When Conflict Comes Calling

A PART OF LIFE

Conflict is a part of life.  No matter how closely you walk with God, you will still encounter times of conflict.  The goal in life is not to avoid conflict at all costs… but to address conflict in the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit

Are you in conflict with another person at this moment?  Is that person your spouse?  Your son or daughter?  Your mom or dad?  Your boss or another co-worker?  Your neighbor?  What does God want you to do?  The Book of Proverbs gives us great wisdom into dealing correctly with conflict.     

1.  Seek wise counsel.   “Prepare plans by consultation, and make war by wise guidance” (Prov. 20:18).   Get a wise and unbiased third party to give you advice on the situation.  You may be greatly in the wrong and not even know it.  You may be so mad that you are unable to see the conflict from the other person’s perspective.  There are three sides to every argument: yours, theirs, and the unbiased truth.      

2.  Watch for pride.  “Pride leads to conflict” (Prov. 13:10).  Many conflicts are the result of wounded pride. If you at odds with someone, and your wounded pride is the main reason… confess it and reconcile.  “God is opposed to the proud, but He gives grace to the humble” (Jas. 4:6).      

3.  Watch for anger.  “A man with a bad temper starts fights, but he who is slow to anger quiets fighting” ( Prov. 15:18).  Conflict and anger are often joined at the hip.  When you start to get angry, you need to back off the discussion.  Many hurtful words are spoken in anger – I hate you… I wish I never married you… You are no good…You are stupid… You will never amount to anything.  Once words like that leave your mouth, they cannot be retrieved.  Better to bite your tongue and walk away from the argument than to start spewing words of anger that may indeed damage for a lifetime.     

4. Take the high road. “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him” (Prov. 26:4). It has well been said, “Never argue with an idiot. They will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” Always be kind, considerate and respectful even in conflict. Think of the other person as your boss (even if he or she is your child). If you were pleading your case with your boss, you probably would not resort to name calling, would not interrupt, would not be disrespectful and condescending, and would not threaten. Those are keys things to remember when involved in any argument.

10 Psalms To Pray When Feeling Afraid-Pastor’s Notes

1. Psalm 37:1

“Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!” 

Dear Lord, I will not get worked up when I see people doing evil. I will focus on you and check the motives of my own heart. I trust you. 

It’s easy to get all worked up when we see injustice, unkindness, and people treating other humans with disrespect. But all this evil in the world isn’t something we need to live in fear over. Instead we can claim the truth that God is in control. He is always working and in the end He wins (Revelation 21:4-8). 

2. Psalm 37:2

“For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.” 

Dear Lord, I know the evil I see in the world will not last forever. Your righteousness will reign, and right will ultimately win. I trust you. 

There is coming a day when the heartache of this world will pass away and right will win. This gives us the hope we need in fear filled times to continue trusting until those final days (Revelation 22:3-5).

3. Psalm 37:3

“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” 

Lord, I know my heart needs to rest in you, but sometimes it’s hard to do right. Help me choose to live a faithful life over a fearful life. I trust you. 

This is not the time to give up and quit living for the Lord. Fear will give you every excuse to throw in the towel and decide there are too many challenges to keep pressing on. But Paul gives clear instructions on what to do when we fear begins to get the best of us. We must press on! (Philippians 3:13-14).

4. Psalm 37:4

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” 

Lord, I choose your way and will. While I have many ideas and thoughts of how things should work out, help me remember your way is the best way. I trust you. 

Sometimes I want to figure everything out. I have ideas of how to fix the problems in our world and I can’t understand why others won’t jump on board and get to work to make things right. But God is continually reminding me that His way is the best way. And He already has it all figured out (Romans 8:28).

5. Psalm 37:5

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” 

Lord, I commit my fears to you today. There are so many unknowns and so many things that make my heart worry, but I know you are in control. I trust you. 

Sometimes fear simply requires a commitment to let God work. He already knows the outcome. He already knows the things that keep you awake at night. When we turn it over to him, we are committing to trust Him and then our job is simple – wait for Him to work it out (Psalm 27:14).

6. Psalm 37:6

“He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.” 

Lord, You are just. You bring light in the darkness. I choose to believe you will shine through the circumstances I see. I choose to wait for you to work everything out for good. I trust you. 

