Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
1) Our submission to others is secondary to our primary reverence for Christ. Because our submission to each other is rooted in our primary reverence for Christ, we are never called to “submit” to anyone in a way that would cause us to dishonor Christ;
2) Our submission to one another in general and our submission to one another within the authority structures that God has given us in Scripture are vital ways in which we submit to Christ Himself! This makes sense when we consider that how we treat one another in the Body is how we treat Christ Himself;
3) In our submission to one another in general and to one another within the authority structures that God has given us, we are imaging and honoring Christ who is in perfect submission to God the Father for all eternity.
4) We serve and bless others by submitting to one another by lovingly sacrificing ourselves in the interests of others.
5) We are served and blessed by others as we submit to them. Because of the deceitfulness of our hearts and our sin, we need our brothers and sisters to remind us of the Scriptures and to help us apply the Scriptures to our lives. We are in dangerous territory as isolated or “self-sufficient” Christians. Hebrews 13:12-13 “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
6) Submission to one another is a way that we humble ourselves before God, but it is also a way that God cultivates sanctification and Spiritual fruit in us. When we walk in the light by exposing our hearts to one another, inviting others to speak into our lives, and living in accountability, we experience growth. Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron,and one man sharpens another.”
Here are some Scriptures that talk about submission to one another:
Ephesians 5:15-21 “5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Ephesians 5:22-24 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”
Colossians 3:15-17 “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Hebrews 13:7-19 “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. 10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. 18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. 19 I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.”
Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”
Ephesians 6:5-8 “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.”
1 Peter 3:1-6 “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.”
Saturday, July 11, 2009
This passage of Scripture tells me a lot about community and conflict.
1) The heart of this passage is relationship and reconciliation between members of the Body of Christ, whether you are the offender in the conflict or the offended (or both). This passage is not about asserting rights, seeking justice, or being right. This passage is about restoring relationship.
2) If my sister comes to me and tells me that I have deeply hurt her, because I love her and want to be in relationship with her, I should listen with a humble heart. If I have caused her any offense, I should do all that I can to remove the barrier between us. This does not mean that I can lie or just pretend that everything is okay. This does not mean that I can agree with her or support her in her sin if she is in sin. This does not mean I can “confess” to sinning when I have not, simply for the sake of peace. Truth needs to be honored in this process for the sake of honoring God and for the sake of real sincere relationship with my sister. If I cannot understand her grievance against me, I should humbly pray and ask God to show me if there is any deceit in my heart. I should lovingly ask her to show me my offense from Scripture and I should look there myself. If I am still unable to see my sin against her and if she is still insistent that I have sinned against her, we should get help from others in the Body of Christ.
3) The next step in the process is to bring 1 or 2 brothers or sisters in Christ to help mediate between us. If my sister and I have talked it through and we still cannot see eye to eye, we need to bring 1 or 2 other brothers or sisters along. This step assumes that we are in community. It seems the following must be true of this type of community:
a. We know and love Jesus and each other
b. We know the Word and appeal to it as the highest standard of truth over everything else--including our emotions, opinions, desires, and the emotions, opinions, desires of others.
If these things are true, both the offended party and the offending party will have reason to listen when 1 or 2 brothers and sisters come along side them to listen and evaluate the situation through prayer and Scripture. It means that we will not stubbornly forge our own path and part ways when our brothers and sisters are pleading with us in love from the Scriptures.
4) The next step is when a brother or sister refuses to submit to the Scriptures. This person refuses to be repentant and refuses to be reconciled. This heart is contrary to gospel love. God has loved us from the beginning. We betrayed His Perfect Righteousness by choosing evil instead. Instead of being faithful to our Holy God who loves us and brings us every good (peace, hope, inexpressible joy, provision etc), we instead whored ourselves out to sin. This is true of every one of us. This is betrayal and offense against God in the deepest sense. Yet our God, who has never sinned—ever--pursued us. In the process, He didn’t sweep our sin under the carpet or pretend everything was okay. He didn’t change the standards of Righteousness to accommodate our sin. He confronted us with truth in love. He then demonstrated His unimaginable love for us by humbling Himself and becoming a servant for those of us who betrayed Him. He suffered and died and paid the ultimate price to make things right between us again—to reconcile us to Him!!! This is why it is so wrong when believers refuse to be reconciled, whether that is actively through an angry severing of relationship or passively through a silent abandonment.
