People today think that their circumstances/problems are unique to their generation. Surely, people 200or 300 years ago did not face what we are challenged within our age! Don’t flatter yourself. King Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived wrote, “What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun; the future only repeats the past.” Ecclesiastes 1:9
Take, for example, conflict. Anywhere you have people you will have conflict. You will have conflict in families. Conflict occurs on the job. One of the biggest problems pastors face today is inter-personal conflict. You cannot avoid conflict but you can learn how to resolve it and that is not always comfortable. And since conflict resolution is unpleasant, we try to ignore it. We go to church not understanding that our relationship with others affects our relationship with God.
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar [worship] and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar First, go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24
Did you notice who is to initiate the reconciliation process? You are! “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” Roman 12:18 Care enough to confront.
What is God like? How would you describe Him? I am sure that there would be a variety of answers. Most have a wrong idea of who God is. Some people view God as kind, benevolent like a heavenly grandfather granting his children every whim they desire. On the other hand, some see God as the celestial cop; waiting to punish us as so as we step out of line. And others, fall somewhere between the two.
Those familiar with Facebook are familiar with the term “befriended.” It refers to one person who is enrolled in Facebook inviting another person to be their “friend” which enables them to share information.
Recently a new television program, God Befriended Me premiered. It is a humorous, uplifting drama about an outspoken atheist whose life is turned upside down when he receives a friend request on social media from God and unwittingly becomes an agent of change in the lives and destinies of others around him.
That got me to thinking. Isn’t that exactly what God is all about? He has called each of us to close relationship with Him. ““No longer do I call you slaves…but I have called you friends.” John 15 Abraham, the patriarch of the Old Testament was referred to as the friend of God. James 2:23.
When people think about God being your friend, they think it is sacrilegious. But Jesus, Himself, calls us His friends because He communicates with us. John 15:14 Our relationship with God is the most personal relationship we can ever have but the choice is yours. Will you accept His invitation to be His friend?
The story is told of a man that had been feeling very sick. He finally went to the doctor to find out what was wrong with him. The doctor put him through a lot of tests and found the source of his illness. The doctor said, “I am afraid I have bad news for you. You have rabies. It is in the advanced stage and you do not have long to live.”
The man bowed his head and asked for a pen and paper. The doctor asked if he was writing out his last will and testament. The man replied, “No. I am making a list of people I want to bite before I die.”
One of the major themes of the Bible is forgiveness; whether God forgives us or we forgive others. We are living in an age where it seems that everyone is overly sensitive and feel they have been wronged, offended, or cheated. As a result, they internalize the pain and refuse to forgive that person.
Since God commands us to forgive, we must make a conscious choice to obey God and forgive. The offender may not desire forgiveness and may not ever change, but that doesn’t negate God’s desire that we possess a forgiving spirit (Matthew 5:44). If you do not forgive others, God cannot forgive you! Matthew 6:14-15
Someone once said that refusing to someone is like you drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.
I think we all have, from time to time, left a worship a service where a sermon was preached and said something along the line, “I did not get anything from that message.” That got me to thinking, why didn’t we? I am sure there are many reasons but allow me to share just two.
1. I once heard a preacher say he believed that God has something for everyone attending that service. That”something” may be different for each person. It may be just one verse that was read. It could be just one sentence or word that was spoken. If we believe God is Sovereign, and He is, everything is under His control including what transpires in that service. “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Ps 37:23 NLV
2. I think that we are so preoccupied with other things that when we come to church we have little [if any] expectations that God will speak to us. Matthew 11:15 says, “Let anyone who has ears listen” It is like when we are having a serious “talk” with your son and you can tell he is hearing the words but he isn’t really listening and you say, “Do you understand what I am saying? The goal of the “talk” isn’t just hearing words spoken but the goal is a change in behavior.
So, the next time you come to church, come with the expectation that God has something to communicate with you personally. Don’t just listen; hear!
As a parent, we look at our children as they are growing up and wonder what profession, calling or job is in their future. Michael Jr., the Christian comedian, tells of a time when one of his children came to him and declared when he grew up he was going to be a doctor! Michael Jr. said to himself “My son is going to be a doctor!” As his chest began to puff out, his son added, “or a dinosaur.” Kids!
An elementary teacher was having her students come to the front of the class and tell them what they going to be when they grew up. The students said they wanted to be a policeman, a pilot, a nurse, a doctor, a cowboy, or some profession you would expect a child to say. Just as almost everyone had shared, the door at the back of the class opened and in walked the District School Superident. He had the habit of making unnoticed visits to classrooms to observe the teachers. He sat down quietly and motioned for the teacher to continue. It was then that the teacher realized everyone had spoken that is except Billy.
Now every class has a “Billy.” You know that student that always causes trouble and does not the meaning of being quiet. When asked a question; his answer would usually embarrass the teacher and the rest of the class would roar with laughter. She was hesitant to ask Billy to go up front and share some crazy notion he wanted to be. She did not want to be embarrassed in front of the School Superintendent.
But in all fairness, she had to let Billy participate. As Billy shuffled his way to the front, the children started to snicker in anticipation of another of Billy’s dumb answers. As Billy stood in front, ringing his hands, he said, “When I grow up, I want to lead a blind man.” No one was laughing as Billy made his way to his seat. You could hear a pin drop.
But isn’t that what Jesus is calling all Christ-followers to become?
The greatest one among you must be your servant. Matthew 23:11
There is a new phenomenon that has occurred is changing our world. It is the big O word = Offense. Every evening the news reports another lawsuit because of a business, a person, a teacher has offended someone. Just this week the New York Times reported that the terms “fireman” and “policeman” will be changed to “firefighter” and “police officer.” The bill was passed to make the terms ‘gender-neutral’ to demonstrate our respect and appreciation for all of our first responders, regardless of gender.”
The list goes on and on. We have to walk on eggshells so we do not offend this one or that one. While I grew up, part of life was being offended, either intentional or unintentional but I got over it! Proverbs 19:11 You should not purposely offend or be obnoxious but if you live a consistent, God-honoring life you will offend someone. 2 Timothy 3:12 The Bible speaks of the offense of the Gospel. “…In that case, the offense of the cross has been abolished….” Galatians 5:11
You cannot avoid ‘offending’ people, so the secret to living is to live a life pleasing to God and not people. When you please the Lord, you can make your enemies into friends. Proverbs 16:7 GNT
We have all heard the question, “Is the glass half full or half empty?” It sounds like a trick question but it isn’t. Either answer is correct, that is according to your perspective.
Your perspective on life is called your ‘life view.’ It is how YOU see and interpret life. (Half full / Half empty) Most people are not even aware they have a life-view but they do.
Basically, there are only views of life: a worldly view and a Christian view. Your view is critically important because it dictates how you live your life! This is why two totally different people can experience the identical situation and respond in a “Don’t be like the people of this world but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.” Romans 12:2.
I remember reading a perfect illustration of this. Matthew Henry, a renowned writer, and minister he wrote of a man who once stole his wallet. In reflecting on the incident, Henry said, “1.) I am thankful that he never robbed me before. 2), I am thankful that although he took my wallet, he did not take my life. 3) Although he took all I had, it was not much. And 4), I am glad that it was I who was robbed, not I who did the robbing.” Matthew Henry knew how to make lemonade out of a lemon — how to be grateful despite a bad experience.