For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. (Ephesians 5:23)
A Husband’s Love
When love is defined it says more about the person than it does the meaning of the word. Expressing words of love are important but words alone cannot measure the true meaning of love one for another. In the family relationship of husband and wife love is more than saying vows before a group of people. It becomes a lifetime of expressing through words and actions the deep feelings of the bond shared between a man and a woman. Everyone needs this kind of relationship. When God created man He knew he was incomplete. Man was not whole without a mate and without that force of love in his life there would be no joy. Taking a rib from the side of Adam, the Lord fashioned a part of Adam’s identity creating a creature that would fill his needs and share his life. Reciprocally the woman would bless the life of man as he met her needs and fulfilled her purpose. She needed the love and attention of her husband to know she was loved and cared for. As the first creation and because of the transgression of the woman, man took a role of headship over the woman. Paul would define this headship as one of subjection but not as the world would view domination. The husband is the head of the wife because God said he was. Societal views and moral norms have not changed that. Men can refuse this headship and women can reject their subjection and in so doing defy the word of God. Subjection to man must be viewed in the framework of God’s word. The husband is not the head of the wife but he is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. There is a vast difference between those two concepts.
A man can be a tyrant and force his wife to obey his will. Jesus did not exercise His headship over man in a tyrannical manner. He could have which is a frightful idea to consider. Jesus came to serve man and to die for man. The Lord left His eternal abode with the heavenly Father and became a man – a servant. He would tell His disciples this purpose was to come and to serve. His life was exemplified by the obedience of the word of the Father. Examining the life of Jesus it is easy to see His life was focused not on himself but the love He had for those who follow after Him. Following His return to Heaven these disciples would become the church of Christ. Jesus would be the head of the church as a husband must be the head of the wife. If a man wants to learn how to be a loving and godly husband he has only but to listen to the life of Jesus and follow His example. The church is the body of Christ. No man ever hated his own body but would cherish and take care of it. This is what the Christ did for man is to cherish the eternal lives of His disciples. Through the word of the Father, Jesus nourishes and cherishes the body of saints that are subject to Him. Who among the people of God feel oppressed by the one who is the head – Jesus Christ? Men are to be subject to Christ as head or disobey the law of God. Those who refuse to subject to the husband are also refusing to obey the will of the Father. The husband shows this subjection in the same manner Jesus exercises His Lordship over the church. Jesus did everything possible to bless the church and to care for the church. The husband must be a servant to his wife to serve her needs honoring her as the bride. No woman could resist being in a relationship where the husband nourishes and cherishes her daily as his bride.
Everything about the life of Jesus was leading up to the death on the cross. The attention of the world is focused on the sacrifice on the cross for eternal salvation but it must not be lost in the family relationship this is an example of Jesus and the husband. Not only must a man be the head of the wife and show love to his wife he must be willing to forfeit his life for her. The main problem in troubled marriages is the husband and wives are only looking out for themselves instead of the needs of others. Paul told the church at Corinth the body of the husband belongs to the wife and the body of wife belongs to the husband. The husband must be willing to sacrifice himself for his wife. This can mean literally but that is not the lesson Paul is trying to teach. As Jesus is the Savior of the body so must the man be the savior of the wife. He must expend his life for her glory, beauty and grace. Leadership in the home begins when a man takes the role of the husband as Christ took the plan of God to save the church. A husband’s love is a sacrificial love willing to show his wife and give his wife everything she needs to make her feel the love of God. Like Christ is the head of the church so the man is the head of the woman. When a man leads in the sacrificial love of Christ the home will be blessed with the divine pattern of the Creator.
