Sunday, July 28, 2013

Tired of Fighting?
How many of us have ever had a fight or quarrel in the last 24 hours? Most of us have had some disagreement with others. Reality TV shows center around some kind of drama. If everyone got along, the show would be cancelled. It’s reminiscent of the school days when someone yelled out, “Fight! Fight!” and the mob of people would run to watch the unfolding drama.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? (James 4:1).
We have fighting not only in the world of reality TV, but actually in the church! Everyone knows about fighting in churches, but it’s not God’s will for His people. We’re to show the world a better way and stay above it—not being drawn into a stupid, messy fight.
Why do we fight?
#1) Wanting our own desires first 
God will grant the desires of your heart when you seeking His will and not your own selfish gratification. We need to first look for what is best for the kingdom of God in the right way and then He will take care of what you desire. (Matthew 6:33).
#2)  Wanting but never attaining 
God grants our desires according to His will and not ours. We frustrate ourselves when we mix up our needs with our wants. God meets all of our needs according to His riches and glory. (Philippians 4:19)
#3)  Refusing to ask God first
Many people don’t want to ask God first because they are ashamed because He sees their heart. We know it’s wrong to ask for things like…another woman’s husband or to win a million dollars in the lottery. We don’t ask and then we take it out our frustration on those around us. (2 Kings 1:13)  
#4) Asking with wrong motives
We get frustrated when God doesn’t answer our prayers, but we don’t want to take the time to examine our hearts to make sure our motives are right. Pure motives desire Gods' will even if we don't get what we want out of it.
In all of the above, we take out our frustration on people and then we have quarreling between ourselves. What are we to do when faced with this kind of conflict? Check out the next blog Tired of Fighting Yet Part 2 to find out.
The New International Version, 2011. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Talk to the Hand!

Is it easy to ignore criticism? Things like I think your spouse was flirting with me, your child needs more structure, you could stand to lose a few pounds, you didn’t have to be so harsh, or just simply…you need Jesus. Ugh…it’s painful.

Why is it so difficult for us to hear truth?

Because truth demands change! Anyone who rejects the truth of godly counsel will remain in their baby state of faith. Let’s grow up and take steps of faith.

Step #1)          Confess our sins. 
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and 
purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). 

Sin causes us to stumble and darkens our eyes to the truth. Our unwillingness 
to deal with sin keeps us from moving forward to a better life of peace 
and stability. Deal with it by owning up in confession and 
receiving God’s forgiveness.

Step #2)        Acknowledge the truth from the Spirit of God.
“We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood” (1 John 4:6).

God the Father sent the Spirit of truth to lead and guide us in the right direction. He speaks in a still, small voice in our spirits, but we can’t hear Him if we are too busy listening to our idols. We need to be quiet before God and listen.

Step #3)          Live the truth we know from the Bible.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says”
(James 1:22).

By consistently reading, memorizing, and meditating on God’s word, we will live the truth. Live what you understand from the Bible to be right. No more excuses. God gives each believer the grace to live righteously.

Step #4)          Repent of bad behavior.
“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent” (Revelation 3:19).

To repent is showing that you’re no longer ignoring truth. You may have to apologize to someone, pay back money you owe, or walk away from certain friends. Repenting is the proof that you’re living for Jesus Christ and not for yourself.

Step #5)          Walk in restoration with God and people.
“Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace” (2 Corinthians 13:11).

We can take medicine to heal our physical bodies, but the only medicine for a broken spirit is the Lord. When we turn away from our own ways and turn towards Christ, He heals our hurts. He wants us to come with a broken and contrite spirit so He can heal our wounds.  

Should we accept all criticism as if we have sinned? Of course not. We must pray for discernment and be willing to ask the question “Is there truth to what I’m hearing?” Always screen criticism through the light of God’s word and the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Put down the hand of protest and receive the gentle pruning from God.

 The New International Version. 2011. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.