Conflict…you in it? you just get thru it? is it heading your way?


We know that in this world we will have trouble (not might, not may, will)! So it is a matter of where we are at…are we having trouble? are we in the lead up to trouble? did we just come thru trouble?

We see conflict defined as follows:

definition of conflict.jpg

Do you know how to respond to conflict? Do you realize the different types of conflict?

Four types of conflicts

There are so many different trainings and responses that people have to conflict. Are you aware of the trigger that the conflict started? Are you aware of what is making you take a stand on this topic and not just let it go? Are you willing to listen? Do you know how to de-escalate the situation? Is your response making the conflict bigger than it needs to be? Do you know what problem got the conflict rolling? Are you willing to take the time to work thru it? Are you willing to partner on a solution rather than trying to force your views and opinions on others thru coercion or intimidation? Do you understand why it is important to the other person? Can you control your response so that it won’t make things worse and aren’t destructive to the relationship? Do you know the skills to help you be better at conflict resolution? What if it is at work? What if you need to step in as a mediator? Do you realize that if you don’t know what to do there are resources?

Today’s devotional on responding to conflict tells an interesting story about how important it is to be aware of our surroundings and unity. It went like this…

A springbok is a gazelle-like antelope. Normally they are very alert to predators. However, I remember watching a BBC wildlife programme that filmed two springboks fighting each other in the Kalahari Desert. As they became absorbed in the fight, they did not notice the lion prowling around them, waiting for his opportunity to attack.

As I watched, it struck me as a picture of the church. When, in the church, we fight one another, we become very vulnerable to attack. ‘The devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8).

When God calls you to follow him, he does not call you to a life of ease. Life on earth involves many battles, in all of which God promises you victory through Jesus Christ. There is never going to be a moment in your earthly life when everything is perfect. There are always going to be challenges, difficulties and problems to solve. However, there are times when these intensify and we seem to be coming under attack.

Martin Luther King said that the ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in ‘moments of convenience’, but where they stand in ‘moments of challenge, moments of great crisis and controversy’.

–from Day 148: Bible In One Year 2017


How to Respond to Conflict — Day 148: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Proverbs 13:10-19, John 18:1-24, 1 Samuel 21, 1 Samuel 22, 1 Samuel 23


1. Avoid unnecessarily quarrelling … Proverbs 13:10-19

We need to walk our lives as wise rather than fools…

10Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
11Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.
12Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
13Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it, but whoever respects a command is rewarded.
14The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.
15Good judgment wins favor, but the way of the unfaithful leads to their destruction.#15 Septuagint and Syriac; the meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.
16All who are prudent act with knowledge, but fools expose their folly.
17A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.
18Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.
19A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but fools detest turning from evil.

–from Proverbs 13

Today’s devotional speaks to this reading as follows…

In particular, in this passage we see two examples:

Quarrels

‘Pride only breeds quarrels’ (v.10a). One of the most draining experiences of life is quarrelling – whether in a marriage, among friends, with colleagues or in the church. Here we see that one of the causes of quarrels can be pride. If you are willing to admit your mistakes and wrongs with humility, you can avoid a lot of quarrels.

Another key is listening carefully to one another: ‘Arrogant know-it-alls stir up discord, but wise men and women listen to each other’s counsel’ (v.10, MSG).

Disappointments

‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick’ (v.12a). Or as The Message puts it, ‘unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick’.

This is another kind of attack that is sickening. When a vision we have had for something is held up or our plans are delayed because of some attack or let down, disappointment makes the heart sick. We do battle with our own plans and our circumstances.

On the other hand, there is nothing more satisfying than persevering and seeing some part of your vision fulfilled. ‘A longing fulfilled is a tree of life’ (v.12a). ‘A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul’ (v.19a).

In the midst of all the attacks of life there are moments of great joy, fulfilment and satisfaction.

–from Day 148: Bible In One Year 2017

2. Trust that God can bring good out of evil … John 18:1-24

Sometimes we find ourselves in trouble because of something we said or did. Other times we find ourselves in trouble and feel unaware of how we got there. This is the reality of good and evil. God can take what the devil plans for evil and turn it around and use it for good. Just like when Joseph was thrown in the well, sold into slavery, put in prison (in trouble) God was able to use that and turn it around and use it for good making him second in command for Egypt and being able to save his family (turned around for good). Consider what Jesus had to go thru…

1When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.
2Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
4Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?
5“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
I am he,”Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6When Jesus said, “I am he,”they drew back and fell to the ground.
7Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
8Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.”9This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”
10Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
11Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?
12Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.

Peter’s First Denial

15Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, 16but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in.
17“You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter.
He replied, “I am not.”
18It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.

