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Dealing with Anger


Daily Bible Reading – Ephesians 1-4

Today’s Key Passage – Ephesians 4:25-32

 

Everyone gets angry.  Events unfold that make us feel anger.  People say things to us or about us that make us feel anger.  Feeling angry at some degree or another is basically unavoidable, but how we deal with that anger is what really defines us.  When it comes to dealing with anger, we have a few different paths we can take.  We can let the anger overtake us causing us to explode in a fit of emotion.  Obviously, this is not the way to go.  We can sit on our anger and bottle it up inside, which will lead to bitterness.  This bitterness will eventually lead to hatred if gone unchecked.  This too, is not the way to go.  Paul tells us in today’s key passage that the best way to effectively deal with anger is to deal with it immediately in a way that builds relationships instead of breaking them.  When someone makes you feel anger, do not blow up at them and say things you do not really mean to hurt them.  Do not just walk away from the situation stewing with anger, as this bitterness will eventually start to wear you down.  The best course of action is to talk to the person that caused you anger immediately.  Explain the situation IN LOVE.  Express how you feel about the situation without allowing the situation to escalate.  Try to find some common ground with the person, and try to find a way to alleviate the anger.

Of course, all of this is much easier said than done.  So how do we really accomplish all of this?  Practically speaking, how can we begin to start dealing with our anger in a healthy way instead of a harmful way?  Like everything else in this life, the answer is found in Jesus Christ.  At the first feelings of anger towards a person, immediately remind yourself that God made this person exactly as he is.  Remind yourself that God loves this person exactly as much as He loves you.  Remind yourself that this person is one of God’s children…just as you are.  In addition, remember that God has forgiven everything you have ever done.  By His grace, he has forgiven and forgotten all of your past indiscretions regardless of what they were.  He does not hold a grudge against you.  If He is able to forgive you for the worst thing you have ever done through His Son Jesus Christ, surely the least you can do is forgive this person for what he did.  Pray for God to help you to forgive this person, and to help you feel love for this person.  Finally, talk to the person calmly about the situation.  These practical steps have helped me start to deal with anger in a much more productive way.  For me, it becomes a lot harder to be angry with someone after I go through these steps above.  When I think of Christ first, the severity of the situation always begins to decrease and my anger goes along with it.  I pray that you will try these things the next time anger arises in your life, and I hope that in those situations you can find the strength to be a peacemaker.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

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Correcting Other Christians


Daily Bible Reading – Job 41, 42; 2 Corinthians 1, 2

Today’s Key Passage – 2 Corinthians 2:1-11

 

Living a Christian life does not happen in a vacuum.  We know from the Bible that God intends for us to live together in community with other Christians.  This fellowship not only helps us grow as followers of Jesus Christ, it also helps us reach others.  Unfortunately, in doing this we are sometimes faced with circumstances where one of the other believers we are “doing life with” starts to stray from the path.

The idea of having to confront another believer terrifies me.  Like most people, I do not really like confrontation, and I try to avoid it whenever possible.  For a long time, I believed that when I saw another Christian sinning I should not say anything.  After all, I figured it was not my job to confront him, and I was afraid that I would come off as judgmental, but there is a fundamental difference in judging someone and correcting them in love.  This revelation came to me when another believer confronted me for something I was doing.  At first, I was angry at being “called out”, but I soon came to realize that this man was coming to me out of his love for me.  He saw an error I was making, and cared enough about me to bring it to my attention.  Matthew 18:15 says, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.”  When Paul had to correct the Corinthians in today’s key passage, he did it out of love.  Even though he had “great distress and anguish of heart“, he knew that if he truly loved them and cared about them he had to correct them.

In his book, Who You Are When No One’s Looking, Pastor Bill Hybels discusses the “tough love” required to be a follower of Christ.  He lays out a four-point plan to dealing with confrontation.  Step one is clarifying the issue to really understand the problem.  Step two is cleansing your spirit to ensure we do not feel critical, angry, or judgmental before we confront someone.  In Matthew 7:3, Jesus says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”.  Cleansing the spirit allows us to avoid pointing out the speck in our brother’s eye if we have a plank in our own eye.  Step three is carefully selecting the time and place to talk with the believer.  Step four, probably the most important, is to pray to God for help.

