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!

Don’t Criticize Others

Don’t Criticize Others

Judgement is God’s exclusive privilege.  We fellow believers and servants of the Lord are not entitled to come to a “verdict” about anyone.  If we are eager to judge, we should judge only ourselves.

Let’s see what the Bible teaches us on this subject:

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.  (Rom 14:13 NIV)

Rather than criticizing our brothers and sisters, we should eagerly endeavor to avoid placing hindrances or blockages into the paths of fellow believers.

My friends, don’t say cruel things about others! If you do, or if you condemn others, you are condemning God’s Law. And if you condemn the Law, you put yourself above the Law and refuse to obey either it 12 or God who gave it. God is our judge, and he can save or destroy us. What right do you have to condemn anyone?  (Jas 4:11-12 CEV)

We should never be cruel with our words. We must not think that we are above the Law—but we are called to obey it and to honor it.   Only God has the authority to condemn.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God . . .  (Rom 14:10 NIV)

Why should we try to pass judgment on our brothers and sisters in Christ?  What justifies us in despising our brothers and sisters?  Remember, we will ALL stand before the judgment seat of God. 

When we show mercy, kindness, and love to others, we please the Lord because we are actively following His beautiful, holy example.  Glory to God!

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’s Great Love for Us

God’s Great Love for Us

Something that we, as followers of Jesus Christ, may not meditate upon enough is His great love for us.  This article will help us focus on that today.

“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” says the Lord who has compassion on you.  (Isa 54:10 NASB)  The Lord is saying that even when immovable objects (like hills and mountains) start shaking and even being removed, that His loving peace and kindness will NOT leave His children.  The Lord says that He has compassion upon us.  What a blessed promise!

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.  (Mt 18:20 NIV)  When believers in Jesus come together and meet as Christians, the Lord reminds us that He is right there among us.  His presence abides with us.

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  (Heb 13:5 NKJV)  This is the Lord’s promise that He will never leave us nor abandon us—under any circumstances.  This is a promise that can be relied upon.

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  (1 Cor 6:19 NKJV)  Here the Bible reminds us that all who have accepted Jesus as our Savior, have become the temple of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit lives within the children of God.  We are children of God.

Rejoice in the precious promises that God has given to all who love Him.  Take some time to reflect upon God’s great, abiding love for you, and thank Him for it.  God bless you.

When Did We See You, Lord?

When Did We See You, Lord?

. . . 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; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’  37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’  (Mt 25:35-40)

Jesus is making a point in these teachings.  He wanted His followers to realize that mercies shown to His people are considered by God to be the same as if they were shown to Jesus, Himself. 

In the Lord’s view, by showing kindness to the poor, the sick, and the needy, we demonstrate that we possess the spirit of Christ.  Jesus also showed His kindness to the poor, sick, and needy.  He gave us a perfect example.

For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.  (Mk 9:41)

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.  (1 Joh 3:14)

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?  (1 Joh 3:17)

We need to have eyes to see the world and all people in the same way that the Lord sees them.  The Lord sees a field that is rich and ready to be harvested. 

The Lord sees people in deep need of the salvation that He has already provided, and He wants us to introduce this Good News to the spheres of influence in which we individually reside.  As we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the needy, provide homes to the lost, and visit the sick and the prisoners, we’re doing it all as unto God, our Savior. 

As we serve and treasure other people, in the same way that Jesus did while He was on earth, our Father God lays up our heavenly rewards for us. Glory to God!

Check Out Your Clothes!

Check Out Your Clothes!

Do you realize that the Bible is concerned with how we clothe ourselves?  Isn’t that an interesting and provoking idea?

For example: 

  • We are invited to clothe ourselves with Christ in Romans 13:14.
  • We are instructed to dress modestly, with decency and propriety but also to clothe ourselves with good deeds in 1 Timothy 2:9-10.
  • Colossians 3:12-14 directs us to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. It also prompts us to put on love which is the personality trait which binds all the others together in unity.

Out of all of these instructions, the encouragement to perform good works is probably one of the most frequently mentioned.

. . . having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.  (1 Pet 2:12 NKJV, emphasis added)

. . . who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.  (Tit 2:14 NKJV, emphasis added)

This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.  (Tit 3:8 NKJV, emphasis added)

The only way to truly clothe ourselves with good works and holy virtues is through the empowering and enabling grace that we receive through our ongoing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer.  Walk in the “Clothing of Salvation”: 

  • The love of God,
  • The grace from God,
  • Faith in God, which is a gift from Him (Eph 2:8-9)
  • The LIFE of God, which is the indwelling Holy Spirit (Pro 12:28; 1 Cor 6:19)

Cling to your relationship with Jesus even as a drowning man clings to a life preserver thrown to him by rescuers.  Jesus provides new grace and strength for each new day, and He will never leave you nor fail you.  Glory to His Holy Name!

Wisdom & Understanding

Wisdom & Understanding

In the Bible, we often see that wisdom and understanding are linked together strongly.

