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Friday, August 29, 2014

A Courageous Person Will Resolve Conflict

In review of 2 Timothy 1:7 it says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and self discipline.”

Bottom Line:
What God provides us via the Holy Spirit is not fear and timidity, but rather power, love and self-control allowing us to love others and to enjoy being with them.

What this means to me:
God did not give me his Spirit so that I could shy away in fear or be timid, rather he fills me with power, love and self-control which allows me to love others and even enjoy being at peace with them. God wants me to live at peace with everyone, because unresolved conflict can have three devastating effects on my life.

First, it blocks my fellowship with God. When I’m out of whack with others, I can’t be in harmony with God. When I’m distracted, when I’m in conflict with others, I won’t have a clear connection with God. 1 John 4:20 says, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar” (NLT).

Second, unresolved conflict hinders my prayers. Over and over again the Bible says that where there is conflict and sin and disharmony in life, prayers are blocked.

Third, unsolved conflict hinders my happiness. I cannot be happy and in conflict at the same time. When conflict comes in the front door, happiness goes out the back.

The starting point for resolving any conflict is to take the initiative. Don’t wait for others to come to me; I am to go to them. I am to be the peacemaker.

I’m to not ignore, deny or push the conflict under the carpet (which is my typical reaction.) I used to be of the opinion that time heals, however what I”m learning is that time doesn’t heal anything. Actually, time will make things worse. For example, If had an open wound and didn’t deal with it, it would fester. Likewise unresolved anger will turn into resentment, and resentment will then turn to bitterness. The conflict is not going to resolve itself. I’ve got to intentionally deal with it.

Only courageous people resolve conflict. Maybe the most courageous thing I can do is face an issue that I’ve been ignoring for a long time. The bible tells me that I can get the courage to face it from God. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 1:7, “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and self discipline.” This means that if I let God’s Spirit fill my life, then I’m going to be filled with power, love, and self-discipline. And God’s love overcomes fear.

When my love is greater than my fear, I’ll have the power to do things I’m afraid to do. That’s called courage. When I’m filled with God’s love, I’ll also be filled with love for that person who is irritating me or that person I’m in conflict with.

Today, I will consider things I am pretending are not a problem and then consider what I can do to take initiative in resolving it.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Learning How To Love Difficult People

In review of Romans 12:18 it says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Bottom Line:
Do everything possible to live in peace with everyone.

What this means to me:
I am to do everything possible to do my part to live at peace with everyone. One of the most important skills I can develop as I walk with Christ is to learn how to love difficult people. Jesus modeled four methods I can follow for when I encounter difficult people:

First, realize that I can't please everyone. Even God can't do that! So, refuse to play those games “But Jesus knew their evil motives. “You hypocrites!” he said. “Why are you trying to trap me?” (Matthew 22:18).

Secondly, learn to say no to unrealistic expectations. Confront them by “speaking the truth in love.” Ephesians 4:15 says, “Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” (NLT) When it comes to unrealistic expectations, it is probably best to get to the root of what someone is wanting and then make it clearly understood that what they desire may not be possible in the way manner they’d like to see it. In response, I could always offer a more realistic alternative.

Thirdly, NEVER retaliate. “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.” (Matthew 5:38-39 NLT). Retaliating will only lower me to their level.

Lastly, pray for them. Matthew 5:44 say, “But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” (NLT). This is the opposite of what we would normally think. I can pray that things will go well for them or that God will reveal himself to them (let God speak to them.) Overall, prayer will help them and help adjust my attitude and feelings.

Overall, my significance and worth comes from God. So I should focus my attention and energy on the things that are on his heart. He will bring peace to what I do, as I follow his direction and instructions.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hurt, Frustration And Fear Can Be Replaced With Jesus’ Love, Peace and Power.

In review of Proverbs 29:25 it says, “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.”

Bottom Line:
The fear and concern of what others think of you is dangerous, however trusting in the Lord makes you safe.

What this means to me:
It’s dangerous to get caught up in the fear of or being a coward to what others think about me. I should trust God and be more concerned about what he thinks, as he loves me unconditionally.

This means that in order to get control of anger, I must base my identity on Jesus and understand that he loves me unconditionally, that I’m his, that I’m valuable, and that he has a purpose and plan for my life.