5) The Body of Christ is so important to Jesus. We are His agents--we are called to be Christ to one another. That is a sobering, humbling, and convicting truth. It means that the way we treat one another is profoundly important to Jesus. May we continually seek to be filled with His Spirit because that is the only way that we could accurately represent Jesus to each other and to the world.
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for reconciling ourselves to you. Thank you, Jesus, for humbling yourself and becoming a servant even though you are the King of Kings. Spirit, give us a heart for the gospel that permeates the way we think and live. Give us your heart of love for those around us. Help us to do all that we can to live in peace with our brothers and sisters. Make us humble with you and with one another. Help us to never compromise against your Word though. I pray for your intervention in the brokenness of your Body. I pray that you would give your Church a heart for unity. I pray that you would open our eyes in new ways to see your beautiful gospel for what it is. I pray this in Jesus Name, Amen.
1 Cor 13:11-14 “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. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you. 14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
Romans 12:18 “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
Matthew 5:23 “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
Ephesians 4:1-16 "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,and he gave gifts to men.” 9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love."
2 Cor 5:17-21 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Ephesians 2:11-22 “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
Colossians 1:15-23 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.”
Philippians 4:2 "I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life."
Philippians 2:1-11 "So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Why is it that we are far too often too content with parting company rather than doing the hard work of engaging with our brother and sister in humility and persevering love? Here are some of the ways I have seen this play out in my own life through my own actions and through the actions of others:
1) We so badly want the approval of others that we are unwilling to be real, honest, and vulnerable with them. We are afraid to expose our sins, struggles, and wounds because we fear pain and rejection or because we simply want to be adored by others.
2) We refuse to humbly submit to one another and to allow our brothers and sisters to speak into our life. We get so bent on gratifying the sinful desires of our flesh that we dismiss our brother and sister when they lovingly point us to Scripture in admonishment or rebuke. From there, we can end up avoiding interactions with our brother and sister because such interactions make us feel bad when we obstinately choose to ignore the loving pleas of our brothers and sisters. Instead, we decide to persist in forging our own path--even if that path takes us away from our brothers or sisters in Christ or even away from Christ Himself
3) We are not willing to take the risk of lovingly and prayerfully speaking into the lives of one another when prompted by the Holy Spirit. We avoid anything that might lead to confrontation because we fear the potential uncomfortable consequences of speaking into our friends’ lives—that they might reject us, or misunderstand us, or lash out at us. Or maybe we are just too lazy to be inconvenienced by getting into the messiness of life with one another. Our love is not sacrificial. When we fail to speak to our friends when the Holy Spirit prompts us, our interactions with our friends can become insincere, dishonest, and superficial.
4) We fail to be gracious grace-filled people who overlook minor offenses, who sincerely forgive by the power of the Spirit, and who allow love to cover a multitude of sins. Instead, we too often cling tightly to our “rights,” grudges, wounds, and bitterness. We lash out at each other and we carelessly vomit our thoughts and emotions on each other without prayer and discernment.
5) We are so wounded by the ways we have been sinned against or by the ways we think we have been sinned against that we retreat from community. We guard our hearts so tightly that we never allow ourselves to be vulnerable with others and/or we never pursue getting to know others in any deep way. We allow our self-protection to interfere with the ways that we could otherwise be actively loving those around us.
6) We are simply not devoted to one another (as Romans 12:10 urges us to be). We pursue and engage in relationships when they serve us. Our relationships are confined to seasons in our lives when they serve a purpose for us. When our friendships no longer meet our needs and desires, we dispose of them or allow them to fade away. When our friendships get difficult, or require extra work, we allow them to disintegrate. We get impatient (and ungracious) with our friends because their frailities, struggles, wounds, neediness, and sins burden us. When pursuing relationships with our friends cost us something—our time, our energy, our reputation with others, etc—we are not willing to pay those costs.
