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Someone once said, “Yesterday is a cancelled check, tomorrow is a promissory note, today is cash, spend it wisely.” One of life’s greatest tragedies is missed opportunities.. who knows how many great books go unwritten, how many inventions are unseen, how many great songs go unsung because thier authors never got around to it; didn’t believe they had anything​to offer, or had no one to encourage them to go forward. Worse today! Make every moment count to the glory of Christ who indwells, empowers and sustains you.


“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. Matthew 18:15

conflictEach of us have gone through those periods of time when relationships fail. Those relationships that are closest are the most painful to lose. Some translations leave out the phrase “against you”. Others include it. In reality, as followers of Jesus it doesn’t really matter if the wrong is committed against you (most painful) or against others. Either way, the offense is destined to hurt a brother or sister in Christ and others!

So what do we do? It’s easy enough to say we need to pray. Sometimes prayer is a scapegoat and can be better paraphrased as “I don’t want to get personally involved” or “I hate conflict” or “It’s really none of my business, it’s God’s job to do the work.”

There is some truth to each of these excuses. But, the reality is, Jesus never shied away from involving himself in the ugly part of ugly people’s lives. Aren’t we called to do the same?

Here are some suggestions for what may help. I’ll say up front that I’m still working on these in my life and it’s not easy. I have a long way to go! Praise Jesus for grace!

Pray: This is the obvious but be specific. Pray for your wisdom. Pray for the welfare of the one who wronged you or who is in danger of hurting themselves or others. Pray FOR them, not ABOUT them. Remember prayer is a two way conversation with the wisest, most loving being in the universe!

Reflect: This mixes in easily with prayer. As you are praying ask God to reveal anything YOU may have done to bring on this situation. Rather than focus on what the person did, try to ascertain why the person may have acted as he did. Most of the time, actions are a symptom, not the disease.

Ask: This is a tricky one and must be used with the utmost care and wisdom. If you have a close friend you can trust to make sure this goes no further, ask them for insight into the situation. Be careful not to turn this into a gossip session!!

Restore: Restoration demands action! To be done well, restoration is done with love. It can’t be hurried. First attempts often fail. Compassion and patience are the two best tools to use. If at all possible, refrain from step four until steps 1-3 are firmly in place!

Rest: The Psalmist states that during the storm we rest in the arms of almighty God. Remember that once we have done all we can to lovingly, gracefully and compassionately strive for resolution, the Holy Spirit is the ultimate source of healing.

PRAYER: Father God. Right now, I pray for those with whom I am in conflict and those I’m concerned about because they are in danger of destroying themselves or others. Give me wisdom to know what I need to do to begin the healing process. Help me follow you. Amen.

 


In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s house will be the highest of all— the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship. Micah 4:1

moutainWe’d arrived in the middle of the night at our hotel. Although I grew up in the North woods, I’ve always had a fascination with mountains. From time to time in my travels around home I’d enjoy looking out over an area from some high hills, but the mountains still intrigued me. This would be my first trip into the Rocky Mountains. (start John Denver music here)

As I pulled back the curtains in our room the next morning my view was dominated by a huge rock wall that seemed to tower over everything. The top was covered with snow. I couldn’t wait to begin our ascent!

One of the first things that caught my attention as we headed west was that the mountain, which seemed just a stones through from our hotel was really miles away. As we approached the mountain I saw from the hotel we had to travel through some smaller mountains, the foothills, in order to reach our destination.

The road seemed to be a gradual incline at first, until I looked in the rear view mirror and realized we were much higher than when we started. That mountain was much higher and much more dominant than it first appeared. Our car strained to reach the top, but once we reached the summit, the view was breathtaking!

There are times in our lives when it seems our God is small. There are times when we may seem overwhelmed by the future. There may be times when we question our ability to go on. But our God, the one and only true God is much larger than we can imagine. Just as the large mountain towered above everything around it, our God towers in strength, and power over every other god that others may choose be follow.

Don’t be discouraged by the struggles you face as you make the ascent to the mountain. Sometimes the road is gradual. Sometimes it is steep. But the end result is worth the trip.

PRAYER: Father God. There are times when traveling here in the valley I forget your strength and how you tower over everything in my path. Help me to focus on the end of the journey as I struggle, at times, on the way. Amen.

 

 

 


Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19

generosity“Tis more blessed to give than to receive” is a nice saying, a comforting thought, and even found in scripture. The reality is, however, during those times when we are completely honest with ourselves, we admit it’s easier to live by the adage, “It’s far better to receive than
it is to give.”

There’s ‘good reason’ for that of course. We all know the horror stories of people who have taken advantage of the system. These are the ones that feel they are entitled, for a variety of reasons, to a free ride. They make constant excuses for the way they are and fail to take responsibility for the condition they are in.

It’s amazing to me that some of the stingiest people are those who claim to follow Christ. They put qualifications on their giving such as economic need, church background, race, sexual orientation and the list goes on. It seems we are afraid we may be taken advantage of, or that someone may get something they don’t deserve.

It’s a complex issue with no easy answers I suppose, but I think the question of generosity can be summed up in our response to two concepts that Jesus himself taught. The first of these is ownership, in other words, who owns what you have? The Psalmist states, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.” (Psalm 24:1) If that verse is true (insert sarcasm here) then we need to realize that the car you are still making payments on isn’t yours. Never has been, never will be. There doesn’t seem to be much vacillation in the word ‘everything’. One may argue that we are called to be good stewards of all that is given us and that’s true. But do we refuse to give out of stewardship or greed?

The second issue that keeps us from being generous is simplicity. Especially for those of us in the United States, we like to be comfortable and we like to have the latest toys. (insert my own guilt in this regard here). It’s interesting that Jesus seems to call each of us to homelessness in Matthew 8:20 when someone says they will follow him anywhere (discipleship) and he responds by saying “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”

The point is this. Are we willing to give from our surplus or sacrificially? I’m not just about money, I’m talking about our gifts, our talents, the fruit of the Spirit (you know, that whole love, joy, peace thing). There are lonely people all around us. Many would just love to get a smile, a hug, a visit, a card in the mailbox.

Jesus didn’t win people over by his great sermons. The New Testament Church didn’t turn the world upside down by placing requirements on who could join. How can you and I give in a way that will change someone’s world?

PRAYER: Father, I confess that I’m far more willing to give of my excess than to give sacrificially. I’ve grown far too comfortable from the many blessings you’ve given me. Help me to see those in need around me and empower me to do what you can to make a difference in their lives. Amen.

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