I could build my identity in some many material things such as my job, my relationships, and my possessions. However, any of these can crumble or fall away easily. So building my identity on anything other than my relationship with God, will only make me struggle with insecurity. This insecurity can be at the root of my anger. So, until I can start feeling secure about myself, people are going to be able to push my buttons. When I know who I am and who I belong to, people won’t be able to push my buttons. They won’t be able to get to me. What I’m learning is that anger and insecurity go together. The more insecure I feel, the angrier I’ll be.

The Bible says in Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that” (MSG).

When I get angry, my mouth begins to reveal what’s inside my heart. Here are some things to keep in mind: A harsh tongue reveals an angry heart. A negative tongue reveals a fearful heart. A boasting tongue reveals an insecure heart. An overactive tongue reveals an unsettled heart. A judgmental tongue reveals a guilty heart. A critical tongue reveals a bitter heart. A filthy tongue reveals an impure heart.

On the flip side, an encouraging tongue reveals a happy heart, a gentle tongue reveals a loving heart, and a controlled tongue reveals a peaceful heart.

These points are important also for understanding others and what might be going on inside of them.

Ultimately, a heart transplant is what is needed to get rid of any anger problem. Fortunately, God specialized in this. It was called salvation! Through salvation God gave me a brand new heart and a brand new identity. This means that I don’t need to find my identity in my job, bank account, or relationships, because ultimately I find my identity in what God says about me.

Jesus can heal the three things that cause anger: hurt, frustration, and fear. Jesus can heal my hurting heart with his love. Jesus can replace my frustrated heart with his peace. Jesus can replace my insecure heart with his power.

Just like picking up a crying baby and holding it close so that it feels warm and secure, helps it stop crying (stops being angry.) Likewise, when I feel secure and accepted in Jesus Christ, my anger is going to dissipate.

Today I pray: “God, I admit that I have a problem with my anger from time to time. I let other people push my buttons, I try to get even, and often I don’t think before speaking. I’m asking for your help. Help me to reflect before reacting. Help me to learn to release my anger appropriately. Help me to find my identity completely in you. I open myself completely to you. Come into my life. Save me. Make the changes that only you can make. In your name I pray. Amen.”

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Anger Will Yield Anger, Wisdom Will Yield Patience

In review of Proverbs 19:11 it says, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”

Bottom Line:
A sensible persons wisdom will help them control their temper and practice patience. You earn respect and gain virtue by overlooking an offense

What this means to me:
Wisdom will help me take a more sensible path toward my temper, allowing me to be much more patient. Doing so will ultimately help me be an example and respected by others.

It’s not surprising, “hurt people”, will hurt people. What I need to keep in mind is that, when someone hurts me, it’s because they’ve been hurt. Unkind people have never felt kindness. Unloving people feel unloved. When someone is rude, bitter, unkind, sarcastic, mean spirited, or arrogant, they are shouting with all of their behaviors, “I am in pain! I need massive doses of love! I do not feel secure!”

On the other hand, a person who feels deeply loved and deeply secure is generous and gracious to other people.

In the long run, getting even with others, really makes me no better than they are. The Bible instructs me to overcome evil with good. This means, I am to respond with love. I am to look past their words to their pain.

Here’s a myth that everyone believes: When it comes to anger, there’s only a set amount and when the bucket gets full, it needs to be let out. From what I can see, the problem is, we all have more than a bucket of anger. It’s more like a factory, and this factory keeps on producing and producing and producing.

As I get rid of it I just produce more. What I’m learning is that the more anger I throw out, the more it reproduces (aggression only creates more aggression.) Angry outbursts only lead to more anger, more often. It can become a habitual pattern If I’m not careful.

The answer is not just to throw it out. The answer is to let it go. “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11 NIV).

As I face this, one thing will always be in the back of my mind, making it harder to let it go is; I’ve been hurt and I want equal treatment for those who hurt me - It only seems fair. It will be helpful for me to remember how much I have sinned and hurt God, still he doesn’t get even, he forgives and loves me. I need to give others this same consideration that my heavenly father gives me. Overall, if I fill my life with love, the love will certainly overflow from it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Before Retaliating, Calculate the Cost

In review of Proverbs 14:29 it says, “People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.”

