A Productive Pattern

There is a biblical pattern of how God develops our character. It is found in Romans 1:1-5.

It begins when He takes control of our expectations. Note they are our expectations. Often they stand in the way of God’s intended desire for us. Sometimes our expectations result in suffering, tribulation. It becomes the seed bed out of which grows character having a fragrance called hope.

The process is seen throughout the Bible. It involves:

Anticipation, followed by frustration, resulting in realization. Examples are:

Abraham, who had a son he loved. God had promised him an heir and his anticipation was realized. Many of God’s promises were embodied in Abraham’s son Isaac.

Frustration. Then God ordered him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. On Mount Moriah Abraham built an altar and placed Isaac on it. That hope was about to be dashed. God never wanted a human sacrifice, but He knew Abraham’s love for the child. What God wanted was to give Abraham an opportunity to demonstrate that his love for Him was greater than his love of his most beloved object, Isaac. Once Abraham raised the knife to sacrifice Isaac and thereby demonstrated his love for the Lord by obedience, God stayed his hand. The child was spared, hope lived.

Realization. Isaac was the child through which Abraham was to be blessed, and indeed he was.

A second example is Jesus, the Son of God.

Anticipation had long existed that Messiah would come. Jesus’ followers had great expectation, Jesus, Messiah, was here.

Then came the cross and frustration. Hope was lost.

Three days later came the resurrection and realization. 

Has this pattern ever played out in your life? Perhaps it is at work right now, even resulting in frustration.

God is at work building character in us by keeping hope alive. Give God time to be God. In your hours of frustration live with hope and faith so that when your hour of realization comes you won’t be embarrassed when you look back on your conduct during your frustration.

Believing in Him means to accept the facts and trust the person. Consider this example. Assume we become friends, and my wife and I have the good fortune of you visiting us overnight. The next morning you come to the breakfast area. You skin color is pallor, you have sharp pain on the right just below the ribs. Those are symptoms of appendicitis. I say to you, “Our close friend is a physician, he lives at 769 Dear Run Road, his phone number is 604-379-8923, he is board certified and works at Kennestone Hospital in Marietta. Do you believe that?” 

“That is good news. If you say it, I believe it.” 

“Wonderful, you are well, you believe the facts, your pain is gone.”

No, you aren’t. The facts become real and relevant when you let me take you to the hospital where we are met by the doctor who runs tests that show you have appendicitis. You then must submit to the doctor’s scalpel. You must trust the person to be healed. Likewise we must trust Jesus, that is, submit to Him.

First, you accept the facts. That is good, BUT you then must trust the person. Applied, that means you must believe such facts as Jesus, in love for you died on Calvary as a sacrifice for your sins. If you do, that is good, BUT now confirm your salvation by trusting the person, Jesus.

Love That Lasts

“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind. ” II Timothy 1:7

Every Christian has been given the spirit of love. Jesus wants it shown. The traits of love are revealed in I Corinthians 13:4 – 8. 

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.”

Consider each trait as a column supporting a roof. The roof given support is noted in verse 7.  The word “bears” is translated from the Greek word “stegei.”  It means “to cover over or provide a roof.”  This means love puts up a shelter to shield or cover. Consider the columns and note if any need repair. 

* Love is long suffering, that is, is patient. The word employed always refers to patience with people, not circumstances.  There is another word for that.

* Love is kind. The Greek root word translated “kind” means to be “useful.” This means love is uncompromisingly courteous.  It is a triumph of grace.  

* Love does not envy. Envy is wanting what others have. Bragging is an attempt to make them want what you have.

* Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up. To “parade” oneself means to verbalize pride.  Our word “windbag” comes from this meaning.

* Love does not behave rudely. It is always polite and never disorderly.  It is Christian etiquette at work.

* Love doesn’t seek its own. It isn’t selfish. It doesn’t demand its rights.

* Love is not provoked. It isn’t always ready to quarrel or fight.

* Love thinks no evil. The word “thinks” translates the Greek work LOGIZOMAI which is an accounting term meaning “to keep an account.”  Love doesn’t keep score.  

* Love doesn’t rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.  Love doesn’t brag over sin.  It does not expose the weaknesses of others.

* Love believes all things. Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life is the personification of “the truth.” Do you rejoice in Him fully?

* Love hopes all things. It desires the fulfillment of all things good.

* Love endures all things, means to suffer to help people work things out.

Are your columns sturdy and your roof not leaking? Love, you have it, it is a gift from God. Now give Him an account as to how you are using it. Make a conscious effort to henceforth show love for Christ sake.


Some devotionals are more informational than inspirational. This one falls in the former category. Though you may not remember the details, don’t forget the conclusion.

Jesus’ resurrection is spoken of as the “first fruit,” meaning there is more to come. That “more” is the incredible teaching that every dead believer will one day be resurrected.

Eusebius of Caesarea wrote of a time when Christians were being persecuted by the Romans. In an effort to refute the resurrection, the Romans left the corpses of a large number of Christians unburied for some time before burning them and scattering their ashes in the Rhone River. As their ashes were washed away a boastful Roman said, “Now let us see if they will rise again!”

Perhaps science has now given us a hint indicating how God may do it.

As a chaplain for Holland America Cruise Line, I met a most interesting Swiss scientist who had worked on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project, the largest atom smasher in the world. It is the biggest experimental facility ever built. Located under parts of France and Switzerland the LHC consists of a 16.777 mile ring of superconducting magnets with a number of accelerating structures to boost the energy of atomic particles.

