Daily Devotional, Verse: A Faith That Purifies


Today’s Prayer

We come, O Christ to you, true Son of God and man,
By whom all things consist, in whom all life began.
In you alone we live and move, and have our being in your love.

You are the Way to God, your blood our ransom paid;
In you we face our Judge and Maker unafraid.
Before the throne absolved we stand, your love has met your law’s demand.

— “We Come O Christ To You.” Learn more about this and other hymns at songsandhymns.org

Today’s Scripture Reading: Psalm 122

I rejoiced with those who said to me,
    “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
Our feet are standing
    in your gates, Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is built like a city
    that is closely compacted together.
That is where the tribes go up—
    the tribes of the Lord
to praise the name of the Lord
    according to the statute given to Israel.
There stand the thrones for judgment,
    the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
    “May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
    and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my family and friends,
    I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek your prosperity.

Today’s Quote

“Our faith then must be different from the faith of devils. For our faith purifies the heart; but their faith makes them guilty. For they do wickedly, and therefore say they to the Lord, “What have we to do with You?” When you hear the devils say this, do you think that they do not acknowledge Him? “We know,” they say, “who You are: You are the Son of God.” This Peter says, and is commended; the devil says it, and is condemned. Whence comes this, but that though the words be the same, the heart is different? Let us then make a distinction in our faith, and not be content to believe. This is no such faith as purifies the heart. “Purifying their hearts,” it is said, “by faith.” But by what, and what kind of faith, save that which the Apostle Paul defines when he says, “Faith which works by love.” That faith distinguishes us from the faith of devils, and from the infamous and abandoned conduct of men. “Faith,” he says. What faith? “That which works by love,” and which hopes for what God does promise. Nothing is more exact or perfect than this definition.” — Augustine

Something to Think About

Think about your words and actions over this last week. Is the fruit of faith evident in them? What can you do today to put your faith into action, and communicate Christlike love to somebody in your life?

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Daily Devotional, Prayer & Verse: The Passover Festival Nears


Today’s Prayer

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy;
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy;
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy;
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. — Augustine

Today’s Scripture Reading: John 6:4-15

The Jewish Passover Festival was near.

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

Today’s Quote

A healthy Christian is one of the liveliest creatures on earth. When he is at work you may hear him sing. He cannot help it; do not blame him for a little noise. Let him sing, and laugh till he cries. Sometimes he cannot help it; he will burst if his soul may not have vent. When he begins to talk about his Lord his eyes flash fire. Some people hint that he is out of his mind; but those who know best assure us that he was never before so sane as now. Of course, the world thinks religion is such poor stuff that nobody could grow excited about it. To my mind, cold religion is the nastiest dish ever brought to table. True godliness is served up hot. Newness of life means a soul aglow with love to God, and therefore earnest, zealous, happy. Let the believing man have space for his larger life, swing for his grander joy. Nay, do not gag him; let him sing his new song. If any man out of heaven has a right to be happy, it is the man who lives in newness of life. Come, beloved, I want you to go home to-day with the resolve that the newness of life shall be more apparent in your walk. Do not live the old life over again. Why should you? What good would come of it? — Charles Spurgeon, “Christ’s Resurrection and Our Newness of Life”

Something to Think About

Are you overjoyed by Christ’s gift of salvation? In the Spurgeon quote above, what sort of joy is he describing? Does it mean we should feel happy all the time? How is it different from everyday happiness?

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God Raised Us Up With Christ


Today’s Prayer

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. — adapted from the Book of Common Prayer

Today’s Scripture Reading: Ephesians 2:4-10

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Today’s Quote

“The death of Jesus Christ has turned our whole lives into one continued sacrifice—whether we eat or drink, whether we pray to God, or do any thing to man, it must all be done out of a love for and knowledge of him who died and rose again, to render all, even our most ordinary deeds, acceptable in the sight of God.

“If we live by this principle, if Christ is the Alpha and Omega of all our actions, then our lowliest actions are acceptable sacrifices; but if this principle is lacking in our lives, our most pompous services avail nothing: we are nothing but a spiritual idolater; we sacrifice to our own gain and make an idol of ourselves. We make ourselves, and not Christ, the end of our actions: and therefore such actions are so far from being acceptable by God, that according to the language of one of the Articles of our Church, ‘We doubt not but they have the nature of sin, because they spring not from an experimental faith in and knowledge of Jesus Christ.’” — adapted from George Whitefield’s sermon “The Knowledge of Jesus Christ the Best Knowledge”

Something to Think About

Christ’s salvation is offered to us freely, and cannot be earned by our actions. Despite this, Christians have struggled since the earliest days of the church with the temptation to try and earn God’s forgiveness by doing good works, following the law, or just living “good” lives. Why is it so hard for us to accept Christ’s gift? Is this a struggle for you?