The High Priest Questions Jesus

19Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
20 “I have spoken openly to the world,”Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret.21Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.
22When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.
23 “If I said something wrong,”Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”24Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

–from John 18

Pray for unity! Prepare so that you can deal with conflict!

Today’s devotional speaks to this reading from John 18 as follows…

Having prayed for unity, Jesus now enters the world of conflict. Alone and vulnerable, filled with love and kindness, Jesus is arrested and condemned to death. He lays down his life in order to give life.

Betrayal

This was a terrible moment in the life of Jesus. His friend and disciple Judas, with whom he had spent three years, led a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees to arrest Jesus (vv.1–3).

There is nothing more painful than when an attack comes from a friend or colleague. Jesus’ dignified response is exemplary. He stayed calm, refused violence and exercised extraordinary self-restraint (vv.4–12).

In order to protect his disciples, Jesus confronts the group of powerful armed men, brought by Judas. He restrains Peter’s attempt to resort to violence to defend Jesus. He does not want to engage in conflict using the ways of the world.

Ill-treatment

The very authorities that should have been protecting the innocent joined in the attack on Jesus. They arrested Jesus. ‘They bound him’ (v.12). They took him first to Annas and then to Caiaphas. Standing before the high priest, still bound, Jesus is struck in the face (vv.12–14,19–24).

If Jesus was treated in this way we should not be surprised if, from time to time, we come under attack from those in authority – whether religious or secular.

Denial

Peter’s denial did not come from an evil heart but simply from human weakness. When asked whether he was one of Jesus’ disciples he replied, ‘I am not’ (v.17).

I totally understand how Peter could have got himself into a position of denying Jesus in spite of all his best intentions. I have sometimes said or done things that, in hindsight, were sheer cowardice.

The reality is that Jesus is in full control of the situation. He knew ‘all that was going to happen to him’ (v.4). He acted to fulfil his own prayer in the previous chapter (v.9, see 17:12). Jesus went to his death ‘to drink the cup the Father has given’ him, paying the penalty for our sin and wrongdoing (18:11).

He paid the penalty for us: ‘It would be good if one person died for the people’ (v.14). Jesus’ death is on behalf of Peter and each one of us. He faces the attack of death and judgment so that you do not have to. Jesus allows himself to be bound (vv.12,24) so that you can be unbound and set free.

–from Day 148: Bible In One Year 2017

3. Strengthen one another … 1 Samuel 21:1-23:29

Is there someone you can talk to or be encouraged by in the midst of the conflict? What will it take to make it thru? Will you be loyal in and thru it all? Will you pray to God for wisdom and discernment in the midst of conflict? Asking God for ways to handle this? Asking God what does it mean and what is the cause, discerning the words being spoken?

Today’s devotional speaks to our reading from 1 Samuel with the following…

This was a period of intense conflict for David.

Jealousy, as we see here with Saul, never seems to ease off once it gets a grip of a person. It drove Saul to more and more cold-blooded evil acts. He thought nothing of destroying a town full of priests (22:19).

David had to resort to every ruse in order to avoid the attacks. He ate the holy Bread of the Presence (21:1–9, MSG); he pretended to go crazy (v.13) and gathered a motley crew of ‘losers and vagrants and misfits of all sorts’ (22:1, MSG). Yet we see in this passage the qualities of David that emerged even when he was under attack.

Loyalty

David had a reputation for loyalty (v.14) and was highly respected. David and Jonathan were utterly loyal to each other: ‘Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him to find strength in God’ (23:16).

Considering that he could have seen himself as heir to the throne, Jonathan’s attitude to David was extraordinary: ‘You shall be king over Israel, and I will be second to you’ (v.17). They were utterly committed to each other: ‘The two of them made a covenant before the Lord’ (v.18).

There is nothing that helps more in times of conflict than the loyalty of our friends and family. They can help you in difficult times. And, when they are under attack, you can help them by your loyalty and support to find strength in God.

Prayer

What is your first port of call when conflict comes in your life? As Joyce Meyer puts it, when trouble comes do you ‘run to the phone’ or do you ‘run to the throne’? David had learnt at this stage of his life the vital importance of enquiring of the Lord before making decisions. When he was under attack again and again ‘David went in prayer to God’ (vv.2,4, MSG). In this way, attacks can actually draw you closer to God.

One of the tragedies of this story is that instead of fighting the real enemy (v.27), God’s people, like those two springboks, were fighting one another. This gave the Philistines the opportunity to attack. Still today the church is in danger of doing this.

God can take something Satan means for evil and division and turn it into something good. God used the attack by the Philistines to rescue David: ‘Then Saul broke off his pursuit of David and went to meet the Philistines’ (v.28). It would be wonderful if the church would break off its infighting and in unity face the real enemies that threaten to destroy our world such as injustice, human trafficking, disease and poverty.

–from Day 148: Bible In One Year 2017

 

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