Speaking the Truth in Love

Speaking the Truth in Love

Ways To Improve

Part 1

   A. Belshazzar was weighed in the balances and found wanting. Dan.
   B. If God was to weigh us in His balances, how would we stand?
      1. Would we be found with a surplus or would we be found
   C. It is good from time to time to resolve in our hearts to       
      improve in various things.
      1. The Psalmists often prayed for a revival. For example, Psalm
         85:6 says, "Will You not revive us again, that your people
         may rejoice in You?"
      2. We often need a revival. We need to improve ourselves.
      3. This is especially true in things which we might be lacking.
      4. It is good for all us to set basic goals (goals that we can
         actually meet) and work toward them.
   D. In this lesson we suggest some ways in which we can improve.

   A. We should enrich our minds with proper thinking. Phil. 4:8
      1. Someone once said, "We should not make a sewer out of our ears,
         and a septic tank out of our hearts."
      2. Our world readily provides a sewer and septic tank for all
         who want them.
   B. One of the reasons God destroyed man in Noah's day was
      because the imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only  
      evil continually. Gen. 6:5
      1. Indeed, the heart is very hard to control. Jer. 17:9
      2. We must bring every thought into captivity to the obedience
         of Christ. 2 Cor. 10:5
      3. We need to set our minds on things above. Col. 3:1-2
      4. We need to mediate on spiritual things. Psalm 19:14
         a. Let us strive to develop a spiritual vocabulary, speaking
            words of edification which minister grace to the hearers.
            Eph. 4:29
         b. Consider the words of Boaz and how his servants
            replied. Ruth 2:4
      5. Those who are spiritual are more respected among their co-
         a. Some people might contend that religion has no place in
            the office, but a recent study proves otherwise. It might
            be to your advantage, the study concludes, if you
            profess your religious beliefs rather than keep silent
            about them. Professionals who actively expressed their
            religious beliefs were perceived to be more intelligent,
            more trustworthy, more moral, and better adjusted than
            those who did not. (From Roger Bailey and Philip
            Doriot, via Pulpit Helps)

   A. Of course, this will not apply to most because they already    
      attend every service.
      1. For some reason unknown to me, some are not attending on
         Sunday nights and Wednesday nights.
      2. For those who are unfaithful in this matter, can you think  
         of a better way to improve during the coming year?
      3. It is our duty to attend every service. Heb. 10:25
   B. A preacher was once asked to define "Faithful Attendance at
      Worship," and this was his reply: "If your car started one out 
      of three times, would you consider it faithful? If the paperboy
      skipped Thursdays and Sundays, would they be missed? If you
      didn't show up at work two or three times a week, would your
      boss call you faithful? If your refrigerator quit a few days   
      now and then, would you excuse it and say, 'Oh, well, it works 
      most of the time.' If your water heater greets you with cold   
      water one or two mornings a week while you are in the shower, 
      would it be faithful? If you miss several mortgage payments in 
      a year's time, would your mortgage holder be pleased? If you   
      miss worship and attend meetings only often enough to show     
      you're interested, but not often enough to get involved, are   
      you faithful?" (From Illustrations Unlimited, by James S.      
      Hewett, p. 87, slightly adapted)
   C. The water spider lives at the bottom of muddy pools and has the
      distinctive power of ascending to the surface of the pool and
      there surrounding itself with a tiny bubble of air. Thus       
      enveloped, it descends to the sludge and ooze at the bottom of 
      the pool and remains there unsullied by its environment until  
      the air is exhausted. Then it rises again to the surface and   
      the process is repeated. (From Illustrations of Bible Truths,  
      Compiled by Ruth Peters, p. 66)
      1. Likewise, Christians find rejuvenation by worshiping
         regularly with the saints. Through Bible study, worship, and
         fellowship with those of like precious faith, they can      
         continue to be unsullied by the hostile environment of the  

   A. We all need nourishment for our souls, just as we need
      nourishment for our bodies. Matt. 4:4
      1. A study of the Scripture will build and increase our faith.
      2. The Scriptures produce patience, provide comfort, and give
         hope. Rom. 15:4
   B. Diligent Bible study seems to be a rare commodity today.
      1. It is a lost heirloom, time worn, and out of date.
      2. A preacher in a Meeting mentioned that he stayed in the
         home of an elder who didn't open his Bible during the whole
   C. Let us all determine and resolve to store our minds with
      Scripture. Psalm 1:1-3; James 1:25
      1. Bible study can be intriguing and challenging. Let us find a
         workable study plan, and stick with it.
      2. A man had three sons. He wanted to test their ability to
         discern; so he gave each of them a piece of an apple with a
         rotten spot on it. The first ate the whole thing; the second
         threw the whole thing away; and the third separated the bad
         and ate the good. The father noted that the third was the
         wisest, and explained, "When we receive instruction, some of
         us believe everything we hear; others reject everything
         because some is bad; but the wise separate the bad from the
         good and benefit from the good." (Author Unknown)

