Becoming Heart Sisters, Week 4, The Forgiveness Business

 

This week, we have studied the importance of and the how-to’s of forgiveness for healthy, God-honoring relationships. When we consider the lavish gift of forgiveness that God first bestowed upon us, we are more willing to choose forgiveness toward others. By the grace of God, we have been forgiven of all our sins and declared “Not guilty,” although we did nothing to warrant such mercy. Now we are in a position to offer the same kindheartedness to others.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:8-9 NLT

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV

Because of his grace, he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. Titus 3:7 NLT

 

Matthew 18:21-35 tells of a man who owed the king millions of dollars. He was arrested and sentenced to be sold as a slave, along with his wife and children, until he could pay the debt. As he begged the king for mercy, the kind had pity on him and forgave his debt.

As the man was released, he went straight to a fellow servant who owed him only a small percentage of what he had just been forgiven, and he grabbed the servant by the throat and threated him. The servant begged for mercy, but the creditor would not show mercy. He had the servant thrown into jail!

The other servants saw this and reported it back to the king. When the king heard of this man’s lack of mercy toward his fellow servant, he recanted his act of forgiveness and had the man thrown into prison to be tortured until the debt could be paid. Jesus said:

“That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sister from your heart.” Matthew 18:35 NLT

Natalie Chambers Snapp puts it this way, “Forgiveness is the number one stumbling block we face when it comes to relationships. Our pain is real, and Jesus cares about it all. Yet He calls us to forgive it all— every single offense, big and small— because that’s how He forgives us.

What a powerful illustration of what Christ has done for us, and in turn, what He has called us to do for others!

You may have thoughts such as:

“You don’t know what this person did to me. They don’t deserve forgiveness.”

  • No, but we don’t deserve forgiveness either. Yet, God loved us so much that He gave His life so we could be forgiven. It’s called grace. Besides, forgiveness is more about freeing ourselves and choosing to live in peace than it is about letting the other person off the hook.

“You don’t know how badly this person hurt me. If I forgive, it will minimalize what they did.”

  • True, you have been hurt. Forgiveness does not deny the hurt, nor does it mean that they are not accountable to God for their actions. What you are doing is to put it in God’s hands instead of seeking retribution yourself. God can take care of it much better than we ever could!

“I cannot allow this person back into my life after what they did.”

  • Forgiveness does not mean that you are a door mat who has to allow the abuse to continue. It is OK to establish healthy boundaries, and it is possible to do so with a heart full of forgiveness.

“Every time I try to forgive, the hurt and anger keeps coming back. I just can’t get over this!”

  • I have learned that actions usually must precede the emotion. We first make the choice to forgive out of obedience, and soon our feelings will follow suit. Until then, what I have learned that helps the most is to pray for the one who has hurt me, and to speak kind words to and about the person. This will catapult you into the fast track to healing!

“But I really just don’t like this person! I don’t want to forgive, and I surely don’t want to build any kind of relationship with this person!

  • This is a tough one for sure, but we aren’t getting off the hook with this one! To love as Christ loves does not mean we have to be BFF’s with this person. When Jesus went to the Samaritan woman, hers was a race the Jews despised. Yet, Jesus looked beyond the external and saw into her soul. He loved her anyway; however, He didn’t invite her to hang out with his disciples or travel with him on his ministry journeys. It is OK to admit we don’t fit together well with someone, or that they belong in the outer ring of our hearts, but it is a choice to love with the unconditional love of God.

We love each other because he loved us first.

If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers. 1 John 4:19-21 NLT

 

This Scripture sums up the process of forgiveness so beautifully! Let these words sink in deeply.

 

Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,

“I will take revenge;
I will pay them back,
says the Lord.

Instead,

“If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap
burning coals of shame on their heads.”

Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. Romans 12:17-21 NLT

 

Here is a quick recap of the daily lessons:

Day 1

 If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15 NLT

We read the story of 1 Samuel 18 and 19 of how Saul grow more and more jealous and angry toward David. Because of David’s success, Saul’s pride was threatened, and that turned him against his trusted servant. He tried to kill him.

We learned how jealousy and pride are often at the root of our conflicts. This stirs up negative thoughts and emotions which distort our reasoning. If we aren’t watchful, Satan can use these emotions to rip apart our friendships. That is why it is so important to remain humble and open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives so that we can nip these situations in the bud.

The most important aspect of our study today was the contemplation of what Christ did for us. Because of our great salvation, we are empowered to forgive others. We searched our hearts to rid ourselves of any unforgiveness we are holding against anyone.

I love this quote from today’s lesson:

Having the humility of Jesus means we care about valuing and choosing relationship rather than being right or getting even.

Day 2

Refusing to forgive results in an angry, bitter heart that is in constant turmoil. We become cranky, selfish, and resentful. It affects every area of our lives. We build up impenetrable walls around our hearts that cause us to distance ourselves from fulfilling relationships. We cannot possibly do or be all God planned for us when we are stuck in this bitter state.

The thing is, when we harbor unforgiveness, we are only hurting ourselves. I have heard it said many times that it is like drinking a cup of poison and expecting the other person to die. It is nonsense!

As Natalie says in the book:

Resentment, bitterness, and anger are like battery acid to the soul, eating us alive.

I don’t want any part of that!

One of my all-time favorite stories from the Bible illustrates one of the most beautiful examples of forgiveness I have ever read.

After all that we read about Saul yesterday, of how he had tried multiple times to kill David, and he chased David with a murderous hatred for four years! Saul’s bitterness and hatred consumed him until the day he died. However, instead of nursing, rehearsing, cursing, and dispersing, David chose a different route.

He mourned Saul’s death, and then he went out of his way to show kindness to Saul’s descendants. He found Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son who had been crippled as a child, and David restored all the land to him that had belonged to his grandfather. He also hired workers to farm the land for him, and he invited Mephibosheth to eat at the king’s table for the rest of his life.

Here is another example we learn from David. We see his writings throughout the book of Psalms during the time he was on the run from Saul. This shows us the benefit of crying out to God instead of crying out at the person who has harmed us.

Let us choose to cry out to God and release our heavy burden of unforgiveness so we can walk in the freedom Jesus died to give us!

Day 3

You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. Genesis 50:20 NLT

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 NLT

It’s important to remember that whatever evil has been hurled your way, God will block it and turn it into something for your good. He uses our pain to develop character and show more of His care for us. He gives us wisdom and endurance. In other words, no matter what anyone has done to hurt us, don’t sweat it because God is going to turn it around for our good.

That’s the way God rolls, friend. He picks up the pieces of devastation in our lies and turns them into a beautiful masterpiece of redemption. ~Natalie Chambers Snapp

Joseph’s brothers had dumped him into a well and had him sold into slavery. However, that was all part of God’s divine providence, so that Joseph would be in the position to save their lives later and prevent them from starving to death.

Even the most brutal act of torture and hatred, the crucifixion of Christ, was met by Jesus not with bitterness, but only the words, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Jesus set the example for us because He knew what the cross meant for us – forgiveness, freedom, eternal life, reconciliation with God!

Therefore, when we have been hurt, and we are having a tough time forgiving the one who has hurt us, remember this: God will work it out for our good.

With that in mind, we are now in the place to set this example for others. We can model forgiveness and love in an unforgiving world. People are watching, so let’s let them see Jesus in us!

Day 4

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

Shame is a dark shadow that creeps over our being and tries to paralyze us with lies— lies telling us that our sin, rather than our Savior, defines us; that we will never be forgiven for what we did. God doesn’t want us to live under the dark umbrella of shame, because it does not align with the truth. Through Christ, we are a forgiven people. ~Natalie Chambers Snapp

Forgiving ourselves means to accept what Christ has already done for us. Instead of carrying the heavy load of shame, Christ offers us rest and to lighten our load.

