Devotional 5 Of 5

God’s Solution
All of us have been hurt. It’s a painful part of life. A parent neglects you or even abuses you. A friend disappoints you or betrays you. A spouse is unfaithful to you or abandons you. A stranger assaults your loved one.

It’s as if you have been stabbed in the back, but the knife is still there. And every time you replay the hurt in your mind, you twist the knife a little more. The pain never leaves and the wound never heals.

What can we do? What can we do about this pain and poison that ruins our life and robs our joy?

God has a solution. God’s solution is simple, but it’s not easy. God’s solution is grace. Extend grace to the person who hurt you. Forgive.

Forgiveness does not mean that all of your hurt and pain are gone. That may take a very long while. Forgiveness means that you have made a choice to forgive, to let go of your anger, to let go of your resentment, to let go of your right to get even. You have said to God, “Lord, I forgive him. I choose to forgive him. I give you my anger and my resentment, my desire to get even. I give it all to you.”

Take the knife out. Let the pain go. Let the wound heal.

Set a prisoner free. Set yourself free from a prison of pain and poison.

Forgiveness is a healing choice, a choice made by Christ’s strength in us, a choice made because of Christ’s grace to us.

Devotional 4 Of 5

God’s Solution
A traveler, between flights at an airport, went to a lounge and bought a small package of cookies. Then she sat down and began reading a newspaper. Gradually, she became aware of a rustling noise. From behind her paper, she was flabbergasted to see a neatly dressed man helping himself to her cookies. Not wanting to make a scene, she leaned over and took a cookie herself.

A minute or two passed, and then came more rustling. He was helping himself to another cookie. After a while, they came to the end of the package with one cookie left, but she was so angry she didn’t dare allow herself to say anything. Then, as if to add insult to injury, the man broke the remaining cookie in two, pushed half across to her, ate the other half, and left.

Still fuming sometime later when her flight was announced, the woman opened her handbag to get her ticket. To her shock and embarrassment, there she found her package of unopened cookies.

I smile at that story because it reminds me that we all have been angry when there was no need.

Anger is a challenge. Aristotle observed, “Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time and in the right way—that is not easy.”

How do you respond when you are angry? For some people it is like this:

They explode. They rant and rave. They spew venom at anyone who comes near.
They withdraw. They pout and sulk. They are masters of the silent treatment.
They are passive-aggressive. They get jabs at people with their actions rather than their words.
They use sarcasm extensively to subtly express their anger.
They go to a third party. They do not talk with the person they are angry with, but they talk about that person to a third party.
They deny they are ever angry. They grew up in a household where it was not OK to be angry. Even though they are bursting with anger, they insist, “I’m not angry.”
God says it is OK to be angry. The issue is: How do I respond to my anger?

By God’s grace—and only by his grace—we can respond to anger in a godly way:

Slowly. “Be slow to anger” (James 1:19). “A man of quick temper acts foolishly.” (Prov. 14:17a)
Calmly. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Prov. 15:1)
Lovingly. “Love is patient and kind…it is not irritable or resentful.” (1 Cor. 13:4-5)
Gracefully. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph. 4:32)
Can you imagine what would happen if we followed God’s practical advice on anger? Can you imagine how many marriages would be saved? How many parent-child relationships and friendships would be saved? Can you imagine the gift this would be to our children, our coworkers, and our friends? Can you imagine the difference in our own health?

What if we consistently responded to anger in God’s way— slowly, calmly, lovingly, and gracefully?

O Father, give us the grace to do this.

Devotional3 Of 5

Anger Danger
The role of leaders in the church is not to do ministry but develop ministry. Leaders develop ministry when they equip, empower, coach, cheerlead, and encourage God’s people.

When the church was started, everyone understood this. But at some point, there arose a group of professional clergy, a spiritual elite who took over the ministry. The attitude then developed that meaningful ministry was for the professionals and that the people were recipients and spectators of ministry.

This is not God’s way of doing church. In fact, this is a diabolical strategy to hamstring God’s work and to stifle the spiritual growth of God’s people. Moreover, pastors and priests were also to blame for this tragedy, because they enjoyed their status as the spiritual elite and did not want to give up control.

Let me ask you: What is the most effective way of doing church? Should we put the ministry in the hands of a few seminary-educated, robe-wearing, jargon-talking professionals, or should we empower all of God’s people to do the ministry?

I think it’s a no-brainer. Let’s go with God’s way.

God says you are a minister—you. Moreover, you are a missionary, because you are on a mission for God wherever you are. You are a soldier of the gospel in the great battle.

And the church? It’s not a cruise ship where you go to be served and entertained.

It is a battleship, and every soldier is needed to man their battle stations. What is your battle station?