Trust God’s Promises

LifeLink Devotional

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Genesis 33:10 For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.

It was a bad case of sibling rivalry. In their culture, the oldest male child was given the birthright, which meant he would not only officially carry on the family name and heritage but he would receive a double portion of the inheritance. It was understood and accepted by all the other siblings who were usually separated by a year or more in age. But in this case, two brothers were born just minutes apart. In fact, they were born so close together that the second twin had a hold of the heel of the first born as they were delivered. Poor mom. What is that like to deliver a baby with his arms pushed out first?

Even in the birth of twins, it is obvious which one is the firstborn. He would be the child of blessing and he would receive the birthright and the inheritance. Or would he? Mom knew the answer. Even while in the womb the two babies had been jostling for position. Their mother asked the Lord for an explanation. He told her that each boy would be the father of a great nation, but that the younger boy’s nation would be the greater, and the older boy would end up serving the younger one. Hence the sibling rivalry. But that rivalry was exaggerated by the parents. Dad liked the oldest brother best and favored him. Mom chose the younger brother and nurtured him. She even went so far as to try to assist God in the accomplishment of His plan for the boys.

When they were grown and prospering, word came to the younger son that his twin brother’s caravans were on an intercept course with his own. He was scared. He feared for his life and the lives of all his family members and servants. He knew that reconciliation was the only possible solution. So he devised a plan that would hopefully appease his brother and make peace. The foundation of that plan was the promises of God.

He prepared to meet his brother by dividing his entourage into two groups and designating a series of large gifts to be presented to him. Then he stopped to commit the outcome to the Lord. He prayed, “I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups. Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’” The promise of God gave him the confidence to seek reconciliation.

Wrestling with reconciliation of people is hard work. It takes great endurance and perseverance. To test the younger brother’s resolve, God sent a man – I believe the Son of Man – to wrestle with him. The young brother is so strong and determined that the Lord has to dislocate his hip. Still he will not let go until he receives the blessing of God for his life. Not only does God bless him, but he changes his name. No longer would he be called Jacob, but rather Israel, and would become the father of the nation after his own name.

Immediately after the wrestling match, as the sun rose on a new day, Israel saw his older twin brother Esau coming towards him. He went towards his brother in brokenness and humility, trusting the promises of God. As he approached him with bowed head, his brother ran to him and embraced him. They hugged and they wept as their conflict melted into reconciliation. But that wasn’t enough for the older brother. He wanted to be completely reconciled, and his first words resulted in his introduction to all the members of Israel’s family. There would be no remaining animosity.

Israel believed that his gifts had paved the way for such reconciliation. But that was laid to rest quickly when Esau minimized their importance in the reconciliation by refusing to accept them. Israel insisted, but not because he considered  the gifts to be a bribe, but rather an expression of thanksgiving for the reconciliation that took place. Israel said, “Accept these gifts, for to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.”  Gifts cannot bribe reconciliation. Gifts are the result of reconciliation.

What did we learn? Among the many lessons the Holy Spirit will teach you, one thing is significant for me – by trusting the promises of God, I can persevere through any pain and be patient, no matter how long it takes, so that I might receive the blessing of God that comes through reconciled relationships. How about you?

Pastor John

It Will All Work Out

LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Genesis 50:19-21 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

 It started with jealousy. “Why did dad love him so much more than he loves us,” they complained. So they hated him and treated him unkindly while dad treated him with kindness and gifts of love. Things got worse when this youngest brother began predicting that one day all the older brothers would bow down to him and serve him as their king. Now they hated him even more. How dare he speak in such a degrading way about them? Even his father was upset with this and rebuked him. The young man’s words were causing major family problems.

Then one day his older brothers took advantage of an opportunity to remove him from the family. In a remote place, with no witnesses, they had their little brother trapped. At first they were going to kill him and be done with it, but one of the brothers used his influence to persuaded the others of an alternate plan. Some travelers from another land were nearby, so they sold their brother to them as if he was a slave. Then they took that precious coat their father had made for their brother and they coated it with goat’s blood. The coat was delivered to their father and it was reported that he had been killed by a wild animal.

