Tag: unity

Don’t quarrel on the way!

Scripture reading for January 16th: Genesis 45-47

Families and churches are sometimes prone to conflict!  I know because I live in a family, have attended churches for many years, and have pastored for 34 years in four different churches.  I have experienced conflict in family and church settings and sometimes been responsible for it myself.  Sometimes conflict comes from misunderstanding and poor communication.  Other times it comes from jealousy or envy.  Sometimes it comes from sin and wrong-doing.  Everybody wants to blame somebody else and arguments ensue about who is at fault! 

In our reading today, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers after a series of  encounters with them.  When Joseph revealed himself to them, they were astonished, speechless, and terrified because of guilt!  (Genesis 45:1-7)  Joseph had to reassure them that it was truly him.   He understood their feelings.  He had likely worked through these same kinds of feelings himself over the years.  God gave him understanding of His greater purpose that was being worked out.  Joseph shared this purpose with his brothers to encourage them.  “It was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.”

As Joseph sent them away to bring Israel and the rest of the family down to Egypt to save them during the coming 5 years of famine, he warned them not to quarrel on the way!  He knew human nature and the temperament of his brothers. God desires forgiveness, unity, and humbly serving one another. In that unity He can bless and fulfill His promises. Prophetic vision of God’s purposes helps us cooperate.

Are you experiencing strife or quarreling in your family, church or at work? What is God’s purpose that He has to place you there? How might you share this to God’s glory?  

Genesis 45:24 “Don’t quarrel on the way!” 

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God commands love for enemies!

Scripture reading for July 5th: Luke 6, Psalm 133, Proverbs 9

Luke 6: 27-31 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.”

The law of sowing and reaping says that we get back what we put out. Jesus, knowing this to be true, commanded His followers to show love for their enemies. God’s love does what is best for the other person, in order to see them converted. When we do good to our enemies, it opens up their lives to see and experience the grace of God and hopefully draws them to repentance and life. This can change them from being your enemy to being a brother or sister and dwelling in God’s unity of the Trinity. This is Wisdom speaking, as God’s Word and Jesus are Wisdom for us!

Psalm 133:1 “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”

Prayer: Father God, thank You that You are Love and Wisdom. Forgive me for at times ignoring this command to love my enemies. I would rather ignore them or get even. This is not like Jesus. Fill me with Your Love and remind me to show love to all You put in my life and path. I desire the good and pleasant peace of dwelling in unity with You and Your people.

Proverbs 9:12 “If you are wise, you are wise for yourself; if you scoff, you alone will bear it.”

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The untamed tongue

Scripture reading for October 7th: Jeremiah 25, 35, 36, 45, Psalm 133, James 3

James 3: 6-10 “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. For the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”

James understood from Jesus and from God’s holy Word the importance of unity. Jesus had prayed for unity, that His people would be one with He and the Father. By their love and unity and obedience, all men would be able to know that they were Jesus’ disciples. But James understood the tongue as well. Our tongue is connected to our hearts. Our flesh and its desires and passions cause the tongue to act like fire. A mean or hateful word spoken can set a whole family, city, or church or nation on fire. God’s people must allow the Holy Spirit to bridle their tongues and anoint hearts with Christ’s love and compassion. They must make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit and bond of peace through the anointing of the Spirit.

Psalm 133:1-2 “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes.”

Prayer: Father God, I know the truth of my tongue’s unruly nature and thank You for Your mercy and forgiveness when I have spoken out of my flesh, frustration, or anger. Fill me with the Holy Spirit of God that my tongue might bless You and those to whom I am speaking. Let my words and my heart be acceptable in Your sight, bringing unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace.

Jeremiah 35:15-16 “I have sent you all My servants the prophets, sending them persistently, saying, ‘Turn now every one of you from his evil way, and do not go after other gods to serve them, and then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to you and your fathers.’ But you did not incline your ear or listen to Me. The sons of Recab have kept the command that their father gave them, but this people has not obeyed me.”

