The resurrection makes all the difference! Praise the risen One!
Romans 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
This Easter I want to praise the Lord for how he is helping us reach the Chinese here in America:
- In our August 2018 prayer letter I reported:
“I was able to meet a Chinese man who was participating in an ESL class at our home church and started studying the Bible with him in Chinese. Please pray for his salvation.”
Once I started traveling full time, I turned the Bible study over to my friend Andy. He has been studying with him ever since. Andy has also started a Chinese Sunday school class at our home church. That Chinese man now believes in Jesus and is getting baptized tomorrow, Lord willing! Amen!
- In our September 2018 prayer letter I wrote:
“Pray as we reach out to the Chinese community we meet as we travel.”
Since then I have had the opportunity to teach at least two groups in Chinese and share the gospel with them. And just in this month’s (April 2019) prayer letter was I able to report of another Chinese man getting saved: “During one of our missions conferences, I was able to teach a Chinese Sunday school class. The class seemed to really enjoy the lesson, especially since I taught a good portion of it in Chinese (usually the class is taught in English). Following the Sunday school hour, we all sat together for the main service. During the invitation, the teacher of that class brought one of the first time Chinese visitors over to me and said he wanted to know more about being saved. I didn’t have a Chinese Bible on me, so I opened the Chinese Bible app on my iPad and walked him through the gospel. At the end, I asked him, “Is this something you want to do now, or do you want to understand it more first?” He responded with, “Now,” and then he bowed his head to ask Christ to save him. Praise the Lord for saving another sinner!“
Pray for another Chinese man who I was able to witness to last week in Tennessee that showed a lot of interest in the gospel.
Finally, I want to ask you to pray for Grace Baptist in China and the other churches we are associated with as they celebrate Easter. Through the recent and past persecutions there must be some anticipation about this Sunday, but pray they will boldly proclaim, “Jesus is alive! He is risen from the dead!”
We have truly been blessed financially over the past 8 months or so of furlough. We have been able to raise some much needed support (not at our goal yet, but getting there) and even pay off the debt that we accumulated. Now as we look forward to our return to China later this year, Lord willing, we are looking to save and raise funds for the following two reasons:
- Church Planting Fund ($10,000) – Lord willing, when we return to China from furlough we will be launching another church plant. Our next stage of ministry is to become a multi church planting ministry. With the recent persecution against our ministry, it just reemphasized the need to train men for full time ministry because one day we might not be allowed to return or be kicked out of China. But until that day, we want to do as much as we can with the length of days the Lord gives us in the country. So we want to be able to continue to help that church that was established but also press forward and plant another church and train more men to start more churches.
- Reentry Setup Fund ($20,000) – As we prepared for furlough, we put much of our things, furniture and vehicle into storage but also several things we sold because of the need to upgrade to meet the demands of our growing family etc. when we return to the field. Thus, we will not only be looking to purchase those items that need to be replaced (certain furniture and appliances), but also need the funds for plane tickets, at least three months rent, and the cost of visas before we return.
Our supporters have always been so generous to our family and we don’t take it for granted. I pray God’s richest blessings upon you.
Also, please pray as we get some medical issues taken cared of before we return.
An attitude of love is a way of life that finds salvation in the love of God as it was manifested through the cross of Jesus and humbly accepts it by faith; this life-changing love causes the believers to choose love as the most important characteristic of all their actions and is to be paired with all their actions. As a result there is no more room for the sinful attitudes and actions that comes from a heart of hate. The Holy Spirit works in them to fulfill the royal law of loving others as yourself.
God Is Love And God Manifests His Love Towards Us
- Love has a range of meanings but can be put into four main categories (based on the Greek language): sexual or erotic affection/love—the feeling of being physically attracted to someone; family affection/love—the feeling a parent has for their child; friendly affection/love—the feeling a person has towards their close friends; sacrificial affection/love—the feeling and action of making a willful decision to care about and do good for another, even if they are undeserving and despite the personal cost to do so. It is this kind of “sacrificial love” that God has shown towards us and the type of love we are aspiring to use to love others. This type of love is rooted in God Himself because the scriptures say that, “God is love”. Therefore, an “attitude of love” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses being born of and knowing God (our relationship with Him) and enables us to properly respond as receivers of His sacrificial love—to love one another.
1 John 4:7-8, 11; Luke 6:35
- God’s sacrificial love was manifested towards us when He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, into the world to save us. While we were still sinners Jesus died for us—to be the propitiation for our sins—so that we might live through Him. We were completely unworthy of God’s love and goodness towards us, but because He is love He chose to share it with us according to His own purposes. He even paid all the expense—it cost Him the life of His son to love us and restore our relationship with Him.
1 John 4:9-10; Romans 5:8
- God’s love changes everything for the believer as it matures in us (perfected). As believers, we become children of God. He is love. Thus, love is to be characteristic of who we are. We are to sacrificially love others just like God did when He manifested His love to the world through Jesus’ death on the cross. We can’t see God or love, for these are invisible, but we can see them through the sacrificially loving actions of believers who are living out God’s love here on earth—it is a testimony or witness to the reality of God’s love. As we know and believe the love that God has for us and subsequently live out this love through the Holy Spirits work in our life, it provides assurance that we truly abide in God. It also gives us confidence (boldness) in the day of judgement—we know that our sins are forgiven by God because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, thus we no longer live in fear—anticipating an unsure or unpleasant outcome or punishment. But we live our lives knowing that we are loved by God and thus in return love God and love others.