And He said to them, “What things?” So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. (Luke 24:19-20)
The Greatest Prophet
A study of the prophets immediately takes the focus to the Old Testament books following the wisdom literature series of Job through Song of Solomon. Major prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel are noted for the volume of the books; while the minor prophets (Hosea through Malachi) are smaller in the text size of the message. This does not diminish the power of the message but only signifies a reference to the breadth of the book. While sixteen men are represented as the prophets of the old canon this does not suggest there were not many more prophets from early time that did not carry out the bidding of the Father. One of the earliest of those called prophets was seventh from Adam named Enoch. He was the man whom God took as they walked together and was not. Abraham is called a prophet when the Lord came to Abimelech warning him to return Sarah to her husband. Moses and Aaron are called prophets during the wilderness wanderings. Seers were called prophets and men like Samuel, Gad, Nathan, Ahijah, Jehu, Elijah, Elisha, Jonah the son of Amittai took the word of the Lord to the nation of Israel and its rulers to proclaim the word of the Lord. Their work was to proclaim the eternal word of the Lord. There were many prophets that little is known. Shemaiah was a prophet and wrote a book called the Book of Shemaiah telling the exploits of the acts of Rehoboam. The annals of the prophet Iddo tell of the life of Abijah king of Judah. Oded the prophet helped king Asa of Judah have the courage to remove idols from the land. There are many more prophets named and unnamed in scripture that carried the word of the Lord to the people.
The veracity of the prophet would determine if he was a prophet from the Lord or a false teacher. Under the Law of Moses the litmus test was whether the word of the prophet came to pass and if the word spoken by the prophet was from the Lord. It was not solely determined if the word of prophecy came to pass or not but whether the word of the prophet was true to the will of the Lord. A prophet could give the people a sign or wonder and when it came to pass encourage them to go after other gods. They were not to listen to this false prophet. That prophet or that dreamer would be put to death because he sought to lead the people away from Jehovah. The prophet that followed the word of the Lord to keep His commandments and obey His voice was the true prophet and one sent by God. To him the people were to hold fast and adhere to his word. It was easy for people to be influenced by the actions of the prophets instead of listening to the word of the prophet. The word of the prophet must be in keeping with the work he is doing and that all things come from God. True prophets show the power of God in their life and in their teaching.
Jesus was called a prophet because of what He said and what He did. He was a man attested by God through the miracles, signs and wonders He performed proving His power over all things. This did not make Him the Son of God alone but the word He taught was with authority and the clarity of the divine will. The completeness of Jesus is found in His power and His teaching. He is the greatest of all prophets because He could prove Himself to be the divine Son of God through the mighty deeds and the message of the word. The men on the road to Emmaus recognized Jesus of Nazareth as being the greatest of all the prophets. Jesus began with Moses and the Prophets concerning Himself explaining to the men who He was as fulfillment of the promises made of the coming Prophet. Later He would appear to the eleven opening their understanding to see Jesus as the message of the Old Testament through the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms. He was the embodiment of everything God purposed, planned and prophesied concerning the redemption of man. No other man could be the prophet who gave His own life as sacrifice for the sins of the world. What separated Jesus from other prophets was His sinless life. Tempted in all points He remained without sin making Him the perfect prophet. Jesus is the Son of God and the Prophet through whom all men must approach the Father. There is one prophet! The empty tomb proves Jesus to be that prophet.
Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.”
Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.” Jesus answered him, “Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times. Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” (John 13:36-14:4)
Peter’s Heart Was Troubled
The final hours of Jesus were filled with a flurry of activity. Jesus has come to Jerusalem for the eternal purpose of offering Himself as a sacrifice for all men. Prior to His arrest, trial and death, the Lord spends time with His disciples carefully preparing them for the trial that was to come. He communes with them at the Passover Feast and after Judas leaves to put things in motion for the betrayal, Jesus institutes the feast of remembrance with the bread and fruit of the vine. The Lord startled the disciples when He had washed their feet (including Judas) and as the hour drew closer for the Gethsemane trial Jesus talks with the remaining eleven about His purpose in coming, the mission ordained by His Father and offers prayers for Himself, the eleven and all those who would believe in Him. The eleven were unaware of what was about to take place. Jesus refers to Himself going somewhere and Simon Peter is puzzled by these words asking his Lord where He was going. The cross would only hold one body and Peter could not imagine in a few hours he would witness the cruel death of his beloved master. Unknown to Peter and the ten the death of Jesus was in accordance with the divine will of God. Impetuous as he could be, Simon Peter is indignant that Jesus would leave without him declaring that he would fight for Jesus and even die for his Lord. The spirit of Peter must have touched the heart of Jesus but the Son of Man knew too well the heart of Peter. Prophetically the Lord declares that prior to the next morning’s light when the rooster will crow the proud and courageous Peter will have denied he knows Jesus of Nazareth three times. His final denial will end with the apostle cursing.
