Restoring Relationships

Steve Arterburn

Are you living with a strained relationship?  Restoration of human relationships doesn’t happen instantaneously.  If you’ve broken someone’s heart or trust, you have a responsibility to face your failures.  And you also have the tough responsibility of avoiding the urge to blame others for the problems you’ve caused.  It may take some time before you’re able to face up to your failures.  Expect the process of restoration and regaining trust to take time.

The prophet Hosea was a remarkable man.  He was told by God to marry a prostitute.  His marriage was to be a living example to the nation of Israel of her infidelity toward God.  It must have hurt Hosea deeply when his wife returned to her life of prostitution.  Hosea said, ‘Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go and get your wife again.  Bring her back to you and love her, even though she loves adultery.  For the Lord still loves Israel even though the people have turned to other gods, offering them choice gifts”.  Hosea needed some time before he could be close to his wife again, for such deep restoration takes time.

It’s your responsibility to wait patiently while God helps you restore your broken relationships and the hearts you may have broken.  God can give those you’ve hurt love when love has been lost; he can help you trust and become trustworthy again, but these things take time.

Solitude, Silence, and Fasting

Steve Arterburn

At times in our lives we all have wilderness experiences’times when we face despair and feel alone in the world.  Elijah was a prophet in the Bible who had a literal wilderness experience.   His time in the wilderness forced him to practice three spiritual disciplines that freed him from his dependence on the world and encouraged him instead to depend on God.  We might learn from his example.

The first discipline Elijah practiced was solitude:  and it served at least two purposes.  It protected him from King Ahab who wanted to kill him.  And it provided an opportunity for him to deepen his faith, to draw closer to God. Next, Elijah’s wilderness experience gave him a time to practice silence, which allowed him to listen for God’s voice. And finally, Elijah practiced a form of fasting.  Strictly speaking he didn’t abstain from food, but his food was controlled by God’s special provision.  Periodically, God would send ravens carrying food for Elijah to eat.  In this way, Elijah learned to trust God to provide for his daily needs.

A wilderness experience can play an important role in our spiritual growth.  Are you going through one now?  Don’t miss what it might be offering you.  Like Elijah, withdrawing from your normal routine will remove you from distraction and lead to an intimacy with God.  Silence allows you to listen to God. And fasting teaches you to depend on God to provide for you.

Solomon

Steve Arterburn

Americans have traditionally valued a strong work ethic.  We believe the harder we work, the greater our chances for success.  But if unchecked, you can get carried away and you’ll end up devoting all your time to work and lose the balance that allows you to grow spiritually. Are you sacrificing healthy, family relationships, connections, friendships, and your walk with God so you can achieve more and advance in your profession? Perhaps you can relate to Solomon. When he became king of Israel, he asked God to grant him wisdom. Pleased at this request, God gave this young king honor, wealth, and a long life, in addition to wisdom.  

Then Solomon started building the Temple.  He built his palace and fortified his country against intruders.  All of these projects were done on an enormous scale, even by today’s standards.  In order to accomplish these tasks, Solomon sacrificed important relationships with his people, with his family, and with his God.  He taxed his people heavily and required them to work hard on his building projects.  He failed to teach his son how to use wisdom to rule the people.  He also stopped listening to God and disobeyed him by marrying numerous pagan women and by worshipping their so-called gods.

It’s easy to lose yourself in work and achievements and to forget the source of your strength and success.  Whenever anything in your priorities of life is placed above God, it’s time to stop and rethink just what your priorities need to be.