1 John 4:12-21; Matthew 22:36-40
To Love Above All Else Is The Goal Of Every Action
- Love is the ultimate characteristic above all else and everything without love is useless. Thus love needs to be paired with every action that we do. We want to effectively communicate, have great faith, be full of giving and merciful acts and personal sacrifice, but if we do any of these without “genuine love” then it profits us nothing!
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
- Paul describes genuine love fo us and what it is really like. It is a love that never fails. The following is broken into four categories to help us apply these to our actions:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
- The “temperament” of genuine love: (1) “suffers long”—patient and even-tempered during difficult times towards others; (2) “kind”—tries to be gentle, considerate and sympathetic towards others; (6) “does not behave itself unseemly” (rude)—not being offensive or impolite towards others; (8) “not easily provoked”—doesn’t get easily upset or irritable at others and doesn’t take everything personally; (9) “thinks no evil”—doesn’t keep count of other’s failures or sins nor becomes resentful towards them.
- The “selflessness” of genuine love: (3) “envies not”—doesn’t become upset over someone else’s’ advantages; (4) “vaunts not itself” (boastful)—you aren’t focused on expressing your self-importance but on expressing others’ self-importance; (5) “not puffed up” (prideful)—doesn’t exaggerate a sense of self at the detriment of others; (7) “seeks not its own”—doesn’t take advantage of others to fulfill your own desires.
- The “rigidness” of genuine love: (10) “rejoices not in iniquity”—doesn’t feel happy when others do wrong and doesn’t accept or allow sin; (11) “rejoices in the truth”—does feel happy when others do right and stands firm on biblical truth.
- The “acceptance” of genuine love: (12) “bears all things”—willing to suffer everything (small grievances and sins against you) that interpersonal relationship bring for the other persons good; (13) “believes all things”—willing to believe good about others and not wrongfully judge their unverified motives; (14) “hopes all things”—willing to expect good in your relationships with others; (15) “endures all things”—willing to courageously withstand all trials and do our best to manifest the love of God—others might treat us bad but we are going to stand firm and keep loving them.
To Overcome The Inward Attitudes Of Hatred
- The opposite of love is hate. Hatred is the inward attitude of the heart that feels and thinks intense dislike or aversion towards others (for various reasons). This sinful attitude is often the root of the many outward actions, such as: verbally assaulting others (ex. cursing, insults); physically assaulting others (ex. killing, violence). Thus, hate and love cannot live together at the same time within believers, you must choose to hate or love others. As believers, we choose to love others through the power of the Holy Spirit—it is part of the fruit that the Holy Spirit is producing in all genuine believers.
Matthew 5:21-26; Galatians 5:19-25
- The Bible shows us that a habitually lifestyle of hate is a sign that a person is a false believer or false teacher. Is you life defined by love or hate?
1 John 2:9, 11; 4:20
- True love means we are not to be partial (respect to persons; show favoritism). If we do we become “judges of evil thoughts”. This includes discrimination (ex. giving preference to the rich verses the poor), racism and bigotry. Instead we are to replace any of these attitudes of hatred with the royal law found in Scripture, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”.
- What are the different kinds of love?
- Who is love? How did He manifest His live?
- The goal of every action fo the believer is to express what?
- What is genuine love like?
- Love helps us overcome what kind of wrong attitudes?
An attitude of humility is a way of life that finds grace and blessing in humbling one’s self under the mighty hand of God. It starts at the cross of Jesus—which reminds of our sinfulness and God’s love for sinners like us. As a result we are to be clothed with humility, practically this means to live the life of a servant and to overcome our pride, arrogance, superior attitudes and huge egos.
Humility Starts At the Cross Of Jesus
- Humility is the disposition or character of evaluating oneself appropriately or modestly. True biblical humility is rooted in the truth of assessing our sinfulness compared to God’s holiness—which leads to a low view of self and a high view of God. Therefore, an “attitude of humility” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses our lowliness before Him and dependance on Him—thus enabling us to approach Him in a manner that is able to become receivers of His amazing grace.James 4:6, 10
- Jesus exemplified what true biblical humility is like. Jesus was God, has always been God and will always be God (being in the form—full essence—of God). In every aspect Jesus is equal with God. But He didn’t fully grasp or make use of this rightful claim, instead He made Himself of no reputation—meaning He set aside many of the privileges that He has because of who He is. He set this aside and took upon Him the form—full essence—of a servant and was made in human likeness. Thus, Jesus who is fully God became fully man so that He could be a servant and accomplish the will of the Father. The Father’s will was the cross—for the salvation of sinners for the glory of His name. The world only found Jesus in “fashion as a man” but He was so much more. He was the eternal God in human flesh. Jesus was on a mission and this meant He had to “humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” The perfect One, the sinless One, the Almighty God died a criminal’s death. The exalted One humbled Himself for our benefit and afterwards He would be returned to His rightfully position of exaltation. If we understand this truth, it is humbling in the following two ways:
Philippians 2:6-11; Hebrews 5:7-10; Matthew 26:39
- (1) Jesus’ humility reminds us of who we were—sinners. The cross had to happen because of our sin. The cross reminds us that as sinners we deserves to die a criminal’s death and be eternally separated from God.
Romans 3:10, 23; 6:23; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Galatians 3:22
- (2) Jesus’ humility reminds us of God’s love for sinners like us. His humility was for our benefit—so that we could be saved. Without Jesus humbling Himself to come to earth and died on the cross for our sins, we would have no chance to be redeemed to God but be eternally condemned. His love for sinners like us is humbling—and through thus humbling we can accept God’s wonderful gift of salvation.
