Make the first move

2021-05-28
Matthew 22:39 NIVUK

Two of the most famous ‘marriage advice’ type of verses can shed some real light on how all relationships, not just the relationship between husband and wife, can work better: ‘be considerate’ (1 Peter 3:7 NIV) and ‘be worthy of respect’ (1 Timothy 3:11 NIV). In any kind of relationship, it’s about growing an environment where the relationship works to help both people become better people, and draw closer to God. And to build that kind of environment means giving a lot of encouragement and support. Not only when we feel like it, but also when we don’t feel like it.

Jesus’ commandment to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ sums it up perfectly. It means asking God to soften our sharp edges, and provide us with the strength, patience, and opportunities to show His love to those around us. Want to work out a difficult relationship, make long-lasting friendships or even just feel loved? Make the first move.

When we’re prayerfully proactive in a relationship, and willing to drop our own petty disagreements or dislikes for the sake of blessing someone, God will add to it. That doesn’t mean we should let ourselves be walked over by someone who isn’t willing to show love back. Sometimes, there’s reason to find the way out of a relationship (and if you do feel as though you need to get out, then listen to yourself, you know your situation best), but a few steps before that, it’s worth considering if you can bless the other person in some way.

1 Ki 16:1-18:15; Mark 12:13-27; Ps 108; Prov 12:14

Turn your loss into gain (3)

2021-04-16
Isaiah 42:9 NKJV

The same people who declared Jephthah “persona non grata” were the same ones who turned to him for help when they were threatened by a powerful enemy.

So here’s lesson one: Other people don’t determine your future, God does! The Israelites were living in slavery when God made them this promise: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope'” (Jeremiah 29:11 TLB). God’s plan for you will prevail over every other plan.

Here’s lesson two: A unity walk requires unity talk. Jephthah immediately embraced the new relationship. “Then Jephthah sent messengers to the Ammonite king with the question: ‘What do you have against me that you have attacked my country?'” (Judges 11:12 NIV). Note the words “me” and “my country.” He put the hurts of his past behind him and fully embraced the cause. One author writes: “He was ready to walk in unity. And a unity walk requires unity talk. You would be surprised at the impact unity talk will have on your attitude and relationships. You’ll find yourself being less critical of others once you make such “team talk” a habit.”

That doesn’t mean you’ll always see eye to eye on every issue. It just means the cause and the vision you share are greater and more important than your differences of thought and opinion. The Bible says, “Make every effort [you’ve got to work at it] to keep yourselves united in the Spirit [not necessarily in opinion], binding yourselves together with peace” (Ephesians 4:3 NLT).

Soul food: Dan 1-2; Mark 2:13-17; Ps 127; Prov 10:11

Loss into gain (3)


Isaiah 42:9 NCV

The same people who rejected Jephthah were the same ones who turned to him for help when they were threatened by a powerful enemy. Here are a few things we can draw from his story:

1) Other people don’t determine our future, God does. The Israelites were living in slavery when God made them this promise: ‘”I know what I am planning for you,” says the LORD. “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future”‘ (Jeremiah 29:11 NCV). God’s plan wins over every other plan.

2) A unity walk requires unity talk. Jephthah immediately embraced the new relationship. ‘Then Jephthah sent messengers to the Ammonite king with the question: “What do you have against me that you have attacked my country?”‘ (Judges 11:12 NIV). Notice the words ‘me’ and ‘my country’. He put the hurts of his past behind him and fully embraced the cause. One author writes: ‘He was ready to walk in unity. And a unity walk requires unity talk.’ Unity talk can have an impact on our attitude and relationship with others. For example, when we’re working in a group, simply saying ‘our project’ rather than ‘the project’ can make a difference in how unified everyone feels. That doesn’t mean we’ll always agree on every issue. It just means the cause and the vision we share are greater and more important that our different opinions and thoughts.

The Bible says, ‘Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace’ (Ephesians 4:3 NLT).

Dan 1-2; Mark 2:13-17; Ps 127; Prov 10:11

Turn your loss into gain (2)

2021-04-15
Matthew 3:8 NLT

When Israel’s leaders turned to Jephthah for help, they were in distress and wanted to “use” him. So Jephthah said, in essence, “Let’s get an understanding of the type of relationship we’re going to have.” At that point, he negotiated with them and ended up in a top leadership spot.

When your trust has been violated, you need to forgive. By doing so, you set yourself free. But you must exercise wisdom in how to move forward. God doesn’t expect you to put yourself in a position to be hurt again. Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the guy who went to the doctor with a severe burn on his right ear. He explained, “I was ironing and watching television when the phone rang, and I picked up the iron instead of the phone.” Puzzled, the doctor said, “But how did you get the burn on your left ear?” The man exclaimed, “Because he called back!”

Bottom line: when you’ve been “burned” by someone, be careful about putting yourself in a position to be burned over and over again. Forgiveness must be immediate, but trust must be earned. Your offender must show the fruit of repentance – consistent behavior that gives evidence that he or she has had a change of heart. Jesus said, “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.”

You need two things: grace and wisdom. Grace means extending to others the same forgiveness that God has extended to you. Wisdom means knowing what kind of relationship you can have with that person in the future.

Soul food: Phil 1-4; Mark 2:1-12; Ps 43; Prov 10:10

Respond with grace

2021-04-13
2 Peter 3:18 NLT

How do we overcome past hurts in relationships? How can we combine separate and unique perspectives to create a friendship or relationship that’s compassionate and caring?

There’s a very special ingredient called ‘grace’ that must be added to the mix. It calls for extending to the other person the same grace that God extends to us. It bandages broken people and allows the defeated to develop ways to break free from their pasts. It gives strength to those who struggle. Grace restores the heart and resolves the troubles of a tormented spirit. It is loving-kindness and forgiveness. It’s the favour of God. And as He bestows it on us, we should extend it to those who need our compassion and love. We are all broken in certain areas, and we need to learn to accept that and help mend the brokenness in others.

Peter didn’t believe he was capable of denying his Lord. He swore he would never do it. But Jesus not only predicted it, He promised to pray for him until he was fully restored (take a look at Luke 22:32). And we’re called to do that too; to extend to other imperfect people the same love and grace that has been shown to us.

Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: ‘We must always thank God for you, brothers and sisters. This is only right, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love that every one of you has for each other is increasing’ (2 Thessalonians 1:3 NKJV). Peter also said, ‘You must grow in…grace.’ It’s a process, so it won’t always be easy, but with God, we can work on it day by day.

Lev 23:26-25:55; Mark 1:35-39; Ps 50:16-23; Prov 10:4-7