Relationships

Making Disciples (Part I)

Resurrection Sunday is a day of celebration and rest. Just as God rested after He created the world, there is a rest for us in knowing that God did all the work through Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins. We no longer have to be in fear and torment of sin but we are freed by the blood of the lamb. However, following the resurrection, there is work for us to do. Jesus appeared to His disciples after He was resurrected, and He assigned them the Great Commission, which became their lifelong purpose. …

Jonah, a Reluctant Prophet (Part II)

Jonah knew the Lord as gracious, merciful, patient, and abundant in lovingkindness (See Jonah 4:2). These are all amazing and powerful characteristics of God. However, this time Jonah was displeased because the Assyrians (the people he didn’t like) were going to benefit from them. So the Lord used an object lesson to teach Jonah about loving others. …

Unless a Grain of Wheat Falls…

Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.  He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. John 12:23-26

 

The above passage occurred after triumphal entry. Many came to see Jesus and brought their palm branches declaring the entrance of the King of Israel to Jerusalem! However, Jesus knew that the true triumph was waiting for Him on the other side of the cross! He had to defeat the enemy and redeem man from the power of hell, sin, and destruction!

While Jesus’ disciples must have felt good about Him being acknowledged by the people, Jesus likened His life to a grain of wheat that has to fall to the ground and die before it produces much grain and becomes fruitful. Even though Jesus lived a perfect and sinless life, His true reproduction began after going to the cross!

Jesus endured the accusations, scorns, and sufferings before the eyes of His family, disciples, friends, and His enemies. The cross may have made Jesus look weak and guilty to the world, but He was meek and pure, and His strength was under the control of the Holy Spirit. He was not derailed by the voices around Him and neither did He bow down to the demands of others. Despite people’s expectations of Him to be the king of Israel, Jesus knew that the nation of Israel as well as humanity needed a Savior for its redemption and reconciliation! This must have disappointed His disciples, but Jesus knew His assignment and what the Lord had required of His son! If He had not died for the sins of humanity, He was going to remain alone, and He could not bring the many sons and daughters to salvation and reconciliation to the Father!

In this hour, many look to government and experts to be the savior of humanity. There are many demands on them to have answers for the current situation, but Jesus has the answer to man’s true condition. People may be temporarily focused on the pandemic, but the world including our nation is need of spiritual restoration and deliverance! There is no peace unless the Prince of Peace is invited into our lives. Our marriages, families, communities, and our nation are in need of healing, and the answer is in the cross of Jesus.

True healing begins with us admitting that we are incapable of fixing our problems. We need to ask for forgiveness for our sins, our selfishness, and our stubbornness that has caused so much disorder in our lives and in our communities. We also forgive others. Jesus paid the full price for all our sins to set things right with the Father and with one another. He also taught us that we can experience the power of resurrection through repentance and denying our old nature. When we allow our carnal nature to die to unbelief, pride, division, animosity, strife, hatred, and anger, we give room for the resurrection power to bear fruit of the spirit and restoration in our lives.  Jesus paid a high price, so we can have the privilege of living a life of freedom, peace, love, and reconciliation. Thank you Lord for sending your son to the earth! Thank you Jesus for your great sacrifice and redemption! Thank you Holy Spirit for being with us and for your conviction and revelation!

 

The Benefits of the word of God (Part IV)

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

We live in a world that is completely antithetical to the Kingdom of God. The spiritual battle is all around us, and it requires our focus, attention, and skill to overcome the obstacles on our path.  The above scripture tells us that not only the word of God establishes, corrects, and instructs us, but it also prepares us to live an overcoming life that is fruitful and pleasing to the Lord.

I have seen many Christians who thought they knew the word of God, but they didn’t! They assumed because they were around the Bible and the church that they knew the Bible, but in reality they didn’t have a practical knowledge of the word of God that helped them to live an overcoming and fruitful life. The scriptures are not meant to be just preached by a pastor or be heard in a Sunday school class. Christianity is a not a spectator sport. The devil does not engage only with those who want to engage with him. The scriptures tell us that he is like a roaring lion looking for whom he may devour (1 peter 5:8). That means whether an individual is engaged in the game or not, the enemy wants to win the battle over every person’s life! Nothing can replace our time in the word of God where the Lord uses the scriptures to equip us to live a fruitful and victorious life and learn how to fight in a spiritual battle waged against every soul! This requires every Christian to take their walk with God seriously and learn how to be equipped for living a God-honoring and fruitful life!