Romans 5:8; 15:7-9; John 3:16; Psalm 149:4; Isaiah 66:2
To Be Clothed With Humility, To Be Clothed With Servanthood
- Peter tells us to be “clothed with humility”—just like a person might tie on an apron or garment, we are to become humble. Paul tells us to put on “humbleness of mind”. It is through an attitude of humility that we can accomplish other commands that God has given us, such as submitting unto church leadership. Peter goes on to tell us that God accepts and gives grace to such a humble person, but He resisteth the proud. God wants to work His goodwill in your life, but you need to humble yourself under His “mighty hand” and know that no matter your situation, God in His timing will properly exalt you. Until then we humbly cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us.
1 Peter 5:5-7; Colossians 3:12-13; Proverbs 3:34; (Job’s Example: Job 1:20-22; 42:12)
- Jesus’ humility becomes the foundation for our humility. As believers and disciples of Jesus we are to follow in His humble footsteps. Jesus defined what truth greatness is when He addressed the disciples question about their position of greatness—and He pointed to the cross. Jesus came to minister and to give His life a ransom for the multitude. Thus, humility becomes the way we understand greatness. Practically, this means that “whosoever will be great” is measured by being a servant and “whosoever will be the chiefest” is measured by being a slave (servant) of all—like Jesus was.
Mark 10:35-45 (27)
- Jesus commands His followers to humbly serve one another. He gave us an example by washing the disciples feet. Jesus was their Master and Lord but He humbly served them. He was showing us how we are to serve. We are not greater than Jesus, thus we are to do as He did. If we know and do these things we will be blessed and find happiness.
John 13:1-17; Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 9:33-35
To Overcome Pride, Arrogance, Superior Attitudes And Huge Egos
- We are to think like Jesus. Paul tells us to “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”. We are to have the same attitude, mindset or way of thinking that Jesus did—which was humility. Paul wanted all the believers to be “likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind”—to think and act in the same way, especially that which leads to unity. The enemy of this unity was doing things through strife (selfish ambition) or vainglory (conceit). Selfishness and pride only looks after one’s self. Instead we should “in lowliness of mind (humility) let each esteem other better than themselves.” In the same way Jesus humbled Himself, we should humble ourselves for the benefit of others and see them more significant than ourselves. He goes on to say that we should “look not every man on his own things (interests), but every man also on the things (interests) of others.”
- We are to hate what God hates—to fear Him. God hates pride, arrogance and evil. The Bible warns us that pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 6:16-17; 8:13; 16:5, 18
- We are to give God all the glory. We are not to boast in ourselves and our accomplishments but we are to boast in the Lord for everything that we have accomplished or have become. This is ultimately recognizing that He is worthy, superior, wiser than we are. We are to always be abounding in the work of the Lord and at the same time know that we can only do so by the grace of God.
1 Corinthians 1:27-31; 3:7, 21; 4:6-7, 18; 5:2; 8:1; 13:4; 15:10-11, 58;
- What is humility? What is biblical humility?
- Where does humility start?
- Jesus’ humility reminds us of what two things?
- Being clothed in humility means to live what kind of life?
- Humility helps us overcome what?
An attitude of significance is a way of life that finds purpose and meaning in God and His will for our lives. It’s when we realize our importance isn’t rooted in what we have accomplished but in the importance that God gives us because He loves us and in what Jesus has already accomplished for us. As a result we allow God’s purpose to rule in our lives and become set free from attitudes insecurity, inadequacy and inferiority.
Ecclesiastes 3:11; James 1:18; Proverbs 16:4
Our Identity, Meaning, Purpose And Destiny Are All Found In God
- Significance is the state or quality of being important and worthy to merit attention. It means that you are noteworthy. As believers, this significance is directly connected to knowing and making Jesus known. Feeling significance is hard because we mistakenly try to become significant through the wrong “stimulus” such as our achievements or we had a hard life and were told that we are not significant and believe the lie that we aren’t important. The truth is you are already significant. To realize this significance you need to know your purpose in life—the reason you exist. Therefore, an “attitude of significance” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses our purpose and importance in Him and enables us to live for the purpose that we were created for.
- You are already significance because God is your Creator. You were not an unfortunate accident, an unexpected happening, or unintentional life. You bear the image of God because you were made in His image. God knew you before you were born. God brought you into existence. God is the source of your life. He knew your body type, your skin color, your gender and yet you were fearfully and wonderfully made. You are awesome. God wanted you to be born. He knows the what, when, where, how, and why of your life. He even knows all your days—how long you are going to live. And He brought you into existence for a reason or a purpose: to know and glorify Him.
Genesis 1:26-27; Psalm 139:13-16; Acts 17:25-28; Romans 11:36; Revelation 4:11
- You were made for a purpose and this purpose means you are significant. God made you to love you. God loves you. He loves you so much that He did everything to restore you to Himself—so you could know Him. He sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. He showed us His love. He even chose to love us before the foundation of the world. It has been His plan the whole time. You were created to be loved by God. He wanted us to be part of His family. All of this was done in accordance with His good pleasure and will for the glory of God.
John 3:16; Romans 5:8-9; Ephesians 1:4-6
To Allow God’s Purpose To Rule Your Life
- God wants you to know Jesus. The work of God is to believe in Jesus who was sent by God to save us. The one way we can know the only true God is through Jesus. By knowing Him we receive eternal life. This means we are eternally significant. We enter into a relationship with God through Jesus and this relationship is eternal. We are to grow in knowing Jesus with every passing day. We joyfully live for the glory of Jesus’ name.
