1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
2 Timothy 3:1-4 English Standard Version (ESV)
3 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.
2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,
4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.
chrésteuomai: to be kind
Phonetic Spelling: (khraste-yoo’-om-ahee)
Definition: to be kind
Usage: I am kind (full of service to others), gentle.
Kindness is an inner quality (ATTITUDE) of compassion, being gentle… caring
Kindness results in goodness (ACTIONS)… serving one another, being generous… doing something because you care
chréstotés: goodness, excellence, uprightness
Phonetic Spelling: (khray-stot’-ace)
Definition: goodness, excellence, uprightness
Usage: goodness, uprightness, kindness, gentleness.
Colossians 3:12 (ESV)
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Luke 6:35-36 English Standard Version (ESV)
35 But love your enemies,
and do good,
To do that which is good
To do something which profits others
To do someone a favor
To do what is right
To be generous
expecting nothing in return,
and your reward will be great,
and you will be sons of the Most High,
for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
God is good to everyone. Yes, everyone! This is tough for some people to grasp. Because God is good, He is good to everyone. This means that He will be good to even those people we do not think deserve good. This also means that He only does good things. When something bad is happening in your life, it’s possible that He allowed it—but He does not pour out evil. So often people credit God to things and they miss the boat.
Today, recognize that God is good and He is good to everyone. As well, He calls us to be share in His goodness and spread it. Be intentional with your encounters today. Ask the Spirit if you are not being good to some people. Ask to be more compassionate.
“The LORD is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all His creation.” – Psalm 145:9 [NLT]
As I have aged, I realized the great blessing of being disciplined. When younger, the word discipline was a cruel one we tried to avoid. No one likes discipline. We do not usually request or desire discipline. Discipline is punishing someone to correct poor behavior or disobedience. Discipline trains people to be obedient people.
The Bible tells us that anyone God disciplines is “blessed” or “joyful.” The world looks at the discipline of the Lord as wrath and usually describe it as harsh and unreasonable. As a child of God, hopefully you understand that God disciplines us as a father disciplines a child. It is for our own good. Discipline helps us to grow. Discipline protects and teaches us. Discipline is a blessing.
Today, thank the Lord for His instruction. Thank Him for His discipline. Thank Him for seeking the best for you. Thank Him for His love. Praise Him for He alone is good, and He alone deserves all honor, glory, and praise. I pray that you are joyfully disciplined.
“Joyful are those you discipline, LORD, those you teach with your instructions.” – Psalm 94:12 [NLT]
“Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you for your own good. So obey the commands of the LORD your God by walking in His ways and fearing Him.” – Deuteronomy 8:5-6 [NLT]
The Psalmist writes in Psalm 23, that God’s goodness and unfailing love will pursue him all the days of his life. The word pursue in Hebrew is “radaph.” This word translates to mean “chase,” “pursue,” or “follow.”
When I think of this verse, I consider the way God constantly pursues us. He loves us so much that He continues to chase after us, reaching for us, desiring to have a relationship with us. Pursing is not simply following, but following with the objective to catch. This kind of love is like nothing we can describe. It is amazing. It is intense. It is unfailing. Because of His unfailing love, He keeps seeking us.
God’s goodness also is said to pursue all of the days too. Why? Because God is good. Along with His unfailing love, He pours out His goodness. This is the favor of God. As we read in the previous verse, his cup overflows.
Today, consider the pursuit of God. Consider how God’s love has been chasing you down, wanting nothing more than to grip you up. Consider the favor of God, the goodness that He pours out. You are being pursued.
“Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.” – Psalm 23:6 [NLT]
It is difficult to trust people. I see young children with so much trust of their parents. Like this past weekend, I saw photos of children holding sparklers with their father or mother guiding their hands. The kids trust their parents. They have confidence that their parents want their best and that they are looking out for them. They do not fear the sparklers because of this trust.
