Digging Deeper Devotional Week of April 29th

April 28, 2024   /   First Baptist Church Elgin

Day 1

Responses to Conflict

Read: Romans 12:17-21; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Ephesians 4:25-32; James 4:1-4

Background: 

Since the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden, the Bible has shown us three ways that conflict is handled…two by flesh and one by faith. When people are faced with conflict they typically fall into one or two “flesh” responses…FIGHT or FLIGHT. Neither glorifies God nor restores and builds the relationship, in fact it actually damages relationships as there is usually a winner and a loser.  God call his followers to respond in FAITH that brings Him glory and builds up rather than tearing down.

Key Words:

  1. Quarrel (Strong’s G4170): To fight verbally, to engage in serious and protracted conflict, often involving a series of attacks…to battle and make war.
  2. Peaceably (Strong’s G1514): To be at peace, to have harmonious relationships and freedom from disputes through reconciliation and making peace.

Theological Truths:

  1. FLIGHT:  is an escape response to conflict which is PEACE-FAKING and manifests itself as “denial, avoidance and flight”.  Rather than acknowledge and face the conflict, people with a FLIGHT response will do whatever is necessary to avoid the conflict. 
  2. FIGHT:  is an attack response to conflict which is PEACE-BREAKING and manifests itself as “blame, provoking, and assault”. This response desires to “win” the conflict at all costs. God calls us to a FAITH response and to be peacemakers.
  3. FAITH: is a Spirit-led response to conflict which is PEACE-MAKING and manifests itself through “going higher, getting real, gently engaging and getting together to make peace that results in restoring and building a relationship.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Reflect on 1 Corinthians 10:31. Do you see all of life, including conflict, as an opportunity to bring God glory? Recall a recent conflict and review how your actions brought God glory.

  2. Reflect on James 4:1-4. How do misplaced passions, uncommunicated expectations, or selfish desires manifest themselves in your conflicts? List specifics.

  3. Do you typically default to a FLIGHT or FIGHT response when in a conflict with others. Does it change based on the conflict or the person you are in conflict with?

Application:

Today, confess your default fleshly response to conflict to God and ask Him to renew your mind and transform your heart so that you responds to conflict in FAITH, and not by FLESH. Commit to follow the PEACE-MAKING process as outline in this week’s devotional.

 

Day 2

Go Higher

Read: Proverbs 15:1, 17:9, 19:11; Romans 12:18

Background:

Going Higher begins with discerning whether or not an offense is significant enough to warrant further biblical peacemaking efforts If the offense does not violate Scripture, is not a sin against a person and is not harmful.  These offenses are usually over a preference or an opinion on a matter and can simply be overlooked to one’s own glory. If you cannot overlook the offense, then it is wise to initiate a PEACE-MAKING process. 

Key Words:

  1. Offense (Strong’s H6588):  A violation of law, duty, or moral principle. A wrongdoing, misdemeanor. 
  2. Overlook (Strong’s H5674): To go on one’s way, move through, to pass by. 

Theological Truths:

  1. Overlooking an offense: Overlooking non-essentials such as habits, routines, and mannerism’s that are different from our own is a great way to give grace and love to others in a God honoring way and also helps prevent oneself from becoming a Pharisee. 

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Reflect and evaluate a current “offense” that you are struggling with in a relationship (marriage, children, co-worker, neighbor, church member, etc). Is the offense seriously dishonoring God? Has it permanently damaged the relationship? Is it seriously hurting other people? Is it seriously hurting the offender himself/herself?

  2. Reflect and evaluate why you are taking offense? Are you being too critical? Are you being judgmental? Are you looking to justify your attitude toward the individual? Is the offense irritating an opinion, a belief or a conviction?

  3. Reflect and evaluate if the offense is irritating a personal opinion, a belief or a conviction? Why is it in the category you listed and does it belong there?

Application:

Ask God for the opportunity to overlook an offense today and give grace upon grace to the individual whom you would normally take issue with for the offense. After successfully overlooking an offense, give thanks to God for allowing you to become more like Christ, extend grace and live in peace with everyone.

 

 

Day 3

Get Real

Read: Matthew 7:1-5; Luke 6:37-42

Background:

Jesus calls out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees over his life and ministry with his illustration of the log and speck comparison. They focused to removing “specks” of their interpretation of the law in others while failing to remove the “plank” of missing Jesus as the Messiah in their own life and ministry. Furthermore, this passage does not teach that judgements should never be made; Jesus’ point is that one must be able to see clearly to remove specks in love to care for others, not for the condemnation of others as the Pharisees had made a custom of.

Key Words:

  1. Speck (Strong’s G2595): A particle of sawdust or chaff of wheat left over from processing such as sawing or winnowing. 
  2. Log (Strong’s G1385): A long thick piece of wood; such as that used in construction, as large kindling, or as a structural support…a beam. 
  3. Hypocrite (Strong’s G5287): A person who professes beliefs and opinions that he or she does not hold in order to conceal his or her real feelings or motives. A pretender-actor.

Theological Truths:

  1. Get real about your log: Identifying and revealing logs and specks begins with self because this is the gospel that we have believe according to Tim Keller: “We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”
  2. Get understanding about the speck: James writes in James 1:19; “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slower to anger.” We must gain understanding and context to see if the speck is truly a speck. Gaining understanding also build a bridge of trust to allow us passport with a person to be allowed to speak about the speck when needed. 

