Conflict

I hate conflict and love unity. Is it possible you feel the same way? I will do whatever I can, without violating my conscience, to avoid strife and maintain unity. 

Whenever there is a spark of conflict, I try to remind myself of the root cause of contention before things escalate. “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom” (Proverbs 13:10). It takes two proud people for strife. Since I’m one of the two, I can immediately do something to quench the conflict – repent of my pride. Maybe not so easy, but it does work and is a good thing. 

“A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit” (Proverbs 29:23).

(A requested problem topic)

A Serious Concern

What might be a test of whether the average Christian believes in a literal hell with eternal suffering? 

Likely each of us know people (family?) we deeply care for who don’t appear to have a saving relationship with Christ. If you saw them about to be severely, painfully, and permanently maimed, you would immediately do everything possible to help them. 

Might our level of belief in a literal hell be measured by how much time we spend in prayer for them and our level of effort to reach them for Christ? It might come down to either we don’t love them or don’t believe in hell. 

“For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains” (Deuteronomy 32:22).

“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17).

Beneficial Versus Harmful?

A healthy food item’s packaging proclaimed that it didn’t have 125 artificial ingredients and preservatives. Might that be similar to a person touting on his job resume that he never embezzled.

What we do with our time is far more critical than what we aren’t doing with it. How much are you seeking and learning of Christ?

“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11). 

The T-Shirt Caper

The Eddie Bauer email came telling me that they were still offering 50% off sitewide. Right away I thought about the long-sleeve t-shirts I like to wear that I get from them. I went to the site and looked at the colors, picking out two new ones and put the shirts in my shopping cart. Then I added another basic black one. Before I hit send, though, I decided I wanted to pray about it.

Pretty quickly I felt as if the Lord was reminding me that I already had 3 long-sleeve t-shirts that were working fine. Then I recalled that the black one had gotten dirty and was in the laundry hamper when I next wanted to wear it so I probably did need another black one. But again that prompting was there that I had a short-sleeve, black t-shirt I could wear with a sweater or the white or green long sleeve one.  “Be content,” I almost heard Him say to me. “I have well provided for you. You don’t need more.”

That was true. He has very well provided for me, and I didn’t need more. Wasn’t my lure to buy at a great price discontent, even ingratitude? If I was grateful, I would be thanking Him for His provision rather than thinking about what more I might want. 

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11 

“And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” 1 Timothy 6:8 

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5 

It was sweet to my soul to pray, sense His response, and then have peace from trusting and resting. That is way better than a new t-shirt. And in that process, I had another installment of the ongoing lessons of gratitude and contentment. 

What about you? It might not be a t-shirt for you, but perhaps it is discontentment with things about your husband or children. It could be your house or your husband’s job. You might not even realize you are discontent. I didn’t think of myself as being discontent when I went to look at new t-shirts. It was God Who helped me to that realization.

What is God’s solution for our discontent? I can’t help but wonder if it is gratitude. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We talked about that two months ago in helping our children learn to be grateful. Then last month we discussed taking stress away from Christmas by being thankful for what is behind the stressor or the outcome it will bring. Now gratitude allows us to have a content heart. 

Would you and your family benefit from your focusing on what you are thankful for rather than what you wish were different? Would that give you the contentment God says He wants you to have, and is it possible that might achieve peace in your heart that you don’t experience right now? Doesn’t God take care of His children? Are you content with His care?

P.S. I wrote this article before Christmas and wouldn’t you know, I received not one but three of my favorite, long-sleeve, t-shirts for Christmas without the girls who gave them to me knowing this story. Thank you to my girls, and thank you to the Lord Jesus, Who does take care of His children!

Sweet or Sour Fruit?

What do you think might be the most crucial lesson in life? This lesson is so important that it was the first lesson God taught Adam and thus mankind.

I believe it to be that every choice has a result. (Likely, the second most important lesson is that we should choose consistent with God’s direction/will.) We just “closed the books” for 2019, and now would be a good time to ask yourself, “How’s it been working for you?” 

Consider the “fruit” you have sown, and project if you will be pleased with the resulting “harvest.” Have you been sowing seeds of righteousness in your life and your children’s? What appetites are you creating? Has your time been spent in edifying? Are you closer to the Lord Jesus, your wife, and your children than when 2019 began? Have you missed any days of personal and family Bible time? Are Bible times quality, engaging, and resulting in growth? 

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).