7) We lack faith. Sincere Biblical love is foreign to us--we do not see it intuitively in ourselves and we do not see it in so much of the world around us. Although we read it about it in Scripture, we wonder whether the gospel really works practically in our relationships. We do not believe (with our hearts, minds, and actions) in the power of God to produce sincere Biblical love in us, even though Scripture tells us this is the fruit that comes from being filled by God's Spirit.
8) We do not seek continually to be filled with God's Spirit.
All of these responses kill Biblical community. And we are too often okay with that!!! Yet, these responses boil down to a lack of love on our part. This lack of love is something we too often take too lightly, and yet gospel (pursuing, persevering, sacrificial, devoted, sincere, grace-filled) love is THE hallmark of being a Christian. In John 13:34-35, Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” This kind of love is actually THE ESSENCE of what it means to obey and worship Christ! We can speak in the tongues of men and of angels, have prophetic powers, understand all mysteries and all knowledge, have all faith so as to remove mountains, give away all that we have, and even deliver our bodies up to be burned, and NONE of it would count as worshipful obedience apart from love! (See 1 Cor 13). Wow.
Romans 12:9-21 “ Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. 20On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Ephesians 5:15-21 “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
2 Cor 4:7 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”
1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
1 Peter 4:8 “ Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
2 Cor 2:5-11 “Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. 6 For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, 7 so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. 9 For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. 10 Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, 11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs."
Colossians 3:12-17 “Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Philippians 2:1-11 “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Proverbs 19:11 “ Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”
Proverbs 17:10 “A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understandingthan a hundred blows into a fool.”
Proverbs 27:5-6 “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”
Galatians 5:16-25 "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another."
Dear Heavenly Father, Please forgive me for the ways that my attitudes and actions kill the Biblical community that you want me to engage in!! Please fill me with your Spirit, that I might have your heart for community. Remind me that I glorify you in community by imaging you--the God who is the perfect community of Father, Son and Holy Spirit! Remind me that I get to reflect your gospel in the ways that I relate to my brothers and sisters—by pursuing them, by forgiving them, by being devoted to them, by serving them, by blessing them, by being faithful to them—just as you do all of these things for me! Remind me that we administer your grace to and we receive your grace from our brothers and sisters. Please forgive me because I am far too wrapped up with my own interests (my own comfort, needs, emotions, desires, etc) and I am not concerned enough with the interests of others. Please forgive me for ever feeling self-righteous when others disappoint me because I do the very same things! Lord, I pray for your intervention and healing where community has broken down in my life. I pray for your wisdom and guidance in how to navigate these areas. I pray that you would mediate between us and that you would unite us to you and to each other. I pray that you would give me a heart that is full of the sincere fruit of the Spirit. I pray for any who would stumble upon this blog too—may your Truth shine through the inadequacy of my words. May your powerful Word speak to all of us and convict, encourage, and empower all of us. May your Spirit penetrate our hearts on this issue. May Jesus be our example in how to live this out practically. For Your Name Sake, Amen
 Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that every piece of advice or every admonishment or rebuke that we receive from others is unequivocally from the Lord. We ought to exercise discernment about the advice, admonishment, and rebuke we receive from others by humbly praying, searching Scriptures, and, if necessary, seeking further Biblical counsel from the larger Biblical community of which we are a part. (For more on this, see my post on discernment here: http://abranchinthevine.blogspot.com/search/label/Discernment ).
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
If it is possible ... live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
There are three dimensions to the peace that God offers to us through Christ: peace with God, peace with one another, and peace within ourselves. Many people care little about their relationships with God and other people, but they still want peace within themselves. As you will see, it is impossible to know genuine internal peace unless you also pursue peace with God and others.
The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflictby Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 44.
Meditate for a few minutes on the following Scripture verses:
Peace with God: Rom. 5:1 "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Peace with others: 1 Thess. 5:13 "Live in peace with each other."
Peace with self: Col. 3:15 "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace."