Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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30. Cultivating Christ Like Character, Gentleness – Part 2

Matthew 11:28-30

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

As we think about the fruit of gentleness we are reminded of Jesus call in Matthew 11:28-30. It’s a call to come to Him and bring our heavy burdens and exchange them for rest because He is humble and gentle at heart. It’s here that Jesus reveals 8 powerful principles that He not only preached but modeled and called us to put into practice. When it comes to God’s gift of gentleness the first principle is:

  1. Rely on the Savior not Self

Jesus starts with an invitation, to stop trying and start trusting. To trade our weariness for His work. It’s what David discovered in Psalm 23 as he said the Lord is my Shepherd he leads me beside the still waters and restores my soul. So, let me ask you who or what are you relying on today, is it the Savior or self? Relying on self leads to self-effort and exhaustion. But relying on the Savior leads to rest and renewal. Our relationship with the Redeemer dictates how we relate to others. When we are relying on self it causes us to be short with others. In your interactions with others are you responding from a place of weariness or out of a place of rest? Why do we relying on self-strength, because we don’t trust Jesus. As a result we try to run on our limited strength instead of the Lords unlimited strength. The only one who can germinate the seed of gentleness in your life is Jesus. But before you can model gentleness you have to be molded by gentleness. That’s why Jesus invites us to come to Him and rest in Him. Have you responded to the invitation to rest or are you still running? Second:

  1. Be humble not hurtful

Jesus doesn’t just invite us to come and rest but to hand Him the hurts of our life, so He can heal our hearts. Why, so that we can not only serve out of a place strength from rest but wholeness as a result of healing. Many of us are working out of weakness and woundedness and instead of helping others we are hurting them. Jesus invites you to trade your burdens for blessings, but many of us are gruff instead of gentle because we are still carting around our baggage. We are living in the brokenness instead of the blessing. One of the key evidences that your heart has been touched by the hands of the healer is a humble heart. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, its thinking of yourself less because you are busy thinking more about others. Are you consumed with self or concerned with serving others? Have you responded to Jesus invitation to trade your burdens for His blessing? Don’t hold onto your hurts or you will get hung up on them and they will harden your heart. Jesus wants to teach us God’s Word, because only the truth of God’s Word can tenderize the tough areas of our lives and heal our hardened hearts so that instead of being gruff we can be gentle. What about you are you responding out of hurt or out of healing? Third:

  1. Give Grace not judgement

To be a person who is gentle is to be a person who gives grace to others. Grace is “unmerited favor,” which means we shouldn’t try to make people pay for or earn our gentleness. Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”Why do we need to bear with one another, because only God is perfect. Your spouse will disappoint you, your family will fail you and your friends will let you down. Your church will disappoint you and drop the ball and your pastor isn’t going to meet all your expectations. The time will come when you will have a legitimate complaint, you will be right, and they will be wrong. This is the crossroads of gentleness. Which path will you take? Condemnation and the cold shoulder, or grace and gentleness? Before you make that decision, remind yourself how gentle Jesus is toward imperfect people just like you. We can choose to live our lives disappointed and angry with everyone around us, or we can be free to forgive because we are filled with the fruit of God’s Spirit. God can use us to heal hurting hearts when we share His gift of gentleness with others. When we see people stuck in the deceitful web of sin, the Bible challenges us to not talk about them but to go and talk to them. Even though we may be really upset about what they’re doing, we won’t win them over by harsh words. Galatians 6:1 instructs us to restore those who have slipped into sin gently,“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself or you also may be tempted.”Gentle words can penetrate a hard heart. When writing to Timothy about how to handle those who cause problems in the church, Paul gives some very practical advice in 2 Timothy 2:25: “Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.”What about you, are you judgmental or gentle toward those who sin differently than you do? Sadly, some who call themselves Christians are about as gentle as a cheese grater.

