Conflict Within the Church

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Jesus makes a distinction between conflict outside and within the Church. The bonds we have with people in the Church are different—we’re brothers and sisters. As brothers and sisters, we have an obligation to correct, discipline, and mentor each other. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Just like rubbing iron together creates friction, there is sometimes friction in our relationships, especially when sin tries to sneak its way between us. Sin and conflict, if not handled properly, can fracture the unity of the Church. Jesus’ passion was the Church, He went as far as dying on a cross for the sake of preserving the Church for all eternity. Sin is the enemy of Jesus’ preservation mission, so we must handle sin and conflict inside the Church carefully but also with great urgency. Fortunately for us, Jesus lays out a three-step plan to dealing with trouble in our churches.

In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

The first step when a problem arises in the Church is to go directly to the culprit in private—doing so with love, mercy, and understanding. Jesus says it’s our responsibility to resolve conflict whether we’re the ones causing it or not. As peacemakers, we get the privilege in joining Jesus in his mission of preserving the Church. If the culprit listens and repents, congrats, you’ve completed your mission in record timing. If your mission was unsuccessful, don’t give up just yet. The next step is to take along another trusted member or two of the Church to confront the culprit. There is power in numbers. If the culprit refuses to listen yet again, bring the issue to the Church itself. This is the Hail Mary attempt. Pull out every stop and go the extra 500 zillion miles, praying that God will multiply your efforts. Up until this point, Jesus’ objective has been mercy, but if this final step fails, justice takes over. This unrepentant culprit is now considered  a Gentile or tax collector, meaning he is no longer a part of the community of believers. Paul draws upon Jesus’ teaching in 2 Thessalonians 3:6, saying, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.” If this is the fate of your mission, find peace in the fact that you are not responsible for changing hearts. You can love people, but you don’t have the authority and power to save them.

Today, pray for your church. This amazing connection we have to each other as believers of the one true God is frail and fragile in this broken world. Where there is a crack, more sin and troubles are sure to find their way in, so we must confront each crack diligently, following the procedure Jesus lays out for us in Matthew 18. Yes, confrontation is uncomfortable, but so was being nailed on a cross. Jesus never said it would be easy; he said it would be worth it.

 

-Mackenzie McClain

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How Did Jesus Resolve Conflict

make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy

At the grocery store, if someone’s cart is blocking the Reese’s Puffs, I’ll pretend to be intensely interested in the Raisin Bran until my fellow shopper moves their cart. Even the tiniest of confrontations makes me uneasy. I hate conflict even more than I hate Raisin Bran. I don’t like to make waves, ruffle feathers, or stir the pot. Can anyone relate?

Conflict is simply the clash of wants. Conflict isn’t inherently bad. Sure, it’s unpleasant, but it’s natural. Since God created everyone with different and unique interests, passions, and ideas, our wants aren’t always going to align (in my experience they usually don’t). Because conflict is inescapable, we should learn how to resolve it in a way that is pleasing and honoring to God.

God calls us to be peacemakers. Hebrews 12:14 says, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy.” We’re supposed to make EVERY effort to be at peace with EVERYONE? That seems like a tall order, and it is. God never said it would be easy, but He said it would work.

Jesus is our perfect example of a peacemaker. Without sin, Jesus dealt with conflict head on. We place Jesus on a pedestal (as we should, I mean he literally saved the world), but we sometimes forget that he is a human, too. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” Jesus understands how difficult dealing with conflict can be. The Teachers of the Law and Pharisees were constantly trying to trip him up, one of his best friends betrayed him for a few dozen pieces of silver, and he was arrested and crucified for a crime he didn’t commit. Jesus saw each conflict as an opportunity for grace. There’s a lot we can learn from our soft-spoken, table-flipping Savior.

One of Jesus’ first lessons about dealing with conflict comes from the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus highlights the urgency of resolving conflict, “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” This week, as we explore how Jesus resolved conflict, remember that there is great urgency in settling the conflicts in our lives. Don’t let unresolved conflict fester; deal with it swiftly and directly.

Is there unspoken tension between you and a friend? Is there an action you need to seek forgiveness for? Do you need to forgive someone for a wound you haven’t dealt with yet? What can you do today to bring peace to a rocky area of your life?

 

-Mackenzie McClain

Love and Forgiveness

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Throughout this week we have discussed topics on having a Christ-centered life, God’s Will vs. our will, our purpose in life, worshipping by singing, standing up for Christ, and thriving. Today we are going to discuss two important attributes and characteristics of Christians. We, as Christians, should love and forgive. Here’s why!

God’s Word, the Bible, sets the example of a Christian’s life. Throughout the Bible we find the word love. Love is a strong word. Right? A lot of times we use the word love without meaning.

