Friday, April 18, 2014

Expectations…

We become gentle when our expectations are under GOD's control.

When someone disappoints you are you gentle or are you judgmental?  Your response will determine the health of that relationship. 

Elijah was a great prophet of GOD.  He had some great successes and some great failures.  In I Kings 19 it tells us that Elijah had just had the most glorious day of his career.  He had just defeated 450 prophets of Baal and things were looking good.  Except for one thing.  There was this woman named Jezebel chasing him and for some reason he just lost it and started running from her. 

As he was running through the wilderness, one night GOD came to him and said, “Elijah, what are you doing here?”  Elijah said, “I've been very zealous for the LORD, I've been doing all this work and I just can't take it any more.”  GOD said, “I want you to go to a cave and wait for Me.” 

If you had just disappointed GOD and HE asked you to go and wait in a cave for HIM what are you going to be thinking along the way?  Elijah was a little stressed.  HE was probably thinking GOD was going to come and say, “Elijah, I'm really disappointed in you.  You've had this great victory over all these prophets and then a woman, one person, starts chasing you and you run for cover.” 

“What's wrong with you?  After all I've done for you, you still don't trust ME!”  or maybe he expected, “Elijah, I've had it with you.  You are so weak and so timid I'm not going to be able to use you any more.”  As Elijah was rehearsing these things in his head, the Bible says that the word of the LORD came to him.  God said, “Elijah, go out and stand before me on the mountain.” 

As Elijah stood there the Bible says in I Kings 19 that the LORD passed by, A mighty windstorm hit the mountain.  It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the winds.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.  After the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.  That's where GOD was.  Isn't that great?  Elijah was expecting a flying fist from heaven and GOD comes gently, not with judgements, not with condemnation. 

The same is true for us.  When we blow it in our eyes, GOD is not waiting for you with clenched fists.  HE's waiting for you with open arms.  Just like the prodigal son who came home after squandering half of his father's wealth, with his head hung in shame, fully expecting to get blasted by his dad.  His dad didn't say, “See!  I told you so!  I knew you were going to blow it all!”  No, he greeted him with open arms.  He said, “My boy's home.”  GOD wants us to run to HIM not against HIM.

Just a thought from the front porch…

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How GOD controls our words…

We become gentle when our words are under GOD's control.

All of us know the power in words.  They can be destructive or they can build up. 

James says in 3:6,8 (LB), "The tongue is a flame of fire. It is full of wickedness and poisons every part of the body.  The tongue is set on fire by hell itself and can turn our whole lives into a blazing flame of destruction and disaster.  But no human being can tame the tongue.  It is always ready to pour out its deadly poison."  

No human being can tame the tongue.  That's why we have to bring our words under GOD's control.  Do you know how GOD controls your words?  He first tames your hearts.  Our hearts have to first be changed by GOD in order for our words to be changed, in order for our actions to be changed.

Jesus said in Luke 6:45 (LB), "Whatever is in the heart overflows into the speech". 

Ephesians 4:29 (Msg), Paul admonishes us, "Watch the way you talk.  Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth.  Say only what helps, each word’s a gift." 

Is each word that I say a gift?  I don't think so.  Is each word that we say helpful to other people? 

The Bible is saying that we need to be careful about that.  One of the characteristics of gentle people is that their words are under control.  They know the power of a carelessly spoken word.

Something that works a lot of times:  Before you say something, think first.  Especially when you're angry or really frustrated say what you are going to say out loud in your head first.  When I do that, I don't usually say what I was going to say.  It wasn't going to be very helpful.  Each word is to be a gift.

Just a thought from the front porch…

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The number one way to destroy a relationship…

Philippians 2:4-5 (LB), "Don't just think about your own affairs, but be interested in other's too and what they are doing.  Your attitude should be the kind that was shown to us by JESUS CHRIST."

JESUS is the model.  JESUS, when HE came to earth, had our best interest in mind. The Bible says that without JESUS CHRIST we are separated from GOD for eternity.  JESUS came to bridge that gap, restore that fellowship between us and GOD.

And when your outlook comes under GOD's control you, all of a sudden, start becoming a little more understanding.  That's another characteristic about gentle people, they are understanding of others. They see where they're coming from.  They're understanding of their weaknesses and limitations.

Acts 20:35 (TEV), "There is more happiness in giving than in receiving." 

And 2 Peter 1:6&7 (LB), "Learn to put aside your own desires so that you will become patient and godly.  This will make possible the next step, which is for you to enjoy other people and finally you will grow to love them deeply." 

Something happens to us when we start reaching out to other people instead of just being concerned with ourselves.  We start becoming caring and loving towards them. 

Gentle people do understanding not demanding.  They are understanding of others not demanding of their own way.  People whose outlook has remained outside of GOD's control are very selfish people for the most part.  The number one way to destroy any relationship is to be selfish.  It works every time, without fail. 

James 4:1-2 (TEV), "Where do the fights and quarrels among you come from?  They come from your desires which are constantly fighting within you.  You strongly desire things but you cannot get them so you quarrel and fight." 

James 3:16 (LB), "Wherever there is jealousy or selfish ambition, there will be disorder and every other kind of evil."

We become gentle when our outlook is under GOD's control.  As GOD begins to change us we become more understanding of others, more sensitive to their needs, not demanding our own all the time. 

Just a thought from the front porch…

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The outlook of your own future…

Another character element in gentleness is outlook.  As our character begins to change it has an incredible affect on our outlook, on how we see other people.  How we see other people will determine two things:  our attitudes toward them and our actions toward them.  Our actions are largely influenced by our attitudes. 

The Brothers Grimm put this truth in a rather stinging fairy tale.  Once there was a little old man, of trembling hands and feeble eyes, whose uncertain table habits became increasingly offensive to the daughter-in-law with whom he lived, until one day she objected vigorously to her husband, the old man’s son.  She and her husband took the fumbling old man to a corner of the kitchen, set him on a stool, and gave him his food in an earthenware bowl.  Now he was no longer troubling them by his dribbled food; now the tablecloth was no longer soiled by his trembling behavior.

One day, in his trembling, he dropped the bowl and broke it.  Now the daughter-in-law ceased even her moderate civility.  “If you are a pig,” she said, “you must eat from a trough.” And they made a little wooden trough, and he ate from it.

The pride of their lives was their own four-year-old son.  One evening they noticed the boy playing with blocks of wood in the serious fashion which children so often invest in their play.  When the father asked what he was doing, the boy said with an engaging smile, “I’m making a trough to feed you and Mamma out of when I get big.”

For a while the man and woman just looked at each other, not saying anything.  Then they cried; and then they went to the corner and led the little old man back to his place at the table.  They gave him a comfortable chair, and put his food on a plate.  And never again were they really, deeply troubled by the food he spilled or by the dishes he occasionally broke.  They had learned that, in honoring a parent, they possessed their own future.

Just a thought from the front porch…