9th Condition for Peace: Gentleness

June 2, 2017

“…have a reputation for gentleness…”  (Philippians 4:5)

When Paul writes of gentleness, he does not mean milquetoast weakness. The Greek word for gentleness used here actually means meekness. Meekness is not weakness. Biblical meekness is closer in meaning to tameness. When a powerful stallion finally takes the bit and yields to the control of bridle and rider, it is not weak. That powerful animal could be described as “strength under control.” That is what biblical meekness means.

When Saul of Tarsus met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, Jesus asked him “Why are you persecuting Me? It is so hard for you.” The original language actually means, “It is hard for you to pull against the bit. It is tearing up your mouth.” When Paul asked his great question, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” he took the bit of Christ and became meek.

Gentleness is also listed as one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Another way of describing this concept is acceptance and unconditional surrender. The well-known serenity prayer then becomes an expression of this peace condition:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

In Romans 8:28, Paul is not suggesting that everything that happens to those who love God is good. There may be nothing good at all about many things that happen to us. His claim simply is that God can fit everything into a pattern of good, if we love God and are called according to His purposes.

Paul teaches us by example that we must accept the will of God until we are so meek we experience gentleness. He says, “I am ready for anything through the strength of the One Who lives within me.” (Philippians 4:13) Paul learned that it is safe to surrender unconditionally to our loving God. Therefore, gentleness and meekness prescribe acceptance to the will of God, one circumstance at a time.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


STEP BY STEP…

January 9, 2015

“… I being in the way the Lord led me…”   (Genesis 24:27)

When we discover the context of these words of Scripture we realize they are teaching us a principle of how God often works in the lives of His people. It is easier to steer a moving vehicle than one that is stationary. God can sometimes steer us more easily when we are moving. That’s why we will find that one step frequently leads to the next step when we have faith to be led by the Holy Spirit.

The words above were spoken by Abraham’s servant who was commissioned by Abraham to travel to the land of his people to find a wife for Isaac. As he journals the events of his search he writes that while he was in the way the Lord led him he encountered the family of Rebekah. When he met her he knew that his search had ended.

We who are committed followers of Christ were commissioned two thousand years ago to go to all nations and make disciples for Jesus Christ. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Like the servant of Abraham, as we embark on the adventure of obeying our great commission, we should expect that each step will lead to the next step.

We don’t always have to know where the road leads as long as we know it is the right road. While we are in the way our Lord has commissioned us to go we must have the faith to take that first step and then, one step at a time, expect our Lord to show us His will about the next step.

Dick Woodward, 28 July 2009


The Level of Decision

December 6, 2013

“… the Lord will not be with you!” (Numbers 14:43)

When pilots are landing a large commercial passenger jet they reach a point where they must commit to their landing.  They call that point of no return the LD, or the “level of decision.”

God is very patient and full of mercy and grace.  However, the chapter quoted above tells us there is an LD in our journeys of faith.  There is a point where we either do, or do not, commit to doing the will of God.

God will lean on us like an elephant to get us to see and do His will.  However, He reaches a point where He will let us have it our way.  When God lets us do our own thing we suffer great loss.  For starters, we forfeit the present purpose of our salvation.  We all know we are not saved by good works but we can lose the opportunity to do the works for which God has saved us (Ephesians 2:10).

When the Israelites chose not to do the will of God, Moses said: “The Lord will not be with you!”  Perhaps the saddest word in the Hebrew Old Testament is the word “Ichabod.” It means “the glory has departed” and teaches that God sometimes withdraws anointing power from His people.

There is such a thing as the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God for your life and mine (Romans 12:1, 2).  The book of Numbers solemnly presents two options: after being delivered from our “Egypt” we can go around in circles for 40 years, or we can commit to doing the will of God.

Are you making a wise commitment in your spiritual LD, or are you waiting for the glory to depart?


Motive Judgment

May 31, 2013

“When the Lord comes, He will bring our deepest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. And then God will give to everyone whatever praise is due.” (1 Corinthians 4:5 NLT)

According to the Apostle Paul, before all our works are evaluated God is going to reveal the private and secret motives of our heart.  Since that is an ultimate and certain reality it would be the better part of wisdom for us to pray about the motives of our heart on a regular basis.  We should also touch this issue of motives as we consider the will of God for our life.

THE SIXTH STEP:  Examine the motives of your heart as you seek to know the will of God.

