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!

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!

The Blessings of Fellowship

The Blessings of Fellowship

There are great blessings that result from fellowship and unity with other believers.  We need the companionship of close friends and relatives who are fellow Christians.  Let’s look at the Scriptures.

If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
  (Eccl 4:10 NIV)

Here the Bible reminds us that having a close companion or friend will provide us with support, help, and strength.

. . . not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.  (Heb 10:25)

This passage in Hebrews reminds us that gathering regularly with other believers provides encouragement and validation of our faith as well as support.

Therefore comfort one another with these words.  (1 Thes 4:18)

Meeting with other believers provides us with comfort, security, and reassurance.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.  (1 Thes 5:11 RSV) Christian fellowship provides inspiration from the Bible, the nurturing of our faith and the joy which lightens our hearts.  What beautiful and loving blessings from God!

One Flock and One Shepherd

One Flock and One Shepherd

All who serve and follow the Lord Jesus Christ are one flock, and we obey one Good Shepherd’s voice!

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  (Gal 3:28, emphasis added)

 . . . where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.  (Col 3:1, emphasis added)

And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.  (Joh 10:16, underlining added)

As we read and meditate upon these Bible passages, we can clearly understand that in God’s flock there is no room for prejudice, hatred, nationalism or sexism.  We are all one in Christ—united in, by and through Jesus Christ.  All believers follow Jesus Christ who is our example and our Good Shepherd.

Because we are all following one Savior and we are all listening to the only Good Shepherd’s voice, the Lord desires us to dwell in unity with one another.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!  (Ps 133:1)

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.  (1 Cor 12:12)

. . . endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  (Eph 4:3)

. . . till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ . . . (Eph 4:13)

The Lord also desires us to be in harmony with each other as well as to comfort and to edify one another!  Let us be always obedient to the voice of the Lord.

Be of the same mind toward one another.  (Rom 12:16a)

Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.  (1 Thes 5:11)

God bless you!

Use the Gifts that You’ve Been Given

Use the Gifts that You’ve Been Given

Each and every believer has been given gifts from God.  The Lord gives us the grace that we need in order to use each of these gifts.  Gifts are given to us for the advantage and the salvation of other people which is why it’s so crucial that we USE the gifts that God has given to us.

. . . for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.  (1 Cor 12:8-11)    

There are various gifts, but they all come from one God (our Father), one Lord (Jesus), and one Spirit (the Holy Spirit).  God is the giver of all spiritual blessings.  If we have any knowledge of the truth, or any ability to make it known, we must give all of the glory to God.

Whatever gifts that God wanted each one of us to have were the ones that He bestowed upon us.  As we mature in the life of faith, He may give us additional gifts.

The purpose for giving the church the gift of prophecy was to edify (build up), exhort (encourage) and to comfort the church.  (1 Cor 14:3)   We’re also to use our various, individual gifts to equip the saints for the work of the ministry.  (Eph 4:12)

In unity and dependence upon one another, we are taught to speak the truth in love and thus, we will mature into the full stature of Christ.  (Eph 4:13)  Hallelujah! 

Encourage & Build

Encourage & Build

Have you ever heard this saying?  “Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.”  Such a person is an ENCOURAGER!

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.  (1 Thes 5:11 NIV)

There are at least thirteen passages in the New Testament alone about encouragement.  Encouragement means inspiration, reassurance, and support.  Encouragement is a combination of all three.  It has great potential for fostering and advancing critical moments in a person’s, a church’s, and or a nation’s history. 

But command Joshua, and encourage him and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which you will see.  (Deu 3:28 NKJV)  As this verse in the Bible demonstrates, encouragement is able to strengthen a person’s soul (mind, will, and emotions) and help them to push ahead to accomplish their goal.  Thanks to encouragement and God’s grace, Joshua accomplished great things for God.

When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.  (Acts 11:23)  This is when Barnabas visited the church at Antioch:  He supported them in their faith in God and emboldened them to continue in it.

Here is something interesting to know about Barnabas

“Barnabas” wasn’t his birth name (it was Joseph); Barnabas was his nickname meaning “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4:36). This rather obscure Bible character was so encouraging that it became his name.” ~ Source:  https://www.leadershipresources.org/who-is-barnabas-in-the-bible-10-things-to-know.

. . . that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ . . .  (Col 2:2)  These words of the Apostle Paul’s are inspiration to the church of his day—as well as to us.  He is nurturing our unity, our faith in and understanding of the Gospel, and our perseverance in faith.

. . . and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith . . .  (1 Thes 3:2)  The Apostle Paul is writing from Antioch about sending Timothy to confirm, reassure and to strengthen the faith of the Thessalonian church during persecution.

As these passages reveal to us, encouragement is powerful!  It has the potential to build (develop, shape, and foster) a person’s faith in God as well as a confidence in their calling to such an extent that they are enabled to accomplish mighty deeds and to produce pivotal moments in history. 

Boldly encourage someone that you care about today.  Blessings upon you!

