Be ... Kind

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” Ephesians 4:32 NIV

As we look at the command to be kind—we see that the word kind is mentioned in its original form in the KJV 7 times. These references show it is interchanged with ‘easy’, ‘better’, ‘goodness’ and ‘good’. This gives us a wider picture of what kind really is. If one is kind they are easy to get along with. One feels better for being in their company and on the receiving end of their kindness. Being kind is always to be good.

When we look at the previous verse in Ephesians v31 ‘ Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice’ we see that kindness involves action. Truly kind people will actively look for opportunities to show kindness.

In Galatians 5:22 kindness is listed as one of the fruit of the Spirit. As Pastor Stephen reminded us in our message on joy, fruit is a reproduction of the life that is there. So the life of the Spirit in someone is going to produce His fruit, as it is a reproduction of God’s Holy character. So we know that, likewise, showing kindness is evidence that we are walking closely with the Lord and allowing Him to prompt our actions of love to others.

Although the word kind is not used more often in the New Testament, the principle of kindness certainly is.

Here are just a few verses (NRSV) to reflect on as we remind ourselves of how Jesus would have us ‘be’ each and everyday….

Starting with ‘The Golden Rule’

C Matthew 7:12 “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.

C Galatians 6:9-10 “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for

those of the family of faith.”

C Proverbs 12:25 “Anxiety weighs down the human heart, but a good word cheers it up.”

C 1 Thes. 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.”

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, You are always kind and our perfect example. Please help us to remember Your ways and allow You to work within so we outwardly show that heart of kindness, compassion and love to others. We say thank You for Your extreme act of kindness in dying in our place on the cross to allow us to have free access to salvation. May our actions show our deep appreciation for what You have done for us, and the love You have for all of us. Please help us as we seek to bring honour and glory to You as we are mindful to be kind to one another. We pray this in Your name, Amen.

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Be ... Gentle

“Be Gentle”

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2 NIV

“...slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone” Titus 3:2 NIV

Both of these verses are in the New Testament. In the NIV there are often headings, that give us a context/subject of the following words.

Our Ephesians verse comes under the heading title of “Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ” and our Titus verse title is “Saved in order to do good.”

What great summaries to spur us on and instruct us, as God’s people and the ‘Body of Christ’. We have lots of guidance, help and direction in order for us to be mature, live in unity and do good and being gentle is a definite sign of being a Christ follower.

Note that humility sits right beside gentleness? Gentle in the Bible is by implication linked with patience and humility. Strong’s Hebrew and Greek dictionaries show that gentle in this context is showing moderation, an appropriate response.

Let’s have a think about it for a moment, ponder your interactions for the last week. When you left the conversation, would those you spoke with, have the lasting impression of you being gentle? You see being gentle is to have a demeanour that is dependent on the Lord. Yes, it can be risky, we may be rejected, even walked all over, but we can’t go wrong if we are following the example of Jesus Himself, can we?

Proverbs 16:24 tells us that ‘gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.’

As we reflect on being gentle, let us consider, what situation / conversation / challenge do we have before us that requires our gentleness to be evident, rather than perhaps, our aggressive or selfish response?

Let us be in prayer and seek the Lord’s help with having His demeanour, appropriate responses, delivered calmly, being gentle and humble.

Loving Father, we thank You for the wonderful and perfect example of Jesus. He had many opportunities during His time here to be anything but gentle, and yet He remained right at all times. Lord, forgive us for the times when we haven’t stopped to be gracious or gentle in our responses or behaviour. So many times we have acted in haste, allowed pride and self to get in the way. We ask that you help us to constantly be open to your Spirit, so that we too can be humble and gentle like Jesus. Help us to be the people You have called us to be, may we continue to mature in You, be unified with You and our family in Christ and do good. In Jesus precious name, we ask. Amen.

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Be ... Joyful

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12 NIV

It is interesting that ‘be joyful’ follows on from the topics of ‘be transformed’ and ‘be slow to anger’. When we think about it, when we are in a position of being transformed, and allowing God’s Holy Spirit to work in and through us, it is then we have the by-products of controlling our temper. When this happens our hearts and mind can be focussed on the hope of Jesus, which leads to being joyful.

This week our verse speaks about being joyful in hope. Hope is often confused, as we tend to use it in a different context to how the Bible speaks of it.

This spiritual hope is not a ‘I hope it doesn’t rain’ or ‘ I hope I can do xyz’ it is a confident expectation and desire for something good in the future.

When God speaks about hope, He is talking about an anchor for our souls. It is secure enough to cling onto, no matter our circumstances. It is a promise of wonderful things to come as the price has already been paid. As Christians we know that it was out of God’s love for the world that He sent His Son Jesus to die and be raised from death, overcoming sin, so that we could experience a life of faith and hope.