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Why is it easier for you to see and call out the faults in others without acknowledging and addressing your own faults first? Is it because you judge your actions my your “good” intentions but others by their “bad” motives?

  2. Who are the people of God in your life that have permission to speak truth in love to you about your “planks” and “specks”? Have you given them permission and have you asked them for regular feedback?

  3. Recall a time when you removed a “plank” from your eye and then addressed a “speck” in another person’s life. How did removing your plank change your vision and understanding of the speck? How did removing your plank change your perspective of the person?

Application:

Today, pray Psalm 139:23-24 and ask God to search your heart and see if there is any planks in your life that need to be removed. If so, confess (admit) and repent (turn away) those planks as ask God to remove them. Make a list of any people that those planks may have caused conflict with and commit to being a peacemaker with them following the peacemaking process.

 

Day 4

Gently Engage

Read: Matthew 18:15-20; Galatians 6:1-5; Ephesians 4:31-32; Colossians 3:12-13; 1 John 1:6-10

Background:

These passages give the biblical guidelines for engaging with another in the PEACE-MAKING process. Once we have removed the plank in our eye, we are then permitted to gently address our Christian brother or sister in love about their speck. This is done in private and only brings others into this process as directed by Matt 18. The process of Gently Engaging is where we confess our sins and ask for forgiveness AND/OR we illuminate the speck and offer forgiveness. The focus is on reconciling the hurt and restoring the relationship.

Key Words:

  1. Gentleness (Strong’s G4240): Acting in a manner that is gentle, mild, pleasant and even-tempered. 
  2. Forgiving (Strong’s G5483): To forgive graciously as a favor on the account of the goodwill one has towards a person. To clear the debt that an offense has charged to the relationship account. 

Theological Truths:

  1. 7 A’s of a Confession: 1) Address everyone involved in the offense, 2) Avoid words that suggest the offense only appeared as an offense such as “If I hurt you… Maybe it was wrong…But I didn’t mean it…”, 3) Admit specifically the sin or offense, 4) Acknowledge the hurt it caused, 5) Accept the consequences, 6) Alter your behavior, and 7) Ask for forgiveness.
  2. 4 Promises of Forgiveness: 1) I will not dwell on this incident, 2) I will not revisit this incident or use it against you, 3) I will not talk to others about this incident, and 4) I will not allow this incident to stand between us or hinder our personal relationship. 

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Why is so much attention given to a biblical confession? What does each “A” bring to the confession and why does it matter to both the person offended and also the offender?

  2. What parts of a biblical confession do you practice and what parts need to be added in your confessions?

  3. What promises of a biblical forgiveness do you struggle to keep? Why? Are you struggling with fear or is it a matter of faith?

Application:

Take inventory of all your relationships and ask God to illuminate any relationship that has unresolved conflict. Walk through the PEACE-MAKING process and seek to reconcile and mend that relationship if at all possible. Work the “Go Higher and Get Real” process in preparation for “Gently Engaging”.

 

Day 5

Get Together

Read: Matthew 5:23-24, Romans 12:14-21; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Background:

There are usually two aspects of conflict between people: 1)The original conflict, and 2) the escalated conflict. Jesus commands us to reconcile both beginning with the escalated conflict and then to move back to the original conflict with cooler heads and gracious hearts.  The final step in the PEACE-MAKING process after reconciling over the escalated conflict is to get together and make peace on the original conflict.

Key Words:

  1. Reconcile (Strong’s 2644): To be or become restored to favorable or friendly relations with another after presumed wronged. To be at peace with another. 
  2. Ambassador (Strong’s G4243): To act as an authorized representative of one sovereign ruler or country to another. To serve and represent the interests and agendas of a sovereign official or state.

Theological Truths:

  1. P.A.U.S.E. Approach to Reconciliation: P) Prepare – pray, get the facts, seek godly counsel, develop options, A) Affirm the relationship showing genuine concern and respect for the person, U) Understand interests by identifying other’s concerns, desires, needs, limitations, or fears, S) Search for creative solutions by prayerfully brainstorming and seeking a win-win solution, and E) Evaluate all the options objectively and reasonably, evaluate each option unbiasedly. Then agree to try one solution with a follow up to verify reconciliation.
  2. Enduring Difficult People with Grace: 1) Control your tongue and use words to build up not tear down, 2) Seek godly advisors and stay accountable to them, 3) Keep doing what is right, 4) Recognize your limits, rely on the Holy Spirit and the grounded in the Bible, 5) Use the ultimate weapon – deliberate focused love. 
    1. Reflect on the P.A.U.S.E approach and work through why each step is critical for reconciliation. What is the result or possible outcome if we don’t follow this approach?

    2. Which of these do you incorporate and which of these need to be incorporated in your reconciliation attempts?

    3. How have you handled reconciliation with difficult people in the past? Are you a default “FIGHTER or FLIGHTER”? How would these Romans 12:14-21 principles help you reconcile with grace instead and overcome evil with good?

    Application:

    Today, prayerfully work out a PEACE-MAKING journal with scripture and notes to guide you through your next conflict. Share it with at least one person and get their feedback. Ask God to help you follow a biblical process of reconciliation as a peacemaker.

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