We’ve all experienced a time where we needed to be blatantly honest with someone we are close to. I assume this is where the phrase, “The Truth Hurts” came from. From where I sit most of us don’t handle these situations very well, we either come over the top with our advice or we don’t say anything at all. I’ve found neither of these to be a particularly successful way to handle conflict. In dealing with my son, there was a period when the iron fist was my go to method to offer correction. It soon grew tiresome and it was if I was speaking to a brick wall. When I changed my delivery, communication and understanding were reestablished. Ephesians 4:15 – Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians he was mystified by how they had turned away from what he had taught them. He offers evidence of their turning away from the gospel. He speaks to their posture of defense and to some, the offense they felt was being committed by Paul’s words of correction. Paul did what he did because he cared for these people. He didn’t want to see them turning away from the message of Jesus, so he spoke up.
We can’t go a day much less a few hours, without hearing how someone has been offended by something. Offering “unsolicited advice” can be a risky proposition. However, from time to time, we all veer off coarse. We need people in our lives that are willing to risk a conflict for our greater good. The truth is if we truly love our fellow man, isn’t it incumbent upon us to speak truth into their lives?
Galatians 4:16 – Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Most of us violate traffic laws everyday, right? It’s not that we don’t know the laws, we just choose to exceed the posted speed limit, cross the double yellow line or the gravest of sins, failing to Yield!! So why? Are we granted authority to change traffic laws because we’re in a hurry to get somewhere?
In Galatians 3 Paul is trying to figure out how the people of Galatia had gone astray from the Message of Jesus he had taught them. The text is very clear on the fact that they were given the gospel. One commentary says Paul’s delivery of the gospel was so thorough it was as if he placed posters of Jesus on every street corner. Yet, the Galatians strayed from it. Some argue it was due to their spiritual immaturity, some say they were too easily swayed, others point to the Galatians accommodating nature. Nevertheless, the message Paul left had now been distorted and the Galatians were veering off course.
Isn’t this exactly what is happening in our world today? Just the other day I viewed a clip from a popular day time talk show. The panel was commenting on a poll that said “Christians” wanted to edit the Ten Commandments, Christians? We tend to look outside the church as the area where chaos ensues. How are we doing at fulfilling and living by Message of Jesus that we know? If we are to bring others to know him shouldn’t we first examine our own lives?
Galatians 3:1 – O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.
As a child I remember a day that I was invited to ride bikes with the older boys. I was elated and the thought of going with them to the trails off 360 was huge. As we were riding we came to what in my mind was a gigantic hill. Staring down to the bottom brought immediate fear. They of course, had been there and done that. I was terrified to follow them but I saw no “manly” way out of it. The harassment that would ensue if I walked my bike down that hill would be worse than any misfortune that hill could cause. So I reluctantly pointed my bike down the hill and off I went. My fears came to fruition in a matter of seconds, as I wiped out and skinned my leg badly. Oh well, such is life when you try to impress others.
1 Corinthians 10:13a- No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.
Nothing we experience in life hasn’t already seen its place on this earth, especially peer pressure.
As I mentioned above, in our youth we are subjected to peer pressure on a regular basis. Some of it is direct from others but in our attempt to fit in, a good deal comes from within. We project thoughts like, “if I do or don’t do “x” no one will like me”. Unfortunately it doesn’t stop in our youth.
Peter had such an incident that was witnessed by Paul. Peter had been communing with the Gentiles in Galatia until a contingent of legalistic believers, The Circumcision Party, entered the city. They still believed that all Gentiles must first become Jews before they could be given the Gospel of Jesus. Afraid, of what they would think of him, Peter withdrew from the Gentiles. He allowed peer pressure to direct his actions all along knowing it was the wrong thing to do. It is easy to criticize Peter; but every person knows what it means to do something that you know is wrong. Everyone knows what it feels like when social pressure pushes you towards compromise in some way.
As Christians we must not allow such pressures to change who we are in the moment. It is in these opportunities that others see where our faith truly lies. We can best lead others to know Jesus by being true to our convictions, especially in the face of rejection.
Galatians 2:12 – For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.