John 6:29; John 17:3; 2 Peter 3:18
- God wants us to make Jesus known. We are given great significance, but not to live for ourselves. We are to live for Jesus—the one who loves us and gave Himself for us. We are to be salt and light to the world—meaning letting the world see our good works and glorify God as a result of it. We are to preach Jesus’ love to every person. We are to boldly proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Galatians 2:20; Matthew 5:13-16; Colossians 1:27-29; Ephesians 6:19-20; 1 Peter 2:9-10
To Overcome Attitudes Of Insecurity, Inadequacy And Inferiority
- As believers who have received the light that Jesus has given us, we need to understand what the will of the Lord is so that we can make the most of our time here on earth. God’s will concerning our significance includes establishing a biblical, healthy and secure self-worth, image or concept—how we think about ourselves. This includes three main areas that need to be brought into submission with the bible.
- (1) Acceptance—accept yourself but reject conceit and boasting. We need to humbly accept certain aspects about ourselves that are predetermined before we were born that we cannot change—whether good or bad. David did this by consenting that he was fearfully and wonderfully made by a marvellous God. We should agree with David. We also need to consent that we sinned against God and only through His marvelous grace are we saved. This acceptance leads to boasting not in ourselves but in the triune God—Father, Son, Spirit.
Psalm 139:14; Jeremiah 9:23; Galatians 6:14; Ephesians 2:8-10; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Romans 12:16
- (2) Love—love yourself but reject selfishness. We need to humbly love our souls which were created eternally to be loved and to love. (For how can you hate what God loves?). Naturally, a person loves himself and chooses to nourish and cherish their own bodies. As believers, we are to love ourselves in the sense that we see ourselves the same way that God does and to know that we are significant. But this love is never to become self-centered. We should never seek self-love directly, but instead know the best way to gain love for our souls is to love God and love others. The Bible warns of those that are “lovers of their own selves”—which is self love characterized by affections concerned chiefly with self or self-worship. This is wrong and should be rejected. The result of truly loving ourselves is always outward focused and not inward. To love yourself is to be secure in Jesus’ love.
Ephesians 5:28-33; Matthew 22:39; 1 John 5:1; Philippians 2:3-4; 1 Corinthians 10:24; 13:4-6; James 3:16; 2 Timothy 3:2
- (3) Esteem—esteem yourself but reject pride. We need to have confidence in the fact that we are valuable to God and He wants to use our lives for His honor and glory. Paul had this confidence and knew that he was “apprehended of Christ Jesus” to be conformed into His image. He knew that he wasn’t already perfect like Christ. But He pressed on toward this mark or goal by “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before”—meaning he didn’t let past failures, sins, insecurities or successes and achievements become roadblocks from him pursing Jesus and becoming like Him. We labour and aim to be accepted of Jesus. What in your past is holding you back?
Philippians 3:12-16; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10
- Why are we already significant?
- What is God’s purpose for our life and what should we let it do?
- God wants you to know who?
- God wants us to make who known?
- What are the three main areas of biblical, healthy and secure self-worth?
An attitude of contentment is a way of life that focuses on being satisfied and happy in God and with what He has provided for us. Great gain doesn’t come from material possessions or from great positions of fame or authority but from godliness and contentment. Thus we are to learn to be content in whatever situation and with whatever we have through Jesus who strengthens us. Thus we are set free from covetousness, discontentment and materialism.
Godliness With Contentment Is Great Gain
- Contentment is the state of being satisfied and happy with your situation in life. As believers, this contentment is directly connected to being satisfied and happy in God’s provision. Contentment for many is hard because we mistakenly believe contentment is a future product of a certain goal (when I make more money, when I get married, when we have children) instead of an acceptance of our current circumstance with an unwavering faith in God. Therefore, an “attitude of contentment” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses satisfaction and happiness in Him and extends to His provision for our lives no matter if it is much or little.
- Contentment with godliness is great gain. The desire for “great gain” is not wrong, but there is a biblical formula about how we are to obtain it. First, we need: “godliness”—this means that we have the right beliefs about God (from the Bible) and serve Him in response to these beliefs. It means that we have an active spiritual life that is growing more in love with Jesus every day and that we are being transformed through the Holy Spirit’s sanctification in our lives. We are devoted to God and seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness. Hopefully, this describes all Christians. But there is a second part to the formula, we need: “contentment”—this means you are satisfied with what you have and that it is sufficient. But what if we don’t have a lot? What is the minimum we should be content with? Paul answers this question saying that if we have “food and raiment” (clothes that cover our body and maybe extends to a place to stay that covers us for protection) we should be content. This gives us great perspective and shows us that material possessions are not the key to happiness.
1 Timothy 6:6-9; Matthew 6:25-34
- Contentment also means we are living for something and Someone greater. (1) Paul’s states that: “we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” This gives us an eternal perspective and makes living for earthly gain (money, possessions, achievements, spouse, family, power, position) foolish because we can’t take them with us. As believers, our “something” is laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven because we know those are true eternal rewards. (2) Matthew states that: “Ye cannot serve God and mammon (money).” This means that we can ultimately only truly live for one thing or one person. There is only one thing or person that motivates you to do what you do and that you give your time, talents and treasure to. It has your heart. As believers, our “Someone” is God. Our sufficiency is of God. He is able to make all grace abound toward us so that in all things at all times, having all sufficiency (having all that we need), we may abound to every good work. God and His sufficiency is the foundation for being content.
1 Timothy 6:7; Matthew 6:19-24; 2 Corinthians 3:5; 9:8
- Contentment is not loving money, and gaining more of it does not bring contentment. Those who “desire to be rich” fall into temptation, a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful desires (lusts), which plunge and drown people in destruction (ruin) and perdition (destruction). This is the opposite of being content—this is discontentment with their current situation and going after money as the thing that will fix all their problems. Instead, it traps people and keep them from being content and often pushes them away from godliness. Many people want to serve God but they have fallen into the “trap of desiring to be rich” and live their lives “trapped”. As believers, we need to understand that the love of money (or any material possession) is the root of all kinds of evil. Because of this even believers who have coveted after money have wandered away (erred) from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows, griefs, and pangs.
