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Cultivate Gentleness, Cultivate Self-Control
December 21, 2011

Here's what's inside this issue:
Cultivate devotionals
Fruit Prompts
Getaway with God/Stilteweekend
Leaders' Nook Interview

devotionals on the fruit of the Spirit

This is a second instalment of the RYS version of Cultivate, excerpts from a set of devotionals I was commissioned to write this fall. These are two samples on the fruit of gentleness and self-control. I trust they will be enriching to your devotional life during this Advent season.

Mary's Song

Mary’s story gives us a good starting point for considering the fruit of gentleness. We remember as our Advent season begins that Mary’s life has recently been turned upside down. After Gabriel breaks the life-changing news, Mary finds a way to travel from Galilee to the hill country of Judah to visit her cousin Elisabeth. As Mary enters the house, Elisabeth welcomes her with a jubilant affirmation and Mary breaks out in song.

Mary. An ordinary teenager yet a descendant of kings. Of humble means but highly favoured, she was a fitting vessel to bring a humble, gentle King into the world.

Read Mary’s song, called The Magnificat, in Luke 1:46-55. I suggest you approach this passage as a lectio divina (holy reading). Here’s as simple guide for doing this:

Prepare yourself to listen to God’s voice. Take a few deep breaths as you release any tension in your shoulders and still the thoughts in your head.

1. Listen Read the passage slowly, listening intentionally for what the text has to say to you today.

2. Ponder Read the text a second time, noticing which words or phrases resonate with you in a particular way. Pause at places which connect with you to allow them to sink in.

3. Pray This time as you read, focus in on the words or phrases which resonate with you, and talk with God about them. Resist the urge to study the text but, instead, receive God’s Word as a living word to you today. Here’s an example of what I mean: ‘My spirit rejoices’ is a phrase which speaks to me. I become aware that my own spirit is not particularly joyful. I consider Mary’s circumstances and how, despite the certain shame and hardship that lay before her, she chose to see beyond them, to fix her eyes on God’s promise, and to take God at his word. I talk with God about my desired response, and then I carry on reading, stopping at the next phrase which connects with my life today. (If you don’t finish the passage, that’s okay, but do take time for #4.)

4. Savour Before heading away from your time of prayer, take a moment to simply enjoy being with God. Thank him for what you have received and savour God’s presence before you depart.

David's Self-control

David, the ‘man after God’s own heart’ did not always demonstrate self-control. But the man about whom we know more about than any other biblical character besides Jesus sure does give us some good examples of this virtue.

Read David’s story in 1 Samuel 26. This is the second time that David has had his enemy, Saul, in his grip. With Abishai, one of his ‘three mighty men’ at his side, David’s days of being a fugitive would have been history if he only he had ended Saul’s life. Yet he restrained himself – and Abishai with him.

As you read, picture the scene and feel the tension in the air. Stop at verse 8 and wonder what might have been running through David’s head after Abishai has asked for permission to run Saul through. When David had suggested going down to the enemy’s camp, do you think he’d had other ideas than simply swiping a couple of Saul’s possessions? Consider what it was that held him back. How do you react to his response to Abishai? To the action he took? To the result?

Before you close the book on this story today, think about your own life. Is there now – or has there been – someone you’re tempted to react to outside of the confines of self-control? Consider what David’s story has to offer you. Talk with God about this.

Christ’s overcoming peace was available in Jerusalem on that first Easter morning. It flowed even in the pit of a Nazi concentration camp. The gift is still given to Jesus’ disciples in whatever unrest, turmoil or anxieties we face. Though trouble abounds, his peace runs deeper still. How will you take heart today?

Deeper Devotion News

Fruit Prompts

If you've enjoyed the Cultivate devotionals, you can get a taste of the whole set by visiting Fruit Prompts

Getaway with God / Stilteweekend

The first Getaway with God was a landmark weekend. It was filled to capacity with 15 participants. an exciting stepping stone for me as I taught in Dutch for the first time. It was a fabulous weekend, which you can read about @ Refreshed, Winter 2012

The next Getaway will take place 4-6 May 2012. You can find all the details along with participant comments at Getaway with God or Stilteweekend .

Leaders' Nook

The Leaders' Nook is a new area on my website. It hosts articles and interviews with a variety of leaders around the important subject of the inner life of leaders. I hope it will also stimulate some valuable dialogue between readers. Like many new initiatives, it's gotten off to a bit of a slow start, but new articles/interviews will be posted regularly.

If you're a young, mature or aspiring leader who wants to tend well to your inner life come on over for a visit. With your help, a new Facebook interface will spread the word so that an interesting exchange can develop, so don't hesitate to leave a comment.

Wishing you love, joy and peace in their fullness.

Elizabeth de Smaele
MMus, MDiv, CSD
Amstelveen, The Netherlands

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