TWO HORSES

Just up the road is a field, with two horses in it.

From a distance, each horse looks like any other horse. But if you stopyour car, or are walking by, you will notice something quite amazing….

Looking into the eyes of one horse will disclose that he is blind. His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made a good home for him.

This alone is amazing.

If you stand nearby and listen, you will hear the sound of a bell. Looking around for the source of the sound, you will see that it comes from the smaller horse in the field.

Attached to the horse’s halter is a small bell.

It lets the blind friend know where the other horse is, so he can follow.

As you stand and watch these two friends, you’ll see that the horse with the bell is always checking on the blind horse, and that the blind horse will listen for the bell and then slowly walk to where the other horse, trusts that he will not be led astray.

When the horse with the bell returns to the shelter of the barn each evening, it stops occasionally and looks back, making sure that the blind friend isn’t too far behind to hear the bell.

Like the owners of these two horses,God does not throw us away just because we are not perfect or because we have problems or challenges.

He watches over us and even brings others into our livesto help us when we are in need.

Sometimes we are the blind horse being guided by the little ringing bell of those who God places in our lives.

Other times we are the guide horse, helping others to find their way….

Good friends are like that… you may not always see them, but you knowthey are always there.

Please listen for my bell and I’ll listen for yours. And remember…be kinder than necessary-everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Think About It!

Have A Great Day!

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”
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PROFESSOR BUM

Two businessmen were traveling by train to an important business meeting. In the seat opposite them was an old man with a shaggy beard, dressed in a tattered sweater and jeans. Throughout the ride the two told each other crude jokes about bums and tramps, with particular reference to the chap in the next seat. When they arrived at the meeting they discovered this “tramp”was a world-class scholar and the meeting’s keynote speaker. Realizing he had heard everything they said on route, they apologized. “It is not my forgiveness you need,” he responded, “but the forgiveness of all the common people you hold in such disdain.”

Sadly, many are disrespectful to their fellowman based on outward appearances. I attended a Lectureship once and as the speaker of the hour was about to take the platform, I said to myself, “He looks like a country bumkin – this is sure to be a boring sermon.” To my great surprise it was one the most powerful sermons I can remember hearing. You can’t always judge a book by its cover! Perhaps we should heed the following words, “for man looketh on the outward appearance, but Jehovahlooketh on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). Perhaps, the following exhortation should be heeded as well, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Mt. 7:12).

Think About It!

Have A Great Day!

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”
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SELF HELP

It is always the longest, most solidly stocked stacks in any bookstore – the “self help” nonfiction section. Maybe it’s a holdover from the old American adage of “pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps.” We will use some “self-help” suggestions offered by others only as long as we get to pick and choose what kind of help we will consider acceptable, only as long as we are still ultimately in charge of the direction and duration that the “help” we seek takes.

“Self help” books, whether they are focused on helping us learn to navigate the tax code, or the web, or an emotional difficulty brought on by an illness or unemployment, a death or depression, still many only selectively embrace the advice they offer. We can avoid some topics, or even skip whole chapters, if we find them too challenging or uncomfortable. “Self help” manuals let us selectively focus on only those parts of our self that we want to prune and clean up – other areas we conveniently ignore.

Friends, we have the greatest “self help” book of all – the Bible. The Bible has given us “all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and virtue” (2 Pet. 1:3) and “Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

The Bible is – by far – the greatest “self help” book. But here is the key to success with this great book: Study all its counsel (Acts 20:27) – skipping no chapters, or direction –  and apply all its principles to all of your life – even when it gets uncomfortable. Beloved we must love God with every ounce of our being (Mk. 12:30) to truly receive the help that we so desperately desire – and remember, Jesus said “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15).

Think About It!

Have A Great Day!

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”
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FREEDOM

Humans are always declaring their freedom, wishing for more “space,” announcing that they belong only to “themselves.” We want to be free from the enslavement of the kitchen, or from confinement of a job we don’t like. Airplane companies claim to set us free, and medical companies says the same. There are deodorant companies that promise to set us free from the worry of underarm wetness and odor; a certain toothpaste declares we can be set free from dull teeth. Then we are promised freedom from pain by Tylenol, Excedrin, Bayer, and others. Other products play on our desperation for freedom by telling us we can be free from “ring-around-the-collar,” and Lysol sets us free from germs.

