JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Second Timothy 1:16:
“May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.”
These were the words of the Apostle Paul concerning someone who was a consistent friend. In life, there are fair weather friends and true blue friends. Fair weather friends stay for a season, but tend to bail out when life gets hard. Their friendship might be conditional on what we can offer them. When we can no longer offer what they seek from us, the relationship drifts apart.
That is not the way of the true blue friend. Onesiphorus was that kind of friend for Paul. Not only did he stand by Paul in the midst of his imprisonment, he actively searched for Paul when he was in Rome. A true blue friend will move closer when we face times of adversity such as sickness, weakness, depression, temptation, or persecution.
A true blue friend is a reliable friend who refreshes the spirit.
Being a true blue friend is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Isaiah 1:17.
The LORD says, “Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
In applying this principle to situations today, it means taking a stand against bullying and being an advocate for those who are bullied. It means taking a stand against human trafficking, and being an advocate for those who are victims. It means being an advocate for the homeless, the orphan, and the widow, which may take us down the road to volunteerism, adoption, or some kind of sponsorship.
With such great need, there is much to do with the time that we have on this earth to be the hands and feet of Jesus. By ourselves, we cannot change the world. But through the grace of Christ, we can make a difference for someone in a place of need. As we commit our ways to God, listen to the burdens of our heart, and look for opportunities to make a difference, we can be encouraged by this truth in Psalm 37:6-“He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”
Encouraging the oppressed is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Proverbs 14:21.
“He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.”
To despise our neighbor would violate the second greatest commandment in all of Scripture, which is to love our neighbor as ourselves. God calls His people to live with neighborly love-the kind that seeks God’s blessing on their lives and treats them with respect and consideration. Building relationships with our neighbors is a significant step to demonstrating the love of Jesus to them. Our neighbor might be considered the family that lives next to us, but they also might be whoever happens to be next to us at a given time.
A blessing is granted from the Lord for the person who is kind to the needy. We have opportunity to do this in various ways. Proverbs 22:9 talks about the generous man sharing his food with the poor. Proverbs 31:9 promotes defending the rights of the poor. Psalm 15:5 promotes lending to the poor without charging excessive interest. The general idea is to be openhanded and not tightfisted toward the poor.
Loving our neighbors and being kind to the needy are vital relationship-building principles to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Galatians 6:1 and 2.
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Expressing love to sinners can get messy. The ultimate example of this is Jesus Christ, who went to the cross for our sins. As we walk in the light of God’s love, we will recognize two important realities. The first reality is that there are people all around us who need Jesus. And the second reality is that even though we might have a relationship with Jesus, we are still capable of giving in to temptation. So, we are wise to guard our own heart, so that the Spirit living in us influences the person caught in sin, rather than sin in the other person having an influence on us.
In reaching out to people who have been caught in a sin, we have the opportunity to restore them to fellowship with God. The Bible says that we are to do this gently. This means, showing mercy and patience so that they can perceive God’s love expressed through us. It means sharing the good news that Jesus can change us from the inside out as we look to Him as Savior and Lord.
Carrying the burdens of another is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Connection, today’s encounter with Jesus examines when Jesus turned water into wine.
It happened at the festive occasion of a wedding. The very fact that Jesus shows up at a wedding reflects his nature to celebrate with those who are celebrating that which God blesses.
But there was a problem. They ran out of wine. Jesus had the servants fill jars with water. By the time they drew it out, the water had turned into wine.
The master of the banquet said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
The account of Jesus turning water into wine reminds us that while life does have its moments of joy here on earth, the best is yet to come for those who follow Him. He saves the best for last. He will fill us with joy in His presence, with eternal pleasures at His right hand. Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!
A daily connection with Christ leads us to joyful celebration in His abiding Presence.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from First Thessalonians 5:14.
“We urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”
These instructions remind us to meet people at their point of need. To do this, we need sensitivity and wisdom in the way we relate with people. Some people are in a stage of life where they need a thoughtful challenge to motivate them to put their faith into action. Others have put their faith into action, and have endured hardship for their faithfulness to God. Knowing someone’s story gives us insight into how we can come alongside that person to be a helpful friend.
There is one quality that everyone needs-patience. That is because we are all in process. We are wise to give people time and opportunity to grow into the person that God is calling them to be.
Wisdom and Sensitivity are vital relationship-building principles to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from First Corinthians 12:21-23.
The church is compared to a body, with various functions of the body working together for a common purpose. Trouble begins when we start making comparisons with other parts of the body. If we respond with superior thoughts that we are more important than other parts, the unity breaks down. The Apostle Paul wanted to stop that from happening. This is what he said:
“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.”
When you think of the people in the body of Christ that you serve beside, who comes to mind? They have an important part of helping you to serve effectively. One way we can build that part of the body of Christ is by recognizing their contribution and showing our appreciation for what they do.
Recognizing the contributions of others 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 12:14-16.
The church is compared to a body, with Christ at the Head, and the other members of the body serving in different capacities.
“Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, ‘because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’, it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body’, it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.”
The Bible emphasizes the importance of every part of the body to contribute to the work of the church. Maybe we are not gifted to offer hospitality by cooking a meal, but we might have a friendly personality who can greet someone at the door of the church. We might not be able to preach like the pastor, but we might have opportunities to share God’s love with a friend next door. This passage cautions us from making comparisons with others that leave us feeling inferior. Our role may be different, but it is also an important contribution to the body of Christ. The important thing is that we are thankful for how God has gifted us and use that gift for the glory of His name.
Recognizing the significance of our spiritual gift is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Connection, today’s Encounter with Jesus examines the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
Jesus told this Parable to an expert in the Law who recited the greatest commandments of the Bible to Jesus. One of those commands is to love your neighbor as yourself. The expert in the law asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”
That is when Jesus told the story of a man going from Jerusalem to Jericho. He fell into the hands of robbers and was beaten badly. Three men traveled on the same road and noticed the man. The two religious leaders who saw him passed by him on the other side of the road. But a Samaritan man, a foreigner, responded differently. He moved toward the injured man, bandaged his wounds and took care of him.
After telling the story, Jesus asked the expert in the law, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”
A daily connection with Christ will move us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Amos 5:14.
“Seek good, not evil that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is.”
This was a message for a nation that was drifting from God. Israel was under the impression that they were under God’s protection even though the nation was not fully dedicated to walking in His ways. They were in more danger than they realized, and further from God than what they imagined.
The Book of Amos was pointing out that if they wanted their claim to be reality, they needed to love what is good and to hate what is evil. This is where the Lord’s heart is. He loves what is good and hates what is evil. God’s influence on our lives brings us into agreement with His perspective. When we humbly accept God’s Word and apply it to our lives, we can step forward with full confidence that we are on God’s side, and He is with us.
Seeking good, not evil is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.