HOPE FOR TODAY

KEEPING STRIFE AWAY

Keeping Strife Away

Top 10 Causes of Strife

Galatians 5:14–15 says, “The entire law is summed up in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself. If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

Strife can tear relationships apart. It amazes me at how many Scriptures there are that address the subject of strife. I found 43 scriptures — and that doesn’t even include other synonyms like discord and dissention. Strife is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

The definition of strife is — conflict, antagonism, quarrel, struggle, clash, competition, disagreement, opposition, fight.

These are things we all have to deal with in our relationships, no matter who we are. And the good news is that we can learn to deal with them in a healthy, godly way
Love your Neighbor as Yourself

LaughingIf you are struggling in a relationship, today is the day to change your mindset. Let God birth a vision in your heart. Ask God to help you and show you what you can do. Start believing God to come up higher in your relationships and become more aware of the causes of strife.

Some of the major causes of strife in relationships based on Scriptures from the Bible are the following:

1. Anger

Proverbs 29:22 says, “An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins.” Wow! If we are not careful, we can get into lots of trouble when we are angry.

The fact is that we all get angry with people, but the Bible says that we can be angry and sin not. It’s what we do when we are angry that makes all the difference. When you are angry with a person, it’s better to keep your mouth closed and cool down before you do or say something you regret — or before you spark a full-fledged fight. How many times have we said something or done something in anger — and later, regretted it?

Proverbs 29:11 says, “A foolish person gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.”

A foolish person vents all of his anger. You are not going to have many friends if you do that. But a wise person holds back and thinks about his response. A wise person thinks about the feelings of the other person before they lash out.

Conflicts can be resolved without a fight and without yelling and screaming at each other. Proverbs 15:1 says that a soft answer turns away wrath. You can have a healthy debate about something without being angry. It may be a heated debate, but at least you are talking it out! The next time you are angry with your wife, co-worker or child — be wise, stay calm, and think before you speak.

2. Ridicule

Proverbs 22:10 says, “Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.” The mocker is someone who ridicules or insults people. One of the worst things you can do to a person, mate, or a child is to ridicule them because of their shortcomings or mistakes of failures. Don’t talk down to people. That’s humiliating to people. It’s a lack of respect. People who ridicule others most likely have low self-esteem problems and just want to make themselves look good.

We ought to pray that God will help us focus on the good in people and not their faults. If you are going to pull out your magnifying glass, lets magnify their strengths and not their weaknesses. That’s what you would want people to do for you.

3. Hatred

Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred stirs up strife; but love covers all sins. Hate is a destroyer.” King Saul hated David, and he lost his Kingdom. Hatred is evil and it destroys you. The person who hates if the victim of hate. It holds you captive. King Saul became the victim of his own hate. You may have been greatly wronged, but don’t allow hatred to take root in you.

4. Gossip

Proverbs 26:20 says, “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.” Proverbs 16:28 says, “A gossip separates close friends.”

Do you know what gossip is? Gossip is repeating idle talk or rumors about the private affairs of others. Don’t gossip about your co-workers or friends. Don’t gossip about people you don’t even know! We all need to stay out of people’s business. We have enough to deal with on or own.

Don’t talk negatively about your own children or mate to other people. You will cause them to lose favor with people. If you need to talk someone, find a godly person to counsel with, but don’t criticize your own family.

5. Selfishness

James 4:1–2 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it?”

This is a big thing in relationships. We want our way and we want it right now! We don’t like it when we don’t get what we want!

All relationships require compromise and giving and sacrificing your way for the sake of others. You can’t have your way all the time and expect to have fulfilling relationships.

6. The Tongue

Proverbs 18:6 says, “The words of a fool lead to strife”. Our mouth is one of the biggest problems in our relationships. We ought to dedicate our mouth to the Lord every morning and say, “God help me to use my words to build people up and give wisdom.”

The Bible says that you have creative power in your tongue. What are you creating with your words? Are you creating strife or peace? What are you speaking into the lives of people around you? You create an environment with your word. Use your words to encourage the people in your life.

7. Pride

Proverbs 13:10 says, “Pride only breeds quarrels.” Pride keeps us from admitting that we are wrong and that somebody else just may be right! Pride makes us think we know everything — that you can’t learn anything from your mate or your child. Pride makes you unable to see the strengths in others.

The Bible says to clothe yourself with humility. With humility comes wisdom and honor. In your relationships, don’t be too proud to say. “I was wrong, I made a mistake. You were right. Lets do it your way.” (1 Peter 5:5, Prov 11:2, 15:33)

8. Quarrelsome

Attitude Proverbs 26:21 says, “As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife”. If you are quarrelsome, you are antagonistic. You wear your feelings on your shoulders. That’s just like kindling a fire in your relationships and home.

