us if we yield to Him in humility and obedience. 

The Holy Spirit is the only One who can teach us and transform us into the image of Christ.  And best of all, He can be trusted to guide us lovingly and faithfully.  Hallelujah!

Contend for Your Faith

Contend for Your Faith

CONTEND means to maintain, keep up, or to sustain something.  We are reflecting upon the Bible’s exhortation to us to contend for our faith in the Savior and Messiah.

We need to work diligently on holding tightly to our faith because life’s circumstances and the work of the enemy will try to separate us permanently from our faith.

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.  (Jude 1:3 KJV)

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.  (1 Tim 6:12 NKJV)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  (2 Tim 4:7 ESV)

The only thing that matters is that you continue to live as good citizens in a manner worthy of the gospel of the Messiah. then, whether I come to see you or whether I stay away, I may hear all about you—that you are standing firm in one spirit, struggling with one mind for the faith of the gospel . . .  (Phil 1:27 ISV)

So how do we ‘fight the good fight of faith’?  There are a number of healthy, spiritual habits that we should form in order to stay connected to our faith and to the Word of God.  Here are some ideas:

  • Flee from sin:  literally, fly away from sin!  God will show you a way out of it.  (1 Cor 10:13)
  • Pursue righteousness. (Mt 5:6)
  • Get to know God and lead a godly life. (2 Pet 3:11)
  • Put your confidence [trust] in God and in His Word. (2 Cor 5:7)
  • Operate in love.  (1 Cor 13:13; Mt 22:39)
  • Be humble and gentle.  (Eph 4:2)

We must make choices every day of our lives to pursue God’s will, to obey Him, and to live by faith.  This requires perseverance and steadfastness.  God’s grace will supply us with His ability to hold fast to our course.  God bless you.

Be Merciful

Be Merciful

What does merciful mean?  It means:  kindhearted, compassionate, sympathetic, and forgiving.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.  (Lk 6:36 EHV)  As our Father forgives our sins repeatedly, we should also forgive and forget the sins of others against us.

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.  (Eph 5:1 NKJV)  In every way, as much as we have the grace to do so, we should imitate the mercy of God in our dealings with other people.  Let us be kindhearted and compassionate in imitation of our Father in heaven.

Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  (Heb 2:17 NKJV)  Jesus was a merciful and faithful High Priest in that He became the sacrifice upon the altar to reconcile mankind to God the Father.

For I will be merciful in regard to their unrighteousness, and I will not remember their sins any longer.  (Heb 8:12 EHV)  Thanks to Jesus, our Father forgives our sins and does not remember them against us.  What a gift of love and mercy we have been given! 

In obedience to the Word, may each of us strive to be sympathetic to others and to be faithful representatives of Jesus and His love in a dark and hurting world.

Abide in God’s Word & Be Made Free

Abide in God’s Word & Be Made Free

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  (John 8:31-32)

The word KNOW in verse 32, above, means to perceive; understand; recognize; or realize.  This is a knowledge that has inception, a progress and an attainment, according to Strong’s concordance (#1097).  It is the recognition of truth by personal experience.

This personal experience suggests a close, personal relationship.  And verse 32 states that we need to abide in [accept, stand in, obey] God’s Word and thereby confirm ourselves to be Christ’s disciples.

In that context, as we personally come to experience the truth of and dependability of God’s Word, it is that same truth that shall set us free from various challenging and destructive experiences in our lives.  It also sets us free from the hurts that other people have inflicted upon us.

God’s steadfast and unfailing love for you can give you such strength and stability in your emotions that you can be made emotionally whole and healthy. 

The best kindness that you can do for yourself is to abide in the Scriptures and become more and more stable and secure in their truth—because you know that God does not lie.  (Num 23:19) 

Rest in Jesus, who has given you the grace, freedom, and strength to live your life to His glory daily!

Note:  This is a reprint of our blog article dated 11/21/2016.

