Sunday, September 30, 2012

What Do You Do When God Seems Silent (Part 3)

The Bible describes many men and women who have been used in mighty ways for the glory of God. What we often forget is that these men and women were just like us. They had their struggles just as we have ours. One of these men was the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 17-18). Wicked King Ahab and Jezebel, his queen, had led Israel away from the Lord and into the worship of Baal. God punished the nation by holding back the rain that they needed (see Deut. 28:12, 23). Elijah had been used of God to hold back rain from the people for over 3 years, because of their sins. We are told in 1 Kings 18:1 “After a long time, in the third year, the word of the LORD came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” 

According to Luke 4:25, this “After a long time” was actually 3 and a half years. The famine was 3 and a half years long. For 3 and a half years, the people apparently continued to sin, Elijah continued to hold on by faith, but God said nothing. During this time of God's silence, Elijah fervently prayed. He didn't get discourage, instead we see him set before us as an example of a righteous man whose prayers released power (James 5:17-18). Elijah was a man just like us (James 5:17). He was not perfect and we learn that latter he gets discouraged and runs away. But he was a righteous man, that was obedient to the Lord and trusted Him. He was willing to believe God, even during the time of God's apparent silence. He prayed believing and he was persistent in prayer.

Have you ever been there? Have you had been faithfully serving and then suddenly everything is quiet. Have you experience a time when there is a spiritual drought, a time when God seems silent, and you don't know what to do? What should we do during the times of silence, before the power of God come through for us?There are several things that we can do during that time when God seems silent. These things sum up what we have had in this three part series.

Don’t ignore the silence. God often sends those that he uses into a wilderness experience like Moses, or out in the quiet fields like David, or on the back side of the desert like Paul, before He chooses to use them publicly. During that time of silence stay very close to God and watch for His power to be displayed. Just because God is silent it doesn’t mean He is idle.

A 400 year gap between the ministry of Prophet Malachi and John the Baptist. God was quiet but preparing the world to receive His son (Gal.4:4). It is often said, “The darkest hour is just before the dawn.” When you’re at your lowest point, when all seems lost and all hope seems to be gone, have hope in God, because things can only get better from there on.

Confess known sin in your life. This wasn’t the problem of silence for Elijah, but the problem for the Israelites was that they were chasing after other gods and living lives in total disobedience to God. Sin may not be the reason you don’t sense closeness to God right now, but if you have known sin in your life it will affect your intimacy with God. The priests were mediators between God and Man. But when Eli’s sons sinned (1 Samuel 2:12-17, 22). their service for God was ended and God spoke very rarely to his people (1 Samuel 3:1).

Elijah didn’t sin, but the Israelites were living in sin. Sin hinders our intimacy with God. Holding back a secret sin always hindered our prayer life. Releasing them always brings peace of mind. Don’t find excuses to justify your sin. Confront your sin, confess and turn back to God.

Get back to the basic. Walk with the Lord daily in prayer and in His Word. Don't let the enemy side track you. Hearing God involves waiting in prayer and listening to His Word. When David was discouraged He encouraged himself in the Lord (1 Sam. 30:6). This is where we find strength to endure the silent times.

Make a decision to serve God, no manner what. You can’t serve God and the world. God hasn’t moved, but if you’ve shifted in your obedience, get back securely on the right side.

Trust completely on the Lord. Times of silence may be filled with fear, but these times will definitely require more faith. Times come in our spiritual life when our enthusiasm isn’t as real as when we began our walk with God. That’s not an indication to quit, it may be that God is using that time for something bigger than you could have imagined, but it will require a deeper level of trust. Stay away from words of unbelief like“God couldn’t, wouldn’t, doesn’t.”

Listen and Watch Closely. Some day God is going to speak and you don't want to miss what He will say! He may come to your personally, through His Word, circumstances or another person. You’ll need to be in a position to know that God is speaking. You never know how or who God will speak through! Be alert while your waiting. Don't try manipulate your circumstances, wait on the Lord, the outcome will be much better. God will break the silence some day and when He does, it will be worth the wait. clothe yourself in joy as you wait for God to bless you after the period of silence. 

Are you in one of those periods of silence today? How do you handle these periods of time? Remember that God hasn't abandoned you, He's still with you and He knows all about it.

What Do You Do When God Seems Silent (Part 2)

The Danger of Leaning on your Own Understanding
God had promise Abraham that he and Sarai would have a Son and that their descendants would be as numeral as the stars (Genesis 15:1-6). But in Genesis 16:1-2 we read that Sarai came up with her own plan to achieve God's will. She was not willing to wait on God during the time of silence. How often do our circumstances cause us to lean on our own understanding instead of trusting in the Lord with all our hearts (Proverbs 3:5-7) when He seems silent? How easy it is to take things into our own hands instead of acknowledging Him in ALL our ways, allowing Him to direct our paths! 

