New Year’s Restitution
Romans 12:9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.  On the contrary:
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."
 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Matthew 5:23 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,  leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
Worship was never designed to be a spectator sport. It was never meant to be something that someone could come and watch. Cheap truth and costly truth. It was never meant to be something that we could ignore or express our desire that someone else needs to hear what we have not really needed to hear.
God intends to prompt us somehow when we come before him in the proper attitude and listening with our hearts wide open.
There are times when our response is more important than our presence. It may be that it is more important by times under certain circumstances to be somewhere else acting in obedience than to be present in lethargy. What unresolved issues might there be in our lives this morning that would make our presence somewhere else more meaningful to God than our being here to watch?
Worship awakens our hearts to the things of God.
Closeness to God highlights our need over our sufficiency. This is not to draw attention to guilt or unworthiness but the wonderful grace of God which meets our needs and goes beyond our weakness and sinfulness.
The closer we get to God the more sensitive we become to others. I believe that we are able to read people more clearly and that we have a greater appreciation for the impact of our words and actions on others.
The closer we get to Him the more we understand how much he loves the people that we deal with every day of life and thus we begin to treat them in the same vein.
There are times when God’s pleasure would have us to reach out to someone else in love before we reach out to Him in love. When I first read this portion of scripture I skipped through to the end of the thought believing that the sense of it was that I could not worship God if I held resentment in my heart against someone else. This instance deals with things that we have forgotten because they are not issues of our bitterness but issues of someone else’s lack of forgiveness. That’s always the way that it is when we refuse to forgive. We hold onto things that other people forget about and thus victimize ourselves. We are the ones who suffer for our lack of forgiveness. Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
The primacy of our interpersonal relationships over our acts of worship. Why would that be? I believe it is because relationships are fundamental to the advancement of the kingdom of God. Learning how to live with people is something that we have hoped God would supernaturally bestow upon us when we come to him and so we have not consciously assigned it as a deliberate and intentional priority.
It may be something that you are over but it may be something that someone else is not over that makes it impossible for God to receive our worship. We get distracted over a variety of things in our worship. This is the one thing that makes it impossible for God to receive our adoration or our gifts.
The things that we give God are not as important as the state of our relationships with men.
The things that we do for God are not as important as the state of our interpersonal relationships with men.
What are the chief elements of reconciliation with your fellow man? When have you done “as much as lieth within you . . “?
One of the first admissions that a person must make is that it is my problem. It is my responsibility because I am the one in the position to see someone else’s need. Regardless of whether or not a person has the wrong perspective it is your problem if you wish to see it solved. The one who is holding the offense against you is too blind to ever recognize the poison that they embrace. You alone hold the keys to freedom for that person.
The needs of others are more important than my pride.
What God thinks and desires is more important than what the other may think.
Drivers liscense – nothing quite so aggravating as to stand in line thinking that we have everything that we need only to discover that we still need something else.
The primacy of our interpersonal relationships over our acts of worship.
You cannot grow in your faith or your Christlikeness with unresolved issues with your brother.
How do you know when you have done everything that you can possibly do?
When Leonardo da Vinci was painting the Last Supper, he had an intense, bitter argument with a fellow painter. Leonardo was so enraged that he decided to paint the face of his enemy into the face of Judas. That way the hated painter's face would be preserved for ages in the face of the betraying disciple. When Leonardo finished Judas, everyone easily recognized the face of the painter with whom Leonardo quarreled.
Leonardo continued to work on the painting. But as much as he tried, he could not paint the face of Christ. Something was holding him back.
Leonardo decided his hatred toward his fellow painter was the problem. So he worked through his hatred by repainting Judas' face, replacing the image of his fellow painter with another face. Only then was he able to paint Jesus' face and complete the masterpiece.
See: Matt 5:23; Matt 6:14
In matters of forgiveness, as in all other virtues, the first step (forgiving) is comparatively simple compared to the second (reconciling). Hell is always waiting for the rebound. The only prevention of the rebound is perseverance. The first moment of forgiveness is nearly always confused with other things--affection, delight, honor, pride, love of power; some good, some bad, all distracting. ... But then directly afterwards, the good elements withdraw and leave the reconciliation to its own serious energy; and if that energy is too weak, it will break. ... Nothing is achieved at once.
n Charles Williams, Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 3.
Reconciliation is not weakness or cowardice. It demands courage, nobility, generosity, sometimes heroism, an overcoming of oneself rather than of one's adversary.
Pope Paul VI (1897-1978)
The mark of community--true biblical unity--is not the absence of conflict but the presence of a reconciling spirit.
n Bill Hybels, Leadership, Vol. 14, no. 1.