1 Timothy 6:9-10
To Be Content In Whatever Situation And With Whatever We Have
- Contentment is learning to be content with whatever your circumstances are. It means that we know both how to be in need (abased, hungry, to be worse off), and how to have plenty (abound, well fed, to be better off). Paul learned the secret of being content is to be content in any and every situation. This means that there is nothing wrong with prosperity or poverty, but we shouldn’t seek or desire either one (or any stage in-between) to find contentment. Both have their own challenges and difficulties. The secret is to be content with your current situation and not the next stage of life. But we don’t have to do this on our own, for we do all things through Jesus who strengthens and enables us.
Philippians 4:11-13, 19; Luke 3:12-14
- Contentment is learning to be content with what you have. We can do this because we have a wonderful promise from God who said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” God is always with us no matter our financial situation. He cares for us. We choose to live right and according to His purposes and not according to the world or culture around us. Based on this promise we can boldly say, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” We trust God in all situations (financial, persecution, daily living, etc.) (Note: In verse 4 it says, “Marriage is honourable in all”—thus we should also be content with our marriage and spouse, keeping the bed undefiled, not seeking another.)
Hebrews 13:5-6 (4); (Genesis 28:15; Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5; 1 Chronicles 28:20; Psalm 118:6)
To Overcome Covetousness, Discontentment And Materialism
- We become discontent when we don’t keep our lives from covetousness. Covetousness is the love of money; it is the unrestrained desire for acquiring wealth; it is the attitude that wants more and more. It is the great longing or craving for something that will cause you or others harm (often irresponsible or thoughtless). It is to wish for something or someone that is not rightful for you to wish for (especially that which is another person’s). It is wanting something or someone that is incorrect to want; or wanting it for an impure reason; or wanting it at an inappropriate time; or wanting an immoral amount of it; or it is yielding to any of these—wether in thought by dwelling on it or by acting upon them. We are to keep our lives free from covetousness.
Hebrews 13:5; Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21
- We covet when we don’t control our thoughts, feelings and attitudes. We allow ourselves to compare our situation to that of another or to what they have, and if it is perceived to be better than what we have it leads to envy or jealousy. This then leads to resentment or hatred towards others or even God because others are better off than you or their situation has turned out better than yours. This ultimately is selfishness—lacking concern for others and their success and chiefly concerned about yourself and your success.
2 Corinthians 10:12; (Israel is an example of a covetous people in Numbers 11:4-35)
- We are to mortify (put to death) whatever belongs to our earthly nature and this includes “covetousness” because it is idolatry. Idolatry is the worship of an object (material or immaterial) in the place of the one and true God. This is what happens when we live a covetous life—we are worshipping the idol of materialism—meaning that material possessions, physical comforts, or trying to live our “best life now” is the most important. It is an idol of the heart that expresses itself through the way we live. Serving God has been replaced with the business of trying to acquire more. The cycle never ends because once you get “enough” it isn’t enough and you continue to strive to gain more. As believers, we can overcome this by telling ourselves and believing that, “In Christ, I have enough” and if riches increase we will not set our heart upon them, but continue to declare, “In Christ, I have enough!”
Colossians 3:5-7; Philippians 2:3; Galatians 2:20; Romans 12:3; Psalm 62:10
- Godliness with what is great gain?
- Contentment is learning to be what?
- Contentment also means we are living what? Who?
- We become discontent when don’t keep our lives from what?
- We can overcome covetousness by telling ourselves and believing what?
An attitude of gentleness is a way of life that focuses on being kind and caring towards others because of God’s great kindness and love towards us. We learn to be focused on how we are treating others in spite of how they are treating us. This helps us overcome harshness, unkindness and critical spirits that so easily besets us.
Gentleness Is A Fruit To Be Produced, A Command To Be Obeyed
- Gentleness is a manner or quality of being meek, kind, gentle, friendly, generous, considerate, mild-tempered, compassionate and merciful. Gentleness and meekness are often paired together and/or used interchangeably. Meekness is humble and gentle submission. It also represents the inward attitude that learns to properly (by Jesus’ example) accept unfair, unkind or unreasonable treatment from others without becoming bitter and angry. Gentleness then is the outworking of this meekness and includes extending mercy or leniency towards those who are undeserving. Therefore, an “attitude of gentleness” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses His kindness and love—thus showing forth and being rooted in the fact that we are the elect of God, holy and beloved.
2 Corinthians 10:1; Colossians 3:12
- Gentleness (and meekness) is a fruit to be produced—the fruit of the Holy Spirit includes “gentleness” and against such there is no law. Naturally, it is easy to be kind to those who are kind to us and treat us in a good manner. But, spiritually, this gentleness means that no matter how others treat us, we choose to treat others with gentleness—tenderness, warmheartedness kindness, compassion. Thus, the Holy Spirit produces in us a gentleness of a new quality—one that strives to have an attitude of kindness and love for all men without reservation.
- Gentleness (and meekness) is a command to be obeyed—we are commanded to be gentle and to show all meekness to all people. This literally means that we are given an order to be kind and tender to everyone. As servants of Jesus (church leaders or anyone who is preaching the gospel) we should not be characterized by quarreling (striving) but by being gentle and kind to everyone. Even if others want to fight orally, we don’t participate but gently deal with them hoping that God will save them. We are to flee all kinds of evil, but gentleness (and meekness) is to be pursued. As the elect of God, we are to “put on” gentleness (and meekness) which helps us to forbear and forgive one another even as Christ forgave us.