Jesus feels pity for Peter and begs him not to lose heart. He tells his close friend not to be troubled about what Jesus is telling him and what he unknowingly will witness very soon. There is a reason Peter must have courage: if he believes so strongly in the Father then he must trust what the Lord is about to do is the Father’s will and thereby he must believe in Jesus. The Lord tells Peter that His work as Savior is to prepare a way of salvation for all men and His death will bring that about as God designed. Peter should not be dismayed if the Lord tells him to put up his sword or to not seek revenge for what is about to happen. Men sometimes run ahead of the plan of God and Jesus assures Simon that everything is according to the plan of the Father. He does not tell Peter there are really mansions in heaven (a concept foreign to Peter) but dwelling places for the saints of God. When Jesus goes to prepare eternal salvation through the blood of the cross Peter will follow the Lord to where he is as will all those who are faithful. Jesus tells Simon Peter that He is not leaving him but going away so they can be together. What powerful words: “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
Looking back over the two millennia since Jesus died; we can see the plan of God unfold through the sacrifice of Jesus. The Bible opens up the portals of heaven to reveal the divine plan of the Son of God coming to redeem man and make a way of salvation possible. Peter was troubled in heart and was crushed when he denied the Lord. Those three days after the death of Jesus must have been agonizing. It is difficult to imagine how joyful the heart of Simon Peter would be when he saw Jesus face to face that first day. He would go on to preach a powerful sermon on Pentecost and devout his life to serving his Lord. One of the motivating ideals that drove Peter was knowing that Jesus had gone to prepare a dwelling place for him and that in death he would be reunited with his Lord for eternity. Jesus did go to prepare a place and He is coming back one day to take His people home with Him to dwell with His Father. There is no reason to be troubled with the affairs of this world. There will be times we will deny the Lord but forgiveness reigns eternal in the loving grace of God. Jesus died so that we may live. He left heaven that we might enter heaven. His death gave us life. He went to prepare salvation so that we could prepare our lives for His saving grace. Believe in God. Believe in Jesus. The way is prepared for you.
He found him in a desert land and in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye. (Deuteronomy 32:10)
The Apple Of His Eye
Moses was nearing his final days and as he began to prepare the children of Israel for the conquest of the Promised Land he reminded them through a song of their incredible history of God’s grace. Joshua would lead the people in conquest of Canaan as Moses would not be permitted to enter the land. This did not dissuade the great prophet from speaking the words of a powerful song to encourage the people to be faithful to the word of the Lord. He will rehearse the struggles of the nation exhorting them to see the mercy of God allowing them to come to the shores of the Jordan River with the Promised Land gleaming before them. There is so much to accomplish. The song of Moses is a beautiful tribute to the character of a loving God who was compassionate to a rebellious people. It becomes as much a story of the nature of the Lord’s relationship with His people as anything else. He is the rock; a God of truth and without injustice and the Lord is righteous and upright in all He does.
Moses recounts the beginning of the nation of Israel from the separation of the sons of Adam to the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He likens the formation of the nation as the Lord finding His people in a desert land and in the wasteland without hope and unable to care for themselves. When the people of God journeyed to Egypt in the days of Joseph there was great prosperity and joy. After Joseph died a ruler arose that oppressed the Hebrews in a severe way. Crying out to the God they knew little about, the Hebrews were delivered by the mighty hand of God through the leadership of Moses. There was nothing the people could do to overtake the Egyptians. Their deliverance from the land of bondage was only possible by the power of God. Standing before the Red Sea they saw the power of God open the waters and deliver them across on dry ground. That same power brought the waters together again and destroyed the army of Pharaoh. God’s power did that. Through the forty years of wilderness wandering God protected His people, gave them food and water and guided them to the border of the Canaan. He had told them repeatedly the land was given to them. Under the leadership of Joshua the nation of Israel would enter Canaan and in less than ten years subdue the land. After the period of the judges, three kings would arise unifying the people into a powerful nation. After the death of Solomon the nation was divided and fell into rebellion. Only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin would remain as the people were taken into captivity. Following the seventy year mark prescribed by God a remnant returned. In all of the travails of the nation of Israel one constant remained that Moses had reminded them of in his final song: they were the apple of God’s eye.