By following these points, we can ensure that when we are forced to confront another believer, we do it correctly.  Obviously, the easiest thing to do it is to say nothing at all, but as we know, the easy thing is very rarely the right thing.  If you really love others more than yourself, sometimes it is necessary to correct another Christian.  When this time comes, remember to do it in love.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Questions about Jesus


Daily Bible Reading – Ezra 1; Psalms 84-85; Luke 7

Today’s Key Passage – Luke 7:18-35

 

John the Baptist knew what his role was in this life.  He knew that he was to prepare the way for God’s chosen one – the Messiah.  He had heard all of the stories about Jesus, and he knew that Jesus must have been sent by God.  The only problem was that he was not sure if Jesus was just another prophet or the Anointed One of God, so he sent two of his disciples to Jesus to ask him. (7:18-20)  Jesus response to John’s disciples tells us a lot about Him.  He could have been upset about being questioned.  He could have been angry that John felt the need to ask questions about Him instead of simply believing blindly.  This, of course, was not Jesus’ response.  Jesus told John’s disciples to report back to John all the things He had done. (7:22)  Jesus healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and raised the dead, among other miraculous deeds.  He wanted John the Baptist to decide for himself if Jesus was the Messiah based on the evidence at hand.  Then, as further evidence that Jesus was not upset about being questioned, He spoke to the crowd about John the Baptist’s greatness among men. (7:28)

Most of us, whether we are followers of Christ or not, have had questions about Jesus.  They might be questions we have already answered, or they might be lingering thoughts that appear from time to time.  Is Jesus really the Messiah?  Does He really know me?  Did He really die for my sins?  Does He really see me as perfect and beautiful?  Does He really love me?  If you have ever felt guilty for asking yourself these questions about Jesus, today’s key passage will be a real blessing for you.  See, Jesus does not get angry about being questioned.  Having questions about Him does not mean there is something wrong with your faith or that you are not a “good Christian”.  Just like John, Jesus invites us to examine the evidence about Him and decide for ourselves that He is who He says He is.  The more we learn about Him through reading God’s Word and spending time with Him in prayer, the fewer questions we will have about Him.  Then, as we answer our questions about Him, we will grow to trust Him and love Him with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Dealing with Discouragement


Daily Bible Reading – Ezekiel 20, 21; Psalm 111; Revelation 8

Today’s Key Passage – Ezekiel 20:45 – 21:5

 

Can you imagine living as a prophet in Old Testament times?  What an awesome job that must have been, filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  The upside, of course, was the ability to walk and talk with God daily, but these prophets must have also faced discouragement when their own people refused to listen to their warnings.  In today’s key passage, we see a little of this discouragement from the prophet Ezekiel.  After proclaiming God’s message to His people, he voiced his own discouragement to God when he said, “Ah, Sovereign LORD! They are saying of me, ‘Isn’t he just telling parables?” (Vs. 49)

In the beginning of chapter 21, we see God’s answer to Ezekiel’s complaint, but His solution might surprise us.  God did not choose to try to calm Ezekiel’s aggravation or give him a break from his ministry, nor did He force the people to listen to Ezekiel.  Instead, God simply gave Ezekiel his next assignment.  God knew that most of the time, the best way to deal with discouragement is to keep moving forward.

As we walk out our Christian lives of service, most of us will probably face discouragement from time to time.  We might face times when we do not feel like we are making a difference or we might think no one is listening.  When we turn to God with our frustrations, we might expect Him to respond in a certain way, but His solution might surprise us.  He might help us deal with our discouragement by giving us additional assignments, or showing us a new way to serve Him and others.  Be open to God’s plans and His solutions, because they are always more effective than anything we can imagine on our own.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

The Wrath of God


Daily Bible Reading – Nahum 1-3; John 5

Today’s Key Passage – Nahum 1:1-6

 

