Hey there. Thanks for listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast, a ministry supported by Harvest Partners. I'm Greg Laurie, encouraging you.
If you want to find out more about Harvest Ministries and learn more about how to become a Harvest Partner, just go to harvest.org. Let's pray together. Father, we ask your blessing now in this time of Bible study as we open up your Word and learn more about how to resolve conflict. We commit this time of study to you. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.
If you're joining us for the first time here at Harvest at Home, we're going through the Book of Acts together. It's a series that's called The Upside Down Life. Why do we call it that? Because these first century believers effectively churned their world upside down. That was said of them as a criticism, not a compliment, but really as what you call a backhanded compliment, that they were making such an impact in their culture.
But in my message for you now, the title is simply How to Resolve Conflict. So I heard about three bikers that went to a highway cafe, big burly biker dudes, right? They walk in and there's this guy sitting at the counter having breakfast, a little guy actually. He was a truck driver, drove one of those big semis. And one of the bikers looked at him and took the food away from the guy and pushed him off his stool. The truck driver got up, walked out, got in his truck and he drove away. One of the bikers said to the waitress, well, he wasn't much of a man, was he? And she said, no, he wasn't.
Then looking out the window and watching the trucker drive away, she said, he's not much of a driver either because he just drove over three motorcycles. Yeah, that's one way to try to resolve conflict. But we all have conflict in our lives in one way, shape or form. I don't know about how you were raised, what kind of home you lived in, but I lived in a home of constant domestic violence. My mother was an alcoholic.
She was married in divorce seven times, had a lot of boyfriends in between. And it seemed like every night there was a big drunken fight in my house. The walls were very thin. There would be screaming. There would be yelling.
Glass would be broken. Things would be thrown. There was hitting. She would hit these men. The men would hit her. I have to point out she never hit me. None of them hit me, thank God, but they sure hit each other and you'd come out the next morning, there would be gashes and the wall tables overturned.
It was ridiculous. Every night I dealt with this sort of thing. So as a young man, I was sort of navigating this crazy world I was placed in and I found that I wanted to resolve conflict. I didn't like fighting. I didn't like screaming and yelling and so I was sort of learning how to be a peacemaker. I also developed my sense of humor in that time, sort of withdrawing from the chaotic world I was raised in.
I would retreat to my own imaginary world of cartoons and that's where I learned to draw and had little comic book adventures and things that I like to do to entertain myself when I was waiting for my mom in some bar or something like that. And I developed sort of a kind of a warped sense of humor. If you listen to me, you might know that. I can see humor in almost anything. These are defense mechanisms one develops, but I've always wanted to try to resolve conflict. So when I became a Christian, I was so thankful because I met all of these new folks that are now my Christian brothers and sisters and I thought, now there'll be no more conflict. Everybody will get along.
We'll just sit around and sing Kumbaya all day long. Well, I found out pretty quickly that was not going to be the case because there can be conflict and disagreement even among Christians because after all, we're human. Listen, there can be conflict and disagreement even among godly people.
So how do we resolve such a thing? Listen, some people run from conflict. Other people create conflict. There's always drama when you're around such a person. It's always something.
You make your point. They always have to counterpoint it, even if what they're saying isn't accurate and maybe they even know it's not accurate. They sort of like to mix it up a little bit.
And a lot of these folks live online. Now, I've identified two characters that always bring things down. One is Bobby Buzzkill. The other is Debbie Downer.
Right. So whatever the conversation is, you can count on Bobby Buzzkill or Debbie Downer to bring everyone down. I want to add a third character now, Tina Troll.
Tina Troll. She's related to these other two. She hangs out primarily online.
I just have to laugh at some of the responses I get. Now, I'm on multiple media platforms. I'm on Twitter. I'm on Facebook. I'm on Instagram. And it seems I get more of this on Twitter.
So you'll just shoot out a tweet. Hey, we had a great meal today. Nice little picture of your meal. And then, you know, some people go, oh, that's great. Fantastic. And there's always Tina Troll that will say something like, well, it must be nice to eat while others around the world are starving. Yeah.
