Tag Archive | peace

Forgiveness Is Hard – 4 Ways To Keep From Even Getting There

Feet in Sand

As I move along, slowly, in my quest to walk where God wants me to be and learn what God wants me to know, He has revisited with me the weighty matter of loving and forgiving others, and its imperativeness for experiencing the full power of His Spirit, and His blessings in my life, the full expression of His gifts 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, and the simple truth that if I claim to love God, I will love and forgive others.  1 John 4:20 

But, let’s face it, once I start harboring bitterness, anger, resentment, or even common annoyance against someone it is difficult to uproot.  It’s hard to even want to uproot it.  I am very comfortable in my annoyance with some people – and isn’t it funny how resentment begets resentment, or anger begets anger?  Because when I’m allowing annoyance with someone to fester, I just look for more reasons to be annoyed with them!  Happily tending my little garden of petty, ugly wrongs.  Blah!  So not a 1 Corinithians 13 attitude.

So instead of the yucky, painful, dirty work of pulling up all those thick-rooted weeds of annoyance, there are a few things that I do to keep from letting them grow in the first place.

1.  AGREE QUICKLY – PURSUE PEACE.

As much as you can, live in peace with all men.  Romans 12:18

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone . . . Hebrews 12:14

Agree with your adversary quickly . . . Matthew 5:25 

I love how the different aspects of God and His Spirit all fit together.  And here love, and forgiveness merge seamlessly with His teachings on peace.  When I am tempted to argue, or be un-righteously opinionated, or to have the last word, I remind myself that I am to seek peace first and foremost – not to be right.  Merely checking myself and reprioritizing my goals in a conversation avoid so many hurtful words.

2.  SPEAK YOUR MIND (when appropriate).

. . . be ready always to give an answer to every man who asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you . . .  1 Peter 3:15

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom.  Colossians 3:16

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God. 2 Corinthians 10:5

This may seem contrary to #1, but this is where some Godly discretion comes in.  It is not good either to say all that’s on my mind, or never to say anything.

Sometimes, when lead by the Holy Spirit, I must speak my mind – or rather God’s mind, and be a witness for His truths (in gentleness and meekness – 1 Peter 3:16).  When I fail to do this, it often leads me to bitterness and resentment as I re-live in my mind all the things I could have/should have said, and those things become warped in my mind into the things I wish I had said.

When I speak my mind in a God-fearing attitude, and then move on, I feel that – no matter how the other person responds, or what hurtful things they may say – I have done my part, and can leave it where it lies.  No bitterness, no resentment, no residual anger.  I have done what God asked me to do, and He will take care of the rest.  Several times a day a pray this verse – “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD,” my strength and my salvation.  Psalm 19:14

3.  DONT LET THE SUN GO DOWN.

Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.  Ephesians 4:26

Pretty simple, huh?  I know that, no matter what, by the end of the day – even if a hurtful topic will have to be readdressed at a later date, even if I know the offender will re-offend, no.matter.what . . . by the end of the day, I must turn it over to God and let Him be God.  I have until I lay my head on my pillow (at least that’s my cut own personal cut-off) to get all the getting-over-it done with.  NOT easy.  But it is a lot easier than giving the devil the foothold and trying to yank up that ugly un-forgiveness later.  I have seen how toxic not letting go of the “little things” can make life.  And I am here to say that, for me, it is not worth it to sit in my comfortable chair of self-righteousness, surrounded by my cushions of undeserved wrongs.

4.  RE-FOCUS.

But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing  2 Thessalonians 3:13

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think . . .  Romans 12:3

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

Whenever I feel the roots of resentment, un-forgiveness, or even a critical spirit creep in I re-focus on three things: (1)  I am not busy enough doing what God needs me to be doing if I have time for this nonsense. (2) I am very, very, very, very far from perfect, and if I’m gonna think about somebody’s mistakes, maybe it should be my own before pride maketh me a’fall.  And (3) Jesus DIED for me while I was still a sinner, when I didn’t even know that I needed His help.  So maybe I should cut other people just a little bit of slack too.  Maybe I should take all this free time I have to be hating on people, and think about THAT for a second.

