reconciliation (4)

Lord, help the Arab peoples to see your awe-inspiring works and glorify you.

“And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying ‘We have seen extraordinary things today.’” Luke 5:26
Pray for the local churches in the Arabian Peninsula, especially for unity and healed hearts of reconciliation. Pray for believers to boldly share the Gospel. Pray that Muslim background believers may be bold in sharing their faith and inviting their friends and family members to study the Word together and learn about Jesus.
Pray for wisdom among workers in the Arabian Peninsula as they look for people of peace and disciple many into the Kingdom. Pray for good soil in the hearts of those in the Arabian Peninsula. Pray that no birds would steal the seed and that thorns won't choke out the seed that sprouts. Pray for a multiplication of harvest.
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I fear that the church in these days, especially in the West, has become shallow in our understanding and practice of forgiveness. We sometimes confuse forgiveness with overlooking sins. And agape* love in the church family certainly covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8) But the depth of forgiveness in the church family must be more than putting up with one another's faults and weaknesses. Nor is forgiveness the same as understanding. I have heard someone say, “Well, I can forgive him because I understand why he did that.” Real forgiveness does not demand understanding. It can come while you still hurt. Such forgiveness is the key to true reconciliation that releases the power of God in our midst.

In the years that I was pastoring churches I always used the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:15-17 as a guide for church discipline when someone had sinned against the whole body. I believe that is justified to some extent. But that is really not the context in which Jesus spoke those words. They begin, “If your brother sins against you.” Because of the importance of this passage I want to present it here in its entirety including verses 18-20. And I encourage you to read it slowly and thoughtfully before I begin to unpack some of it.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

First, notice the goal of reconciliation. When someone wrongs you, you are not to go to them as the judge pointing out how wrong they are. Your goal is to heal the relationship. From the start you need to have worked through your willingness to forgive, and restore the relationship, possibly deeper than it ever had been before.

This requires humility produced by the Holy Spirit through time spent agonizing in prayer for the person. And that humility extends to a willingness to sit down with a person before an outside party. When you bring in another party, or failing that, go before the entire church, you have to be open for them to see things you haven't seen in the issue. And you have to be humble enough to submit to their authority over you for the sake of reconciliation. This will require nothing short of the agape* love that God is developing in our lives and in the fellowship of the church.

And even the judgment of the church, is to be carried out in heartbroken agape*. While treating people as non-believers does not mean we have no more contact with them, it does mean that the whole purpose of the body of Christ is broken. And seems to be very serious. Jesus says rather forcefully here, “Whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in heaven.” He says identical words in John 20 where He breathes on his disciples the Holy Spirit.

“And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

(John 20:22,23)

Finally we see the depth of agreeing together in prayer that can only come from forgiving from our very hearts. Peter comes to Jesus and asks how many times shall he keep on forgiving someone who has wronged him. Jesus tells the parable of the servant who has received great forgiveness, but won't forgive his fellow servant. And he concludes with verse 35.

“So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

*Agape is the ultimate love of God poured out in our lives. The fullest description of agape in 1 Corinthians 13.



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Been betrayed lately?

Celebrating 50 years (this year) in ministry I can assure you that misunderstandings, mistrust and betrayals are unavoidable. In fact, as odd as it may sound, they are actually part of the plan. After all, if we're to reign with Him, we must first suffer with Him. It's in our suffering that we are conformed into His image.

For resurrection life to exist, something must die. It's not "if I'm ever betrayed". It's "when I'm betrayed". You see, many people blame the devil, when all along it's God who provides our "Judas'".

Why? God provides our Judas' to get us to our crosses. We must take up "our crosses daily and follow Him". Those are the crosses on which we die--to ourselves, our dreams, our desires, self-will and even self-esteem. "Accept" myself? Certainly. "Esteem" myself? Never. God says I'm to esteem others better than myself. Esteem ourselves and in every betrayal, we'll see ourselves as victims and wallow in self-pity. That is not the role of a kingdom Christian. We are more than conquerors!

Let's get to it. As long as we can be offended, God will see to it that we are. It's a measure of our death to self. Spiritual maturity is growing to a place where we are "un-offendable". It's a long-term process. I'd like to live at the place where I can say, "You may grieve me, you may hurt me, but you'll never offend me. I don't 'rent space to people in my brain'." But such maturity isn't easily gotten.

So the question is--what am I to do when others hurt me? Here are three things I notice that Christ did when He was betrayed.

1. Jesus didn't allow His immediate pain to distract Him from His ultimate purpose. He knew who He was and why He was here. He had come to die. Regardless of the pain of His betrayal, Jesus kept His focus. So should we. The enemy wants to distract us. He knows that as long as we're focused on our betrayal or our betrayer, we will never reach our kingdom destinies. We must keep our eye on the prize. No successful football running back focuses on those who are trying to tackle him. His focus is on the goal line!