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Sunday Sermon: Overcoming the Pain of Adultery


It is very depressing and sad when you look around our world today and see so many marriages and relationships in turmoil. The most shocking of it all is that, it is very rampant today in the body of Christ i.e. the church.

surviving-infidelity

After reading books, watching the news, listening to loved ones and counseling a few, I have come to the conclusion that one of the greatest marriage and relationship destroyers of all time are “Adultery”. It is not only a sin against God but it is a sin that causes so much emotional pain to the other parties involved (spouse and children).

If you look at the statistics today on the divorce rate, you will see that over 50% of the marriages that end up in divorce are as a result of infidelity/adultery.

By the way, what do we mean by Adultery? Adultery by the dictionary definition is extra marital/relational sex that willfully and maliciously interferes with marital/relational relations. Some people confuse adultery with fornication because they are both transgressions before God. The difference between fornication and adultery is that fornication is the act of having pre-marital sex with another unmarried person so it usually pertains to someone who is single; however adultery pertains to sexual intercourse with someone other than your spouse.

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The sin of Adultery is a disastrous reality that has existed and afflicted mankind since the beginning of time. For believers, one of the most well known accounts of adultery recorded in scripture is revealed in the story of King David and his affair with Bathsheba. 2 Sam 11:2-27. Although King David actively pursued Bathsheba, the strange woman in his home, some respected and anointed men of God like King David have fallen victim to the beauty and flattery tongue of the strange woman Proverbs 6:24-25. And as a result, the anointing of God in their lives was destroyed and sometimes their homes, and in such cases it will take the divine intervention of the Holy Spirit to restore them. There was an incident in the church I was attending a few years ago where a man of God whom I so much respected had been having affairs with the women in the church. He was quite a handsome preacher and 90% of his congregation was women but I just saw the anointing of God on his life and how the Lord was using him mightily. It never occurred to me that such a thing would happen to him and as a result of his succumbing to the flesh, his ministry suffered a terrible blow, marriages were destroyed, for a couple of women he was sleeping with also happen to be married. It was a very unfortunate incident and so brethren; this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed in the church today. We are an adulterous generation.

When adultery taints the purity of the marriage covenant, the road to reconciliation is usually quite difficult especially for the spouse who has been betrayed.

Sadly to say, many Christians have skipped the reconciliation process because they find it difficult to forgive their cheating spouses. Decisions of separation and divorce are therefore made in haste out of pain and anger. Can you really blame them? However, we should ask ourselves will this be God’s will for me if I do this? Many have used the famous words of Jesus Christ in Matt 19:9 to justify their decision for divorce but if everyone who has been through the pain of adultery decide to obtain a divorce, how many marriages will truly remain standing? There has to be room for forgiveness. The same scriptures tell us to forgive those who have trespassed against us and also that God hates putting away i.e. divorce Mal 2:16. As painful as the betrayal is, an effort at saving the marriage/relationship should be made especially a Christian union that has been ordained and blessed with children. God’s thoughts towards us are good and not of evil to give us an expected end (future). Divorce was never in God’s plan for man and therefore it is evil, it is the work and plan of the enemy to destroy marriages especially Christian marriages. His only job is to kill, to steal and to destroy, John 10:10.

It pleases the Lord to see the spouses reconcile because it also causes them to be reconciled back to God as a family. He assures us that he will be with us always even in times of trouble.
Infidelity
Having said all this, we know that rebuilding a relationship is definitely not an easy task for it will take both time and effort on both sides to make it happen. Above all, it will take the grace of God to bring harmony back into the home again.

- The first step to rebuilding the marriage or relationship is for the adulterer to be willing to repent. He/she must genuinely confess their sins and repent.

- The betrayed spouse (victim) must be willing to forgive in order for the healing process to begin.

- The couple should seek biblical counseling immediately for it helps both parties to understand why it happened and how to avoid it from happening again.

- In addition to counseling, the couple should spend time in prayer seeking God’s face and asking for his grace and power to get them through the tough times.

- The adulterous spouse should be accountable to someone in order for that trust to be rebuilt. Mostly likely he needs to be accountable to his spouse, pastor or counselor.

I have had the opportunity to counsel both relatives and close friends who have all suffered heart breaks at some point in time and they all had one thing in common and that was feeling better after sharing their troubles with a loved one. One who is patient and offers a listening ear does make the difference.

For those who have been betrayed and are still harboring un-forgiveness towards their spouse, give God your heart and trust him completely for your healing. Proverbs 3:5. Do not harbor un-forgiveness in your heart for then you also will be sinning against God and it is also unhealthy to your spirit, body & soul. Trust the Lord for your marriage/relationship and your family for he is with you to guide and see you through every step of the way. Do not forget that your spouse is human and as long as we are still in the flesh, all humans, even we that are born again Christians have the tendency to still commit sin. None of us are beyond temptation and that is why we have to ask God for his grace daily to deliver us from every temptation. Forgiveness is a big step in the reconciliation process and it cannot be avoided. Do your part and leave the rest to the Lord. As he is working on you, he will also be working on your spouse through his Holy Spirit. In due time, he will make everything beautiful again, for he will give you beauty for ashes and joy for pain because you have decided to surrender all to him.