The real tragedy is not only their adultery, but also the act of independence, doubt and self will. Their sin started the longest war in history! This war between the Israelites of Isaac and Arabs of Ishmael is still going on today! The Holy Land is a hot spot because of this one bad decision of two people almost 4000 years ago! Their sin caused animosity between Sarai and Hagar and between Sarai and Abraham (Gen. 16:4-5). Think how much better it would have been had the waited on the Lord How peace the world would have been?

The Dangers of Leaving God Out
In Mark 4:35-41 we see the disciples in the boat with the Lord when a great storm arose. The waves beat into the boat and the wind blew them all over the place. We have all experience those kinds of storms in life. There seems like no hope, no light in the dark clouds, but notice one thing that stands out in this story, the Lord was in the boat with them! The disciple were so afraid that they even asked "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" If we're honest there have been time when we felt the say way! But we need to remember that during the darkest storm that Jesus is the LORD of the storm! Take our stand with Him not with our circumstances. He is able to calm the storm in your life this very moment, trust Him!

The Delight of Looking to Him 
In the Old Testament we read of a time in Elisha's life when he and a young servant were surrounded by enemy forces (2 Kings 6:8-17). The odds were totally against them! There circumstance were grim, with no real hope. But Elisha depended on the Lord, trusting fully on the One who was for Him! If God be for us who can be against us (Romans 8:32)! 

How true is the Hymn: 

"Oh what peace we often forfeit!
Oh what needless pain we bear! 
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!

May we learn to trust Him and wait on Him even when He seems silent!







What Do You Do When God Seems Silent (Part 1)

We have all experienced times in our lives when it seemed as if God is silent. Maybe we have prayed and prayed and there seems to be no answer, God seems far from helping? What do we do in times like this? I would like to look at several who had such experience to learn what God might be teaching us when He seems silent. 

First it is extremely important to remember that when God seems silent He is never idle and He is always faithful! There is a reason and a purpose behind the apparent silence.

I think of Mary and Martha when their brother Lazarus was very sick (John 11) They asked the Lord to come quickly. Instead He waited another two days, by the time He arrived Lazarus had died. Why did they have to go through that experience of grief? Why didn't He come sooner? 

The book of Exodus opens with the children of Israel in bondage for 450 years. They cried and prayed and pleaded with God for deliverance. Generations lived and died with no answer, it seemed as if God was silent. When God did answer them He provided a deliver that brought them out of Egypt. In Exodus 14 we find them out of Egypt but pursued by Pharaoh's army. Pharaoh chased them right up to the Red Sea. They had an enemy behind them and d an obstacle in front of them with no where to turn. What could they do? What should they do? The answer was given to Moses in Exodus 14:10-14 and could be very instructive for us when God seems silent in our lives. 

Stand Still 
Moses was told, "Do not be afraid." That is much easier said than done! When the enemy is pressing upon you or a insurmountable sea is in front of you. It's easier to go through things when you know why. But God doesn't always let you in on the why. But when there sees to be no way out, look up! Sometimes I have been in an airplane in the midst of a terrible storm. The pilot doesn't usually try to fly through the rough weather, he climbs to higher heights to fly above the storms!That is what we need to do, but the only way to do that is to be occupied with the One who is in control of the storm. When the circumstances are against you and are getting you down, look up! If we find yourself under the pressure of circumstances we will be defeated. If we try to plow through our circumstances we will soon be exhausted! True victory is found when we rely on the One who is over ALL circumstances! He is always with you in every circumstance. Moses instructions were simple, but not easy! They were not to fear and simply stand still. 

See the Salvation of the LORD 
The LORD had already delivered them out of Egypt. He made known His presence through the pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. He wasn't completely silent in their lives and He really isn't completely silent in ours. Satan wants to discourage us and feeds us with all sorts of lies during the times when God seems silent to us. The great liar that he is will tell us things like: "What makes you think that you can hear God?" "God isn't going to speak to you, you don't deserve it." "You don't really know God at all. "God really does care about you, He's given up on you. "God isn't real. You've just been making it up." These are just a few of Satan's lies but do we rely on our feelings or on the fact of God's promises? He has given us His Word. We need to remember what He has done in the past and stand still in the present. God promised that He would never leave you or forsake you. God is always with you. When God seems silent, let Him guide you even in the apparent silence. 

God's apparent silence is an invitation to take your eyes off the circumstance and to look to Jesus who is the author and finisher of your faith. 


Friday, September 28, 2012

Men Whom God Struck Dead

I would like to look at several events in the Bible that remind us of the authority of God in our Worship, our Walk and our Witness. In each of these cases we read of men whom God struck down because they did not submit to God's way of doing things. To us the judgments might seem a bit too severe for what might appear to be trivial or minor offenses. There have been many who did much worse and God did not strike them dead. Think of an Abraham who lied about Sara his wife and yet is called a friend of God. Think of Moses who murdered a man and later lost his temper and yet he is called a meek man. What about David who had committed adultery and tried to conceal it by deception and even murder, and yet he is called a man after God's own heart. I'm sure we can think of many more. But it is especially instructive that each instance that we are going to look at, it was at the beginning of a new era. In each illustration we'll see God had instituted something new and was warning the people of the seriousness of worshiping before Him, walking with Him, and witnessing for Him. Let's look at each case to see what He might be teaching us.

Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-2)
The LORD had just instituted the priesthood. The offerings are set before us in the early chapters of Leviticus. Then the high priest with the priestly garments of glory and beauty is brought in. His sons are seen appropriately dressed placed at the alter and ministering the holy things of God. At the end of chapter 9 we see Aaron offering the prescribed offerings to the Lord and fire coming out the Lord's presence consuming the burnt offering. It caused all the people to fall on their faces in awe of the presence of God in that place! But in the very next verses we learn that Nadab and Abihu did not take their role as priest very serious. Outwardly it might have looked like they did, but they did not obeyed God's word. What should have been beautiful day of worshiping Jehovah ended up with the funeral of two of Aaron's sons. 

Everything these two men did was wrong. To begin with they were the wrong people to be handling the incense and presenting it to the Lord. This should have been done by Aaron the High Priest according to Exodus 30:7-10. They also used the wrong instruments when they used their own censers, instead of the high priests, which had been sanctified by the anointing oil (Exodus 40:9). They also acted at the wrong time, for it was only on the Day of Atonement that the High Priest was permitted to take the incense into the holy of holies and even then he had to do it a certain way (Leviticus 16:1). They acted under the wrong authority independent of Moses or Aaron, nor did they seek the Word of God. They used the wrong fire, which Scripture calls "strange fire" or "unauthorized fire." The high priest was to take coals from the brazen alter (Lev. 16:12) for the fire. The also acted from the wrong motives, not seeking the glory of the Lord, they had lost sight of the holiness of God (Lev. 10:3). It seems they might have also done it all in the wrong energy for verse 9-10 seem to imply that they were under the influence of alcohol. This would remind us of Ephesians 5:18 were we are told not to be drunk with wine, but controlled by the Holy Spirit. He is the energy in which all worship should be offered.

All this emphasizes to us that God had a prescribed the way He was to be worshiped. They went independent of it and were disobedient to His Word. The Lord is looking for obedience from each of us as well. Paul said that true believers are to worship God in the Spirit, "We are the circumcision that worship God by the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh" (Phil. 3:3). There is no room in true worship for fleshly outside influences. We are to obediently follow His Word, being filled with the Spirit as He leads us in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs and in our prayers (Eph. 5:18-19, Jude 20). As priests before God (1 Peter 2:5, Heb. 13:15) it is not enough for us teach people the difference between the holy and unholy, we must practice it in our own lives. If our privates lives are not controlled by the Holy Spirit then our worship will not be lead by the Holy Spirit either. Everything begins in private and depends on obedience to His Word.

Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:3-8)
Here at the very beginning of David's reign we read of this interesting story. As we read this story there is something that is missing from the whole narrative. There is no record that David sought the Lord's mind in moving the ark. It seemed like a good idea and the right thing to do, but it is always best to inquire of the Lord before we make a move. 

In our verses we read that the ark started to slip and Uzzah reached out to steady it when the oxen stumbled and he was struck dead. At first glance this seems a bit harsh. He was no doubt trying to a good thing, but he went about it the wrong way. He wasn't struck down only because he touched the ark, but because he didn't follow God's prescribed method for transporting the ark. In Numbers 4:9-20 we learn that it was to be carried on the shoulders of the Levites who descended from Kohath . Uzzah sin was really three-fold:

First, he was not of the Priestly tribe, but of the tribe of Judah (Num. 1:51, 4:15). Secondly, they arranged for the ark to be transported in a way that was typical of the pagan Philistines and not according to the pattern which the Lord commanded Moses and is re-emphasized in 1 Chronicles. 15:15. Lastly, he touched the ark, disobeying God's specific command. He was struck down for his error. Some have translated the word "error" as "irreverence." He not only disregarded God's command for transporting the ark, but he had no regard for the consequences of disobedience. We must reverence God in our work and walk. Uzzah did not take the testimony of the Lord serious and was struck down because of it.

We must take our testimony for Christ serious today. Our work and our walk must be in a way that is keeping with His Holiness. He is looking for yielded vessels in the smallest job such as in Acts 6:3 where they serve tables or even caring the testimony of Christ to the mission field as in Acts 13:1-4. In both cases there was a sense of the Lord's presence and of the power of God at work. This should also be seen in our local testimonies as well, as it was in Ephesus (Acts 20:28). The Holy Spirit was evident in the local assembly, in the behind the scene service (Acts 6), and on the mission field as in Acts 13. 

We must follow God's prescribed way for our worship and our daily work. Our service must be done with the awareness of His holiness or we will be crying like those of old, "Ichabod" which means the "glory of the Lord has departed."

Annaias and Sapphira (Acts 4:36-5:1-5)
The story Annaias and Sapphira is to Acts what the story of Achan is to the book of Joshua. Both incidents interrupted the victorious progress of the people of God. Keep in mind that this story took place at the beginning of the church. Annaias name means "Jehovah is gracious" but he learned that God is also holy and you can not separate His holiness from His grace! Sapphira's name means beautiful, but what she goes along with here is ugly to God!

Annaias and Sapphira were apparently impressed with the generosity of Barnabas and others. Perhaps they desired the praise of men for similar acts of kindness. They pretended to have surrender every thing to God, but kept some back for themselves. Their sin was that they pretended to be something they were not. What they were was hypocrites. In their hypocrisy they lied to God and to the people of God. They pretended to be totally dedicated and totally surrendered to God. Peter called this lying to the Holy Spirit. God is looking for reality in our worship, in our walk and in our witness. How often do we do this? How often do we pretend that everything is alright spiritually and it is not. They allowed themselves to be a vessel for Satan's work instead of their lives being witness for Christ glory. 

In each of these thee cases, these people were what we would call "Believers." But God will not allow us to continue on this way. Often we have no power because we are under the hand of God in discipline (Hebrews 12:5-11). Sometime His discipline can be so severe that He may have to remove us from this scene because our witness is not bringing Him glory and damaging His testimony (1 Cor. 11:30).

In most cases the discipline is not that severe, but maybe we suffer the lack of spiritual vitality because we rely on own strength. Maybe spiritually there is little signs of life because we rely on our own understanding instead of acknowledging Him in all our ways; in our worship, in our walk and in our witness. May the Lord cause each of us to say, "Search me Oh GOD."




Thursday, September 27, 2012

How to Handle Conflict James 1:19-20"

Conflicts are a part of our life and try as we might we can not avoid them. Conflict can make situations in life very awkward. Many times conflicts spring up and catch us off guard and we end up saying or doing something that we regret later. The word conflict comes from the Latin word confIigere which means "to strike two things together," (example to strike flint and iron to get a fire). The Chinese word for conflict or crises is an amazing example: it consists of 2 symbols - one means danger and the other opportunity. In these two words we learn that in every conflict there are dangers and yet there are opportunities. The question is whether or not we're going to have conflicts, the real question is how do we deal with them when they come? Do we fall into danger or do we look at the as an opportunity to display God's grace and love? Half the battle is have a Biblical plan before they arrive in order not to react to the conflict but to respond in a Christ honor way. Let's look at some practical ways to handle conflicts in our relationships. 

James first reminds us that during conflict with of Christians it is good to remember that we are in the same family! He address them as "my beloved brethren." This reminds us of the time when there was conflict and strife between Abraham's servants and Lot's servants, Abraham's response was not to try to win the conflict but to resolve it! "Abraham said to Lot , Please let there be no strife between you and me....for we are brethren" (Genesis 13:8). Abraham humbled himself and allowed Lot to have the land of his choice and the Lord lifted up Abraham (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5-6). 

The next thing James touches on is that he instructs us to be "swift to hear." We must tune in! When we listen, we encourage the other person to talk. Listening also helps us to understand the other person. Sometimes we don't listen because we're on the defense and we are ready to defend ourselves. We assume we already know what they're going to say and we're thinking about what we're going to say next. But what James is telling us is that we should be quick to listen. How do you do that? How do we listen? I would suggests four things that have been very helpful to me. Listen with our eyes as well as with our ears. This is called listening with observation. We must also try to listen with concentration, focusing on what the person is saying. Then it helps to listen with consideration, thinking about the meaning behind the words without jumping to conclusions. Lastly it helps to listen with clarification, asking questions so that we understand correctly what is being said. 

The third thing that I see James telling us is that we must be "slow to speak" (James 1:19). We are told in Proverbs 10:19 that "In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise." Proverbs 17:27 says "He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of calm spirit." Then Proverbs 21:23 reminds us "whoever guards his mouth and tongue keep his soul from trouble." Solomon said "a fools voice is known by many words" (Eccl. 5:3). So much is given to us in Scripture about guarding our tongue and being slow to speak and in time of conflict there is no better time to practice this. We need to tune in and be swift to hear but we also need to tone down and be slow to speak. 

