Winning an Offended Brother

A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a castle. – Proverbs 18:19

When this verse refers to a “strong city,” it means a fortified or a guarded city.  You cannot just waltz up to the gate of a fortified city and say “give up.”  It takes strategic planning to take such a city.  You have to think things through and have a plan.
It also means there is going to be strenuous effort involved.  And, more than likely, you will be in a vulnerable position.  In fact, you don’t take a strong city without taking risks, without becoming vulnerable.
The same things come into play when a brother is offended.  It takes thoughtful planning, it takes effort, and sometimes you have to become vulnerable when you do not want to be.
Perhaps you are struggling with a damaged relationship today, and you haven’t pursued healing this relationship because you don’t know how to do it.  It always starts with prayer.  You talk to God about them and about yourself, and then you need to go and talk to them.
When you do, I want you to listen carefully, it should not be with a view to prove that you are right.  Being right is not the goal.  Peace is.  Most of the time it is more important to be kind than it is to be right.
If you try to work something out, but only with the intention of having them understand your point of view so that you can prove you are right, you may win the argument, but you will never make peace.
So when you are endeavoring to win an offended brother, listen carefully to them, and endeavor to understand where they are coming from.  Seek to hear and not just be heard.  Though it may be difficult, you can win peace and see a broken relationship restored.

STAY BLESSED
Source: Culled from Answers for Each Day.

Role Model

By the grace of God I am what I am.’ – 1 Corinthians 15:10 NIV
Role models can shape you and make you, or, if they don’t really know what they’re doing, break you. That’s why they’re pretty important to get right. If you devote your life to being like somebody else – and especially if they’re the wrong type of person – you risk becoming something God doesn’t want you to be. Always remember, your ‘heroes’ wrestle with blind spots and character flaws too. Paul said, ‘I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God’ (v. 9 NIV). The same thing with Peter; when Cornelius sent for him, we’re told that as he ‘entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, ‘I am only a man myself”’ (Acts 10:25-26 NIV).
Say a friend starts a business and makes money, but when you quit your job and follow in his footsteps you go broke. Or say a co-worker wears something that looks great on her, but on you the same outfit looks like a sack tied in the middle. The danger in hero worship comes from bailing on your individuality and missing the path God has mapped out for you personally. Some of the lessons God teaches us may be similar. But another person’s gifts, purpose, journey, and time-frame will be different from yours. God is ‘jealous’ about you (see Deuteronomy 4:24).
He wants to protect you from anything that would snipe your uniqueness, or threaten your relationship with Him. If you want to be on safe ground, make Jesus your first-and-last role model.

What Now?
Ask God: ‘Am I surrounding myself with people who’ll lead me into my destiny? Should any of them change?’

STAY BLESSED
Source: Culled from United Christian Broadcasters.

How to Develop a Heart for God

Scripture: Psalm 119:9-16
What is your response when you read that David was a man after God’s own heart? (See 1 Samuel 13:14.) Many of us look up to him as a spiritual giant and think to ourselves, I could never be like that.

But the Lord hasn’t reserved this title for just one man. He wants all of us to seek Him as David did. One of our problems is the tendency to focus on just part of his story. We tend to forget that the scriptural account gives a record of David’s lifetime. He had to begin pursuing the Lord the same way we do—one step at a time.

A hunger for the heavenly Father doesn’t ordinarily appear all of a sudden, fully matured, in one’s heart. Most of the time, it’s something that must be cultivated, and the best place to begin is the Bible. That’s where we listen to the Lord as He speaks to us in His Word.

Another essential element is prayer. As you read His words, start talking to Him. If it all seems dry and meaningless, ask Him to work in your life to make Scripture come alive. He loves to answer prayer in accordance with His will.

The next step is meditation. Don’t “put in your time” so you can say you’ve read your Bible. Slow down and deliberately think about what you’ve read, asking, What am I discovering about God?

The last step is to commit. A hunger for God may not develop right away, but remember, you’re working for a changed heart that will last a lifetime, not a fleeting emotional experience. Continue to fill up with the fuel that brings transformation—the Word, prayer, and meditation.

STAY BLESSED
Source: Culled from In Touch Ministries.

4 Secrets to Answered Prayer

“Then [Nehemiah] said, ‘O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer! . . . I confess that we have sinned against you . . . . Please remember what you told your servant Moses: “If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.” . . . Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me’” – Nehemiah 1:5-6, 8-9, 11 NLT.
Here are four secrets to answered prayer from the life of Nehemiah:
1. Base your request on God’s character. Pray like you know God will answer you: “I’m expecting you to answer this prayer because of who you are. You are a faithful God. You are a great God. You are a loving God. You are a wonderful God. You can handle this problem, God!”