OK. Then you send out another little tweet. Hey, here I am having a good time with my family. And someone will say, that's fantastic. Oh, what a beautiful family. Here's Tina Troll. She comes along. Not everybody has a family. Do better.
Really? Like, who are you? What is this all about? And then maybe you'll say, oh, here's a beautiful photo of a sunset I just took. And Tina Troll or Bobby Buzzkill or Debbie Downer or someone like that will quote a scripture now. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. Like that's actually out of context.
Or you might say, hey, had a great laugh with friends and family yesterday. And they'll quote another scripture, James 4 9. Let your laughter be turned to sorrow. And then finally they say, I've had enough of your bullying.
I'm going to unfollow you. Who are these people? But these are people that like to create conflict. Conflict follows them wherever they go. If you ever read the comic book, Keenets, one of the little characters is called Pig Pen. He's always dirty.
And everywhere Pig Pen goes, a little cloud of dirt follows him. And in the same way for some people, everywhere they go, conflict follows because they effectively create the conflict. Well, listen, we're all going to face conflict in life. We're all going to have people hurt us. We're going to have people mistreat us.
We're going to have people slander us. So how can we, to the best of our ability, resolve these conflicts? I bring this up because now in Acts chapter 15, we come to a conflict. And I might add, a conflict between two men of God.
I've told you before, Acts is an honest look at church history. God gives us these men and women that he worked through so powerfully with all of their strengths and all of their weaknesses. The story is told of the British legend Oliver Cromwell, who wanted to have his portrait done. And this painter was known to remove blemishes and always make the person look better than they looked in real life. And so Cromwell instructed the painter, paint me warts and all.
And that's what the painter did. And as you read the Bible, God gives us these heroes, if you will, warts and all, with their flaws. So we're reminded that even though they lived around 2,000 years ago, they dealt with the same kinds of conflicts we deal with today.
There are first century principles for the 21st century. So let's sort of set the table here for Acts chapter 15. There was some troublemakers. They were Jewish legalists. They believed in Jesus, but they still wanted to practice all of the rituals of Judaism. They're identified as Judaizers.
In fact, Paul wrote a whole book to effectively refute them, known as the Book of Galatians. Now, they were walking around saying that the apostle James has authorized us to say if these Gentiles, these non-Jews, come to Christ, they have to go through the Jewish ritual of circumcision. Otherwise, they're not real believers. Now, there's two things I'd bring to your attention about this.
Number one, that would hurt. And number two, they were placing an unnecessary barrier in front of these new believers. So here are these people, non-Jews, coming to Christ out of paganism and idolatry, and they're believing.
And so these Jewish believers are saying, no, they have to come through Judaism, and they have to keep all of our rituals and all of our laws, and they have to be circumcised as well. Well, Barnabas, remember, he's Mr. Encouragement.
The name Barnabas means encouragement, or the son of encouragement. That was the name given to him, so Mr. Encouragement was not encouraged.
Mr. Happy wasn't happy, and there was a saying of the day, if Barney ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. No, that wasn't a saying of the day. But Barnabas was not happy about this, nor was Paul the apostle. They thought something needed to be done, because so many Gentiles were coming to Christ through their preaching. In fact, wherever Paul and Barnabas was, we would read, there was great joy. They would preach, and we'd read, there was great joy.
Wherever the legalists went, there was misery. Some people bring joy wherever they go, some people bring joy whenever they go. Which one are you? Are you the kind of a person that lights a room up?
Are you the kind of a person that brings joy, or are you the kind of a person that brings misery? And you're the Debbie Downer, you're the Bobby Buzzkill, you're the Tina Troll, you're the person that actually gets in the way of people growing spiritually. So, you know, Paul and Barnabas felt they needed to go back to the leaders of the church in Jerusalem. So now they're returning to the mothership, if you will, to get input from James, who is the half-brother of Jesus, and of course, Simon Peter, who spent so much time with the Lord. I mean, think about James, the half-brother of Jesus. Boy, that'd be hard to not bring up in every single conversation, right? You know, someone's talking about something, he said, well, that's my brother Jesus once said to me.