What we should want most is freedom from sin. Paul said, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me freefrom the law of sin and of death” (Rom. 8:2). “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:31-32). This most important freedom can only be found in our obedience to Christ. “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:8-9). Are you free from the law of sin and death?

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”
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OIL YOUR BIBLES

An old Bible salesman with whom we once worked related this story: In his visiting a home to demonstrate a Bible, and upon selling it, the lady asked him this  question:“How can I keep my Bible cover from becoming dry and brittle, thus causing cracks and breaks in the binding? The salesman replied. “Use PALM OIL my lady.”The lady, not knowing of such an oil, replied, “But what is palm oil?”The man replied: “Lady, in the palm of the hand is to be found an oil, which, when applied daily to the covers of your book, will prevent deterioration of the covers caused by dryness.”This lady was able to understand this. David knew the principle, evidently, for he said: “In His law doeth he meditate day and night.”WE NEED MORE BIBLES WITH “PALM OIL”signs upon the covers. 

“But his delight is in the law of Jehovah; and in his law doth he meditate day and night”(Psa. 1:2). “Give diligence [study, KJV] to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth”(2 Tim. 2:15). “Till I come, give heed to reading, to exhortation, to teaching[doctrine, KJV]” (1 Tim 4:13).

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”
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THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT – LOVE

INTRODUCTION

Having considered the manifold works of the flesh, we now focus our attention to “the fruit of the Spirit”

  1. Have you noticed that the word fruit is singular, while works is plural?
  2. This suggests that the individual works of the flesh are varied and not necessarily related
  3. But the fruit of the Spirit, though possessing various characteristics, is in reality one, made possible by the combination of all nine characteristics in these verses
  4. A person may be guilty of the works of the flesh when only committing one of the works

But a person cannot be said to be producing the fruit of the Spirit unless all nine qualities are demonstrated together in his or her life

  1. Similar to the graces as listed in 2 Peter 1:5-8
  2. “Supply” or “add” implies the graces are intricately connected to each other and are all necessary to growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ
  3. So while a person may possess one or more of these graces listed in Galatians 5:22-23, that alone does not constitute the fruit of the Spirit – one who is led by the Spirit will produce them all!

As we begin our examination of the fruit of the Spirit, it is only natural that the virtue of love should head the list…

  1. For God is love –1 John 4:8
  2. Love is the greatest virtue of all – 1 Corinthians 13:13

But what is love?

  1. What place does it have in the life of the Christian?
  2. How can we best demonstrate our love toward God and man?
  3. These are some of the questions we shall seek to answer in this lesson as we begin with…

DISCUSSION

THE DEFINITION OF LOVE

  1. The Greeks had four words which we translate “love”
    • EROS- carnal, sexual love
    • PHILEO- the love of close friendship
    • STORGE- the love of family relationships
    • AGAPE- that love which seeks only the highest good of others
  2. It is this love that is Paul mentions in our text, and defines in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
  3. Jesus uses the same word in Matthew 5:43-48

Taking a closer look at “agape”

  1. “Agape has to do with the mind: it is not simply an emotion which rise unbidden in our hearts; it is a principle by which we deliberately live. Agape has supremely to do with the will.” – Barclay
  2. It is not an uncontrolled reaction of the heart, but a concentrated exercise of the will
  3. It is a caring love one which becomes involved with the need of others
  4. It is does not depend upon the one being loved having to earn such love
  5. It is not an exclusive love…
    • Expressed only to select few
    • But an all-embracing benevolence, shown toward all

The perfect illustration of “agape”

  1. It begins with the God of love –cf. 2 Corinthians 13:11
    • His love is a completely undeserved love – Romans 5:8
    • His love is an inseparable love – Romans 8:35-39
    • Indeed, His love is a great love willing to save sinners! – Ephesians 2:4-7
  2. It finds its complete fulfillment in Christ
    • God’s love reaches its peak in His Son Jesus Christ – cf. Romans 8:39
    • Jesus has fully demonstrated such love – John 15:13
    • Therefore, we come to know what love really is when we look at Jesus Christ – cf. 1 John 3:16