Lastly, James exhorts us to "be slow to wrath" (James 1:19). The Bible doesn't say we should never be angry. It tells us to "be angry and sin not, do not let the sun go down on your wrath" (Eph. 4:26). The Lord Jesus demonstrate what righteous anger looks like (Mark 3:5). Unrighteous anger gives place to the devil, it gives him a foot hold or a beach head to lunch his attacks from in our lives. We must challenge ourselves each time were angry, "am I angry for the right reason. The only right reason is sin, not at the sinner. There is never an excuse for uncontrolled anger. Solomon challenges us when he said, "Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rest in the bossom of fools" (Eccl. 7:9). He tells us in another place that "an angry man stirs up strife, and a furious man abounds in transgression" (Prov. 29:22).In Proverbs 16:32 he encourages us to remember, "He who is slow to anger is better than mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. 

So what we can learn from James in these two verse is that when conflict come we must tune in, by being quick to listen, tone down by being slow to speak, and lighten up by being slow to wrath. 

Every One Needs an Encourager in their Life

The word translated "encourage" is usually translated "comfort". It comes from the Greek word Parakletos, which means "one called alongside." "The Comforter" is one of the names of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16, 26, 15:26, 16:7). The Holy Spirit comes to our help and empower us. Our English word comfort comes from two Latin words that means "with strength." When you encourage other, you help put strength into their hearts so they won't quit or get discouraged. In fact the word "courage" comes from a word that means "heart," so encourage means "to put heart into someone." The word "discourage" means to take away heart and leave people with no courage at all.

God commands it. God did not design us to make it here on this earth alone. We were designed to have authentic, caring relationships. God also promises to comfort us when we’re facing difficult circumstances “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Cor. 1:4). "Therefore, encourage one another" (1 Thessalonians 5:13). "Encourage one another daily" (Hebrews 3:13).

Sin is deceitful. If left to ourselves, we will start going into denial and begin compromising what we believe. All of us need encouragement to guard against a growing complacency in our walks with God.

Spiritual growth requires it. In 1 Thessalonians 3:2 Paul tells the persecuted church in Thessalonica that he is sending them Timothy, who will strengthen and encourage them in their faith. In a similar way, we are instructed to help ignite the faith of others who are feeling discouraged. This means we’re to provoke each other to grow spiritually.

We lose perspective so easily. In 2 Corinthians 7:3-7 we read how even the Apostle Paul was faced with so much discouragement that he lost his perspective and was ready to quit his ministry. But God comforted him by restoring his spiritual perspective of the situation. As believers, we are also called to motivate others to righteousness and holy living, and to help restore their perspective by giving them God’s truth. Check out Romans 15:4 in this regard.

To sum it all up: everyday Christians like you and me are supposed to aid, help, support and intercede for one another by comforting those who are experiencing affliction. When we do, their faith grows stronger and they are motivated toward righteousness.

Are there people in your life who are discouraged and going through a difficult time? Let’s be the encouragers that God has called each of us to be, helping them to be successful and to finish this life well!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

“…say Amen.” (1 Cor. 14:16)

The following thoughts are from the William McDonald Daily Devotional:

Amen is an extremely useful word with which to express hearty approval of what is being said. Many congregations could afford to use it more often in their services. The word is found 68 times in the Bible. From 1 Corinthians 14:15, 16 it is clear that it was used in the meetings of the early church. So we can be assured that the use of the Amen is eminently scriptural. Not only so, it is imperative. The sublime nature of the truths we deal with require the intelligent expression of enthusiastic appreciation. It seems like ingratitude to hear such truths and never make a vocal response.

It is always an encouragement to the speaker when his audience says “Amen” at those places in his message where he has made an effective point. It tells him that the people are following him and that they share his spiritual and emotional exuberance.And it is good for the person who says the Amen. It keeps him involved as an attentive listener. It keeps him from becoming apathetic when he should be amazed. I would suggest that it is good for outsiders who may be present. They sense that the Christians are enthusiastic, that they enjoy their faith, that they believe what they believe. The use of the Amen expresses life and fervor. Its absence speaks of dullness and deadness.

Amen is one of three Bible words that are practically universal. In most languages these words are the same. So you can go almost anywhere and say, “Maranatha! Hallelujah! Amen!” and people will understand you as saying “The Lord is coming! Praise the Lord! So be it.”

Of course, the word “Amen” should be used discerningly. It would be inappropriate to use it to express enthusiasm over misfortune, tragedy or sorrow. It is a shame that some bodies of Christians have stopped using the Amen because it has been abused in meetings given over to extreme emotionalism. Like all good things, it can be used or overdone. But we should not be robbed of this scriptural practice just because some have used it undiscerningly. Amen?
William McDonald

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Resolving Conflict God's Way Work Sheet 2

The Slippery Slope of Conflict
Looking at the previous posts, let's look at the three different ways people respond to conflict:

Escape Responses
Read Genesis 16:1-6 and 1 Samuel 2:22-24, how did the people respond in each case?

Looking again at Genesis 16:6-8, what was Hagar's response to conflict?

What is the most drastic of all responses to conflict (1 Samuel 31:4, Matthew 27:1-10)?

Attack Responses
What type of response do we see in Acts 6:8-15?

