JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Ruth 1:16.
The book of Ruth opens in the land of Moab, reporting the deaths of three men. The surviving widows were Naomi, and her daughters-in-law Ruth and Orpah.
Naomi was originally from Bethlehem. After her husband and sons died, she was bitter in spirit, and decided to go back to Bethlehem. Naomi’s heart was so heavy that she believed that the Lord’s hand was against her. Tragedies can lead us to believe that way sometimes. But God had not abandoned Naomi.
In her bitterness, she told Orpah and Ruth to return to Moab, so that they could remarry. But Ruth was tenacious in her commitment to Naomi. She uttered these famous words, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God my God.” She was committed to Naomi as a daughter for life. In addition, she was drawn to Naomi’s faith in the Lord and would follow the same God that Naomi worshiped.
Ruth would be grafted into the line of ancestors that led to the birth of Jesus. When we are grafted into the family of God through faith, our story becomes part of His story, which is our blessing for His glory.
Commitment is a vital-relationship building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK -Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Joshua 1:14 and 15.
As the Israelites were about to cross the Jordan River to go into the Promised Land, Joshua had a few words with two and a half of the tribes. These were the tribes who were planning to settle east of the Jordan, and were already in possession of their land.
He said, “Remember the command that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you. ‘The LORD your God is giving you rest and has granted you this land. Your wives, your children, and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, fully armed, must cross over ahead of your brothers. You are to help your brothers until the LORD gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving them.”
These tribes complied with Joshua’s instructions and the nation went forward together into the Promised Land. Victories are fully shared where struggles are fully shared. This principle can apply not just to nations, but common challenges facing sports teams, family units, businesses, and churches. Unity and celebration is the outcome of victory where there is evidence of full team support in the struggle.
Teamwork and a spirit of cooperation through the challenges of life is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from First Corinthians 4:12.
Being an apostle of Christ required great courage and love in the early church. Paul the Apostle wrote, “We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly.”
The Apostles of the early church were serious about applying Jesus’ command to ‘love our enemies.’ Another person who lived out this command in a powerful way more recently was Elisabeth Elliot. She died recently at the age of 88. Elisabeth Elliot dedicated part of her life to serving a group of people who lived in a remote area of Ecuador. She reached out in a spirit of peace to the same people who killed her husband, Jim Elliot in 1956. Instead of seeking revenge, she sought their salvation. The Lord worked through Elisabeth Elliot’s extraordinary love and dedication to reach the unreached with the Gospel. According to an article in Christianity Today, the tribe that was considered one of the most violent in the world would see a 90 percent drop in homicides over the next 20 years. This is what can happen when God’s people seek to overcome evil with good.
Returning human hatred with God’s love is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHNSHIRK-In the Year of Connection, today’s encounter with Jesus examines a very important question.
One time when Jesus was with His disciples, He asked them, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
Their reply, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
Then Jesus took that question and made it more personal. “What about you? Who do you say I am?”
That is when Simon Peter spoke up, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
The response of Jesus is significant, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”
Who do we think Jesus is? This is the question that confronts us today. If we agree with Peter’s response, that will shape our identity, our purpose, and our destiny.
A daily connection with Christ will open our eyes to see the true identity of Jesus.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Connection, today’s Encounter with Jesus examines His power to forgive.
First John 1:8 and 9 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Confession is simply agreeing with God that we are sinners in need of His grace. There are no secrets that we can keep from God. He knows everything about us already, so nothing we tell Him about ourselves will surprise Him. Jesus is ready to offer us mercy when we approach Him with humility and honesty. Confession is how we bring the darkness into the light, and remove the barriers that keep us from experiencing the joy of God’s spiritual blessings.
First John 2:1 says, “If anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense-Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”
A daily connection with Christ gives us a place to turn for complete forgiveness and purification.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Connection, today’s Encounter with Jesus examines His role as our high priest.
One of the functions of the high priest in the Old Testament was to enter the Most Holy Place once a year to make atonement for himself and the people. The high priest would offer animal blood as sacrifices year after year, which did not have the power to take away sin. Then came Jesus who offered Himself for our sins once for all. His blood was payment enough to take our sin away. His grace is sufficient for our need.
Hebrews 4:14 says, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
In our times of weakness and temptations, Jesus will be our source of strength if we turn to Him. He is able to turn our weaknesses into strengths, so that when people see the change in our lives, they see the power of Christ making the difference.
A daily connection with Christ gives us constant access to the throne of grace.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Psalm 46:10.
Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.
Psalm 46 is about looking to God in faith through circumstances that would normally melt hearts with fear.
There are references to earthquakes and tsunamis found here. Nations are in uproar. Kingdoms fall. Desolations are found on the earth.
The world suffers the consequences from humanity’s sin problem, and those consequences include disasters and armed conflict between nations. In the midst of such upheaval, God invites us to find hope and strength in the everlasting arms of God’s grace. That is where we find security for our soul. That is where we find peace in the eye of the storm. The world is not spinning out of His control. God is on the throne, and this will be clearly evident to everyone in the course of time.
Isaiah 30:15 says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.”
Depending on God in times of trouble is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Acts 10:34 and 35.
Peter said, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”
Peter made this statement at the house of Cornelius, who was a military commander in the Roman army. Cornelius was a Gentile, and Peter was a Jew. Peter had the opportunity to share the Gospel with Cornelius and his household. At the same time, Peter was learning that this Gospel was not confined to national boundaries, but would be good news to all who embraced the testimony of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
This truth could be instrumental in stopping racism today. The starting place for mending strained relations of any kind is opening our heart to the love of God.
Embracing God’s love for people of every race and nationality is a vital-relationship building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Malachi 4:5 and 6.
“See I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
Elijah was used of God in a mighty way to stir revival among the Israelites. At Mount Carmel, he challenged the people, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
There is often a connection between moral decay in society and the breakdown of the family. Similarly, where revival happens in society, the family unit is strengthened. Whenever we take a stand for the Lord or bring family members to a point of reconciliation, our actions resemble the ministry of Elijah.
Standing for God and family are vital relationship-building principles to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Connection, today’s Encounter with Jesus examines His great commission.
It happens in Matthew 28, just before He ascended to heaven. He told the disciples: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always to the very end of the age.”
Jesus was commissioning His followers into a mission of disciple-making that would leave an impact on the world for many generations to follow. These men were not the religious scholars of their day, but they did spend time with Jesus, and that made all the difference in their bold proclamation of the Gospel. Acts 4:13 says that when the religious leaders saw the courage of two of Jesus’ disciples, (Peter and John), and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
We do not have to be scholars to be effective witnesses of the Gospel, but we do need a relationship with Jesus. We need His help and we need His love, because being a disciple-maker is a God-sized mission.
A daily connection with Christ gives us the courage to speak for Him.