Relationship with Others


I Samuel 21-25 (NLT)

Discover His heart: His anointing on others calls for a respectful response from us.

The race for high-level positions in corporations, government and even in churches has always been a source of amusement to me, although I’m sure it’s not anyone’s intention to amuse me. Once a position is secured, the winner assumes by virtue of the position that respect can be demanded. Well, hold on there! Do the job, fulfill the promises, live a life without compromise and then my respect for them will be earned.  That being said, I’ll always act respectfully to those who hold these positions because they have been selected to serve, and I would not dishonor the position through gossip or slander. However, any disfavor would definitely be expressed through my vote when applicable.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T is more than an Aretha Franklin song from the ‘60’s. Aretha was asking for a little more respect in her life because she felt she had earned it. In our reading today, King Saul was shown the ultimate respect by David even though he hadn’t earned it, but David would honor God’s anointing at any cost.

@ I Samuel 24
Only God could have orchestrated the event that took place in Chapter 24. King Saul, pursuing David to kill him, decided to take a restroom break in the cave where David and his men were hiding. I mean, what are the chances of that? “Now’s your opportunity!’ David’s men whispered to him. ‘Today the Lord is telling you, “I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do with as you wish.”’ So David crept forward and cut off a piece of the hem of Saul’s robe.” (4)

“But then David’s conscience began bothering him because he had cut Saul’s robe. ‘The Lord knows I shouldn’t have done that to my lord the king,’ he said to his men. ‘The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king and attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.’ So David restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul.” (5-7) It’s doubtful that David respected the actions of this demon-inspired, disobedient King who was insanely jealous of him, but he showed respect to him because of his position as anointed king of Israel. Lucky Saul!

Growing up in my home, I never heard my mom speak disrespectfully about one of our pastors, whether to me or to anyone else for that matter. As I look back, I know she must not have agreed with all of their decisions, but we never spoke disrespectfully or damagingly about our leaders, whether in the church, the school or the government.

The pastor was never the subject over Sunday lunch unless our words were of a good report. I heard her say many times, “Touch not God’s anointed,” and because of it, I have respect for the anointing God has placed on the lives of others. David’s message has reached down through the ages.

We did, however, pray for our leaders every day. We prayed for presidents, mayors and our employers. We prayed for our pastor throughout the week as well as on the way to church, that his words would touch and bless the lives of everyone who heard them. When others broached my mom with something negative, her quick response that halted the discourse was always the same, “Well, we just need to pray for him or her.” Mom felt it was our job to pray, and it was God’s job to deal with His children.

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.” (1Timothy 2:1-2) Serving in ministry for over 40 years, I’m thankful for those who prayed for me whether I was right or wrong and showed respect whether I deserved it or not. They were gracious in doing so, and the Lord has been gracious and merciful to me beyond measure.

Moving Forward: Even though showing disrespect for leadership is almost in vogue today, I’m challenged to always act respectfully, honor the position and pray for my leadership at every level. Respect. That’s what it means to me.

Tomorrow @ Psalms 42-44

I Corinthians 13-14 (NLT)

Discover His heart: He longs for us to love others in the pure way He loves us

Love! Now that’s a heady subject for a 600-word blog. Great literature and screenplays have been written since recorded time about this basic emotion that we all experience. Today we have diluted the meaning of the word so much that I wonder what it really means to most of us in light of a relationship. We love chocolate and music, movies and sports, but what does it mean when we love someone? Hopefully, it is more than feeling lightheaded and warm fuzzies.

When we ask a young couple today if they are in love, I wonder what that question means to them? Is their love a commitment to each other more lasting than the music or food they both love at the moment? With the blur between love and lust in our movies and on television, do they understand that love is a noun with significance, not just a feeling? Apparently, the subject of love had its share of misunderstandings even back in Paul’s day, and he wrote a brilliant chapter about it with only 320 words. Imagine.

@ I Corinthians 13
It’s interesting that Paul’s writing about love falls between chapters on spiritual gifts in the church and the use of the prophetic gifts. I’m reasonably sure it was intentional. All of our giftings, knowledge, faith, and generosity are without merit and often turn sour if they do not flow out of a heart of love. (1-4)

Most of us can describe how love makes us feel, but in Chapter 13, Paul did us the favor of giving the character of love, what love is, not how it feels. In reading his list, how does our love for others reflect true love’s character?

