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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Self-Control or God-Control

Imagine with me, a young girl, straight blonde hair escaping from the bonnet on her head and tied under her chin.  She is holding the reins to the horse, guiding the plow to make the rich black earth ready for planting.  Her Dad’s instructions were to make straight furrows.  She eyed the fence post in the distance and made that her goal.  Sweat began pouring down across her young face and often blurred the sight of the fence post.  She wiped away the sweat and re-focused to create the straight furrow, as her Dad demanded.  After several rows, she wanted to rest.  She took another breath and renewed her determination. She was spurred on by the love and joy she would see in her Dad’s eyes.

This is the self-control my Mother showed all during her life. The fence post was exchanged for a straight furrow to eternity with God.  The straight furrow was the way she lived life with joy and giving control of her life to God.  Mother’s way of expressing thanksgiving and praise to God including the Doxology! 

Without Self-Control, the fruit of the Spirit could not flow from the heart. It is named last, yet speaks of holy living in every aspect of our lives.  Daniel Lowrie, in his book, Love, Mend, Train, Send writes.  When God’s glory is revealed, it does so in such a way that love is made manifest.  Mercy is his compassionate love and kindness is love’s touch. Grace is his self-giving love, while justice is love making right what is wrong. Holiness is his perfecting love, and sovereignty the freedom of his love.  

Our lives become a tapestry of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control with the jewels of mercy, compassion, kindness, grace, justice, holy living and freedom in Christ Jesus.

Have you ever desired something in the world so much you let nothing stand in your way?  Every decision in life, made daily, leads us to the one thing we desire most.  The small decisions count.  In today’s world, our culture prizes tolerance and correctness to the point that we are enslaved to these earthly goals.  It is often lonely when our hearts are tuned to an eternal life where there are love and forgiveness. There is no forgiveness or love in following the cultural goal. The difference in a cultural and an eternal goal – is that the cultural goal will pass away.

Self-control is the fruit of the Spirit – with these qualities: Peaceful, quiet, gentle, retiring, modest, sedate, self-contained. Composed, serene, tranquil, deliberate, discreet, and steady.  Self-Control has to be practiced by turning away from cluttering our minds and hearts with chaos, murder, and lies.

How does the world see self-control?  Ellen Hendrickson, Psychologist, offers tips on how to achieve self-control. 
#1 - Know That Self-Control Can Be Increased, it is inborn.
#2 = Define What You’re Trying to Control –such as being late.
#3 - Don’t Rely on Brute Force – don’t white knuckle it through
#4 - Reduce the Attractiveness of Your Temptations
#5 - Increase the Attractiveness of Your Task
#6 - Modify Your Environment
#7 - Self-Talk
#8 - Cut Yourself Some Slack

However – Eddie Foster - has a different way of looking at Self-Control.Eddie Foster writes: So where does self-control come in? Everywhere.
1.    It takes self-control to show true godly love instead of lust and infatuation—to love others not as the world loves, but as Christ loved us. “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:2, emphasis added throughout).
2.    It takes self-control to have godly joy when we are facing a difficult situation in life. “Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).
3.    It takes self-control to get along with others and make peace instead of constantly getting into conflict. “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9).
4.    It takes self-control to patiently bear with others rather than quickly condemning them. It’s very hard to “be patient with all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).
5.    It takes self-control to not automatically look out only for yourself but kindly look out for other people (Philippians 2:4).
6.    It takes self-control to do good, to go through the narrow gate toward life rather than the evil, wide gate toward destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).
7.    It takes self-control to be faithful and not have our faith shattered by the mocking of scoffers (2 Peter 3:3-4).

8.    It takes self-control to be a gentle servant of the Lord (2 Timothy 2:24), showing compassion and mercy with real love as God does with us.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Gentleness, a gift from the Holy Spirit, is one of relationship with others.  It cannot be known unless there is a recipient of this gift.  It is a way of listening to others and encouraging them in peace and joy.  Yet, confront them with truth in love.  Gentleness is strength clothed in soft velvet humility of a quiet and loving heart.  (I Peter 3:4)

We often label someone new to us through our limited senses and determine ‘who’ they are without knowing them and walking in their footprints of life. We are not God, the God who looks on the heart.  (I Samuel 16:7). 

Gentleness means giving up the right to judge what is best for others and us.  This gift of gentleness means we accept storms as well as the sunshine in our lives.  We have been addicted to comfort in this life.  We think this is our entitlement.  Yet, we can be sure that through discomfort and struggles we learn to rely on the giver of gifts for more joy than we have ever known and not our own strength.   We can have confidence in our Father of Gentle Love.  Who else would love us so much He sent His Son to die for the sins of the world?  He made a direct way to come to Him in prayer at any time.

