June 17, 2018 |How Christians Should Handle Conflict
I’m grateful to God for the gift of forgiving my sins. It’s good to know that Jesus’ death brings justification for my sins so that God no longer holds my sins against me and I’m no longer guilty for the sins that I’ve committed against God. This is the reason for our faith. This is the reason we gather together to worship God.  
 
And while we’ve been able to make peace with God through Jesus our Savior, often times the greater challenge is making peace with fellow Christians with whom we share a common faith. The Christian faith is not a solo venture. God has called us to live out our faith in community. In Acts 2 following Peter’s preaching of the resurrection of Jesus, some 3000 people were baptized and began their new faith in Jesus. And following their personal conversions, they joined together with those of common faith — “All the believers were together and had everything in common.” (Acts‬ ‭2:44‬ ) 
 
Anytime you bring together multiple people for any length of time, conflict will be inevitable. Faith is not the only commonality we share; we also share our need for a Savior because of our sinfulness. I often counsel couples preparing for marriage that God is bringing together two sinners and the need for grace between the two. This is also a need for Christians in the Church. Sure it’s true what Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” What also is true is that when two or more are gathered, temptation toward sin exist. And where sin dwells, conflict is bound to happen.  
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Jesus has dealt with our personal sin that offends God. But how should Christians handle conflict when we inevitably offend a fellow Christian? 
 
In Galatians 2 the Apostle Paul offers us an excellent example to practice a Biblical instruction regarding conflict resolution. The example is found in Galatians 2:2 —“I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain.”
 
A quick read of Galatians 1 reveals that Paul is writing this letter to the churches in Galatia because “some people” are influencing the Galatians christians to obey certain Jewish laws so that God will accept them. They must have shared this as the “official teaching” of the apostles in Jerusalem. So to correct this heresy, Paul travels to Jerusalem check it out himself.  
 
Upon his arrival to Jerusalem, Paul set up a private meeting with Peter, James, and John, the men “esteemed as leaders” of the church in Jerusalem. Herein lies our example to follow for handling conflict among fellow Christians.  
 
Paul could have said something publicly, thus forcing the apostles to make a statement and put to rest the whole argument. But he didn’t. Paul met with them privately.  
 
Paul could have gossiped about what was being said and get the opinions of people in the church. But he didn’t. Paul met with them privately.  
 
Paul could have got mad and broke ties with the Jerusalem church all together. But he didn’t. He went to them in private and discussed the matter personally. This is how Christians are instructed to handle conflicts with one another. 
 
This is in line with the instructions that Jesus gives in Matthew 18:15, which says, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.”  
 
Too often when conflicts arise, we’re tempted to involve other people who are unrelated to the conflict. We probably enjoy gaining the support of others to make ourselves feel better. But this is not appropriate in handling conflicts.  
 
If we feel we have been sinned against or if someone does something that offends us, before we talk with someone else about the matter, and before we do something about the matter, we should go to the person privately, and confront the offense. Go lovingly and willing to forgive, as God our Father has already forgiven us.  
 
When the church begins handling conflicts quickly and privately, fellowship will flourish. The longer we delay in appropriately handling conflicts like this, the more infected the relationships will become. Bitterness, resentment, and forgiveness will begin to harbor in your heart if you refuse to handle your conflicts. And this will do nothing but divide the church.  
 
So even though it doesn’t feel good, handle your conflicts quickly, privately, and lovingly. As you do, it’ll honor God and bless His Church.  
 
In Jesus’ Name
 
Ashton
 
June 10, 2018 |Are you Willing to Commit to your Spiritual Growth?
There are no silver bullets for spiritual growth.  We are a people who are attracted to one-stop shops and one-step wonders for getting things done.  We prefer the convenience of the microwave over the process of the crockpot.  We’re more willing to try the weight loss diet pill than we are the process of a balanced diet and exercise.  We tend to pay more for less hassle.  When planting my garden I was shocked that some people would pay $6 for a half grown tomato plant with tiny tomatoes already growing on the vine when I bought 12 plants for the same price. We’re too often impatient.  
 
Most of us give up too easily on the long term process of developing ourselves, and instead opt for less intrusive, easier to manage programs that are as simple as “1, 2, 3”.  And while this has become our nature for many facets of our lives, when it comes to spiritual development and growing our faith, there’s not a “simple as 1, 2, 3” plan.  
 
Our church is successful in preaching the Gospel.  We are good at loving people into a relationship with Jesus and seeing to it that they follow the New Testament prescription of being baptized into Christ.  But what then? 
 
We’re learning about the Apostle Paul and his ministry to the gentile churches in Galatia.  We’re learning about the Gospel.  And in the process, we’re discovering more about Paul’s testimony.  In Acts 9 we read about how Jesus dramatically stopped Paul’s mission of persecuting Christians and his call to preach the Gospel of Jesus.  We read in that account that three days after Paul’s meeting with the resurrected Jesus, he is instructed to be baptized.  And at some point he began preaching as Jesus called him to.  
 
But there’s something that happens in Paul’s life that we will easily miss if we’re not careful.  The book of Acts doesn’t mention it. But our study of Galatians fills in the details.  
 
It’s found in Galatians 1:15-19 which says, “But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother.
 
Bible scholars have struggled to place the timing and purpose of this visit to Arabia.  Many have concluded that when you harmonize Acts 9 (following Paul’s baptism) and Galatians 1, it is believed that Paul dedicated some time, three years, to study the Scriptures and develop his faith.  
 
Think of this like Paul going to seminary.  For many ministers, seminary is a concentrated period of time for intense education for the purpose of learning how to minister God’s Word to God’s people.  It’s like any trade school or university for whatever your profession requires.  Paul didn’t go from baptism to ministry.  He studied first…he learned about Jesus…he grew spiritually…he developed his faith.  
 
So what’s the application for the average church member?  While most of us won’t attend seminary, all of us should join a Sunday School class.  Here at Cayuga Christian Church, we have one of the most vibrant Sunday School programs that I’ve ever seen in a Church.  And there’s no reason why every Christian should not follow their baptism with joining a class.  
 
Sunday School is not just for kids.  In fact, here at CCC, we offer three adult classes every Sunday morning at 9:30.  These classes dig into the Bible and allow room for you to ask questions.  You’re learning alongside of Christians from every walk of life.  And you’re developing friendships as you learn.  Sunday School is like on-the-job training for Christians.  You can ask real-time questions about spiritual matters you dealt with that week.  You can count on people praying for you and with you.  And you’re encouraged to know that you’re not trying to develop your faith and grow spiritually alone.  
 
Spiritual growth takes time.  The Apostle Paul dedicated three years of full-time training.  If he spent 40 hours a week studying for three years (taking 4 weeks vacation each year), that’s about 5,760 hours invested for his spiritual development.  If we attend a one-hour class each Sunday and then add-in a Wednesday night study for part of the year, it’ll take us 70 years to reach Paul’s level of education. Don’t discount your spiritual growth and faith development.  Invest some time to prepare you for the work God is calling you to.  
 
In Jesus’ Name,
 
Ashton
 
P.S.
Did you know that this Sunday is Father’s Day?  We have a special treat for all the Dad’s at CCC at the end of both services.  Dad’s you won’t wanna miss it.  I’ll see y’all Sunday at 8:15am or 10:30am. 

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One Response to “Beyond Sunday”

  1. Nancy perry says:

    Thank you. It’s a pleasure to go to church now.You not only preach from the Bible but also from your heart. If I didn’t know any difference I would think you were Dr Stanley son. I watch him 3 times each week. Keep up the great work and I will be their every Sunday if Lords willing
    God Bless you and your family.

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