Day 15 Theme: Decision Making Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies– Psalm 27:11
This is the first and vital priority in making any decision: is it God’s will, is it God’s way?
The decisions God prompts us to make will always be in complete agreement with His perfect Word, the Bible. God never leads anyone to live or act contrary to His Word, because His Word is His way for us.
The psalmist prays to be lead in a plain path. This is the only kind of guidance that would do any of us any good, isn’t it? If we were required to make decisions according to wisdom we don’t have, futures we cannot see, or knowledge that is not ours then we would be doomed to failure.
But a plain path means a path that we can understand, that we can see, that we are able to follow.
Finally, the psalmist asks for plain direction because of his enemies. If you do not recognize that you are facing enemies in every decision you make—small and great—then you are deeply ignorant of the reality of this world.
You have enemy desires in your own heart that are spawned from selfish lust and pride and envy. You have enemies in the spiritual world that seek to draw you away from the path of godliness by any means necessary. Your worst enemies in a particular decision may even be well-meaning friends or family members whose priorities for you are not eternal or God-centered.
How appropriate, then, for us all to pray for God’s way to be made plain, in spite of the many enemies we surely will face in the way of Christian living.
Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? – Amos 3:3
What does it mean to walk with someone? If you walk with someone, you keep the same pace or stride. You walk beside them, close enough to see and hear them clearly. Walking with someone in the physical sense represents fellowship and synchronicity, where neither one is moving ahead or lagging behind. To walk with someone requires a willingness to move ahead together in the same direction and for the same duration. As the verse says, for two to walk together, they must agree—on quite a few things.
The Bible is filled with “two [who] walk together.” The Lord gave Moses a partner in Aaron. Naomi had Ruth. David had Jonathan. Even Jesus sent His disciples out in pairs, two by two. Peter and John would continue as friends and partners as they started the first church. Ecclesiastes 4:9-11 says that two are better than one because they are there to help each other, pick each other up, and even help keep each other warm. And, of course, from the beginning, God put man and woman together: to walk together and to become one in marriage. But to truly walk together, we must agree with our partner, have common goals, be willing to submit, and work together for the purposes of God.
God puts us together because He knows the value of fellowship and friendship. He has made it a necessity to the point that if we do not have fellowship with others, we will struggle with loneliness and depression. Jesus wants us to walk with Him in fellowship and friendship. He desires for us to agree with Him, submit to Him and allow Him to set the course. If we can truly learn to walk in agreement with the Lord, then we will successfully walk together in our marriages and other friendships. We cannot walk with someone and be at odds, eventually the walk will end.
If you are struggling today in your walk with someone, a marriage, friendship or partnership, you must first get your walk back in agreement with the Lord. Ask the Lord to help you walk with Him in those areas in which you are struggling. Maybe you need to repent from rebellious ways or attitudes or maybe you need to submit to going in a direction you have not wanted to go. Once you learn to walk with God first, then you will be so much better in walking with others.
Our mission is to evangelize the lost and awaken the saved to live empowered lives by the Work of God and His Holy Spirit. Daily Disciples Ministries makes a difference for the kingdom of God by teaching and training believers how to be in God’s Word, how to pray and how to walk with Jesus every day, as His daily disciple. Daily Disciples Ministries, Inc.
Bury the hatchet before the tension buries the holidays.
By Dr. Linda Mintle
Family hurts: The terrible gift that keeps on giving. They make the holidays not so joyful.
The minute you set foot in your mom’s house and the relatives begin to arrive, that old wound from years ago begins to fester. You still feel the sting from the time your brother broke your trust and bilked you out of money. You’ve never talked about it since the day you stormed away angry and disappointed, yet here he comes with children in tow. What do you do? Perhaps it is time to work towards healing.
Or, your ex has been invited to your children’s holiday performance. The only open seat is next to you. His new wife is with him. And you think, “Who invited her? It’s bad enough I have to interact with him!” As they walk towards the open seats near where you sit, your ex takes the seat next to you. His new wife grabs his hand and smiles at you. You feel nauseous and want to leave. Your reaction tells you, healing has not occurred but it may be time to bury the proverbial hatchet.