The brother was taken to Egypt by the travelers and sold there as a slave to a high-ranking government official. But the young man made the most of his situation. He didn’t let anger turn into bitterness, which would have destroyed his potential. Instead he trusted that God, in His sovereignty, would still bring good from all of it. He never got involved in payback. He spent no time devising a plan to be restored to his previous position. His new home and new position is where he would focus on being faithful to his LORD.

During the next few years his resolve to be faithful was severely tested. He was thrown in prison based on a false accusation of adultery with his master’s wife. He was neglected by two friends who had promised to help him after he had helped them. But through it all he remained patient and faithful to allow God to fulfill His plan. Finally his opportunity arrived, and he was restored to his position with his master. His faithfulness was eventually rewarded with a position of leadership, which eventually led to him being second in command of the whole country.

Meanwhile, his brothers and father were suffering from a severe famine in his former homeland. They traveled to their brother’s new land, not knowing that he is there or that he is in charge of what they need to survive. After a series of events that test them, their brother is revealed to them and they are filled with fear. They remember what they did to him, so he must also remember. They know how they would have born a grudge if what they did had been done to them. They realized that not only did their brother have the right to repay them for the wrong done, but he now had the authority and the power to repay them in kind. At best they saw that they would be slaves for the rest of their lives. At worst he would have them killed.

But that was not the heart of their brother. He had the heart of God, who did right even when wronged. Their brother saw the hand of God in control of all things and surrendered to God’s purpose and plan. He saw the bigger picture and realized that had it not been for what his brothers did to him years earlier he would not be in a position to rescue them now. He saw the fulfillment of his faith – that God is always in control, and what we see as evil is still a part of God’s plan to bring Himself glory and good. So rather than retaliate, he reassured them, and they were reconciled.

The story of Joseph found in the last 12 chapters of the book of Genesis is amazing. It is a story with false accusations, hardship, and hurt, all with the potential for great pain and revenge. But it is primarily a story of faith and forgiveness. It is a real story of reconciliation. I urge you to read the whole thing. I encourage you to listen as the Holy Spirit teaches you the lessons of faith in the sovereignty of God and the faithfulness of the follower of God. You will learn the power of perseverance. You will discover the fulfillment of forgiveness. You will revel at the reconciliation of relationships. But be careful as you read. You will see yourself in the story somewhere, and God will seek to change you. Let Him do it. You may see it as temporary hurt, but God intends it for good.

Pastor John

Everyone Has a Story

LifeLink Devotional

Monday, September 17, 2018

Romans 9:1-3  I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.

Everyone has a story. I’m going to tell you one right now. It happened during the Super Bowl in 2009. There were 18 seconds left in the first half. The score was 10-7. Arizona was on Pittsburgh’s three-yard line and preparing to take the lead. Kurt Warner released a pass headed towards receiver Anquan Boldin, when Steeler linebacker James Harrison stepped in front of Boldin and intercepted the pass at the goal line. He then proceeded to run past and over almost every Cardinal player on his way to a 100-yard touchdown. It was the longest play in Super Bowl history. It was phenomenal.

I was amazed. I was shocked. I wanted to see Kurt Warner win. But I was a boyhood Pittsburgh fan. I didn’t know whether to be angry or overjoyed.

Just as Harrison crossed the goal line the phone rang. It was my son Josh. He was having a youth group Super Bowl party. I thought he was calling to see if I had seen the play. When he answered there was no noise in the background. There was excitement in his voice. He proceeded to inform me that two of the unchurched girls in his youth ministry were at the party. They had also been in church that morning. They had lots of questions, and Josh and his wife Brittany had talked to them during the day. At the very moment that the officials ruled that Harrison had scored a touchdown, Josh informed me that both girls had just prayed to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. God had just intercepted two lives and scored touchdowns in their lives. His story was better by far.

After rejoicing with Josh for a moment, I asked him if he had even seen the interception and touchdown run. He knew nothing about it. There was something much more important that he was doing. We rejoiced some more – after I told him the football story – and he told me he’d give us all the details at our staff prayer meeting in the morning. I anxiously awaited the details. There is no greater story than the story of reconciliation to God.