• Love is patient
• Love is kind
• Love is not jealous
• Love is not boastful
• Love is not proud
• Love is not rude
• Love does not demand its own way
• Love is not irritable
• Love keeps no record of being wronged
• Love does not rejoice was injustice
• Love does rejoice whenever truth wins out
• Love never gives up
• Love never loses faith
• Love is always hopeful
• Love endures through every circumstance

Well, on my report card, I’ve written a big “N” for Needs Improvement in how I love others. I wonder what would happen to the divorce rate in our country if the love we brought into our marriages was true love’s character rather than the movie screen version. The next time a dreamy-eyed young couple tells me of their great love for each other, I may just whip out this list to make sure they know what they’re talking about when they say the word love. It couldn’t hurt…she writes in 465 words.

Moving Forward: I’m challenged today to love others with the unselfish character of I Corinthians 13, enduring through every circumstance.

Tomorrow @ Exodus 5-8

Psalms 39-41 (NLT)

Discover His heart: He gives mercy and strength in our trials

Much of the discipline of my children was done through the look rather than through corporal punishment, and I think this is true for many mothers. My children often said I was scolding them even though I hadn’t opened my mouth, and trust me, I am not a ventriloquist. This technique was especially handy in church and in public places, and although I wasn’t really aware that I was giving the look, it certainly was effective.

Even in working with youth and young adult leaders, I was told that they knew things were not right with the world when I gave the look. Nowadays I’m doing my best to keep the look under control around my grandbabies – I gladly have left their discipline up to their parents. In our reading today, David understood all too well the look of discipline from God and how to respond to it.

@ Psalms 39
“I said to myself, ‘I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say. I will hold my tongue when the ungodly are around me.’ But as I stood there in silence—not even speaking of good things—the turmoil within me grew worse.” (1-2) Few of us have experienced the pain that David felt – anointed as king of Israel, yet running for his life from Saul and from his own son, Absalom, and betrayal by his closest of friends and family. David had a lot to complain about.

David believed he was being disciplined by the Lord and chose not to broadcast his complaints to the world but instead went to his only Source of help. Wisely, he didn’t want to be embarrassed later by his fretful words when he had passed through his trials. Complaining to others certainly didn’t work well for Job. When as believers we relay all our sorrows and complaints to those around us, we have no idea how our words may hinder or discourage those who are doing their best to trust in God through their own situations.

When God finds it necessary to give us His look of discipline, it brings us to our knees, “Hear my prayer, O Lord, And give ear to my cry; Do not be silent at my tears…Remove Your gaze from me, that I may regain strength.”(12-13) It’s on our knees where we can seek God’s forgiveness when needed and cry out for help in our struggles. We will instead find strength and mercy in His Presence rather than filling the ears of all those around us with constant words of complaint during our brief time on earth.

According to David, life is just too short for that. “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” (4-5) I close my mouth.

Moving Forward: During this time of year when we celebrate the living Christ, I pray that my words broadcast the Good News of God’s blessings and that my words encourage others to trust Him through their trials.

Tomorrow @ Job 27-28

Genesis 48-50 (NLT)

Discover His heart: He speaks blessing and promise over our lives

“Get over here! You never do anything right! You’re just good for nothing! You’re never gonna amount to anything, boy.” I cringed as I heard a man scolding his young son in public. Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked at the boy who had just been humiliated by a man I assumed to be his dad. This young one had probably been disobedient and had somehow gotten on his dad’s last nerve, but I was embarrassed for him. Even more devastating to me was hearing the man speak curse after curse over his son. I wonder if he knew the weight a father’s words can carry in the life of a son.

It made me think of the words I often heard my dad speak to me, “Honey, you can do anything in life that you want to do.” Or, “You can be anything you want to be. The sky’s the limit.” He called me beautiful, pretty or cute almost every day. I don’t know if he really believed it, but because he said it, I did. Although dad didn’t know the Lord when I was young, he knew enough to speak blessings and promise over my life, for which I am eternally grateful. I wonder if he knew the weight a father’s words can carry in the life of a daughter.

@ Genesis 48
At the close of the book of Genesis, we find Jacob on his deathbed calling for Joseph and his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, desiring to speak a blessing over them. “May the God before whom my grandfather Abraham and my father, Isaac, walked—the God who has been my shepherd all my life, to this very day, the Angel who has redeemed me from all harm—may he bless these boys. May they preserve my name and the names of Abraham and Isaac. And may their descendants multiply greatly throughout the earth.” (15-16)  After stealing his brother’s blessing at one time, Jacob must certainly have understood the weight a father’s words could carry in the life of a son or grandson.

