JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Acts 14:26.
This chapter of the Bible traces the missionary adventures of Paul and Barnabas as they went to different places to share the Gospel. Eventually, they went back to Antioch, which was their launching point.
As they arrived, they gathered the church together to report all that God had done through them and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. And they stayed there a long time with the disciples.
When missionaries return to their launching point, the church that supports their work, they have the opportunity to share what God is doing through their work, and the church has the opportunity to celebrate with the missionary. Praise reports from the mission field have a way of showing the church how their support is making a difference for the Gospel, and energizes the church to continue supporting the work of missions.
This can happen on a personal level between friends too, where we share how we have seen God at work, and encourage one another to keep shining the light of the Gospel by being a faithful witness for Jesus.
Sharing praise reports of how God is at work 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 our restoration to God through His blood.
When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. God was providing a way for us to enter into relationship with Him through the blood of Jesus.
Hebrews 10:19 says, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings….”
The sacrifice of Jesus for us means that we have access to His throne of grace. We can pray to Him with a believing heart and have confidence that He loves us and hears the cries from our heart.
A daily connection with Christ enables us to draw near to God the Father and to live with confidence in Him.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Connection, today’s Encounter with Jesus examines His presence as the central focus of our lives.
In Mark 3:32, Jesus was the center of attention, when his family members came to take charge of him. At that time, they thought that Jesus was out of his mind.
There was a crowd sitting around him, and they told Jesus, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
Jesus used this opportunity to identify the members of His spiritual family. He looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
What was happening there in the physical sense is where His church is blessed in the spiritual sense-We gather together with Jesus as the central focus of our faith, revolving around His agenda for our lives rather than the other way around.
A daily connection with Christ will lead us to a Christ-centered life.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from First Kings 8:28.
Solomon prayed, “Give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.”
This is the verse connecting with the theme for the National Day of Prayer today-“Lord, Hear Our Cry.”
This theme emphasizes our need to trust in the unfailing character of God, who is sovereign over all governments, authorities, and people. The National Honorary Chairman, Dr. Jack Graham, has written a prayer for this special occasion. This is part of that prayer:
“We come to You in the Name that is above every name-Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Our hearts cry out to You. Knowing that You are a prayer-answering, faithful God-the One we trust in times like these-we ask that You renew our spirits, revive our churches, and heal our land. We repent of our sins and ask for Your grace and power to save us. Hear our cry, oh God, and pour out Your Spirit upon us that we may walk in obedience to Your Word. In Jesus’ name, our Savior, Amen.”
Humbling ourselves to Pray for our nation 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 14:34.
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”
Peace flows out of a climate where worship for God is sincere and His Gospel is lived out with love and integrity. But when sin takes root in a civilization, the door is open for division and disorder.
On a recent Probe program, Kirby Anderson pointed out the stages that civilizations pass through on their way to greatness and eventual decline. As nations ascend to greatness, they pass through the stages of spiritual faith, great courage, liberty, and abundance.
On their way toward decline, civilizations typically pass through the stages of selfishness, complacency, apathy, and moral decay.
What is your prayer request for the nation that you live in? History and Biblical wisdom highlight the value of righteousness to strengthen a nation and reflect God’s glory. Psalm 33:12 says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.”
Righteousness is a relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from First Timothy 2:1-4.
“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
In a world where many opinions are expressed in the public square, it is important to remember the power of prayer expressed in the privacy of a closet. This Scripture is an invitation to pray on behalf of others, including people in positions of authority such as church leaders, government leaders, business leaders, teachers, and parents. Our prayers to God have a way of changing our own attitude toward people. William Law once said, “There is nothing that makes us love a man so much as praying for him.” That is because in intercession, our heart becomes more aligned with God’s heart for that person. However God responds to our prayers for someone, we know this: God is pleased by our petitions, and works in response to our prayers to bring souls into God’s Kingdom.
Prayer is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Third John, verse 14b.
Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name.
It may be challenging to remember the names of the people we meet, but calling people by name is often a bridge-builder. In a climate where businesses often identify us by number, it is refreshing to be known by our name. This is the way of God toward His creation.
The Bible says He knows the stars by name. Do you know how many stars are in the universe? According to Nick Vujicic of Life Without Limbs, astronomers estimate there are 3 hundred sextillion stars in the universe, which amounts to 3 with 23 zeroes after it. Psalm 147, verse 4 says about the LORD, “He determines the number of stars and calls them each by name.”
He is not just personally familiar with the stars. He is also personally familiar with His people. David wrote in Psalm 139, “You have searched me and you know me….” And verse 3 says, “You are familiar with all my ways.” So, when we greet each other by name, we are reflecting the personal friendship that the Lord offers us.
Greeting friends by name is a relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Luke 10:1.
“The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.”
In sending these seventy-two followers to various places, they would prepare the way for Jesus’ appearance to their communities. Jesus sent them out in pairs. Very rarely in the New Testament do we see followers of Jesus working solo. There is value to teamwork.
With teamwork, there is accountability. If one person starts to stray from sound doctrine or in their behavior, a teammate can help them get back on track. One person can help another person gain perspective.
With teamwork, there is also support. Sometimes, discouragement causes us to feel like giving up on what we started, but a teammate can serve as a supportive friend to help us press on in those discouraging moments.
There is also greater joy in sharing ministry with a teammate. When the seventy-two returned from their assignments, they came to Jesus with joy over what God had done through their outreach.
Teamwork is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Romans 13:8.
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”
Financially, God’s Word cautions us about going into debt so far that we cannot pay it back. We have financial responsibilities to pay back our loans to the best of our ability.
Relationally, God’s Word tells us there is always more love to give. Every day is an opportunity to let God’s love flow through us to reach others in a way that builds them up. The consistent expression of love is a credit to God’s love moving through us.
The law is based on love. The next verse talks about some of these commandments:
The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery”, “You shall not murder”, “You shall not steal”, “You shall not covet”, and whatever other command there may be are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.”
The consistent expression of love 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 2:46 and 47.
“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
You can imagine how exciting that would be to wake up every day and wonder, “Who is going to join the Christian community today?” New converts were coming to Christ every day in the early church. Rich fellowship was also building up the strength of the church. As believers met together daily in worship and sharing food together, a strong bond was forming among believers with each other and with God. A devoted heart to God will affect how we treat other people. One of those differences will be sharing the joy of the Lord with others. The grace of Jesus compels us to live with an honest ambition to glorify God and share His love in various ways.
Being Intentional about Worship and Fellowship 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 2:43.
“Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.”
One of the characteristics of a dynamic church is that the believers worship God with reverence and awe.
We are not meant to just go through the motions of worship, but to offer God a heart of worship.
The miracle of God’s love and the wonders of His grace so captivate us with a sense of gratitude that our joy overflows in praise.
When we consider the depths of pain that Jesus endured for the sake of offering us the riches of His kingdom, how could we not be moved? Hebrews 12:28 says, “Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”
Living in awe and wonder of God’s grace is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.