  1. Be Accepting not Rejecting

When someone accepts Jesus as their Savior they don’t just become part of our fellowship they become part of God’s family, the body of Christ. As we just talked about none of us are perfect, but we need to accept one another. Nothing feels worst then being rejected and nothing feels better than being accepted. Romans 15:7 says: “Accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.”Remember Christ invites us to partner with Him in His church, and He does this not when we have it all together but when we are weary from carrying the baggage of our brokenness. He accepts us where we are. This is not a call to like and tolerate sin but to love sinners. Whenever you feel temped to judge another Christian, just pause and reflect on how much Jesus has forgiven you. Are you relying on the Savior or on self? Are you being humble or hurtful? Are you giving Grace or judgement? Are you being accepting or rejecting?




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8. Cultivating Christ Like Character, Peace – Part 1

Philippians 4:1-9

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work. Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life. Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

As we continue to look at “Cultivating Christ Like Character” Galatians 5:22 reveals the third virtue of the fruit of the Spirit, Peace. Peace is something we all want but few of us seem to have. Unfortunately today many Christians instead of living in, and living out God’s provision of peace, live in the problems and live out the panic. Peace is one of God’s greatest gifts that not only blesses our lives but also benefits those we pass it onto. Sadly many of us have a perverted view of God, seeing Him as a punisher instead of as a provider of peace. We don’t embrace His peace because we expect punishment. But God promises peace to His people not punishment. It is here in Philippians 4 that we discover three aspects to God’s peace:

Peace with God – This is the vertical dimension. In Romans 5:1 it says: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Our sin separates us from God, but the Saviors sacrifice puts us at peace with God. This what I call a saving peace. So, let me ask you do you have peace with God? Has there been a point in your life when you not only admitted that you were a sinner, but accepted Christ as the only Savior for your sin? The second aspect to God’s peace is the:

Peace of God – This takes place internally. Philippians 4:6-7 say: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This is a securing peace that calms both our hearts and our heads in challenging times. It’s a peace that transcends not only our understanding but our troubles. The third peace is:

Peace with others – when we have peace with God and we experience the peace of God, we can then extend peace horizontally. Matthew 5:9 says: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.” Jesus didn’t call us to be “peacekeepers,” but “peacemakers.” Fear tends to bring friction and create factions between people, but peace provides a platform to confront conflict. So that instead of competing we start complementing. We are called to be peace workers not war workers. This is a serving peace, that desires to help not to hinder and hurt. Christians should be known as people of peace who don’t just live in God’s provision of peace but live out His peace by passing it on to others. It’s here in Philippians 4 that we see two women at war with one another. It’s not that they don’t want peace, we all want peace; the problem is that we want peace on OUR terms which instead of leading to peace usually leads to problems and conflict. So how do we have peace with people? It’s here in Philippians 4 that Paul reveals God’s prescription for peace, and he starts first by reminding us of our peace with God as he reminds these women of their:

  1. Position in Christ

In verse 2 we read Paul pleading with these women to pursue peace based on their relationship with the Redeemer, “Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement.” As Colossians 1:20 states: “through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.” It is at the cross alone that the gospel of peace is discovered. Today we spend millions of hours and billions of dollars in bookstores, courtrooms and counseling offices searching for ways to resolve conflict and attain a measure of peace. But how much of our time and treasure do we wasted on worthless places looking for peace? In our pursuit for peace why do we constantly pass over the only place where real peace presides, the cross of Calvary? Colossians 1:20 reminds us that reconciliation is a result of Christ shedding His blood to buy us back from bondage. He purchased our peace at the cross. Have you knelt at the foot of the cross before Christ, have you admitted your sin before the sinless Savior? Do you believe that the blood of Jesus that has the power to purify you from sin? Do you believe that on the cross Christ conquered sin and defeated death? Have you confessed Christ as your only Savior from sin? It’s at the cross that we discover peace with God and His gift of grace that gives us the power to make peace with others. Because Jesus has freed us from the penalty of sin we can break free from those sinful attitudes and the habits we harbor that foster conflict and pollute peace. Are you pursuing God’s peace, are you making it your priority and passion? What places are you look to for peace? Are you stuck sifting through the millions of supposed solutions or are you secure because at the cross of Calvary you found the Savior?