Though our world looks unfair and unjust, God is absolutely just and will make all things right one day. While we worry about being heard, seen and known, God is not concerned with our worldly agendas. He will make things right. Our job is loving Him and loving others well. (Matthew 22:36-40)

7. Psalm 37:7

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” 

Lord, it’s hard for me to sit still in moments like this. I just want to fix it. Help me sit still in your presence and wait for your timing in all things. I trust you. 

Sometimes fear paralyzes me, other times it makes me run like a maniac looking for help. Over and over again I see God reminding us to let Him take care of our fears. A few verses that remind us to let Him take control are Psalm 46:10 and Isaiah 41:10.

8. Psalm 37:8

“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” 

 Lord, the events I see happening in our world make me angry. Help my heart rest in the peace you offer. Forgive me when I act out in anger. I trust you. 

Fear graduates to anger once it settles in. I think of the question, “How dare they?” or the statement, “I can’t believe people are so terrible.” Anger rises us and I feel the need to speak up. But there is a way to respond to the fear and anger without an evil heart. It’s not easy, but with God we can still be angry about what is happening, but respond with grace (Ephesians 4:22-27).

9. Psalm 37:23

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way.” 

Lord, thank you for giving me direction and guiding my steps. Sometimes I don’t know which way to turn, but I’m reminded today to always turn to you. I trust you. 

Knowing I can trust God for the next steps in my life gives me hope. It’s hard sometimes when we can’t see the future. We don’t know which direction to go. We wonder if we should take action or lay low. But God will direct when we seek Him (Psalm 37:7).

10. Psalm 37:34

“Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.” 

Lord, as I wait to see how things will work out, I choose to honor you with my thoughts, words, and actions. Help me to shine your light in the darkness. I trust you. 

Waiting. Fear seems to always lead to this word. It’s in those unknown moments that we don’t know what to do that we have to wait. But we find the key to those uncertain moments in this verse. We wait and keep doing right. Sometimes we wait and do things our own way. This is when life gets super messy. But when we keep doing what we know to do, our focus stays steady on Jesus. It’s when we get our eyes off of the Lord that we begin to worry and doubt. Fear grips us and we begin to sink (Matthew 14:29-32).

If fear seems to have a hold of you in these difficult days we are walking through, choose one of the verses that speaks to your heart and pray it aloud today.

What Does The Bible Say About Racism-Pastor’s Notes

Scripture teaches that God created all human beings in his image. There is no exception to that, and being made in God’s image makes each person valuable and precious. There is no hierarchy of human beings demonstrated throughout Scripture. Jesus came so that all may be saved.

The Bible makes it clear that racism is wrong and entirely contradictory to God’s command to love our neighbors, His unconditional love, and the teachings of Jesus.

What Is Racism?

Racism is defined as prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior. Racism results in hatred, fear, and inhumane treatment toward someone because of the nation they’re from or the color of their skin.

But there are also other forms of prejudice that must be examined, for example colorism and xenophobia.

Colorism is a form of racism. It is defined as prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group. An example of this, explains an article by Time magazine quoting a 2006 study, is that employers are more likely to hire a lighter tone black man over a dark tone black man.

Xenophobia is defined as dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries. This, too, is a form of racism. Dislike or stereotyping of a whole nation is a grotesque form of racism that has caused wars and heinous acts against human beings.

Racism in all forms goes against clear biblical principles of love, compassion, and servanthood.

Does the Bible Mention Race or Racism?

“From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands” (Acts 17:26).

Scripture clarifies that there is one human race. God created humanity in His image. Yet we learn from the Bible that there are many different nations and ethnicities. These are some of the most mentioned nations in the Bible:

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Tero Vesalainen

National and Ethnic Groups in the Bible

Arabs – In the Bible this term refers to peoples who were nomads in the Arabian deserts.

“It will never be inhabited or lived in for all generations; Arabs will not pitch their tents there, shepherds will not make their flocks lie down there” (Isaiah 13:20).

“Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power” (Acts 2:11).

Egyptians – This ethnic group inhabited the nation of Egypt and is mentioned often in Genesis and Exodus, but also appears in other parts of the Bible. It was the Egyptians who enslaved the Israelites for over 400 years.

“I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord” (Exodus 14:4).

“Behold, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them” (Isaiah 19:1).

Greeks – Often mentioned in Paul’s writings, the Greeks were those who were from the nation of Greece. Many Greeks became followers of Jesus due to Paul’s ministry.