I have two things with which to challenge you. First, how many of us would be willing to sacrifice the first-hand experience of Super Bowl stories and even the funny commercials for the experience of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with another person? Would we have told them to wait until after the game? I am so proud of Josh and Brittany for sacrificing the temporary and insignificant for the sake of the eternally significant. We must all be alert to the distinction we must make between personal gratification and God’s call to be ministers of reconciliation, and we must choose the latter over the former every time.

Second, I want to share some stories of reconciliation with you over the next few days that will hopefully encourage you. Some will be stories like the one today – stories of reconciliation to God. Others will be stories of reconciliation between people. I must admit I have limited resources for stories of people reconciling with others. Maybe you have one or two and would like to share them. Please email them to me, or, if you prefer, post them yourself to this blog. I want us to see reconciliation in action.

In closing, let me challenge you to look carefully at your life and see what things, interests, goals, or activities take priority over being interrupted by God to be a minister of reconciliation to another person. Surrender them. After all, is there anything so great in our lives that it should be held on to at the cost of another person’s soul?

Pastor John

Restoration

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, September 14, 2018

Jeremiah 15:19  Therefore this is what the LORD says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me.”

When I was born out in Pennsylvania over 65 years ago, my mom and dad were missionaries with the American Sunday School Union. They had very little in the way of possessions. Mom wanted a rocking chair so she could snuggle and cuddle with her precious first born son. One of the farm families they knew from their missionary work told Dad that there was an old rocking chair up in the hay loft of the barn. They could have it if they wanted it. Dad climbed up and got it, took it home, cleaned it up, and put a new cushion cover on it. It was an old chair, and had no arm rests. It couldn’t have been very comfortable for mom as she supported the head of her baby with nothing to support her arm. But every child she had was rocked in that chair. When I was in high school I remember my grandma who lived with us sitting in that chair as she read her Bible. That rocker had become a family heirloom.

As time went by, the chair got older and weaker. One of the small rails along the side of the seat cushion snapped. One of the braces between the legs cracked. It was hard to see the chair not being used for its original intent because it was broken. It just sat in the room as a conversation piece, but had no real function. I asked my parents if I could have it. My request was granted.

At the time we were living in a community that was surrounded by farms owned by Amish craftsmen. I took the chair to one of them and asked if it could be restored to useable condition and as near to original condition as possible. The hardest part would be duplicating the curves in the original side rails. He said he would do his best.

When we got the chair back it was beautiful. Every detail of the original had been duplicated. The cut, curves, and grain of the wood matched perfectly. I decided to put the chair to the ultimate test – I sat in it. There were no creaks any more. It rocked. I mean it literally rocked.

Living right next door to us at the time was an antique dealer. I took the chair over to him and asked him to appraise it for me. He looked it over carefully. He noticed it had been restored, but only thought it had been refinished. He was not able to see the new parts that were put on the chair. He offered me $300 for it. I refused, and then told him the truth about the restoration. He didn’t care. He still wanted the chair.

I still have that rocker. I even sit in it every once in a while. Most of the time it rests in our guest bedroom which is our family heritage room. But that chair is more than just an heirloom – it has a new significance to me today. I see it as an illustration of reconciliation.

If you’ve been following closely this week you will notice that there have been four aspects of reconciliation we have discussed.

  • Responsibility
  • Reaching Out
  • Repentance
  • Restoration

Each one of those “R’s” applies to my rocker. I took personal responsibility for its condition. As a teen ager I may or may not have been the one who was sitting in it when the leg brace cracked, but I certainly did sit in it a lot. I certainly was partially responsible. When I saw it was deteriorating broken, I reached out to fix it. When I took it to the Amish craftsman I had to confess to him everything that was wrong with the chair so he could repair it all. I was willing to watch the chair be changed. Repentance requires change. When the chair was repaired, it was restored to its original function. In fact, after the restoration, the chair had greater value than before.