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Generosity and Love!

Scripture reading for April 17th:  Ruth 3-4, Psalm 37, Acts 4

Key Scriptures:  Acts 4:32-35 “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.  And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.  There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’s feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.”  

The early church brought many diverse people together in unity around Jesus Christ and His vision to reach the world and make disciples.  Material things took a lower priority and believers shared their goods.  Great power and grace rested on the apostles and their preaching brought new souls into the kingdom.  Believers’ hearts were filled with generosity and love for each other.

Faith Confession and prayer:  Lord Jesus, thank You for this amazing revelation of the early church and its love and generosity.  Help me to be powerful in Your grace through the Gospel message and generous to those in need.

Ruth 4:13-14 “So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife.  And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son.  Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, Who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel!  He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, . . .”

Psalm 37:4 “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.”

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Melodies of thankfulness!

Scripture reading for August 29th:  Psalm 133-135 and Ephesians 5

Key Scriptures: Ephesians 5:18-21 “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence to Christ.”

Hearts that are filled with the Holy Spirit flow with heavenly words and music.  There is thankfulness flowing to God and others for what Christ Jesus has done, is doing and will do.  There is respect and honor for other members of Christ’s Body, the Church.  Saints don’t need wine to give them joy!  The Holy Spirit overflows them with His provision!

Psalm 133:1,3 “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!  . . . .It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion!  For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forever more.”  

Prayer:  Lord, thank You for the infilling of the Holy Spirit and songs of joy in my heart.  Let that river flow in love and unity for the brothers and sisters and let it reach out to the lost to show them Your glory.  Amen.

 

 

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The blessedness of unity!

Scripture reading for July 6th:  Psalm 130-134

Key Scriptures:  Psalm 133:1-3  “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!  It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes.  It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.  For there the Lord bestows His blessing, even life forevermore.”  

As the twelve tribes assembled, they became one family before the Lord.  This psalm decreed the blessing of unity upon the brothers as they gathered to worship in God’s presence.  The ultimate blessing that the Lord bestowed was eternal life in His presence!  Sounds like what Jesus Christ prayed in his final High Priestly prayer before the cross!

The blessing of unity: “For Your granted Him authority over all people that He might give eternal life to all those you have given Him.  Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” . . . “My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You.  May they also be in Us so that the world may know that You sent Me and have loved them even as you have loved Me.”  (John 17:2-3, 20-23)

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Thankful for God’s Order!

Scripture reading for February 7th:  Numbers 2-5

Key Scriptures:  Numbers 2:1-2, 34  “The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: “The Israelites are to camp around the Tent of Meeting some distance from it, each man under his standard with the banners of his family.”  “So the Israelites did everything the Lord commanded Moses; that is the way they encamped under their standards, and that is the way they set out, each with his clan and family.””

God is a God of order.  He had specific instruction for His leaders to set each person in a proper job and place.  Each was assigned a location in relation to the Tent of Meeting, the place where God’s Presence lived in their midst.  Each was to be with their family or clan and move in a particular order when God moved out ahead of them.

Thankful for order:  God’s order brings peace and unity to His people.  “For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of the prophets are subject to the control of prophets.  For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.”  (1st Corinthians 14:31-33)

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Unity with the Trinity!

Scripture reading for April 28th:  John 17

Key Scriptures for over-comers:  John 17:20-23  “My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You.  May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”  

Jesus Christ prayed for Himself, His immediate disciples, and then for all who would believe on Him as a result of their preaching the message of Christ!  He prayed for us and it is written down!  The central focus of that prayer is that we would be in unity with the Father and Jesus and each other!  This unity would be a witness to the world enabling many to believe that the Father sent Jesus Christ to save them.  We must do our part to maintain the unity of the Spirit and bond of peace with our brothers and with the Lord and our Father!