“And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women” (Acts 17:4).

“For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:22).

Israelites – Also known as Jews, the Israelites were God’s chosen people in the Old Testament. Jesus was Jewish, interacted often with Jewish leaders, and was the Messiah Jewish people had long-awaited.

“All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them. He blessed them, everyone with the blessing appropriate to him” (Genesis 49:28).

“I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin” (Romans 11:1).

Romans – The apostle Paul penned a letter to the Romans, those who were citizens of Rome, a place Paul longed to go in person to preach the Gospel and strengthen the church. Paul was also a Roman citizen.

“Meanwhile Jesus stood before the Roman governor, and the governor asked him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ ‘You have said so,’ Jesus replied” (Matthew 27:11).

“So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome” (Romans 1:15).

Does the Bible Prioritize Some Groups Over Others?

In the Old Testament, the Israelites were God’s chosen people. Through Abraham’s lineage, God established a new nation. A nation that God protected and guided. The Jewish people were given laws and commands that, as God’s people, they were instructed to obey for their own good. They were invited to follow God not only in action, but also in heart by having faith in a God that loved them and took care of them as a father.

The Israelites were God’s chosen people, but God’s love and care was extended to every nation. God doesn’t prefer one ethnicity or nation over another. For instance, God instructed Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach repentance so that the people there would be saved from destruction. There are also instances of converts in the Old Testament, those who were not Jewish who chose to follow God, such as Ruth or Zipporah.

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

God has always had open arms to the whole world. In Paul’s writing to the church of Galatia, we are challenged to consider how Jesus unites all of us as brothers and sisters, regardless of ethnicity or nation. God breathes life into every human being and everyone is fearfully and wonderfully made.

In the life and death of Jesus, we learn of God’s love, compassion, and mercy shown to all people. God sent Jesus to die for the entire world and instructed the disciples to go into all nations and share the Gospel so that every nation and generation could have the opportunity for eternal life.

How Did Jesus Respond to “Others”?

Jesus came to save the whole world, he confronted racism, and he commanded his disciples to preach to every nation. Jewish people believed that Samaritans were second class people who they weren’t supposed to talk to, touch, or even be in their presence. Jesus would have grown up knowing the hatred and division between Jews and Samaritans. Yet in two powerful accounts recorded in the Gospels, Jesus challenged the racism and prejudice that existed between Jews and Samaritans.

Jesus did the unimaginable when he approached the Samaritan woman at the well (see John 4). Jesus, a Jewish man, took time to speak with a Samaritan woman. He treated her honestly and showed her mercy, he told her that he was indeed the Messiah, and invited her into eternal life.

Jesus also shared a radical parable in which the hero of the story was a Samaritan (see Luke 10). Once again, Jesus spoke against the racism that existed between Jewish people and Samaritans through a powerful story. Jesus did not judge by appearances, or rank one person higher than another.

Jesus spoke to, interacted with, and ate with everyone because He loved everyone the same despite what they looked like or where they were from.

How Does God Feel about Racism?

“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community” (Proverbs 6:16-17).

There is no passage that specifically answers the question of how God feels about racism, but Scripture gives us plenty of guidance about God’s love for all people, God’s hand in creation, and what the Lord does hate.

Pride, dishonesty, and conflict are found at the root of racism; all are evil that God hates. Racism leads to a plethora of injustices, discrimination, and outpouring of evil toward fellow human beings. When we judge the fruit of racism, we see that this only produces evil, pain, and strife.

In the New Testament, Paul wrote a powerful insight to the church of Ephesus:

“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14).

Jesus tore down the divisions of hate and prejudice between groups that hated one another. Some of Jesus’ ministry on earth was aimed at opposing racism. Racism is a grave consequence of the fall, and part of the redemptive work that Jesus did was to begin deconstructing racist ideologies and challenging the evil of racism in the world.

Fall From Grace-Pastor’s Notes

The phrase “fall from grace” has long been a part of English vernacular. It is quite probable that you, as well as I have used this phrase at one time or another. Traditionally, when we speak of someone falling from grace, we are referring to an individual who has lost respect, status, or support due to action on their part.

Standing upon this definition, we have seen many in this age of technology and social media who fall into this category. With the temperament of this present world, it does not take much for this to happen. Many times, simply having a different or opposing opinion on issues is enough to turn the tide against the famous and popular among us.