That’s reconciliation – taking responsibility for what is broken, reaching out in repentance, and restoring it so that it not only functions again but has greater value than before. That’s how Jeremiah describes it when he relates to us the LORD’s words – “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me.”  Reconciled relationships are restored relationships that bring honor to God.

Does your life seem to be a desolate waste, filled with broken things? Does it feel like you’ve fallen off your rocker. Let the words of the LORD in Jeremiah encourage you – In the places that are deserted there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD, saying, “Give thanks to the LORD Almighty, for the LORD is good; his love endures forever.” For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before.

Reconciliation brings restoration. Restoration brings rejoicing. Your relationships can be restored, and they will rock! Get started today.

Pastor John

The Pain of Correction

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, September 13, 2018

2 Corinthians 7:9-10  For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

As far as the Biblical record indicates, the Apostle Paul wrote more letters to the church in the city of Corinth than to any other church. A careful reading of the two letters we have in the Bible reveals that there were at least two other letters he had written. One of those letters ,which we do not have but is referred to in Second Corinthians, was, by Paul’s own admission, pretty harsh. He was having a hard time getting people of that church to stop their sinning, and to stop bringing that sin into the church. There came a time when he had to get firm and forceful with them. Paul was acting righteously. He was fulfilling God’s call upon his life. The people had made their own choices that brought out the wrath of God against their sin, and Paul was the messenger. What Paul did was justified. How he felt about it teaches us a lot about reconciliation.

As you read the seventh chapter of 2 Corinthians – and I encourage you to do so – you will discover the love and compassion Paul had in his heart for the people he had to correct. After writing the letter of rebuke to them, he immediately felt sorrow over how it was going to affect the people he loved so much. Even though he had the right to write, he also had the heart to hurt. The New Living Translation puts Paul’s words in verse 8 this way – I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. That’s the kind of heart attitude we all need if we are going to see God reconcile relationships.

Far too many Christians bring a spirit of pride into their relationships. I know I’m right and I expect them to come to me and repent. That certainly wasn’t Paul’s attitude. Paul knew he was right, but his pride never kept him from feeling the pain he was causing by being right. We get so wrapped up in the story of our own life that we stop caring about the stories being lived out by others. We especially seem to not care how our story is having a negative effect on their story. That uncaring spirit is especially magnified when we convince ourselves that we are not to blame for how they feel. Paul shows us that true reconciliation is only possible if the one in the right cares about the one in the wrong, just as God the Father did for us when we were in our sin.

As a parent, I know what it’s like to walk away from a moment of discipline with one of the children and go to a quiet place and pray for them because I knew how much they must be hurting to have had to be corrected. The correction of sin in any of our lives is painful because all sin is the prideful expression of self. It hurts to have self accused of being wrong. We take it as an attack against our value. We usually lash back at the one doing the correcting, trying to restore some self-respect. That is what concerned Paul when he said he understood the pain he had caused them. He was afraid they would lash back at him rather than be led to repentance and reconciliation.

I see two lessons here. First, we must not react in a prideful way when someone tries to correct a wrong in our lives. We must respond as Paul said the people of Corinth did. Look at what he says about them. I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. 

That’s incredible. That’s how reaching out to bring repentance results in reconciliation. That’s the kind of sorrow God wants all His people to have when they are confronted with sin in their lives.

Second, we must not react in a prideful way when we have to correct the wrong in someone else’s life. Paul wanted the hurt to last only long enough to bring them back to Christ. Pride seeks prolonged pain. Love seeks repentance and reconciliation. It would be easy for us in our sinful flesh to hope the hurt endures long enough to teach them a good lesson. Paul knew that would be our natural tendency when he contrasted that attitude with the heart of love in First Corinthians 13. He said, Love does not delight in seeing evil done to another. The true heart of love, while needing to correct wrong, feels the pain caused by the correction, and hopes change happens quickly.

Reconciliation only happens when repentance is present. Paul repented – not for writing the letter, but for the pain the letter caused. It was that spirit that proved to the people at Corinth that he truly loved them and desired what was best for them. As a result, they were led to repentance and a reconciled relationship with God and each other.