Or, oh, I remember the time when Jesus and I were just boys, and we're sitting at the table, and we said, Mother Mary, let us ask you this. I mean, he had this family connection. It's funny, though, James never played the brother card, but he was known for his great wisdom. In fact, he wrote a book called the Book of James that's filled with that wisdom, so he was a very respected individual. He was effectively the leader of the church in Jerusalem. And so here's what happened in Acts chapter 15, starting in verse 4. When they arrived in Jerusalem, this would be Paul and Barnabas, they were welcomed by the whole church, including the apostles and elders.
Let me just put a little footnote in. You remember earlier, people were suspicious of Paul, but Barnabas vouched for him. Barnabas helped Paul make that transition into the church, and now because of God's blessing on Paul and Barnabas, he was very respected by the other leaders in the church. And some of the believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and insisted, these Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses. So the apostles and elders met together to resolve the issue. So basically what happens now, the apostles get together, they pray about it, they think about it, they talk about it, and they give a response. First of all, they say, number one, you don't have to be circumcised to be a Christian. There was a collective sigh of relief from all of the Gentile believers, right?
Then James adds this in Acts 15 verse 19. And so my judgment is, we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write and tell them, abstain from food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, and eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood.
So we'll stop there. So one of these conclusions from the church deals with morality, and the other two deal with sensitivity. Let's start with the one about morality.
This is a no-brainer. James says, refrain from sexual immorality. That comes from a single root word, porneia. I'm sure you can figure out what word comes from that, pornography, pornographic. And so basically this word means any kind of sex outside of God's natural order.
Okay, so what is God's natural order? It's for a man and a woman to come together in marriage and commit themselves. Sex is an expression of that commitment. So extramarital sex, that is sex outside of your marriage or someone else that you're not married to. Premarital sex, that's sex before marriage, is forbidden in Scripture.
There are no exceptions, by the way. First Thessalonians 4, 3 says, God's will for you is to be holy and stay away from all sexual sin. Sometimes they're saying, oh, Lord, reveal your will to me.
That's a good thing. Well, God says, here's my will on this topic, refrain from sexual sin. But now we come to more of a sensitivity issue that was more part of the culture of their day. That is, don't eat food offered to idols. Now, it's hard for us to understand this, but back in the day, they had all these pagan temples all over the place. And part of the ritual of the pagan temples is they would take meat or animals and offer it to the false god. So you could buy that meat at a really good rate, a reduced rate, a killer deal, if you will. Because if you went down to the kosher market and bought the same kind of meat, it would cost a lot more. So these Gentiles are coming to Christ and they're saying, well, let's get the discount meat. We know these idols aren't real.
What does it matter? Let's just eat that meat. And that's kind of freaking out the Jewish believers because that offends their sensibilities. So Paul is saying, listen, you've got to be aware of this.
Paul's effectively saying to the Gentile believers, even if this doesn't mean anything to you, it means something to your Jewish brothers and sisters. So for their sake, don't stumble them spiritually and eat this meat. Now we're saying, well, there's no relevance for me today.
Well, actually, maybe there is. Here's the takeaway truth. We should never put up a wall where God has opened a door. We want to be a bridge, not a barrier to people coming to Christ.
We want to be a stepping stone, not a stumbling block. We should never do anything to make it hard for a person to come to Jesus. So let's say at our church, someone shows up. It's a couple, they're living together and they show up at our church. Or let's say there's someone who's gay and they show up at our church. Or let's say there's somebody who is bound by drugs or alcohol and they show up and someone might say they shouldn't be in our church. They shouldn't be allowed in the church.
In fact, we should tell them they're not welcome until they make changes in their life. Listen, my job is to call these people to Christ. I'm glad they're at our church. Seeing someone that's not a believer coming to church who hopefully wants to become a believer and having a problem with that would be like going down to a hospital and saying, what's the deal with all these sick people here? Well, it's called a hospital. And as I've said before, the church is a hospital for sinners.