Put on your diving helmet because here is where the results go very deep. They identified a new sub-atom particle called DS3, a meson; a type of unstable particle consisting of one quark and one antiquark. They are the most basic building blocks of matter that make up protons and neutrons. They are held together by a strong interaction, a force that is one of the four fundamental forces of nature. This is called entanglement. 

Long ago Einstein conceived of such a possibility as, “the spooky part.” 

Scientists sent pairs of entangled DS3 photons through a network of fiber-optic tubes to locations approximately seven miles apart, north and south. At this distance the behavior of one particle correlated with the behavior of the other. When compared the paths of each member of the two halves were symmetrical. Though the particles had many paths they could have traveled through the tubes, what one particle did the other did. By some means the particles communicated with each other affecting the movement of the other from some distance.

This is the process of entanglement. Thus, though the Romans scattered the atoms, all the DS3 relationships of the body stayed in touch. The reconstruction of the resurrection body would begin with DS3 gathering the atoms which constituted the body parts.

This explanation of entanglement and resurrection is far too simple. What all this means is all the particles (quarks and antiquarks) of everyone who has ever died, including those ashes in the Rhone River, are still out there waiting to be reunited on the day of resurrection.

No one will ever know the mechanical means that result in the resurrection, but this affords a hint. By whatever means Jesus’ acclamation stands:

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me though he may die, he shall live.” (John 11:25)

“Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.” (John 5:25)

The Urgency of Self-Discipline

“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.”  II Timothy 1:7

When the two Greek words used here, sodzo and phroneo, are compounded into one word, they form the word sophroneo, which pictures a mind that has been delivered, rescued, revived, salvaged, and protected and is now safe and secure. Thus, even if your mind is tempted to give in to fear, you can allow God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to work in you to deliver, rescue, revive, and salvage your mind. This means your rationale, logic, and emotions can be shielded from the illogically absurd, ridiculous, unfounded, and crazy thoughts that have tried to grip your mind in the past. All you have to do is grab hold of God’s Word and His Spirit.

Sophroneo has the idea of a calm, self-controlled mind, in contrast to the panic and confusion that rushes in when in a fearful situation. Many versions of the Bible properly translated it self-discipline.

When Christ is in control we are truly under control. He gives us the capacity of controlling ourselves in the face of PANIC or PASSION. 

In matters of PANIC, He can keep us from running away.

In matters of PASSION, He can keep us from being swept away.

We must treat ourselves as a force which needs controlling —-

* A collection of energy needing direction.

* A composite of emotions that must be managed.

* A combination of appetites that have to be curbed.

Avoid these mind mines by:

Developing a strategy, what to do to discipline your mind.

Run every thought through a final filter, what will go through.

Reset your attitude to a positive pure standard.

The Bible speaks of seeking His face, meaning to seek His will.

You are in spiritual warfare. You are in a battle that all of God’s children fight (see Ephesians 6:12). Make up your mind not to give up! According to Colossians 3:2, set your mind on things above and keep it set!

Some people have a struggle with improper thoughts. There is an ancient thought that is relevant. You can’t keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building their nest in your mind.

This is time for decision. 

“CHRONOS” is a Greek word for running time. It is used for clocking the length of time required for something.

There is another Greek word for time, KAIROS. It refers to a decisive time, a moment that requires an important decision. KAIROS is linked with the idea of responsibility. KAIROS, time has come. Seize the moment, take advantage of this opportunity to act responsibly. Here and now determine to exercise self-discipline, employ the power Jesus has given you and develop a well disciplined life.

Your Own Personal Power Pack

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (II Timothy 1:6, 7)

Power alone can be destructive. Love alone can be sentimentality.

A sound mind alone can become only intellectual speculation. Power, love, and a sound mind given us by God is the antidote for fear and timidity.

Power, or authority mean the ability to achieve purpose. 

I saw a football game in which there was a player who gained an average of eight yards every time he carried the ball. That was power.

There was a little man about 5’10”.  Every time he carried the ball it was for fifteen yards. He carried a little yellow flag and every time he threw it he walked off fifteen yards. That was power, that is authority.

The word translated power in the text is often properly translated authority. He had the authority to:

1:9 “Saved us…”

1:9 “Called us…”

1:9 “Abolished death…”

1:9 “Brought life and immortality to light…”

In “God’s Trombones” there is a chapter entitled “Go Down Death.” It ends with the funeral eulogy of Sister Caroline concluding: “Weep not — weep not, She is not dead; She’s resting in the bosom of Jesus.”

The power is here depicted as power to suffer with Him and we will also reign with Him. (II Timothy 2:12).

Everyone, that is everyone, suffers. You may have been laboring under the misconception that you are the only one who suffers. If you have been thinking this is your distinction among humanity, it isn’t. Believers and non-believers alike suffer. Being a Christian means you have the capacity to go beyond the breaking point and not break. This is inherent in the power given you by your Savior. With Him suffering takes on purpose. Use your pain for your gain. If you know someone whose faith you admire, you know someone who has suffered.

To maintain this power it is essential to stir up the fire, that is the zeal, within you.

General Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, wrote to his followers: “The tendency of fire is to go out; watch the fire on the altar of our heart.”

Jesus wants to be your Master. Life without a spiritual master is like an orchestra without a conductor, a team without a coach, an army without a general. 

Everyone has a master. Some see their master every time they look in the mirror. With Jesus as your Master, life takes on an entirely new perspective.