There is one eternal principle which will be valid as long as the world lasts. The principle is--Forgiveness is a costly thing. Human forgiveness is costly. A son or a daughter may go wrong; a father or a mother may forgive; but forgiveness has brought tears. ... There was the price of a broken heart to pay.
Divine forgiveness is costly. God is love, but God is holiness. God, least of all, can break the great moral laws on which the universe is built. Sin must have its punishment or the very structure of life disintegrates. And God alone can pay the terrible price that is necessary before men can be forgiven. Forgiveness is never a case of saying: "It's all right; it doesn't matter." Forgiveness is the most costly thing in the world.
n William Barclay in The Letter to Hebrews. Christianity Today, Vol. 36, no. 11.
God does not receive the sacrifice of a person who is in disagreement, but commands him to go back from the altar and first be reconciled to his brother, so that God also may be appeased by the prayers of the peace-maker. Our peace and brotherly agreement is a greater sacrifice to God--and a people united in one in the unity of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
n Cyprian in The Treatise of Cyprian (IV, chap 23). Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 6.
In 1913, the Federal Government held a fiftieth anniversary reuinion at Gettysburg. It lasted three days. Thousands of survivors bivouacked in the old battlefield, swapping stories, looking up comrades.
For the most part the old men got along well enough, but over dinner at a restaurant one evening harsh words were passed between a Yankee and a rebel and they went at one another with forks: "Unscathed in the melee of 1863," Myers wrote, "one of them--and I never learned which--was almost fatally wounded in 1913 with table hardware!"
The climax of the gathering was a reenactment of Pickett's Charge. Thousands of spectators gathered to watch as the Union veterans took their positions on Cemetery Ridge, and waited as their old adversaries emerged from the woods on Seminary Ridge and started forward toward them again, across the long, flat fields. "We could see," Myers wrote, "not rifles and bayonets but canes and crutches. We soon could distinguish the more agile ones aiding those less able to maintain their places inthe ranks."
As they neared the northern line, they broke into one final, defiant rebel yell. At the sound, "after half a century of silence, a moan, a sigh, a gigantic gasp of unbelief" rose from the Union men on cemetery Ridge. "It was then," wrote Myers, "that the Yankees, unable to restrain themselves longer, burst from behind the stone wall, and flung themselves upon their former enemies ... not in mortal combat, but re-united in brother love and affection."
-- The Civil War, p. 412. From the files of Leadership.
See: Pr 24:17: Pr 25:21: Mt 5:29.
My relationship with God is part of my relationship with men. Failure in one will cause failure with the other.
n Andrew Murray in With Christ in the School of Prayer. Christianity Today, Vol. 35, no. 5.
Our Lord did not say to His disciples: "I have had a most successful time on earth. I have addressed thousands of people and been the means of their salvation; now you go and do the same kind of thing." He said: "If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet." We try to get out of it by washing the feet of those who are not of our own set. We will wash the heathen's feet, the feet in the slums; but fancy washing my brother's feet! My wife's! My husband's! The feet of the minister of my church! Our Lord said "one another's feet."
n Oswald Chambers in The Love of God. Christianity Today, Vol. 32, no. 10.
Communion is strength; solitude is weakness. Alone, the free old beech yields to the blast and lies prone on the meadow. In the forest, supporting each other, the trees laugh at the hurricane. The sheep of Jesus flock together. The social element is the genius of Christianity.
-- Charles Spurgeon from The Quotable Spurgeon. Christianity Today, Vol. 38, no. 13.
See: Ge 2:18; Ecc 4:9; Ro 12:5.]
An arch consists of two weaknesses, which leaning against one another make a strength.
n Leonardo da Vinci, quoted by Jane A. Rubietta in Marriage Partnership, Vol. 12, no. 2.
The search for the perfect church is an illusion. Appetite by itself is the sepulcher, the death of reason, judgement, and discipline. Some form of satisfaction doesn't even stand a chance unless one settles down at a place and seves. The church is a feast, not a taste, a meal, not a nibble.
One sits and serves with the same people week after week, receiving and being received, disappointing and being disappointed, hurting and being hurt, caring and being cared for. Church people are in it for the long haul, not the short term. The ordinary is more crucial than the extraordinary. The glory of church is the routine, not the exceptional.
n C. John Weborg in The Covenant Companion (Nov.l989). Christianity Today, Vol. 34, no. 1.
The height of our love for God will never exceed the depth of our love for one another.
n Patrick Morley. Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 4.