Avoiding Anger

There are many proverbs in the Bible about anger. Perhaps my favourite is this one:

Proverbs 15 v 1: A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger

We are all emotional beings. Some people are more driven by emotions than others. The fruit of the Spirit is self control, peace, patience, and gentleness among others.

Galatians 5 v 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law

It is interesting that anger is probably the opposite of all of these. Jesus got angry with the money-changers who were using the temple for trade rather than God’s business. Some people speak about a righteous anger, when standing up against injustice. These are accepted forms of biblical anger. So anger in itself is not wrong. BUT…When we get into anger and it starts to drive us and cause us to speak badly of others, to seek revenge for deeds done to us or those close to us, we walk out of the spirit. We need to guard our hearts because out of the heart, the mouth speaks.

A sign of a wise man is one who is slow to speak, quick to listen and quick to take godly correction. We are all caught up in emotional topics from time to time. Satan tries to grab a foothold through our anger to make us fall into sin and dare I say it…rebellion !

Pray that God will keep you from anger – especially anger against your brother.

 

 

Called to stand up for what you believe

Jesus started his ministry by calling disciples to “follow him”. Jesus spoke numerous times to his disciples to warn them that following him will entail hardships, and trouble. Jesus also however gives us a glimpse of the glory that awaits in heaven for those who follow him.

Sometimes it is easier to go through trials and hardships in our Christian walk when we hold on to the knowledge that God will reward us eternally. It is a bit like watching a sad movie when you know there will be a happy ending. So long as you know it will be a happy ending, it makes watching the sad parts easier to bear. So if you are going through hard times, remember there is a very happy ending.

I have been going through an unbelievably tough time in my church leadership. The thing about church is it is led and run by people, and we are all full of the flesh and sin. Our aim is to submit to God, and if we all did that perfectly the church would be perfectly harmonious and there would be only one denomination. Our differences are man made and God must shake His head at our foolishness.

We have to learn submission to one another. God helps us as we all try to become more like Jesus.

Lessons from Isaiah 53 v 6

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

The message that Jesus came to bring is this: everyone can come to God and receive forgiveness. Everyone needs to do so, because everyone has sinned. Romans 3v23 says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. People are really like sheep. We seldom really think for ourselves, and each of us has gone astray. We have turned off the path God wants us to walk on.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Since we have gone astray, we are lost. Therefore we are all those whom Jesus has come to save. Paul said that his message was to the Jews first and then also to the Gentiles (non-Jews). Jesus gave the parable of the lost sheep, where one sheep goes astray and the shepherd leaves the 99 sheep that are safe to go and find the one that has become separated. And that is the message of salvation, that God sent His Son Jesus, from heaven to find those who have gone astray.

But going astray has a cost attached. We all go astray because of the list of the flesh. The lust of the flesh means our own selfishness. We want things our way and we want it now. That is sin. Simply rebelling against God’s way is sin. In fact the Bible goes even further by saying that “to him who knows to good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4v17). But continuing from vs 5, God has taken the iniquity (see yesterday’s post) of us all and laid it on Jesus. This prophecy in Isaiah ch 53 is about Jesus who would come to fulfill this passage hundreds of years later.

 

Lessons from Isaiah 53 v 5

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

This prophecy is amazing in that it came hundreds of years before the death of Jesus.  But Isaiah speaking by the power of the Holy Spirit, could see into the future, and tells us of a time that is coming when God will secure our peace and healing through punishment. However the punishment will be on “him”. Piercing is a clear reference to the way that Jesus died. Crucifixion was  unbelievably cruel. It was so cruel that the Romans even abolished it eventually, as it was inhumane.

Jesus died by being nailed to a cross. In this way he was pierced. His hands and feet were pierced and the scars remained even after Jesus rose from the dead. Remember that Thomas did not believe it was Jesus, after Jesus appeared to him post his resurrection. Thomas said that unless I can put my hands into the nail-prints, I will not believe. Then Jesus invited Thomas to do so, and at that point Thomas believed. Jesus was pierced / crucified because of our transgressions. Transgressions is another word for sins. Jesus died for our sins. Our means yours and mine. Jesus took your sins and mine onto himself when he died.

Then Isaiah says he was crushed for our iniquities. Transgressions is probably a less harsh word. It is more like the word we might use today meaning our mistakes. Our errors. But iniquities refers to evil. Our evil nature that causes us to sin. Jesus died for it all. God crushed Jesus. How did this happen? I believe this happened by God placing the entire wight of the sin of the world onto Jesus. That weight would crush anyone. I think there is also a more subtle meaning – in that when God the Father turned His back on His Son as Jesus was abandoned on the cross, Jesus said “My God why have you forsaken me?”(Matthew 27:45-46) – I believe that Jesus was crushed in spirit at that time.

Why did Jesus die?

He died to bring us peace with God and He died to bring us healing. When you have sin in your life, you cannot be at peace with God. But Jesus removes sin. the Bible says that our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103 v2). The sin which keeps us from having peace, is now gone and we have peace with Almighty God.

And finally by his wounds we are healed.

Many Christians believe as do I, that God brought about divine health and healing to the body of Christ through the death of Jesus. If we were healed, then surely we must be healed in the future. So we can appropriate the healing that Jesus bought for us with his blood. But like all of God’s gifts, they must be received. I encourage you to pray for healing using this verse as the basis of your prayer.