The scriptures equip us in variety of ways. Some scriptures warn us on issues such as foolishness, jealousy, lust, deception, and corrupt speech. These scriptures take the weeds out of our lives, so we can be prepared for the good seed of the word. Other scriptures are seeds to help us grow and bear good fruit. For example, the word of God shows us that as we abide in Christ, we can develop the fruit of the spirit and grow in love, joy, peace, patience, self-control, and many other Godly attributes. There are other scriptures that protect us from harming ourselves and others. For example, forgiveness protects our hearts, preserves our relationships, and equips us not to get baited by the enemy.  In Ephesians 6, Paul gives a description of the armor of God that teaches us how withstand the attacks of the enemy and our old nature. It tells us about the helmet of salvation, breastplate of righteousness, belt of truth, shield of faith, sword of the spirit, and our feet shod with the gospel of peace. All the elements of the armor are the equipment that the believer needs to be able to live a victorious life.

Without the knowledge of the word of God, we would not be equipped for battle and we would become a pawn in the devils’s hand. The word of God helps us to be alert, wise, and discerning. The better equipped we are, the better prepared we are to handle people and situations in a Godly manner and escape the corruption that is all around us.

Are you being equipped by the word of God? Do you put the scriptures to work in your practical day-to-day life? How well do you discern between your own ideas, the schemes of the enemy, and the will of God!?

 

 

 

Success in Relationships (Part III)

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.  Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:15-20 (NLV)

Having success in relationships is not easy, and we all have to do our part to ensure our relationships are thriving. In addition to being wise with our time and being thoughtful, the scripture tells us that we should be filled with the Holy Spirit rather being drunk with wine. Being drunk with wine does not help our relationship with the Lord or with others. As a matter of fact, it opens the door to the enemy to tempt us in variety of ways. However, being filled with the spirit makes us more aware of God’s purpose and will in our lives, and it helps us to remain in tune with Him!

The truth is that man in his carnal nature continues to crave for things that feed his/her flesh.  Our flesh is satisfied primarily with worldly things such as food, alcohol, sex, and entertainment. People out of boredom or curiosity crave various experimentations that lead them to alcohol, smoking, drugs, and pornography, and many find themselves bound to it. The things that feed our carnal nature do not feed our spirit man, and as a result we don’t have anything spiritually valuable to give our loved ones!

A lifestyle that feeds the flesh does not produce any good fruit, and it certainly does not provide the opportunity to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Instead, an atmosphere of worship fills us with His spirit, peace, and joy.  This gives us a greater desire to remain in His presence and continue to worship Him and sing songs to Him. Our flesh continues to be weakened the more we feed our spirit man and allow Him to rule and reign in our lives!

In an environment that people are under the influence of worldly vices, the relationships are not only weakened, but they can also be fractured because people speak and act in foolish and hurtful ways. On the other hand, when we are singing psalms and worshipping the Lord together, it allows us to keep our focus on Jesus and takes our eyes off of each other. This brings greater clarity to the issues at hand, and we no longer are bound by the dictates of our soul because we have been in the Lord’s presence! This is the environment that helps us to renew and reconcile our relationships with one another!

In the above passage, Paul ends by telling us to give thanks in everything! Giving thanks allows us to change our negative perspective and see God’s blessings and provision in our lives! One of the main areas of giving thanks should be for our loved ones. Imagine if you gave thanks to the Lord for your spouse everyday and actually mentioned the specific things that they bless your life with!  How about if you reached out to those that you have a difficult time with and told them that you love them and thank God for them!? How often do we give thanks for our loved ones especially when we are frustrated with them?

When we put the above passage to work in our lives, we will see change and transformation in our attitude as well as our relationships! Subsequently, when we focus on the passage in (Ephesians 5:21-33) about husbands and wives and how they should relate to one another, it’s a lot easier to live it out. We are not resenting the fact that we have to submit ourselves to our husbands or that husbands need to lay down their lives for their wives. Our marriages have a good foundation by using time wisely, being thoughtful about our choice of words and actions, being filled with the Holy Spirit, and continually giving thanks to God for everything including one another.  

Mediate on the above scripture and use it daily for a week or a month and be amazed at the results in your spiritual life as well as in your relationships!