The promises of things to come is also found in hope. Jesus tells us of that hope when He says to the disciples that He is going to prepare a place for us, when everything is ready, He will come and get us, so that we will always be with Him.

As we reflect on Jesus’ words again, let them fill us with joyful hope.

As per Romans 5:13 says,

13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Lord, help me to hear You saying, "I am Your hope" over all the other voices. Lord, Your word says, You are the hope for hopeless so I'm running to You with both hands stretched out and grabbing on to You. Please fill me with hope and give me a tangible reminder today that Your hope is unbreakable.

I accept Your hope with deep appreciation and thank You that it leads to deep joy. I pray that Your joy will be more and more evident in my life as I actively practice joy in Your hope.

May You use me as I show and share Your joy and hope to others, so they too may experience the joy which is freely available to all who believe and accept Jesus.

Thank and praise You Lord. In Jesus’ name Amen.

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Be ... Slow to Anger

"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry." James 1:19 NLT

Those who trust and obey God learn to adjust the speed of their listening and speaking. If God is truly in control, we can afford to take the time to understand. Rather than shooting from the hip, we can respond in a way that is helpful. Doubting that God is in control speeds up our mouth and slows down our mind.

As believers, we shouldn't be obsessed with ensuring that we are heard and understood in order to get what we want. When we act according to our immediate desires, and our immediate reactions, we feel a lack of control. And when we feel like we're losing control, we will get angry.

Notice that this is not a command to never feel anger. Anger is a human emotion that everyone experiences, and it can be justified. However, James' instruction here makes it clear that we can learn to control—or at least slow down—our angry responses. In fact, to refuse to let anger control us is itself an act of faith. It is a choice to believe that the Father is in control, that He loves us, and that He is good.

Why should we, as God's children through faith in Christ, learn to control our anger, to slow it down, to keep it in check? Here in James, the bottom line is this: Anger doesn't work. Practically speaking, anger is an ineffective tool for contributing to the righteousness of God. Letting anger fly may be a great tool for getting our own way. The world tells us that anger can manipulate or intimidate those around us. Anger gives us the feeling that we are in control of the people in our lives, even making ourselves feel better for a few moments. But even from a non-spiritual perspective, this comes at a high price. We lose our integrity, the trust of others, and our self-control when we live by anger.

God’s teaching here reveals a huge idea: We were created for far more than simply getting the superficial things out of life. Part of our purpose as believers is to be used by God to help contribute to His righteousness, to help accomplish His purpose in the world. We have a glorious, eternal purpose, far greater than what we can achieve through anger or sin.

Everlasting God, Your peace surpasses all my understanding. When anger rises within me, please calm my mind and soothe my heart with Your gentle words. Fill my whole life with Your perfect peace. May my personality be shaped by Your peace rather than my frustration. With Your Holy Spirit in my life, I can overcome anger. May I reflect Your character, being slow to anger and rich in steadfast love. Look upon me and cause Your face to shine upon me. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.

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Be Series ... Be Transformed

Be Transformed

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

There are many who think that the only problem with the human mind is that it doesn’t have access to all the knowledge it needs. So education becomes the great instrument of redemption — personal and social.

However, what we may not understand is that the mind has a “spirit.” It doesn’t just have the power to perceive and detect; it also has a posture, a demeanour, an attitude, a bent. “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.”

It is humans spirit of mind that is, by its own nature, hard and ignorant. Hard hearts will not submit to the supremacy of Christ and therefore our minds cannot ‘see’ Him for who He is.

So what is the answer? In short Holy Spirit. In Titus 3:5 we learn that God saves us not because of anything we do, but because of His mercy. ‘He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.’

Renewal is essential and necessary for transformation. And it is renewal of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit renews the mind—it starts with Him and can only be achieved if we allow Him to ‘access all areas’ of our life.

What happens when we do allow the Spirit to ‘transform’ us? He enables us to ‘see’ the glory of the Lord. By us steadfastly gazing at the glories of Christ for what they really are.

For us to be able to do this, Holy Spirit must be allowed to do 2 things. We need to let Him work from the outside in and the inside out.

He works from the outside in when we hear the gospel; we read the Bible, we study it and meditate on Christ and His teachings.

He works from the inside in, by helping us, guiding us and giving us the wisdom and discernment to the truth in His Word.

If Holy Spirit doesn’t have access to both the inside and outside of us, our heart remains hard, Christ is not embraced and we are not able to worship and glorify Him.

In Matthew 17:2 when Jesus was transfigured or transformed…’His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became dazzling white’.

May we too, as followers of Jesus, be so transformed that Holy Spirit shines like the sun through us so that we can glorify our Heavenly Father and God, just as Jesus.

Father, I love You . I honour You Jesus. I exalt Your name above all names. Father, thank You for making me, one of your dearly loved children.