The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding He established the heavens . . .  (Pro 3:19 NKJV)

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.  (Pro 2:6 NIV)

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.  (Pro 4:7 NIV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.  (Pro 9:10 NIV)

He has made the earth by His power; He has established the world by His wisdom, and stretched out the heaven by His understanding.  (Jer 51:15 NKJV)

The Lord uses wisdom and understanding together in combination to establish and accomplish great and mighty things.  Because we are made in God’s image (Gen 9:6 NKJV) and since Christ is our example (1 Pet 2:21 NKJV), we too are strongly encouraged by the Word to gain wisdom and understanding. 

Wisdom means prudence, insight, perceptiveness, or good judgment. 

Understanding means empathy, kindness, or awareness.  In considering these two attributes, we can see how they would work together quite effectively and supportively.

Daily, we can expand and increase both of these characteristics in our lives by reading the Bible faithfully.  No matter what book of the Bible or what topic we may read, the Word of God is filled with the Spirit and the power of God—as well as God’s wisdom and understanding.  The more we fill our hearts and minds with the Word, the more that we will operate with the wisdom and understanding of God.

Be eager students of the Word and you will reap the blessed and life-changing benefits. 

His Unfailing Mercy

His Unfailing Mercy

Our God is a God of unfailing mercy.  Hallelujah!

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. (Lam 3:22-23)

Nevertheless in Your great mercy, You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them;
for You are God, gracious and merciful.
  (Neh 9:31)

Has His mercy ceased forever?  Has His promise failed forevermore?  (Ps 77:8)

And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.  (Lk 1:50)

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  (Eph 2:4-7)

All of the Bible verses shown above attest to this truth; and there are many, many more Scriptures concerning God’s mercy than those that I’ve chosen to share with you here.

This is extremely important to us (human beings) because we tend to fail frequently in our efforts to live holy, obedient, godly lives.  When we sin, we know that we can confess our sins, and God will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  (1 Joh 1:9) 

By the unfailing mercy of God, His perfect salvation covers and obliterates ALL of our sins:  past, present, and future.  The only requirements on our part are that we live obediently to the Lord and His Word; continue in a loving relationship with our Savior; and that we never renounce Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.

Despite the distractions of daily life, we must remember to focus on the goodness of God and His continuing, unfailing mercy upon us.  By His mercy and grace, we are enabled and empowered to bring Him glory and honor through our testimonies and our lives.  May His Name be exalted forever.

Love in Action

Love in Action

My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.  (1 Joh 3:18)

The Bible reminds us that we must put our love into action.  How can we do that?  Let’s see what the Bible has to say.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  (Joh 13:34-35)

 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”  (Joh 14:15)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, 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, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?”  (Mt 5:43-47)

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.  (Col 3:12-14)

All of the Bible passages that I’ve shown above talk about love being shown by actions.  The Lord asks us to demonstrate our love by:

  • Loving one another;
  • Obeying His commandments;
  • Loving our enemies; blessing those who curse us; doing good to those who hate us; and praying for them;
  • Putting on tender mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; and
  • Bearing with one another and forgiving one another.

Love (the bond of perfection) binds all of the qualities of goodness together—which means that love is the source from which all good character traits proceed.  Love motivates, sustains, and unites the presence of all good qualities of character.

Essentially, in living this way we demonstrate the concept of putting on Christ.

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  (Gal 3:27)

The Lord reminded us in His Word that GOD IS LOVE.  (1 Joh 4:8)  The Lord acts upon His own perfect love for us by constantly surrounding us with His love, grace and blessings.

For more verses about love in action, see:  Joh 15:9-10, 13; Rom 5:8; 1 Joh 2:3-6; 3:10-11; 4:7-12; 4:17-20.

The Inexorable Force

The Inexorable Force

Our God is the Inexorable Force of the universe.  What He says always, ALWAYS comes to pass.  When we become born again, He places His hand upon us in such a way that we must share His Truth and His Word.  These verses illustrate what I’m saying:

But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Ac 4:19-20 NIV, underlining added)

But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones.  I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.  (Jer 20:9 NIV)

 “Well, I have come to you now,” Balaam replied. “But I can’t say whatever I please. I must speak only what God puts in my mouth.”  (Num 22:38 NIV)

In our hearts, we feel that force within us that compels us to testify that Jesus is the Redeemer of all mankind—the hope of all the world.  If we are not aware of an inner inducement to share the Good News with others, then it is time to renew our commitment to the Lord and to rededicate ourselves to His purposes.

In Acts 17:16-17, we read that Paul was provoked to share the gospel message with the people in Athens.  Jesus addressed His followers in Acts 1:8 to tell them that they would be His witnesses in this world.

We must confess, along with 2 Samuel 23:2:  “The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; His word is on my tongue.”  Let us lift our voices and testify to the loving goodness and kindness of our God and Savior.  The Holy Spirit (The Inexorable Force) within each one of us lovingly requires it of us all.