  • God’s Word says that we have been made new!
  • I am forgiven! I am 100% made clean because of Christ!
  • My past cannot haunt me anymore. I am free!
  • God’s Word says I am His daughter. I am the “righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.”
  • I am loved with an everlasting love.
  • I am chosen and accepted by Him.
  • I was created in His image!
  • There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! (Romans 8:1)
  • The very same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead lives in me!
  • There is so much more! Instead of harboring bitterness and shame toward yourself, turn it around by reminding yourself of the truth in God’s Word. The truth will set you free!

Day 5

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:12-13 NIV

Something interesting happens when you pray for your enemy: your heart softens toward that person, and forgiveness becomes a little easier to stomach. ~Natalie Chambers Snapp

We learned some practical steps today to help us walk in forgiveness:

  1. Meditate on Scriptures about forgiveness.
  2. Pray for the person you need to forgive.
  3. Understand forgiveness is mandatory.
  4. Ask God to reveal what’s at the root of your inability to forgive.
    1. Grieve the hurt. “Give yourself adequate time to grieve the loss that results from the offense. That is a normal and critical part of the forgiveness process.”
    2. Make a choice to forgive.
    3. Experience freedom.
    4. Forgive again (and again and again!)

Be patient with yourself as you are waling this path. Remember the best part of following Jesus is grace, and give yourself some of it too! ~Natalie Chambers Snapp

Choosing to forgive is seeking peace. Seeking peace is not necessarily being meek and quiet – a doormat for all to walk upon It’s not about people pleasing or being a pushover. Instead, seeking peace means choosing relationship over strife. ~Natalie Chambers Snapp

 Discussion Questions Week 4

 

 ICE BREAKER: What do you most look forward to this summer?

 

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13 NIV

QUESTION 1: Why is it so important to forgive, and what are the negative consequences of refusing to forgive?

 

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:15 NIV

No one is born bitter. We become bitter through life experiences. We’ve all heard the cliché “It can make you bitter or better.” It’s a cliché for a reason: it’s truth. (Day 2)

QUESTION 2: How would you describe a bitter person? (page 115). Has there been a time in your own life when this description fit you? If so, what was the cause of your bitterness? (page 116).

 

You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. Genesis 50:20 NLT

Even when we are in the midst of horrible circumstances and pain, we can trust that God will redeem it somehow and use it for good. (Day 3)

QUESTION 3: Recall a time when you were wronged and found it difficult to forgive— but ultimately you did. How would you describe that journey to forgiveness? Did God bring any good from your situation?

 

Shame is a dark shadow that creeps over our being and tries to paralyze us with lies— lies telling us that we’re horrible; that our sin, rather than our Savior, defines us; that we will never be forgiven for the terrible thing we did. (Day 4)

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB

QUESTION 4: What are you believing about yourself or someone else that does not align with the truth of God’s Word? Why do we cling to our shame when we have the promise of having been made new? How can we be free from shame or false beliefs about ourselves?

 

 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago.  We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. Romans 3:21-24 NLT

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

Forgiving ourselves means to accept what Christ has already done for us. Instead of carrying the heavy load of shame, Christ offers us rest and to lighten our load. Here’s another great thing: we need to confess and ask forgiveness for a specific offense only once. God doesn’t want us to carry around our junk, sisters. (Day 4)

QUESTION 5: What does God’s Word say about us? Why is it so important to forgive ourselves and live lightly? What does it feel like to give our heavy load to Jesus once and for all?

 

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44 NIV

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18 NIV

Choosing to forgive is seeking peace. Seeking peace is not necessarily being meek and quiet— a doormat for all to walk upon. It’s not about people pleasing or being a pushover. Instead, seeking peace means choosing relationship over strife. (Day 5)

QUESTION 6: Is there someone you need to forgive? Has a lack of forgiveness kept you from joy and freedom? What do you need to do in order to move toward forgiveness?

 Assignments for the Week:

  • Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and wisdom to You from God’s Word and to transform your heart.
  • Read Week 5 from the member book.
  • Attend a small group.
  • Participate in daily activities in the Heart to Heart Facebook group.

How This Works

  • Register by leaving a comment below. Tell us where you are from and what you hope to glean from this study.
  • Subscribe to this site to receive future updates by email. Enter your email address in the field to the right, and then click the subscribe button.
  • Join our closed Facebook group, Heart to Heart Women’s Bible Study, for weekly interaction, activities, videos, and small group sessions. Closed means that no one will be able to see our posts unless they are members of the group. This is for your safety and privacy.
  • Small Groups: There will be a schedule for small groups pinned to the top of the Facebook group, Heart to Heart Women’s Bible Study, as we get closer to the time. All you need to do is show up at the scheduled day and time, and the discussion will take place underneath the group photo.
  • Follow my ministry page on Facebook, Shari Lewis Ministries, to stay up-to-date on ministry events and for daily prayers, nuggets of wisdom and encouragement for your life, photos that you are welcome to share, and faith building blog posts to strengthen you in your walk with Christ.
  • Purchase the study books.

Reading Schedule

  • May 1-7, Study Week 1: Why Do We Need Girlfriends and Where Do We find Them?
    • Small groups: Introduction. No need to ready anything ahead of time.
  • May 8-14, Study Week 2: Getting Right with God
    • Small groups: Discuss Week 1
  • May 15-21, Study Week 3: Clash of the Titans
    • Small groups: Discuss Week 2
  • May 22-28, Study Week 4: The Forgiveness Business
    • Small groups: Discuss Week 3
  • May 29-June 4, Study Week 5: Blurred Lines
    • Small groups: Discuss Week 4
  • June 5-11, Study Week 6: Heart Sisters Do’s and Don’ts
    • Small groups: Discuss Week 5
  • June 12-18
    • Small groups: Discuss Week 6

 

I look forward to seeing you in small groups this week!

God bless!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Steadfast Love Summer Bible Study at Heart to Heart

I am so excited to announce our summer Bible study at Heart to Heart! We will be studying Steadfast Love by Lauren Chandler, a 7-week study based on Psalm 107. We will grow in depth and authenticity of worship as we discover fresh and new the faithfulness and steadfast love of our Lord, regardless of our circumstances or season of life.

We will begin Monday, June 19th and wrap it up the week of July 31st.

Here is the fun part!

We will be joining with Lifeway Women’s Online Bible Study for their summer program. They will be posting the videos for this study each week for FREE, and I will post the link for these on our page. We will keep it within our own small groups to keep the bond we have been developing at Heart to Heart; however, you are welcome to join with Lifeway in addition if you desire.

Watch this video to become acquainted with the author and get a taste of this wonderful study!

There are times it is easy to rejoice in the goodness of the Lord and shout His praises! Worship seems second nature when things are going smoothly in our lives. However, we will discover greater assurance of His love and His goodness through this study, even through the storms of life, when it seems the tumultuous waves will overpower us and take us under. Through it all, God’s love remains steady and sure, as the old hymn says, “an anchor in the time of storm.”

As described by the publisher,

Psalm 107 is a call to worship. It reminds us that each season of life is an opportunity to reveal the anchor of our souls. In this 7-session Bible study, learn to face both storms and deserts with courage and trust in Jesus, and discover how tests in our journeys of faith reveal the true condition of our hearts. For there is no fear for the one who fears the Lord, the one whose soul is anchored in His steadfast love.

How This Works

  • Register by leaving your name and email address below. Tell us where you are from and what you hope to glean from this study in the comments too!
  • Subscribe to this site to receive future updates by email. Enter your email address in the field to the right, and then click the subscribe button.
  • Join our closed Facebook group, Heart to Heart Women’s Bible Study, for weekly interaction, activities, videos, and small group sessions. Closed means that no one will be able to see our posts unless they are members of the group. This is for your safety and privacy.
  • Small Groups: There will be a schedule for small groups pinned to the top of the Facebook group, Heart to Heart Women’s Bible Study, as we get closer to the time. All you need to do is show up at the scheduled day and time, and the discussion will take place underneath the group photo.
  • Follow my ministry page on Facebook, Shari Lewis Ministries, to stay up-to-date on ministry events and for daily prayers, nuggets of wisdom and encouragement for your life, photos that you are welcome to share, and faith building blog posts to strengthen you in your walk with Christ.
  • Purchase the study book. You may purchase online through the links below or pick up a book from Lifeway in person.

*We will specifically be going through the member book, NOT the trade book; however, if you require an electronic version, you may purchase the trade book instead. 

Lifeway: member book – printed version

Lifeway: member book – eBook

Amazon: member book – printed version

Amazon: trade book – hard cover, Kindle, Audible, Audio CD

 

I hope you’ll join us!

Register here!

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Daily Word, 1 Samuel 25, Staying Sweet in a Rotten Marriage

 

“Peace and prosperity to you, your family, and everything you own!” 1 Samuel 25:6 NLT

Please forgive me if I have offended you in any way. The Lord will surely reward you with a lasting dynasty, for you are fighting the Lord’s battles. And you have not done wrong throughout your entire life. 1 Samuel 25:28 NLT

Read 1 Samuel 25.

 

What do you do when you are stuck in a relationship with a jerk? What does a Godly person do? Do we just lay down and allow ourselves to be a floor mat? While Jesus instructs us to forgive and forgive and forgive, does that mean that we are supposed to just take it when they hurl attacks at us? What if our spouse, or someone close to us, embarrasses us by his/her crude behavior toward others?

By the world’s standards, we would have every right to take matters into our own hands and retaliate. We could teach this person a lesson they would never forget. However, where would that lead? Would it really make things better?

Today, we are going to learn some wonderful relationship advice from a brand-new character in our story, Abigail. Abigail was in just this situation. She was married to a “jumbo-jerk,” Nabal. He was a very wealthy man, but the Bible describes him as harsh and evil. Abigail, on the other hand, was beautiful, intelligent, and kind. I’m not sure how they got together, but I am inspired by the way she behaves, despite his crude ways.

We will learn from Abigail that no matter what anyone else does, we are not responsible for their behavior, but we are accountable for our own. We are still supposed to obey God and do what is right, regardless of anyone else’s behavior. Even when her husband was pure evil, she stayed sweet and allowed God to take care of her husband in His own time. Her faith and obedience will definitely pay off!

During sheep shearing time, David approached Nabal and asked for his help. He and his men were starving and were in need of provisions. Nabal certainly had more than enough to share. David explained that while Nabal’s shepherds were in the wilderness, he and his men protected them and never did any harm to them. David asked for Nabal’s kindness in return.

Nabal’s true colors came into light right away. He has no intention of helping David in any way. I can understand his apprehension to a point, but he had not even a hint of compassion or kindness in him at all.

“Who is this fellow David?” Nabal sneered to the young men. “Who does this son of Jesse think he is? There are lots of servants these days who run away from their masters.  Should I take my bread and my water and my meat that I’ve slaughtered for my shearers and give it to a band of outlaws who come from who knows where?” (verses 10 and 11)

Being a true warrior, David’s first response is to grab his sword and call his men into battle. He wasn’t going to stand for this treatment. However, if David had acted on impulse and allowed his temper to lead the way, the result would have been disastrous. Thankfully, one of Nabal’s servants intervened and prevents a blood bath.

He found Abigail and explained the situation to her. He described how David and his men had been kind to them and had merely requested some assistance. He also told her of how her husband had been cruel and had shouted insults to them. He urged her to think of something quickly before a bloody battle would ensue.

She wasted no time and gathered an ample supply of bread, grain, wine, meat, figs, and other fine foods for the men. She brought them to David and bowed low before him as she presented the supplies.

Now, I want you to really get this next part. Abigail shows true humility and strength of womanhood in her demeaner toward David. As she bowed, she took the blame for what had happened. It was NOT her fault, and she was not responsible for her husband’s actions, but out of love and consideration, she humbly took the blame in order to soften the atmosphere and prevent an explosion of egotistical tempers that were about to ignite.

I am amazed at how sweet she remained, even while she was covering for her evil husband’s behavior.

Understand, she does not have to do this. It is not our responsibility to cover up for someone else’s wrong choices. When we do, we are enabling their bad behavior. However, we do have the obligation to remain Christ-like in all our dealings. In this specific situation, she was more concerned with diffusing a fight than she was about teaching her husband a lesson.

Does being Christ-like mean that we are always nice? Not necessarily. Sometimes love must be tough. Remember when Jesus turned the tables over in the temple? This shows that there is a time for righteous anger and bold action. How many times did God lead his people into battle against evil nations? As Christians, we do not have to be syrupy sweet all the time or be taken advantage of. However, when we have the opportunity to demonstrate genuine love and humility, we must be all over it!

Yet, the question remains; would Christ have covered for Nabal? Well, didn’t he cover for us when he died for us and saved us by his grace? We were guilty, yet he stood in our place and took the blame for us, very much like Abigail did in place of her husband, and Christ declared us “Not guilty!” Praise the Lord!

I am so impressed with Abigail as she stood before David and was so kind to him. I especially liked something she said to him about her husband, “I know Nabal is a wicked and ill-tempered man; please don’t pay any attention to him. He is a fool, just as his name suggests…” (verse 25)

At least she didn’t sugar-coat it!

She also asked David to forgive her if she has offended her in any way. Forgive her? She hasn’t done anything! However, this is another lesson we can learn in our dealings with other people. My husband says that the one who has done the least in the situation should be the first one to apologize and ask for forgiveness. It is not about accepting blame, but it is being the bigger person to open up communication toward reconciliation. It is the right thing to do, and she understood that.

Abigail requested that David rethink his plan to kill her husband and fight his men. David was so touched by her sweetness, that he was happy to comply. Honey attracts more bees than vinegar!

Meanwhile, Nabal was throwing a huge party, which was traditional for sheep shearing time. He was drunk as a skunk! In the morning when he was sober, Abigail told him all that had happened. As a result, he had a stroke, or maybe a heart attack, and he went into a coma. His coma lasted for 10 days, and then the Word says that God struck him dead.

This is a perfect example of the benefit of allowing God to handle the jerks in our lives instead of taking matters into our own hands. I am not saying that God will always strike them dead, but I am saying that God will right the wrong and take care of the situation in His perfect way and His perfect timing. His ways are always best!

Do you like happy endings? When David heard that Nabal was dead, he took Abigail as his own wife, and she finally found happiness with a Godly man. I won’t go into the fact that she would only be part of a harem, but at least she is finally in a relationship with someone who has a heart after God’s heart!

 

 

 

 

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Daily Word, 1 Samuel 24, The Perfect Opportunity for Revenge

 

May the Lord judge between us. Perhaps the Lord will punish you for what you are trying to do to me, but I will never harm you. 1 Samuel 24:12 NLT

Read 1 Samuel 24.

 

In any team sport, well-planned strategy is paramount if you want to defeat the opposing side. You look for weaknesses or holes in the other team’s defense, and that is where you strike. This is true in soccer, football, basketball, tennis, etc. The goal is to win, and you do everything in your power to make that happen.

Similarly, when a general implements his plans for war, he maneuvers his troops ever so carefully to ensure the best possible odds for winning the war. Again, strategy is vital, and the enemy’s weaknesses are exploited. It’s the ugly truth of war.

David, on the other hand, while being a war hero who was very well acquainted with winning strategies and fiercely defeating his foes, used a much different approach against his enemy Saul. He had dodged Saul’s attacks and had been living on the run merely to survive. His very life depended upon being rid of the threat of Saul’s very existence. He understood the necessity of taking advantage of any opportunity he could get to finally defeat Saul once and for all.

Soon, David would get his chance. He could possibly be rid of the madman who had attempted to murder him on more than one occasion, and the man who had been chasing him from one end of the country to another. It was like Saul was being handed over to David on a silver platter, and what could be a more vulnerable position to find your enemy in than for him to be using the bathroom in a cave with no knowledge that he is being watched.

David was close enough to touch Saul and could have ended this chase on the spot. He could have humiliated his enemy by slaying him right in the middle of one of the most personal and humble moments possible. His men kept nudging him and exclaiming that God had given him this very chance. So, do something, David!

What does David do instead? He reaches forward, ever so stealthily, and slices off a section of Saul’s robe with his sword. He then disappears into a dark crevice of the cave. Saul was none the wiser. He finished his business and exited the cave, having no idea of how his life had just been spared.

David then became unsettled in his heart. He felt guilty for disrespecting the king by cutting his robe. He had just spared Saul’s life, but he was remorseful for the minor act of damaging the king’s clothes. This is a perfect example of David’s character and his heart for God. Even though his life was in danger, he still had utmost respect for God’s anointed, Saul. He had enough faith to leave this threat in God’s hands, and he refused to do anything that would harm his enemy.

David’s next act of humility and courage has always surprised me when I have read it. David follows Saul out of the cave and shouts, “My Lord the king!” He then bows low before him. Instead of running, he bows with the highest respect.

I am reminded of my attitude toward others who have intended to harm me. It is easier to respond in kind with the same anger and malice toward them that they have shown me. However, it takes humility to try to understand the other person’s perspective instead of making assumptions and hurling retribution their way. We can do it because we can leave it in God’s hands. He will right every wrong, and in faith, we can trust that God’s ways are always best.

David didn’t have the advantage of Paul’s writing on the subject, but let’s look at this passage and really let it sink in:

Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,

“I will take revenge;
I will pay them back,”[a]
says the Lord.

20 Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap
burning coals of shame on their heads.”

21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. Romans 12:17-21 NLT

As David stood there waving the piece of cloth from Saul’s robe, he had the perfect opportunity to finally talk some sense into Saul. He explained that if he was really trying to harm Saul, he would have. This is proof that he intends him no harm! David also pledged to Saul that there was no way he was going to do anything to hurt him. He pleaded with Saul to just let it go!

Big, burly Saul began crying like a baby. He was so touched by what David did. If David had acted out of anger, he would have fueled Saul’s hatred and caused the situation to become even more heated than it already was. However, David knew the humility and kindness will go a long way to touch a person’s heart. This made a true impact on Saul.

May we learn from this example as well that humility and kindness will accomplish far more than revenge or bitterness ever will!

A gentle answer deflects anger,
but harsh words make tempers flare. Proverbs 15:1 NLT

Saul said a blessing to David instead of a curse. See what humility and kindness can accomplish? Even if it is going to be short lived! Anyway, Saul say, “May the Lord reward you for your kindness today.” Saul finally accepted and admitted that David will certainly someday be king. He asked David to vow that when he does become king, he will protect Saul’s family.

David promised him, and then they both went their separate ways. Problem solved? It seems like it. However, jealousy and hatred don’t die quickly. David was spared for the moment, but there is much more to come!

Today’s Daily Word is chock full of lessons in wisdom from David’s example. Let’s allow these to sink in deeply and apply them to our own relationships. See what a difference it makes when we submit to God’s ways instead of indulging our emotions. It will be worth it!

 

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Daily Word, 1 Samuel 23, And the Bullies Fail Again

 

Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. 1 Samuel 23:16 NLT

Read 1 Samuel 23.

 

Fear, betrayal, discouragement, lies, attacks, hiding…

Sounds like the making of a spy movie or a psychological thriller!

While David was in hiding from Saul, word reaches him that the people of Keilah are in trouble. The Philistines were stealing grain from the threshing floor and threatening them. What is interesting to me is that David’s very own life is on the line, but when he hears of a town being bullied, he is ready to rescue them. He doesn’t think of his own safety or the risk.

Something else I learn from this chapter is that every time David makes a move, He asks God first. I want to stay here for a moment. How many times have we jumped the gun and did what we reasoned was best instead of consulting the Lord in prayer first? How many messes would we avoid if we simply talked to God before doing anything else?

David asked God if he should protect the people of Keilah. When the Lord told him to go, he was on it! However, his men weren’t as willing to go. They were petrified! Remember yesterday when we read of how these men were all people who were in trouble, in debt, or just discontented. This wasn’t going to be an easy group to convince!

David went to the Lord again, and God told him to go save the people of Keilah. God promised to help them defeat the Philistines, and that is what happened. David and his men went with confidence because God was with them. They defeated the bullies and saved the town!

When Saul received word of David’s whereabouts, he thought this was going to be an easy job. Here was David stuck in a walled city! There was no escape – piece of cake! Saul thought this was going to be his chance.

Somehow, David got wind of Saul’s plans, and he went straight to the Lord before deciding what to do. The Lord revealed to him that the people of Keilah, the ones he had just saved from the Philistines, were going to betray him into the hands of Saul. Can you believe this? No loyalty! No gratitude!

David and his men escaped and stayed in hideouts in the hills of Ziph. Of course, Saul heard about it. I am amazed at how quickly news spreads in David’s time without the use of the internet! However, while Saul hunted David night and day, God prevented him from finding David. While may do all we can do, it is ultimately God who will protect us and provide for us.

Not only does God provide for David’s physical needs, but God also gives him the precious gift of having some time with his best friend, Jonathan, as well as receiving some much needed encouragement. While Saul knocked himself out trying to find David, God led Jonathan right to him. Jonathan encouraged David to stay strong in his faith in God.

“Don’t be afraid,” Jonathan reassured him. “My father will never find you! You are going to be the king of Israel, and I will be next to you, as my father, Saul, is well aware.” (verse 17)

For some reason, wherever David goes, he finds himself at the hands of a people who will betray him. The people of Ziph go straight to Saul and promise to turn David over to him. And the chase continues!

Again, David escapes, and this time, he and his men hide in the wilderness of Maon. Foiled again, Saul!

Just as Saul was about to close in on David, he receives word that the Philistines are on the attack again. He has to leave and fight the Philistines, and David gets a breather.

This was a simple part of the story, but I see quite a few lessons we can learn. I see a God who protects and saves His people and calms their fears.  I see the benefit of seeking God before making decisions as David did. I am inspired by the encouragement David receives from his best friend, Jonathan, and I want to be that kind of friend. I also see that God’s plan cannot be thwarted by bullies or enemies. When God chooses someone, He will make sure that person is aligned to fulfill his destiny. Praise the Lord!

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Daily Word, 1 Samuel 21-22, I Smell Trouble

 

When he told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord, David exclaimed, “I knew it! When I saw Doeg the Edomite there that day, I knew he was sure to tell Saul. Now I have caused the death of all your father’s family. Stay here with me, and don’t be afraid. I will protect you with my own life, for the same person wants to kill us both.” 1 Samuel 22:21-23 NLT

Read 1 Samuel 21-22.

 

David is getting his first taste of life on the run, and here is my thinking. When Saul had first tried to kill David, it was immediately after he had slain Goliath. Since David was not yet in the army and fighting with his brothers, he must have been less than 20 years old, the age men joined the military in Israel. Considering the references to David being just a boy reinforces the idea.

Therefore, while David was on the run from Saul, he must have still been quite young, and that shapes my perspective of imagining him hiding in caves and living off the land. He had led men in a number of victorious battles, but it couldn’t have been very long since he had just left his father’s home and had been living in the palace with Saul. He suddenly finds himself having to fend for his own needs but very soon leading his own band of warriors.

To begin, he needed sustenance and a weapon if he was going to survive. He knows right where to go, and that is to see Ahimelech the priest, in the town of Nob. David hides the real reason he is there so as not to arouse any suspicions, and Ahimelech is eager to help. He gives David the old showbread that had just been replaced in the temple and Goliath’s sword.

Unfortunately, one of Saul’s cronies, Doeg, just happened to be nearby and spied the entire transaction. I smell trouble!

Meanwhile, David fled to the king of Gash, Achish, for asylum. When the king’s servants saw him and recognized him, I can imagine them whispering back and forth, “Could this be the one and only David that slew the mighty giant, Goliath? Is he the David that everyone has been singing about? ‘Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten-thousands’?”

Maybe they were excited about a famous person in their midst, or maybe they were afraid and were planning to attack him. Either way, David wasn’t about to take a chance. He had heard their remarks and became afraid. His brilliant defense was to act like a madman, drooling all over his beard and scratching on doors. Who would want to touch someone like this? Perhaps this would fend off anyone who might intend to harm him.

King Achish wasn’t about to host a madman in his home. I like the way The Message puts it:

Achish took one look at him and said to his servants, “Can’t you see he’s crazy? Why did you let him in here? Don’t you think I have enough crazy people to put up with as it is without adding another? Get him out of here!” (verses 14-15)

When David left, he settled at the cave of Adullam. His family joins him, and so does a very interesting group of disgruntled losers. David is going to have his hands full with this motley group! Can you imagine what a challenge it will be to lead those whom the Bible describes as “all those who were in distress or in debt or discontented” (verse 2).

When David’s parents joined him, he was concerned about their safety. Perhaps life on the road was going to be a bit too strenuous for them. He requests for the King of Moab to take care of them in Mizpeh during the time he is on the run. What some may not remember is that his great-grandmother was none other than Ruth, the Moabitis. Yes, the very same Ruth from the book of Ruth! David had relatives in this land and knew that his parents would be taken care of.

A little later, the prophet Gad told David to go back to Judah. Upon his arrival to the nearby forest of Hereth. The news of David’s arrival did not settle well with Saul at all! He became agitated and began taking it out on his officers. How dare they keep the pact his son had made with David a secret from him! How dare they allow David to escape!

At that, Doeg spoke up. Remember him? He was the one who just so happened to witness the priest helping David when he was in Nob. He told Saul of how Ahimelech had sought the Lord for David and had provided food and a sword for him.

If Saul was about to boil over before, he was a raging inferno now! When he sent for the priest and his entire family, Ahimelech had no idea how furious Saul was toward him. After all, he didn’t realize he had aided David’s escape; he had simply done what he would have done on any other ordinary day.

Saul confronted Ahimelech and accused him of helping David plot against him. Ahimelech, of course, defended himself and explained that he had no idea of the situation. He vouched for David’s character and questioned Saul’s accusations.

Saul, in turn, ordered his men to kill all the priests. He accused them all of conspiring with David against him. However, for fear of the Lord, they refused to comply.

This part really gets me, but it is a clear display of the evil in King Saul’s heart, as well as Doeg’s. It also shows how foolish and irrational a hot head can be. Giving in to our tempers never produces good fruit!

Doeg brutally slew 85 priests on the spot! They were all still wearing their priestly garb as well. He then went to Nob and killed their entire families – men, women, children, babies, and all their animals too.

One of Ahimelech’s sons, Abiather, escaped and told David what had happened. David grieved that it was his fault this happened because he knew Doeg had seen him at the temple that day. Therefore, he asked Abiather to stay with him, and he would protect him with his life.

This was one of the most unbelievable stories I have ever read in the Bible, but what a display of how far evil can take a person! At one time, Saul was God’s chosen, but his disobedience toward God and his jealousy toward David took root and grew into the most hideously evil moments in Biblical history! While none of us could ever imagine doing something so horrible, what we can learn from this is that we must nip our sin in the bud before it has a chance to grow into a gruesome beast.

It only takes a small compromise or a season of spiritual neglect to lead us into a pit, and then we wonder how in the world we ever got there. It happens gradually, and we usually don’t recognize our downward spiral until it has taken us farther than we ever expected.

However, there is hope! The cure for this snowball effect of sin is to give our lives to the only one who has the remedy, the one who carried our sins to the cross and bore the punishment in our place. If we confess our sin, He will forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). If we give our lives to Him, He will exchange them for new life in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).

If you have questions about being saved, this should answer your questions, How Can I Be Saved?

Let me know if I can pray with you!

God bless!

 

 

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Daily Word, 1 Samuel 20, A Friendship Put to the Test

 

So Jonathan made a solemn pact with David, saying, “May the Lord destroy all your enemies!” And Jonathan made David reaffirm his vow of friendship again, for Jonathan loved David as he loved himself. 1 Samuel 20:16-17 NLT

Read 1 Samuel 20.

 

What a wonderful blessing from the Lord to share life with a good friend!

We have friends on many levels, from surface level acquaintances to the most intimate of heart friends. However, we may not be aware of who our most faithful allies are until we walk through a crisis together. Some who seem to be the dearest friends to us could very well be the ones who desert or betray us in the midst of our pain. On the other hand, we may also underestimate who the most loyal and devoted friends will be.

The true litmus test? We discover who is truly faithful in our times of crisis. May we be the kind of friend to others who stick close as a sister instead of being the one to tuck tail and run at the first sign of difficulty.

David and Jonathan had a special, one-of-kind friendship, and it was about to be tested and proven genuine. They would realize how much they truly did love each other. Their relationship was based on so much more than mere affection and simply enjoying spending time together. Jonathan would prove his loyalty to David on the deepest level.

While David was on the run from Saul who had tried to have him assassinated, he found Jonathan outside of Ramah. He asked Jonathan what in the world he had done wrong to cause the king to want to murder him. Jonathan was in denial at first and could not believe that his father would do such a thing. He and his father had always been close, and Saul had never kept something like this from his son.

David reasoned that because Saul knew about the special friendship his son, Jonathan, shared with David, he would certainly hide such plans from him. Jonathan was in shock and refused to believe such a thing about his father.

David set up a test and asked his friend to prove his loyalty to him. As they were preparing for the new moon festival, David decided to hide out in the field. He had always feasted with the king on this occasion, but this time, he would use his absence as a test to determine the king’s motives toward him. When Saul asks Jonathan where David is, Jonathan is to tell him that David was given permission to go home to Bethlehem and participate in a yearly sacrifice with his family.

Saul’s response would determine his true intentions. If he says, “Fine,” Jonathan will know that everything is OK. However, if Saul loses his temper and goes nuts because of David’s absence, Jonathan would know for sure that his father was bent on murdering his best friend.

Before he left, Jonathan reaffirmed his love for David, and they made a solemn pact together. Jonathan vowed to find out his father’s intentions and either let David know he was safe, or he would warn him so he could escape and live. He asked David to always treat him kindly, with the love of the Lord, and if he dies, to also treat his family with the faithful love of the Lord. He proclaimed to David, “May the Lord destroy all your enemies!”

The time came for the moon festival, and Jonathan was shocked at his father’s reaction. When Saul asked about David’s whereabouts, he went ballistic at Jonathan’s answer. The NLT says that he “boiled with rage.” Saul said horrible things to his son, even cursing him. He called his son a “stupid son of a whore!” (verse 30) He didn’t understand how Jonathan could be so loyal to David when David was going to eventually take his spot in line as the next king.

When Jonathan tried to defend his friend, David, Saul threw a spear at his own son trying to kill him! Jonathan understood for certain at this point that Saul really did intend to slay David and would have no mercy. “…He was crushed by his father’s shameful behavior toward David.” (verse 34)

Now it was time to warn David, but he had to be so careful not to betray David’s safety by taking the chance that someone might see them together. He brought a young boy with him to do some target practice with his bow and arrow. He purposely went to the field in the vicinity of David’s hiding place.

The agreed upon signal was that if David was safe, Jonathan would shoot three arrows and tell the young boy that the arrows are on this side of the giant stone near David’s hiding place. However, if David was in danger, Jonathan would tell the boy that the arrows are still ahead of him and to keep going.

After his encounter with his father, Jonathan took the young boy to the field as planned. As Jonathan shot the arrows, he told the boy that the arrows were still ahead of him and to keep going. David knew right away what that meant. His life was in danger. When the boy left. Jonathan and David sadly approached each other. They kissed each other and held each other in a tight embrace while they wept bitterly. They were heartbroken!

However, David knew that God would be with him, and that he had a faithful friend in Jonathan who was willing to risk his life to protect him.

“At last Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in peace, for we have sworn loyalty to each other in the Lord’s name. The Lord is the witness of a bond between us and our children forever.’ Then David left, and Jonathan returned to the town.” (verse 42)

 

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Becoming Heart Sisters, Week 3, Clash of the Titans

 

Every sailor would agree that sailing the calm, clear waters, as peaceful and beautiful as it may be, will eventually give way to some motion in the ocean. Troubled seas are inevitable!