If you are like that, recognize it and begin to change. Sometimes we don’t even realize we are at fault until someone points it out to us. Realize that you don’t always have to be right or have the final say. Be willing to listen and hear people out.

9. Disagreement

Proverbs 20:3 says, “It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” Did you know that you can actually disagree with someone and still love them and be friends with them? You can even stay married!

No relationship has perfect agreement all the time. We all have the right to have our own opinions. Sometimes you have to agree to disagree and move on! But if it is in your power to bring agreement and unity, then do what you can do.

In the Bible, Abraham and Lot had a disagreement over their land and herds, but they worked it out for the sake of staying in relationship with one another. They were family. Abraham was willing to sacrifice the best part of the land in order to keep peace with his nephew. And God greatly blessed Abraham because of it. Relationships are more important than things!

10. Arguments Over Doctrine and Beliefs

II Timothy 2:14,24 says, “Strive not over words...which does no good, but upsets and undermines with faith of believers.” The Bible says, strive not! Don’t get in arguments with people over the Bible or Scriptures — it is not worth it. The Bible says that the Lord’s servant must not quarrel, instead gently instruct and be kind to one another.

Don’t tear your family or relationships apart over what you believe and don’t believe. If they will not receive the truth from you, then the Holy Spirit will have to speak to them and show them what is right. Don’t argue with them!

Don’t ruin your friends at work over your differences. Jesus said that you are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. He didn’t say you are supposed to straighten people out! Love them, but let God work on them. You are not their Savior! Jesus is — and He knows how to reach them.

By daily putting into practice the love of God and meditating on these scriptures, your relationships will be full of peace. The seed of peace will reap a harvest of fulfilling happy relationships in your life.

 

 

GREAT MARRIAGES TAKE WORK

3 Powerful Truths to Help Your Marriage

You know the saying, “Marriages are made in Heaven, but they sure take a lot of maintenance on earth!”

That’s the truth!

Great marriages take work and it’s worth the work!

Many times people go from relationship to another seeking the perfect relationship. They can’t seem to maintain relationships, bailing out whenever conflict occurs; later learning there is no perfect relationship.

There is no such thing as the perfect marriage.

Relationships and marriage are high maintenance. If you want good, healthy, relationships in your life, you need to be willing to work at it, you need the wisdom of God, and you need to understand the dynamics of relationships.

Psalm 34:12–14 is a scripture that sums up in a nutshell what it takes to have fulfilling relationships and a good marriage. It says,

“Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

There are three powerful truths in this verse that when applied, will greatly aid in the success of a fulfilling and happy marriage. They are:

  • Control your tongue.
  • Do good to each other.
  • Seek peace and pursue it.

Great marriages take work - and it's worth the work!

Why is it important for us to work on our marriages?

Because God designed us for relationships.

The most important thing in your life besides your relationship with God are the people in your life. It’s not your job or your money, or your hobbies. And if you’re married, it’s your spouse!

You can have everything, but if you lack good relationships, you are unfulfilled and empty.

On the other hand, you can have very little, but if you have friends and fulfilling relationships, you are rich!

It’s sad to say, but many people only know what it’s like to have dysfunctional relationships. There are so many homes that are full of strife and marriages not at peace. That is not God’s best for your marriage.

God wants you to enjoy your spouse. I believe with all my heart, that God divinely connected you with your mate. He wants you to enjoy your spouse and not be at odds with him or her.

Here are some helpful steps in staying connected with your spouse that if you work on, will produce a stronger, happier marriage.

1. Work on being more patient with your mate.

Be more understanding and compassionate.

2. Don’t go to bed angry.

When you do, it gives the enemy a foothold in your marriage. After you calm down, talk it out and make peace. Anger grows if you don’t deal with in it in a timely manner.

3. Lighten Up!

A merry heart does good like a medicine! Don’t be too serious all of the time. Remember to laugh, play and have fun with the people in your life. (Proverbs 15:13)

4. Avoid touchy subjects when possible.

Things that stir up strife — like differences in doctrine or politics, how you squeeze the toothpaste or which way the toilet paper goes, should just be avoided. Some things just aren’t worth the strife!

