More Love, Less Conflict

Prov 10 12

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.
Proverbs 10:12 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/pro.10.12.NIV

One verse, one sentence that says something we all already know. It’s so obvious and yet we struggle to act in love in so many situations. Today, there is a run off election for 2 different state positions here in Georgia. As I voted today it made me think of all the election ads and speeches given just over a month ago. Very few of those were rooted in love, but many were negative. Is it any wonder our nation is so divided? Do we even need to question why people are becoming increasingly violent? It’s because instead of love, which covers wrong, we spread hatred, breeding conflict toward one another.

The only way to create positive change in the community around us is through love. If you’re a Jesus follower, then you know this principle already. It’s why you changed and are still changing. It’s God’s love for us, that we experience in all sorts of ways, that drives us to become better. It steers us away from hatred, it helps us see the potential in others and inside of us. The next time you find yourself disgusted about a person or situation, instead of complaining or pointing out what’s wrong, try focusing on how you can be loving anyway. That’s the only way things will get better, so we might as well stop wasting time with hatred that breeds conflict, and use our energy to show love that covers all wrongs.

-Jerry Briggs
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God’s Party

Luke 15 32

Thursday, November 22, 2018  Thanksgiving USA

Luke 15:32

“But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Some people envision God to be somber or angry and punishing. I love this story Jesus told. We often refer to it as the Prodigal Son, with the focus on the bad boy who turned his life around. But I think it has more to do with showing us how much our Father Loves us, and how much joy it brings to him to be in relationship with us. Jesus came to show those whose view of God was somber and dutiful that God is first and foremost about relationship.

God throws a party when we respond to his offer of relationship. Shouldn’t we?

-Jeff Fletcher

His Example

john 13 14

Pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith, we know what these are and how to achieve them but a better way to see this is through Jesus Christ. He constantly showed God’s love through his actions, by caring for those you wouldn’t expect him to. He was the son of God and he humbled himself to all around him, to show that we are here to serve. By following Jesus’s example in serving and loving others we can do good, and have a positive impact in the world around us.

-Blair Simon

What He Wants Me to Do

1 tim 1 5

There have been times when I have wondered what God wants me to do, not in a big way, but smaller, things I can do daily. So when I went through the quiz material from this summer 1 Timothy 1:5 quickly became my favorite verse. “But the goal of our instruction is love, from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and a sincere faith.”- 1 Tim. 1:5

Paul wrote this when he was instructing Timothy on how to run the church, and it applies to us. We have a goal, to love, and we can do this everyday. When we are loving to others it shows God’s love through us.

-Blair Simon

Thankful for Encouragers

Lam 3 24

This week, I hope to give you encouragement from God’s word. I hope you can find examples of the people who have helped you in your walk with Jesus and wait patiently for God’s plan to come together.

Lamentations 3:22-26, NIV.  — “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. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’  The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

When I was a young newlywed, I started attending my husband’s church. (I was raised in a different faith.) Many of the members were my husband’s family, so they played a large role in my decision to be baptized. One was his cousin Kathy. Kathy is a natural encourager and she would often send me notes, seemingly when I needed them most. Coming home from work to see an envelope with her neat handwriting, always made me smile.

Kathy has remained a faithful encourager, even when life seems darkest. I remember her quoting Lamentations as a source of encouragement after the death of her daughter and today, this gives me strength facing loss in my life. Reflect on someone who has encouraged you on your faith walk, if possible send them a note telling them how they encouraged you to accept Jesus’ gift of salvation.

 

Susan Johnson

Messages from God

rebecca4

We may take instant messaging for granted. We have grown accustomed to communicating with each other in real time. Instant messaging in 1844 was a little bit different.  Samuel Morse was a co-developer of Morse Code and helped to develop the commercial use of the electrical telegraph. Morse sent the first official telegraph message on May 23, 1844.  And it is interesting to me that he encouraged a 17-year-old named Annie Ellsworth to choose the text. It was, “What hath God wrought?” This statement is from the King James Version of the Bible from Numbers 23:23.  We might read it as, See what God has done! This statement is from one of the messages pronounced by Balaam and his experiences should convey the importance of only giving the true message of God.

When the Israelites traveled into Moab, King Balak sent messengers to Balaam, a pagan prophet. Balak wanted to pay Balaam to place a curse on the Israelites. Balak’s message was, A people that has come out of Egypt covers the face of the land. Now come and put a curse on them for me. Perhaps then I will be able to fight them and drive them away.” But God said to Balaam, “Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed.” Balaam consults with God and does refuse to go with the first group.  Later a second set of messengers arrives.  They delivered this message, “This is what Balak son of Zippor says: Do not let anything keep you from coming to me, because I will reward you handsomely and do whatever you say. Come and put a curse on these people for me.” Balaam does go with the messengers, but he has a strange conversation with his donkey on the journey. And an encounter with the angel of the LORD makes him state on his arrival, “I can’t say whatever I please. I must speak only what God puts in my mouth.” King Balak takes the pagan prophet to three locations inquiring a curse to be pronounced on the Israelites, but each time, Balaam blesses the Israelites. The first three messages of Balaam are blessings on Israel and the last four messages are warnings to the countries that will be conquered.

Later in Deuteronomy 23:5 we are told why God insisted on blessing the Israelites. It states, “However, the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam but turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you.”

Balaam missed the point of the messages that he delivered. God loved the Israelites. He continued to send messages of His love and hope to them throughout time. Just as the Apostle Peter said, “You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. (Acts 10:36) How blessed we are that God’s message of love is available to us all.  We don’t need to wait for a prophet from a far away land. God’s message is in the scriptures and He speaks personally to each one of us. Praise God for this Message!

-Rebecca Dauksas

 

 

 

 

Lose-Win

whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me

Yesterday, we talked about Jesus’ procedure of dealing with sin inside of the Church, but what are you supposed to do when someone who never claimed to be a Christian sins against you? Jesus’ answer to that question may surprise you. Have you ever heard of a win-win conflict resolution approach? Well, Jesus’ approach is more of a lose-win. As followers of Christ, we give up our right to hurt people who hurt us. Instead, Jesus calls us to treat each conflict as an opportunity for grace—an opportunity to show God’s love to someone who has maybe never experienced it.

In Matthew 5:38-42, Jesus describes his upside-down approach to dealing with conflict, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

Jesus defies logic, saying that if someone mistreats you, give them grace, but Jesus doesn’t just talk about grace, he embodies it. The outcasts, the troublemakers, and the “rough around the edges” are the people we often ignore or set aside, but these were the kinds of people Jesus spent his time on earth interacting with. These were the kinds of people Jesus died for. These were the kinds of people we were before we were adopted into God’s love. Just as grace transformed you, grace can transform the people who hurt you.

If we want to be a reflection of God’s love in the midst of conflict, we must first trade in our pride, our need for justice, revenge, or being right, for humility. In Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus says to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

Today, be intentional about being love to someone who may have never truly experienced how intense and whole God’s love is. If someone hurts you, give them more grace than they know what to do with. They don’t deserve grace, but neither did we.

 

-Mackenzie McClain