It's not a museum for saints, right? So it is always my hope and prayer that any person who comes and visits would come to know Jesus Christ. So I don't say to a person who's visiting our church as a non-believer, hey, clean up your life and come to Christ.
My message is come to Christ and he'll clean your life up. Listen to this, Jesus cleans his fish after he catches them. Jesus says, he that would come to me, I would in no way cast out. Remember him with that woman caught in the act of adultery? He drives her accusers away.
He asked her, where are your accusers? She says, I have none, Lord. He says, neither do I condemn you.
Go and sin no more. He didn't condemn that woman along with everybody else. He showed love to her and he pardoned her and what happens?
She was so thankful for what he did, she wanted to then serve him. Let's be careful to not get the cart before the horse. Now let me come back to those people again. If a person who is gay has come to Christ, now they need to repent of that lifestyle and not live in it any longer. If there's a couple living together outside of marriage, they need to move apart and decide if they should get married, but do it the way God wants them to do it. If a person's addicted to drugs or alcohol, God wants to deliver them from that lifestyle. Yes, Christ will accept you as you are, but he doesn't want to leave you that way. So here's the takeaway truth.
We don't want to do anything to keep people from hearing the gospel. So let's bring it now to the present day. Let's say I'm a meat eater, which I am, and you're a vegetarian. So we go out and we have a meal, or maybe you're a vegan, and this is all very confusing to me because there's a difference between a vegetarian and a vegan. You see, a vegan excludes all meat and animal products, including meat.
I had to look this up, so I'm reading it. All meat and animal products, including meat, poultry, fish, seafood, dairy, and eggs. That doesn't leave you a lot, but it's okay. You're a vegan. You want to be a vegan?
I'm okay with that. But then a vegetarian, they're different. A vegetarian eats eggs and cheese, but not meat, poultry, and seafood. Then there's the pescatarian. And a pescatarian is someone that will eat fish, but not other meat products. Then there's the Presbyterian pescatarian. That's a person who only eats fish in a Presbyterian church.
I made that one up. So you have your particular beliefs or things that you like to do. So here's the bottom line. For me to eat meat in front of you, a vegetarian, a vegan, or a pescatarian, if that offends you, if that would hurt you spiritually, I can't have a meal without meat. Let me apply it in a different way. Let's say one believer says, well, I like to have a glass of wine, especially with my Italian food. But maybe sitting with you is a younger believer who came out of alcoholism, and they've been delivered by the power of God, but literally one sip of wine could take them down the road to ruin. And you say, well, that's their problem.
They need to buck up and handle it. No, you need to be sensitive to them because we're a family, you see. Paul writes in Romans 14, 21, it is good to not eat meat or drink wine or do anything that would cause your brother to stumble. Here's what the Bible says, Romans 14, 19, aim for harmony in the church and try to build one another up. Okay, so coming back to the apostles.
So they give a ruling, circumcision not required, be sensitive to your brothers and sisters. So coming back to what it is to believe in Christ, here's our bottom line, Acts 15, 11. We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved.
Let me paraphrase that. Bottom line, it's Jesus and nothing. Not Jesus and circumcision, not Jesus and eating certain things or not eating certain things, we can update it. Not Jesus and now getting baptized, so that's important, or Jesus and receiving communion, or Jesus and church membership.
No, it's Jesus and nothing. What do you need to do to come into a relationship with God? What do you need to do to be forgiven of your sins and know that you are saved? Number one, you've heard me say this, if you've ever watched one of our Harvest Crusades, you need to recognize that you're a sinner because the Bible says all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Every one of us have broken God's commandments, fallen short of his standards. Number two, realize that Jesus Christ, the son of God, died on the cross for you.
Jesus said for God to love the world, he gave his only begotten son and whosoever believes shall not perish for their everlasting life. And scripture reminds us while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Recognize you're a sinner. Realize Christ died for you.
Repent of your sin. The Bible says God has commanded people everywhere to repent, so you turn from your sin and you receive Christ into your life. Being a Christian is a relationship with God, not a religious thing, not following a bunch of rituals. It's not about what you do for God.