2. Confess the sins you’re aware of. After Nehemiah based his prayer on who God is, he confessed his sins. He said, “We have sinned.” It wasn’t Nehemiah’s fault that Israel went into captivity. He wasn’t even born when it happened, and he was most likely born in captivity. Yet he included himself in the national sins. He said, “I’ve been a part of the problem.”

3. Claim the promises of God. Nehemiah prayed to the Lord, saying, “I want you to remember what you told your servant Moses.” Can you imagine telling God to “remember”? Nehemiah reminded God of a promise made to the nation of Israel. In effect, he prayed, “God, you warned through Moses that if we were unfaithful, we would lose the land of Israel. But you also promised that if we would repent, you’d give it back to us.”

Does God have to be reminded? No. Does he forget what he’s promised? No. Then why do we do this? Because it helps us remember what God has promised.

4. Be specific in what you ask for. If you want specific answers to prayer, then make specific requests. If your prayers consist of general requests, how will you know if they’re answered?

Nehemiah was not hesitant to pray for success. He was very bold in his praying. Have you ever prayed, “Lord, make me successful?” If you haven’t, why? What is the alternative? A failure?

Is it okay to ask God to make you successful? It all depends on your definition of success! I believe a good definition of success is “fulfilling God’s purpose for my life in faith, love, and the power of the Holy Spirit and expecting the results from God.” That is a worthy life objective that you should be able to pray for with confidence.

Consider this: If you can’t ask God to make you a success at what you’re doing, you should be doing something else. God doesn’t want you to waste your life.

STAY BLESSED
Source: Culled from Daily Hope with Rick Warren.

An Expert Searcher

“For thus saith the LORD God; Behold, I, even I, will both search My sheep, and seek them out” – Ezekiel 34:11.
This He does at the first when His elect are like wandering sheep that know not the Shepherd or the fold. How wonderfully doth the LORD find out His chosen! Jesus is great as a seeking Shepherd as well as a saving Shepherd. Though many of those His Father gave Him have gone as near to hell-gate as they well can, yet the LORD by searching and seeking discovers them and draws nigh to them in grace. He has sought out us: let us have good hope for those who are laid upon our hearts in prayer, for He will find them out also.

The LORD repeats this process when any of His flock stray from the pastures of truth and holiness. They may fall into gross error, sad sin, and grievous hardness; but yet the LORD, who has become a surety for them to His Father, will not suffer one of them to go so far as to perish. He will by providence and grace pursue them into foreign lands, into abodes of poverty, into dens of obscurity, into depths of despair; He will not lose one of all that the Father has given Him. It is a point of honor with Jesus to seek and to save all the flock, without a single exception. What a promise to plead, if at this hour I am compelled to cry, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep!”

STAY BLESSED
Source: Culled from Crosswalk Daily Inspirations.

Harming Yourself

“Why are you doing great harm to yourselves, so as to cut off from you man and woman, child and infant, from among Judah, leaving yourselves without remnant?” – Jeremiah 44:7 NASB

What is the purpose of God’s commands? Why does He tell us what is “right” and “wrong”? From a self-centered point of view, it can seem that He is “against” us and just wants to tell us what to do.
Driven by a desire for independence, many refuse to obey, reserving the right to determine theirown way. This spirit, first championed by Satan himself, fosters the assumption that we should be able to do whatever we want, regardless of what God or the Bible might say.
Many felt this way in Jeremiah’s time, feeling that they knew what was best, choosing to ignore or just disobey God’s words. But He knew that their understanding was limited. That their logic was flawed. That there was much that they either didn’t know or had forgotten. That they were being guided by imperfect human beings with imperfect understanding and limited abilities.
In fact, their decisions were resulting in the opposite of their goals. They were “doing great harm to yourselves.” God was not against them but for them. His laws were for their good. And obeying Him was the best way to experience happiness and fulfillment, and achieve success.
These same principles are true today. Many encourage us to question God’s Word and develop our own reasons for our beliefs and actions. Even some Believers have this attitude.
All the while, God watches. He knows what is best for us. He has given us His Word that we might succeed and experience fulfillment and happiness. That we might have wisdom to make the right choices, and receive His blessings.
Renew your commitment to seek God for the wisdom you need. Study His Word. Obey it, and do so joyfully. Don’t resist Him, but serve Him. Don’t trust yourself or the thoughts of others. But trust Him.

STAY BLESSED

Handling Difficult Circumstances

Scripture: 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).