2 Timothy 2:24-26; Titus 3:1-7; 1 Timothy 6:11; Colossians 3:12-13; (1 Timothy 3:3, patient/lenient)
To Be Focused On How You Are Treating Others, Not Vice Verse
- To not be focused on how others are treating you—Paul, Timothy and Silas suffered, were shamefully entreated (treated) and spoke the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict, but they didn’t focus on how they were treated by others. From a worldly perspective, they had many reason to become bitter, unkind, and angry people. But they kept their attitude in check by making sure they were focused on their personal motives—to please God—and that they were being faithful to God who entrusted them with the gospel.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-4
- To be focused on how you are treating others—Paul, Timothy and Silas exemplified sincere “gentleness” towards the church at Thessalonica in spite of how others treated them. This gentleness has several characteristics: (1) Tenderness and affection—Paul says their gentleness towards them was “even as a nurse cherisheth her children”—meaning that a nursing mother tenderly and affectionally takes care of her own children. A baby is needy and seemingly ungrateful but the mother is patient and tender towards it. (2) Forgoing rights and privileges—as the apostles of Christ they could have made demands for a certain type of recognition (glory) or to be supported financially by the church, but they didn’t. (3) Pure motives—they weren’t being gentle so that they could trick them with flattering words or covetousness. God knows our motives and God is the true witness to the motivation behind why we treat people in the way we do. Are your motivations pure before God? (4) Genuine Care—they were affectionately desirous—meaning they strongly desired or longed for the Thessalonica believers—they had become very dear to them. This means that they genuinely cared about people. They were ready and willing to share the gospel with them, but also to share themselves (their own souls). They were willing and very glad to spend and be spent for them. They didn’t come to seek what was theirs but to seek “them”. (5) Holy, righteous and blameless behavior—gentleness isn’t weakness but it is firmness—like a godly father with his children who exhorts, comforts, and charges them to walk in a manner worthy of God.
1 Thessalonians 2:5-12; 2 Corinthians 12:14-15
To Overcome Harshness, Unkindness And A Critical Spirit
- Harshness, unkindness and critical spirits should not be characteristic of believers. This means that we might need to change the manner in which we communicate and act with others. Criticism is expressing disapproval because of faults or mistakes and serves to tear down and not build up. This is often rooted in the inward sins of pride, self-righteousness, hypocrisy or jealousy. Sometimes it is intentional, others times it’s not, but as believers we are to be intentional how we treat others—with love. If another believer needs to be restored, it is to be done in the spirit of meekness (gentleness).
Ephesians 4:1-3; 15-16; Galatians 5:14-15; 6:1-5; (Wrong Judgement: Matthew 7:1-6; Right Judgement: John 7:24)
- Meekness (gentleness) of wisdom comes from above—we need to ask God to give us wisdom. This wisdom effects what kind of person we are and how we treat others. It is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason (easy to be intreated), full of mercy and good fruits, impartial (without partiality), and sincere (without hypocrisy). This leads to “peace making” and the fruit of righteousness. We need this wisdom from above to overcome our “earthly wisdom” which is characterized by bitter envying (jealousy) and strife (selfish ambition) in our hearts. This leads to confusion (disorder) and every evil work. This is earthly, sensual and devilish. As believers, this should not describe us, we don’t allow the wrong kind of thoughts to dwell in our hearts. We need God’s wisdom.
James 1:5; 3:13-18
- We are not to speak evil of anyone. We are to avoid quarreling (to be no brawlers). We are not to let corrupt communication or cursing come out of our mouths. We are to eliminate all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor (shouting), and evil speaking (slander), and all malice. We are to replace this with gentleness and showing all meekness. We are to start speaking things that bless, that are good, that edify and that ministers grace unto the hearers. We are to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave us.
Titus 3:2; James 3:5-12; Ephesians 4:29-32
- Gentleness is a manner or quality of being what?
- What does it mean that gentleness is a fruit to be produced?
- What does it mean that gentleness is a command to be obeyed?
- What does it mean to be focused on how you are treating others?
- To have a gentle attitude we need to overcome what?
An attitude of thanksgiving is a way of life that focuses on being thankful for God and the gospel. As we grow spiritually we gain a greater appreciation for God. We learn to give thanks to God for everything. We learn to be busy in thanksgiving and give no time for complaining so that we can shine as lights in the world.
Revelation 4:9-11; 7:11-12; 11:16-18
The Focal Point Of Our Thanksgiving Is God And The Gospel
- Thanksgiving is the expression, in our attitude and actions, of our gratitude and appreciation to God. Thus, the core of thankfulness is to recognize and take joy in the good qualities of God and what He is doing in our lives. As believers, the focal point of our thanksgiving is the gospel because it has radically changed our lives and God is working all things for our good, thus as we identify with and take pleasure in the gospel we respond to God with thankfulness. Therefore, an “attitude of thanksgiving” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses our gratitude and appreciation to Him because of His work of salvation in our lives and is ultimately reflected in the way we express our state of affairs.
Psalm 97:12; 136:1-3, 26; (Romans 8:28-31)
- Giving thanks to God is a natural result of true salvation. God the Father has made us fit or qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light (the inheritance of His people in the kingdom of light). He hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated or transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son Jesus—in whom we have redemption, peace and the forgiveness of sins through the blood of His cross. We were once alienated from God and “enemies in our minds”—our entire disposition and attitude, the very core of our being, were opposed, hostile and hateful towards God because we loved our wicked works and not God’s righteousness. But through Jesus we have been reconciled. Paul prays and desire that our spiritual growth (in knowledge, wisdom and spiritual understanding) will result in “giving thanks unto the Father” because of this work of salvation He has done.
