New Leaves: Anger
New Leaves: Anger
Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
When you think of turning over a new leaf, perhaps you envision a leaf from a tree, but that’s not what the expression means. Back in the 1500s, pages of books were called leaves. Turning over a new leaf meant turning to a blank page to begin again. Every January we have the opportunity to turn the page and start afresh.
For example, perhaps you’d like to be less irritable this year. Many people are irritable because they’re tired, so a new bedtime routine might help. Some are angry because they’ve allowed bitterness to accrue in their hearts, so they might want to ask God for a forgiving spirit.
Sometimes we’re irritable just because we’ve learned patterns of impatience. In that case, set a goal of memorizing James 1:19-20: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (NIV).
The best way of turning over some new leaves is by leaving anger behind—and the leaves of Scripture can help you with that.
Hot heads and cold hearts never solved anything. Billy Graham
The Priority of a Disciplined Mind
What we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present. 2 Corinthians 10:11
A friend of mine—okay, it was my counselor—drew a stick figure on a sheet of paper. She labeled this the “private” self. Then she drew an outline around the figure, about a half-inch larger, and named it the “public” self. The difference between the two figures, between the private and public selves, represents the degree to which we have integrity.
I paused at her lesson and wondered, Am I the same person in public that I am in private? Do I have integrity?
Paul wrote letters to the church in Corinth, weaving love and discipline into his teachings to be like Jesus. As he neared the end of this letter (2 Corinthians), he addressed accusers who challenged his integrity by saying he was bold in his letters but weak in person (10:10). These critics used professional oratory to take money from their listeners. While Paul possessed academic prowess, he spoke simply and plainly. “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words,” he had written in an earlier letter, “but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:4). His later letter revealed his integrity: “Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present” (2 Corinthians 10:11).
Paul presented himself as the same person in public that he was in private. How about us?
Reflect & Pray
In what ways are you integrating your private and public life? How might you honor God even more fully with complete integrity?
Dear God, help me to be myself first to You in private, that I might present myself with integrity as the same person in public.
In sending his son to earth, God didn’t intend for Him to be a superstar. Jesus came to serve. As His disciples, we are to follow His example and serve a lost and hurting world. In today’s passage, we read about Zaccheus, who began to demonstrate qualities he saw Jesus model.
Awareness: Although surrounded by a crowd, the Lord stopped and took notice of one particular man perched in a tree. Zaccheus was hated and rejected because he was a tax collector. Although he was rich, there was something missing in his life, and Christ recognized his need. In our life, there are many people like Zaccheus—needy, empty, lonely, and searching for hope. But too often, we’re preoccupied with our activities and don’t even notice them.
Availability: Jesus was heading to Jerusalem to carry out the most important act in human history: our redemption. Yet He stopped to spend time with a spiritually needy man. What is so important that it keeps you from giving people your time and attention?
Acceptance: Although Zaccheus was a notorious sinner, Jesus didn’t say, “Clean up your act, and then I’ll come to your house.” We’re called, not to fix people, but to share the transforming gospel of Christ.
How are you doing at serving those around you? Maybe it’s time to slow down enough to see who might be in need. God places all kinds of opportunities in our path, but if we’re not attentive, we’ll miss them. Sometimes we just need to pause, pray, and open our eyes.
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)
This is a definitive verse on one of the great themes of the Bible. The preposition “by” is the Greek en, which can take many meanings (by, with, through, etc.) depending on context but is most frequently and most naturally rendered simply as “in.” The baptism in one Spirit is the theme of this passage, teaching us that every one of the “brethren” (v. 1)—those who “speaking by the Spirit of God” have acknowledged Jesus to be their Lord (v. 3)—have been “baptized into one body,” the body of Christ Himself.
This baptism is accomplished in the Spirit for every genuine believer, Jew or Gentile, slave or master, male or female, young or old. Furthermore, the passage is actually in the past tense: “[In] one Spirit [were] we all baptized into one body.” This baptism does not take place repeatedly in one’s life, as may be true of the “filling” of the Spirit, but once, at the time of true conversion. There are only seven explicit references in the Bible to the baptism in the Holy Spirit. All except our text are referring to the initial baptizing work of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1). It deals with the ongoing work of the Spirit in all future instances of true conversion to Christ. Since His first baptism of Jewish believers (Acts 2) and then of Gentiles (Acts 11), all—both Jews and Gentiles—are baptized in the Spirit into the body of Christ.
Therefore, let true Christians rejoice that the Holy Spirit has placed each of them securely in the body of Christ, united to Him and sharing His resurrection life, with all functioning together through “the same God which worketh all in all” (1 Corinthians 12:6). HMM
… Walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
I have to be faithful to what I know to be true, so I must tell you that if you will not worship God seven days a week, you do not worship Him on one day a week….
Too many of us try to discharge our obligations to God Almighty in one day—usually one trip to church. Sometimes, nobly, we make it two trips to church, but it’s all on the same day when we have nothing else to do—and that’s supposed to be worship. I grant you, sir, that it can be true worship, provided that on Monday and Tuesday and the other days you also experience the blessings of true worship.
I do not say that you must be at church all of the time—how could you be?
You can worship God at your desk, on an elevated train or driving in traffic. You can worship God washing dishes or ironing clothes…. You can worship God in whatever is legitimate and right and good….
So that’s all right. We can go to church and worship. But if we go to church and worship one day, it is not true worship unless it is followed by continuing worship in the days that follow. TTPI, Book 1/051-052
Father, I pray that You might give me a sense of Your presence wherever I am, in whatever I’m doing. Direct my heart to worship You throughout the day. Amen.
None of them that trust in Him shall be desolate.—Psalm 34:22.
That ye sorrow not, even as others who have no hope.—1 Thessalonians 4:13.
Are the consolations of God too small for thee?—Job 15:11(R. V.).
What shall make trouble? Not the holy thought
Of the departed, that will be a part
Of those undying things His peace hath wrought
Into a world of beauty in the heart.
Sarah J. Williams.
She spoke of those who had walked with her long ago in her garden, and for whose sake, now that they had all gone into the world of light, every flower was doubly dear. Would it be a true proof of loyalty to them if she lived gloomily or despondently because they were away? She spoke of the duty of being ready to welcome happiness as well as to endure pain, and of the strength that endurance wins by being grateful for small daily joys, like the evening light, and the smell of roses, and the singing of birds. She spoke of the faith that rests on the Unseen Wisdom and Love like a child on its mother’s breast, and the melting away of doubts in the warmth of an effort to do some good in the world.
Henry Van Dyke.
“For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.” Deut. 20:4
We have no enemies but the enemies of God. Our fights are not against men, but against spiritual wickednesses. We war with the devil, and the blasphemy, and error, and despair, which he brings into the field of battle. We fight with all the armies of sin-impurity, drunkenness, oppression, infidelity, and ungodliness. With these we contend earnestly, but not with sword or spear; the weapons of our warfare are not carnal.
Jehovah, our God, abhors everything which is evil, and, therefore, He goeth with us to fight for us in this crusade. He will save us, and He will give us grace to war a good warfare, and win the victory. We may depend upon it that if we are on God’s side God is on our side. With such an august ally the conflict is never in the least degree doubtful. It is not that truth is mighty and must prevail, but that might lies with the Father who is Almighty, with Jesus who has all power in Heaven and in earth, and with the Holy Spirit who worketh His will among men.
Soldiers of Christ, gird on your armor. Strike home in the name of the God of holiness, and by faith grasp His salvation. Let not this day pass without striking a blow for Jesus and holiness.