STAY BLESSED

All Glory to God

‘For you have been given…the privilege of suffering for him.’  – Philippians 1:29 NLT
How do you live for God’s glory when you’re in severe pain? Think of Gethsemane, the garden where Jesus Himself wrestled with the will of God, saying ‘Take this cup from me’ (Mark 14:36NIV). He was talking about the cup of God’s anger. Jesus knew He’d have to drink it to the dregs. But before He did, He asked His Father if He could take it away, if there was any other way to accomplish God’s plan. Then He ended with total surrender: ‘Not My will, but Yours, be done’ (Luke 22:42 NKJV). Our prayers tend to focus on external circumstances – what’s around us that’s bothering us – more than internal attitudes – who we’re becoming through the situation. We’d rather have God change our circumstances than change us. It’s a lot easier that way. But we miss the point altogether. It’s the worst of circumstances that often brings out the best in us. And if it’s the bad things that bring out the good things, then maybe those bad things are good things when you look back on them. It’s only when you’ve been tested that you have a story to share with others. Yes, you can be saved without suffering, but you can’t mature, or serve well, without it. That doesn’t mean you seek it out, but it does mean you see it for what it is – an opportunity to glorify God. Paul, who suffered a lot, writes, ‘For you have been given…the privilege of suffering for him.’ Where did Paul find that kind of strength? ‘I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us’ (Romans 8:18 NKJV). There’s loads of glory coming our way. But first, we need to do the work God’s given us, even in painful moments.

What Now?

Ask yourself, ‘What is pain producing in my life?’ Despair and sadness, as if God didn’t exist beyond the pain? Or hope that God is alive and well, can deliver you, and has something for you to learn in the pain?STAY BLESSED

He Remembers No More

“For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more”   – Jeremiah 31:34.
When we know the LORD, we receive the forgiveness of sins. We know Him as the God of grace, passing by our transgressions. What a joyful discovery is this!

But how divinely is this promise worded: the LORD promises no more to remember our sins! Can God forget? He says He will, and He means what He says. He will regard us as though we had never sinned. The great atonement so effectually removed all sin that it is to the mind of God no more in existence. The believer is now in Christ Jesus, as accepted as Adam in his innocence; yea, more so, for he wears a divine righteousness, and that of Adam was but human.

The great LORD will not remember our sins so as to punish them, or so as to love us one atom the less because of them. As a debt when paid ceases to be a debt, even so doth the LORD make a complete obliteration of the iniquity of His people.

When we are mourning over our transgressions and shortcomings, and this is our duty as long as we live, let us at the same time rejoice that they will never be mentioned against us. This makes us hate sin. God’s free pardon makes us anxious never again to grieve Him by disobedience.

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from Crosswalk Daily Inspirations.

Seasoned with Salt: Speak Gracefully

Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person. — Colossians 4:6 HCSB

Seasoning is vital to any dish you make. Steak, pasta, or seafood all need the appropriate mix of spices to wow a person’s palate. One thing that can cause any dish to be a disappointment is for it to not have enough salt. Watch any cooking show and you’ll see that cooks salt everything from pasta water to ground beef to salads. Salt makes rice pop and adds an extra dose of pizzazz to spaghetti sauce. It’s an appropriate addition to almost any dish and can be found on practically every table in every restaurant. You just can’t go wrong with a dash of salt.

In the book of Colossians, Paul taught the Christ-followers to season their conversations with salt. First, he told them to make the best use of their time. In other words, share the gospel at every opportunity. Paul then went on to tell them to always be gracious in their conversations.

Grace in a conversation is like salt in a dish; you can’t go wrong.

Have you ever eaten a particular dish at someone’s home and been surprised that you liked it? Maybe Brussels sprouts have always triggered your gag reflex. Then Nana serves them one day for Sunday brunch, so you try them to be polite and discover that they’re quite tasty! It’s because they are seasoned in a way that makes them more palatable.

Our conversations with others should be the same way. We don’t always know people’s experiences. They may have had an encounter where the gospel was presented in an aggressive or harsh way or may have a past that causes them to be hesitant to listen. Our conversations should always be well seasoned, and a dash of grace is always appropriate.

Lord, remind me to always season my speech with grace. Teach me to speak the truth, but to speak it in love. May every word that comes out of my mouth point others to You.

Your Turn
Think back to a time when you tried a bite of food that you didn’t expect to like. Now think back to a conversation with someone which had previously been a painful or upsetting one… but this time it wasn’t. You felt heard, loved, understood, given space, respected. That’s truth with grace. Who needs to hear grace (with truth) from you today? Who needs you to be salt? Come share with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from Devotions from the Kitchen Table