Peace with One Another

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 13:11

As Christians, we have a special relationship with each other because of our union with Jesus. You’ve probably experienced this if you’ve met a stranger with whom you sensed a bond and soon discovered that you were both Christians.

Scripture calls us to be a source of encouragement and help to our brothers and sisters in Christ, yet most of us know at least one believer with whom we have more conflict than comfort. Perhaps our personalities don’t mesh, or we have different convictions that sometimes result in arguments. The problem could also be a matter of miscommunication or misunderstanding.

Whatever our natural differences may be, we can overcome them through Jesus Christ and live in peace with one another. Instead of building walls, we can express grace to others in the following ways:

Prayer. Make it a habit to lift up the other person in prayer to the Father.

Communication. Discuss the relational issue openly and honestly. Clear up any incorrect assumptions and uncover the source of conflict. Be willing to share concerns and listen to the other point of view.

Counsel. To work though the conflict, it may sometimes be necessary to enlist the aid of a godly counselor.

Restoration. Once the root issue is resolved and harmony is restored, both parties should agree to address new conflicts promptly as they arise.

God calls us to live in peace, and He has provided everything we need to obey Him. When we allow His indwelling Holy Spirit to control us, His goodness and grace will flow through us to others, creating harmony.STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from In Touch Ministries.

Right Words

‘Let your conversation be always full of grace.’ – Colossians 4:6 NIV
Our words have power. They can lift people up or bring them down. They can heal or they can hurt. They can speak God’s truth or the enemy’s lies. And we have the ability to choose, every day, the way we use our words. The Bible says: ‘May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight’ (Psalm 19:14 NIV).
When we stop and think, are our words pleasing to God? We can end up saying things in the heat of the moment, we criticise others and promote ourselves, or we tear ourselves down by saying that we’re not good enough. Controlling our words is something we all struggle with. Maybe this is why words are mentioned so many times in the Bible. In James, we’re taught that the tongue is hard to control. ‘The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image’ (v.8-9 MSG). And if we don’t try and use wisdom when speaking, our words can have bad consequences. When we’ve criticised others, we may quickly forget what we’ve said to them, but those words may stay with that person for their whole life. It can take years to break off things that other people have spoken over us. ‘It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that’ (James 3:5 MSG). Instead, the Bible tells us to ‘Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone’ (NLT).

What Now?
Think about the things you’ve said to others so far this week. Ask God for forgiveness for any words that haven’t been pleasing to Him.STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from United Christian Broadcasters.

Desire: Attractiveness

‘Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.’ – 1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV
The Bible tells us to eat, drink, celebrate, sing, dance, shout, and make music – all things we do with our bodies. And these things can actually become a way of remembering how good God is. Our physical lives are not separate from our spiritual lives. After all, it’s God’s Spirit who makes our bodies come to life. But if we’re not careful, our priorities can shift from God to ourselves and what we look like. We can become obsessed with our appearance, our weight, our health and the latest fashions.

The Bible never tells us that wanting to care for our bodies is wrong. In fact, it says: ‘Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.’ And we should respect, care for and honour that temple. God also made us with a love of beauty, but the Bible says: ‘Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight’ (1 Peter 3:3-4 NIVUK). So our character is more important than how we look. While society is often focused on appearance, God’s focused on how we are on the inside. The Bible says: ‘God does not see the same way people see. People look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7 NCV). Our character is the thing that will last. ‘Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting’ (Proverbs 31:30 NIV).

So we need to think about our priorities. What’s the focus of our minds? The desire to be physically attractive? Or the desire to become more like Christ?

What Now?
Write out 1 Samuel 16:7 and stick it on your mirror. Every time you go to the mirror to check how you’re looking, read the verse out loud.
STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from United Christian Broadcasters.

A Prosperous Attitude

Scripture: 1 Kings 3
This passage records God’s appearance to Solomon in a dream at Gibeon.  In the dream God said to Solomon, “Ask!  What shall I give you?”
What an incredible statement, and question!  Equally incredible is Solomon’s response, which revealed the attitude of his heart, the attitude which must accompany our prosperity.  That response is captured in verses 7-10, “Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.  And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted.  Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil.  For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”  The speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing.

God is pleased when, in our hearts, we put others before ourselves.  God delights in prospering us when prosperity is not our chief aim.  When we get it right, and in our hearts we do place others before ourselves, God can bless us beyond our wildest dreams.

God will give you everything you need to fulfill His plan for your life. He will give you richly all things to enjoy, as long as you have a prosperous attitude that puts His plans and His people first.

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from Crosswalk Daily Inspirations.

