March 31st, 2017
10 Concerns in the Christians Walk with God – Part 5
5. When Relationships Reach a Roadblock
Conflicts! We have all at some point in life faced conflicts head on with others. Most people hate it. In a perfect world, we’d all get along; but we live in a fallen world where people are misunderstood, feelings are hurt and agendas are pursued. When our relationships with others reach a roadblock the Holy Spirit constrains us to reconcile the quarrel.
God wants us to live in harmony with our brothers and sisters in the Lord. We should seek peace with others. However, it’s not always possible. Romans 12:18, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Sometimes you have to deal with difficult people. When conflict arises, pray that God will give you the wisdom to deal with it Biblically. I’ve had to deal with conflict over the years. And while I haven’t been perfect, I’ve learned many valuable lessons about handling disagreements.
Hopefully some of these suggestions can help you in your life:
1. Try not to provoke the other person. Even if you are right and the other person is wrong, do your best to keep your feelings in check.
2. When you are right, use humility and grace.
3. Consider yourself. Don’t allow yourself to say, “I would never have done what this person did.”
4. Apologize. Be the first to seek reconciliation. You’d be surprised at how disarming a genuine “I’m sorry” can be.
5. Sacrifice where necessary, but not your core values. Be willing to give of yourself if it means resolving the conflict.
Colossians 3:13 tells us, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye”. The idea is not only of putting up with each other, but indeed forgiving each other. Even as Christ forgave us, we in turn ought to forgive others. In the context of longsuffering, Paul expounds that we “forbear one another and forgive one another.” The idea is not only of putting up with each other, but indeed forgiving each other. More specifically, “if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Forbearing one another speaks of longsuffering. Even as Christ forgave us, we in turn ought to forgive others.
Prayer, Father, I want to have Your heart about reconciliation. You sent Your Son to reconcile me to Yourself, help bring reconciliation to those around me. Thank You for Your Word that gives me wisdom and direction in handling conflict between people I love. Give me Your words and wisdom as I reach out to those that are hurting as You lead. Your principles for handling conflict remind me again of the importance of living out my relationship with You in relation to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
March 30th, 2017
10 Concerns in the Christians Walk with God – Part 4
4. Encourage Someone Who is Discouraged.
The person who sets out to be an encourager will never find a shortage of people to help. The word encourage means to put courage into another. Now more than ever, people are more discouraged due to the pressures in life. One of the overlooked needs that people have is to be encouraged. Often it is easier for us to read the physical needs of people rather than their emotional needs. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11). The right word spoken at the right time can make all the difference to someone whose world is crashing. William Arthur Ward said, “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you.”
You Can Encourage Others by Extending Friendship-
In Acts 9, we read of Saul who had been an enemy of the early Church—even having some Christians killed. He became a believer, but the Church was still hesitant to receive him into fellowship. Acts 9:26-27 says, “And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.” Barnabas encouraged Saul by extending love and friendship to him. He befriended this new believer.
You Can Encourage Others by Re-Building Relationships-
In Acts 15:36-41, we see that earlier in their ministry Paul and Barnabas had taken a young John Mark with them on their first missionary journey. Somewhere along the way, Mark left the team and went home. Later, when they wanted to retrace their steps, Barnabas wanted to take Mark with them but Paul refused. Barnabas took Mark one way and Paul took Silas another. Barnabas sought to mend the broken relationship.
II Timothy 4:11, “Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” Later Paul asks for Mark to come to him. Paul’s relationship with Mark was restored and their ministries continued in part because Barnabas refused to let go of a good man just because he failed.
Barnabas was an encourager and we too are called to be encouragers. In II Corinthians 1:3, the Bible calls God “the God of all comfort”. The principle to this lesson is that we should be an encouragement to others. So for us to encourage others is to manifest this attribute of God. We need some “Barnabases”. For the glory of God, will you say, “God, make me an encourager?”
· Today, who can I come alongside and serve or encourage? What is stopping me?