   A. God commands us to love one another fervently with a pure
      heart. 1 Pet. 1:22
      1. Above all else, we should have fervent love for each other. 
         1 Pet. 4:8; Col. 3:14
      2. Love is one of the identifying characteristics of the Lord's
         disciples. John 13:34-35
   B. One way to show love is to be alert to the needs of others.
      1. Will we be like those on the judgment day who said, "Lord,
         when did we see you..." Matt. 25:41-46
      2. Often, we do not see the needs of others because we are not
         alert; we do not notice when they have needs.
   C. May the Lord help us to increase and abound in love. 1 Thess.
      1. We should remember the love of Christ, and try to do
         likewise. 1 John 3:16
      2. A man driving on a dark highway one night accidentally
         stuck a hitchhiker who had been near the roadside. Hearing
         the sickening thud on his front fender, he stopped to see
         what had happened. When he saw the injured fellow on the
         ground, he wanted to jump into his car and drive away. But
         as he started toward his car door, the injured man moaned,
         "For the love of God, help me!" The driver resisted the
         fearful temptation and returned to help.
         a. Because of the love of God, let us love others.

   A. Let us work to arrange things in our lives so that through good
      stewardship we will have extra to give to those who have need.
      Eph. 4:28
      1. Laboring for this purpose, to be able to give to the needy, 
         is certainly an excellence taught only in the Scriptures.
      2. Often, it is through poor stewardship of our money that we
         barely have enough to make ends meet, much less, extra that
         we can give to those who have need.
   B. It is very easy to get entangled in money endeavors which      
      hinder our service to God. Luke 8:14
      1. Money often comes between us and God. Someone has said
         that you can take two coins and shut out the view of the
         landscape. Go to the mountains, and just hold two coins
         closely in front of your eyes. The mountains are still      
         there, but you cannot see them because the coins are        
         shutting out your vision. Similarly, it doesn't take large  
         quantities of money to come between us and God. Just a      
         little can shut out the proper vision for spiritual things.
   C. I am not encouraging one to become a miser, as one who hoards
      up for that "rainy day," which never seems to come.
      1. God wants us to enjoy the fruits of our labors. Eccl.  5:18
      2. However, it is very easy to place undue interest in money.
      3. Jesus said that we cannot serve God and mammon. Matt.
         a. Consider Prov. 23:4-5.

   A. Belshazzar, an evil king, was weighed in the balances and found
      1. He was slain that very night and his kingdom was given to
   B. Let us seek to improve in these various ways (chart below) so
      that we will not be found wanting before God.
      1. May God help us to improve, to do better, that we might
         measure up to what He requires of us.