I find that the more I walk in love and try to head off these hurts, and wrongs, and grievances in the first place, the less I have to forgive (or maybe I should say – the easier it is to forgive them before they fester), and the more I keep myself in God’s peace.

Lord, Help my Unbelief! – What Happens to Our Prayers When We Doubt?

doubt-300x276A father came to Jesus with his son, desperate.  His son had long been tormented by a demon.  And he had watched in agony for years as his son suffered.  He probably often felt like there was nothing that could be done to help his child.  But in Jesus, this father saw a glimmer of hope.  He wanted to believe that Jesus could heal his son.  And, in faith, he approached him and asked him, “Master . . . if you can, have mercy on us, and help us.”  Mark 9: 17-22  To which Jesus responded, “‘If I can?’  All things are possible to him who believes.”  And then – something remarkable.  The child’s father, in tears, cried to Jesus, “Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief.”

How many times I have prayed that same prayer.  I know that I know that Jesus can do all things.  But when I ask Him to do something for me, in my worldly eyes the problem seems so big; I seem so deep in it.  And, although I know that He can fix it – take it away in an instant – turn it into good for His glory – I waiver, and doubt, and think, “But will He do that for me?”  And then when I consider my own doubt, it makes me doubt all the more that it will be done for me – after all, I’m not supposed to doubt.

Jesus promises that all things are possible to those who believe.  Matthew 17:20  The importance of not doubting in prayer is stressed to us.  James 1:6  So what happens to our prayers when fear and doubt creep in?  Do they become of no effect?  I believe no – when we hold to Jesus’ perfect faith.

I believe that prayer is an expression of faith.  Coming to God and presenting your problem, asking for help, is an action.  It shows that somewhere inside – even if you doubt – you know that it is worth appealing to the Lord.  The father of the tormented son obviously doubted – asking Jesus to help if He could.  But he didn’t let that wavering stop him from stepping forward and begging Jesus to help him.  He wanted to believe.

That is exactly how I feel.  I know I am supposed to approach the throne boldly and confidently, without doubt.  And many times I can – but what do I do when the doubt is there?  Jesus knows we are not perfect, even our faith.  And thank God, nothing depends on our perfection – not even the answers to our prayers.  If it did, nothing would get answered.  It all depends on Jesus.

I believe that Jesus’ response was not an admonition for us to not doubt in our prayers, although that is something to strive for, but it was a reference to Himself.  “‘If I can?’  All things are possible to him [Jesus] who believes.”  Jesus believed, without doubt, that He could heal this child.  And He did just that – despite, or I believe because of, the father’s confessed unbelief.  Jesus’ faith is perfect and unwaivering at all times. In fact, He is called the “author and perfecter of our faith.”  Hebrews 12:2  His perfect faith can stand in the gap of our unbelief, if we will let Him do so.

We know that we can accomplish nothing through our own effort and striving.  John 15:5  Yet many times, when it comes to believing, we take the burden on ourselves to be perfect.  We feel that the miracle we are looking for rests on our own ability to never doubt.  Nothing rests on our own ability, everything rests on Jesus.

Jesus never doubts that He can do what He has promised you He will do.  And when that fear and doubt creep in, we have to hold to His perfect faith.  It will “perfect” our imperfect faith.  I believe that the father’s cry for Jesus to help his unbelief was the key to Jesus healing his son.  The father knew and acknowledged that he waivered.  He asked the only One with perfect faith to help him – not only with his son, but with his unbelief.

The next time Satan tries to steal your hope that your prayer will be heard because doubt has crept in – remember that it is not because of you that your prayers are heard, it is because of Jesus.  Cling to His perfect faith, and let it fill the gap of your unbelief.

Photo credit here.

A Brand New Day!

Horses

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” 

That is one of my favorite quotes from literature.  I loved Anne of Green Gables as a young girl, and sometimes I still re-read it because of the wonderful peaceful feeling it brings.  Here is a girl, who despite her own flaws and many obstacles, set out anew with fresh hope and perseverance.  She followed her dreams.  She didn’t listen to the naysayers.  She determined her own future.  And through many dark moments, she knew that each new day was an opportunity to shake off everything that came before and start over.