Prayer: Father, thank You for Your Spirit inside me that urges me to “supply what is lacking” in others. How gracious that You choose to use me to help someone You love. Help me to always see that encouraging others as the privilege it is rather than a burden. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
March 29th, 2017
10 Concerns in the Christians Walk with God – Part 3
3. Conquer an Overwhelming Fear
We can all relate to experiencing fear in one form or another. It’s a natural emotion just like grief or anger. You don’t ever coach yourself, “I think I need to feel afraid.” You don’t have to plan it—fear just happens. We have nothing to fear—and yet we do fear. We need an answer for our worries. What do you fear as you’re going through a storm? It may not be the storm itself, but what’s coming afterward. Or someone who's just been diagnosed with a chronic illness—it’s not the news today, it’s tomorrow and next week.
It’s the worry of, ”What will happen to me? Will I be okay?” The unknown results and outcomes may drive your fears. But there is an alternative. In the midst of the storm you do not have to fear the future. God is with you. Nothing comes into your life but what Almighty God allows. Nothing comes into your life that God doesn’t already know about. And since He is with you, you don’t have to fear.
Too many Christians want the benefit of claiming “God is with me,” but spend too little time talking to the God who is with them. Can fear be avoided entirely? Probably not. But Scripture gives us an alternative plan that prepares for, and responds to, fear.
Psalm 56:3, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” God's Word gives us hope when we find ourselves overtaken by fear. Instead of wallowing in it we can put our trust in Him. We can deliberately turn away from fear and toward the Lord. This affirmation is also found in Isaiah 12:2, “…I will trust, and not be afraid...”
Why wait for fears to come before you decide to trust God? Practice trusting Him as a daily exercise—spend time in His Word and in prayer. When you do you may not even notice how many fears you’ll simply pass by because your attention will be on the One who is not threatened by anything.
Prayer, Father, You are with me so I never face my fears alone. And You are for me so who can stand against me? You gave Your own Son for me and You will graciously give me all I need. When I fear, help me to cling to Your promise that You will never leave me nor forsake me. Help me to speak and live fearlessly because You are with me. I am never alone. You are with me. I commit this truth to my heart right now. May this simple, profound truth sustain me today. In the power of Your name, amen.
March 28th, 2017
10 Concerns in the Christians Walk with God – Part 2
In the previous post we discussed that when a false accusation has been made against our character to wait on the Lord and trust Him with it. (If you have not yet read that post, I’d encourage you to read it before reading this post.)
2. Bury a Deep-Rooted Grudge
You are going to have painful things coming at you from someone at some point in your life. Anyone who ever tried to do anything for God has faced opposition.
If you’ve been severely criticized without grounds, if you’ve been falsely accused of lies or wrong doing and you’re now paying for something you never did, never retaliate! If you see no further than your critic and his, or her, criticism then you only compound the hurt!
Never give up! No matter what you’ve been through-GOD still has a future for you. If you have been unjustly criticized or dealing right now with a struggle, then you MUST find closure and put it to rest. By doing so you can begin to claim victory in the LORD and all that HE has for you.
Harboring an old grudge is never healthy emotionally or spiritually. What are we to do with old grudges? Learn to blow it off, let it go and forgive them. You can choose to reject an offense. If someone attacks, you can choose to respond in a way that reverses the hurt rather than retain and nurse the hurt. You can refuse to carry an offense in your heart, or you can turn it into a grievance story. Here are a few verses that can help deal with this issue (Matthew 6:14-15; Romans 12:17-21; I Corinthians 13:4-8; Ephesians 4:31-32).
Consider: The delivery man arrived at your front door with a letter and asked you to sign for it. When you asked what is in the letter he looks at his clipboard as says, “The form says this is laced with anthrax”. At that point, we understand that God has given us a brain and HE expects us to use it. You hand the letter back to the delivery man and say, “There‘s no way I‘m signing for this. Return it to the sender!” God will take care of those who willfully offend you. Trust HIM to do it.
Your part is to refuse to sign up for the offense. Refuse to think about it or to talk about it. When we receive an offense we may as well be signing for a letter with anthrax. The more we allow offenses to occupy our minds, the more we begin to develop a criticism story. And the more we rehearse and retell that grievance story we truly do ourselves harm in the long run.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, for too long I have been nursing this grudge and refusing to let go of it and allow you to take it from me. I’m now ready to give it to you. Soften my heart so that it does not become calloused. Keep my spirit right so that it does not become sour.