Jesus I ask that You be Lord of my life today in new ways, reveal the fullness of Your majesty and glorify Yourself by living in, and through me, change me in any way You want. Give me an insatiable thirst and hunger for You, Your word and in Your ways. Show me Your will Lord. Thank You that I can ask all these things in the mighty name of Your dear Son, Jesus and in the power of Your spirit. Amen.

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Be Sermon Series - Listening

“Be Listening”

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

James 1:19

This week we feature ‘listening’ in the ‘Be’ series. We have all heard the saying ‘we have two ears and just one mouth, so we should be listening twice as much as we speak’. For some of us that is an awful lot of listening!

Our focus verse this week talks about the need to listen. As always we need to look at the context of the verse and as we do, we see that it is framed in-between references of God’s truth—His Word. This verse is calling us to a way of living, now that we are God’s Children—born again Christians.

God wants us to know more than who we are, ‘new people in Christ’ and that there are some vital/crucial truths that we need to know to bloom into the people we were created to be. To be fruitful for the Lord and live out the potential He has planted in us.

This ‘Be’ series has been exploring the various aspects of this and listening needs to be our priority and the start to further growth. We need to let God speak to us through His Word. We often lead busy lives or they simply become consumed with our own agenda, our concerns, our worries etc. The result is too easily ignoring God. He does know us well, after all He created us—so He knows how to get our attention. Instead of complaining about all that is wrong, and voicing the blame everywhere else, we as Christians should be listening to God.

‘Hey, I listen to the sermon every week so I am listening!’

Remember, there are 168 hours in a week, an hour in church isn’t much listening is it?

We are so blessed here. We have free access to God’s Word in various translations and versions, we probably have a few copies on our bookshelves. There are online resources, there are many books and devotionals to help us listen and focus. The question is, are we listening every day? Are we really listening—that is do we give God’s Word, the Bible, our undivided attention—do we ask Holy Spirit to help us understand, to recall and think on during the day? Do we prayerfully seek the Lord’s help to live out what we have heard? Do we practice what we have heard, and then when we mess up, do we hear His Words guiding us back on track? Or are our minds so noisy with our own thoughts, ideas and focussed on whatever else is around us?

Yes, it is a challenge. The good news is that the Lord knows this and will help, but first….we need to be listening.

Heavenly Father, Your Word says I will seek You and find You with all my heart. I long to hear Your voice, Lord. But I know that in order to hear You, I need to spend time with You. Help me to desire Your presence more than anything else. More than answers, more than direction, more than blessings. Your presence is a gift, and I thank You that You are always there to meet me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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Be Sermon Series - Be Filled

“Be filled”

‘So be very careful how you live, not being like those with no understanding, but live honourably with true wisdom, for we are living in evil times. Take full advantage of every day as you spend your life for his purposes. And don’t live foolishly for then you will have discernment to fully understand God’s will. And don’t get drunk with wine, which is rebellion; instead be filled continually with the Holy Spirit. And your hearts will overflow with a joyful song to the Lord. Keep speaking to each other with words of Scripture, singing the Psalms with praises and spontaneous songs given by the Spirit! Always give thanks to the Father God for every person he brings into your life in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’. Eph 5:15-20

Today’s focus is to be filled, taken from verse 18 (highlighted in blue above.) The surrounding verses are also included to give us some context.

Paul sets the tone for chapters 4-5 of Ephesians when he said “walk worthily of the calling with which you were called (Eph. 4: 1).

In the verses we are looking at today we see the ‘how’ of that walk.

We can see here that we cannot pretend that evil isn’t real, but this is not the whole picture either. We can see the world truthfully and live in it wisely if we understand what the will of the Lord is (v17). We can know where God is bringing the world, because God has revealed that grace in Christ. We can also know that God has an astonishing role for the church in being the community which embodies that promise. To ‘understand what the will of the Lord is’ means to live lives, which align with the goal revealed in Christ.

To live out such a life can only be done by the power of God’s Spirit. The ironic association between being intoxicated and being filled with the Spirit can be seen in the Pentecost account in Acts 2, where the bystanders think that the believers are drunk. However it is a member of the Holy Trinity that does the filling.

The verses then go on to show us the signs of the filling of Holy Spirit. The activities of singing and being joyful are not what we do in order to get Holy Spirit to fill us, but rather, that these activities as outlined in v 19-20 flow as a result of the Spirit’s work among us. This is what wisdom looks like and what Holy Spirit’s filling brings: a life composed in songs, in praise, and in joy. In such songs we should declare together ‘the will of the Lord’ for all the world. It is intended that we should also be building one another up as we sing and share God’s love, grace, and gift of Jesus Christ as our Saviour.

Our challenge for today is: what is our motivation for our actions? Do we ‘do’ because we think it is what is expected/or what we feel like or want? Or do we ‘do’ out of a joyful and thankful response to the Lord, who He is and what He has done for us and called us to do?