5. Accept your spouse for who they are.

People have different personalities. We have different gifts and talents, but we also have different needs. And we ought to learn what our spouse’s needs are and build them up according to their needs. Many times we try to meet our spouse’s needs according to what we like and we need — but it will not have the same effect because we are all different. Your spouse might need quality time to feel loved, yet you might like receiving gifts. By understanding how each other feels loved and what our different needs are, miscommunication will be avoided and love increased. (Eph 4:29)

6. Learn to forgive and let it go!

Sometimes we have to do this on a daily basis! Don’t hold on to the offenses. Don’t hold things against people. Jesus doesn’t hold things against us when we sin. (Ephesians 4:32)

My Daddy used to say that he and my mother argued from the neck up. That meant that they never let anything get into their heart. They didn’t hold things against each other. They dealt with the offense and moved on.

7. Recognize strife when it starts and stop before it gets out of hand.

(Proverbs 17:14)

8. Be a peacemaker.

Decide that you are going to be a peacemaker in your marriage, in your home, in the office, and everywhere you go. It is a choice that we make. We all can choose to be peacemakers (James 3:18, Proverbs 12:20, Proverbs 16:7, Matthew 5:9)

Ephesians 4:2–3 says to be completely humble and gently; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

All great marriages take work. Make it your goal to daily remember these biblical points. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you and to bring to your attention whenever you’re tempted to act out of love. And remember, where there is peace, God commands a blessing!

FINDING BEAUTY IN YOUR MARRIAGE

Look for the Best in Each Other

 

In life, no matter how much good there is, you can always find something bad if you look for it. You can find some fault, some weakness, something that you don’t understand or like. You can either develop an eye for the good, or you can develop a critical eye and always see the bad.

 

This is why marriages are in so much trouble today. A spouse or both spouses have developed a habit of being negative and only seeing the negative. They’ve become too critical and view everything through their critical eye.

 

It’s like this man I heard about. His wife was making him breakfast, and he asked for two eggs, one scrambled and one fried. So she made them and put them on a plate. When he saw them, he shook his head. She said, “What did I do wrong now? That’s exactly what you asked for.” He said, “I should have known it. You fried the wrong egg.”

You see, you can train yourself to see your spouse’s strengths, or you can train yourself to see their weaknesses. You can focus on what you like about your spouse and magnify their good qualities, or you can focus on what you don’t like and magnify the things that annoy you.

Some people have become so critically minded that no matter what the other one does, it’s not going to be right. They never see the good their spouse does anymore, and they’ve forgotten the reasons they fell in love and got married. It’s because they’re magnifying the wrong things

 know we all have faults and things that can get on each other’s nerves. But the key is, what are you magnifying? Are you just magnifying that annoyance, letting a critical spirit rise up? Or are you choosing to see the good and only focusing on the good?

If you’re negative toward your spouse and you operate out of a critical spirit, it’s going to poison your whole outlook. You won’t communicate properly. You won’t want to do things together, and it will affect you in every area.

After all, when we’re critical, we begin to nag and exaggerate and make a big deal out of things that are not big deals; that’s when we start complaining that the wrong egg got fried. “Well, you never take out the trash.” “Well, you never spend any time with me.” “You’re always late.”

I’ve discovered people respond to praise more than they respond to criticism. The next time you want your husband to mow the lawn, instead of nagging and saying, “You lazy thing. When are you ever going to mow our lawn? It looks so bad.” Just say, “Did I ever tell you that when you’re out there mowing the lawn, you look really good?” or “When I see your muscles bulging out of your shirt and that sweat dripping down your face, you look so handsome, so attractive.” You praise him like that, and he’ll mow the lawn every day! People respond to praise more than criticism.

When we’re constantly critical, we have to realize the problem is not with our spouse. It’s not even with our circumstances. The problem is with us.

There was this couple that moved into a new neighborhood. Early one morning while they were eating, the lady looked out the window and saw the neighbor hanging her wash out on the line to dry. She noticed that the wash was so dirty and so dingy. She said to her husband, “That neighbor doesn’t know how to wash. Her clothes aren’t clean. I wonder if she even uses detergent.” Day after day, she made these same comments. “I can’t believe she lets her family wear those dirty, dingy clothes.”

Several weeks later, she looked out that window, and the clothes were just as bright and clean and beautiful as could be. She was so surprised. She called her husband and said, “Honey, look. The lady finally learned how to wash. I wonder what happened.” The husband smiled and said, “Honey,

I got up early this morning and cleaned our window.” The problem was not that the neighbor had dirty laundry. The problem was the window she was looking through was not clean. She was seeing everything through a tainted filter. It’s the same way beauty; or you only see the scratch in the floor and never the amazing house; if you never see what your spouse does right and only what they do wrong, then my encouragement to you is to clean your window. The problem is not with your spouse. It’s an internal issue.

