Thursday, October 29, 2009

Restoring Broken Relationships - God's Way

Most of us have experienced the agonizing hurt of a broken relationship. It is devastating to have a once intimate relationship severed by offense, misunderstanding, pride, bitterness or unforgiveness. In our nation over half of all marriages end in divorce. Many famlies are divided by what has been termed "irreconcilable" differences. It is easy to "ignore"seemingly small offences allowing them to become the seeds of bitterness in our hearts which lead to eventual relational separation.

How should we as Christians deal with this problem in our lives? To answer this question we must look to scripture to see how God has dealt with this exact problem in our relationship with him and how he instructs us to walk in continual peace and harmony with Him as well as with those who have offended us.

All relational problems can be healed and the relationship restored if both parties are willing to humble themselves, admit their fault and are willing to submit themselves to God and ask Him for the grace and strenght they need to change.

With people this can be difficult because even if you are willing, you may find the other person does not care enough or is unwilling for one reason or another to put forth the effort.

With God however, this is never the case. Although we were the ones who were guilty of wrong, He loved us enough to send his own Son to shed His blood as a sacrifice for our sin. God has done his part. It is finished. He is always willing and waiting for man to do his part in restoring the relationship that was lost in the Garden of Eden. So what is our part?

For our part we must first "believe". This is an act of faith, not of works so that we are not able to boast that we have done something to earn God's gift of salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 says "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast". This belief and realization of who God is and what He has done, leads to a humble confession and repentance (or turning from) our sin and a turning to the love, forgiveness and restoration that God offers to all people. 1 Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance". This relationship is maintained through a life of humility, confession and repentance whenever we realize we have offended God through our sin.

I recently had someone who had deeply offended me (and whom I had certainly offended as well) say "lets just pretend none of this ever happened and start afresh". While in some ways this sounded appealing, I knew that simply "sweeping offense under the rug" is not God's way of restoration. It is reminiscent of cutting off a weed at the surface and leaving the root. It may look good for awhile but unless the root is removed, you will only create a more serious problem in the future. My response to this person was that we needed to pursue reconciliation God's way. As both of us are willing to humbly confess, repent and forgive the "root will be removed" and the relationship will be "born again" and will grow and become strong as it is nurtured by mutual love, respect and trust.

It is always right to humble ourselves, confess our sins and ask forgiveness whether or not the other party reciprocates . We have done our part to obey the admonition which says "if it be possible, as much as lies within you live at peace with all men" (Romans 12:18). We can walk with a clear concience before men and God when we have done this, even though full and complete restoration has not occured.

As we take Communion in celebration of our restored relationship with God and with others through the body and blood of Christ, we can do so with a clear conscience before God and man if we have followed the pattern of relational restoration outlined in scripture. There is no greater joy! There is no greater peace!

May God's grace be with you as you follow HIS pattern in your relationships. Jeff

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Where Does Your Hope Lie?

In the deepest, darkest, most troubling hour of our need we can know that there is hope and there are solid answers to our questions. We need not despair because there is a refreshing coming if we look to God.

Hope is the confidence in a future event; the highest degree of well founded expectation of good. ( Webster's 1828)

As we look to our future, it involves thoughts that are either negative or positive. If we consider the faithfulness of God and His word, we know that we have hope to believe for Him to work circumstances for our good.

Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that who are the called according to his purpose.

Very recently I experienced yet another difficult circumstance in my life. As the situation unfolded and intensified, I found myself in a place where I was very unsure of myself and what my life was about. I was most assuredly floundering. So many things didn't make sense and I wondered what God was doing and what the truth was in my situation.

Have you ever experienced a time in your life when you know where the answers are but you are just not sure how long it's going to take to get to them or how long you will be able to endure the pain?

I believe that each and every one of us has been in this position at least once. God understands when we are there and He tells us to focus on Him and the truth of His word because that is where our hope is.

His word tells us that we cannot put our trust in man and be spared disappointment and sometimes even serious consequences or worse.

Hebrews 13:8 tells us that He is the same yesterday, today and forever and His word tells us in Hebrews 13 :5. that He will NEVER leave you or forsake you.

It took me a month of renewing my mind in the truth of His word and trusting Him to bring wisdom and clarity before I was able to begin to rest in His care once again.

He did this for me and He will do it for you as well as you seek Him and ask Him. God is no respecter of persons.

God Bless You,


Monday, September 28, 2009

Passing the baton

In a relay race there is a critical point where the baton is passed from one runner to the next as the race progresses. If the baton is dropped there is no way to recover it and still win the race. The second runner must "get up to speed" so the baton can be passed without losing time. Multi-generational faithfulness operates on much the same principal. In order to pass the baton of faithfulness to the next generation we must insure that they "get up to speed" One way this is accomplished is through family discipleship. In order to prepare his disciples to carry on after he would no longer physically be with them, Jesus did not send them off to be educated in the philosophies of the day but rather they spent all their time with him, watching, learning, and building intimate relationship with him. Through this "discipleship" they were learning first hand how to become "fishers of men". It must be noted even this excellent training was, by itself, inadequate, for without the infilling of the Holy Spirit they would be operating in their own limited strength and wisdom. In Luke 24:29, the disciples were told by Jesus to "tarry in Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high" Our primary job as parents then, becomes first to develop and maintain an intimate personal relationship with Jesus Christ being continually filled with power from on high by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only then can we instill in our children through our own intimate relationship with them, this same passion to live out God's truths in their personal lives. While we must realize that ultimately our children must develop an intimate personal relationship of their own with Jesus Christ and that this is a work of the Holy Spirit and the mercy and grace of God in their lives, we are not relieved of the responsibility to "bring them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord". Some specifics as to how this may be accomplished will be addressed in future posts. For now let us take seriously the task of "passing the baton" successfully to our children. Through obiedience to God's word and by his grace, strength and wisdom in operation through us, we can see our children, grandchildren, and generations to come living lives of fruitfulness, faithfulness and fidelity to the truths of God's word. Don't drop the baton!- Jeff

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. Deut. 6:6-9

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1