JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the capacity to love in extraordinary ways.
There are different kinds of love that we express. Some ways are more extraordinary than others. For example, Jesus said in Luke 6:33, “If you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.”
But what about love for our enemies? Or what about showing compassion to someone when it’s not convenient? Or what about giving to someone when it involves personal sacrifice? Jesus knows about that kind of love and demonstrated these expressions of love when He went to the cross. He is the author of true love, and He shows us the way of love by His example and through His teachings.
First John 4:19 says “We love because he first loved us.” And Jesus said to His disciples in John 13:35, By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
The capacity to love in extraordinary ways is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
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.
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 – 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 First Corinthians 13:5.
Love “is not easily angered.”
God’s love serves to temper our anger when patience is tested. We are not prone to emotional outbursts when guided by God’s love.
That is not to say that we are never angered. Jesus vented His anger when He saw God’s house of worship turned into a den of robbers. There are some injustices in this world that should upset us to the point of doing something about it.
However, when we are motivated by love, we are not easily angered or easily offended when someone disappoints us. We stay calm and cool. If there are differences to work out, love compels us to use conversations rather than shouting matches to address them. James 1:19 instructs us to “be slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
Being slow to become angry is a relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from First Corinthians 13:5.
“Love is not self-seeking.”
Sin is an “I” centered word. So is Pride. Selfish desires get in the way of thriving relationships.
The focus of true love goes beyond ourselves. In the context of our relationship with God, the focus is on bringing glory to God. In the context of our relationship with others, the focus is on blessing them with encouragement, a servant’s heart, and edifying words.
Joy can be an acronym for “Jesus, Others, Yourself”. With those priorities in that order, the door is open for us to experience the joy of living out the Gospel.
Focusing beyond ourselves is a relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from First Corinthians 13:4.
“Love is patient, love is kind.”
With love, we recognize that people are in process. They have room for growing in maturity and character development, just as we have room for growth in these areas. With patience, we give our friends and neighbors time and opportunity to grow. We work with them so that they might develop into the kind of person that God calls them to be. Jesus is our ultimate example of patience. Mark 16 says that as the disciples went out and preached the Gospel, the Lord worked with them. He was working with men who had room for growth.
With love, we also exercise kindness. This means that we have a friendly disposition in our relationships. We show consideration for the needs of others, and seek to be a blessing in their lives. There is great influence in kindness. Romans 2:4 talks about God’s kindness leading us toward repentance. Lives can change in dramatic ways when kindness is expressed in our relationships.
Patience and kindness are qualities that benefit our marriages, family relationships, and friendships.
Exercising patience and kindness is a relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK -Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Proverbs 14:22.
“Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.”
Plans indicate our intentions to act. This verse is referring to the principle of sowing and reaping.
If we sow evil plans, we will stray off course from God’s intended will for our lives, and the outcome leads to confusion, dissension, and pain. Someone gets hurt when evil plans are carried out. If our plans are evil, God’s remedy is for us to turn back before we carry out those plans.
If the Lord directs our plans, those plans will be consistent with love and faithfulness, and good fruit will flow out of our actions. A generous person who refreshes others will be refreshed. What we send out is often what comes back. Those who plan what is good open the door for thriving relationships and for the name of the Lord to be honored.
Making plans that are good in the eyes of the Lord is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – God’s people are called to live in community. The evidence of that can be found in the “One another” statements of the Bible. This week’s relationship-building principles have been taking a look at some of these “one another” statements to better understand how God wants us to relate with other members of God’s family.
First John 3:11 says, “This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.”
Love is at the heart of the “one another” commands in the Bible. These specific commands scattered throughout the New Testament include: “Encourage one another, serve one another, forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another, accept one another as Christ accepted you, spur one another on toward love and good deeds, honor one another above yourselves, live in harmony with one another, offer hospitality to one another without grumbling, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, instruct one another. Be kind and compassionate to one another.
These specific “one another” statements are useful to help us examine whether or not we are walking in love as God calls us to love.
Loving God’s family with a godly attitude is a vital relationship-building principles to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
God’s people are called to live in community. The evidence of that can be found in the “One another” statements of the Bible. This week’s relationship-building principles take a look at some of these “one another” statements to better understand how God wants us to relate with other members of God’s family.
Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Hebrews 13:1.
“Keep on loving one other as brothers and sisters.”
The command to love one another is given at least 12 times in the New International Version of the Bible. Here, the emphasis on love is to be consistent in expressing love for God’s people as family members. Sometimes, family members have conflict, but when the love of God is our guiding influence, these conflicts are opportunities to grow more mature personally, and grow closer in community.
Every new day is an opportunity to connect with a person in our church community and show them the love of Jesus. It could be through a phone conversation, a visit to the hospital, or a service opportunity. As long as we are serving the Lord, we will hear the Holy Spirit whisper in our conscience that there is more love to share with others. Romans 13:8 says, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”
Persistent love for others is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK -2015 is the Year of Connection at WJTL. We will examine God’s insights into healthy relationships. Listen for Relationship-Building Principles throughout the upcoming year.
Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Proverbs 17:17.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Real friends are not just fair-weather friends who love you when you are healthy, wealthy, and wise. Real friends are also supportive in your times of need, when you are in the hospital, when you have lost your job, or when you have lost a loved one. That is when the value of real friendships is felt. That is the kind of friend that God wants us to be for others. That is the kind of friend Jesus is for us. He talked about real friendship this way in John 15:12 and 13:
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Less than 24 hours later, Jesus was hanging on the cross, reaching out with love, dying for our sins, offering forgiveness and eternal life to those who will receive His gift of grace.
Real friendship is a vital-relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.