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Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19 (NLT)

How do you respond to someone who attacks you? Or maybe the question should be “Do you respond or react?”

Reaction is immediate, swift and impulsive. Response involves thought and time and deciding if the best action is non-action. Sometimes, of course, the situation itself dictates the answer to that question. For example, when physical harm is imminent there is no time to waste. Action must be swift.

There are other times when our best action may not be reaction but taking time to step back and consider our response. The human reaction when we are attacked is either fight or flight. The decision is often determined by our ability, or perceived ability to win. That’s what it’s really all about isn’t it? Isn’t that why the guy cut you off yesterday? You were in HIS lane? Isn’t that why you felt so good (for awhile anyway) when you didn’t give a tip to that incompetent, rude server at the restaurant during lunch? Isn’t that why you got into the face of your teenager when they were disrespectful to you ‘for the last time’? It was all about control, all about who will come out on top.

From the very beginning of time, every conflict has been about who will control what or whom. That was the motivation behind Satan as he entered the garden, it’s the basis of every national and family conflict ever since. We want to win and sometimes we want to win at all costs.

Psalm 37:11 teaches us, “But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.”

That’s just the opposite of how we normally think. It’s not the meek that get anything except to be treated as doormats. But meekness isn’t weakness; meekness is having power that is under control. As believers in Jesus Christ we are not called to be doormats, we are children of the king. We are, however called to be meek. We have all the power of the Triune God on our side, but we are to consider how we can be meek when it comes to our own way.

Meekness is hard because meekness means that even though we have all power and even though we may be right, we release the situation in which we feel attacked or mistreated to God so that he can handle it.

Meekness means we wait for God’s timing, not our own. God has promised to protect us. He’s promised to be with us, to walk with us during the dark valleys of life. Sometimes his promises seem slow, but they are not slow. He’s just much more patient than we are.

Meekness means we trust God’s methods. When we are mistreated or attacked we have a pretty good idea of how it should be handled. Usually, if we are honest, it will be handled in a way that gives us glory. However, God’s intention is never to give us glory; God’s intention is to bring glory to Himself; it’s never about revenge but always about restoration.

Meekness goes against every human part of us. It can only come as we learn to give control of our lives to Jesus through the power of His Holy Spirit.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus. I confess that many of the conflicts I’m involved in are a result of my demands for my own way and not for your glory or the restoration of others. Empower me with your Spirit to give you the control in the conflicts in my relationships. Amen.

In heaven the LORD laughs as he sits on his throne, making fun of the nations. Psalm 2:4 (CEV)

I’m always amused at how some animals don’t get the whole ‘pecking order’ thing. One example that comes to mind is a dog I used to have. My Chocolate Lab/Chesapeake Bay Retriever weighed in around 90 pounds. He was a muscular, fast dog, yet docile as they come. He’d rather play fetch than fight.

Next door to our house was an elderly lady with a small toy poodle. This dog probably weighed in a little over a pound. Yet when she was out in the yard she would come over and bark at my dog, run around him, try to pick a fight. It was obvious she was angry and ready to defend her territory to the end…obvious except perhaps to Charlie, my Lab.

One time in particular ‘the rat dog’ saw Charlie sleeping in the shade. She came flying across the yard barking like a banshee. I watched as Charlie opened one eye to look directly into the barking face of a little dog no more than six inches away. He lifted his head for a moment (maybe to focus?), then, seeing who it was put his head down and went back to his nap.

My dog could have put an end to the confrontation in an instant, yet he chose to ignore the aggressor. The poodle continued its barrage of verbal assault until her owner ‘called her off.’ The smaller dog trotted victoriously across the yard, apparently convinced she’d defeated the threat.

Psalm 2 talks about angry nation’s intent on destroying God, or the concept of God. They throw all sorts of ‘attacks’ heavenward. Yet our Father looks on with a smirk on his face. We as Christ-followers get angry at the way our faith is attacked. We worry about how God’s name will be hurt by this, or religion will be destroyed by that. We look at politicians and economic systems as being a threat to our existence.