Observations for over-comers:  Disciples who over-come the world maintain a close bond with the Trinity and seek unity with the Body of Christ, His Church.  “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!  . . .It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.  For there the Lord bestows His blessing, even life forevermore.”  (Psalm 133, 1, 3)

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The humility of Christ!

Scripture reading for December 2nd: Philippians 1-4

Have you ever needed an “attitude adjustment”!  The Word of God provides help for us when our attitudes take us down.  Christ modeled the kind of attitude that pleased God and Paul reminded the Philippians of His example.

Paul prayed for those in the church at Philippi.   There were saints, overseers, and deacons that he had helped to set in place.  He was confident that God would complete the work He had begun in each of them.  He prayed that the love of these believers would abound more and more.  (Philippians 1:6-11)  He wanted them to be filled with the fruits of righteousness so that the Lord would receive glory!

These saints and leaders were encouraged by Paul to be united in love and purpose.  (Philippians 2:2-3)  Unity comes from fellowship with the Holy Spirit and a humble spirit towards God and each other.  We must learn to bear with one another and try and look out for others rather than focusing on ourselves.  The best example of this is Jesus Christ.

Jesus had a perfect attitude.  He was God and owner and ruler of the universe, but He humbled Himself and took on human likeness through the incarnation.  He willingly laid down all the power and privilege of royalty to be obedient to the Father.  He obeyed the Father by laying down His life on the cross, enduring the death of the lowest criminal.  Because of His obedience, God exalted Him to the highest place.  His Name, Jesus Christ, is the highest name in the universe!  Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord!  Those who bow their knees now and confess now will enjoy eternity with Him!

We are working out our salvation while God is at work in us.  We obey Him without grumbling or complaining,  rejoicing in the task of sharing the Word of Christ.  (Philippians 4:4)   We pray about everything and enjoy the peace of Christ!  (Philippians 4:6-7)  We can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us!  (Philippians 4:13)  We know that our God will supply all of our needs according to His riches in Glory in Christ Jesus!  (Philippians 4:19)  What an attitude of victory and joy when we imitate Christ!

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Even life forever more!

Scripture reading for June 29th: Psalms 128-134

“How good and pleasant it is when brother live together in unity!  It is like the precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes.  It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.  For there the Lord bestows His blessing, even life forevermore.” Psalm 133:1-3

Psalm 133 is one of the next to the last of the songs of ascents and speaks of an important aspect of life in the family and city of God.  Living together with others in harmony is not something that comes naturally.  Each person has different desires, likes, attitudes, and temperaments.  Selfishness  often causes fighting, strife and complaining.  Unity is an elusive quality in most homes, churches, and nations.

Jesus picked twelve disciples and they struggled with unity.  They argued and disputed among themselves about who would be the greatest.  Two of them got their mother to intercede for them!  (Matthew 20:20-23)  Jesus taught them that the way to unity was to take the lowest place and serve.  At the Last Supper, He took a towel and washed their feet, teaching them by example.  (John 13:12-17)  Later that same night, Jesus prayed that they would be kept in complete unity so the world might believe that Jesus was sent by the Father!  (John 17:20-23)  Unity was an essential quality to spreading the Gospel in Christ’s Church!

The unity of brothers was likened to the anointing of the High Priest.  Oil was poured on his head as a symbol of special blessing from above.  The oil would flow from the head down to beard and drip onto the collar of the robe.  This anointing brought the enablement of the Spirit of God to pray and intercede on behalf of the people.  Jesus Christ is our High Priest!  He was anointed by the Father and has prayed for us.  That anointing to pray and walk in peace flows from our High Priest to us today!

The last analogy is that of dew on Mt. Hermon.  Dew comes in the cool of the evening on grass, rocks, and trees.  It brings refreshing and helps the plant life prepare for another day.  Salvation brings us into God’s community of unity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit!  Their perfect unity permeates our souls and brings blessing–life forever more!

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