Maybe you have to visit the nursing home where your abusive father now lives and is beginning to show signs of dementia. Throughout your life, this man, now looking frail and pitiful, told you what a loser you were and how you would never amount to anything. Despite your worldly success, you feel 10-years-old again and still look for his affirmation. You know he won’t give it to you. Why don’t you feel grown up around him? It’s time to grieve the loss and put it to rest. He wasn’t the father you needed or wanted. Yet, here he sits, a shell of himself and not looking so powerful.
The scenarios are many –wound and family hurts that stay with us and rear their ugly heads when families get together during the holidays. So how do we handle these rifts, the unresolved conflicts and family hurts of the past? Do we ignore them, sit through the uncomfortable tension and just tolerate the experience? Or do we try to make repair?
I wish I could say, go ahead, ignore, avoid and don’t feel any obligation to be with these people. Some therapists would tell you that. But those us from a faith background know the importance of forgiveness and repair when it comes to healing those scars. Because Jesus chose the path of forgiveness for the unfair treatment he experienced, we must do the same if we want to heal.
Holding on to unforgiveness damages the physical body as well as the emotional and spiritual parts of a person’s life. Holding on to family hurts and unforgiveness leads to bitterness and an unhappy life. Letting go is a decision and a choice. It’s up to you.
If you choose to forgive, it helps to think of this as an act of obedience that helps you in the end. Don’t continue to ruminate on the pain or hurtful act. Instead, turn the pain over to God, knowing that Jesus understands our suffering. He was betrayed, abused, treated unfairly–he knows our pain. Take that pain to the cross and lay it down. Pray, “God, you know how hurt I am by (name the issue or person). I choose to forgive that person and release them to your judgment and accountability. I forgive (name). Now, give me the strength to deal with the person in your love.” The times I have been able to do this, I have been amazed at how well I handled that person or a difficult situation. It was the Holy Spirit in me that helped me treat that person with kindness and love.
Next, go to the person and say, “We’ve had this rift. I am willing to try and talk about it so we can put it behind us if you are willing to do the same.” This will either open the door for reconciliation or not. If the person responds in a negative way, forgive and say, “Ok well I have chosen to forgive you and move forward. If you ever want to talk, I am willing.” Then do your best to enjoy the holiday. You tried. That is all you can do. The ball is now in the other person’s court and you have acknowledged the problem.
If the person wants to talk, find a time and place for some privacy. If he or she is open to praying first, do it. Then, try to stay calm, don’t criticize, watch your defensiveness and try to focus on the issue, not the person. Try to come to an understanding even if you agree to disagree and call a truce. You will feel a weight come off of you once you do this.
If the issue is really big and hurtful, you may want a mediator like a therapist or a third party. The goal is to put the issue that is causing hurt on the table and deal with it once and for all. Then, everyone can stop walking on egg shells and enjoy the holiday.Dr. Linda Mintle is a columnist for Beliefnet. To read more from Dr. Mintle, visit her column Doing Life Together.
Luke informs us in Acts 12 that Peter was imprisoned, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. The church felt that Peter was an integral part of them and thus they felt prisoners with him. We are a universal Body of Christ. We feel joy or affliction, happiness or sadness, freedom or persecution with all the members of that Body, wherever that part of the Body may be.
The affliction of our brothers in Eastern Europe are ours, the struggles of the Christians in Muslim countries are our struggles also. The victories of the Christians in any part of the world are also our victories. “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners and those who are ill-treated as if you yourselves were suffering.” Another translation says, “since you are also in the Body.”
Let us remember them today in our prayers, stretching out our hands of fellowship to them. In doing so, we can bless those who are still in prison for their faith in Jesus Christ. While praying, we feel their burdens, their hardships and their pain.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
Horacio Herrera from Cuba. Because of his leading role in the Cuban Church, he writes using a pseudonym.
Copyright [C] 1995 Open Doors International. Used by permission.
Compelling wisdom from the pen of actual believers living amidst persecution, you’ll be connected to the suffering, courage, and depth of life that exists in the harshest places in the world. Each of these 365 thought-provoking devotions will deepen your understanding of Christian persecution and provoke you to pray for our brothers and sisters with a new found depth.