Something happens with age. We are let down. We experience loss. We experience failure. We come to realize that no one is perfect. The trust we once had is not like it was when we were young and innocent. We find ourselves doubting even our closest friends and family, sometimes even doubting God.
In Colossians, the Apostle Paul writes about faith in Jesus. This type of faith in Christ Jesus that he describes is absolute trust and confidence. This trust and confidence is in His power, His wisdom, and His goodness. It is the strong faith that will move mountains in life. This is the faith we have when we claim God’s Word, when we recognize His Word as truth. When we do this, it is then that we have absolute trust in our Lord.
For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus [the leaning of your entire human personality on Him in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness] and of the love which you [have and show] for all the saints (God’s consecrated ones). – Colossians 1:4 [AMP]
[The Unproductive Fig Tree: Luke 13:6-9, Withered Fig Tree: Matthew 21:18-22]
Colossians 1:9-10 – “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” [NIV]
*BEARING FRUIT IN EVERY GOOD WORK*
- Filled with the knowledge of His will
- Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord
- Bearing fruit in every good work
INTERNAL FRUIT + EXTERNAL FRUIT
Internal Fruit – Deeper walk with God which produces: Fruits of the Spirit
External Fruit – Abiding in Christ impacts relationships and increases effectiveness of your ministry
Galatians 5:22-23a – “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” [NLT]
John 15:5 – “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” [NASB]
John 15:8, 11 – “My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples… I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” [HCSB]
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” – Ephesians 3:14-21 [NIV]
Bible Study Questions:
1) Looking at the Parable of the Unproductive Fig Tree, who is:
The Vineyard Owner –
The Vineyard Keeper –
2) The Keeper of the Vineyard pleas with the Owner to give another chance. What does this say to us?
3) In Matthew 21:18-22, we read of the Withered Fig Tree. The fig tree bears a false resemblance of one that would have fruit. How can we appear to be fruitful but not yet not bear any fruit?
4) What does the Withered Fig Tree represent to us? What can we take from this message?
5) Read Colossians 1:9-10. The passages mentions being filled with the knowledge of His will, to walk in the manner worthy of the Lord, and about bearing fruit in every good work. How can we:
Be filled with the knowledge of His will?
Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord?
Bear fruit in every good work?
More Than A Story is a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on the parables of Jesus.
When things are going well, it is very easy for us to rejoice. Everyone loves when things are going well. When we have free time to spend with family and friends, we are happy. When we have enough money to pay all of the bills, we are joyous. When we are healthy and feel energetic, we wear a smile. When we love our jobs, we love going to them. When we can get off for a dream vacation, we are ecstatic.
But then there’s the “other side” of things—when things don’t go well. We face trials. We face struggles. We face situations that are difficult and bring us pain, torment, tears, sadness. We don’t feel like rejoicing. We aren’t very happy. Paul says, “Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord.” Whatever happens.
There are moments in my life where I found it very difficult and nearly impossible to rejoice. My eyes were tired from crying. My head hurt from lack of sleep. My knees hurt. But I am reminded of God’s goodness, of His promises, of His blessings. Whether it’s a good day or a better day or a day we would like to forget, we rejoice. We rejoice knowing that He gives us everything. We rejoice knowing that this is not our final destination, but a small portion of something so much bigger. We rejoice for He is our Lord, our Savior, our God. We rejoice. Whatever happens. No matter what. We rejoice.
“Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.” – Philippians 3:1 [NLT]
This weekend, the Sunday School lesson focuses on the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. Matthew 20:16 says, “So the last will be first and the first will be last.” Grace is when you get what you don’t deserve, and in this parable we see the workers who were there the longest reacting because people were getting the same payment for working less.
We have a problem with grace. Some of us don’t know how to accept grace, while some of us like to drown ourselves in it and think it gives us protection to keep on sinning. Some of us can accept it for ourselves, but we don’t like when it is given to others. Some of us cannot show grace to others. Some of us try to earn our own way.