In the meantime, like my Lab Charlie, God looks down from heaven and shrugs his shoulders. Nothing to worry about. In fact, the scripture implies he is even somewhat amused by man’s attempts to thwart his plan.

Our heavenly Father isn’t worried about terrorism. Our almighty God isn’t fazed by the economic uncertainty and the predicted upcoming collapse of the world economy. He’s not overwhelmed by the complexity of the global political climate. There is nothing in the seen and the unseen world that will detract from the fulfillment of his plan. You can trust him.

PRAYER: Almighty God and heavenly Father. There are many things in this world that worry me right now. My own finances, my relationships, my physical strength to carry on. Help me to remember that nothing that is going on around me worries you. Nothing I’m going through will keep you from fulfilling your plan. Empower me with your Spirit to walk bravely with you. Amen.

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8 (NLT)

We were camping at the resort owned by a family friend. Every night we’d go to the office store for ice cream. We’d order one scoop but the owner would always give us three with a wink and a smile. One night it was busy and an employee dished our ice cream. We ordered a scoop. She gave us a scoop. Fair enough, but we were a bit taken back. We’d become spoiled. We said nothing about it since we’d been given more than we deserved on other occasions. A short time later the owner came by and saw our dishes. She questioned why we had ‘such a small amount’. I explained what happened but emphasized that is was no big deal. She got up from the table and, a few minutes later, returned with new bowls of ice cream. Three scoops. The owner personally took care of the situation for us.

Perhaps a simple example, but it is always better to go to the owner when you want something done. The personal attention you get from the owner far supersedes the attention even the most dedicated employee can give you. Why? Because the owner isn’t answerable to anyone.

Joshua is about to take over the reins of leadership for the nation Israel. Moses is God. He is God’s man, God’s warrior. He was young. He was nervous. And, he already had a reputation among the people for being a renegade of sorts. You remember Joshua. He was one of the twelve spies that went in to investigate the Promised Land. When everyone else said the task was impossible, Joshua said, “Let’s go for it!”

A true leader has many fears. Perhaps the two biggest ones are:

  1. Will I lead in the right direction?
  2. Will the people follow me?

Your heavenly Father promises you that if you rely on him for direction he will not only be with you on the journey, he acts as a scout. He goes ahead of you. He makes sure the way is safe and that every possible danger is known and prepared for.

The second promise the Father makes is that he will never ever abandon you. Others may. Even those we consider trustworthy and loving may turn their backs on you. Not your heavenly Father. He’s prepared to go the distance. He’ll walk with you when no one else will. During those times when you feel inadequate for the task he is there to walk beside you, encourage you to press on, help you to believe in yourself (or his ability to work through you).

Regardless of where you are on the journey remember that you never walk alone and the path you walk has been walked before by a loving, gracious, merciful Father who is passionately in love with you.

PRAYER: Father, I don’t know the future. I feel alone, inadequate for the task and abandoned. Thank you that these are all lies. I’m not alone. I can rise to the occasion with your help. You will never leave me. Amen.

This will happen on the day when the Lord Jesus comes to receive glory because of his holy people. And all the people who have believed will be amazed at Jesus. You will be in that group, because you believed what we told you. 2 Thessalonians 1:10 (NCV)

What does Jesus look like? Many artists have tried to give us a glimpse of what he may have looked like to satisfy our curiosity. In the pictures I grew up with he looked like some frail little Scandinavian guy with feminine hands knocking gently on a huge door or kneeling by a rock. He was surrounded by a halo and looked ‘other worldly’. Later, some tried to portray a more ‘Jewish looking’ Jesus with more masculine features.

The prophet Isaiah brought a message of repentance to a stubborn people. He thought he knew God. He thought he knew himself. But when he saw God for who he truly was (Isaiah 6) he fell to his knees and cried ‘Woe is me!’ God was so much more than he could have imagined and this view of God caused him to see himself for what he really was. I think when we finally get to see Jesus it will be a similar effect. When we see him as he is our first response will be a gasp because we will see how magnificent he truly is.