Part 2


A. "Think about people who find themselves in religious ruts. They discover a number of things about themselves. They will find that they are getting older but not getting any holier. Time is their enemy, not their friend. The time they trusted and looked to is betraying them, for they often said to themselves, 'The passing of time will help me. I know some good old saints, so as I get older I'll get holier and better. Time will help me, purify me and revive me.' They said that the year before last, but they were not helped any last year. Time betrayed them. They were not any better last year than they had been the year before." (From in "Rut, Rot or Revival," by A.W. Tozer in Christianity Today, Vol. 38, No. 3) B. It is certainly true that some of us are not getting any better spiritually as we get older. 1. We need a revival, a renewed zeal, a determination to do better. 2. Let us recognize the challenges before us. 3. Let us lay out our strategy and follow it faithfully. C. We continue our study on ways to improve. I. LET US LEARN TO PRAY MORE. A. 1 Thess. 5:17-18; Luke 18:1 1. We need to establish good prayer habits. 2. We need to pray at all times and patiently wait on the Lord. Psalm 27:14; Isa. 40:28-31 3. Through prayer we can continually resort to a place of strong refuge. Psalm 71:3 B. Knowing how to pray can be more difficult than it might seem. 1. One of Jesus' disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Luke 11:1-4 a. His prayer in verses 2-4 has all the ingredients for an acceptable prayer: adoration, spiritual requests, physical requests, prayer for forgiveness, and asking for help in daily living. 2. Jesus followed with the parable of the persistent friend. Luke 11:5-8 3. He continued by encouraging us to pray. Luke 11:9-13 4. This was written by a seventeenth century Frenchman by the name of Francois Fenelon: "Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one's heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend. Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you; tell Him your joys, that He may sober them; tell Him your longings, that He may purify them; tell Him your dislikes, that He may help you to conquer them; talk to Him of your temptations, that He may shield you from them; show Him the wounds of your heart, that He may heal them; lay bare your indifference to good, your depraved tastes for evil, your instability. Tell Him how self-love makes you unjust to others, how vanity tempts you to be insincere, how pride disguises you to yourself and to others. If you thus pour out all your weaknesses, needs, troubles, there will never be any lack of what to say." (From Strengthening Your Grip, by Charles Swindoll). II. LET US CONTINUE TO AVOID THE WORKS OF THE FLESH. A. The works of the flesh manifest themselves in many ways. Gal. 5:19-21 1. Paul lists 17 works of the flesh and then adds "and such like." 2. Peter said that fleshly lusts war against the soul. 1 Pet. 2:11 3. The carnal mind is enmity against God and brings forth death. Rom. 8:6-7,13 B. The Christian keeps the works of the flesh under control by walking according to the Spirit. Rom. 8:1; Gal. 5:16 1. The Christian crucifies the flesh with its affections and lusts. Gal. 5:24 2. He uses strong discipline to control the desires of the flesh. 1 Cor. 9:27 C. What areas do we need to improve in? 1. Perhaps there is some sinful habit that we need to conquer. a. Are we spending too much time on pleasure, having fun? b. Are we guilty of gluttony, smoking, or social drinking? c. Are we guilty of sinful language? III. LET US BE A HAPPY PEOPLE REJOICING IN THE LORD EVERY DAY. A. The Christian finds happiness "in the Lord." Phil. 4:4; Col. 2:6-7 1. When we are rooted and grounded in the Lord, many of the worldly things will take care of themselves. 2. Even though our earthly life may be full of heartache, pain, and trouble, we always have reason to rejoice because of our spiritual blessings. Eph. 1:3 a. According to Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, the word "worry" comes from an old English word which means literally "to choke or strangle." b. Truthfully, that's what worry does to us. It chokes and strangles us, leaving us in a miserable, depressed condition. c. Worry is a self-imposed curse which can be avoided. 3. Someone has rightly said, "If it's bad enough to worry about, it's bad enough to pray about." Phil. 4:6-7 4. "Every day of your life is a gift from God. Don't waste it by being angry with anyone. Don't let it slip away by feeling sorry for yourself. Be grateful for this precious gift of life, and spend it by being as happy and as thankful as you possibly can. Let your mind dwell on the good things which have happened to you. Let gratitude be your attitude. Think of your assets, and don't let anyone else spoil your day for you. Enjoy every day of your life to the fullest. Realize that you can add to the joy of each day by making someone else happy." (Author unknown) IV. LET US IMPROVE OUR FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS. A. We need more love in our marriage relationships. Eph. 5:33; Titus 2:4 1. We need to show appreciation for our spouses. 2. This is from a letter to Ann Landers. "Dear Woman: Your husband became greatly enamored of me because I paid attention to him, which obviously you haven't done in quite some time. I mean real attention, complete with conversation and verbal recognition of his extraordinary qualities. I made him feel alive and important. He believes you prefer the company of your sisters, your mother, and your women friends to him. When you need a man's viewpoint, you ask your father. I am not going to see your husband again, lady, because he likes me too much already, and I am no home wrecker. But I believe you should take a good, hard look at that wonderful man of yours, and come up with some evidence of appreciation - before you lose him." (Letter to Ann Landers, via The Challenge Of Being A Wife, p. 68-69) 3. Parents need much love for their children. a. Children are a wonderful gift from God. Psalm 127:3-5 b. We must do our best in the early years because our children soon grow up and leave home. Eph. 6:4: Prov. 13:24; 22:6 c. Consider the love of the father in the parable of the prodigal son. Luke 15:17-23 d. In a small town in Spain, a man named Jorge had a bitter argument with his young son Paco. The next day Jorge discovered that Paco's bed was empty. He had run away from home. Overcome with remorse, Jorge searched his soul and realized that his son was more important to him than anything else. He wanted to start over. Jorge went to a well-known store in the center of town and posted a large sign that read, "Paco, come home. I love you. Meet me here tomorrow morning." The next morning Jorge went to the store, where he found no less than seven young boys named Paco who had also run away from home. They were all answering the call for love, each hoping it was his dad inviting him home with open arms. (From "A 3rd Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul") V. LET US SEEK TO LEAD A SOUL TO CHRIST. A. We all have a responsibility in this matter. 2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Pet. 3:15 1. We are the "servants" who are to go out in the highways and hedges and compel people to come in. Luke 14:23 2. The fields are already white for harvest. John 4:35 3. Let us do our best in leading people to Christ, and let us pray for more laborers in this great work. Matt. 9:37-38 B. The wise man said - Prov. 11:30. 1. Daniel added - Dan. 12:3. a. Saving souls is the greatest work that can be done, and all Christians should give much time and attention to it. b. No greater or more enduring work can be undertaken. 2. This is entitled "Am I a soldier of the Cross," and was written in 1724 by Isaac Watts. Am I a soldier of the Cross, a follower of the Lamb; And shall I fear to own His cause, or blush to speak His name? Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease, While others fought to win the prize, and sailed through bloody seas? Are there no foes for me to face? Must I not stem the flood? Is this dark world a friend of grace, to help me unto God? Sure I must fight if I would reign. Increase my courage, Lord; I'll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by Thy word. Concl. A. Let us recognize the challenges before us. B. Let us resolve, first, to be devoted, dedicated followers of Christ. C. Let us then lay out our strategy and follow it faithfully. Chart: Ways To Improve Increase our spiritual mindedness. Attend every service. Store our minds with Scripture. Promote love among our brethren. Become better stewards of our money. Learn to pray more. Continue to avoid the works of the flesh. Be a happy people rejoicing in the Lord every day. Improve our family relationships. Seek to lead a soul to Christ.