Eyesight is one of the most precious commodities the human body possesses. The pupil of the eye is very tender and with this imagery God tells the Hebrew people how precious they are to Him. He found them desperate and without hope. Reviving them by His power He treated them as the most precious nation on the earth. Everything they needed He gave them. He promised to bless them without measure if they would serve Him and obey Him. Armies fell before them because of God’s love for them. The land would produce great bounties of blessings through the hand of God. No nation would be able to stand against them because they were the apple of God’s eye. Everything possible to give them the blessings of the earth were provided by the benevolent hand of the Lord. Israel was the apple of God’s eye and they turned their hearts away from Him. It is tragic to read the history of Israel and see how precious they were to the Lord and how they struggled to show that same love to Him. Two thousand years ago God sent His Son to die for all men because all men are precious in the sight of the Lord. In the same figure, man is the apple of God’s eye. There can be no greater testimony of God’s love for man than to see the sacrifice of Jesus on a Roman cross and to tell all men how precious they are before Him. Sadly most men reject that love and fail to honor the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The apple of God’s eye turns away from the cross. How sad and how tragic.
Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:16-19)
The idea of the church is very common to most people whether they are religious or not. When the term is used everyone thinks of a religious institution signifying some type of belief system with adherents and doctrines. Many names describe the thousands of churches that dot the landscape and fill the world in all four corners. Church has become such a common word it has come to mean a religious building for public worship or the followers of a religion, especially the Christian religion. The first time the word church is used in the Bible is when the Son of God declares to His apostles that He will build His church on the confession made by Peter. Inquiring who men thought Jesus to be, the disciples answered some thought Him to be John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. Jesus pressed them to say who they thought He was and Peter answered that the man standing before him was the Christ, the Son of the living God. In fulfillment to the eternal plan of God established before the creation of the world, the Lamb of God uttered those ageless words of the divine plan of God: He was going to build His church. He was not going to build a building. It was not in the mind of God to establish a group of religious people divided into a thousand splinters of faith and practice. What Jesus intended on building was His church, His body, His saints and His people sanctified to one cause and one cause alone and that was obedience to the divine pattern of His Father.
It is not without design the first time the word church appears in scripture is when the Son of God declares that He will build His church. This promise will be fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost in the city of Jerusalem just a few short years following this statement by Jesus. He will have finished His ministry, executed by the Romans on a cross through the hatred of His own people the Jews and then seen alive by hundreds of His disciples following the third day of His death. Three thousand devout Jews will be baptized for the remission of their sins and (according to Luke’s account) added to the church by the grace of God. The book of Acts will chronicle the rise of the early church from the early days in Jerusalem and then to the uttermost parts of the world bringing both Jew and Gentile together as one body under the banner of the redemptive blood of Jesus Christ. Paul, Peter, James and John will craft epistles showing the power of the brotherhood of saints that make up the New Testament church. Instructions will be given to the nature of the church, its worship and the foundation of truth that establishes the authority of the church. It will be called the kingdom of God, the Way, the churches of Christ, church of God, bride of Christ, house of God and a number of descriptive terms expressing the divine pattern of God’s will for saving men. The early church will autonomous in its organization without the headship of men ruling over the affairs of kingdom. Worship will be simple yet powerful in its design. Adherents to the gospel of Christ will share in the fellowship of brotherly love and benevolence sharing their lives and their possessions one with another. Many will try to destroy the church. Saul of Tarsus will wreak havoc on the infant church dragging off men and women to prison and putting many to death. This will come to no avail as the church thrives under persecution. Saul will become one of the most influential men of the early church as he comes to know the truth about Jesus of Nazareth. Later the Romans, Jews and the world will try to destroy the church but as the Revelation of the apostle John declares their efforts will be in vain.
