Error Or Opportunity?

“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” Proverbs 12:25

Many years ago, at what was then Standard Oil Company, an executive’s mistake cost the firm more than two million dollars. On the day the news leaked, the firm’s employees feared the wrath of the powerful head of the company—John D. Rockefeller—and found various ways to avoid him. One partner, however, kept his previously scheduled appointment. When he walked into the president’s office, he saw Rockefeller writing on a pad of paper.

“Oh, it’s you, Bedford,” Rockefeller said calmly. “I suppose you’ve heard about our loss?” The partner said that he had. “I’ve been thinking it over,” Rockefeller said, “and before I ask the man to discuss the matter, I’ve been making some notes.” Across the top of the page was written, “Points in favor of Mr. ________.” There followed a long list of the man’s virtues, including a description of how the executive had helped the firm make the right decision on three separate occasions. Since the earnings from these decisions had added up to many times the cost of the recent error, Rockefeller told Bedford that he had decided to seize the opportunity to encourage the executive instead of censuring him.

The next time your spouse fails you, you could cut him or her down in a torrent of angry words… or you could see a golden opportunity to encourage.

Just between us…

  • When was I most encouraging to you during a crisis?
  • Is there a particular Scripture verse you cling to during tough times?

Lord, we so often underestimate how much influence our words can have. We ask for wisdom to speak encouragement—especially when criticism might be expected. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • Illustration from More of… The Best of Bits and Pieces, ed. Rob Gilbert (Fairfield, N.J.: The Economics Press, 1997). Reprinted in Stories for a Man’s Heart, comp. Al and Alice Gray (Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 1999).

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Our Treatment of Others Affects How We Live, Day 3

Today’s reading is drawn from Genesis 50:15-21.

How we treat others will affect our own lives as well. Joseph had every reason to be bitter and angry with his brothers, but instead of anger, he chose forgiveness. To the extent that we surrender our tendencies to condemn others, and are able instead to forgive, we will experience the fullness of forgiveness from God.

God freely forgives us and gives us eternal life (see John 3:16). But he also expects us to extend that same mercy to others (see James 2:12-13), with strict warnings to us if we don’t. A life of judgment, condemnation and unforgiveness is a prison. We find ourselves focusing not on the good we have—our spiritual lives or joyful relationships—but on the failings of another. It brings resentment and emptiness. When we let go of judgment and live in the grace that has also freed us, we move past the demand that everyone pay us back; as a result, our own quality of life increases.

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Justice in Colossians, Day 2

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Today’s reading is drawn from Colossians 1:15-23 and Colossians 2:8-10.

Justice in African cosmology is associated with truth-telling, fairness, equity, doing what is right, giving right judgment, being impartial and being straightforward. Biblical justice has these elements too. Upholding what is true and fair is central to the idea of justice.

At the heart of Paul’s letter to the Colossians is this idea: that simple truth should be the basis of life. And so, justice underlies everything.

We treat people unjustly and unfairly when we deny them the rightful place and honor due to them. The heretics treat Jesus Christ unjustly by denying him his rightful position as the Creator, Savior, and Lord of the universe. By denying Jesus’ ability to save completely, the Christians in Colossae undermine his power and Colossians is relevant for our faith today, for it addresses the challenges we are facing with false teachings in the church. Many cults today claim to be Christian, yet they deny the deity of Jesus Christ. Their false claims have the appearance of wisdom, but they end up cutting people off from the source of life and the possibility of living the rich, full and just life God intends.

He gives us a portrait of Christ as God’s Son, the object of the Christian faith, the Redeemer, the image of God, Lord of creation, head of the church, and the reconciler of the universe. In addition, Christ embodies the fullness of the Godhead, and all authority in the universe is under him and subjected to him. God’s treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in him. He is the standard by which all religious teachings are measured, and he conquered the mystic powers of evil by his cross. Paul, therefore, affirms the lordship of Jesus Christ over life and over the cosmic powers.

For Paul, Jesus Christ is simply the truth. The Colossians are dabbling in “hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” To live lives of justice, as they were created to do, they must clear away all competing ideas and focus on Jesus. In him, “all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ, you have been brought to fullness” (2:8–10).

— James Nkansah-Obrempong Ghana, Kenya (Excerpted from the book introduction to Colossians)

 

Water Is on Its Way, Day 1

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Today’s reading is drawn from Exodus 17:1-3.

Observation

At the command of the Lord, the Israelites camped, but there was no water to drink. You’d think that if God commanded a camping spot, there’d be immediately plenty of water, as well as a buffet line and waiters to bring them coffee and dessert. You’d think that if God had planned it, all the logistics would have been taken into consideration and a catering company would be waiting for the Israelites as they arrived.

Application

There will be times, even though the Lord leads us when we will find ourselves with sparse resources. Not enough money. Not enough help. Not enough encouragement. But it doesn’t mean that God is not in the situation.

Maybe you’re like me . . . being patient comes hard when I am thirsty after a “long trek.” We can react prematurely, jumping to the wrong conclusions about how God is working. In doing so, we make the desert a hotter place than it needs to be. God is not finished yet. Think about it — God had water stored in a rock!

How often, from a source, we least expect, God provides. He did for the Israelites, and he will again for you and me today!

Prayer

Lord, thank you for helping me to understand that just because there is a shortage of resources, it doesn’t mean that you haven’t led me to this place. I will wait on you to provide, knowing that you still have more to come. Remind me of this when I panic or complain.