Another type of attack response is found in 1 Corinthians 6:1-8, what is it?

What would the ultimate attack response be (Acts 7:54-58)? 

Conciliation Responses 
According to Colossians 1:19-20 what has Christ accomplish for us? 

Personal Peacemaking
Paul reminds us in Colossians 3:12-15 that Christ has enabled us to break the habit of escaping conflict or attacking others. What has He empowered us to become and what should we promote?

Overlook an Offense
What does Proverbs 19:11 challenge us to do?

Reconciliation
What is the instruction of Matthew 5:23-24, Ephesians 5:32?

Negotiation
According to Philippians 2:4 what is the key to reach a settlement that would satisfy everyone envolved?

Assisted Peacemaking
Mediation
What help can be given if someone is not willing to resolve the issue (Matthew 18:16)?

Arbitration
If you and someone else can not come to a voluntary agreement on a material issue, what can you do 
(1 Corinthians 6:4)?

Accountability
If a person who professes to be a Christian refuses to be reconciled and do what is right, what might happen according to Matthew 18:17?






Resolving Conflict God's Way-Work Sheet 1

What is a Peacemaker?
In your own words describe what you think a Peacemaker is?

What instruction do we get from verses like Romans 12:18, 14:19, Hebrews 12:14? 

Why do you think God is interested in us being at peace with one another? What did He do for us according to Romans 5:1 and Ephesians 2:14-18?

The Four G's of Peacemaking 
Looking back at your notes what are the "Four G's of peacemaking? Look up the verses for each one and write a short definition.

1. 1 Corinthians 10:31 

2. Matthew 7:5 

3. Galatians 6:1

4. Matthew 5:24 

God's Support System for Peacemaking
When we are unable to resolve a conflict on our, what has God provided for us to continue to seek a way to resolve the conflict? Write a brief description for the process found in each place:

1. Matthew 18:16-17 

2. Philippians 4:2-3

3. 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 





The Slippery Slope of Conflict (Part 3)

(The following is another excellent tool from Ken Sande's book the Peacker Maker which can be purchased at www.Peaemaker.net)


Conciliation Responses

The Gospel Is the Key to Peace. A true peacemaker is guided, motivated, and empowered by the gospel,the good news that God has forgiven all our sins and made peace with us through the death and resurrection of his Son (Col. 1:19-20). Through Christ he has also enabled us to break the habit of escaping from conflict or attacking others, and he has empowered us to become peacemakers who can promote genuine justice and reconciliation (Col. 3:12-14).

The six responses found on the top portion of the slippery slope are directed at finding a just and mutually agreeable solution to a conflict. These responses may be divided into two categories: personal peacemaking responses and assisted responses:

Personal peacemaking responses are carried out in private between the parties themselves. Although it is appropriate for one or both parties to seek advice on how to implement these responses, they should normally try to resolve their differences one-on-one before asking others to intervene in the dispute.

Overlook an offense—Many disputes are so insignificant that they should be resolved by quietly and deliberately overlooking an offense. "A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense" (Prov. 19:11). Overlooking an offense is a form of forgiveness, and involves a deliberate decision not to talk about it, dwell on it, or let it grow into pent-up bitterness or anger.

Reconciliation—If an offense is too serious to overlook or has damaged our relationship, we need to resolve personal or relational issues through confession, loving correction, and forgiveness. "[If] your brother has something against you ... go and be reconciled" (Matt. 5:23-24). "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently" (Gal. 6:1; see Matt. 18:15). "Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Col. 3:13).

Negotiation—Even if we successfully resolve relational issues, we may still need to work through material issues related to money, property, or other rights. This should be done through a cooperative bargaining process in which you and the other person seek to reach a settlement that satisfies the legitimate needs of each side. "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Phil.2:4).

If the parties cannot resolve a dispute through personal peacemaking, they should pursue one of the assisted responses. This will require that they seek help from other people in their church or community.

Mediation—If two people cannot reach an agreement in private, they should ask one or more objective outside people to meet with them to help them communicate more effectively and explore possible solutions. "If he will not listen [to you], take one or two others along" (Matt. 18:16). These mediators may ask questions and give advice, but they have no authority to force you to accept a particular solution.

Arbitration—When you and an opponent cannot come to a voluntary agreement on a material issue, you may appoint one or more arbitrators to listen to your arguments and render a binding decision to settle the issue. "If you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church" (1 Cor. 6:4).

Accountability—If a person who professes to be a Christian refuses to be reconciled and do what is right, Jesus commands his or her church leaders to formally intervene to hold him or her accountable to Scripture and to promote repentance, justice, and forgiveness: "If he refuses to listen [to others], tell it to the church" (Matt. 18:17).

As you can see, the escape responses only postpone a proper solution to a problem, and attack responses usually damage relationships and make conflicts worse. Therefore, you should generally try first to deal with conflict personally and privately by using one of the first three conciliation responses (overlooking, discussion, or negotiation). To learn how to carry out these steps in a Biblically faithful manner, see The Four G's.