To begin, I believe 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is the Bible’s definition of love.

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

-1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Here are other scriptures that reference love:

“Let all that you do be done in love.” -1 Corinthians 16:14

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

-1 John 4:8

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” -John 13:34-35

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” -John 15:13

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

-1 Corinthians 13:13

“We love because He first loved us.” -1 John 4:19

God wants us to love Him, His Son, and each other. God loved us first! He loved us before we were born! He loved us so much, that He sent His one and only Son to die for the sins of the world. That’s pure love. Jesus Christ was obedient to His Father and followed His will. Jesus loves us too! We should love God with everything we have. We should display the love of God so others can know Him and receive His love. If we do not love one another, then we do not know God! God is love! Everything revolves around love.

Another important Christian characteristic is forgiving others. I understand, it’s hard to forgive people sometimes. It’s hard to forgive people who make fun of you, call you names, or just act rudely. But it’s something we have to do!

In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus teaches His disciples the Lord’s Prayer. In verse 12, Jesus says that we should pray to our Heavenly Father, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

That’s huge! We are praying and asking God to forgive us of our debts and sins. After and only if we also forgive those who sin or have debts against us.

That’s right! You heard it! We have to forgive others so God will forgive us.

Jesus continues by saying in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

That is plain and simple to understand. We need to forgive one another, if we want to be forgiven by God.

Love and forgiveness flow together hand in hand. If we love one another, we will forgive one another. If we do not love one another, we will not forgive others. If we do not love, we do not know God, because God is love.

Because of God’s love, we have pathway to salvation. He gave His Son, Jesus, as a perfect sacrifice to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus Christ lived, was crucified, died, was resurrected, and is coming back again! That’s the Good News of the Gospel.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

-Romans 6:23

We all are sinners, and the price of sin is death. Sadly, because of sin, we all will die. Jesus gives us hope. Because of the shedding of Jesus’ blood, God has forgiven our sins. If we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and are baptized, we will be saved. We have hope that when we die, we will be asleep in Christ, until He returns. When Jesus Christ returns, the dead in Christ will be raised and those who lived a righteous life will be resurrected to life eternal in the Kingdom of God. Don’t you want to be a part of that? I know I sure do!

Today I encourage you to live a Kingdom life. Love one another and forgive those who sin against you. God wants us to live according to His Word, His will, and His way. We are His children!

-Brenan Dominguez 

 

Hi everyone, 

I enjoyed sharing several topics with you all this week! I hope you have grown in your faith and learned something new this week from these devotions. I hope and pray that you will continue to grow and learn. I encourage you to read your Bible daily. Every time you read your Bible you will learn something new! Remember that God has a plan and a vision for your life. Find that vision, set a goal, and work toward achieving the goal. Our ultimate goal as Christians should be glorifying our Heavenly Father. 

If you need someone to talk to, you can always leave a comment here or find me on facebook.

Until next time, 

“The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” -Numbers 6:24-26

Thrive

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Life can be tough, and it can seem like we are facing an uphill climb every day. It can feel like we are going through the motions, and we are just trying to make it to the next weekend, day off, or vacation. We are going through life, and we are just surviving it. I don’t think we were meant to live this way. God wants to live in us and work through us, He wants to give us life. There is an abundance of life in Jesus Christ, one that brings joy, peace, patience, and kindness. We weren’t made to survive – we were made to Thrive.

What does it mean to thrive? When you Thrive in life, you prosper. You grow. You flourish.

Here’s some references of thriving in the Bible:

“I made you thrive like plants of the field. You grew up and matured and became very beautiful. ” -Ezekiel 16:7a

“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

-Philippians 4:11-13

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

-John 16:33

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” -John 10:10

God wants us to have an abundant life. He gives us courage and strength because His Son, Jesus Christ, overcome the world. We are called to thrive like plants in the field! We need to Thrive in our faith and Christian deeds. We need to root ourselves in Christ, and trust God’s plan for our lives. Even when times get tough, we should seek God and point others to God. We should let God be the gardener in our lives and THRIVE.

I don’t know where you are in your walk with Christ. But I do know that our Heavenly Father is calling you to Himself. God is constantly calling you to know Him and to make Him known. Start digging into God’s word and let Him show Himself to you.

Don’t just survive life – Thrive in it.

Brenan Dominguez

Stand Up For Christ

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So far this week, we have discussed topics on having a Christ-centered life, God’s Will vs. our will, why it’s important to worship through singing, and that we all have a purpose. Today we will be discussing the importance of standing up for Christ.