It's about what God has done for you. I mentioned baptism. Every Christian should be baptized, but it's not required to be saved, okay? You do it because you're saved. You don't do it to become saved.
You know, sometimes people act as though their salvation came through their own efforts. I heard about a multimillionaire that was talking to someone and that person asked them, tell me the secret of your success. How did you become a multimillionaire?
So the man said, well, when I was very young, I was a very hardworking young man. I was dirt poor. There were tough times, but I was very motivated and energetic, so I took my last dime and I bought an apple, and I spent the rest of the day and the night polishing that apple.
It was a thing of beauty. The next day I went out on the street corner and I sold that apple for 50 cents. It paid 10 cents, sold it for 50 cents. Then with the profit, I went out and bought five more apples, and I polished them as well and sold those for $2.50, and I took the $2.50 and bought more apples, went on it, went, and soon I'd made $100. And then my wife's father died and we inherited $10 million. Forgot to put that part in. See, the joke is he didn't become a millionaire by polishing apples.
He became a millionaire because someone gave him the money, right? So we don't become a Christian by polishing the apples. Oh, and I read my Bible every day and I pray and I receive communion and I've been baptized. Okay, those things are all fine and all good, but we do those because we're a Christian. We don't do those things to become a Christian. We don't want to add works to this because the Bible says we're saved through faith, not of works lest any man should boast. Again, it's Jesus and nothing. Okay, so one problem is to act as though we earn our salvation. Another problem is complicating the way for people to come to Christ, you know, making it hard for them to understand. I've heard some preachers, I have to say, give what they call the gospel and it's so convoluted. They tie themselves up into a theological pretzel, trying to dot every I and cross every T and be so theologically correct. You don't know what they're saying. And the gospel is so simple, a child can understand it.
So don't overly complicate it. I'll talk about this more a little bit later when we get to Acts chapter 17 where we see Paul bringing the gospel to the people in Greece on what is known as Mars Hill, how to reach our culture, but make it understandable, or we don't invite people to Christ at all. Listen, if you're a pastor and you're listening to me, I urge you, pastor, end your message with an invitation for people to come to Jesus. You never know who's sitting in that pew.
You never know who's watching that webcast or watching you on YouTube or hearing you. If you're broadcasting in some way, shape, or form, I always like to wrap up my messages with a simple opportunity for people to come to Christ. Paul asks, how will they hear unless someone tells them?
Remember that Philippian jailer that we're gonna actually talk about next time together. After seeing the faith of Paul and Silas, he said, what must I do to be saved? And man, we gotta have the answer right there, ready to go. Every self-respecting Christian should be able to articulate the gospel in three minutes or less.
Can you do that? Three minutes or less. Just say, here's the gospel, here's how to believe, here's what you need to do. Yes, even on the day of Pentecost, after hearing Peter preach, the people cried out, what shall we do?
So we need to have the answer. Okay, let's shift gears now, come back to the topic I raised earlier. How do you resolve a conflict? Here we have two titans of the faith, Paul and Barnabas, having a disagreement. Yes, even men of God can disagree. Acts 15, starting in verse 36. Sometime later, Paul said to Barnabas, hey, let's go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of God, and let's see how they're doing. Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them.
This is John Mark. And Paul did not think that was wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work. Verse 39, they had such a sharp disagreement, they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus. Paul chose Silas and left.
Commended by the believers to the grace of God, he went through Syria and Caecilia, strengthening the churches. Wow, what an interesting story. So glad this is in the Bible, aren't you?
So Mr. Encouragement, that's Barnabas, wanted to take John Mark on their journey. Well, apparently, John Mark had deserted them on an earlier journey, this kind of irritated Paul. He said, I wanna take him, because he bailed on us last time, so let's not take him.
Mr. Encouragement is saying, oh, come on, give him another chance. Paul's like, no, I can't have some guy walk away with us, or walk away from us in the middle of one of our ministry trips. We need people to stay there, we need all hands on deck, and they talked about this, and they finally said, I don't agree, and they parted company over it. This created friction. It seems unfortunate in some ways this happened, but they both went on.
