Devotion for the week of November 5, 2006 "Facing The Fire" Conflict--what do you think of when you hear that word? It's not a positive word is it? I get kind of nervous when I hear that word, because conflict never seems like a good thing. When we think of conflict we think of harsh words, bitterness, strife--the list goes on. How do you deal with conflict? Some people ignore it and hope it will go away. This is the same way that some people deal with health issues--if I just don't go to the doctor then nothing is wrong. Do we really believe that? Some people run from conflict. They stay busy. They pretent everythings okay--ignoring reality. They laugh it off--did you know that comedy and laughter is sometimes simply a defense mechanism? Some people are so scared of any conflict or strife in life that they try to avoid it by staying to themselves. They never get involved in anything, fearful of someone who may not approve of them. I don't think any of these three ways of dealing with conflict that I've brought up are positive. We've all done one of the three, but all of us know that none of the three are good ways to deal with it. So what do we do? How about consider some people in the Bible who dealt with intense opposition and conflict in their life. All throughout the 11th chapter of Hebrews, we learn about people who dealt with conflict, adversity, and opposition. We learn about Noah--who preached to a group of naysayers for 120 years. We learn about Abraham--who left the only home he ever knew to travel to a land he'd never heard of--all at age 75! We learn about Joseph--who was sold into slavery by his own family, and was also imprisoned for something he didn't do. We learn about Moses--who left the cushy life of the Pharoah's kid, to serve God with his people. We learn about unnamed people who were stoned, flogged, beaten, chained and put in prison, sawed in two and put to death by swords. But how did they deal with this stuff? How did they keep on doing God's will, despite the intense conflict and persecution they faced? Read Hebrews 11:16 and you'll get an idea. "Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them." Did you catch that? They were longing for a better country. They could see the big picture, they could see the bigger purpose behind all the conflict and opposition. They weren't just looking at today, they were looking at a greater tomorrow. We get so caught up in the moment and how mistreated we are that we forget to look at the big picture. God never promised me that doing His work would be easy. Actually He promises just the opposite. Look at what James 1:2 says: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds." Do you know what I hear when I read this? I hear that James is already assuming that we know that we will have trials. There is not an if in this verse, there is a when. Conflict is a part of life. If you are a God-fearing Christian in this world, you will have conflict. If you want to make a difference in this world, you will have conflict. If you want to swim upstream you will face resistence. In all of it, don't forget the bigger picture. In every trial you face, remember that God is probably preparing you for a work that you will do down the road. Get through it, learn from it, and thank God that He got you through it. Do a really weird thing this week. Praise God for a trial you're enduring. Tell him, "Thank you for this trial, because I know you're about to something good through me and for me." Just try that and see how it changes your attitude. Have a great day, Billy PS- On a more personal note, I lost my Grandma last night. She was my mom's mom and I was very close to her growing up and still am. She was a huge support to me growing up, while I was in Bible college, and still to this day. Please pray for my whole family. Thank you.
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