Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "God Will Take Care Of You"1 (Lyrics)
2 Thessalonians 1:6-7a – God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. (NIV)
Sometimes when I read Paul's letters, I wonder what kind of situation he was writing about and actually dealing with. It seems to me that all of the young churches to which he was sending letters had internal problems which were negatively affecting the growth of the congregations. Time and time again, Paul reminded folks that God wasn't blind to the antics of these troublemakers; if they troubled the church, then payback would occur, because God would trouble them.
I get concerned when I hear of pastors and congregations that are experiencing conflict. I wonder if the people causing the damage really understand what kind of fearful judgment they are placing themselves under. Usually, they consider themselves to be justly standing firm on matters of faith or principle, but the way that they do it creates big problems. Marshall Shelley calls them "well-intentioned dragons"! Conflict in the world usually gets settled by arbitration; conflict in the church will be settled by God. The Church is Christ's bride, so anything that stains or contaminates or damages the Church affects that which Jesus deeply loves.
Now, I'm not free of this troublemaking myself. Every pastor that I know causes ripples in every congregation he or she serves. Even the apostle Paul was known to stir up more than a few conflicts of his own. But the message from this letter should be clear to all of us — God looks after His own and payback really does occur, especially if pride gets in the way of peacemaking, or if self-righteousness blocks self-repentance.
Today's message is as much meant for me, as it may be meant for anyone else.
Questions for personal reflection:
Have I contributed to or caused conflict in the church? How can I seek forgiveness and find a way to make peace?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, as Christians, we belong to Your bride, the Church. Sometimes we fail to honour and cherish Your love because we allow our pride to override our faith. Help us to see ourselves as both You and others see us, so that we may be challenged by the truth and changed for the betterment of Your bride. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.
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Thank you John.
Well said John. God bless.
Just wanted to say how I appreciate you including “personal questions for reflection” in your devotionals. I love that style–keep it up!!
Another great devotional John. I think that this topic could be on the agenda for all future session meetings in the Presbyterian Church in Canada.
Good Morning, John,
After reading about two sentences I knew who had written this devotional. You always touch my heart, John.
Our church almost split this past year because of one family. Too many chose sides and seemed to forget it was God’s church and not theirs. It is a sad fact that many church’s put their own agenda’s above God’s.
Thank you for this insightful devotional.
Neither Jesus, John or Paul conformed to the ideas of men or women. Look around and you’ll see, as well as hear how the world view of peace, tolerance and conformity has gained free reign here in our USA. Tell others just what Jesus, John and Paul would say, to all, in regards to Truth and Peace. Surely, you would want Jesus to say to you, “Well done thou good and faithful servant”?
Jesus made a clear statement that is easy to understand om Matthew 10:34.
“By this shall all people know you are my disciples – if you have love one for another.”
Is it any wonder that the world is confused about our message, when denominations create schisms and Christians shoot themselves in the foot by foolish arguments within church walls?
On the other hand there is the Reformation. I’m reading “How the Scots Invented the Modern World” and it is evident that this disruption brought about the “Scottish Enlightenment” which was the catalyst for transformation; driven by many God-fearing men.
May we love others as Jesus taught and may God build us as His cherished Bride.