In today’s society, topics such as religion and Christianity are shunned. Some people avoid speaking on the topics and others try to intimidate or harass those who do. This is known as persecution. Christians are being persecuted all over the world. Some even to the point of abuse or death. Christians are being persecuted for worshiping God, believing in Jesus Christ, reading the Bible, or even speaking or practicing the teaching of Christianity.

Do you ever feel uncomfortable mentioning topics about Christianity? Do you feel like you will be in trouble or scrutinized? Those are feelings and thoughts of fear.

“The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?” -Psalm 118:6

“I sought the LORD, and He answered me,

And delivered me from all my fears.”

-Psalm 34:4

We should not let fear overcome us. We should put our faith in God and He will take care of us. He will definitely take care of us if we are glorifying Him, sharing His Word, and standing up for His Son, Jesus Christ. God wants us to stand firm in our faith and proclaim the message of the Gospel.

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:19

“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” -1 Corinthians 16:13-14

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” -John 14:6

By proclaiming the Gospel message and sharing our faith we are standing up for Christ. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through Him. We need Jesus in our lives. We need to follow Him. We need Him as our friend.

We need to stand up for Him. I love the hymn titled “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.”

The first verse sings “Stand Up, stand up for Jesus, Ye soldiers of the cross; Lift high His royal banner, It must not suffer loss; From victory unto victory His army shall He lead, Till every foe is vanquished and Christ is Lord indeed.”

The last verse ends with “To him that overcometh A crown of life shall be; He with the King of glory Shall reign eternally.”

Do you want to reign and live with Jesus Christ eternally in the Kingdom of God? I know I sure do!

We need to stand up for Christ now, so we can stand with Christ in His Father’s Kingdom which will be established on earth.

Today I encourage you to not fret, worry, or live in fear. God is for us. Jesus Christ died for us. And now we need to live for Him! Share the Gospel message, live a life that represents Jesus, and stand up for Christ!

-Brenan Dominguez

We Have a Purpose

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Life can become difficult. It may seem that you are facing battles everyday that you think you cannot overcome. You may be experiencing pain, loss, or suffering. Each day seems like nothing is getting better. We all have been in a situation similar and thoughts run through our minds making us question our life’s purpose.

I have proof that we all have a purpose!

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” -1 Peter 2:9

“For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.” -Colossians 1:16

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Throughout the Bible, God’s Holy Word, we can see and understand that we have a purpose. Time and time again it is shared that God has a purpose and a plan for our lives. We were created through God and for Him. We are a chosen people. He has called us out of darkness and into His wonderful light. God wants good for all who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.

When life becomes difficult, pray and God will help you through the tough times. God never says that our lives will be perfect or that we will be happy all of the time. He does say that He will always be there for us. Keep strong faith in God and He will do wonders in your life.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9

If you’re going through a rough time, remember that you have a purpose and God will always be with you.

Today I encourage you to embrace your purpose or if you are unsure, seek and pray and God will deliver.

-Brenan Dominguez

Sing, You Say?

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We need to talk about singing.

Singing praises and worshipping God is something that we are called to do as Christians. Does that ring a bell?

“O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.” -Psalm 95:1

“Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.” -Psalm 100:1

Those are just two of the many verses throughout the Bible that references singing. God wants us to make a joyful noise unto Him!

Sometimes a person may not want to sing because he or she thinks that his or her singing voice is not ideal. Possibly, they may think that they would burst someone’s eardrums if they try to sing. Although in some cases that may be the case, God is not worried about our vocalistic abilities. He just wants us to make a joyful shout to Him!

Singing in front of other people might not be your thing. You may be worried of someone judging your singing. These two reasons do not amount to anything compared to the calling that our Heavenly Father wants us to worship Him. If singing is not your preference think about this: We are within this world. We are sinners. We have to make changes within our lives to obey God’s Word and to live according to what His will is. Therefore we are called to change our ways. We might need to step out of our comfort zone. If you are worried about someone judging your singing abilities, remember who the real judge is. We should not judge others. Our judgment is from God, which Jesus Christ has the authority over. When Jesus Christ returns, we will be judged according to our deeds. If anything, just know that you are doing what God wants you to do! No one should be able to take away that joy!

Find your personal preference of worship music. We, humans, are more willing and open to worship by singing, if we are comfortable with what we are singing. Are you more of a hymn, chorus, or contemporary worship song type of person? Find something that you enjoy and make a joyful noise to the LORD!

Singing is just one form of worship. Ultimately anything we do that glorifies God or is done in honor or love for God is considered worship. Remember that you can love God from anywhere!

Today I encourage you to continue to make joyful noises unto the LORD or begin trying to worship by singing. It’s something we are called to do! Find your preference in worship music, and sing, sing, sing!

-Brenan Dominguez