Bottom Line:
Anger will cost you. So learning how to control it, and stay calm and patient is wise trait. Otherwise you will show how stupid you are.

What this means to me:
Controlling my anger, staying calm and being patient in a situation is extremely wise. Showing my temper will cause me to make mistakes and show how foolish and stupid I am.

I’ll be less likely to get angry when I realize there’s always a price for returning anger for anger. The Bible is very specific about uncontrolled anger: Proverbs 29:22: “An angry person causes trouble; a person with a quick temper sins a lot” (NCV). Proverbs 15:18: “Hot tempers cause arguments” (GN). Proverbs 14:29: “A hot temper shows great foolishness” (NLT). When I get angry, there will be a cost: I’m going to get in trouble. I’m going to sin. I’m going to cause arguments. I’m going to make mistakes. When I lose my temper, I will always lose, whether it’s respect, the love of my family, my health, or even my job.

I shouldn’t even use anger to motivate people to do the right thing. In the short run, I may get the short-term payoff. But in the long run, anger always produces more anger, more apathy, and more alienation. Anger destroys relationships faster than anything else.

So when someone starts pushing my buttons, before I retaliate, I need to ask myself, “Do I really want to do this? Do I want to make mistakes? Do I want to sin more? Do I want to cause arguments? Do I want to act foolish?”

Proverbs 14:29 says, “People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.

One thing I can do is to talk with God about what is making me angry. Also In the moment, I can always pause and count to ten. I need to remember that there is always a price for anger. Before I retaliate, I need to calculate the bigger cost of doing so.

Friday, August 22, 2014

We Are To Help Each Other With Our Faith

In review of Romans 1:12 it says, “I mean that I want us to help each other with the faith we have. Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.”

Bottom Line:
We need to help each other by sharing our faith and how God has worked in our lives. This will end up being an additional blessing in our lives.

What this means to me:
I should have the strong desire to have others around me in life in which we can share each others faith and how God is working in our lives. This will help to encourage and be a blessing to each other. What I’m learning is that in an authentic Christian fellowship, people should experience a mutual dependency. This mutuality is the art of giving and receiving; it’s a dependence on each other. The Bible says, “The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part” (1 Corinthians 12:25 MSG).

Mutuality is the heart of fellowship; building reciprocal relationships, sharing responsibilities, and helping each other. Paul said, “I mean that I want us to help each other with the faith we have. Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you” (Romans 1:12 NCV).

I can be more consistent in my faith when others walk with and encourage me. The Bible commands mutual accountability, mutual encouragement, mutual serving, and mutual honoring. More than 50 times in the New Testament we’re commanded to do different tasks for “one another” and “each other.” The Bible says, “Make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Romans 14:19 NIV).

I am not responsible for everyone in the Body of Christ, however, I am responsible to them. God expects me to do whatever I can to help them.

I need to consider who I could call when a need arises?  I also need to consider who could call on me? I want to make sure that I’m playing an integral part within the Body of Christ in my congregation. Today I will consider how I can anticipate a need for someone I know this coming week and take action to do it.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Wise Person Will Consider Other’s Feelings

In review of James 3:17 it says, “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

Bottom Line:
The wisdom we get from God leads us to be more understanding of others. It helps lead us to show compassion and mercy. It then allows us to produce good deeds. It keeps us from favoritism and guides us in being sincere and free from prejudice and hypocrisy.

What this means to me:
The wisdom I get from God will lead me to be more pure, peace-loving, gentle, open to reason and have a willingness to yield when required.  It shows me how to have compassion, mercy and produce good things. It helps me to eliminate favoritism, allowing me to be sincere and free from prejudice and hypocrisy. 

What I’m learning is that two of the biggest mistakes I can make in relationships are when I react to what people say and not how they feel; or when I invalidate their else’s feelings because I don’t necessarily feel the same way. To combat both of these, I simply need to be considerate.

Mistake #1: I react without trying to understand. I pay too much attention to someone’s words and not enough attention to the emotions behind the words. People say stuff when they’re angry that they don’t even mean. They use words they don’t even intend to use. They exaggerate things. I need to look behind the words at the emotion because people don’t always say what they mean, but they always feel what they feel.