In fact, two teams came out of one. So now Barnabas is off with John Mark and Paul is teaming up with Silas, and we'll read about them in the next chapter together. But what do we do when we have a disagreement with someone? So if you're taking notes, here's point number one, don't talk about them, talk to them. Don't talk about them, talk to them.
This happens a lot. We'll be upset with someone, and we'll talk about them to other people. They said this to me, they heard me, wait, why don't you go to that person and try to resolve it? Let's say someone has hurt you, or let's put it another way. Let's say someone has done something wrong and they need correction.
What does the Bible say? Proverbs says, faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Open rebuke is better than secret love. So if you're a real friend, you'll tell someone the truth. A true friend stabs you in the front, not in the back. Talk to them, not about them.
Go to them. Paul and Barnabas did this face to face. Paul writes on another occasion, he opposed Peter to his face, so imagine that. Paul and Peter having a disagreement, that'd be hard.
If you're sitting there, who do I side with? It's like mom and dad fighting, I respect both of them. Well, in this particular instance, Paul was right because the issue with Peter was Peter, you know, didn't want to offend the Jewish believers and so he stopped eating with Gentiles. And Paul said, man, these Gentiles are part of the church as much as the Jewish believers are, that's a compromise. But talk to the person.
Here's what Jesus says in Matthew 18, 15. 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. Always try to have a face to face meeting and work it out. Let's take marriage. You're gonna have conflict in marriage.
Sometimes I'll have young couples come up to me and say, oh, Craig, would you perform our wedding ceremony? And I'll say, well, how long have you known each other? Oh, two months and we're in love, we wanna get married. When?
Like tomorrow. Well, maybe that's too soon. Maybe you should slow down, get to know each other a little bit better. Have you guys had a disagreement yet? Oh no, we love each other so much, we never disagree.
I'd basically say, go on and have an argument. I'm not even talking to you until you do because you have to, as a married couple, learn how to resolve conflict because there will be conflict. I would say most marriages fall apart because of selfishness. A marriage should have selflessness in the place of selfishness. If you think that some guy's gonna come riding up to you on a white horse, you're prince charming, solve all of your problems, you're in for a big disappointment.
If you think some girl's gonna come running down the beach toward you as the sun is setting, in slow motion, of course, slow motion, and she's gonna rescue you from every problem you have, you're gonna be in for a big disappointment as well. Deep down inside, what we're really longing for is Christ. We need God to fill that void. You're not gonna be a happy married person if you're not a happy single person. So I would say first, find contentment in your relationship with the Lord.
Where you can say with David, the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Oh, God can bring that right person to you in time. Marriage is beautiful and fulfilling, but just keep your priorities straight on that. You will have conflict. Another thing I would point out is most marriages fall apart, according to studies that have been done, because of deficient communication. A survey was done and people were asked, why did your marriage fail? 86% said deficient communication.
They weren't talking to each other. So you have a conflict, get together, listen. Listen to what your spouse is saying. Listen to what their issue is. Don't interrupt them, don't say they're wrong, don't insult them, don't yell at them, listen to them. The Bible says in James 1.19, there's that wisdom of James coming through, let every man be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.
Proverbs 18, 13 says, only a fool answers a matter before he has heard it. Now hear that person out, don't escalate things, don't let it turn into one of those big heated arguments where you're yelling, and let me just add this, never argue in front of your kids, never. Go somewhere else, work it out, keep your voices down, and then once you've heard each other, try to find resolution, try to find a compromise. Ephesians 4 26 says, don't let the sun go down on your anger, which is another way of saying, don't go to bed mad at each other. Listen, you fight to resolve, not to win. If you go into it to win, you lose, even if you win.
The objective is not, I won the argument, yay, no, no. Let's resolve this and pray and ask God to give you wisdom. Number two, forgive the person you have the conflict with. Forgive the person you have the conflict with, Cliff Barrows. I don't know if you've heard of him.
