Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God


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Pandemic Perspective – Part 22 Division part 2

Matthew 12:25 Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart.

As we continue to see division in our world, we are reminded that God has already given us the solution to dealing with division:

  • Love covers it all.

When it comes to resolving differences we need to be reminded of the power of love. God’s love, which according to 1 Peter 4:8 covers a multitude of sins. When it comes to faults and failures we tend to turn to legalism not love. God’s love is very forgiving and accepting. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 gives us a very helpful description of God’s Love. “Love is slow to lose patience—it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance. Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails. Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.”. Are you living a life of love? I think God is less concerned with our political preferences and more concerned with how we treat those who differ from us. Is your life and your lips revealing God’s love to a hurting world? When it comes to healing the divide not only does love cover it all but:

  • The Golden rule says it all.

How many of you have heard of the Golden Rule?  Is it:
A. Do unto others before they do unto you.
B. Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want done to you.
C. Do unto others as you would want them to do to you.

In Matthew 7:12 Jesus gave us a very simple and practical rule by which to live, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” Really the Golden Rule is a combination of A and C, but we often look at is as B. We think of it as don’t do it unless I’d want it done to me. We teach our children not to make fun of other people unless we want them to make fun of us. And not to hit our sister unless we want to get hit as well. That is a complete reversal of the Golden Rule that’s an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. In reality the Golden Rule is a positive command a command to do not a command not to do. It’s meant to guide us in how to bless others. Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. It’s what the Good Samaritan did and the priest and the Levite failed to do. I think the story of the Good Samaritan is great not because of the story itself but the way in which Jesus answers the man’s question. The man asks Who is my neighbor? In other words, who is it that I have to love? He wants something to do a rule to obey. Jesus answers by saying, Be a neighbor.  Jesus tells the man an attitude to embody, that of a loving person. Loving your neighbor isn’t a rule to obey it’s an attitude to embody. In truth loving your spouse isn’t a rule to obey it’s an attitude to embody and live out. Loving your kids isn’t a rule to obey it’s an attitude to embody and live out. Loving your friends isn’t a rule to obey it’s an attitude to embody and live out. We have to ask ourselves in our relationships are we the Priest, the Levite or the Good Samaritan? Authentic Christianity is expressed by a love for others and in Matthew 5:13-14, 16 it says “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. So why are we here? To be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. Several years ago someone gave me a gift. When I unwrapped it I discovered a jar of salt with these words, “Thank you for living a flavorful life keep it salty!” Are you living out loud for Jesus, are you living a bold or a bland life? You’re here to be light in a dark world. Are you living a life of light? When we are divisive, we bring darkness to the discussion not light. But light livers bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We need to be generous with your lives and live life as an open house. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God. When we make the mission lighting up our world with love the way God loves us, it takes the focus off of self and puts it on serving others. But many times we would rather make excuses and justifications as to why we can’t and won’t love others because of what they have or haven’t done for us and we end up with the focus on US! But our faith in Christ is supposed to spill out into our relationships with other people. We’re not supposed to hoard the good news of Jesus, and we’re supposed to do good for others in His name. This great commandment pushes us out and helps us to truly grasp what it means to be an authentic Christian. It is our roadmap and checklist so to say. Are you touching others with the love of Jesus? There are a lot of ways to do that but let me suggest three to get you started.

* Start with your closest neighbor your family! How many of us easily give to those that we don’t know and withhold from the ones we know best! When you treat your spouse as the special gift to you that God intended you are letting your relationship with God spill out into your marriage. Listen to your child’s heart is letting your relationship with God spill out into parenting.

* Volunteer your gifts. Look for ways to help someone in your neighborhood in some area in which you have abilities. What has God gifted you to do that you can use to bless someone else? It could be as simple as shoveling someone’s sidewalk, or helping them clean out their gutters. Maybe you are a gifted griller, and you can have some of your neighbors over for a cook-out. Just to get to know them better and share some good food.

* Pray for opportunities to share Jesus with your neighbor. Our neighbors, your marriages, kids, friends, co-workers and bosses all need Jesus, just like you do.

 

 

 

 

 


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Pandemic Perspective – Part 21 Division

Matthew 12:25 Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart.

Conflicts are all too common. They have been around since the beginning of time as Genesis 4:3-13 reminds us that when Cain became jealous of Abel he killed him in an outburst of anger. Many centuries later, when the United States was divided by a Civil War, President Lincoln wisely referred to the biblical admonition that “A house divided against itself cannot stand”. In Amos 3:3 God posed the question, “How can two walk together, unless they are in agreement?” The truth is that they can’t. They must be in one accord in order to effectively work together. I wonder if the greater damage that this virus has inflicted on us is not just death but division. Everything has become a divisive issue. Take wearing or not wearing a mask. Our nation is not only divided over this but it has become a divisive issue to the point people are killing each other over it. In Matthew 12 Jesus was accused by the religious Jews of being of Satan because He healed a man who was both demon-possessed as well as blind. The crowd was not only amazed but they asked, “Could it be that Jesus is the Son of David, the Messiah?” But when the Pharisees heard about the miracle, they said, “No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan, the prince of demons.” To which Jesus said, “any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart.” So where is the church at?  Are we united or divided? Sadly, we seem to have forgotten that we are on the same side. Have we forgotten that everyone in the world is part of the human race? Even though we have different nationalities and races, we are all created in God’s image. As Christians it is critical that we remember we are part of the same kingdom. This is true regardless of what we look like or feel like, even though we may have opposing views when it comes to politics we are still called to live like Jesus and treat others with dignity. At the end of the day, we are all on the same team and if we are going to play like we are on the same team then we have to look to God’s game plan. We see this in Ephesians 4:3 where it instructs us, “you should endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. You must find a way to function in unity and harmony with one another.” But how do we do this when we have differing opinions? By walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh and allowing the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s peace to permeate our lives. As we allow God’s Spirit to control us, He will create an atmosphere of peace in all that we do and say. So, who is in control of your life God’s Spirit or self? Are you being controlled more by your political agenda or the Almighty? How do you know? What do you spend more time talking about politics or the Prince of Peace? When it comes to peace I believe there are three kinds of people, peace-breakers, peace-fakers and peace-makers. We live in a world full of peace-breakers. Did you know that in all the years of recorded history, the world has been at peace just 8% of the time? Over that period, 8000 treaties have been made and broken. Because of this it has been said that “Peace is that glorious moment in history when everyone stops to reload.” Then there are the peace-fakers those who pretend to pursue God’s peace plan but in reality they are just putting on a mask and playing the part of a peacemaker while masking their real motives. In Jesus sermon on the mount he said in Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” Note that Jesus is not calling us to be peace-keepers, but peace-makers. But some of us are predisposed to having peace at any cost, and in an effort to avoid conflict we will cave or even appear to cooperate. Yet it’s just a pretend peace. Real peace-makers do what it takes to establish and maintain peace. Instead of escalating conflict they work to extinguish tension and usher in true peace. Are you going after and guarding peace? Warren Wiersbe said, “Hatred looks for a victim, while love seeks a victory. The man of war throws stones, but the peacemaker builds a bridge out of those stones.” God is not the author of confusion or conflict; He is the author of peace because Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace. As Christ works through you, He will be the peacemaker, bringing order and effective results in every situation. Are you allowing this pandemic to divide? How much world news verses Good news are you consuming? Fortunately, we don’t have to wait for a vaccine to division because the antidote to conflict is Christ. So, let me ask you who or what is controlling your thought life, who or what is controlling your tongue, who or what is controlling your emotions, is it the media or the Master?