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Grace Nuggets: Simple reminders of God’s great love for you.

*Grace Nuggets: Simple reminders of God’s great love for you.

We live in a fast-paced world in which social media, the internet and rapidly changing cultural values are placed front row, and center in our lives. It seems like everything that those in my baby boomer generation counted as stable is falling away. Some of that, to be honest, is a good thing. I’m beginning to realize the ‘simple life’ I grew up in was often a cover-up for an undercurrent of things that never should have happened.

The trade off, however isn’t always positive. With all the ‘advancements’ our society has made, one thing that seems to have been left behind is hope. HOPE. Such a simple word, yet so complex. Wars have been fought in the name of hope; lives have been destroyed in the search for hope.

Hope is elusive on the human plane. We seek it in relationships. We seek it through political and social action. We seek it, or at least try to escape it’s evil twin– hopelessness — through chemicals. We may even try it through religion. But none of that really satisfies. People fail. Government fails. Gaining rights for one group rapes other groups of their ‘rights’. Religion only offers surface comfort for the pain.

There is only one thing that offers total hope and that is Jesus. He’s not about rules and religion. He has no expectations for you to measure up to who he is. When we place our focus on who he is, and what he has done; when we realize the hopelessness of this world is temporary and a better world awaits us; when we realize the pain we suffer now is nothing compared to the joy we have in him, we also find that elusive thing we’ve sought for: HOPE.


And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15 (NIV)

Conflict is inevitable. You probably didn’t need to have someone tell you that! From the beginning of time conflict has been a part of human existence. It’s not ‘IF’ you will experience conflict but when you experience conflict and how you deal with it that matters.

Conflict is defined as, “The competitive or opposing action of incompatibles; an antagonistic state or action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons).”

From a human perspective, conflict had its origins in the Garden of Eden. The first person to experience conflict was Eve. The serpent (Satan) not only questioned her regarding God’s commands, he brought conflict into her mind.  For perhaps the first time she was faced with opposing viewpoints. Up to this time we can only surmise that obedience (based on a passionate love relationship with her creator) was unquestioned. When you begin to question God, you leave room for conflict.

The next significant act of conflict wasn’t with God, but with fellow man. In an act of jealous rage, Cain killed his brother Abel. The rest is, as they say, history. Conflict, whether between men or men with God really has the same motivating force: the desire for peace within our soul. We may be led to believe the lie that the hunger for peace in our soul can be quenched by new relationships, new career paths or a bigger bank account. We may try to drown the pain of that hole by chemicals or religious experience, but until our hearts are right with God, nothing will work.

Now for the good news. Your heavenly Father wants to restore the lost relationship.  Colossians 1:19-20 states, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

What this means is that through Jesus Christ, God wants to restore the relationship we lost in the garden. Furthermore, Philippians 4:7 reminds us that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus Christ opens the path to a new, vibrant relationship with God. When that happens and we grow to completeness through Christ, his peace will guard our soul, our emotions, or feelings. It will work towards conquering the fear, worry, anger, hate and frustration of human conflict.

Will making our relationship with God cure our human conflicts? Unfortunately not. But having a right relationship with God opens the door to healthier relationships as we learn to lean on him and trust him with our hearts.

Let the peace of Jesus calm you as you grow in relationship to him. Daily give him control of your relationships so he can protect your soul from the attacks of conflict. May the following prayer empower you to peace in the midst of conflict.

PRAYER: Father God. I thank you for the restoration of a love relationship I can have with you through Jesus Christ. Empower me to rest on you in the midst of the human conflict I am facing. May the peace only Jesus can offer strengthen me. Amen.


To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the wicked you show yourself hostile. 2 Samuel 22:27 (NLT)

We were built for relationship. Our very heart, our very being revolves around how we perceive others feelings towards us, and how we feel about them. When centered on the emotional, relationships rarely focus on facts. It’s feelings that matter. When centered on facts alone, relationships become works centered. What you do to or for me means everything to the relationship. Motives don’t matter, actions do.

One day Jesus healed a man that was born blind and unable to speak. At the touch of his hand, Jesus restored his speech and gave him sight. The man praised God. The people stood amazed and praised God. The Pharisees however; the religious elite; the men who ‘knew the way to God’ better than anyone else, were not only skeptical, they were critical.

“He’s a tool of Satan”, they said. “This is nothing more than blasphemy”, the challenged. “God doesn’t work like this; God has no part in any of this atrocity!”

The gospel writer states “But Jesus knew their thoughts…” (Matthew 11:25)

It wasn’t the accusations that Jesus took issue with, it was their hearts because he knew that thoughts don’t originate on the external, they originate from the heart, from the soul, from the very being of man.

Why the different reaction between the religious establishment and the man who’d been healed? In a word: relationship. Religion is and always will be built on rules and actions. They saw Jesus as a threat to their power, a reason for concern because he would take away their power and status.

“Do this and that will happen; don’t do this or this will happen.”

Relationship heals. Relationship encourages. Relationship makes one better as they leave than they were when they came. The people, especially the blind man saw a different Jesus, a Jesus based on experience, on touch, on relationship.

The blind man knew his hopelessness and saw relief. The Pharisees never grasped the notion that they were sinners. The blind man saw freedom in his release from the bondage of his blindness. The Pharisees saw the healing as a direct confrontation to their power. The blind man saw hope; the Pharisees saw a menace.

The question each of us must ask ourselves is which Jesus do we see? Do we see a Jesus limited by rules and regulations; a Jesus steeped in liturgy and tradition? Or do we see a Jesus who longs to touch us, to heal us, to soothe the pain within our hearts?

Some have shaken their fists figuratively at Jesus because he didn’t meet their needs. They were looking for someone who would cater to their physical desires rather than the needs of the heart. They’ve tried filling the hole with other gods. The gods of relationship, passion, power or any other god of their own choosing. Others have chosen to fill the hole in their relationship by legislation. The more rules we have, the more restrictions we place on ourselves, the more religious we become, and the better we’ll be.

But only Jesus can fill that hole and he fills it with relationship, not rules. Those who follow after him, whose hearts are pure find in him a refuge. Those who refuse to come into relationship with him see him as a menace to their emptiness; a barrier to true freedom.

PRAYER: Father God, it’s so easy to put other gods in your place. Gods that will give me a false sense of holiness, a false feeling of stability. Purify my heart so that you are all that I see. Amen.

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