There are ways to perceive a person who walks with God.  One friend sacrificed time and money to drive a cancer-laden friend across the country for a last visit with her sister.  By her deeds of generous kindness I knew her heart was filled with gentleness.  This same person drove across several states to be with me as we buried our oldest son. 

Wait, how can I obtain this gentleness?  How can I erase my limited judgment of others?  Who can help me to be gentle?  How will I know when I have this gentleness?

It is a choice.  A decision made once to accept Jesus is not a here and now decision that will fade with time.  It is an eternal choice.  It is choosing Jesus and His Love.  This gift of Jesus comes with a ‘live-in’ Holy Spirit who guides and teaches each of us. All this forgiveness and rebirth of life are from our Heavenly Father, from whom all blessings flow!  As we grow in grace and the fruit of the Spirit, our earthly desires for power and control, the need for peer adulation lessens and fades away.  Our pride becomes empty and we become aware, it is all about Jesus and His nearness every moment of every day of our lives on earth. 

When I think of gentleness, I hear the voice of Jesus beckoning me to come. He beckons children, the weary the tempted and the downtrodden.  Those in pain, widowed, orphaned, those struggling with addiction, those in battle, victims of hate and abuse.  I hear his gentle voice saying, Come unto me!

-Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28
-But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Matthew 19:14
-If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Matthew 19:21
-He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” Luke 9:59
-Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever cometo me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35
-“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ Matthew 25:44-45

But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. I Timothy 6:11.  Without righteousness, there is no gentleness, without living a godly life there is no gentleness.  Without faith, love, and perseverance – there is NO Gentleness!  The fruit of the Spirit are woven together with unbreakable eternal threads of the beauty of the love of our Lord God.  Love is the foundation that Gentleness stands on. 


Tuesday, September 06, 2016


The piano’s hushed melodies echoed in my heart as I listened to the solemn words in that hushed moment, surrounded by flowers, lit candles, friends, and family.  “Do you take this man to be your wedded husband?  Do you promise to love, comfort, and honor him for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and health:  And be faithful only to him so long as you both shall live?”

I barely heard the words for I drank in the love in his eyes.  Now, almost sixty-five years later, we experienced so many ways of being faithful to each other. Faithful in a constantly changing world.  Marriage, designed by God, is the schoolhouse for learning to be faithful and living faithfully not only with my mate but also in a deep relationship with my Lord God. This is not ‘online’ learning – but in the trenches, heart learning to be faithful to God himself.

Each day brings new lessons on how to have a relationship with my Lord God – not just until I die, but for an eternity.  Tim Keller relates faithfulness this way:  Faithfulness is love lived each day, it is the honor and integrity of learning to have a meaningful and lasting relationship.

God made it to be so.  As Adam longed for a mate, God created Eve. And so marriage relationships began. When we disdain and turn away from God and declare He is not a part of our lives, we cannot be trusted to be faithful in any of the roles of our lives.  The result is no ultimate truth, no love or loyalty.  Our job, our spouse, our children, and our friends become less important in the “I”-centered life.  We are ego-driven.

With every bit of creation that catches our eye, from the tiniest insect to the immense universe we see the hand of God.  We see Him from the rising sun, to the sun setting in glorious color.  The army of stars in the sky reminds us of our Father in Heaven and his faithfulness.  Each flower, created by the Designer, and is a smile from our Lord.  Rain pours like a blessed gift from Him. 

Each baby is born in the image of God with a yearning in its heart for eternity. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.  Ecclesiastes 3:11

We are born belonging to Him and our response to Him is the way we choose to live our lives in faithfulness.  Enoch understood that God rewards those who seek after Him and trust Him totally.  We trust God even when He is silent.  That is a part of faithfulness.  Without faithfulness, there can be no life with God.  When we take the name of God in vain, we show our disdain to the One who loves us and chose us long ago.  When we are faithful in little things, God helps us to be faithful in the big things of life.

As human beings, we question, ‘What are the benefits of being faithful and trusting God?’
  • Psalm 37:28 - “For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones.”
  • Proverbs 3:12 - “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring your prosperity.”
  • Proverbs 16:6-7 - “Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil. When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.”
  • Proverbs 28:20a - “A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.”
  • Revelation 2:10 - (NKJV) “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested and will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
·       John 3:16-19 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil." 

Currently, we live a life filled with turmoil. We are unsure of what will happen next across the globe. There are wars, famines, economic collapse, and many natural disasters threatening to engulf us. Being faithful to God gives us great peace and assurance that we will be brought through all of this by His promises of blessings and the reward of eternal life in Heaven.  Faithfulness is being loyal to God our Father and his teachings and shapes how we think and act in our brief time on earth.

·      Psalm 36:5 - Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
·       Philippians 1:6 - And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
Psalm 33:4 - For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does.