Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Archive for February 2014

Fruits of the Spirit: LESSON 8 PART 4– Gentleness (Matthew 11:29)

Bible Story: John 13: 1-20

It was the day before the Passover festival, and Jesus just had supper with his disciples. Judas was about to betray Jesus, but Jesus knew that the Father had given him complete power and that He was going to return to the Father soon. So Jesus rose from the table and poured some water onto a washbasin. He began to wash his disciple’s feet and wiped them with a towel which he tied around his waist. When it was Peter’s turn, Peter objected, but Jesus answered, “If I do not wash your feet, you will be no longer my disciple.” Upon hearing this, Peter then said he wanted Jesus to wash not only his feet, but his hands and head also!

Jesus told them that those who have taken a bath are clean and only need their feet to be washed. And he also said that all those present were clean, except one, because Jesus knew one of them was the betrayer.

When he had finished, Jesus explained what he did. Verse 13-16 tells us this, “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

Points to Ponder:

  1. The act of washing another person’s feet is a truly humbling experience. During Jesus’ time, it was something that was usually done by non-Jewish slaves. But in this account, we see the Son of God himself, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, taking on the role of a very lowly servant and instructing the disciples to follow his example. Jesus tells his disciples that because their Lord and Teacher served them, so too must they be willing to show sacrificial love by serving others in the same way.
  2. The human kings that came before Jesus (and even current world leaders as well) acted superior to their subjects and ordered everyone around – they expected to be served. But Jesus wanted to show a better way to lead – and that is to be a true leader, one must be willing to humble oneself and to serve others. And thus Jesus presents to us a great challenge that can He repeats in 1 John 3:16, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
  3. Let us be reminded that “humility” is the attitude of the heart that produces an outward manifestation of “gentleness.” The apostle Peter learned this well when he remind us of the truth, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)
  4. The apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 4:2, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Truly, it all goes back to ‘LOVE.’ It is when we seek to imitate God’s love as demonstrated by Christ’s sacrifice can we find rest in our souls and peace in our hearts. The Lord Jesus himself tells us this, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29)

Feb 17 2014 Matthew 11 29 coloring page

Fruits of the Spirit: LESSON 8 PART 3 – Gentleness (Titus 3:2b)

Lesson: GENTLENESS (Be considerate)

Memory Verse: Be gentle toward everyone.” – Titus 3:2b

Lesson: Gentleness in this verse is taken from the greek word “epieikēs” (pronounced as epi-yay-keis) which means “suitable” or “fair.” It implies acting in a manner that is moderate and careful; it is responding in a way that is not harsh nor quick to judge. Rather, being “gentle” in how we treat others is a way of letting God’s love flow through us and be experienced by the people around us. It is “loving our neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). It is also the same word used in the following related verses:

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, “to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.” – Titus 3:1-2

This shows us that being “gentle” means – it is being considerate of others. In other words, it is being conscious about how our words and actions can affect others, and it implies taking that extra step to be careful with what we say and do so that we do not hurt other people’s feelings.

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” – James 3:17

The KJV version translates the word “considerate” as “gentle.” Notice the following similarities:

Titus 3: 1-2 James 3:17
be subject to rulers and authorities and be obedient submissive
be ready to do what is good full of… good fruit
slander no one Impartial and sincere
be peacable peace-loving

 

Gentleness is then best viewed along with these other virtues or characteristics which go hand-in-hand to show us a more complete picture of what it means to be a “gentle Christian.” It is something which we should remember not only when we are with good people; but more so when there are others around us who hurt us or cause us much stress.

Even in correcting others, the bible tells us to do it gently – because God calls us to be humble and recognize that none of us is perfect and we have “different measures of faith” (Romans 12:3). It is acknowledging that though some may seem better than others, the truth is, an honest estimate of ourselves would show us all to be living way below God’s standard – which is holy and perfect – a standard only Jesus was able to meet. Jesus actually tells us to learn this virtue from him, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29). Therefore, we leave it up to God to judge; our role is to encourage one another and to be gentle and kind and most of all, to pray that God will touch people’s hearts and bring them to repentance and belief in Jesus Christ so that they might be saved.

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” – 2 Timothy 2:24-26

Feb 17 2014 Titus 3 2 coloring page

Here’s a fun review for a lesson on “adjectives.”

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Page is from ihavenogreaterjoy’s valentine post.

LOVE.

I had a revelation a few days ago about the word love.

My daughter admired our newly scrubbed bathtub and exclaimed, “I looove our bathtub! It’s so white and shiny and I love it! Love it! Looove it!” Somehow, that just did not feel right.

I told her she probably meant that she “liked” our shiny bathtub, well, she liked it a lot, that’s for sure, but “love” is too strong a word.

We all know “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and it dawned on me that it would be a good idea to also think more carefully how we use this word, so as not to “diminish” its significance.

Like, I can say I “love” my mom, but do I really “love” her shoes? Or I can understand how one can “love” her school, but maybe she doesn’t really “love” chocolates (or maybe, she does?”)?

Does using the word “love” so casually make it somehow not seem so precious and pure? Does using love for common things like food or fashion make it less pure and holy?

God is love. Love is of God. It is not just any other word. The whole bible is about God’s amazing love. The greatest commandment is to love. The whole Christian faith rests on God’s love.

God is love. So when we are commanded not to use the name of God in vain, would you consider being careful not to use the name “Love” for trivial and sometimes senseless things as well?

There are other words to describe a desire, admiration or affection for something, and it seems appropriate to think more carefully about how we use this word that is ascribed to the Creator Himself. That was what came to my mind during my “Aha!” moment.

What are your thoughts on this?