Colossians 1:9-14, 20-21
- Our thanksgiving should be abounding—abundant, plentiful and overflowing. As believers we confess Jesus as “Lord” and thus we should walk in Him—to live our lives after the manner of Jesus. The Colossians were to remember what they were taught, knowing that God caused them to be firmly rooted in Jesus and continues to build them up in Jesus, thus they are established in the faith—to be soundly and firmly grounded in the gospel and Christian doctrine. Again, this should result in abundant thanksgiving—which also serves as a reminder of the “Bible facts” and protection against “fiction”.
To Give Thanks To God In Everything
- We are to “put on” thankfulness. As believers, we are to put on the new man—which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Jesus that created us. We allow the peace of God to rule in our hearts—meaning that our “inner person” should allow salvation and God-given serenity that comes from it to fill us in such a manner that it produces a definite result—especially that of thanksgiving. We can do this by: (1) The Bible—letting the “word of Christ” dwell in us richly—abundantly, extravagantly, distinctively. The Bible has to enter our lives and find residence there—the Holy Spirit uses the Bible to transform our lives. (2) Scriptural Music—to teach and admonish one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace (thanks) in our hearts to the Lord. (3) Jesus Communication and Actions—to do everything, whether in word or deed, in the name of the Lord Jesus—meaning all our interactions are lived in submission to and in the sphere of what Jesus approves of—not with an attitude of compulsory but with thanksgiving to God the Father through Jesus.
Colossians 3:7-17; Ephesians 5:18-20; (Psalm 18:49; 26:7; 30:4; 30:12; 35:18; 50:14; 69:30; 75:1; 79:13; 92:1; 95:2; 100:4; 105:1; 106:1; 106:47; 107:1, 22; 116:17; 118:1, 29; 119:62; 140:13; 147:7)
- We are to give thanks in everything because it is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. We are to give thanksgiving in the good times and for all of God’s blessings, but we are to also give thanks (by God’s grace) even when we go through sufferings, hardships, bad times, misfortune, heartache, punishment or consequences of our sins. We can search and try our ways and turn again to the Lord with thanksgiving knowing He is good and in control. Paul exemplified this by enduring suffering for the sake of the Corinthians so that God’s abundant grace wouldn’t only change his life but also their lives—thus as God’s grace was reaching more and more people it would cause the thanksgiving of many to redound—overflow, abound—to the glory of God. Thus the purpose of our thanksgiving to God is His glory. It means to be focused on the good even in the midst of tragedy.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (8-11); 2 Corinthians 4:15; 1 Timothy 2:1-2; Lamentations 3:37-40
To Be Busy In Thanksgiving Thus No Time For Complaining
- Our speech needs to be controlled and changed in Jesus. The following manners of speech are out of place for believers: filthiness (obscenity), foolish talking, jesting (coarse joking). Instead our manner of speaking should be the “giving of thanks”. Ungodly deeds are characterized by not thanking God but instead murmuring and complaining against God. Instead of humbly giving thanks to God, the ungodly speak “great swelling words”—inflated words of self-importance and pride. This is not to be characteristic of believers.
Ephesians 5:1-2, 4; Romans 1:21; Jude 14-16
- Complaining is the expression, in our attitude and actions, of our annoyance and dissatisfaction to God. Israel is a notorious example of this and their example was written for our admonition: don’t murmur—complain, grumble, talk under one’s breath. After Moses brought Israel from the Red sea and they went out into the wilderness (God liberating them from Egypt) Israel complained about what to drink and about what to eat. Instead of focusing on the incredible works that God had done to save them they lusted after evil things and evil pleasures which resulted in idolatry, fornication, tempting God and murmuring against God. Israel also complained about their leaders and ultimately God’s plan for their lives. All of this complaining displeased the Lord, but the Lord was both extremely gracious to Israel when they complained and at other times He exercised judgement on them. We are to “take heed” lest we fall into the same errors.
1 Corinthians 10:1-11; Exodus 15:24; 16:2-3; 7-12; 17:3; Psalm 78:17-25; Numbers 11:1; 14:2, 27, 29, 36; 16:1-3, 41; 17:5
- We are to be busy shining as lights in the world, not complaining like the heathen. As we work out our own salvation, we are to learn to do all things without murmurings and disputings—arguing, debating, quarreling. All such complaining comes from resentment, negativism, dissatisfaction, discontent, displeasure, unhappiness, bitterness or selfishness. We overcome these issues because we know that God is working in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Thus as we change our conversation from “complaining” to “thanksgiving” we become very distinct from the crooked and perverse world and culture around us. We become “blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke”—meaning our manner of speech becomes free from evil connotations.
Philippians 2:14-16; James 3:1-12
- Thanksgiving is the expression of what?
- Thanksgiving should be a natural result of what?
- When should we give God thanks?
- What example of complaining was written for us to learn from?
- We should learn to do all things without what? But with what?
An attitude of confidence is a way of life that finds strong and firm trust in the fear of the Lord. As this confidence in the Lord grows we learn to prominently seek after the kingdom of God above all else and to continually pray with thanksgiving about all things. This leads to a God-given peace which passes all understanding and keeps our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Psalm 16:1-2; 65:4-7; 118:8-9; Proverbs 3:26; 12:25
There Is Strong Confidence In The Fear Of The Lord
- Confidence is the feeling and conviction of firm trust in someone or something. Thus, the core of confidence is trust—to strongly rely on—but trust is only as useful as its object—the person or thing you put your trust in. For believers, there is a strong confidence in the fear of the Lord. Fear means to respect. It means we have the highest reverential respect for God because He is the creator of everything and this respect demands trust. Therefore, an “attitude of confidence” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses our firm trust and reliance in Him—which leads to seeking God above all else and relying on God in prayer with thanksgiving in all things which ultimately results in peace in God and courageous bold faith-filled living for the glory of God.