My daughter is a sailor in the Navy. She won’t reveal much of what Boot Camp was like, but part of her training was about being prepared to handle a crisis when it happens. For example, she may never encounter a fire at sea, but she was required to be trained in firefighting techniques. It is wise to be equipped for anything that could happen so that if or when it does, they will overcome it.

This week, we will be talking about a differing kind of ship, friend”SHIP.” Similar to a ship on the water, we won’t always experience smooth sailing in our relationships. We may find ourselves navigating the rough waters of conflict. How wonderful it is when we get along, have fun together, strengthen each other spiritually, and have those warm-fuzzy moments. We love this friend”SHIP” thing as long as the waters are smooth sailing! But, that is not always going to be the case!

When a conflict occurs, however, we aren’t usually equipped to know what to do or say. The easiest thing to do is to allow our emotions to take the lead, or even easier, to split! For fear of handling the conflict, or to free ourselves from stress, we may either sweep the issue under the rug and hope for the best, or we may desert the relationship all together. If not dealt with, in time, all of the bottled-up emotion may come bubbling up to the surface and spew out like a geyser!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a better way to manage conflict with our loved ones? Wouldn’t it be a relief to have a heart to heart conversation that would bring understanding to all parties involved, and consequently, discover that your friendship can became stronger and more fulfilling as a result? Overcoming a dispute can actually cause your relationship to be more solid, and the bond to become deeper. However, if we are afraid of or dread dealing with the tough issues, we will end up settling for only surface friendships that are unfulfilling, and we may find ourselves lonely as a result.

I like what Natalie Chambers Snapp said,

“I think many of our hurts can be healed over a cup of coffee if we take the time to really listen to each other – as in focusing on what our friend is saying rather than outlining our defense as she’s speaking.”

As you can see, communication will be a vital key! We are going to learn some valuable principles this week to help us communicate with our friends in times of conflict so that we will have deeper, stronger friendships as a result! I’m excited about this!

Day 1

Wouldn’t it be nice if all we had to so was say “I’m sorry,” and all conflicts would be resolved? It doesn’t usually happen so easily. However, God gives us guidelines in His Word to help us have peace in our relationships. Our first step in smoothing the friction is to seek the peace of God. He is our source of peace, and we will never truly have peace any other way. Jesus said in Scripture:

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NLT

Some of the points we pondered in Day 1 is that

  • God is our source of peace.
  • Trusting in God and keeping our minds on Him will bring us perfect peace.
  • God takes care of our needs, and we have no need to worry. Rather, we need to ask in faith and with thanks.
  • When our lives are pleasing to the Lord, even our enemies will be at peace with us.
  • Peace doesn’t just happen by osmosis. We are to work to maintain it; to intentionally pursue it.

It takes effort to have peace in our lives and in our relationships. It is our choice. Although God is our source, we have the responsibility to pursue peace.

Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. Psalm 34:14 NLT

“When Christians become peacemakers, they can turn conflict into an opportunity to strengthen relationships and make their lives a testimony to the love and power of Jesus Christ.” Peacemakers don’t just sweep it under the rug and hope it goes away.

Those who pursue peace:

  • Seek to talk through a conflict with humility
  • Aren’t afraid to say, “I was hurt.”
  • Are truthful when asked if they were hurt.
  • Don’t let things go because of fear of conflict.
  • Recognize the importance of clearing up misunderstandings, because most offenses aren’t intentional.

Keep in mind, if we refuse to address our hurts, they will not go away on their own. Often, the hurt will turn into resentment and then bitterness. If we continue to neglect dealing with these feeling, they will only grow, and the relationship will not survive. However, if we are going to address these issues, we must learn how to it gently, humbly, and with love. We will learn a wonderful technique in just a moment to do that.

Day 2

There is a place and time for anger. Not all anger is negative, and anger itself is not necessarily a sin. We looked at two examples of anger today, and we learned how to respond on either end. Sometimes, we may feel angry with our friends, or conversely, we may sin against them and cause them anger. What matters is not necessarily the anger, but how we respond.

One type of anger we explored was the righteous anger Jesus modeled for us when he turned the tables of the money changers and those selling doves in the temple. What Jesus observed was utter disrespect for His Father’s house, dishonest gain, and taking advantage of the poor. A righteous indignation rose up in Him, and He let them have it! Yet, even in his rage, the Bible says that Jesus never sinned.

The emotion of anger is not a sin, but the type of anger and the response to it is what makes the difference. In this incident, Jesus was reacting to sin and was seeking to honor God in His approach. However, even though Jesus was in the right, He still made people mad at him. The chief priests and the teacher of the Law became indignant toward Jesus.

The appropriate response, however, when we are in the wrong, and someone approaches us with anger, is not to respond in turn with anger. We are to have humble and repentant hearts.

On the other hand, when our anger is generated by selfishness, not getting our way or something we want, or not being in control, then it is unrighteous anger. This is an anger that needs to be let go! Humbly give it to God and seek Him for direction and peace. We must cut some slack for our friends and approach them with mercy and grace.

Yet, when unrighteous anger is directed at us, we don’t have to accept the invitation to their “party.” Again, a humble heart is a must, but we do not have to wallow in the mud with them. This kind of anger only snowballs. When we respond in turn with anger, it only adds fuel to the fire. No good fruit us produced by engaging in such conflict.

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. Proverbs 15:1

The example we observed for this kind of anger was in the famous conflict with Sarai and Hagar. Understand that the source of anger was the result of Sarai not trusting God but rather taking matters into her own hands. She didn’t believe God would fulfill His promise without her help, and she destroyed the life of her handmaid by forcing her to be a surrogate mother without any regard to her feelings. This led to a horrible dispute, and eventually, because of this mess, the child that was born was the ancestor of the entire Muslim nation. Isn’t’ that interesting?

What a mess anger, selfishness, pride, and lack of faith can cause!

“If our hearts are hard and we refuse to humble ourselves, seeing our role in the conflict, then we cannot honor God with our post-sin actions. But when we humble ourselves before the Lord by asking Him to reveal our sin and trying to make things right with the other person, then we’re honoring God.”

Day 3

Today, we were introduced to an outstanding system for working out our conflicts. Now that we have learned to pursue God and work toward peace, and we better understand anger and how to humbly respond, we are on our way to learn how to resolve conflict in a way that honors God.

The system is called P.E.G.

P – Pray

E – Examine

G – Go!

When we are faced with a relational challenge, the very first place to go is to the Father. I know it sounds simplistic, but prayer must be our first stop on this road to resolution. Instead of jumping on the phone to recruit others to our side, or engaging in gossip in the guise of prayer requests, we must first seek God for His wisdom and strength.

 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. James 1:5

“We can’t humble ourselves in our relationships with others if we cannot humble ourselves before God.”

Go to God and have Him check the true motives of your heart. Don’t put on a false façade of self-righteousness, but be authentic before the Lord. We must humble ourselves and then be ready to listen to Him.

When we pray, ask God to do these four things:

  • Reveal your sin in the situation.
  • Direct you on when to speak to who has hurt you.
  • Provide the opportunity to do so.
  • Prepare both of your hearts so both sides can be humble and not proud.

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3 NLT

Day 4

Today we have learned to examine our role in the conflict. Instead of pointing fingers, we must humbly examine ourselves first. It is time to shed pride and clothe ourselves with humility. Ah, that word seems to keep popping up; doesn’t it?

The best example we have of humility is of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. If we would approach our friendships in this way, and see our conflicts through the lens of humility, we will be able to successfully accomplish the E part of this equation (examine) and have a fresh new perspective for resolving our conflicts.

Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2 NLT

Ask yourself these five questions:

  1. What is my role in this conflict? Even the most innocent party has some responsibility in the conflict. Ask God to search your heart and reveal anything that needs to be addressed. Even when we have been wronged, we may need to apologize for our part in the skirmish. They may not accept our apology, or even forgive us, but we will have the peace of being obedient before the Lord. We can trust Him to deal with the other person in His way and His time.
  2. Am I hurt because of my own insecurity? Sometimes we may misinterpret the words or actions of someone else because we view them through the lens of our own insecurities. We may be overly defensive or make assumptions because our friend may have triggered something that is broken within us. Our friends are not responsible for making us feel good or bad about ourselves. We must know the truth about ourselves in God’s Word and seek to have a healthy identity in Christ before we can have a healthy view of our relationships.
  3. Am I expecting too much from this relationship? Has this friendship become an idol? We cannot expect our friends to fill that emptiness inside that only God can fill. That is an unfair and unreasonable expectation to put on our friends. They will inevitably let us down. “Our own emotional baggage should not dictate the expectations and overall tone of our friendships because no one can be our everything Only God can!
  4. Will I be able to spend time with this person without feeling hurt or resentful? If not, we need to make it right. Do we overreact to every little flaw in our friend? Are we overly defensive? There may be something deeper going on that needs to be addressed. We need to let our anger go and to not sin by allowing anger to control us. However, if we cannot seem to get past these emotions, and we always seem to have our guard up with this friend, we may need to discuss it with her. But, definitely take this up with God for healing!
  5. Can I trust this person and be vulnerable with her? If we are afraid to be authentic with our friends, we will never be able to go deep with them. Our relationships will always remain on the surface and be less fulfilling. Learning to be truthful and authentic will give us a sense of freedom. However, if you feel that you cannot truly be yourself, you may need to evaluate why as well as the quality of this friendship. It is such a wonderful freedom to have a friend with whom you can be your true self – no makeup, jammies, flat hair, no pretense. We all need someone like that!

Day 5

Finally, we discussed the G in the P.E.G. system – Go! Since we have prayed for wisdom and direction, as well as for God to prepare our hearts, and we have examined ourselves humbly and truthfully, we are ready to go to the person and resolve the situation.

Occasionally, if the situation is beyond our ability to cope, we may need to seek wise counsel. However, make sure the counsel is God and Word centered and not an opportunity to gossip or slander. Make sure it is for the purpose of restoration rather than getting someone on your side.

So, if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. Matthew 5:23-24 NLT

If another believer sins against you go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. Matthew 18:15 NLT

If we refuse to go to the person and resolve the conflict, it can cause our hearts to become sour and develop a barrier in our worship to God. It can become a wedge that hinders closeness in our relationship with God. It is also disobedience because God specifically tells us in His Word to approach the ones who have hurt us.

Go with humility and gentleness. Do not accuse. Go with the purpose of restoration and to glorify God. Refrain from inflammatory words and speak blessings instead. Avoid revenge. Be ready to listen with an open mind and seek to truly understand your friend’s perspective. Let love reign supreme!

“If we do not go, we cannot know the other person’s true intentions.” This prevents us from assuming or drawing our own conclusions. It clears up misunderstandings.

One approach is to simply ask your friend, “Have I hurt or offended you in any way?”

We must demonstrate to our friend that we value our relationship more than our need to be right.

Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. Ephesians 4:15 NLT

Week 3 Discussion Questions

Here is a sneak peek at the questions we will discuss in our small groups this week:

Peacemakers don’t just “sweep it under the rug” and hope it goes away. Peacemakers understand the long-term risks of that way of thinking and, instead, choose to pursue peace so that the relationship can be healthy and God-honoring. (Day 1)

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14 NIV

QUESTION 1 (Q1): According to Psalm 34: 14, what are we supposed to do with peace? What do you think this means? (page 79). What are some characteristics of people who pursue peace?

 

Anger based on selfishness is a sin. However, righteous anger, the kind Jesus expressed in the Temple, is not. It’s important to note this distinction because at some point we will experience anger in our relationships— either as the one who is angry or the one to whom another’s anger is directed. (Day 2)

QUESTION 2 (Q2): When have you ever experienced righteous anger? How did you respond? What are some reasons we might experience righteous anger?

 

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Matthew 23:12

QUESTION 3 (Q3): What does humility look like in resolving relational conflict? Why do you think it is so important?

 

When we’re more concerned with being right and justifying why the other person is wrong, we don’t stop and examine our role in the conflict with humility. (Day 4)

Read Matthew 7:1-5. Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?  Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

QUESTION 4 (Q4): The E in P.E.G. (Pray, Examine, Go) is all about examining ourselves first before going to the other person. It is about removing the log from our own eye before picking at the speck in our friend’s eye. Have you ever been guilty of seeing the speck in someone else’s eye while disregarding the log in your own? How did you grow from that experience? Why do you think this is important?

 

It’s tempting to flee the scene when we’re hurting, isn’t it? Sometimes the pain can be so severe that we just want to take matters into our own hands and do something— anything— that will relieve us of the sting. (Day 5)

When Hagar ran away from Sarai, the angel of the Lord commanded her to go back to Sarai, and God blessed her for it.

If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. Matthew 18:15 NLT

QUESTION 5 (Q5): Do you like to flee the scene, or do you like to stay and talk it out? Read Matthew 18: 15. What are we told to do when someone has offended us? (page 100). What are some obstacles that can get in the way and make this difficult?

 

Besides making sure that our hearts are humble when we “go,” we also must be willing to keep the best interests of the other person at the forefront while speaking the truth in love. (Day 5)

QUESTION 6 (Q6): What does it mean to speak the truth in love?

Assignments for the Week:

  • Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and wisdom to You from God’s Word and to transform your heart.
  • Read Week 4 from the member book.
  • Attend a small group.
  • Participate in daily activities in the Heart to Heart Facebook group.

How This Works

  • Register by leaving a comment below. Tell us where you are from and what you hope to glean from this study.
  • Subscribe to this site to receive future updates by email. Enter your email address in the field to the right, and then click the subscribe button.
  • Join our closed Facebook group, Heart to Heart Women’s Bible Study, for weekly interaction, activities, videos, and small group sessions. Closed means that no one will be able to see our posts unless they are members of the group. This is for your safety and privacy.
  • Small Groups: There will be a schedule for small groups pinned to the top of the Facebook group, Heart to Heart Women’s Bible Study, as we get closer to the time. All you need to do is show up at the scheduled day and time, and the discussion will take place underneath the group photo.

Reading Schedule

  • May 1-7, Study Week 1: Why Do We Need Girlfriends and Where Do We find Them?
    • Small groups: Introduction. No need to ready anything ahead of time.
  • May 8-14, Study Week 2: Getting Right with God
    • Small groups: Discuss Week 1
  • May 15-21, Study Week 3: Clash of the Titans
    • Small groups: Discuss Week 2
  • May 22-28, Study Week 4: The Forgiveness Business
    • Small groups: Discuss Week 3
  • May 29-June 4, Study Week 5: Blurred Lines
    • Small groups: Discuss Week 4
  • June 5-11, Study Week 6: Heart Sisters Do’s and Don’ts
    • Small groups: Discuss Week 5
  • June 12-18
    • Small groups: Discuss Week 6

 

I look forward to seeing you in small groups this week!

 

God bless!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Daily Word, 1 Samuel 19, The Narrow Escape

 

But on the way to Naioth in Ramah the Spirit of God came even upon Saul, and he, too, began to prophesy all the way to Naioth! 1 Samuel 19:23 NLT

Read 1 Samuel 19.

 

If you have ever felt trapped in a difficult circumstance or paralyzed by fear, today’s Daily Word, as well as the next several chapters, are for you! I pray this will strengthen your faith and comfort your heart.

We will also be exploring the beauty of friendship and loyalty. We need each other, and it is all part of God’s magnificent plan for us to be stronger together.

When we closed yesterday’s chapter, Saul had blown up with jealousy and rage and attempted to kill David with his spear. When David escaped, Saul then plotted with his servants and his son, Jonathan, to have David assassinated.

This is the first time the special bond between Jonathan and David is mentioned. Jonathan was a loyal ally to David, and he had great affection for his friend. He pleaded with his father on David’s behalf, citing David’s heroic feats and reminding him of much good David had done. He begged him not to sin so grievously against David.