My wife and I have spent the last week on a trip for our 10th Anniversary. We made a conscious decision that during this week we would disconnect from the world and focus on us. The rigors that our daily grind puts us through together with “our need” to be connected with the world aren’t always the best recipe for intimacy.
During the trip we had the opportunity to have a photo session in this beautiful setting. As we began the session the photographer was directing our poses, something I wasn’t very comfortable with. However, many of these poses involved holding my wife and drawing her closer to me, which is always a good thing. At one point I was asked to look into her eyes and it was almost too much beauty to bear. I see this woman everyday and at times I overlook this. Not just the aesthetic but the beauty of who she IS and what she means to me.
I also do this with God. He’s part of everyday of my life, yet I become complacent and neglect the beauty in ALL he does for our family. As I sit on our balcony spending these final minutes listening to the ocean and taking in the beauty of the sunrise I am indeed content. Perspective is a beautiful thing, it’s one of the reasons we took this trip. I’m thankful for this time with my wife and to the one who makes all things new!
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY BABE!
Psalm 139:7-10 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
There are a few preferential questions out there that we hear quite often.
For the sci-fi crowd it’s, Star Wars or Star Trek?
When attending a banquet it’s, Beef or Chicken?
The age old sitcom question asks, Ginger or Mary Ann?
Yes, in the grand scheme of things, these are unimportant. However, did you know we make over 30,000 decisions each day, with approximately 5000 of those making a direct impact on our lives. Let me throw out one more preferential question for your consideration. Today will you serve God or Man? Are you aware that this question accompanies most every other decision you make?
In Paul’s letter to the Galatian Church he is speaking about his transformation from Persecutor of Christians to Apostle. He makes it clear that what he is speaking came directly from God. Unlike some of the other so-called apostles that were preaching to them, what Paul said and why he said it had only to do with pleasing God, not man. Even then, he knew he/we couldn’t do both well. I think we know this too. Look, we’re gonna screw up, that’s understood. However, when we have our hearts set on God’s way (to love, serve and forgive) we’re less apt to make bad choices. So today while you’re pondering Coke or Dr. Pepper …….. invite God to be a part your more weighty decisions of the day
Galatians 1:10 – For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Last weekend my wife and I went to see the movie “IT”. She’s an avid Stephen King fan so I kinda had to go. First, I really enjoyed this movie, for me it was an updated Stand By Me with a scary twist. ****SPOILER ALERT**** IT knew that if he could divide the group then he could take them out by playing on their individual fears and doubts. In the end, this group of kids put aside their differences and supported each other to defeat “IT”.
I came away from this movie thinking about our current climate, the divisiveness that exists and how Satan is alive and well. 1 Peter 5:8 – Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Regardless if you believe as I, there is no debate that we are divided. I can’t remember a time where it has been this bad. One of the problems is that we ALL look to the other side and say “you need to change”. There may be some truth to that but when was the last time that worked out for you?
As Paul concludes his second letter to the Corinthian Church he urges them to come together as one. He says “aim for restoration” which is a very active statement. That to do this, will require work and sacrifice of each individual. It’s more than a simple conversation and then a hope that the other person will change. As Christians we’re called to examine our own hearts, 1 Corinthians 11:28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
We can do the most good by making sure our motives are pure and then praying for God alone to work on the other party. By continuing to show those we disagree with the grace that he shows us every day. Most importantly, that we work together toward the peace that is Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 13:11 – Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Ive struggled a little in finding a passage to write about in this chapter (2 Corinthians 12). Well this week God gave me something to think about. Between, work, church and home I always have something going on, I wouldn’t have it any other way. In all honesty, of late, work has had its share of stress filled moments, there’s always something going on at church and then time with the family and friends. So Wednesday God decided I needed a break by putting me in the hospital with chest pains and very high blood pressure. After a day of tests and observation they allowed me to return home to rest. Prior to this, other than the self-induced stress I mentioned above, I have felt fine. We feel we are invincible, “‘Tis but a flesh wound” is our mantra. We want to do great things, make a difference in this world.
In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul is speaking about his life and despite all the hardships he had faced, what he had accomplished for God. However, God had given him a condition that caused constant pain. A pain so great that he prayed many times for God to remove it. In the end, Paul became content with this condition. It acted to keep him totally reliant on the power of God’s grace.