Throughout the book of Genesis, we read about the blessings from God to Abraham, from Abraham to Isaac, from Isaac to Jacob and now from Jacob to Joseph and his sons. Not all of Jacob’s pronouncement over his other sons were the blessings they had hoped to receive, nor was Noah’s curse on his son Canaan. But all of these curses, pale in comparison to the curse of sin found in Genesis 3 through the fall of Adam and Eve that brought us separation from God. However, our loving Heavenly Father would never leave us cursed – by anyone!

God gave this little message to the serpent that fateful day in the Garden, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike your head, and you will strike His heel.” (3:15) This was God’s prophetic message of One who would come to die on the cross, His heel would be bruised, but He would crush the head of the serpent, who has spent his days on his belly ever since. “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” (Romans 8:1)

No condemnation, no curses! We belong to Him! The power of the life-giving Spirit has freed us from the power of sin, the power of curses and of those things that anyone may speak over us. Although man’s words may be hurtful at times, we do not need to walk under the weight of man’s confession over us. We walk with the Father’s blessings of abundant life through His son, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10, NKJV)

Children need our disciplines at times, but they never deserve cursing and humiliation. When we speak words of blessing and promise to our children, we are partnering with the heart of God who has promised blessing and abundant life to His children as they follow Him. Partnering with God – isn’t that something we would want to do?

Moving Forward: I am forever challenged to speak blessing and promise to my children, and actually, all of God’s children. Oh, how He loves them.

Tomorrow @ I Samuel 11-15

I Corinthians 7-8 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He gave us the gift of marriage, help included.

Every time I read 1 Corinthians 7, I think of the story of Tony and Marguerite.  Married with five children, Marguerite came to know the Lord in a personal way; but at the time, Tony did not appreciate nor accept this new expression of Marguerite’s faith.  As the years went on, Marguerite remained faithful to the Lord, and she stayed faithful to Tony with two more children added to their full house.  Oh, how she longed for her husband to take on the role as the spiritual head of their home.

There were many days when Tony did not make her feel very special in their relationship; and where others may have packed up the kids and left, Marguerite hung in there and prayed for Tony every day for 30 years.  Then, one day when he was facing surgery, Marguerite had the privilege of leading him to a personal relationship with the Lord, and 30 years became just a small blip on the radar screen of life.  My dear parents remained married until Dad died some years later, and what a joy for me to see him read his Bible, pray for me every day, and usher me to my seat in church when I was able to visit.  Thanks, mom, for hanging in there – great is your reward in heaven! 

@ I Corinthians 7
“And if a Christian woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him. For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage…Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved because of you?” (13-14,16)  See what I mean?  Tony and Marguerite!

In I Corinthians 7, Paul was answering questions that were asked by the church in Corinth regarding marriage.  Because of the challenges of marriage, the impending persecution, and his calling, Paul suggested remaining single over marriage, but understanding the normal drives that face men and women alike, Paul gave some guidance on married life.  It’s a strain to think of Paul as a marriage counselor, single at the time and an apostle to boot, but his advice was right on target for his day and for our day as well.

Paul’s counsel for marriage is this:

  • It is a gift from God to satisfy our natural desires in a blessed union. (3-5)
  • It is a mission to secure the salvation of our loved ones. (16)
  • It is a forever commitment, “Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you…remain as you were when God first called you.”
  • And it is a challenge, “But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided…a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband.” (33-34)

No doubt about it, marriage has always been a challenge, but even more so today.  I’m saddened by the number of individuals who leave their marriages because of the way they feel, throwing away the gift, the mission and the commitment, unwilling to take on the challenge.  Marguerite rose to the challenge, denying how she sometimes felt. Because of it, her husband is with her in heaven today.  During the rough times, she would just go out into the marketplace and win a soul or two for Jesus, and that joy kept her satisfied and fulfilled through the years.  It was a win/win situation for everyone who knew her, including me! 

Moving Forward: Praying for our marriages today, that we will cherish the gift, accept our mission, stay true to our commitment and rise to the challenge. 

Tomorrow @ Genesis 44-47

Genesis 36-39 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He will not allow us to be tempted more than we can endure

As a rule, it’s helpful to maintain a measure of self-confidence as we move through life accomplishing God’s purpose for us otherwise we might not ever get out of bed.  We can spot individuals with this admirable attribute from the way they walk and carry themselves, heads held high, shoulders back, confident smiles. This demeanor works well for those who have it, and most have learned to carry it with caution so that they don’t appear arrogant and self-absorbed.  From scripture it seems that young Joseph was one of these confident individuals – favored, handsome, well-dressed – but unfortunately he had not learned how to carry it off successfully. 