If you've ever watched the Billy Graham Crusade, you know who he is, he was always sort of the master of ceremonies, the host. He would also lead the choir, a very godly man, he was with Billy from the very beginning, pretty much to the very end and I was having lunch with Cliff once and he said this to me, he said, you know, there's eight words you should be willing to say every day to your spouse, eight words. And he says, these are the eight words, I'm sorry, please forgive me, and I love you. That's good, I'm sorry, please forgive me, I love you and I would add a few more words, it was my fault.
Oh, I can't say that, why not? I'm sorry, please forgive me, I love you, it was my fault. I said this, actually I wrote it in a devotional. By the way, in case you don't know, we have a daily devotion that you can read every single day.
The information's right there on the screen telling you how to sign up for Harvest Devotions but I had this written down in one of my devotions and a friend of mine read it and he thought, well, I don't know that I've ever said that to my wife. So he just walked into the other room where his wife says, hi, honey, I'm sorry, I was wrong, I love you. She was shocked, oh, she started to cry, he said. Thank you so much for saying that, that means so much to me. And he still relaxed, I just read it in the devotion. It wasn't really my, he should have just left it. It was good but it means a lot.
Even when you're in a conflict with a person, you just stop and say, you know what, I'm sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me. It was my fault.
Wow, that just diffuses everything. So forgive, forgive because there will be conflict. Husbands are going to offend wives. Wives are going to offend husbands. Parents are going to offend children. Children are going to offend parents. Coworkers will offend each other. Friends will offend each other. Sometimes it's intentional.
Sometimes it isn't. Dogs will offend cats. Cats won't care.
Cats don't care about anything. But my point is simply this. Because we're human, we're going to hurt others and we're going to be hurt, so we need to learn to forgive. Because where there's no forgiveness, a root of bitterness will grow. And then you're going to turn into Tina Troll. And by that I mean you're going to be a bitter person.
And nobody likes to hang around a bitter person. If you're always upset about something, always venting about something, always being a Karen through another name in there. Sorry if your name is Karen.
But Karen's basically the person that freaks out over whatever, loses it. And no one wants to go with you anywhere. Hey, you want to go to there?
No, thank you, I'm busy. So you're in the restaurant waiting for your table and they call out, bitter, table for one. Don't be that person. A root of bitterness can destroy you and others. We're told in Hebrews 12, 15, watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, listen, corrupting many. Consider this, forgiveness is not only important spiritually because we're commanded to forgive, but also it's good for you physically.
Did you know that? Time Magazine published an article entitled, Should All Be Forgiven. This article stated, quote, scientists and sociologists have begun to extract forgiveness and the act of forgiving from the confines of the confessional, transforming it into the subject of quantifiable research and a number of psychotherapists are testifying there's nothing like forgiveness, participating anger, mending marriages, and banishing depression. Isn't that interesting? So they're recognizing the power of forgiveness.
Talk to each other. What if they don't deserve to be forgiven? Do you deserve to be forgiven?
C.S. Lewis says, forgiveness does not mean excusing. In a way, when you forgive a person, it's for you as much as it's for them so you don't have to be tormented by it.
Having to eat you up and keep you up at night. As I've said before, when you forgive someone, you set a prisoner free yourself. So talk to each other, not about each other. Forgive, and one last point, if possible, reconcile. If possible, reconcile. By the way, John Mark and Paul eventually reconciled. In fact, in 2 Timothy 4-11, Paul writes to Timothy, get Mark here and bring him with you because he's helpful to me and my ministry.
I like that. So was Paul wrong in saying to Barnabas, let's not take John Mark with us on our missionary journey? I don't think so. I think Paul was saying, you know what, Barnabas?
I know you're Mr. Encouragement, but this young man needs to learn responsibility. He needs to learn how to keep his commitments. Well, apparently he did, because later on, Paul says, I could really use John Mark here with me to help me out right now because he's helpful to me and my ministry.