Stir Each Other to Love & Good Works

Stir Each Other to Love & Good Works

When we have fellowship with other believers, we can influence one another to perform acts of kindness out of love for the Lord Jesus and thereby bring glory to God.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.  (Heb 10:24-25 ESV)

. . . but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  (Heb 3:13) 

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  (Act 2:1)

Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.  (1 Thes 5:11)

Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless . . .   (2 Pet 3:14)

These Scripture verses shown above demonstrate a number of good examples for us believers today:

  • As we have regular fellowship, and we have the privilege of comforting and improving each other.
  • It is good to encourage one another to perform kind and loving deeds.
  • We should exhort (urge) one another to live holy lives, even as Jesus did.
  • We should live in peace, harmony, and holiness.
  • It is good to meet with other believers very frequently or to have fellowship through a phone conversation.
  • Do not allow ourselves to become hard-hearted.
  • When we do meet with fellow believers, it is important to be in one accord (unity, harmony).

As brothers and sisters in Christ, we can be an incredible blessing and encouragement to one another.

Friends

Friends

Have you experienced some relationship catastrophes in your life?  Have one or two friends decided, for various purported reasons, to “unfriend” you?  Well, I want to reassure you that you have a Friend who will NEVER treat you like that!

Jesus is your Friend who sticks closer than a brother, and He told us that He will NEVER leave us nor forsake us!  (Pro 18:24; Heb 13:5)  Hallelujah!!

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. (Joh 15:15 ESV, emphasis added)

Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends. (Joh 15:13 ESV)

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (Prov 17:17 ESV, emphasis added)

What kind of “friend” decides to end a relationship of many years’ standing simply because of one or two tiny incidents?  Why would they not rather choose to communicate with their friend about what happened and how they felt, in order to restore harmony and unity in the relationship?  This person would be a poor example of a friend.

Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  (Mt 28:20 NKJV)  Jesus is the friend who will never leave us.  He promises to be with us ALWAYS.  Glory to God!

Not only are these points significant, but Jesus is a very special Friend indeed.  (All verses below NKJV)

  • He is our Friend who LOADS us daily with blessings and benefits (Ps 68:19).
  • He gives us the desires of our hearts, as we delight in Him.  (Ps 37:4)
  • He gives us great and precious promises through which we be may be partakers of His divine nature.  (2 Pet 1:4)
  • He does whatever we ask Him to do!  (When we ask in His name – Joh 14:13-14)
  • In Christ Jesus, our Friend, all of God’s Biblical promises have been answered:  “Yes!” and “Make it so!”  (1 Cor 1:20)
  • If we ask anything according to God’s will (which is His Word), we know that the Lord hears our request.  And when we know that He has heard our prayer, we know that He has answered our prayer, “Yes”.  (1 Joh 5:14-15)
  • Jesus is our healer.  (Isa 53:4-5; Mt 8:17; 1 Pet 2:24)

There is no other Friend who loves us, blesses us, and cares for us like He does! 

Banner of Love

Banner of Love

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.  (SOS 2:4 NKJV)

In the Bible, many times when the word banner is used, it is referring to a flag.  Armies carry flags and kingdoms display flags to identify and declare several things: 

  • The identity of the King who rules in a certain country and in whose name a particular army fights;
  • The identity of the kingdom to whom an army has pledged its loyalty and steadfastness;
  • The identity of the kingdom that has supplied (and will continue to supply) an army;
  • The identity of the King and the kingdom which will protect an army or a country.

In the instance of the verse shown at the top of this article, the word banner has additional implications to those mentioned above:

  1. The King signified by this banner is King Jesus (the King of Kings and Lord of Lords), who has established His banner, authority, and might in LOVE;
  2. The Kingdom that displays this banner of love not only supplies food, armaments, and other supplies but it also supplies grace to its army and to its people;
  3. This banner represents a Kingdom of loveliness, security, unity, and loyalty;
  4. One of the seven names of God, Jehovah Nissi, means “The Lord our Banner.” (Exodus 17:14-15) The Bible reminds us that God is love.  (1 Joh 4:8, 16b)  Praise the Lord that His banner over us is love!

In John Gill’s Exposition on Song of Solomon 2:4, he says:  “ . . . the covenant of grace and the Scriptures of truth may be thought of as a banqueting house, well stored with blessings, and promises, and rich provisions; which, to be led and let into, is a singular kindness . . .”

As the children of God, we are a blessed people and I recommend thinking about this at length. 

We’re One with the Lord

We’re One with the Lord

But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.  (1 Cor 6:17)

. . . as He is, so are we in this world.  (1 Joh 4:17b)

When we become born again (saved), one of those mysteries occurs that the Bible mentions. “What mystery?” you ask.  The mystery of our spirit being joined to the spirit of Christ.  The mystery that the Bible reveals in 1 John 4:17 that as Jesus is—right now in heaven—so are we (believers) on earth.

How is that possible?  That is why it is called a mystery, because we will understand it fully when we are in heaven, face to face with the Lord.  Until that day, we trust in this verse by using the gift of faith that He gave to each one of us.

Because we are one spirit with the Lord, we have intimate communion with God through Christ.  Our salvation experience has baptized us into Christ.  We have “put on Christ.”  (Gal 3:27) 

Being “in Christ” allows us to experience this new life that we’ve been given in community with all those who are also in Christ.  We have fellowship as well as unity.

To my thinking, Jesus, Himself, is the robe of righteousness to which Job 29:14 and Isaiah 61:10 refer.  (Rom 8:1; Gal 2:16)

Daily Bible reading will keep us attached to the True Vine.  (Joh 15:1-11)  The more the word of Christ dwells in us richly, the more fully the joy of Christ will dwell within us.

As you ponder this mystery of being joined to the Lord, take time to thank and to praise God for it.  Allow yourself to celebrate and to enjoy the sense of awe and wonder that this living mystery deserves.