2. Jesus didn't hate His betrayer. When Judas betrayed Him, Jesus said: "Friend, why have you done this?" Judas was still his friend. Can we say that about those who betray us? Remember, it was Jesus who said we are to love our enemies; bless those who curse us; pray for those who persecute us; and do good to those who despite fully use us. Perhaps these are the three least obeyed commands in Scripture! Paul adds. if our enemies hunger, we're to feed them; and if they thirst, we're to give them drink. Us?

Most of us, who escape the tendency to hate our betrayers, usually opt to ignore or disregard them. This is actually, in one sense, worse than hatred. Why? Because if one hates another, at least he assumes his or her existence!

Understand, we are called to be ministers of reconciliation. That's our God-given assignment. We are to be in the restoration business. Ignoring a broken relationship is ungodly.

3. Jesus didn't drop out of the ministry. The easiest option when one is betrayed is to drop out of the ministry (one's personal ministry, professional or not). Often, church volunteers (i.e. Sunday School teachers, etc.) who become offended often turn in their resignations. Pastors, who are betrayed by churches, often resort to selling insurance, used cars or real estate. The pain of betrayal causes many to turn aside from their heavenly calling.

Not Jesus. He picked up the ear of the high priest's servant and placed it back on his head. You remember, the ear that Peter had cut off with his sword. Why did Jesus do that? He did it for two reasons. First, He knew that the man's wife expected her husband to come home that night with two ears! More importantly, because Jesus was STILL The Healer.

Have you been betrayed? Don't allow your immediate pain to distract you from your ultimate purpose. Don't hate, resent or even ignore your betrayer. Seek reconciliation. And, don't you dare drop out of your ministry--your God-given assignment and calling.

Thank God for your Judas'. You need them. Everyone needs a Judas to get them to their cross!

(More on this and other timely issues in our book:  Intercessors & Pastors: The Emerging Partnership of Watchmen & Gatekeepers, available at:  )

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Over the past two decades, God has been working in many different groups to call for more prayer. We’ve had concerts of prayer, solemn assemblies, prayer and fasting gatherings, days of prayer for various purposes or praying for people groups, prayer teams to pray for specific leaders, prayer ministries, prayer chains, and prayer conferences. Books on prayer fill bookstore shelves. We’ve prayed for revival and spiritual awakening. Perhaps never in history has more prayer been offered to God for a transformation in our churches, society, our nation, and the world. Why then do we find ourselves in a time when our nation seems to be growing farther and farther from God? What we need is not more prayer alone; we need more power when we pray. We need a people who are right with God when we pray so that God will answer the prayers of His people. God’s Word is true:

“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16, NIV)

Do you want to be a person who has power with God in prayer? Do you want your prayer group and church to have power to work with God in prayer to transform a life, a family, a community, or a nation? Then ask God to guide you to come clean before Him so you can pray with power. Here are 8 ways you can come clean before God so you can pray with power.1

1. Examine yourself. “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5). Joining a church or claiming the name “Christian” doesn’t make you one. A saving relationship with Jesus Christ does. Does His Spirit live in you in such a way that your life is a new creation that looks and acts like Jesus? That’s the starting point for being a powerful prayer relationship.

2. Judge yourself. “If we were properly evaluating ourselves, we would not be judged” (1 Cor. 11:31). Do you know of any sin or impurity in your life that is unlike Christ? Those need to go.

3. Remove idols of the heart. An idol of the heart is anything that captures my love in such a way that I’m distracted from my first love for God. Things, money, pleasures, hobbies, sports, careers, positions of power, or other people can all become idols. If you are loving anything too much, put it away and return to your first love.

4. Consecrate yourself and your home. Have you allowed anything into your life or your home that is impure, unholy, ungodly, or unbecoming of a Christ follower? Get rid of it. Whether others know or not, keep your life and your home pure and clean before God.

5. Reconcile broken relationships. Have you offended anyone and not gone to ask forgiveness or make restitution if needed? Get things right with him, her, or them. Has anyone offended you and you are holding on to unforgiveness and bitterness? Forgive. Let no broken relationships remain outstanding.

6. Humble yourself. Do arrogance and pride show up in the way you relate to others? Are you bearing the fruit of pride through such things as a judgmental spirit, critical attitude, prejudice, controlling behavior, condescending attitude, and so forth? “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet. 5:5).

7. Love God and one another. Return to your first love for God and allow His love to flow through you to others in tangible ways. Demonstrate your love by meeting needs.

8. Watch and pray. Draw near to God in prayer and receive His power to resist the temptations that are sure to come your way.


1. For more on prayer and revival see my video blog at

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