Seeking Peace through Self-Control

Seeking Peace through Self-Control

Have you ever done something good only to be blindsided by others questioning your motives?  On the light side, what if you purchased some low fat strawberry ice cream for your spouse knowing she really likes it. Would you promptly, perhaps angrily, receive the question, “Do you think I am fat???” What you say next is the center of our examination involving the judge Gideon.

Thinking before acting, considering the consequences.

Thinking before acting, considering the consequences.

Led by the Spirit of God, Gideon called the Abiezrites (a clan of Mannaseh) and the men from the tribes Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali (Judges 6:34ff).  Gideon gathered these men that they might go up against the Midianites and Amalekites as the Lord had commanded.  Ultimately, all but 300 would be sent home that the power of God would be seen in the victory.  When the enemy was fleeing, Gideon called upon Naphtali, Manasseh, Asher, and Ephraim to pursue.  Ephraim in their efforts would capture the Midian princes Oreb and Zeeb.

It seems this event would end in praises to God and kind words for Gideon.  Instead, Ephraim voiced anger at Gideon for not calling them when the battle was first initiated.  Did they believe Gideon was motivated by a desire for glory?  Was jealousy the motivation Ephraim demonstrated anger toward Gideon?  Judges 8:1 shares that Ephraim took the actions of Gideon as a personal offence and “they accused him fiercely.”.

Gideon could have responded angrily to Ephraim.  He could have said things he would have regretted.  The situation could have been escalated.  Often times, man chooses the wrong words (James 3:5-6).  Instead, Gideon diminishes his accomplishments and praises Ephraim’s.  He declares what he and his clan had done was not even comparable to Ephraim capturing Oreb and Zeeb.  These words bring about peace.  Ephraim’s anger subsides.  Gideon demonstrated self-control.

The apostle Peter provides direction for our lives akin to that of Gideon: “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.” (1 Peter 3:10-11)  In our interactions, we always have a choice as to what our action and words will be.  We can seek peace through-self control or we can unleash a storm through rashness.

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Son, Remember

Son, Remember

“And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame’” (Lk. 16:23-24).

Remember the old paths.  Remember, the sure way. Cling to God.

Remember the old paths. Remember, the sure way. Cling to God.

It is likely that when you read these words you can recall the details of the entire story. However, these words were far more than a captivating story when they were spoken and heard by that rich man. This is not a parable of an imaginary man who never lived. Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man.”

Death brought changes to the rich man. He now knew that gold has no value in hell. He knew that those who make gold the focus of their lives will someday recognize this truth, but it will be too late. The rich man’s dwelling, his clothing, all the excesses of living and his riches brought to him had no advantage.

Death brought changes to the beggar Lazarus. He no longer was hungry. He no longer was begging for crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. He no longer had sores, nor dogs to lick them. Instantaneously, it all changed. He was changed from being an unwanted member of earthly society and had become the honored guest of heavenly beings who escorted him to the other side. Death changed almost everything around these two men and us.

One thing which did not change was the remembrance of one’s earthly life before death. In two brief words Abraham brought profound truth to the forefront. The two words were, “Son, remember.” The rich man remembered and recognized Lazarus. He recalled the crumbs which fell from his table and were evidently never given to Lazarus. He remembered his five brothers and their ungodliness and begged that something might be done to bring about their salvation.

Now, think of how all this impacts your life. How will you feel when you remember that you never did anything to help the least in the kingdom? How will you feel about your selfishly spending almost all you were prospered on your own pleasures when the church struggled to make its proposed budget? How will you feel when you recall the sermons you heard pleading with you to get involved in His work and to grow spiritually? Wasted money, wasted time and wasted opportunities will be part of the agony in the torment of fire.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Think of what great memories the rich man could have had if he had changed his behavior. On the other side you will remember. The real question is whether the memories will bring regret or joy!

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Go and Tell the Disciples

Go and Tell the Disciples

The last chapter of the book of Matthew is all about a mission. A mission to tell people the Good News of the resurrected Savior. The two women at the empty tomb of Jesus are told to “go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead” (v. 7). Verse 8 tells us that they ran to tell the disciples and Jesus met them in the way. Jesus then tells them to go and tell his brethren to meet him in Galilee. In contrast the soldiers are compelled to lie about the risen Jesus and what they had seen. Finally, Jesus meets with his disciples and issues the final charge to go and “make disciples” of all nations,” baptizing them,” and to “teach them” to observe all He had commanded.

The Gospel is not a Secret.  Let us Go and Tell.

The Gospel is not a Secret. Let us Go and Tell.

When we go, teach, and do his will, he meets us in the way and never leaves our side. When we go and make disciples they will become the children of God and receive the forgiveness of sins. When we go teaching we encourage a faithful walk that leads to everlasting life. When we go. If we go! Go, my friends, and be faithful!

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