If you struggle in this area, I would encourage you to make a list of the qualities that you like about your spouse. Write down the things that they do right. He may not be a good communicator, but he’s a hard worker. Put that on your list. She may have some weaknesses, but she’s a great mother. She’s smart. She’s intelligent. Write that down. Every day go over it. Start focusing on their good qualities.

You have to make a switch. Decide today to start appreciating your spouse’s strengths and learn to downplay their weaknesses. If you do, your marriage will be filled with more peace, unity and love, and you’ll see God bless your marriage in greater ways.

KEEPING THE COONECTIONS

Keeping the Connections

Move Forward through Life Together

Our relationships are precious, valuable treasures from heaven, and we should handle them carefully, always looking for ways to build bridges to each other’s hearts. I know that all of us desire to come up higher and one way we can take a step towards the next level is in our love for one another.

Novelist Katherine Anne Porter once wrote, “Love must be learned, and learned again; there is no end to it.” Love should not remain the same year after year; love is supposed to grow. Relationships evolve over time, people change over time, and our love should strengthen and grow over time too. The apostle Paul prayed that our love would abound and grow in knowledge and depth of insight. That tells me that I cannot put my love on autopilot. If we put our love on autopilot and think that the people in our lives will simply “know” that we love them, our relationships will not grow or be as fruitful as they were intended to be. That’s why it’s so important to make every effort to keep strong connections in our relationships.

Several years ago when Joel and I assumed leadership at the ministry, our lives became fuller and more complicated. Oftentimes, we found ourselves moving in different directions, so we had to make an extra effort to connect with each other throughout the day. We recognized that if we didn’t make the effort, we’d find ourselves breezing right by each other, with our minds preoccupied with the tasks at hand. So, to help keep the connection, we decided to acknowledge each other every time we pass. Sometimes we high five, sometimes it’s a quick “I love you,” or a kiss on the lips. It’s not important how we connect, but it is important that we do connect. We are both busy people during the day but whenever we see each other, everything else is placed on hold for a moment while we connect. Keep our connections strong, helps keep our hearts moving in the same direction.

Leaving notes is a wonderful and easy way to keep connections. When Joel travels without me, I put little notes in his socks just to say “I love you.” (I have also been known to put photos of us in his suitcase.) You may want to leave sweet notes around the house, in a drawer, under a pillow, or on the TV remote as little reminders to the people you love that they are valuable to you. It takes time and effort to maintain the connections in our relationships. Sometimes when someone hurts or offends us, we can be tempted to disconnect. But one of the most common mistakes people make in relationships is to give the other person the silent treatment in an effort to pull back.

I heard a story about a couple who had a big fight. That night, the man and wife were still not talking to each other, and since the man didn’t want to give in first, he left her a note saying, Wake me up at six o’clock in the morning.” The next morning, the man woke up at eight o’clock and was furious. He was about to go find his wife to give her a piece of his mind, when he noticed a note on his side of the bed that read, “It’s six o’clock; wake up!

woman taking notes

At one time or another, we have all faced the temptation to disconnect by giving someone the silent treatment. After being married to Joel for more than twenty-one years, I have learned that is not the best way to handle a disagreement. Scripture encourages, Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. It’s not good to go to sleep mad and frustrated, because you’ll wake up with that same anger and frustration you went to bed with — and you probably won’t sleep very well anyway. You may not have the resolution to the disagreement by the time the evening comes, but if you will learn that you can disagree and still be friends, you will enjoy your relationships a whole lot more. I have a friend who tells me that sometimes when she and her husband are still mad at each other at bedtime, right before she goes to sleep, she will simply say to him, I am right, you are wrong, and I love you. Good night.

You have decided that sometimes you have just to agree to disagree. One of the most freeing experiences is to recognize that you are two different people who see things differently, and you can still love each other and stay connected. Just because you have a disagreement with your friends or family members does not mean there are not plenty of other areas on which you see eye to eye. It just means you have a difference of opinion. Having the same heart and the same goal is what maintains a good connection. There will be times when you do not agree on every decision or subject, but we should always believe in one another, support one another, and move forward through life together — connected

Victoria

A VISION FOR YOUR FINANCES

God Has a Plan for Your Finances

Money is a resource and gift given to us from God. Like water, wind or electricity, money can work in profitable ways when channeled properly. However, if not channeled properly, money can wreak havoc on our lives!

God has a plan for our lives concerning money and our finances. There are over 2,000 scriptures in the Bible that have to do with how we handle our money and manage it.

Target

Proverbs 21:5 says, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity.” Planning a financial vision and working with God guarantee a profitable return.