What a blessing to have friends who are willing to risk it all on our behalf! I want to be a Jonathan kind of friend!

Because of Jonathan’s pleading, Saul softened his stance and promised to spare David. Jonathan then brought David back home, and he served Saul as before.

Eventually, war broke out again, as was the norm during Saul’s reign, and David led his men into another mighty victory. God was certainly with David, and he was successful in everything he did. This would be a pattern that would follow David throughout his life!

Before we proceed, I want to settle on this truth, that God takes care of His people. You may be hard pressed or discouraged at times. You may be wondering where to turn or how you are going to get through. Understand that God has a purpose for your life. His plans for you are good, and He will bring them to pass. Remain faithful to Him, and trust Him to see you through. He will protect and provide!

While we have settled into the warm fuzzies of God’s protection and loving care, David is faced with another crisis. Saul’s calm spirit is short lived, and the wild, evil spirit consumes him again. While David is playing the harp, Saul is again filled with rage and hurls his spear at David, trying again to kill him.

David barely escapes, and the spear is lodged into the wall. When he returns home in the night, Saul sends his men to watch his house and attack him the moment he tries to leave again. Michal, his wife and Saul’s daughter, insisted he escape this very night before her father succeeds in murdering him.

Just as God had used his devoted friend, Jonathan, to intercede on David’s behalf, God is also going to use his loving and faithful wife to protect him. We could create an entire lesson here just on the role of Godly wives to bless and minister to their husbands!

She came up with a fool-proof plan right on the spot! She helped him climb out the window, and then she put an idol in the bed under the blankets with some goat’s hair at the top. When Saul’s men came to capture David, she told them David was sick in bed. This bought him some time to escape into the night.

My question here, however, is where did she get the idol so quickly? David was a man after God’s heart. It surely wasn’t his! She must have had it handy in her home. In spite of her idol worship, God still used her to protect His anointed servant, David.

When the men returned to tell Saul that David was sick and in bed, he was furious! He demanded they bring him right away, even in his bed! Can you imagine how foolish they must have felt when they went back to get David and found only an idol in the bed? How were they going to face their angry master?

When Saul realized what his daughter had done, he went nutso on her! How could she have betrayed her own father?

Instead of truthfully declaring her love and loyalty to David, she lied about him threatening to kill her if she didn’t help him. Lying to get out of trouble usually creates more trouble.

What happens next reveals God’s supernatural protection of David, and this time, God did it Himself instead of using another person.

When we feel depleted of resources or friends, that is no problem for God Almighty! He can do what needs to be done on our behalf all by Himself if needed. There is nothing too difficult for Him!

David had arrived at Ramah to see Samuel, and Samuel provided a place for him to live. Saul heard about David’s location and sent his men to seize him.

However, when they came upon a group of prophets, led by Samuel, they began prophesying. Three different times, Saul sent his troops to capture David, and every time they were overwhelmed by the Spirit of God and began prophesying.

Frustrated, Saul decided to just go get David himself. This was getting crazy! However, just as it happened to Saul’s men, he also began prophesying. He tore off all his clothes and lay on the ground naked all night and day prophesying.

What an awesome ending to this chapter as we see what can happen in the presence of the Lord. No one is immune! God can move on anyone, and that brings us hope! His Spirit can penetrate even the hardest of hearts, can heal even the most broken or hurting hearts, can restore the one who is lost, can fill the empty heart, give rest to the weary hearts, fill the depressed hearts with joy, and can bring peace to the hearts that are consumed with fear. Whatever you need, God will provide. Everything we need is truly in Him!

Be encouraged and let not your heart be troubled. God bless!

 

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Daily Word, 1 Samuel 18, The Folly of Jealousy and the New Guy Becomes Famous

 

David continued to succeed in everything he did, for the Lord was with him. 1 Samuel 18:14 NLT

Read 1 Samuel 18.

 

Have you ever felt lost in the shadow of someone else? I remember driving my younger sister crazy because I was allowed to drive, date, wear make-up, etc. two years before her. She couldn’t stand that she had to wait, even though we would reach each milestone at the same age. As the older sister, however, I felt the need to rub it in and fuel her envy. I got a charge from upsetting her. Wasn’t I sweet?

I have been on the other end as well, and it is no fun! When I was in high school, I had been known for my musical ability, and I won first place for an “Excellence in Music” scholarship award. However, when I went away to college to major in music, I was suddenly a nobody again. I was lost in a sea of amazing talent, and I could not compete with the caliber of musical ability that loomed over me. I quickly became frozen with intimidation, and I lost my confidence.

At the time, it did not occur to me that I was comparing myself with seniors and with those who had more experience than I did. But that did not make me less talented just because of how I compared to others. For example, I could not play the piano like my friend Randy, but I could sing, and I could teach. My voice wasn’t as pretty as Melanie’s, but, my sound was my own, and God used me in ministry. Comparing myself was silly and futile because God had a unique plan for making me as I am.

What I learned was to flourish in the specific gifts and talents God has given me and allow Him to use me however He chooses for His glory. When I put the focus on myself and give in to comparison and jealousy, I certainly will be lost in the shadows and become ineffective. However, when I surrender all to God and allow His will to be done in my life, I find life’s sweet spot. That is where God brings out our very best, and He can do tremendous things through us.

You may be wondering how this relates to David and Saul, but similar feelings, such as comparison, pride, jealousy, and feeling lost in David’s shadow were at the root of Saul’s anger toward David. Saul did not handle these emotions well, and we can learn from his mistakes.

After David had defeated the giant, Goliath, and led Israel to a great victory that day, the people began singing the praises of David.

This was their song:

“Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands!” 1 Samuel 18:7

Saul was king, and he had been the war hero in the land. Now, the people were recognizing David as the real hero, and suddenly, Saul feels overlooked and insignificant. He began comparing himself and coming up short, which led to jealousy, and then anger, and finally insane rage! His solution? Let’s kill the competition!

To complicate matters, the Spirit of God had left Saul because of his disobedience and disrespect. Now, he was being tormented by an evil spirit, and there was no rest or peace for his soul. While Saul is unaware, David is God’s chosen one to replace him as king. God’s Spirit was upon David, and he succeeded in everything he did.

In the palace, David continued his role as armor-bearer to King Saul, and he played his harp every day. One day, as David played, the evil spirit that was upon Saul caused him to break out into an insane and hysterical rage. His jealousy and anger were about to manifest in an attempt at David’s life.

Saul hurled his spear toward David, trying to pin him to the wall. David narrowly escaped twice. Saul then became afraid of David.

To get rid of him, Saul made David commander of 1000 men in hopes he would be killed in battle. However, this only solidified David’s status as hero to the people of Israel as he faithfully led his men into battle and won many victories.

When Saul’s daughter, Michal, had fallen in love with David, Saul saw another opportunity to attempt to have David killed by the enemy. For a bridal price, Saul demanded 100 Philistine foreskins. Yes, you read that right! Have you ever heard of such a gift to earn a king’s daughter for a bride? 100 foreskins!

David was not afraid of the challenge. As a matter of fact, he brought back 200 foreskins! Can you imagine them being giftwrapped specially for the king? Well, maybe they weren’t, but that is where my crazy imagination went!

When Saul realized that the Lord was with David and how much his daughter Michal loved him, Saul became even more afraid of him, and he remained David’s enemy for the rest of his life. 1 Samuel 18:28-19

From then on, David only became more and more famous, and God continued to give him victory against his enemies.

Saul’s behavior throughout this chapter demonstrates the foolishness and rotten ending of comparison and jealousy! No good ever comes out of it!

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Proverbs 14:30 NIV

Many lessons can be gleaned from this impactful story: Be the very best version of who God created you to be. Don’t try to be anyone else, and don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Have faith, surrender your life to God, and obey Him fully in all things, and God will give you success in His way and His time! Have a heart after God’s heart, one that honors and worships Him; be faithful; have courage; and in your anger, do not sin.

God bless!

 

 

 

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