Handling Difficult Circumstances

Philippians 3:8-11
The apostle Paul understood how to handle tough circumstances. Even while confined in a prison cell, he kept his eyes on Christ and trusted firmly in the Savior. Therefore, despite being in chains, he was able to celebrate the Lord’s work in his life. In fact, the epistle he wrote from jail to the Philippians was filled with rejoicing and praise (Philippians 1:18; Philippians 2:18; Philippians 3:1).
Focusing on Christ is neither a natural reaction nor an easy one. Our instinct is to dwell on the situation at hand, searching for solutions or stewing over the pain and difficulty. As a result, troubles look insurmountable and overwhelm us with a sense of failure.However, fear and defeat can’t live long in a heart that trusts the Lord. I’m not saying you will forget what you’re going through, but you can choose to dwell on His provision and care instead. He is the Deliverer (2 Corinthians 1:10). He is the Healer (Jeremiah 17:14). And He is the Guide (Proverbs 3:6). The believer who lays claim to divine promises discovers that God pushes back negative emotions. In their place, hope, confidence, and contentment take up residence (Philippians 4:11). You aren’t going to be happy about any difficult situation, but you can be satisfied that God is in control and up to something good in the midst of trouble.
The Lord’s principles and promises don’t change, no matter how severe or painful the situation is. Focus on Christ instead of the circumstances—God will comfort your heart and bring you safely through the trial. Then you will be ready to answer Paul’s call to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4).
Bible in One Year: Isaiah 40-42STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from In Touch Ministries.

Fearing God

He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man.  The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy. – Psalm 147:10-11
In Psalm 147:10-11, David gives us insight into two things that please God–two things that may seem disconnected from each other.First, God delights in those who fear Him, those who have a reverential respect and awe for Him.  Second, God is pleased with those who hope in His mercy.

In today’s devotional, I want to focus on what it means to truly fear God.
Scripture constantly admonishes us to fear God.  But how do you do that?  I believe the Bible gives us at least four ways:
1.Through a hatred of evil.  Proverbs 8:13 says, The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.
2.Through radical obedience.  To fear the Lord means to radically obey Him, as Abraham did in Genesis 22 when he was willing to sacrifice his son.
3. With an awareness that God is always watching you.  Scripture makes it clear there is nowhere you can go that God does not see.
4. With the knowledge that one day you will have to stand before God as your Judge.  Jesus even tells us that one day, when we stand before Him, we will have to give an account of every idle word we have spoken.

Pray today that God will help you live your life by these four principles.  Because God delights in those who fear Him.

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from Crosswalk Daily Inspirations.

TALEBEARING

A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter. – Proverbs 11:13

Test your integrity or faithfulness. Can you keep a secret? Will you hide it from those not needing to know? Tattlers or gossips have no integrity – they do not have a faithful spirit. If they know damaging information about another, they must tell it, quickly and widely.

What God called talebearing here used to be called tattling or gossiping. Now it is called social media, investigative reporting, or entertainment. Newspapers, television, tabloids, and Internet sites feed on it. People read it with glee; they tingle with curiosity hearing it; they beg for more details, especially sexual ones; they cannot wait to repeat it to others.

If the least rumour or unsavoury fact is found about a President’s personal life or family, it is spread far and wide and discussed to death. The same is true for business leaders, sports figures, and celebrities. The more negative the facts, that much more exciting to spread. This fascination with secrets is a sin and proves the perversity of a generation.

Family members, neighbors, office workers, and even church members love to spread news of negative events in the lives of others. They say, “Did you know they are divorced? Have you heard the latest about him? Can you believe she did that?” And off go wicked lips and ears to discuss the private details of others that should be concealed.

This sin is an abomination to God, and He hates it. His holy nature knows that spreading damaging news about others is to rape their reputations. The Bible does not know the word gossip; it uses talebearer, tattlers, whisperer, and backbiter – (KJV). Solomon taught here that good men with faithful spirits will not repeat private news they learn about others.

Talebearing is telling private matters to gratify malice or idle curiosity. Tattling is talebearing. Whispering is quiet or secret talebearing. Backbiting includes talebearing behind a person’s back. God condemns these sins. (Do not go about spreading slander among your people.” ‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord. – Lev 19:16;  And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not. – I Tim 5:13). Your character and wisdom are shown by how you handle negative news about others.

These four Bible terms all involve telling true facts about others that need not be told. That the information is true only means it is not slander, which is spreading lies about others. Talebearers will quickly justify themselves by saying they are only telling facts – but that is the very definition of talebearing, tattling, whispering, and backbiting. Slander is two sins – lying and spreading the lie; talebearing is one sin – spreading hurtful facts.

That the secrets are true does not mitigate the sin at all. The Lord knows there are only two reasons you are telling the secret – malicious hatred or idle curiosity. You damage another person’s reputation when you do so, and there is no godly reason for you to do it. Only by reporting facts for authorities to fulfill their office can you justify telling secrets.

Physical rape is a horrible crime, and it should be punished severely. Talebearing can be similarly harmful. Instead of violating a person’s body and creating painful and fearful memories, it can leave permanent scars or questions on a person’s reputation with others and the pain and trouble of defending ancient faults or sins by the person. Consider it.

The heart of man is desperately wicked and will do anything it can to defame or injure others. By nature all men are hateful and hating one another (For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. – Titus 3:3). One of the easiest ways to hurt another’s reputation is to spread private information that does not need to be told. It is this sin that the proverb condemns.

Faithful men will hide private information they happen to learn. They will conceal such things; they will not repeat them to anyone. They will do all they can to protect the reputations of others, no matter what their personal feelings about the person might be. Such integrity and faithfulness makes a man great in the sight of God and men.