God Calls Us to Love Our Christian Family, Pt. 1

God Calls Us to Love Our Christian Family, Pt. 1

We have received spiritual assignments due to the fact that all believers comprise the body of Christ on earth.  Because we are children of God, we are His representatives wherever we go and with whoever we meet.  Here are some scriptures concerning some of our instructions/assignments:

Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.  (1 Pet 2:17 NKJV, underscoring added)

In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.  (1 Joh 3:10 NKJV)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  (1 Joh 4:7-8 NKJV, underscoring added)

1 John 4:7 clearly states that ‘love is of God.’  That means that love is the description of and the province of God.   We are instructed to love the brotherhood (1 Pet 2:17)—which means that we should love all of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  It goes without saying that we are also instructed to love ALL people (1 Joh 4:7).

We are encouraged to honor all people, as well.  (1 Pet 2:17)   Honor means to esteem, respect, or admire someone.  Wow!  Can you think about giving honor to ALL PEOPLE?  That’s a huge responsibility and a tremendous challenge.  The only way that we can fulfill this command is to ask God to give us His grace and His blessing to enable us to obey.

Critical and significant assignments from our Savior require us to walk closely with Him in unity and companionship.  Only by an obedient and humble relationship with the Lord will we be able to receive the grace, insights and the wisdom that we need to enable us to fulfill our assignments.  God is our strength and our song!  (Ex 15:2; Ps 118:14)  All glory to God most High!

Faith is a Gift

Faith is a Gift

Remember that faith is a gift from God!  It is a precious gift and vital to our daily life in the service of the Kingdom of God.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God . . .  (Eph 2:8 NKJV)

Each and every believer has been given a measure of faith.  Be sure to make good use of what you have been given.  Use your faith constantly either for yourself or on behalf of other people, which is the highest and best use for this beautiful gift.

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.  (Rom 12:3 NKJV, emphasis added) 

Some believers have even been given an unusual gift of faith that stands well above the norm.  To all such believers, I encourage you to pray, pray, pray for other people and help them to receive everything that they need from the Lord—the chief need being salvation!

. . . to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit . . . (1 Cor 12:9 NKJV)

We must serve God by USING the spiritual gifts that He has given to each and every one of us.  It is our responsibility and our joy to discover what our spiritual gifts are and then to use them in spiritually productive ways on behalf of the Kingdom of God and of His people. 

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  (1 Cor 13:2)

We must use all of our spiritual gifts—whatever they may be—with LOVE!  God is love (1 Joh 4:8), and all who serve His kingdom must flow in LOVE. 

Note that love is the FIRST fruit of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23.  God bless you!

Savior & Deliverer

Savior & Deliverer

Our God is our Savior and our Deliverer.  His Word is full of His promises to us, and it also contains the testimonies of many believers who have experienced the Lord’s saving power and deliverance.

The Lord will save me when anyone tries to hurt me, and he will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. Glory forever and ever be the Lord’s. Amen.  (2 Tim 4:18 NCV)

But the Lord is faithful and will give you strength and will protect you from the Evil One.  (2 Thes 3:3 NCV)

God saved us from these great dangers of death, and he will continue to save us. We have put our hope in him, and he will save us again.  (2 Cor 1:10 NCV)

These Bible verses remind us of some wonderful truths about the God whom we serve:

  • God saves us from those who try to harm us;
  • The Lord will make sure that we arrive safely in heaven;
  • Our God is faithful;
  • God’s grace will give us strength and protect us from the enemy of our souls;
  • God has saved our souls, and will continue to save us day-by-day; and
  • As long as we put our hope in Him, He will continue to save us time after time.

There is no God like our God!  (Ex 8:10; 1 Sam 2:2; 1 Chr 17:20)  Let us give Him all of the glory, honor, and praise!

The Importance of Forgiveness

The Importance of Forgiveness

Today we meditate upon God’s Word concerning forgiveness.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.  (Mt 18:21-22 NIV)

The Lord is telling us that we must practice forgiveness, and grow so accustomed to it that it becomes habitual.  Does that surprise you?  But that is the way that God forgives each and every one of us!  Whenever we repent of any sin, whether small or large, God faithfully forgives us.

Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”  (Lk 17:3-4 NKJV) 

Again, we understand that forgiveness is something that all who follow Jesus Christ must do without grudging.

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  (Mt 6:14-15 NKJV)

Now, we see that it can even be self-serving to forgive other people, because God’s Word says that if we forgive other people’s sins that God also forgives our sins.  Thank God!

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”  (Mk 11:25 NKJV)

This verse encourages us to forgive anyone who has injured us. 

Of course, it requires the grace of God for us to be able to forgive someone who has betrayed us, wounded us emotionally, or injured us physically.  All we need to do is to ask the Lord to give us His grace to be able to forgive.  And He will.

When we give it all to God and know that God sees all of the hurts that we have endured and that He stands with us, empowering us to forgive, we find that we have the grace that we need to do what God has asked us to do.  And never forget that He blesses our obedience to His Word. God bless you.

Crucify the Earthly Nature

Crucify the Earthly Nature

Today’s topic is the earthly nature of man with its passions and desires.  The Bible urges us to put to death the deeds of the body.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  (Col 3:5 NIV)

For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  (Rom 8:13)

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  (Gal 5:24)

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and temporary residents in the world, to abstain from the desires of the sinful flesh, which war against your soul.  (1 Pet 2:11 EHV)

Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.  (1 Cor 6:18)

Why do you think the Scriptures urge us in so many passages of the Bible to:

  • Put to death the earthly nature;
  • Put to the death the deeds of the body;
  • Crucify the flesh;
  • Abstain from desires of the sinful flesh; and to
  • Flee sexual immortality?

1 Corinthians 6 and 1 Peter 2 state very clearly the reasons why we should obey the Bible:

  • Because the desires of the flesh war against our own souls; and
  • The one who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.

When we allow the lusts of the flesh to govern our actions, then we sin against our very own bodies.  How?  Because our bodies have become the temple of the Holy Spirit.  (1 Cor 6:19-20)  This type of sin is an offense to our temple and the Holy Guest living within it.   

We belong to God, and our individual bodies belong to God.  We have chosen to follow Jesus of our own, free will; it hasn’t been forced upon us. 

The Lord has sealed each believer and given us the Holy Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.  (2 Cor 1:22)

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  (Eph 4:30)

We are urged by the Word of God to live a righteous and holy life by the empowering grace of God.  (See Rom 12:1; 1 Pet 1:15-16)  Since the Lord has given us His gift of grace, we are enabled to live obedient, holy lives.  He has given us victory through Jesus Christ.  (1 Cor 15:57)  Let us celebrate God’s goodness and mercy!

We are called, as followers of Jesus Christ and children of God to glorify God in our bodies and in our spirits.  God bless you!

Light Versus Darkness

Light Versus Darkness

Jesus warned His followers that they would have the light for only a little while longer.  We can judge for ourselves if we are living in the light or if we are living in darkness.  Let’s see what the Word of God says.   

If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness.  (1 Joh 2:9 NLT) 

If we catch ourselves disliking people or even hating them, we know that we’re operating in the dark.  May God give us His grace to walk in the Light of Jesus Christ.

But anyone who hates a fellow believer is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.  (1 Joh 2:11 NLT) 

The verse above shows us what it’s like to have been blinded by darkness.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.  (Tit 3:3 NIV)

The book of Titus, chapter 3 reminds us what we were like before we accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior.  Titus urged his readers 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.  And then, verse 3 tells us that we were at one time disobedient, deceived, enslaved in sin, and living in malice and hatred. 

Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.  (Joh 12:35)

Jesus, our example and beloved Savior, reminds us to walk in the light while it is still available.  Those who walk in darkness don’t know where they’re going, and get off of the path of righteousness. 

One way to remain in the light is to read and to meditate upon the Word of God.  Another test of walking in the light is our obedience to the Scriptures:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.  (Phil 4:8)  Let us be obedient to God by meditating upon these worthwhile and noble truths. Jesus told us:  “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  (Joh 16:33)  Trust in His overcoming light even when darkness seems to surround everything.  God bless you.