Two thousand years have passed since the beginning of the church promised by Jesus. The great apostasy took place in the early years as prophesied by the Holy Spirit becoming the Roman Catholic Church. Holding an iron rule of oppression, the Roman church tried to wipe out the true church of Christ but failed in its efforts. In time protest arose against the authority of the Roman church and the Protestant movement was born. Churches began to take on the forms of human wisdom teaching as doctrines the traditions of men. Today many churches thrive in communities around the world but pale in any resemblance to the church promised by Jesus. He only promised to build His church and His church remains apart from the trappings of human reasoning. The church of the New Testament will stand until the coming of its King in the final day. Jesus promised to build His church. He did and it can still be found today. It is found on the pages of God’s word as described by holy men were moved by the Holy Spirit. There is only one church and that church belongs to Jesus Christ.
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. (Joshua 1:1-2)
Four decades had passed since the son of Nun had seen the land of Canaan. Along with eleven other leaders of the nation of Israel, Joshua had spent forty days traversing the beautiful land of milk and honey yearning to find a place to settle. When the report was given to Moses and the people, ten of his companions filled the hearts of the people with fear as they rejected the courage of Joshua and Caleb to conquer the land. Moses took the people into the wilderness and forty years later came to the Jordan River for the final crossing. The servant of the Lord would not be permitted into the Promised Land because of his sin at the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin. Moses did not hallow god in the midst of the children of Israel and while God allowed him to see the land he was not permitted to enter. At the age of one hundred twenty Moses died in the land of Moab. His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished. A huge vacuum now existed in the leadership of Israel. Who could stand in the place of Moses and lead the people? God had chosen Joshua, son of Nun to be that leader. Joshua was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. There was no man like the prophet Moses whom the Lord knew face to face in all the history of Israel. The story of Moses’ life is filled with the powerful testimony of God’s mercy, grace, and providence to deliver His people from the bondage of the Egyptian masters. Israel did not deliver themselves from Egypt; it was through the power of the Lord they were rescued. Through the mighty hand of Moses leading the people through the waters of the Red Sea parted by the power of God and the formation of a nation at Mount Sinai, Israel became a people that were feared by nations for generations. Moses would remain as the central figure as the law given to the Israelite’s was called the Law of Moses. How can one man stand in the shadow of greatness and lead the people? It was entrusted to Joshua to take on that very task.
When the days of mourning were completed for Moses, the Lord comes to Joshua and tells him two very important things. First, Moses is dead. Second, it is time to arise and go over the Jordan River. Joshua was well aware that Moses was dead but what the Lord is telling him is that as great a man as Moses had been, the people had a task to do and delaying that work by mourning the past will not accomplish anything. Nothing would change what had happened in the past forty years. Pundits and critics could spend endless hours debating the negatives of decisions made but what happened in the past must remain there. The purpose of the nation was to bring judgment to the land of Canaan and there was work to be done. It was imperative to focus the mind in the right direction and look to what needed to be done. Having established the past was where it belonged, the Lord then tells Joshua to arise and go over the Jordan and complete the work given to him by God. There were cities to conquer, lands to possess and the time of fulfilling the work of the Lord was at hand. Joshua needed to encourage the people to gather the new generation of faithful and take the land promised to their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He would lead them to great victories and face incredible losses. In less than ten years the land would be conquered under the leadership of Joshua and the nation of Israel would be established for future generations. The pivotal time in this transition came when God came to Joshua and reflected on the past and looked forward to the future. Joshua’s bridge had taken him from the leadership of Moses to his own destiny in changing the future.
