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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Flower arrangement on the Ocean City, NJ boardwalk
Flower arrangement on the Ocean City, NJ boardwalk.

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"Follow After"

"But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness" (1 Timothy 6:11).

Ed & Gladys BerkeyBrooksyne and I are visiting along the New Jersey shore while Ester is attending a camp this week.  Last evening we enjoyed a wonderful dinner in the home of our former New England district superintendent and his wife, Ed and Gladys Berkey, who make their summer home in Ocean City, NJ.  Pastor Berkey led the district the first several years where I pastored in Massachusetts before his retirement in 1997.

They are long-time servants of the Lord who first met at a Bible camp in the 1940's and this fall they'll celebrate their 62nd wedding anniversary. They demonstrate a seasoned, mature walk with Christ, yet continue to learn and grow. Pastor Berkey showed me a chronological Bible he had just received for Father's Day and intended to begin reading. Like Paul he demonstrates a lifelong interest in growing in his knowledge of the Word. (See 2 Timothy 4:13.

The Biblical pattern for the transmission of the faith is for one generation to faithfully pass on to the next. Moses passed to Joshua, Elijah to Elisha and of course Paul to Timothy and others. It remains the pattern through the church age. Paul elaborated on this in 2 Timothy 2:2.
The last several days we have been looking at three commissions given to Timothy by Paul. It is our contention that these commissions are for all who earnestly want to serve Christ.  Friday's message was on Fighting the good fight of faith. Yesterday we examined Fleeing from the tempter.  Today we want to consider Following after that which honors God.

Paul commands the man of God to follow after these six virtues: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and meekness. Certainly there many other virtues mentioned in Scripture for the follower of Christ including the nine fruit of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:22,23.

Being a model Christian would be so easy if we simply said a prayer and told God that we want the virtues to be demonstrated in our lives that are mentioned in today's text.  But that's not how it usually works out in the lives of believers.  
In addition to prayer we develop these virtues through everyday experiences, the trials of life, even the human weaknesses that prevail in settings where we least want to display them. 

D.L. MoodyLet me illustrate with the last virtue mentioned; that of meekness, which was evidenced in evangelist D.L. Moody's life in a setting in Northfield, MA where young men were being trained for ministry in the late 1800's.

It was a summer conference and each day the young men gathered under a tent to hear speakers challenge them to live holy lives and witness to others of their faith.  A time of sharing would then follow where the men were given opportunity to speak out. 

During one such session a young man started to speak out as he had on other occasions.  Mr. Moody prevented it from happening as he said in front of all who were gathered, "Brother, you have spoken thirteen times in three days here, and perhaps shut out twelve other good men from speaking." 

It was true.  The young man had been presuming and overbearing.  Perhaps a reproof in private would have been a more appropriate handling of the situation, but the story goes on in the way Moody responded to the Spirit of God who was dealing with his heart:

"'Friends, I answered my dear young friend over there very foolishly as I began this meeting.  I ask God to forgive me, and I ask the forgiveness of my brother.'  And straightway he walked over to him and took him by the hand.  That meeting needed no after-meeting.  It was dramatically and spiritually made perfect.  The man of iron will proved that he had mastered the hardest words of all earth's languages, 'I am sorry.'"

A friend who attended the service wrote, "The evangelist had dropped a little from his standard of loving courtesy to his guests.  He could have ignored this; the tide of his eloquence was full.  Yet the most eloquent was to come.  In my heart has ever since been written a memory which brings moisture into my eyes yet, and ranks itself unquestionably as the greatest thing I ever saw Moody do." *

It isn't always the perfection of these virtues flowing from our lives that speaks to others. At times it is our imperfection made right by the Spirit of God that speaks in a greater measure to others than if we were by nature "Super Christians."  Let us be sensitive to the Spirit so that the nature of Jesus may be made manifest in what we say, what we do, and who we are.

Today we encourage you to consider these six virtues; "righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness" in the immediate context as well as other virtues listed in Scripture.  Invite God to perfect that which is imperfect in our lives so that He is glorified as we daily live for Him.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we don't pray for a life of ease since we know that virtues listed in Scripture are often refined in our lives through the challenges, the overcomings, the mistakes and the hours we spend in prayer seeking You above all else.  May the nature of Christ be much more visible than our human nature so that we are truly a reflection of Your image that is stamped deep in our hearts. We desire to "follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and meekness" so that we are truly fruitful in our pursuit of holiness.  Amen.

* Our illustration was taken from "The Life of D.L. Moody" written by William R. Moody in 1900.

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"My Jesus I Love Thee" (Video)

Call 2 Fall logoRegardless of what country you may live in we sure need a revival! On Sunday morning July 5 our church will join many others in participating in "Call2Fall", a nationwide prayer meeting. We encourage others to look into this, especially pastors here in America. Essentially this is a definite time during worship on Sunday, July 5th when we get on our knees before the Lord in repentant prayer, pleading with God to reshape our lives, renew our land, and send times of refreshing (See 2 Chronicles 7:14; Acts 3:19).

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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