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 Post Post subject: Devotions - Thursday, November 8th, 2007
Posted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 1:52 pm 
Catspaw knows all

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Bible Reading: Hebrews 3

Good morning my friends,

It has been far too long since I have logged onto The ToO, and even longer since I've posted the devotions. The silly thing is, that I have 10 of them all typed-up and ready to go...I simply have not had the opportunity to post them, and for that I apologise.

I mourn the loss of certain sensibilities we used to have in our culture, when language and conversation had a purpose beyond mere communication. I do not think we will ever regain these sensibilities. I refer to such things as subtlety and gentleness of speech. In our world of “in your face” advertising we have allowed a shift in our conversations to this same mode of directness of tongue. Lost is the art of correcting someone with the gentleness of subtlety, when a mere softly spoken word carried the power of a hundred angry words.

I mourn the loss of such sensibilities because it means a departure from God’s character and the character we are to allow the Spirit to produce in us. Do you remember how he presented himself to Elijah in the cave? Was it not in the gentle whisper that followed all the power? (1 Kings 19:12) As Elijah lay hidden in the cave, a broken man because of his fears, was not God’s question to him a subtle rebuke; “What are you doing here Elijah?”

I will never forget the time that a prophet named Tom came to visit my church. It had been such a turbulent and busy time and I had allowed certain disciplines of my life to slip. One of these was prayer. I have tried to maintain a great quantity of time for prayer, for alone time with Jesus. I believe in the “pray without ceasing” but I also hold to separating myself from the “crowd” for some quality time with my God. I have done this through quiet walks in the woods, hidden away in my “closet”, shutting myself away in the church and so on. So when I stood before prophet Tom and heard these words from his mouth, “O mighty man of prayer”, I crumbled under the gentle conviction of the Spirit. Five gentle words that spoke to what God had called me to and to what I had neglected.

How did the prophecies refer to the Messiah, the first coming of the Messiah?

“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9)

And how was it that Jesus described himself?

“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)

If we were to reflect on this past week I think we would be able to recognize hundreds of moments when our God was gentle with us. The soft whisper of correction, the subtle reminder of his love, the quiet persistence of his holiness all giving evidence to his gentle character.

This is the character, the fruit that the Spirit desires to produce in us. I saw it happen overnight in my old pastor. He is a walking trophy of grace. Before his encounter with Jesus he was overwhelmed with fits of anger. On some occasions these fits overflowed into violence. However, after his encounter with Jesus this anger was replaced by an incredible spirit of gentleness and allowed a great capacity for compassion to flow. He went on to minister in an incredible way in the prisons and halfway houses of Ontario.

Throughout the Word we are told that gentleness is a characteristic of those who believe:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:4-6)

According to this gentleness is one of those visible qualities that should be evident to everyone. In Paul’s description of holy living we read:

“Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)

In Paul’s charge to Timothy we find more of the same, describing the character of a follower of Jesus Christ:

“But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:11)

However, I caution you. This is a thing of transformation not conformity. We cannot take this character on ourselves, this is the work of the Holy Spirit after we have received Jesus Christ. We must do as Paul told Timothy, we must pursue it, willing to lose our old character and to take on the character of Jesus Christ.

Now, allow me to bring this back to our scripture reading for today. It is the character of Jesus Christ that allows for the diversity of the Church to exist in unity. How can so many people from such differing backgrounds, experiences and levels of understanding get along under one “roof”? We are united by what we have in common, Jesus Christ, and his developing character in use allows us to see Christ in each other. As we are gentle with one another we remember the gentleness of our God.

This is important to understand because there is a purpose in us coming together to hear each others testimonies, to worship and to examine the Word of God together. The reason is because we need each other to go all the way:

“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said:
"Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3:12-15)

Understand what Paul is telling us to do. It sounds simple enough but take the diversity of the believers into consideration. Take their past into consideration. Take the differing nationalities into consideration. How about the fact that some are single, some are married, some are with children, some without? The current trend is to put homogeneous people together that can relate to each other. I believe that is opposite to what the Word instructs us to do. We are to allow the character of Jesus to overcome our differences so that we are able to encourage one another to the end. This requires our willing participation.

What is sad is when people get older and because of mobility problems, financial restraints, illnesses and so on, they are no longer able to make it out or it would take tremendous effort. That separation from the Body has a terrible effect on their relationship with the Lord. We need one another. That’s how God designed it to be. This is the reason why such things as gentleness are so important and why we need to get back to the sensibilities of the Spirit.

Remember, it only counts if we are faithful right to the very end:

“We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.”

We need each other:

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.”

And with such encouragement we will make it!

“Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”

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