Changing the calendar is as old as the world. When the Lord established the sun, moon and stars on the fourth day of creation, He created a division of time as signs for seasons, days and years. Through the millennia man has found renewed strength with the passing of each year anticipating the freshness of a new year. Like Joshua, men stand on the brink of looking deeply into the past yet with great anticipation for tomorrow. God told Joshua there was a place to view the stories of yesteryear but there was work to be done that would secure the hope of tomorrow. The passing of this year is firmly placed in the history books with indelible ink that will never be removed. Good or bad, the days of yesterday are permanently placed in the marble halls of memories never to be changed. The bridge all men walk is the hope of a new tomorrow in the coming year and the stories that will be told in the year to come. Life was unforeseen three hundred sixty five days ago and it remains a mystery today for what this new year will bring. With the hope of God’s message to Joshua there should be bright days ahead. Jericho was conquered by the power of God. The city of Ai brought misery to the people because of sin. This new year will be determined in how we cross that bridge. If we take God with us we will have untold victory. When we reject God’s plan there will be nothing but misery and sorrow. Trust in the Lord and His power, dwell in the word of God and His love; and this new year will be a time of refreshing and joy. Standing on the bridge of Joshua is a time of decision.
Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. (Philippians 4:5)
Learning To Be Of Gentle Character
It is remarkable to read a letter where the author is asking for his readers to exhibit a spirit of kindness, gentleness and forbearance when the circumstance surrounding the one writing the letter is anything but peaceful and calm. Enduring the hardships of a Roman prison in the first century was an experience few would find tolerable or pleasant. The guards would not treat the prisoners well, food was foul and the cramp quarters of a Roman cell was claustrophobic for the bravest of hearts. Yet found in this scene of trial and misery the apostle Paul pens a number of letters including a rather joyful message to the church in Philippi. The letter to the Philippian saints is received as an epistle of joy. There are many attributes contained in his letter that Paul enjoins upon the brethren to find the joy in serving the Lord enduring whatever hardships come upon them. They could have the confidence in his message because they knew what Paul had to endure. Of the many admonitions to encourage his brethren, the apostle implores them to have a spirit of gentleness, forbearance and reasonableness with all men. He wants them to show a gracious attitude to all men even when some of those men were sought to persecute them and possibly imprison them. The captors of the man from Tarsus must have marveled at his kind demeanor and willingness to accept the chains of his imprisonment. Like his Lord, Paul lived what he preached. His example of faith would stir the emotions of all those who read his prison epistles.
Being gentle to all men is not an easy task when the world is filled with a lot of angry people. It is natural to strike back or to impress the rights of citizens upon others but what separates the child of God from the citizen of the world is the higher cause that is served. As disciples of Christ His followers let their gentle spirit of forgiveness, mercy, kindness, love and peace show itself in their daily walk. The Christian is a man of integrity by his word of gentleness. All men will know the heart of the man who calls Jesus his Lord through the attitudes of the heart, the character of speech and the pattern of his life. His demeanor will exhibit one of careful examination of the word of God so that he may know how to live before all men. These are not simply admonitions or suggestions but qualifications to be found faithful before the judgment seat of God. Hearts must learn to change from being abusive and loud demanding their way must be followed and heeded. The voice of the Christian is filled with the forgiveness of Christ, the love of the Holy Spirit and the image of the Father impressed upon the heart. This is what the world sees when they examine the life of the child of God. They will find the Christian as one who is gentle in all things.
Learning to be gentle requires bringing into subjection the spirit of defiance. A motivating factor in the life of all Christians is the realization that Jesus could return at any moment. Five words establish the pattern of life for any who call upon the Lord: The Lord is at hand. It has been nearly two thousand years since these words were penned but the reality is closer now than ever before. What characterized the early church is the constant sense and anticipation of the Lord’s return. Sadly the church today rarely thinks about the coming of the Lord and the effect is less gentleness, kindness, love and mercy. If more of God’s people would dwell on the knowledge of His imminent return and to do so with joy not fear; there would be a lot more lives filled with gentleness. One motivates the other. Keeping the pressures of the world out of the heart and filling it with the love of God endears the spirit to long more fully for the return of Jesus. A kinder heart moves the human spirit to the plains of eternal praise and glory. Learn to be gentle and the richness of God’s grace will fill the heart and others will see Christ living in you.