Have you ever had to speak into a difficult situation? This could be very challenging.
When there is a problem, and you know God is leading you to speak into the situation, don’t be afraid to address it. In Scripture, we see several successful examples of the proper way to accomplish this.
Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, was not afraid to talk to Moses about the need for better organization. We learn in Exodus 18 that Moses respected Jethro, and so when Jethro pointed out a better way to govern the Israelites, Moses was ready to listen.
The prophets of the Old Testament were often instructed to point out the sins of God’s people. These representatives of God provide many examples of initiating difficult dialogue.
We learn in Acts 18:24-28 that God prompted Aquila and Pricilla to approach Apollos, a successful preacher. They recognized some areas in which he needed more training; some areas where his theology was lacking. It may have been difficult for them to approach Apollos and offer to tutor him, suggesting that he still had much to learn. But they obeyed the leading of the Lord and approached Apollos. Apollos was a wise follower of Christ and accepted the wisdom and guidance of this couple. His ministry and message became even more powerful as a result.
The apostle Paul, in the New Testament, carefully addresses the sin and error in the church at Corinth. The John Maxwell Leadership Bible described Paul’s method of managing difficult dialogue as using “The Velvet Covered Brick.”
It is pointed out that Paul dearly loved the people of the church at Corinth. He had founded the church and was invested in their lives. (Acts 18: 1-17) But there was sin in the church that needed to be addressed and Paul could not ignore it.
“It was as if Paul were hitting the Corinthian church on the head with a velvet-covered brick— the brick being his condemnation of their sin, the velvet being his love for those whom God had set apart for good works.
It isn’t always easy to speak correction to those we know are clearly in the wrong. But the Lord uses strong leaders to correct His people, courageous leaders who can speak the truth in love. May each of us whom God has called be that kind of leader.”
The next time you need to speak to someone about a problem, remember these examples that teach us how to approach the situation. Don’t run away, but picture yourself using a velvet-covered brick to lovingly, but firmly deliver your message.
 Maxwell Leadership Bible, page 1390. Thomas Nelson 2002
Summer is an important time for rest and relaxation, a time to be refreshed and recharged. It is also a wonderful time to focus on some spiritual disciplines that tend to be pushed aside during our regular schedules. These practices are able to give us the spiritual renewal we need to face the hectic fall schedules and responsibilities. There are many activities that are considered spiritual disciplines. Prayer, fasting, meditating on God and His Word, worship, and concentrated Bible study are some that come to mind. Three of these are on my heart today; extended times of prayer, biblical fasting, and in-depth Bible study.
Extended Time of Prayer
A good friend of mine has a ministry in our area to encourage and bless women. Once a month she opens her home for five women to come for a Personal Prayer Retreat. She offers a time and place that allows women to set aside the cares and demands of the world, and focus completely on God’s Word and what He is saying to them. It’s a time to bring life’s problems and cares to the feet of Jesus. The better part of one day is made available to be still and hear God’s voice. Ellen always begins the day by sharing what God has been teaching her. It never ceases to amaze me how her words are always so relevant to me. She often addresses an area of my life that I had not even been focusing on.
Although it helps to go away from your own home environment, away from the temptations of responsibilities and distractions, with great effort and discipline, you can have a Personal Prayer Retreat right in your own space. If you are not accustomed to long sessions of prayer, add several minutes to your normal prayer time. Do that again several days in a row. Begin your prayer time by reading from God’s word, and then move to your prayer list. After several days you will notice that time is going very quickly. A search on the internet may give you ideas for your personal prayer time. However, be careful not to allow this time to become rigid. Allow God to guide your thoughts according to His agenda for you.
Fasting added to the discipline of prayer is powerful. But it is one of the hardest disciplines for me to implement. When I put it into practice God speaks to me very specifically, and more powerfully than at any other time. If I am earnestly seeking Him, and listening, He reveals areas that I need to confess, and areas where He wants to help me to be more like Him. As I write this blog, I realize that it has been too long since I have put this discipline into practice. I found the following website which I am going to use to determine just how I will begin my fast. I know that the link speaks of “women”; however, as I read the article I see that it is not for women only, it will be helpful to men as well. http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/women/the-different-types-of-fasts-11626299.html
In-depth Bible Study
Psalm 119 describes numerous benefits to the study of God’s Word as it becomes ingrained deep within our mind, soul and spirit. Some benefits are promises that have conditions to be met before the promises can be fulfilled:
I am sure you would be able to add to both of these lists, and perhaps you can think of even more benefits of in-depth Bible study.