Rev. CJ

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Jesus Overturns The Tables


Today’s Prayer

O merciful Father, do not consider what we have done against you; but what our blessed Savior has done for us. Don’t consider what we have made of ourselves, but what He is making of us for you our God. O that Christ may be “wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption” to every one of our souls. [May] His precious blood may cleanse us from all our sins, and your Holy Spirit renew and sanctify our souls. May He crucify our flesh with its passion and lusts, and cleanse all our brothers and sisters in Christ across the earth. — John Wesley

Today’s Scripture Reading: John 2:13-22

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

Today’s Quote

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

— “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” an Easter hymn by Isaac Watts. (See Songsandhymns.org for more about this and other Easter hymns.)

Something to Think About

Jesus spoke about his coming death and resurrection many times, as in the Scripture reading above. Why do you think so many people—including his own disciples—failed to understand what he was saying until afterwards?
John 2_13_22

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The Commandments


Today’s Prayer

Almighty God, we were lost from the beginning, when it pleased you to extend your handBeGenerousForgive and restore us to salvation for your Son’s sake. Although we daily run headlong to our own ruin, we pray that our continual sin will not provoke you into withdrawing your mercy from us. . . . Through your Spirit, destroy the wickedness of our heart and restore us to a sound mind. — John Calvin, adapted from his Commentary on Hosea

Today’s Scripture Reading: Exodus 20:1-17

And God spoke all these words:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

“You shall not murder.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Today’s Quote

“The Law is that word by which God teaches what we shall do, as for instance, the Ten Commandments. Now, if human nature is not aided by God’s grace, it is impossible to keep the law, for the reason that man since the fall of Adam in Paradise is depraved and full of sinful desires, so that he cannot from his heart’s desire find pleasure in the law, which fact we all experience in ourselves. For no one lives who does not prefer that there were no law, and everyone feels and knows in himself that it is difficult to lead a pious life and do good, and, on the other hand, that it is easy to lead a wicked life and to do evil. But this difficulty or unwillingness to do the good is the reason we do not keep the Law of God. For whatever is done with aversion and unwillingness is considered by God as not done at all. Thus the Law of God convicts us, even by our own experience, that by nature we are evil, disobedient, lovers of sin, and hostile to God’s laws.” — Martin Luther, sermon on Matthew 11:2-10, #19

Something to Think About

It is common in many churches to periodically read the Ten Commandments during worship services. What relevance do the Ten Commandments—delivered to Israel thousands of years ago—hold for Christians today? Why are they significant to the Easter story?

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A Poem: I Hate That I Love You


i hate you, but i love you…Love-is-a-cycle-when-you-love-you-get-hurt-when-you-get-hurt-you-hate

i can never let you go
no matter what you put me through
you always feel like home
for every smile you create
you make a thousand more tears
for every dread you take away
you create a thousand more fears
and the very one that holds me together
shatters me into pieces
you’re the only one i want to be with forever
but your love for me only decreases
you tell me now after all this time
that you don’t love me completely
and now i’m supposed to be alright
knowing all you’ve done to deceive me
now every time i hear those words
“i love you” i’ll feel only pain
the reality that i once knew, blurs
and i find it’s not the same
when i know those words are just a lie
and i’m left with only my love
for someone who’s love for me has died
because i’m never good enough
it hurts to go on without you
not knowing what is or ever was real
i just don;t know what to do
emptiness and confusion is all i feel
all i can do is live in denial
and pretend you actually love me
and hope that after a while
you’ll come to your senses and see
that you’re in love with me
and you can never stay away
live everyone else can see
i hope you see the truth someday
i hate you, but i love you i can never let you go
and no matter what you put me through
you always feel like home
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Prayer for the Family and Friends of those lost on Malaysia #MH370


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Heavenly Father,

As many are mourning the death of their family and friends who were passengers on the Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, I pray that you would be a comforter. Speak words of comfort and solace to them. Heal the wounds of those who are suffering heartbreak because their loved one have passed away. In due time, let it all be well with their souls. May every person that was and will be affected by today’s news look to you to be the lifter of their heads. May we all turn our hearts toward you for a moment of prayer for those we have lost.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

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Do Good Through Jesus Christ


Today’s Prayer

Almighty God, who sees that we have no power ourselves to help ourselves: protect us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls. Defend us both from harm to the body and from evil thoughts which assault and hurt the soul. Do this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. — adapted from the Book of Common Prayer

Today’s Scripture Reading: Romans 7:13-25

Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Today’s Quote

“Now He is led forth to death, carrying His Cross. O what a spectacle is this! Do you see it? Lo, the government is upon His shoulders. See, here is His rod of equity, His rod of empire. Wine mingled with gall is given Him to drink. He is striped of His garments, which are divided among the soldiers; but His tunic is not rent, but passes by lot to one of them. His dear hands and feet are bored with nails; and He, stretched on the Cross, is hung up between thieves. Of God and men the Mediator, He hangs in the midst between heaven and earth; joining lowest things and highest, earthly things and heavenly; and heaven is bewildered, and earth condoles.