We live in a world where the strong are revered and weakness is an unmentionable. When we become successful it’s easy to turn that back on ourselves rather than the one who makes ALL things possible. So in spite of this setback, I thank God for this past week, it has allowed me to refocus on my need for Him, versus what I’m doing for him. So to that, I say bring it on world, give me all you can to keep me focused on Jesus and only then may he use me as he sees fit.
2 Corinthians 12:10 – For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I love the church we attend for many reasons. When we began searching for a church home I did a little internet search and listened to a few messages by the respective pastors. I was immediately impressed by the humility of our pastor. You see at the church we had been attending you would never hear such things as, “I suffer from anxiety, I have this or that weakness”, from the pastor. I love the authentic example that is displayed on a regular basis. If we’re honest we all have areas of our lives that we struggle with. Some feel these issues disqualify them from a relationship with God, much less in service to him. Well those assertions are far from true.
Throughout Paul’s ministry he spoke to his weaknesses. In 2 Corinthians 11-12 he makes his point very clear. Paul knew better than most that it is not our achievements that showcase the greatness and grace of God but rather our helplessness. It’s not look at me and what I am doing, it’s in spite of me, look at what God can do. The Bible is full of such people, that regardless of their ineptitude, they allowed God to use them. I know this first hand and He never ceases to amaze. The only qualification here is a willing heart. I invite you to step out and regardless of who you think you may be, allow God to show you who you really are, in Him!
2 Corinthians 11:30 – If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
I viewed a social experiment video last week where a guy dressed differently and approached the same woman. In his first appearance he was wearing ratty clothing and picking up aluminum cans. He approached the woman, struck up a conversation and asked her for her number. She informed him she had a boy friend. In the second appearance he was dressed to the nines and driving a Ferrari. The same basic conversation ensued and the same request was made. This time he received her phone number and she even asked if he was free for the rest of rest day. Same guy just different appearance.
If we’re honest, we all judge people by their outward appearance. When, if anytime, is this warranted? Each day we react to a myriad of things coming at us. We are so busy that instead of looking past things as they seem, we become predisposed to everything around us, including people.
Paul was judged in this manner. Some thought he was “in it” for his own glory, others looked at him and saw a weakened man, not capable of leading a ministry. They didn’t know the entire story, all they knew is what they allowed themselves to see. When they took the time to get to know him and his desire to share the message of Jesus they looked upon him in a much different light.
Is it our busyness or our conditioning that keeps us from opening doors to relationships? Are we shutting those out that on the surface don’t meet our expectations? By no means do I have the answers here, as I too fall victim to my own misguided judgments. Maybe it’s a just matter of slowing down and being more intentional with those we meet. After all, we’re ALL children of God and we’re never too busy for a new friend, right? 2 Corinthians 10:7 – You are judging by appearances. If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do.
I have a friend that pokes fun at his wife by saying, “what’s hers is hers and what’s mine is hers.” Knowing him like I do, it’s really a testament to the generous person he is. He’s always willing to help out, seemingly without a thought to how it may affect him.
Giving to the church is one of those subjects that seems to make people squirm. If you look up statistics on this it’s rather sad how little people give. I’m not going to get into that other than to say what many others have said, this is not a matter of how much, as it is how willing you are to give of your resources. I’ll throw time into this conversation as well as that is something we all have and cherish. In fact, if I’m totally honest I’d rather give of my funds than my time but I have found that the giving of my time is always a sound investment.
Giving is a matter of faith. We are called to surrender to Christ all we have, body mind & spirit. Luke 9:23-24 – And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. Jesus also spoke about this in telling of the woman who gave in amount, a small sum but in sacrifice, it was all she had. In essence giving far more than those who had given more but held back. Paul addresses the subject in his second letter to the Corinthian church. He too makes the point of how giving is much more a matter of heart and soul than dollars and cents.
Giving is another opportunity to grow closer to Jesus. Giving of ourselves is an investment in others and by faith, such deeds are always honored by God. I can’t encourage you enough to step out in faith and give, then see what God does in your life.
2 Corinthians 9:10 – He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.