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.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship Building Principle comes from Acts 2:42.
Speaking of the early church, “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
These are some of the qualities that made the early church a dynamic force. The Lord desires for His people to be connected with the local church. In the devotional “Moments Together”, Dennis and Barbara Rainey offer some questions to consider when searching for a church to attend: Here are a few of them:
Is it anchored in the Scriptures?
Does it have a sense of community?
Is it characterized by worship?
Is there opportunity for involvement?
If we are established in the local church already, these questions can be useful to consider how we might assist the church in growing in these areas. Jesus is building His church through the participation of His followers.
Participating in the ministry of the local church 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 His resurrection appearance to Thomas.
One of Jesus’ disciples was skeptical that Jesus actually rose from the dead. Jesus had appeared to the other disciples, but not Thomas. When the disciples told Thomas that they had seen the Lord, he responded by saying, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” For Thomas, seeing was believing.
A week later, Jesus appeared to His disciples. This time, Thomas was with them. Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” In that moment, Thomas would have seen the evidence that Jesus is alive. He would have also seen the evidence of His love for Thomas. The nail marks revealed the price that Jesus paid for our sins. There is no expression of love more powerful and life-changing.
Jesus said to Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” That blessing extends to you if you believe the good news of His resurrection.
A daily connection with Christ causes our doubt and skepticism to be overcome by faith and worship.
JOHN SHIRK – This week’s Relationship-Building Principles examine how inviting God’s presence into our lives is healthy for our relationships.
Where God’s Presence is welcome, there is love.
First John 4, verses 7 and 8 are all about love, and how God’s love motivates us to reach out to others.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
Then we learn what kind of love the Apostle John is talking about. “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.”
The love of Jesus was demonstrated through His service and sacrifice. There was no doubting that the expression of His love at the cross was authentic. God was demonstrating his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Having faith in Jesus gives us access to this power to love others selflessly and sincerely, with the heart of service and sacrifice.
Having the love of God is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Ephesians 4:25.
“Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”
That word, “therefore” connects with a preceding thought, which talks about putting off the corrupted old self, and putting on the new self, where we are created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Jesus trains us to be honest in our relationships. This means that we will be committed to the truth. That does not mean we have to disclose everything about ourselves to everybody. But it does mean that we project ourselves with honesty and humility. We avoid flattery, which deceives others into thinking they are better than they are. We also avoid boasting, which deceives ourselves into thinking we are better than we are. We are also careful not to spread false reports or rumors. Dishonesty undermines credibility, while honesty preserves integrity.
Jesus says He is the way, the truth, and the life. Under His influence, we put away falsehood and replace it with truth in the way we communicate with those people God has placed in our lives.
Honesty is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Psalm 133:1.
“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.”
Unity is not the same as uniformity. If we think about music, uniformity would be like everyone singing the same note, and playing the same instruments.
Unity blends different voices, singing different notes, using different instruments to turn harmony into a beautiful song.
In the body of Christ, unity is good and pleasant when each person is on the same page, acknowledging Jesus as Lord, and when His name is the anthem of our song. This song becomes a masterpiece of praise when God’s people keep their eyes on the conductor and exercise various forms of service as instruments of His grace.
Romans 12:16 instructs us to “live in harmony with one another.”
Living together in unity is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Psalm 19:14.
David prayed, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
This is a prayer expressing intent to bring glory to God with our words and thoughts. Life’s most important relationship is strengthened when our love for God spills over into action.
When it comes to pleasing God with our words, that means praising the name of Jesus with our songs and statements of faith. That means speaking the truth in love in our relationships with people. It will mean using edifying words to build them up in the faith and to encourage them to be true to the Lord. Honoring God with our words also means refraining from slander, gossip and boasting about ourselves.
When it comes to pleasing God in our thoughts, that means focusing on those things that are right, and pure, and lovely. That means thinking about Jesus and the words He spoke to us in the Bible. Then, we have direction for following in His footsteps.
Pleasing God with our words and thoughts is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.