Sunday, December 9, 2018

Misunderstandings


 


So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. (James 3:5-6)

The tongue sets on fire the entire course of life. Wow. Making ourselves understood whether it be through speaking in person, over the phone, texting, messaging, face time, or letters is always an opportunity for misunderstanding. Our ability to speak clearly and to understand each other is affected by our backgrounds, our moods, and the situation or the subject. 

When we are stressed or tired, we may speak with a tone that sounds judgmental, when we are trying our best to be encouraging. Some words that we use as a joke can trigger bad memories in others and cause anger where only laughter was intended. We may be misunderstood so often that we never want to express an opinion again but hiding in our rooms is not an option.

When no one understands our innocent intent, kindness, or jokes time and again, our self-esteem can be affected. We may stop trying to contribute to any conversation for fear of offending someone and questioning our worth to the kingdom can follow.

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; (Philippians 4:5)

We do not try to be unclear or unreasonable when speaking or listening. The intent of our conversations is to share information, encouragement, impart knowledge, or make requests, but not to be knowingly unreasonable. We may even pride ourselves in our reasonableness when speaking and feel that we are great listeners too, which makes being misunderstood even more frustrating. 

Our tone of voice can affect communication as well, especially over the phone as we are unable to see a person’s facial expressions. Voices have a variety of sounds that can be recognized on the phone and are affected by how we are holding our faces. We know when someone is smiling, but not smiling doesn’t mean they are unhappy or that their statements are serious in intent. Some people just don’t smile while on the phone but are perfectly happy. If we are unsure of a speaker’s intent, we should try to clarify. If we are the speaker, we should be careful of our tone. 

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

Combating misunderstandings is war against evil. Whatever side of the conversation we are on, it will always be a battle of our minds and our hearts, our pasts and our moods, and our daily lives and struggles. We must fight to stop the powers of darkness from using this to cause division among believers. Even worse is when the devil causes unbelievers to misunderstand the good news when it is presented. 

 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

How can we avoid being misunderstood? How can we control our tongues and stop them from starting a huge fire and changing the course of life? Our tongues are attached to our minds and hearts. We must think before we speak and speak from our hearts. Speaking only out of love, keeping our tone kind and speaking softly with a smile if appropriate, will show our desire to truly understand one another. 

Some have commented on this subject that they only speak one way, take it or leave it, but God wants us to grow in Him and in our ability to show His grace to others. We may have to work on changing our communication style depending on each situation and it is not an easy task. Being a talented communicator is a gift many of us don’t have but should asked for from the Holy Spirit. 

As the hearer, striving to understand what another is saying and giving them the benefit of the doubt when we are uncertain of their intent, is just as difficult. They don’t want to be misunderstood either. This is another task we must undertake, to listen more slowly, without jumping to conclusions. Control not only the tongue but also the ear, the brain and the heart
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 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)

Prayer: Father, we have all been misunderstood and we have all misunderstood other people. We ask you to forgive us and help us to understand what others are saying and why they are speaking as they are. Help us to speak more clearly, in kindness and love, making ourselves understood. Don’t let our frustration at being misunderstood stop us from speaking truth with love about You.  Holy Spirit give us the gift of communication. Amen


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Tempted to Worry




 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:25-26)

Overall, everyone in this world, even Christians spend approximately five years of a 64-year lifespan worrying. (Celeb News / 24 August 2015, 6:00pm) It is understandable that non-Christians would worry since they don’t believe in a loving Father. But we should be different, and we should show that difference to the world. This is so much easier to talk about than to do. 

There are more than 300 verses in the bible telling us not to worry, be anxious, or fear, and yet we continue to spend hours each day concerned over things we cannot change. We worry about big things and we worry about things that mean nothing. Worry does not add one minute to our lives and it changes nothing. Worry does not solve any problems. It does not encourage or bring glory to God. Worry is worthless. 

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? (Matthew 6:27)

God’s word clearly instructs us NOT to worry and to have faith that He will manage our situations. When we are overcome with an uncontrollable urge to do those things that are not what God wants, that is temptation. God does not want us to worry or He would not have put so much about it in His word. 

We don’t usually think of worry as a temptation but clearly, when things are not going as we would like them to, try as we might to not worry, we are often tempted beyond control to take our minds off of God’s care and worry, stress, and fret.