Why do you want to know the will of God for your life?  That is an important question.  We are incredibly egocentric and self-centered creatures.  We naturally come to every situation with the inherent question in our hearts, what is in this for me?

The Word of God associates our motives with our hearts and the Bible tells us that above all things our hearts are deceitful.  Jeremiah tells us our hearts are so deceitful only God can know them (Jeremiah 17:9-10).  Do you want to know the will of God for the glory of God, or for your own glory and personal gain?  Your answer to that question will be very important to God and to you when your works are evaluated at the judgment seat of Christ.  The motives of your heart should therefore be very important to you today and every day that you live.

We should all pray with David:  “Search me, oh God, and know my heart… and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)


Words and Ways of God

May 25, 2013

STEP NUMBER FOUR:  Spend much time in God’s Word.

Let me tell you why.  In chapter 55 of his prophecy, Isaiah tells us there is as much difference between the thoughts and ways of God and the way we think and do things as the heavens are high above the earth (vv. 8-9).   He then goes on to describe one of the many supernatural functions of the Word of God. 

The Word of God establishes an alignment between our thoughts, ways and wills, and the thoughts, ways and will of God.

I once heard Billy Graham tell of boarding a plane before he was famous.  He spoke to an old pastor friend who was sitting in an aisle seat reading his Bible.  The old pastor completely ignored Billy.  When they had been in flight for about an hour, the pastor came back to where Billy was seated and greeted him enthusiastically.  He apologized for ignoring Billy earlier.  He said, “When I pray, I am talking to God, but when I open God’s Word, He talks to me.  He was talking to me when you spoke to me and I could not interrupt God just to talk to Billy Graham.”

Thomas à Kempis opened his Bible every morning with this prayer: “Let all the voices be stopped.  Speak to me Lord, Thou alone.”   If we sincerely want to know the will of God, we must be in relationship and in conversation with God.  We should speak to our loving heavenly Father in prayer and expect God to speak to us as we open the Word of God.  That is why two of the bases we must touch when we seek to know the will of God are prayer and the Word of God.

 


The Priority of Prayer

May 23, 2013

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)

When the disciple’s asked Jesus this request they were not just asking Him the ‘how to’ of prayer.  They were amazed at the large amounts of time Jesus prioritized for prayer.  They were asking something like ‘teach us what you know about prayer that we obviously do not know that causes You to spend so very much time in prayer.’

STEP NUMBER THREE:     Spend much time in prayer.

When you must know the will of another human being, what is the first step you take?  Our first thought is usually that we must meet with that person and have a conversation with them.  When a man is in love and decides he wants to marry a woman, his first thought is that he must meet with her and have a conversation with her.

When we seek to know the will of God, our first thought should be that we must meet with God and have a conversation with Him.  Prayer is a conversation with God.  If you do not know how to pray, think of prayer as simply meeting with and having a personal conversation with God.

Jesus responded to the apostles with a prayer that was not as much a prayer as it was an instruction about how to pray.  When you are alone, use that prayer as an outline for your conversation with God.  You will find yourself applying the second and third steps I have shared with you for knowing the will of God when Jesus instructs you to pray:

“Your kingdom come; Your will be done.”


Doing Leads to Knowing

May 20, 2013

“If any man wills to do, he will know.”  (John 7:17)

STEP NUMBER TWO:  Be willing to do the will of God. 

When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He taught them to say, “Your will be done.”   When Jesus modeled this, He sweat drops of blood as He prayed, “Not My will, but Your will be done.” (Matthew 6:10; 26:39; Luke 22:42-44) Jesus gives us a principle that shows us how we can know His teaching is the teaching of God.  This principle also applies when we are seeking to know the will of God in the marketplace.

The principle is simply this: If any man wills to do, he will know.

The Living Bible paraphrases Psalm 139: 16 to say God had every day of David’s life scheduled before David existed.  David writes there that God is with him in such a way that it is impossible for David to escape God’s personal interest in every move he makes.  This intimacy with God is obviously not only the experience of David, but can and should be the experience of every child of God.

According to Jesus and Paul, knowing the will of God for our lives does not have to be complex.  God does not deliberately obscure His will.  The complexity is not in the will of God, but in your will and my will.  As Paul tells us how we can know “the good, acceptable and perfect will of God,” he begins his prescription for knowing God’s will by telling us to throw up our hands and offer an unconditional surrender of our wills to the will of God (Romans 12: 1-2). Our unconditional surrender to God will significantly un-complicate our quest to know the will of God.