Each one of us is somewhere in this process in our own lives. We are either being corrected or we are having to correct another person. If you are being corrected, crucify pride, and let Godly sorrow bring you to repentance so reconciliation can happen. If you are doing the correcting, do it with compassion that feels the pain of the person needing to confess. Let us not sin while we are in the middle of correcting sin.

Pastor John

Be A Peacemaker

LifeLink Devotional

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

2 Corinthians 5:19-20  And God gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors.

Once upon a time…I’ve always wanted to start a devotional that way.

Once upon a time there was a man living a prosperous life in a distant land. Serving him in his household was a slave to whom had been entrusted much responsibility. Then one day, in an effort to not only be free but to be wealthy as well, the slave stole from his master and ran away. He travelled to the capital of the kingdom and while there he met a man of God. As their friendship developed, the slave became a true believer in Jesus Christ.

The man of God knew what had to be done – the slave had to return to his original master. He must confess his sin and seek forgiveness and reconciliation. He was filled with fear. How would he ever be able to convince his former master that he was different now? What if his master would not forgive him and instead throw him in prison for his crime?

The man of God began to encourage him to be willing to suffer for his faith. It was powerful teaching because it was being backed up by personal experience. You see, the man of God was currently under arrest for his faith in Jesus Christ. He could testify to the sufficiency of God’s grace to endure any suffering that comes as a result of serving Jesus as Lord. So the slave agreed that he would go back.

Sitting in the room with the man of God was another man who had been very active in missionary work. He remembered the trouble they had when they had been together on a mission trip. He had deserted them and returned home before the trip was over. Then he had the nerve to come back with his cousin – a dear and trusted friend of the man of God – and want to go on another mission trip. The man of God refused to consider it, and had such a sharp argument with the cousin that they broke their friendship and went their separate ways. Now, years later, here they were in the same room again – the man of God and the deserter. All because the cousin had not given up on their relationship, and had reached out to begin the process of reconciliation.

As the man of God looked across the room and considered that restored relationship, he knew what he had to do. He would write a letter to the former master of the slave, and appeal to his spiritual understanding of God’s love. He knew the decision the former master had made for Christ years earlier. In fact, the man of God had visited the church he attended where he lived. He knew of the man’s faith and was especially impressed with the testimony of the man’s love for other believers. So a letter was composed. He usually had someone else write his letters for him as he dictated because his eyesight was so bad. But this time, because it was so important, he wrote the letter in his own handwriting. He appealed to the master on the basis of love, and gave testimony to the salvation and service of the former slave. He admitted that at one time the slave was useless to him because of his sin, but that now, in Christ, all that is forgiven and he has proven himself useful to the work of God. He even went so far as to volunteer to repay any debt that the master was still holding to the account of the slave.

He looked across the room again at the one who had been a deserter, and then he added one more line to the letter. He told the master that the deserter was present, and that he was now fully restored to relationship as a brother and fellow worker in the Lord’s work. Then he closed the letter by saying, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with your spirit.”

He knew it was all about grace. He knew that this kind of reconciliation could only happen if God’s grace overwhelms our natural instinct for justice. He himself had dealt with that issue with the deserter some time previously. He had learned that it’s more important to reach out than it is to prove who was right. In fact, it’s in giving up the right to be right that we will discover true reconciliation. His letter was asking the master to do the same by the grace of God.

As the man of God finishes the letter, he looks around the room and sees another faithful brother in Christ. He decides to send him back to the master with the slave as another testimony to the slave’s spiritual renewal. He seals up the letter, hands it to his fellow worker, and he and the slave leave the capital city for the long journey to the home town of the prosperous master. When they arrive, the letter is delivered.

That’s it. The story ends there. We don’t know how the master responded to the letter. We don’t know what happened to the slave. Sounds like the kind of ending I hate at a movie. But none of that is ultimately important. What is significant for us to know is that we are all responsible to reach out to seek the reconciliation of brothers and sisters in Christ when relationships have been broken for any reason.

Barnabas did it with the Apostle Paul when John Mark had deserted them on a mission trip.