The other day I was searching through the Netflix catalog of movies trying to find a movie to watch with my wife.  As I was looking through the comedy titles, I saw a movie called I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.   To be honest, I did not watch the movie and I do not really know anything about, so I am not going to say anything about the movie itself.  The only reason I even bring it up is that when I saw the title of this movie it made me stop and think.  See, sometimes we can all have an incorrect view of hell and an incorrect view of the wrath of God.  It is a topic that many Christians today do not like to talk about.  We think of God’s wrath as an “Old Testament thing” that does not really apply to us anymore.  Many churches today shy away from preaching about the wrath of God because it is not exactly a popular topic.  More often than not, we all like to focus on God’s love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness and forget about His wrath.  When we do this, though, we end up with an incomplete picture of the true character of God.

God’s wrath is mentioned throughout the Bible.  In fact, a quick search online reveals that there are more references in the Bible to the anger, fury, and wrath of God, than there are to His love and tenderness.  Today’s key passage is a good example, as we read about His jealousy, vengeance, and wrath. (Vs. 2)  Here is the simple truth – though most people do not like to talk about it, wrath is as much a part of God’s character as mercy.  The problem is that many times we think of wrath in purely human terms.  When man feels anger, jealousy, or vengeance their wrath typically stems from selfishness.  The wrath of God is very different.  God’s wrath has nothing to do with selfishness.  His wrath comes from a righteous anger that is provoked only by our sins.  Do not fall into the trap of discounting the wrath of God.  It is true that He loves us.  It is true that He forgives us by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  It is true that He has mercy on us.  It is also true that every one of us will face Him someday, and those who reject Him here on earth and refuse His offer of salvation will face His wrath.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Getting Even


Daily Bible Reading – Proverbs 16-18; Romans 12

Today’s Key Passage – Romans 12:17-21

 

We have all heard the saying, “Don’t get mad, get even”.  I am not sure who came up with this catchy little slogan or where it began, but I know I have seen it and heard it all of my life.  I have seen it on bumper stickers and t-shirts.  I have heard it in movies and television shows.  I have even seen books written entirely for the purpose of educating readers on the best ways to get even with others.  It seems our world really likes this saying, and our world really likes the concept of getting even.  Revenge is a recurring theme in many areas of our society, and followers of Christ are not immune from its draw.  No matter how hard we try to live a Godly life, most of us will be faced with the temptation from time to time to get even with another person.  Our key passage today focuses on how we should react in those situations.

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he gives them advice for how to react when the temptation for revenge arises.  He begins by telling the Romans not to repay evil for evil. (Vs. 17)  In addition, he tells them that if possible they should try to live at peace with everyone. (Vs. 18)  He reminds the Romans that vengeance should be left to God and God alone. (Vs. 19)  Finally, he quotes Proverbs 25:21-22 which says, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.”

When someone wrongs us, our first reaction may be to get even.  When we feel this temptation, we must immediately acknowledge that we are living in the flesh and not in the Spirit.  To overcome our temptation to get even, we must remind ourselves of three things.  First, we must remind ourselves of our true calling.  We are called not to seek revenge, but to love and forgive other people, including the people who have wronged us the most.  Secondly, we must remind ourselves that God forgave us of our sins even though we did not deserve to be forgiven.  Finally, we must remind ourselves that the person we want to get even with is a human being created by the same God that created us.  The simple truth is that God loves your enemy as much as He loves you.  When we remind ourselves of these three things, we can resist the urge to seek revenge.  At that point, we can forget the world’s standard of “don’t get mad, get even” and replace it instead with love.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

In the Heat of the Moment


Daily Bible Reading – Proverbs 13-15; Romans 11

Today’s Key Passage – Proverbs 15:1-4

 

In the heat of the moment.  Most of us know these six words fairly well.  Unless you live in a bubble without any relationships or opportunities to communicate with others, you probably have an “in the heat of the moment” experience in your past.  The fact is that all of us have relationships of one form or another and all of us communicate with other people on a daily basis.  With all of this communication going on, the chances are good that at some point, you will find yourself disagreeing with another person, and the chances are also good that you will find yourself in a full-blown argument.  Relationships can be made or broken in the heat of the moment, because what we say or do at the most intense moment of a disagreement will often define the outcome.  Friendships have been lost in the heat of the moment.  Marriages have ended in the heat of the moment.  Children have been forever scarred in the heat of the moment.  Since the heat of the moment is so important to our overall relational health, it is important that we take proactive steps to keep from saying the wrong things in those moments.  In today’s key passage, Solomon provides us with practical advice to avoid saying the wrong thing in the heat of the moment.