If repeated efforts at personal peacemaking do not resolve a matter, then you may need to pursue one of the other conciliation responses (mediation, arbitration, or accountability), which will require the assistance of other people in your church or community.

The last three posts are from Ken Sande's book Peace Maker  and we encourage readers to get a copy of his book from the address below.

Copyright © 2007 by Peacemaker Ministries. All Rights Reserved.
PO Box 81130
Billings, MT 59108

www.Peacemaker.net
mail@Peacemaker.net

The Slippery Slope of Conflict (Part 2)

(The following is another excellent tool from Ken Sande's book the Peacker Maker which can be purchased at www.Peaemaker.net)


Attack Responses
The three responses found on the right side of the slippery slope are often used by people who are more
interested in winning a conflict than in preserving a relationship.

Assault—Some people try to overcome an opponent by using various forms of force or intimidation, such as verbal attacks (including gossip and slander), physical violence, or efforts to damage a person financially or professionally (see Acts 6:8-15). Such conduct usually escalates conflict.

Litigation—Although some conflicts may legitimately be taken before a civil judge (see Acts 24:1-26:32; Rom. 13:1-5), lawsuits usually damage relationships, diminish our Christian witness, and often fail to achieve complete justice. This is why Christians are commanded to make every effort to settle their differences within the church rather than the civil courts (see Matt. 5:25-26; 1 Cor. 6:1-8).

Murder—In extreme cases, people may be so desperate to win a dispute that they will try to kill those who oppose them (see Acts 7:54-58). While most people would not actually kill someone, we should never forget that we stand guilty of murder in God's eyes when we harbor anger or contempt in our hearts toward others (see 1 John 3:15; Matt. 5:21-22).



The Slippery Slope of Conflict (Part 1)

(The following is another excellent tool from Ken Sande's book the Peacker Maker which can be purchased at www.Peaemaker.net)

Staying on Top of Conflict 
Conflict can make life very awkward. It often catches us off guard and leads us to say and do things we later regret. When someone offends us, we often react without thinking. Soon it is as if we are sliding down a slippery slope and things are going from bad to worse. As the illustration shows, this slippery slope can drop off in two directions.


Escape Responses
The three responses found on the left side of the slippery slope are commonly used by people who are more interested in avoiding or getting away from a conflict than resolving it.

Denial—One way to escape from a conflict is to pretend that no problem exists. Another way is to refuse to
do what should be done to resolve a conflict properly. These responses bring only temporary relief and usually make matters worse (see 1 Sam. 2:22-25).

Flight—Another way to escape from a conflict is to run away. This may take the form of ending a friendship, quitting a job, filing for divorce, or leaving a church. Flight may be legitimate in extreme situations (see 1 Sam. 19:9-10), but in most cases it only postpones a proper solution to the problem (see Gen. 16:6 8).

Suicide—When people lose all hope of resolving a conflict, they may seek to escape the situation (or make a desperate cry for help) by attempting to take their own lives. Suicide is never a right way to deal with conflict (see Matt. 27:1-5).

Go and Be Reconciled

Here is another great question to ask when your having a conflict with someone: "How can I demonstrate forgiveness and encourage a reasonable solution to this conflict?" There are several things that we can remember and practice that will help in resolving conflict:

Announcing God’s Grace
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave 
you (Ephesians 4:32).

Separate the offering of personal forgiveness from proclaiming God’s forgiveness. Begin by announcing God’s grace as promised in the Bible. Use Scripture passages and insert the person’s name into the verse to personalize it.

Our source for the forgiveness that we offer others flows from the forgiveness we have received from God through Jesus Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:18-21).

Four Promises of Forgiveness
In response to God’s love for me and in reliance on his grace, I forgive you. With God’s help,
  • “I promise I will not dwell on this incident.”
  •  “I promise I will not bring this incident up and use it against you.”
  • “I promise I will not talk to others about this incident.”
  • “I promise I will not allow this incident to stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.”
When forgiving someone, tell them that the real source of their forgiveness is found is Jesus
Christ.

When you need to negotiate, PAUSE (Another helpful tool from the book Peacemaker by Ken Sande)
  • Prepare. (See Proverbs 14:8, 22.)
  • Affirm relationships. (See Ephesians 4:29.)
  • Understand interests. (See Philippians 2:3-4.)
  • Search for creative solutions. (See Proverbs 14:8.) 
  • Evaluate options objectively and reasonably. (See Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 12:15; Matthew 18:16.)