What portion of scripture should you delve deeply into? I suggest that you go to a passage of scripture that resonates with you. Read it over many times over several days. Stay with that passage and let the Lord really work it through into your life. Be sure to journal what God is saying to you over those days.
In these last days of summer, consider carving out some extended periods of time for a Personal Spiritual Retreat. Is there a special need in your life that you should be Fasting about? Determine to spend extra time in Bible Study. See how God prepares your heart and renews your mind, body, and spirit for the days ahead.
I would love to hear how God renews your soul. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In Canada, summertime brings us opportunities for a variety of activities unavailable during the other seasons of the year. Popular ones are frequent quick trips to close by cottages or campsites. These times allow families to reconnect, spouses to deepen their relationships, and friends to relax and have fun. We all need time away. Our Lord modeled this. He slipped away for quiet time, away from the throngs and responsibilities to rest and pray.
Several years ago Weyburn and I found ourselves between churches. When summer came that year we found that we did not have any church responsibilities for the first time in our marriage. We had no church duties that required us to be at service every week. We could plan our summer without considering when we needed to be at our church attending to our obligations. We had never felt the freedom to do that before. It was a gift from God to us that summer. We needed the break and a time to heal. However, it was a pattern that was easily repeated the next few years, and unchecked, it started a habit that was hard to break.
We had to step back and realize that if everyone spent most of their time away from their home church during the summer, our church family would suffer. We have since adjusted our schedule to reflect the love and thankfulness we say we have for the Lord and for the church family He has provided for us.
We have always made sure that our tithes and offerings were given to our home church even if we were not able to be in service, but we are now intentional about the days we allow ourselves to be away, and the days we will be in our home church. Our regular attendance is for our benefit, but we trust it also serves as an encouragement to our church family. We hope that our presence helps them to know that we love them, and want to contribute to a healthy church community.
We pray that we are the example spoken of in Colossians 3:16
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Recently my dear friend, Carrie, and her family lost their dog unexpectedly. Through Facebook I saw the happiness when Elmer joined their family a few short years ago. Carrie would share pictures of Elmer taking part in family fun, and show us Elmer in his daily life. When I see pictures of Carrie and Elmer together, there is joy on her face seen through the light in her eyes. I enjoyed seeing Elmer with his family and especially with Carrie.
As Carrie shared her heart’s hurt the other morning, my heart hurt for her also. My friend was unhappy and my reaction that morning was just as scripture teaches in Galatians 6:2:
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
In context, this particular verse directs us to share the burden when a friend is living in sin. But there are numerous scriptures that teach us to love as Christ loved. Another verse tells us that a “friend loves at all times,” not just when we agree with them. The other morning I actually had tears in my eyes, and my heart was heavy for Carrie. Now, that may sound normal to you, but my family and close friends will understand.
I am not a pet person. Yes, we allowed our children to have a pet on occasion, but I soon tired of cleaning up after five children and a pet. They never lasted long in our home…the pet that is. Losing a pet never bothered me. Would you believe it, every one of our children now has at least one pet in their home!
However, Sunday morning, when Carrie was sharing her heart, God opened up my heart to her. I can still feel her sadness, and I pray for her and her family at this time of loss. Do I understand their connection to “a dog”? No. But that does not mean I am not capable of having compassion for them in their time of grief.
As I think about others who come into my life I know that many do not share the same beliefs, convictions and points of view that I have. However, I am to love them unconditionally. I don’t need to agree with them on everything, but I do need to love and care for them. It should not matter who they are, where they live, where they were born, the color of their skin, or what they believe. I am to love them and treat them with kindness.
The following verse has become very important to me over the past year. I have written it out here as I have prayed it for our pastors and many missionary friends over the last many months. (The words in italics are those I have adapted for my prayer)
Lord, help them to "devote themselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And I pray ... that God may open a door for their message, so that they may proclaim the mystery of Christ, ... I Pray that they may proclaim it clearly, as they should. May they Be wise in the way they act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let their conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that they may know how to answer everyone. Col 4:2-6
That’s a tall order! So in review, here is how I am to show compassion and love even to those I don’t agree with:
My compassion for pet owners and pets grew very unexpectedly this week. It is God’s intent that my compassion is to grow even more for others, no matter who they are.
How will they be drawn to the love of Christ if I am not an example of His undeserved, unconditional and unfailing love?
Please go to the following broadcast from Focus on the Family to read a powerful testimony of compassion by Linda Seiler. I listened to this broadcast after I wrote the above article.
Debi Snider... more
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