This weekend I had the
opportunity to go to Dallas to serve with a ministry called Metro Relief. It is
a mobile outreach where they serve soup, hot chocolate, etc. to the homeless in
the area. Besides the obvious
nourishment, the food is a means of engagement to begin conversations to learn
how we can be of help. We had arrived
just a few minutes before when I saw a man who was walking away from our bus
with a cup of hot chocolate accidentally drop it on the sidewalk. I got a fresh cup to bring to him and was
walking his way when a lady stopped me and asked me if that was hot chocolate I
had in my hand and if she could have it.
Her name is Mary and she is about 60 years old with bright blue eyes and
a radiant smile. She had a very sweet spirit about her, was clearly a smart lady,
and yet was living in a shelter. We
spoke for about 45 minutes as I learned more about her story of daily survival,
illness, and faith. At the end of our
chat I prayed for her and she assured me that she would be praying for my wife
Bitsy too! I walked away from that
encounter amazed by this woman of hope and resilience. It also dawned on me
that I thought I was heading out to replace a dropped cup of hot chocolate but
instead God detoured me to making a new friend in Mary!
In his heart a man plans his course
but the Lord directs his steps
· When has God
redirected your steps to His divine appointment?
· Sometimes we
feel tremendous pressure to make the “right” decision on some issue
For example, Should I take this new job? Should I lend/give money
to this person? Should I confront a situation?
· Do you ever
suffer from Analysis Paralysis?
Are you a deliberator or a person of swift action?
Are there certain kinds of decisions that are harder for you to
make than others?
Isaiah 30:21 – Whether you turn to the left or to the right, your
ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”
§ Sometimes we
can agonize over making a perfect decision. While we should always seek God’s
guidance, sometimes it may not be clear which direction we should take. In
matters that aren’t illegal or immoral, it may be that you just need to
GO! God is able to move in your
circumstances, irrespective of the choice.
· In fact,
inaction may be the worst decision
· Proverbs 3:27
– Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it is in your power to
§ God is bigger
than any one decision we can make.
Numbers 11:23 “Is the Lord’s arm too short?”
· The apostle
Paul knew what it was like to move out in faith
Acts 20:22 – And now behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way
to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.”
Are there other biblical examples you can think of where people
stepped out in faith not knowing if they had made the right decision? (HINT:
There’s only about a thousand)
Are you facing a decision today where the outcome feels risky?
· James 1:5 –
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let Him ask of God who gives to all generously
and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
§ Be alert to
· John 10:27, “My sheep listen to my voice; I
know them, and they follow me.”
· Luke 11:28, “Blessed are those who hear the
word of the Lord and obey it.”
§ Trust His
goodness and wisdom
· Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all
your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all your
ways and He will make your paths straight.”
The problem with relationships
is that they involve flawed people. And if it’s a relationship you’re involved
in, that includes YOU J In fact, you may be in a
situation now where there is a distance between you and someone you care very
much about or who you used to be quite close to. The Bible says that it is incumbent upon us to
seek to be peacemakers. We will look at
three steps that will help provide the AHA! on how to bring about
reconciliation God’s way. The ACTION we take, the HUMILITY we embody, and the
ATTITUDE we adopt all work together in God’s system to bring about healing to
fractured friendships. To give credit where credit is due, I have adapted this
liberally from Day 20 in The Purpose
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you,
live at peace with everyone.
· If you have
been reading these notes for any length of time, you know that I’m a fan of the
quote, “Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to
Being right and being in relationship don’t always go
together. When the greater good is
perceived to be winning the argument, it is almost guaranteed we will lose the
Do you wrestle with this issue?
· Our verse
says that it is our responsibility to see to live at peace with everyone, at
least so far as it depends on us.
· This may seem
obvious but the first step in all matters is to bring it to God in prayer.
James 1:5 – If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God who
gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
are so tricky sometimes that without God’s wisdom we are almost assured of a
poor outcome left to our own devices.
Ephesians 4:25-27, “Therefore each of you must put
off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all
members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do
not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
It is uncomfortable and it takes energy to address a conflict.
Do you tend to procrastinate, “waiting for the right time” or are
you more of a take-charge kind of person?
Why is not letting something fester the best course of action?
Two ears, one mouth: use them in that
order! We are told in James 1:19 , “My dear
brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to
listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”
Listening is an act of humility. To seek to understand the other
person’s perspective may give you new information that you didn’t have
before. It may help provide empathy to
the other’s situation that helps you understand their motivations and feelings.
§ Have you ever
been in an argument where you or the other person is just repeating what has
already been said? When we don’t feel
like we are being heard, we just go on Repeat and dial up the volume!
§ What are
other benefits of listening first?
· Admit your
role in whatever the issue is that is causing division.
James 5:16, “Therefore confess your sins to one another…”
Rarely is a disagreement all one-sided. Admitting your part in it creates an
environment where the other person loses their defensiveness and feels it is OK
to admit their part in the conflict too.
Have you ever experienced this?
· Focus on the
problem, not the person
Personal attacks, anger, name calling, etc. only serve to drive
people apart. There may be some
immediate “feel good” of blowing off steam but the damage inflicted is never
Back to Ephesians 4:26, “In your anger do not sin…do not give the
Devil a stronghold”
§ So who is the
winner when we go off on someone?
· A spirit of
Back to our verse for this study, “If it is possible, as far as it
depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
We are not responsible for what everybody else does but we are
accountable for our actions. Our natural
wiring is to be selfish and to get what we want. The Christ-like attitude is to seek to be at
peace with everyone, so far as it depends
does not equal resolution
Some issues will not be resolved as we would wish. We live in a fallen world with fallen
people. However, that doesn’t mean that
we cannot be in relationship with people we don’t see eye-to-eye with.
within the body of believers, unity is paramount.
John 17:20-21, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their
message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me
and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that You
have sent Me”
Moreover, He says that an unbelieving world is watching how we
work things out within the Church and it is our primary evidence if this thing
called Christianity is real and worth believing in.
· What does AHA
look like from God’s perspective?
Philippians 2:5-8, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as
Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did
not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing by
taking the very nature of a servant, being
made in human likeness. And being found in appearance
as a man, he humbled himself by
be obedient to death even death on a cross!
§ Who is God
putting on your heart right now to reach out to and begin to repair and restore
a broken relationship?
§ Is whatever
might be holding you back worth the internal energy and turmoil that not
addressing it is causing?
§ Is there
anything that as far as it depends on you, you can do today to live at peace