Speak Gently – “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Vs. 1) – The quickest way to find yourself in the heat of the moment is to raise your voice.  Raising your voice or speaking angry words only serve to escalate an already bad situation.  The next time you find yourself in a disagreement or argument, choose to speak gently and softly.  Do not raise your voice under any circumstances.  This advice alone will help calm most arguments.

Speak Thoughtfully – “The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.” (Vs. 2) – Avoid the temptation to speak without really thinking.  Most of the time, we end up saying the wrong things in the heat of the moment because we are not stopping to think before we speak.  When you raise your voice, your speed of speech increases adding to the possibility that you will say something without thinking.  As you speak gently and softly, you will find that you have more time to think about the words you are going to use.

Speak Healthfully and Truthfully – “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” (Vs. 4) – When we speak to others in a loving, compassionate way, it is less likely we will find ourselves in the heat of the moment.  We can choose to build others up with our words or we can choose to break them down.  We can choose to speak the truth or we can choose to lie.  Speak truthfully in love to find our way through difficult conversations.

Perhaps the most important advice to avoid an “in the heat of the moment” experience is to remember your audience.  We should always keep in mind that, “The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.” (Vs. 3)  When we remember that God is watching, we will be less likely to escalate a situation in the heat of the moment.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Dealing with a Fool


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Samuel 25, 26; Psalm 63; Matthew 9

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Samuel 25:1-38

 

It is funny how sometimes God sends you a passage of Scripture right when you need to hear it most.  On the day I wrote this message, I was on the phone with a man I know quite well.  In the interest of time, I will skip the boring details of our conversation and simply say that we were not seeing eye-to-eye.  We disagreed about a course of action to take, and as our conversation progressed he started to demonstrate his irritation by raising his voice and using some rather course language.  Now, I have to admit that my initial reaction to this was not exactly what it should have been.  I began thinking in the flesh, and the more he talked the more my anger began to burn inside me.  My mind raced with thoughts of “how dare he talk to me this way” and the like, and I noticed that my tone of voice was also beginning to rise.  It is at that point that God stepped in and spoke to my heart that I was not walking down the right path.  I was beginning to respond to rudeness with rudeness, and I immediately had to take a deep breath and say a quick prayer for grace.  A few hours later when I read today’s key passage, I had to just stop and smile at the divine providence of God.

In today’s key passage, David had to deal with a fool.  Please understand that a fool in this context does not have anything to do with mental capacity.  A fool in a Biblical context refers to someone who is foolish in the eyes of God.  David and his men spent a good deal of time and energy protecting Nabal’s possessions, but when David sent some of his men to Nabal to ask for some supplies they were treated with hostility and rudeness.  David’s immediate reaction when he heard the news was to take an army and wipe out Nabal and all of his men.  Along the way, Abigail, Nabal’s wife, stopped David and talked some sense into him.  From their story, we can learn four valuable lessons about dealing with a fool:

  1. We must recognize a fool for what he is.  Abigail gave David good advice to not let Nabal’s foolish actions ruin his testimony for God.
  2. Even if it is our initial reaction, we must refrain from trying to “get even” with the fool.  Abigail makes it clear to David that it would not be right for him to take matters into his own hands to try to get revenge on Nabal.
  3. When in doubt, receive Godly counsel from others.  Fortunately for David, Abigail was willing to try to talk him out of his foolish response, and, perhaps more importantly, David was willing to listen.
  4. Allow God to deal with the problem.  Instead of taking matters into his own hands, David decided to let God deal with Nabal.  In this case, God decided in His infinite wisdom to kill Nabal.  In other cases, He may simply give you the strength and grace needed to deal with the fool in the future.