Fruits of the Spirit: LESSON 8 PART 2 – Gentleness (1 Kings 19:12)

LESSON: GENTLENESS (The Spirit’s still, small voice)

Memory Verse: “And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” – 1 Kings 19:12 (NKJV)

Background:

In 1 Kings 18, Elijah, a prophet of God had a “showdown” on Mount Carmel with the prophets of Baal, wherein they set up two altars and declared that whoever is able to call on their god to bring down fire on the sacrifice is the true God. Sure enough, even when 450 prophets of Baal cried out to their false god from morning to evening, shouting and dancing and even slashing themselves as was their practice when offering sacrifices, nothing happened. But when Elijah had the people pour water on the sacrifice and drench the whole altar in water, he simply prayed that God would show the people that He, the Lord, is God, and fire fell from heaven and burned the sacrifice, the altar, even the stones and soil and dried up all the water. This miracle resulted in the Israelites’ repentance and they killed all the false prophets. This also greatly angered King Ahab’s wife, Queen Jezebel, so much that she sought to kill Elijah, and Elijah ran for his life and hid in the wilderness to escape Jezebel’s wrath.

Here we find Elijah after all his running and hiding. He was feeling very much sorry for himself and he didn’t know what to do. But God had a message for him; a plan, a message and a word of instruction; and in Elijah’s case, this is how He let His presence be known.

Bible Passage: 1 Kings 19:11-12

Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.”

Points to Ponder:

  • When we are troubled, we sometimes want God to make all things right again and we wish for miracles to happen so that all will be well. We want to feel His presence through a supernatural experience, thinking that it is through feeling, seeing and hearing great and amazing things will we know He is with us.
  • The Lord is able to make Himself known in wondrous ways, such as fire from heaven or as we know from the history of God’s people, through the parting of the Red Sea or manna from heaven. He is able to show His glory in all it’s grandness and magnificence and with so much power that people are left in awe of His majesty.
  • But when there is a conflict inside our hearts, when the struggle in inward and we’re feeling lost and alone, God can patiently wait for us to calm down and choose to speak to us through a “still small voice.” Our God is both powerful and mighty, and yet he is also gentle. He is the God of peace and tells us, “Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).”
  • Elijah was so troubled that even a display of spectacular things such as a great wind, earthquake and fire did not do anything to change his mood. Eventually, it was God’s gentle questioning and instruction that got him refocused on what he needed to do.

Application:

  • This “gentle whisper” or “still, small voice” can be a prompting which we hear in our spirit, much like our conscience. It prompts us to act according to God’s will. God also speaks in a “still, small voice” through the Bible. Scripture is the written Word of God and when we read it while seeking God’s will, often, God answers by leading us to a particular verse or story in the Bible that can be either a word of encouragement, a gentle rebuke or correction, the solution to our problem or a word of instruction on what to do next.
  • Our God always has a good plan; the solution to our problem; a greater purpose for our trials and sufferings, and He wants to make His will known to His children. We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and be still, so that we may be able to hear God’s gentle whisper in our hearts.

Prayer: (A prayer by Fr. James B. Reuter, S.J.)

LORD, Look down upon us, this day, this hour. Regardless of what has gone before, or what will come after, give us the grace to consecrate this time entirely to You—all the actions of our body and soul.

May all the thoughts that come to us be true.

May all the things to which our hearts go out be beautiful, with the beauty of God.

May all the things we want be good.

Give us the light to see Your will, the grace to love it, and the courage and strength to do it.

We ask You this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

Feb 10 2014 1 Kings 19 12 coloring page

 

Fruits of the Spirit: LESSON 8 PART 1 – Gentleness (Proverbs 15:1)

LESSON: GENTLENESS (Gentle means being humble)

 

Memory Verse:

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1

 

Bible Story: David, Nabal and Abigail (1 Samuel 25)

 

David and his friends were staying in the Desert of Paran. While they were there, they were kind to the shepherds who were with them in the fields. Those shepherds were servants of a rich but foolish man named Nabal. Nabal had a wife named Abigail.

 

When it was time to shear the sheep, David sent some of his men to Nabal to ask him for a gift which he would be kind enough to give, considering that David and his men helped protect his sheep in the fields. Instead of giving a gift, Nabal insulted David, and this made David so mad that he planned to kill Nabal in revenge. When Abigail heard about this, she acted quickly and wisely. She gathered food and other supplies and went to David to make peace for Nabal.

 

With kind and gentle words coming from a humble heart, Abigail helped David to see it would be wrong for him to kill Nabal. She asked for forgiveness in behalf of her husband and through her careful gentle words, David’s heart was changed. In 1 Samuel 25: 32-34 it says,

 

“David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands. Otherwise, as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has kept me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak.”

 

Discussion:

 

When a meek or humble person decides to speak to an angry or highly emotional person, his initial goal would not be to prove who is right or wrong, but simply to show respect and kindness, even if the other person is using very hurtful words. This kind of gentleness is something that comes from the Holy Spirit, and to attempt to do it using only our own human abilities would be futile. It takes time and prayer and allowing the Spirit to mold us in order to bear His fruits.

 

In this story, we see how Abigail’s gentleness helped change the outcome of the situation. David was very angry, and harsh words would have only fueled his anger more. But kind and gentle words have a way of calming down an angry person.

 

Gentleness as a fruit of the spirit is more of an outward action, and it comes from a person’s inner attitude – being humble. Some might think that being gentle is a sign of weakness, but the truth is, it is “God’s power used in love.” When we are motivated by God’s love, then surely we can give a gentle answer in any situation and it brings the peace of God to whomever gets to hear it.

 

Feb 3 2014 Proverbs 15 1 coloring page