March 27th, 2017
10 Concerns in the Christians Walk with God – Part 1
Often we may feel as if our purpose in life is futile, or wasted. Much of this is due to our busy lives with stretched schedules. At times we may get very discouraged because we realize we are not making an acceptable contribution or positive/productive impact in the lives of the people we encounter each day. Below are ten techniques that can assist you when ministering in the lives of others. May this help rekindle your passion for service as you seek to minister in the lives of others.
1. Terminate a False Accusation with a Trust
No one likes to be falsely accused. False accusations are an attack on our character caused by a misunderstanding of our words or actions, which may bring disgrace and suspicion upon us. What are we to do when we are falsely accused? The only thing we can do is stick it out and trust God to make it right.
Remember how Jesus responded when He was falsely accused: He said nothing to His accusers, but committed Himself to God (Matthew 26:59-63; I Peter 2:21-23). In the end, who was right? Jesus was, of course. His Resurrection proved His innocence and God’s acceptance of His sacrifice.
I have been falsely accused of many things over the course of my ministry. Believe me when I tell you, it hurts. You either have been, or will be, the subject of false accusations. You might have to wait a lifetime before your name is cleared from the false charges. Even if your reputation is in shambles, your friends have believed the lies against you and no one wants to stand with you, the Bible says the evidence will someday prove you right.
When you didn’t do it, just commit your way to God and trust Him. He will bring your trial to pass. Psalm 37:5-8 “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.”
March 26th, 2017
The Great Comeback (Proverbs 24:16)
Proverbs 24:16 says, "For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief."
The story is told that Andrew Jackson's boyhood friends just couldn't understand how he became a famous general and then the President of the United States. They knew of other men who had greater talent but who never succeeded. One of Jackson's friends said, "Why, Jim Brown, who lived right down the pike from Jackson, was not only smarter but he could throw Andy three times out of four in a wrestling match. But look where Andy is now." Another friend responded, "How did there happen to be a fourth time? Didn't they usually say three times and out?" "Sure, they were supposed to, but not Andy. He would never admit he was beat—he would never stay 'throwed.' Jim Brown would get tired, and on the fourth try Andrew Jackson would throw him and be the winner." Picking up on that idea, someone has said, "The thing that counts is not how many times you are 'throwed,' but whether you are willing to stay 'throwed.'"
My favorite cereal is Honey Nut Cheerios. I like Honey Nut Cheerios not only because it tastes good. I also like it because you can’t sink the Cheerio. No matter how many times you attempt to sink it. It keeps resurfacing to the top. This reminds me of Proverbs 24:16. The Christian life is a battle. Scripture often speaks of God’s children as soldiers, and we should not expect to have things always be calm and peaceful. You’re not defeated by getting knocked down in life, your only defeated when you refuse to get back up. The righteous may fall, but they will get back up. The question is not whether we ever fail, but whether we get back up when we do. You cannot be defeated by the enemy; you can only lose by giving up. Don’t let defeats or setbacks discourage you. Instead commit yourself to standing firm and not giving up no matter how tough things get.
Failure is not final with God. God is willing to give those who fail a second chance to serve Him. Many of God’s best servants experienced some failure in their lives. Those who came back to God were given another great work to do. Samson (Judges 16:19-30); Elijah (I Kings 19:1-4); Peter (John 18:15-27); Mark (Acts 15:36-41).
Prayer: Father, it’s so obvious that I am quite an ordinary sinner when I look at my life. It’s comforting and convicting to know that godly people can fall so far, and yet, You never give up on us. Help me to see areas of my life where I am prone to fall. Forgive me when I do and help me get back in line with Your will for my life. Never let me lose my sense of dependence on You. Keep me pressing on as I follow in Your Son’s steps, realizing it is Your plan to use my time here to grow me into someone more and more like Him. Your will be done, Father, in Jesus’ name, amen.
March 25th, 2017
Can Your Life Be Interrupted? (Mark 1:16-20)
The first group of men Jesus called to follow him were brothers, Simon and Andrew, then James and John. Jesus confronted these men with life’s greatest challenge and most important calling. Jesus was asking these men to become His disciples and then begin fishing for people to also follow Him. Both sets of brothers immediately left behind the lives they had known and embarked on an incredible adventure.