For the lesson, I searched for different song titles including the word “grace.” This collection provides some different words that some associate with grace. What does grace mean to you? With regard to this parable, place yourself in the position of the workers who were there all day. How do you feel when those who barely worked received the same payment? Consider this in your own situation, at your own workplace—how do YOU feel when your co-workers are getting what you think they don’t deserve?
This is a hard lesson for anyone. We so often can find ourselves thinking someone doesn’t deserve something. Someone doesn’t deserve the promotion. Someone doesn’t deserve the help. Someone doesn’t deserve the forgiveness. Someone doesn’t deserve—GRACE. That’s grace! We don’t deserve it. But we are given it anyway. Stop pointing out what isn’t deserved. Accept grace. Give grace. And remember, no one deserves it, but God has given it anyway out of love, because of who He is. That’s the beauty of grace.
“For grace proclaims the awesome truth that all is a gift. All that is good is ours not by right but by the sheer bounty of a gracious God.”
– Brennan Manning
“Grace is the free, undeserved goodness and favor of God to mankind.”
– Matthew Henry
This weekend I had the opportunity to teach two classes, one on trusting God and another on the power of God. These two topics are so vital to each of our lives, and yet we all have some difficulties in these areas. Recently, the husband of a friend of mine was in dire need of a liver transplant. With a congenital liver disease weakening his body, many people would have considered that hope was lost. Family and friends joined together in prayer. The Bible says that we must ask and believe, and then we will receive (Mark 11:24, James 1:6). The family organized a group, continued to stand firm in their faith, and clung to God during the storm. As family and friends trusted God, uniting together in prayer, they were able to see the power of God at work. He received a new liver and doctors were amazed at the miraculous transition they witnessed, something that couldn’t be explained except as the power of God.
These people trusted God to provide, but we all have moments when we have a problem with trusting God. To trust God, it means that we abide and rest in His goodness—that we trust that He protects, embraces, and surrounds us with His compassion and His favor. It is important to understand that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). It is important to remember the many promises of God—promises we can only know about if we read His Word. Psalm 34:10 says that those who seek God will “lack no good thing.” Yet, why are we so tempted to seek elsewhere, to try our own methods, to think that we could have something better doing things another way?
In the wilderness, Jesus was tempted three times. Each of these temptations represents temptations that we each face, temptations of: power, prestige, and possessions. Each time, He responded to the devil by saying, “It is written.” It is so clear to see the power of God’s Word at work. In Ephesians 6, we are told to stand firm and put on our spiritual armor, which includes the “sword of the Spirit, which is word of God” (v. 17). Do you have your armor on? Are you daily arming yourself with this sword? See each of us has the ability to tap into the power of God. We have His Word. We as believers have His Spirit. Yet it is apparent that so many people do not use what is right before them.
Is it a trust issue? Do we not trust the character and promises of God? Do we think we know better? Do we not have the time to read God’s Word? Do we believe we are fine as we are? There are so many possibilities, but each answer is simply an excuse—an excuse to not accept the love, grace, mercy, protection, favor, direction, comfort, and will of God. As we make these excuses, complaints and grumbling follow. When will we get it? When will we reach forward to the hand that God extends to us?
I told my students this weekend that we must not simply remember “it is written,” but we must also remember another short and powerful statement made by our Lord and Savior. We must remember “it is finished.” We have victory thru Christ, “for everyone born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4). We need to live right now as if we have this victory. We need to stop allowing the world to get the best of us, and cling to this victory that we already have in Christ. We need to trust Him and trust in this victory. In doing so, we would live very differently. We need to learn not only to trust God’s character and the promises in His Word, but also to live by them each day of our lives. As Burl Ives sang, “O victory in Jesus, My Savior forever. He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood.” The song goes on to speak of singing a song of victory one day in heaven, but I think we should start singing this song today, as we trust God, as we cling to Him and His Word, as we hold tight to the power of God. Surely, we have victory. Let us trust in Him and open our eyes to His power which is at work even today.