Gently Restore

Another question to ask ourselves in time of conflict, "How can I help others to understand how they have contributed to the conflict so that we can be restored to one another?" Here are some Biblical steps to take:

Go in Private
  • Step One: Forgive minor offenses (Overlook). A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense (Proverbs 19:11).
  • Step Two: Talk privately to reconcile personal offenses and resolve material issues (Reconciliation and Negotiation). If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over (Matthew 18:15).
Go with Others
  • Step Three: Take one or two others along (for Mediation or Arbitration). But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses (Matthew 18:16).
  • Step Four: Tell it to the church (Accountability). If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church (Matthew 18:17).
  • Step Five: Treat the other person as a non-believer (Accountability). And if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them (Matthew 18:17-20).
Throughout the Process: Forgive and restore the repentant.
Whenever someone is moved to repent, the sinner must be immediately comforted with the good news of God’s forgiveness. It can be as simple as reading one of the many Scriptures that proclaim God’s forgiveness. Personalize the passage by inserting his name in the verse, as shown below:

“[Name], Christ himself bore your sins in his body on the tree, so that you might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds, [name], you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

Get the Log Out of Your Eye

A question we should all ask in time of conflict is "How have I contributed to this conflict and what do I need to do to resolve it?"

The Following is taken from the Peacemaker which can be purchased at www.Peaemaker.net

The Seven A’s of Confession
The Seven A’s help us to express godly sorrow that “leads to salvation and leaves no regret” and
avoid words that communicate a worldly sorrow “that brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
  • Address everyone involved (Psalm 41:4; Luke 19:8).
  • Avoid if, but, and maybe (Psalm 51).
  • Admit specifically. 
    • Sinful attitudes (Matthew 15:19; James 4:1-3; 1 John 2:15-17).
    • Sinful words (Proverbs 11:13; 15:1; 26:20; James 5:9; Exodus 20:16; Ephesians 4:29).
    • Sinful actions (Mark 10:42-45; Romans 13:1-7; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Peter 2:18-25; Matthew 7:12).
  • Acknowledge the hurt (Luke 15:21).
  • Accept the consequences (Luke 15:19; Numbers 5:5-7; Luke 19:8).
  • Alter your behavior (Ephesians 4:22-32).
Note: Changing your behavior is not a pre-condition for receiving forgiveness, but it is the fruit of your repentance and faith. Making a commitment to changing future behavior is evidence of repentance.
  • Ask for forgiveness and allow time (Genesis 50:17; Psalm 51:1-2; 130:1-4)

The Three Opportunities in Conflict

Opportunity #1: Glorify God.
(John 14:1, 15-31; Philippians 2:5):
  • Trust God, rather than trust our practiced, sinful ways of responding to conflict
  • Keep God’s commands, rather than obey our sinful desires to serve ourselves first.
  • Imitate Christ, rather than imitate others who may sin against us.
Two questions to ask:
  • How can I glorify God through my response to this conflict?
  • How can I give a positive witness to what Christ has done for me in this situation?
Opportunity #2:  Serve others.
  • Help to carry their burdens (Galatians 6:2, 10).
  • Help them to change through constructive confrontation (Galatians 6:1).
  • Teach and encourage others by example (1 Timothy 4:12).
Opportunity #3:  Grow to be like Christ.
(See Romans 8:28-29. Also note 2 Corinthians 3:18; James 1:3-4; Hebrews 12:7-13).
  • The frustration of a conflict can help us to remember our need for God (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
  • Conflict helps us to remember who we are – baptized children of God (Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-29).
  • Conflict helps us to uncover sinful attitudes and habits that we might otherwise keep hidden,even from ourselves (Psalm 119:67, 71).
  • Conflict provides opportunities for us to put off our “old self,” through repentance and faith,and to put on the “new self,” created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).
  • Conflict provides opportunities to practice godly habits (1 Timothy 4:7-8; Hebrews 5:14).

Our Responses to Conflict

The Slippery Slope (This is taken from Ken Sande's book the Peacemaker and can be found at www.Peacemakers.net It is an excellent book which I highly recommend).

Conflict can make life very awkward. It often catches us off guard and leads us to say or do things we later regret. When someone offends us, we can react without thinking. Soon it’s as if we’re sliding down a slippery slope, with things going from bad to worse. As the illustration below shows, this slippery slope can drop off in two directions.




Personal Peacemaking


Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9).

The Four G’s: A God-centered summary for guiding our responses to conflict

Glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
  • How can I glorify God and give witness to what Christ has done for me in this situation?

Get the log out of your eye (Matthew 7:5).
  • How have I contributed to this conflict and what do I need to do to resolve it?
Gently restore (Galatians 6:1).
  • How can I help others to understand how they have contributed to the conflict so that we
can be restored to one another?

Go and be reconciled (Matthew 5:21).
  • How can I demonstrate forgiveness and encourage a reasonable solution to this conflict?
The Four G’s help us to remember what scripture teaches about personal peacemaking, but these
principals all flow from the One G: The Gospel. We respond to the peace that God won for us
through his Son Jesus Christ. We are called to be peacemakers because Jesus is our Peacemaker.