But when Jesus called them to follow Him as disciples they immediately left their nets. Peter and Andrew along with James and his brother, John, were the first disciples that Jesus called to work with him. Jesus' call motivated these men to get up and leave their successful jobs—immediately. They didn't make excuses about why it wasn't a good time. They left at once and followed. Jesus calls each of us to follow him. When Jesus asks us to serve him we must be like the disciples and do it at once. Once Jesus presented His mission to them they followed without hesitation. Peter and Andrew left immediately while on the job; James and John left their father in the boat.
These disciples were skillful at catching fish, but they would need special training before they would become able to fish for people's souls. Jesus was calling them away from their productive trades to be productive spiritually by helping others believe the Good News and carry on Jesus' work after He was gone.
Jesus called His disciples to fish for souls with the same zeal and determination they had previously used to fish for food. The Gospel would be like a net, pulling people into its grasp, transforming their lives. Many people would be lifted from dark waters into the light of day.
God did not save us solely so that we could go to Heaven. He calls and commands us to have an impact here on Earth, as well. When we trade the shame of the cross of Christ for the applauses and acceptance of men we have forfeited the power to shake the world. It is far better to be despised and even persecuted than to live a life without making a difference for God.
March 24th, 2017
Perseverance Builds Integrity (Philippians 1:6)
Philippians 1:6, Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
As you continue to seek God’s purpose for your life, it is certain you will experience your fair share of disappointments, detours, delays, discouragements and dead ends. When you do, you’re facing one of those expected tests of character. How will you respond? Remember, God is not finished with you yet. Philippians 1:6, Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Philippians 2:13, For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. God insists that we remain consistent in our daily walk as we seek His purpose for our life.
The Apostle Paul gives us a cause for further encouragement. Here we see the good work of salvation and discipleship which our Lord began when He saved us. God always finishes what He starts. He never leaves the job half done. He “will perform” this good work in us “until the day of Jesus Christ.” The words will perform has the sense to ‘accomplish,’ ‘finish,’ or ‘complete.’
The next time you find your courage tested to the limit, remember that God is just as near as your next breath, and remember that He offers strength and comfort to all His children. He is your shield, strength, protector and deliverer. He wants to give you comfort for the journey. Call upon Him in your hour of need. Jesus taught that perseverance is the essential element in prayer. Whatever your tribulation, trouble, or trial God can help you persevere. And that’s exactly what He’ll do if you ask Him.
Perhaps you are in a hurry for God to help you solve your problem. Maybe you’re eager to receive the rewards that you feel you’ve already earned from life. Perhaps you’re pacing back and forth, impatiently waiting for God to act. Keep in mind, God operates on His own timetable, not yours (Isaiah 55:8-9). Sometimes, God may answer your prayers with silence, and when He does, you must patiently persevere. In times of trouble, you must remain steadfast and trust in the goodness and mercy of your Heavenly Father. Whatever your problem is, He can manage it. Your job is to keep persevering until He does.
Prayer: Lord, when life gets hard and when I am tempted to abandon hope remind me that You are my God, and I can draw strength from You. Let me always put my trust in You, Father, in good times and in bad times. Let me persevere even if my soul is troubled and let me follow Your Son Jesus Christ this day and forever. Amen
March 23rd, 2017
Responding to Hurt (Romans 8:28-31)
Romans 8:28-31, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
There are times in our lives when we face tremendous struggles. Have you ever reached a point where you've stated, "God, I just don't know how I can get through this!" Maybe you're struggling even now with some burden that's too overbearing. You simply can't see a way out. I’ve learned throughout seasons of suffering, what has helped me the most is God’s purpose is greater than my pain.
We cannot choose our suffering, but we are free to choose how we will respond to it. We can concentrate on the pain, the heartache, the disappointment, or we can concentrate upon God, the Solution. When we choose to look to the Lord in our sufferings, we will experience His comfort, gain a better understanding of our circumstances, and be able to trust Him to turn the pain into something precious.