To be wise in a relationship, I need to stop focusing on what someone says that ticks me off, and instead become considerate. I need to become mindful of the feelings of others. It’s the unkind people who need my kindness the most. When people are rude and unkind, they are screaming to the world, “I’m in pain!” Hurt people always hurt people.

Mistake #2: I can easily invalidate any feelings that I don’t personally feel. This is believing something is dumb or irrational or illogical because it’s not what I feel, so I dismiss it. Can a one person be cold and another be warm at the same time? So why try and argue a person out of what they feel?

When I invalidate someone else’s feelings because I don’t feel it, I end up minimize the other person. Instead of dismissing it, perhaps I should ask, “Why would you feel that? What would make you say that?” I need to look beyond the words and get to the real issue. Feelings are neither right nor wrong. They’re just there.

The Bible says, “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17 NIV).

When I adopt Heaven’s wisdom, I have the ability to stop minimizing other feelings. A wise person is considerate of others feelings.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Learning To Avoid Conflict

In review of Proverbs 20:3 it says, “Any fool can start arguments; the honorable thing is to stay out of them.”

Bottom Line:
Don’t be foolish, do what you can to stay out of a fight.

What this means to me:
It would be foolish for me to go looking for a fight or to initiate a quarrel. It is much more honorable for me to stay out of a fight, and bring peace to a situation. What I’m learning is that the character of a wise person is to be a peacemaker and not stir up trouble. Furthermore a wise person won’t carry a grudge, and they won’t go looking for a fight or a way to antagonize someone. When I’m around anybody for any length of time, I can usually figure out what that person does that irritates me, and file that information in the back of my mind as a tool to use when we get in an argument. It becomes my personal weapon of mass destruction! If an argument comes, and that person says something that hurts, offends, or slights me in any way, then I’m tempted to pull out the big gun and push the hot button. What this verse is telling me is that’s stupid! As I will not getting any closer to the resolution and furthermore I’m not doing the right thing to help the relationship. In fact, I’m doing the opposite; I’m hurting it. According to scripture, this is not wise.

Proverbs 20:3 says this, “Any fool can start arguments; the honorable thing is to stay out of them” (TEV).

I think that everyone uses these tools, tricks of the trade, and counter productive skills in relationships. They end up being hurtful, harmful, and really never get us what we’d want out of relationships. In fact, they would get us the exact opposite behavior. However, when I’m not careful and I let anger take over my thoughts, I use them anyway.

Here is a list of three things that I need to watch out for:

1. Comparing. I should never compare my spouse, my daughter, my boss, or anybody else, because everybody is unique. Comparing only antagonizes anger.
2. Condemning. If I start laying on the guilt in a relationship, all I’m going to do is get the exact opposite of what I’d expect. It doesn’t work. It’s foolish.
3. Contradicting. Wisdom is the art of knowing what to overlook. There’s just some stuff I just need to look past and not dwell on.

Proverbs 14:29 says, “A wise man controls his temper. He knows that anger causes mistakes” (LB). I know from experience that I’ve said and done stupid things out of anger. When I get angry, my intelligence goes out the window. When I get angry, I say and do stupid things that become self-defeating.

Here’s something to ponder today. There is only one letter difference between “anger” and “danger” When I get angry, I’m in dangerous territory. I’m about to hurt others, and myself with my own anger.

I need to consider someway to quickly recognize when anger starts to build, so that I can shut it down quickly.  Today, I ask you God to help me see the warning signs and to quickly gain wisdom so that I can serve and love rather than destroy and conquer.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

It Is Faith, Not Feelings, That Will Please God

In review of Job 1:21 it says, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”

Bottom Line:
We were born with nothing (we came naked), and we take nothing with us at death. The Lord gives us what we have, and they are his to take away. No matter what, the Lord is worthy of our praise.