This sin used to be widely condemned. Older readers can remember rules and punishment for tattling at home or school. But now it is a forgotten sin in this current profane generation. Instead of punishment, rewards are given for those who obtain the most salacious reports or revealing photographs or videos of persons at all levels of society.

Guard your tongue, reader. Do not let it spread secrets that should be concealed. It does not matter at all whether the information is true or not. If the matter is not needed for the proper exercise of authority, then bury it. If the matter could hurt a person’s reputation, then bury it. If the matter is not uplifting or commending or helpful, then bury it.

Guard your ears, reader. If someone else backbites in your presence, condemn him with an angry face or rebuke (Pr 25:23; I Thess 5:14). If it were not for willing hearers, talebearers would be out of business (Pr 17:4). If you allow a tattler to sin by putting sinful thoughts in your head about another person, you are an accomplice in his sin.

How important is it to avoid this sin? The proverb here teaches that faithful men will not do it. A mark or evidence of eternal life is not doing it (Ps 15:3). Since God hates it and mentions it often in Scripture, all fathers must include it in their training (Eph. 6:4). Great men and women, those that are faithful and having integrity, will work to protect others.

Jesus Christ is Faithful and True (Rev 19:11). He forgets the sins of His people forever (Heb. 8:12). He would never reveal them, for it is His glory to cover offences (Pr. 25:2; Ps 103:10-12). It should be your pleasure to love others with the same compassion and commitment to protect them from damaging reports (Pr. 10:12; 17:9; I Pet 4:8).

Stay blessed!

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A Godly Response to Criticism

Scripture: Proverbs 15:31-33
No one likes criticism, but encountering some is inevitable, so we need to learn how to respond in a godly way. Although you might be tempted to become defensive or angry, remain calm and listen. The words may hurt, but great benefits come to those who carefully consider what is said.

If we refuse to accept reproof, we’ll limit our potential for Christlike character development and spiritual growth. Some of life’s best lessons come through difficult experiences. If God allowed the situation, you can be sure that He wants to use it in transforming you into His Son’s image. Whether the criticism is valid or not, whether it’s delivered with kindness or harshness, your goal should always be to respond in a way that glorifies the Lord. Remember that you are responsible only for how you handle yourself, not for how the other person is acting.

When a criticism comes your way, be quiet and listen until the other person has finished. Make direct eye contact to show attentiveness and respect. When your critic finishes, thank him for bringing his concerns to your attention, and tell him that you will consider what he’s said. Ask the Lord if the accusation is valid. Let Him search your heart and either affirm your innocence or convict you.

Every rebuke is an opportunity from God. It’s a chance to let your Christian character shine by showing love to your critic. If he is angrily attacking you, your respect and kindness become a powerful testimony. Criticism is also an occasion to humble yourself and accept the Lord’s correction.​STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from Crosswalk Daily Inspirations.

Whole Life Worship

Scripture: Romans 11:33-36, Romans 12:1-8
For many Christians, the word worship is synonymous with the songs we sing in church services. This is often implied when those who lead music announce to the congregation, “Let’s stand and worship.” Singing praises to God is but one aspect of what the word means—it includes much more and is not limited to Sunday morning in a church building.

When the Samaritan woman spoke to Jesus about this, He told her a time would come when the place wouldn’t be important. In that day, worship would be done in spirit and in truth (John 4:20-24), as an integral part of everything in our daily life.

Let’s consider ways we worship God:
With our words (Rom. 11:33-36). Right after finishing a thorough explanation of doctrine to the church in Rome, Paul broke out in praise to the Lord. As our minds are filled with God’s truths, our worship will likewise overflow in prayer and songs of adoration, praise, and reverence.

With surrendered lives (Rom. 12:1-2). Instead of worshipping with animal sacrifices, we offer ourselves to the Lord through holy, obedient living. This is possible because God’s truth renews our mind, thereby transforming our life.

With service to others (Rom. 12:3-8). Everything we do can be an act of worship when it is done as unto the Lord. By His grace, He has even given us spiritual gifts that enable us to serve one another.

Think about your choices, actions, and words throughout the day—both to God and to others. How can they be transformed into worship?

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from InTouch Ministries.

Standing in the Gap

Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.  So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. Then the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, it sustained Him – Isaiah 59:14-16.

God is not pleased at injustice nor when truth and righteousness do not prevail.  Then He sees those who turn from evil becoming a prey, He is not happy.

I remember a young man who an had lived a particularly sordid life.  He heard the gospel and had an amazing conversion experience.  Within a month or so of accepting Christ, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

What happened?  He departed from evil and became a prey!  God was not responsible for his situation, nor was He pleased.

Why did it happen?  At least part of the answer is found in verse 16.  There was no man serving as an intercessor.  No one was keeping a hedge of protection around that young man through prayer.

Before and after people turn from evil we need to intercede to God on their behalf.
I challenge you today to be one of those who stands in the gap and makes up the hedge for new babes in Christ.  May God find pleasure in you and me as we take our position as intercessors.

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from Crosswalk mail.