Devotionals by Dr. James MacDonald

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Whatever It Takes

When we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith (1 Thessalonians 3:1-2, esv).

Have you ever been misunderstood and then found yourself unable to correct the false impression?

Perhaps a look came off as insensitivity toward someone’s feelings when it was actually your own frustration with yourself over a totally unrelated matter. Maybe the tone of voice they interpreted as irritation was actually concern. You might have been embarrassed or feeling insecure, but they internalized it as standoffishness.

Yet by the time you realized what the other person was thinking, they’d become so hurt, angry, or avoidant that they wouldn’t listen to your explanation. They didn’t believe you were telling them the truth. Suddenly, the misunderstanding had become the biggest thing.

Commonly in situations like these, we end up backing away from the problem, weary of the effort involved in trying to set the record straight, mainly just wanting to avoid more conflict. But whenever your actions are communicating something different than your heart—to your child, to your spouse, to a parent or sibling—you need to rush to correct the false impression. You need to do something—even something that costs you—and you need to make sure they know you’re not taking the situation lightly.

Strong bonds in a marriage, family, friendship, or church are not built on weak, casual apologies. “Sorry about that” or “Sorry you got upset” aren’t going to cut it. And wherever hope is kept alive in any relationship, someone is continually sacrificing—willing to suffer or be inconvenienced; doing things they’d rather not do in order to correct any misunderstanding.

As we learn in 1 Thessalonians, the apostle Paul had found himself separated from friends through circumstances beyond his control. The chance that they could misunderstand his reasons for needing to leave abruptly was high. Yet instead of just figuring they’d get over it—being more worried about his own needs and getting on with surrounding himself with people strategic to his mission—Paul sent one of his leading ministry partners to communicate his heart to them. He gave up what he needed so they could get what they needed.

That’s what brings hope back into the picture again, for all of us. That’s what makes healing happen in a hurry.

Which of your strained relationships would be on the path to restoration if instead of holding on to what you wanted and expected, you bypassed what came easily and did what was hard? What if you rearranged your whole schedule for Friday afternoon, just to spend time with them? Maybe you need to get rid of some supplies for a hobby that’s become a point of contention, or make a phone call you know could be awkward. Whatever you do, you want them to know you value them more than you value your own comfort—that you’d do anything and make any sacrifice to clear the air and make amends.

Many experiences of heartache, strife, and offense never really needed to happen and could be stamped out in the course of one evening, if only someone would take the first step—making the kind of personal sacrifice that would start the dismantling of a misunderstanding.


  • What’s an extreme you haven’t tried yet in an attempt to break through a misunderstanding?
  • Even if the other person won’t listen, what’s a personal, unseen sacrifice you could make that would help keep you prayerful and spiritually sensitive to restoring the relationship?

Father, You went to the farthest extremes to communicate Your heart toward me when You sacrificed Your Son for my rebellion and sin. You went beyond what anyone could have expected of You, to ensure we understood Your true intentions and heart toward us. Help me model Your example by being willing to suffer and sacrifice to mend any kind of breakage in my relationships with others. Use me to heal and restore, at whatever cost to myself. In Jesus’ worthy name, amen.

For more from Dr. James MacDonald please visit Walk in the Word on



Navigating the complex issues that our world is facing can be difficult for any believer. This is why it’s more important than ever that you are able to stand firm in your faith. That’s why one of the most important things every believer can do is to strengthen your foundation in the Lord.

I want to help you take steps to strengthen yourself in the Lord. That’s why I’m so excited about the resources that we’re making available this month. God has given you every tool that you need—not just to survive, but to thrive. And the deeper your spiritual roots go, the more equipped you’ll be to live in the confident understanding of God’s plan for your life.

- James MacDonald

Request the Strengthen Your Foundation Collection with your gift of any amount to the ministry of Walk in the Word.

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About Walk in the Word

Walk in the Word...Igniting passion in the people of God through the proclamation of truth.

About Dr. James MacDonald

James MacDonald (D. Min. Phoenix Seminary) is married to his high school sweetheart, Kathy, and both are from Ontario, Canada. He is the father of three grown children, two daughters-in-law, a son-in-law, and grandfather to five amazing grandsons. James has committed his life and ministry to the unapologetic proclamation of God’s Word. In 1988, along with a small group of ministry partners, James and Kathy planted Harvest Bible Chapel ( which now has more than 13,000 people meeting at seven locations across Chicagoland each weekend.

Walk in the Word, a Bible-teaching television and radio broadcast ministry (, was established in 1997. The radio program reaches more than three million people daily, and the television audience extends around the world. In 2002, through James’ leadership and by God’s grace, the church-planting ministry Harvest Bible Fellowship ( was founded and has established more than 100 churches across North America and around the world. James’ vision is for God to use Harvest Bible Fellowship to plant 1,000 churches by 2020.

James’ extensive ministry also includes a training center for pastors, a year-round camp, a center for biblical counseling, a disaster-recovery organization, and a Christian school—all used to reach more people with the life-changing message of the gospel.

James is the author of several books including Vertical Church, Authentic, Lord Change My Attitude, When Life is Hard, Always True, Come Home, and most recently, Act Like Men.

Find out more about James and his ministries at:
@pastorjamesmacdonald on Instagram
@jamesmacdonald on Twitter
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Contact Walk in the Word with Dr. James MacDonald

Mailing Address
Walk in the Word
P.O. Box 5368
Elgin, IL 60121