For many, myself included, that is what a new year brings.  A time to do things differently, shake off the old, put on the new.  I have a few “New Year’s Resolutions” myself this time.

But a year is a long time to wait for a fresh start.  And I sincerely doubt that I’m gonna make it very far through the year without deviating from my well-laid plans somehow.  So I like to give myself a fresh start every day.

Don’t wait for January 1st to change your life.  Whenever I think of this quote from Anne I think of the Bible verse that I feel pairs perfectly with it: “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  Lamentations 3:22-23

Let your heart be renewed each morning, and know that when the sun comes up nothing that happened before matters now – no failures, disappointments, doubts, challenges, fears, missed opportunities . . . Today is where we live, and God makes each one new for us.

For God’s sake . . . Hold Your Peace!!

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Recently, I heard the phrase, “Hold your peace.”  But for some reason, it meant something entirely differently to me than the usual meaning.  The standard definition is, “to keep silent, or not say anything about something.”  But to me, it instantly brought to mind God’s admonition to seek His Peace.

Isn’t that what we’re all trying to do, after all?  HOLD onto our peace?  God very much wants us to be in Peace in whatever we do.  2 Thessalonians 3:16  He is Peace.  Isaiah 9:6  And if you search all the verses the speak about God’s gift of Peace for us, and all the ones that reference how we are not to fear (basically, the opposite of peace) it is clear how important this is.

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace . . .”  1 Corinthians 14:33  So when we experience confusion, fear, stress . . . anything that is not peaceful, we can know that it is not from God, and that we do not have to honor that in our lives. 

I have struggled lately with feeling like doing the right thing is hard, like trying to figure out His will for me was difficult, and my path was fraught with struggle.  Now these feelings have to do with many things, such as truly accepting God’s grace.  But God’s answer to me has a very important message about peace.  Over and over in the past year God has spoken to me these words of Jesus: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30  And I asked why?  Why?  Why do you keep giving me these verses?  Why does it seem so hard and so heavy?  And yet I knew that despite all temporal appearances, God’s Words are the Truth.  And that Jesus’ way is easy, and light, and peaceful.  And the answer is that you have to hold your Peace.

“Seek peace and pursue it.”  Psalm 34:14  And as I began to do that more and more I really, really and truly, felt the truth of what God had been telling me. 

Don’t add commitments to your schedule that cause you stress and anxiety, or cause you to neglect things you know are more important.  This is a big one.  I have always loved the quote that goes something like – and I’m paraphrasing here – “You have all the time in a day to do everything that God wants you to do.”  Profound.  If God doesn’t want you to be all stressed, and crazy, and not getting enough sleep, and yelling at your kids to hurry up, then why would He have a to-do list for you that makes you that way?  So if you find those things creeping into your life . . . just follow Peace.  He has given you all the time you need for those things which are needful. 

Don’t – and now this one is just for you guys, ‘cuz I NEVER mess this one up (ah-hem) – create unnecessary conflict in your relationships by having to argue points that don’t need to be argued, or have the last word, or even a.l.w.a.y.s. have an opinion at all.  Follow Peace.  Now I’m not saying never put your two cents in, or stand up for yourself.  But if you practice this you will feel the difference between saying something to satisfy your flesh, and saying something because it’s honoring to God.  Regardless of whether or not what you say causes a conflict with another person, the former will bring strife, and grief, and guilt – the later will bring truth, and inner peace (if not greater peace to the relationship as well).

And don’t worry.  If you are holding onto your Peace – that’s your job.  Everything else is God’s job.  He is in control.  He will work everything out.  Romans 8:28 

Holding our peace does not always mean that our outside circumstances will be forever peaceful.  “I have learned the secret of being content (peaceful) in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:12-13  But our hearts and minds will be at peace.  “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:7  And I believe it will translate to greater peace in your circumstances as well.

So this Christmas, as we are called to ponder the things in life that are most important, and look toward the start of a brand new year, I wholeheartedly encourage you to Hold Your Peace.

Merry Christmas!