Loving Those Who Don’t Like You

Some people don’t (And won’t) like you.  It won’t matter what you do or how hard you try… they will not like you for some reason… possibly they don’t think you like them.  As a result there will be stress and tension when you are around each other.  Here are two thoughts from Scripture about how to deal with such situations.

First, remember what Paul wrote in Romans 12…

10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God… 20 If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Second, consider Jesus’ command from Matthew 5:44…

I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.

Now here’s what we as Christians are to consciously apply toward all those who don’t like us… who are enemies…

Love them with brotherly affection…

Show them honor…

Bless them…

Don’t payback what they’ve done to you…

YOU do what it takes to be at peace with them…

NEVER take revenge…

Give them whatever they need…

Overcome evil by doing what is right (Phil 1:27)…

THEN…

PRAY FOR THEM (Don’t prey on them.  Get it?).  Ask God to bless them and their family.  Ask God to reveal Himself to them.  Ask God to give them peace, joy, and contentment.  DON’T ask God to punish or discipline them… that is not praying FOR them.

God honors those who keep His commands.  I can tell you by experience, it is impossible (!) to dislike a person or be mad at them when you treat them as God would have you to AND pray for them.

One Pastor’s Soteriology

What is “Soteriology?!”  It’s a word I learned in seminary that means “The study of salvation.”

Presently this is a topic being mildly discussed in the Southern Baptist ConventionSo I thought I’d state what my soteriology is for those I serve as pastor.

I believe God loves the world (John 3:16),

I believe God does not wish that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9),

I believe Jesus Christ is the only way anyone can be saved (John 14:6),

I believe a person must repent in order to be saved (Acts 2:38),

I believe God commands all people to repent so as to be saved (Acts 17:30),

I believe prior to salvation a person is spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1-5),

I believe all elements of salvation (Faith, belief, & repentance) are gifts from God (Ephesians 2:8-9),

I believe anyone who desires to be saved can and will be saved (Romans 10:13, John 6:37).

“What must I do to be saved?… Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Broken People In A Broken World

We are broken people living in a broken world.  Our institutions are broken.  Our government is broken.  Our families are broken.  Our lives are broken.  WE are broken.

Rarely does a day go by I don’t have a conversation with someone who is hurting… deeply.  I’ve come to the conclusion that every person deals with brokenness and is broken… including me and my family.  Consider…

Physical.  High blood pressure, diabetes, loss of hearing and eyesight, wrinkles, pain, cancer, congenital maladies, sickness, loss of energy, dementia, Alzheimer’s, death.

Psychological.  Anger, bitterness, jealousy, hurt feelings, pride, frustration, lost dreams.

Family.  Dysfunction, divorce, children’s rebellion, distrust, disagreements, fracture.

These are but a few reasons we’re told this world is not the Christian’s home!  We are told not to live for this world… but the next… where everything will be restored!  For Christians alone is there hope IN a broken world.  Above all people Christians can have joy in the midst of a world full of hurt and pain…

Colossians 3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.

2 Corinthians 5:1 We know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 6  So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him.

Romans 8:18 The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  20 Because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  24 In this hope we were saved.

Philippians 1:21 To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23  I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

If God Is… Why Pray?

This is from Ray Pritchard from a blog titled: “If God Is Sovereign, Why Pray?”

Reason 1: God invites us to ask for what we need (Matthew 7:7-8; Psalm 81:10).

Reason 2: We don’t know what we really need (Romans 8:26).

Reason 3: God knows what we need before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8).

Reason 4: We don’t pray to inform God about anything (Psalm 147:4).

Reason 5: We pray to express our total dependence upon our Heavenly Father.

Reason 6: We pray because God is honored by our persistent faith (Luke 18:1-8).

Reason 7: We pray because He’s God and we’re not.

Reason 8: We’re to give God no rest (Isaiah 62:6-7).

Usefulness AFTER Failure

“I’m right 99.9% of the time…”  Most people won’t say that out loud, or if they do it’s said kiddingly serious.  And I understand the sentiment all too well.  More times than I like to remember I have made major mistakes.  I’ve given people sticks to beat me with as a result.  The only thing harder than realizing I’ve failed is to confess/admit it to others.  And that is a pride issue…

It is hard to admit error, fault, or failure.  When we do, we try to shift blame like Adam did who said to God… “The woman who YOU gave me, SHE gave me the fruit and I ate.”  Adam actually tried to blame God!  We try to blame our parents… spouse… a difficult job… rebellious kids… physical maladies… or a hundred other things for being under pressure that causes our mistakes and failures.

Truth be told, we fail more times than we’re willing to admit.  We’re wrong more times that we’d like to think.  It really is possible that ever so often we are the one to blame for our problems and those in other’s lives.  Sometimes we are at fault.  Embracing that is like a ball slamming us in the face… it hurts.

There are seven truths I believe at the end of every day… no matter what has happened.  One of them is: “I cannot mess up my life… and neither can anyone else… to the point of God not using me for His glory.”

Think of Peter.  He cursed Jesus… publicly.  That was the best thing he could do to prove he was not a follower of Jesus.  Put yourself in that position.  Imagine verbally cursing Jesus for everyone to hear.  Immediately Peter realized his failure… and he wept bitterly as a result.  BUT THEN…

After the resurrection Jesus sat down with Peter.  Christ asked him three times… “Do you love me?”  The first two times Jesus asked… “Do you love me unconditionally?”  Peter replied, “I love you like a brother.”  The third time Jesus asked, “Do you love me like a brother?”  Peter said yes.  The thing I want you to get from Jesus and Peter is this…

AFTER Peter’s failure, his usefulness was not over!  Instead… because of Peter’s failure and restoration he was chosen and uniquely qualified to lead the early church.  Jesus chose him as THE example of usefulness AFTER FAILURE!  God STILL used Peter!

Have you failed… significantly?  Have you done something that ripped out the heart of someone you love?  Are you consumed with guilt still to this day?  There is hope…

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1)

You cannot mess up your life… and neither can anyone else… to the point of God not using you for His glory.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).