“And what of you? No wonder if, while the sun mourns, you mourn also; if, while the earth shakes, you tremble; if, while rocks rend, your heart is torn; if, while the women beside the Cross are all in tears, you cry aloud with them.” — Anselm of Canterbury, Meditation #84

Something to Think About

What do you think it means to be a spiritual “slave” to something? What has enslaved your spirit in the past? Whose slave are you now?

Rev. CJ

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Dealing with Conflict in Relationships


We’re created for relationship with God. And that relationship is expressed in many ways 232through our relationships with others. But sometimes those relationships go terribly wrong. People have the power to wound and scar us. The more we love someone, the deeper they can hurt us. And we have the same ability to hurt others. When the unity of a relationship is disrupted, we call that disruption “conflict.” I don’t know anyone who likes that word.

How does conflict affect us?

Technically, conflict is defined as “a fight, battle, or struggle, especially a prolonged struggle; strife; controversy; quarrel between parties; discord of action, feeling, or effect; antagonism or opposition, as of interests or principles: a conflict of ideas.”

Unaddressed conflict affects more than just our spirits. In his book The Peacemaker, Ken Sande, a lawyer and full-time Christian mediator, writes, “Conflicts steal time, energy, money, and opportunities for better things. When Christians are fighting, our battles overshadow anything we try to tell the world about Jesus.” Failed and broken relationships have a drastic effect on our lives, and the lives of those involved, which makes it all the more important that we understand why and how to seek restoration whenever possible.

Think about all the different relationships in your life. Chances are, at some time or another you’ve faced conflict in each relationship you’re in. And if you’ve lost friendships along the way, there’s a good chance conflict that wasn’t handled well led to the end of that relationship. Did you disagree with a professor or coach in college? Ever have a fight with your sibling in the back seat of Mom’s car? Treat a coworker rudely because he/she got on your last nerve? Go to bed angry with your spouse over miscommunication? Fill in the blank with your own relationships, but I doubt you’ll have to look far to see evidence of discord.

Conflict is an inevitable consequence of doing life with others. And while no one would choose conflict over peace, it’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes we have to work through our disagreements and issues with others in order to build a healthy relationship rooted in mutual understanding and integrity. If discord arises from standing up for who you are and what you believe, then it’s worth it.

But there are other times when discord in a relationship cuts us down deep in the core of who we are. It has the power to tap into our fears and insecurities and reopen old wounds from our pasts. This is the kind we’re all prone to avoid, and it’s what makes us resistant to conflict in the first place.

Dealing with conflict

The effect of conflict on you and your relationship is impacted by 1) how much that person means to you, 2) the source of the conflict, and 3) how both of you respond. When we face conflict with a coworker, it can be an annoying and persistent burden until we deal with it. But when a spouse or loved one hurts us, it can be heartbreaking. Psychologists have concluded that everyone responds to conflict in one of three ways:

  1. Move away: The flight response is an attempt to avoid conflict by withdrawing from the situation. Some characteristics of this response include blame-shifting, denial, avoidance, ignoring, or postponing conflict.
  2. Move against: The fight response is a defensive, self-protective response where the motivation is to protect yourself by getting what you want. Characteristics include insults, gossip, aggression, and competition.
  3. Move toward: The peaceful response is also the healthy response, where the goal is restoration and harmony. The good of the relationship is more important than self-protection. Characteristics include communication, accountability, mediation, accommodation, collaboration, persistence, and compromise.

Our engagement or disengagement in challenging relationships is a lot like the moral struggle we face each day. When it comes to taking the high road of restoration and peacemaking, our problem isn’t usually in knowing what’s right, but in choosing to do what’s right.

When we make God-honoring, loving, and healthy relationships a part of our day-to-day lives, we’re living as God intended. So it’s crucial that we take the time to assess who we are to the people in our lives and how to live in community with others. Let’s face it. We’re all imperfect people in relationships with other imperfect people, and this makes our relationships messy and often challenging. The more we can understand God’s design for community (with a focus on selflessness, sacrifice, and loving others well at the core), the better friend, spouse, child, coworker, neighbor we’ll be and the more glory God will get out of all our relationships.

Rev. CJ

POSTER-NO-FAILED-RELATIONSHIPS

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