Proverbs 14:26; 25:19
- As believers, we have a “continual confidence” if we walk by faith and not by sight. This confidence is rooted in the truth and hope that if we are “absent from the body” we will be “present with the Lord”. This means that once our soul/spirit leaves our earthly bodies we are certain that God will give us a glorified, resurrected body in heaven. God gave us the “earnest” or deposit of the Holy Spirit to give us the confidence that this will come about. Therefore, in this good courage we labour, aspire, aim and make it our goal to be accepted of or to please Jesus—no matter if we are still in this body or present with Him. Also knowing that we will receive what is due (rewards not punishment) for what we have done in our bodies at the judgment seat of Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:13-18; 5:1-10; Philippians 1:6, 21; 3:2-12; (John 5:24; Romans 8:1; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15)
- As believers, we have a “confidence of access” through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. This confidence of access means that through the incredible gospel of Jesus we can boldly and confidently approach God. We are given the opportunity to have direct access and communication to God through prayer and the hope of one day literally being admitted into the presence of the Lord. Because of this, Paul tells the Ephesians to “faint not” or to not lose heart or be discouraged over his tribulations for them because it is preceding their glory—to know, experience and enter into our eternal state with God.
Ephesians 1:18; 2:7, 18; 3:7-13; 2 Timothy 2:10; Colossians. 1:27; 3:4; 2 Thessalonians. 2:14
- As believers we have “confidence in God’s sovereignty”—that He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. Paul exemplifies unwavering confidence in God, His eternal purpose and gospel plan. Paul confidently prays to the Father that the Ephesians might be granted three requests and each can also be applied to us and build our confidence in God’s sovereignty as we pray these requests: (1) Transforming power—out of the riches of God’s glory we will be strengthened with might by God’s Holy Spirit in the inner man, so that Jesus may dwell in our hearts by faith. (2) Thriving love—all who are rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend, grasp, and know what is the breadth, length, depth, height and to know the love of Jesus. (3) Thorough sanctification—that we might be filled with all the fulness of God.
To Prominently Seek After The Kingdom Of God Above All Else
- Confidence in God leads to seeking God first. We are to “take no thought” for our lives—meaning we don’t need to be anxious and worry about our lives (such as food, clothes, etc.). God, our Heavenly Father, wants us to pray and trust Him to take care of all our needs. We are to trusts that God knows what our needs are and that He cares for us. But even though we aren’t worrying about these things but trusting God to provide for us, this doesn’t mean that He wants us just to be idle. Instead He wants us to use our time to seek first—as the most important—His kingdom and His righteousness (God’s will, not ours). When we do this—not only will all these things that we were anxious about will be added unto us (needs, not all desires), but we show forth our confidence in God.
Matthew 6:25-33; Luke 12:22-34
- Confidence in God leads to focusing on today. We don’t need to be anxious (take no thought) about tomorrow. We focus on today. Everyday we should defer our worries until tomorrow—meaning we are to never worry because worry never comes, it is always today and never tomorrow. This doesn’t mean life will be easy, because Jesus says that everyday has its own sufficient amount of trouble (evil). He is saying that everyday we should deal with that day’s problems and decisions and not worry about the future. How many people make decisions today based on tomorrow’s anxieties? This points to a lack of faith in God. If we can trust God in the big things (salvation) then we can trust him in the small things (daily necessities). We live by faith—confidence in God—not by anxiety.
Matthew 6:34; Proverbs 27:1
To Continually Pray With Thanksgiving About All Things
- Genuine confidence in God should lead to peace. Peace is to be harmonious, to be free from disturbances and disputes. The peace of God is a God-given serenity that only comes from Him. The opposite of peace is anxiety, likewise, the opposite of praying is worrying, thus peace comes through a lifestyle of thankful prayer to God about all things and not through anxious worrying about self, life, etc.
- Paul commands us to “be careful for nothing”—meaning that we are not to be anxious about anything. Anxiety is when we are worried—allow our minds to think at length—about difficulties or problems that often lead to unhappiness, uneasiness, and uncertainty. Thus, he is commanding us to not dwell on such “anxious thoughts”. Instead, he tells us to pray about everything with thanksgiving. This has three key components to battle anxiety: (1) Instead of worrying about something, we are to let it be made known to God. Prayer (petition), supplication (entreat) and requests (ask) are all different aspects of the same mode of communication to God. (2) All prayer should be done “with thanksgiving”. This puts our prayers into perspective so we come before God without murmurings and disputings but with gratitude and appreciation. (3) We are to come before God in prayer with thanksgiving about “everything”. Only through applying this manner of “thankful prayer” to every situation can we replace our habits of worry and anxiety. The direct result of this is that the peace of God, which is superior to all understanding, will keep, guard watch over our “hearts and minds” in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7; (1 John 3:19-24)
- We are to cast all of ours cares or anxieties on God. To do so means we have to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God but also know and trust that He cares for us. We have to reckon that problems are relevant and important to God and He wants me to hurl these worries on Him. He doesn’t want me to fret and worry about them, but instead to trust and have confidence in His sovereign hand.
1 Peter 5:7
- Where can believers find strong confidence?
- What are the three aspects of confidence that we have?
- Confidence in the Lord means to prominently seek after what?
- Confidence in the Lord means to continually do what?
- What are we do be anxious about? Why?