November 29, 2010

The Sin of Assumption

During the American Civil War, rival armies camped out on opposite banks of the Potomac River. A musical contest erupted. Whenever the Federal band played one of its national tunes, the Confederate musicians would quickly strike up a Southern melody. On one occasion one of the bands started to play "Home, Sweet Home" and immediately the contest stopped, and soon voices from both sides of the river could be heard singing, "There's no place like home." Whatever differences each side had assumed, those differences were diminished by a common understanding—both sides would rather be at home nurturing their families.

It has been said that assumption is the lowest form of communication. If so, then at the time of the conquest of Canaan, Israel was at an all time low! When the 2½ tribes who built their homes east of the Jordan River after fighting and settling the land they built an altar as a monument to God's faithfulness. But that's not how the other 9½ tribes saw it. They viewed this altar as "competition" to the central sanctuary where all of Israel was supposed to worship. What was intended to be a symbol of unity was mistaken for a symbol of apostasy. This assumption led to hearsay and the hearsay almost led to civil war: "The whole assembly gathered at Shiloh and prepared to go to war against their brother tribes" (Joshua 22:12). Finally, a committee investigated it and the accused were cleared—all in the nick of time.

How many times are we willing to assume the worst? How often do we hear one side of a story and then form a conclusion based on that? We can become jury and judge, all based on sinful assumption. Rather than personally investigating or confronting, we go to others first, many of whom have the same inadequate information. "What a shame, what folly, to give advice before listening to the facts!" (Proverbs 18:13). Before fighting with a fellow believer, think of your future home—you'll be spending eternity with your offending brother or sister. Ask God to help you get things straightened out here first.

Skip Heitzig

November 20, 2010

Worthy?

"Lord, who can dwell in Your tent? Who can live in Your holy mountain?" 
Psalm 15:1

Psalm 15 goes to the heart of humanity's deepest problem-is anyone worthy of living in heaven with God? You are told that you must be honest and kind and that you must be keep all the Lord's commandments and never do wrong to others. Reviewing these requirements, you may question whether you can truly meet God's standards.
That is as it should be. The inability to be good enough makes you aware of your need for God's help, which He graciously provided through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
When you trust Him for salvation, God covers you with His righteousness and makes you worthy of dwelling with God for eternity. So believe in Him, trusting His provision. Because then you can rest in His goodness forever.

~Psalms to soothe a woman's heart

November 12, 2010

Floundering?

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time."

1 Peter 1:3-5

God knows that we cannot live without hope and does not conduct a business of granting our wishes. Instead, He gives us "a living hope" that comes from our faith in Him. It is like a sweet kiss of his unending mercy when we are born into His family. Our hope is based on God's unfailing love and knowing that it is a sure thing because we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and nothing can break that seal.

When trials and suffering find their way into our lives, it is easy to lose hope but we have to be reminded that our hope is based on God's faithfulness and not anything that we are able to do on our own. Christ is our anchor during those storms and trials and our hope in God's grace and love is our link to strength and courage to weather the storm. Some may choose not to put there hope in Christ and find themselves floundering in a deep sea of pain and there is no hope for a rescue in sight leaving them feeling hopeless.

When we find our faith falling flat, we have to choose to believe that God will turn our trouble into a door of hope. God takes our pain and suffering and turns it into an entryway for hope and a new doorway to Him. We need to take refuge in Christ and walk towards Him, focusing on His great love and mercy instead of the storm around us. His love and faithfulness will never fail or disappoint us and will always be our guide into the safe harbor of His loving arms.

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
   for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness.

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
   to the one who seeks him;"

Lamentations 3:22-23, 25

November 3, 2010

God’s Gentle Reminder

Do not try to punish others when they wrong you, but wait for God to punish them with His anger.

Romans 12:19

Do not repay
evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay
evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

1 Peter 3:8-10


 

This morning as I was driving home from taking the kids to school, my mind was racing. In my mind, I was devising a way to take revenge on those that have hurt me over the past couple of years. I was working it all out, mapping out the words I would say, the actionsI would take and how I would justify every part of it and then I got home and opened my bible. As I began my quiet time, I turned to 1 Peter because over the past two weeks, our pastor has been preaching from this book. As I was flipping through the pages, I came across 1 Peter 3:8-10 and immediately, God got a hold of my heart. He is pretty amazing that way. Funny how Satan will get in our heads and try to lead us down an un-Christ like way if we are not careful. What if I had chosen to come home and take a nap or type a nasty email instead of opening my Bible? This is why quiet time with the Lord is so important. He guides our steps and takes us down the path that leads to a righteous way of handling things. This is the lesson I have been learning over the past couple of weeks. It is not always easy, especially when we are being hurt but I have had to learn to trust God and His promises to me. When someone has wronged me, my job is to return their evil with kindness and love and this is something that can only be done with the help of God.

If you stop and think about it, you can probably think of someone you have heard spouting off about someone they are angry with and in that moment you have probably thought, I hope never to get on his bad side. It is best to avoid those cantankerous sorts. Best to just stay away and avoid being put in that situation yourself. Those who try to take revenge end up lonely and unhealthy and find themselves sad, unsettled and alone. Why? Because when we are angry, we distance ourselves from God. When we try to take control from Him and do things our way, we compromise our relationship with Him.

If you find that your mission in life is to settle the score with someone that you feel has wronged you, I can promise you, there will be no peace. First, you may never get your revenge and as much as you think you are owed an apology, chances are, you will never get it. On top of that, the justice you think is deserved will never be enough. It is just the way we are wired. The only peace that we will ever find when we have been wronged is the peace that can only come from God and allowing Him the control of our circumstances. It is a hard lesson but a beneficial one to learn.

Watching the consequences of someone trying to execute revenge has been enough for me to be still, keep quiet and allow God to punish them with His anger. This is the command of our amazing heavenly Father and so far, it has worked for me.