If, then, we are tempted to worry, who is it that tempts us? The one who tempts us to do wrong is always Satan. The prince of darkness is the one who wants to harm our relationship with God, who wants to steal our joy, who causes us to worry, and then accuses us of a lack of faith so that we feel even worse in the end.

And give no opportunity to the devil. (Ephesians 4:27)

The devil will take every opportunity we give him to make us miserable. He will try to turn us from God but if that is not possible and we stand firm, he will try to divert our focus away from God to be anxious about our problems. He uses every trick even making us think that worrying is not a temptation.

Viewing worry as a temptation and not as a human weakness give us more insight and strength to fight and not feel guilty for our lack of faith. We must remember that faith is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and that faith is something that must be asked for. We can ask for more faith from the Holy Spirit while we resist the devil’s temptation to worry about those things of which we have no control.

So that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. (2 Corinthians 2:11)

It is commonplace for us to worry, some more than others. To stop such an ingrained emotion may seem impossible but with God all things are possible. Our minds betray us, so we must start relying on our hearts instead. 

Christ did not worry about paying taxes, about how to speak in public or about how to feed the crowds.  These are the same things we worry about today, but He knew that His Father would take care of His needs. We should not be giving up five years of our lives in worry when we too know that our Father will take care of us. Prayer is the only way to fight this temptation. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)

Prayer: Our Father who art in Heaven, help us fight this sneaky temptation that takes our minds off You. It seems natural to worry, but we want our faith to be strengthened by Your Holy Spirit so that we can overcome constant anxiety. We know that it serves no purpose in this life or in Your Kingdom. Free us from worry so that we can give You all our concerns and trust that You will meet our needs. Show us how to give up the burden of trying to solve all the problems that face us each day and guide us to be still and know that You are God. Amen


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Living a Grateful Life







For “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ (Acts 17:28)

Living a life of gratitude to the Lord is not easy. True thankfulness and gratitude are lost in our busy lives. Sometimes it seems that non-Christian younger generations don’t consider gratitude a worthwhile or necessary emotion at all. Good things are deserved and therefore gratitude is unnecessary. 

Worldly gratitude seems to be a passing emotion that pops up quickly when something good happens and disappears just as quickly. We are taught at a young age to say thank you. When someone opens a door for us, we say thank you. When we are given a gift, we say thank you. Saying thank you to the one in whom we live and move and have our being should not be as shallow.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Living a grateful life is easy when things are going well. When our jobs are going smoothly, the family is all getting along, we have enough money to pay bills and take a vacation, we are the most verbally thankful Christians around. 

In negative situations, though, when we lose our job or worse, when money is tight and family fighting rules the day, where is our thanks then?  Being asked to be grateful on those days seems ridiculous. No one would be grateful when terrible things are happening. But this is what God desires and deserves from us. 

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)

When we have peace from Christ in our hearts, it is because we have faith that He is working in our situation. With faith and peace, we can be grateful in all situations, but only the Holy Spirit can give us this fruit when we ask for it. When life is hard, we must ask for more faith and peace so that we can be truly thankful for our circumstance no matter what it is. 

We have so much to be grateful for. We have been redeemed. We have been made new and we will spend eternity with our Father who is in heaven. We are free from sin and death. Yes, life here is difficult and sometimes unbearable. We will cry and moan in pain and we will be afraid, but we can live a truly grateful life in Christ, knowing that nothing here can steal our salvation and that God will meet our needs. 

So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)

It may seem impossible to be grateful in all circumstances, but with God all things are possible. With God, we can do all things. Gratitude in the Christian should be as regular as breathing. 

God is working in our lives all the time. We are exactly where He wants us. We are learning exactly what we need to learn. We are perfectly in His time and in His hands. 

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. (Psalm 28:7)

Let us not be fickle with gratitude to the Lord. Either we believe that He is good all the time or we don’t. If we believe that God is good and that He is working all things for the good of those who love Him, then we must express our gratitude even when we may not feel it. 

Seek more of the Holy Spirit. Set your eyes and hearts on things that truly matter. We have been given everything that is important in the universe. Live a grateful life. Let us show God and the world just how grateful we are for His great love.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 107:1)

Prayer: Thank you oh God for what is going on in our lives today. Thank you for our pasts and our futures. Thank you for the worst thing that every happened and for the best. We love you and we praise you. Give us your grace to have more faith and peace in our hearts so that gratitude will fill us no matter what is happening. We want to be grateful. We want to praise you more. Holy Spirit fill us with gratitude for all things. Amen


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Misunderstandings

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