In other cases, some have been guilty of questionable or unacceptable behavior, and have caused themselves to be plunged from the celebrity status they once occupied. Such are said to have fallen from grace.

What Does “Fall from Grace” Mean?

Other interesting definitions of this phrase begin to shed light on where we need to go, but still fall well short of properly establishing the true nature and scope of this important truth. Of this phrase, the Free Dictionary says, “to sin and get on the wrong side of God.”

Wikipedia expands upon this definition by saying, “…the transition of the first man and woman from a state of innocent obedience to God to a state of guilty disobedience.”

To gain a full understanding of what it means to fall from grace, we must start in the book of Galatians. The apostle Paul said:

“Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4).

The matter of falling from grace happens to be one the most important teachings in the entirety of the Bible. In spite of this, it remains somewhat obscure to many, and entirely misunderstood. As we unpack this powerful verse, it will be important to keep in mind just what precipitated Paul’s writing of this letter. We find his reason in these two Scriptures respectively:

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6).

“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?” (Galatians 3:1).

The Galatians had been newly converted to Christ through Paul’s ministry, probably during Paul’s first missionary journey. False teachers known as Judaizers, who were Jews who had converted to Christianity were convincing these new converts that Old Testament customs were still binding, and that their new found faith would not be complete unless they kept these Jewish customs and laws. Paul wrote Galatians to refute this doctrine, and referred to it and any other teaching that would pervert the true gospel  as “another gospel.” He went so far as to make this staggering declaration:

“But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9).

We can see Paul’s love and concern for the Galatians as he speaks the truth; he did not want to see them fall from grace.

How Is a Person Justified?

To fall from grace is to fall headlong into the error of the Judaizers; and that was and is to believe that our righteousness can be secured and maintained through a mixture of law and grace.

To be sure there are modern-day Judaizers, who put a great emphasis on the things that they do.  They have a works-based mindset, and hence rely heavily upon their works to justify or make themselves righteous in God’s sight. How is a person justified, or made righteous in the sight of God? Is it through the keeping of the law, or through faith in Christ?

The Judaizers concluded that both were needed to maintain a walk with Christ. It was a good thing to be saved, they surmised, but in order to be “more saved,” or “better saved,” you need to add the Mosaic law to your Christian diet.

Of course, we know that as Christians that the Mosaic law is no longer binding. The truth is, “Christ plus nothing.” We read:

“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2:14).

The “handwriting of ordinances” referred to here is the Mosaic law. For the Christian, how do we define “law?” It can be defined as, a set of rules, a routine, or pattern of works that man uses as a means of obtaining righteousness or sanctification.

How Can We Fall from Grace?

With this in mind we conclude that anything can become law to us — including the Christian disciplines, i.e., prayer, Bible reading, fasting, attending church, etc. Simply put, when we place our faith in the things that we do, rather than what Christ has done for us, we fall from grace. Scripture makes it clear that we are saved by grace:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesian 2:8-9).

Since we have not been saved through or by our works, we must not suppose that we can live for Christ by them. While our works are necessary, and the Christian disciplines are mandatory, we must not conclude that these things justify us. Once again, Paul makes this abundantly clear when he wrote to the church in Rome, and of course to the Galatians:

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20).

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:16).

How can the Christian avoid the peril of falling from grace? The key to doing this is to learn how to properly live the Christian life. I know how that may sound, because after all, we are God’s people, and of course we know how to live for Him, right?

Where Is Your Faith?

The question is, where is your faith? Is it in what you do, or in what Christ has done? The apostle Paul speaks again:

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him” (Colossians 2:6).

What is he saying here? Simply that in the very same way that we came into Christ, which was by grace through faith, this is to be the very same we are to proceed in living for Him: by grace through faith. He expounds upon this precept further in Galatians:

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2:20-21).

The way to live for the Lord, and remain free from the “fall from grace,” is to live each day by faith in Christ. To do otherwise is to set aside the grace of God, which is the spiritual equivalent of falling from it.

As the Scripture explains, if we could be justified through our works or the law, then Christ’s death on the Cross was meaningless; and we know this is not the case. So where do you stand? Are you living under law or under grace? To attempt to do both is to cancel out grace.

Dear Lord, thank you for your sacrifice; help me to keep my faith in you.