God's truth for today's world

The other day, one of our boys built a large house out of toy building blocks. It was magnificent, it had a driveway, a garage, even trees growing on the roof. Another one of our boys, playing in the room, for some unknown reason felt the urge to kick the house down. That precipitated loud screams and yells from the first boy who proceeded to chase his brother through the house until he tackled him. The screaming brought me onto the scene, I pulled the two wrestling participants apart and calmed everyone down. I got the true story and asked the boy who kicked the house down to say he was sorry. The second boy forgave him, they hugged each other and went back to playing together. The animosities of a few minutes before were forgiven and forgotten. Wouldn’t it be great if adults forgave each other that easily?

However, as adults, when someone has wronged us, we often find it easy to hold a grudge. We may say things like, “I could never forgive them for what they did to me.” Or we may say, “I can forgive but I can’t forget.” Maybe, we just keep an internal record of wrongs, keeping score as the relationship deteriorates. When wrongs have been done in a relationship and they remain unreconciled, you have a damaged relationship. If those wrongs continue being unreconciled, if new wrongs are added to them, eventually the relationship may be completely destroyed. In addition, if you are the one who has been hurt and you have not practiced forgiveness, your own life will be destroyed, spiritually, emotionally and often physically. Damaged relationships are serious business.

God wants us to learn what to do to restore damaged relationships and to learn how to release ourselves from the grip of unforgiveness. Here’s the basic principle from God’s Word. NLT Colossians 3:13 You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Take a quick inventory of your life. Is there anyone in your life who you hold a grudge against? Is it possible for your mind and emotions to be released from the pain of what someone else has done to you? The Bible teaches that it is possible, through the power of forgiveness.

To hear more about this topic, listen to my message entitled Restoring Damaged Relationships

Some time ago, I was driving down a road in St Louis and I needed to turn off at the next exit. However, someone was in the exit lane next to me, so I slowed down, way down, to wait for an opening. As I was slowing down, a large pick up truck with huge tires raced up behind me honking it’s horn. As I continued to slow, the truck raced around on my right. I saw the driver through the window, shaking his fist, yelling something. I was glad my windows were rolled up. He cut right in front of me and roared on his way. As I finally exited the road, I thought, that was not a patient man, that was an angry man. I didn’t have any warm fuzzy feelings toward him. I would think twice before trying to build a friendship with him. But, I must admit, I’ve had some angry thoughts and words about slow drivers on the road myself, especially when I’m in a hurry. Getting angry seems to come easier than being patient.

Patience is an essential character trait that you need to develop in order to have strong relationships. You can’t talk about patience without talking about anger, because the word patience means “slow to get angry.” The Greek word for patience is “makrothumos”, where makro means “long or slow” and thumos means “anger or wrath.” So patience means you have a long fuse, you don’t blow up easily, you manage your anger.

NIV Proverbs 14:29 A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly. It’s wise to learn how to develop patience, it’s foolish to be quick tempered. An angry person seems powerful, but he doesn’t accomplish anything contructive. In fact, anger weakens and destroys relationships. On the other hand, a patient person overlooks wrongs in others and strengthens his relationships. NLT Proverbs 19:11 People with good sense restrain their anger; they earn esteem by overlooking wrongs.

For a more indepth treatment of this topic, listen to my February 20, 2005 message entitled Developing Patience

Do you remember the first time you fell in love? Maybe back in middle school or high school. You noticed someone in class, but it was more than just noticing them. You had feelings when you looked at them, when you talked to them, feelings you never had before. Your heart beat faster and you had a funny feeling in your stomach. Must be love, that mysterious feeling that you fall into. You don’t seem to have much control over it, it’s either there or it’s not. When the feeling is there, it’s great, you’re in love. When the feeling is gone, love must be gone, or so many people think.

Love is not just a feeling. When the Bible talks about love, it uses the Greek word agape. Agape means to make a choice to appreciate and act in the best interests of someone else. It is used both for loving God and for loving people. So, love is a choice, a choice to do the right thing for someone else, whether the feelings are there or not. Feelings come and go in even the best of relationships. However, when the choice and commitment to love remains strong, it actually leads to the deepest feelings of love over the long haul.

How can you learn about love, the kind of love that lasts? The best place to start is with the person who invented love, God Himself. God showed us what love was all about in the person of Jesus. Jesus showed us love in His life and His death. It applies to how we love one another. NLT 1 John 4:19 We love each other as a result of his loving us first.

For a more indepth treatment of this topic, listen to my February 13, 2005 message entitled Laying A Foundation Of Love

Every person faces discouragement in their life from time to come. The dictionary defines discouragement as the condition of being deprived of confidence, hope or spirit. Discouragement raises it’s ugly head when things seem to go wrong in our lives. A plan that we’ve had seems to be going no where. We may have work problems, or relational problems or health problems. The way we think our lives should go does not seem to be happening. So, our confidence, hope and spirits are dampened. If not checked, discouragement can lead to depression. Someone who is discouraged or depressed usually finds it difficult to know how to make the changes in their lives that will lead to increased confidence, hope and spirit. God’s Word gives us the principles, that with God’s help, can guide you to finding courage and hope for your life.

A discouraged person tends to live in the past, either a past of failures or a past of glory days, never to be repeated. God designed us as people to look to the future not the past. Take your eyes off the past, it’s history, and place them on the future. NIV Isaiah 43:18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” God wants to do a new thing in your life. No matter what has gone down in the past, God has a good plan for you, a plan that no one can thwart except you. If your life seems like a desert and wasteland, God wants to show you a roadway through that desert and lead you to streams of living water. Look to the future.

A discouraged person tends to withdraw from other people and hide away from relationships. The way out of discouragement is to draw strength from others. First and most importantly, God is there to give you strength and courage. God spoke to Joshua and He speaks to you: NLT Joshua 1:5 For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. God will not force Himself upon you, but He is there, if you will but reach out to Him. He is always as close as your breath. He is never more than a whisper away. Ask Him for strength, submit your life to Him.

A discouraged person doesn’t want to do anything. Sometimes they don’t even want to get out of bed in the morning. If God has a good plan for your future and He is there to give you strength, then you’ve got to get up and take action to follow that plan. Draw courage and strength from God and God’s family, the church, to take action in your life. If you do nothing, nothing will change in your life. God spoke to Joshua and He speaks to you: NLT Joshua 1:9 I command you– be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” God never commands someone to do something that He does not empower them to do. So when God commands you to be strong and courageous, you can do it! When God commands you to not be afraid or discouraged, you can do it! Why? Because He will be with you wherever you go.

God will show you His plan for your life as you study, meditate on and obey God’s Word written down in the Bible. The only path to success in life is through a relationship with Jesus Christ and obedience to God’s Word. NLT Joshua 1:8 Study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed.

For a more indepth treatment of this topic, listen to my February 6, 2005 message entitled Bringing Out The Best In Others
https://s3.amazonaws.com/lifechurchstlouis/mp3s/2005%20Messages/2005%2002%20Building%20Stronger%20Relationships/020605%20Bringing%20Out%20The%20Best%20In%20Others.mp3 If you don’t yet have a relationship with God, these principles will be impossible to put into practice fully. To find out about starting a relationship with God, read my blog How To Have A Relationship With God.