Reconciliation - Hard to Do But Great Rewards -Part 3

Photo by Annie Spratt

Photo by Annie Spratt

Reconciliation has many facets. We’ve talked about the most important - being reconciled to God. And we’ve talked about our purpose as believers and followers of Jesus Christ - reconciling others to God. But what about the reconciliation that sometimes needs to happen in families? Specifically, the reconciliation between siblings.

Unless you’re an only child, you’ve probably experienced a situation where there was a need for reconciliation between siblings. Depending on the circumstances this can sometimes be harder for some than others. But forgiveness, which is the first step in reconciliation, is yours.

but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:15

God is the only being who can forgive and forget. We are not capable of forgetting, but forgiveness is a choice. Yes, it may take a lot of prayer and determination, but when forgiveness is complete, the record keeping of the other’s wrong is dropped.

Think about this…when you harbor unforgiveness toward someone what happens to you? You become bitter. Bitterness becomes mean. Mean spreads to everyone, not just the one to whom you are bitter towards. (Maybe not 100% of the time, but often.) Thus, your life becomes consumed by this unforgiveness.

When you truly want reconciliation you must first forgive - truly forgive - that person who has wronged you. Pray about it. Realize that Jesus died for them just as He died for you. Realize that Jesus loves them just as much as He does you. Realize that they are a sinner, even if a saint also, just as you are.

17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:17-19 ESV

You, alone, cannot make reconciliation happen. It takes both parties to reconcile. But you can do your part. You can forgive which removes your searing pain and takes away your bitterness, and you can love your sibling anyway which keeps them dear to you.

Unfortunately, even when both parties forgive and make amends, the relationship may never go back to the way it was before. God is the only one Who can truly wipe the slate clean. Perhaps, over time, the relationship will get close to the way it was, but that doesn’t always happen, even when both parties are followers of Christ.

One thing I do know is that life is short and it is a wonderful thing to know that you have no regrets with someone when they die.

So do the “as much as is possible that depends on you” and forgive and/or ask for forgiveness and then live peaceably.. This removes your bitterness and/or guilt, and it restores your relationship to Christ. The part of the reconciliation with the other party is then up to them.

Complete reconciliation is the goal. After all, Jesus is the Healer and when we let Him, He will completely HEAL our broken relationships.

The Battle of the Mind

Photo by chairulfajar

Photo by chairulfajar

I once heard a preacher teach on where the Christian life "battles" are fought - our minds. 

Let me assure you that external, physical "battles" do exist!  I am NOT talking about persecution for our faith.

What I am talking about is the ongoing "chatter" in our heads playing the same deceptions since the dawn of time.  I'm currently reading Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick who has reminded me of some of the devil's ploys.

In the garden, the serpent asked Eve, "Did God really say..."  Is that how he plants doubt today?  Scripture says "If you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that God has raised Him (Jesus) from the dead, you will be saved." Yet, we often are tempted to doubt that God really meant us individually.

We listen to the chatter of "Did God really me you?  After all, you've done..."

Pastor Furtick pointed out that the devil's objective is to mess with our heads until we forget who we are in Christ.  Think about when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days. The devil came at Him with "If you are the Son of God, prove it by..." I'm paraphrasing here.

Jesus never answered with (again, my paraphrase) "Well, listen here, I am the Son of God!" He answered "It is written..." each time.  He knew Who He is and would not debate that.

So when you are battling with "did God really mean that for me", remember who you are in Christ.  You are loved by God and if you've been born again, you are forgiven.  So when the chatter starts up in your mind, quieten it by "It is written..." and trust God that He meant what he said!

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,
— 1 Thessalonians 1:4

Growing in Grace

grace.francesco-mazzoli-360651-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Francesco Mazzoli

As believers, we are often asked to share our testimony.  And many times when we do that we think back to our conversion.  That is a very important place to start, but out testimony covers so much more than that, at least it should.

In thinking about sharing my testimony on the blog, I paused to think of the new things Christ is doing in my life.  I know you can probably recount several things that God is doing in my life such as:

  • preparing us to move to a new geographic location
  • writing a book (hopefully, with more to follow)
  • changing ministries from inside the church walls to outside

But one thing I may not have shared at this point is how Jesus is growing me in grace.  I am a Southern Baptist by denomination and there are many great things about our denomination like establishing the cooperative program and the International Mission Board and home missions and the list goes on.

Unfortunately, there is something that I have been guilty of as a believer most of my life.  (Maybe that stems from being a Southern Baptist or maybe it was just me and those close to me.) That something is being judgemental.  This has been one sin that I was guilty of for a long time and felt totally right in so doing.  Over the years, I've come to understand that I want God's GRACE and MERCY, but I wasn't good at extending it.

Talk about an eye-opening revelation!  God is LOVE and He proved it by sending Jesus to the cross to pay our debt when we didn't ask for it to be paid.  He stands at the ready to forgive us the very second we repent and receive Jesus as our Lord.  NO. QUESTIONS. ASKED.

Just BAM - Forgiveness - BAM - GRACE.  There is no way to describe the peace that follows.  You have to experience it for yourself.  Oh, I hope you do!

So God is changing me every day.  He is growing me in His grace.  Reminding me all the time that I didn't earn His grace and/or forgiveness; therefore, I must freely give His grace and/or my forgiveness to others. (I can't presume to offer His forgiveness. BUT He will!)

If you have ever, I mean ever, felt judged by me, please forgive me!  I totally want the love and grace of Jesus Christ to flow through me onto all those around me.  

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
— Ehesians 2:8

I am so thankful for the grace of God.  And I want you to know that same grace.  It is the most precious gift!

Blessing in Obedience

photo by Samuel Zeller

photo by Samuel Zeller

Haggai 2:18-19

18 Consider from this day onward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month. Since the day that the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid, consider: 19 Is the seed yet in the barn? Indeed, the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have yielded nothing. But from this day on I will bless you.”

 

In Haggai, God rebuked His people who had been released from captivity for 15 years.  They had built for themselves fine houses but left the temple in ruins.  Through the prophet Haggai, God asks them why they worked hard but did not have enough?  Then He told them He was why.  Even in the good of being released from captivity, they were not obedient to Him.

God told them to rebuild His temple.  The governor, priest, and people repented and turned back to God.  They placed the cornerstone which is the first step in rebuilding the temple and God said: “from this day on I will bless you.”

I noticed a couple of things right here in the Old Testament that jumped out at me.  Probably, because these things apply to me.  

1)   Even in good times, I am not always obedient.  The Israelites had been released 15 years and were not doing what God had released them to do.  They were living it up in their own way, not giving to God what was His.  In return, things weren’t going all that smooth even in their living it up.

2)   The moment they repented, turned back to God and demonstrated their obedience God said: “from this day on I will bless you.”  God didn’t wait for the project of obedience to be completed.  He blessed the moment they acted in obedience.

What a great and merciful God we serve!  He calls us until He gets our attention.  Then, just like that, as soon as we repent, turn back to Him and in the first act of obedience, He blesses!

Blessing comes in obedience!

What is God calling you to do? 

What are you waiting for?

Comment below if you have seen this to be true in your life.