LOVE IN THE LIFE OF THE CHRISTIAN

  1. The place of love
    • It is to be the “atmosphere” in which the Christian walks – Ephesians 5:1-2
    • It is to be the “tie that binds” the “garment” the Christian is to put on – Colossians 3:12-14
    • It is to be the “universal motive” for all that we do – 1 Corinthians 16:14
    • It is to prevent our Christian liberty from turning into destructive selfishness – Galatians 5:13
    • It is to characterize our preaching and teaching of the truth – Ephesians 4:15
  2. The demonstration of love
    • Demonstrating our love toward God
      • Improper demonstrations
        • Some think we prove our love by shouting from the roof top
        • Others, by putting it on a bumper sticker and honking if they love Jesus
        • And others, think that whatever they do “in the name of the Lord” will be pleasing to His
        • Yet consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:21-23
      • Proper demonstration of love toward God:
        • Keeping His commandments – John 14:15, 21, 23-24; 15:10, 14
        • Loving our brethren – 1 John 4:20-21
        • Do we really love God? What is our attitude toward keeping His commandments and loving the brethren?
    • Demonstrating our love toward man
      • Showing love toward those who are brethren in Christ
      • Love for one another is fundamental to the doctrine of Christ
      • 1 John 3:11
      • John 13:34-35
      • We best demonstrate our love toward our brethren by…
        • Helping them when they are in physical need – 1 John 3:16-18
        • Helping them when they are in spiritual need – 1 Peter 4:8; James 5:19-20
        • Loving God and keeping His commandments – 1 John 5:2
      • Showing love toward those who are not Christians
        • Love for others must go beyond loving those who love us – cf. Luke 6:27-36 
        • We demonstrate that we are truly the children of God (and led by the Spirit) when out of love we:
        • Do good to them that hate us
        • Bless those that curse us
        • Pray for those that spitefully misuse us
        • Don’t resist them when they do evil to us
        • Do unto them as we would have them do unto us
        • Treat them as our Father in heaven treated us!

CONCLUSION

It should not be surprising to learn that one who produces the fruit of the Spirit demonstrates the virtue of love in his or her life

  1. The Father demonstrated love in offering His Son as a sacrifice for sin
  2. The Son personified love in the way He lived and died for us
  3. The Spirit of God revealed what love is through the Word
  4. Shall not the one born of God and walking by the Spirit manifest love in both his attitude and actions?

Even if we already excel in the matter of love…

  1. There is always room for growth…1 Thessalonians 4:9-10
  2. There is always the need for prayers such as this one… 1 Thessalonians 3:12

We have spoken of God’s wonderful love for us; have you yet responded to that love?…Romans 2:4-5

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OTHER VOICES

Our Lord declared, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep…the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out” (Jn. 10:11, 3). The call of our Lord through His written word is often “hidden” in a whole chorus of worldly voices which beckon us. Other would-be shepherds seek to tempt us away from the Good Shepherd, the joy of His forgiveness and the security of His love. And when we are weak and confused we often may fall victim to the enticements of other voices.

I read of an American tourist who was traveling in the Middle East. He came upon several shepherds whose flocks had intermingled while drinking water from a brook. After an exchange of greetings, one of the shepherds turned toward the sheep and called out, “Manah. Manah. Manah.” (Manah means, “follow me” in Arabic.) Immediately his sheep separated themselves from the rest and followed him. Then one of the two remaining shepherds called out, “Manah. Manah,” and his sheep left the common flock to follow him.

The traveler then said to the third shepherd, “I would like to try that. Let me put on your cloak and turban and see if I can get the rest of the sheep to follow me.” The shepherd smiled knowingly as the traveler wrapped himself in the cloak, put the turban on his head and called out, “Manah. Manah.” The sheep did not respond to the stranger’s voice. Not one of them moved toward him. “Will the sheep ever follow someone other than you?” The traveler asked. “Oh yes,” the shepherd replied, “sometimes a sheep gets sick, and then it will follow anyone.”

We have seen it, haven’t we? People, young and old, who are “sick” battered by the storms of life and distracted by voices urging them to go this way and that, they have lost their bearings and they don’t know where they are or where they are going. That can be more than a little frightening; it leads to despair, to hopelessness. And when someone is “sick” they will follow anyone who will promise a moment of happiness, a brief feeling of peace or forgetfulness, a sense that they are someone.

But the call of Jesus the Good Shepherd is, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (Jn. 14:6). There is no better way, no greater truth, and no happier life than in the fold of the Good Shepherd. Our Lord reaches out to us in love that we might follow Him. What voice will you follow?

Think About It!

Have A Great Day!

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”
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