In the parable found in Matthew 25, there was a master who gave three of his servants each talent to manage while he went out of town. Two of them managed the talent well and were good stewards with what was given to them. Therefore, in the end, each were given more talents to manage. It is not the same story with the third servant. He hid the talent in the ground because he was afraid. His plan of ignoring his talent did not reap a profitable return; it reaped a harvest of no return.

How many of us feel like doing that today? At the beginning of implementing a financial plan, we get afraid just like this servant and wish we could burry our own situation! We might be afraid to look at the numbers, and actually see how far behind we are, or acknowledge the amount of debt we have.

But God has not given us a spirit of fear but of love, self-discipline and a sound mind. We have to face the situation in order to change the situation. Change needs to be conceived on the inside before you perceive it on the outside. You have to work with God. It all starts with the decision to change.

In the Old Testament, there was a widow who faced a severe financial situation. She was in such financial need that the creditors were after her and wanted to take her son as a slave. The prophet Elisha showed up at her house with instructions from God for her situation and it had to do with the little of her resources that she had. All she had was one jar of oil. With one jar, and obediently gathering jars from her neighbors at the request of Elisha, she backed up her faith with actions and obedience. She followed a plan. When her miracle occurred, she not only had enough oil to fill each jar and pay off her debts, but she was well about to sell the oil and live off the rest.

Our God is a running over kind of God

Our God is a running over kind of God. You may feel like the widow with one jar of oil, and feel like digging your situation in the ground like the servant from Matthew, but be encouraged to develop a vision and plan to work with God. Start by eliminating your debt. Work with what you have now as best as you can and as faithful as you can. By staying faithful with little, He will entrust you with more.

Work with God. Establish a vision. Know where you’re heading this year. Remember, it doesn’t matter how grave your situation seems right now, if you will stay faithful and manage diligently what you have and trust God, you will achieve and experience true financial freedom.

ABUNDANCE OF RAIN

Abundance of Rain

God desires to overtake us with His love, peace and presence. Just like one becomes saturated when standing under a downpour of rain, God has His abundance of rain ready to saturate our lives, changing, blessing and enriching us in His fullness in every way.

In order to be affected by rain, we have to be in the correct position. In the natural sense, the correct position would be standing under the rain. In the spiritual sense, part of positioning ourselves is asking. Zechariah 10:1 says to “ask for rain even though it’s raining”. That means that even though we know that God’s presence, peace, joy, health, and hope are available, we should ask for it, and by faith, believe that we are going to receive it.

It’s important to take what you know a step further and by faith, out loud, acknowledge the manifestations of God’s presence, and part of doing that is to praise and worship.

In order to be AFFECTED by rain, we have to be in the CORRECT POSITION

It’s interesting to think about the components of water. A water molecule is composed of two hydrogen atoms bonded to a single oxygen atom. Likewise, the rain of God is God Himself and everything that comes along with Him. What is that? It’s healing, peace, goodness, forgiveness, self-esteem, joy and so much more. When it rains, you experience and have access to it all.

There is transforming power in the declaration of praise. I believe that worship along with our praise, thanksgiving, and confessing the word of God is essential to our Christian life. Worship is our response to God in our lives which only enhances intimacy, obedience and revelation of who He is and who we are.

I leave every worship experience in the presence of God more influenced by Him and more like Him than before. That’s why I take advantage of every opportunity to praise and worship the Lord. It always brings more strength, wisdom and understanding toward whatever situation I might be going through. As a matter of fact, there have been times when I’ve entered prayer with concerns and after being in His presence and worshipping Him, it wasn’t even worth bringing up because I knew that my needs were already taken care of.

Worshipping the Lord is not only a privilege, but it is life. It’s in the life of every believer. The Bible says that even the rocks cry out and give God worship. God is so worthy of our worship and adoration. We all have something in which we are thankful; for one, Jesus saved us and came to give us a full life! We have a reason to live and we have hope in our lives. That’s reason enough!

Through worship, we activate and release our faith by acknowledging God’s lordship in our lives. And according to Psalm 1, when we acknowledge the Lord in all our ways, He directs our steps and gets us into proper alignment; that’s an abundance of rain.

Through worship, we ACTIVATE and RELEASE OUR FAITH

And it’s through our worship and adoration that we experience and are drawn more and more into all of the manifestations of God’s presence. The cloud of God’s favor opens up, and begins to pour over our life, equipping, anointing and enriching us.

The presence of the Lord is the safest place that you can be when it seems as if your world is crashing around you. I love the fact that when you are close to Jesus, you will see your life and everything around you from His perspective, which is found in the abundance of His rain.