Sunday, July 7, 2019

Defusing the Bomb





When was the last time you got into a heated argument? This morning, this week, this month? Whenever it was, somewhere along the line someone got angry and said something unkind.  Whether it was you or the other person who lashed out, it escalated the disagreement to another level.  In the end, did that bring you and the other person closer together or push you farther apart (we all know the answer to that question)?  Our verse today offers a godly alternative that yields a much better outcome.

Proverbs 15:1 – A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger

Things to think about:
·      So when was the last time you got into a heated argument?
o   Were you more the instigator or the recipient?
·      Our natural inclination is to hit back, hit harder, and fight to win. Some of the reasons for this are:
o   In the moment it feels “good”
o   It might seem “fair” or “right”
o   We’re emotional beings by nature so our emotions can rule us
o   Our egos need protection so as not to look or feel weak
·      The Bible is full of counterculture advice when it comes to conflict:
o   Turn the other cheek
o   Love your enemy
o   If your enemy is thirsty, give him a drink of water
o   A gentle answer
·      Have you tried God’s way by remaining calm and being gentle when the other party is getting worked up?
o   If so, how did it turn out?
·      Are you currently in a disagreement or conflict with someone?
o   How can providing a gentle answer yield a better result in this situation?
o   What would a “gentle answer” look like in this situation?
o   How might that gentle answer be like a cup of water to them?
·      Why is God’s way impossible without His help?
o   Jesus says in John 15:3 -“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
o   Let’s ask God for the help we need to live the life He has called us to. 
§  And let’s do it BEFORE the next conflict arises so that He is leading us not our emotions




Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day





As I write this it is Memorial Day, a day to remember and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.  Let’s look at a few passages of Scripture that give us God’s perspective on valuing other so highly that saving one’s own life is secondary.

John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down his life for his friends.

Things to think about:
·      On Memorial Day we take time to recall their selflessness, service, and sacrifice
o   Putting others before ourselves
o   Taking action
o   Stopping at nothing to fulfill one’s calling
o   Why do we find these qualities so admirable?
·      Is there someone in your family or close circle who didn’t come home from military service?
o   If so, is there a tradition or something you do to honor his/her memory?
·      The Bible tells us of several souls who gave their lives for their faith
o   Stephen, James the brother of John, John the Baptist, and of course, Jesus
o   I’m not sure about James but the record is clear with the other three that they gave their lives willingly, knowing full well what was going to happen
o   Tradition holds that all of the apostles except for John died a martyr’s death
·      In John 15:13, Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down his life for his friends.”
o   Jesus calls us His friends here!
·      1 John 3:16 – This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
o   The very definition of love from the Word of God is laying down one’s life for the good of others.
§  That is such an amazing truth that it is beyond my comprehension.
o   God doesn’t ask us to do anything He hasn’t already done for us to the highest degree.
§  How does Jesus’ model motivate you?
o   In our modern world, how might laying down your life take shape?
·      Mark 10:45 – “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.”
o   Jesus was very intentional about His life’s purpose
o   If you could make one change that allowed you to serve others more fully, what might that look like?




Down but not Out






Are you going through a particularly tough time right now?  Do you feel like God is far away and not seeing what’s happening in your life?  Maybe then you can relate to how the psalmist is feeling in Psalm 42.  He brings a raw emotional honesty to God that should encourage us to not be afraid to go to God with our hurts. There’s no hint of macho pride or denial.  And yet we will see that he looks beyond his present condition to find comfort and hope.

Psalm 42:5
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
For I will yet praise Him,
My Savior and my God.

Things to think about:
·      The psalmist alternates between looking at his circumstances and looking to God
·      Present, Past, Future
·      Present
o   The psalmist is hurting and he’s honest with God about how he’s really feeling right now
§  Verses 5, 6, 11 – my soul is downcast
§  Why have you forgotten me?
§  All you waves and breakers have swept over me
§  My tears have been my food day and night
o   Are you in a place now where you can empathize with the psalmist’s feelings?
§  If not now, can you recall a previous time?
o   Have you or someone close to you been through depression?
§  It’s important to get those feelings out and dealt with!
§  God is big enough to shoulder our disappointments and even our blame
·      Past
o   Verse 4 – these things I remember as I pour out my soul, how I used to go out to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng
o   The psalmist finds solace in looking back to happier times
o   What event or period of time is anchored in your memory as a memorial to God’s goodness and faithfulness?
·      Future
o   Verses 5, 11 – For I will yet praise Him
o   Above all, we have a faith rooted in HOPE.  Whatever is going on today isn’t the end of the story.
§  A dead man on a cross isn’t the end of the story, neither is His tomb with a boulder placed in front of it
o   Hebrews 10:23 – Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for He who promised is faithful.
o   How does being able to look to a bright future help you work through the dark times?
o   How can we encourage others who are struggling right now?