The Apostle Paul did it for Onesimus when he had stolen and run away from his master Philemon.

You may have had it done for you by someone who understood the gift of reconciliation that can be given to those who are suffering from the pain of separation.

Now I urge you to do the same for others. Be a minister of reconciliation.

Pastor John

Who’s to Blame?

LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Matthew 5:23-24  “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

I have no idea what started the fight. In fact, there had been a series of fights. One day we went to our bedroom, locked the door, and began slugging it out. I had thrown him on the bed and was in the middle of a flying leap from my bed to his when his feet came up into my midsection. He flipped me right over his head. The problem was that the bed was next to the wall, and my head went through the sheetrock. I missed going through the second story window by just inches. The fight stopped for a while as we developed a plan to cover the hole. But it wasn’t over. Days later I attacked him with some horrible words, and as he tried to punch me I ran from the house. He locked the doors. I found an open window. He closed the window on me while I was halfway through and began pounding on my back. I soon discovered that I was never going to be able to best my brother at anything – until I discovered golf.

So what do you think? Based on the facts of the story as told above, which one of us had the responsibility to go to the other and seek reconciliation? I’ll wait a moment while you review the case and try to decide which of us was to blame……

OK, enough time. I need to tell you that this was a trick. While the story is true in every detail, it’s a trick because in God’s eyes responsibility for reconciliation has nothing to do with who’s to blame. If it did, we would never be able to be saved and reconciled to God because in our sin we would never seek the One who is sinless. God’s model of reconciliation is for the One in the right to seek out the one in the wrong. Time spent determining blame is wasted time that prolongs the pain of separation.

Look closely at today’s Scripture verses. Do you see any mention of blame? I don’t. I see a person who knows that there is a problem between himself and a brother, but we have no indication of who was at fault. All we see is that any attempt to declare yourself right with God in worship is invalid if we are not right with one another.

If we look at the context of these words of Jesus, we see something very important. They are taken from what we now call the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus is teaching the people that there is a higher standard than the law by which we are to live. His first illustration of this is with the commandment “Do not murder.” Everyone listening to him agreed that this was the law. But Jesus carries the law to its fullest meaning when He says, “…anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” It is at this point that Jesus says “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

Now it gets really interesting. Follow the logic of Jesus here. He says murder makes us subject to judgment. He then says that anger expressed in sinful behavior to another person makes us subject to the same judgment. Then He says – ooh, this is so good – that if you know that your brother feels this way towards you – that he has something against you that is causing him to act sinfully towards you, that you are responsible to go to him and make it right before you come and worship God. It is arrogant to come before God and worship when we know that someone else is in danger of God’s judgment because of how they feel about us. Jesus says that until we are right with one another God does not want our offerings of worship.

There is yet another lesson here. We are told to “go and be reconciled to your brother.” Jesus does not say to go and attempt to be reconciled. We are not let off the hook just because we claim to have tried our best. That may apply to a person who does not know Jesus Christ and is not our brother, but it doesn’t apply to brothers in Christ. There is never to be an unreconciled relationship in the body of Christ.

Sound idealistic? Yes, but maybe that’s because we haven’t really taken the words of Jesus seriously enough. Maybe it’s because we are still participating in the blame game. Maybe it’s because we believe Jesus excuses our human weakness and doesn’t really expect His words to be considered as absolute truth. Maybe it’s because we just don’t want to try. Whatever the reason, I believe Jesus intends for His body, the church, to be the living example of people who are reconciled to God by modeling true reconciliation with each other.

I can’t tell you when it happened, or even how it happened, but one day I received a phone call from my brother that proved it had happened. I was finishing my first year of college and he was preparing to graduate from high school. He called to ask if he could be my roommate in the dorm for the next year. We were reconciled. I wish I could tell you the exact steps we took to get that way, but I can’t. But I can tell you about forgiveness, and I’ll do that tomorrow. For today, take a fresh look at your broken relationships. Eliminate the need to place blame. Initiate contact. Go and be reconciled. It is your responsibility before God.

Pastor John