What this means to me:
I came into this world with nothing and when I leave, I won’t be taking any material things with me. Everything I have in this life has come from God. It is his to give and his to take away.  No matter what I have or don’t have, I will want the faith to praise God always. Early in my walk with God, he provided me with lots of confirming emotions and answers to my more immature and self centered prayers. I’m sure He did this to help me understand that he exists. However, as I grow i my faith, he has weaned me off of those smaller dependencies. I believe that God wants me to sense his presence. He is more concerned now that I trust him rather than feel him. It is faith, not feelings, that pleases God. There will be situations that stretch my faith the most. There will be times when life seems to be falling apart and God seems nowhere to be found. As scripture explains, this happened to Job. On a single day he lost everything; his family, his business, his health, and everything he owned. The most discouraging thing for Job was that for 37 chapters of the Bible, God said nothing! The key is to know how to still praise God when I don’t understand what’s happening and God appears silent. How to stay connected in a crisis without communication. How to keep my eyes on Jesus when they’re full of tears. Rick Warren points out that you do what Job did: He fell to the ground in worship and said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised” (Job 1:21 NIV). I am to tell God exactly how I feel. I am to pour out my heart to God. Unload every emotion that I’m feeling. Job did this when he said, “I can’t be quiet! I am angry and bitter. I have to speak” (Job 7:11 TEV). Job cried out when God seemed distant: “Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house” (Job 29:4 NIV). The good news is that God can handle my doubt, anger, fear, grief, confusion, and questions. Honestly, I don’t want to ever experience a time when I feel God is silent in my life, however, given this study today he may be preparing me for this or perhaps to help someone else with perspective as they go through something similar.  The key for me will be to understand that no matter what happens, God is in control, and he is worthy of all my praise.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Small, Thoughtful Gestures Make a Big Difference

In review of Thessalonians 5:14 it says, “Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.”

Bottom Line:
Warn those who are idle or lazy.  Encourage those who feel left out, are frightened, or timid. Help all those who are weak and be patient with all.

What this means to me:
I am urged to warn those who are idle. I am to encourage those who are left out, frightened or timid. I’m to help all those who are weak. Overall, I am to be patient with all. When ministering to a friend, I should not only give my physical presence but also my practical assistance. This means I should do whatever needs to be done to help them in small by practical ways. I’m reminded this morning in my study from Rick Warren that this is even more important for someone who is dying or is experience an impending death in their close family Somebody who is dying usually doesn’t feel good. They are often in pain. I can give comfort by attending to the small things that could make a big difference. Do they want the lights on or off? Can I get some ice chips? I show love by offering practical assistance to relieve pain and discomfort. Also, I shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions or afraid to suggest things. The Bible says, “Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14 NLT). When people are in pain, they don’t feel happy. When people are dying, they often get cranky because they don’t feel well. I can show compassion by cutting them some slack and extending kindness and patience to them. This is important, because another one of the fears that people have when they’re dying is the fear of losing control. First they couldn’t drive. Now they can’t walk or get out of bed or use the bathroom on their own. I can minister to people who are dying simply by being aware of their needs but also giving them choices in how those needs are addressed. Every time I give them a choice, I give control back to them. Sometimes the smallest gesture or thoughtful assistance can make the biggest impact on someone who is facing death. My presence is a ministry in itself, and so is my compassion through practical assistance.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Good Things Are Built By Wisdom, Common Sense And Understanding The Facts.

In review of Proverbs 24:3 it says, “Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts.”

Bottom Line:
Any enterprise is built by wisdom, common sense and understanding the facts.

What this means to me:
Anything that I want to be successful and prosperous will require wise planning, common sense and a complete understanding of the facts. This is especially true when it comes to my finances. Creating a list of all I own, all that I owe and all that I earn is good record keeping. It’s a principle of accounting that helps me understand exactly where I’m at. The Bible says, “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established” (Proverbs 24:3 NIV). It’s wise to know where my money is, where it’s going, and where it’s coming from. The old adage is, “money talks”, however in reality if your not paying attention to it, It doesn’t talk, It just walks away quietly. When I get to the end of the month and ask myself, “Where did my money go?” This is an indication that I’m not keeping to a spending plan. A spending plan tells money where I want it to go rather than wondering where it went. A spending plan (or budget) is simply planned spending. Its important for me to know the facts, because ignorance plus easy credit will equal disaster. If I don’t know whether I can afford it or not, I’m already in trouble. It’s stupid to decide before knowing the facts. It’s unwise to buy something before I know if you can pay for it. The only way to know where I stand with my finances is by keeping records and budgeting my spending. Another translation of Proverbs 24:3 says, “Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts” (LB). Its important for me to go back through and update my records, to re-acquaint myself with the facts of my financial situation, and to plan to live accordingly.