In times of suffering and tragedy, God is still working out His purpose. However, it is often after we experience our crises that we understand this purpose. We may discover that our circumstances were the very tools God used to change us and help us be more like Christ.
Not only do our circumstances build our relationship with God, but they can also strengthen our relationships with people. Once I have gone through hardships and seen others suffer, I am more sensitive toward their suffering and more apt to minister to their needs.
Are you experiencing intense suffering? Are you desperate for answers? When life hurts, you have the Lord on your side. The Lord is there, and He is working behind the scenes in your life for your good and His glory. He longs to draw you closer to Him and use your experience in the lives of others.
Prayer, Heavenly Father, everything that comes from You is for Your glory and ultimately my good. That includes my suffering. Help me to see suffering as a gift from You to grow me and make me more like Christ. Too often I crave comfort in this world. Too often I crave ease. Too often I crave the path of least resistance. Forgive me for looking to comfort in this world when true and lasting comfort can only be found in You. Help me not to waste my suffering but to use it to glorify You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
March 22nd, 2017
Selective Silence (Proverbs 10:19)
Proverbs 10:19, In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.
During World War II, the United States government became concerned that a number of German spies were operating in America, sending information back to Germany regarding Allied war planes and specific troop and ship movements. To keep them from impacting the war effort, the Office of War Information launched a national campaign around the slogan “Loose Lips Sink Ships.” It was a solemn warning to people not to repeat information that might be damaging, or even deadly, if it fell into the wrong hands.
In the same way, the Word of God warns us of the dangers of gossip. Repeating stories has a way of dividing the body of Christ. Gossip is even able to separate the closest of friends.
Have you ever let your constant stream of words get you in trouble? I sure have—more than once. When we constantly run our mouths, we create a situation with a greater chance of saying something that offends, or that we’ll later regret. It is nearly unavoidable, as Proverbs 10:19 clearly states the solution. It’s found in the latter half of the verse—we must seek to control our tongues and instead exercise, or utilize, the tool of selective silence. Selective silence doesn’t mean we never speak; it means we need to weigh our words in hopes to avoid uttering something we will later wish we could take back. It means we must give careful and prayerful thought to the words we might speak, using discernment to decide if we should speak at all.
With advice that is eternal, there is great wisdom in keeping our mouths shut. The more said, the more likely it is that sin will follow. In contrast, there is great wisdom in saying little. How often idle conversation turns to gossip about others and sinks into slander of character.
It is a rarity for one to talk constantly without sinning and defaming someone's character. The taming of the tongue is a show of wisdom. Wise people learn the importance of holding their tongue. The more one talks, the greater the risk of saying something inappropriate (Matthew 12:36; James 1:26). When people talk too much about others, it usually leads to sin. Speech not only has the potential of being too mean, but also too much. Solomon warns against having too much to say. Often times when one talks too much there is the danger of exaggeration. As the time is stretched out there is the possibility of stretching the truth. There is also the danger of stealing time from others which they could put to more profitable use. The more one talks the more opportunity there is to say something wrong and cause regret. In many words there are idle words for which we must give an account (Matthew 12:36; Ecclesiastes 12:1; Romans 2:16). Continual chatter often leads to exaggeration, untruthfulness and slander. On the other hand, "he that refraineth his lips is wise." The right words of the righteous have the highest value.
Today, let’s not just watch what kind of words roll off our lips; let’s also carefully observe how many. A mouth that is constantly streaming words is susceptible to malfunction, in so doing causing a mighty mess.
Reflection: When have you regretted words that you’ve spoken? How could selective silence have changed the course of that conversation? Selective silence is not an easy habit to cultivate; pray, asking the Holy Spirit to strengthen your self-control and discernment. Our words may never cost us our lives, but if we don't realize their impact on others, they can hurt many people. A word can praise or put down. It can encourage or cause discouragement. It can bring healing or pain. It can unite or divide. Relationships live and die by the spoken word. This is why the Bible puts so much emphasis on the power of the tongue. Love, not anger, should be the first emotion by which we speak. Grace and truth should follow.
Prayer: Father, I need to grow in this area. Help me and give me wisdom to carefully consider in choosing my words before they roll off my tongue. Only You can give me the power to do this. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship.