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“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.

 


Desert bloomHarmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting. Psalm 133:3

Normally, when we think of a desert we think of a harsh wilderness with little or no plant-life. A climate that has little value or beauty. Nothing could be further from the truth! The desert can actually be a very beautiful place. It may not have lakes with sky-blue water, or luscious grass and shade producing trees, but even without these things, Deserts can be far from a harsh wasteland of nothing-ness.

What allows the desert to be able to produce such beauty? The answer may be dew!

Professor Pinhas Alpert of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences states that, even though dew is considered a nuisance in some areas, it is actually very beneficial for plant growth. This is especially true in arid areas of the world.

In temperate zones of the world, plants grow best in the middle of the day, when the most sunlight is available. But in arid areas, plants tend to shut down during the hottest part of the day to preserve moisture. They grow best in the early morning hours and it could very well be due to dew!

Dew surrounds the plant with much needed moisture from the air. Moisture the plant needs to grow healthy and strong so that it can withstand the harsh climate of arid areas. Alpert states, “In the early morning, dew surrounds the leaves of a plant with moisture, and the plant does not close its stomata. Therefore, it can grow.”

Just as dew protects the plant and spurs its growth, the psalmist says that harmony protects the human soul and allows it to be healthy. Our world is full of crisis. Families are in disarray, our political system is broken, new diseases seem to be developing every day and natural disasters seem to be just around the corner.

The best way to keep our spiritual and emotional health is to be surrounded by the ‘dew’ of harmony that can only be found in close relationship to Jesus Christ and our Christian family. To neglect those two essentials is to abandon the one thing that will help us grow strong when life becomes a wilderness.

Hebrews 10:25 tells us to never avoid the opportunity to fellowship. Fellowship creates the ‘dew’ of harmony we need to endure the wilderness.

PRAYER: Father God, surround us with the dew of sweet harmony we can only get through the indwelling of your Holy Spirit. Surround us with your love and protect us from the harsh world in which we live. Amen.

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