 

Success in Relationships (Part II)

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.  Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:15-20 (NLV)

Did you know that your thought life is a key to success in relationships!? The above scripture instructs us to be intentional and thoughtful! Thoughtless people speak before they think! Have you ever written a text or an email, and before you clicked the “send” button something told you to stop!? Later on, when you looked back you realized you could have made a big mess with your tone or choice of words if you had sent the text or the email in its original tone.

When we are thoughtful, it makes us slow down and think about what we say and how we state it. When I am corresponding with prospective employers, I don’t just type something quickly and send it out. I write it, wait a while, and then edit it. If time permits, I may leave it alone for a few hours or overnight. I review it again and ensure that it is written concisely and covers everything that I intended to state. Are we as thoughtful with our words when we are communicating with our loved ones!?

As believers, our holy occupation is to please Him! That means that regardless of how we feel or what we think of a person or a situation, we are called to walk in the spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us the self-control we need to slow down and to allow Him to calm our thoughts and emotions.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. 2Corinthians 10:4-6

Some people claim that to be real they need to share all their thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately, being real has been equated with dumping all the negative thoughts and emotions on others! To the contrary, the Lord calls us to be intentional with our thoughts and recognize the schemes of the enemy. When we surrender ourselves to “being real,” we come into agreement with the lies of the enemy and own those thoughts as ours. Hence, we look for ways to express them. However, we must recognize that not every thought that comes to mind should be welcomed or accepted as our thought. More importantly, not every thought that comes to our mind lines up with God’s truth!

The Bible tells us that we need to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. We cannot successfully walk in obedience to the Lord, if we don’t take control of our thought life! We also cannot have success in our relationships if we can’t control our thoughts and the actions that produce them. Our thoughts dictate our emotions which lead our will into action. Subsequently we speak and act on what we entertained in our thought life first. This impacts all our relationships! We may react inappropriately to a person or a situation because we have been incubating negativity in our minds and have not challenged and acknowledged them as lies or ungodly thoughts!

Today, make a plan to examine and challenge your thoughts before allowing them to take root in your heart! Hold every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and allow Jesus to be the gatekeeper of your mind! You will save yourself and others much headache and heartache, and you’ll have much success in your relationships!

 

As Iron Sharpens Iron…(Part I)

Having good relationships in life is truly a blessing, but it seems like finding the right relationships is challenging! We may find a person fun to be around for a couple of months. However, sooner or later, something they do makes us irritated and we don’t enjoy them like we used to. Just a note of caution this devotional is not about those who are physically or emotionally abuse to others. If you are in that kind of situation, please seek help.

As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17

The truth is that most people that we are attracted to are going to be different than us. Therefore, they will eventually rub us the wrong the way! Generally, we are attracted to those who have common values but a different personality from us. If you are a quiet or a shy person, you will probably gravitate towards an outgoing and bold person. If you are an aggressive person you may gravitate towards a more easy-going or passive person. This is also true in marriages.

While the differences can be a strength, many times, we are annoyed with those who operate differently. The above scripture reminds us that there is a purpose for the people that God has placed in our lives. We all have sharp edges or issues that can cause pain and frustration in others’ lives. Our  human tendency is to stay away from those kinds of people and not deal with them. However, we should appreciate and value those relationships. We need them and they need us! As the Lord directs us, we should stay in relationship with these individuals and be willing to do the hard work of mutual sharpening!

Having conflict and misunderstandings with others is part of human nature. The key is to understand the value of those conflicts in shaping us to become softer, gentler, and more patient with people. We don’t have to run away from those who cause us discomfort but be thankful that the Lord uses the person to grow us and mature us. In addition, we tend to hear God selectively based on the area of our strength, and friends who are different from us can help us in that area. For example, if you are an aggressive person, you may tend to think that being bold and forthright is always the right approach. However, if you have a friend or a spouse who is quiet, they may question your approach and help you to slow down before acting out of habit. This process helps us in hearing God differently and become more a balanced Christian!

Do you have people in your life who irritate you or cause you discomfort? What is about them that bothers you? Do you judge them for not being like you? Do you feel judged by them? If both parties have the capacity for a truthful conversation, it could open the door for honesty and vulnerability in the relationship. When we take away the barriers of carnality, we have the potential to to communicate about our differences with humility, strengthen the relationship, and to allow those differences to sharpen each other!