Lord God, I come and confess my lack and in its place I ask that You please fill me with the desire for more of You and more of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, I ask that You increase my will to surrender and give up control and increase my faith in the promises of God. I want my life to be filled by You, led by You and to give You all the glory and honour. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen.

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Be ... Self Controlled

“Be Self-Controlled”

‘The end of all things is near. You must be self-controlled and alert, to be able to pray.’ 1 Peter 4:7

Today’s focus is self control.

Peter is writing to the Christians who were suffering for Jesus’ sake and is offering a perspective which is both encouraging and a warning: It’s almost over.

The Messiah has come, lived, died, been resurrected and ascended back to His Father where He reigns. True, by God’s grace, it has been 2,000+ years since these words, but the day continues to draw ever nearer.

So what is our right response to this awareness? Panic? Isolation? Indulgence in pleasure-seeking? Peter’s answer is that the most rational response is to pray. And, that prayer requires strong and clear minds. To do this we must be ‘self-controlled’ or alert, or exercising sound judgement about our choices. ‘Sober mind’ is the term that is also used, meaning to be temperate, have an outlook that reflects true balance, serious.

The whole word-family comes from two words in the Greek, sōos ("safe") and phrēn ("what regulates life,") which in English gives us the term ‘diaphram’.

Here’s an example: An opera singer controls the length (quality) of their tones by their diaphragm, which even controls our ability to breathe and moderates heartbeat. This regulates (‘brings safety’) to the body, keeping it properly controlled.

This self control is both the gift of God and the result of the believer making conscious decisions to cultivate this way of life. Self control is listed with fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:23). This is a reminder that to get this fruit you need to be a gardener, exerting persevering effort and practice over time to yield a harvest. Even this, however, is a Spirit-empowered effort enabled by God’s grace.

Peter writes, that we must be self-controlled or alert, or exercising sound judgement about our choices, in other words we should be careful about how we live. Our choices impact our ability to think clearly. It is better to be self-controlled so that we can pray.

How necessary is prayer for Christians? It is crucial. How concerned are we about keeping our minds nimble and focused for the purpose of praying? That’s perhaps a harder question. What, if anything, is keeping us from thinking clearly and praying faithfully?

Loving Father, I come to You to ask for You to give me clear thinking. Help me to separate the truth of what You are calling me to do from the lies of the enemy. Do not allow the enemy to cloud my thinking. Help me to stay close to You and to easily recognise Your voice. Cast all negative thinking from me, as I know it is not from You. Help me to practice self control so that I can examine my thinking often and be focussed on You and Your ways, not mine. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.

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Be ... Steadfast

‘Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.‘ 1 Cor 15:58

Today we look at the command to be steadfast.

As we look throughout Scripture we can learn more about steadfastness.

To be steadfast means to be firm, sure and unwavering. It is resolute, strong, steady and unshakable. Does this describe your faith?

Is your soul, your most inner self, absolute about God—His love for you and your worth in His eyes? Do you trust God with your life more than you trust yourself? This means to trust His decisions, no matter what!

Hebrews 3:14 tells us that we are to be steadfast to the end. This means once we make the resolve to look to God, we keep our focus on Him and not give up. We are to set our hearts and be faithful to God.

What if we are not steadfast? If we have a look at Psalms 78:1-8 we see that lack of steadfastness is an act of rebellion.

What does it take to be steadfast? It takes decisiveness—If you check out Joshua 24:14-25 you read the account of Joshua telling the people what it required to be steadfast—choose who you are going to serve and do it today!

God is a jealous or zealous God we know this from Exodus 20 & Deuteronomy 5. God’s heart longs for each us to be in relationship with Him. For us to give Him our undivided attention.

In the New Testament, Paul explains a similar jealousy for the hearts of new believers. He does not want them to be led away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. See 2 Cor 11:2.

You see it is God and God alone, we can’t have a foot in both camps; we can’t have a little bit of this and little bit of that—it is all God or its nothing.

Those who believe, can have the most glorious assurance and thrilling confidence, that every promise of God will be fulfilled, including the resurrection and life everlasting. It is for this reason that we should live in the light of this confident hope. Our trust in God’s Word should be steadfast, and our faith immovable—no matter what trials and tribulations we may be called upon to face.

We are encouraged to be fruitful in our work, our serving and our living and to do the good work that God has given us to do. Let us never doubt God’s Word, but with joy fulfil our calling enthusiastically. Let us be steadfast and praise God we do have a sure hope and an eternal inheritance since the time we placed our trust in Christ.

Loving Father, what a glorious future You have purposed and planned for all who trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. May we never doubt You or Your Word. Please enable me to be steadfast in my daily walk with You and remain strong in my faith. Help me to be productive and to carry out the tasks that You have put aside for each of us to do. May all we do bring You praise and glory, In Your Son’s name, Amen.

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