Paul did not hold a grudge. So maybe you'll have a person you had a pretty close relationship with and maybe you are apart for a time, but maybe you'll reconcile later. Don't burn the bridge to the person. Try to reconcile.
Maybe that'll happen a little later after the dust settles. Another example of two people that disagreed are Abraham and Lot in the book of Genesis. Abraham was the uncle. Lot was the nephew. And they were traveling together. I would say Abraham was closer to God than Lot, though Lot is identified in Scripture as a believer, though a weaker one.
And there are guys that work for them. We're having all kinds of conflicts and there was all kinds of friction. One day Abraham says, look, nephew, we're gonna have to part company, okay? Love you, but this isn't working out.
Every day it's friction and drama and tension. So I'll tell you what, you go the way you wanna go and I'll go the other way. You take the high road, I'll take the low road. You go to the right, I'll go to the left.
You choose. So Lot checked out this one place. He goes, you know, Sodom looks pretty nice to me. It reminds me of Egypt. It's lush and green. I wanna go there.
Everyone says so, okay? And off Lot goes and off Abraham goes. Now they're apart. Well, Lot gets himself into big trouble. He gets captured. Who comes to his rescue? Uncle Abraham. Not a guy to hold a grudge. Hey, this kid, he messed up, but I wanna help him out. And in the same way, there might be certain people in your life that bring you down spiritually, people that are always causing friction.
So you say, I can hang out with you as much as we used to, but maybe we'll get together sometime in the future. Case in point, Lot was compromising spiritually. That's what brought the tension and Abraham had to rescue him. So these are some thoughts about resolving conflict.
So let me bring this to a close. Before you can effectively forgive others, you yourself need to be forgiven. What were the first words of Jesus as he hung on the cross? He gave seven statements in total. His first words were, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. By the way, he didn't say that just once. He repeated it multiple times. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. It was a horrible thing that happened. As he was dying for the sin of the world, as he was dying for my sin and for your sin. I've talked about how to come into a relationship with God.
Let me come back to what I said earlier. You don't have to clean your life up and come to Christ. You need to come to Christ and he will clean your life up. You might say, well, I need to be a better person and make improvements in my life and maybe I need a little religion. No, friend, listen, you don't need a little religion. You need a lot of Jesus. And Jesus Christ who died on that cross for your sin and rose again from the dead stands at the door of your life right now and he says, I'm here at the door and I'm knocking. If you'll hear my voice and open this door, I will come in. You might say, well, I'm not good enough to be a Christian.
Oh, no one's good enough. You're a sinner. I'm a sinner.
We're all sinners. That's why it's called the grace of God. The Bible says by grace, you're saved through faith. The word grace means God's in merited favor.
I don't know if anyone has ever told you this before so let me say it to you. God loves you. Yeah, but he doesn't know what I've done. Yes, he does.
He knows all about it. He knows you better than you know yourself. He loves you and he's lovingly calling you to himself and he can change you. He can free you from any addiction.
He can fill that void deep inside of you. He wants to forgive you of your sin. Will you come to him right now?
In a moment, I'm gonna ask you to pray a prayer with me. It's a very simple prayer. Remember I said the gospel is a simple message to understand.
What is the gospel again? You're a sinner. Christ died for you. Turn from your sin. Believe in Jesus. If you'll do that, God will give you a second chance.
You can begin all over again. I'll pray this simple prayer and if you want Christ to come into your life and you want him to forgive you of your sin and you wanna go to heaven when you die and you wanna be ready for the Lord's return, you pray this prayer with me. You can pray it out loud. You can pray it quietly in your heart but you pray this prayer if you want Jesus Christ to come into your life and forgive you now. Pray these words. Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner but I know that you're the savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. Come into my life now. I turn from my sin and I choose to follow you from this moment forward. In Jesus' name I pray, amen. Hey everybody, thanks for listening to this podcast. To learn more about Harvest Ministries, follow this show and consider supporting it. Just go to harvest.org and to find out how to know God personally, go to harvest.org and click on Know God.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-02 19:57:03 / 2023-06-02 20:15:32 / 18