The Bible is so good at teaching us valuable life lessons through others experiences.  I pray that the next time you have to deal with a “fool”, you will remember this story and apply its principles to your life.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

The Proper Response to Correction


Daily Bible Reading – Exodus 30-32; Acts 8

Today’s Key Passage – Acts 8:9-25

 

In the days of the early church, sorcerers and magicians were everywhere, and Simon was one of these sorcerers.  Upon hearing Philip preaching the good news about Jesus Christ, many of the people who had been following Simon came to Christ instead, and Simon himself believed and was baptized.  When Simon saw the power of the Holy Spirit, he offered Peter money to try to buy the gifts that the Holy Spirit allowed Peter to have.  There is no doubt that Simon’s actions were sinful.  Instead of focusing on the only true path to God and the only way to receive His power (repentance from sin and turning to God for forgiveness), Simon thought he could take the easy road and just buy his way in.  When Peter heard the sinfulness from Simon (a fellow believer), he immediately and harshly called him on it.  He corrected Simon as we are sometimes called to correct other believers who are sinning.  Simon could have responded to this correction in a number of ways, but the route he took can teach us a lot about responding to correction.  Simon asked Peter to pray for him.

If you are a believer in Christ surrounded by other believers who genuinely care about you, there will likely come a time when one of your friends might offer you a correction if you are getting off the path of righteousness.  It is easy as Christians to do something that might not seem to us at first to be sinful, but to others it is.  In these times, a fellow believer may attempt to correct your behavior and show you where you got off track, and our response to this correction can be tricky.  Most people do not like being told they are wrong, so the initial response to a gentle correction by another believer can often be a combination of anger, embarrassment, hurt, or defensiveness, particularly when we might not immediately see our own error.  Pride can be blinding and we can easily close our hearts and our minds to the possibility that we might be wrong in our thinking.  When another believer comes to us in love, though, we must listen to the correction with an open mind and an open heart.  Our immediate response to correction should be one of repentance.  We should also ask for forgiveness – first from God and then from our friend or anyone else who may have been hurt by our actions if that applies.  Finally, we should take a page from Simon’s book and ask our friend to pray with us and for us.  When we learn from this lesson and can react as Simon did when facing correction, we can avoid allowing our own pride to compound our sinfulness even further.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Retaliation and Threats


Daily Bible Reading – 1 Peter 1-5

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Peter 2:13-25

We have undoubtedly all seen the movie – the one where the main character finds himself in a bit of a jam.  Sometimes the hero is being beaten or tortured.  Other times the hero is allegedly about to be killed before he somehow finds a way out of it.  Growing up in the 80’s, I was surrounded by these movies.  If I told you to think of one of these movies now, out of every ten people there would probably be eight or nine different answers.  In all of these movies, the plot is typically the same.  While in the dire situation, the hero usually makes a few threats to their attackers, promising them some form of retaliation in the future.  Then later in the movie, the revenge moment comes when the main character finds himself vindicated, sometimes with a funny one-liner in tow.  Thus is the way of this world.  This is the message the world sends us as to how we should all act when we are abused or mistreated.

The story of Jesus Christ is remarkably different.  First, as we see in today’s key passage, Jesus did not threaten anyone during His entire crucifixion ordeal.  He never promised revenge.  He never told any of the Roman soldiers that they would pay for what they were doing.  In fact, Jesus did the exact opposite when He asked His Father in Heaven to forgive them.  Secondly, Jesus did not escape from His situation and exact revenge on his accusers.  Instead, He acted as a lamb led to slaughter.  He was fully man, and fully God.  At any time, He could have turned the tables on his attackers, but He knew that this was all part of the plan.  He did not try to fight it.  Instead, he simply put His faith and trust in the Father, and surrendered everything to His will.

The next time you are faced with a dire situation – even if it is simply a matter of someone mistreating you – you will have a choice.  You can choose to react the way the world tells you to react – the way Hollywood says is right, or you can follow Jesus’ example and simply put your faith and trust in God and surrender everything to His will.  The former may bring you a little bit of glory, but the latter will bring all the glory to Jesus Christ.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

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