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.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Connection, today’s Encounter with Jesus examines one of the parables He taught from Luke 14.
“A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. One said, “I just bought a field, another I just bought oxen, another, I just got married.”
The invitations went out, but the invited guests had other priorities. Parables are stories about the kingdom of God. Jesus is talking about the great banquet that God is preparing for His people in heaven. Yet, when the value of this invitation is not fully appreciated, we tend to make excuses for not accepting this invitation. We have business to run. We have plans to make. We have places to go, and people to see.
But if we stop and consider the treasure of His grace, and how His love brings refreshment to our soul, and restoration with God, the incentive for saying “Yes” outweighs our excuses for saying “no.”
God’s grace continues to reach out with the simple invitation to come to Jesus, and to trust Him as Savior and Lord. He desires for His house to be full. There is room for you.
A daily connection with Christ leads to a celebration of His love and the eternal life that He gives.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Second Corinthians 5:20.
“We are, therefore, Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
In political terms, an ambassador is on a diplomatic mission to build bridges of peace between the nation where he is sent and the nation he represents. An ambassador is called to be a voice for their leader. They serve in a foreign land. They do not have the authority to make their own policy or set their own agenda. Their responsibility is to follow the mission of their leader in a way that accurately reflects their leader’s views.
In spiritual terms, the Christian’s citizenship is in heaven, not here on earth. We are representing our king in a foreign land. We are on a peace mission while we live here. Our message to the world reflects the desire of Christ for the world. “Be reconciled to God.” Through faith in Jesus, we are made right with God, and our sins against Him are no longer counted against us.
Being an ambassador for Christ 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 Timothy 4:12.
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.”
This message was from the Apostle Paul to Timothy, who was a younger leader in the church. Timothy may have been in his mid-30s or even younger when this letter was written to him. But Paul did not see his young age as a barrier to ministry if his character was effective in representing Jesus Christ. Age is not a barrier if a church leader lives under the influence of Jesus Christ, and demonstrates leadership guidelines found in the Bible.
Paul was emphasizing the importance for leaders to be an influence through godly character, in our words, conduct, expressions of love, and deeply held convictions about Jesus.
In First Timothy 4:16, Paul said to Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
Setting an example of godly character 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 encouragement to a disciple overwhelmed by His holiness.
It happened in Luke 5. Simon was fishing all night long, but did not catch anything. At Jesus’ instruction, he let down the nets in deeper water, and caught a boatload of fish. It’s a remarkable event that shows the futility of our efforts without Christ, and the effectiveness of our efforts with the help of Christ.
When Simon saw what happened, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man.” But Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” So Simon and his friends pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed Jesus.
We may relate to Simon’s internal struggle. In the presence of Jesus and His holiness, we may feel unworthy to be called one of His followers. However, that is the kind of person that Jesus is ready to bless with a productive purpose in the Kingdom of God. He will not shame us when we recognize our sinfulness. Instead, He will lift us out of our shame by inviting us to follow Him. He will replace our fears of punishment with faith in His unfailing love.
A daily connection with Christ gives our life meaningful purpose as we follow Jesus.
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.