A VIEW OF GOD…

Hosea 6:3 gives us something we should pursue every day of our lives,

Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD.  His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.

What a great pursuit!  When you pursue the knowledge of God, He will come to you.  He will refresh you like the rain, like the early and the latter rain.

These rains would cause the crops to ripen and bear fruit.  Scripture is seeking to tell us that when you seek the knowledge of God, a personal knowledge of God, it will cause your life to become abundantly fruitful.  It will cause your life to prosper.  It will bring refreshment into your life because God will come to you.

The question is:  How do you pursue the knowledge of God?

One way is through nature.  Psalm 19:1 says, The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.  Creation screams, “There must be a Creator!  I’m too perfect, I’m too intricate, I’m too glorious to have just happened.  There must be a Master Sculptor.  There must be a Master Painter.  There must be a Creator behind it all.”

The stars in the heavens and the moon literally declare God’s glory.  When you look at the sunset over the Pacific ocean, or look at the mountains, or you look at the grass in your backyard, they scream that there is a Creator.

Take some time to pursue the knowledge of God this week by just observing nature.  When you do, you will come to a deeper knowledge of God as you see and understand the beauty and majesty of Him in a fresh, new way. 

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A VIEW OF GOD…

Hosea 6:3 gives us something we should pursue every day of our lives,

Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD.  His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.

What a great pursuit!  When you pursue the knowledge of God, He will come to you.  He will refresh you like the rain, like the early and the latter rain.

These rains would cause the crops to ripen and bear fruit.  Scripture is seeking to tell us that when you seek the knowledge of God, a personal knowledge of God, it will cause your life to become abundantly fruitful.  It will cause your life to prosper.  It will bring refreshment into your life because God will come to you.

The question is:  How do you pursue the knowledge of God?

One way is through nature.  Psalm 19:1 says, The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.  Creation screams, “There must be a Creator!  I’m too perfect, I’m too intricate, I’m too glorious to have just happened.  There must be a Master Sculptor.  There must be a Master Painter.  There must be a Creator behind it all.”

The stars in the heavens and the moon literally declare God’s glory.  When you look at the sunset over the Pacific ocean, or look at the mountains, or you look at the grass in your backyard, they scream that there is a Creator.

Take some time to pursue the knowledge of God this week by just observing nature.  When you do, you will come to a deeper knowledge of God as you see and understand the beauty and majesty of Him in a fresh, new way. 

WHEN YOU HAVE DONE YOUR BEST…

Romans 12:18 says,

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

By implication, this verse is telling us that it is not possible to live peaceably with some people because they refuse to make peace.  They take the posture of being an enemy, being an antagonist, and they refuse to shift from that position no matter what you do.

But as much as it depends on you, you must pursue the things that make for peace.  You need to pray, you need to communicate, and if God leads you, you need to give a gift.  And certainly with your actions, you need to express the fact that you want peace.

Sometimes somebody may not yield.  They may not yield to the influence of God’s Spirit; they may not yield to your endeavors.  But once you have done all you can do, all you can do has been done.

Does that give you a license to be rude to them or to treat them unpleasantly?  No.  The next few verses address that.  Look at Romans 12:19-21,

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Continue to extend the olive branch.  If they never respond, at least you will have a clean conscience.  God will deal with the things that you cannot deal with.  Do not take matters into your own hands.  “Vengeance is Mine,” says the Lord. 

WHEN YOU HAVE DONE YOUR BEST…

Romans 12:18 says,

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

By implication, this verse is telling us that it is not possible to live peaceably with some people because they refuse to make peace.  They take the posture of being an enemy, being an antagonist, and they refuse to shift from that position no matter what you do.

But as much as it depends on you, you must pursue the things that make for peace.  You need to pray, you need to communicate, and if God leads you, you need to give a gift.  And certainly with your actions, you need to express the fact that you want peace.

Sometimes somebody may not yield.  They may not yield to the influence of God’s Spirit; they may not yield to your endeavors.  But once you have done all you can do, all you can do has been done.

Does that give you a license to be rude to them or to treat them unpleasantly?  No.  The next few verses address that.  Look at Romans 12:19-21,

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Continue to extend the olive branch.  If they never respond, at least you will have a clean conscience.  God will deal with the things that you cannot deal with.  Do not take matters into your own hands.  “Vengeance is Mine,” says the Lord. 

DO NOT OFFEND YOUR BROTHER..

Proverbs 18:19 tells us,

A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a castle.

When this verse refers to a “strong city,” it means a fortified or a guarded city.  You cannot just waltz up to the gate of a fortified city and say “give up.”  It takes strategic planning to take such a city.  You have to think things through and have a plan.

It also means there is going to be strenuous effort involved.  And, more than likely, you will be in a vulnerable position.  In fact, you don’t take a strong city without taking risks, without becoming vulnerable.

The same things come into play when a brother is offended.  It takes thoughtful planning, it takes effort, and sometimes you have to become vulnerable when you do not want to be.

Perhaps you are struggling with a damaged relationship today, and you haven’t pursued healing this relationship because you don’t know how to do it.  It always starts with prayer.  You talk to God about them and about yourself, and then you need to go and talk to them.

When you do, I want you to listen carefully, it should not be with a view to prove that you are right.  Being right is not the goal.  Peace is.  Most of the time it is more important to be kind than it is to be right.

If you try to work something out, but only with the intention of having them understand your point of view so that you can prove you are right, you may win the argument, but you will never make peace.

So when you are endeavoring to win an offended brother, listen carefully to them, and endeavor to understand where they are coming from.  Seek to hear and not just be heard.  Though it may be difficult, you can win peace and see a broken relationship restored. 

THE PURSUIT OF PEACE…

In 1 Peter 3:10-11, Peter provides an important command in our relationships with other people,

For “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain 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.”

I want to focus your attention on the last part of verse 11, “Seek peace and pursue it.”  This means we are to pursue peace with people.

This command is reinforced by the writer of Hebrews in Hebrews 12:14,

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.

I want you to take note of the first part of that verse,  Pursue peace with….  How many people are we to pursue peace with?  All people.  Does that include your neighbor?  How about your mom?  How about your dad?  How about your kids?  Your boss?  Your relatives?  How about that individual who seems to have a gift for getting on your nerves?  What about those who are rude and obnoxious? 

We are told that we are to pursue peace with all people.  That is not a suggestion.  That is a command.  And that command is clarified further in Romans 14:19, which says,

Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.

Things that edify (or build up) create peace.  Things that tear down shatter peace.  Keep that in mind next time you are having a heated discussion with your husband or wife.  Ask yourself, “Are the things that I am sharing at this moment building up my partner?  Or, are they tearing them down?”

Pursue peace with all people by choosing words and deeds that will build them up. 

TRUST AND OBEY…

In Joshua 6:1-5 we find one of the most bizarre battle plans, but one with an important lesson for you and me,

Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in.  And the LORD said to Joshua: “See!  I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor.  You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once.  This you shall do six days.  And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark.  But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.  It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat.  And the people shall go up every man straight before him.”

When you and I read that today it is easy for us to think, “Oh, that must have been pretty normal and natural to Joshua.”  But it wasn’t.  It did not make any more sense to him than it would have to you and me.

Imagine God taking Joshua aside and telling him that all they need to do is march around the city one time for six days.  Then on the seventh day march around seven times and shout.  It made no sense.  Naturally speaking, it was ridiculous!

All of us will face our Jerichos, and sometimes God’s plans won’t seem to make sense.  Our part is to listen and obey—even when God’s instructions don’t make sense to our natural minds.  He has had a lot more experience winning battles than we have!