@ Genesis 37
“When Joseph was seventeen years old, he often tended his father’s flocks. He worked for his half-brothers…But Joseph reported to his father some of the bad things his brothers were doing.  Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children…So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe. But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him.” (2-4)  Bad blood!  Add to Joseph’s favor and confidence the fact that he was the family snitch, and we can understand the disapproval shown by his brothers.

“One night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever. ‘Listen to this dream,’ he said. ‘We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!’” (5-7)  I’ve often wondered just exactly how clueless Joseph was to share his dream, or was he intentional in his revelation?  Evidently, God saw some of the latter in Joseph and started to process this young man into a vessel worthy of the honor He would one day give him.

“When the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt… the Midianite traders arrived in Egypt, where they sold Joseph to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.” (28,36)   And this began the processing of Joseph, confident son of Jacob, now slave.

While we may think that Joseph received a little comeuppance, as they say, God was preparing this confident young man to save His people.  The thing that put Joseph in this dire situation is the very thing that pulled Joseph through to the other side of his trial because fortunately, he was even more confident in the Lord than he was in himself.  When Potiphar’s wife came after Joseph (39:6-23), he confidently declared, “How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.” (9)  God was not surprised by Joseph’s response.

God uses the strengths He has placed within us to accomplish His good when we surrender them to Him, acting out of humility rather than pride.  Sometimes we are processed like Joseph in order to bring this about.  This is not done to crush us or to destroy who we are, but to transform us into useful vessels of honor.  “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.  And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (I Corinthians 10:13)  In the process, we may not believe this, but it is true nonetheless – God is on our side, and just as He did with Joseph, He sees us as we will become. 

Moving Forward: I’m grateful that He loves me enough to process and perfect me.  Sometimes I’m a slow learner, but He’s a patient God. 

Tomorrow @ Ruth

Matthew 17-19 (NLT)

Discover His heart: He provides a way for us to reconcile with others

Counselors, therapists, mediators and coaches spend a great deal of time helping clients resolve conflicts in their lives, and they accomplish a lot of good and help people move past difficult situations.  It’s not surprising, however, that the Bible offers some guidelines for believers within the church who find themselves at odds with someone.

For those individuals who have never experienced conflict with anyone, I suppose this devotional may be irrelevant.  Still, just in case a conflict should someday pop up, it could never hurt to be aware of the plan Jesus offered to resolve conflicts. 

@ Matthew 18
It’s troubling that God’s straightforward set of guidelines for conflict resolution is so seldom followed.  Maybe because it’s so clear-cut, we feel it just isn’t profound enough to help, or perhaps we’re just too cowardly to try it.  I’m not sure. “If another believer sins against you,” this is what we should do…according to Jesus:

  • “Go privately and point out the offense.  If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.  But if you are unsuccessful,
  • Take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses.  If the person still refuses to listen,
  • Take your case to the church.  Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.” (18:15-17)  Now that would be a memorable Sunday service.  And to be considered a tax collector – the ultimate disgrace!

If we find ourselves in conflict with someone, common sense should prevail.  If I am upset because someone says something insensitive to me, fails to compliment a new hairstyle or ignores me, etc, it’s probably time for a little dying to self on my part. In Matthew 18, Jesus was talking about “if another believer sins against you,” follow these guidelines.

If we fail to follow the Lord’s instructions, we often end up sinning ourselves with an unforgiving heart or by gossiping and causing division.  There will always, absolutely always, be someone close at hand who is willing to listen if I choose to gossip instead of following His guidelines. In our conflicts, God will provide all the grace we need to resolve them, but there may not be grace for those uninvolved individuals that we choose to include through gossip.  They, in turn, pick up our offense without grace, and it always turns out badly.  Sometimes rather than follow His guidelines, we may feel it’s just easier to keep our hurt, keep it to ourselves, let it fester and grow into bitterness.  Ugh!

When we follow the Lord’s plan to resolve conflict, we find ourselves back in unity, in agreement.  I love that Jesus followed these guidelines with a promise of help in matters of conflict and discipline, and I believe, for prayer in general as well, “If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.  For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (18:19-20) Who doesn’t want that!

Moving Forward: Imprint these guidelines on my heart, Lord, that I might not sin against you. Help me live in such a way that no one has the need to approach me regarding sins I have committed against another.  With His help, all things are possible. 

Tomorrow @Romans 15-16

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