Those of us who are Christ-followers will see him differently than others. We will see our coming king dressed in regal robes that signify power. We’ll see him as a high priest. That has a different meaning for us today than it did in Jesus day. The priest, in some ways, held more ‘awe’ than the king. It was the priest that showed us all the way to the Creator God.

I’m looking forward to seeing Jesus in all his majesty, but it won’t be the robes that draw me to him, it will be his eyes. You can tell a lot by looking at someone straight in the eyes. When I see Jesus on that day I think that rather than showing power and majesty his eyes will show love and compassion…and grace.

When I see those eyes I’ll know for certain that all my hopes have been satisfied. Those sins I confessed really are gone. The emotional pain of yesterday will melt into the joy and peace of eternity. The physical stress of wondering how I’ll get through this next project, or make the money last another week will become insignificant. The inner longing I’ve had to know…to REALLY KNOW I’m okay will disappear. I’ll know for certain that I am loved by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

I have questions of course. And so do you. All those things you and I have said flippantly about “When I get to heaven I’m going to ask Jesus why he did this or allowed that”. But in reality, those things will seem so insignificant that I’m quite sure I’ll completely forget about all those questions for at least a million or two years.

Remember the story of the woman who anointed Jesus with oil? She forgot about her social standing. The cost of the oil was insignificant. The reaction of the crowd didn’t matter. All that mattered was that she was with Jesus. I’ll be there with her.

I can’t wait until Jesus comes.

PRAYER: Jesus, son of the living God, King of Kings, Lord of Lord, friend of the downcast and lifter of those who have fallen. Great healer, provider and passionate lover. I am so thankful that you love me. I’m so grateful for the forgiveness you’ve given me and the life I have here on earth. But with all you have given me, my greatest joy will be when I can look into your eyes and be amazed. Come quickly Lord Jesus. Amen.

For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:9

I had an uncle who lived the American Dream. After the sixth grade school seemed meaningless to him so he quit school to help on the family farm. When he was about 16 he headed west from the northern Minnesota farm he’d called home all his life. Back in that day, such an event wasn’t unheard of. He landed in Seattle and took work at a ship building yard. Slowly, over the years his hard work and leadership abilities were noticed. When he passed away at the age of 70 he was owner of that shipyard and a very wealthy man!

That’s the stuff we always dream of. We want to grow wealthy. We want to be rich. We want to attain to the top level of our area of expertise. While there is nothing at all wrong with wanting to succeed in life, our view of success: [richer, more powerful, and higher social standing] isn’t in God’s business plan.

When the Apostle Paul writes his letter to the Corinthians he is writing to a group of people who’d gotten caught up in the deadly game of comparison. Some followed this man. Others followed that man. They began compartmentalizing and grading the work of each person in the church. They weren’t comparing apples and oranges. They were making a decision about which apple was the biggest and best. Paul tells them, basically, to knock it off! In God’s kingdom business as usual isn’t business as usual.

Whether you are a ditch digger or pastor; whether you are a recovering addict or squeaky clean; whether you are a financial planning guru or deep in credit card debt; regardless of your past or where you are now in life, in God’s workplace you never work alone.

In God’s workplace there is: no seniority or tenure; no ‘right hand man’; no organizational chart or chain of command; no ‘working your way up the success ladder; no bonuses (in life, but the retirement benefits are out of this world); no ‘overtime’ and no performance reviews or quotas to reach.

Paul says we are co-workers with God. He’s not the boss. He’s the kind of guy who works right alongside you. And if God is our co-worker then who can be above us in importance?

Jesus said, “I don’t call you slaves. I call you friends. Friends let you vent. Friends don’t order you around or demand that you follow them. They are there to help, to comfort, to encourage and to guide when you need them the most. That’s the kind of God we have a relationship with. A God that wants to come along side you no matter where you are on the journey. That’s grace. That’s love. That’s our God!

PRAYER: Father God. Once again you have amazed me with your love for me. Why would the Creator God of the universe choose to be a co-worker with me? It can only be due to grace. Thank you for loving me so much. In Jesus name, Amen.

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